Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sewing Al Fresco

I spent the afternoon sewing  on the front porch.  Yep, that's a horse blanket.  Nope, that is not Belle.  She was having a snit fit and had to go for a time out.  Pinch-hitting was my 301.  Pretty massive repairs on two blankets.  Functional, yes.  Pretty, no.  


It was a great day to be outside, plus it probably meant the people driving by were wondering what I was up to!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

P.S.  I also updated the schedule on both the blog and on the website.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Counterfeit Needles UPDATE and a Sneak Peak

Greetings!  In my last post it may have appeared that I don't use Organ brand needles any more.  NOT TRUE!!!  I am just more cautious about where I buy.  Here is my go-to source:  Home Sew.

I've ordered from them for years and have never had a problem.  The "bad" batch was from an overseas seller (can we say DUH?)

Home Sew has an extensive catalog and website.  Stuff you never thought you might need, but now that you've seen it....


Here are the needles I order, marked with an X.  I usually use Size 11 for piecing, and have started using Size 14 when I am doing what little machine quilting I can manage.   If you sew knits, the Ballpoints are also excellent.  These are excellent needles at an exceptional price.  


And the sneak peak.



How is your grass growing?  My hops vines are already up about 8 inches!  

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, April 14, 2017

Counterfeit Needles

In the world of "what-the-?", this has to be one that I never would have thought of.  

Several months ago I bought machine needles in bulk online.  Ten packs of ten needles each for a great price.  I've used Organ brand needles for years and had ordered from this seller before with no problem.  (I am NOT saying it is the seller who is doing the counterfeiting!)  

My mom and I both had trouble with the thread breaking every stitch or two--very frustrating, as you all know.  I started doing a bit of research and found that there was a warning on the Organ needle site about--counterfeit needles!  This was from back in 2015.  

Now I was determined to see what the differences were so that I could tell easily--you know, before the thread broke!

Test yourself.  In the next pictures there are what look like identical packs of needles.  Before looking under the picture for the answers, see if you can spot the differences.

Picture One:



Differences:  The pack on the left has Organ in white letters, the colors on the package are a bit different, the picture of the lady playing the organ is not as distinct, and the trademark symbol is bigger.  The writing at the bottom of the packet is also larger on the left.


Picture Two:



Differences:  A bit harder to tell, isn't it?  On the package on the left, a different font is used.  The word Size is used and the numbers 75/11 are offset.  Also notice the logo on the flap--see the differences?


Picture Three:



Differences:  This is the real kicker--the one on the left is just plain foil, poorly folded and crammed into the packet.  The one on the right has the official Organ embossed paper wrapper.

Here is a close-up of the wrappers.  What a glaring difference.  But if you didn't know, the wadded wrapper would not be a red flag.


Bottom line?  The packet on the right is the real Organ brand.  

I LOVE Organ brand needles.  I use them every day.  They are a superior needle at a reasonable price.  The needle is probably the cheapest item we use for sewing/quilting.  But people are reluctant to change them as often as they should because of the cost.  

Did you know that you should be changing your needle after every 8 hours of sewing?  Yes--that could mean a new needle every day--or even twice a day.  Don't change it just when it breaks.  There is no prize for using one needle for 25 straight years!!!!!  A cheap item that can cause a lot of damage to hundreds of dollars worth of fabric in a short time.  If you are not sure when you changed it last--CHANGE IT!

Is your machine making a lot of noise?  Change the needle and see if that helps--it cannot hurt!

While you are at it, how are your pins?  Are they dull, dinged up, just plain hard to use?  Treat yourself to a new box or two and enjoy your quilting time.  Life is too short to use inferior tools.  Yes, you can consider this as your note of permission for new stuff.

The case of the counterfeit needles:  CLOSED.

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Blog Prize Reveal

Diane G. guessed correctly on the "what came in the box" blog contest.  This is what's on its way to her:


It's a hexagon-shaped fabric dish!



Just right for small items you keep on your sewing table, bedside table, or even in a travel kit to put threads and snippets in.  I know Diane loves horses and teal/turquoise is her favorite color.


I hope she enjoys it!

If you would like to make some of these for yourself or for gifts, visit here for the Pinkadot Quilts tutorial.  They are quick and easy to make, all machine made...and fun!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

P.S.  The next post will tell you about some counterfeit needles I've encountered--I know, who would even think of counterfeiting needles....

