Saturday, February 21, 2009

Green Acres is the Place to Be

I took these first four photos right after we moved to the farm. It was my first day of working from home back in 2002. I woke up to a beautiful scene at sunrise and took a long walk to start my day. Living in in nature is such an honor. Hardly a day goes by that I don't count my blessing for the beauty in my life.

When I was young one of my favorite TV shows was "Green Acres" starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. If you are not familiar with the show it was about a couple from Park Avenue in New York that move to a small town. Mr. Douglas, the high powered, attorney had a dream of owning a farm and watching his crops grow. They end up buying the old Haney place from Mr. Haney the town's snake oil salesman along with many other items that don't work very well.

One of the Douglas' purchases was their Hoyt Clagwell tractor. It was always breaking down. Here is the "Hoyt Clagwell" we purchased with our farm. This 1964 Ford never did run quite right. Everytime we went to use it something else would break. It literally cost $200.00 everytime we would turn the ingition. Our Hoyt Clagwell didn't last through the first season. It went to live with other tractors of similar vintage. Tractor collecting and tractor shows are very popular in this state.

Back to the old Haney place... When Lisa Douglas needed to use her kitchen appliances she had to use a numbering system. You could plug a #1 in with a #6 but if you added a #7 the fuses would blow. My kitchen has six outlets along the counter but only 3 worked properly. In the summer of 2002 I purchased replacement outlets and misplaced them. I knew I had them somewhere so I could never bring myself to buy more. Well last weekend I cleaned the carpets in my son's old bedroom. Would you believe I found the replacement outlets in his closet? He and I remodeled his bedroom the first summer on the farm and the outlets were mixed in with all the other wiring supplies from that project. I installed them immediately fearing I might lose them again. Now I can plug in my toaster and mixer at the same time!

We have snow here today but I'm dreaming of summer days.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Color Choices and a Little Sewing

Do you ever have a hard time choosing colors? Over the next few weeks I am taking a class from my friend Suzanne. The pattern is one of her own designs and requires lots of different fabric to give it interest. I dove into my scrap bin for this class looking for a neutral or light colored background and some medium and dark fabrics. All of the colors I put together were earth tones and I was not happy with the brightness of the pallet. Last year I purchased a few batiks while I was traveling and added a few more from Jeanne's fabric sale. I have been itching to put something together with these vibrant fabrics. For the background fabric I dyed some of the print cloth I just received with a light red and golden yellow mixture with a hint of blue to get this lovely butterscotch color. I can't wait to see how the pattern turns out. More on this project next week.

Today I am putting the finishing touches on some quilt block jewelry. I have been out of stock of some of these colorways for a bit. It will be nice to have some on hand again. I also took some time out to play Frisbee with Jack on this warmish ( 23 deg F)and sunny winter day. The snow has been gone for almost a week on the south facing slope however we still have up to 12" inches of snow on the north facing slope. The sky has been a beautiful blue all weekend and it makes me long for springtime.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pillowcases and Wonderful Things in the Mailbox

Look what came in the mail for me this weekend. Pat at Bell Creek Quilts had a blog birthday give away and I as one of the lucky winners. This kit for a Piece-O-Pie pin cushion was my prize. I collect pin cushions and was very pleased to be the winner. Pat also surprised me with a lovely fat quarter filled with Dove chocolates. Oh joy. I have been chocolate deprived for a few weeks. There were a few more chocolates wrapped in there but DH & I dug into to them before I was able to snap a picture. And I love the quilt angel card she included. Thanks so much Pat!

This treasure came from Gwen at Desideratum. I fell in love with these beautiful earrings when Gwen had a give away back in the late fall. (Here is a link to better photos of these Robin's Egg Blue Earrings) Unfortunately I was not a winner so I sent her a note a week ago and asked if she was still making these and would she please sell me a pair. Gwen and her husband are amazing artists and I do believe Gwen is a master of all. Take a stop by her blog and explore. You can find a link to her husband John's blog there too. John has some wonderful paintings on display there.

A few readers asked about pillowcase construction after one of my recent posts. I have learned a few methods over time and my favorite is one that I've heard referred to as the "hot dog bun" method. This is a photo of my first quilt. I made matching pillowcases with some of the remaining fabrics. These pillowcases were sewn with a few construction techniques that leave no exposed seams inside or out. Click here for a tutorial.

Pillowcase Tutorial

This tutorial is for a standard pillowcase. Larger sizes options are at the end of this post. All of your fabrics should be a minimum of 42" wide. Be sure to remove selvage edges. To make this pillowcase you need cut the following sizes of fabric:

Main Body: 27" (3/4 yard) x 42"
Piping/Trim: 1-5/8" x 42"
Cuff: 12" x 42"

Fold piping in half wrong sides together. Iron. You should now have a narrow strip of trim.

