Childhood Revisited: Burn the evidence or use spray paint

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We all had that friend/sibling/pet (insert someone here) as a child who gave you a plethora of humorous stories to tell while you are sitting around a table/campfire/car trip with friends. They left you with the kind of stories that bring tears to your eyes or left an inside joke to tell for years. WordPress has offered up the Daily Prompt called Childhood Revisited to share the story.

Last week I was talking to someone who had asked me about my childhood. I revealed that I had moved 13 times before I was in grade 3. They asked me if I thought I had an awful childhood. Are you kidding me? I had an AWESOME childhood! I had Aunties that treated me like a princess, Grannies that spoiled me rotten, parents who took me to Disneyland…a LOT, and a brother who was my pal, my minion and a terrorist.

You may think having a terrorist for a brother was a bad thing. Not necessarily. It’s not like he killed anyone (that he would admit to) nor was he evil. He was the sort of fellow that thought everything bad was a good idea, as in LETS TRY IT OUT! If it was tame, he always replied with “Pffffff, I can do that but it’s too easy.” When we watched Ripley’s believe it or not or In Search of.. He usually said “That is so fake”. But he believed in Aliens and the Supernatural. Scientific stuff, not so much.

He is 1.5 years younger than me. We like the same things and got into the same trouble. We spent 99% of our childhood grounded. He was the best blackmailer on the planet and more stubborn than anyone I know. My kids often ask for Uncle stories. Now that they are old enough to know better, I will share this one.

My brother had the coolest room EVER. It had Star Wars wallpaper on every wall, his bed sported matching sheets and comforter. He had all the best toys from Star Wars action figures to Steve Austin the Bionic Man. THe best part about his room was the bed. It was a Captian’s Bed. the mattress was on a raised platform high above the floor with 3 drawers and 2 shelves underneath. Often we would play under his bed. Behind the drawers was space. It seemed huge, I think back now and it must have been only  a small narrow space, but to us it was a fort. Large enough for any adventure either with or without the action figures. We usually wore a cape and rubber boots for obvious reasons.

I sometimes had a sleep-over in his room on a Friday night. We would squish together and sleep under his bed. Sometimes we told ghost stories and he would share his experiences with The Hand or The Blue lady, ghosts that visited him regularly. One night, I said out loud, “I wish we could have a campfire.” My brother looked at me and ran out of the room. I figured he was going to ‘tell on’ me, like the snitch he usually was. But he didn’t. He went outside to the side of the house and brought in wood chips. He placed them on his carpet in a pile. I looked at him questionably, and he said “I took dad’s lighter.” I said wait until I get back.

I ran up stairs to the kitchen and grabbed a pie tin, the lysol can and a glass of water – you know Safety First! Then I returned. I suggested we put the wood chips in the pie tin so the carpet doesn’t get wrecked. “You know how mom gets” then he tried lighting the wood chips. The chips wouldn’t burn. So, me being the brainiac of the bunch, I suggested we use the lysol as a torch. I sprayed the can and he ignited the spray with the lighter. Before long we had those wood chips burning – under the bed. We sang a few songs and told a story but the smoke was really bad. I was scared mom would smell it so I said we should put it out before she gets mad. Luckily I thought ahead and brought water!

Well…the water didn’t work so my brother ran to get more. 5 cups later the room was FILLED with smoke and we were in danger of being grounded AGAIN. I opened up the window – of course it was the middle of a Canadian Winter and the window was FROZEN shut. My brother thought we should use the lysol torch to thaw it. It worked like a charm except we noticed scorch marks on the window frame. MOM WAS GOING TO KILL US! We finally rid the room of smoke. I tried washing the scorch marks but it was no use. We needed to paint. Luckily for us my brother had a closet full of model spray paint but the labels were messed up with different colours. It was hard to tell which colour was in each can. We needed white.

My brother grabbed a can and sprayed it in the air – black. Wrong colour. The next can he sprayed in the air – white, SCORE! We carefully painted the window sill and cleaned up our mess. I sprayed the room with the remains of the lysol so no one would be the wiser. We noticed the time and quickly jumped into bed – dad was about to check on us for the night.

Moments later, Dad opened the door and said, “Lights out, good night.” Phew…we made it.

