Friday, November 4, 2011
Yes, I've been away. I've been mass-busy. (Is that a word?) Totally. Maybe it's "mas busy", like Spanglish? Probably.
A week or so ago, I was considering hanging up the "closed" sign for my business because I wasn't getting any new calls, no new tops to work on, and no prospects on the horizon. I'm a member of three guilds, I've offered gift certificates as prizes, I've talked to a lot of people, but to little avail. Then, just when I swore I was done, I got six customers asking for work to be done. Six.
One of them is a lovely lady by the name of Violet. She gave me this top to work up for her daughter. She said I could pretty much do anything stipple-wise, and I asked if I could do something fun...she agreed. I was able to do more of my favorite swirly Dr. Seuss feathers, which echoed the design on the fabrics. The colors for this are much prettier than in this picture. There are purples, blues, olive green and yellow...it's really striking! It's also enormous! It was 108" square--that's 9 feet wide! My frame is only 10 feet wide, but the machine's needle doesn't reach the last 4" on either side, so it was almost the maximum I could have on the frame. The biggest I ever did was 114" wide, and I had to quilt most of it, then move it over and finish the last foot or so on the other side that I couldn't reach.
I also finally got one of the winners of the Christmas gift card to bring me a piece to work on. This is just a simple stipple around the mooses, zig-zagging in the border, and some fun stitching in the stars. I assume it might be a test-piece to see if I do good work before giving me something more valuable. It would be nice to have another customer on the regular roster.
Michele gave me three tablerunners to work on, too. The most urgent was this leafy tablerunner. I had fun filling in the background with holly leaves and quilting stems and veins onto the red leaves.
Two of them were identical--this is one of them, which she requested to have holly quilted on. The second one needs a backing fabric added to it. I went to buy a piece to put on the back, but I miscalculated how much I needed, so I need to go back and get something else. It's an odd color of green, so I only found one piece of fabric that matched well enough. Maybe I'll try to find yellow or red instead.
I also got a couple calls from people who are getting ready to bring me things--one is my sister's neighbor, another gave me some work a while back and she's got 7 antique quilt tops from her grandmother that she wants finished, and another gal who was given a personal reference from Sharon. I've got a few things underway!
In addition, I made a pair of costumes for the girls to dress up as St. Margaret Ward, the woman who was tortured and killed for helping a priest escape prison by using a rope she smuggled in to him (hence the rope in the picture). Those were posted in the previous post, so rather than duplicate efforts with the details, you can scroll down to see the pictures of the parts. Here's Miss O in her costume on Nov. 1st. Her dad was surprisingly impressed. He's known me for a dozen years and he's still surprised. And this isn't even my best effort--I didn't have time to add the lacing on the front of the doublet and it could have had all kinds of bling added, but I went simple. It is, after all, just a costume. She may be able to wear it next year, but if she doesn't, then we're not out a lot of money. The fabrics were things I pulled out of my stash. The floral was free from Omi's closet and I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but this was absolutely perfect! The greenish skirt was some broadcloth that I had sitting around and there was plenty to make two matching skirts for the girls, and may still have enough left over to make a tunic or two.
I needed to get it to her before Halloween, so we met up last Sunday to hand it over. We had lunch at a burger place about half-way between our houses (35 minutes north of me, and about the same south of her). The girls were really happy to see each other, and Cammie immediately changed into her skirt, a gift from Sharon, that matches Miss O's.
Earlier that day, Cammie had a soccer game and I snapped this picture with my phone. It takes some good pictures sometimes...and she's very photogenic. :)
I made costumes for myself and Kelly--I decided we should be dressed as Brett Maverick and Mrs. Annabelle Bransford. I actually wanted to do this last year, but ran out of time, energy, momentum, etc. I got patterns for the vest and dress from the local fabric store, but had a lot of trouble finding *just* the right fabric for the vest. I wanted to get something heavier than quilt-weight cotton; something more like upholstery weight, twill, denim, or something similar. I didn't like the colors (or price) of the upholstery stuff, the twill was all plain (yawn), and other fabrics just didn't seem right. After searching for more than half an hour, I finally wandered over to the quilt fabrics and found this Civil War reproduction, which worked just perfectly. I was concerned about the weight of the fabric, but after I lined it with muslin, it worked just fine. Not wanting to take all the time to make the vest and find it doesn't fit or won't button properly over the girth, I sewed the front up (didn't get around to putting the buttons on) and left it open on the side, so it ties under the arms. Then I went out and got some additional pieces for Kelly--a simple shirt (didn't have time to make him a lucky shirt) and tweed pants from a second-hand store. The pants were NEW with tags on them still. The shirt was not new, but it still looked new. Add a little ribbon from the ribbon box, and a creative shave, and presto! He's back in the mid-19th century. In all, I think I spent about $25 for his costume.
Mine was made with a cranberry taffeta and some little trim. I originally was going to make a saloon girl/burlesque costume, but I decided to go a little more conservative. I can always shorten it and add more fringe and fancy dancy stuff later, but for the school party, I decided to go less racy. The vest and skirt are separate, and I was sewing the costume until just minutes before we left for the carnival. Had I given myself a few extra days, I would have made a bustle for the back and an underdress. I did make bloomers and a petticoat, but had some trouble with lacing it up the back. Mostly because I didn't have time to sew lots of hooks and eyes, didn't have a zipper, and really didn't want to add velcro...I'll have to make a few adjustments and maybe I can wear it again next year.
Ben chose to be Zorro. I gave him a costume catalog that had come in the mail and said to look through it and decide what he wanted to be. This was what he picked out. I was able to find the costume online cheaper--minus the hat and sword. Those I found at a costume shop a couple weeks ago for *really* cheap. I think the sword was $1.50.
The kids also spent some time disemboweling gourds. I helped cut the lids out, then allowed them to pull the guts out, placing all the seeds into one bowl and all the slime into the another. I then washed and baked the seeds as part of Ben's pumpkin project for school. Cammie chose to carve a cat in the moonlight from the pumpkin carving kit that we bought a few years ago. The difficulty with these paper kits is that they suggest that you tape the pattern onto the pumpkin. Tape doesn't stick to pumpkins...did you know? Especially wet, slimy pumpkins. We were able to get the pattern transferred on there and she used the mini saw to cut out the cat (rather than the moon).
Ben chose a more unique design--Jack from Nightmare before Christmas. I had to free-hand it since there was no pattern for it in the kit. It turned out rather well, I think. We placed them on the porch and things went well until the day after Halloween, when we found Jack Splat in our driveway. Really, he was more Humpty Dumpty--cracked in a few places, not scrambled pumpkin in the road. A couple days later, the cat-in-moonlight pumpkin suffered a similar fate. Both of these hallowed out gourds will end up in the compost bin by tomorrow.
The Annual Sugar Beggary Festival went swimmingly, as usual. Each kid collected around 6 pounds of candy. Emma and a few teens toured the neighborhood together with their mom, while I went around with Cammie, Ben, Miss J. and her sister, Miss S. and their mom, my girl scout co-leader.
It was a cool but dry night and we all had a great time. I hear from several other friends that Halloween in their neighborhoods is a bust. Sad to see such a fun tradition dying, but it is alive and well here!