Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AND ANOTHER THING...

And when I finally got sort of an answer about the hours, the leader asked me if I wanted some fruit, I guess people had brought.  I said no because I didn't bring anything and felt kind of guilty since I've been so busy, nervous and frustrated, I didn't even notice refreshments were there.  Again, not giving me any information.  I thought, since we're volunteering our time, they would provide any refreshments.  When I asked should I be bringing something every week, she said if I wanted to, so that means yes, I should be bringing something. I've done this all my life.  I'm tired of baking, shopping and schlepping trays of food.  Thinking that volunteering I wouldn't have to do this anymore just isn't true, at least with this group and I don't want to have to bring things to events anymore and especially to volunteering meetings.   At least at the community garden they had refreshments that we weren't obligated to bring since we were devoting our time and gas to get there.

NOT FOR ME...I QUIT!!!

Another day at volunteering at quilting has proved too much for me again.  I gave my 100 pieced together pieces to the lady who entrusted me with them.  As I said, my machine gave out within three pieces of the end when I picked up with my new machine.  Well, the quarter inch with my old machine, as I have been using for my own quilts, came out right, but for some reason, they were too large for this lady's quilt.  I was also given some homework which I requested, but as I started out, some of the squares she gave me to put together, were not cut the same size.  I reluctantly asked her why, because I've asked so many questions, I just feel stupid.  But she said, they were, in fact, cut wrong.  I was thoroughly confused as she cut that batch of pieces, but I did not watch her because I was told to do some thing else.  Well, when I got home, all of the other groups of squares were cut wrong also, but she did not cut them nor did I know how much to cut them.  By the way, the first group she cut were also all different sizes, because she did not cut them all.  What a mess.  THIS IS NOT FOR ME!!!!  All those pieces, different people telling me what to do.  All of these steps.  My mind just doesn't work that way.  So for the third week I came home shaking and continued shaking trying to figure out how I should proceed on all of these squares.  Should I cut them?  But then they still didn't match up with the first group of squares.  So I didn't.  I tried calling a number and e-mailing the leader of the group to try to get a phone number of the girl who gave me this project.  Neither the e-mail or phone number was right.  Do these volunteer groups make it a point so you can't contact anybody.  They have my e-mail and phone number right away, but they don't give you theirs or keep in touch with you.

The leader of the group pulled me over and showed me a picture of a quilt she said if I'd like to do.  She was willing to give me a project of my own.  I said yes, but really it was so boring and ugly I had no enthusiasm doing this quilt whatsoever.  I asked her if they would cut out all those squares (it looked like there were well over 200 of them) and she said if I'd like them to.  Evidently, she expected me to do the whole thing by myself.  A very large project.  Well, the quilt pattern was ugly and boring and just a bunch of squares to be put together with a large star in the corner which she said they'd do.  Well, if I was going to go down there to do a whole quilt by myself, I'd be doing one for me that I liked in a landscape quilt and at home, where I didn't have to schlep everything down to their meeting place.

Another thing.  This week they left at 1:00.  Last week they stayed until 5:00.  The week before we left at 12:00.  She originally told me in the beginning they would be there from 8:00 to 5:00 and I told her I wouldn't be there at 8:00.  That was too much like going to work.  I'd be there when I got there between 10:00 and 11:00.  She said that would be fine.  Then all of the hours were changing and no one letting me know.  I had to give her my e-mail address again, since she misplaced mine from the week before when she wanted it a second time.  I've had it.

I give up.

I finally sat down shaking and frustrated again, to figure out why I'm having such a terrible time doing this when I did my own quilt pillow covers and pot holders, it was a great, fun experience.  It was because without even knowing where or how to make a quilt, I did it from a book, step by step, without fifty million people giving me things to do without me knowing what the finished quilt should look like, steps to be taken, dimensions of the pieces, etc. etc..

I have, however, through a quilt guild in my area, found another group who meet at a house every other week.  There are six people who meet, bring their sewing machines and bring either their own projects or they sometimes work on one project together.  Maybe this group is more for me.  Like I said, landscape quilts or photo quilts is more my bag without cutting hundreds of mind numbing pieces and sewing them all together.

