Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back from the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show!

Vicki, Anne, and I took a vacation day from work and headed down to Hampton, Virginia to go to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show and boy, were we glad we did. As soon as we walked in, the first ribbon winner we got to see was Summerset's Bluebird of Happiness which won Best in Show in the wearable art garment category:

It was, of course, exquisite. The photos simply do not do it justice as they cannot capture the detail and fine handwork that went into Summerset's creation. And imagine Vicki's suprise when she discovered in reading the garment description that Summerset had dedicated Bluebird of Happiness to her!!! Here is a better photo of the inside of the coat:

I returned to look at it later during the day to take more photos and notice all the details. It gave me the opportunity to overhear everyone else's comments on Summerset's work: "It is gorgeous." "Isn't this incredible?" "It definitely deserves Best in Show." I loved hearing those words because it confirmed that I wasn't just biased! In my opinion, it was far and away the best at the Quilt Show. All I can say is if you are in the area, go to the show before it ends on Sunday and see this for yourself; you'll be glad you did.

The show was well attended and long lines greeted us as we arrived:

Vicki's mother subsequently joined us, with her quilting friend, and the rest of the day was divided between looking at the incredible quilts on display and shopping at the vendors' booths.

I won't bore you with too many photos - you simply have to go see for yourself the fabulous creations there, but this was a real stunner made by Karen Kay Buckley of Carlisle, PA which she calls Arabesque:

And this one quickly got our attention, by Barbara E. Lies of Madison, Wisconsin, which she calls Saffron Spring:

And finally, my favorite by Renae Haddadin of Sandy, Utah, called Beauty From Within:

None of these photos show the detailed quilting involved, so you just have to go and see for yourself!
All and all, we had a great time. Fabric was purchased, along with quilt patterns, and supplies. The vendors had a wide variety of fabric lines this year and I would say the sales were quite good. We left a tad poorer, but a whole lot happier, and we agreed this year's show was better than last. I'll show my haul another post, but I'll leave you with the Parting Shot:

The Husband Brigade waiting for the quilting wives during the show. What wonderfully patient men - they deserve a fat quarter just for being there!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Lent!

My confession: I love Lent. Everyone loves Mardi Gras, but not as many participate in Lent, which makes it Ours. Lent makes Easter so sweet.

I am giving up wine and sweets for this Lenten season as I have in the past. However, about 9 years ago, I gave up television for Lent. It was . . . interesting. At the end of a very long 40 days, I wrote the following to my friends and family. Who were probably as tired of me as I was tired of me:

I gave up t.v. for Lent, thinking that it would free up my time, giving me plenty of opportunity to spend some quality time with Myself, time to ponder the real issues of life, undistracted by such questions as: Why does Courtney Cox look like a concentration camp victim? Does Jennifer Anniston know that her boyfriend Brad Pitt isn't going to marry her? (If a man hasn't married you after two years of dating, he just ain't gonna - that's a Kim Payne Rule before there were Rules.) [Note: okay, I was wrong on that one, but they divorced 5 years later, so my rule still stands.]

As a result of seven weeks of Quality Time With Myself, I have discovered that I am thoroughly weary of Myself. I irritate Myself. My tendency for procrastination has made me homicidal, but since I want to kill Myself, that would technically be suicide. I've known for months that I had a doctor's appointment in April, but I couldn't remember precisely which day I was scheduled to meet with the good doctor. All Myself had to do was look at the little appointment card in my wallet to answer this question. Myself couldn't quiet manage it, for nearly three months. I finally made Myself yesterday evening and discovered the appointment was yesterday morning at nine a.m.

In addition, I am constitutionally unable to complete an expense report within a month of a trip. I don't know why Myself has a problem with this. It is as if Myself can't fill out a report until I have lost the receipts and forgotten how much the cab cost. I know co-workers that fill out their expense report the first morning they return from a trip, but these must be the same schoolmates who always had their Monday homework done by Friday supper.

Other observations about Myself: the shopping, the cooking, the errands, all these life chores I do manage do, I act as if there is a race in progress and the first one done wins. I don't know why Myself is in such a hurry. My sole goal at 5:40 p.m. is to get in and out of the Food Lion in the fastest, most efficient manner possible. Why? What does Myself have to do from 6:21 p.m. until bedtime that requires such pressure for speed and the shortest line available?

