Monday, December 23, 2013

Pressing Matters

Standing over my ironing board, I realized this is a topic often overlooked in beginner classes.

An ironing board should not be called an "ironing board" but a "pressing board" in the quilting world. To iron cotton fabrics can stretch them out of shape. Instead, we press.

Here are a few other tidbits I have picked up over the years:

> When pressing many pieces, set a timer near the board. Bent over, performing a repetitive motion, in an action that causes stress to your lower back can be harmful over time. Give yourself regular breaks - stop and stretch.

> These breaks will help your pressing, too. Your iron cools with continued use. Taking regular breaks will allow it to re-heat to optimal performance temperature.

> I've used many brands of irons over the years. Even following their using manuals (use only distillers water, empty after each use, etc) they all tend to leak. I currently have two irons I use on a regular basis, and I don't add water to either. If I need steam, I keep a spray bottle handy. To press wrinkles (depending on what I'm using the fabric for), I will use water or Mary Ellen's Best Press or Mahic Sizing (for a stiffer hold).

> I'm not sure if this is an Old Quilter's Tale in regards to pressing units. I was taught to press the units closed along the stitching first (to set the seams) and then open the joined pieces and press the right side. It seems to work for me.

> When pressing paper-pieced units, I use a fat quarter of muslin to protect my ironing board cover (prevents the transfer of ink to my board). I'll also use it on top of the blocks if I'm pressing the back sides of the blocks (to prevent transfer of ink the the iron).

> If I do get ink or adhesive on my iron, I rip off a square of kitchen wax paper and iron it. The gunk transfers to the wax paper and polishes my iron plate.

> Finally (I just read this today - Reader's Digest, I think - and have yet to try it), here's a trick when pressing really wrinkly bits of fabric. Tear off a length of tin foil and place it under your ironing board cover. As you press, it will heat the tin foil and your fabric will be treated to heat from both sides.

Hope this helps. Now, back to my 80+ units! If you want to see a really cool idea for a traveling board, visit my post here:

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Present to Myself

A new rotary cutter!

When I started quilting, I was a Fiskars girl. When that finally fell apart, I saw an ergonomic Olfa and crossed to that side of the aisle.

Today, with my 50% off JoAnn's coupon, I went shopping for a new cutter as the Spring on my old one wore out (the blade now cuts wobbly). I saw this new Fiskars on display so I decided to give it a try.

I'll let you know how it works out!

No Thumbs

work with new employees and many are visiting this week. One brought me Virginia chocolates and another a Maryland crab. Woot!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday Quilt Time!

It's that time of year when I must decide which holiday/Winter quilts to put out. I only have room for a 1/3rd of them and I still haven't extracted the beautiful ones my dear friend, Lisa, has made me over the years!

Why is it so hard to take good pictures of quilts? Believe it or not, all of these have 90° corners!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Noel Night - Detroit 2013

We had the most awesome night this past Saturday.  It was the 41st annual Noel Night in Detroit!  Normally, we don’t get a chance to attend as it coincides with several December birthdays, but luck was with us this year!

Steve and I parted at the WSU parking garage (only $6!).  Even though it was a bitterly cold night, we were dressed for outdoors so we skipped the shuttle buses and walked to the Cultural Center (geocaching to and from the garage!).

What an amazing experience!  The All City Marching band roamed the WSU campus, giving impromptu performances.  Everyone dressed up in holiday wear and costumes.  The roads were blocked off around the Detroit Public Library and the Detroit Science Center, giving it a huge block party feel!

After passing a petting zoo and coffee vendors, Steve and I ducked into the Cathedral Church of St. Paul for a totally fascinating history of the cathedral (and weird cathedral trivia, in general).  The Cathedral is STUNNING!  The altar is made of tiles from Pewabic Pottery.  There were reproduction tapestries on the walls – the reproductions were made in the 1500’s.  Fascinating sculptures and ceiling tiles.

After the Cathedral, back out into the cold for kettle corn, roasted almods, hot dogs, hot cocoa, and music everywhere.  The venue stretched around 70 locations in the Cultural Center of Detroit – shops, musical performances, giveaways.  We went into the Detroit Public Library – after a tour of the oldest part of the library, we stopped to watch the teen drama performances downstairs and the teen line dancing upstairs. 

