Monday, October 31, 2011

Finishing just got a lot easier

Hey all.  I was anxious to try the tip I received from Donna (from yesterday's post) so I purchased two interfacings that felt the most stiff.    As soon as I came home, dried off from a massive soaking, and ate most of the Halloween candy, I went to work.   And by the way....hot flash is no longer correct.  Flash defines as quick and temporary.  No no.  These are drawn out endurance matches between every pore above the waist.  Including eyebrows.   On to sewing.  Eureka!!!  This may be old stuff to you but bear with me - I don't get excited often.  I need to bake something for Donna when I take my blazers to her.  Her advice made it so much easier, neater, and quicker.  I'm certainly going to give it a go myself and see how the other fabrics work.  Here's a recap of what I did.  I used an old piece on Aida, stitched right sides together on three sides following the fabric threads.  Then I cut a piece of the fusible interfacing to fit directly inside the stitched seam and ironed the corner to secure.  The other side was folded along the stitched seam line and then cut along the fold.    It's quicker and more accurate than measuring.The open bottom end facing should be cut to where the seam should be, and the fabric can be pressed up over it for a neat finish, ready to be hand sewn closed. 

Once the cuts were made, the facing was pressed and fused to the stitched fabric and also the backing fabric.  I pressed the seam allowances open on all three sides which really gives a crisp seam, and clipped the corners, adding a drop of fabric glue to the edges, which isn't really necessary.   When I turned it right side out I was amazed.

I always used a pin on the backing fabric to pull the corners out and with the facing, it made it easier.  What a difference compared to when I fused lighter interfacing to the whole piece. 
The bottom edges are pressed with a perfect straight edge, ready to be sewn, and stuffing this cavern was even easier!  I didn't need as much and my corners were already good so there was no poking and prodding.  The piece actually stood by itself, crisp as could be, before it was even filled.  
 So here is the ornament, ready to be stitched close in record time without the aggravation.  I used to stitch across the bottom corners and leave an opening to turn and stuff, but this is so much easier.  I imagine I could follow this method without stitching back to front.  Just fuse and turn the seams in on each piece, and then hand sew shut on four sides, even attaching trim at the same time.   This Aida was fused with the Craft Fuse #808 from Pellon, and Decor Bond #809 on a lighter fabric.   Both of these worked very well.


As usual, you probably already know this!   But I have to say I'm thrilled to discover this now.  Thank goodness I asked her!  I don't think it's a fluke that these test pieces came out so well and I'm expecting my Santas and other projects to finish as nicely.   Jobelan is the Santa ornament fabric that I will be working on next and I doubt if I have any scraps left to test.  I'm confident enough to just use the stitched piece.  Hopefully, you'll be seeing a bunch of ornaments looking pretty fine!!!   As I type this, Woody Wood****** is bringing in pieces of straw to the hole he just drilled, even though it's only as deep as the siding and not big enough to get in.  I'm not sure what will break first - the window I keep pounding on or the fist pounding it.  
Have a good week!  Thanks for reading!! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Decision, change, finish!

Hello everyone.  I finished the Redware design and have been screwing around with trying to finish it ever since.  I didn't like any of the red fabrics because they didn't seem to make these beautiful colors pop.  So I tried a dark brown sueded piece and although there isn't any dark brown in the design, I loved it. 
Then I found the large rick rack in a color called carrot, and it matched the floss perfectly.  But I'm not a rick rack girl.  Been there, done that, changed it.  "Stick with what you like!"  So the rack is for another project, but I still like the dark brown.  I used it for the backing along with leather lacing for the strap.
Wasn't happy.  I felt it needed to be bordered by the brown and framing it would have been the way to go.  Too late. 
 So I took it apart and went with my original choice.   I didn't know if I should use a light or dark lining.
 







