Update – Starch Your $$$$

Last post was about homemade fabric finish for pressing…starch. Quilters Moonshine 2

Just want to add that I am into my second bottle of “Quilter’s Moonshine” and it is going well. NO stickiness on fabrics or the iron! NO smell! NO problems!

20170801_102551

I DID, however, go back and add more starch than the recipe calls for. I poured it all back together and added about 2 more tablespoons of starch. I think this is about preference. I suggest you start with the recipe, as is, and go from there.

Some of the things I have been pressing recently:

Back to my sewing…and pressing…for now!

 

 

Feeling Frugal…Starch your $$$$

Ha! Gotcha’ didn’t I? I could call it STRETCH your dollars, but this was more fun!

Well, if you are a quilter…or love to iron things to a nice crisp finish…I am blogging about something I have been wanting to try for a long time.

Everyone…I mean EVERYONE knows how nice Mary Ellen’s Best Press is! I love it too!

best press

We all also know there is a plethora of info on Pinterest. Some time ago I saved this post about “Quilter’s Moonshine”  and finally tried it this morning. Maybe because I used my last spritz of Best Press and didn’t have a backup!! Woe is me!

The recipe calls for starting with a gallon of distilled water, but I wanted to test it out first so cut the recipe down, using only 1/4 of the ingredients.

Quilters Moonshine Ingreds The very expensive ingredients…NOT…use the cheapest vodka you can find.

Quilters Moonshine recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used 4 cups distilled water (I actually used filtered water), 1/8 cup (2T) starch, and 1/4 cup vodka.

 

 

The result is a little on the cloudy looking side…

 

 

So, I put it to the test. No sticky residue on fabric or iron. The finish is a bit softer than Best Press, but that would only mean adding a bit more starch to your recipe for your personal preference.

Quilters Moonshine 2

Just look how much it makes. If you are frugal and want to give this a try, I am thinking you will not be unhappy with the result. I pay $9.95 (if not on sale) for one bottle of the great Best Press. I am NOT knocking it AT ALL! This concoction, which I do not plan to drink, by the way, was just a few cents for this batch!

Happy Quilting…Happy Pressing!

I will post if I have any further results to share.

Don’t Jump Ship, Change the Course — Sincerity, Sarcasm, and Stuff

I sometimes share the posts of this guy. He is a great writer and a deep thinker (which comes first,you may ask?) oh, and he is also my son!

In light of the current events, I find this post still inspiring. I, too, was not happy with the outcome of the election, but chose to stay fairly quiet (I Hate controvesy), but at what point do we stop being quiet? I will never be a rebel rouser, and I will likely remain mostly quiet, doing my thing where I can, but this climate thing has put me a bit closer to the edge. If our national government can’t/won’t step up, then it becomes vitally important that the local, “grass-roots”, movements step up.

I’m probably overreacting. It’s probably no big deal. This too shall certainly pass. Still, I’m genuinely concerned about the direction our country is heading. What direction, you ask? Increasing violence? Decreasing human rights? Social security running out? Healthcare in limbo? The economy? The threat of terrorism? These are all extremely valid concerns, but I’m most […]

via Don’t Jump Ship, Change the Course — Sincerity, Sarcasm, and Stuff

Home Feels Welcome!

Flowers from IsraelFlowers from Israel…© Valorie Webster

We have just returned (very exhausted from the travel) after spending nearly a month in Israel and Greece. I looked through over 1000 images to find one to depict my feelings this morning. I decided on these flowers.

It takes me a while to sort through all the feelings I have after these trips, but today I want to say that I am grateful. We have so much in our country…some more than others, as in every country. Our worst days pale in comparison, however, to people who have lived their entire lives with religious wars, homes lost, all retirement funds stripped away and more. Yet, they continue…most with relative happiness.

If I write more blogs regarding this trip, there will be mixed emotions and differing opinions than you may have. That is okay. What I know, for myself, is that world travel points out all our differences…AND all our similarities.

Flowers seem to find a way to bloom everywhere! May we be at peace!

Birthdays and Holes

Valorie and Daddy                                                           My daddy and me…1953.

Ninety-three is a ripe old age, but he didn’t make it. He died in 2003 at age seventy-nine, but I think he would say he lived life his way and as well as he could. Can one wish for more?

My father would be celebrating ninety-three years of life today. I miss him. He was many things, but always “daddy” to me. It seems that people either loved him or hated him. It also seems that he felt the same about most people. Does that make him any different than most of us?

