A HOT time making masks

A Hot Time making masks – Having a heatwave in Delaware this past week, where outside temps are in the nineties every day. The humidity has been over 80% most days as well. I have a freestanding Haier air conditioner in my sewing room and it isn’t keeping up with the heat. Temps have been over 80 in my studio space all week. We live in a 117 year old house without central air and this morning, my kitchen a/c said it was 80 when I got up. Trying to sleep last night in the bedroom at 80 degrees was miserable. Our pool was 95 last night and I am ever so grateful for the brief downpour we had this morning, to add cool water to the pool, bring up the water level and cool off the surfaces, decking, roof and more. The morning temp dropped from 81 to 77 so that was quite nice. So, time spent in my sewing room studio above the garage is “weather dependent” right now.

I was creating a few masks for my granddaughters last weekend and posted some photos on Facebook. The 3 below are size small, and took me about 3 hours from start to finish. This is my absolute favorite style of mask to make, and although very time intensive is the best style for fit I have made.

small masks for little people

The ones in the photo below I made on “speculation” a few would be purchased. I spent Sunday and Monday making 10 masks in my sewing room where the temperature was nearing 85 degrees.

Medium masks
amazing cats
Laurel Burch fabric
mint with teal green purple

Medium turquoise

My grand kids don’t know yet if they are going back to school “physically” in the fall, but if they do, they will need to be wearing masks all the time for the foreseeable future. One of the granddaughters liked some of the “speculation” masks I made and I made the elastic adjustment to fit her face properly.

Since I was having the kids for a pool time one day this week, they all came up to the sewing room (85 degrees in the late afternoon) and picked out 5 fabrics each from the “quilters resource center” (aka – stash). The are elementary and middle school age and the fabric choices were so interesting.

Masks for a middle school boy
Middle school boy…(middle fabric is more maroon than pink)

The fabric on the far right is official Boy Scout fabric with words.

Masks choices
Artsy middle school girl picked fabric with a vine theme
Second grader masks
Elementary school child choices

The nearly 8 year old elementary child came over yesterday morning and she learned to iron. She loves the OLISO iron with the pop up feet. Close supervision kept her from burning any fingers. She mastered spritzing the fabric with the spray bottle and loved watching the steam roll up off the fabric when she press it. She also learned about proper rotary cutting. Once the pieces were cut for 4 masks, she pressed the pleats using the pleating guide and enjoyed working with all my little binding clips to keep them in place. She also did the stitching on the ear channel (where the elastic goes) on my Janome 8900. She could sit on my stool, and I could sit behind her. It was easier for her to sew with the stop/start button. I made sure the plastic guide was set up, and she learned to chain piece. She really likes my little snips.

I was able to rotate this design on the screen in my machine. The pattern was purchased from Creative Appliques

The pleating template is part of the pattern, and there are multiple sizes in the pattern, so chose carefully based on your own machine hoop limitations. There is a 4×4 hoop option at Creative Appliques, along with other mask styles.

Using my Janome 11000 and the MA hoop(8×12 adjustable), I could get 4 of the small masks in one hooping. I like to conserve stabilizer by maximizing the number in the hoop. Mediums can be stitched 3 in a hoop with careful adjustments to mask placement on the screen and in the machine. I’ve mentioned “windowing stabilizer” on other blog posts. Link to that post – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/windowing-stabilizer-the-twist-and-more/

I also have a video on removing items from the hoop for windowing – https://www.flickr.com/photos/92296158@N02/49789624736/in/album-72157712813350817/

Mediums in the hoop
3 mediums in my MA hoop

When I make this particular style mask, my husband creates nose wires for me from copper electric wire he has. He strips the plastic coating off the wire, pulls out the copper wire and strips it bare, cuts it to my desired length and curls the ends.

Cutting and prepping the fabric for these masks is much more time consuming than the donation masks I made back in March, April and May. They take longer because each mask has 5 pieces of fabric, and every piece is a different size. Each piece is prepared a differently before they are stitched, pleating folding, pressing etc.

Beyond the directions provided by Creative Applique, I add machine stitching on the ear channels so nothing “ravels” in the wash, and I add extra stitches to hold the nose wire “in place”. I also have been cutting into my $14/yard fabric for these masks. So, they are time consuming and rather expensive to make when you consider all the stabilizer, thread, and extra stitching I do. These masks have such a nicer fit than a typical 6×9 rectangular mask. There are 5 different pieces that go into the one mask, all cut to various sizes.

prepped and ready
Taped and stitching

When I am working on these masks, you can’t take your eyes off the machine for a minute, and there is a lot of taping things in place so the foot of the machine doesn’t get caught.

My daughter and I think it is important for the children to be “invested” in the process of making masks. Their labor and efforts will be remembered, and help them to have a better understanding of what actually goes into what “grandma” made. The “big” kids will get their turn, individually, to come over and spend some time making their masks.

I stopped making masks in May because I was burnt out and depressed. I am ONLY making masks for my family now. When asked by friends, I will sell them masks, because it is a lot of work. The idea of “selling to friends or strangers” can be a contentious subject. Believe me, I am not profiteering on COVID-19. If you are new here, understand that I have made and donated nearly 200, and many went to friends when you couldn’t BUY a mask anywhere back in early April. I stopped making donation masks in May because I was burnt out! I have invested a lot of money since the outbreak of COVID-19 in supplies, and charging people now is a way to recover the costs and enable me to continue to move forward and to supply masks to charitable groups. There are still groups asking for mask donations.