When I spotted the hanging Nash design, I realized that the darker linen I used did nothing to show the wonderful thread colors.  So I chose the lighter and ended up with this, not knowing if I will attach the hanger.
I needed to make an appointment with my seamstress to tailor several blazers and asked her about finishing small pillows/ornaments.   I'm going to take them along for my visit, but I doubt if she will be interested.  She gave me a few tips during the conversation and will certainly be more helpful in person.    Most important she said, is to use a very stiff interfacing to fit directly inside the seam, not in it, to create a crisp edge and smooth face.  The stuffing is then not the determining factor in shape, especially in the corners. The one I use gives body but doesn't really hold or create shape.  I hope to get more tips from her, and I'm sure I could find several methods on the web.   Following a professional's advice, may save some time.  What would really save time is her agreeing to sew them!  I've finished smalls using different methods but I would like to learn a technique that makes it easier and neater.
Lucy received a few more stitches and I'm picking a new project.  Either a small sampler from Scarlet Letter or Coverlet Birds from Scarlett House.  I saw Sampler Farmer's new Webshots and really liked Heartstring's Harry Tyler's Lion.  It's funny how a chart doesn't hit you when seeing it online, but snaps your socks when you view it stitched.   It's now on my list.  The new list.  I can't find the other.  I hope to finally get all these charts scanned and listed on Ebay.  I don't know what's worse - the computer problems, the scanner failures, or the return of the flashes.   If this continues another couple of days, leaves won't be the only things burning. 
Have a good week, and I hope the bug that's going around bypasses you and loved ones.  Thanks for visiting!












Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shades of red, oldies, and goodies

Welcome!  The sun is out!  Of course it won't last but I'm taking advantage of it and working outside today.  It won't be easy with the brace but I'll give it my best effort. 
I'm loving this PA Redware from Carriage House.   What I didn't realize was the color similarity to my persimmon linen.  DMC's 3777 is almost exactly the original color, which is now toned to a beautiful shade which also matches well.   I'm thinking of looking for another Redware inspired design to do in reverse colors on it.  

 I haven't worked on Lucy since removing her from the frame ... still too difficult to hold that much fabric.  I'm surprised that my wrist/thumb isn't much better even though this is very restrictive.
 We made a stop at my favorite James Creek Galleries yesterday and I found so many items I would like.  Wool pumpkins, gourds made into acorns, beeswax items, lots of goodies.  I came home with this small wall shelf.  The old book on it is etiquette from the late 1800's on speech, Womankind, young people, dress, personal habits, and public.  The entire book begins every paragraph or rule with "don't".  Very interesting.

We also visited another store where I purchased the two fabric pieces in the bottom shelf, and these candle jar holders for attaching to the wall.  I got two of the heavy solid holders - LOVE them.  And I bought the open strap holder for my sister.  I already have this style and it certainly is handy when kids or cats are around.  They also come in the small and medium size but I always buy the large jars. 
This little old box was found in my husband's grandfather's basement years ago.  Another blast from the past, made in Pittsburgh.  Interesting to see the directions in different languages for the immigrants, which all of our grandparents were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    And last in another boring post with only a small project related to stitching, is what I found in a box upstairs when I added green Santa.  It's my to be finished pile.  Glenna made a statement that was very eye opening to me and two words said it all.  Indecision=paralysis.  Absolutely. 
There is no doubt I am a procrastinator, but most items sit because I can't make a decision on fabric, piping, trim, stuffing, etc.  I realize now that this is my bigger problem so I'm still kitting projects to prevent that stitching lull when choosing a new start.   It takes a while to decide on supplies, but once done, there is no hesitation nor reason to delay stitching.
I'm heading outside now and the sun is gone already.  Our leaves are strange this year.  We have completely bare, colored, and still green, all at the same time.  
 Enjoy the week and thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Linen.......again!

ADDED NOTE - Blogger has whacked out and showed me 5 times that this has published.  If you keep getting the same thing - sorry - don't know what's going on. 
Hi people.  Thanks for your kind words about my hand.  It's really not a big deal, but is continuing to put a damper on stitching.  Not because the healing is slow, but because the little brat mama is square dancing in and out of my legs and I tripped over her.  I didn't fall.  My right hand prevented that!  Back to the wrist brace for a few days. 

I started stitching a small and very easy project - Pennsylvania Redware from Carriage House.


Random Thoughts from Sheepish Designs was started too but I didn't like the colors and pulled others.   32 count was my choice for the project and I found that I hadn't bleached, dyed, bleached, dyed, bleached, dyed, or set on fire, that particular count in the cheaper linen.  So.  I did.  
Yes it is cheap, thick, and nubby.  For primitive pincushions and ornaments, it's great.  You can find it at Michael's craft store, and using their 40% or 50% off coupons from their website or flier, it's around $5-6 for a 20 x 27 piece.   It's not for a beautiful sampler.  You can see that this unbleached has a gray tone (also comes in ivory), and the piece beneath is after I worked on it.  It comes out of the dryer thick and soft, and 19" x 24 1/2".  Quite a bit of shrinkage.