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

And the Winner Is...

No One!  No one guessed an inflatable horse!!!!!  


Okay, not really...but what a perfect place to use that line!

The real winner is Diane G!!!!!!  Mari T was a pretty close second, but she was a bit too specific this time.

Thank you to all who played!  It has kept me in stitches to see your guesses!  Some quite creative!  Some I could only dream of having.... sigh.

Some of you know that I have been doing some simple horse blanket repairs on my regular sewing machines.  Not the easiest to do.  So I had been putting off doing any more repairs and giving the horses stern lectures about ripping their blankets.  Alas, that ploy only works so long.  And repairs are once again needed.

So I started investigating something short of an industrial sewing machine.  It had to be sturdy, have a bit of extra clearance between the throat plate and the bottom of the presser foot, and be reasonably priced.  Good stitching through multiple layers of denim, nylon, etc.  I looked on Craigs List and didn't find anything.  So...I went to eBay.  I found a machine I fell in love with in a pretty turquoise color, great samples, lots of info.  The price wasn't too bad, but it was an auction and I had time to come to my senses before bidding.  In the meantime I did some research and had questions for several of the sellers.  Some responded promptly and answered all my questions, some answered some of the questions and disregarded others.

After I came to my senses and realized I was about to pay a pretty substantial sum for a machine to repair horse blankets, I watched the end of the auction and it went for way more than I would have paid anyway.  So the people who were very honest and answered all my questions were having a buy-it-now for a Universal class 15 clone.  And I bought it RIGHT THEN!  For a ridiculously low price that would make you swoon.  It came yesterday--extremely well packaged.  She's from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

TaDa:


Look at how lovely her decals are!



She has some cosmetic dings and scratches; I can live with that.  It makes me feel less guilty about using her for blanket repairs (which is her job).



Here it shows, from left to right, sewing through two layers, four layers, and eight layers of flannel.



On and off four and eight layers, using just forward and back.  No hesitation.


Multiple layers of denim.



And her lovely face.  When the Singer patent ran out on the Class 15 machines, Japan used the plans to make many "clones", using different company names on them and painting them different colors (the turquoise one I looked at was a Sewmor, also a Class 15 clone).  I now really have to watch my Ps and Qs--the real class 15 Singers were like the Featherweights--flat side of needle to the left, P for inserting the bobbin, threading the needle from right to left.  Well--the Clones are exactly the opposite--flat side of the needle on the right, thread from left to right, bobbin makes a Q!  If I'm not sure which one I have in front of me (aka cannot read), all I have to do is lift them!  The Universal is definitely the weight lifter in the mix!  She's sturdy, she's pretty and she's here to work.  



I think I will call her Belle Fleur.

Congratulations again, Diane!  Want a woodchuck as your prize?  (Just kidding!)

And thank you once again to all who played.  This was such a fun thing to do!  Stay tuned for the next "flash contest"!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

 P.S.  Barbara B, you won a prize from a prior contest but I have no way to contact you.  My suspicion is that I will see you in a couple weeks--you can leave a comment here to confirm or email me.

P.P.S.  I know some people will be shocked at hearing me talk about using my Featherweights to mend horse blankets, or be even more shocked that I would use Belle for that task.  All these girls were made to work and work hard.  That's why they have survived over half a century and still work great.  

P.P.P.S.  No, do NOT send me your horse blankets to mend.  I hate mending, but I love those horses!!!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's a Contest!

What do you think came packed in this? It just came today, and a winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 8, at 9:30 p.m. The first one to guess correctly will win!  If you all are stumped, there will be a random drawing for a winner. So everyone has a chance to win--but only if you play! Good luck!

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Small Flimsy

Small is good...and fast. I've finally learned to do small projects when I need process pics for handouts. The processes are exactly the same whether big or small. So this afternoon I cut, marked and hand pieced this pretty and have all the pictures done.

Not to mention making and basting five quilt labels. Now I can hand sew them as I have time.

Not too shabby for a Monday!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Basting

Today was spent finishing the tumbler top, trimming the large hexie top, and adding borders to the small hexies. And then I hand basted all three. A very satisfactory day!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Halloween--Coffins???

