Monday, April 25, 2011

quilt class four

today was my final, official day of class. ideally we should have bound our quilts. in the four hours i was there i managed to do a bunch of scrapbook shopping, eat lunch, sew together strips for my small inner border, resew every single seam of those strips at least once, attach the border, discuss my children's social lives and a bunch of other personal stuff with mequell, and decide i didn't like the way the border turned out at all, so now i'll have to unpick it and redo entirely.

basically i did nada today. pretty sad. i didn't even think to grab my camera and now have no pictures of the finished works of the other ladies and no photo of mequell, jill, and i together. i was tired and didn't feel the least bit like sewing. that is apparent by my output. i'll now have to finish off the quilt at home. actually, today i felt like putting the quilt away entirely and not thinking about it for a very long time. if the 8 year old wasn't waiting so longingly for it, i would do just that. (can you guess i'm having feminine issues?)

maybe wednesday will be more productive for me when i go take the freemotion quilting class. i hope!

girls at work

my older girls have been busy cutting and sewing all on their own. they've made some interesting and useful creations. i'm pleased with their initiative and creativity. i hope improved skills will come with time. i'll admit i'm the tiniest bit sensitive to what they wear or make because we're homeschoolers. even though i love that we do school and life our way, i don't want to look like one of those really strange, completely out of touch with fashion/reality families that were the stereotypical idea of homeschoolers once apon a time before it was so main stream. at the same time, i want them to be confident in their own likes and abilities. it's a spectrum that runs between being overly-conscious of what others think and not being all-out weird. this is shallow of me, i know, but there it is.

the eight year old made this apron, complete with pocket. she just cut and stitched, eyeballing the design. she says it needs some ties so it will stay close to her body. it could also use some turning and hemming, but she doesn't care about that. i figure when her stuff unravels enough, she'll start to care. or maybe by then she'll be tired of this and ready to repurpose it.

my twelve year old made this bag. she loves it. the doggie paw print is totally her even if it's not me. but it's her purse, not mine. i do like the ribbon strap and pearly pink flower button closure she chose. she whipstiched the entire bag together. not the most fashionable, but she's very happy with it. some of her friends admire it too, so i'm probably being overly-sensitive. none the less, i'm proud of her for making it.

no one sewed this, obviously. i just came across it while scouring their room for sewing projects and thought it was really funny.

the 8 year old has also been busy making clothes for her only hearts dolls. brianna is sporting a skirt she made. in fact, she's been so busy making them clothes, the upper room of her doll house appears to have been turned into a fashion studio. i like it.

this gal looks like she could have gone to school with me in the 80's. her entire outfit was made by my enterprising, creative daughter.  and she even has a slipper for a divan to rest upon. their bedroom floor is constantly covered with their imaginative games, all elaborate tiny worlds put together from odds and ends for their dolls or littlest pet shop animals.

i really do love their self-made creations. it's great they have the confidence to just try whatever they feel like making. i know if they keep at it, their skills will improve. and i've been lucky enough to find a local lady who gives sewing lessons in her home studio. my nieces have made some killer bags in her classes. you'd never have guessed they were sewn by a 7 year old. i think lessons with her would be the perfect push in the right direction for my girls, not to mention really fun. i just need my sister to email the info to me. (hint, hint, marcee.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

oh snap!

my poor, poor snips! i love these little scissors. they've been a good companion to me on my sewing journey for the past several months. i didn't know why you needed a pair of shears and snips until i stopped using my shears to cut threads and started using these little darlings. they went everywhere with me in my "on the go" box and i used them to unpick a lot when i didn't want to get my seam ripper out. then they went and slipped out of my hand as i was walking over my tile, landed perfectly point down. oh, boo hoo! i don't know if they can be fixed or not by the scissor folks who do sharpening. their precise, exacting little points are now hooked. and even if i did use a coupon, they weren't cheap! just one more reason to rip up all that tile and get hardwoods, i guess.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

easter projects?

this morning i got to thinking about easter this weekend. it's been creeping toward me all month. i've been watching it approach out of the corner of my eye while i madly scramble to complete so many other projects. now it's almost here and our annual extended family egg hunt on saturday, as well. i'm hosting my entire family (parents, seven siblings and their spouses, 25 or so grandkids) for a brunch and the hunt in less than a week. yet this morning, i couldn't help but wish i had made some cute spring skirts for my girls for this weekend. really, could it be that hard? maybe some aprons for their baskets? everything else on my sewing block can wait until next week. except maybe the four square blanket i need to make for a baby shower on thursday. while i was thinking of possible easter projects, i remembered some bright and spring-y prints i recently picked up. they'd do for aprons for sure:

so should i forget everything i need to do, dig up a pattern or maybe run to the store? sure wouldn't be responsible, but golly, easter is this weekend! when else do you sew for your chickies if not for easter?