Now, how to tell them I won't be coming any more.  They've been really nice and encouraging and pretty much not everything is my fault, as they told me.  One girl said, since she's seen how things were wrong several times on their part, has gotten me very confused and shaky and frustrated and not my fault, actually apologized to me saying thank you for your patience in us and errors we had given you making you more confused and nervous and you not knowing what the project should look like or dimensions the pieces should be, etc., etc..

I know I'm not stupid, but I sure feel like it there.  There is no reason why I should go through this every week.

I QUIT!!!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

GETTING USED TO MY NEW SEWING MACHINE

Yesterday, I devoted practically my whole afternoon to learning about my new sewing machine.  I first tried free motion thread painting.  A disaster, but I learned a lot.  Next, I tired some of the already downloaded designs in my machine.  Some weren't all that great and looked kind of less dense than I would have preferred, but I guess if you looked close at them, you could tell what they were.  Some of the designs you could not enlarge.  Some you could enlarge two times, some you could enlarge five times.  Yes...I want an embroidering machine...fast.  But looking all over for a machine that does embroidery only at a reasonable price and has a large stitch area (at least up to 8" X 10") is not cheap, even for just an embroidery only machine.  I've found Brothers that will stitch up to 5" X 7" at around $900.  The Singer 500XL combo machine has a very large footprint, that has sewing as well as embroidery machines in one that does humongous embroidery areas, but you have to use your own computer, and doesn't come with hardly any feet, is also around $900, but I couldn't take it around to my embroidery clubs.  So I guess I'll wait until the sewing machine manufacturers come out with most of us want.  A MACHINE WITH A LARGER EMBROIDERY AREA FOR LESS THAN $1,000!  HELLO!

Now the trick is to find out how to use all of these stitches with my new machine in order to make an embroidery scene.  I've found a pattern that will make lovely leaves on a vine and small patterns that will make pretty circles with decoration all around them.  Also a heart pattern that you can enlarge, but then you start losing the fill and it stretches out so much, it doesn't look like a heart pattern any more.  Also, some fancy scrolls which I really like and wish they were larger.

But this machine is really, really great.  I don't regret one penny I've paid for it so far and will be great to carry back and forth to my embroidery get togethers.

Here are some stitches I've played with to give you an idea of what I mean about some of the stitches being sparse.  The lettering, I won't even bother with since they are also very sparse. 

Again, I took these photos with my cell phone, my good camera can't get close ups for you to really see the patterns, but I guess you'll get the gist of it all.

PHOTOS OF SOME OF THE PATTERNS

These were taken with my cell phone, but I think you got the idea of what I was saying.  Small sized patterns.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

MY NEW SEWING MACHINE

My new sewing machine arrived today and after printing out from the internet the instruction booklet, I realized they did, in fact, enclose the same instruction booklet in the box.  It is much smaller and I didn't see it and you'd never believe in this booklet there would be 58 pages of instructions.  Oh well, maybe my printed out pages will come in handy one of these days if I lose the book.

I first took inventory of everything that I was supposed to get, including the normal accessories as well as the optional accessories.  They were all there and now to get down to play.  But first, I thought it would be a good idea to go to Amazon's web site where I saw my sewing machine to print out all of the names along with photos of all of my accessories so I would know what they're called and a photo of what they look like since there are so many of them.

As I went to the web site, I noticed my machine had gone down in price about $20.  I quickly called Amazon and they quickly deducted the difference, plus tax, from my credit card.  This was another thing, along with receiving my new machine, made my day.

OK.  So with instruction booklet at my side, I made sure the bobbin was in correctly and the top threading was also done correctly.  They have made this machine so easy to thread and load the bobbin, which after the first pulling of the loop up into the bed, was no longer a thing to do after that.  The automatic needle threader is a little bit easier to use than my old machine, but still I'll need some practice to make doing that go just as fast, if not faster, than threading the eye of the needle manually.

