Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Thor, Doll Dresses and a Walking Stick

We've been away camping for much of the last few weeks.  When we got home Thor got very sick again requiring another emergency surgery.  This was the third time for him and he wasn't able to recover this time.  He is such a beloved dog, and we know there will never be another like him.  He is very sadly missed.

In other news, my daughter and granddaughters recently came down for a visit.  I decided that their dolls, Katie and Baby, needed dresses to match their own new dresses.  Katie also got a new circle skirt.  Up until now she has only had her winter outfit including a winter coat, and everyone needs some comfortable summer clothes, don't they?!

While we were camping in the Bruce Peninsula we got some long overdue visits in with my inlaws.  I've been wanting to make a walking stick and they gave me a nice piece of cedar (I think) stick.  I sanded it down, sprayed it with varathane, added a wrap handle and rubber foot, and blinged it out with a glass stone.  I'm quite pleased with the results.

The handle is wrapped with nylon rope; I think it is a slightly thicker version of paracord that I picked up at Princess Auto.  After wrapping it (following this tutorial) I steamed it with the steam iron.  I also pressed it but managed to melt it a little bit in a couple of places.  Oops!  To add the stone I drilled slightly into the wood to inset it a little bit.  Then I attached the stone with epoxy.  Because it is slightly inset I don't imagine it will get knocked out - it feels very secure.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Some More Projects Completed

I have been really busy this last few weeks.  Further to my post the other day, I finished up the second sundress for granddaughters and made the two pens for my inlaws.


Mom had some labels made up for us a few years ago and I just ran across them.  Seemed like the perfect way to easily show which side is the back.  This was a really fun project.  The pink dress was sewn on the Brother.  I set the stitch length to 3.5 and increased the tension to 5.  Then the Brother broke down on me and is in for repair.  I tried using the Pfaff for the blue one but no matter what I tried I couldn't get any tension on the elastic.  So I pulled out Black Betty (the Janome heavy duty mechanical machine), set the stitch length and tension the same as I did for the Brother and it did a beautiful job.

The brown pen is made from a maple burl.  That one is for my brother-in-law who does a lot of woodworking.  My sister-in-law is very connected with nature and so the green acrylic seemed to me to be appropriate for her.  I am still struggling with getting a straight edge on my turning but I'm pleased with the finish.  I'm using crazy glue on the wood pens to give a hard durable finish.  Then I go through the series of sanding pads up to 12,000 grit on both wood pens and acrylic, and then polish with car polish.

I think I'm due for a break, don't you?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Odds and Ends

Just a little "catch up" post on some things I've been working on.

I began quilting by taking a class at my local quilting store.  This was a year ago but I never posted a pic of my finished project, so here you go:

It is a lap sized quilt and I've been using it for sitting outside on cool evenings when camping.  Speaking of camping, I also wanted to make a quilt for the trailer.  I needed to protect the couch from Thor and also just to have an extra blanket on hand.  Well, Thor got very sick after our last camping trip and we lost him while I was working on this quilt.  I sewed in the sunroom keeping him company while he tried to recover from his surgery.  Somehow that makes the quilt even more meaningful for me.  I've got the quilt pieced and am ready to make the backing, sandwich and quilt it.

I used a package of Northcott's Stonehenge strips and embroidered wolves, bears and other wildlife on alternating squares.  I used up every strip from the package with very little left over; that made the cheap b@stard in me very happy!  The outer border was cut at 5 1/4" to accomplish this.  I've got two 10" pieced squares leftover that *could* be used to make a couple of throw pillow covers.

Because of the piano-key border I decided to do mitered corners.  I'm pleased with how they turned out for a first try.

Also camping-related, I have an old quilted plaid jacket that I wear around the fire, but it needs more pockets and the two breast pockets that are there aren't big enough to hold my phone securely (this is how I found out my phone really is waterproof when helping granddaughter up onto the toilet).  So some modifications were in order.


I haven't done much sewing for the granddaughters, mainly because they grow so fast!  I got an itch to try shirring with elastic and have a little sun dress made for the youngest with a coordinating one planned for her older sister.

I wasn't having any luck when I wound the bobbin by hand as recommended by many online sources, but it worked beautifully once I wound it by machine.  When I was finished I hovered the iron over the gathers and gave it a shot of steam which really helped to shrink it up that last bit.  I have to say this little dress is adorable, and I can't wait to try it on her!

