New Orleans House Project

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sleep & Sewing Deprived

I'm back from my job responsibilities at the state Emergency Operations Center.  Much happier to be in my own house and with my family, although we're likely to be without electricity for several days.  

Throughout the day today the storm's effects have been minimal.  We've had light rain and wind interspersed with sunshine.  My DH and son finished all the hurricane prep to the house while I was away, so now it's just a matter of waiting for the storm to pass.  Wind and rain are definitely picking up now, but our house is sturdy and built to withstand tropic storm winds.

I didn't have time to put together any type of sewing hand work before leaving for work yesterday.  It was torture to sit all night with nothing to do but check the storm's progress and watch the hands of the clock move ever so slowly.  Getting a hand sewing kit together is my biggest priority for the next 24 hours.  Hmm, should I set up some Just Takes Two blocks or some hexies?  Decisions, decisions!

Don't know when or if we will lose power, but I'll be doing my best to keep sewing through it all.  See you soon!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

Here we go again!  Tropical Storm Isaac (soon to be Hurricane Isaac) seems to be taking aim for the New Orleans area.  It's just a little disconcerting he is projected to make landfall along the Louisiana coast on almost the exact anniversary of Hurricane Katrina!  Fortunately, we are all better prepared and have better flood protection systems than were in place seven years ago.

On the other hand, in 24 hours this unpredictable bad boy may be heading for the Texas-Louisiana border.  Having lived most of my life in hurricane country, I know it's better to be prepared than pray for deliverance.  We spent most of the day preparing our camp for high water and high winds, then came home to New Orleans to prep for wind, rain and lack of electricity.  So far we are only instructed to shelter in place, but be prepared to evacuate.

The interesting twist on our preparations is related to my job. Without boring you with a lot of details, I'll just say I am part of my company's emergency operations team, and as such I have to work 12 hour shifts at the state Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge for the duration of the event.  I've never done this before, so it's all a new experience.  I plan to put together an emergency hand work kit before I leave for the EOC tomorrow, but I have no idea what I'll actually be doing for the next 48 or so hours.  I'll see you all on the flip side!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Aqua Granny Square Saturday

It was a sewing deficient week.  I had the fabrics for this week's Rainbow Scrap Challenge granny squares cut, but I did not get to sew them together until last night.  I still need to finish two more grannies, but that will have to wait until errands are finished this morning.

Have you seen Barbara Brackman's tutorial for a thread box/pincushion?  She set out to make a reproduction of campaign memorabilia from 1830.  Her inspiration came from a thread box with the image of Andrew Jackson (the hero of the Battle of New Orleans!) on top.  Her thread box commemorates the election of 2012 and features a reproduction fabric she designed at Spoonflower.  I'm going to try creating one of these in the next few days, although I think I will use one of my patriotic toile fabrics for the top.

I leave you with a picture of McKenzie as she "helped" me stitch down binding this morning.  She reminds you to go check out the other Rainbow Scrap Challenge ideas on display at Soscrappy's blog!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday WIP: Memory Quilt # 4

Starting in April I took a break from working on memory quilts - quilts for family members made from my late father's shirts.  Now that summer is nearly over, I thought I should return to the never-decreasing pile of shirts and try to get this project finished.

I've made 3 quilts so far, and have the fabric cut for number 4, but the pile of de-boned shirts doesn't seem to shrink!

I spent most of my Sunday afternoon slicing up strips for scrappy half-square triangles (using the Easy Angle ruler method).  Although the stash of shirts doesn't seem to dwindle overall, the amount of fabric available for "lights" is starting to run low.  I may have to supplement with shirts from the thrift store!

Quilt #4 will be very much like quilt #3:  center medallion of half-square triangles, with plain and zig-zag borders.  