I got back to sewing a quarter inch stitch on to my squares for my Quilts of Valor quilt.  I used the foot peddle for a while and then realized my automatic thread cutter won't work with the foot peddal, so I sewed like they said to in the handbook in order to be able to automatically cut the threads at the end of sewing my squares together.  What a heaven sent this feature is.  You not only not have to reach for a scissor and get in there to cut the threads, being careful not to cut the material too, but having the machine cut the thread, saves soooo much thread.  I wouldn't have believed it until I used this feature and saw it for myself.  Also, this also eliminates having to go back and cut all of those hanging threads when you have to pull the material away from the machine and then cut the threads.  After a while of sewing with the standard straight foot, I thought I'd look up what the quarter inch foot looked like and I put that on.  How great.  Everything on the foot is measured perfectly.  No watching where on the standard foot is a quarter inch.

So I've sewn all I could since I ran out of blocks which have whites in the corners.  I guess I'll just press all of these blocks I've sewn together and that will be it until I get to our next meeting.

No one at the quilting group knows I got a new machine, so when I walk in with my new baby, in it's own carrying case, which also was included in the package, I'm sure everyone will gather around to see it in progress.

I'm soooo happy with my new machine and now I know why it got almost five stars on various web sites' reviews.  And I've only used a few features and accessories.  I've been dreaming of the many things I will be able to do.  Embroidery with different threads will be the next thing I'll tackle and I'm thinking of going over to JoAnn's Fabrics in Citrus Heights, which I understand is gigantic, compared to the one in Folsom.  It's a bit of a drive, but I'll make a day trip of it.  I've already got a list going:  some heavy embroidery thread, more bobbins, some blank dishtowels, water soluble stabilizer, some new materials to add to my stash and I'm sure I'll think of some other things to get and for sure I'll see some things while at JoAnn's that will catch my eye.  I really have everything and more than I really need to do practically anything, i.e., cutting mats, roller cutters, pressing board, my new iron and so many other things that I'm sure will come in handy and I will definitely use.  This is what I've been waiting for all this time stocking up on all of these things.  Now, that's all I need is a house so I can have my crafts room set up permanently.

So, here is a photo of my new sewing machine and all of the blocks I pieced together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

DEATH OF MY SEWING MACHINE

As I had mentioned, after sewing together over 100 pieces in order to construct blocks for a Quilt of Valor, at the very end of sewing just three more square pieces together, my machine kept jamming up again.  I took apart the bobbin casing, cleaned and oiled it, but with no avail, those feed dogs just would not budge and come up into the sewing area under the needle so as to grip the material and push it forward.  So after many many tries to fix this area, I decided it was time for a new sewing machine. 

I had been researching sewing machines now for about three to six months.  I saw this Singer 9970 which I was really into how many useful feet and accessories and hundreds of beautiful stitches it can do.  It also has a needle up/down button, needle threader and thread cutter button.  It is not, however, an embroidery machine.  I just can't see paying thousands of dollars for a combo machine, so maybe after I master this new machine, which I did order from Amazon and am expecting it in a few days, and research embroidery machines only, I may find my happy combo, much cheaper but in two machines instead of one.

I've been reading reviews from different sites and all have four and three quarters stars on this machine, You Tube videos, instruction booklets on all the machines I've been interested in and this one seems to be "the one".

I am, once again, reading the instruction booklet on line for this machine.  Hoping I'll be a little more fluent in operating this great machine when it arrives.  Of course, I will still have the instruction manual by my side while I thread the machine and bobbin for the few first times because those are the most important things you need to get correct or else you can have broken threads and needles, just to name a few things that can go horribly wrong or even wreck the machine before you even start.  I'm looking forward to this new learning experience and believe it will be a lot of fun.  The first thing I have to do though is finish putting those last three pieces together.  Luckily, they are done with a straight stitch and the all purpose needle which are already installed on the machine when I get it delivered.

Today, I ironed all of the strips of squares I had sewn together, before my sewing machine broke down, with my new iron, a Black & Decker, which got great reviews for a budget priced iron.  It is very lightweight and the sole is so shinny and it glides so nicely.  The steam and spray features work very nicely and you can use plain tap water.  It even has a cleaning button on it to clean it. 

