Sunday, June 1, 2014

Random Notions - June? Already?

I tried very hard to get here before June got here, but obviously I failed.  It’s getting hot here, which means my upstairs work area is getting very hot.  I’m not turning the upstairs AC on very often, usually only a bit at night, because otherwise we wind up with monthly power bills over $600 in the summer. It has been 85º and above the last couple of weeks up here.  Downstairs we have a swamp cooler which works well and doesn’t kill the power bill. When I am sewing, it has mostly been in the early mornings when it is cooler.  So the good news is, I have gotten something done, bad news, just not as much as I would like.

First off, I should introduce a new family member in my house.  This is Max-
He is about 3 or 4 months old.  He is a little doll I got from a lady giving away kittens in a parking lot - he was the last one left, and I cannot resist a black cat!  I adore him even though he has been tearing me up.  If I try to smack him when he bites, he gets madder and bites harder – I may have to try a spray bottle of water.  His ears and feet are huge, and honestly, I hope he doesn’t grow into the ears – he looks so Egyptian with them! He actually spends most of his time downstairs with Mom, Casey and Penny the dog, because my girls have not been so welcoming upstairs.  They are getting a little better now – they will at least sniff him close up before they start hissing.  Penny loves him and they play like crazy all the time.

Okay – sewing stuff!  If you have been with me long, you know I went crazy making zippered change purses awhile back.  You can see them in the gallery.  The one I made for my mom was one of the first I made, and in the beginning, I was making them rather small.  She wanted a bigger one.  She loves roses, so I made this one for her-
Of course, I was so excited to have found the perfect material for her, I forgot that she asked me to put a strap on it!  That means I will be making another one soon.

I also made one for a friend that collects roosters-
She really loved it, which I was glad because it is really hard to find just the right gift for this particular friend.

One day while I was at Wally World, I found this lovely material-
How gorgeous is that?  I have been itching to make another kaleidoscope quilt, this time for MY bed, and I just knew this would be beautiful.  However, there was only one and a third yards of it.  That meant I had to go to three more Wally Worlds to find more, where I bought two more yards.

I wanted to make an 8-wedge kaleidoscope and figured that out of three and a third yards I should have 8 repeats.  My friend Rebecca asked if I had compared how it was cut, which I didn’t, and I should have listened to her – I only had 7 repeats.  I did not want to have to go back and buy more, especially since the store I finally found it at is probably the absolutely furthest from me in the valley.  So I decided to go with 6-wedge.  Good thing is that leaves me plenty for a border.

So I got to work matching up repeats and then cut sets of 60º triangles-
I got 20 sets, which worked out to each vertical row to have 5, 4, 5, 4 blocks in it, and left 2 sets to fill in the ends of the two 4 rows.  (That will make more sense in a minute or two.)  I would have liked to have a 5th row, but I could not afford to go back and buy enough fabric for another set of repeats – they are about 14” so that’s a lot of material.

When I did the 8-wedge blocks, I sewed corners on to make square blocks of them.  Here came Rebecca to the rescue – she turned me onto the One Block Wonder tutorials on YouTube.  You just sew half of each kaleidoscope together, then put background triangles, also 60º between them and you can sew them in vertical rows.  No inset seams, no corners.  Duh!  Rebecca, where were you last year when I struggled with the first ones I made?  LOL

Before I sewed each block together, I laid out all my options and took pictures with my phone to decide which one I liked best – it is so time consuming to just keep physically switching them back and forth to decide, but pictures make it easy!  Here are a couple of close ups of final choices-

After I made a few, I figured out I actually had more than just the obvious three choices of always putting the same tip in the center.  There are three ways of putting same sides together to get three designs around the middle- here is just one comparison –
Normal kaleidoscope
Same sides together
The problem with this is you have to be kind of far away to see the kaleidoscope effect.  I am thinking about trying this in the future with something else – this time around, I just did the really beautiful designs in the center.

Then when it came time to figure out those background triangles, I searched through everything I had.  I wanted something that had a bit of interest to it that read as a solid, but I didn’t want a solid.  The only thing I had enough of was a yellow, and when I started laying it out on the wall, I didn’t like it all-
It was just too much yellow – and I love yellow!  So I had to make a quick run to Hancock’s, where there was a wonderful sale going on.  I managed to pick up this tan-ish color with a green design-
I would have loved to found something with the actual pale green background of the floral, but I just could not find anything.  However, this has really grown on me and I like it.  So it all went up on the wall-
Of course, this picture does not do it justice – this looks yellowish, which it isn’t – I don’t have any natural light in this room.  Once it’s all together, I will take a picture in natural light and it should look way better.  But you can see how lovely the blocks came out.  Also in this picture, you can see where I had to add bits of my two leftover blocks to fill out the 2nd and 4th rows at the top and bottom. When together, I will cut it straight across the top and bottom.  I’m very anxious to get it done.

In other news, I got to see my grandmother’s sewing machine for the first time since she passed away in 1986.  It has been sitting in various storage locations since then, and I was bound and determined to get to it now.  This is not a picture of her machine because I was really stupid and too excited to remember to take pictures, but this is a picture of the same machine I found online- 
It is a Kenmore Imperial Rotary Machine, made in 1942, sold by Sears & Roebuck.  My mom knows that my grandmother bought it used, in the cabinet around 1961-1962.  The cabinet is in really good condition, but there is some paint loss on that rocket engine shaped thing hanging over the harp – that is the light fixture, so the heat probably caused the paint to chip.  I spent about an hour last night looking at Sears catalogs from the mid-40’s trying to figure out what it cost new.  I finally found a cabinet and machine that looked almost exactly like it in a 1944 or 1945 Sears Wishbook online - you had your choice of two machines in a cabinet for $46.95.  Whoa!  Gone are those days, right?  Here is another picture I found online of one in the original cabinet -
I remember how much she loved this machine – it was in her bedroom for as long as I can remember.  She made many of her own clothes, especially pajamas - she loved lounging around in her bright and colorful pajamas, entertaining her guests!  Her favorite materials were usually paisleys – she would go crazy for some of the stuff we have available now!

In the drawers I found-


I could not find the model number in the book – that was on the missing front page of the manual!  However, when I was looking at the buttonholer, I found this piece of paper in the box-
That is my grandmother’s handwriting – I feel like she left this note just for me!  Finally having that number, I was able to get the extra info about the machine and cabinet.  I am going back next week to where the machine is in Alexis’ house, and I am taking pictures!  And I am going to figure out how to bring this baby home!  Alexis, fair warning – you have to find something else to put the TV on in that back room!

One other interesting little tidbit before I go.  I have been collecting bits and pieces of sewing accessories for a long time.  A while back I found a box with old presser feet in it and this was one of them-
I have seen some weird presser feet before, but this one perplexed me!  A couple of days ago, I found a video of someone using one – 


It really is a fiddly thing and the demonstrator has a bit of trouble with it, but it does look like in the end, it could do a great job. I will have to try it in the future.

Thanks for stopping by – and try to stay cool this summer!

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