I set my price for these masks based on the time it takes me to make a high quality product and to offset the costs of fabric, elastic, stabilizer. You can buy a cheaper mask online and if money is your issue, then buy a box of disposable masks. You will get something made in a factory and it will go in the landfill.

masculine fabric for masks
Medium size masked prepped for stitching

Bits and pieces and more masks

Last week was a struggle to have any fun. I had “two emergency” visits to the dentist and another set for today.  Seems an old woman with an old root canal and crown must say goodbye to the tooth instead of getting it repaired. Getting in to the dentist, endodontist and the  oral surgeon are all tricky escapades during the global pandemic of Covid-19. The bright side is that once the antibiotics started to work, I could reduce all the pain relief medications; but it did take through the weekend.  Slowed me down on having fun.

I was able to do a little stitch out on a couple of dish towels, one for each daughter.

Home in Delaware

The towel above was fun to do. I’ve found that the secret to doing applique on the embroidery machine is using Wonder under or Heat n’ Bond light on the back of the fabric before you place it. Then when you trim after the tack down stitch you get a nicer cut. That said, I should have used some water soluble stabilizer on top of the towel before the applique. It would have made close trimming easier, without fighting with the nap of the towel.  I chose this design for my daughter who moved “home” to Delaware recently, after moving around the country and world for the last 12 years with the US Military.  (Years ago, while in Texas, she and I were shopping and saw “TEXAS” state towels and discussed how they were made and could be done for every state, and if they would be “marketable” .  When I saw this design I scooped it up!)

Heather's towel

This towel, for my youngest daughter, was a LONG stitch out. Over 30,000 stitches, and I forgot to take a photo before I gifted it. My daughter was sweet to send me a picture back for the blog.  This towel has more of a woven weave and I had to use a LOT of tear away stabilizer, plus water soluble on top.  I have a couple of “oops” moments and can see them in the picture, one being an orange thread dangling above the back wheel, and one being a “skip” of stitches on the front wheel.  Why is it you don’t see those things until after it comes out of the hoop??? Snipping the loose thread can be done now, but fixing that front wheel is never going to happen. You can only hope the rider doesn’t feel the bump in the road! (Oh, and don’t get me started on the beak of the bird…..it’s not there….).  Anyway, both towels were fun to do and I tried to pick a design that suited each daughter. My youngest daughter loves to ride, and her “cruiser” is orange and white.  Both embroidery designs came from Oh My Crafty Supplies

In the midst of my dental emergency, I was committed to pick up kits from the local quilt shop for another batch of masks.  This batch was quilters cotton and batik fabric with ELASTIC !! YAY, no ties. No flannel.  So, I picked them up on Wednesday and was able to hand them off on Sunday afternoon.  My friend Pam offered to deliver this batch to the local hospital.

Batik for masks

I told my hubby that this batik looked like a virus. When I cut these I layered the two fabrics  right sides together and made short work of matching pieces together.  I thought I was being efficient.  After doing the first one, I changed my method a bit.  I marked a dot where the elastic was to go on all the pieces, and tack stitched the elastic in place. I did this rather than trying to pin in place and hope it didn’t wiggle out while I was stitching the two pieces of fabric together with the elastic inside. It was taking a lot of time to “pin” the elastic and fabric.  So, marking the placement gave me consistent placement of the elastic, and I could just “hold” the elastic in place while I tacked it down on the edges of the mask.

More masks production

Once the elastic was managed it was easy to put the fabric pieces right sides together and just sew around the edges, leaving a gap for turning.
I used my pleating template and clips again and lots of steam to pleat the masks.  The walking foot is the best foot for me when top stitching to secure the pleats.

28 completed masks

Did you know with careful cutting you can get 28 masks out of 2 yards of fabric? (These are cut 6×9″) I was happy the quilt shop was able to provide elastic.

I just got an order in on Monday of some nice soft elastic and used it for masks for my son-in-law. He has to go daily out for his work, all day wearing a mask, and I made him 4 new masks yesterday. I much prefer making the masks on the embroidery machine using the Creative Appliques pattern . I was able to get 4 mask “fronts” and ear flaps from one fat quarter, and using two other batik fat quarters the pieces for the inside. I tried to “mix up” the insides a bit when I assembled so he could distinguish from one to another, though they look similar.

Creative Appliques style mask size large

I have a bunch more mask parts cut out and pre-pleated and ready to stitch out.  I took a break though and made some “ear saver mask extenders” using another pattern from Creative Appliques.

Extenders

I used black vinyl on top and black felt on the bottom with medium tear away for stabilizer. The idea here is to keep the elastic off the ears which can be a problem for wearing for long periods of time. I used 9″ elastic and knotted it into a loop.  The loop goes into the mask flaps and gets snapped into the extender.  The Creative Appliques pattern is a fast stitch out.  A couple of weeks ago I tried another pattern and it was way more stitches than necessary, but pretty!  The tan ones were the original ones I made and I used buttons and snaps.  (Of course I sewed the buttons on using my sewing machine.  The tan ones are only about 4″ long, and the black ones from Creative Appliques are 7″. They come in a variety of lengths at C.A., the pattern gives you lots to choose from.

various extenders

Of course, I had to “test drive” the mask with extender. 

Creative applique mask

The good thing about a mask is it hides all the wrinkles, and you can blame the mask for COVID-19 bad hair! 

I really like this mask because it fits close on the nose with a wire, and the part I called ear flaps (where the elastic goes through) hold it close to the sides of your face. Because of the shape it is a much nicer fit.  Making them on the embroidery machine uses a lot of stabilizer, but I have said before how I manage that with the “windowing technique” I use.  If I was more efficient I could probably “mass produce” them like I did the ones for the hospital, but I am only doing this style for “special requests” as they take me longer, but give you a better mask.   Creative Appliques sells this style pattern for the home sewing machine also.Creative Appliques sewing machine mask pattern

I’ve seen masks for sale all over the place from $8 to $15 or more.  I don’t think I could “earn a living” making them.  I might make some to sell to help recover the expense of all the elastic, twill tape, stabilizer I have used in the last 2 months.  Are you selling masks?  What style?  How much?

