Finally. Another Frankenbag Finished

Tonight I finished the dark Frankenbag I’ve been working on for far too long. This is the first one I’ve made since May! The last one was made while I was at home with Covid.

I’ve made so many of these I think I could make one in my sleep. That would be a great way to get a lot more accomplished! I could do the stuff I don’t like doing while I’m sleeping!

Here’s the other side of the bag.

And I just LOVE that red spiral shells fabric for the lining and zipper placket. It’s so gorgeous!

Here’s some more photos with some detail.

Oh! Don’t forget the tag!

I remembered after I took these photos that I wanted to add some zipper pulls. So I whipped some up using the black faux leather strips I have.

The zipper pulls are a nice little detail.

I laughed as I was putting this together tonight at the point I had added the zipper plackets to the lining. I had a moment of panic because it felt like I had totally screwed it up! It gets me every time. And then I realize that it’s perfectly correct.

We have a few more hot days on tap. Today was another 100 degree day. Tomorrow will get up to 100 again. Sunday will be a lovely and cool 99 degrees. Then it will cool off to the low 80s and mid 70s for a few days. I’m looking forward to the cooler temps.

My poor dogs are so bored. They just don’t get enough activity when it’s this hot. We got a two-mile walk before work this morning and another two-mile walk at 10 o’clock tonight. And there were a lot of hours of inactivity in between.

I started out our walk tonight by heading to the park that’s a few blocks away from my house because it’s cooler there. It feels like the temps drop by at least five degrees when I hit the park. We were almost out of the park when I saw what I thought was a coyote about 50 yards in front of us. It ran in the opposite direction. I got a crazy chill up my neck and all over my face. And then I saw it again and it was closer this time! But my dogs didn’t seem to react to it. Then I realized it was a yellow lab and not a coyote at all! Yellow labs are not nearly as scary in the dark as coyotes. I finally saw the person standing out on the grass with the dog. Phew!

Bender and Rico didn’t think this was exciting at all.

A Quick Thursday Post

It was another hot day here… nearly 100. I got up early and took the dogs for a walk before work. I cleaned and refilled the dogs’ wading pool this afternoon. They appreciated the effort.

We waited until almost 9 pm to start our walk this evening. And it was still about 84 degrees at that time, but it felt hotter.

We only walked a little over two miles because we were all hot. It felt so good to get back in the air conditioned house.

The black zippers I ordered arrived today (holy cow that was fast!) so once we got home from our walk I hit my sewing room and got a little bit done on the black Frankenbag I’m working on.

I got the slip pocket made and sewn onto the lining. I got the opening for the zipper pocket made in the other side of the lining. And I got the zipper placket made… well, almost.

Once I got to the point where I put my zipper foot on my machine, I started getting tangles on the bottom of my work.

I tried for 10 minutes to figure out what the issue was and didn’t get it solved. I was too tired to keep working at it.

Here’s what I got done.

I got one side of the zipper placket sewn before my machine went haywire.

I just love these pieces as they’re assembled, especially when they’re made from such a gorgeous piece of fabric!

And I just LOVE the detail on these zipper pockets. I can’t believe I was so afraid of making these for so long! I think I could make them in my sleep now!

I’d be happier, however, if I had been able to finish the stitching.

And… I’m glad I ordered black zippers. A white or off white zipper in this bag would have looked pretty awful.

Here’s the pieces in progress.

Fingers crossed my machine will be working correctly tomorrow night… but I’m guessing it won’t be.

Forced Stop to Hexi Mania

I had thought that all the hand sewing I’ve been doing on my English paper pieced hexis would bother my hands. Nope.

My hands are fine. My shoulder is not.

About a week ago I was feeling an occasional twinge of pain in my right shoulder. Today I woke up and it was quite sore. I’ve been icing it all day and taking Advil. It doesn’t feel much better tonight.

Ironically, two days ago I changed how I was stitching the hexis together after watching a Tula Pink tutorial on how she does it. I really like her method and found it a lot easier to take small and consistent bites of the fabrics in my stitches. Tula said she likes her method because it’s ergonomically better. I’m guessing it’s just a coincidence that I started feeling the pain today. I sort of had a feeling it was coming.