Yes, that's right....  For a person who hates Halloween and trick or treating (yes, even as a kid), I have a fairly large collection of Halloween fabrics and quilts!  I think it's the novelty (!) of the fabrics HEHEHE!

This is another hand pieced top.  If you look closely, you may be able to see the flowers formed by the coffins. Some are full flowers and some are partially hidden behind others.  


It looks totally different when viewed horizontally.  I decided to machine quilt this one.  We'll just say it was a learning experience.  Where to start and stop the quilting to make the flowers more defined, especially the ones that were underneath others.  What to do about the green leaves?  But I persevered and finished the quilting and got the binding machine sewn on in an afternoon.


The backing was pieced from fabric samples I had in my stash.  I love the Halloween-but-different-era-vibe compared to the fabrics on the front.  I tied knots and buried the thread ends.


In my next life I am going to be a better photographer LOL.  

I did finish quilting the Bee quilt and will show it once I get the binding on.  It is quite fetching, if I do say so myself.

Hope you are all surviving this weather.  So crazy.  

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Friday, February 10, 2017

Getting Closer

I've spent most of the day hand quilting this piece. About an hour more to finish the quilting. I've decided to use this as a wall hanging instead of a table mat.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More Winners

You probably thought I had forgotten about those random prize drawings--but I didn't!

These tumbling block ornaments are newly-made and a limited edition of 12.  This combination of fabrics will not be used again by me--ever.

The tops are hand pieced.  The tops are layered with batting and a muslin back, machine sewn around the perimeter and then turned and hand stitched closed.  


Here they are signed, numbered, and ready to go to the winners.





 And the winners are (drum roll please):

Rose P.
* Barbara B.
* Kathleen C.
Susan M.
Pat B.
Cindy O.
Deb H.
Pat A.

Barbara and Kathleen, please email me your snail mail addresses to sharon@sharonstroud dot com.

Cindy O, I have your address.  And the rest of you I will see over the next week or so--and they will be hand delivered.

While you are wishing that you had commented and thus won an ornament, take a look at the placement of fabrics in the ornaments.  It's the light/medium/dark that makes them look 3D.  

Thank you to everyone who takes time to comment--it makes my day!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Monday, February 6, 2017

Finish Number 3

This runner was machine quilted last year (I think in the fall) by Laurie, owner of Longarm Quilting by Laurie, in Elmira Heights, NY.  And then it sat while I auditioned binding.  I bought three or four pieces of varying shades of gray (no, not 50!).  I tried blues, several blacks.  No joy.  Until last week, when I finally found the perfect two-tone black.  I love it and am so happy to have it on the table in use.


Here's a closer look at the fabric.  It's a border stripe, and I used a pattern by Karen Montgomery.


I had told Laurie to quilt whatever she wanted on it--even just a simple meander.  I happened to be at her place when she quilted it and, partway through, she asked me what I thought.

Tessellating horse heads!  How majorly cool is that!  I just love it.  It's faintly visible from the front if you look closely.  I know it's there--like a secret message....


A slightly wider view of the back.


While I didn't join officially, Pomegranate and Chintz is having a challenge to finish 17 UFOs in 2017.  Check it out on my blog list at right.  The fourth finish is done and will be revealed shortly.

Thanks for visiting!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Solstice

This piece just needed the binding and a label at the end of last year.  So it has become my second finish of 2017.  

Using 1.5 inch hexagons, this was hand pieced (not EPP) and hand quilted.  It uses the Solstice line of fabrics from Kate Spain.  All the fabric is from that line.  


Solstice, the black horse, was my original healing horse and I thought Solstice fabric was perfect for her.  Along came Willow, who is also a healing horse, but the name of the quilt will stay Solstice.  (Who knew that I would find one healing horse, let alone two!)


The label is actually the last 5" square that I had left from a charm pack.  I used the wrong side of it to make the label.  In this case, I machine stitched the right and bottom sides of the label in with the binding and hand stitched the other two.  Quick and easy.



Thanks for visiting!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I Waited as Long as I Could

 After I posted about my to go bag here, I waited.  Why?  Because I wanted all of you to have a chance at all the great stuff on Hot 4 Handbags.  There were several items I had on my wishlist, but still I waited.

