Month: August 2016

Appliqué Queen-NOT!

I am more like the appliqué scullery maid, hoping to move up to house maid at this point! I have never done much appliqué, though I’ ve been awed by the intricacies of Baltimore album quilts for years. I find them to be astonishing pieces of art. My journey into appliqué was slow and tentative. I turned and top stitched some large pieces on a memory quilt made after my IFYE experience, and used a fusing method with buttonhole stitches on a Christmas gift about 10 years ago, but that was about it.

Fast forward several…many years,  and I did my first large scale effort. For my first wedding quilt I fused the fabric on to the background, and machine stitched (a blanket stitch) around it. It looked good, and I think it will hold up well, but I didn’t like the edges…I expect that in spite of the fusing, they will likely fray with time. After being drawn to some patterns designed By Kim Diehl, I purchased one of her books, and for the first time, the directions made sense. Her freezer paper method addressed some of my questions, and the photos were inspiring!

So here we are in 2016, with two quilts in the queue and the need to keep things moving along. Machine appliqué has been a good experience.  I have now used a variety of threads in the process, and so far everything is working great. I have matching regular thread for the stems, so am applying them with that. I’m using monofilament thread and a regular bobbin for the flowers and light leaves, then a matching dark green Invisifil thread for the dark green leaves, again with a regular bobbin.  image

I bought the Invisifil to use for the needle turning I expected to be doing during my week at the State Fair, but I think I may have the appliqué completed before then. The process is actually fairly quick. The stems go on first, followed by four layers for the roses and two layers for the leaves. The monofilament allows me to do a complete layer in one sitting, with a break to trim the backs and pull the freezer paper. I am happy to say that the roses look pretty decent!image

I’m not sure I made the best fabric choices for the roses, but I think the overall affect will work….at least I hope it will work!


I can’t wait to get the third border on the quilt, even though it will make the final appliqué more of a challenge with all of the extra fabric to deal with.


Before you know it, it will be time to quilt, which has me debating with myself…what patterns will I use to quilt this thing, knowing I have another one on deck. At least that wedding will be a little later…they moved from mid October to November 6.

Next time I’ll post a photo of the whole quilt with some of the appliqué borders attached.



MIWW Challenge

MIWW-that’s Make It With Wool. The MIWW Challenge is something unique to South Dakota, I think. Each year the state director chooses a piece of wool and anyone willing can accept the challenge to make something interesting and usable from the fabric. Since I already have a long plaid coat, and now my new tweed, I am not in the market for another coat adventure, at least not for awhile. So, I’ve been trying to determine just what I could do with this large scale Pendleton plaid (1 1/2 yards at 60 inches wide). A Messenger bag comes to mind, but do any of you have some ideas? When you look at this plaid, what do you see? Ideas please, and patterns too if you have something specific in mind.


Welcome to the County Fair

Welcome to the County Fair

This week I judged 4-H sewing projects at the county fair, and as usual, enjoyed talking with the young people who are excited about learning how to sew and put together outfits. Open class here is not real large, but the competition can get pretty stiff in some areas.  Here’s a quick tour of the quilt display. We didn’t get everything, but you can see there are some very talented quilters here. Enjoy!









Romance and Roses

This is a sewing marathon!  However, the practice has been very good for me, I can see that I have improved my piecing accuracy, and now notice where my “issues” are, and have learned how to  adjust or fix some of them on the fly. I must admit, it was a huge relief to have the inner blocks completely done, but I was not looking forward to placing everything before sewing them all together.

I was able to solve that problem by turning my imagepiano students loose, and having them lay out the blocks while they waited for their turn at the piano. A couple of moms got in the spirit, and by the time I had finished lessons, the 152 blocks were all laid out! Yes, I discovered I had miscounted and would have to sew two more of the green blocks–Rats! I allowed myself only 6 changes in the layout, and then began piling them up for transport to the sewing room. I numbered each column, then placed it on the futon, where it sat for the rest of the week, while I got the two blocks completed and did a little practice and prep work for borders no. 2 and 3.

imageA few evenings of sewing and I had the inner quilt top finished, and the first border  attached. While sewing on border no.2 I worked the math in my head and realized that I was going to need a lot more 1 1/2 inch green squares cut, which was a tad discouraging, since I had already cut stems out of my main light green fabric. Oh well, that’s why I had more of the same color in reserve. (for a change!)image

Through all this sewing, I had been thinking there was no way that I was going to be able to finish the applique by hand, but doing it on machine had me a little bit worried. I was concerned that the roses that were such a bear to press would be even worse to sew, and that my machine would not behave well. I finally decided to give the instructions from Kim Diehl’s book a try on the stems and see what happened. Oh. My. Goodness. Amazing! My grumpy Necchi loved it! I had my first set of stems done in 5 minutes, on the first go. Of course I couldn’t stop there, so went through my thread and found something to work with a red rose for the center, and gave it a whirl. Two more layers to go, but I think I can do this! Back to Quilt Connection for some monofilament thread so I don’t have to change with every color. Look close and you can see those tiny little zig zags…I think I could have the top finished in 2-3 weeks at this rate!


Let the Canning Begin!

Let the Canning Begin!

I grew up on a farm, and our garden was huge. We also had several apple trees and lived next door to an orchard, so our summers and falls were filled up with food prep for our mom. It started with peas, then green beans, crab apples, cucumbers, peaches, corn, red apples and finally beef. The garden also had lettuce and onions, summer and winter squash, and sometimes beets.

