Saturday, September 24, 2011

More Fabric Book Pictures

The fabric books for my grandsons are all planned out, the sayings and pictures are added, and everything is sewn down nice and secure.  Some of the pages are already back-to-back with batting between them and the binding attached.  Others need that done and then I will sew ribbon to the binding side and tie the pages together with ribbon.  If you are wondering how I attached things to the pages I used Steam-a-Seam 2 and then used a zigzag stitch as well.  The Steam-a-Seam 2 says you do not need to sew it down, but with babies I figured the books will go in their mouths, need to be washed, etc. so I played it safe.  I will do a final washing before sending the books to them.   Here are some of the additional pages that I made over the last two days.

I had to acknowledge how hard their Mommy and Daddy work to take care of them!

Here I made use of the ruler fabric:

and acknowledge the doctors and nurses who took care of them as preemies
...teddy bears needed to be in there, too!

and here are the family dogs who are so good with the babies:

Some of the content was determined by the fabric I had on hand.  A few months ago I was hostess for a layer cake swap (fabric) and asked for fabrics that I could use in the books.  That resulted in turtles, fish, fruits, vegetables, fire trucks, and lots of other useful fabrics. I will post a picture of how the books look once they are complete with their ribbons.  Then I can mail them and get on to the next project!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Things are Improving

Not only am I doing better, but my dog is much better, too.  Wow, what a relief that she is now interested in eating again!  We are still having to tempt her a bit - she has begun to expect some ground beef with garlic powder mixed in with whatever else she gets in her bowl, but it is becoming less of a meal of special "people food" and more dog food.  What can I say, an elderly dog gets some special treatment!
On the quilting front, I am continuing to work on the fabric books for the triplets.  Also, this week I signed up to do a Round Robin.  I know everyone else who quilts probably did one long ago, but I have never done a Round Robin.  (I did a Row Robin a few years ago, but just don't feel like that counts towards it...)  Once I signed up I was busy looking through fabric and quilt magazines and quilt books trying to decide what to use for my center.  I think I have it figured out... if only I don't change my mind!
I know I am still promising pictures.  I will post some soon.  As you'll see I figured out how to add an extra page, so I will soon have some pictures of my triplet grandsons here at Ark Angels Quilting.  They are more awesome than anything I can quilt or sew!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mother Goose

Here came our cooler weather which I was so happy about because I could finally spend some time outside working on my garden and riding my horse... and then on Saturday, I fell.  After 2 hours I wasn't improving a lot so off we went to the emergency room.  I have a fractured pelvis.  Not what I wanted to hear.  Anyway, I am at home so I am certainly glad about that and there is no treatment (surgery, etc.) involved with this - just takes time for it to heal.  I am walking carefully and slowly, but I am walking.
My husband went out yesterday to buy one of those walking canes with the pronged feet on it.  My - is it ever ugly!  I decided it needed a name and named it Mother Goose.  I have already started walking a lot without it.  I need to ditch Mother Goose as soon as I can!

I worked on the fabric baby books for my grandsons for a little while today.  Our poor dog is still very ill, but I cooked a hamburger patty for her this evening and she ate the whole thing.  She has been eating so little that it made my day.  I doubt I can go to the grocery store at this point, but I may need to send my husband to get some more hamburger tomorrow!  We have been trying every possible food that she might like - most of them without much success.
I'll post more pictures soon.  I know it's more boring to look at these posts without pictures.  Maybe I should take a picture of Mother Goose!  (Note: I originally posted this without the picture of Mother Goose, but here she is!  I can't help but think that I should have attached a beak or an apron or a pair of spectacles... or something to her...)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fabric Book in Progress

Working on the cover for Erik's book
and the back of the cover which will involve
the fabric with the rulers.

With my dog being sick, I have hardly left the house this week so I decided to work on the fabric books for my grandsons.  They are triplets, just a little over 6 months old.  Making these is sort of a learning process because I have never made anything like this before and I do not have a pattern or directions.  I also found out I do not have fusible on hand, so I am just sewing the edges of various pieces and either totally sewing them down or letting there be a few places for the babies to grab onto or hold something.  I'm still not sure what I am going to do to attach the pages together.  My first thought was to use eyelets or button holes and then tie the pages together with ribbon.  My other idea was to use small pieces of ribbon on the spine of the pages and use that to tie the pages together. The first page of each will be unique to each boy, but the other pages will be something they can trade around (or actually Mom and Dad can trade around for them.)

