Monday, April 9, 2012

This is a Darning Foot

Here she is.  It's a simple little foot.  The purpose of this foot is only to keep your fabric down near the throat plate when the needle is moving up and down.  When the presser foot is lowered it just barely touches your fabric.  It doesn't put any pressure down which allows the fabric to be moved in any direction with complete freedom.  I like to drop the feed dogs when I do free-motion quilting so the fabric can move as smoothly as possible.

This is the foot in it's lowered position.  

When I was experimenting with free-motion quilting I made up a whole mess of coasters with different designs.  I used fabric and batting from my scrap bin.  I didn't really care if the stitching came out ugly.  I figured out which stitches I liked to make.  And I ended up with something useful.  

I found that free motion quilting was a lot like making those drawings where you try to make your entire picture without picking up the pencil.  Focus on where you want your drawing to go next and then just keep moving the fabric around while the needle does it's thing.

Flower Garden Quilt

See all the little circles?  Quilting the flowers was the best part of making this quilt.  I made them all free-hand.  Some turned out pretty, some a bit wonky and there's one that's downright homely, but altogether they look really great.  I used my water-soluble fabric marker and drew quick, little, five or six petaled flowers in the center of each square.  I quilted over the lines using the darning foot on my sewing machine.  It was so fun!

I couldn't stop with the flowers.  I quilted some teeny-tiny little ones where the white lines cross.

I've started to label everything that I do.  I think it adds a nice touch.  Of course, I had to stitch this little tag onto the quilt in the car on the way to the baby shower.  Just about all of my projects are finished up quickly and last minute on the car ride to where the gift will be given.

I made another little puppy dog.  He turned out pretty cute.  I revised the my pattern a bit from the last one and avoided the dreaded saggy bum effect.  With just a few more tweaks I'll have a really good pattern that I'll post so you all can give it a try.  He's a lovable little guy.  He fits quite nicely under the arm of a loving little girl or boy.

This is the family who I made the baby quilt for.  They are expecting a baby in about three weeks.  The father is one of Bill's good friends from when he was a kid.  The mother and daughter are from China.  They were married a couple of years ago in China and just moved to America.  We gave the puppy to the little girl.  She tied a balloon to him and carted him around with her everywhere.  See him on the table by the cake?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Refinished Round Table and Chairs

One bright sunny day I was messing around on Craigslist when I found these four, sad, broken, and unloved chairs for free.  I thought, "I will love thee back to life."  Well, on the next block over, after I had my chairs safely in tow, I saw this poor horribly abused table on the curb waiting for the trash truck to come pick it up.  The table top was so water damaged that the top was entirely wavy.  I was not sure if I could save it.  But what could I do?  It just had to come home with me.

The first order of business was to repair the damage to the chairs and strip the many layers of paint and stain from the table.  I like to use Jasco Green Strip it's biodegradable and it works great.  This is a picture of the table top striped, saved and sanded. When working with strippers, stains, paints and polys don't forget to use safety gear.  I always use a ventilator mask, gloves and safety glasses.

I had a big learning experience with this table.  The first stain and poly I used was Minwax.  NEVER EVER EVER USE MINWAX!!!  The product has wax in it that will block your stain from darkening.  So, after the first application it really did not darken as much as I would have liked so I talked to the guy at Home Depot and his advice was to use a polyshade (aka 'the devil' - the stain is isolated in the poly).  I had so many air bubbles that I ended up stripping the table and going to a paint and stain store where I found the mother land of people who really knew what they were doing.  The stain was amazing.  The guy actually took me to the back room and custom made me a stain.  The entire cost of the stain, that he checked on several pieces of wood so I had exactly what I wanted, was only $5 and it is awesome stuff to work with.

My table top stained. Its even more beautiful in person!

Advice from Super Smart Paint Guy:
If you want a really dark stain, wet the table and wipe it off one hour before you stain it.  This will raise the grain a little which will help the stain have more to grab on to.

When applying poly, mix just a dab of paint thinner in for the first layer.  (Do not overdo it!  A little really goes a very long way.  One teaspoon to a cup, no more, less if you like).  This will help the poly to go deeper and make your furniture more durable.  Do not do this on the next 2 layers though!

Do not over sand your furniture.  It makes it harder for the stain to catch.  Super Smart Paint Guy compared it to trying to stain a glass surface.

The other huge learning experience I had was with the paint.  I have Home Depot Guy to thank for this one again.  He had me buy a flat paint and put a polycrylic over it.  Super Smart Paint Guy said there was really no need, just get a quality paint with sateen sheen to gloss and you're fine.   And if you really want to go crazy you can get outdoor stuff but there is really no need.

For some reason the light kept reflecting funny so in this picture you can't see the beautiful grain of the wood.  Just look at the picture above for that. :) And yes, the chairs are not done just yet....perhaps in a few days.  Then I will add a picture of my completed project in better light.


Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Quinoa is a relative newcomer to the American pantry. The tiny, ancient Peruvian seed, which has a mild, nutty flavor, is related to leafy green vegetables and is often used like a grain. Quinoa is as versatile as rice but it has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains, because it contains all the essential amino acids. In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content.
Quinoa is very easy to cook. It’s important to rinse the seeds well, because they are naturally coated with a bitter substance that protects them against birds and other predators. Most packaged quinoa has already been cleaned, but it doesn’t hurt to soak and rinse it just in case. Quinoa cooks in 15 minutes, and it’s easy to tell when it’s done because the seeds display a little white thread that curls around them.
Let's have some fun this week!