McCall’s 6844

In keeping with my “Creative Fraud” persona, Sarah Gunn from GoodbyeValentino.com made an amazing sweater with some yummy oatmeal boucle’ and  I HAD to have it.  Isn’t this precious? Sorry for the screenshot stuff off my phone. 🙂  If you don’t follow her blog but love to sew garments, you should check her out.

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So I immediately hopped over to StyleMaker Fabrics to get the exact same fabric.  They still had some (it’s on backorder as of the date of this post) and then I searched and searched for the pattern by looking for $1.99 sales at JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby without any luck.  I decided to buy it full price since I couldn’t find it on sale (impatient with impending cold weather) but come to find out, that stinking pattern is out of print.  So Amazon came through again but I had to pay $12.99.  (sigh)  I wanted view B which is a bit longer without the peplum.  Girls built like me ought not wear anything fluffy added to the backside or hips, ya know?

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During all my searching, I came across a couple of blogs that had made the same pattern but had not exactly followed the directions in the pattern.  Detective Houndstooth (who has allowed her blog to expire  – shame on her) made the collar using what she called “the burrito method” and I’ll explain that later.  It’s fabulous!

First I had to do an FBA.  I did some searching and chose this method because the description of the fabric says it’s a “knit” and I didn’t want a dart on knit fabric.  Lo and behold, this boucle’ isn’t a knit at all.  There’s no lengthwise or widthwise stretch to this stuff but this FBA worked just fine.  When I’m altering pattern pieces, I like to use Pellon Red Dot Pattern Tracing Cloth.  I love this stuff because it forms to your body for fitting much better than paper and it’s so easy to see movement of measurements by counting dots.  I added 1″ to the FBA since most commercial patterns are a B and I’m …not.

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I had to lay the fabric and pattern pieces out on the pool table to cut it all out.

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The beauty of the “burrito method” when attaching a collar, is that there are no exposed seams on the inside neckline when you’re finished.  Style Arc describes it here.  Basically, you create the collar (tortilla) as directed and put it face up on the table.  Then you roll up the body of the garment (burrito stuffing) and place the roll in the center of the tortilla.  Then you pull up the sides of the tortilla around the stuffing to meet each other making sure to capture the top edge of the back neckline (lettuce leaf) as you go and match all markings as you sandwich the lettuce between the edges of the collar, er…tortilla.  Pin like crazy to make sure you don’t capture any of the burrito stuffing in the seam other than that single piece of lettuce.  You with me so far?  I ended up with something like this.  That’s the lower collar on top with the interfacing pinned to the upper collar (on the bottom) with the rest of the garment rolled in between.  The back neckline is right sides together with the upper collar and is located between about 10 and 2 o’clock in this burrito roll.  What you see sticking out of the ends are the bottom edges of the front bodice pieces.

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Then sew the normal seam allowance from end-to-end and be sure to backstitch.  The hardest part of all this is the wrangling as you pull the insides out and flip it around.  Ta-da!!  Perfect!  Look at that!! Not a seam in sight!  Factory!

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My next deviation from the pattern was to sew the sleeves to the sleeve cap opening vs. a set-in sleeve as directed and then sew a long seam up the side seam and down the arm to the wrist.  Here’s the sleeve sewn to the armseye.

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I brought out the big guns with the Janome 900 Cover Stitch.  Totally professional on the inside hem and you can’t even see it on the front.

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I’m SOooo happy with how this turned out!  I ended up adding a hook & loop to the waist line so it would stay closed.  The only thing I would do different, and this was a total oversight because I was so thrilled with how the burrito turned out, is that I should have narrowed the lower collar by 1/4″ to 3/8″ so that it would naturally roll under.  I have some miniscule collar flipping going on at the back of my neck but my hair covers it.

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It totally fits!  I wore it to work today on our first cold day this year and it was so snuggly.  I don’t think my dog is impressed.  🙂  She’s watching me take pictures thinking, “Would you put me outside already and give me my treat?”