Hot August Days and packing for Alaska

What can I say – it is just HOT !!  Summer in Delaware and that is to be expected.   We are in the “dog days” of August with Hazy; hot; HUMID; hot; thunderstorm weather. 3 out of 5 afternoons we have those drenching downpours.  This is typical of our weather radar this month!

 

Time for thunderstorms

So; in between storms we have had lots of pool time, and lots of time hiding in the house with the air conditioning.  Not much time spent in the sewing room, as over the garage it is challenging to keep it regulated to “comfortable” for any length of time.

Some evenings have been pretty pleasant after the string of storms cooled things off. We went to listen to our son in law play with his band, Lincoln City at a local restaurant, on the rooftop.

Lincoln City playing at the Counting House

His group is quite good; and it is fun to see him switch back and forth on his various guitars.

We also got an evening out at Abbotts Mill Nature Center for music.   It was nice to see so many families out for the evening.

And of course, in between times there is a little time for chillen’ on the porch!  I just loved these wine goblets that were a gift at retirement.

Chillen' on the porch

Don’t you know, as luck would have it, the day after this photo; I dropped a chilled goblet, with the stainless steel freezer balls; and cracked it! One down; one to go!  I like the plastic for by the pool and the porch (HINT FOR CHRISTMAS FAMILY….) and I like the stem!

We got lucky with the weather for the GLOW RIDE which was held in a neighboring town, sponsored by #LifecycleDE.

Getting the bikes ready

Over 80 people rode the circuit through Seaford Delaware including 2 Seaford Police Officers in the new “bike” unit.

Seaford Police riding the Glow ride

The last 2 weeks have been busy with quilt guild Community Sewing day; and board meetings; getting a newsletter article written; and sewing with my ladies at the assisted living. I sat at the kitchen counter and sorted donated squares for a solid week, where it was cooler than my room above the garage.

Sorting stacks of 5" squares

My co-chair for 2nd Time Around spent a couple of hours hanging out in the garage on a cooler day; bringing up the donations that we have accumulated over the summer and sorting them out and staging them for September work. We have LOTS ready for our September meeting to sell and even though I have been “staging the ready stuff” at the church where we meet, I still have lots to bring to that meeting!

The ladies who sew at the assisted living facility COMPLETED 15 placemats for donating to  Serendipity Quilt Shop, Dagsboro DE) for the MEALS ON WHEELS  project.

Brandywine Ladies with their placemats

They decided they needed a field trip; so instead of sewing this past week, we arranged for them to go shopping.  Five ladies along with the activities director arrived by the facility bus at the quilt shop. It was a great chance to encourage the purchase of needle threaders and top stitch needles with big eyes and flower head pins along with fabric and patterns and books. Three of the ladies are my die-hard regulars and they had an absolute ball looking at all the fabric and notions. One of the ladies is also a garment sewer; and she has made a dress to wear to a wedding in a lovely turquoise linen, and wanted a jacket made out of batik.  She had her batik picked out but I got to help her pick the piping fabric.  We were able to get a picture of them quickly in the shop with the placemats before I handed them off to the coordinator.

I’ve spent some time this month “pre-planning” my next great adventure. My sister invited me on another cruise, this time to Alaska. I fly to San Francisco next week so there is lots to get ready. Last weekend I did most of my packing; unpacking some after weighing the suitcase and repacking. I had to “pair down” a bit!  Just how many hats and mittens and gloves should I take?

ALASKA packing

I eliminated most of them!

Packing decisions for Alaska

I have a friend who is on a cruise at the same time leaving from another port and we have exchanged packing lists of “must haves”. Packing for an Alaska cruise is so different from a European or Caribbean / Mexico cruise.  I really had to think through what to take.

Before I get to that list, let me tell you about what I  have in the “must have” for any cruise.  I “must have” the following in my suitcase (in fact….I store most of it in my suitcase between cruises with the exception of the shoes) . This is my 21st cruise, and I think I have got the essentials without overdoing things.

  • USB/multi outlet Power block  (There is a picture of it in the photo with the hats and gloves)
  • Wine bottle opener / stopper
  • vinyl luggage tag (like these on Amazon – ) for cruise specific tag
  • laundry bag
  • magnet with hook (cruise ship walls are metal)
  • clothes pins
  • laundry soap pods/dryer sheets
  • Sandals, sneakers, dress shoes (1 pair each)

Purchased new for this cruise specifically

  •  “DAY PACK” (like this one on Amazon  )
  • Pop up style hamper to replace the laundry bag (tripped over one at Walgreens for $2.99 yesterday) (My sister had one I admired, easy to take to the laundry room which can be a long hike to the other end of the ship
  • a rain poncho  (like this one on Amazon  )

Those new items will stay “in the suitcase for future cruises.

I’ve cruised to Alaska once – in 2005 and know that the weather is constantly changing and subject to being hot / cold / raining.

Because I usually cruise in the winter to WARM climates, it is hard not to grab the tank tops, shorts and sundress, etc!   I did pack 1 sleeveless blouse & capri’s “just in case”. I will probably fly home in them!

A necessity is a jacket/raincoat on an Alaskan cruise. Since wet & rainy weather is the expectation; I made certain my Columbia Ski jacket with the zip out fleece lining was sprayed with water-repellant.  What I like about this jacket is it can be worn as a unit or as separate  pieces depending on the weather.  I sprayed the sneakers and walking shoes too; and let them sit out in the sunshine to dry really well before packing them.

Waterproofing the shoes

I recently picked up a lovely poncho by Rain Caper (see the link for the rain poncho).  The one I bought is black on one side and has a tan & black print on the reverse. Not as arty as the one in the link, but I think it will be more functional.   I liked the feel of it and the style; reversible etc. It has little magnets in the corners to keep you from “flopping” in the breeze!  I tried several over the years and decided this one is a winner. It is short enough that I can cycle with it on without being a hazard, long enough to cover the “backside”.   I like that it has a zip pouch that I can tuck in my bag too.  I hate those plastic rain ponchos you buy at the dollar store. They have their purpose but they lack a lot of style !