So I’ll be off hexis for a while until my shoulder feels better. And when I can get back to them I’ll have to pace myself. So it’s either good timing or bad. It’s bad timing because I had an idea for what to do with the hexis today. It’s bad timing because I won’t be able to execute it any time soon. The good news is that it won’t take a ton of hexis.

Here’s the two that I was able to finish yesterday. They might be my last for a while. I’m up to 17 of the little units made so far.

My stitches look so much better with Tula’s method!

Here’s my idea for these beauties. It combines half string and half plain blocks. Strings would be sewn onto half of a solid color 10 inch square. Hexis would be appliqued on the solid squares that are formed when the blocks come together. I have an idea for how to pull this off. I’ll share more about that if I ever get to the point where I actually execute it.

Here’s the idea with one block outlined in red.

Wow! That’s a rough drawing! There’s a reason I don’t do drawing in my spare time!

Since I’m off hexis I actually hit my sewing room tonight to work on the black KFC Frankenbag I started a few weeks ago. I got the lining, pockets and zipper placket cut and got the interfacing fused on.

OMG! That shell fabric is so amazing!

I stopped at this point because I decided this bag needs black zippers and I don’t have any black metal zippers on hand. So I’m going to put this on hold until they are delivered. I will order them tonight. Details like that are very important to me.

I should calculate how many of these little squares I’ve cut out. I’m thinking it’s somewhere around 400!

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a tune up kit for the Featherweight my friend gave me. It arrived last week. So now I need to set some time aside to dig into that and get that little machine ready to start using. the kit comes with a big maintenance manual with everythign you need to know about keeping your Featherweight in good operating condition, it include an LED light bulb, a new belt, oil, oil dispenser, and a bunch of other stuff. The Featherweights were designed to be easy to maintain. So I’m hoping it will be easy to get her ready to go.

I also ordered some bobbins and a quarter inch foot so I can easily keep my 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Our heat wave is continuing. It was almost 100 again today. I had an early meeting so wasn’t able to take the dogs for a walk before work. We did get out for early morning walks on Monday and Tuesday. We got a two mile walk in after it got dark tonight.

We walked last night at 10 pm and it was still really hot. I guess it’s good news that it’s a little cooler tonight. A few more days and then we’ll get some cooler weather.

All this heat means that my boys aren’t getting the daily activity they’re accustomed to. And they are booooooored.

It’s too hot to even toss the toy for them in the back yard. It’s very sad.

I went to Costco last night to stock up on some stuff I needed and found this great dog bed. Bender was on it the second I got it out of the package.

And later in the evening… audible snoring!

I took a minute this afternoon to walk out and check on my apple tree. The apples that I DO have are damned big!!!

There just doesn’t appear to be very many of them. I can’t see more than a few dozen. I usually dry most of the apples this tree produces and I do manage to make a few batches of apple sauce for the freezer if I have enough. With what I can see on this tree I doubt I’ll get more than four or five dehydrators full. It will be another week or two before these are ready to pick.

A Weekend of Sheep and Not Much Else

I spent all day Saturday and Sunday at a sheep herding clinic (seminar) down in Molalla, Oregon. That was the main event of my weekend.

When I got there Saturday morning at 9 am it was cloudy and there was a light mist falling. The pastures were wet and it was cool. I was not anticipating that weather at all and was really happy that I had left a light rain coat and my rubber herding boots in my car. I was quite a sight in my capris pants and knee-high muddy boots! Amazingly, everyone at the clinic was dressed about the same! It did eventually clear up and was a gorgeous day. I was happy to be in the glorious outdoors with dogs and sheep.

When it wasn’t my turn to work Rico at the clinic I kept my hands busy thread basting my hexis.

That’s only some of what I got basted on Saturday. I managed to get almost 120 of them thread basted over the two days of the clinic.

I managed to get three sets of hexis sewn together over the weekend and I have to say… it’s much easier to sew together the ones that have been thread basted. So count me as a convert to thread basting!

It seems odd to see the threads on the front of these sets.