I really want to tell his story, but it is like Swiss cheese, or a bucket full of holes, or a cake that I didn’t remember to burst the air out of before baking (this was his favorite kind of cake, heavy, and he taught me to drop the pans flat on the counter so the air bubbles would rise and burst!)…his story all falls to pieces, or just doesn’t fit together in the first place. As it turns out, those holes existed in his heart, and he died with them.

It would be his story to tell, but for the most part, he never did. Yes, we heard some stories…good, bad, and ugly…from his childhood on through his life, but it seems he kept some things secret and it actually has created some holes in my heart now! Those places in my heart are not so much about what he told or didn’t tell, what he did or didn’t do, but about the pain he held inside and how much freer he might have been. If he had shared more, how much would he have been judged? I doubt more than he was judged by some anyway. I know that what I have learned has only made me understand him better. It confirms my feeling that secrets only hurt, sooner or later.

When Harold Watson Smith was born on April 4, 1924 (or so says his birth certificate, though that is another story), he began a life in the hills of West Virginia, outside Charleston. He was the 10th child I have been able to document, with two more brothers to come along after him. He said there were more. I began work on a family tree in 2002 and he was very clear that he didn’t want me to search his line. Being so much like him, he had to have known that to say those words was like throwing a bone for a dog. I would be off on the search. Yes, being stubborn is genetic.

I lived across the country and would continue to call and talk and ask questions. He began to open up, bit by bit, and told me some things. One big item being that he never knew who his father was and that had left a “huge hole in his heart”. I will always remember him telling me that. At any rate, he finally agreed to tell me all he knew when we could sit down together, face to face, and talk. Unfortunately, not too long thereafter, he had a massive heart attack and died. I did get to his bedside before he passed, but was certainly not going to talk genealogy then. He was not able to say much at that point anyway.

So began my journey into his history. I was going to fill that gap that existed for him. I was on a mission, indeed. My mom’s line would have to wait, as I knew those folks already and had some sources for searching. Daddy’s story needed to be discovered. After years of research, and two trips to West Virginia with my sister and brother, I can say I have learned more. And yes, I have found some darkness. It exists in all families, by the way. Now what I wonder is if it is right for me to tell his story. I have shared my suspicions with many. I have had some confirmations and been left with more holes in other places. Personally, as mentioned, I find the information revealing and interesting. But, is it my story to tell? I am ruminating on that. It is part of my heritage, but he didn’t want some things told. He just didn’t tell me what those things were.

So, today, I will say Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you, I always did, and I miss you.

More of this story to come…sometime…perhaps.

Are You There Yet?

light-in-heart-rumi(Image from the Internet)

Fred the Needle (aka Susanna Di Milo) posted a great and thought-provoking article on her blog last week.

Finding Your Passion…

https://fredthethread.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/finding-your-passion-you-actually-dont-have-to-find-it-it-will-seek-you-out/

If you read it, which I recommend, you will be certain to think about what you believe on the subject of finding your passion. Thank you for this, Susanna. I commented on the post and she asked me when I was a child, what did I want to be when I grew up. Interesting to remember that. I wanted to be a mom. I was very lucky to get to be that and honestly, it was probably my favorite job ever!

After that, I would say that I chose happy and have often said that the search for happiness led me down a long and winding road of, yes, some happiness, but lots of struggles and heartache too. It comes down to being all about choices and one choice might be to let everything be decided for you. I am not sure this is what Susanna means when she says your passion will seek you out. Or wait, maybe she does mean just that! I lived a long time just doing what came next…”one foot in front of the other” was my mantra, more or less. I think the Universe, or whatever you choose to call it…God, Spirit, Mother…may just know and keep directing us somehow.

Along the way though, you have to put yourself out there. You have to be open and try things and trust the guidance you are getting. You need to trust your own guidance too; your intuition, your gut. You will make some mistakes, most likely, but learn from them and get up to go again. It has been said that if you haven’t made some mistakes, you have not tried enough things.

In my lifetime, I have been a daughter, sister, mother, wife, aunt, friend, homemaker, sewist, photographer, writer, crafter, seeker, adventurer, lover, seller…gee, I have been blessed! And if I look back, I do believe something was guiding me. I am grateful. I am loved. I can finally say I am HAPPY!!! Happy is not about ego. Happy is not just about taking care of yourself. Happy means you can do much more for others. Happy means you can share light and joy in this world that really needs it.