I've discovered that Myself should write a book entitled, "The Obsessive-Compulsive's Guide to Cleaning House." Not that Myself actually suffers from OCD, the Prozac has helped enormously, thank you very much. Take for example cleaning the toilet, a fairly straight-forward five minute job. This is how Myself and I manage it in only four hours and 18 minutes:

1. Clean toilet bowl with Clorox and brush.
2. Decide that one reason the bowl appears dirty is because the rubber gaskets and valves in the tank are old and black sooty stuff is seeping into the bowl.
3. Decide to replace all the rubber stuff in tank. Go to hardware store. Decide to replace all other parts in the tank while I'm at it: the ball-cock, the flush value, even the floating ball.
4. Proceed back home, replacing everything. Stop to clean floor where black, sooty water has dripped while I had the tank on the floor, trying to get the spud nut off the flush valve. Wash tank out with Clorox before I reattach to bowl.
5. Put blue dye in tank to make sure water isn't leaking into the bowl. When I discover that it is, flush and flush until blue water disappears and then take tank off again and tighten spud nut.
6. Give up and ask ex-boyfriend to come over and tighten spud nut.
7. Replace tank. Scrub bowl again. Scrub toilet seat, the tank, the floors and walls.
8. Decide that hinges of toilet seat might harbor secret filth. Take toilet seat off with screw driver and spray hinges with 409 and wipe with paper towels.
9. Decide this isn't good enough and run hot water over hinges. Dry with hand towel. Decide the towel isn't getting into the crevices and dry again with paper towels.
10. Spray toilet where hinges attach with 409 and wipe down. Replace toilet seat. Wipe seat down again with 409.
11. Watch the cat drink out of the toilet.

I won't even describe how Myself cleans the tub. I found Myself on Saturday spraying the washing machine with 409, cleaning the little compartment where you add the bleach. I'm wearing Myself out with all this, but I don't have Matthew Perry to stop me.

I've discovered that just a few weeks short of thirty-six I have lines (I can't even bring myself to say "wrinkles"); I have LINES underneath my eyes that weren't there even six months ago. They are even more pronouced when I smile or laugh, which explains why most old maids were always mirthless.

I've discovered that I am officially an old maid; I'm a cat person, though I like dogs; my esteem for small children ranks significantly lower than my regard for dogs. I've decided that small children are creatures only a mother could love and while if I had one, I'd probably love it, but I'm not going to test the Lord.

I've discovered that Myself and I haven't written a novel or even a short story because we lack the talent and skill to conceive and further a plot, plus I don't really have much to say since I spent one Friday night with the vacuum in the dryer hose trying to suck out the lint that I just KNEW must be in there, secretly impeding the drying process.

I've discovered that Myself and I still have no clue as to the big issues of life, like 1) what does it all mean? 2) how do you achieve spiritual growth? and 3) what's my [our] purpose in life? I believe I'm at a crossroads; perhaps if I continue on with being with Myself, I will reach enlightenment at the end of this long, frustrating road. On the other hand, Easter has arrived and "Friends" has a new episode on Thursday night and Jennifer Anniston starts dating Bruce Willis on it (does Brad P. know?) and I'm thinking that a little less time with Myself just might be what allows me to continue to like Myself because, as they say, familarity breeds contempt. And I'll forget about the caulking that really needs to be done around the tub and sink I want replaced and cypress mulch I want in the flower beds. It's time Myself and I broke up.

Okay, a couple of things: I'd like to think that I've grown spiritually since the above was written, but I guess I don't need to point out that this Lent, I'm giving up wine and sweets, but not television. I would also like to say that the above was written before I started sewing so my OCD housecleaning has now turned into "no housecleaning" or as "little housecleaning as I can get away with". Sewing helps a multitude of sins. And spawns some others. And finally, I'd like to think that my position regarding kids has softened considerably. But again, I'm thinking there is no need to test any of these beliefs: I will stick with the no wine rule this Lent!

Happy Lent, everyone!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dressform Saturday!

It was Dressform Saturday today for my Sewing Guild, the Fashion Focus Group! Ten of us got wrapped in packing tape to make customized dress forms exactly matching our figures. It was illuminating to say the least. Let's just say that none of us had seen 3-D representations of our bodies before. Miss Shirely, who headed up the festivities, asked us at the end of the day, "Ladies, did you learn anything today?" And Paula spoke for all of us when she answered, "Yeah. I can no longer be in denial."

We used these instructions by Jan Bones:

And we used paper packing tape that you wet with water. In groups of threes, one person got wrapped while the other two did the wrapping. The good news is that we got faster with each wrapee. The bad news is that the room at the church where we met was freezing. Okay, not freezing. But it was 55 degrees when we showed up this morning.