Monday, April 18, 2011

quilt class, two and three

last week, on class #2, i took several photos of everyone elses work, but neglected to get one of me while working. that tends to happen somehow.

mequell and her cute piggy tails got busy cutting her strips. then she got to tackle working with minky, that snuggly yet slippery stuff. i hear it's miserable to work with, but worth it. haven't been brave enough to try yet.

carol, who didn't want to be photographed with her blocks, and her friend heather are both using oh, my! by sanae for moda. totally different look from my quilt. so much fun variety.

lucinda chose just wing it by momo for moda. i've got a jelly roll of this line, too, and am waiting on yardage, which will of course only wait on the shelf when it comes in. i really like some of the small butterfly florals. not a fan of purples, generally, but i don't have to buy the whole line now do i? i like the pinky reds, blues, and greens.

hard at the pedal, front to back: louise, marge, and marti. everyone was at different stages of completion, mequell and i being the least done, i think. we'll get there. slow and steady.

diana looked farther ahead, but she's actually a hold over from last month's class. love the soft colors in this line: breakfast at tiffany's by fig tree for moda. it's got some very sweet polka dots.

and here's a cheesy picture of me with my two different block styles. i went home with good intentions, but then my week got packed and by the time i had free moments on saturday, i didn't feel the least bit like sewing. after running some errands with my baby girls, i lounged in bed and read a whole book. really nice saturday!

this monday, i was ready to get down to business again. so ready, that i didn't even bring my camera since i promised myself i was just going to sew my little heart out. i of course immediately regretted that decision. jill did take a photo of me with my chain pieced blocks, but i don't have it. i did sew a whole lot, and even got permission from the mr. to stay longer than usual. but my top is not quite done. it needs it's small inner border and a larger outer one. i'm thinking i'll just make the thicker border out of the "snow" fabric, but i'm not decided just yet. this is what i brought home from class:

getting these laid out within the pattern bounds of alternating block styles and not having any of the same color next to each other as well as trying to have one of each color in each row of five was rather like doing a sudoku puzzle. i could never get it exactly right. the two blocks with the blue pattern in the center turned out too close to each other, but overall it's pretty balanced. now i just need borders and the top is done. i think that'll have to wait til class next week. we're supposed to bind next week, but i'm taking the freemotion quilting class next wednesday night and want to wait to learn how to stipple quilt this. at least it frees me up from worrying about sewing on it at all this week when there's so much else to do for easter.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


ever broken a needle before? i hadn't. but here lie the remains of the three i broke in one week until i figured out how to reset my new machine's starting needle position. that's the problem with these fancy new electronic, computerized machines. they think a lot, but not enough.

the needle position was preset for "left", yet two of the feet i was using only allowed for a centered needle. it's not hard to adjust, but every time i turned the machine off, it would reset. and i did have a problem remembering to reset the position every single time i turned the machine on. with little ones around, i make it a habit to turn off the machine whenever i walk away from it, even if just for pressing a bit. then i sit back down, flip the switch, and go, only to be greeted with a horrible cranking sound, grinding, and a loud "snap!" pieces go flying and i about have a heart attack. yikes, that's scary.

i'd seen in my manual that the needle's up or down position could be reprogrammed, but i couldn't find how to reset where it landed. it wasn't in the index, which i checked a few times. so the upside to my horrible home ec experience when i thought i'd broken the entire machine was that while frantically searching the manual for how to fix my bobbin problem, i ran across how to reset the starting needle position. no more broken needles - yay!

and did you know they're magnetic, which really helps a lot when retrieving fragments.

