Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pin Cushion
If someone in the future looked through my sewing machine things, what would they wonder about me? Probably most of all, they would wonder about my pin cushion. Actually it is two pincushions put together. The chair, made from a tuna can, was made and given to me by my sister-in-law about 20 years ago. The doll was made and given to me by a fellow worker about 10 years ago. I joined them and added a few extras and named her Suzie. My favorite pin is the flower pin. Guess that explains why there is only one there now. This pin is so easy to find and handle and I love that it lets the fabric lay flat. I also love a very thin but regular length pin I use for applique. I tried to find some of them again but since I don't know exactly what they are, I wasn't able to. I bought some labeled for applique but they have round heads and don't let the fabric lay as flat as I like. I also can't find the needle I love. I have no idea where it came from. It is also very thin but has an oval hole. The ladies at the fabric shops think it probably is an embroidery needle. I also have a needle that has a point that is shaped like a spear - flat on two sides. It is great for sewing through many layers of fabric. I also like using bee's wax for my thread when doing applique. I also love a small metal ruler showing many different distances including 1/8 and 1/4 inch. It is currently off working somewhere. Suzie better find it again and put it where it belongs on her back. I have duplicated most of my sewing tools so I have one set in MI and one here in FL but I carry Suzie in a plastic shoe box in my suitcase when I move between my homes. I always have the two allowed suitcases when I fly. One is full of fabric and other sewing things. The other suitcase has foods I can't get here in Fl. Clothes? They aren't very important and I can always buy them wherever I am. Oh me, the joys of a snow bird! (Turn off that violin music! :))

Hint: Having trouble treading a needle? Turn the needle around. They are drilled from one side and finding that side makes the thread go through easier.

I am making good progress on the two quilts I'm currently working on - the oriental one and the blue one I am doing applique on. I guess I haven't told about it yet. Soon.....

Saturday, February 18, 2006

My First Sewing Machine
It was 1959 and I was newly married. We decided we had saved enough money to buy a couple items. I wanted a sewing machine and my husband wanted a shot gun. Interesting, I would love sewing all my life as he would love hunting all of his. I listened to the Arthur Godfrey Show every day on the radio. He had entertainers, told jokes and talked about this and that. One day he recommended that a person save for something, but when you had the money to buy it on credit. This would allow you to establish a credit rating. So that is how I bought my first sewing machine. A major downtown store had a program where I didn't have to pay any interest for six months, so doing it this way cost me nothing. I wanted my husband to buy his gun this way too, but he wanted to pay for it all at one time. Later when we needed credit to buy a car, I listed the store where I bought my basic White sewing machine and the phone company. We were renting and utilities were included so the phone bill was all I had. Based on our payment records at these places, we had established good credit.
Do you have any memories about your first sewing machine?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Old Sewing Machine

I try to stay away from yard and garage sales. It's hard for me to resist old things. But a couple years ago I went to a rummage sale and saw this sewing machine. The case was nothing special and I might have been able to resist it but I thought I know who had owned it. Later I checked and I found out I was wrong, so the woman who used this machine is unknown. The thing that really appealed to me was that it was just as she had left it. Some items left in the drawer and in the green plastic box under the seat cushion indicated it had been used recently.
There are lots of books about how women keep their treasured quilts for years. These precious old machines produced many of them. The machines were so often kept that they are plentiful and have little antique value. But, at least for me, they connect me with the women who used them.
My favorite thing left in the seat container is a hand- made pin cushion. It appears to have been made by a child. Was this made by the sewer's child or even grandchild? Or could it be her own?

The machine is a Singer and I don't see a date. There is no book for the machine but there is one for the button hold attachment and it is dated 1939-1940. The book says: Modern Sewing is Different. Modern Singer sewing methods and sewing equipment bring you new enjoyment, new speed and ease in sewing. Today Singer Electric Machines are practically automatic. All you need do is guide the material. Quietly, smoothly, under perfect control, the machines sew forward or backward at the flick of a hand lever, do darning and embroidery work without special attachments, wind bobbins while you sew, create professional dressmaker effects without special skill on your part.
I have no idea how you would do embroidery work. I guess just sew back and forth.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'm Singing
"Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day. I've got a wonderful feeling everything's going my way.'
Just pretend that the above is in bright sunny yellow. Here in FL the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the people are out in their shorts. Well, my day will definitely include working on my applique while sitting outdoors. Shut your eyes, take a deep breath and join me!

