Tuesday, October 29, 2013

been sewing, not blogging

my pull for the penny patch quilt along
with my crazy goal to get 6 quilts and a quilted pillow sham done by Christmas (and maybe a penny patch, too), I have had to force myself to just sew and not blog. until this pile is finished and wrapped, i'm going to be limiting myself to one post a week to report progress. except today because marmee is downstairs sewing away on the remaining halloween costumes and i just can't take the stress! so i'm hiding and catching up on blogging for the moment.

i'm so grateful for the making Christmas link up because it has encouraged me more than i thought possible. i knew people would say nice things like, "you can do it!" and they did. what i didn't expect was that i'm actually believing them. i worked my fingers off this weekend and made tons of progress. i have so many funny moments to share, but i'll have to save those for later. let's just say every seam i've sewn has been unpicked and resewn at least once, probably twice, and in some cases more.

my first chore was getting my sewing space back in order.
 this is what happens when i have my carpets cleaned and everything needs to be moved to the tile, my last bits of on-line purchased fabric arrive (not buying again for a long, long time - really), my daughter cleans out our old car to trade in for the new car but just dumps it in the entryway, some school supplies arrive in the mail, costumes are being sewn, i bring home a foam insulation board for a design wall, family picture clothing purchases arrive in the mail, and it's all in my space where i'm trying to work on 7 quilts at once. all in the same few days. complete and utter insanity, even for us.

surprisingly, i did get this space whipped into a kind of order on Friday morning so i could sew. jill had to take her husband's car in, so she couldn't come sew with me. being on my own wasn't as companionable, but i got lots done. i got binding made and on "taite."

 all it needs is to be handsewn to the back. and i have to keep coming up with excuses for my daughter about why i am neglecting her nearly finished quilt since she doesn't know i'm saving it for a Christmas present along with her siblings' quilts. she's probably seething inside and feeling very unloved, neglected, overlooked. i hope getting the quilt finally will erase all that and make up for it. the binding of this quilt was pretty straight forward.

 "plus a diamond" is where things began to go terribly wrong and turned into a lesson in patience and ingenuity. i'll explain some other time. let's just say this is what happens when i try to be good and not buy more fabric when i absolutely don't have to - i come up short months later when it's too late. i spent all Friday fixing this problem. the binding is now on and awaiting a hand tack to the back. when no one's looking, of course.

 this little lady was my constant companion and kept things very interesting on Saturday. insert more patience lessons. i just hope she's learning to love sewing. her favorite thing to do is sit at the machine like this and say, "go, go!" or sit in my lap and put her hands on the fabric i'm running through, like she's doing the work. her cuteness certainly helps ease the troubles she causes. that and her loving heart and kisses.

 Friday evening i began the task of unpicking the too-small panels in this project. it's a good thing i did because after i laid the rows back out i noticed i'd switched the two blocks in the upper left hand corner. how did i not notice that before?! it would have driven me absolutely crazy if i'd not noticed this until too late. that's when i decided seam ripping wasn't so bad. and it's a good thing because i made good friends with that device this weekend. we were pretty inseparable, the seam ripper and i.

really, the whole experience just seemed to confirm that i won't notice something until after i sew it incorrectly. like how i laid out the border on the "twirly" quilt and checked to make sure matching fabrics weren't together. but after sewing the whole dang thing on, i find they are touching. rip, rip, rip. twice on each side for multiple reasons. perhaps i'm perfecting my seams with all this practice?

so here's the updated Christmas list:

d1 - "plus a diamond" needs handbinding to back

s1 - actually wants a stacked coins quilt now and to help me sew it. how this is going to work with it being a Christmas present i haven't decided for sure.

d2 - "taite" needs handbinding to the back

s2 - "bandwidth" still not started

d3 - "twirly" is a completed flimsy - yay!

d4 - pillow sham untouched, bottom of the list

d5 - "paris daydreams" still a flimsy

penny patch qal - fabrics selected

keep at it, friends! if i can do it, we all can.
linking up to wip wednesday at freshly pieced, needle and thread thursday at my quilt infatuation, making Christmas blog hop at quilt matters.