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Scrappy Travel Neck Pillow

I let my perfectionism go and just dove into my scrap bag to make a neck pillow for travel.  I’ll admit, I didn’t create this pattern…it was a freebie hand-drawn pattern I received on a shop hop years ago.   I re-created it and you can find it here.

This project is pretty simple and requires a minimal amount of thought…which can be nice and fun at times. 🙂

Cut 30 – 3″ squares.  Put them together centered like so.   A row of 4, a row of 6, two rows of 8, and another row of 4 with two blanks in the center.

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I used fusible batting for both the front and the back.  I double stitched all the seams to “quilt” the top and add a bit of strength to the seams.

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Using the pattern, cut out the top making sure the pattern lines stay within the boundary of the sewn squares.

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Find another scrap large enough for the backing.  Pin the top to it and cut out.

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Sew right sides together leaving a 3-4″ opening.  Turn, stuff and sew the opening closed.  Done!

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It has a new home in my carry on bag.

2017 San Antonio Quilt Expo & a New Quilting Ruler Stand

The San Antonio Quilt Expo was put on by the Greater SA Quilt Guild on Sep 22-23, 2017 and I’d never been to one so I donned my favorite sewing themed tee and headed out.  It was at the San Antonio Event Center WAY over on the west side of town, and I live about 25 miles east of SA, so it took almost an hour to get there.  Parking is $3 (cheap) and entry was $8.  I had a bit of nostalgia going over there because the building is an old furniture store that shares a parking lot with what once was a Cloth World.  I worked part time at that store during my days in the military just to make ends meet when I was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in 1995-96.  I was a supervisor in the military then which was its own form of misery which you would understand if you’ve ever supervised government workers, and I remember telling them I didn’t want any responsibilities other than putting away bolts that had been cut, organizing shelves, etc.  I loved that job.  It definitely satisfied my OCD tendencies to organize and straighten.  The zipper racks, threads, and embroidery thread skeins alone could take up an entire evening shift.  People are so messy!  I was in heaven.

I’ve been to the Houston Quilt Festival several times and of course this isn’t anything like that.  Well maybe, but just a very, very miniature version.  Just my style.

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I’ve been wanting to get a set of Leader Grips and I needed some batting so I hoped to find vendors there with those items.  Plus, I’m always eager to see new quilting stuff like machines, threads, rulers, etc.

Right away I ran into a couple of FB friends Mike and Sandy Berish from San Marcos, TX.  They have a laser cutter had made a couple of acrylic cutting shape templates for a friend and after I explained the outrageous markup on quilting rulers they were at the Expo on a fishing expedition to see what it was all about.

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I told him that one thing that is needed in our world that I haven’t seen is a ruler stand for quilting rulers vs. cutting rulers.  Cutting ruler stands have slots in them that are a scant larger in width than 1/8″ but a quilting ruler is 1/4″ in width and won’t fit the standard stand.  Here is the cutting ruler stand that Keith made me two Christmas’s ago.  There’s a couple of empty spots at the top so I must be slacking.

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Here’s is my current collection of quilting rulers that do not have their own home.  They are too thick to fit in my cutting ruler stand.

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Mike is such a sweetheart he went right home and made me one!  He needs to either get them for sale on a web page or start an Etsy shop.  Isn’t this awesome?? I can’t wait to put it to use.  I’ve decided to make clear covers for my stands to keep my rulers dust free.  Or maybe I’ll just staple a piece of clear vinyl cut to size on the back that I can flop over the top.  That’s sounds easier.

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I’ll be honest, I’m not much for looking at other people’s quilts and there were about 300 on display so I only saw those near the exhibit entry.  I’m not a big art fan so strolling around in a museum looking at things isn’t my idea of fun unless they are a gazillion years old.  History?  Yes.  Art?  No.  Abstract art?  Hell no.  In my book, abstract art is a total waste of time, money, and effort.  I tell you this now so you know how I feel about “Modern Quilts”.   When I hear the term “negative space” my eyes roll.  It’s called a blank spot sweetie.  But I guess “negative space” makes it sound intentional and artsy-fartsy.  Whatever.  To each his own, right?   Here’s an example of a modern quilt from the Quilt Expo in Wisconsin.  That vast expanse of gray fabric is what modern quilters call negative space.  I call it missing something.