In the morning we were up watching Saturday morning cartoons when my mom called us. We looked sheepishly at each other and wandered into my brother’s room where she stood in the middle of the floor looking at the ceiling. “What is that black mark on the ceiling?” CRAP it was a black spot from spraying the paint in the air to see what colour it was. We both shrugged our shoulders and said in unison, “I don’t know” and we slunk away back to the family room to finish watching The Justice League.

I look back on that adventure and sometimes think “WOW we could have DIED.” But sometimes I think, “There is NOTHING my kids could do that I have not done.” But mostly I think, “I am thankful to have gone through my childhood with my brother.”

Love you lots Dumbdumbuglyandsmell

Step by Step Chenille Baby Quilt

I was frustrated with the lack of detailed instructions for making a chenille  baby quilt. Sure I could find all types of instructions, but I wanted information for someone who has never made a quilt before. I never did find one complete with picture and non-quilter lingo.

 

I love the feel of chenille and flannel. For a baby or and young child, these seem like the ideal cuddle blanket. To make the same one I have, you will need the following,

  • 5 meters of flannel – I used the same print for the front and back. When choosing the fabric for the chenille, I pulled colours from the printed fabric so it would coordinate.
  • .5 meter of flannel for the binding. Some people use a satin binding pre-packed from the fabric store. I find satin doesn’t hold up well to many washings. Since this is a baby quilt, it WILL be washed many times over. Flannel is soft too and you have the advantage of using the background fabric or contrast, the choice is unlimited.
  • 1 spool of Mettler No.100 274 meter poly-cotton thread. Old thread sitting in your sewing box will lose it’s integrity and will break frequently. Spring for a new spool.
  • 1 #11 sharp needle for your sewing machine. You may break it, but if it is new it is sharp enough to poke through 5 layers of flannel. Less chance of breakage. You needle dulls over time, so consider changing it after 25 hours of sewing.
  • Rotary cutter or a sharp pair of shears (large scissors used ONLY FOR FABRIC).
  • If using shears, you will need tailors chalk in a colour that contrast with your fabric.
  • Large ruler or omnigrid. I prefer an omnigrid because of the lines to ensure a straight cut.
  • Cutting mat if using a rotary cutter.
  • Binding clips (these look like hair clips – wait they ARE hair clips that I bought at the dollar store!)
  • Safety pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • obviously a sewing machine – you could hand sew this but I would die of boredom, you good luck to you! I have a walking foot attachment on my machine. You can purchase a roller foot if you don’t have one. It helps to pull all the layers through the machine together at the same rate, so there is less slippage and puckering.
  • Seam guide attachment – this prevents marking the quilt and helps with guiding you to creating a straight seam…helps but you still have to take ownership 😉
  • small thread scissors

 

I didn’t use a quiltbat because flannel is warm. I wanted a floppy feel to the quilt so the child can drag it around like Linus does. If you decide to use a quilt bat, use a thin cotton so shrinkage stays the same. Buy extra needles because 6 layers of fabric is

I had the gal at the fabric store cut my 2m of background fabric in half. Sure I could do it but, why do I want to when she is willing and able? I had her cut the .5 meter separate as well too. Then I knew I could get straight to work.

I never pre-wash anything. Shocking right? There are several reasons for this.

  1. the sizing on the fabric ( its like a starch added to the fabric in production) keeps the fabric stiff and easier to work with, especially cutting!
  2. I like the look of shrinkage after the quilting (quilting is the sewing of the layers together) is done. It wrinkles between the quilting and it makes it look vintage and pre-loved.
  3. Fabric rarely runs any more. I have never had that problem and when I do, I dunk the entire quilt into a tea bath and dye it to even out the colours. Again, a nice vintage look.
  4. When working with raw edge flannel, the more fraying the better.
  5. The binding shrinks at the same rate as the quilt, less pressing (ironing) and sharper corners when mitering.

I layered my fabric on the floor in the following order:

The Quilt base:

  1. Background fabric
  2. Quiltbatting – I omitted this step
  3. Top fabric – Be careful to place these two pieces of fabric WRONG sides together. The good side of the fabric will be on the bottom and on the top. Wrong sides are sandwich together inside the quilt.

The chenille – layered next on top of the “top fabric”

  1. Print – right side down, so the top right side and the print right side are touching. This fabric will be the dominant colour throughout your quilt. Choose wisely.
  2. Second colour – right side down
  3. Third colour – right side up.

Layering is the most important step and crucial to get right. The fabric will not be straight or square. That is okay, we will square it up after sewing the layers together.

