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It’s been 100°+ each day this month so it makes no sense to start a new quilt.  It’s not that I NEED another quilt; it’s that I need to MAKE another quilt.  I still have lots of fabric and loads of scraps I’ve hoarded collected through the years so I should use it.  Time to make a mess!

With it being too hot to do SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESanything outside, I decided to get some exercise indoors by using my Frankentreadle (Singer/National) sewing machine.  It has been patiently waiting to be used for over a year and it was due for a cleaning and oiling.

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The pattern selected was seen on a quilt blog long ago.  I thought it would be a great way to eliminate some of the scraps I’ve accumulated.  I cut the paper foundations from discarded/used printer paper.  It hurts me to throw away the gobs of paper that pass my desk each month.  It is all perfectly good for foundations.  I drew several 5″ equilateral triangles on one sheet, scanned it and printed a number of foundations.  They were stacked one printed foundation atop 4 other sheets and cut with a metal ruler and snap-blade knife.  In no time, many foundations were ready.

I have several boxes of various widths of fabric strips so it is easy to grab and chain stitch the triangle units.  With my ironing table close at hand, I’m able to press the seams as I go to keep them flat.  After several hours of treadling, I trim the units, remove the paper and they are ready to hand stitch into rows.  I enjoy hand stitching as I relax with a movie or two after dinner.

I love using this old machine and the closeness I feel to my grandmother as I place my feet on the treadle peddle where her feet once were.  The Singer machine head reminds me of my mother who made many clothes for me on one exactly like it.  As a young child, I learned to sew on that machine before it was replaced in the mid 1950’s.

Shirl

Had I known this would turn out to be the sleaziest, SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTUREScheesiest shirt I’ve ever made, I would not have wasted the fabric, thread and time.

I saw this vintage pattern featured on a sewing blog site and liked it.  I located the pattern (McCall’s 2379), purchased it and was excited when it arrived in uncut, pristine condition.  I immediately reviewed the instructions and to my surprise, they were sadly lacking if one is attempting to make a quality garment.

I decided to make the shirt exactly as instructed, feeling a sewing pattern company would surely understand a sewist’s desire to make nice clothing.  Boy, was I wrong!

I selected a handsome chambray and followed the pattern instructions explicitly.  I found they led me down a slippery slope of stupidity and quality-eliminating shortcuts.  I often tossed the unfinished shirt aside, opting to make something I could be proud to label as my creation.  It frankly took me nearly 6 months sewing off and on to complete this monstrosity.  What a waste of antique mother-of-pearl buttons!

I will present it to Jacob later this weekend when he arrives for a visit.  He can wear it when he mows grass or changes the oil in his cars.   It was a learning experience and I will NEVER make the pattern again…. unless Jacob loves it, at which time I’ll redesign the pattern and rewrite the instructions.

Shirl

Update:  Jacob has tried this shirt and though he likes the style, he dislikes the pocket bags and the front facing.  He’s most accustomed to dress shirts with button plackets and collar stands where no facing is used.  His sensitive skin prefers pockets applied to the outside of the shirt instead of to the inside.  Fortunately, his father wears a similar size so his less sensitive skin will inherit this shirt.  I’m making note to never make another ‘casual style’ shirt for Jacob.

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Shirt #19 (seersucker)

With much self-prodding and refusal to accept my own excuses, I’ve finished Shirt #19.  It’s blue/white seersucker with blue buttons, chevron pocket and contrasting collar back and stand.  It has a sharks tail collar.  Jacob is expected to visit this weekend so will try on this slightly altered pattern for fit.  If this one suits him, I’ll make several more from seersucker fabric newly added to my stash.  If it doesn’t fit, I’ll tweak the pattern again and make another.

Though the past two shirts haven’t fit perfectly to his liking, they are still very wearable and fit better than any off-the-rack shirt.  He likes them and wears them so nothing lost.

We’ve received news this week of DH’s sister’s passing.  She died last November but since she was estranged from her family, we only heard of the death when a family member found the obituary on the Net.  It’s amazing how close, blood relatives can drift so far apart.  I’m saddened by the news but not surprised as she chose to live without family contact.

