The Ides of March

Ides of March

When I was in high school, the incredibly dweeby drama kids would go around campus on the 15th of March saying “Beware, beware the Ides of March!” and it took the rest of us a day to figure out what in heavens name they were talking about.  My apologies to you if you were one of the drama kids — dweeby, or not — but apparently Julius Ceaser was stabbed 23 times on the Ides of March.  Ides come from the word divide, which brings me to the the process taking place in my life: once I divided all that stuff in my sewing room in boxes, how do I get it all back in there?

It began with the dividing:

March SRoom redo_1.jpgMarch SRoom redo_1March SRoom redo_2March SRoom redo_2a

We eventually moved all the boxes back into the sewing room, and it’s pretty daunting to see all your stash that way.  I had wanted a glass top on my sewing desk for-e-ver, and bit the bullet and had a piece of glass cut really big to fit the top. When I got home, I realized there was no way I could get it upstairs (my husband was traveling) so the young men across the street who lift weights for fun, were willing and able to get it upstairs for me.  I paid them in cookies.

After I winnowed down the boxes, the fun began: the design wall needs to take shape.  In the past my design wall was made of foam core artboard, but when I went looking for it this time, it was not to be found in the size/thickness I needed.  And the next best thing was going to cost me over a hundred bucks.  So I used the advice found in Christa Watson’s post, and purchased two insulation sheets at our local Big Box Construction store.

I didn’t want to use a giant bed sheet like she had, as I had been spoiled by having a grid on my old design wall.  So I hunted/haunted the internet and soon found a gridded flannel made by Robert Kaufman on Amazon, and snapped up six yards.  Measure before you buy, as we had Just Enough.   I did NOT pre-shrink it, as I needed every inch.  I cut it into two three-yard lengths, sewed it together along the one long (3-yard side), matching the grids.

I set it aside while we did this:

March SRoom redo_3

My room is much smaller than Christa’s, so we had to cut down the insulation.  We used a linoleum knife, which has a hooked shape and a sharp blade on the inside curve.March SRoom redo_3a

Then we had to account for the outlet on my sewing room wall.  First (above) a template made out of newspaper).  We took that upstairs and traced around it, then double-and-triple checked it.

March SRoom redo_3b

We even checked it against the real wall.

March SRoom redo_3c

Back down in the dining room, on the dining room table, we taped the two insulation sheets together using white duct tape, only better stuff than duct tape.  I don’t know what it was, but it really holds.March SRoom redo_3d

I taped around the cut edges of the socket hole.March SRoom redo_4

Like Christa, we laid out the flannel, and stretched it around the boards, stapling it in place.  The staples did NOT like to go through a double layer of flannel, and we didn’t quite stretch hard enough, but it doesn’t affect the performance in the least.

We followed her advice and purchased these screws and these washers.

March SRoom redo_6

Slipping a screw into a washer, we placed them top and bottom and two on each side of the foam insulation seam.  While the foam board seams go East-West, my flannel seam goes North-South for stability (which you can see in the photo, right in the middle).  The covering does pucker a bit and my husband asked if I wanted to re-do it.  I didn’t.

March SRoom redo_6a

Why does it not matter that much to me?  Because I like to cover my design wall with Thermolam, a type of fleece.  They have renamed it, so look for this number —  TP970  — on the bolt. (Here’s a post on how I did my old design wall.)  I had thrown my old Thermolam/Quilters Fleece/Whatever in the dryer to fluff all the threads off from previous use; it works fine.  I smoothed it out over the flannel, using straight pins to keep it on, and letting it overlap by 1/2″ at the seam (which you can see in the photo below).  It really grabs the blocks and pieces much better than the flannel by itself, and is easily cleaned by running a sticky lint roller over the surface.

March SRoom redo_7March SRoom redo_7a.jpg

I cut out around the electrical outlet and pinned that into place, too.  Immediately I put up the blocks I’d received from The Gridsters, who jumped into #sawtoothmania feet first.  I have only one I’m waiting on, but will start playing with them once I get the last one.  Their signature blocks used my Tiny Envelope pattern, found free on this blog.

March SRoom redo_7a

Most recent item was the Daylight lamp, suspended over my cutting table.  My husband screwed it onto my window sill for me, as I couldn’t figure out any other way to get it here.

I emptied the last box today, which was all my doo-dads that had been placed all around the room over the last 15 years.  I love my doo-dads (I’m not a minimalist) but after living with clear walls for a month, I edited down what I want to hang back up. I also sorted through my scraps, separating them into strips and scraps, and found the bottom of that bin, not seen in too many years.

Old Recipe Card_1

That process has a parallel in this recipe card.  It’s one of a collection of cards that I’d purchased at a garage sale some twenty years ago.  I’d had it at the back of a shelf, always meaning to go through it, and use it to form the backbone of that novel I meant to write when I was in grad school.  Who was this woman who had used this recipe for the spaghetti sauce so much that she had to affix on the corner with a straight pin? I went through all of her cards, photographed some (you may see them again), but threw away most. I’m kind of at a dividing line in my life. Much like I realize that there will be no more spaghetti sauce made with this recipe again,  I also recognize that there will be no novel written about this person, whose recipe cards I purchased when her children cleaned out her house and sold them to a stranger, standing on her front lawn.