Here is a look at my packing list for this trip (a 10 day cruise with 3 travel days before/after the cruise).  This is all beyond the normal dress dinner wear & shoes,  undergarments, pajamas, sandals and sneakers, swim suit and sunscreen, wine opener & stopper and refillable water bottle/coffee cup.

  • Fleece hat;
  • 1 pair mittens; 1 pair lined gloves;
  • binoculars
  • warm socks & sneaker socks
  • 5 long sleeve tee shirts
  • 5 pair pants (nylon/zip off legs) water resistant fabric
  • 3 pair leggings/tights
  • 4 short sleeve tee-shirts (2 performance wear for cycling / exercise)
  • lightweight zip front hoodie style sweater
  • sturdy walking shoes
  • bug spray
  • Columbia Ski Jacket with zip out fleece layer.
  • Rain Caper poncho
  • ball cap (to keep rain off my glasses)
  • Tilly sun hat

Yes, all this is in a large suitcase. I use those plastic zip-style compression bags to ensure it all “fits” and nothing gets wet when the suitcase sits on the tarmac at the airport or in the rain while loading.  (Happen just about every trip….)  I weighed the suitcase and it comes in at 43 pounds. Gives me some options for tossing in things like my English paper piecing project bag and other odds and ends I can’t quite live without.

I really liked the day pack I ordered; and it may replace the much heavier one I usually carry on the plane. My husband laughed when it arrived because he said I would “never” get it re-zipped into it’s own pocket. So, I decided to video as I “unzipped” it out of it’s pocket to keep as a reminder of how it should be “rezipped” later.

Hey, when you get old, you sometimes have to have little memory triggers, right?

Our trip starts in San Francisco on Saturday; followed by two sea days sailing the Pacific coastline. We dock on Tuesday in Ketchikan Alaska. My sister and I are scheduled to go to the “Lumberjack show” in the morning; and sail at 2 pm. That should give us a little time to wander about town.  The next day we are in Juneau, where I have signed up for a “Bike & Brew Glacier View” excursion. The bike ride finishes at a brew pub at 5 pm; and we are in port until 9 pm; so there is plenty of time to wander around Juneau. The next day we will be in Skagway and I have schedule a “rain forest bicycle tour”.  It finishes up before lunch time and again, there is plenty of sightseeing time before we sail at 8:30 pm. We spend Friday sailing though Tracy Arm, looking at the glaciers and wildlife.  We have another sea day on Saturday, and dock in Victoria BC on Sept 1st.  I haven’t figured out yet what I want to do in Victoria. Sunday is a tough time to visit on your own (without going on a tour). Our time is port is from 7 am to 2 pm; so if you have a recommendation; tell me.  Our cruise finishes up with another sea day going South along the Pacific coastline and dock back in San Francisco on Tuesday.

I think I am fairly prepared and 99% packed for this trip. At least I won’t need the warm jacket at home this week or any of those long sleeve shirts!!  Fingers crossed that we have lovely 70 degree weather for the 10 days; but my expectation is wet and rainy at low 50’s.  Watch for a travel update when I return.

What are you doing for fun this month?

 

 

Quilt as you go placemats and holiday sewing

It’s been a “few” weeks since I posted. Summer is a busy time.  I continue to volunteer  once a week with the ladies at the assisted living facility  and they are gradually completing placemats.  They are using the “quilt as you go” method to piece the placemat tops.  One lady did two placemats in last weeks session; while another has worked on her’s for two weeks.  It’s not a race; but I don’t want them to grow bored with the project.  These placemats will be donated at Serendipity Quilt Shop for their “Meals on Wheels” campaign.

Ready to trim

I bring them home after they finish stitching and do the trimming; top stitching and binding.

IMG_20190624_205133590_HDR

Some of the stitching is a little shaky so I figured top stitching the seams helps them to “hold together” and be a little more durable. I chose some of the pretty variegated Superior thread and fun machine stitches.

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IMG_20190624_205153313_HDR

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It is fun to help them along and see the pieces they have chosen from my 3 boxes of strips that I have been taking.  I keep cutting and adding to the strip boxes during the week to get more variety!

Close up of 3 placemats

Sometimes the strips end up on a bit of a wonky angle like the center one in this picture; other times they are intentionally put on the diagonal. When they do that, I know their creativity is showing!

So far 8 of the 10 I had planned are completed.  I asked the activities director if she would consider a “field trip” to the quilt shop this month so the ladies can “drop off their donation” to the Meals on Wheels placemat drive.  Waiting on an answer!

8 placemats finished

This afternoon is time to go again and show off their work to them; and hopefully get the last two ready to trim.  I made sure to do “my bit” right away last week when we got home from volunteering.  Again thank goodness for my hubby and his willingness to go and help with machines etc..  (I might leave him home today as the grandkids are coming over “from across the bridge” for the holiday week and are arriving mid day. )

Speaking of grandkids and holiday week…..I can’t believe it is July already!!  We made plans with my daughter and her family to come for the holiday week. Hard to find a week where they can get away from all the activities a young family has scheduled. This is the perfect week!  I came up with a “plan” for the celebration on the 4th of July involving fireworks and a park and a car show, so something for everyone, I hope, to enjoy.

On Saturday while I was scrolling through my email; I saw a cute project on the Bernina newsletter, “We All Sew” ” page.  The pattern is called Star Bean Bag Toss and is intended to “go outside” to play, take along to a picnic etc.

I thought it would be perfect for the coming holiday and had to “get busy” to get it made.  I got the background cut out and stitched together on Saturday and some of the stars cut out.

