My Nemesis, the Trumpet Vine

My neme-neme, ooh my neme-nemesis…

One of the reasons we bought this house above all others was the GREAT garden. The original owners were big into the landscaping and even created a lovely brick raised bed with a trellis and a wooden path. The previous owners said they almost pulled it out – sacrilege! The trellis had some brown vine winding around it in March and the P.O. said it was big with a red flower.

Yeah, it was big.

This was what it looked like when we moved in in June.

nemesis_before

So I spent an hour outside every evening, getting bit by mosquitos and trimming this thing down to size. My neighbors said that if it was trimmed down, it would bloom. Blooms meant identification!

Identification meant horror.

nemesis_after

I got it trimmed down – not prettily, since most evenings I was just hacking as much off the top as I could reach. But I did try to save some longer vines and wind them gracefully through the trellis. It was going to look beautiful, I just knew it. And then it bloomed and those bright orange flowers were quite pretty!

nemesis_closeup

Oooh, pretty but evvvvvvvvil! Quite like chenille. Except chenille doesn’t reproduce. My brother-in-law identified the blooms as trumpet vine. I did some internet research. I came to the conclusion that a nuclear bomb wouldn’t be able to remove this vine from my garden.

Who the hell planted this thing? Why? O.O. were, by all accounts, great landscapers. Although it’s overgrown, we have nothing to do but trim things back to normal shapes. I was even able to clear out the back of the raised bed and plant my tomatoes.

But this trumpet vine… I am pulling it out of the raised bed, from the opposite corner of where it was planted. I am pulling it out of the wooden slats of the walkway. I am pulling it off trees on both sides of the bed. I’m surprised I haven’t found it in the front yard yet!

I trim weekly, and I can barely keep up with it. If I wait an extra day, it looks like the picture from when we first moved in. There’s an empty bird’s nest in the top of the trellis. The birds probably came home one day to find they couldn’t get inside due to the vines winding over top of their nest the few hours they were away.

So I pull. I trim. I look up the cost of uranium online.

I think getting a landscaper to remove it when they come trim the bigger tree branches in the fall will be the best option.

For now, I just hope my nemesis doesn’t choke out the tomato roots.

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My New (Old) Singer

So yesterday while quilting the airplane baby quilt, I took a picture, ready to complain about the utter lack of space under the machine’s arm. I mean, look at how bunched up that is! And it’s just a little baby quilt! It’s a nice little machine – my mother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas several years ago. Got bunches of fun stitches, works fine on blocks and little craft projects. But quilting? Ugh. And free-hand quilting? Not a chance!

airplane2_quilting

On a related note, a local sewing shop went out of business. (Walmart closed their fabric department, this store closed, I think I may be cursed!) They auctioned off all their stuff last night. I went, expecting maybe to get some deals on fabric or patterns or maybe some sort of fabric holder/display thing. They had about a half dozen Pfaffs and Berinas, but there were some serious quilters hanging around and I knew my chances of getting one at a cheap price was limited.

There were four antique sewing machines up front to start the auction. And…no one bid! Not even at $25!! Granted, they were missing parts and who knows if they even worked – but they each had their own sewing table and the table was worth it! So I bid $20 and got me a 1950 Singer sewing machine! With a Singer Centennial (1951 – year my parents were born!!) sticker! Without a power cord or foot pedal! Woo!

1950singer

OK, I basically know nothing about vintage sewing machines. (Except they’re effing heavy, hence why the poor thing only made it to the garage.) I don’t even know the model number, though I know because it has an AJ in front of a number that it was made in 1950 in Elizabeth, NJ. (Woo! North Jersey!) The Singer website does sell power cords/foot pedals for $50. And manuals! Will probably need the manual. There’s quilt store two towns down with a repairman on call, so I’ll be calling to find out what he can do with vintage.

And meanwhile – wow, look at all the freaking space under that arm!! I can’t wait to free-hand on that thing! (Or if it never works, well, it’ll be nice to finally have¬† sewing table for my other little machine!)

Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 2:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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Another Airplane Baby Quilt – Fabric & Pattern

It’s really not my fault. My husband’s in the Air Force. Most of our friends are Air Force. Most of our friends who have boys go with the airplane nursery theme. I’m not one to talk – the Wee One’s nursery was airplanes. (Now it’s a wonderful mix of space, airplanes and Mickey Mouse.) So when my friend J found out she was having a boy, I got ready to make another airplane quilt!

At least my sister-in-law is having a girl and has requested butterflies. And my next quilt for an Air Force friend will be monkeys!

So I got started on this one while in Virginia visiting my parents and continuing to live like a vagabond. (Virginia would be the third state and fourth address in nine months. Oklahoma is the fourth state and fifth address in ten months. Being a military family is super great!) Being a vagabond meant my sewing machine and the pattern I did for the last airplane quilt are in storage in Oklahoma.