guest posting

i guest posted today at the inchy hexagon flower swap blog to introduce a group of almost 50 epp-ers to the in hand link party (here). i'm excited to have found such a large group of epp ladies and hope to have many of them join the link up next month, November 9th. i'll be featuring their swap in that post. until then, I've got lots of epp to do! and a few Christmas projects, too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

making christmas

stack for s2's quilt
 i've had this crazy idea brewing in my head for about a month. i was considering my wips, which include a quilt in various stages for 4 of my 5 girls (2 that just need binding, one flimsy, one nearly finished top) and how my boys both really want me to get their quilts made. i have all the supplies for the boys' quilts and the patterns picked out. d4 already has her quilt and starting a 3rd new one would be too much, but i have all the flowers from her quilt that i could make into a pillow sham for her bed. that could count.

my idea is this: why not have a quilt finished for each of the kids by christmas?! it's a completely ambitious goal, admittedly probably not feasible. but if i'm ever going to have a christmas where i do give each of the kids quilts, this would be it. i love that idea! imagining them all cuddled up with their own mama-made on christmas just warms my heart. it'd be gift of a dream come true to myself, really.

pull for s1's quilt
there is a making christmas blog hop going on to get us sewers motivated. maybe, just maybe i can do this. the only way to find out is to start, i guess. i just don't want to almost finish and then have to gift a partial quilt to one of them. my mom was famous for giving fabric and a pattern or a half finished project as a christmas gift. it's a standing family joke. one of my siblings even claims to have received the same fabric and pattern for pj bottoms 2 or 3 years in a row! i have always said, "that will NOT be me!" this is holding me back from attempting it. my other hurdle is that i would like this to be a surprise and how do i manage that with all the kidlets around the house watching me sew all the time?


i'm going to give it a go! here is my list, then:

d1, "plus a diamond" quilt - needs binding

s1, wonky log cabin quilt - not started

d2, "taite" - needs binding

s2, "bandwidth" quilt - not started

d3, "twirly" quilt - top 75% complete

d4, pillow sham with "at last" flower appliques to match her quilt

d5, "paris daydreams" - a flimsy

at the very least, i need to get the kids thinking and moving on their gifts if they are going to do any. we've scaled christmas gift giving way back around here. it's just not where i want the focus of the holiday to be anymore. but they do so enjoy giving to each other and since i made them do a handmade christmas for each other 2 years ago, they have bought into the idea. last year they did their own making without any prompting from me at all. i just need to give them a nudge so they have time.

also, we do a cousin handmade ornament exchange on my husband's side of the family. that needs to be considered, too.

christmas, here we come!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

post 200 celebration and giveaway

where i stand currently
it's arrived - my 200th post!

this is going to be a long post with some reminiscing, current blogosphere happenings, a blogging tip, and the celebration giveaway. stay for a while for the whole or just pick what you want - your choice. along with all the words, i'll intersperse some of my favorite sewing photos to highlight my sewing journey.


binding my first quilt
it's taken me 2 1/2 years to get here from my first post. this blog began late one night when i realized my sewing was taking over my private personal blog, which i was keeping as a family journal. sewing needed it's own space on the internet as well as in my home. also, i wanted a place to connect with other sewers. with the decision to have a sewing blog made, i fell asleep dreaming up names. then the next day, my youngest child fell seriously ill with some respiratory issues and i kept awake through the around-the-clock ordeal by working on this blog. it was a life-saver and therapeutic distraction during that experience.

my very first sewing project as an adult - headbands at girls weekend 2010
i managed to bribe a few friends to follow me, but none of them were sewers and they were just doing it to be kind. i did make one or two sewing friends through those non-sewing friends, becky being the one person who regularly talked to me about sewing. then i got pregnant and lost all interest in sewing for several months. the blog limped along. by the time i was put on bedrest (standard for me since i don't carry full term), i was interested in sewing again, but couldn't get to the machine. oh how i wish i'd known about epp at the time!

finishing touches going into "out on a limb", my first self-designed quilt
baby came and dominated life as babies will. i posted occasionally as i slowly got back into sewing. but no one was reading at all. i accepted the fact that my sewing just wasn't frequent enough or interesting enough for anyone to seriously follow. this became my sewing journal and that was okay. i did still crave interaction and dialogue because aside from jill, my friend who comes over friday mornings, no one i know sews or quilts! i got one-sided "interaction" by reading the big time blogs i admired. but there were several times when i thought about just shutting the whole thing down.

