Thursday, December 21, 2017

Working Retail at Christmas

It is getting closer to Christmas and people are getting more stressed.... Very often retail worker become the place to vent their stress... It may be that they were to late to get it delivered on time. It may be that they don't know what to get. It may be that they picked the perfect gift too late and it is now out of stock. I could go on but you get my drift. Most of us working retail from grocery stores to department stores, specialty stores or even restaurants know what this time of year is like.

Well beyond the stress is the glimmer of hope. The people who are truly thankful and have gotten past the stress. Some are even looking for ways to make life better for others. I had a man to today get a cup of coffee and left his change to buy purchased of the young retail workers waiting in line. He left money to pay for the next two but it actually covered the next three and a half. A little extra change meant that one lady didn't have to dig to the bottom of her purse. It gave her a smile. Thank you to the man who payed it forward today and restored the spirit of Christmas to the day. Here is to a little hope and joy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I made new stockings for the boys. We needed a new stocking for the new grandson. I didn't like the ones in the store. I made two new ones so the boys would both have a home-made one.

My mom made the ones we had while our kids were growing up. I used them as a pattern for these stockings.

Another blog posting and another day closer to Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Scraps and scrap crafting

When I was a kid in the 1960's, we had a subscription to a magazine called "Pack-O-Fun" and it was all about scrap crafting. Making something out of nothing...

One time I fashioned a model of a camera out of paper and tape. My father brought home a big box of scrap paper, slightly off white and heavy weight, but not as heavy as card stock. I used it for signs and drawings and paper models. I had an endless supply of paper.

So in my sewing, I am always trying to make something out of nothing. I have a hard time throwing anything away. To me a scrap has to be smaller the 1" x 1" to be a scrap, and even then I am not sure I want to get rid of it. I still want to make mosaic art quilts and modern quilts with texture. The picture on the right are never scraps. The picture on the left may be scrap... but it would add great texture, so maybe that isn't scrap after all... Have to let it go!

The photo below is what I make from scraps. Most of these pieces are scraps except for the border pieces cut from larger yardage. But then when you cut from a larger piece you make more scraps....

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Cards Continued

This deserves a second post. As of last night I have produced 70 Christmas Cards.

Each card had the message printed on the background paper. It is then mounted on the plastic grid that runs through the Silhouette Camero cutting machine. The background grid is a sticky surface to hold the paper while cutting. In the picture below you can see the card removed from the mat. The card is on top, ready to fold. Below is what remains on the mat and must be removed before the next card is mounted on the cutting mat. The mat looses its stickiness and must be sprayed with a temporary adhesive. As you can see, there is a lot of "JOY" left behind on the cutting mat. Two side panels fold to the middle. One holds the message and one will cover  the colored paper panel that shows through the cut opening. The colored paper is fixed in the opening and a star is mounted up front.

Ok, that is all done and the envelopes all have stickers for mailing and return address. Just need to sign, seal and stamp.

So why do I do it? It is one little piece of Christmas that I can add individuality and creativity to.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Return to the Daily Blog Challenge

Time to make Christmas Cards...
2017 Christmas Cards
2017 Prototype
I have realized that some people make Christmas Cookies and some people make Christmas Cards. It is just my tradition to make cards. The origins of Christmas cards go back to making special greetings to send as Christmas cards. This one for 2017 began with a prototype that received a few changes and is now being printed and assembled. I cut the tree and the word joy on a computer guided Silhouette cutting machine.

One of my first cards go back to drawings made by my kids that I used for the cards. I love the blue nosed reindeer made by my daughter Tina. She was age 5 at the time. When I asked her why they had blue noses she said because they were cold. The inside pop-up fireplace with santa's feet came from drawings by Jake and he was 10 years old.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dec 6th - Birthday Blog

That's me about 5 years old
So I missed my blog for the 5th, I think I am allowed a skip one now and then for the month. Today I get to write my birthday blog. As I wake this morning my wife tells me, "You know you qualify for Social Security now!"

My Dream Machine
Birthday Presents: My wife and I go with gifts that keep giving. They are usually expensive enough to be considered a present to cover multiple years. Last year I got a Brother Dream Machine, (and a payment book to go with it) a gift that keeps giving. I am still learning with each new project and love many special features. The camera lets me see where I am placing my embroidery and there is a function to lift the foot and leave the needle down, when I stop sewing to turn the project. I had wanted a machine with a knee lift lever but don't need it with this function turned on.