It remains blinding hot here and I expect it to continue until at least mid-September.  We’ve begun discussing the possibility of planting a cool-weather garden in a month or two but it’s hard to consider with temperatures reaching 105°F each day.  We’re also not sure if DH’s health and side effects from treatments will allow him to operate our heavy tiller.  We’ll just hope for the best and take what we get one day at a time.

Shirl

Update:  This shirt fits perfectly and with recently increased exercise, the past two shirts fit too.

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Shirt #19 (seersucker)

Summer has definitely arrived in East Texas with daily temperatures breaking the century mark for the past 2 weeks and no end in sight.  Even after biblical, record rains throughout Spring, we are now watching the skies, hoping for rain.  Our colder-than-normal Winter is only a distant memory as we chase air conditioning while hiding from the sun.  Texas!  No need to say more!

Along with these dog days has come laziness and lack of ambition.  I’ve accomplished little recently and I use the heat as my excuse.  I have only started making shirt #19.  It’s another seersucker with contrasting collar stand and backside of the shark tail collar.  It has a chevron pocket.  All that’s left is to insert the sleeves, sew and flat-felled the side seams, construct buttonholes, add buttons and hem.  Frankly, that’s a 2-3 hour easy job which I have no ambition to complete today.  Shame on me!

Earlier this week, I canned some chicken soup.  It’s SO easy to do.  I cooked 10 chicken thighs in water with seasoning, chopped onions, a bay leaf and celery to make a flavorful broth.  I deboned and chopped the chicken, chopped more onion and celery which I inserted into quart jars along with a couple of tablespoons of frozen corn and frozen peas.  I ladled hot broth into the partially filled jars, wiped the tops and added lids and rings.  I processed the jars in my pressure canner for 1 ½ hours.  Each of the 7 quart jars is a beginning to a wonderful, homemade chicken soup.  As we heat a jar for a meal, I can add rice, barley, noodles, dumplings, etc. according to what we desire at the time.  We’ll have a terrific homemade, hearty, healthy dinner in a matter of minutes.  (I LOVE deliciousness especially when it’s quick and easy!!!)

After making room for the chicken soup on the shelf, I notice we have no more space for jars.  The freezers are also packed full so I need to stop putting up so much and start eating some of it.  It’s time to chomp down on some of this accumulation of fresh, wholesome food.  I’m down!

Stay cool!

Shirl

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Shirt #18 (gingham seersucker)

After taking a hiatus, I’ve answered a request from Jacob for more seersucker shirts.  He absolutely loves their carefree comfort and current popularity.  I love the ease of making them and how nice they look on him.

The basic pattern is Kwik Sew 1024 (probably discontinued as it’s pretty old) which has been altered more than once.  Because of more weight loss, Jake requested I alter the pattern again.  This red gingham seersucker shirt is the first test sewing of this most recent alteration.  This version has a dark red collar stand (inside and out) and a rounded collar

He will be here later tonight and most of the week so will have plenty of opportunity to try it for fit.  At that point, I’ll either alter the pattern more or continue using this version to make more shirts.  I’ve purchased several pieces of seersucker.

In addition, Jacob’s birthday is this week so new shirts are an appreciated gift.  Shirts, a special dinner, watermelon from the garden and a cake will be the sum of the celebration as we give most of our attention to DH’s current health challenge.  Unfortunately, it’s a serious, life-altering issue requiring many doctor’s appointments, tests, treatments and hospital stays.  NO FUN!

Shirl

Though I’ve been crazySAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES busy canning our garden’s bounty and tending to a sickly spouse, I’ve managed to add another finish to the list of recent accomplishments.

This is my Scrappy Split-16 quilt which was machine pieced starting in February, 2013.  After piecing the body, I was baffled by what border I should use.  I auditioned several, some pieced and some solid and was never really pleased with any of them.  I settled on on a thin solid green frame, then two lighter green borders and finally a mottled green strip.  Little did I know I would run into an equal dilemma deciding how to quilt them.

I sped through quilting the body of the quilt, hoping for inspirationSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES for the borders.  It never came so the partially quilted top languished in the frame for a while; for a time; for a LONG time.  Still I remained uninspired.