I’m glad I had the hexis to count as accomplishments because the clinic was a bit of a bust. You always take a chance when you pay for a clinic and this one just didn’t pay off. Rico did some nice work on Saturday but I can’t say that I learned anything that I hadn’t already learned from my existing trainers. Sunday, Rico was really fired up and sort of lost his head. It was a bit of a mess. We were both spent by the end of the weekend.

I did manage to get the boys out for a forest walk before we headed home on Saturday and we all needed it.

Nothing like being out in the woods all by ourselves to rejuvenate! And we had the obligatory posing session.

The wild flowers that we saw on our last walk here were all gone and there was a new collection. I don’t know what this little purple bloom is but they were everywhere.

And thistles. Amazing how something so pretty can be so nasty.

And look at this gorgeous little columbine. This was the only one of these that I saw.

And this light and airy bloom hanging from a small bushy tree.

I was really happy to see the berries coming on. I didn’t eat any because I wasn’t positive what they were. These were both very low to the ground. They just might have been peed on.

And this… I can’t tell you how happy THIS makes me…

A few more days and I’ll be eating home grown tomatoes!

I got up early this morning to take the dogs for a walk before work and before it got too hot. I took them for their evening walk at 8:30. It almost hit 100 degrees here today. We’ve got a hot week on tap. I’m planning on getting to bed early tonight… well, early for me… so we can get another early walk before work tomorrow.

I’m going to stitch on some hexis as I wait for my Advil PM to kick in.

Switching Up My Hexagons

I’ve been struggling with sewing my hexagons together. It can be really hard to catch just a few threads without catching the paper inside. I think it’s because I’ve pulled that fabric really tight while glue basting and there’s no slack on the edges.

That tightness keeps everything nicely in place, but it’s making it hard to get a nice line of stitching and it’s a lot of work to grab the right amount of fabric in the right place while stitching.

I decided that I wanted to try thread basting my hexis. So after work tonight I hit my sewing room, dug out my scraps and started cutting fabric hexagons. And I discovered that I can easily cut several hexis at the same time. That saves a ton of time.

The last time I was cutting hexagons I was having trouble with the paper template slipping as I moved the fabric to cut the six sides. So I tried a quick shot of basting spray on one side to help the paper stick to the fabric and it works really well! It peels off easily and doesn’t seem to leave any residue behind.

It actually took me longer to pull the scraps for these hexagons than it did to get them all cut. And I ended up with quite a pile! There are about 150 hexagons in that pile.

Rico and I have a sheep herding seminar this weekend so I thought it would be a good idea to take some of these hexagons with me and I can hand baste them as I’m sitting around while others are working their dogs. I wanted to baste some of these tonight so I wouldn’t be trying to figure it out tomorrow where I won’t have access to the video tutorials I’ve looked at.

I’m a bit surprised by this but I think I actually prefer the thread basting to the glue basting. The test will be when I start sewing these new hexagons together. But look how cool this is!

I whipped up a stack of 30 in no time as I watched a little TV before bed.

I had a two-hour meeting this morning so made sure I had some of my glue basted hexagons at hand to keep my hands busy during the meeting. I finished one hexi flower…

That fabric in the center is Kaffe’s Plink in the white color way. I have never owned any of this fabric. I got this piece in a package of scraps sent to me by Wanda at the Exuberant Color blog. I just love this fabric. It’s been out of print for a number of years and the fact that I can’t get any for myself makes me very sad. I have dreams that some day I’ll find some of it in an out of the way store and I will buy the entire bolt!

And in that two hour meeting I nearly finished the second set of hexis.

If the meeting hadn’t ended 15 minutes early I would have finished this one too.

The weather was gorgeous today and will be about 80 for a high Saturday and Sunday. So perfect weather for being outside all weekend. Then the temps will start climbing.

It’s gonna be a hot week! I’m gonna have some stir-crazy dogs on my hands.

Photos are Hard, and More Hexis

I pulled out the quilt I’m going to give to my friend this evening and tried to get some photos that are more representative of what the quilt looks like. And I must say, I’ve never had a quilt that’s harder to photograph than this one. I still didn’t get any good photos, but I got a few that show a little better what it actually looks like.

I took that photo on my patio after the sun went down. It’s usually a good time to take photos of quilts outdoors.

Here’s a couple photos that show the softness and feel of this quilt well.

