Sunday, October 29, 2017

color matching

3 solid fabrics on left are from Retailer #1. 3 solids on left are from Retailer #2.

I had forgotten how much I love fabric until I decided to start making quilts.
I also forgot how unreliable online shopping can be when it comes to color.

I know almost immediately I wanted to do something with this funky print fabric by Michael Miller called Cuban Beat that includes some of my favorite hues of blue and green. I have a few solids of Kona Cotton by Robert Kaufman that I've enjoyed working with, so I also knew that was what I wanted to use to coordinate with the print. Since the only real fabric store in town closed about a year ago I've been buying fabric online. Kona is readily available but each retailer seems to carry different colors and I was finding it hard to find the right matches for my print. After some comparing, I realized how unreliable my monitor was. Which retailer was displaying the colors better - Retailer #1 with the lighter shades or Retailer #2 with the darker shades? Checking a 3rd and 4th retailer only added to my confusion. I could match the color names, but no two color displays were equal on any color.

Kona Cotton Color Card
I was quite distressed until I found that Kona manufactures a swatch card that includes  tiny fabric swatches of all 340 currently available colors. I ended up purchasing this Kona Color Card for $30 with free shipping. It arrived folded neatly as a letter-sized card. Each indiviual piece of fabric is 7/8"x1-1/8" (2.2cm x 2.8cm) and when it's unfolded the card is 11" wide and 50" long (28x127cm).

A digitally printed collection on paper is also available for under $10.

I was willing to spend extra for the actual fabric samples because I'm planning to use more solids in future projects and I'm particular about matching colors. Someone who is less of a control freak could probably make do with the printed samples.

You may have to hunt on google or wait for a sale for a similar price. I purchased the card through Amazon, but ass of this writing I can't find the swatch card for the same price I paid.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

mmm, coffee

I spotted this old Japanese matchbook cover on ebay a few days ago. A really nice illustration, but I've been thinking a lot about coffee ever since. I gave it up more than a year ago because I was drinking way too much of it, and all the sugar and milk I added to it were big negatives for my calorie intake & glucose level.

Last night the temperature dipped down close to freezing for the first time this fall. My hands & self were so cold this morning I decided to bust out the old coffee maker. The bit of coffee I had was a month past its "best by" date but still brewed up nice and strong. The two cans of evaporated milk at the back of the cupboard didn't fare so well; both were curdled badly. No milk for me today.

I found the coffee was quite good without milk. If only I could learn to forego the sugar. Fake sugar just doesn't work for me in coffee.

My dog has just been trying to put her nose in the coffee cup and has generated a six-inch string of slobber in her efforts to snarf the precious brew. Funny puppy, but Ewwww that slobber! She got a dog treat.

Friday, October 27, 2017

new toy

Yes, it's a Table Saw! I've been wanting one for several years for DIY projects around the house. I have a handheld circular saw, which is fine for some things, but it gets awfully tedious when you have to cut a number of pieces to the same size (kind of like quilting). I have to mark each board, then clamp a straight edge guide to the board, then secure the board with more clamps to a work table, then saw, then undo all the clamps and repeat. With a table saw I should be able to set the guides on the table and then slide each board through the blade and out the other side.

Before I could start learning how to use the saw I had to build a table to secure the saw at the same level as my work table. I wanted it to be mobile, so I could roll it into a corner of the garage when not in use, which meant adding casters. I built most of the table in a day, and spent another few days back and forth to the big box store to replace a board I messed up and to find hardware to actually secure the saw. The whole time I was sawing boards I kept thinking "this would be so much easier with a table saw." I spent another day attaching miscellaneous saw parts, and learning how to undo and redo different things. Today I'm finally going to plug in the saw and see if it actually works.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

finished postcards

My postcards for Hanna's DIY swap are addressed, stamped and ready to mail. As always I'm happier with some than with others. I hope the recipients get smiles from them.

Add Some Color!

Stupid Pet Trick #635

Crazy for Cookies
Chariot of Fire

Even Vampires dress up for Halloween

Cover the Earth

The Birds - Redux '17

Supermarket Chemistry

The Hokey Pokey is Big in Japan

The Bison Conspiracy

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

flying geese

I haven't seen any geese overhead flying south this year, but I am collecting a pile of "flying geese" in my sewing room. This is the new block design I'm learning how to piece, and it will be used with the squares of Creekside fabric I recently cut.