But that’s ok – J got an assignment to England, so I had to make it quick, which for me, means a nice simple block quilt. I thought I’d pick some nice different types of fabric, like fleece and flannel and chenille, like all those pre-made block quilts you cn buy and finish at Joanns and Hobby Lobby.

Yeah, those suckers are not made by real people. Chenille SUCKS to quilt with. Luckily I got to leave all the delicate seam ripping to my mother. Love you, Mom!

Fabric choice was not too bad (though I’m sure Mom and the Wee One, who were dragged all through Joanns, would disagree.) We found some dark blue Air Force fabric right away, and debating using it for the front or back. After not finding much fabric that matched, we decided it would be the back and picked the following for the blocks on the front:

plane2_fabric

Clockwise from left top: blue terry cloth, blue & yellow stars on flannel, airplanes on polyester, stars on (evil) chenille. There were 17 blocks of airplanes and 6 blocks each of the others. And of course, now I don’t remember the yardage.

I cut everything into 6.5″ blocks because I couldn’t decide on a pattern. On paper, they all looked bad. Laid out, it was a harder decision. I asked on Facebook, and it became obvious that all the women in my family have OCD.

(A)plane2_design1

(B)plane2_design2

(C)plne2_design3

Design A didn’t look right with all the deep blue in the middle. Design B was random (as random as my OCD mother and I could make it.) Design C split up the deep blue and won the Facebook poll.

My original goal was to get the entire quilt done on Mom’s machine and shipped off to J before they left for England in July. The top went together fast – especially since Mom handed me each set of blocks ready to be sent through the machine. Even though we had issues with the (evil) chenille pulling and bunching and generally being evil, we had the top done in two hours.

(BTW, chenille melts when you iron it. It’s evil for quilts!)

Mom taught me to baste (next post) and I was all set to machine quilt it together and have it on its way. But Mom’s machine disagreed. Poor old thing. I suppose with a walking foot or maybe better thread it would have worked, but at that point I should have been packing for Oklahoma. So we gave up and decided I would finish it as soon as I got my sewing area set up in Oklahoma. After all, we had until July….

Yeah, J is in England already. She even has a house there. I think the baby is due in six weeks. And I still haven’t quilted it together. Thank goodness for APO addresses, at least! My goal is to get it quilted and bound and in the mail by the end of the week. Since the husband is off on yet another TDY, I have plenty of spare time! *sigh*

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An Easter Basket Made from a Placemat (Making the Basket)

This poor basket was made in a hurry after I finished the placemat – with lots of phone calls to Mom! I had to take the sewing machine from Texas to Oklahoma as soon as I was done with the basket, where it sat in a storage unit for nearly two months. And I could have hand-sewn a handle, but we left San Antonio three days after Easter, so I was a bit on the busy side with the packing! But, months later, we’re finally settled in Oklahoma. Everything is unpacked (including the hard drive with the Easter Basket pictures that I didn’t have access to for two months!) and I’m ready to catch up on quilts!

Which I need to do since my sister commissioned one, I’m doing two baby quilts for Christmas for my cousins, my sister-in-law is due in September, I have two friends due in August and November (and the November one will also be getting my first doll quilt!) and, to top it off, I might try to get a booth in a holiday marketplace, with doll quilts and crayon rolls and other little things. Good thing the Wee One is going to school in a month! Of course, this isn’t counting the Wee One’s always-in-progress Cars quilt or my niece’s perpetually-in-design quilt.

ANYWAY – like I said, the Easter basket. It’s from JCarolineCreative and I don’t understand the directions. OK, folding the placemat in half and sewing up the sides, I got.¬† But “Step 4,” the folding of the cone? Nope. I called Mom and she tried to understand/explain it to me. She also said I should try pinning it and checking if it was right before sewing, to eliminate the need for seam-ripping. Obviously she doesn’t know me all that well.

easterbasket_attempt1

This is NOT how you fold the cone. If you do, it will look like this:

easterbasket_attempt2

Seam ripping time! Mom and I had a long debate on getting this right, specifically focusing on the part that says you should stitch across 6″. In my first attempt, I was only stitching across 3″. I blame Mom, she should have realized (over the phone) that I was doing it wrong.

easterbasket_rightway

Even though it is awkward to fold it like this, THIS is how to do it. The top of the seam should be at the corner. Sew about three inches down. Six inches across, just like the instructions say. Go figure. Flip sides, do the same to the other, andwhen you turn it right-side out, it’s a little basket! Minus a handle, of course. If I had time, I would have tacked down the excess fabric (the portion the seam ripper is resting on above.) And if I had a lot more time, it would make a nice purse template once you put in a liner and a magnet clousure as well. And a handle – yeah, handles are important. I didn’t have time!

easterbasket_finished

And the Wee One? Got himself some marshmallows.

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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