I also got to go to the SNC concert in November at the Rochester Auditorium. Straight No Chaser is an amazing acapella group. Click here to hear the Twelve Days of Christmas on YouTube that is what got them started.

Straight No Chaser in Rochester, NY - Nov. 3, 2017
Saving the best for last, my second grandson arrived two days before my birthday. I love this picture of him with his big brother.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Pop-Up Shop - Day 4 - Dec Blog Challenge

Sunday Fun Day - I was invited to open a pop-up shop at a local gift shop. I had a great day and sold as much as I did at the craft shows that I attended this fall. I plan to be there again next Sunday.

If you are in the Rochester area stop by Kittelberger Florists in Webster on Sunday, December 10th from Noon to 4:00 pm. I still have some Christmas wall hangings along with everyday runners and wall hangings. Kittelberger Florists is located at 263 North Ave., in Webster, New York 14580.

I have a beautiful banner featuring 3 vintage Santas or some on individual wall hangings. The banner fits nicely on a door that is weather protected. The individual wall hangings are nice to decorate with for Christmas or make a great gift.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Grace - Day 3 of Blog Challenge

It is a Sunday blog so a great day to talk about grace. Grace is giving for the sake of giving. It is not expecting anything in return. It is actually giving to those who can't give in return. Many people give so they can get, they are often thinking of what they will get in return. It is December so most people are getting into the gift giving mode. When you buy for others are you really thinking of them and what they want or need? Many people are more caught up in value giving. If I give more will I get more? Am I buying someone a big enough present for what I think they are giving me?

That is why hand-made gifts are so great. If you make it yourself you are giving of yourself. You are giving the gift of your time and talent. If you say you don't have talent think again... If you cook, or bake or sew that is a talent. If you have the ability to listen to someone, care for someone or do something special for someone that is a talent. We all have gifts to give. Sometimes it is just a gift of time.

Charity gifts - many people have too much stuff already. Give a donation (gift) to a cause that is near and dear to their heart. This is also my chance to get on my soapbox... Many charities that make the most noise and promote the most have high administrative costs. Click this link for Charity Navigator to check on a charity. Find out where the money really goes to. Many charities pay big bucks to CEO's or board members or advertising costs. I really like Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Disaster Response.

Truth in advertising - I am a life long Lutheran
. It is my religious preference but I do not believe it any better than your religious beliefs. It is who I am and how I was raised. It is based on the belief that we are saved by grace. God's grace is freely given to us as a gift. It is not given to us based on what we do for others, but what we do for others is in response to the grace God has given us.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Oh Christmas Tree - Dec. 2nd - Second Day of the Blog Challenge

Thank you to the 40 people who have visited my blog. For me those numbers are great and the best since last spring. I hope y'all will keep coming back.

 Now for the Christmas tree story. My wife was showing me how to use her beautiful, Bernina sewing machine. She showed me a best practice of putting a little starter strip of fabric under the foot as a way to make an even start when you begin sewing. She used a little piece of green fabric that was next to the sewing machine to show me what to do. Since she used it that day I assumed it was a scrap, silly me! Some days later I thought I would use her pile of scraps to make Christmas tree. The two you see here are a couple that I made that day, along with the four trees together on a wall hanging in the next photo down. Well, those 'scraps' were actually bias cut strips that she had ready for an appliqué project. They were to be the stems between flowers on a bed size quilt. When I showed her what I made she just smiled and walked away. I could sense something was wrong. She later told me about the appliqué project and admitted it was all her fault because she used that little piece as if it was a scrap when it wasn't really.

So from that example you see how most of my projects happen. They just happen as I put together shapes and fabric in pleasing combinations. In this photo you see the wall hanging with four trees in it. That is one of my favorites and is used to decorate for Christmas. It contains the fabrics from my wife's appliqué project, so I don't think I can part with it. It is one of the many pieces I hope to write a pattern for. In the mean time, in the same photo you see two new wall hangings one with three trees and one with two trees in various stages of completion.