once baby was old enough and my sewing picked up, i blogged more regularly. i like photographing my sewing and talking about it, too, even if i'm only talking to myself. (anyone else read their old posts sometimes just for fun?) despite the fact that this was just for me, i decided to clean up the look of the blog a bit because i was sick of it. more than anything, i wanted a personalized banner. i came across an online class {blog (design) love}  that helped me learn how to use my photoshop elements (an unused christmas gift) and even do some html work - scary. so i went from the basic red & blue look i had to what you see now. i did have some other plans for more changes, but posting takes enough time already. i'm sure i'm not the only sewing blogger that feels they've spent time blogging about sewing they should have spent actually sewing. they are 2 interconnected yet separate hobbies.

where it began to change - linking up "plus a diamond" as a wip
in may of this year i was again on the brink of giving up blogging when some craziness possessed me and i linked up to a wip wednesday at freshly pieced. low and behold, someone, more than one actually, visited me and commented! i had found the key to connectivity. i happily remain a small blog, but a small blog that now gets me the dialogue and interaction i was seeking. and i have friends literally around the globe, posted about here.

i have found i like the intimacy of small blogs much better than the big ones. i don't fault the big blogs - they serve their purpose and are quite inspiring. however, "little" people will talk to you because they have the time. it's much more personal.

as for me, i really do like being a small fish in a small pond. it takes a lot of pressure off and allows me to continue blogging for fun. not that i have sponsors beating down my door or anyone begging me to go professional - not at all. i'm just saying i'm happy where i am in this community and with this space. quilting and blogging are a small part of my life so the blog needs to remain small. i absolutely appreciate everyone who visits and comments here but i don't have time to make a life out of sewing and blogging. i've already got one of those focused elsewhere right now. so i happily stay small.

what's current in the blogosphere

the sewing and quilting blog world, however, is huge! there is so much going on out there, even in the small circles. earlier this week i was woken up at 2am by a sick baby. she went back to sleep after some care, but i was unable to. after an hour of tossing and turning, i gave in and got on the computer. that allowed me several uninterrupted hours of browsing, a rare occurrence. there is all kinds of fun going on out there. here's a bit of what i decided to get involved in:

splish splash stash
for starters, i have my own link party going. it's a monthly link to highlight english paper piecing (epp) projects. there is already a large handful of great epp links joined up. check them out!

Penny Patch Quilt-Along
rachel at stitched in color asked a few days ago if anyone was interested in a quilt-along for her beautiful vintage tangerine quilt. i said, "absolutely" because i love that quilt, would like to learn the dogwood quilt pattern, and have a stack of fabrics that i think would be perfect for it. only problem here is she has set the qa up immediately with a schedule to be done by christmas! i wasn't expecting it that soon. and i have a load of projects i need done by christmas.

which makes the next party exciting . . .

it's a blog hop and link up to help move along our holiday makes, prize included. i've got my ambitious, crazy-idea list made and it will be posted next. thanks to rebbeca lynne and janine for the motivation and inspiration.

that rebecca lynne is one busy gal because she's also hostessing another great link:

Low Volume Swap
i've joined in the favorite fabric swap just in case there is some more meadow dot out there. the party is working for some people because i know i was able to help one person find some of her fabric request on-line at cia's palette.

i think that's all the parties and buttons i found this week so far. as if that isn't enough! but one other post greatly touched me and is worth mentioning: laura's post at little and lots about being a small blog. she's gained some real wisdom about the blogging experience. i've got a "healthy blogging" post in mind myself, but it'll have to wait for another day.

a technical blogging how-to

blogging can be daunting for those not tech savvy. there is so much to learn. do you even know what html means? i kinda do. now.  i've come a long way from my tottering baby steps into the blogging world, but i've had plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. i've really appreciated other bloggers out there who not only share their skills and knowledge with a needle, but those who help bloggers out with technical advice and photography tips. beth at plum and june is especially generous this way. she really helps baby bloggers get started.

so in honor of my 200th post, i'll share a tip i learned lately about blog formatting. i realize many people know how to do this because i've seen the widgets in your posts, but i'm betting there is at least one other person out there who this might benefit. for a while i had no idea how to insert widget buttons into my post text. i could get them on my sidebar, but i couldn't get them in my text. it's an html thing, which explains why i didn't know how to do it before. i only wish i knew how to take screen shots so i could show rather than just explain how to do it. (anyone have advice?) well, dang it, i decided to google the screenshot thing so you get a bonus tip now. go here to learn how to take a screenshot. this page will help you get it on your clipboard. i then pasted it into my photoshop to make it an image i could resize and use. pasting directly into the post didn't work.

did you ever wonder how to utilize the link button info you might see that looks like this:

splish splash stash

well, i know how to do it in blogger.
1. you select and copy everything in that grey box under the button image above.