Here's a better picture of how it is now.   A warm tan and a tighter weave compared to the original on the left.

I also did a few pieces of 26/27 count and here's an example of why I can't give a definitive answer when emailed about how long to leave fabric in the bleach water.

The 26 was dipped and squished for about 30 seconds and the 27 count was left in for 15 minutes and still didn't lighten.  Having the same selvage I thought they would be the same linen but obviously not.    I started putting the count in the edge with markers that won't fade or run.   I've only found one article on linen regarding thread thickness and such by name but I can't find it.  WHAT??  A decent article can be found here An article with old photos and wonderful drawings depicting  linen from seed to cloth is here 
This was after the first bleach and dry of the 32 count, now a lighter gray.  The dryer's ball of edge threads are from 5 pieces of linen that will be saved and used to stitch edges closed or trims.   Sure some of the difference in size is because of losing a few raveling threads, but no where near even a 1/2", let alone 2" or more.     I mentioned before about using Rit's dark green liquid dye to take the pink tones out of linens, and this is the green in my sink.  All it takes is a drop or two of the green dye, and a quick dip or two and it tones the red to brown.
I wanted to mention last post about Vonna's fabulous creations that you've probably already seen, but in case you haven't check this out.  I have got to make the scissors holder for sure.  Now I remember why I have been visiting my craft store and wandering aimlessly.  The strong urge to recreate her design was pulling me there, but the brain wasn't on board.  I'll write it down.
 My hot flashes are continuing to change.  Instead of several small, a few massive, and constant mediums, I'm now having less, but it appears they have combined and are beauts.   The same thing is happening to my eyebrows, or what's left of them.    It seems the fine and medium hairs have left, banded together in a show of solidarity, and came back as one that can be seen from across a room and stab you if you get too close.  I have several of these now and could probably drill a hole in one end and use it as a needle.   Plucking these twigs is painful since I swear they are attached to the skull.

And here's the other kitty.  He (?) has damage to one of his beautiful eyes which doesn't seem to dilate at all.   I can pet him and was able to remove his filthy old flea collar.  He eats as fast as he can while turning his head constantly, looking for dad or Buddy as we call him now.  I can't tell if he still has his walnuts because of the long hair, but he is so afraid of being beat up and certainly not wanting to engage in territorial debates.  Mama shows affection, rubs my legs and hands, rolls and plays, and then draws blood.   Hub said he didn't know a young nursing mother could also be maniacal menopausal.

This wraps up the final episode of As the Linen Tweaks.  This time I really mean it.  I'm done.  There is one piece and a few scraps left to change but only if I plan to use them.   So have a great week, thanks for reading and commenting.....oh crap.  I hear him.  Woody Wood******.  We can't see him outside but hear the pecking so I think he may have somehow got into the chimney or attic.  On the bright side, I can get a lot of stitching done sitting around in a jail cell all day.  Are you allowed needles?  HEY!!  Those eyebrow twigs will come in handy. 





