Saturday, January 26, 2013

A tip

I am not posting much this week since I am limited to using my iPad (I will explain that another time)

However, I do have a great tip for those of you using iPads.  You see there is this built in autocorrect thing that makes trying to do the "captcha" fill in vey difficult.  As soon as you hit the space bar it corrects your carefully copied text. ARRRGH!
The new captcha has a text and number - herein is the secret! If the number is first, no problem. Type the number and (repeat with me here) DO NOT SPACE. Then type the text and click post/publish or whatever.
If the text is first do essentially the same thing: type text DO NOT SPACE type number, etc.  the space is not needed and it makes it much easier to circumvent the auto correct.
And since a post without a picture is not my style, here is my painting  "Soft Summer  Dream"
I kinda think it is a pleasant one for the cold weather most of the country is experiencing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Puzzling the Past

Puzzling the Past by GeneBlack
Puzzling the Past, a photo by GeneBlack on Flickr.

As some of you may know, I started this blog before I started quilting. It was originally my art blog. I started it as a place to show my paintings and discuss the process.
When I started quilting, it took over the blog (almost)
The picture here is an abstract piece that I painted in a workshop several years ago -2006 to be exact. Lately I have started "seeing through my painter's eyes" again. I have been feeling the need to take brush in hand and create in paint. Looking at my older works just may spark the flame. We will see!
Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Finally I finished this one!

I have been taking some courses on Craftsy.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished a project in the class.  But it was only a "quilt top" piece, not a truly finished project.  The course I took is called Stitch and Slash.  It was a very good course and I confess that I didn't spend enough time working on this.  I was so drawn in by the method that I just wanted to get started. Then I got it done and couldn't decide what to do with it.  So I let it sit.  But I wanted a project to do while I watched a couple of episodes of Doc Martin on Netflix.
So this evening I grabbed some fabric for backing.  I cute and sewed the backing and made it into a pillow.

Of course the pillow form I had didn't fit. No, it couldn't be that easy could it?  So I got some muslin and some poly fill and made the pillow form.  I learned a second lesson - make the pillow form a little larger NOT a little smaller so that it really fills up the pillow cover. Ah well, live and learn.  (and share, so someone else might not make the same mistake.)  Overall, I think it looks okay.   I am not really happy with all the choices I made along the way.  Still it was a great learning project and I will do better on my next one.
The good news? I have a FINISH!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Organize? ME????

Folks who know me well, know that I am not all that organized.  But I do want to be more organized.  I have ideas for organizing and I get things all sorted and neat.  Then I decide to "make something" -and that usually leaves a big unorganized mess at the end.
Oh well!
Anyway, on Saturday I made a hanging organizer with several pockets on it. There are two rows of pockets.  the longer pockets run behind the shorter ones. I think the longer ones will be great for things like my ruler to mark diagonals and maybe even rolls of stabilizer.
The shorter ones are just right for things like a rotary cutter.
You can't really see them in the picture because the bows hide them, but I added eyelets (or grommets) to put the ties through.  I had never put those in before but it was really easy with the tool I bought when I got the eyelets.
Have you made any fun organizational items for sewing supplies?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Baby Quilts

In December 2012, I made a couple of baby quilts. I didn't want to show them until the babies arrived.   As of today the second one should be born.  Here are some pictures of the Moms on the day we delivered the quilts to them (at their workplace no less!)

I got smiles and hugs that night.  Last night I saw one of them again and got another hug. (The other was in the hospital - waiting for delivery.) I know that both of these babies will get lots of love.  That makes me happy!  Ha ha, I am claiming "uncle" status.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Giveaway over at Pami's

One of the blogs  I am following is having a book giveaway.  I am sharing the love.
Go to Auntie Pami's and enter. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Review: Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

Thanks to Dutton for asking me to review Jennifer Chiaverini's latest book, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.  I was provided with a copy of the book to read and review.  And I have to give them kudos for sending a nice hardback copy.

I have to say that in my school days I was not an fan of history.  In fact, my knowledge of history is probably lacking in many areas.  However, once a subject intrigues me, I will research it until I am satisfied.   So going into the book I was not all that knowledgeable about the years Mr. Lincoln was in office and even less so about his wife.  I learned a lot from this book since Mrs. Chiaverini did her research well.   Interestingly, my Nana had been to see the movie, Lincoln.  She had told me some of the things that I read in the book. It was a nice validation.

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker is told from the perspective of Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who bought her freedom.  The story starts prior to her meeting Mary Todd Lincoln.  It was interesting to read the story from her point of view.  It is also interesting to see how the political insights into the start of the civil war.  Friends and even family members became "enemies" when it came to battle. The escalation of the civil war is essential to the story (and it is history.)
The real story here is how two women  of vastly different standing socially became friends and shared so many life events.  Mary Todd Lincoln is portrayed differently in this book than in most things you see or read.  Let me share a part of an interview with Jennifer Chiaverini:

President Lincoln is often characterized by his calm, thoughtful, and wise demeanor. The same, however, can’t be said for Mrs. Lincoln. In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, you paint a picture of a complex,  yet fascinating woman with mood swings and emotional outbursts but who also possesses a strong and confident presence. Can you describe your insights on her character? Why is she such an intriguing person, not just in your book but also in history?