10 points

30 points

After dinner on Sunday I finished making the rest of the elements and layered them up to attach to the background.  Some fast raw edge applique stitching with Superior threads Red-white-blue variegated thread  (Yes, I know the points aren’t’ perfect…but its done….before the holiday!)  I decided to skip the whole binding thing and do a turn, so I put the three layers together, sewed around the outside edge, and turned it right side out. I stitched completely around the edge 1/4″ away to close the opening and give it a finished edge.   I quilted it using a wavy stitch on my machine and echoed around the stars. 

Stars and lots of points

It needs a good press before we play; and I need to get busy to make the bean bags.  I think I will get the grandkids involved with that tomorrow!

This was a fun fast project.  Hubby will tell you that I disappeared into the sewing room around 7 last night and did not reappear until 1:30 am….hey….I was having FUN!!!

I’ve done a little other sewing too on my Scrap Dance Minuet project.  The “final step” was revealed the 2nd Friday in June.  I’ve been “assembling units” so I can make the blocks.  (Pattern info on From My Carolina Home  )

Blocks for Scrap Dance Minuete

I’ve had 2 quilt bees in June and got some of the blocks made during both bees.  I think I have about 20 made now, just haven’t put them all back up on the wall for a photo.  I have 56 to make so am about 1/3 of the way there!

In between this sewing has been lots of bike riding and pool time. My “Strava fitness app” indicated that I rode my bike for a little over 8 hours and 63 miles in June!  WOW….won’t bore you with the maps but just know that I am getting a lot of use out of my bicycle; and enjoying the company of my husband along the rides.  We have gone to listen to “music at the pond” and bands on the rooftop and are planning for a car show in July.  I am also working out details for  my next cruise coming up at the end of August.  I guess that is why the blog has been so quiet!

Do you have any fun plans for the holiday?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the Saddle Again

It seems like months have gone by where I have had little to report in the “sewing and quilting” world on my blog.  Many of you who have followed the blog for any length of time are aware I had surgery on my right hand in October for trigger release on 2 fingers. This was followed up by surgery on Valentines Day for the big problem with my long finger; where the arthritis was so bad that bone spurs were growing etc..

Last Tuesday (April 30) I had a follow up with the hand surgeon.

Last day in the splint

As I sat in the waiting room, with my fingers crossed (sort of) I wondered what he would say. 10 weeks in a splint was “enough for me…and I was getting impatient. First stop was the x-ray to check on bone growth –

Screw is working

The technician always puts the x-ray up on the computer screen and I can’t resist studying it while I wait for the doctor to come in.  You can see that nice 28mm titanium screw that is now a permanent part of my life.  When the doc zooms in on the x-ray he is looking for “new bone around the screw” and no hollow areas.

When he came in and checked both my hand and the x-ray, he threw the splint in the trash!  I am SO happy!  That long finger is now well on it’s way to healing!  The “titanium” screw he placed in the finger thru the first joint is now bonding nicely with new bone growth and improving every day. This is great news as the splint got in the way of a lot of fun!  AND he released me to go “live life”.  Of course, I had to ask specifically – CAN I RIDE MY BIKE???  Permission was granted!!  So; I am “back in the saddle” so to speak again.  (You may be wondering what this has to do with quilting….I’m getting there…..patience).

My shiny new Christmas bike, a hybrid by LIV, has been calling my name in the garage. Every nice warm spring day I have heard her call, and I have been SO GOOD.  I finally got to get out on her (I call her Fancy FLO) and ride!  My first ride was on Wednesday night last week with #LifecycleDE in their Community Slow Cruise.  First time out and 6 1/2 miles.

1st ride post op

It was great to be in Milford DE and welcomed back by riders I got to know over the last year.

My next ride was the “next day” and I did the Thursday Morning Wake Up ride.  My daughter leads that ride with her toddler in tow, and there were only 3 of us riding.  She took us on a little bit long route around the neighborhoods of Milford.

Lifecycle morning ride

There is a fantastic video that LIFECYCLE posted of our “morning ride” on Instagram – Thursday morning wake up ride

The bike trailer my daughter pulls has one of my granddaughters seated in it. She loves to be “out in the open”.  (Yes, in that video I am the GEEK in the bright yellow vest—-I like to be visible to automobiles!)

Then yesterday; I got the dear husband out to ride in Lewes DE on the new section of the Georgetown Lewes Rails to Trails. The segment he and I rode on was all in the town, but you honestly felt like you were out in the country in some parts, as we saw horses and barns on the North side of the trail in some areas.

Exploring the new trail

Hubby rode for 3 miles and I got an extra “nearly” three miles in a loop at the end. I road down to the canal and looped back.  The library in Lewes has a “trailhead” parking area with public restrooms; so it is a good starting point.

Last night my hubby helped me “bling” my bike rack.

Reflective tape

Last week, coming home in the dark from Milford with the bike on the rack, I felt like it was not being “seen” by vehicles approaching me on the highway. It sticks out past the hitch about 3 feet. I ordered some reflective “trailer” tape on E-Bay this weekend and it came in on Monday.

Rack in stowage position

Even with the rack in the stowed position; it should be a bit more “visible” to motorists driving behind me.   This rack holds 2 bikes and with bikes on; or stowed I am a little more comfortable about being “seen”.

Now; about that “saddle”  … the seat of the bike is often called a “saddle”….and I am most happy to be riding again. Having the splint off, I can now comfortably hold the hand grips and engage the rear brake on the bike.  Also; having the splint off makes it much EASIER to work in my sewing room!

