Wednesday, December 26, 2012

wip and a happy little helper elf

thanksgiving weekend i pulled "taite" back out. i spent hours pressing all those darn seams on the back because they'd gone haywire since the last time i worked on it. i think i hate pressing seams open. it seemed such a good idea when reading elizabeth hartman, but this was not the project to try it on - way too may small seams going on. i felt like i wasted so much time doing that pressing, but it was a necessary build up to finally getting my border on.

the border had me worried because i wanted to do one long cut - over 60". guess what? i did it! and it worked. no elbows or nothin'. i was very proud of myself and grateful, too. then i went and sewed the wrong sides together on my first strip and had to spend a whole lot more time unpicking it, time i could have been sewing the other strips on.

and so it goes. i definitely saw surprising improvement in my cutting skills, but i am no expert yet. still making mistakes constantly. sometimes i wonder when it will come naturally, if ever.

after most of a saturday, i finally had that darn border on and my top is complete.
now to piece the back.

i spent most of this past saturday figuring out my back, cutting the main piece, and putting together all the little leftover squares from the front to work into the back. about 1/3 done as of now.

this is what my dining room has looked like most of the month because i am not picking that top up again until i have it sandwiched and basted. i've blocked it off with chairs and it has worked pretty well except for when the dog runs in the house, some cousins want to look at the candy houses, and when my happy little helper elf decides to examine my work:

she just wanted to be by her mama since everyone else was gone. i loved the unexpected hugs on my back as i worked, but not the quilt trespassing and her interest in my cutting or the mini pieces everywhere. life with baby!

other wips to report: the baby quilt has the raw binding sewn on, it just needs to be turned and blind stitched down. hallelujah! almost there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


i am certifiably insane.
really, i am.
loads of projects lined up at home, two nearly finished.
and what do i do?
i pick another completely new project not even slated on the books yet.
well, i signed up for this one day class at ETC with the hopes of having a fun day out, getting a quick project completed, and digging into my stash at home to use for it. sounded like a great combo. but when i got the pattern for the quilt a few days before class, i realized it wasn't pre-cut friendly like i thought. it looked like it should use either charm squares (which i have aplenty) or jelly roll strips and a few large blocks of fabric. this, however, was not the case once i got the supply list. ugh. i didn't want to buy more fabric, really i didn't. there weren't even any i had my eye on at the store. but the idea of sorting through my stash for the needed items was too daunting and time consuming. so while at bucks day, i scrounged around and found some fabrics i liked. i did have a 20% off coupon for the whole purchase, so i got a little break.

i picked some riley blakes from "songbird" and "bohemian festival" lines and some joel dewberry from "heirloom", all with strong hot pink, yellow/gold, and forest and lime green. a few small touches of turquoise, too. it was a pretty pile of fabric. and i was rather pleased with my cross-line color matching. with so many fantastic lines already coordinated, i rarely branch out and mix them up much.

but my simple idea continued to get more complicated and consume more than i intended. looking at the pattern size and sample, i decided it wasn't quite big enough, so i did the math to enlarge it. really, i didn't need another crib size quilt, but daughter #3 had been complaining that "star cookie" was getting too small for her. i thought this was a great opportunity to get her a larger quilt. all i had to do was add a spinner or two to the rows to widen it and increase the two large panels a few inches to add some height. easy.

i was even a good girl and precut all the strips needed the night before class so i could knock out as much of the quilt as possible during the workshop time. i am finding that with the added practice, my cutting is getting much more accurate. it's a miracle! never thought i'd see that happen.

but by the day before class, there were more complications afoot at home: i had some really sick kids and seemed to be coming down with something myself. i debated skipping the class, but it was too late for a refund so i was going to loose the class fee and then i'd be stuck with a load of fabric i'd likely never get around to using. so i went anyway.

i took a couple advil, packed food and gatorades, and hammered my way through that quilt as fast as ever i could. i avoided shopping and chatting as much as possible. i got a bit reckless as i went along, but everything went together quite well. i utilized chain piecing for the blocks and only had to redo two - my only mistakes all day. that is another miracle! experience really is starting to pay off and improve my skills. even my seams are more accurate.

once i got everything laid out, however, i didn't like the look of the quilt much. it was way too busy and hurting my eyes to look at. maybe that was the flu coming on, but i didn't think so. i decided to add in those green sashing strips to break up the busyness and add some breathing room. it also increased the size of the quilt some more.