Friday, April 15, 2011

looky what i finally did

anyone recognize these? i finally got down to work on my giveaway headbands. my college roommate and bestest old friend (as in "a long time" not she's old) was coming into town and i owed her a headband, so i decided to lay the quilts aside and get down to business. on the original headbands i made, i just used the one i bought and sorta traced around it for a pattern. it worked fine. but when i saw sandi henderson's cute headband and pattern in the spring quilts and more magazine, i felt it might be better to have a real pattern. it was easily adjusted by the addition of the tie tails. however, these worked out a bit thinner than my originals. i think i'll widen the pattern by 1/4" on each side.

i experimented with some new flower styles: a twisted rose and the swirly ruffle. the ruffle needs a button in the middle or something like that. and i'm not digging the yellow bit in the teal flower. overall, though, i like it. jen and i did some boutiquing and i got a few more ideas for new flower styles to try out.

while the quality of these are better than my originals, they definitely still have a bohemian, hand-crafted feel to them, complete with individual quirky charms (mistakes), but i was pleased with how quickly they came together: twenty minutes flat per headband! of course, i then realized i'd forgotten the leaves. that will add another five to ten minutes each. i completed seven on tuesday evening, so only three more to knock out. now i just need everyones addresses so i can mail them. in fact, i think i have enough of each fabric that you could actually request which one you'd like.

followers who qualified for the headbands include:

heidi t (come on over and get it, girl!)
susan @ tickled paisley
janiel deboer (jen has yours!)
martha alcantar

in case you forgot, i offered a free headband to each new follower, numbers 6 - 10. there is actually still one more left because 1 person has signed in under two accounts and i had to follow my own blog in order to be able to contact the followers.

alas, the surprise packages for the first five followers (shannon, jen, mel, bran, and amy s.) are still not complete. oh, i promise i'll get there. maybe if someone can get my husband to leave the house with the kids for an entire day?

Monday, April 11, 2011

accurate seams. or not.

i had a horrible time with my seam matching on my "taite" blocks. i couldn't ever predict accurately if i was matching them up or not. it was completely hit or miss. part of my problem might be that i don't pin, but pinning doesn't ever seem to give me better results, so i gave up on that to save time. also, jill and i went with the modern quilting trend of pressing all our seams open, which might have made it harder to match up those opposing seams. i can't wait to see how much we've scandalized louise when she discovers that we didn't press to one side like she told us to. well, elizabeth of oh, fransson  recommends it in her book practical patchwork, my current personal favorite book and quilting bible. and nettie of a quilt is nice was just trying it out. lots of quilters use this method now. i like it, too. it is twice the pressing, but can be more accurate. except maybe when getting opposing seams right.

i think maybe i should rename this blog "sloppy quilting" because i'm so not accurate and quilting is all about accuracy. i just keep telling myself i'm learning, wonky is nice, and "it will be okay." my quilts are getting done whether perfectly or not and that, for now, is good enough for me. this is a complete shift in paradigm from where i once was on the perfectionist continuum. one thing i did this week that has helped out in the accuracy department tremendously is to purchase a 1/4" guide foot. it's a dream! someday i'll take a picture of it when i have the macro lens on my camera so you can see the little guide bar that runs along the side of the foot. all i have to do is keep my fabric lined up along that bar and i have a perfect 1/4" seam. it's magical! my machine has a nifty see-through plate so i can keep an eye on the bobbin thread, but it makes gauging my seam allowance pretty tricky. i felt like i was skating all over the place as i tried to piece my quilt. this $13 little do-dad has solved my problem. i totally recommend it to any beginner or accuracy-challenged sewer like me.

ps - here's the foot:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

rainy saturday sewing

woke up to wonderful washington state weather: lots of rain, overcast skies, and plenty of chill in the air. weather seems such a common topic to talk about, but it really does affect our daily life and choices. thanks to the very welcome rain, soccer was cancelled and kids, cousins, neighbors, and friends are all inside the house. i put on my favorite surfer sweat hoodie and socks to keep snuggly, then got to work on some sewing projects. first up was some unpicking. not the most fun, but it was handwork i could do while the kids danced to some tunes in the living room.

when i started machine quilting "out on a limb" last weekend, i initially had a few problems with the quilt moving through the machine. the result is some quirky spots where there are teeny, tiny, minuscule stitches that totally don't match up to the rest of the quilting. not only are they unsightly, they're a bugger to unpick. it took me over an hour to undo a few inches. but it's one of those mistakes i'm not willing to overlook because it was sooo awkward. i know it would bother me every time i looked at the quilt. i may have gotten past perfectionism, but i still have my standards.

when all my little dancers moved on elsewhere and i'd finished my initial phase of unpicking, i pulled my machine downstairs to the dining table to work on the quilting some more. i like sewing on the dining table because then i can be in the middle of the house and family, rather than hiding alone in my cave, and the table is so much bigger for spreading projects out on.

