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!

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Other small projects…continued and bike rides

Did you read my last post Embroidery Machine Fun and other small projects and wonder what the “other small projects” were?  I got distracted posting and had a deadline to leave, so I left you hanging !  Sorry about that!  I had another (3rd one this week) bike ride to take!  So, let me begin with that story!

Bike Rides — My Wednesday nights used to be strictly for sewing while the hubby had his train club nights, but they have turned into bike rides with the LifeCycle Community Slow Cruise group in Milford Delaware. Our ride on Wednesday night was not quite a full hour  covering 5.4 miles and looked like this –

LifeCycle Community ride Sept 5

There were 30 or more riders, and we all had on bright neon yellow shirts – great SWAG from LIFECYCLE.

My third ride this week was on Thursday morning.  I dashed out the door following my post, which is why I forgot to get to the small projects!   I met up with a small group again for another ride around town.  This one is led by my daughter and took us a little bit further, but similar amount of time.  We had 4 riders, and one passenger, my 2 year old granddaughter. She rides along in her trailer, munching on her banana or strawberries, etc and enjoying the view.  She loves seeing the trash trucks as we ride by!  She cheers her mother and the rest of us on as pedal.  We covered about 7.5 miles on Thursday morning.  I’ve told my friends I keep trying to encourage to join the ride, that since we are essentially going in a big circle, it is easy to “return to center” if you were not up for the mileage.

Thursday morning slow cruise

The informal Thursday morning ride pace is set based on rider ability, and since my daughter is pulling that trailer, we are not really road racing about town.  I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the road bikes that you might see in their bike costumes around.  I like the name “slow cruise” and staying under 10 mph is just my speed.  The rides are open to anyone who would like to take part, meeting at LifeCycle across from the Public Library. For Wednesday night rides, lights, front and rear, are necessary, as it was getting dark at our halfway point, and totally dark by 7:49 pm when we stopped.  Ride With US as the logo on the back of the neon yellow shirt says!  (If your bike needs any work, see Ben at LifeCycle and he will get you tuned up, tires sorted out etc!)

And now –Small projects – I made another project on my Embroidery machine this week.  Actually, have done the same project twice  THREE times.  You will notice in 2 of the photographs that I numbered which run the project is from.  The design is from Embroidery Library and is called a Pin Cushion Magnet. The idea is to hot glue a magnet on the back and use it on the fridge, but our Embroidery Club made them for name tags.  I missed the meeting where they worked on theirs, and I decided to finally make my own.  I had to “check in” with the leaders to see if I was correct in taking the right steps to stop the program and insert my name.

Making a Pin Cushion name tag

This is my “first run”.  I hooped vilene wash away stabilizer , floated a piece of tear away under the hoop and have no show fusible mesh on the back of my applique piece (the tomato), front and back. I always use a water soluble topper (WSS), which is the shiny stuff on top.

I stopped the machine after thread change 9, exited the design, and used built-in fonts on my machine for my name. I played around a bit with the placement. Then I reloaded the design software, jumped ahead to thread change 10 and restarted the stitchout. In the photo it is doing the “tack down” stitches to secure the back piece.  The point of stopping the software is to get your name on the front stitched out before putting on the back piece.  Since you have to remove your hoop and change your bobbin color to match the last 2 colors it seems like the perfect time.

Now, why a first run…well…..2 reasons.  Thread breaks at the very end, last 500 stitches or so, and ill fitting back. I cut out the applique using the dieline file I printed out, and it gapped in a couple of areas around the top.  I felt like I cut on the lines, but that was “too close”. So, I made a 2nd run on Thursday.  This time, I stitched out the die line files on tear away stabilizer and cut them out around the edges, leaving about 1/4″ all around on the stabilizer.  AND..I think when I made the first one, I put the dieline pattern on the BACK of the fabric.  (I’m not certain).  So, once I had new dieline patterns, I made sure to cut on the FRONT of the fabric.  (Right sides made a difference).    For the 2nd run, I prepared the fabric again with no show fusible mesh on the back of the applique fabric, cut out the shapes, hooped 2 layers of Vilene wash away (running in opposite directions in case of stretch) and did not float a tear away underneath.  The reason….I don’t want to see the little white bits of tear away poking out along the edges of the final stitches around the outside edges.  Once I had stitched out completely, I removed the design from the hoop, cut away the vilene, and removed as much of the WSS as possible with tweezers.  On the first project, I used a wet q-tip and dabbed at the remaining WSS and along the edges of the vilene.  On the 2nd project, I got impatient, brought it in to the kitchen sink and turned on the hot water and soaked it completely.  PROS / CONS — The double layer of Vilene was awesome. Gave good stability to the stitchout.  Soaking it made everything get “wrinkled” and I am hoping a good press from the iron will improve the look.

