Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm Going Back to School!

Tomorrow I'm going to Kindergarten!

Nope, I haven't regressed, and I haven't been demoted.  I'm standing in for a Parent at Kindergarten orientation day at the local elementary school for one of the grands.

Through no fault of anyone involved, except maybe the Murphy guy who's laws tend to mix things up, tomorrow is Kindergarten Splash and both parents are involved in work things that prohibit their attendance.  All preschoolers who are going to this elementary school are attending one session with their prospective teachers, and there is a "Parents' Session".

My DD said "I hope you aren't bored at the Parents' Session"...but I don't think I will be!  For one thing, I love going anywhere I can meet with new people.  Also, I remember fondly my days in school, and being in school, any school, always makes me happy.

I think she may have the same teacher as her older sister had, and that teacher is a lovely young woman with a creative and adventurous mind.  I went to her class once to help with a kid-level sewing project and read them the story about "Corduroy the Bear".

My boss gave me the afternoon off and said "Do you think you'll pass this time?"  He only thinks he's a comedian!

So I'm going back to school.  I'm looking forward to it!  I just hope I get a decently sized chair!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bargello Update - ALMOST There!!

I finally have ALL of the 37 zillion strips of the Twisted Bargello wall hanging sewn, and the seams pressed in the proper direction.

The progression of colors and the twisting of the pattern make it very easy to sew in a mistake now and again.  I had places where a few strips were upside down, and a few places where I put in a whole set of four pieces when I should have used only a partial set.

Oh, I should explain that!  When we took the class for this quilt at the February retreat my family group attended, the teacher had modified the pattern we were using.  We had 20 fabrics in all, cut into strips.  We made a series of five strip sets of four fabrics each, rather than sew all 20 strips into one big piece.  It made sub-cutting easier and more accurate for one thing.  And for another, it made less 'un-cutting' when you had to separate the set to achieve the twist in the pattern. 

   It worked really well, if you were paying attention, and super well if you weren't!  So say you had to use the strip we were calling 1234 and attach it to the strip 16-15-14-13, you didn't have to dismantle a whole big strip and then discard the center.  And I think we actually did fewer sub cuts, because we only cut the sections we needed, not a whole 20 fabric strip.

So here we are, pinned up on my design wall.  The pieces of white and yellow at the top are paper scraps with the row number written on them.  It helped immeasurable to keep those pinned to the strip.

Not pinned at the bottom, which is why they're flying free... that's on a set of closet doors.
 You can see where I've sewn a couple of the strips together into sets by where they don't separate at the bottom.  That piece of yellow paper is a note one of the grands taped up -- I forgot to move it for the picture!

I have folding doors, two sets, on the storage closet in my sewing room.  For a design wall, I took pieces of quarter inch foam core board, covered them with flannel, and tacked them to the doors.  I used 24x36 inch pieces, which are bigger then the doors.  The ones that swing out can hang over the edge of the door, but on the ones that fold in, I had to cut the board into pieces, and leave a small gap for the fold area.  I only placed them above the handles.  Primitive but it works.

It shows better in this picture.

And no, they're not even at the top.  That's because I'm using recycled foam core board, from presentation boards that were discarded by the engineers at work.  I peeled off the maps or charts or whatever.  I figured since I was covering them it didn't matter.

And the price was right!!

Keep on sewing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Nancy's Sewing Weekend Goodies

This weekend was a national holiday in Wisconsin... well not an ACTUAL national holiday, but it was Sewing Weekend at Nancy's Notions in Beaver Dam.  It's always around my birthday sometime, and this year it started ON my birthday.  I usually tell people how happy I am that someone as big as Nancy throws me a party --  <wink wink>

DISCLAIMER: I have NOT been paid to talk about any of these products, nor do I work for any of these companies. The opinions expressed here are my own!

I don't know how long I've been going up there.  This was the 28th year it was held, and I can find souvenir pins that go back to 1996 or 97, but I think there were a few years when there were no pins or I didn't get one.

In past years I've reviewed the Nancy's Notions catalog and crossed out things I had and circled things I wanted.  They would have sale items and clearance, days for 'remnant bargains' (more on that), and you'd get 10% off your total order at the end.  In recent years the merchandise offered has been more select, and the prices of the individual items have been marked down.

There still is clearance, but this year it wasn't anything in which I had a lot of interest, although I did find the book Word Play, that shows you how to build letters using fabric.

I am excited have this book as I want to try to use this method to put some names on some of the quilts I make and give away.

I also bought some of Nancy Zieman's booklets from her TV show, another of her templates for making purses or totes, and some Clover notions.

Speaking of Clover Notions, they have a booth at Sewing Weekend because Nancy has her name on some of their products.  They usually have a very nice sales rep or spokesperson giving away 'goodie bags' with some literature and a notion in them to all who visit their booth.  They do regular demonstrations of their new products and talk about what's on their tables.

Olfa was also there, displaying their cutting tools and mats.  Did you know you can buy a 2.5 inch square ruler, and a mat as small as 6x8 inches?  How about adding one of those to your Tablet Keeper??  Of course I couldn't resist a ruler that cute, so I bought one of each.  The mat came in so handy today when I was working on finishing up Twisted Bargello, the wall hanging from H##L. 

Oh dear, I don't know why that is rotated!!

Other vendors in the warehouse were the folks from Amazing Designs embroidery specialists, and of course Baby Lock, with all their super sewing machines and sergers.  I have a BL serger with the pneumatic threading, and I have to tell you it was among the best things I ever did for my sewing.  It threads the loopers with the push of a lever.  No more being afraid to change threads, or dreading the broken thread! 

