Friday, September 14, 2012

Mitered Corners

Okay, first the disclaimer:  I am not nearly clever enough to have come up with this on my own.  This method was something originally taught to me in a class several years ago and I've tweaked it as I've come across ways that make it easier.  It works for me.

1) When you are ironing your border strips, iron one set one way (i.e. toward the quilt) and one set the other way (i.e. toward the binding).

So you end up with two of each of these strips.

2) Stitch your first border on, leaving as close to exactly 1/4 inch unstitched at the beginning and end as humanly possible.  If you're having a hard time figuring out whether you'll have enough fabric for the miter, fold up the corner like this to check.  In this case, I'll be sewing off toward the left and the pin is marking where I want to line up the edge of the fabric.  Always leave a little extra fabric!!

I line up my fabric, put my needle down one stitch past where I want to begin, do a single backstitch, then sew forward to 1/4" from the end, backstitch one stitch and clip threads.  Iron borders out.  Don't go crazy backstitching because you don't want a lot of thread bulk in the corner here.

3) Stitch on the next border the same way.  This time if I want to know if there's enough fabric for the miter, it should look like this:

Note how the border to be sewn extends beyond the border already in place.  Again, always leave a little extra.

Hopefully when you've finished sewing those two borders on you have something that looks like this:

4) Now for the miter.  Take your top to a large, flat surface and fold it on the diagonal.  The diagonal fold should bisect the corner tip of the quilt center, pass through the center of the seams that have just been sewn, and, in an imaginary line, extend all the way to the other corner.  Now is the time to nest those border seams.  I've found that if I make a good diagonal, then carefully nest the seams and line up the strips carefully, the miters turn out sharp every time.  The beauty is this works well no matter how many strips you have.

Now I lay my ruler on top of the diagonal and mark that imaginary line out through the borders.
Pin carefully, especially along seam lines.  Then fold down the seam joining the top to borders, pin toward the top and redraw anything that got wobbly in that last inch.  Hopefully that line will meet up with your previous stitching from sewing the borders on.  Sew along the line, being careful to only stitch to the seam where your borders are sewn, no farther.

Now it should look like this: 

Trim the extra fabric and iron seam open from the back like this:

Now turn it over and give it a last press on top.  Hopefully it looks like this:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ann and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

Looking on the bright side, I don't often have these days anymore. I used to feel like they were a weekly occurrence. -The kind of day for which this blog is named. You all know the feeling, I'm sure. Hanging on by mere fingernails-the only thing saving you from the bottomless chasm below. Wednesday, unfortunately, was a by-my-fingernails, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

It all started innocently enough. On Wednesdays I attend a meeting at our church in the morning where the calendar is planned and then I make any changes needed to the master calendar. Just as an aside, before I started doing this, I had absolutely no idea how seriously church leaders take the calendar. It is a BIG deal. Anyway, since the car dealer is only about three blocks away, I had made an appointment to take the van in to get this really annoying creaking fixed. Something is wrong with the seal of the sliding rear door that makes it creak loudly and sometimes constantly while it is closed and the van is in motion. So I dropped it off, walked to the church and attended the meeting. During the meeting, my cell rang. I politely excused myself and took the call. It's the dealer with the news that they weren't able to duplicate any problem noises (OF COURSE NOT!) and what they are hearing is just normal noise. -I am telling you, it is NOT normal noise. I can only guess that the van decided to behave for the short period of time they were road-testing it, because if they had heard it at its worst, they would have immediately fixed it. I arranged to pick it up when I was finished and will take it back without an appointment on a day when it is especially obnoxious. Annoying and unproductive, but nothing earth-shattering yet.