class time was almost over as i started sewing all the major pieces together. that's when i discovered a big problem: the large fabric panels had been cut 1/2" too short. the teacher was helping me figure out how to squeeze the cuts out of my 1.5 yards of fabric and either she cut it short or i cut some off somehow. i'm not sure who did it. regardless, it was short. a lot. normally that's easy to fix by cutting everything down a bit, but the only thing to do in this case was shorten the outer blocks by 1/2" which would be noticeable and ruin their square shape.

having made the top so much larger, i had to buy more fabric for the backing. i got the same pattern as the large fabric blocks, so i think i will unpick them and recut to the right size. the thought of that makes me sick, but i think in the long run i will be happiest that way.

i finished putting all the major pieces together, nearly completing the top. at that point, my advil had worn off and the illness kicked in earnestly. i could barely see straight. what a day!

in reality, i've never done a project so quickly. i tried stack cutting and made good use of chain piecing, too. but i left with an incomplete quilt, much less finished top. it was pretty depressing.

and i'm not even sure i like it that much.
i have no idea what to call it.
(maybe "spinning out of control"?)
like i said, totally insane.

Monday, December 10, 2012

etc bucks party

my favorite local scrapbook/fabric store (what a combination! killer on the wallet to have both in one spot), ETC, has been doing a customer incentive program for the past two years. with purchases of certain dollar amounts and numbers of items customers could earn ETC bucks (bonus points). Twice a year there is a "bucks market" where bucks can be cashed in for goods or used in an auction on quilts made as samples for the store. i've missed the last three bucks days either because i was on vacation or because of the baby. not this time. i was determined to cash in my accumulated points. and a good thing, too, since it turned out to be the last one and the end of the bucks program. i decided to make a day of it by taking my two oldest daughters along for a day of open lab putting together scrapbook pages and then hanging out for the two hour silent auction in the evening.

back up a week - i hadn't been to the store in months. my stash is plenty big and i was avoiding temptation while i worked on whittling away what i had at home. however, i "needed" to go in for some cardstock and to look for an album for my 2012 december daily album, a tradition i've done for 3 years now. while there i browsed the fabric section, too, and came across a quick and easy quilt (detail above) being offered for a one day class in december. i thought it would be a great way to bust into that stash of mine. since i'm nearly done with my two current projects, i signed up. and that's when i found out bucks day was this tuesday. so my plan for a girls day out came together. while we were at the store for bucks day, i set to work deciding what to use for the quilt class project.

there were so many new quilts hanging around the store. they've started making lots more samples for display. i snapped (rather sloppily - i apologize) some of my favorites.
really cute use of flea market fancy
cool blues/greens color scheme and mod styling
easy peasy from moda's bake shop
bricks pattern here
this pattern looks so doable and i think i found the perfect fabric for it for my oldest, dog-loving daughter who doesn't have a mama-made yet. the pattern i picked out for her last year is still beyond my skill set and i won't get to it for ages. this, however, is within range and reasonable. unfortunately, it requires a purchase.

riley blake's "puppy park" dog line. i want to use the white fabric for backing and the stripe for binding. however, i have held off for now while i wait for an up-coming promotion. i'm trying to be somewhat responsible, at least.

bold and darling in momo's "oh, dear" dots and florals
another easy, fre,e on-line pattern
this pattern, "a quilt for claire", looks like it could eat up some of my jelly rolls. the on-line sample by designer emily taylor is uber darling, too. i really love the gentle color range she used. take a peek!

another jelly roll busting project from bake shop
pattern here
i am always on the look out for simple patterns that will utilize my precuts stash. this one takes a jelly roll and charm pack. that it's "free" is an added bonus!

that's what caught my eye around the store.
about an hour before the auction started, we left for dinner. then the bidding excitement started.

now for the auction eye candy! there were about 6 quilts i  (or the girls) was interested in to some degree or another.

this darling baby boy quilt used those robert kauffman robot guys i love, but i didn't have a need for a baby boy quilt. maybe if it had been bigger, i'd have bid on it anyway.

ooh, lovely summer-themed beach quilt out of ollie's 4sq fabrics. tempting.

this wild and crazy mish-mash of color was one of my top picks. i especially liked the polka-dotted backing. it's not something i'd probably ever make myself, which made it desirable to bid on. and the red in it meant it could go in my family room okay.
full front view
this patriotic quilt was a flag (with only 5 large stars, not 50) on the front and the themed quilting was crazy cool. so many americana motifs. i wasn't particularly interested in bidding on it since i already have a flag quilt, but had to snap the quilting.

