Sunday, April 29, 2012

To Wash or not to Wash--The Fabric: It's No Longer the Question

I fell for it again!  I read all the pros and cons about pre-washing fabric before sewing and let myself be lulled into a sense of security about not washing--as long as you buy the "good" fabric.  Joann's fabric is all lumped into the "not good" fabric despite the fact that the store is selling some good stuff.  (In fact, I seldom come across a fabric in Joann's that is so low quality that I don't want to use it)

Back to the pre-washing.  The "good" fabric is the stuff you get in quilt shops or online quilty stores.  I bought a bunch of pre-cut squares a few years ago from a quilt shop and made a quilt that had some serious issues with colors bleeding the first time it went into a cold water wash.  I managed to get most of the mess out, but swore there would be no more unwashed fabric.

HOWEVER, there was an ongoing argument in a online class recently about whether or not to prewash .  With so many people saying they don't prewash and so many places selling the charm packs, jelly rolls, etc.,  I decided to try again.  I bought a few packs of Barbara Brackman's Robert Morris squares and some matching Bella yardage to make a special quilt.

I cut and pieced the squares and started embroidering the solid squares.  While ironing out the folds in the solid fabric, though, I noticed that spots were developing in some areas where I sprayed water, kinda like sizing was puddling.  I didn't want to start washing some of the fabric since I hadn't done the other, but after the third square, I knew I needed to get whatever was creating the spots out.  This is the fabric prior to washing.

(Yes, I can see that my embroidery puckered a bit.  The designs are quotes from
 literary greats inside silhouettes.  I really wanted to use them, but didn't want to use
 a heavier fabric.  I was willing to put up with a little puckering which I figured I could quilt into
submission later)

This is after washing in cold water and drying on a low setting.

Steam from the Rowenta was not sufficient to get out the wrinkles.  I had to get it soaking wet with spray to iron it out.  The 44-45" wide fabric was down to 42 inches after ironing, too.  I've had fabric from Joann's that didn't wrinkle this much that was half the price before using a coupon.  

So now, I have the Morris fabric squares and 3 embroidered squares-- that each took over an hour and a half to complete-- on unwashed fabric.  The rest will be preshrunk.  This was going to be a really special quilt--lots of time into the embroidery. I fear what this thing is going to look like after it is washed!  Never, never, never will I use unwashed fabric again.

Anyway, I do love these embroidery designs.  They are perfect for my bibliophile son.  The stitching is very dense--like patches really.  (I think there is a way to cut back on the density with Embird, but I have no idea how.)   They'd be perfect on tan denim.  I may make some library bags for my book club.  Check the designs out here at the Embroidery Library if you have a book lover.  The packages start at the third one down.  There are two separate packs in two different sizes or you can buy them individually.  I waited for one of their dollar sales and bought them individually.  There are 13 in all.  Twain, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Margaret Mitchell, Dickens, Austen, Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, Arthur Conan Doyle, and those below.

Emerson's quote would be fitting for any good friend.  I love that one--so true!

Oh yes, I vote for washing the *#@%*  fabric.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kelsey's Orange and Fennel Salad

Looking for a new salad instead of the same old salad bar stuff?  Kelsey, a culinary arts student with a brand new blog,  posted about Orange and Fennel Salad.  Quick, easy, and beautiful on the plate.  It will be great any time of year, but especially for the summer months when looking for something light.

Here's a link to Kelsey's blog.  Stop by for the recipe and to welcome Kelsey to the blogosphere.  If we're all real nice, maybe she'll share some more of the culinary arts with us.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pics from the First Hike of the Season

We went hiking on Saturday!!  Thought I'd share some photos from Sanders Preserve which is in Glenville, New York about twenty minutes from my house.
   Love this view from the road.

One thing I really appreciated was the labeling on some of the trees.

Apparently oak trees don't like to be labeled, though.
And Pin Oaks really, really don't like labels. This one has not only eaten the label but also spit part of it out.

I wish I had a recording of the stream running through the preserve.  It's better than those I've heard on relaxations cds!  

These little dried leaves that have hung on through the winter were making a papery chime sound that I also wish I could have recorded.
I was hoping my camera would catch the blur of movement in the leaves.  These were actually in constant motion from just a slight wind.  

I have a thing for taking photos of tree fungus and bark.  Am I the only one?  I love these photos!

Here's Mother Nature in her artist mode.  Does this not look like a modern sculpture?

I'm not sure if this is still Mother Nature in her artist mode or showing her sense of humor.  Can you see it?