Friday, October 14, 2011

Trying something new

Hello everyone.  I made the mistake of digging my thumb into a bunch of black walnut husks to break them open.   Was at my annual neck condition evaluation (no surgery yet!) and found out I inflamed a tendon.  Long story short, a brace, a few days, and some relief, I decided to try using a frame to help with Lucy.  My inherited frames were all donated and Goodwill no longer has them.  I kept one of K's Creations' 16" lap stands along with some do-dads that look like something a dentist would use to hold your mouth open.  I really didn't think it would work because of the bulk of fabric on the side and bottom, but wanted to try.   I've been a scooper since the beginning.  In and out one motion do it quick stitch.  Is it any wonder my stitches have no uniformity or even tension?  I know that using this method, especially on 27-30 count, I am all over the place.  But once again, liking a more primitive/early style to my stitched pieces is conducive to stitching wonkiness.
When I tried the frame last night, I had a really difficult time using my left hand to steer the needle into the proper hole.  It just wasn't working.  Getting a comfortable angle to alleviate neck discomfort was another.  I machine stitched the edges to the scrolls but with the edge bulk, it couldn't possibly be rolled evenly or produce any tension.  But I can see why you would get a nicer stitch and develop a rhythm. I think I would like to make an effort to try this  method.  I looked at other stands and think K's Z-frame would work better for me but I'm not purchasing anything until I know I can adjust to this method, and see an improvement.  Otherwise, wonky will be fine.  Another thing I noticed and didn't care for was being able to see through the 28 count while held in the scrolls, which made it hard to see the linen threads clearly.   I'm seeing how the 28 count in a lighter weight linen can make stitches uneven regardless of your best effort.  Too much room in those holes!  The vast majority of my inventory is 28 or 30 and after all the color experiments and dryer, they all (except that belligerent Amber) seem to be tighter or thicker.
Just looking at this mess is probably making some of you cringe!
For smaller projects such as Santa and pincushions, I will still stitch in hand.  I wouldn't want to hold a hoop, so having a frame or hoop in a stand with a medium sized project will be the learning experience.  I plan on starting another Santa or maybe a pincushion to give me a break when I tire of holding Lucy.  Right now, she is attached to the top scroll and letting her bottom hang out.  Hmmm.  My hand is better and I'll probably go back to the office clips soon.

The woodpecker is still ravaging the house.  I called the county Extension office and was told the bird is looking for a roost or shelter for winter.  He is making perfect large holes through all the wood until he reaches the shiny soft insulation, which he can't drill.  So he starts another hole.   He recommended I sit outside with a garden hose and squirt him when he lands on the house.  Oh my.  If those cops see that wacky red-booted wild woman sitting in a rocker squirting birds, the stories will never end.
And I have a new visitor....Junior!  Mama brought him this morning and he is a clone of his dad.  White toes on the front paws, white boots up to the main joint on back legs, solid black face, white bib.  He is trying to follow his dad everywhere and mama keeps dragging him back.  I can't get dad lured into a carrier so I will have to resort to a large raccoon trap for his de-balling capture.  Sorry guys.
I don't have any photos of fall colors since half the trees were bare a month ago and the others are mostly brown.  Did I happen to mention that I hate Fall?  My maples in the front yard turn a beautiful red and they are just starting.  I will be able to watch the transformation while outside sitting in my rocker squirting a bird.  I should probably take some stitching with me - should be good light.  Have a great weekend, enjoy this $#@& season that you all seem to love, and thanks for visiting!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lots of boring pics

Hi everyone.  It's been a while.  One of the reasons I hate Fall has become perfectly clear.  My procrastination causes a flurry of rushed jobs that need to be done before cold weather sets in.  The other reason is because of it being a precursor to that "W" word.  I can't believe it's October, and when I said that about September, I should have realized that chores are piling up. 

I haven't done much stitching.  Here's my measly wimpy Lucy progress..




and my goofy little Santa finished....

 Now for the reason.   Take a look at this driveway.. it's a little long and had to be cleaned before sealing next week.







This is how bad it was -
 





  

That dirty part was already washed once which didn't clean it, so I had to hold that pressure wand directly over the  concrete and go inch by inch.  It took the better part of four days.  All that time holding that nozzle really did a job on my hand.  I can barely close it.  Holding a needle wasn't easy or pleasant.  But it's DONE!!!  The other job this week was laying the stone, adding the dirt, and spreading the grass seed around the front door that no one ever uses so why the hell did I bother..
 


DONE!!!  The third major project was scraping, sanding, and painting the peeling garage door...
DONE!!!  You see those pumpkins?  I'm acknowledging fall, but that's as far as I'm going.  The bottom panel of the door is really deteriorating and after all the caulking and filling, it hit me.  Why not move the bottom panel to the top and vice versa?  The top is in perfect condition, all four panels are the same, and I can put the bottom one upside down at the top so the bad edge will be unseen and also protected from further damage!  I'll call someone for that.

One more...scrubbing and sealing the deck, which will be finished today.  All that's left is the step.  We have had gorgeous warm weather and instead of sitting in that swing and enjoying it, I've been working my ass off which unfortunately, is nothing more than a figure of speech. Wish I could figure out how to get rid of my hysterectobelly.   Oops!  Another yellow box.  Obviously, the person controlling Spell-check has never had a hysterectomy.