2. go to the composition screen of the post where you want to insert the button and select the html button in the upper left corner under the orange blogger button, next to the "compose" button. when you push "html" your composition screen will change from the text you normally see to technical code/computer language.

both those screens are the same post seen in compose mode and also in  html code mode. you do have to be a little careful with html because you can permanently alter stuff and be stuck if you don't know html very well. i only mess with it with instructions. most of it is gibberish to me, but after you look at it a while you can start to make out where certain parts of your post are.

3. find where you want to insert the button image. to make this easy on myself, i insert the button immediately when and where i want it in the post without going any further. this way i know it will show up at the end of the text i already have. also, i hit the return key twice to give myself some space to work in and to make recognizing the spot easier.

every time you hit the return key for a line space, it looks like this in html code:   <br />

see down there in the bottom left corner, just above the windows button, where i've highlighted it in blue? that's where i'm going to input my copied html code.

i put my cursor behind the first <br />, click with my mouse, and then hit return to open up a new line.
once i've created a space between the 2 breaks, i paste my code i copied from the button window in there.

switch back to "compose" and you should see the button image. voila!

celebration giveaway

one of the best parts of blogging has been the generosity out there. the sharing of ideas, compliments, and actual stuff. giveaways are a big part of the sewing and quilting blogosphere. i enjoy sharing just for the fun of it. it's seems to be part of the nature of people who are attracted to quilting. so in honor of this 200th post, i'm going to offer 2 different giveaways that celebrate blogging and the crafting community out there.

i realize not everyone will want or be able to use both prizes, so i'll put them in two separate posts to allow you to enter for only the prize you are interested in. you are welcome to enter for both, if you'd like.

first up, a book because i love books about quilting and crafting just as much as i love quilting and crafting. modern quilts from the blogging universe is full of modern quilts from a variety of quilt bloggers. i think it's appropriate for a 200th post celebrating blogging and quilting. i like that it not only has the patterns but also has a bio on each blogger.

second, the e-course, blog (design) love,  for anyone who's interested in jazzing up their own blog or simply starting a new one. i found this course super helpful. don't judge the course based on my blog's design alone, either. i only used it a bit. there is tons of information here for taking your blog to a whole new level. eventually, i'd really like to get a tablet so i can use my own handwriting in this space as they demonstrate. maybe a christmas present? anywho, the course covers all 3 major blog platforms: blogger, typepad, and wordpress.com.

links to the giveaways:
to enter for the book, go here.
to enter for the e-course, go here.

you are not entering the giveaways by leaving a comment on this post.
but you are welcome to leave me comments on the content of this post. =)

thanks, everyone, who has been a part of this quilting and blogging adventure of mine. i look forward to the next 200 (or whatever) posts.
happy sewing, y'all!

linking up to wip wednesday at freshly pieced, thursday threads at 627handworks,  and needle and thread thursday at my quilt infatuation.

200th post e-course giveaway

blog (design) love is an e-course designed to help bloggers design and code their own custom blog design. Whether you blog on typepad, blogger or wordpress.com this course can help you dive into the world of web design.

as part of my 200th post celebration, i'm giving away one spot in this self-paced blog design e-course for anyone interested in improving their blog design or even diving in and starting a blog. to enter the giveaway, leave me a comment in the post below.

if you are a no-reply blogger, please make sure to enter your email address in the comment or i will have to select another winner since i'll have no way to contact you.

giveaway closes wednesday october 30th at 11:59pm MST.