Finally, I'm working on a couple of pens for my inlaws.  Brother-in-law does a lot of woodworking so I am using a burled maple blank for his, and sister-in-law is very close to nature so I have a green acrylic one that I think will be very pretty.  I'll post pics when they are done.

We've had a really late wet spring here so I am way behind on outdoor projects, but hopefully I'll have some progress to report soon.

Friday, May 17, 2019


After my father passed away his wood lathe came to live at my house.  A couple of years ago I took a pen-making seminar and really enjoyed it.  I was a little reluctant to make more on my own because, like all hobbies, it needs new equipment and a financial outlay.  Even though I have the lathe I would still need to buy a mandrel, bushings, finishing products, etc. on top of the actual materials for each pen.  The cheap b@stard in me was reluctant to do so.  It's like buying pins and tape measures and seam rippers and scissors and everything else just to make a set of napkins.  You are reluctant to make that initial investment.  Just before this past Christmas I started talking about biting the bullet and getting into it anyway.  Life is too short.  I went ahead and ordered a starter kit and J took that as a signal to stock up on blanks for me as a wonderful Christmas gift.  And for the last week I have been having so much fun playing out in the garage.

I made the first pen in the pic above at the seminar way back when.  It is made from padauk (#88K7528), an interesting wood because it started off as orange - I had orange sawdust everywhere - but dulls to a deep brown with oxidation.  

The second pen is the first one I made this week at home.  It was tough to remember what I learned in that seminar so long ago, but fortunately google is my friend.  This one is called a rust and black acetate (#88K7895) but to me it looks like browns and golds.  It is really pretty in person.  I love the depth of colour in the acrylic blanks.  I used the 9 step Micro-Mesh sanding pads to wet sand and then finished with the Mother's car wax that was in my garage.  This process gave it a finish like glass.  I will gift this one to my mother as a late Mother's Day gift (I had initially intended to get to this project before Mother's Day but that didn't happen).  It just feels appropriate that she get the first project I make from dad's lathe.  Besides, it is the nicest one of the bunch and she deserves that.

The third pen is for J, so I chose an acrylic in Skidoo colours (88K7893).  It's not one of the blanks he bought me so he won't be expecting it (no I haven't given it to him yet).  I used the same process as above.

The fourth pen is made from a red dyed maple burl (88K7914).  The website says "these resin-impregnated blanks combine the beauty and bold figuring of maple burl with the stability and consistent texture of plastic."  This one gave me a lot of grief finishing it.  I couldn't remember the specifics of finishing wood from when I made the padauk one because it was so long ago.  I just remembered that we used a CA glue (like Crazy Glue).  All the youtube videos I watched had you just sand to 600 (as opposed to the 12000 that you do the acrylic blanks) and then apply 3 coats of glue, sanding and polishing when you are done.  I couldn't get a decent finish to save my life.  I redid it several times and now had a buildup of glue that was leaving lots of white rough bits.  I was about to say "good enough" and even took the parts off the lathe when I decided to treat it like an acrylic.  I know you aren't supposed to wet sand wood because it will raise the grain but I thought the wood should be sealed under the glue by now, right?  I had been using a 600 grit to sand so I went back to a 320 to remove a lot of the excess glue.  All the videos talk about a light sanding but I went a bit heavy.  Then I went over it again with the 600 grit.  I actually had a not bad finish at this point, definitely better than it had been.  Then I used the full Micro Mesh set to wet sand and then polished with car wax.  My results were very much improved over what I initially had.  There are still a few white spots visible but the finish is nice and smooth, even glass-like.  I am so glad that I redid it one more time because otherwise I would have been disapointed every time I looked at it.  The smooth finish feels nice in the hand.  I will be keeping this pen for myself and I am hoping that one day I will have improved enough that I will look at it as a good reminder of how far I have come. 


I started this quilt about a year and a half ago to use in the sunroom.  It was just going to be a cheapie quilt to learn some new techniques on.  I used cottons I found at Lens Mills in Woodstock and I used cheap polyester batting.  I have a metal dragonfly on the wall and one of my fabrics has dragonflies in it, hence the name.  I found a dragonfly template that you pat with chalk to give you an outline to follow.  Sounds great in theory but it brushes off as you are sewing so it is hard to follow. 