Layer fabrics on flat surface so that the raw edges meet:
12" Cuff fabric right side up
trim folded and pressed
27" Main body right side down
-Pin in place along the 42" width and stitch along the 4 raw edges to join the 3 pieces of fabric together with a seam 3/8" of an inch wide.
-Now roll up the main body fabric so it will fit inside the cuff.

-Wrap the 12" wide cuff fabric around the rolled up main body fabric so the right side faces in and the wrong side faces out.
- Pin raw edges together.
-Stitch raw edges together using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Now for the fun part. Reach inside the cuff and pull out the main body fabric. As you do this it will turn the cuff so that all your stitches are now hidden inside the cuff. Press cuff flat.

- To assemble the rest of the pillowcase you will be using a french seam. Fold your pillowcase in half WRONG SIDES together.
- Press and pin starting where raw edges of the cuff join together then all along the raw edges.
- Stitch together with a 1/4" seam that continues around the 90 degree turn.
- Your pillowcase should now be closed on 3 sides.
- Clip inside corners of the main fabric to avoid excess bulk.

- Turn pillowcase inside out so that the right sides are now facing together. Press
-Sew a 1/2" seam along the same sides you just stitched closed again starting at the cuff. This 1/2" seam will enclose your last seam so that no raw edges show.

Turn the pillowcase right side out to reveal completed pillow case.

To make a king or queen pillowcase substitute the 3/4 yard fabric as follows:
Queen: 32"x 42"
King: 41"x 42"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It Happened One Day

Sunrise Friday morning

Frost forms as the temperature rises

And then falls from the trees when the sun clears the bluff

A little snowshoeing with Jack

I travel to town in the late afternoon and find an imature bald eagle looking for trout in the river

and just around the corner

a red tailed hawk

And later a bright night and clear sky
A day for dreaming and counting my blessings

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dye Release

The photo on the right shows 2 examples of dye release.  Both fabrics had a bleach paste (In this instance Cascade liquid dishwasher soap) applied to make the leaf pattern designs.  I used a stencil and a foam roller to make the ginkgo leaf design. The oak leaf design was made with a foam stamp.  I lightly rolled the paste onto the stamp with the foam roller.  I let the bleach set for 10 minutes on the green fabric and only 5 minutes on the dark navy fabric.  The bleach was rinsed away and then the fabric was soaked for 15 minutes in a water and vinegar mixture to stop the bleaching process.

The green fabric on top is one of my hand dyed fabrics.  The fabric on the bottom is a commercial dye/batik.  I was curious to see how my fabric would hold up to the bleach in the release paste.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I use a dye fixative in the final stage of dyeing to increase color fastness.  There was much less of a reaction than I expected.  On the other hand I did not expect the quick results with the commercially dyed fabric. I guess that what makes this technique so much fun.  You never know what your end result will be.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fun with Fabric

I just have to start this post by saying thank you so much for all your support and the wonderful comments you left on my last post.  It feels so good to be back in a routine of exercise and this time I have cheerleaders!  This new attitude was long overdue.  

This weekend after I finished my shift at the Red Door Gallery I was able to get back to sewing.  I put the finishing touched on my "Mod" quilt top late Sunday afternoon.  This quilt is composed of many of the large scale prints I have been collecting for the last few years.  Some were purchased for handbags and others just for fun.  I never did make the handbags but loved the fabric and had to find a use for it. I thought it would be fun to feature the fabric in large quilt blocks that would capture snapshots of the large scale prints.  I designed this quilt in early January after looking for a pattern and finding none that really appealed to me.  The finished quilt will be 50.5"X84.5". Believe it or not it will be a lap quilt.  Winters here in our old farmhouse are chilly.  Lap quilts need to cover your toes and tuck underneath your chin.   I can't wait to snuggle up under this quilt with a good book!

I just placed an order for a 100 yard bolt of print cloth.  It should be here by Wednesday and I will start dyeing again.  My Etsy store has been neglected for more than a month.  I finally replaced the purple and fuchsia colorways the other day.  I did a small dye lot a few weeks back, but no where near what is needed to get my store restocked.  I have to wait until the weekend to dye because I get so excited when I dye that I don't sleep well.  I just can't wait to rinse out the one of a kind dyes and see how they turn out.   These are my favorites from the last batch.

Dawn asked about the quilt behind me in my last post.  My friend Patsy made it to hang in her quilt retreat. You can see and better photo of it here.