Post quilt show, I have spent the last week working on “small things” that have been building up. I got the binding on the Carolina Hurricane Quilt (yesterday’s post) and the “Senior Quilt” for our church presentation coming up next Sunday. (More details on this project – Senior Quilts 2019

binding complete

Of course, I used “Susie’s Magic Binding” for it as well.  (See yesterday’s post for link to this method of binding all by machine) (Yes, I can make it, apply it in a day!) (NO HAND STITCHING FOR ME)

I worked on those Flying Geese (yesterday’s post) and then I decided to tackle something that has been making me nuts for at least 8 years. In the picture below you will see a mat bag I made the first years I was quilting.  I had found a free pattern on the internet and modified it to fit my needs.  It is a great bag, but the handles were terrible.  I really knew NOTHING about making bags or handles.  I’ve been thinking about “fixing” them for years, but never got “around to it”.

New handles for mat bag

The NEW handles are on the bag; and below the bag are the puny little wrinkled up handles that I cut off.  The problem with the old handles was they were “JUST fabric” with nothing inside.  Ever since I made the “Chubby Charmer bag” last year, I knew how I was going to fix the handles.  I know with the 2 layers of batting and the 4 layers of fabric and the heavy stitching they will do just fine.  This bag is big enough to carry my cutting mat; rulers; shape cut etc.  No longer will it be a pain in the hand or shoulder to carry!

While clearing things up in the sewing room; I discovered the “STACK” of fabric I put in a basket under my desk to make dog beds from.  I use the trimmings from all the 2nd Time Around fabric and things I am trimming of my own to stuff the beds.  Also scraps of batting too small to deal with get stuffed into dog beds. All that ugly, none quilt fabric got put to good use.

Dog beds for SPCA

We dropped these beds off and two BAGS of more ugly decorator fabric from the 80’s & 90’s to the “dog bed lady” in our guild on our way to ride bikes!  I still have a small stack of fabrics for dog beds and will no doubt find more hanging around.  I have a couple left here to “fill” with batting scraps and other trimmings as it comes available.

There is certainly more to do in the sewing room.  Don’t faint Nancy B., I vacuumed up there on Sunday afternoon!!!  (She would be so proud!!)

So, you see, I am truly back in the saddle again!  As I wander around my sewing room, I am picking up projects half done, and starting to “chip away” at them.  But wait, it is time to get moving this morning…there is another bike ride with my daughter and granddaughter and I need to pedal!  Happy to be moving forward in the sewing room and moving forward on my bike!  More old projects getting done tomorrow!

Busy Queen Bees

I belong to a quilt bee called the “Queen Bees”. It is a group of Ocean Waves Quilt Guild (Lewes Delaware)  members who get together once a month and work on projects. Sometimes we work on a group project, and other times we work on our own projects.

We met this month in a new location and were happy with the lighting, tables etc. We will need to remember to bring our extension cords if we are bring machines. Imagine the “buzz” as 8 to 12 women gather with projects and machines. Good thing there is a door we can close!

One of my favorite parts of our bee is the show & tell time. I often forget to grab my phone to snap a few pictures. This month at our bee I remembered in time to catch these two pictures.

The first is a wonderful applique project done by Sharon J.  She told us the name of the pattern is Jungle Walk for a Cause, by Harebrained Happenings.

This quilt will go to a new niece or nephew.  It is stunning up close and in person.

Sharon's whimsical quilt

I just love the SHOES each animal is wearing.

The other stunning quilt that I took a picture of was by Joyce D.

Joyce redwork quilt

I love all the redwork hand embroidery.  Beautiful job Joyce!

Lastly – I want to share with you the quilt that was made by the members of the Queen Bees.  We made blocks at our October bee for the Carolina Hurricane Quilt project. The block finishes at 12″ and is called the Perkiomen Valley block. This same block was used last year for the California wildfire quilts and is a great “fast sewing” block. I assembled the blocks and our member Sharon J. offered to long arm quilt the top. Marta B. is working on the label for the back, using her embroidery machine.  I will be binding it using my favorite method, “Susie’s Magic Binding”.

Queen Bees Carolina Hurricane Quilt

We had a lot of other show & tell items, as this is a very busy group!  I just failed to get more pictures!

Do you belong to a small group that quilts or sews together?   What do you like best about being in a small group?

From my standpoint, I enjoy the helpful sharing that takes place with this group. There were 8 of us at the bee this week, sometimes we really fill a room with all 12. We are starting our 4th year together and it is so fun to see the friendships grow along with the skills of the former “newbie quilters”.  They are NOT newbies anymore!

Happy stitching!

ps . for information on the Carolina Hurricane Quilt project, visit From My Carolina Home

 

 

On the design wall

After I came home from church on Sunday, I spent about 3 hours in my sewing room. I cleared off “most” of the stuff that was on my design wall, and started playing with the Carolina Hurricane blocks. Some of these blocks were made on Tuesday by my friends in the Queen Bees.  One of our members sent her blocks in by mail, since she could not attend the bee, and others have promised additional blocks. Queen Bees is associated with Ocean Waves Quilt Guild in Lewes DE.

The blocks are all 12.5″x12.5″.

I set them on a 6 x 8 grid, and played around until I had a pleasing arrangement.  I currently have 41 of the 48 needed blocks.  I have 7 more sets ready to sew.  Those promised blocks are coming in this week and will add additional variety to this scrappy project.    This layout will produce a 72×96 quilt.  Getting “close” to that queen size.

Carolina Hurricane Quilts

Carole – From My Carolina Home commented on my post on Sunday, she indicated 42 (6×7 grid) blocks would make a full size, and 56 (7×8 grid) would be enough for a queen.

Making a 7×8 grid, I think a new “pattern” for the layout will be needed.  I will leave it “as is” for now and work on the rest of the blocks that I have “ready to sew” this week.

On Friday, 3 Queen Bee members will be at my house and maybe they can help “re-arrange” to make that 7×8 grid.  Maybe we will have enough blocks in by then to go for the BIGGER quilt.