And a few more because I like looking at it. The darker ones at the top were taken inside. They aren’t as true. The last five photos were taken outside and are showing this quilt pretty well.

Maybe I’ve gotten the best photos I’m going to get of this quilt before it leaves my house.

I had a day at work today that was mostly meeting free so I spent the day catching up on email, worked on a few small projects, and watched a couple of webinar recordings that I needed to watch. So I was able to work on some hexis as I watched. I also sewed another set together after our walk tonight.

That brings my total up to eleven.

They make a nice little stack.

There is a house along one of our evening walk routes that has these flowers all over the place.

I had some of these in my garden in Utah. I can’t for the life of me remember the name… except that as I was typing that, I think it came to me. Liatris. And I just did a Google search on that and it’s right! I’ve been trying to think of that for three hours!

Time to get some ice on my shoulder. Signing off.

A Gorgeous Day and a Little Productivity

We’ve had a really wonderful summer here in Portland and today was a standout day. It was sunny and a perfect high temp of about 75. It was 70 degrees at 1:00 in the afternoon. I had my sliding glass door open all morning as I worked.

I changed the sheets on my bed yesterday and decided to take off all the blankets and only use two top sheets. It was so cool last night that I was cold all night! I woke up several times thinking I should get up and get a blanket. But I chose to shiver instead! It was really nice to sleep in a cool room.

I was thinking this evening about my friend who lost her husband suddenly last week and I decided something. I’m going to give her a quilt that I’ve had completed for a couple years. Here’s a post about that finished quilt. The photos in that post don’t do this quilt justice. I’m going to try to get a better photo tomorrow night. It looks really harsh in the photos. It’s actually softer in person.

This photo gives you a better idea of what it actually looks like.

I have something different to share from our walk tonight. We were about 1.25 miles into our 3.5 mile walk when I happened to look down and see this Stellar’s Jay feather on the street.

This photo gives you a good idea of how small it is.

I just love Stellar’s Jays. Look at this amazing cobalt color darkening up to the crest. GAH!!!

After our walk I hit my sewing room and managed to get the panels I quilted last night sewn into the outer body. These fabrics are pretty striking.

This bag has two sides. Amazing.

It didn’t take very long to get that sewn together so I decided to sit down with a set of hexis and sew together another flower. I changed my method yet again.

Kathy Whitmore commented on one of my blog posts the other day and suggested that I sew the hexis together in three segments. Then sew those three segments together.

It’s so funny because I had actually been thinking about how to sew these sets together in a more efficient and quick way. And Kathy confirmed what I had been thinking.

So I sewed this set together tonight and it worked really well. It meant that I didn’t have to tie off thread as often. It gave me longer seams to complete and I’m happy to thread the needle as little as possible.

I also decided to go back to sewing the pieces together with a whip stitch rather than the ladder stitch I’ve been using. And I’m really pleased with how this hexi flower turned out. It’s probably the best overall stitching of all the hexi sets I’ve sewn together.

And I love that it all went together really quickly. I love finding more efficient ways to do things.

We have a few hot days coming up, but overall this is a pretty good forecast. We’re lucky that we haven’t been suffering with the same heat as others have.

Rico was very disappointed that it took me so long to get going on our evening walk after leashing him up.

The Weekend’s Over…

It’s Sunday night and the weekend is over. Why do weekends go so fast but week days can drag on and on?

Yesterday morning I took Rico for his herding lesson and he was brilliant as ever. Then I met a friend at a local fabric store so I could pick up a piece of fabric that a friend wanted me to get for her.

After that I decided to take the boys for a run in the field that has the creek running along it. I almost drove right home but decided since we were already up in the area we should just drop by before we hit the road . They had a blast running and running and diving into the creek to cool off.

Look at that amazing sky!

I really have no idea what I did with the rest of my day. I did take the boys for a walk in the evening and then went grocery shopping at around 8:30 pm. There are a lot of hours in there that are unaccounted for.

This morning I got up and went to play pickleball. It was a great way to start the day and the weather was perfect! When I got home I took a half hour and laid down on the sofa with ice in my shoulder. Then I got a little busy. I changed the sheets on my bed and in the guest room and washed both sets of sheets. Then I did an additional three loads of laundry and folded it all.