when i saw this chevron number hanging on the wall, i thought, "yes! there's the quilt for me!" unfortunately, it's a current store sample and wasn't part of the auction. dang.

there was a diamond and fleur de lis appliqued quilt daughter #1 wanted (at bottom left in the above photo) and a pink & black polka dotted quilt daughter #2 wanted (actually, there were about 4 she wanted) but i had my sights set on this lovely:

i think the fabric line was from basic grey. i liked the mix of bright colors, the teal, and blacks. and the diamond pattern was impressive. i am ages away from attempting triangles. getting something out of my skill set and in a retired pattern line were both desirable traits. only problem was someone had already bid $150 on it. i had $229 and was hoping to get more than one quilt/item if possible. i put my bid in at $160 and also bid the $100 minimum on that other polka dot backed quilt as a back up.

ladies started trickling in slowly, many people waiting to see how the wind blew before bidding. honestly, it started getting a bit nerve wracking! the other bidder on my favorite quilt had bid on several pieces and left. i was fearful she'd show up and whisk it away from me. there was another lady there who was waiting for her to call if she wanted to up her bids. fortunately for me, she never did.
lobster softie daughter #1 was in love with and wants to make herself since i wouldn't buy it
about 30 minutes before the end, someone came in, considered a few quilts (some not bid on at all) and up-bid me on the polka dot quilt. yikes! i then had to decide if i wanted to add cash to my bid so i could get both quilts. i was going to have to do that anyway. at first i was a bit perturbed that she didn't bid on the other items with no bids on them instead of challenging my bid, especially since she didn't seem that taken with the quilt. but i decided not to be greedy or mean enough to raise the bid on her and just let it go. i let my girls shop in the bucks market with my excess instead. lots more fun.

 the tension in the room was becoming palatable, but remained friendly. my girls and i sat at a table reading and whispering. i'd send them to look at bid sheets every so often. they were under strict orders not to divulge the amount of bucks i had. all the anticipation really did make for fun.

one minute to the end, i went back and dropped my bid to only $1 over the other lady so i could save the $9 extra bucks for spending in the market. then time was up and i had won my quilt!

we paid for the quilt and our other items then left for home. girls day/night out was over. the bucks program is over, too, but i bet they come up with something else good. ETC is a great store for customer appreciation.

thanks, ETC, for the bucks, the fun, the quilt, everything!
it's been great doing business with you.

and for the record, this is my 100th post! sure wish that meant 100 projects completed. happy sewing, anyway, y'all.

Friday, November 30, 2012

my crew 2012

in addition to being a newby sewer, i'm a mother of seven and wife of one. i've been dragging my kids right along side me in this sewing/crafting adventure begun late 2010.

on-line, we guard our children's identities and privacy closely, so although i feature their projects along with my own work, i will not show their sweet faces or use their darling names, as much as i love both. our last name is completely taboo.

also top-secret is our location. let's just say we're blessed to live in the good ole' USA, in one of the hotter regions. naturally, that could be one of several states, some of which i have also lived in during my lifetime.

if we are fortunate enough to know you, pretty please do not reveal or refer to any of this information on this blog.

still, all the paranoia aside, here's a look at the family.

daughter #1, fourteen years old
she's crackerjack at felt finger puppets, likes to experiment with softies, has about 5 sewing classes under her belt and is revved for more. really wants to submit some softie work for publication in "stuffed" magazine. likes sewing for her dog.

son #1, twelve

can work my machine, has crazy-big ideas (like the patchwork bags he made his littlest sisters last christmas), and tries a bit of everything. not a committed sewer, but very artistic and always has a creative project of one sort or another going on: baking, paper airplanes, mini weapons, holiday decorations, drawing.

daughter #2, eleven
most likely to pick up fabric, shears, and just go for it (like the apron above). but with 5 sewing classes under her belt, she's also learning more standard techniques. she's knocked out improvised blankets, aprons, and doll clothes. been working on a sock monkey sporadically most of this year. dieing to use my machine. i'm just going to get her one for christmas this year so that's not an issue any more. (done!)