I looked back at the previous quilts that Carole had assembled last fall in response to the California Fires to see those various layouts.  It turns out, she didn’t use this one at all.  So, I kind of like that it is different and unique.

Are you working on blocks in support of the Carolina Hurricane quilt project?  I know some of my readers are, and have them ready to mail in November when Carole posts the address.  Fingers crossed, maybe this quilt top will be sewn together!

Go check out Carole’s blog, link above, and enjoy the other things she has going on during her “Autumn Jubilee”.  Be sure to “tune in” on Monday on Pat Sloan’s afternoon http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/magazines-more/quilting-podcast at 4 pm (ET) and listen for Carole’s interview!  SO cool that Carole has gained recognition from such a famous quilter!

Let me know if you tuned in!

Carolina Hurricane Quilts and Scraps

I mentioned in a post in late September ( Carolina Hurricane Quilts )  about the Carolina Hurricane Quilts project being spearheaded by Carole  Carter on her blog – From My Carolina Home  

I made a few blocks right after that post, and gathered up supplies and made up “kits” to make more blocks.  I have a few scraps and squares and leftover half-square triangles, so it was quick to assemble those kits.  I usually don’t “save’ 4.5″ blocks, but I had LOTS of 5” squares in my Scrap storage system.  More about that in a minute…..

My wonderful bee – the Queen Bee’s took on the challenge of making blocks during our bee gathering last Tuesday.  They came armed with scraps and sewed for about 3 hours.

Queen Bees Carolina Hurricane Blocks

During the bee gathering I snapped some photos and sent them off to Carole!  It was fun to get a group photo.  Here are a couple of pictures of the members, hard at work.

Sharon Oct 2018

Marta and Nancy Oct 2018

(Sorry for the blur ladies….)

Tracy and Mary Oct 2018

(Imagine…I am actually there in a photo….that usually never happens.  Thanks Marta!)

I came home from the bee with a stack of blocks, and still a handful of the kits I made for myself.  I didn’t seem to get as much sewing done there as I had planned, so I spent the week working on more blocks.  My method for working on these has been to make “2 at a time”.  I use those  great little foam core design boards to lay out 2 blocks and move them to the iron and back to the machine, and I can “keep the angles” right fairly easily.  Look back at my blog here – Foam Core Design Boards to get info on the boards and how to construct them.

I keep making blocks, as my hand is continuing to improve following surgery.  Carole asked me if I wanted to put the blocks together into a top, and at the time, I wasn’t sure if I could manage. I think I have about 20  blocks done, and the bee had about 15 done, with more promised.  I planned to “send” them to Carole the 2nd week of November. My Queen Bees who are still making blocks are planning to bring them to me the first Monday of November.  We have such a great variety of fabrics in these blocks.  This afternoon, when the light is better I will put them all up on the design wall for a photo.  Now I am wondering if I am “able” to assemble them.  I will have to get specifics from Carole on size if I decide to do the assembly. (She reads my blog, so I am sure she will write! )

During this bee, it was fun to chat with my “bee mates”, and to learn which ones are following along with Carole on her “Autumn Jubilee 2018”, and who have enjoyed making her mystery quilts. I love that they found her through my blog posts.  I also love that Carole linked to my blog post last week.  The day she did that, I had 82 new visitors.  So, if you are a new reader, and came to find my blog because of Carole, I thank you for reading and coming back for another visit. Be sure to “follow” in your favorite method.  I love reading everyone’s comments too.

At my “next Queen Bee” gathering, I plan to work with one member  and help her come up with a plan for controlling & managing her scraps.  Bonnie Hunter   is one of my FAVORITE well known quilters and in her blog post today she talks about having “variety” in your scrappy quilts and about how to achieve that variety.  (Every January I tend to “clean up” my sewing room and cut my scraps into predetermined sizes. )  Thanks to the lessons I have learned from other bloggers, like Bonnie, and others, such as Joan Ford who has written books about working with scraps too.  I attribute my “scrap storage system” to the inspiration I have found on Bonnie’s blog.  My sizes I save, and my method for storage are unique to me, as it must be for everyone.  I will, no doubt, write about my methods in a future post.  If your curious, you can check out this post- Scrap Storage Containment System

My sister-in-law, Carolyn, wrote about her method on her blog here  One Block Wonder Woman and Scrap Overload .  If you are a “scrappy quilter” how do you “contain” the chaos of scraps?

Carolina Hurricane Quilts

For my regular readers, you know that I often talk about projects I am working on that were developed by Carole Carter. She runs lots of mystery projects and has great patterns on her blog.  Carole lives in the mountains in North Carolina and is spearheading a quilt drive among her readers to benefit victims of Hurricane Florence. She writes about it today on her blog– From My Carolina Home.

Be sure to download the PDF file with the pattern instructions after you read her post.

Maybe you can make a few blocks and send them to Carole.  Her address is in the comments.

Summer winding down

I can’t believe August has left us and summer has wound down so quickly!  August has been a hot humid month, and September is much the same.

Our local kids went back to school on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day in the US.  Some areas of the country school has been in session for several weeks.  We live in an area that is a summer tourist destination.  A few years ago, citizens complained to the state government about schools starting in the middle of the August and not long after the legislators set a “state-wide” start date for schools.

So, as the children started back for their “First day” in Delaware, my youngest daughter, my youngest granddaughter and I ventured over to the formerly busy beach area for a bike ride! What a change a week makes in the volume of people on the trail, walking and running.  All summer it has been filled with families and young children and yesterday, it was the older crowd. A few moms with strollers around the library and right in town, but once out on the longer trail, my granddaughter in her trailer, was the only child around!  We rode a surprising 12.24 miles !