From mid July through September the routine was pretty much the same; we picked and prepped, then about 9 pm when it cooled down, Mom started processing, usually finishing between 1 and 2 am. She was most definitely a night owl!

By the end of the season, we had a year’s worth of peas,  corn, green beans, pickles, apple sauce, apple slices, jelly, peaches, pears, and jam for a family of 5 1/2. (My brother was perpetually starving…)image

Now, with our girls gone most of the year, we don’t need as much as we used to, but we do try to preserve a year’s worth of veggies and fruits each year. This week the peaches arrived in town. Our local Safeway had a club deal for $1 per pound, so we got two boxes. Yum!

These come from an orchard owned by college friends of DH, and they are always wonderful! While the jars and lids were on the stove to sterilize, and the syrup heating, I got the ice bath ready in the kitchen sink. image

It can get a little crowded on the stove when you need a container for jars, lids, syrup, boiling water to dip the peaches in, and of course the canner needs to be heating too. I usually start with the jars and lids, then the syrup because it takes so long to boil, and then put on the water for the bath. Once I’m done with the bath, I replace it with the canner, and then add the nearly boiling water from the lids and jars.

After  a 40 second bath in imageboiling water, the peach skins slip off like magic. I usually do 4-5 at a time, then slip the skins immediately, before doing a second batch. That will yield enough peach slices to fill 2-3 quart jars at a time. I have found that when working alone, I prefer to do it this way, so I can use very diluted lemon or salt water. I think when the peaches sit in the lemon water too long they get fuzzy on the edges. The sooner they get into the jars and in the syrup the less likely they are to turn brown.


I don’t try to remove the pits from the peaches, I just quarter them, cutting to the pit, then  divide each quarter, and the slices generally pop off the pit. I fill the jars, giving each a few firm twists to settle things, add another slice or two, and fill them with syrup. A knife slipped in the edge of the jar in each “corner” removes most of the air bubbles. Once I has enough syrup in the jar, I wipe the rim with a clean, damp cloth and add the lid.


Forty minutes in the boiling water bath, (for my altitude) and they are ready to cool down and move to the pantry, once they have sealed.  I use the  USDA Canning Guides to determine times and for sugar water ratios for my syrup. They have canning guides guides for everything from pickles to meats. Sunday afternoon my two hours in the kitchen yielded 14 quarts of peaches, and we still have a half box left to enjoy fresh, in a peach pie, or maybe even a  batch of peach jam.



Is It Finished Yet?

Have you ever misjudged how much is left to do on a garment, thinking you are nearly done, only to realize you have an entire list things to complete after the major sewing is done? I’ve been thinking about all the little things that will need to be done, so I decided to make a checklist, mostly to keep my excitement at bay until I was appropriately close to the actual completion. And, I’ll be honest, I would like to enter it in the county fair…the checklist will keep me motivated, I hope.

So, what’s on the finish list?  image

A. Lining seam finishes-I was annoyed to discover that the lining material is very springy, as in seams not staying open, so the lining had to be catch stitched down. This has taken several days because I am in my final two weeks of camp, so the schedule is a little off kilter, especially during the current session.

B. The martingale-The buttonhole facings must be cut and finished, then it can be attached to the coat back via the buttons. A perfect take along job that I’ll throw in my briefcase.

imageC. Construct shoulder pads and fit-I have a nifty pattern with a wide variety of shoulder pads, but they need to be constructed. Thankfully I have lots of batting scraps that are perfect for this job. I’m using view 2 from Simplicity 7021. There’s quite a few available on Etsy, etc. It’s really nice to have your own pattern instead of having to buy them. It is easy to adjust the amount of shape by changing to a thinner batting, or removing a layer.  image



At first look, the shoulder pads looked pretty bulky, but as you can see from the photo below, they really make the coat hang nicely. It was a relief to put the coat on with all the layers, and being able to see that yes the muslin was correct and it did fit!


D. Attach the lining to the coat-I did this by machine, but added a piping trim ala Karen at Fifty Dresses, since  something I have on hand would work. Now that the sleeves are set in, this should be  straightforward task. image

Maybe machine wasn’t the very best option, but the flat piping is a nice extra, and it is pretty even. Doing it by hand would have made it perfect, but I’m OK with this one. The black piping is a little difficult to see, but it is there none the less.

E. Coat hems (2 sleeves and the bottom)-no surprises on this, I hope! The coat hem is pressed and basted, and just needs some horse hair to finish the job. Ugh! I used every bit of my horse hair, so had to use some stiff sew-in interfacing instead. Some days I hate living in the relative sticks…the good news, the hems are crisp, but don’t feel too stiff.


F. Lining hems (2 sleeves and the bottom)-the rest of the double feature…

G. Button facings cut and finished, button holes opened-one of my least favorite jobs, but it has to be done.

About here is when I can begin to get excited!!

H. Attach buttons-does anyone else ever stress about correct button placement?

I. Determine snap placement on inside if necessary and attach-this was an oopsy on my part. I think I forgot a buttonhole that should have constructed on the offside of the coat. What would you do? Add a machine buttonhole in said location, or use one of those big (as in 1/4 inch) coat snaps?

And, finally, my Marfy coat adventure will be complete!

I’ve divided the steps for this project and the wedding quilt so that I can alternate a little bit. Sometimes a list helps me stay on task, especially if there are items I’m not real excited about. I do this at work, when house cleaning…instead of stalling as I decide what’s next, I just do the next item. Hopefully, it will make for a VERY productive weekend that continues into the next week!