Here's a shot of my big ole pile of packing tape prior to use:

A sense of honor keeps me from displaying photos of those being wrapped, as well as a healthy dose of self-preservation. And there isn't a chance in hell I'll post any photo of me gettting wrapped! But here you can see the ladies taping the body double together after it had been cut off the wrapee:

Here you can see Audrey (in red) helping out. Audrey, Shirely, and Chris all came in to teach us how to do it and instruct us in the all important wrapping technique.And here is Miss Shirely, who certainly did a fine job getting everyone cut out of their paper tape prisons:

Here is my final dressform when I got it home:

Here's the back. I've never seen the back of myself in 3-D before. I can see there is some sort of weird left hip action going on there:

Last shot since this is all I can stand.
My first thought was, "This isn't the body I had in college." And my second thought was how obvious it was that my body wasn't symmetrical. We always assume that it is. That left hip is up a bit. My right shoulder slopes down a bit. That stomach can't possibly be mine.
Audrey advised us to measure the dressform at the bust, waist and hip, and compare these measurements to our body measurements. I found that the dressform was consistently 1/2 inch larger than my real body, which Audrey assured us we could compensate for when fitting garments to the dressform.
I'm pretty impressed with how this turned out! I plan on reinforcing the dressform, and probably hanging it on a hanger. It is eerie, though. Right now, it is sitting on my kitchen counter and when I went in to make a cup of tea, I did a double take - because there I am! I'm taken aback by encountering my own body as I enter a room. I think I'll have to put clothes on it!
Parting shot: My sewing guild with their clothes on. Thanks to everyone, especially Paula, Nina, and Linda who wrapped me!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to all! Waking up to such an auspicious day as a single woman, I felt the need for friendly support, so the first thing I did was put on the tie-dyed t-shirt VickiW made me last fall. On a day like today, I like to be surrounded by the support of my friends and/or their gifts!

I started the day at Sewing Guild, where Audrey brought in her muslin and finished blouse she blogged about here. Seeing the two versions in person, along with the pattern alterations she performed was amazing, and I realized I need more classes in the subject of fitting. I have several books, but I'm thinking pattern alteration and fit is something someone has to show you to really get it down.

I wanted to stay and ask Audrey some questions (when she made the dart wider to take the blouse in and make it more fitted, how did she know how much to add to the sides?), but I was off to Glen and Tammy's to help them bury a St. Joseph statue to help them sell their house. They are moving to Chicago as soon as their house sells, and it is going slowly; they were advised by several people (one of them may have been me!) to get a St. Joseph's statue, and in this market, they are willing to try anything. They were concerned about whether it would "take" since they aren't Catholic, and I assured them all they needed was faith, but they still wanted me there for the installation of St. Joe. So I read the prayer that came with it and added an extemporaneous prayer to the Lord asking for blessings on Glen and Tammy as they move, and also for blessings on the new family that buys their house. There, we've done all we can do: it is up to heaven now.

I worked on the placemats this afternoon (and Tammy ran my sewing machine for the first time, helping me) and I worked on the DWRQ quilt blocks. Nothing finished, but as I was sewing this showed up at my door:

BEAUTIFUL roses from Eileen! Really lovely. I was gobsmacked by such a generous gift. As a single person, I wasn't expecting any flowers this Valentine's. This was a real treat because I am one of those women that starts to crave flowers this time of year inasmuch as winter has been going on for months, and no flowers are in sight for another couple of months. In the middle of February, I want flowers like heroin. Thank you, Miss Eileen.

And Mother sent me this Valentine:

It is one of those pop-up cards she loves (and I love too). She signed Daddy's name to it, but she has assured me that Daddy sent a gift of his own, separately, so I'll have to wait to see what arrives in the mail.

And last, but certainly not least, Aimee gave me this for Valentines:

This little tome, "Porn for Women" has made the rounds on the internet, but basically it is full of photos of men doing housework and saying things like, "As long as I have legs, you will never take out the garbage" and other things women really want to hear.

So my prayer for the support of friends this Valentine's was answered and I thank everyone for their thoughts and gifts and cards. Y'all have made this a Valentine's to remember!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Still Want More Sewing, Less Work

My friend and co-worker, Glen, lamented my lack of posts since February 6. Which is weird because a) he knows I have had no free time because we are so busy at work, and b) he doesn't sew. Or know how to sew. But if he wants to read about sewing, who am I to deprive him of such fascinating details?

I don't know if I had the perfect day last Saturday, but it was Pretty Good, I can tell you that. The temperatures were in the mid to upper sixties in February and it was beautiful. And I made three more blocks for the DWRQ:

I haven't sewn them together but you can see three new ones laid out as they will be joined. My goal is to make 2 blocks each weekend, just so that this project doesn't get impossibly drawn out.