How do you perceive the quest in your life for what you have been looking for? What has your greatest lesson been? Are you open to possibility? Do you have your blinders off so you can recognize the nudges you are getting?

a-year-from-now-karen-lamb(Image from the Internet and Karen Lamb)

 

Foundation Paper Piecing

 

20170209_084530-2 My favorite, so far!

As mentioned in my last post, quilting has become one of my very favorite pastimes. One of the new skills I have been working on is foundation paper piecing. It creates perfect points and is like working a puzzle (something else I like). Well, it is like working a puzzle only backwards!

There are many tutorials available online (linked here is a free tutorial from Craftsy), so I am not going to try to teach you anything new here, just give you a few pointers and hints from my growing experience.

  1. Start with a simple pattern! Getting the hang of when to place the pattern and fabric right side together or not is the first thing to understand. It requires that backward thinking at first…at least for me. Again, this link (Craftsy) is a very simple straight-forward and basic pattern. You can find lots of free patterns online too. Check out Pinterest.
  2. Selecting solid fabrics can help. In the beginning, selecting solid-colored fabrics will help, as it makes no difference about right side out or in. That said, you will still have to learn to deal with prints at some point, so perhaps mix in a couple of them in your early work.20170201_114708
  3. More on fabrics…be sure to use preshrunk cottons. If they shrink after the fact, or even as you press them, you will be very unhappy.
  4. Don’t try to scrimp on the fabric too much…especially when you are learning. I hate to waste and I am cheap, but it is very disappointing to find that you have stitched your seam and the fabric does not cover the area required. You will get better as you practice! Then you can try to save!
  5. About specialty fabrics and fussy cutting…this is fun and works on many paper-piecing patterns. However, be sure to THINK and rethink your plan and placement. I find that the first piece is the easiest to fussy cut. When you hold your pattern and fabric to the light, you will easily be able to see where your design will fall in that first section.  20170208_123210-2
  6. Learn to LOVE your seam ripper! That sounds intimidating, I know. I hate to rip out and would often prefer to start over, but you will very likely make some mistakes. I would hate to think that I am the only one!
  7. In order to avoid the seam ripper though, think before you stitch! You have heard “measure twice, cut once”…well, this calls for hold it up, look at it three times, fold it back to get a rough idea, think again, then sew.
  8. Speaking of sewing those seams…a tiny stitch is recommended so that the paper will be perforated well and tear off easily. I use a setting of 1.5 on my machine. That will vary with different machines, but that trusty seam ripper barely fits into those helpful tiny stitches. I have tried other longer stitch lengths and the smaller ones do tear off more easily. However, I suggest that you start out with a bit larger stitch in the early stages and go smaller as your confidence grows.
  9. More about the seams…most quilting directions do not encourage you to back stitch at the beginning and end of seams. This is just my opinion (and I don’t always do it), but if you secure the beginning and end of the seam with a fix stitch or even one back stitch, it can help when you tear off the paper. You see, the tearing process can cause some of your stitches to come out and when you are working with 1/4″ or scant 1/4″ seams, there is not much room for error. It also bears consideration about the possibility of ripping out…securing the ends of the seams can make that more difficult too. On more detailed patterns, some of the seams might only be about 1/2″, so if you lose any of those stitches, your seam is almost gone!
  10. More on seams…trim as you go. Where the layers build up the project can get quite thick, so carefully trim your seams to 1/4″, as you go. CAREFULLY! Again, this is backward thinking, so don’t cut off the part that will fold back to be the finished pattern! I have done it! That requires ripping out AND redoing!
  11. About the paper. I can’t tell you much here. Let’s face it, as I said, I am cheap, so I use printer paper. It IS thicker and does not tear as easily. You can purchase special papers for this at around $10 per pack of 25 sheets. I will probably do that the next time I can take advantage of a sale. Some quilters mention using freezer paper. The more detail in the pattern and the smaller the pieces, the more this matters.
  12. How to finish these items? I am getting a collection of paper-pieced goodies and have not decided what to do with them yet. They can be used in any way you would use fabric. They are typically quilted…think blocks, wall hangings, table runners, place mats, hot pads, mug rugs…the list is endless. If you are particularly crafty, you might use them to embellish bags, clothing, and more.

Finishing with some simple hand embroidery is also fun and adds interest.

Another saying that applies here is “slow and steady wins the race”! If you are considering trying foundation paper piecing, I do encourage you to give it a go. It is fun and once you get it, you may be just as hooked as I am!

Have you already tried it? What was your outcome?

(all images ©Valorie Webster; patterns not mine)