There will only be 4 pages in each book - double sided.  I figure that means 12 double-sided pages which is the most I want to attempt and still be able to complete them pretty quickly.  Here are two pages that I completed for Erik so far.  You are seeing the front in one picture and the page of the page in the other.

I wish I had fusible on hand, but I think everything will stay together without it.  I am doing lots of stitching to hold things on so there won't be a safety concern.  That makes the sewing look a little sloppy, but the boys won't care!  These great fabrics are not only from my stash, but also from a fabric swap that I did with a craft group so that I could have many more from which to choose!

I'll show some more pictures once I have some more pages ready.

As for my dog, not a lot of change since yesterday.  I called the vet's office and they have her scheduled to come in at 1:30 today.  My husband says lately the meals have been me cooking for her and we eat the leftovers!  She did eat her scrambled egg and cheese this morning... I made a little extra so I could have some, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Up and Down Day

Well, our dog came home looking so close to back to normal yesterday evening that I thought we had it made.  Today has been more "downs" than "ups" but at least there was a little improvement late this afternoon.  Her little bit of appetite had gone away and she wasn't even eating her favorites - and she was only drinking water while she was laying down and if I brought it and put it right in front of her.  Plus Crystal couldn't get to her feet unassisted.  Definitely a big let down after the progress we saw yesterday.  Anyway, I have been on the phone with the vet's office.  We are trying two new medications (which yes, I am nervous about because all this came about after two other new medications a week or two ago), but a little while ago she ate a few pieces of chicken with some enthusiasm so maybe we are on the right track.

Meanwhile, I decided I could do some sewing while keeping an eye on her, so I started working on fabric books for my triplet grandsons.  I will post some pictures once I get some pages completed.  As I will tell my daughter, they are not works of art - simply meant to be fun for the babies.  If I prepared them as works of art, the grandsons wouldn't get them until they are 12 years old and no 12 year old wants a fabric book intended for a baby!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Dog is Home Again... and thank you to my vet!

Our 12-year old Golden Retriever, Crystal, was very sick for the past 3 days.  Thanks to my veterinarian and her being a "pretty resilient old girl" she is home today and feeling quite well after her big ordeal.   She had been prescribed two medications recently (one prescription and one over the counter) and the guess is that she had a toxic reaction to one of them.  There is no way she will take either of them again!
Anyway, it's great to have her home.   Our vet was so nice that he even let her come home last night and then I brought her back this morning to continue another day of treatment.  She is so much more relaxed at home that when it is medically feasible, it's so much better all the way around. 

Anyway, here is a picture taken of her around Christmas 2010.  You can also see our cat, Hershey, in the background.  He wanted to be in the picture, too!
I know many of you love pets, so I thought I would share the good news and the picture!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reviewing My Janome DC2011

I posted about a week ago that I had ordered a back-up machine.  It's the Janome DC2011.  Who knew they make a machine model to correspond with the year?  I didn't!

Your next comment may be that it is very pink.  Yes, it is, but I really like it.  I like to think that I am a hot pink type of quilter!

I have not tried out all the features yet, but I think I have tried enough of them to report on my overall impressions.  I have nothing at all to do with the company or the seller.  I am just reporting this from my own viewpoint.  Mostly it's because I tried to look at all there was to be found about the machine as I shopped so maybe someone else will be interested in these comments.

There are two things remaining that will determine whether I send the machine back or keep it.  (It can be returned during the first 30 days which was a nice feature when ordering over the internet sight unseen.)  The first item is that I have not tried the walking foot yet.  That needs to work to my satisfaction.  The other problem I see is that this machine has an automatic foot pressure which seems to interfere with its flow as it stitches from a single thickness of fabric to the other side of a seam (where there may be three layers of fabric.)  I am working with it and trying to get used to the feel.  I may try to contact Janome and see what they say.  My other machine is a Bernina with adjustable pressure on the foot so I have never had this issue before.  It may be something I need to adapt to - but if it continues to be a problem, that is a deal breaker, too.  We quilters stitch from thick to thin and back all the time!  I keep saying I am like the old dog having to learn new tricks here.  I have had my same machine for about 11 years and this is an adjustment.

Lots of feet came with this machine and that was a plus.  Some of those were because of a special offer on the machine.  I have not tried all of them.  I also got needles, bobbins, a hard sided carrying case/cover, and a manual - the manual is pretty good, but I would have liked more - especially details about the quilting features.  It sure tells you everything you might want to know about making buttonholes!  I found that the diagrams were not quite detailed or large enough for my taste.  (The manual does, however, include several languages if you are into that kind of thing!)  I would love it if an instructional DVD was included as well as the manual.  I suspect that would be a big plus for someone brand new to sewing. 

