Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baby Snuggler

My friend asked if I could make one of these for the baby she is expecting. Of course I said yes. I had bought this wonderful Philip Jacobs fabric a few weeks ago and thought it would be perfect.
It's a baby snuggler, designed wrap a baby nice and snug.Placing the velcro strips was a bit tricky.I did a bit of testing first.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Customer Satisfaction

I went to the local Hobby Lobby today to buy the ribbon I didn't buy last weekend. I found exactly what I needed in a store that was clean, well lit, and filled with friendly, courteous, helpful salespeople.

When I was checking out, the sales clerk said to me, "You look familiar. Did you used to shop at Xxxxxx's? I recognize your bag."

"Yes, and I had a horrible experience there on Saturday."

The clerk nodded. "I hear a lot of stories from customers since I have been here. I worked there for 7 years. I knew I had to leave when I kept getting chewed out for spending so much time with customers. The manager/owner was never polite to me until the day he came into this store and found me working here."

It's amazing in this economy that customers aren't always treated well. When this guy's business fails, he'll undoubtedly blame "the poor economy" or "the big box craft store that came to town and drove away my business" without realizing his attitude was really the underlying cause.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Customer Dis-Satisfaction

My friend is getting married soon, and my Mom and I agreed to make a chuppah (canopy) for her. The canopy is a painted silk panel. We'll attach ribbon to the corners, then staple the ribbon to the posts at the four corners.

I needed to buy fleece for the snuggie I'm making, and decided to get some ribbon for the chuppah at the same time. I went to the local fabric shop.

I haven't been happy with this store for a long time. The store is dark, messy, the salesclerks are sloppily dressed, and never acknowledge when a customer enters. The store has a big selection of home dec fabrics, notions, fleece and a lot of cottons. They call themselves a quilt shop, but they don't know anything about quilting. They've always had the strangest selection of fabrics. I found out the owner buys the stock of fabric stores that have gone out of business. I've long since stopped buying my quilting fabric there, and now only shop there as a last resort.

I walked in on Saturday with my dad. I had to wait for the two salesclerks behind the desk to finish their conversation so I could ask where to find the fleece. I picked the color I needed, brought it to the cutting desk, and asked for a yard, and said I needed ribbon. The clerk cut my fleece and set it aside, placing a slip on it that indicated it was $9.90.

I found some 3/4" white satin ribbon, and five different colors of 1/4" satin ribbon. I needed 8 yards of each.

While the salesclerk was measuring out the white ribbon, she said casually, "Oh, here's a dirty patch," but she kept measuring. Then she came to a part where the ribbon had been cut, and was scotch-taped together. She kept measuring.

"I don't want that cut part," I said.

"What's this for anyway?" she asked.

"It's for a canopy for a wedding."

"Is the wedding TOMORROW?" she asked, and guffawed loudly with her co-worker. We all knew the hurricane Irene would hit the next day.

I didn't reply, feeling like I had just been insulted. What difference did it make when the wedding was?

Since she'd lost count measuring the ribbon, she had to start again. Again, she passed the cut piece.

"What are we going to do about that cut?" I asked.

"I don't know if I have eight yards after this cut."

"That's ok," I said, "I need four two-yard pieces,"

"You don't UNDERSTAND" she said, raising her voice, "I don't know if I have eight yards on this whole roll! There's NOTHING I can do about it." She glared at me.

I blinked. I couldn't believe it. I put down the five other rolls of ribbon I'd been holding and backed slightly away from the counter, and then the fleece caught my eye. I really needed the fleece for a project I'd be working on later that day. I reached into my purse, took out my wallet, pulled out a ten dollar bill and threw it on the counter.

"We're done here," I said. "Come on, dad." I took his arm, and picked up my fleece as we rounded the counter and walked out.

Two steps out the door my dad said to me, "You know, I bet she doesn't even understand why you left."

"Did I overreact?" I asked.

"Oh no," he said, "she was really rude to you."

We got into the car, and I thought about the encounter, "She wasn't just rude to me once."

"No," he said, "she insulted you twice."

I'll never, ever, go into that store again.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

While Irene Blows

While Irene blows in today, and dumps rain on us, I plan to be sewing (assuming we don't lose electricity.

First up is a case for Pip-pay's Kindle.Next up is a snuggie for my best friend, who's expecting a baby in October.
If we lose electricity, I get to read and fold the laundry.

I'm on vacation this week, so I'll be resuming the Red Letter Sew Along. Look for the letter R either Monday or Tuesday (electricity permitting).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Friend's View

My friend, The Selvage Fairy, drove up to my favorite Quilt Shop, Quilted Threads, to see the two Rules Quilts together. She sent me an email.

"No offense to your photography but OMG!!! The reds and oranges in "FUN" look like they are on fire in the black one!

I was expecting beautiful, but I'm just blown away..."

Thank you SF! You have made my day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Same, and Different

In my quilts, I like to make the viewer on a voyage of discovery. I want them to keep looking closer, to discover the elements I have placed there. The two Rules Quilts exemplify this. At first glance, they are the same, except for the background - one white, one black. But they are also very different in some obvious, and some subtle ways.