My third try, I used the dieline template to cut out my red fabric and I cut it 1/2″ larger all around than the dieline. I also put a piece of batting, cut just a bit smaller than the dieline for the front piece. I used the same stabilizers and laid the batting on under the front fabric, and got busy stitching.  I went though the entire process, and after the tack down stitch for the back, I removed the hoop from the machine, and used my tiny scissors to trim away the excess fabric on the front and the back of the name tag.  This make sure I got all the edges caught under the stitches.  After it finished, I removed the stabilizer and “melted” the vilene with a cotton swap and water.  All looked great…..until I hit it with the iron, which still had steam going….and the whole nametag started to curl up.  The vilene was MELTING inside the project because of the steam.  Evil thoughts went through my head, and then I decided I was going to be smarter than the name tag.  Since it was already curling and looking melted, I got a piece of flannel out, and laid the tag on it.  I sprayed the tag until it was soaking wet.  Then I used the flannel as a “sandwich” and just kept ironing the tag until it laid flat.  It took about 10 minutes of pressing, with a large piece of flannel that was soaking up the moisture, changing positions every minute or so, but FINALLY, I have a flat project that does not look like it shrunk!  The front looks good but the back has some wrinkles.  I can live with that!  Time to get out the bar pins and get one hot glued on the back of the tag.

Three name tags

I used 3 different fabrics, and they were all from the scrap bin.  Fabric for run # 2 was really thin, which I assumed accounted for all the wrinkles.  Fabric # 1 & 3 were of equal weight and quality.  #1 & # 2 contained no batting.  #1 was never completely wetted.  You can see in the photo below of the backs of # 1 & 2 (near the arrows) where the fabric didn’t quite get caught under the edge stitching.  I am now convinced it is worth cutting “bigger than the dieline” and using the sharp applique and pointy scissors to trim the oversized piece.  # 3 has great edges.  In hindsight, a piece of batting on the back would have been a good idea.  In the photo’s # 3 is still a bit “wet” from all that spraying and ironing.

Back of all 3

3 of my fellow embroidery friends were here on Friday, and wondered why I was still “trying”.  I considered this little project a good learning experience!  As one said, “third times the charm”, though I was doubting that for a few minutes this afternoon.

I’ll never be a “pro” at this embroidery gig, but I learn with each project.

Other small  projects – I recovered my ironing station this past week.  My original board cover was four years old and just recently started to show terrible wear.  I ordered another Bo-Nash cover for my big board several months ago.  I had to add extra width to the cover so it would completely cover my station, which is an old butcher block kitchen island.  The previous cover I had added about an 8 inch “skirt”.  This time, I decided to go much longer, with the goal of hiding some of the clutter than lives under the ironing station.  I have bolts of decorator fabric I was given years ago, and chose one that wasn’t totally hideous.  I do like the extra length. Nobody needs to see my gallons of water, cans of spray starch etc.  Plus, it might prevent me from arbitrarily tossing stuff on the shelf underneath.  If I am going to put something there, it will be with definite purpose!

New Ironing board cover

I have 2 more placemats that are pin basted and ready to quilt, and since the feed dogs are down, I intend to work on them next.  Once they are all quilted, I will trim them all to final size and set to making binding.

I also have another binding project, but it is not for my own quilt.   I brought home a quilt that Trish has been working on at the assisted living place where I volunteer.  She did all the machine quilting, and I offered to trim it and bind it for her.  She is anxious to gift it to a young mother who works at the facility whose baby had just been born this past week.  Trish is  a resident who does a lot of sewing for other residents and staff members.  She was tickled to learn how to make a quilt.  I think she did a fine job.

Trish with her baby quilt

This past week when I went to volunteer, Trish was finishing her quilting, and there were 4 other ladies working on projects.  Two new to the group are hand piecing 4 patches, and another was working on pinning a blouse for alteration.  It is so fun to see my favorite resident, 101 year old Elsa come to sew. She had fabric cut to size to make sachet bags.  She did all of her own pinning and machine sewing, and I employed my assistant (aka husband) to press for her.  One of my hand pieces, Dotty is 99!  I believe they were having fun, and am convinced that IS the secret to a long life!

Any projects going on in your sewing room this weekend???

 

Edited to include hashtags — #lifecycleDE #youcanridewithus #bicyclesforall