 So some of the quilt was quilted with dragonflies and the rest was a sampler for learning free-motion quilting.

The quilt began as a lap blanket but I added another row and then I added a border and then I added another border... you see where this is going.  It now fits over my queen bed.  The blues are for the pool and one of the blue fabrics has fish on it.  The oranges and yellows are for sunny days which matches the sunroom theme perfectly.  And of course I can't have anything orange without thinking of Steve so that's a good thing too.  He had a duvet cover very similar to that backing.

I hadn't touched this project since the fall semester began.  I pulled it out the other day to continue working on it and was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the quilting had been done except for the borders.  It didn't take long to finish up after all.  I did spend about 8 hours hand sewing the binding and threading in all the tails.  Can I just say that self-threading needles are the best invention ever?!

All in all this quilt turned out way better than my expectations when I started.  And that's a good thing.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Who, Me? lol

So this just came across my Facebook feed lol

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Butterfly Kisses

I finally finished Granddaughter's quilt.  The last quilt I finished was for her mom - roughly 29 years ago!  Don't look too closely or you will see lots of imperfections.  Having said that, I am so pleased with how it turned out!

I used the "Essentially Irish" pattern from this Fabric Surprises booklet by Love of Quilting magazine.  I notice that Northcott is one of the sponsors of this booklet and I used Northcott fabrics for this quilt, so it seems it was meant to be. I love these fabrics and I'm pretty sure Granddaughter will as well, especially as she gets into her teenage years.  Hopefully it holds together for her until then.

I thought about embroidering butterflies on it after I had pieced the quilt top.  You would think it would have been easier to do that ahead of time but I think having the top as a sheet helped with the hooping for the embroidery machine.  I quilted diagonal lines over the Irish chain squares, and then decided not to continue through the butterfly squares as I didn't want them to hide.  Then I had to decide how to add some quilting for stability within those squares.  I finally settled on free motion echo quilting.  This was also a first for me and my seam ripper got a really good workout.  I finally decided to ditch the King Tut varigated thread I used for my diagonal lines and instead go for a colour match to the butterfly background to better hide the very beginner free motion quilting.  I think in the end this was a good choice.

 I continued the diagonal lines through the border all the way around, but left the bits between the butterfly squares as long rectangles.  I used 2 1/4" strips for the binding as that's what I had on hand already cut.  It worked just fine and I don't really think you need 2 1/2" as is usually recommended.  I spent about 5 1/2 hours sewing the binding down by hand.  I may try stitch in the ditch on a future quilt but I really wanted this to be the best that it could be.  I finished it off with a label. 

I did run into some problems with this quilt.  The heat-activated glue-basting batting wouldn't stay stuck.  I have two quilts using this batting and had the same problem with both.  Apparently the quilt store had a bad roll.  I ended up having to pin baste it all anyway.  Then I was in a bit of a panic when Phoebe the Pfaff was getting all wonky with the tension as I started quilting.  I was working on the class quilt (that still isn't finished) from the class that I took to learn how to finish this quilt.  I sent her to the dealer for service and started working on Bob the Brother instead.  This meant buying a walking foot.  And a 1/4" edge guide.  But Bob was also giving me tension issues - I thought I was going to lose my mind!  Then I realized that Bob wasn't cutting my bobbin thread, and I was using the same bobbin as I did on Phoebe (there are supposed to be interchangeable), so perhaps there is a problem with the bobbin.  I rewound it to a Brother bobbin and then Bob started giving me a beautiful stitch.  So half of the quilt lines on the class quilt are a bit wonky where I was test driving quilting but it was all sorted out before I started quilting on this one.  And now I have two machines that I can use for quilting.  Bonus!  I should mention "Butterfly Kisses" has the Holley stamp of approval.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A Little Warmth

Some Christmas' are fairly mild where I live and we are able to have our Christmas dinner in the sunroom with a heater on.  This year we have been having a very cold early winter, and are heading into sub-zero temps over the next few days.  What better time to think about some warm sunny colours for a sunroom lap quilt!

