Thursday, September 18, 2014

Such A Cut-Up Quilt Progress and a Tip for Stretched Block

The top is finished and I like it so much better than the original.



Now the tip, which you may already know, but was new to me.

I knew the bias cut triangles were going to be a problem, especially the larger ones, so I spritzed them lightly with spray starch. (That's not the tip for you, I already knew that would help prevent stretching.) I had a problem with the spray can and soaked one of them. Afterward, I noticed that it shrank as it dried but ironing it straightened it out. Originally, the strips were 7 inches, which was actually good for me because after I sewed the pieces into 12 inch blocks, there was enough excess to square them up nicely. Still, when I put the rows together, I found that one was a half inch longer. It had two of the large triangles in it and they had stretched. I pinned them together, matching the seams and spaced out the "ruffle" of the stretched triangles and pinned them. Then I saturated it with the spray starch. When it dried, no more "ruffles" and it sewed together perfectly. After ironing, the starch relaxed and it looked fine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Have You Ever Wanted to Cut Up a Quilt Top You Just Finished?

I do, and I did.


A few months ago at our quilt guild meeting, someone demonstrated this fast and easy quilt. Online, it's called a strip and flip. I think theirs was in 1930's reproduction prints, and it was really cute. I thought I'd whip one out this weekend, and since our little quilt group needed some lap quilts for men, I chose masculine colors. The top went together in less than an hour, and was indeed fast and easy. But the more I looked at the finished top, the less I liked it because it was sooooo boring, so I decided to cut it up and see if I could come up with a more interesting pattern.

I did have to rip out a few seams, leaving three sections of two joined strips. I also left the reversed strip as it was.



I first cut the two strip rows into squares.



Then cut each square into two triangles.



And then cut each triangle in half.



Then laid out the pieces so the patterns and colors are spread out and started sewing them back together.



I have one leftover strip but haven't decided if I am going to use it or not.

Monday, September 8, 2014

It Was a Cold and Frosty Day

Doesn't that sound delightful when our temperatures are hovering just under one hundred degrees? lol

Actually, it was a cold and frosty day when I took these pictures last fall, which I just rediscovered on my phone. So I thought I would share. Just looking at them makes me feel cooler. (as I chant: just a few more days, just a few more days) We did have a slight cool spell blow through on Saturday, but the rest of the week will remain in the 90's. AccuWeather still says the heat will break on September 11. I have it circled on my calendar.

Last year, at the end of November, we took a drive to Glen Rose, Texas on a day that started out cool and foggy.



Please forgive my photos, they were taken on my phone through the window of a moving car. Hubby isn't big on stopping for photos even though he knows they will end up on my blog. He just mumbles "more blog fodder?" and drives on.

Along the highway, we saw a sign for Rough Creek Lodge. Hubby had heard about it and wanted to see what it looked like, so we turned in at the gate. A long, scenic road led to the lodge, dotted with cute signs.










I also spotted flowers blooming on the side of the road that I think were desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata). Since I didn't see them anywhere except along this particular road, I think they were planted, especially since they aren't known to be native here. Good choice as it is nice to see blooms in late fall.



The lodge is large, with many buildings and areas for entertainment, sports, and walking. It is both a hunting lodge and vacation spot. I'd like to stay there sometime but Hubby said it is fairly expensive, so this look at the grounds is probably as close as I am going to get. There is also a chapel where many weddings take place.








It was just after Thanksgiving, but this was still up. Isn't it cute?



Not too far down the highway was a house with this amazing display of cow's tongue cactus (Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis). I'm not a big fan of thorny plants, but in the right place, cactus are beautiful. And this was the right place.



As we rounded a bend in the round, we noticed that all the trees were covered with frost. The temperature had been reading between thirty-four and thirty-five, but a glance at the car's thermometer revealed that the temperature had dropped to thirty.





With the dense mat of trees crowding the road, we hadn't noticed that we were climbing until we topped a ridge and viewed the rolling hills below us. We had ascended the hill at just the right temperature to experience a microclimate. At the bottom of the hill, the temperature was above freezing again and there was no more frost.


Amazing!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Forget the Joneses, I Just Want to Keep Up with the Laundry

Our new neighbor came over this evening bearing gifts - freshly made fudge. I can't even remember the last time I made fudge, not counting the time I forgot to put milk in the frosting recipe. This is the neighbor with the perfect house, perfect yard, perfect cars, perfect job.... you get the picture. Theirs is the house that I visit and come home feeling I need to stay up all night cleaning and decluttering, but then I look around my house and and am frozen in my tracks at the overwhelming amount of work to be done to achieve that level of perfection. So I live with imperfection.

And you know what he said? That they feel they need to keep up with the Joneses when they look over at our house. What???? (No, he hasn't seen inside my house.) I told him there was nothing to envy here. Forget the Joneses, I just want to keep up with the laundry. And I'll do that right after I finish off the fudge!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Faux Finished Table Top


I bought an old table almost two years ago and began to refinish it. You can see how my first attempts flopped in this post.

This is the table top right after we started sanding it.



It is a veneered top, and had water damage which had swelled some of the particle board beneath the veneer. My first thought was to sand it flat and stain it. Some of the places were sanded so much that they barely had any veneer left. It didn't look bad before staining, but those places took the stain differently and it looked terrible.



Still trying to salvage the top, I tried a faux grain with gel stain. The first coat didn't look too bad, but the second coat looked horrible. So I gave up and stuck it in a corner of the garage until a few weeks ago.

In the meantime, we sold our trestle table and began using the breakfast table. But it was just too small, especially if we had company, so I pulled out the old table and started working on it again. I really didn't want to paint it, but that seemed to be the only choice.

I painted the base black and distressed the edges. I really liked the way it turned out, but the top was another story. Those rotten spots showed even through four coats of primer and paint.  Since the spots were going to show through a solid paint, I needed to go back to the idea of a faux grain to camouflage them.  So I sanded off the paint and primed it using BIN with a shellac base to seal those spots.


Then I put a gold base coat and mixed a medium brown with a glaze to faux finish a wood grain on it. I couldn't find my old wood graining tool, and made the mistake of buying a Martha Stewart graining tool at the local big box store. I should have read the reviews, and then I should have ordered a professional tool online, but I was impatient. The tool did such a bad job that I had to scrape it off and start over.



I repainted the gold and this time I grained it just with the comb and flogged grain marks into it.

I almost forgot to take pictures after the first graining and the second fill coat.



 It's not great, but will do until I can build a table top out of solid wood. When the sun hits it just right, those spots are still evident. I think the particle board must have absorbed some of the paint, raising those areas. I had just applied a finish coat to the middle section in the photo below.



Here's the top, finished.



And the whole table.


All in all, this $20 table has cost me dearly in the amount of time spent on it just to get it to a tolerable level, not to mention the cost of primer, special acrylic paint, glaze, and that useless tool kit. But it was a good learning experience with wood graining and I'm looking forward to doing a project with some good tools.

Next are the chairs!