Pin all the layers together with safety pins about every 8″ apart.  Straight pins will work but they will stab you once you are at the machine. Straight pins will also fall out, jeopardizing the integrity of the carefully matched layers.

For the chenille process to work, you must sew on the bias. The bias is the diagonal direction of the fabric – the stretchy part. I started at the corner and sewed a “straight line” to the other corner. First of all, I did not sew a straight line because I did not mark it out. Secondly, this is not a square quilt so I ‘eyeballed’ it. I am not a perfectionist. The Amish who are near perfect quilters always add a humility block because only God is perfect. So I am lazy AND not perfect. It works for me. The only one who will notice are other quilters, babies don’t care about perfection, they just want to be warm and to be cuddled.

I set the seam guide attachment at one inch from the needle.

Once I had sewn the first seam, I would line that seam up on the elbow of the seam guide and use that as my seam allowance.  I had a quilted seams through 5 layers of fabric every inch. I sewed half the quilt on the diagonal so it appeared to look like a half-square triangle (half the quilt = triangular quilt lines). The other half of the quilt I sewed perpendicular to the original quilt seams.

Once the sewing was complete, I cut the top 3 layers of the fabric between the seam lines. You can purchase a chenille cuter from Olfa, but for $56 I figured I could use my scissors. Be careful to only cut the top 3 layers or you will cut your quilt in to strips and have to start all over again. I am happy to report I did it correctly!

 

It was at this point when I thought i should have set my seam guide to 3/4″, the chenille would have been shorter and closer together. However, i do like the finished product of being able to see the top or background fabric.
After cutting, i used my Omni Grid Large Square to cut and square off the quilt. At some sections of the quilt I had cut off a good 1 1/2″. The important part is to have the sides fairly straight and the corners true. This makes a difference when sewing on the binding. I have seen many demos where a dinner plate is used to round the corners. People tend to do that when they are unsure of how to miter a corner. Don’t worry, I have your back. I’ll show you how.

The Double Fold Binding

I use a double fold binding to had body and weight to the quilt, and it is a more durable option for quilts that will be laundered frequently.

I carefully folded my 1/2m with salvage edges together (the edges of the fabric that is finished from the factory, not the cut edge from the store). I line up the salvages and cut them off and discard.

Then I measure a two inch strip and cut using the rotary cutter. I cut 6 of these strips. You really only need 5 and a bit for this size quilt, but I like to have lots of extra for the mitered corners.

Piece together the 6 strips of 2″ flannel so you have a very long single piece of binding.

Fold fabric in half so you have a 1″ narrow binding and press. (Press not iron because you do not want to stretch or shrink your binding before it gets on the quilt)

Finger pin (because I hate the extra step of real pins, I just hold it with my fingers) the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the TOP of the quilt.

Start about 6″ away from the corner. Never start the binding at the corner.It is easier to hide the extra fabric of  the finished binding on the side of a quilt rather than the corner. Sew the binding using the edge of your pressure foot as the seam guide around the raw edge of the quilt top. Ensure the pressed fold is “elbow” down. Once you meet the beginning of the binding, fold the start over about 1/2″ and continue to sew the binding over top for about an inch. it will be bulkier but there will be no raw edges and thus will be a sturdier binding.

Fold the binding over the the edge using the pressed elbow crease at the cover of the quilted layers. The pressed crease should fit over the edge of the quilt giving it a finished look.

Flip over the quilt to the backside.

Fold the raw edge of the binding under towards the pressed crease. Using binding clips hold the binding in place, ready for a blind hem stitch.

 

The Mitered Corner

There is a trick to it and if you are able to watch a video it might make more sense. To me a mitered corner is what sets quilts apart. It has a polished and professional look.

Sew your seam and stop 1/4″ from the edge of the corner. If you are using the pressure foot as your seam allowance, it is that distance you need to stop from the edge of the quilt.

Back stitch to lock your stitches and keep the binding secure.

Insert a pin on the diagonal from the corner. This will be the miter guide.

Fold the fabric up allowing it to be guided by the pin.

Remove pin and hold in place with your fingers. Fold fabric back down along side the edge of the fabric  – be careful not to lose the mitered fold.

Sew from the edge of the binding and back-stitch to lock into place. Keep sewing and repeat steps for every corner.

Flip binding over the quilt. Use a blind stitch to secure the miter.

If this is your first mitered corner, you should practice on scrap until you have the hang of it. Then do it on the big quilt. I have a practice sample I made the mitered corner, complete with my hand writing all over it with tips and tricks notes for me.