About a half-hour later, the meeting is over and I'm still at the church making changes to the master calendar in the computer when Devin calls. Evidently, the shower head in the master bath of our house in Florida had sprung a major leak the day before, flooding the area under the vanity, inside the wall and seeping under the wall to flood the dining room on the other side. That would be the dining room where we have laminate flooring, virtually impervious to everything BUT water! Although Devin handles most things to do with the house (financing, property manager, bills, renters, etc.) he wanted me to handle this because I'm more familiar with our house's mechanics and up-keep (construction materials, drywall repair, painting, etc.). So I embarked on an afternoon-long marathon of calls between me, Devin, the property manager, and the guy from the water damage company who is at the house estimating the damage. To make a long story short, this little shower head snafu is going to end up costing about $1500-2000 - and that's if the laminate doesn't have to be replaced. Luckily, there is no mold growing inside the wall so that is one headache averted. I need to add here that the reason Devin handles most of these issues is because I get really stressed out over them. This was no exception. I was feeling faintly nauseous by the time everything was settled.

BUT WAIT!! There's MORE!!

By now it was almost dinner time and here I was with no dinner started. I pulled one of my emergency meals (tortilla soup - YUMMY) out of the freezer and stuck it in the microwave to begin defrosting. I wanted to get SOMETHING useful done for the day so while it was defrosting, I pulled out a ham I had cooked the day before to finish carving it up. I had just put it out on the counter, pulled out a knife, and MAYBE sliced one or two pieces when Dylan came back from playing at the neighbor's house. I could tell immediately that something was wrong, so when he bypassed me, saying "nothing" was wrong, and headed to his bedroom, I dropped everything and followed. It took me less than five minutes in the bedroom to find out that his arm hurt, he'd been jumping on the bed and fallen off, nothing else was wrong, etc. His arm hurt just above the wrist and there was only a tiny bit of swelling but when I pressed the bone on top of his arm up toward the elbow, it still hurt at the wrist. Yup! Broken arm - independently confirmed two hours later in the emergency room.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Joke of the day

A friend sent me this the other day and I just had to share. Which of us with children hasn't been here at least once?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Daddy's sudoku quilt

This was the only Christmas present that didn't get done on time last year. It's a lap quilt for my dad, who loves to do sudoku puzzles. In this pattern, fabric is substituted for numbers, making a sudoku grid out of colors. I lost count of how many times I checked this to make sure I hadn't twisted a block - the equivalent of screwing up a sudoku writing in pen - except I wouldn't just throw this out the way I could if I screwed up a written sudoku. I also did numbers in trapunto in the single blocks in the top and bottom borders. I was able to give it to him in person when we visited last week. He loved it, which makes me very happy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dylan and scissors - or - Dylan and pictures

Dylan has a thing about scissors. I'll never forget the day I picked him up from kindergarten and was met by his teacher, wearing a grave look on her face. He had capably ventilated the school t-shirt I had just gotten for him the day before, reducing it to rags with those blunt paper scissors they use in kindergarten. On the bright side, that must have taken a lot of determination, something I definitely want to encourage. On the not so bright side, he then had to save his money to buy a new t-shirt, which I know was a huge disappointment for him.

Dylan also has a thing about pictures. If we are going to get pictures taken, he is almost guaranteed to draw a boomerang with a Sharpie on his forehead, fall and give himself a shiner or do something else to make it seem from photo evidence as if he is horribly abused and neglected.

Two weeks ago he decided, in a moment of inspired brilliance, to marry his two passions by taking the scissors to his own hair without the benefit of a mirror, cutting off his bangs in big hunks. He did this the day before school pictures. When I asked him why he had done it, he readily informed me his bangs had gotten too long. When I asked him why he didn't get me to trim them, he didn't have an answer, but I suspect it must be a source of great joy to him to leave me speechless, which happens way too frequently. The way he's wrinkling up his forehead here makes his hair look lumpy, but not too short. However, he cut it SHORT! I ended up just leaving it alone because he would have been left with an exposed hair line by the time I got it blended.

Needless to say, that's one set of pictures I won't be ordering.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Movie review - Monsters vs. Aliens 3-D

For those that are interested, I thought I would review "Monsters vs. Aliens 3-D", which we saw while we were in Montana.

First of all, the boys loved it. My parents, who had never been to a 3-D movie, were extremely impressed, too. I, however, am a little more jaded. That's probably a result of having had a year's pass to Disney World, the mecca of special-effects entertainment.