I had to go off the path to get a close-up.

Am I the only one that sees the mother of all trees there??  Okay, okay, fine.  Moving on and closing with just one more lovely shot.

That is the lovely Mr. Easton who I'm sure wished I'd stop taking so many photos but was too nice to say it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The New York City Trip and a Bit of Exciting News

I really do love New York City.  We went down for the day Saturday just to hang out a bit.  Macy's Flower Show was great!  Cool to see all the flowers since only the crocuses have popped up where I live.

Know the coolest part of the flower show?  Macy's pays you to go.  Really.  As you're leaving they give you a $10 card to spend in the store.  I should have taken a photo of the glittery socks I found.  I do have a thing for socks.  Other women buy shoes.  I buy socks.

Gotta show you the windows also decked out in the Brazilian Floral theme:

My lovely husband even tolerated a few hours in the garment district.
7th Ave. changes to Fashion Ave!
Not many pics of it though.  I was too busy shopping.  We found Mood Fabrics--couldn't miss the place where Project Runway contestants shop!  You have to know the address cuz it's on the third floor and there is no sign downstairs!  Then you take a charming old elevator complete with charming old elevator operator up to the store.  It's actually three floors of rolled fabric from floor practically to ceiling.

We also went to the New York Library.  Libraries are among my most favorite places.  I always thought I wanted to be a librarian until I worked in one for a while years ago.  I had the worst time NOT reading every book I picked up.  Shelving books took me much longer than it should have what with me sneaking a peak at the insides way too often.
Had to have a pic with one of the library lions!
 My camera wasn't up to Grand Central Station's incredible ceiling, but I did get a nice shot of the famous clock!

and the Empire State Building:
They're working on the top:
And the exciting news?  We're going to be visiting New York City more often starting in September.  My oldest son Kyle has been accepted in the Master of Divinity program at the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York--that's the official name of the place with "in the City of New York".   He and Melissa will be moving down there at the end of August.  As much as I will miss them, I'm excited for them.  This will be quite an adventure!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Second Hand-Embroidered Block or Now I Remember Why I Bought an Embroidery Machine

I was ready to toss this out when I finished last night.
Adding to my already abyssal embroidery skills, I ended up drawing most of this freehand because the stabilizer on the back made it difficult to trace the pattern.  I didn't have that problem the last time because I forgot to use stabilizer on the first block.  On top of that, my new fading ink pen fades really fast!  The manufacturer used to say that it would last 24 hours, but I always found that the ink lasted much longer.  I could go back days after and still see the lines.  This new one fades within hours!  When I came back to this after dinner, the leaf area was gone.  I'm glad I did the flowers and butterflies first!

Judging this on its own rather than comparing it with the other participants' blocks, it's okay.  It is, after all, only a four inch block.  In the scheme of things, it will just be a bit of a blur in the corner of a big quilt--way in the corner, on the other side of the bed, against the wall;-)

I'm thinking that I might start substituting some of the many yo-yos I make when traveling for a few of these blocks.  That would like nice, right??

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The New Cutting Table Ruler Holder

I have a place to hang all my rulers when I'm not using them that works great!
(I wrote about making these pegboard inserts here)
This is usually enough cuz I'm just working with one or two of them.  However, I've been using four different rulers for the courthouse steps blocks.  As the blocks grew, another ruler worked better for squaring.  The rulers were all over!  I went to Staples for a file holder and found this:
It not only holds the rulers I'm working with, but all the other little things I'm using AND it twirls.
Both sides have lots of little places for pins, rippers, cutters, scissors, chalk wheel, disappearing ink pens and still lots more room.   It spins on ball bearings--really smooth.  The base is sturdy making it quite stable.  The 25" ruler can stand upright--nice for keeping it out of the way.   This little wonder on sale right now for $19.??  Best $20 I've spent in a while.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Finally! The Garden Steps Blocks are Together

OMG!  This was time consuming.  While we are only going to embroider one center square every two weeks on these blocks, I wanted them ready to go rather than putting together a block at a time.  I'm glad I did.  I was on the tenth of twelve blocks before I felt like I really knew what I was doing!  Doing one every two weeks would have been a constant relearning experience for me. 

I bought one of the kits Clover and Violet offered through two of their sponsors, and these are way more girly/bright prints than I would ever have chosen.  I'm still adjusting to them.  I definitely will put a fairly wide white sashing in between.  That should bring the bright factor down a bit, right?