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Now if you love modern quilts or make them, please don’t get all offended.  This isn’t about you.  It’s about me and my personal tastes on my blog as backwards as you think they might be.  I’m good with that.  However, I do love me some modern paper pieced lion that was shown at the Quilt Expo in Wisconsin.  Who doesn’t?  Straight line quilting here – that’s it.

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A girl (lady now?) that I’ve known since Junior High showed her quilt there.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  I snagged this from her FB page.  I can’t imagine the time this took.

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The best in show at the SA Expo was an embroidered quilt of all things.  I really enjoy embroidering on a quilt and it looks like this was a Quilt as You Go.  Stunning.

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The Hobbs batting vendor was right inside the front entrance.  I’m glad I found them because they had samples of all their quilt battings that had been sandwiched, quilted, and washed on display that you could feel and fondle.  I’m such a novice, I couldn’t tell the difference between most of them except my usual 80/20 and the wool.   Which tells me that my 80/20 choice will suffice just fine for most of my needs.  While I needed batting, I didn’t want to haul it around the show with me so I figured I’d hit them up last on my way out.

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I came across a vendor with a nifty new way of creating HSTs (half square triangles) of all different sizes and she had some templates for $12 each or the whole set for like $150.  Her templates are on the same concept of stitching over a piece of paper on the dotted lines and cutting on the solid lines.

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On hers, you use a thin plastic template to mark lines or Pounce through the gaps in a plastic sheet.  Then stitch along the lines and cut between them.  Now what kind of a business model is this?  Unless you’re making a quilt like the one below, how would I know which size template I need?  I can see me buying the one that makes a ton of 2.5” HSTs thinking that that should be a pretty common size but of course the next quilt I make will need a ton of 3.5” HSTs and I’ll be like “Dang.  I should have dropped the whole $150 to make some squares.”  What if I only need 4 HTSs and the sheet wants me to cut 24?  Or…what if I skipped this gimmick and cut my own?  I moved on.

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After strolling around the vendors for about an hour, I decided I’d had enough, plus my back hurt and my dogs were beginning to howl (for you non-US readers that means my feet hurt), so I headed back to the Hobb’s booth.  The sales lady was chatting with another show goer so I waited politely.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.  Geez, give it a rest already would you two?  I’m trying to spend some money over here.  As I waited I turned around and spied an Innova booth from a vendor from Richmond, Texas (Jo’s Quilting Studio over by Houston) and they had entire ROLLS of Hobb’s 80/20 just staring at me.  The roll said, “Hey, come over here and check me out.”  OK, I’m game.

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There was a nice young man (above) with his back to me looking at FB and I said, “Hey sweetie, I want this” pointing at the roll of batting.  He turned around surprised and said, “You want this?”  Yep.  He said OK and explained that he didn’t know how to work the register and excused himself to get his fellow coworker to help who was customer chatting on the other side of the booth.  He got back and said she’d be right there.  So I asked him, “Do you have any Leader Grips?”  He said no but they did have Red Snappers (same thing).  I told him I’d take those too for a 10-foot frame.  The lady began to ring up my purchase and he said, “I’ll carry this out for you.”  I love Texans.  They are SO nice!  After I paid, I headed for the exit, Red Snappers in hand, with a handsome young man who was hauling my roll of batting on his shoulder like a lumberjack.  I explained to the lady at the door that I was taking him home with me.  LOL  Unfortunately, I had to leave that handsome young man behind.  Besides the fact that I’m old enough to be his mother, Keith would probably have an issue with it…I can’t imagine why.  🙂

My trip to the SA Quit Expo was a total success!  I got what I came for and my first quilting experience with the Red Snappers has been super successful.  Hard to see but there’s butterflies in that panel.  I’ll do another post on the Snappers soon.