The 3-D that was on the screen was fabulous. I think it probably had the most depth of any 3-D movie I've ever seen. It was consistently good throughout the movie, too. However, there was very little that came off the screen into the audience. I think "Voyage to the Center of the Earth 3-D" was better for that kind of effect. Also, I was a little disappointed with the writing. Some of the animated movies are so clever that they are a joy to watch again and again. "Fern Gully", "Shrek", and "Monsters, Inc." spring to mind. This movie was entertaining but, if it hadn't been for the 3-D, I think it would have been totally forgettable, blurring into the mass of animated movies most parents of young children end up watching. I left feeling disappointed, because it could have been a really great movie. It had 3-D, good animation, big budget, good premise, etc. In the end it just fell a little flat.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Break/Memory Lane trip

Well, we did end up going to Montana last week for spring break. I'm always hesitant to go this time of year because it's still cold but it can also be muddy and all that goo can freeze, making driving conditions really treacherous. There are two pretty high passes to go over in Idaho - Fourth of July (3173ft.) and Lookout (4725ft.). We were fortunate (and we had checked the weather) on the way over and the passes were clear and dry. So the drive over was uneventful - just the way I like it.
This is the sign at the bottom of the hill where my parents live: For the first several years after we moved here (I was in second grade), there were only two families beyond this point. There was us and there was a neighboring family who lived about 1/4 mile away over a hill. We both lived to the right, the road to the left was a largely unused, rutted, logging road. The area right behind the sign is where we had a pasture for my first horse, Twister, an 18-year-old palomino gelding. There was also one spot in particular that was the best place on the property to dig up worms for fishing. Now there's a sign to keep track of everyone and it's almost like a neighborhood in town. Most people can see at least one other house from their driveway. It got too crowded for my parents down below, so they moved farther up the mountain. They're still the last ones on the road.

It was a fabulous way to grow up. I wouldn't want to move back now but I really regret that my kids can't grow up "free-range" the way I did. In the summertime we had to be back by dark (around 10:30pm) and take the dog (to chase away bears). There were no worries about human predators because for miles behind our house it was all forest service and logging land - we only rarely even saw other people. We knew how to find our way down the mountain if we ever got truly lost, but we never did. We knew all the logging roads, abandoned cabins and landmarks for miles around.
Because there were so few people, there was lots of wildlife. We saw bears quite a few times. My parents even have a bear skin rug on the wall that killed three of our pigs before my dad shot him. After that the Fish and Game believed my parents when they said we had bears (before that they had told my parents that there were no bears that close to town) and F&G would come out to trap and relocate them. There were the occasional mountain lion, skunk, moose, and elk - more often we would see signs of them or hear them (or smell them in the case of the skunk) than actually see them. There were also coyotes, birds and lots of deer. One of my clearest memories is going to sleep on a warm summer evening listening to the coyotes yipping.
Anyway, the boys love it up here. They get to run wild for at least a few days, although I do insist they stay within sight of the house so they don't get lost. This week, they spent 1-3 hours a day just playing in the snow. They also got to see a decent assortment of critters. This flock? gaggle? idiot? (Okay, I looked it up. It's a rafter of turkeys... and that would've been my next guess, lol.) of turkeys was crossing the road as we drove up the hill one afternoon and the tom was clearly daring me to MAKE HIS DAY! I was really excited but my dad hates the turkeys. He says they're dumber than rocks and crap all over everything to boot. I still think they must be smarter than he thinks because they know enough to make themselves scarce around mid-November.
We always see lots of deer but this one was a treat. This picture is taken through one of the windows at the front of my parents' house. The windows are reflective enough that the animals can't see us inside the house and this deer was close enough to pet at one point (assuming we could somehow reach through said glass).
Anyway, we had a great time. The boys were very well-behaved - believe me, that is never a sure thing and I do NOT take it for granted, I got to visit with my oldest friend (in years of friendship - 30+) and my parents got to spend some time with the boys before we move this summer. It almost makes me wish there were another spring break between now and when school ends so I could do it all over again.