i also talked the 8 year old into getting out her sock monkey and joining me.

monkey came as a kit from  joann's. her cousin got a matching one for her birthday in january, but so far they both only have a body, head, and legs.

i had to change over the bobbin thread to sew some monkey parts. that's when i had what i call a "home ec" moment. those are the times i feel like i'm a completely incompetent sewer back in middle school, trying to get through a home ec project. whenever i start to feel that maybe i've moved on from "beginner" status to "confident beginner" i have these crazy home ec moments. and this was the biggest one i've ever had. i thought i'd actually broken the machine. no matter how many times i reloaded the bobbin or adjusted the tension, i kept getting huge loops on the underside of the stitching. the machine began making these terrible cranking noises and quit running all together. i noticed the bobbin case was twisted to a funny angle. that's when i thought i'd busted it. a gal at the quilt shop i know has the same machine and just had to send hers in for repairs on the bobbin case. unfortunately for her, brother is a japanese machine and because of all the upheaval there, it's going to be six weeks before her machine is fixed. oh, yikes! i thought i was in the same boat this morning. i figured out how to remove the bobbin case and reload it properly. but it kept twisting around every time i sewed. after 45 + minutes, i finally noticed the thread was not properly threaded at the top of the machine. then i remembered a number of other times i've had this exact same problem. hey presto, all better! whew, that was scary. when will i ever get past these silly mistakes?

now i'm off to finally get that machine quilting under way. wish me luck.

Friday, April 8, 2011


***giveaway announcement below - scroll down***

jill came over today so we could work on our quilts together. my bawthroom sewing area is only big enough for one, so i moved down to the dining table to accommodate jill. it was a breezy, beautiful spring day so i opened up the french doors to our courtyard opposite the dining room and we caught all the sunshine and fresh air while we cut and pieced. lovely.

i wore my hostess apron because i was hostessing or because it's the new fashion trend hot off the runways or just because i wanted to. any of the above. but it looks like i shouldn't have worn it quite so high. and i wasn't brave enough to wear it when i ran the girls on an errand to the pet store even though i was secretly hankering to.

we cut and pieced and pressed from nine to noonish. oh, yeah. and chatted a bunch. what a nice way to spend time with a friend.

these are the blocks i already had pieced before we started. there are 10 total with the "primrose tile" print in the center and a creamy moda solid "snow" border (not applied here yet) and 10 more with "snow" centers and "primrose tile" outer borders.

i love working with these bright, cheerful prints. in fact, i kept thinking "these are such happy, cheerful prints" so often as i've worked with them that i've decided to name the quilt "taite" which means cheerful. anyone who knows my 8-year old this quilt is destined for will know how appropriate this name and quilt is for her.

friday is designated "craft day" around here. part of our school time is devoted to crafting whether it be catching up on projects or a trip to the store. four of the kids were actually at the zoo with dad this morning, so it was just the older girls and i around to craft. after jill and i had been quilting for a while, i asked my 12 year old what she was going to work on. she replied, "a tie dye shirt." then i asked her when she planned on starting. she replied, "i already did it. it's out on the back porch." she'd dyed her tee all on her own with a kit she bought a few weeks ago. i was completely surprised at not only her initiative and independence, but her stealth. 

"i come in peace" she said when she showed me her crafty hands. then she looked at her green hands and pink finger nails and decided she had witchy hands, not alien hands. all kinds of imagination at work in this girl.
 i thought the 8 year old would get to work on her sock monkey, who only has a body and legs so far, but she hid out in her room doing some mystery project instead. then she came downstairs and mooned over her quilt, wanting to know if she could "help" with it or run the foot pedal for me. alas, no. this is not a project i'm comfortable involving the kids in.

jill was smart and chain pieced her squares like louise showed us to. she whipped out the first set in no time. when she'd finished the first run through and held up her chain, i thought it looked a lot like a cute party banner. i may  have to go get some of her blue polka dot material and make one.

i'd forgotten about the chain piecing and had spent much longer getting my blocks together. thanks to jill's example, instead of doing one block side and one block at a time like i'd been doing, i laid out my final 10 blocks then figured out how to chain piece and press them. so much faster! now i just need to put the outer borders on and i will be done with my homework.

v and co pattern giveaway winner(s)

sorry if i've kept you in suspense all day. here's the giveaway winner.

drum roll, please . . .

