Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tying Springs and a Mimic in Nature

My sister and I got a little bit more progress done on our chairs. We got the springs installed  and tied.

We also took templates of the seats and seat backs to the upholstery supply shop to have foam cut for them. We really thought they would just cut it while we waited, but they had a backlog and we will have to go pick them up later this week. That means the progress has come to a halt for now.

In the meantime, while in the hill country this last weekend, we saw even more wildlife. First a huge road runner ran by with either a lizard or snake in his beak. (Sorry, he's way too fast for a photo!) All I could see of the captured meal was a white underbelly.

While sitting on the back patio, we saw a Hummingbird Moth ( Hemaris thysbe, the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth or Common Clearwing) enjoying the little pink trumpet shaped flowers of a shrub nearby.

Can you see him? He hovered over each flower just like a hummingbird does and sucked the nectar with his long proboscis. This beneficial moth is often mistaken for a hummingbird. He is about 2 inches long. 
We're off today to choose countertops! I'm really nervous about it because this is an expensive item and I don't want to make a mistake. It will be installed after the cabinets are finished.  My dad is making some extra cabinets to match the ones we already have. He has also made an Eastern red cedar island countertop for us. (Have I told you my daddy can do absolutely anything!)
Have a great week!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Saving a $4 Chair! Part 1

Did I show you this chair? I bought it at the thrift shop a couple of months ago. It was $4.00!!! The springs were missing from the seat, but it seemed to be in fairly good condition.

I began the process of stripping off the old upholstery. It was tacked on, not stapled. Removing about 2 million tacks (only a slight exaggeration!) took about 2 hours with my sister helping me. We didn't have the tools we needed to do this easily. 

Half way finished! I failed to get a picture of the horsehair and cotton that I found inside. It was so deteriorated and nasty, I threw it away. I know that sometimes upholsterers save it. I decided that I didn't want all those old dead skin cells and animal dander!
After removing all the old fabric and stuffing, I glued up any loose joints with wood glue and left them clamped to dry for several hours.
I screwed "clips" down to hold the No Sag or Sinuous Springs. My sister, Darla, is working on a beautiful  antique set at the same time. We  shared tools and helped each other out while we tried to figure it all out!
Unfortunately, the battery operated screwdriver ran out of power and we had to plug it in for a few hours to recharge. 
I decided to "clean up" the finish a little. I wanted to keep the old patina, but make the scratches less noticeable. I used denatured alcohol and a soft rag. This "melts" the old finish enough to redistribute it some. This will not work on polyurethane and modern finishes. It only works on lacquer based varnishes.

Before and after of the same leg.

By this time, the heat and humidity were beginning to take a toll on us, so we quit for the day. When I post about the chair again, probably next week, I will be installing the springs and putting webbing on the chair back. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Patriotic Quilt Update

The Patriotic quilt has been quilted and a volunteer is binding it. We hand quilted all the stars at the Fourth of July Celebration (the quilting bee!) and machine quilted the remainder. 

Here is a closeup before trimming the sides to prepare for binding.

Detail of the hand quilting

The unbound quilt. The binding is the red and white stripe.  The photo does not show the stars quilted in the red squares, but you can see them in the first photo.
Soon it will have a home with a deserving veteran!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hill Country Finds!

Some of you may not know that way back in the dinosaur days, this hot, dry south Texas land was under the ocean. The hill country limestone used to be prehistoric sea shells. Just walking around briefly on our property, there are many fossils to be found. I just have to reach down and pick them up. I wonder what the native American's who lived around here thought of these? 

