Thursday, September 27, 2012

Running with Scissors?

mary michaela murray

The right scissors can make your job so much easier.   What kind do you have in you sewing room?
I thought so!

Running with scissors was a big no-no as a child.  We where told never to run with scissors. Mothers and grandmothers for  hundreds of years would tell us horrible stories about kids that ran with scissors so right away I was afraid of the dangers of  this very sharp tool that now had to be respected and used with care.  We were taught to walk with the points down even across a small room.  After cutting we would lay them down oh so carefully and if small children came into the room, we would  remove these dangerous demons quickly to a higher shelf.   That's why dad could ever find the scissors - he didn't look up.

I remember my sister and I where sick with chicken pox and dad brought us home each a big box of paper dolls. It was like Christmas to me but trying to cut paper with those little blue plastic round tip scissors just made me so frustrated. So after a couple of hours try to cut paper with a stick, I quietly got out of bed, tippy-toed down to my mother's sewing room and "borrowed" her scissors.  That is when I learned that you aren't supposed to cut paper with mom's "good" scissors!  Searching for the "good" scissors was a weekly ritual in our house and someone usually got a spanking when the "good" scissors where found and it was usually me!

The problem I see with this shock and awe toward the mighty, sharp scissors is that it has created a fear that is associated with using them. Some of us still carry that fear.  I see it all the time in class.  The fear comes out in the kind of scissors we bring to class.  Old, dull, bent, rusty, the wrong size or some bought because Kmart had a deal.

It's as if, before we leave the house for a class, we open the family junk drawer in the kitchen (don't be ashamed, we all have one, even Martha Stewart) and just grab whatever we can find. In my house those scissors may have cut wire, quartered a chicken and dad probably cut his toenails with them. Yikes!
Then we get to class and struggle to make a clean, nice cut into fabric but all we get is a raveled,  shredded, mess. The other fear is the price. It costs too much.  $35.00 is way too much?  Well yes, if you're cutting your toenails with them, but not if you are creating a beautiful garment or quilt.   Now, would your husband or partner think about the price when buying a hammer, computer or new motorcycle helmet? Never!  We need the right tools for the job.  It took me years before I bought myself a good pare of  Gingers.  After my first cut I was hooked and I wondered why I waited so long.  I was afraid to spend the money on a tool for my little hobby.  Was I not worthy of the almighty, very sharp scissors?

We all go and get new blades for our rotary cutters but then come to class with the oldest, dullest scissors that don't even cut bread.

We can't sew without scissors. No rotary cutter will ever take the place of a good pair of scissors.  I want you to make sure that you have at least 4 good pairs of scissors in your sewing room.  I didn't get mine all at once. It is like a fine collection, you add one at a time. My dream sewing room would have 50 scissors at every station and then I'd fill the kitchen junk drawer with the Kmart specials.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Larger, heavy 8" dressmaker shears like Gingers. I have 2 pairs, one for fusible art quilts and one for regular fabrics.

2. Medium size with a serrated edge. I just got a pair of Karen Kay Buckley's new scissors that I love.

3. Small, sharp embroidery.  These are so sharp and pointy I have cut my fingers on them many times but these are a must for applique. I have them in every project bag.

4. Thread snips.  I like the models with the curved tips and keep them by the sewing machine at all times. Don't cut fabric with them, they are just for thread.  I learned that the hard way.

Now you can fill in your collection with your favorites. The more scissors, the better, and, by all means, get dad a new pair of toenail cutters.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Everything is Upside Down

Today, everything seems to be upside down.  Not just because I am dyslexic and look at things that way but because I think the world is just crazy right now.  Here at the homestead we have had a really frustrating couple of weeks.

I was trying to help my husband out with his crazy schedule, so I got him a gardener and a pool guy to take a little of the pressure off him. I know, I am such a great wife.  But within  the week the new gardener broke our sprinklers and the main water pipe coming into our house.  The new pool guy said our pool sweep was bad and we needed a new one at $$$$$, and my computer died.

So we come home last weekend from visiting our son and had no water. It is now Wednesday and we still have no water. That means no shower and, worst of all, no dying fabric.

Joe is soldering the water pipe out in the front yard as I write this. Joe found the pool problem - it was just a hole in the filter bag, an easy $35 to fix.  Someone is getting fired.

OK, before you get your violin out and play me a sad song, it really isn’t that bad compared to many of the years Joe and I had real struggles. I was trying to remind him of that last night as steam was shooting out of his ears trying to solder the pipe in the dark.  I have found that screaming at your husband to "calm down - you're going to have a heart attack" may not be the best advice.

How quickly we forget that not to long ago our lives where a constant struggle. One right after another. Sometimes 2 or 3 at a time.  Back then I wish it was just a broken water pipe but we all have them, things like serious health problems, family problems, finances, IRS, threat of being sued, yellow house incidents, drug addicted neighbor problems. OK, maybe yours are a little different.

Lets just say our faith in our fellow man is rapidly fading this week.

I guess it stared when I asked Joe to help me with my computer problems, which I seem to do all the time. I do have a direct connection to my own personal Geek Squad just a shout away.   He will patiently sit down and fix whatever mess I usually cause.   But this time it wasn’t me.  And it was really bad!
Wednesday, October 31:  Fabulous Fusible Flowers - Zinnia
While my sweet man was working on my computer he accidental knocked it to the floor.  And                                  that was the end.  Now fade to black if you’re inclined to act this scene out. 