It was in one of the older rooms that we stopped to have our picture taken in front of the tree.

Wandering back outside, we stopped to appreciate the ice sculptures displayed under Rodin’s Thinker on the steps of the DIA.  It was such an amazing festive spirit – everyone from all walks of life having impromptu chats, enjoying the holiday lights and sounds.

We didn’t even make a dent in the venues, but there is always next year.  It was glorious seeing Detroit at its holiday finest!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Love That Good Timey-Wimey Thing!

I was stunned.

This weekend I SO wanted to buy tickets to the Dr Who 50th Anniversary special, but I just couldn’t justify it with the holidays so close.  And then, at work yesterday, they announced a drawing for 7 tickets for the 3D IMAX showing at the Livonia 20.  I WON!

I was stunned! And SO geeked!  I won 7 tickets but donated 3 back to the company for another person to win.

Unfortunately, Steve was unable to go, but I had a great time with his daughter, Brenna, and his niece, Lindsey.  They are die-hard Whovians, too!

We arrived early and were a little nervous because the ticket agent said SOLD OUT!  But they had the tickets waiting for us at the Guest Services.  There were people EVERYWHERE in costume including one dressed as a DALEK!  Everyone was geeked – Tardises, sonic screwdrivers, loooooonnggggg scarves.

Before the show, they had Dr Who trivia on the screen and afterwards they played a “making of” featurette.  And then the main attraction…. Oh my! I’ve been to 3D before, but this was the first time they did it right!  The effects were amazing – the Gallifrey battle scenes, the writing on the chalk board, the 3D Gallifrey paintings.  I sat there thinking that those at home missed a total experience. 

And let’s not forget the story itself.  David Tennant and Matt Smith are still cuties!  The third doctor was perfect.  The scenery and locations were stunning (like the sand in the dessert).  The constant references to other story lines, the laughing at themselves, the wink-and-nods, the cameos, the pain they shared… and to have the story-line arc into a new direction. 

LOVED the ending with the 13 doctors.  I’m so ready to see where this goes in the next 50 years.  It was a most excellent night.  I wish I had one of those timey-wimey things to re-live it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yearly Inventory

Well, it's getting to be that time of the year. Making Christmas gifts are winding down and the resolutions rear it's ugly head.

I've spent the last 2 years making Memorial quilts for others and am working on the last one now. Soon, I'll get back to my own work. And with this bitter winter settling in I should have plenty of time.

These are some of my "in progress" (not "unfinished") work. I'm always working on several projects simultaneously (because you can get a lot done @ 15 minutes a day!).

Each box contains fabric, patterns, my special design notes, special tools and/or copied instructions for special techniques. Each are setup where I can pick any box, any time and work a little more on the project.

I'm thrilled with the progress of my Texas log cabin. That's my I-have-15-minutes-and-need-some-mindless-chain-piecing project. As I work on other projects, I cut any leftover fabric into 1.25" strips. Then, when I have time, I sew them into 12" log cabins. I just checked - I have 20 completed blocks. Just 4 more to go to complete my center.

Happy stitching!

Ah, Fabric!

I found the fabric for the next stage of my butterfly metamorphoses!

Ah, Progress!

It's amazing how long it takes to trim 162 butterflies!

Happy Birthday, Little Sister! Part 2

Because I had so many pictures, I decided to break this post up into two.  So, after lunch...

From there we had to boogie to get to the Guardian Building on time.  Pure Detroit, a shop in the mezzanine, is sponsoring a series of free tours throughout 2013 in celebration of their 15 years in Detroit.  Lorna and I enjoyed the skyscraper tour, guided by urban planner, Michael Boettcher. 

Guardian Building - Mezzanine

Michigan Mural - poor lighting

Michael escorted a half-dozen of us out to Campus Martius, through the First National Building, into the Compuware Building, through Campus Martius, over to the Ford Building, the Penobscot Building, the Buhl Building, and then along Jefferson Avenue.  We finished our tour back in the Guardian, 2 hours later

Michigan Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in front of Compuware

Water Cascade at Compuware - water raining from above

Look up!

Compuware - external

Part of the tour group - Michael and Lorna in the middle

View of the ice rink in front of Detroit's Christmas tree.  According to Michael, this rink is larger than the one at Rockefeller Center.