12.24 mile bike ride

I was stunned to realize how far we had gone. Up to this point, my longest ride has been about 8.5 miles.  I started riding with my daughter in early July, sometimes 2-3 times in one week. I need exercise and this is certainly a fun way to get it.  Haven’t lost one pound, but I have found my calves!  Now, I am finding myself scheduling bike rides on my calendar into October. I want to make sure I schedule the time so other things don’t get in the way of an opportunity to ride together.  I haven’t done much in the way of exercise since I retired six years ago, unless you count climbing the stairs to my sewing room multiple times a day as exercise!  So, this is GOOD.  As I approach my mid 60’s, those looming health issues we all face demand I do something, and I love to ride.

My bike is a TREX, era 1990’s, with good tires, though heavy and a bit squeaky and with it’s quirks.  My oldest daughter rode this bike in middle school and high school during that decade, and I rode it off & on in the years following. I put a “new bike” on my Christmas / Spring birthday wish list for myself, determined not to buy one until I have at least 6 months of riding  regularly. I really love the local bike shop, LifeCycle in Milford DE. My daughter introduced me to the owners, Ben and Jenn, during a community ride they organize.  I’ve done several with a big group, 40 or more riders, and some with smaller groups that my daughter has organized and I am having fun!   All in all, a positive direction to move in.

Yes, I am still sewing, and I managed to get a few projects done last week.  Those batik placemats are coming along. I found a nice 3 yard piece of batik in my “blues” bin and think I can get just about all of my placemats backed with it.  I layered and pin basted them and started quilting them over the last week.

half way done with placemats

I have 9 quilted, trimmed and ready to bind.  If you click the photo, it will take you to my FLICKR album. Give the picture a second to focus, then you can zoom in and see the free motion quilting (FMQ) on the placemats.  It has been good practice.  The quilting has been done on my domestic sewing machine using Superior Fantastico # 5021, a variegated blue turquoise and purple 40 weight on top and in the bobbin. Thankfully you can’t really “see” the quilting on those busy batiks on the front of the placemats, but boy can you see it on the back.  I will show a photo of the backs ‘next time’.   Let’s just leave it as “good practice” for my FMQ and I am getting better bit by bit.

Next up for projects is a quick one I did on Labor Day afternoon.  I made two bibs to include in a “baby basket” that will be raffled off at our spring quilt show.  Since I made so many for my youngest granddaughter, I feel comfortable making these for that event. I tried to pick fabrics that looked modern and might appeal to a young parent.

Bandana bib

I love this bandana style.  I did minimal quilting in a graphic manner, just enough to hold the batting firmly in place that is between the layers.  I made a second bib in a more traditional shape with 2 contrasting fabrics.  I just love this bright green leaf print.

Flip side of the black bib

I think it makes a nice reversible to this dot fabric in bright colors.

Traditional bib

I did a bit more quilting on this bib in a wide graphic shape. They are bagged up and ready for delivery!

While I had my “bib making supply box” out, I sorted out all the fabrics I had stored in it, and returned most to my stash, leaving just the basics in the box, like patterns and PUL laminated fabric for waterproofing.

I found a great pattern and instructions for a free “in the hoop” zip bag last week through a group on Facebook.  I was happy to find one that would work with the 4×4 hoop on my Brother PE500.

Pattern Paw Print Zipper bag

The instructions are so well written, and it was worth the 12-14 pages I had to print out, to follow along.  I downloaded the design and got busy!

Paw Print zipper bag

This little pouch finished at 3.5″ square.  I did use some 505 spray, for temporary adhesive while construction was underway, along with my narrow masking tape.  The instructions have you pinning fabric edges, but I found that I liked the masking tape. I am now on the hunt for short zippers that I can use on some future projects!  I have a bunch of 18″ ones I purchased at a quilt shop a couple of years ago, but they are really too big for this project and would be wasteful.  I’ve dug in my sewing box and come up with a few short ones.  I have a similar in the hoop pattern from another designer that puts the loop on the left side of the zipper, and I am going to try it next. Bother patterns use the same size pieces for the pouch.  I have 3 pouches “cut out” and kitted up for my next embroidery club gathering.

I do like these quick projects that I can finish in a day or two.  I keep working on my placemats, in between, some of these other fun projects.  It’s nice to have some “finishes” once in a while.

I had to laugh with my husband about all of my quilt tops that are on hangers, patiently waiting for me to finish them.  I have to go in search for a heavy duty hanger for one, which was too weighty for the hanger and broke it this week.  It is a queen size that is in a state of “limbo”, just hanging around waiting for my next move.  I believe it is my Scrap Dance Tango in king size. (Pattern is from Carole – From My Carolina Home.  (Follow the above link for pattern information). The one with 1400 or so half square triangles.  It is a beauty, and one that I must get busy and quilt.  I seem to remember I wanted to add a 2.5″ border all around. Must be time to spread it out on the bed and see if the size is as I wanted it to be and move forward from it’s status.  Our quilt show registration is opening next week, and I think I want to show this one, so I must get busy.  I need to make a “finish it list” to move it along!  Carole – From My Carolina Home always has fun projects and great posts.

I also follow some rather “famous in the quilt world” people.  Bonnie Hunter has been a favorite for a long time, and I have done a couple of her mystery quilts and taken 2 of her classes.  .   Those that have followed my blog know that I love her scrappy style and I have written about her scrap storage system, string piecing and linked to her blog many times.  This week she is mourning the loss of her brother and I know that the tens of thousands that are her fans feel her grief and offer their sympathy.  She has a worldwide following and I hope she can find strength from the “quilty hugs” many of us are sending her way.  I pray for peace in her heart and comfort for her entire family.  

Many quilters find peace during their sewing time, and comfort in the quiet time they spend in their sewing rooms.  I’ve read about quilters who work through their grief while stitching in the wee hours of the night. I enjoy the solitude sometimes in my sewing room, and yet, I find great joy in the times I can sew with my friends at a bee.  I hope you have a wonderful day working on your special projects.