Lysa’s match needle book

Here it is! This is the result of a pattern I tested for Lysa, the most generous gal to have given me a free kit to make my own (serious goodness, right there!). I truly felt that this little needle book was one of the most clever things I’ve seen around. I just had to have one, and I am so grateful she is so awesome to make that happen:)

Here you can read about the SMS Giveaway she hosted with books she crafted herself. I did not find the pattern troublesome so I am optimistic that she will have it ready at her shop soon enough so you can make your own match needle book! I also enjoyed using such a thick stabilizer; I had never used anything other than stiff interfacing and having something like stiff felt was brilliant. I am going to totally look into this option for future projects.

(Read on if you wish to hear a story about lightning, the evil doer.)

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This project was also perfectly timed. It is late June, but Mother Nature doesn’t realize it, so we have been enduring storm after storm after storm (I am listening to thunder as I write this). Thursday circa 9pm, lightning hit our house. Of course, Boy has installed all the high end surge protectors one could possibly own, but lightning is a force in itself. Apparently, and who knew, lightning can use the internet back door. It looks as if Comcast (the cable internet people) did not ground the cable outside our house, and the jolt of electricity came in that way, zapping anything directly connected to the internet (the modem, router, all the switches and miscellaneous devices to make the internet work in the house, the Vonage phone box, possibly the main phone, a smart tv, a PS4, and two media boxes). So, without the ability to do much work, or watch movies on Netflix, or play video games, I sewed!

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We thought it had also damaged our Wii U, and PS3, but when Boy brought home some equipment from the office the next day to get back online, they both magically turned on and were also able to connect to their networks. Phew. (Seriously, is there anything worse than losing all your saved games??) Now, something we cannot figure out is why our Onkyo receiver is fried as well, not being an internet device and all. But, who can say we puny humans will ever understand the force of lightning?

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Pattern testing, whoop whoop

There was one item through the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway event that I seriously wanted. I didn’t win it, but I kept thinking about it. I finally went to see what it cost, because I wanted it that badly. The shop was under construction. What to do? Well, finally I just emailed the gal. Long story short, she offered me the most generous deal: I could test her pattern and she even sent me a pre-cut kit! (And that card she sent? She drew the fabric stash!) I will have more details when I complete the project. I am always so humbled at the internet crafting community’s generosity. Lots of love out there:D

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A side story goes like this: Part of the pattern required my machine, part of it required hand stitching. So I had just finished part one of the pattern with the machine and was tidying it up with a needle and thread. Lo, I hear a *pop* and perhaps a sizzling noise. What is that?? I muted Star Trek: The Next Generation (once again, thank you, Netflix!). I had hoped it was something weird with the show, but then I hear *sssss* *sssss* and sure, it was coming from the machine, alright. I leaned in to confirm it; pulled away immediately. Was that smoke? Holy cow, that’s a lot of smoke! I yanked all the cords out of her. She smoked for probably two full minutes. Come on, I wasn’t even using her at the time!

Boy came home and his mechanically-electrically inclined ways fixed it. It seems that some poor little spider crawled in (probably the tiny Parson spider I had ignored on my table while sewing, come to think of it….) and zapped itself. The electrical shock must have coursed through the machine some how as it sprung the coil that the foot pedal used to make the machine go.

Now she is all oiled and squeaky cleaned (she had gathered dust during my grad school years). Boy even found two small faults that I didn’t even know was a problem! One, the hand knob to run the machine just pulled off (it was suppose to be screwed on) and two, the needle was staying in the cloth instead of returning to the top position once I let off the foot pedal. I had forgotten it was suppose to do that.

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The machine was a wedding gift from my mother-in-law. It is a Bernina Record 930 Electric model. When it was smoking, I looked online and was worried, based on other bloggers’ comments, that I might have to get a new one. Without a job, that wasn’t a reality – I wasn’t even sure I could justify paying someone to fix it. (A small part of me wondered what it would be like to have a new snazzy machine, to be honest, though).

But in helping Boy fix it and learning about her innards, I realized I don’t want a new machine. This one has very little plastic (ugh, seriously, when will this world make plastic illegal?). Steel doesn’t break very easily, you know. When you turn it on, it’s on – no waiting for a startup. To change a foot, it’s just a lever, not a screw. It’s just…. simple. It has 27 types of stitches, too. Since I am by no means an expert on sewing, this one fits me just right. Thanks again, Gayle!

Paper-piecing pillow – WIP

I am at them again, these addicting hexagons! I can only do a little at a time, but this project is coming along. I am using a flower Boy’s grandmother had sewn, and decided to make it a pillow for my craft room. I think… I mean, I haven’t bought a pillow form just yet but my little couch needs something cheery.

First, I am using this handy template again. I love it because you can make your own custom size, which was important since I am matching a piece already sewn.  Her methods were not as precise as mine, so the edge sizes varied from ¾ of an inch to just over 1 inch. I split the difference and made my hexies ⅞. You’ll see in a photo below that there is slight puckering, but I have a plan!

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I know, that looks really tedious. I suppose it is, but it is super relaxing for me, and I have been rewatching Star Trek : The Next Generation through Netflix. It is a wonderful way to sew away the stress. (How does one still experience so much of that when one is currently unemployed? I do wonder about the choices I continue to make in my life, ha! (It’s all good.))

This is how far I am currently. I have not taken the basting stitches and paper out just yet. I think I will try to keep the flower in the corner a little, rather than center it. And I have found that sewing two hexies together gives me just the right amount of perimeter to sew with one go of a threaded needle. (That probably doesn’t make any sense, but what I mean is I sew two hexies together, knot it, and cut the thread. Then I start at one edge of the hexies to attach them to more hexies, and my threaded needle can usually easily get me to attach the next pair of hexies – I make the thread about as long as my arm.)

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Here you can see that Grandmother’s technique is quite different than my own. I have explained this process to several people and this is a great piece to illustrate the variances. She didn’t use paper, nor did she make baste stitches. I want more practice before I dive in with freehand like that (and the paper comes right out, once you cut out the baste stitch – which is just one snip with the scissors for each hexie – if you look long enough, you can see where I did this for one hexie to demonstrate to a friend).  She cut the fabric into perfect hexagons; I’d rather rely on a paper template. She used a running stitch; I am using a whip stitch. No matter your choice, these suckers are great for packing along wherever you go for whenever the time comes to craft a little. It is a *great* travel project.

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In the closeup below, you can see that the original fabric is a little puckered here and there. My plan is that I will also quilt this piece on to some batting, see if I can get the flower to puff up some. That should help remove the puckered look, and make a really neat detail.

Remember, the plain fabric currently sports basting stitches, but these will be removed (as will the paper). And it will get a nice visit from the iron too.

You can also see here how I store the thread between sessions. I read somewhere once about how to keep headphones from getting tangled in your bag – it’s the same process. Just make a figure 8 (over your index finger and thumb) and secure your needle over the center! Works like a charm, I tell you what. No knots!

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I have a plan for the back of this pillow too (if, indeed, it becomes one). The hexies will be bigger (to save time!) and I want to quilt them also, although I am going to pick just a few here and there and use the colors from the floral fabric to make the seams pop. That will add a bit of a modern touch to it, I think. You know, jazz it up a little.