Until I couldn't wait any more!!!!!   The horse bag you've seen.  All the other things came today!

Check these out:  Two different sized "pencil" cases, two different sized clasp purses, three snap pouches, two mini fobs, and two more open wide pouches! 


Here they are opened so that you can see the cool linings.  You will see at least some of these in classes.  They just make me smile!


Feeling left out?  There are still over 100 things for sale on Denise's Etsy site, Hot4Handbags.  I get no endorsement fees from telling you about these great pouches--just the satisfaction of seeing your smiling faces as you acquire your own.

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

In-House Transport

I tend to move from room to room with my hand sewing, so I was looking for something that would serve as transport and then as a worktable.

I thought of a handled basket, but the handle would be hard to work around once I was seated.  What to do....

Right after Christmas the grocery store had trays on sale for under $1.  Cheap enough to give this idea a try.  

The rim in deep enough to keep everything in place, but low enough to allow me to work directly from it.

I have a fabric dish with/for Wonder Clips, thread, pincushion and pins, needles, scissors and my project.  I now have a portable workstation that can go upstairs, downstairs, even outside (but not tonight; too cold to sit on the porch.).  Mine is about the size of a dinner plate.


I have finished two table runners which I will share over the next couple days.  Busy, busy fingers!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

P.S.  I am listening to The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry.  I had forgotten one of the reasons I so like his books--he combines history and fiction, but at the end of the book/CD he explains which parts were real and which were not.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

At Christmas one of my friends (thanks, Susan) gave me a page-a-day calendar with horses on it.  It also includes lovely "messages" which I thought I would share with you from time to time.

Here are several I hope you enjoy:

"A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.  It just blooms."  Zen Shin

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Laughter is much more important than applause.  Applause is almost a duty.  Laughter is a reward."  Carol Channing

"The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda."  John C. Maxwell


Pompera

Happy Sunday, my friends.  I am enjoying the comments you are leaving!  Thanks so much!

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Success!

Have I mentioned that I'm weird?  Here's proof.

Usually I just load used bedding into the bucket of the tractor and sometimes I actually dump the bucket into the manure spreader.  Today I got to do that...and more!

I successfully hooked the tractor to the manure spreader AND got the Power Take Off correctly attached!  First.  Time.  Ever!


I refuse to get a selfie stick, so this was the best I could do.  I wanted you to be sure that it was actually me who did this feat of daring-do!


I have been appliqueing this week, but nothing to show quite yet.  Let's just say there are a couple new classes in the works.

That's it for now.  How was your Saturday?  

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

P.S.  I am listening to The 14th Colony by Steve Berry, and just finished Pirate by Clive Cussler.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What's In Your To-Go Bag?

I know it's a not so well kept secret that I love hand piecing (okay, hand applique and hand quilting too).  Having recently changed to a larger purse, I wondered if I could make a hand piecing kit that was not bulky, but carried everything I needed, without resorting to a tote bag.

On Etsy, I found this Open Wide zipper pouch.  The horses were a bonus!  It's extremely well-made.  Here's the link to Denise's shop: Hot4Handbags.


When opened, look how well you can see in!  No more Braille method of finding what's in my bag!



A bit closer look inside.  And still room for the project to grow or to add other things.  I am not adding cutters or markers, templates, etc. to this bag.  Everything is ready to go and sew.



And here is what was in it.  Post-its and a pen, rows of cut and marked pieces clipped together, one row ready to pin and stitch, a small tin, and a dumpling bag.



In the tin are a spool of thread, small scissors, a finger pincushion with my favorite hand piecing pins, a thimble and a packet of needles.  Neat, tidy, no rummaging in the bigger bag for what I need.  In the dumpling bag are Clover Mini Clips.  Also note how small this piece is and yet how wide it opens.



The whole big bag fits in my purse and I can sew anywhere!  My suspicion is that the bag is just big enough to lay in my lap and be used to elevate my work or park things on.

What do you carry in your to-go bag?

Blissful hugs,
Sharon

P.S.  I actually cropped all these photos very nicely and now cannot find them.  Oh, well.  Technology.  Did you know that I hand sew quite a bit ;-)

P.P.S.  Jocelyn, time is running out to claim your prize!  Please email me.