I also had the opportunity to visit the thrift shop in Kerrville as well as the thrift shop in Pleasanton. In Kerrville, I found the vintage Nebraska souvenir plate you see in the photo. The other two plates were found in an antique shop in downtown Kerrville. I have decided that a wall arrangement of vintage souvenir plates would be a lot of fun! So far, I've found the plates for between $1 and $5 each, so it is inexpensive as far as art goes! If it looks the way I envision it, it will add to the Texas hill country "look"! As far as my research and experience shows, that elusive "look" is a mixture of antique, western, French country, Tuscan, Mexican, Spanish and rustic. The operative words seems to be "mixture". It's the type of decorating that you recognize when you see! It is relaxed and casual with a mixture of rustic and formal furniture and accents. There is a huge retiree population in the hill country and most have traveled extensively, so souvenir plates make sense to me! We've also traveled a lot, so it will bring back memories for us. I will have to plan a lap quilt to go along with this theme!!

After coming back to Pleasanton last night, I made a "bee-line" for the thrift shop here and found a few more! I'm sure I will get pickier as I collect them for the wall. The three found in Kerrville are the best so far. I think some of the ones from here might not be as vintage and don't have as much color as the first three. They will work until I have enough to fill in a wall, though. I think it will be fun!!! I was told that they are getting harder to find in thrift shops!
Remember the porcupine last week? Well, this week left us feeling a lot more tender toward the wildlife on our property. We were walking around when we walked up on this tiny little fawn. He was the size of a cat!  He was staying so still and trying so hard to hide, that my husband thought he might be dead. Then his ear twitched. Poor thing was freaked out, I'm sure! We took a very quick phone photo and quickly left the area to let him get back to his mother or his mother to him, whichever was supposed to happen. He was gone the next day, so I guess they found each other. 
Electrical work is almost finished and we are waiting on a bid from a stone mason to see if we can afford to put limestone in the kitchen and on the support columns. It would match the fireplace limestone. If not, I may need to learn a few new skills! I am really wanting the walls in there to be rock. I think it would be fantastic!
I am also waiting on an iron summer cover to arrive. I have in mind putting it above the range, mortared in and framed with fancy limestone edging tile. Here is a photo of what I ordered:
When we lived in Georgia, we had a huge old Victorian house with 10 fireplaces! Eight of them had summer covers similar to this! Of course, we left them when we sold the house. I would love to have just one of them today!
I'm still very anxious to finish the kitchen, but I believe the day will come! Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July Fourth Picnic, Patriotic Quilting Bee and a Prickly Hill Country Visitor!

Do you remember the Patriotic quilt? Here it is last Friday during the Independence Day celebration at my sister's house. She lives on a farm and has a beautiful yard shaded by large trees and carpeted with lush St. Augustine grass. There were over 100 people there that day! Here are some of the quilters busy on the quilt.

There were a couple of men who hovered nearby. I think they would have joined us if given more time! While we quilted, others played "washers" (similar to horseshoes), 

..went on pony rides...

...ate barbecue brisket along with great "fixins"...(baked potatoes, pinto beans, salad, watermelon, desserts)

Here's Doug with his bottle of water, and NO, the hula hoops were not part of his picnic activity!

Some just sat and relaxed! 

The quilters worked until it was too dark to see well. A couple pulled out their phones and used them for portable lamps so they could put in a few more stitches! (Oh, modern technology! What did our grandmothers do in this situation?)

The night ended with fireworks, of course! I failed to get a photo of the fireworks, but there were plenty! 
We left early the next morning for the hill country house where more electrical work was completed. We delivered a water softener to be installed by the plumber. The water there is extremely hard and a softener will save our new appliances from wearing out so soon. (Not to mention the lime that deposits around any faucet!) I pulled the carpet and pad out of the new laundry room in preparation for putting down a suitable floor. I also pulled up the tacking strips around the perimeter of the room. The plumber ended up putting the connections in a place that was different than we planned  (out of necessity, not a mistake), so I need to make a new laundry room plan. 
Oh, I saw my first porcupine! We were walking around outside just before nightfall and saw it "lumbering" down the hillside about 20 feet in front of us. He made his way to our peach tree and climbed up like an acrobat! (It seemed he was much more adept at climbing than walking!) It was too dark to get a good photo and all we had was an iPhone, but here is proof.