200th post book giveaway

modern quilts from the blogging universe

as part of the celebration for my 200th blog post, i'm offering one copy of this book. if you are interested in this book full of modern quilt designs from quilt bloggers, enter the giveaway by leaving me a comment. giveaway closes wednesday october 30th, 11:59 pm MST.

if you are a no-reply blogger, please include your email address otherwise i have no way of contacting you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

the party is still going

my epp for the week: i've got my new hexie fabric additions washed, ready to cut, and also completed a block.
the first ever "in hand" epp link party is still open if you have an entry for this month. in the future, the party will be open from the second Saturday to the third, each month. there are currently 14 excellent entries in the party, so go have a look! i am most impressed with the variety and depth of the projects. here are a few highlights:

jan at sew and sow farm is organizing an epp bee, if you are interested, and introduced us to the lucy boston block.

lucy at charm about you has the teeniest, tiniest hexies (in liberty scraps - eek!) that i've ever seen

lauren aka giddy99 has this crazy cool rainbow pelt going on.

ooh, I want to highlight everyone, darn it! just go look at them for yourself. for the record, the party has received more than 650 visitors and the entrants have all gotten visits from the party, too.

the party definitely inspired me this past week to keep at my project whenever i get a chance. i've been working at it for short chunks of time either in the morning when i wake up and the house is quiet or in the evening before bed as a way to wind down and relax. also, fall sports season is in gear around here, so i've had a chance to epp in the fan stand while watching my kids play. i'm not a sports fan in the least (long story) but i have to say that being able to take some handwork along for games really helps brighten my attitude about the whole thing.

splish splash stash

I know there's lots more epp projects out there, so let's see what you've got!
happy sewing whatever you're working on.

ps - my 200th celebration post and giveaway is coming up later this week. see you there.

linking up to wip wednesday at freshly pieced and needle and thread thursday at my quilt infatuation.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


 time for confessions - shopping confessions. really, i'm not exactly sure why i think i need more fabric. i've enough to keep me busy for a year or ten. don't we all? (please say yes.) i've been trying to fabric diet and feel like i have . . . until i consider the evidence. i like laura's system of only keeping one tub of fabric and not buying anymore until she has used what she has so there's space in the tub. i think it keeps the sewing very fresh and relevant. but somehow i just can't stick to that. fabrics i like come out way faster than i can sew. they're appearing at light speed and i sew like the tortoise.

most of this was a purposeful purchase. i did need some more boy prints since i've got 3 new nephews here or on the way and there is a serious dearth of boy friendly fabric in my stash. so that's what got me out. and i did find some great boy prints (just quarter yards). but there was also some new amy butler and joel dewberry i didn't have. in precuts - irresistible. that joel floral was also irresistible in a bit of yardage even though the colors are not my usual thing at all.

i spied some more of that fabulous adorn it blue dot (bottom left corner), which i've used a lot lately, so i stocked up on a few more yards. lots of boy quilts, remember?

and i got a few basics for sashing or backgrounds: the white eyelet (since i liked the one for "paris daydreams" so much), more text print (can't get enough of these lately), and some crosshatch because it looked so fabulous on laura's "x plus" quilt (not the same print, but similar and i'm trusting her good design taste here).

*** speaking of "little and lots" laura, which i just did twice, i was looking up links on her blog when i read the most fabulous, real post: "it's okay to be little." it's a must read. here. and laura, i started this post and mentioned you twice before i read that, just so you know!

the stash above came from the store, ETC. i was also getting the new pink fabrics for my epp and the lady behind me at the cutting counter liked my selections so much that she asked for some of each, too. that was flattering! she thanked me for picking out fabrics for her.

 bedsides the store visit, i made another visit to my favorite on-line shop: cia's palette. she has such groovy selections, her packing is impeccable, and her customer service is top notch. just look at how beautifully the fabric fits in the shipping box! she also encloses a few samples with the order. this time it was some sweet gracie prints.

i was visiting cia because i wanted some more of that darling umbrella girls print i used in my cousin's baby's quilt. sadly, the colorway i used before was all gone. however, there was some left in pink and brown. while i was there, i picked up a few other tempting bits, too.
 cia has always impressed me with her packaging: the folding is perfect, she wraps the stack neatly with a paper sleeve and cute sticker (coordinated with my fabric, no less), and protects it all with a well-fitted plastic envelope. i regularly order from a larger company that has great prices and a vast selection. their orders, although fulfilled promptly, are rather sloppy in comparison. some of the cuts i've received looked hacked on the edges rather than cut. the fabric is folded any old way and tossed in the box willy-nilly. the job gets done, but opening cia's packages are a completely different experience. it's like getting a beautifully wrapped gift rather than a slap-dash order.