Last evening I read quilting blocs. From one bloc, I found others that led me to more. I had no idea all of you were out there. What a wonderful group of people. I found a quilt I really really loved and would love to make but I forgot on whose site it was. Oh me. Guess I'll have to look at all of them again.

Going outside now. Are you coming over?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Can anyone tell me how to get the info at the end of all my blogs moved up to the top?
Reading blogs about your grandmas has made me think of mine. My dad's mother (GMM) lived with my folks but I was already grown and married by then. Before this, she had a small room in her house that she used as her sewing room. It had an old treadle sewing machine in a beautiful wooden cabinet. I took it when she moved in with my parents, but later I lost it. I don't want to remember that. GMM did embroidery. I have some of her dresser scarves and pillow cases. Sorry no pic at this time.

Embroidery was also my first handcraft love. By age 9 I had a sewing basket full of floss and needles. I still have it and have put GMM's thumble, needle and thread in it.

I also found a pic of a hot mat I made when I was about nine-years old. As you can see, it is well used.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

No Electricity
Okay, playing violins for me being cold in FL is one thing, but turning off my electricity is another. :) Yesterday my electric power went off for five hours. Why? Who knows. Of course everything including my heat is electric. Serves me right for keeping my thermostat set on 63 degrees. My 22 year old moble home only has single pane glass in the windows. Even the new houses in FL think insulation is a sheet of aluminum foil and it was 40 degrees outside when the power went off. The sun was out and my temperature only dropped to 60 during the five hours. How come I hear violins playing again? :) Really, I know it's no fun loosing electric in those storms up north, but at least I have a generator there to keep my gas furnace running!

What do you do when your power goes out? Here's what I did.
1. Took a shower before the water got cold
2. Cleaned with the swiffer and dust cloth
3. Pet and played with my dog
3. Cleaned with the swiffer again (dog sheds)
4. Read story in Reader's Digest
5. Appliqued and cut up some fabric
7. (I had a nap planned but the power came back on so got my sewing machine humming.)

Hunting up batteries for my portable radio caused me to remember this.
You Know You Live In Florida
* If you have more than 300 batteries in your kitchen drawer.
* Your phone has FEMA's number on speed dial.
* One whole closet is reserved for bottles of water.
* You describe your house to a prospective buyer by saying it has three bedrooms, two baths and one safe hallway.
* You are thinking of repainting your house to match the plywood covering your windows.
Happy Valentine's Day!
This is a vest I made many years ago. I only wear it once a year but the T-shirt I wear every week.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Soup's On
I'd like to complain about it being cold here in FL but I'm sure all the violin music from up north would hurt my ears. LOL Really I hope everyone up there is doing okay. We did get some frost here and it probably affected the tomatoes and other garden stuff. The tomatoes were just coming in after the plants being destroyed and replanted after the hurricanes. They protect the citrus and strawberries with water but not the vegetables.

Yesterday was a great day to stay inside and sew. I worked on my oriental one and did some applique on another one. Also made chicken noodle soup. I make good soup, if I do say so. The trick is making good stock. I was disappointed that I couldn't find any Amish noodles here in FL. Another thing I need to bring with me next year. They do have all kinds of Mexican food ingredients here that we don't have back home. These are other soups I often make: vegetable beef, potato, minestrone, split pea and bean. Did you know that there is a law that Michigan pea bean (navy bean) soup must be served in the U.S. Capital Building cafeteria every day? One of my goals for this winter was to make a cook book, including stories. It is just for my family. So far I've written only one story and recipe about hot dogs. Oh well, my goals are just directions to head in. I know I'll take side roads and to me, it is more important to enjoy the journey then to reach the end.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

About Me
I'm a cautious person when it comes to exposing my identity. I've had my identity stolen, and although I was lucky enough to have the person apprehended, it was a lot of trouble and scary too. I now buy things using my credit card over the internet but can't come to doing my banking on it. So I wasn't sure how much I wanted to expose on this blog, but after reading many other blogs, I think it must be safe.