Well, I'll leave you with the knowledge that porcupines can climb trees! I will never feel safe under a tree again!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

End of June Update on Hill Country House

This is the balcony off the master bedroom at the hill country house. We really enjoy sitting here in the cool dusk listening to the birds and watching for deer to wander into the yard. This time of year, the deer often have tiny fawns following close by.

Sitting there this past weekend, I noticed just how badly the railing needed painting! The paint had faded and was peeling badly.

So the next day I picked up a couple of sanding pads, a small brush, and some black enamel. After working off quite a few calories sanding down all those rails, I used Valspar latex enamel, and I love the result. 
8-fl oz Exterior Satin Satin Black Latex-Base Paint
 Although I could see brush  strokes going on, they leveled out to a smooth finish!  (No, I'm not an affiliate and they have never even heard of me! BUT, if they want to, I'm available! I have a lot more painting to do!) 

I didn't quite finish before I felt a few raindrops and decided to stop and finish later. I will also paint the railings at the entry to the front door. 
Another job was to prepare the new laundry room for the plumber. We had to decide where to put the washer and dryer (when we get one!). We had to remove one of the lower cabinets to make room.

I evidently didn't get a photo of the laundry room after removing part of the countertop and one cabinet. Ignore the protective paper on the floor. The carpet will be pulled out and I will be putting down a floor in this room.
The washer and dryer will hopefully go on the far right in the photo. 
We have new electrical running to the kitchen, dining room and pantry now, so plumbing is next on the list. The plumber said he thought he could get to it this week. I'm hoping he can!
I'm so ready to be finished with the kitchen, but it is still going very slowly. Everything has to be orchestrated. Electrical before plumbing. Plumbing before cabinets. Cabinets before flooring. Flooring before appliances....etc. Waiting is not my best talent!
(crape myrtle trees are blooming!)
In the meantime, I am continuing to work on the Patriotic quilt. I have two more borders to embroider and 9 stars to applique! 

(a quick photo while work is in progress!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Oh Beautiful for Heroes Proved...

I've started a quilt top to put on a quilting frame at my sister's upcoming Independence Day picnic. This will be a huge event and she will have lots of activities for all ages. I suggested a quilt on a quilting frame that people can hand quilt.   I haven't appliqued the stars on yet and I am still embroidering a verse from "America, the Beautiful" around the border. (You might notice that I always line the area to be embroidered with batting. I like the definition it gives the embroidery and it keeps the threads from showing through. I baste the batting to the seams at the top and bottom to keep it in place!)This quilt will be donated to Quilts of Honor when finished and will go to a wounded veteran. If you are from the United States, you probably know the first verse to the song, but have you ever heard the third? 

"Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved and
mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine!
Till all success be nobleness 
And every gain divine!"
by Katherine Bates, 1913

I'll show you the entire quilt later when more finished, but I have a couple of tips that you may find helpful. 

First of all, I had to deal with stripes in my border. I decided to miter them for a more pleasant look and I wanted the stripes to meet up as much as I could arrange. These are not uniform stripes, so it was not possible to match them perfectly!

I turned the corner of the border back as shown and matched up the stripes as best I could.  Adjust the end of your border strip until you find the best match. Pin it in place and sew the border on from the previous seamline down.

If you have to piece your border strip to make miter both corners,  it is easier to piece the border somewhere else in the strip and make it look right than it will be at the corner, as you can see below. I "fudged" it a little and found a spot where the seam would be inconspicuous.

When you open and press your border, pin it in place at the corner. You can either turn it back and machine sew it here or sew it by hand (my choice!).  

Trim off the excess.

The other tip is concerning applique. I am appliqueing white stars over a dark blue! As you can see, the background would show through...

so I line the pieces with polyester fleece (the type that is not super stretchy)! It will not "ball up" in the wash. Use a glue stick to keep it in place while you applique. I like to catch the edges in my stitches in a few places to insure it will stay in place.

It will also give a little definition to the stars. I have been doing this for years now and haven't had any problems with it.
Have a wonderful weekend!

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