In addition to my small strip trees I have made some larger strips into trees. The first group of five sold right from my FaceBook posting. The single trees below are actually the second group I made this year and there is another "Joy" waiting for the hanger on the back to be finished. I use scraps to make the trees and decorate them with those fancy stitches on the sewing machine that never get used. These will also become a future pattern or maybe a class.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec. 1st - Beginning of a 31 Day Challenge

Greetings all, it is hard to believe it is December 1st and I have not added to my blog since mid October. That is way I have accepted a challenge by Cheryl Sleboda to create one blog a day during one of the busiest months of the year. Click on the logo below to get a list of all the people accepting the challenge.

I guess it is not so hard to do see this is one down and 30 more to go. Please stop back often as your time allows. Read it every day (if I have the time to write it you should have the time to read it) or catch up a week at a time. 

I have so much to tell you and so much to show you. I have a bunch of new Christmas items. One group of five sold right off the Facebook listing. So if I really take this challenge to heart I will also list at least one new item to my Etsy store each day. There is also a lot of humor to share. I will retell the store of my Christmas tree wall hangings made from scraps that were not scraps but actually part of my wife's project. Humor gets us through many of life's situations.

My message to you today and everyday is to create daily. Make something, sew something, cook something, just do it! Gotta sew now...

Monday, October 16, 2017

First Show, More to Come...

Greetings and Welcome to all my new friends...

It is official that I am now selling my work. The craft show at St Rita's School was my first show to sell my quilted runners and wall hangings. I love being at shows with my work proving that men can quilt. Many people know my wife as a quilter and think that I am selling her work. I love telling them that it is all created by me. I also love encouraging others to get back to quilting. As I talk to people who have gotten away from their hobby it is a reminder of the connection to cloth. My connections in the future are to write patterns and teach the fun you can have with fabric.

For the past two years, I have been working on technique and getting more familiar with my machine. I received much encouragement at the show on the quality of my work. Now I can move forward to make it more of a business.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fun with Vintage Santas

Here is my latest wall hanging. It features three vintage santas embroidered in green on a cream swirled background. Each santa is machine embroidered and the panel was quilted prior to final assembly of the wall hanging. This allowed me to add extra batting behind each santa for a raised effect. Free motion quilting, in the cream color backgrounds around them, imitates the swirling snow. 
The black fabric used for the half square triangle block has a beautiful gold poinsettia print.

 The finished piece measure 23 1/2" by 44 1/2" with hanging triangles on the back to hold a dowel at the top for hanging and an additional dowel at the bottom to provide weight.

 The additional photos show the wall hanging in process. The machine embroidery designs are from a the "Old World Santas" collection by Beth Dix at Primerose Lane. My wife has used their designs for hand quilting in the past and were pleasantly surprised to see that they offer so much of their beautiful work in digital format. We purchased disks for the santas and the covered bridges at the Lancaster, PA quilt show last year. These are so great to work with you will be seeing more in the near future.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I really need Deadlines...

The only way I get anything done is with a deadline. My posts were much more frequent at the beginning of this year. That is thanks to the challenges were I applied myself to make a quilt or wall hanging and had to post about it in a limited time frame. Thanks to Kim and all involved in 2017 Project Quilting Season 8.

Well my wife told be about a donation request, but didn't commit me to anything. As usual it started things turning in my mind. I had seen some scraps of fabric with fire hydrants and hoses along with some baseball fabric. After a while, I couldn't get it out of my head. So I had to make a quilt. They wanted lap size and I usually stay with wall hangings, so another challenge. I started making blocks then had to improvise to make it bigger and here is the result.

As for quilting, I love my Brother Dream Machine. I have the walking foot on almost all the time and get straight lines with the aide of the built in laser. For those reasons I do mostly linear quilting. Out the door this morning, I hope this brings support for JACK Foundation. It was a labor of love. Find out more about Just Acts of Caring and Kindness at the JACK Foundation website.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Time Challenge - "Time to Know Your Neighbor"

Strips ready
Today was a snowy day in Webster, New York so I was able to finish the quilt challenge based on time. I started this last night planning on a small wall hanging this grew to a size of 27" by 41".   

Blocks Ready
Project Quilting #8 Challenge 6 is to be something inspired by time. So this was a great time to go back to some earlier inspirations. Last year I started a wall hanging called Tempus Fugit, which I haven't finished yet. But I did have some left over strips of clock and watch pattern fabric. My Dad used to fix watches and clocks so I got this fabric for a wall hanging to remember him by.