son #2, nine
did run the foot pedal on the machine and snip threads while together we made his gifts to his siblings last christmas and especially enjoys pressing fabric with the craft iron. (well, all right, technically he "irons" it, but so do i.) has his own sewing box, needle case, and embroidery thread, but no real shears yet, although he just requested some. has been dabbling in stitching all year by working embroidery floss on hooped burlap. just made his first real, handsewn project: a doll pillow.

daughter #3, seven
loves to select fabric. was the impetus behind my first quilt. currently stitches on hooped burlap, having just begun intentional border stitching. wants more embroidery floss.

daughter #4, five
also a professional fabric shopper, specializes in fat quarter selection and hoarding. considers herself prime entertainer when my friends come over to sew. has lately been pretending to sew with various objects and articles. has her own spool of pink all-purpose thread she uses anyway her imagination pleases. after much pestering for the last month or so, just got her own sewing box and hooped burlap for stitching practice.

daughter #5, one!
thinks any quilting project on the floor is her personal playmat. seriously, she won't stay off of them. this is a problem for me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

wip and some close-ups on my hands at work

i am this close to being done with daughter #5's baby quilt. i missed her birthday by a few days (or maybe a week), but i can taste victory soon. another 4 rows of hand quilting, squaring off, and the binding and i am done! sunday after church i took a seat at the bottom of the stairs so i could be in the middle of things and steadily sewed with many an interruption, of course.

i had daughter #1 take a few shots of me working away at it.

in-out-in-out with the needle, over and over. i can get about 7 stitches on the needle before i pull through. no hoop, no thimble.

my stitching callus is back so my poor fingers don't get so sore anymore. not that it was ever that bad at all. when i was a girl, i had calluses from all my monkey bar gymnastics. now it's sewing.

i still like these prints and am itching to make another version of "out on a limb" with a jelly roll from this oppsa-daisy collection. i had a moment of horror last week when i realized i never bought any yardage for backing and binding to go with the precuts. fortunately, the quilted castle had it in stock still and on sale, too. perfect. now it's tucked away waiting for me to get around to it.

but as i near completion of this quilt, elizabeth hartman's charm squares baby quilt and my charm pack of pom pom de paris is calling me . . .

definitely torn

Monday, November 12, 2012

4sq #17

just another of my latest batch of 4sqs completed in october
this one's a bit soft and pastel-y compared to what i usually do, but i liked the dinosaur dots. little boy prints are pretty hard to come by. it definitely says "baby". i did work in some contrast with the choice of border color. i used the darkest blue from the dots, a color not repeated in any of the other prints.
i almost don't post these any more except that it's the only thing i've competed lately and i'm using this blog to keep record of the stuff i make. so here it is. i completed it during two soccer games. i've always been a reluctant soccer mom, but if i can bring handwork to do, maybe i won't mind giving up so much of my saturdays after all.

Monday, October 22, 2012

something blue . . . but for a baby

i may not have been posting at all, but i have been sewing. jill and i have successfully reinstituted our friday morning sewing/quilting bees and i have been finding time elsewhere to sew, also. can't say i've been using those 10 minutes creativity a day exclusively for sewing, but i have squeezed out a few projects. i was determined to focus solely on the baby's quilt but as general conference neared and i knew i'd have 8 hours for handwork as i listened, i spent my friday morning readying more handwork. i got "out on a limb" to the point of binding sewn on (!!!) and completed 3 4sq blankets for edging, too. during conference i finished off a grand total of 1 4sq blanket. oh well. it's been nice to have the other pieces ready to work on at other times, too. here's the blanket i finished and delivered.
4sq baby blanket #15, another boy blanket for my friend becca. she was in love with those grey dots i used on my niece laynee's blanket so i hunted up some boy fabrics to go with it. it's definitely got a unique, funky vibe to it. i wasn't crazy about the robots and circuit board prints at first, but it certainly grew on me and i'm very happy with the results.
for the edging, i went with a dark grey for contrast, but rather wished i'd done blue or green. for a change, i did a very shallow stitch.
yep, definitely like those crazy bots after spending some time with them.
the other work done will have to wait for a wip post. maybe by then i'll have the half dozen quilt done, too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

hera marker

i've tried several methods of marking my quilts for  handstitching: chalks, pencils, pens. no one method is perfect and i was unhappy with each of these for various reasons. then i read a tip from aneela hoey describing her hera marker. love it!