It went downhill from there. So for the last 2 weeks I have had no emails, no calendar, no contacts. You get the picture?  And I forgot the best (worst) part - no photos.
Now the good part.  This amazing man has somehow fixed most of my computer by switching out the thing a ma-jig and downloading the widget and crossing the thing a de bob with the giz-mo and somehow I'm able to write this blog. I still cant take a shower but we are roughing it this week.

But my pictures are still a problem.  It seems that I like to take photos and there are hundreds of thousands in my computer.  That’s why I was having problem in the first place.  Photos take up lot of megs or midgets or something like that.  So when I went to write this blog there are no pictures of the Zinnia to show you for the upcoming class in Houston.  So I took more photos with my iPhone because my son still has my good camera (which I will never see again) and I downloaded the new pics and they all keep showing up upside down.  So I would rotate them and then they would still show up on the blog upside down.  Isn’t this fun?
So welcome to my world that is always in a state of crazy. And if you are moved to leave a comment that I should  have backed up my computer, I will come and get you. 

So here are the new pictures of the old Zinnia.  I am making up lots of different colored fabric kits for our classes so hopefully you can get the color you like. I will also make extra kits. Well, that is when we get the water back on.

For the class you will need to bring a yard of background fabric.  The yard is more than you will need but you may want to be creative after I show you some new ideas I have for this pattern. The color can be any color you would like your flower to be on.   The more choices you bring, the better. Black is always safe.  If you don’t like what you brought we can get more at lunch time. We are at the biggest quilt shop in the world!

HINT: In most applique classes you start with the background fabric, but not in my class. We will start with our flower petals first, then (about after lunch) add the best background color to the petals. We want our flower to pop off the page so I wait until you can see how it is developing to add the best background color. I will also give you some tips and tricks to help you pick the right colors.
Work on the petals first.
I just want you to know I will not leave you hanging in class.  I will help you all along the way. You won't be without any water, so to speak.  I want you to be successful and get what you paid for.
Then add the background fabric!
Then I will show you how to add other fabric colors that aren't in the pattern to add sparkle and highlights to your flower and makes it yours.
 Here I added some turquoise blue for sparkle on the leaves.
Thread Play on the back.
I will give you information in class on how to do the Renegade Thread Play to finish off your quilt when you get home.
Thanks to those of you who kept reading to the bottom of this blog.  I love this flower, even if the pictures want to be upside down.  If you have any questions about class or plumbing please email me at  I am here to help, even if I send you a picture that might be upside down.  Got to go, the real plumber just arrived.  Hooray!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Classes for Houston

Sorry I haven't written in a while - it’s been crazy around here. But what is new?  Had a wonderful time teaching at the AQS Grand Rapids show in August and can’t wait to do it again next year.  But now it's time to get ready for the Big Show and I don't mean the Ringling Brothers are in town!  I mean that other big Circus, the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.  If you have never been you have to go once in your life.  It is always amazing and very creative and inspirational.  

I have been working hard on my quilt for the silent auctions.  Last years winner got a really good deal on a fabulous, one of a kind quilt designed and made by me.  Here is this years quilt called "Fuchsia". Who is going to be the lucky winner?  I can't wait to see.  And Mom, if you are reading this, you can't bid.

Thread work on the back.
This year at IQA I am teaching and then teaching and a little more teaching.   So I wanted to get you and myself prepared for the Big Show.  If you have signed up for one of my classes here is some more information about them.  Over the next few weeks I will talk about the classes and my process in dying the fabrics and answer any questions you may have about the classes and what to bring.  If you’re not signed up you will miss all the fun.  Plus, I share with my students tips and tricks that I have learned over the years and share any mishaps that might be going on.  Usually they involve me, myself and I and some wacky incidents. What am I saying? It always involves me and something stupid. Last year’s show was no exception - just read about my windy day dress incident in a past blog.  I don’t plan on repeating that one.
Here are the days and classes I am teaching:

Tuesday, October 30:       Fabulous Fusible Flowers  - Bluebonnet
Wednesday, October 31:  Fabulous Fusible Flowers - Zinnia
Thursday, November 1:   Fabulous Fusible Flowers - Bluebonnet
Friday, November 2:       Renegade Thread Play
Saturday, November 3:   Saturday Sampler - 10am - noon
Sunday, November 4:      Sleep in and see the show then go home and sleep some more.

So let's start with the Texas Bluebonnet Class. Now, if you are from another state you will notice that we all  have a similar flower called by a different name and they may vary in color and size in each state.  In Texas is it called a bluebonnet   Here in California it's called the lupine.
I even have an oil painting by my grandmother, Lois, that she painted of bluebonnets in a field in Texas
It is a fun and striking flower to have and make. And all skill levels are welcome. Grandma would have loved this.

The class includes a hand dyed fabric kit with all the flower and leaf fabrics to make your bluebonnet. I have been busy hand-dying the fabrics and they look great.

You need 1 yard of a background fabric that you want to see your flowers on.  If you are not sure what background to bring, it always safe to bring a lot to choose from.  I will help you make that decision and give you some great tips on how to pick the right color for your flowers.  Remember, we have a 2 hour lunch and you can always go shopping.  I know its tough but someone has to do it.

We don’t start with the background fabric - we start with the flowers then add the background.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Whee! 

Email me or leave a comment if you have any questions.