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1st Pantograph on the Longarm, a.k.a. Two New Dog Blankets

A couple of months ago, my local quilt shop was having a season clearance and they had an entire bolt of “cheater cloth” up for grabs.  Not only was it on clearance, I talked the owner into another 10% off the sale price if I bought the entire bolt because I’m pretty sure I’m making her car payment.  Cheater cloth’s sole purpose in life is to help new longarm quilters such as myself, gain the necessary motor skills for following a pantograph.  It is pre-printed with a quilting design that washes away in the laundry.   I bought my longarm last November and up to this point, I’ve been making quilts using the Quilt Butler that is an auto-stitching computer.  All I have to do on the Butler is set the stitching boundary box, choose a pattern, make sure the needle is threaded right, and press start.  Well…there’s a little more to it…but not much.

My main reason for the cheater cloth was to become more familiar with the mechanics of the quilting process itself.  Since I began longarming, I have suffered numerous newbie mistakes (still am), and the machine still intimidates me.  After I got it, I remember staring at my Baby Lock Ellegante 2 sewing & embroidery machine (which I whiz around on) and thinking, “I can’t wait until I feel as comfortable on the longarm as I do on this.”  In my corner of the world as a quilter/seamstress, I love the zen feel with my machines that I “know” them.  We know each other.  I know how they behave, what type of thread they like, how they perform on different fabrics, and most importantly, what to do when something goes wonky.  Maybe that all sounds silly, but I believe it’s the same as how a mechanic feels about his/her car.  You know how it’s supposed to sound, it shouldn’t “chug” as my dad used to say, and know just what makes it purr.  Same goes with my machines.

Well, the only way to get comfortable with the longarm was to use the dang thing.  I watched video after video on how to load a quilt, videos on longarm tips and tricks, and pretty much anything else I could do to procrastinate learn as much as possible.  Finally, the purchase of the cheater cloth pushed me over the edge to actually load it and get going on it.  I think I figured the cheater cloth allowed me to make mistakes which I knew I would do without spending an arm and a leg on fabric or ruining a preciously pieced quilt top.

For the backing, the Fat Quarter Shop had one of their daily sales months ago where they were selling 5 yards of dark star fabric from a Moda Christmas line for like $5 or something stupid cheap like that.  I have no idea what that weird purple filter is on the left of this pic.

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First off, watching the video in the link below by Jamie Wallen made a collossal improvement in my quilting.  Correct tension – just that simple.  Someone on a blog somewhere mentioned this video so of course I had to check it out.  Jamie locked down the video so I can’t imbed it to my blog, but here is the link.  Changed my world.  I intentionally used black thread on the back of this project to see how the tension was doing.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM 

So how did it go with the cheater cloth?  Good thing I don’t drive like I quilt or I’d be arrested on the spot for a suspected DWI. At the bottom of this pic, you can see the tension improved.

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I had another newbie mistake moment where I forgot to lower the presser foot.  Look what the back looks like when THAT happens!  Yikes!  My sewing machine doesn’t do that on the back.  In fact, it never allows me to do that because it beeps at me when I forget to lower the foot.  Love technology.  Wups.

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After two rows of using the cheater cloth lines, I opted to go to the back of the machine for some pantograph action.  Not much better but I did improve as I went.  My goal is to get the rounds to be actually round without flat sides.  This will take me some time.  I’m still working on the body mechanics of  “do I use one hand or two?”, how best to stand or do I sit on a chair?  The smoothness of the designs will come with practice…or so I have been told by every professional quilter from here to the internet.  My goal is to be as good as Alice as my local quilt shop.  She knocks out 2-3 quilts a day at work.  She’s awesome.