I'm still trying to decide how to proceed with quilts 5 & 6.  They will be for my nieces, so I'm trying to come up with ideas that are a little more feminine.  I may have to incorporate more non-shirt fabric.  Feel free to offer ideas!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trade Card Tuesday: Howe Sewing Machines

When I began blogging last year, I planned to occasionally feature sewing machine trade cards from my collection.  Unfortunately, the trade card posts did not seem to attract many visitors, so I stopped creating new posts on that topic.  I do enjoy sharing cards from my collection though, so I've resolved to start posting cards again.  There's so much to appreciate about these antique cards:  illustrations, advertising techniques, subject matter, history.  I hope you will enjoy stepping back in time for a few moments to savor those things!

Howe Sewing Machine Company and Howe Machine Company

Although most history books credit Elias Howe with inventing the sewing machine, the story is a little more complicated.  Howe did invent and patent a machine that could sew pieces of fabric together, but his machine had serious limitations and by itself was never commercially successful.  He did however, hold the patents for many of the features that were necessary for successful sewing machines, and he eventually won recognition for his patents and became the second richest man in the world because of it.  If you're interested in the entire story, Wikipedia covers it here and Graham Forsdyke of the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society covers it here (Forsdyke's version is longer but more entertaining!).

The first sewing machines with the name Howe were manufactured by Elias' brother, Amasa, who started the Howe Sewing Machine Co. in 1854.  He paid licensing and royalty fees to his brother for the rights to use Elias' patented features, but the machines he manufactured and sold also used other features that actually made the machines function successfully.

Elias Howe eventually started a sewing machine business with his sons-in-law, the Stockwell Brothers (1865).  Their plant was known as the Howe Machine Co. and was located in Bridgeport, CT.  In 1873, the Howe Sewing Machine Co., was sold to the Howe Machine Co. and the business continued until 1886.

Elias Howe died in 1867, at which time the Stockwell Bros., added a brass medallion with Eilas' likeness to their sewing machines.  

This card doesn't show us much about the actual sewing machine, but all the Victorian frippery makes it interesting!

This card illustrates the iconic Howe sewing machine with the brass emblem of Elias Howe.  Again, lots of Victorian decor and fashion are featured.  The young lady in the light-colored dress is reading a booklet entitled "The Light Running High Arm New Howe G".

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grandmothers Choice Fabric

It has been a long weekend of running errands, taking care of puppies and trying to avoid getting soaked in frequent downpours.  On the plus side, I got new running shoes (for walking!), had a great dinner with my DH and sons and got lots of puppy kisses (my son is in town with his puppy, who is McKenzie's littermate).  Very little sewing time, but that's OK!

I have been contemplating my fabric choices for the Grandmother's Choice Quilt Block of the Week project that starts September 1st.  Although I love the thought of using William Morris-inspired fabrics, I don't currently have any in my stash, and Barbara Brackman's new collection won't be available until later this fall.  I didn't know if the LQS would have any Morris-type fabric, so I was definitely considering other options.  Then I remembered a fat quarter collection I had purchased earlier this year that just might fill the bill.

Alice's Washday Blues by Blue Hill Fabrics features blues, tans and creams accented with red.  Go check out the fabrics on the Blue Hill website - their photos do more justice to the collection than mine!

I think these fabrics are classic enough to have been found in almost any woman's scrap collection at the time American women won the right to vote.  I might need to add some fabrics with red background to give a little punch, but it will be easier to judge once Barbara starts publishing the block patterns.  And in case I start to run out of fabric before the project ends, I'm sure it will be fairly easy to find other appropriate fabrics in these colors - or even locate some additional Washday fabric using the magic of the internet!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scraps on Saturday

I'm still working through the aqua/teal/turquoise scraps - here are the 16-patch installments in the Rainbow Scrap series.  It was tough to come up with enough different 2 inch squares to make each block.  I was creative in some of my selections.

A few more 9 patches in this month's color.  I've got more white squares ready to go, but will need to wait for next month's color before I make any more of these leader-enders.