Once the binding is completed, hand stitch the backside with a blind stitch.

Trim all your threads and get ready for the fun part.

This is my completed pre-washed quilt. You can see slight ruffles starting to happen. You will notice at the top the yellow ends and the green begins. I didn’t pay attention to the width of the fabric. The yellow was a smaller width from the rest. I used it anyways and I liked the colour variation it gave.

I washed and dried it using regular soap and fabric softener. Then dried it twice in the tumble dryer. Being so thick it needed two dry cycles.

Once I removed it, I cut all the loose threads. It stopped being so yellow and the plaid of the under-fabric became the main colour. Here is a close up of the chenille.

After holding this quilt for a while, I entertained the thought of making a larger one for cold winter movie nights. Likely won’t happen, but who knows?

It took me 4 hours to sew and cut the quilt and 2 hours to bind it. I did it over a two-day period. The closer together the chenille, the more sewing involved. That is what takes the time – and all the cutting. The more frequent the washing, the softer it gets.

So tell me, have you made one? How did it go?

Reno Time!

My sister came over to drink Bacardi fruit juice today. We sat on my deck and talked, caught up in each other’s lives while I was suppose to be doing homework. She I invited her family over for dinner. An impromptu affair of hotdogs cooked over the fire and a salad with, of course, more bacardi fruit juice. It really was fabulous. We laughed and talked, and watched the neighbor put an addition onto his deck.

You really need to see this deck. It scares me. This guy’s deck if one story off the ground. About 10 feet high. He crippled or laminated ( I do not know the terminology) the beam to the old one, with a few nails. He has added 2-3 feet of extra deck without supports. I’m am worried I will come home one day to carnage in his back yard. Him and his wife laying on the ground below with little “x’s” over their eyes, and a ring of birds flying in a circle over their heads. When I say birds I mean vultures. Nothing good can come from a guy whose saw spews out blew smoke because the blade is too dull and makes up the plans as he goes along. I am guessing he doesn’t have a permit.

Apparently you don’t need a building permit to build stuff. Take THAT Mike Holmes, shows what YOU know!

I know this because on my many, many walks around the city I see the results of non-planning popping up all over the place! You all know how I feel about having a PLAN. It is just good sense to plan and be prepared. That is what good goal setting is all about!

Let me share a few examples of people saying to their spouse “Honey, I think we should build a….” Knowing they should HIRE someone, but watch enough HGTV to know they can do it themselves. Afterall, how hard can it be? Anyway…. I was walking past a home, and noticed four walls going up on a deck that is built high off the ground. A balcony of sorts. The guy is building an In-Law suit with a DECK as the foundation. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure they didn’t have a permit for that. How do I know? I am blessed with the gift of COMMON SENSE. I live in EDMONTON. Edmonton has summer 3 months a year. My summer is Bokkie’s winter, so she would disagree profusely with my definition of summer. Being that it is winter the REST of the year, building a room on stilts is going to be cold. He needs to super duper insulate that sucker. -40 is FREAKING COLD in January. This isn’t Aftrica or the Middle East or even the USA. This is CANADA. You say CANADA and you instantly think Great White North, Touques, beavers, moose, igloos and Beer. Maybe that is the problem, too much planning and building happen while sitting around a Newfie Kitchen Party drinking screetch. No good can every come from that!

So, of course, my sister and I were drinking Bacardi fruit juice and started planning like good Canadians do…

We decided I need an in-law suit on my deck. We could staple a pool or hot tub to the side of the deck to free up floor space. It could be lovely! Throw down a few ikea rugs for warmth, tack up some walls and viola! A perfect extra home for my Mom if she wants to live with us! It would be perfect for her because A> she doesn’t use heat in the winter now, so she won’t miss it and B> I want to come home to my mom’s dinners again. Win/Win!

Then we talked about my garden shed. I refer to it as the Cabana. It is located beside my wading pool. The one I love to float in and read all summer in the olden days before homework. My Garden Shed would be perfect for my Dad! Put up a hammock add a few vending machines, maybe a tred- mill, and my dad would be perfectly happy. It has electricity so he could play Mah jong on his computer. It isn’t insulated, but that shouldn’t matter, he is use to mom not allowing heat in their home.

See how Canadians come up with brilliant plans? Who needs permits? Not us! Now you know why we value our publicly funded health care system.