Goodies that came with the machine

Hard Sided Carrying Case

Other than the issue about the foot pressure, the machine stitches beautifully!  I don't think you will find a nicer stitch on a straight stitch  - when going over similar layers of fabric!  It also stitched nicely when I dropped the feed dogs for free motion quilting (using the darning foot which is clear and open-toed and I like that - just need to remember to keep my fingers away from the needle!)

The quarter-inch foot is very accurate and nice to sew with.  The machine has a "needle up and needle down" setting as well as a button for reverse and one to "complete the stitch" (Auto-lock button) - which is very useful when doing decorative stitches.  There is a slide control for the sewing speed and it is very conveniently located.  I have enjoyed using it as I ease into some new features.  However, the control to drop the feed dogs is very inconveniently located.  It took me awhile to find it!  The needle position can be adjusted, but I have not tried that yet.  I believe there are 50 stitches that can be selected on the machine.  I have only used the straight stitch and zigzag stitch so far.  My Bernina has as many decorative and specialty stitches as I could want so the extra stitches were not a selling point as far as I was concerned.  They are perfect though if this will be your one machine.

I especially like that you can look down into the bobbin holder (all clear) and see how much thread remains on your bobbin. The bobbins wind nicely and with no problem.  Also, there is a needle threader on the machine.  I know I sound pessimistic when I say "which works for now."  I never seem to have much luck with them holding up.  (Maybe it will on this machine.)  A needle threader is a wonderful feature - I just worry about how durable they are.

You can raise the presser foot on this machine to an extra high setting.  That will be useful if quilting something with thick batting - and is even helpful when changing the feet.  (Many of the feet simply slide on which is nice, but others, like the walking and darning foot require that you unscrew the foot and screw the new one on.  That is much harder than the "easy to change feet" on my Bernina.  I am getting better at it though.

Here's the view of the bobbin area

Foot and Needle

 There is an additional feature that I really like.  There is an extra spool pin that can be inserted near where you thread the machine (to the back of where you see the picture of the spool) and it can be used to wind a bobbin without unthreading your machine - or to work with two needles and different threads at the same  time.

As you can see in the pictures, it's pretty easy to see how to thread the machine and there is a control for the thread tension.  The light provided on the machine is good.  I usually have a second light - an Ott light that I use for my sewing area regardless of the machine.  The length and width of the stitches can be adjusted.  There is a storage drawer which holds most of the feet.  That is convenient and that extension table/accessroy box can be removed for free arm sewing.

Well, that's all I can think of to report on.  If I decide to send the machine back I will let you know why.  I think it is going to be a "keeper."  Really my big issue right now is dealing with the lack of a manual adjustment on the presser foot.  Many people probably prefer the automatic feature  I haven't read about it being an issue for anyone else.  I will continue to familiarize myself with the Janome 2011.  All the reviews I read online about this machine before ordering it were outstanding.  Oddly enough I think the only negative comment I read it was about the color!

 If anyone else has this machine or a similar one, let me know your impressions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Country Quilt

Here is a picture of the quilt I just completed at the end of August.  I give all of my quilts a name and this one is The Country Quilt.  It looks a bit wavy in the picture because I put it over a room divider so I could photograph most of it.and let you see the binding, etc.  This is the first time I used striped fabric for binding and I really like it!

My new sewing machine was delivered today so  you know what I was doing!  I will get to know it better and if it's a "keeper" I will tell you more.  So far I have only wound a bobbin, threaded the machine and the bobbin case, learned how to use the needle threader and how to change feet, and I adjusted the tension.  The real test will be over the weekend when I try the 1/4" foot and see how that does and try the free motion quilting.  This is so odd to be teaching myself how to use a machine on my own.  I am so spoiled by having sewing machine stores walk me through my earlier ones.  I will tell you that when I look at the instruction manual I can barely see what they are referring to in the picture... yes, there's a number there, but what are they looking at... and sometimes I can barely see it on the machine once I go looking for it.  I think there are some odd angles on the shaping of this machine.  Of course, I know that once you really get used to a machine, you just automatically reach in the right place so no worry about that yet.  I sure hope I love it and can be raving about it in a few days.  I took some pictures of it already - just in case.  I will let you know that parts of it are hot pink!  (Just from that some of you will know what machine arrived at my house.)