What else did I get?  Oh, let me not forget the zippers!!  6 inch separating zippers in several colors for doll jackets, and some really wild 18-24 inch separating zippers for jackets and tops for the grands.

About those remnants...  Nancy's Notions has better remnant sales than anyone I know.  I was bound and determined not to buy fabric this year.  I have a ton of fabric.  I have so much I forget what I have.  But those NN remnants always get me.  They take cuts of fabric, sometimes several yards, sometimes bits and pieces, fold them attractively, put them into plastic bags with a label that gives fabric name, yardage, fiber content and regular price.  Then they start the markdowns.  The first day most things are half price, the second day they're lower and what's left at the end of Friday is drastically reduced for Saturday.  I've never seen such nice stuff in the remnant pile, and honestly if there's anything left on Saturday afternoon it's nearly free.

This year, I had to walk by those remnant boxes to get to the registers to check out, and I did succumb.  I picked up a lovely piece of black & white houndstooth check, nearly two yards of blouse weight fabric, for the scandalous price of $7.

But my premier treasure is a long handled, lighted magnet, for picking up the pins that fall under my sewing table too far in for me to reach without getting on my hands and knees.  That alone was worth the drive up!

There were lots of ladies shopping, so if you don't get there next year, there will be more for us!

Check it out at

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sewing Weekend in Beaver Dam

Every year I save some vacation days for the weekend that Nancy Zieman holds her Sewing Weekend seminars in Beaver Dam, WI.  In my opinion it's three of the best days of the whole year.

Sewing Weekend has been going on for a while.  This year was the 28th year.  It is a big deal now, but if you have attended any of Nancy's seminars anywhere you've probably heard about how it started in the basement of a church with about 250 people.  And that was more than were expected to come, so it was a hit from the get-go!

DISCLAIMER: I have NOT been paid to talk about any of these products, nor do I work for any of these companies. The opinions expressed here are my own!

This year I didn't check the numbers before I left, but thousands attend, and they come from all over the country!  There's a map where you can stick a pin in your home town.  Of course I live close (OK 87 miles give or take.)  There wasn't room enough in the map for pins from everyone from the southeast corner of Wisconsin.

Many ladies came with or were delivered there by their husbands.  It's nice to have someone who supports your passion and is willing to carry your purchases!  And there are activities for the guys in the area... golf, fishing, sporting goods department at Sears, etc.

You sign up on line on Nancy's web site to attend lectures with national sewing experts, attend 'sit and sew' classes where you make a project on a high-end sewing machine provided by Baby Lock.  The lectures and classes are reasonably priced.  There are evening entertainments on one or two nights.  There are vendors who demonstrate their products and show you what's new.  And there are free lectures/demos in the warehouse if you have a bit of time.

For lunches on Sewing Weekend days, you can enjoy the buffet at Ponderosa Steakhouse or grab a quick sandwich or salad at a wonderful snack stand in the warehouse.  The same ladies have been there for the last 5-6 years or so.  I always want to ask the name of their business but never remember to do that until after the fact!

The best part of the weekend for me is going to the lectures.  This year you could have seen and heard Alex Anderson, Louise Cutting, and of course Nancy Zieman, among others.  In the past I have gone to lectures from Sandra Betzina, Patti Palmer, Marty Michel, Eleanor Burns and Eileen Roche, just to name a few. 

It's the one time of the year that I get to ride on a yellow school bus!

Here's the drill:

You arrive at the Nancy's Notions warehouse at least a half hour before your seminar starts.  The times are staggered so everyone doesn't arrive all at once.  You park your car, either on the parking lot if you're early enough, or on the grass next door or across the street.  Beaver Dam policemen and other volunteers are there to assist you in finding a good spot.  You do a quick or leisurely meander through the building depending on the timing of your arrival.  At the bus loading station, where shipments usually arrive, there are yellow buses and plenty of drivers and aides to help you on the bus.

Bus drivers take a route through town to the various places that have been rented for classes.  Since Beaver Dam doesn't have a convention center, the places where you may be dropped off include the high school and middle school auditoriums, the Family Living Center, or a couple of the area churches.

At any location, you will enjoy a lecture or demonstration of some sewing or quilting techniques, trunk shows, how-to-do this or that, or mysteries revealed/quick and easy methods from a nationally known expert in the field.

When it's over you jump back on the bus, to be delivered either to a lunch location or the warehouse for shopping.  If you get tired of hauling your basket around, you can check your package and sit down for a bit of refreshment or a short, free lecture in the warehouse.  You can take a nap (a favorite husband activity) in a nice comfy chair in the NN employee break room if you want to, but I personally try not to miss anything!

There are usually contests for sewist young and old.  This year there were lots of lovely challenge quilts hanging in the halls.  Nancy and her staff support the sewing education of 4H and other young people in Central Wisconsin. 

You can sign up to win door prizes too.  I always wish I had remembered to put address labels in my purse when I'm writing out the 23 numbers and letters of just my street address!

Nancy said at her lecture this year that the radio station reminded everyone that it was sewing weekend, and basically to look both ways when crossing the street.  It must be a big deal if it makes the local radio station!!

If you haven't been to Beaver Dam, a sleepy little town of about 15,000 normally, when it gets invaded for sewing week, what are you waiting for?  Mark your calendars for next year, and come to beautiful Wisconsin!  We'll leave the light on for you.