Upon noticing how dusty the quilt had become, I gave myself a sharp kick in the behind, gave the quilt a quick vacuuming and pulled out the stencils I have.  I selected one that would fit in the space and marked the border for stitching.  It didn’t matter if it was or wasn’t the design of my dreams… it ended the nightmare of an unfinished quilt in the frame.

I stitched and stitched the design until the quilt was done but because I had stitched my name, date and location when I first started, I had to change 2013 to 2015.  Easy enough!

When I removed the quilted top from theSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES frame, I asked DH how he thought it should be bound.  He said I should piece a binding to match the scrappiness of the quilt body.  Instead of thinking too much and stopping the process with my indecisiveness, I went with his suggestion.

I’m not thrilled with every element of this quilt but done is better than perfect!  I AM thrilled it is finished and am enjoying how pretty it looks on my bed.  That’s what counts!

Shirl

As busy as I’ve been during recent SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESdays dealing with harvest, I’ve managed to devote a little time each night to hand quilting.

Last week I finished Wonky Stars; a free pattern by Bonnie Hunter and found here on her Quiltville blog.  My version has no sashings and a simple pieced border.

The main body of this quilt was made using my stash 2½” squares with the star points coming from my tiny scraps bin.  The border is pieces of 2½” strips.  I also used Bonnie Hunter’s suggestion of using a narrow binding.  I followed her easy tutorial.  I love the narrow binding and will incorporate it into future quilts.

Wonky Stars was pieced on my Singer 301a machine (born the same year as me!) and hand quilted in a hoop.  I outlined each star, stitching in the ditch and quilted each four patch grouping ¼” in from the outside seam.  The border is quilted in a woven design from a stencil I made myself.  I like the design and will use it again.  The label is SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES(obviously) hand embroidered on a scrap of fabric and attached to a back corner.

This sofa quilt finished at 53½” x 65″.  It will be stored until the next birth or illness calls for a gifted quilt.

Thank you, Bonnie Hunter for a super fun quilt pattern.  I truly enjoyed making it and smile each time I look at those twinkling stars!

Shirl

The garden continues to provide tons of fresh SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESveggies for our table, freezer and shelves.  The snow peas finished after producing 9 quarts for our freezer and lots eaten fresh.  They are such a treat and are one of my very favorite veggies to steam or use in stir-fry recipes.

I pick tomatoes each day (sometimes more than once!).  I currently peel and can 7 jars worth every other day (21 jars so far).  I expect the process to increase over the next weeks.  Yep, we have GOBS of ripening tomatoes still on the vines.  No, I’m not complaining since I consider a successful tomato year is one where I can 50+ jars.  They are SO much more flavorful than store-bought tomatoes (either canned or fresh) and I love having plenty on my shelves for cooking throughout the year.

I’ve also been picking southern peas twice a day.  I shell them during the hot afternoons and at night as I watch movies; then I blanch and freeze them the nextSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES morning.  Production is beginning to slow but I’ve already put 15 fat quarts (as much as will possibly fit into a quart size ziploc) into the freezer.  I’ve also blanched and frozen squash (yellow and zucchini) and we eat squash nearly every day.  I love to steam yellow squash with onions, bell pepper, carrots, and mushrooms for a beautiful, tasty side dish with dinner.  I especially love zucchini cut into spears, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with fresh ground pepper, then broiled until they are done.  I top them with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and return them to the broiler to melt.  Frankly, I can’t cook enough of ‘em and thankfully, the squash and zukes continue to produce.

Lately, I’ve also been able to serve wilted cucumber salad with fresh cukes from the garden.  I slice the cucumbers, add thin sliced red onion and sweat them with salt for an hour or two.  I rinse and drain well, then top with bottled Italian dressing and crumbled feta cheese.  It makes a truly delicious salad.

Along with those things mentioned, we’ve got a big bell pepper crop still ripening, which I will chop for the freezer after we eat our fill of them stuffed, fried and steamed.  I’ve also picked and cooked eggplant but thankfully the plants haven’t produced more than we can eat and give away, which is fine with me!  I’m running out of freezer space.