There are more rainbow scrap ideas over at Soscrappy's blog, so feel free to check those out as well!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quilting at the Camp

We were able to get away to our camp this weekend for what we call the 3 Rs:  Rest, Relax & Recharge.  Yesterday was rainy and overcast, but today the sky was blue and there was a nice breeze to temper the heat and humidity.  We took advantage of the great weather and took the dogs for an early morning boat ride.

I had the opportunity to get started on my next camp quilt project.  I like to keep separate projects at the camp so I'm not constantly hauling stuff to and fro.  This project has been in the hopper far too long and I'm excited to finally get started!

The quilt is called Paisley Parade and features Minick and Simpson's Prairie Paisley line of fabric for Moda.  Published in 2008, the quilt was designed by Laurie Simpson.  I snagged one of the last remaining quilt kits produced by Lake St. Mercantile Quilt Shop in conjunction with the pattern.

Paisley Parade pushes my buttons on several levels.  It's a center medallion quilt, with multiple borders featuring pieced designs.  It's in one of my favorite colorways:  red, white and blue.  And the biggest drool factor may be the paisley-themed fabric line.  I'm always a sucker for paisley!

The first border is made from half-square triangles.  It didn't take long to stitch up 28 of them using my trusty Singer Model 15 treadle

The completed HSTs ready to be joined together to form border #1.  The blue paisley fabric in the background is the center medallion.  Next week I should be able to finish borders 1 & 2 and start piecing border #3.  I'll be looking forward to it all week!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Aqua Scraps - Gray Skies

Here we are, back at the weekend, with very little weekday quilting to blog about.  My evening quilting activities have included sewing down binding, cutting aqua scraps and piecing the odd Rainbow Scrap Challenge block.  The weather has been extremely gloomy and rainy too, which has given me a good case of the rainy day blahs.

I did manage to finish 4 Greek square blocks for the challenge.  

Nine-patches are a Leader-Ender project, so I just slipped some aqua scraps into the stack.  

There's more aqua/teal/turquoise scrappiness going on at Soscrappy's blog, so do take a few minutes to see what has inspired others.  I think I'll go take a nap - maybe the sun will be out when I wake up!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Night Wrap Up

Random thoughts at the end of the week:

My day started at 5 AM when all the dogs decided it was time to get up.  Being kind to DH, I got up and took care of everyone's needs (we currently have 2 dogs, one puppy and one cat).  At that point, returning to sleep was out of the question, so I switched on the Olympics and finished the binding on the cow quilt.  It was kind of appropriate that I was watching the Women's Marathon as I finished stitching down the binding on that huge quilt!

Next on the agenda was assembling the binding for another quilt.  I have been making memory quilts from my father's shirts and two of them are sitting in the binding queue.  I didn't have big enough pieces of fabric to create continuous bias binding and I don't like cutting bias strips and sewing them together.  So, I (gasp!) just cut lengthwise strips and sewed them together for the binding.  The Quilt Police might be rolling over in their graves, but I'm not worried about it.  This quilt will be more decorative than utilitarian, so I don't think the binding is in danger of wearing out before the quilt.

My local longarm quilter Cindy Braiwick did the quilting on this one.  My dad was an amateur musician, and this quilt honors that memory.  You can read more about this quilt here - scroll down to the second featured quilt.

Connie and I enjoyed several email conversations about sewing on vintage Singer sewing machines this week.  That inspired me to put one of my favorite vintage machines in the sewing cabinet yesterday.  This is a Singer Model 201K.  The K indicates the machine was made in Great Britain (Scotland to be exact) and the serial number dates it to around 1957.  The Model 201 was considered Singer's finest sewing machine for many years.  I love sewing with it because it's so quiet!

I did one more setting variation with the Greek Square blocks from the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I think this may be my final choice.  I need to finish the aqua blocks in the top row, and add at least another set of 4 blocks on the left.  I'll use the off-white blocks as shown - making a few more to properly round out the setting.  That will leave side and end triangles;  I'm thinking of using Laura Gunn Painter's Canvas or Moda Grunge in a variety of white for these.  