I have a 43 year old Proctor Silex iron which is really heavy and the sole has a place where something stuck to it and I've tried and tried to remove it, but nothing worked.  Plus, the spray nozzle has clogged over the years and the steam holes on the sole of the iron are kind of clogged and some dark small particles of dirt come out of and them (probably calcium deposits) and the iron itself drips and spurts.  At that time, you had to fill the water reservoir with distilled water.    So I believe I needed an upgrade and replacement of that. 

I can't wait to start putting the blocks together with my new sewing machine.

Monday, July 7, 2014

ANOTHER DAY AT THE SWEAT FACTORY

IT WAS ANOTHER DAY QUILTING, OR SHOULD I SAY MAKING THE PILLOW CASES WITH THE KIDS.  THERE WERE THREE KIDS THERE AND AFTER GIVEN A LESSON ON WHAT IS A VET, WE CONTINUED ON SELECTING MATERIALS TO MAKE OUR PILLOW CASES.  OF COURSE I NEEDED HELP BECAUSE I'VE NEVER MADE SOMETHING SO TIME CONSUMING AND KIND OF CONFUSING BEFORE IN MY LIFE.  BUT I GOT THROUGH IT AND IT CAME OUT REALLY CUTE.  THEY EVEN TOOK PHOTOS OF THEM.  THESE CASES WILL HOLD THE BEAUTIFUL QUILTS BEING MADE FOR THE VETS OF QUILTS OF VALOR.  WE MADE FIVE OF THEM ALTOGETHER AND TOOK ME A COUPLE OF HOURS.  SO TIME CONSUMING.  IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE PATRIOTIC MATERIALS, THEY COULD HAVE PURCHASED THEM FOR PROBABLY LESS MONEY AND TIME.

SO I ASKED FOR HOMEWORK.  A LADY THERE WHO HELPED ME WITH MY PILLOWCASE, HAD SOME LARGE SQUARES TO BE PUT TOGETHER AND THEN PRESSED AND SQUARED.  I'M AT THE PRESSING STAGE.  I'VE FINISHED UP ALL THE SQUARES BEING PUT TOGETHER.  I GOT ON A ROLL AND AFTER ABOUT THREE HOURS MY MACHINE STARTED ACTING UP, SO I DECIDED THAT WAS IT FOR THE DAY.

I'LL START UP AGAIN TOMORROW.  HOPE MY MACHINE IS OK.  TODAY WHILE AT THE QUILTING GROUP, MY FEED DOGS WOULDN'T GO UP.  WE FUSSED WITH THAT FOR A WHILE UNTIL I REALIZED INSTEAD OF A STRAIGHT STITCH, MY MACHINE WAS SET ON A ZIG ZAG STITCH WHICH I USED THE OTHER DAY TO PUT IN SOME NEW ELASTIC IN SOME SHORTS AND FORGOT TO SWITCH THE STITCH TYPE BACK TO STRAIGHT.

AFTER GETTING BACK INTO USING MY NEAT LITTLE SINGER MACHINE, I KNOW NOW I WOULD WANT TO DEFINITELY GET A NEW MACHINE WHICH HAD NEEDLE UP OR DOWN CAPABILITY ALONG WITH A MORE AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER.  LOOKING FOR ANOTHER MACHINE IS FUN, BUT REALLY WANT AN EMBROIDERY/SEWING MACHINE.  THEN ALL MY BASES WOULD BE COVERED.  I'VE STARTED THINKING HOW AND IF THEY'D ALLOW ME TO EMBELISH THE QUILTS BY EMBROIDERY AND/OR FABIC PAINTING INSTEAD OF THE SAME 'OL, SAME 'OL I'VE BEEN DEALING WITH IN MY PHOTOGRAPHY, BUT PHOTOSHOP CAME TO MY RESCUE THERE.