I was at Lens Mills last week and picked up the above fabrics.  I initially was thinking of making placemats or mug rugs just to give me something to play with on the old White machine I brought up to J's, but I didn't know how much fabric I would need.  I ended up buying a meter of each and then though "that would make a quilt!".  I've got the blocks made and they are just waiting to be assembled.  I did find that my points are not nearly as accurate as they are with the first quilt I pieced on the Pfaff.  I'm not sure if that is because of the Pfaff's IDT or because the Pfaff has an edge guide 1/4" foot where the White just has a 1/4" quilting foot that you eyeball your edge.  Could be a combination of both. If you click on the pic you will see what I mean.  I haven't decided if I will rework a couple of them or just live with them.  What do you think?  I guess I have to decide how much it will bug me every time I look at it!

While I was at Lens Mills I saw packs of Northcott Stonehenge Gradations 2 1/2" strips on sale half price.  I thought this was a really good deal so I bought four packs.  Once I got out to my truck I saw on my receipt that they qualified for a further 65% boxing week clearance sale!  So of course I went back inside and picked up four more packs for a total of eight in four different colourways (two each).  A few days later I had a project in mind for a queen quilt and figured I would pick up one more pack to ensure I don't run out.  Well I was informed at the checkout that no, they weren't supposed to be discounted the extra 65% and that had been an error.  That's ok, they were still 50% off but I guess I really did get a good bargain.

I start a quilting class next week that I am really looking forward to.  I'm doing ok with the piecing but I am really needing some direction when it comes to quilting and binding the quilt.  I want to finish the class before finishing my granddaughter's quilt; I don't want to mess that one up!  We will be making "Sue's Star" shown here.  It looks like it is all half square triangles so I am looking forward to learning the proper technique for making those.

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Baby and a New Hobby

I guess the new baby and the new hobby aren't quite connected, but seeing how negligent I've been about updating my blog I'm just going to put them both in this post.

The new baby, as you can see in the above pic, is a Babylock Enlighten serger.  I've been happily serging on my Brother 1034D for many years.  The other week I went to adjust the stitch width from rolled hem back to a regular stitch width when something popped loose.  I had the pressure foot down and I think that's why.  I managed to get it working again but decided that since I had a little extra cash in my pocket this fall why not take advantage and buy my dream serger?  So I did!  As an added bonus I brought the Brother serger and my old original White sewing machine up to keep at J's house so that I can play when I am staying up here.

I'll be honest I haven't done much with it yet as I've been totally engrossed in my new hobby - quilting!  I started and finished a quilt top for my lovely granddaughter as she moves from her crib to a bed.  Pics are the purple quilt pics on my previous post.  I had a lot of fun with it; it is an Irish Chain done with strip piecing which made it quick and easy.  I then embroidered butterflies on all the large squares.  I'm going to call it "Butterfly Kisses".

I'm spending the week at J's this week so I went to Lens Mills in Woodstock to see what they had on offer.  They have a large selection of quilting fabrics that I have bought from to make aprons.  I was initially looking for some fabrics to make maybe some placemats or something for the sunroom.  As I was at the cutting desk I realized I didn't know how much of each fabric to buy.  I ended up buying a meter each of six fabrics, and then decided that I could make a lap quilt out of it.  I made my own pattern similar to the Irish chain, in that it is blocks of 25 squares alternated with solid blocks.   I found a 1/4" quilting foot in my stash for the White so I have been happily sewing away while up here on my visit.

While still at Lens Mills, as I was walking towards the checkout I saw a small display of Stonehenge strip packs.  They were marked down half price.  I wouldn't normally spend the full price for these, as nice as they are, but at half price I figured it was a good deal.  So I bought two packs each of two different colourways.  When I got to my truck and looked at my receipt I realized that they qualified for the 65% off clearance items, so I got 65% off the half off price.  Woohoo!  So of course I went back into the store and bought two more packs each of two more colourways.  I'm not sure what I'll do with them yet but they will have a good home in my sewing room until I decide.

So far 2018 is looking to be a very busy year!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Another Catch-Up Post

Between picket duty and then being back to work I've been crazy busy the last month.  I've carved out some time to work on projects but I haven't had time to post about them.  So I'm just going to plant a bunch of pics here and perhaps I'll get back and write about them at some point.  You'll have to scroll all the way to the end to find a finished project.