Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Craft Exchange

A while ago a website that I frequent organized a craft exchange among some of its members.  Anyone who was interested put their name in and described which crafts they do, and they were matched up with a recipient.  I figured I'd sew a mug rug and maybe make some homemade chocolate candy.

When I got the email about my recipient, though, I found that they like muted colors and simple designs.  That is so not what I do.  I considered buying some different fabric and putting something together, but I wasn't sure that I'd be able to make something that my recipient would like.

Fortunately, my recipient also mentioned that they like black-and-white photographs of urban scenes.  Score!  My husband and I are amateur photographers.  We did it more before we had kids, when we had time to walk around the city and take photos, but we still like taking pictures.  I looked through my old photos, found some that fit the bill, and edited them with an app called Snapseed. 

This is the old Gallun tannery that was on Milwaukee's East Side, near the river.  It's been torn down now.
This is the marsupial bridge that runs under Van Buren St.  I'd never heard that term before I moved to Milwaukee, so in case you're sheltered like I was, it's a pedestrian bridge that runs directly underneath a car bridge. 
This is another picture of the chained-up Gallun doors.  It's kind of sad.  There were two Gallun tannery buildings, one across the street from the other, so it was obviously a big business at one time.

I need to take photos more.  I'd forgotten how much fun it is.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My machine

I work at an urban high school, and it's a pretty stressful job.  My husband is a stay-at-home dad and also works part-time at a bookstore, so there are nights that he's not home.  On those nights, when I'm stressed out and frazzled, this is the most relaxing sight I can see.

I took a leap and put my modern sewing machine up on a shelf.  I've been using my vintage machine exclusively for a couple of weeks.  I adore everything about it.

I adore its power.  I love how it powers through layers of quilting cotton, denim, or anything else I can throw at it.  I love the complicated path the upper thread takes through the machine.
I marvel at its tight, tiny, perfect stitches.  I love how I can drop the feed dogs and let up the tension on the foot and do free motion quilting.  I appreciate its quiet motor...especially when I'm sewing at 9 PM since my sewing area is right under my son's bedroom.  And I adore how I can do simple repairs and parts replacements.

And I really love the fact that someone else used and loved this machine before me, and now I'm continuing to take care of something that mattered to someone.  I wish I could know who she was and what she made.

I still want to keep my modern sewing machine...someday I'll get over my shyness and attend one of the sew days for my local modern quilt guild, and this machine is too heavy to lug around.  But at home I love using this machine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Early Valentine's Day gift

This year for Valentine's Day my husband wanted the ultimate gift.

For the Brooklyn Zoo to name a cockroach after him.

The zoo was naming their Madagascar hissing cockroaches after people for the low, low price of $10 per roach.  And it was what Mike really wanted.  So now there's a cockroach in New York named after my husband.  Romantic, huh?

Of course, I had nothing to show for it except for the lovely email from the zoo informing my husband of the gift.  I wanted to hand him something tangible for Valentine's Day.  So I made him this.

I actually went through a lot to do this.  I tried and failed (mostly due to my kids' desire to "help") at both fabric stamping and screen printing before finally just drawing the bugs on with a Tee Juice fabric marker.  The heart was painted on with screen printing ink.  It's a tote bag, which I hope will be handy, even if it's just to organize project parts in the basement. 

The kids made Valentines too.  My 19 month old daughter scribbled enthusiastically.  My three and a half year old son decided to maintain the bug theme for Valentine's Day, and drew a bedbug saying, "Hi Daddy!"  I'm sure we'll cherish it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spider web mini-quilt

I finished four spider web blocks and sewed them together into a mini quilt.  I kind of adore it!

I used my vintage Kenmore model 52 to do some free motion quilting on it.  The quilting isn't that great, but it was so fun!  And that machine is a BEAST, sewing through multiple layers of fabric like it was nothing. 
I'm learning.  This is definitely something that I want to do again.
Now I'm going to concentrate on finishing my rail fence quilt and then move on to my 1930s quilt.  I'll have to post pictures of that fabric soon!