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In a Whut the ??? moment when I tried to remove the quilt from the frame, it wouldn’t come off the top bar.  Then I noticed that somehow I got the top end of the batting in between the top and backing and managed to sew the quilt together around the back bar!  LOL  I had to cut it out to get the quilt off the frame.  Good grief!  LOL

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I put in about a total of 4 hours of practice on this particular piece.  I’m not sure I got better as time went on (which is why I have the Butler) but I really do enjoy the task of the pantograph.  I can already tell that at 5’9”, I need hubs to raise the frame 4-6” to prevent my now aching back.

Ugly though it may be, it passed quality inspection by my Australian Cattle Dog, Blue.  And my husband said, “Aren’t you going to put the ends [binding] around it?”  I literally laughed at him.

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I’m going to look for more clearance backing fabric this week to get back at it.

Efficient Quilt Piecing Techniques

I’m just beginning a Christmas gift quilt so I can’t show you the finished image yet, but this one has a ton of repetitive piecing.  A TON!  You know the type:  Cut 28 each of these 4 different width rectangles at 2.5”, 3”, 3.5”, etc.  And cut 128 2.5” x 2.5” squares.  Oh, and you need to keep them all organized and sorted. I literally spent almost 3 hours on my feet today standing in front of my cutting table.  This isn’t all of it. There’s sashing and borders on another table across the room.

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In my short life as a quilter, I’ve discovered that my natural tendency to be a bit organized is a benefit.  “A bit”  ha ha.  Even though I’m not one, I have a master’s degree as a Medical Librarian which is the ultimate in organization.  Maybe that’s why those Alpha Bitties called to me.   For the longest time, my thriftiness got the better of me and I just used tiny post it notes, but I found these little gems on sale somewhere and I really like them.

Cutting efficiency is everything when doing a project like this.  This pattern didn’t use a pre-cut so I ironed all the yardage before I started but I left the bolt fold un-ironed.  I normally leave the fabric folded in half as it came off the bolt and cut all selvages right away in one fell swoop.  That saves time cutting them off on each WOF (width of fabric) cut.  I normally cut multiples if possible as well.  So let’s say the pattern calls for 12 of something that is the same, I’ll stack 3-4 folded identical width cuts and cut the needed amount.  And I always start with a fresh rotary blade for these projects.

Sometimes Needle Center isn’t always the best spot on my machine for these projects.  In this case, I wanted to use the Needle Left because there is a guide mark on the face plate for the ¼” mark on this machine that is ¼” to the right from Needle Left.  I normally remove the presser foot and lower my needle into a Scant Quarter Inch Ruler.  The mark on my machine’s face plate is exact to the stitch line on the ruler.  Pretty cool huh?  I put a strip of painter’s tape down the front of my machine from that mark to use as a guide.

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The instructions in this case said to begin at the top inner background corner and sew to the lower left corner.  On the first one, I always draw a stitching line with a Frixion pen so I get it right.  The rest of the pieces don’t need the line after that.  That’s a HUGE time saver.  The trick here is two-fold:  line up the lower left corner first and snug up the starting point against the needle, and don’t watch the needle while sewing.  I watch the lower left corner of the piece to make sure it stays true to the edge of the painter’s tape.

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My sewing method is to chain piece and do as much as possible in one go.  I cut them apart on the cutter on the side of the machine and do as many as I can hold at once.

When I have a large chain piecing project, I always set up a cutting and ironing station right next to my machine.  My ironing surface is an old board covered in batting and extra fabric from my first grandson’s nursery.  He’s six now.  🙂    I have a small travel iron, a small cutting mat and cutter, and ruler if needed in this work space.

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I normally don’t use a ruler to cut whatever needs to done.  That takes too much time.

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After I cut one piece, I toss it to the side with the darker fabric to the top.  This way I can iron and press the seam allowance to the dark side without having to flip the fabric around when I’m ready to iron it all.  I do take the extra time to finger press the seams open after I set the seam with the iron.  I finger press to prevent the fabric from going wonky as I give it a final press.

Check out that perfect quarter inch!