From the strips of watch and clock fabrics I made some four patch blocks and found some fabric with buildings in a similar color range. I arranged these in three columns and added some extra spacers for a little improv.

Border added

I had a few different titles in mind for this project and settled on "Time to Know Your Neighbor." This actually will allow it to compliment another wall hanging I made with some of the building fabric that I called, "Who is my Neighbor?" (See companion piece below.) So after I decided on a title I got is ready to go back to the Brother machine. The really cool feature of the Brother Dream Machine is the built in camera to take a picture of the fabric in the hoop and audition the placement of the text on the quilt. I used a gold thread for the embroidery and then added a drop shadow on the lettering with a permanent marker.

Embroidery in process
Update: Note that I forgot to mention regarding the TIME theme. I worked on this wall hanging while watching "Time Tunnel" on Hulu. A TV show from my childhood, click on the title for more information. My final time expression in this wall hanging was to use an old flannel shirt from my kids as the batting. The good news about kids moving out... You get to use their old bedroom as a sewing room and their old flannel sheets for thin batting. In this one I used two layers of the flannel sheet for a little more thickness.
Who Is My Neighbor
Embroidery with drop shadow added

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

All Dressed Up

The latest entry for 2017 Project Quilting Challenge 8.5 - "Well-Dressed Man"
All Dressed Up

This project was to be inspired by mens wear or inspired by a man. Since I am a man quilting, everything I do is inspired by a man.
Black and White Base

Batting and Backing
But back to the real inspiration, pin strips, I have alway loved a pin striped suite and may years ago, when I was in high school, I had a red shirt with blue stripes that I loved. I think my mom had to cut it up for rags to get me to stop wearing it.

So on Monday morning, I did a sketch. On Monday evening, I cut strips of black and white to create the base. On Tuesday, I added the batting and backing in a pillowcase manner. Once it was turned right side out I stitched around to close the bottom opening and quilted up and down the stripes. I created the pocket squares and the pocket along with a tie. These were attached to complete the project.

Click here to visit my etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Look Up

"Look Up"
My entry for the third challenge is called "Look Up.' A study of texture is found wherever you are. I love to look up at buildings to see the beautiful ornamentation the used to be a standard part o buildings. The finished wall hanging measures 22" x 15" and was created in Webster, NY for the 3rd Challenge at Project Quilting. The description of the project is continued below. I also want to thank Kim and Trish for running the challenge. I was also a drawing winner for the last challenge and want to thank  Marcia’s Crafty Sewing & Quilting for the pattern that she donated.

Building Ornamentation, see below for building placement.
I wouldn't be a sewing husband if it weren't for my wonderful wife. She puts up with a lot. Some has been documented in previous posts. It wasn't until recently that I found out how nervous she was that I was organizing her sewing room while she was away on retreat. She wasn't thrilled to share her sewing room with me so life was better as the kids moved out and I got my own sewing room. Slowly I am getting tools of my own. She even bought me my own Martelli rotary cutter. It is my favorite cutting tool.

Button on campus at PENN
So another way my wife is wonderful, she started taking me to the Lancaster PA AQS Quilt Show. She also takes me along when she travels to Philadelphia each year for a meeting. While she is in her meeting I get to walk around the campus and streets surrounding the University of Pennsylvania. There are some interesting things on campus, like a giant button. I also like to look at all the textures and details on the buildings. I alway have great intentions of turning these things into quilts and wall hangings. So the current challenge gave me the push to get started.

I have collected a variety of photos over time. Textures from brick and tile along with building materials and perspective pictures. So many things are hiding in plain sight if you just look up. So for this challenge I looked above a doorway on the streets of Philadelphia. I cropped the photo and printed it a few different sizes. I created a freezer paper template from the printed copy. I ironed the freezer paper onto some starched fabric. Of course, what better fabric to use for the building ornamentation than my favorite Stonehenge by Northcott. The appliqué was added with 505 spray adhesive and secured with blanket stitch. Another advantage of the kids moving out is the single bed flannel sheets from their youth have become a layer filling to use as something thinner than batting. For this wall hanging I used one layer of flannel underneath the appliqué layer and then added some batting between the appliqué layer and the back.