The word RULES uses the same fabrics in each letter in both quilts.

The word MISS is NOT the same. I wanted them to LOOK like they were the same. I wanted you to THINK they were the same. Everyone notices the ladies are different, but I've used different fabrics in the M and the S's.

Look closely (click and then click the photos again to enlarge) to see the difference.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New "Q"

Here is the letter Q, with a brand-new how-to! You can click each photo, then click again to get a bigger view. The squares on my cutting board are 1" apart.

I made a big backwards C. I've included my hand near the block, so you can see just how big it is. I am looking for the finished letter to be in the 4" - 4-1/2" size range (10-11.5 cm).

I've sewn a long piece of red to a long piece of white fabric for the tail of the Q, and here I am positioning it. Notice I have allowed for the seam allowance. I'll pull the "tail" piece away, and cut the block apart, then insert the "tail".Oops. Re-do. (Do note, however, I have trimmed the width of the tail so it is quite skinny.)As you can see, the letter is WAY too big. Here's how I judge. I set one of my cutting rulers over the letter and use it as a guide. This ruler is 4-1/2". I want to allow for the bottom seam, but I also need to allow for the top of the Q.

Here I've cut the excess away, but I'll use part of what I cut off as the top part of the Q. This top bit already has the background fabric attached, so that will save me some fiddling.
Now I need to add the piece to the left side of the letter. After working out how wide I want the Q to be, I trim away the excess (always remembering to leave enough for the seam allowance.)
Insert the last strip on the left, and PRESTO!
A nice, new Q!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Rules, Together!

Woo Hoo! The two Rules quilts, the "White Cat Rules" and "The Black Cat's Rules" are now hanging side by side at Quilted Threads in Henniker NH.

I've been waiting to see these two quilts next to each other for months. It's everything I could have hoped for.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Red letters are coming soon, I promise. (Paid the bills last night. Gotta pay the piper. You know how it is.)
I love great big fat S's. This one is about 7" wide by 10" tall. Dunno what I'll use it for, but I love it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's a GO!

It's official! I'll be teaching a class on free pieced letters at Quilted Threads, in Henniker NH, on Saturday October 22, 2011 from 10 - 4! You can follow this link to get more information. (You'll have to scroll down a little bit.)

I'll have all my word quilts with me, Letters From Home, The Quick Brown Fox, Nine x Nine, White Cat Rules and The Black Cat's Rules along with Make It Work, Daft Zebras, Tonya's Live, Love as well as both of the quilts Julie made using my "misfit letters," Hidden Potential and Magic Happens.

I am absolutely thrilled and excited! Hope to see you all there!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Love and Nasturtiums

I plant nasturtiums every year. I put them near my tomatoes because I read once that aphids love them more than tomatoes, and given a choice, they'll attack the nasturtiums and leave the tomatoes alone.I've found this to be true. Usually my nasturtiums are covered in aphids, and yes, they've left the tomatoes alone.

This year, no aphids. Which was a good thing, because the flowers have been so beautiful I could finally pick some flowers to enjoy in the house.

The photos in the background are my son, one taken when he was in high school, the other when he was four years old.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Red Letter Day

I've finished all the letters for the Red Letter Quilt-along. I'll be re-starting the alphabet, and I've got new how-to instructions for the letter Q, which I will post soon. I won't attempt to post a letter every day, because I don't want to add more stress to my life, but they will be appearing every couple of days or so.

Making the letters takes no time. Photographing the process, writing the posts... that takes time! So I've decided to show you the whole alphabet. I've left the photo large, so you can click, then click again to get a fair amount of detail so if you want to skip ahead, you can.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Black Cat's Rules

This little cat, sitting in the "O", has given me the title for this quilt. "The Black Cat's Rules."
I brought the quilt outside at 7 AM this morning, where the sun was shining directly on it, making the colors sing.A wisp of cloud floated by, enabling me to take this picture, which I think best represents what the quilt looks like in real life. As the cloud drifted away, the shimmering quilting began to pick up and reflect the light back, and I thought, "This is the way this quilt should be seen!"

Red Letter days will start again next week!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Rules, in Black

The colors look a bit truer here. I'm happy with the way this turned out. I can't wait to see them both hanging side by side.

*Compare it with the White version, which can be found here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Black Rules Finish

Not really, I still have to sew the hanging sleeve, but for all intents and purposes, this quilt is done.

Somebody is gonna have to tell me how to photograph a black quilt and make the colors glow like they do in real life. The quilt is AWESOME, and this photo doesn't show any of that.

The quilt is 47-1/2" wide by 54" tall (about 120 cm x 137 cm)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Quilt Wrangling

I've finally got the binding all sewn on the black rules quilt, and now I'm in the process of hand sewing it down on the front.

Black thread on a black quilt... practically invisible! I think my days of doing the hand sewing down on the front are numbered!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Millie & Monty Q

The quilt Millie was "inspecting" yesterday...belongs to Monty Q, Millie's "sweetie."
After all, every couple should have a quilt.So I made them a very special one.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thank You Millie!