In the last few weeks, I have gone through nearly everything in my house with the exception of the kitchen and family room, and like my scrap bin and like the box of recipe cards, I have had to distinguish between the old life that looked forward into mountains of possibilities, and this current one that gazes backwards, happy with what she sees, no longer wishing to be the caretaker for old hopes, for old dreams. While I realize that there still remains in me a creative force, it flows in different ways.  Yes, the scraps that were divided reminded me of projects I’d done, as well as suggested promises of what might lie ahead. But who was that young sewer who cut up all these fabrics?  I hardly know her now.

Today I dutifully divide what might have been, from what is probable now.  While I wonder about that quilter from the past, I must work with this version of me that is sitting here sorting: relinquishing those bits, those scraps, opening up a space for what calls to me now.

Old Recipe Card Box.jpg

Cleaning the Design Wall

Since I am away from the computer for a while, I’m running a few favorite, previously published posts.  
This one originally ran on July 22, 2010, but is modified for today’s post.
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Here’s the before:

The during:

The after:

Okay, that’s not a very exciting thing to do, right?  We want all our sewing tools to keep on working, day after day, no complaints, no breakdowns, no upkeep or maintenance required.  But it’s such a little thing to take a few minutes and cheap-o lint roller remover and stroke down the board.  And really, is the Before picture really so objectionable? Yet, what surprised me is how many of the threads that came off on those sticky papers were seemingly invisible to me.

But since I did it yesterday, just walking into the room is different.  My pin wall is thread-free (for the time being) and it makes the room look cleaner.  It made me think of the premise behind Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: that an epidemic can start with one small thing and roll on out from that.   It’s like how picking up the towels in the bathroom and rehanging them triggers a cleaning of the sink.  Or washing the curtains makes you repaint the bedroom.  I’m talking about those kinds of mini-epidemics, that are just one person wide and one person deep. Those changes I make myself.

My sewing room (aka The Study) had been a mess since we arrived home from our trip to Canada and I just didn’t seem to have the mental energy to put the things away.  But I cleaned the threads off the wall and now I’m putting away those little naggy things that linger after travel is done.

So maybe, taking time off to take care of things has unintended consequences?  That this can, in some ways, apply to our own creativity level?  That taking time off to clean out a few cobwebs, have a walk on the beach, or take a minute to sing along to a popular song in between shuttling the family to various places is like cleaning the threads off the design wall?

boyinwaderpool

Perhaps a little mental maintenance on our own selves is why summertime is such a tonic, even if we don’t know what ails us.

Design Wall Recover, In Progress Quilts

Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced with this post.

WIP on

First up, re-cover my pin wall.

New Pinwall

(1) How I built my pin wall: 2 sheets of 1/2″ foam core art board taped side by side, covered with gridded flannel bordered by plain flannel.  I wish I had more gridded flannel, but at the time, that’s all I had.  I have seen it at JoAnn’s.  Then I wrapped this layer to the back and stapled in place using really short staples, then covered that with tape. I then affixed it to my wall by using door jamb covers–long rounded metallic bars, each about six feet in length; I used four: two for each side, top and bottom.  I also put a flat washer on two screws and screwed them into the wall at a stud, at the midseam of the foam core art boards.

Pin wall 2

(2 & 3) Over that, I layered this Thermolam Plus, using straight pins to anchor it into place. The fabric really sticks to it – like magic, and when it gets all thready, use one of those sticky roller things that is used to clean off clothes.  NOTE the number on the upper left side (TP970).  That will save your bacon when you go into buy more, because now they’ve renamed it Quilter’s Batt or Fleece or Something or Other, and you just have to go through the bolts to find this magic stuff.

The little pin cushion hangs on my pin wall with giant corsage pins.  I am not a pin-cushion person, although I have many beautiful ones given to me as gifts.  This little one holds these pins which are helpful for holding large swaths of cloth, like when you are smoothing a quilt backing onto a quilt top already on the wall to check for size.  Or for holding necklaces, notices for doctor’s visits, etc.  I put all sorts of stuff along the edges of my pin wall.

Ironing Board Cover DIY

Next up was a new ironing board cover.  I fell in love with this sewing machine fabric when I saw it on the Fat Quarter Shop, and of course they had it to me within two days.  It’s by Timeless Treasures and is pattern # SEW-C1485, if you want some.

I just trace out my old cover, leaving GENEROUS seam allowance width all along the outside edge (like 1-1/2″ and that doesn’t even seem like enough).  Make a casing, leaving an opening at the bottom.  I thread through some old hem tape (notice the lady’s hairdo is right out of the 1980s) but warning: 3 yards is not enough (I had to piece some more on the ends).  I think the picture of the ironing board up on its end looks like one of those bugs that goes into that position when tapped (stink bugs?).  There are many good tutorials online for making ironing board covers, if you do a search.

Alberta Slab

What other works in progress have I been working on?  I made this “slab” for the Alberta Flood quilt block collection, hosted by Cheryl Arkinson of Dining Room Empire.  The deadline is July 30th, and so far she has 276 blocks!

MCM Block July 2013

Finished my block for the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  Deborah of Simply Miss Luella wanted a house block of any kind.  I made my favorite one, and happily, she loves it!  You can find a PDF to download here, where I made one for another bee.

Rhonda's Hot Mitts

And finally, hot mitts for my friend Rhonda for her birthday (which was in June–sorry, Rhonda).  Happy Belated 29th birthday, Rhonda!!  May you see many more 29th birthdays!  Tutorial is here.  It’s also one of my Finish–A-Long projects–that makes TWO down, and many more scary ones to go.

FinishALong Button

And lastly, thanks for you all your sweet comments about going to a retreat.  I’m working my way through replying, as it seemed to strike a chord with many of you.  I appreciate the time you took to write and leave your thoughts–it enriches us all.