 it's rather like a bone folder used for scoring paper - only it scores your fabric. i just run it down the side of the quilting ruler (below) and it leaves me a nice crease to follow (above). i don't have to worry about it showing up based on the color of my fabric or about it smearing, fading, or not erasing. it stays put until the stitching is done, even if i leave it for several days (weeks). perfect.

however, this being an imperfect world, i did eventually discover one flaw. it's not very portable. i took my quilt and thread to the park intending on contentedly stitching away while the little ones played, but as soon as i finished my first line i realized my dilemma. there was no place to lay out the quilt and make more lines to follow. boo hoo. i can't very well carry my cutting mat and long ruler with me to the park, either. i suppose if i marked several lines at home before i went i would be alright. but since i like to mark one line at a time as i go, that doesn't work. so no stitching on the go with the hera marker, at least for me.

other than that, it's my favorite!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

wip wednesday & 100 days with ann

summer, or at least the school break, is over. i thought summer would be a perfect sewing time since our over-heated desert summers are like winters elsewhere - we survive them by staying indoors. however, after just a friday quilting bee day or two with jill, we never seemed able to hook up again and then the travel started. so no sewing. but now i'm home, settled in, and my stash is calling. with homeschool looming large and other obligations, i could do little more than glance at my pretties in passing. then ann inspired me with her "3 ways to make a new habit" post to pick up the needle just a few minutes a day at the least. and voila - just like that i'm sewing again!

ann suggests picking three habits to work on for 100 days, one habit in each category: new habits, creativity, health. she says do it and see where you are in 100 days, what you've added to your life.  her words over creativity struck me:

creativity: A project that’d be bliss to finish in 100 Days? Each day for 100 days, write it down… and after working on it — after even spending 10 minutes — check it off for that day!

i thought, "there are a dozen or more projects i'd like to have done in 100 days. but the way i'm going, i'll never get one of them done much less started. if i did pick just one and work on it for even 10 minutes a day, eventually i'll have something done - and something is better than nothing. i can do that! i can do 10 minutes a day."

love that caterpillar and lady bug - i'm inching forward on this project just like my little green friend there
and so i started.

monday nearly an hour spent making four rows of stictches on oopsy daisy. the baby it was meant for, almost 10 months old now, climbing all over the unfinished portion that draped down my knees onto the floor. "soon, little one, soon," i thought. "soon it will be done and yours for all the crawling and cuddling you want." she doesn't know it, but i do.

the row of ladybugs showing the colors used in the print on the selvage caught my eye this morning, and that bright red bird next too them
tuesday was right awful and i laid down in bed not caring about 10 minutes of anything but peace and sleep. but after a while, when sleep didn't come immediately and the house was still humming with activity, i got up and did one more row. just one. and it felt good.

now i have 11 rows completed. with approximately 8 rows per section and 6 sections total, that means i have about 37 rows to go. by the end of 100 days, i'll be long past this project and maybe the next one (finishing off out on a limb).

and then it'll be like ann said:
Use the 100 Days Calendar & Make a New Habit
Perfect for a good start
on a project, a dream, a prayer, a plan,
to number the days and get a good start
to do the real important,
to tend to the paramount,
like scheduling the time
so there’s more than enough to
smell a ridiculous amount of flowers.

a look at progress on the backside
i'll be cuddling those mass of flowers, not smelling them. but wrapping my baby in them will be a fine replacement for smelling. and these flowers won't fade much, will last for a very long time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

wip wednesday

a look at what's going on on my dining table. it's become my (temporary) second sewing spot. i love having a dedicated spot upstairs in my bawthroom, but ever since i did all that work while listening to general conference with the family earlier in the month, i've had my cutting tools and a few handwork projects parked on the dining table. with them close by in reach i find i can grab them every now and then to work on. and, when i'm working on pressing and sewing, i get some exercise running up and down the stairs from the iron, to the cutting mat, to the machine.

so here's what i did this week:

-began handquilting the baby quilt
-sewed together top and back for baby's 4sq blanket
-printed off pattern for ladybug softie
-pressed fabrics for new shabby squares quilt

i find i like having several projects going at once and hopping around among them as i have time. keeps it exciting.

i love this vignette of the bits and pieces of this week's work, especially the great new fabrics in heather bailey's freshcut line and hello, luscious by basic grey for moda. they mix really well together. the soft colors in the meadowsweet fabrics for baby's 4 sq meld nicely, too. even the yellow pins and my tools fit the color scheme. then there's that bright and bold oopsy daisy quilt in there, begging to be quilted some more. inspiring.