Detroit's Christmas tree in front of the Guardian
Tree lighting is tomorrow

Close-up of Guardian Building

Guardian Building - Main Door

Ok, so why so many Indian motifs?  Most of these were built after World War I.  Up until then, the US's architecture style was greatly pilfered from the Europeans.  After the war (and all that killing of the Europeans) and after the discovery of King Tut's tomb, Egyptian and Native American motifs became the rage.  There are very few examples of the Egyptian style left in Detroit but many Native American examples.

Penobscot Building across the street

Inside the Penobscot

The Buhl Building

Relief on the Buhl Building

Michael told a really funny story here.  This statue is across the street from the 'Spirit of Detroit'.  After she was installed on Jefferson Avenue, some pranksters snuck out one night and painted green footsteps leading from Spirit to her!

 Giacomo Manz├╣'s Passo di Danza bronze sculpture

Back to the Guardian

Lorna checking her messages

Happy Birthday girl!

2 of only 6 remaining Tiffany clocks in the world

Tiffany Clock in the Guardian

Last pose before we leave

The 2nd Tiffany clock - seen from lobby

It was the most fascinating tour about Detroit history, architecture and current direction  AND IT WAS FREE!  I'm just bummed that we found out about this at the END OF THE YEAR and missed so many!  But we will try to go back before it's over. They also offer the Guardian Building tour and the Fischer Theater.

Just as we finished our hot chocolates at Rowland's in the Guardian Building, the rain started as we walked back to our car.  From there, we headed home for Lorna's birthday celebrations that night.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Little Sister!

Thursday was my sister's birthday, and, as tradition would have it, we spent the day together.... exploring!  

This year I was stumped - I knew where I wanted to take her for lunch, but her original request (Henry Ford's Fair Lane) was under renovation.  After pinging my friends, we ended up with a very awesome day!

Birthday Girl!

Our day started with a tour of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford house on Lakeshore Road.  Stunning! The house was designed by Albert Kahn and resembled a Cotswald Cottage (an ENORMOUS cottage!) Built in 1929, the house is a series of British libraries, French salons, Chinese art with Ming vases.  We saw 2,000 year old china roosters, art donated to the DIA, personal pictures scattered throughout the room, and contemporary rooms quietly incorporating features from some of their cars.

Main Entrance

I was personally fascinated by the mixture of Asian art with French pieces and British paneling. From such diverse cultures and periods and, yet, it all blended so flawlessly.  As we took the tour early, we had the tour guide all to ourselves.  It was fabulous timing as they just started decorating for the holidays. 

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

We were unable to take pictures inside the house, but we were given free range on the property.  We started at the Power House, walked along Lake Erie, over to the terraces, down to the pool and poolhouse.   

Lake Erie

Heading from the lake to the patio

External view of the French Salon used to receive guests

Close-up of the ivy

Back of the French salon leading to patio for dancing

West Wing of house

Turning away from the house we walked through the rose garden, the formal gardens, and around to Josephine's playhouse.  Josephine's playhouse was a 7th birthday gift from her grandmother, Clara Ford.  It cost Clara $15,000 to build, which was twice as much as it cost to build an average house at the time.

Josephine's Play House

Interesting story told by the tour guides.  The Fords knew the Lindberghs (who came from Detroit).  After the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped, security was tightened at the mansion.  The children's rooms were all interconnected to each other but the doors to the hall could all be locked by the governess.  For security reasons, Josephine could not sleep in her little playhouse.

We walked the grounds as crews were hanging millions of twinkling lights.  They offer candlelight tours and holiday grounds tours.  They also have a restaurant in the Visitor Center - it smelled SO good (they have French Dip!), but we had plans downtown.

Our next stop was an eatery on Woodward Avenue called Good Girls go to Paris Crepes.  We LOVE trying new Detroit restaurants, and so many of my friends recommended this place.  

Oh! So many choices!

It was packed - there were so many students today.  The place is the brainchild of a single lady - quite the character - who mans the griddle.  Lorna had the "Rose" and I had the "Jeanette".  We rounded off our meal with a crepe dessert called the "Katie".  I'm not kidding - I'm still craving that tart apple crepe with the salted-caramel topping.  

The Katie

To be continued.....