THE LEADER OF THE QUILTING GROUP BROUGHT ME A HALF SANDWICH BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T HAVE MY E-MAIL AND THOUGHT I'D BE WITHOUT LUNCH.  I THOUGHT THAT WAS VERY NICE OF HER.  THERE IS ALWAYS PLENTY OF FOOD AND DRINK THERE.  PEOPLE BRING THINGS AND I GUESS I'LL HAVE TO DO THE SAME.  I LEFT AFTER ABOUT THREE HOURS, BUT THEY ALL STAYED ON UNTIL 5:00.  I WAS REALLY FRAZILED AGAIN, SO I NEEDED TO GET OUT OF THERE.  QUILTING IS SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXING, BUT IF YOU'RE WITH A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW TO DO EVERYTHING FAST AND YOU'RE JUST ABOUT A NOVICE/BEGINNER LEVEL PERSON, IT CAN GET TO YOU.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ANOTHER QUILTS OF VALOR SESSION & PHOTO OF MY FIRST BLOCK

A second run at this quilting group makes me want to cry.  I've gotten so confused at times I've started shaking.  Everyone trying to help, but got more confused.  Too many small pieces and mind numbing repetitive things to be done.  But I brought home a block with larger pieces that I put together and I did that correctly so maybe...

Next time we meet we'll be making pillow cases where we insert the quilts to be presented.  A nice presentation package and good idea to keep the quilts clean.  It will be with kids who volunteer so maybe it will be easy enough for me to do.  They said it will be made with large pieces which gave me hope.

Here's a photo of it.  I ironed it, but it looks a bit wrinkled because I folded it up to put in a plastic bag.  Also, some corners and edges aren't even which really bothers me, but they say they'll blend in with the other blocks and you won't notice them.  I will and did on other quilts they showed me.  I even pointed them out to the leader.  Maybe I shouldn't have done that.  Did I mention I was anal retentive?

Monday, June 30, 2014

PHOTOS OF SONOMA, CA, CORNERSTONE

This week my photography club went to shoot Sonoma, CA, Cornerstone, a botanical garden.  It got so hot that the girl I went with bowed out for the last location.  But here is what I got.
























 

 



Saturday, June 28, 2014

QUILTS OF VALOR

This week I attended the "Quilts of Valor" quilting club.  This group of volunteers makes quilts (beautiful ones, I might add) for vets of all of the wars we have endured over the century.  They even have a long arm volunteer quilter who does beautiful work.  When she showed me the blocks she was working on, the points did not meet in some places and it really bothered me.  It didn't matter to her, she said.  If you just looked at the block from afar, it was not noticeable, but close up, to me, it really bugged me.  Did I mention I was anal retentive? 

No one was there but the organizer and I was quickly put to work, but a fun work.  She put me on a sewing machine they had purchased for $25 at a yard sale and after sewing for a few minutes, it jammed up. After the leader got me back on track with this machine, it sewed again for a while and then she sewed on it and it jammed up again.  I hope she didn't think I broke her machine.  I don't like using somebody's tools because if anything happens, I feel I broke it, even though I'm very careful and it just isn't the case. I had the darndest time doing anything, including threading the bobbin because the machine had a bobbin that you had to manage in an up and down configuration instead of a drop in type.  I had to string together strips and sew triangles a certain way to make a star like square.  I've always had trouble flip flopping, cutting soooo many strips, squares and triangles, I found it very frustrating.  My mind just doesn't work that way.  I'm more of a free type of quilter.  Landscape quilting is more my bag.  The leader said I'll catch on because I've never done anything like that before.

The leader gave me two bags, directions in each, to do at home.  I'm completely frustrated not knowing what to do, even with following these very confusing instructions.  I've gone back to the instructions for several days trying to figure it all out.  So I just made my own block potholder with material I purchased with stars and stripes in red, white and blue.  I guess I'm trying to make up for my stupidity, but I guess what is, is.

I remember about ten years ago making pillow covers for my couch which I followed pattern instructions very easily.  I've never done quilting before.  Four blocks of squares to be sewn together and the other was a log cabin pattern, also sewn very easily along with the pillow cover itself.  They came out really cute, but all that cutting and sewing these small pieces together was something else.  Well, I got through it, but like I said, landscape quilts is more my style.

I'll go back next week with my own sewing machine in hand and pinned together blocks that I think are put together correctly, but I won't sew or cut anything because I don't want to be pulling out stitches or waste material by cutting where I shouldn't have.  But at least I tried.

The leader said we'll be working on group projects this next week, whatever that means, but I'm hoping I'll be working with a group which will guide me along and be patient with me.  Maybe I'm taking this whole thing too seriously and I'll go again next week to at least help where I can.