And after the Christmas placemat extravaganza, I am trying to make myself some placemats. I have nothing to show right now, except everything all pinned together, waiting for a free moment and some energy:

And I took the Asian Strip Gift Quilt to the machine quilter's today, having found the perfect backing material last week:

Susan Caldwell at Quilting Around the Block expects to complete the quilting in 2 weeks, so in the meantime I will try to get the binding made from this fabric, which is the same as the inner border on the quilt:

So not much to show, just a lot of works in progress. But I know several bloggers are doing posts on how they began sewing and I'd like to share with you my family history leading to my hobby. I have already told the story of my great-grandmother, Daisy Snell Payne, and her quilt. I have several of her quilts, and I would love to recreate more of them. Daisy died twenty years before I was born, so I never knew her. She had five sons, and no daughters, but the wife of her oldest son was my grandmother, Zadie Payne. Nanny, as we called her. Nanny didn't quilt, but she did embroider, and she taught me embroidery somewhere around 10 years old. I still have several pillow cases and table toppers that she embroidered, along with some I did under her supervision.

The real sewer in my family though was my other grandmother, on my mother's side, Florence Bagley. Here is a photo of her and my grandfather in Belgium in 1961:
I suspect she may have made the suit she is wearing. Here's a photo of her probably taken in the 1950's that I shamelessly pilfered from the Baha'i website (hey, she's my grandma, so I feel entitled):

She was actually half Norweigan, and I don't think she really began sewing seriously until she was married with children. She made most of her family's clothes while my mother and her sister and brother were growing up, and I know she created all of my mother's formal dresses. She sewed clothes for me when I was small - I remember a pink dress with a white appliqued cat on it. And she made all my dresses with pockets, because I loved pockets. I remember a cowboy outfit she made for my brother for Christmas when he was about 7 years old, complete with a vest and chaps with fringe.

The one thing I have that she made was a vest she sewed for my mother in the late 1950s or early 1960s. It was made from fabric given to her by a Persian who was a Hand of the Cause in the Baha'i Faith (as I remember, my mother needs to correct me if I am wrong). I believe she made a vest for my mother, for herself, and for my mother's sister. I have the one she made my mother:

The photos don't really do the vest justice; the satin lining is more of a fushia color than red. You can see here that the button holes are machine worked, but are triangular:

You can see that she handstitched the lining on the bottom of the vest:

And the buttonhole side has a facing:

But the side with the buttons has no facing and the satin lining is handstitched right up to the edge:

The armholes:

And here is the back of the vest; there is seam down the middle:

I think Mother gave me this vest when I left for law school, so I have been wearing it on and off for about 23 years. I don't wear it often, but I love it, and it fits beautifully - there are four darts - two in front and two in back. It feels luxurious with the satin lining. Bringing this vest out to photograph has made me realize I haven't worn it in a while. And tomorrow has been declared a jeans day at work - I'm thinking I'll wear this vest with a pair of jeans and white blouse!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Getting Ready for the Weekend

Somewhere on the internet this week I read a blog where the author noted that most people's notion of a "perfect day" is perfectly doable. Apparently for most people the perfect day does not consist of winning a Nobel Prize, but is more like puttering around the house, working in the garden, and cooking dinner for friends. My idea of the perfect day is waking up when I am no longer sleepy, and not a minute before. Having hot tea in bed. Wandering downstairs to begin my sewing day. Having lunch out, and then returning home to sew all afternoon. I admit this isn't the same as "reach the summit of Mount Everest"; my perfect day is seemingly within my control, and I had one last Saturday. So the blogger asked, if perfect days are completely obtainable, why don't we have them more often?

And I immediately knew the answer: because there is just so much that needs doing. I'm not talking about the "shoulds": I can completely ignore the "shoulds". I should clean the baseboards this weekend, but that isn't going to happen, and I don't feel the least bit bad about it. I'm talking about the "needs". There are people in your life that need things from you and they have to be done. Those of you with children know what I am talking about. And there are other needs. I need to fill up the car with gas. This isn't a "should" it is a "need". If I don't fill it up, I'll run out, and I'll end up on the side of the road. But you can be plenty sure that "fill up the car with gas" doesn't exist on my perfect day.

Another "need": I need to exercise. (And this isn't a "should".) I can do it on Saturday mornings, but again, working out does not make it into my perfect day. Which means it has to be done on Friday evening. Among other things. To make the perfect day happen, you have to do a heap of work to get the "needs" done first. If not, and you ignore them and do what you want to do, the "needs" will hang over your head like 8th grade homework. And your perfect day is no longer perfect because you are instead worried about what you aren't getting done.

The blogger's post made me realize that the perfect day takes a great deal of planning and effort to make it happen. So I spent a good portion of the week doing all the "needs", and even some of the "shoulds", so I can enjoy tomorrow guilt-free. The car has gas, I exercised after work, the laundry is in the dryer, and all the "need" work at my place of employment got done before I walked out the door. It will all make tomorrow's play a little sweeter. And hopefully result in the perfect day.

Hope everyone reading this gets to create something this weekend.