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Hurricane Harvey

We got word of Harvey forming in the Gulf of Mexico early last week and began to think about what it might mean for our house in Port O’Connor, Texas.  It was just a tropical storm then or maybe even only a tropical depression but by Wednesday, they were predicting it would form into a full-on hurricane and would probably make land on Friday somewhere around Corpus Christi, Texas.  Our coast house is about a 2-hour drive from Corpus.  I told my boss on Wednesday that I probably wouldn’t be into work on Thursday because we would need to go down and put boards on the house.  We live approximately 2.5 hours from Port O’Connor.  The image below shows the red star where we live in LaVernia (la-vern-ya), the green circle is our house in Port O’Connor, and the triangle is where the full force of Harvey hit.  Prayers please for our fellow coastal friends in the wake of Harvey.  The devastation is incredible.  Houston is in the upper right corner where all the flooding is happening that you see on the news right now.  While Houston is all you see, we’re hearing that Port Aransas and Rockport were flattened.

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On the way down we called other friends in LaVernia and Weimar, TX who have houses there and asked to see if they needed their boards put up as well.  Friends take care of each other in these situations.  One friend had gone down the day before and pulled the boat from the sling and parked it on high ground but still in P.O.C (as we call it).  It was becoming obvious that we really didn’t want to leave it there.  I also wanted to get the perishables out of the freezer and fridge.  Nothing worse than coming back to a fridge of rotten food.  I’ve done it and oh my,…it’s awful.  You might as well just strap it up and tow it fully closed to the dump.  It took a year to clear that out the last time it happened from a power outage and we tried to salvage the fridges.  Here’s a hint if that happens to you.  After fully power washing the refrigerator, put paper plates of high-end kitty litter on every shelf and change monthly.  It will absorb all the odors.  And yes, it takes about a year.

Now, …about the Weather Channel.  I know these guys are not only in business to report the weather but also to make money.  They also don’t want to be liable if they under-report the weather and people die as a result of their under-reporting.  I get that.  But there also has to be a balance.  We heard reports such as “Port O’Connor will be leveled”, “9 to 12-foot storm surge”, and “35 inches of rain”, none of which happened.  They did get the increased rating of hurricane correct from Category 1 to a Cat 4 but that’s because of the verified wind speeds by all the sophisticated weather equipment in the world.  I think we all need to realize that the weather forecasters report the weather in a vacuum.  They don’t know the on-the-ground conditions that the city planners have put in place to deal with enormous amounts of water that can come from a hurricane.  Heck, when we bought the place at the coast, I held the firm belief that eventually, one day, it might blow away.  We would do what we could to protect it and I would only decorate it in Early Modern WalMart, but still, one day it might be gone.  In fact, because it is a mobile home within 40 miles of the coastline, it cannot be insured for flood, wind or hurricane damage.  Fire and vandalism?  I’m covered.  I’m paying about $200 a year for that.

So Keith and I went down on Thursday and boarded up our house on a blue sky day and prepped it to prevent things from flying around.  It’s a 4 bedroom, 2 bath trailer across the street from $750,000 homes with wet slips.  🙂  Location, location right?

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And boarded up the guy we bought our place from across the street.  It’s a two story…with 13 upstairs windows and 9 downstairs windows.  That’s the other end of my house in the background.

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And our friend’s house a few streets over.  That’s my 3-legged dog Harley.

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Let me tell you.  That’s some WORK!   Keith was on the ladder screwing in the boards and my job was to move the ladder and hand up the plywood to him.  All told, it was about 50 sheets of plywood.  And 13 of them had to be hauled up a flight of stairs.

Then we went and hitched up the boat from the high ground and headed home.  By the end of the day, as we say in Texas, “We were give out!”  I did bring back my sewing machine and my margarita machine too.  A girl has to have her priorities ya know!  The Honda Metropolitan scooter and family antiques?  I’ll cross my fingers.  But by golly I brought home what was important!