And now to work on stitching down that newly made binding while I flip between the Olympics and the New Orleans Saints pre-season game.  I'm sharing with Kathy's hand stitching link-up - go check out all the slow stitching everyone else is enjoying this evening!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Playing with Greek Squares

I have been looking forward to playing with the color turquoise today.  It's the first Saturday of a new month, ushering in turquoise for everyone enjoying the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I don't have a shortage of turquoise scraps, but not all of them play together nicely!  

I decided to start with the Greek Square blocks, as they use at least four different fabrics and would present the biggest challenge.  I wasn't wrong in my assessment, and only put together two blocks that made me happy.  I guess I'll work on some of my other RSC blocks and return to the Greek Squares later.

Since my design wall was empty, I decided to throw the completed Greek Squares up there and see what type of layout might work for the final quilt.

A random layout - oops! - two pink square right next to each other.  This looks better in the photograph than it does in person.  I think this layout is too busy, although I'll keep an open mind until all the challenge colors are complete.

Color blocking diagonally - better, but still kind of busy.

I was trying to create a Streak o' Lightning effect here.  I'd have to make more blocks and figure out how to deal with the side and end triangles.  The off-white blocks would have to go in a different location, too!

My favorite setting so far.  Squares sewn into groups of 4 and set on the diagonal.  I'd still need to come up with side and corner triangles - maybe that would be a good way to use the off-white blocks.  I'm leaving this up on the design wall for a few days so I can think on it.

It's been a fun day of fabric play.  I'm looking forward to using turquoise in my other Rainbow Scrap blocks...and seeing what everyone else has been up to.  There's a link-up over at Soscrappy's blog so you can check it out too!  

Grandmothers Choice: Getting Ready!

Quilt history maven Barbara Brackman is planning another weekly quilt history blog featuring the fight for women's voting rights.  Each week a new quilt block will be posted, with historical notes on the block and the campaign for women's voting rights, as well as instructions for completing the block.  Called Grandmothers Choice, the quilt block entries will begin on September 1.

Barbara thoughtfully posted an entry this week to help quilters decide on a color scheme for their women's suffrage blocks.  All of her ideas are inspiring, and I'm having a hard time deciding on what colors I'd like to use for my blocks.  

I love the idea of purple, green and white - colors chosen by the English suffrage group Women's Social and Political Union.  

19th Amendment Victory Flag
The Americans chose gold with purple accents for their colors.  Apparently the fabric color we call cheddar would be in keeping with the gold color used at the time and the idea of a cheddar-themed quilt is also tempting!  

Another English suffrage group, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, chose red and white for their symbolic colors.  Red and white quilt?  Yes, please!

Barbara also notes that using William Morris-inspired fabrics would be historically correct.  She has created several Morris lines for Moda; the illustration above is from the upcoming line The Morris Apprentice.  This line is not available for purchase yet, but it probably wouldn't be hard to find Morris-type fabrics from previous Moda lines.

Interesting factoids learned while researching this entry:  Tennessee was the deciding state to ratify the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920.  Even though the law of the land, many states did not ratify the amendment until years later; Louisiana did not ratify until June 11, 1970!  Check out this 19th Amendment Timeline for your state's decision (scroll down).

The title of the new blog, Grandmothers Choice, also got me thinking about my own grandmothers and their participation in the women's voting movement.  My grandmothers were 11 and 13 years old when the 19th Amendment was ratified, so they didn't get to participate in voting in that historic 1920 election.  By the time they were old enough to vote, women's voting rights must have been much less novel.  I wonder what their memories of the whole process might have been?

Are you planning to participate in the Grandmother's Choice weekly block party?  Have you decided on a color scheme?  Were you surprised to see when your state ratified the 19th Amendment?