Despite the volumes of historical and psychological research devoted to Mary Lincoln, she remains an enigma. She was the first wife of a US president to be called First Lady, and she was then and remains to this day one of the most controversial. Regrettably, descriptions of her tend to fall into the extremes of caricature: She is either portrayed as an unstable, shrill, vicious, corrupt shrew who made President Lincoln utterly miserable, or as a devoted wife and mother and a brilliant, shrewd, political helpmeet whose reputation was savaged by biased male historians. As a friend and confidante who observed Mary Lincoln closely in moments of triumph as well as tragedy, Elizabeth Keckley knew her as a real woman, full of flaws and virtues and surprises like any other. It was this far more nuanced woman that
Elizabeth Keckley depicted in the pages of her memoir, and since Elizabeth Keckley is my narrator, I shaped the character of Mary Lincoln according to her perceptions.

I really think that the use of Elizabeth Keckley's character describing Mrs. Lincoln gives us a vision of the woman that is more true that either extreme. 

I should tell you that I read this book quickly as it is hard to put down.  I was intrigued by the characterizations as well as the history in the book. 

I must confess that the ending seemed lacking but I do not fault the author for that.  She was bound by the actual history and remained as true to it as possible in a work of fiction.
That said,  I still highly recommend this book.  The release date is  January 15th and you can pre-order on

Monday, January 07, 2013

Slaying the Dragon - Zipper

I feel like I have slain the dragon.  Well, not the one in the picture.  That is one that I made of polymer clay for a friend who collects dragons. 

Here is the story of my dragon.  I am talking about one of those things that you avoid in your sewing or crafting because it seems like a dragon that will kill you. 
Hereby begins my tale:
I have a pair of very nice dress pants that I had worn less than a dozen times. They fit well and look good on me. 
The zipper BROKE a few weeks back (on Sunday, in church of course!) I put them in the "mending" pile and actually bought a new zipper. Ha! 
A couple of days ago I started ripping out the broken anxiety started to rise. I thought "maybe I should just throw them out." I left them laying and went to something else. 

Then on Monday evening I came in and started on them again. I got the zipper out - and other than a few "special words" as I stuck myself on the pins I used (those flower head pins are thin and SHARP) I didn't have a great deal of problems getting the zipper in. 
I put them on and checked to see that it lays okay. YES! All that remained was to re-sew a few seams that had to come out to make way for the zipper. 
I did it! I have slain the dragon!!!!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

More Play -and an Announcement

I digitized another design with the Machine Embroidery digitizing software that I got. (The software is Embroidery Magic 2.)   I am calling this design "Diamond Delight."   I think it looks a lot like a quilt block.

This shows it still in the hoop.   I used textured  column fills in the the "red  orange" area. You may be able to see them better in this close-up.
I alternated the angles to add some variety to it. I used another texture in the inner section (light aqua) but it really makes the stitches too long in my opinion.  I did save the file in a format that I can continue to edit.  I have to say it is fun to do this.  I will probably use this piece as part of a small project like a notebook cover.

Now for that announcement:
In a few days I will be reviewing the upcoming book by Jennifer Chiaverini.  The title is "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker."   I will do a small spoiler and say that I loved the book.  I will tell you more when I write the review - but if you were thinking about pre-ordering it, I will say: Sure! Go ahead, it is a good read.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Playing with Digitizing

I got a couple of rather inexpensive digitizing programs for Christmas.  I have been wanting to learn some digitizing for machine embroidery (aka ME.)
So I started with a simple cat face design and digitized it.

Remember that this is my first attempt and I am still learning the program.  I see a couple of "oopsies" in this.  The nose (most obvious) has an open space in it.  The eyes could stand to be more neatly curved around the edges.  I mistakenly used a patterned stitch for the face outline and thus it looks more ragged.
There are tricks to learn in controlling the tools. I will be working on learning this for some time, I am sure.  But I did want to let you know that I am still "kicking" since I haven't posted in several days.

What is on your creative plate?  I need to get to work on a baby quilt - something simple - for a co-worker's soon to be born granddaughter.

Edited to add:  Some of you may not know about digitizing.  Digitizing is the process of turning a design into a file that is readable by an embroidery machine so that it will stitch out.  I started with simple drawings that I made in photoshop. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Start the Year With Class

Hi folks, I have been lazy  enjoying the holidays and haven't sewn much.  I did make a simple table runner for the Nana but didn't take a picture.  
I gave myself a present,  to start the new year off right.  This is a great present that will keep on giving.  

I am taking a new class on Craftsy (love that site!) taught by Laura Wasilowski.   I have wanted to take a class with Laura for some time, but just didn't have time or funds to do so.  Now I have it going on!  I have CLASS with Laura.
The great thing about Craftsy classes is that you can watch them as many times as you need to so that you can master the techniques.
As an added bonus, there is an iPad app - so I can watch it while sitting at my machine.
So, start the new year off right - give yourself some Class!