Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To STARCH... or not? A quilter's dilemma

My basic philosophy of life is... Don't try to fix what isn't broken... Do no harm... Have compassion for others... and don't starch your fabric.

Although I have read many articles on the joys of spraying liquid starch on fabric and ironing the daylights out of it so when quilting you get perfectly matched seams... I have resisted the urge, allowing my quilts to have that 'au naturale' look and feeling. I am an organic  seamstress and could care less if my seams match up or not. Well... at least in quilting. My original plan is to have every seam meet up perfectly with its adjoining seam... but if it doesn't end up that way... even though I have tried my best... I don't sweat it. I just figure the fabric had a mind of its own and did whatever the universe told it to.

My mom always taught me when sewing a garment, you should be able to wear the item inside-out and have it look just as nice. Meaning... use the correct interfacing, finish off all of your seams, have no threads hanging, and be proud of your work. I have always followed that rule... when sewing clothing. However, quilts are supposed to be soft and cuddly... in my opinion. Who wants to wrap up in a stiff blanket on a chilly night?

Well... it's a new age... and MODERN QUILTING is taking the quilt world by storm! Bold, clear, colors surrounded by lots of grays and white in simplistic designs with geometric sewing lines are all the rage. In order to get the 'crisp as a green apple' look... the old fashioned spray starch is back on the ironing boards of quilters around the world. Today I have joined the fray.

Working on yet another 'donation quilt'... I decided to work with only solid color fabrics. I chose some clear, bright cottons, and added a gray and a white for balance. I love the way it looks!!!

Pressing the sewn blocks, and then cutting them into strips left them a little too limp to sew together precisely. Remembering the articles about spray starch, I hunted my old can down. I knew I had it somewhere... but where? Ah... hiding in the way back of the laundry closet. I plucked it from the shelf... shook it up... and sprayed away.

ICK!! It came out in a solid stream. Oh brother, that's not good. I twisted the little top off, poked around the opening with a needle for a while, ran it under a stream of warm water, and tried again. Eh... not perfect, but certainly better. I had forgotten how much I loved the smell of starch. All the candle companies try to duplicate the scent and call it Clean Cotton. Snnniiiffff.... Ah!

So... happily I spray each piece and iron the fabric block into submission. My seams are perfect, the quilt smells nice and it is crisp as a spring morning. YIKES! My wood floors are covered in the over spray and are as slick as an ice skating rink. NOW I remember why starching wasn't a favorite habit of mine. Once I'm finished starching, I have to throw the ironing board cover into the wash... and scrub the floor clean. It's beginning to be another version of The Cat in the Hat... with the pink stuff getting every where.

Oh well... the quilt looks FABULOUS... and wasn't that the goal all along?

Currently I have two quilts on my machines. One is due on Friday... and is right on track. The other was due months ago. Thinking I was smart and choosing a design using scrappy fabrics... it ended up being a nightmare! Taking so much longer than I planned to pull out the fabrics and cut them all to the proper size. What was I thinking???  To stay on track I have had to put that project aside time and time again as I kept all the others on schedule. Sigh.

As is true with all things... it will all get done in good time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sea Glass and Pancakes... Monday Morning

There's something magical about glass that has been sandblasted and smoothed by mother nature. Originally sea glass was the product of sunken ships traveling between exotic places and either pirated or hit a patch of bad luck or a storm. Today our glass is mostly discarded beer and soda bottles. No matter... it's just as beautiful.

This morning I checked the low tide table and cross matched it with the expected sunrise. Eureka! The PERFECT STORM! Well... for me any way. I have Monday's off from watching my elderly ladies, low tide was scheduled for 5:45AM, the wind has been strong for a few days, there was a recent storm in the area, and sunrise was at a respectable hour... 6:16AM. I grabbed my camera and a Ziplock bag... and headed out to the beach.

Just look at my BOUNTY!!! I am especially thrilled with the dark blue one!!

Beach-combing is great exercise. So much bending and standing helps to 'whittle the middle', not to mention tightening up the glutes. Walking in the sand works the legs and heart. The sound of the ocean relaxes the tight muscles... especially in the face, neck, and shoulders... and does wonders for your outlook on life. Mother Nature's natural beauty salon moisturizes the skin and whips your hair into the fashionable 'beach look' without spending a dime. What more could you ask for???

I was so focussed on spying sea glass that I stumbled... literally... on this gnarled root. Thank heaven I had my camera with me... I couldn't get enough of this thing. If I were strong enough I would have hauled it home and placed a glass top on it to serve as a coffee table. Alas... I couldn't get it to budge.