I fumbled a LOT while making the first block even though it's a simple straight seam. I kept practicing and soon I had five little patches stitched and pressed. Only 182 more blocks to go. I'm now chain-piecing in batches of 20 or 30 blocks at a time and honing my mass production skills. It's not a quick process but helps me reflect about taking one step at a time on any journey.

One of the extra steps in this piecing journey is marking the blocks before I sew. A practiced quilter might not need marks to sew a straight line across the diagonal of a small square but I do. So before stitching I take a straight-edge to every white block and draw a line with a blue fabric marker. Before I press the seam open I have to remove the mark so it doesn't become permanent. A cotton swab dipped in water usually does the trick. I run the damp swab lightly across the line and the blue mark disappears. I do the marking and erasing en masse and I sometimes miss a bit at one end as you can see in the above photo. That bit won't be seen once the seams are sewn.

Back to the ironing board....

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

more postcards

Rain came yesterday so I put off my outside chores and went to work on my postcards for Hanna's International DIY Postcard Swap.

My tools are simple: a pair of scissors and a stick of Elmer's glue. These sticks are usually pretty cheap during back-to-school sales. About the only glue I don't like much is Duck Brand. This time I'm starting with a background layer that covers the whole card so I want it to stick really really well. I usually glue both the back of the background paper and the top side of my cardboard base, making sure to get the edges well covered with glue. I don't want the post office machinery to catch the edges. After I stick the two pieces together I go over the paper with a paper napkin or tissue to press everything together and to smooth out creases in the paper or blobs of glue that may be underneath it.
I did all the backgrounds and then came back with scissors and from the back I trimmed any paper that was hanging over the cardboard.

 After that I played with the pieces I had associated with the card and thought about how I might layer them. I did one card at a time without actually glueing anything. Then I did another one glueing just one clipping down or maybe two. Piece by piece the cards are coming together. I seem to have a Halloween theme going with some of them. There are some birds, a vampire, a black cat, aliens in the desert, dogs at the swimming hole. Oh wait, maybe it's just my usual cards from the Twilight Zone.

I have seven cards nearly done but I'm stumped for the last three. Even though I have lots of clippings spread out nothing is falling into place. After struggling with the parts my solution is to finish the cards I'm working on and start with a blank slate. Something is bound to turn up!

If you are stumped for ideas check out Hanna's mixed media process, and her ideas for different kinds of postcards.

Monday, October 2, 2017

october DIY month

Now that temperatures have dropped down to the upper 80s, as opposed to upper 90s, there's a narrow window of time until cold weather sets in. People from out-of-state often say that Texas doesn't have four seasons, maybe because we don't get a lot of colorful leaves as summer melts into fall, but fall in Texas is my favorite time. Spider lillies are popping up and pecans and bur acorns are crunching under my shoes when I walk. It's also outside chore time, and lately when it's cooler and dry I've been prepping my garage door and the eaves around the house for painting. Right now that's repairs, sanding and washing with TSP. My arms get tired so fast!

In between outside chores I've been cutting fabric for my next quilting project. Above are a few selections from the Creekside collection, by Sherri & Chelsea for Moda Fabrics. I fell in love with this collection months ago when it was a "coming attraction", and I finally got my grubby little hands on it. I opted for a fat-quarter bundle instead of 5" or 10" precuts so I could practice my cutting skills and so I would have some leftovers for future projects. It's a lot more work working this way. For instance the fabric quarters came folded neatly in a tight bundle, leaving creases on every piece of fabric. I'm learning to starch and press everything as I go. I never thought I would enjoy ironing, but it's strangely relaxing.

It was a bit daunting at first when I thought about how many pieces I was going to be cutting: 120 for this, 144 for that,  and 288 for another part. Instead of doing everything at once I did small batches of cutting between my more rigorous chores. I placed the squares on my design wall (a worn out flannel backed tablecloth) and watched it fill up with color.

I now have most of the colored blocks cut although they won't all fit on my wall. Now I'm working on the batches of 144 & 288 I'll need to fill the spaces between some of these colored squares.

I also continue to edit this layout. My first layout was made as I cut different colors of fabric and the colors weren't well placed. This layout was made by alternating random light and dark fabrics, but I think I'm too much of a control freak to allow it to remain this way.