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On Friday, Keith stayed home from work but I went in to my job in North East San Antonio.  However, we were released about noon because of the frenzy to get to the stores to buy supplies to hunker down for the impending storm.  Can I say I’ve never been so glad to be “old-school” as I am in a storm?  I like to shop at the big box stores like Sam’s and Costco so I have multiples of literally everything.  Zipper bags, foil, toilet paper and paper towels; canned veggies, soups, frozen meats, chips and bread.  My house is stocked like a prepper!  Not because I am a prepper mind you, but because my mother is from Wisconsin and there was never an empty shelf in the basement pantry.  She froze everything and always bought or made things in quantity.  It was helpful in my early years when the electricity went out every time a cloud passed over but I really have no excuse now.  I just can’t help myself.  Keith is from Kansas and grew up with tornados so we’re pretty compatible in that sense.  Good thing too, because the grocery stores had empty shelves.  The only thing I really needed was beer. 🙂   Come to find out, hurricanes and cookies go hand-in-hand.  The cookie and chip isles were empty and there wasn’t a can of Spaghettio’s or a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to be found.  I guess people need comfort food in a disaster ya know?

We sat outside on Friday evening under the car port and watched the weather on the TV hooked to the RV.    Once it started seriously raining, we went in.  It is Sunday evening as I write this and it hasn’t quit raining since Friday night.  I’m SO grateful I’m a quilter/seamstress!  I had a ton of projects to keep me busy all weekend.  Keith however is a different story.  He can’t go to the ranch or even piddle around outside.  Even though we never lost power, we lost Dish Network cable on Friday night because the dish got shoved around by the wind.  Finally, on Sunday afternoon, he broke out an old-school antenna to hook to the TV and can now get local stations.  I had bought that antennae to put up at the house at the coast but one day Keith found some Dish guys on another job and paid them cash to run cable in the house so the antennae has been under the pool table here at home for months.  Good thing huh?  At least now he can watch TV.  This rain is strange.  No thunder, no lightening, but just a steady downfall of a what I’d call a soaking rain for the past 30 hours.  The wind felled two 50 foot trees in our backyard and has left the entire yard, front-and-back, in a total mess.  My pool is a disaster.   And even though I lost two trees, you can’t tell.  There’s another 40 back there to make up for them.

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On Saturday there wasn’t much to do.  We actually pulled out some lawn chairs and sat on the front porch of our house for the first time in the 11 years that we’ve owned the place because we had the house itself to block the wind and rain.  Keith likes his cigars so we hung out outside with the dogs, drank a case of beer, and watched the trees blow around.

On a bright note, I got a call from my State Farm agent to check on me and to remind me that my trailer at the coast isn’t covered for flood or hurricane.  Gee thanks.  But she was happy we were high and dry.  How nice.  Good ol’ State Farm.  Like a Good Neighbor…

Update – Monday evening.  We’ve had updates from those hardy few who stuck it out in Port O’Connor and there was about a 2.5 foot storm surge.   There’s my yellow trailer on the left.  Look at all that water.  That’s nothing in Port O’Connor.  That little fishing village is ready for it and handled it like a champ.

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The floor of my house is about 5.5 feet off the ground so it seems there was no interior flooding thank goodness.  We did lose a board off the master bedroom window which is double paned.  The exterior pane broke and bent the frame but the interior pane held so there wasn’t major water damage I don’t think.  The power has been off since last Friday so I’m glad when we went down we grabbed all the perishables.  They don’t think it will be back on until Wednesday.  At least my bill will be less for August.

Keith and I spent this evening cleaning up the yard.  He cut up one of the felled trees that fell over the neighbor’s fence with his chain saw and I took a big rake to the yard.  I live on an acre and a half so it’s a lot of yard.  I managed to clean up one half of the back yard and we tossed all the tree branches back onto our side of the fence that fell in the neighbor’s yard.  I’m going to have Popeye shoulders if I keep all this heavy outdoor work up.

So that’s my Hurricane Harvey update.  More to come if anything else happens.  We plan to go down on Thursday night or Friday unless the power isn’t back on.  This girl isn’t going to do without air conditioning!

