Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Need Help with Old Quilt Top Dilemma

A neighbor was moving and gave me this quilt top she had put together long, long ago.
She got all the way to pinning and basting the top, batting, and backing together before rolling it up and leaving it sitting for years.  It had stains and a nasty musty smell.  It HAD to be washed.  I finally took it apart for washing. 

I just have no idea what to do with it now.  There are problems galore.  While it is comparatively well sewn, it's a first-time quilt with some of those flaws.  The colors are not what I would ever have chosen.  I find the pastel circles next to the primary colored ones jarring.  I got almost all of the stains out, but the base fabric was tea-dyed.  Now it has some lighter spots where the dye came out with the stains. 

My neighbor said to feel free to take it apart and use pieces.  However, each corner has those yellow-centered leave pieces.  And, here's the worst part:  every single stitch of this entire top was done by hand as in no machine was used for so much as piecing the blocks together.  Each of those leaves and yellow circles is hand sewn. All the blocks are hand sewn together.  It feels wrong to take them apart. So much work went into this thing!

So help me out here!  What do you think I should do?  Should I bite the bullet and put this together as is?  That will leave me with a quilt I admire in some ways but don't actually like.  I could continue with the traditional theme and put it together on my quilt frame.  Or should I take it apart and use some of the squares for different things?  I'll lose pretty much all of the corner applique with this choice because of the mix of pastel and brights. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fish Windsock with Tutorial

I am taken with things that blow around in the wind.   I saw some beautiful fish windsocks, but decided to try making them myself.  I'm happy with the result.
 And it flies in the wind, too!

 Sometimes it's upside down.

The only problem is that it sometimes turns this way.
That's just plain weird, but the ones you buy must have the same problem, right?  Actually this view is kind of fun, too.

This site, http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/carp-wind-sock-675371/   has a great tutorial for making a fish windsock with paper. Since I wanted something that would last longer, I used their pattern with the following changes.  

I extended the mouth opening about a half an inch and cut the tail from the original wavy pattern which you can see in the photo to make it easier to sew.  If you have problems understanding the following how-to, let me know. 

  • two pieces of nylon for the fish body
  • two pieces of contrasting nylon at a 45 degree angle, that are 4 inches long at the base for the smaller fin on the bottom.  This size is arbitrary.  My ruler has this angle on it, and it happened to work out great.
  • two pieces of the contrasting nylon at a 45 degree angle that are 5 inches long at the base for the top fin.  
  • I serged the tail pieces to prevent fraying.  You can do a zigzag stitch or turn it under twice, or just use Fray Check instead.  
  • Sew the outside edges of the fins with a quarter inch seam, carefully cut a few of those nice little triangles out of the seam that that it will flatten nicely, turn right side out, and press. I use a cotton press cloth so that I can get a nice flat edge.
  • To trim the fins to match the curved edge of the fish body, place the raw edged of the fin under the yellow pieces as in the photo below. The center point of the top fin should be about  6 1/2 down from the mouth edge (measuring straight, not along the curve of the fish body edge.  (Remember the point is inside --all the raw edges are together as in the picture below.)  The  center point of the bottom fin should be about 5" from the mouth end--again measuring straight not along the curve of the fish body.  This center of the fin is the spot where where the raw edges of fish body and fish fins meet.  The corners of the fins will be sticking out.   Use your rotary cutter to trim of the pieces sticking out or mark with chalk and cut.  You could do this as part of the next step where the fins are inside for sewing and trim later, but this might be easier for some people, Maybe??
  • Place the fins  between the two yellow pieces (in my case, yellow)--sorry I didn't take a pic at the time, but this should give you an idea of what I mean. Pin the sides of the fish body with the fins in their proper place and sew the sides using a 1/4 inch seam.  