"mrs. lucas" is the winner of the two v and co patterns. congrats, S! let me know for certain which two you want and what email you want them sent to.

AND . . . don't get too disappointed yet. i've decided since the entrance pool was so small to give one pattern to each of you. so, please email me {hydee ann sews (at) gmail (dot) com, with no spaces in there} to let me know which pattern is your favorite and what email account to have them sent to.

my only request is that y'all share what you make with me when you get it done. please!

congrats everyone and happy friday.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WIP wednesday

***scroll down for v and co pattern giveaway***

i've had a productive sewing week, less productive housekeeping week. in preparation for my church's general conference weekend, when my family would be spending 8 hours over saturday and sunday listening to leaders give us uplifting, enlightening, and encouraging addresses, i tried mightily to get "out on a limb" to the point where i could do all the handstitching on the binding while i listened. seemed like the perfect opportunity. alas, i didn't get quite that far. but i did get my 8 wonderful hours of listening in. seriously my favorite two weekends of the year. my favorite talk was probably this one on parenting.

quilts under construction
"out on a limb" - completed top, backing, sandwich and basting; 1/4 machine quilted

projects started:  new quilt for beginning quilting class- top pieces cut, strips for checkerboard pieced and cut

on hold:  "at last" still needs its ruffle

in the wings: about a dozen quilt projects

trips to the store: one to joann originally for rotary blades and picked up a new book and quilt mag also; one trip to scrapbooks etc for quilt class with my gals

in the mail: received fabric i ordered for new follower giveaways

Monday, April 4, 2011

quilt month

*** if you're looking for the v and co pattern giveaway, scroll down***

yes, yes, i know. officially, last month was national quilt month. but i'm taking a quilt class this month and finishing off my first self-designed quilt, so this is my personal official quilt month.for the next four weeks, this blog will be mostly quilt talk. i realized again while spending most of my day last friday valiantly trying to finish "out on a limb" before saturday, that quilting is lots of work. it's a big project. i enjoy it, but it does take a lot of time to get anywhere with a quilt. i'm looking forward to some small projects like headbands, aprons, and pincushions just as soon as these two quilts are done. or maybe i'll have to squeeze in a few small projects along the way, just for fun and the sense of accomplishment finishing small things brings.

 my friends, jill and mequell, and i are tackling beginning quilting together. i took the class last november and (mostly) completed my first quilt, including machine quilting it myself, but i was ready for some more instruction and a new pattern. with only three quilts under my belt, i still consider myself very much a beginner. mequell & jill have both sewn before, but not quilted, so i feel we're pretty evenly matched. the class runs mondays from 10:30 to 1:30, which just flies by and is never enough time. i got a few shots of our first class this morning, but we were so busy listening and getting started that i really didn't shoot much at all.

these are my fabrics, all from heather bailey's various collections. my quilting experience would have been much simplified if i'd chosen a jelly roll, but i really wanted to use these gals, so i set myself up for tons of cutting. louise, the teacher, surprised and delighted me by showing me how to die cut my own strips today. whew! that saved tons of tiresome cutting and time. it was like making my own jelly roll. sweet!

with 22 fabrics, i still had plenty of pressing to do. endless pressing involved when one is quilting.

jill is as picky as i am when it comes to fabric selection, so she was in the same pressing and cutting boat. by the end of the class, we were lucky to have finished cutting all our strips.lots of homework for both of us. the blocky quilt on the right side of the photo is the sample of the quilt we're making. it's a square within squares with a border, 4 blocks by 5 blocks and one big outer border. i'm always amazed how differently the same pattern will look when done in different fabrics. i think mine will look a lot different from louise's sample.

mequell was smart enough/lucky enough to find a jelly roll in fabrics she liked for this quilt. she was able to get down to piecing her strips right away. love the look of intense concentration on her face. gotta get those 1/4" seams perfect! those are her fabric strips in the foreground, sugar and spice by riley blake. i wish i'd taken a picture of their fabric piles before we started, but i didn't.
louise is such a wonderfully patient and encouraging teacher. she always makes me feel good about what i've done, even if it's not perfect. she will endlessly repeat and demonstrate instructions with ultimate patience. today she walked us through the entire process all the way up to piecing the blocks. none of us are even close to that and i bet my friends felt overwhelmed by the time we had to leave. but i've been around this block once before and i know that even though our heads were ready to explode, they'll do great and get caught up soon. it'll happen.  jill and i will probably be getting together later this week for a piecing party now that we have our strips cut.