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.