We also have a big crop of watermelons.  If the deer don’t come along and destroy them (as usual), we’ll definitely have plenty to eat and give away.  I’ve teased DH that I’m going to sit him by the highway with a wagon load and a For Sale sign.  Because of our biblical spring rains, the local watermelon crop has failed.  Ours has flourished!  I’m praying the cantaloupes will do nearly as well.  I planted them late so I’m still watching for results.

Shirl

After talking to several local farmers and kitchen gardeners, I’ve learned to be even more grateful for a flourishing garden.  Many area gardeners live on low-lying  land which, after our daily HEAVY rains, is boggy and swampy.  Their gardens have rotted.  I’m so sad for their wasted work, expense and loss of delicious harvests.

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Overachieving Roma tomato plant

We live on a sandy, silt hill.  In some spots of our 6 acres we can find a thin layer of clay when we dig 4-6 foot.  In other spots, we’ve dug up to 10 foot and found only more sand.  Water seeps through the sand quickly so puddles don’t form.  Unfortunately, nutrients also seep quickly.  This is why we add compost each year.

Here is a photo (complete with camera strap and old lady hand) of one of our Roma tomato plants.  We’ve planted 2 dozen and most are equally productive.  Pardon the weeds as it’s been too rainy to get out with the tiller to control them.  Production doesn’t appear affected!  It’s CRAZY!  If I didn’t know better, I’d say the plant is on steroids…. but I know better.  We are organic gardeners.  Though it’s difficult to tell in this photo, this plant is only about 3′ tall.  Because of the angle, the fruit looks smaller than reality.  They are mature Roma tomato size and only need some red before they are ready to harvest.  The canning jars are ready and waiting!

We also have baby bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, potatoes and eggplant.  I’m continuing to harvest snow peas each day and by the look of all the blossoms on our Purple Hulls and Lady Creams, we’ll have peas to shell soon.  We ate our first yellow squash last night for dinner.  I sliced and steamed it along with snow peas, mushrooms, carrots and green onion.  DEEEElicious!

During the day, between garden and house duties, I continue quilting the Split-16 queen+ quilt border.  I’m down to the last side so the end is in sight.  At night after dinner, I work on the Wonky Stars sofa quilt.  It’s also complete except for part of the border.  It’s pretty exciting having 2 quilts nearing completion at the same time.  Hmmmm, wondering what I’ll do next!

Shirl

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Harvested fresh kohlrabi

After harvesting 2 kohlrabi and some snow peas and including them in our shrimp fried rice dinner last evening, I decided all the kohlrabi are ready to be picked.

If you’ve never eaten kohlrabi, they taste nearly exactly like the peeled stems (my favorite part!) of fresh broccoli.  The young leaves and stems are also edible.  We loved the flavor they added to our dinner and wish we had planted more than 9 plants.  There WILL be more planted in our fall garden.

Tonight, I’ll peel, julienne and steam a few of these bulbs along with some fresh snow peas, mushrooms and carrots.  It will be a delicious side dish served with smothered pork chops I’ll also make.  My mouth is watering just thinking of it!

Each day the snow pea yield increases.  Currently I harvest about a quart Ziploc® packed full each day.  Those we don’t eat right away, I blanch and freeze.  They will be so tasty during the heat of summer when those plants no longer produce.  When the weather cools later in the year, I’ll plant more in our fall garden.

While enjoying a cuppa and strolling in the garden earlier, I noticed several eggplants have begun blooming.  I do enjoy eating eggplant from time to time but DH mistakenly purchased over a dozen plants!  EEEK!  If they produce as I suspect they will, we’ll have enough to feed much of the county!  I see a heap of eggplant parmesan in our future!

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Wonky Star quilting – back

After dinner each night as I relax from a busy day, I continue to hand quilt Wonky Stars.  I’ve completed all the squares and am now concentrating on the stars.  They are about half done.  I haven’t decided how I’ll quilt the border.

It has begun raining – the first of 9 days of predicted precipitation.  Being forced to stay inside will afford me an opportunity to continue quilting on the Split-16 borders.  They are over half done and I can think of nothing that would make me happier than seeing this LONG project finished.

Shirl

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