It was so cool after dinner tonight that I opened the sliding glass door and bedroom windows to get a lovely breeze going through. We also took our evening stroll and it was so gorgeous! I’m really loving the mild summer we’re having.

Once I got home I iced my shoulder again and then hit my sewing room and quilted the panels for the dark bag I’ve been working on.

I decided that I had better get this bag done during my creative funk or it could sit there for months!

I almost always use a light gray thread for quilting bright colorful fabrics. But I decided that black thread would look better on this. I like the way the quilting shows up on the lighter fabrics.

I’m sure I’ll work on this bag again before the week is out.

My walks around the neighborhood are showing me a lot of varieties of lilies right now. This one must have been almost six inches across!

They’re just gorgeous.

The hydrangeas are also in bloom right now. I ran across this beauty this afternoon. Look at all this gorgeous color! Those little turquoise centers just kill me!

I think this next one is also a variety of hydrangea. But I’ve been wrong before.

Here’s two more very small hydrangeas. These aren’t even up to my knees!

And I’m always amazed to see yucca in Portland. They seem like such a desert plant. They actually do really well here.

That’s probably taller than I am!

And look at this amazing thing.

I had to take a photo with my hand in it to show how big it is.

I’ll wind up the weekend with a couple of Frankenbags made by blog readers. This first one was made by Christy Pyles. She said she isn’t comfortable working with this kind of abstract piecing but was able to adjust and figure it out. I think she did a great job and I love the colors in this bag. And all those tiny squares are just so cool!

Last up tonight is this bag made by Lucy Byrd. I’ve posted a lot of photos of bags made by my blog readers and I have to day that this is a one-of-a-kind. All saturated colors against the black background… it almost feels like a hand woven wool rug. It’s just very cool! She made this using pieces left over from a quilt.

Here’s to a week that goes by quickly! I have a sheep herding seminar coming up next weekend.

Yup. I’m in a Dry Spell

I was thinking last night about my lack of motivation to hit my sewing room the last week or so and I realized that I’m in one of my creative dry spells.

I feel like I’m pretty aware of how I go through my creative life. I get interested in something and then jump in with both feet. I buy all the equipment and supplies I need and then I go crazy at it for some time, figuring out how to do it on my own, taking great satisfaction in seeing myself get better at it. It can be like heroin in this stage… I just can’t get enough. I think about it all the time. And then, one day, I might just be done with it and never have the motivation to do it again. And in fact never actually do it again.

My quilting and sewing seems to be different. While I definitely go through low and high tides in my creative drive, I always seem to come back to it with enthusiasm at some point in time.

So, what do I do about this dry spell? I’ve found in the past that these times are perfect for finishing projects that have been languishing too long. How convenient that I have a number of those sitting in my sewing room closet.

  1. I need to finish this jewel frames quilt that is for my new bed. All the blocks are done. All I have to do it sew them together and put on the borders. This quilt has been sitting in a box in this state for far too long.

2. This Japanese X & Plus quilt is for my guest room. I think I only need to make four or five more blocks to have this one ready to sew together. I know what’s stopping me… I got really tired of sewing all those squares onto corners. This quilt is going to be a little crazy, but I love it!

3. Here’s another one that’s been sitting for far too long — my second Ruffled Feathers Quilt. Every time I post this one I get people asking me for the pattern. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available. Well, at least it wasn’t the last time I checked. oS if you want the pattern, you might be out of luck.

4. And this aboriginal trip quilt… I barely even got started on this before it went back into the box. I think I actually only got five blocks done. I don’t know why I got bored with this one so quickly. This one is pretty chaotic, but I think it will calm down when I get more blocks done and a more definite pattern starts to emerge.

I also still need to make the backing for my KFC trip quilt. Maybe I’ll do that first and then finish the Jewel Frames top and get the borders put on. Then it will need a backing. It’s time to get that done and get some color in to my bedroom!

