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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone here in the US will have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. This is part of my contribution to our family's dinner, which will be at our daughter's home. Yum! I always make my grandmother's recipe for pumpkin pie, and I have to say that it's really good. ;) It's extra-special to me, since it's the only recipe I have from her.

The leafy decorations were made with a pastry cutter from Williams-Sonoma; I think they add a nice touch — which will, of course, be of secondary importance to the whipped cream we'll add at serving time. LOL!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Travel Jewelry Case

I'm very tired of dealing with tangled necklaces and rummaging through little bags to find my earrings when I travel. I'm guessing that some of you know just what I mean. ;) Some time ago I'd bought a finishing kit, with all of the necessary zippers and other notions that would go into making yet another of Annie Unrein's patterns, this one specifically for jewelry. I bought it, but I never got around to actually making the case. Oops. But that's in the past, as I've been working on it for the past couple of days, and I will now be able to organize my bits and pieces of jewelry when I travel. Yay! It's not as though I travel with (or even own!) a lot of jewelry, but I like to have at least one or two pairs of earrings and a necklace or two.

This case is very well laid-out. In the open view, there are three zippered pockets on the left, as well as a roll for rings and a perforated piece of ultrasuede for earrings. On the right there's another roll for bracelets. There's also a separating zipper at the far right.

The pattern showed the zippers on the left side opening from the left to the right, but I switched that around so that the zipper pulls would stay tidy inside the case.

Opening that zipper reveals a space for hanging four necklaces, which then pass underneath a piece of fabric to keep them flat before they finally fit into an open pocket at the bottom. No more tangled chains! :)

It occurs to me that this case will be very handy for more than jewelry; for example, I could also stash keys in a zippered pocket while I'm away and don't need them right then.

I made a mistake with the velcro closure, so it shows even when the case is empty, but I can live with that. ;)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sewing Machine Carpets

Have you ever heard of a rug/carpet for a sewing machine? It's a handy contraption that sits under the machine and has one or more pockets that dangle in front for keeping tools and paraphernalia handy. I've had one with open-topped pockets for years, though I don't use it at home, due to the design of my machine cabinet. However, I love using it when I sew somewhere else, like at a meeting or a friend's house.

My quilting group recently made these, but this version has a zippered pocket, which is even better than the open ones! I made one to give away to someone here and another to keep, though I simplified the one I'm going to keep. ;) Here they are:

They're the same size, but I didn't have them evenly arranged on the table before taking the photo. The colorful one is nicer, and that's the one I'm going to give away. The black and white one is less detailed, but it will do nicely for my purposes.

How did I make that one? I used a piece of double-sided pre-quilted fabric, approximately 24" x 28", to begin with. Then I was lucky and found a purse zipper (22") with double zipper pulls — much handier, IMHO, than a single pull — and some wide grosgrain ribbon. I stitched the ribbon onto each side of the zipper tape, then added some mesh-like fabric (not the stuff that was so popular a few years ago and which is difficult to find these days) to one of the pieces of ribbon.

The next step was to stitch the grosgrain ribbon (the one without the mesh attached) to the quilted fabric and then baste around the rest of the mesh/zipper combination to hold things in place. Add binding all the way around (I had a piece with tiny dots on it!) and then divide the pocket by means of stitching, if desired, and it's done! :)

You could, of course, quilt your own fabric, but I didn't. The one I'm giving away is sturdier, since it has an extra layer with the strippy blocks and borders, as well as some "real" mesh screening for the pocket. That one also has a "parka" zipper in order to have the double pulls. Neither one is difficult to make, and they are so handy for keeping things together when sewing away from home!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Back from Houston

What a week! Last Wednesday — early in the morning — I flew to Houston with my quilt buddy from Phoenix. We had an amazing five days at Quilt Festival there: lots of quilts, lots of vendors. This was, I think, the twelfth time I've been there, and it was the first time I didn't take any classes. That made for a more relaxed visit than usual, as we had all the time in the world to look carefully at everything. There's always next time for more classes.

One of the things I was looking for was a demo of the coming EQ for Macs. Unfortunately, it simply wasn't ready for a demo yet, but this sign gave me hope!

Naturally, I came home with several souvenirs, from the annual thimble for my collection to rulers and patterns. But, after looking at all of the displayed quilts, I fell in love with a series of Japanese quilts based on the work of Reiko Kato. While I'd normally say these quilts aren't my style at all, I just couldn't stop admiring them — especially the buildings on them — and finally had to purchase a book with many of the designs. They're all appliqué (tiny appliqué!), but perhaps I can do something by machine for my own purposes.

There was a terrific lecture by Barb Vlack, an EQ and math guru, on the use of the Fibonacci sequence in determining quilt borders. I'm so glad I attended that one! She's a wonderful speaker, using humor and a wealth of expertise to explain her ideas.

Susan Cleveland gave a little talk/demo on how to use one of her tools to make Dresden plate blocks. I really hadn't ever thought I'd do a Dresden plate quilt, but her hints and tips made me rethink that, so it's now on my list, along with a couple of other ideas.

My quilt buddy and I stayed at the Embassy Suites for the first time this year; we'd stayed at the Doubletree previously. This was a good move for us, as it's much more conveniently located and has a few included perks we've had to forego in the past. We'll do that again next time.

My flight home last night had absolutely no empty seats, but I plugged in my earphones and listened to music and podcasts until we landed. I'm unpacked now, but I still have lots to organize and find homes for — all worth it!

Where are the photos, you ask? I really didn't take any to speak of. I've taken boatloads of photos there in the past, look at them once and then never looked again. So this time I simply enjoyed the looking and didn't worry about the photos. You can find dozens of them via a Google search online, if you want to look. :)