  • Turn right side out and sew a little over a quarter of an inch to enclose the seam you just made--a french seam.  This will prevent fraying and make the piece hold it's shape better.
  • Turn it inside out again and sew the tail end together leaving a two inch gap in the center open
  • Turn the mouth end in a 1/2" once and press (use a cotton press cloth so the heat is high enough for a crisp, flat fold) and then turn it another 1/2" and press again.  Pin and sew that around.  I was going to put some plastic strapping in the mouth to hold the circular shape, but I found that the material held the shape without it. If you use ripstop nylon which is lighter, you may want/need to use the plastic inside this hem area.  I save all the plastic packing straps from packages for these kinds of things.
  • I sewed buttons about two inches down from the hemmed mouth with the top of the eye about 1/2" down from the top fin edge.
Last, I used nylon mono-filament also known as fish line for hanging.  The craft store sells an 8 lb strength in the jewelry-making section or you can get the same thing in Walmart's fishing department.  The fishing department also sells the barrel swivels for the spinner which I could not find at the craft stores.  I used an Eagle Claw brand size 5 swivel that is working out great.

I cut 4 eleven-inch long pieces of monofilament and spaced them evenly around  the mouth sewing through the mouth seam and knotted the four pieces together in the circular base of the swivel hook  I cut another piece of mono-filament for the hook end of the barrel swivel because I wanted mine to hang more.  That part will depend on where you are putting the windsock.

Now hang that sucker up on a nice windy day.  The good news with a fish windsock is that it looks good just hanging there--like you just caught a fish. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

You Might Want to Check Your Recent Posts

Poor BlogSpot!  What a rough time with posts the last day or so. 

I usually stop back and reread my posts to check for typos and make a few changes.  Today I found my most recent post was up but without any of the post-publishing editing.  If you tend to edit after posting, you might want to check recent posts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What I've Learned in a Year of Blogging

Here is what I've learned about blogging in the last year:
  1. Blogs take a LOT of your time.   This first one was a bit of a surprise.  I didn't think it would take up quite so much time.  
  2. All the work involved in photography for the blog is as time-consuming if not more so than the writing.  This was also a surprise.  I had no idea how long it would take to get the photos--sun, neat place in the house-- or tweak them in some editing program.  I don't know about the rest of the world, but it also takes a while for my photos to upload on Blogspot.  That's not so bad for a photo or two, but for tutorials and such, it can seem like forever.
  3. You start to feel guilty if you don't do something blog-worthy to post about. This was a total shock.  I thought this would be fun.  I figured I would post when I had something to say which would be about weekly.  Instead, I started listening to all the advice of semi-professional bloggers who insist that one should to have a specific area of interest, not write too many off-topic posts, include some but not too many near-professional quality photographs, post often, keep paragraphs short, keep posts short, and on and on.  The pressure!
  4. Approximately one-half of one percent of people who visit my blog will comment.  Okay, to be honest I'm exaggerating.  It's actually less than that.  It's one-fifth of one percent.  I did the calculations.  In addition, most of the comments turn out to be from people saying thanks for commenting on their blog or joining their link party rather than actual comments on the post. As a commenter, I just assumed others left comments as well and that blogging would be a sharing experience. When I read someone's blog post, I read the comments, too.  People often share additional ideas that expand on the content, offer alternate suggestions, provide new sources, bring up points I've missed or even misunderstood.  Comments are opportunities for the writer and readers to learn and grow. 
  5. Some people view blogging as, well, crap.  This  fifth bit of enlightenment came through a few conversations with people about blogs.  This usually begins with me saying I like reading blogs and, in fact, have one.  For some reason people who I normally consider polite seem to feel that insulting blogging is perfectly acceptable.  I have zero interest in sports.  When the topic comes up in conversation, however, I don't say sports are nonsense and a waste of time.  One anti-blogger particularly zeroed in on mommy blogs which is ironic in that she reads mommy blogs to get ideas for her online business relating to children.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!  
  6. If you move away from your original intent in blogging, it will become too much of a chore.  So for my second year of blogging I shall be blogging about what I want when I want!  To that end, the following photo is here because I feel like sharing it not because a post SHOULD have a photo.  It is my  lovely husband at one of the many beautiful hiking spots he finds for us.  If this task were left to me, we would be hiking up and down the aisles of a  fabric store.  He is away on business for a few days and, even after 27 years of marriage, he is dearly missed.   

(Love you tons, Mr. Easton!)