 

 

 

Applique, Stitch Artist, and Silhouette Cameo 3

I’m recently all about a new technology/skill/craft that is creating pre-cut fabric applique pieces with a cutting machine and adding them to a quilt block with an embroidery machine.  I’m not sure what that is (lazy?) but you just can’t pick this up and go unless you’re super savvy and have the right equipment and embroidery digitizing software.  At least I need to be super savvy.  🙂

About two years ago or so, I bought a Silhouette Cameo3 from Woot.com for $199.00 which apparently was a great deal.  Have you heard of Woot.com?  Awesome daily deals and shipping is always $5.  This company was started by 2 guys from Texas and was bought a couple of years ago by Amazon.  I digress, but check them out.  Anyhoo…  So I bought this thing with the idea that it could make latex logo labels for hubs to use in his custom fishing rod business.  It came with a starter pack with a bunch of blades and tools and an extra mat I think.

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It arrived, I told hubs what it was, set the box down on the floor in the game room, and that was that.  Forgotten.  Don’t have a heart attack!  My blog is Power Tools with Thread, not “power tools with paper”.  Lots of you paper craft and I applaud that.  It just isn’t me.  Maybe it goes back to a seriously bad paper cut as a kid, I’m not sure, but I have absolutely no desire in my LIFE to paper craft.

So one morning while we were at the coast and the house was quiet (hubs was still asleep) I was surfing YouTube and I came across a video of someone cutting fabric shapes with a cutting machine.  I had literally completely forgotten about the box in the game room and was like “Hey! I should get one of those machines because I HATE to trace and cut out applique shapes in fabric and I could use this for the Dinosaur Applique Quilt”.   The machine in the video was the Brother Scan-n-Cut so I watched all kinds of videos on that machine.   

When we got home I was putting things away and for no reason, glanced at the box on the floor in the game room and it struck me.  EUREKA! I have one of those machines!  I opened it up and it’s not a Scan-n-Cut, but the Silhouette Cameo 3.  Hmm.  More YouTube surfing for some OJT on that baby.  I finally got the thing working with my phone via Bluetooth, but had a disastrous outcome when I tried to cut the fabric.

Then on another day I was surfing YouTube (again) and I came across a video by Briton Leap featuring Lisa Shaw who’s a rock star in the machine embroidery world.  She was showing how to use an embroidery machine to create a placement line for pre-cut applique shapes and then sew a final tack-down stitch for the pieces.  Seriously???  I wouldn’t even have to sew them in place?  Wait…Let me get this right… If I can get the shapes to cut out with the Silhouette, and use embroidery software to create an applique file, then I wouldn’t have to trace/print, cut, or sew it down the old fashioned way?  REALLY??  SIGN ME UP!!  

My first thing was to order her recommended Heat & Bond Lite Stretch.  She showed in the video how it turns the fabric to almost paper-like so it cuts cleanly in a cutting machine.  In my previous attempts I had used Wonder Under on the back of the fabric and I tried it with the paper and without the paper on the back of the fabric and it didn’t work worth a crap either way.

After seeing the video with Lisa Shaw, I didn’t know if my Embrilliance software would work or if I needed a digitizing software like Stitch Artist?  I surfed all around the web and I guess I either didn’t ask the right question or whatever but I couldn’t find an answer.  Well, when Google fails there’s Facebook!  I became a member of a machine embroidery group and explained what I wanted to do and asked for advice.  Guess who responded to me?  LISA SHAW!  In the virtual flesh!  (I was tickled!) She said I would need to upgrade my Embrilliance Essentials to Stitch Artist Level 1 and then pointed me to the video in the link below where Sunbonnet Sue was digitized with Stitch Artist for applique. 

So that’s it!  I need time to play with all this and my initial fiddling with Stitch Artist is going well but I haven’t had time to try cutting fabric yet with the new H&B.  But this summer has been so crazy busy and I’m on a new compressed work schedule that keeps me in the office for an extra hour each day but gives me a day off every two week pay period. It’s on those off days I’ll be able to sit and think and play to get this process going.  Have you done this?  Success?  Failure?  Words of wisdom?