Another 'water feature' caught my attention as I followed the sound of continuous water flowing. In the distance I caught a glimpse of a dam creating a waterfall. Stunning!!! Obviously I am attracted to old, beat up things... I couldn't take my eyes off the weathered wood. Each comes to it's own jagged point, but one in particular had a knot hole that was so much harder than the rest of the plank and the water couldn't wear it down. If you look very close you can see it on the largest plank.

Looking back towards the ocean I spotted two seagulls snuggling... oh how cute!! Awwwww...!

So... that was my morning. I was home by 9:30... cooked pancakes for breakfast... and began my day.

How was YOUR Monday morning???

Make it a GREAT week!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

So... What Have I Been Up to Lately?

Just before I went away to Arizona, I finished 2 baby quilts and got them in the mail. I didn't post about them as they were gifts for a baby shower on April 7th... for twin girls. Now that it is a few days past the 7th I can finally share them with you.

Both quilts were exactly the same on the front and bound with the same print fabric... although the backs were different... one was backed with the mottled aqua fabric and the other with the pink polka dot. 

Another fun thing I did before I left... was make envelopes out of a craft magazine and gifted them to a friend who I knew would really appreciate them. Making envelopes are super simple. I have templates I have used for years... or you can use an envelope you already have, just carefully pull it apart and trace around it.

Once you have cut them out, use double sided tape to close the sides, and 'peel and stick' tape for the flap. Not only do the postmen get a kick out of them, but the recipient too!

While in Sedona I took a day to hang out at the condo and 'play'. I brought my watercolors and had all the best intentions to paint the scene outside my balcony, but instead spent HOURS mixing my paints to match the natural colors of the Red Rocks. I just couldn't get it right... until I added the smallest dab of Cobalt Blue... Ta-Dah... PERFECT!

I put the paints away and pulled out my fabric. I brought along a project that had to be completed by the end of April... but instead of working on it, I made something else.

One evening while sitting at the bar, I struck up a conversation with a local couple. They told me so may places to go, and things to see off the beaten path and away from the tourists. To thank them, I made a little 5" square mini quilt... all sewn by hand.

I had so much fun I decided to make another one... this time 'beach themed'... since I am a Jersey Girl at heart.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ballooning Over Sedona

What an experience!!! I can honestly say for the first time in my life, “I went wherever the wind blew me.” In sailing you can always get where you want to go. The most asked question of all time when people find out I sail is... “When the wind is blowing toward you... how to do you go that way?” The answer of course is... “Tacking. You zig zag your way in that direction as opposed to going straight. Eventually you get to where you want.”

There is no 'zig-zagging' in ballooning. Only UP... and DOWN... catching wind currents as you go. Literally... you go where the wind wants to take you. The wind this morning blew me North-East. If I had my way I would rather have gone North-West more towards the red rock mountains... but the wind gypsies didn't ask me. However, my view of the Coconino National Forest was just as breathtaking... and certainly NOT disappointing.

It was so calm this morning... I was in flight for about 2 hours, yet only travelled about 3 miles. I can walk faster than that on dry land. Six balloons from the same company went up at the same time... and six balloons pretty much came down at the same time... although in different places.

The two man crew were so skilled they didn't even have to talk to one another to get the balloon ready for flight. A slight nod of the head, a look, a hand signal... and the next thing you knew the balloon was filling with air. A pull on the handle to release the flame... and the balloon was standing straight up. Tethered to the bumper of the chase van, the balloon didn't leave without us.

Climbing in the basket was the most difficult part for some of the travelers. One elderly woman in our group had a recent hip replacement and needed help... both in and out. The basket held a total of 7 of us... Six riders and one pilot, Doug. It was a bit too crowded for me. One less person would have made the trip much more pleasant. When I win the lottery I think I would like to go again... but for a personal flight... just the pilot, me, and a significant other.

We had a very skilled and soft landing. Doug instructed us to brace ourselves and be ready to bounce... but ground crew Matt grabbed the landing line and slowly brought us down while Doug hit the fuel just enough to keep us inches off the ground. PERFECT!

Once the balloon was packed and basket secured on the trailer again, we all rallied to a clearing in the dessert and shared a breakfast of strawberries with crème fraiche, sweet rolls, and mimosas (Champagne and OJ)! Certificates of flight were handed out stating I went up in the balloon named 'Estrella'... meaning STAR in Spanish. Who knew??

A fabulous time was had by all... especially me!

I only have two more things to do on my BUCKET LIST.
  1. Visit Tuscany, Italy
  2. Jump out of an airplane.
    Number 2 will be satisfied next summer with OTHS Class of '72 alumni. So... who wants to go to Italy with me???