her attention to customer service detail is no less. i've received phone calls from her in the past just to clarify points on the order. this time, there was a problem with my credit card (oops!). she emailed me and patiently waited the whole order til i got back with her after the weekend. we fixed the problem and she mailed the order right out. it arrived within days. once again, i was most impressed.

aside from the umbrella girls, i ordered a few other prints i'd gotten from her before and wanted more of, as well as some old favorites she still has in stock. now that i'm sure i've ordered what i want, i can let you know she still has "hope valley," if you care!

i restocked on some amy butlers, gracie prints, milk dots from "whimsical," and those beautiful "it's a hoot" leaf prints. i'm not sure how she still has some of these out-of-print classics on hand, but she does!

i don't even sort these fabric into my stash. i have a cia pile on my shelf because they sit together so nicely. i know what's there if i need to look for something.

for the record, this is not a sponsored post. not a bit! i just really love cia and am putting the word out there because my experience with her has been so good. give her a visit some time when you need fresh, well-selected fabrics.

Friday, October 18, 2013

down south

i've taken another trip, the last one of the year. (i'm seriously ready to stay put for a good, long while, even if traveling does mean epp and visiting quilt shops.) the mr was traveling to visit company offices in the southeast and i was invited along to nanny the children he also brought, d2 (11) and d5 (nearly 2). well, maybe i'm not the nanny, but that's what it felt like because of the pace of the trip and his inability to help much while working (completely understandable). i brought epp with me, of course, but got a lot less done than anticipated. travelling with a 23 month old put a damper on the sewing. she was a very cute beast of a traveler. 

 don't let the photos fool you - she was not well behaved most of the time. but that's to be expected and we should have anticipated this after 6 older siblings.

we didn't spend very long at all in each city we visited, which is a shame because they were some really good stops: atlanta, ga; chattanooga & knoxville, tn; charlotte & raliegh, nc. but it was still wonderful to be in the south again after nearly a decade away from the land i once lived in and still love dearly.

 uhm, uhmmm! not health food, but some downhome cooking: smoked bbq, boiled green beans, coleslaw, fried okra, and fried dill pickles in the background. all the southern cooking, desserts, and sitting in cars half the day did nothing to help my recent push to eat better and be more active. quite the opposite.

photo downloaded from estate website - click to view larger
 we did have one day of complete pleasure, no business. we stopped in ashville, nc to visit the biltmore estate. it's an 8,000 acre property and home built by george vanderbilt in 1895. with 250 rooms, it's the  largest home in america, they say. photos are not allowed inside, so all i've got are a few exterior shots.
just a wing, less than 1/3 of the house

stable roof and clock

is this what your front door looks like?

the mr looking out over one of the verandas, beautifully covered in vines

one tiny end of the house seen from the garden
 the house was lovely, said to rival those in europe, but it's not the kind of place i'd like to live. the gardens and grounds, however, i'd take in a heartbeat. i was falling in love with the colors and textures in the late afternoon light. individual flowers and blooms had me completely smitten. here's a sampling:

 the baby may or may not have been helping deadhead fading blooms in the rose garden.

 a would-have-been cute photo of the baby and me, but the mr had the background in focus instead of us.

 the hotel room we stayed in in ashville had some inspiring colors and designs going on. and i don't even like purple! but this was cool.
all 4 of us in the hotel mirror

aside from the biltmore, the best part of the trip was the tupelo honey cafe in ashville. if you are ever in town, EAT THERE. seriously amazing updated southern cooking. the biscuits were to die for. with the homemade blueberry jam, they were like desert. i'm ordering the cookbook.

i also got to visit one southern quilt shop in charlotte. the girls just weren't interested (go figure) in seeing anymore fabric, so that was the extent of my touring. i got some fabric, but no photos because they were so busy running around the store, i had my hands full of combing through fabric and making sure they weren't destroying anything.

so now i'm home and ready to stay here for a good stretch. i'll have to find other times to epp but i'll also be getting some machine sewing done, too. it's good to be home.