And take a lot at this photo..
One idiot woodpecker is tearing up my house big time!  I have these holes on every side and I don't know what to do.  He's not looking for bugs, he's making holes trying to get through.  I need to check online and see if there is a house we can build for peckers.  It is against the law in PA to kill a woodpecker.  Good news for him!! 
And take a look at this rock...

Look closely in front of the tub.  Doesn't it look like a head lying there?  They moved the stones when installing the concrete and I just about dropped when I saw this out the kitchen window!   It's just a rock but it was never in this position before!   I've seen too many horror movies.   
And finally, here's my little Halloween tree.  Every year I plan on aging the bright orange, but can you spell procrastination?         
The little hang tags were a freebie several years ago from ewe-n-me printables.   They have some cute items but I didn't see these so I'm not sure if they're still available. 
Wow.  Were there enough photos about everything BUT stitching?  Sorry.  Just wanted to give visual proof that I really have been busy, tired, and suffering from nozzle-hand.  Good news - I went an entire day without a hot flash.  Maybe it's the start of the end!!  So the major chores are ending today.  All I have left is moving irises, planting 6 little shrubs, and moving two hydrangea trees.  Problem with that is our soil - I need to use a pick or maddock and dig the holes the size of Oklahoma or the trees will die.  But that creates neck/back pain, not the hand, so I should be OK to stitch.  Have a great week everyone, thank you for visiting, sorry for the lack of stitching talk!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Winner!

Hi everyone.  First off, Patti C. from Hanging by a Thread won the offering.  My husband was responsible for picking the number and decided that since I have such a mess in the dining room right now, that drawing another number for another journal would help rid some of the clutter.  So Penny (no blog), you were the second number and will be receiving a journal as soon as I get your information.

Not much stitching going on since I've been playing.  I stopped Santa at his light post which called for gold metallic threads, all of which I gave away, but wouldn't have used anyway.  I've been playing with colors and think this 420 will be the final along with a dark gray instead of silver metallic for the lantern.  I just love this guy.  Can't wait to stitch the other two.  The colors of 561 and 989 for his clothing work so well, and I never thought they would.  Almost changed them when initially pulled, glad I didn't.
Progress on Lucy was stalled with the headache but I managed to get a few stitches in.

        




My time has been taken up with sizing, resizing, cropping, and adjusting my sampler photos for the books and also for this little box.  It wasn't easy finding stitched areas to fit the long narrow top, but here's the prototype...




On the linen saga, I got a dark green dye to rid the reddish cast of a few pieces.  You only need a drop of the dark green in the water.  I ended up playing quite a bit with the color and even added a little tan at one point.  What I didn't care for, I dipped in the beach and it came out, started over.  Amber is one tough cookie.  Nothing seems to work for that color except allowing it to darken much more than I would like.  But I had a hissy fit, a flash, some chocolate, a slice of swiss cheese, and voila - it's dark but it's a rich dark and I like it.  I'm not concerned about failure since the bleaching process is quick and effective for starting over, plus these are colors I didn't like at all and probably wouldn't have used.  Now for needles.  I wish I knew what I was using.  The one I grabbed for Lucy will not go under back threads to secure ends.  I hate it and don't know the brand.  The Santa needle is so sharp it glides with no problem at all and it's also a mystery.  I need to test all my packaged sizes, get rid of some, and buy more of what I like.

Our weather has been cold, dark, rainy, and I hate fall.  Did I ever tell you that?  There's a video I go to that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it, which I did again this gloomy morning, and thought you might like to take a look.  Many of you may have already seen it.  Try to click off the ad banner at the bottom so you can see his mouth better.   The look on this dog's face is perfect. 
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeKSiCQkPw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Just like walking around the grocery store without the list that's on the kitchen counter, I have a feeling there is something else ..... but ????  So rather than wasting time trying to remember, I'll close.   Trying to remember one thing, brings up many things.  Too many.  But never the right thing.  Things.  To do.  To pay.  To buy.  To find.  To find.  To find.  Then I'll start searching or doing one of those THINGS, and forget about what I wanted in the first place, along with what I was doing at the time.  Some people call that Attention Deficit Disorder.  I call it menopause.   Thanks for reading!!