Five years ago today I adopted a rescued feral kitten named Millie. She'd been hit by a car and left for dead in the middle of a busy city street. A passerby rescued her, and agreed to take responsibility for her. She had a broken leg, and it was dislocated from her hip. She was truly feral, not accustomed to humans or being handled. She was Freaked Out.(this is the Only Time I have ever held Millie, btw)

I adopted her and brought her into my home, which was already occupied by two elderly cats, neither of whom was particularly happy to see her. But Millie had spunk, curiosity and persistence, and made a place for herself in the family.

Millie changed my life, and not just as a cat owner. Through her I made friends around the world, found a new family, and started making quilts again.

Yup, if it wasn't for Millie, you wouldn't be reading this blog, because I wouldn't be making quilts.
So let's have a big cheer for Millie, because without her my life would be much less interesting!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

R is for Rules!

Here are some R's for you. You get the idea of how I make them.
this blue R is a beginner's R.
I like these R's better.

love that fussy cut fabric!
another R, kinda stocky, kinda boring, but I like it.
This R is in Tonya's quilt. After all, a cat wearing a beret - how very Parisian!
This R from Julie's quilt is probably my all-time favorite R.

I'm feeling better, a bit more caught up at work, still tired, doing a lot of reading. I had the photos in this post lined up, and decided you'd all enjoy looking at them even without the how-to's.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wrecked, X-hausted and Zonked

I'm wiped out. Really.

I'm the Alpha Geek for a "small" ($11M/yr) privately held manufacturing company. For 12 years I managed it all - half a dozen servers, the email, the antivirus, the anti-spam, the accounting software, the dozen printers, the manufacturing software, the barcode printers, the dozen laptops, the cell phones, smart phones and the 35-40 workstations, and all the security, passwords and everything else thrown in.

The job was way too big for one person to manage 24/7/365. I was worried I was going to have a stroke. About a year ago, the company contracted a consulting firm to manage the hardware remotely. I relaxed a bit, but we made plans, big plans to update the entire computer network.

That work started the middle of June.

For the techno savvy, we're replacing our aging servers with virtual servers and using virtual storage; upgrading our Accounting, Manufacturing and Email software. By the time phase one is complete at the end of September, every one of our servers will have been replaced, and every single user will have been affected - getting new software, new versions of existing software, and sometimes new computers. Phase two means a new telephone system, which means we'll re-cable the entire building.

Every single piece of it depends on something I know, or knew, and I'm the go-to person with all the answers. In June, my back revolted, and I discovered the arthritis in my spine. Washing dishes is painful. Vacuuming is painful. Getting something out of the refrigerator is painful. Even standing at my sewing table hurts.

My son calls me the Energizer Bunny, but this bunny has run out of gas. I'm exhausted. I didn't plan to start a quilt-along when I decided to make 26 red letters. At first I thought I could do it, and wrote the how to posts five at a time, over the weekend. This past Sunday, after a lovely dinner with my Mom and her husband, I looked at the clock and realized it was 8:30 PM. Not enough time to write about Q, R, S, T and U. So I winged it.

I failed, and yesterday's post about Q wasn't as clear as I wanted it to be.

Ladies, (and Steven) I hate to let you down, but I need a break. The rest of the alphabet will come, I promise. (I've got mine all made) There's a lot I want to share, and I'm having a grand time watching you all make your versions of the letters, but I just need to stop and regain some strength. I've got a vacation coming up in September, and I'll be attending a friend's wedding, so I do have rather a lot going on at the home front, but I just have to slow down or I won't make it.

Don't worry, I'm not going to go into exile. I'll just be resting and reading (totally hooked on the Inspector Gamache series from Louise Penny) and watching some tennis and Project Runway. I'll be finishing up the Black Rules quilt, and I'll let you know when that's finished. (I need titles for those two quilts, the Black and White Rules quilts.. Suggestions are welcome, and you know me, can't be anything cutesy like "Salt and Pepper".) Make your letters, and ask as many questions as you like. Your questions are terrific. They make me think, and find better ways of doing what it is I love to do. I'll answer, somehow, I promise!

But for now, I need to be more like Millie, and "chillax."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Q is for QUILT!

The way I make the letter Q has undergone a big transformation since I started sewing letters.Tonya's original instructions for making the Q included a small X in one corner! It was very finicky to make a Q that finished 3-1/2" tall!

Here are a few examples of the "old school" Q.
Here's another one!
In her book, Tonya greatly simplified the Q. It didn't sing for me, so I tried inserting a slash through one side.
I liked that way it looked. This white Q is about 2-1/2" tall.
I've been wrestling with how to explain how to make this Q...
I started with these components, but I think the easiest way is to make an oversized backwards L, and insert the slash through the upright and then complete the Q by adding the other two sides.

I would have made a new one to show you, but my parents came to dinner and um, I got sidetracked.
I goofed in this photo (above.) In order to complete the Q, and add the strip across the top, I had to do a bit of unsewing. I promise to show better how-to pictures soon.

UPDATE!!! Clare was right! I wrote about creating the Q in an earlier post. Check it out HERE! It's clear and easy to figure out! Thanks Clare!