I had a work meeting yesterday that I found really frustrating. It bothered me all last night and I almost felt depressed about it today. I had a repeat of that meeting today and was sort of dreading it… worried that it would be another frustrating meeting. So to keep myself more peaceful and steady I made sure I had my English paper piecing ready to go. So I did hand-sewing through that meeting. I still participated like I did yesterday, but I felt so different. I was more relaxed. I felt physically and mentally calm. This is such a strong case for me to have handwork ready to go and pull it out during long meetings. Lesson learned.

During that meeting I almost finished one of the EPP flowers I’ve been making. And when I picked it back up after our walk tonight to finish it up, I promptly screwed it up! On the left is was I did. On the right is what I should have done. Damn it!

So I had to undo the seam attaching that Orange hexagon at the top. Damn it.

And then sewed it back together the correct way.

I’m trying to figure out a consistent way to sew these seven hexagons together each time that is efficient and easy. I’m pretty sure I do it differently every time. I’d love to find the best way, or have I already found it?

Here’s the finished block. I think this is number seven.

Saw a gorgeous patch of crocosmia on our walk this evening. It’s one of my favorite summer bloomers.

Those blooms are nearly chest high on me.

I was also very pleased today to see that my Rose of Sharon has one lovely bloom on it.

I swear that thing must have literally POPPED open! I looked at it yesterday and it was a small, tight bud that looked like it had days to go before it opened. And then today… BAM!

My Fridays at work are usually pretty quiet, meeting wise. For some reason my day tomorrow is packed with meetings, and I have a few key things I need to get done tomorrow too. Gonna be a wild day. I’m really looking forward to the weekend.

The husband of a friend of mine died suddenly today. She’s in shock. I can’t tell you how bad I feel for her. Please keep her in your thoughts and if you’re a person who prays, please mention her there too.

Send me some positive and creative energy to help get my creative juices flowing again!

Quick Post on a Hot Tuesday

It was hot again today, but not as hot as yesterday. Tomorrow will be cooler and the forecast for the next ten days looks like it will be in the high 70s to mid 80s. Looks like we’ll be able to grab an afternoon walk in the upcoming days. My boys will be happy.

After our walk tonight I had told myself that I would quilt the dark KFC Frankenbag panels I’ve been working on. But that just didn’t happen. With all this heat I felt a little worn out so I turned on the TV and stitched up another hexagon flower.

I think that makes six that I’ve made. It feels like a lot more! They do take a little time to sew up. I’m happy to say that this one is probably the best one I’ve made. My stitches are getting better, less visible and more consistent. And it’s getting easier to make it look nice. So that’s good. Maybe by the time I make 90 of these they will be perfect!

It cooled down really nice for our walk. We headed out at about 8:15 and it was so nice… it felt cool and there was a nice breeze. It always feels wonderful when it cools down nicely after it’s been hot. It’s supposed to get down to 56 tonight so I’m guessing I’ll have my slider open most of the morning while I work, which I love.

Our walk tonight had a theme of water.

There is a park that is about two miles into our regular three mile route. It has a human drinking fountain that has a dog drinking fountain attached at ground level. You push the button and the bowl fills up, and then slowly drains. My boys know it’s there. When we come down the path toward that park they start speeding up and head directly to that drinking fountain. And then they drink and drink and drink before we’re back on our way.

Then, about another half mile into our route, there is a house that keeps a fresh bowl of water at the base of their mail box.

Bender and Rico always express their thanks to these home owners.

Once we get home they take advantage of the large bowl of water I keep at the base of my mail box.

It’s amazing to me how much traffic this water bowl gets. It’s almost always down to about an inch of water by the time the day has gone by. I probably get to see at least a couple of dogs drinking out of it every day. They appear to be very appreciative of a nice drink.

It is also entirely possible that it’s used in the dark of night by coyotes, raccoons and squirrels. And I did see a crow perched on the side of it a few weeks ago.

And this guy, I would like to point out, would pose all day long on anything.

His lower dose of potassium bromide was delivered today from the compound pharmacy. So he had his first dinner with a smaller amount of the drug that’s making him wobbly. Fingers crossed that this decrease will bring him back a little closer to normal.

Oh, and I saw another bee balm plant on our walk. I had never noticed these before. They were so pretty with the daisies.

I’ll wrap up tonight with this obligatory photo of some cute dogs with flowers.