So here goes. I'm a snowbird, flying to Florida in the fall and back to Michigan in the spring. I went on Medicare last month - another step in life which I hated to face. I read recently that life continues to be a struggle. Yes, as the years evolve, the struggles change but the very definition of life is this series of challenges and adaptions. Rather than be angry or sad, I embrace them. They are opportunities to grow and know. One of the many words to describe me is an optimist.

I have always liked creating with needle and thread or sewing machine but only started quilting after I retired eight years ago. Actually, I'm a topper. I haven't counted how many, but I've made a good number of quilts and will tell about them later.
Reading Blogs
Yesterday afternoon I read and read quilting blogs. It was raining so a good day to do this. I'll never be able to spend this much time regularly, but I was reading all the past postings, well not all, but many. It will be faster now to just be able to read the latest. And I can start figuring out which ones I want to read on a regular basis. This is fun!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A People and Their Quilts
For Christmas my oldest daughter gave me this book. She bought it in Appalachia while vacationing there last summer. I love it.
It is written by John Rice Irwin. The blurb describing it says, "Quilts are a reflection of the people who make, use, and cherish them through the years.... Here, in their own language, is a firsthand account of a people and their art.... He explores their ambitions and aspirations, their struggles and disappointments..... This lavishly illustrated volume is a treasure trove of creative needlework, colorful anecdotes, and intriguing personal histories which will entertain readers of all ages."
I have been flipping through it reading here and there. It's a book to read a little, study the pictues and then muse. Today I enjoyed the whole chapter on Old Homesteads and Their Quilts. The chapter begins, "When a person admires the beauty, art, and workmanship of a quilt he surely wonders about its background, the people who made it, and the location and type of home from which it came." The stories include pictures of those homes and the women who made them so many years ago.
This book was published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. in 1984. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves quilting or American history.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oriental Quilt -Mistake
It was going so well and then I sewed the blue fabric to the right instead of the left side of the oriential print and, due to the one way fabric, I couldn't flip it. Oh but look. It makes a nice random design.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oriental Quilt - Third Fabric
Using scotch tape I put the nine patches of the oriental and orange fabric together into my new pattern. Then off to the store I went. I pulled out bolt after bolt of fabric, laying my taped pieces over each. There was another oriental one that had the right orange color but didn't provide enough contrast. I tried a blue, then a green and several tans. I had other shoppers helping. I walked away and looked back - never satisfied. I'm sure I tried at least 20 fabrics, some more than once. My samples fell apart. Finally I asked a salesperson for help. She found a dark blue that was perfect. I bought it. Of course they were having a sale, and I felt good that I only bought 1/1/2 yards of two of them. They are just for my stash.
Last night I washed and dried my new fabric and anxiously laid out my nine patches. How will the blocks work together? I decide to use my graph paper and do some drawing. Humm. Not sure. But I'm tired, so maybe it will be okay in the morning.
Yup, it still has problems this morning. Many more tries. The orange is so strong. It is the problem, not the oriental fabric. Removing it - oh how much better! Add a windmill in the middle and hey - look at this. And I've put back in just a splash of the orange and emphasized the oriental theme that was my goal all along.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Oriental Quilt - Another Try

Yesterday I was looking through quilt blocks on the web and suddenly one popped out at me. It was called the Double 9 Patch.
Would it work for that oriental theme fabric I had given up on? Oh, I really think it will. I have the matching orange fabric. Quickly I pushed aside the other quilt blocks from my cutting board and soon was zipping that rotary cutter along. Then last evening the sewing machine hummed. With great anticipation, I laid out the blocks. Oh no, another pattern that didn't work. Why did I ever buy this material? I should just give up and use it for the back of some quilt.
This morning I was looking at some quilting blogs and got inspired to try some type of sampler pattern. I set out the pieces. It needed a third fabric. I dragged out some and, using them for backgrounds, I arranged the pieces again and again and again.

Finally I stood back and said, "I've got it!" It wasn't a sampler pattern, but I had it. None of these background fabrics would work, but I've got the pattern. Now I'm off to the fabric store.