Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It's Olympics Time

We've been watching lots of Olympic events.  My son and I love the snowboarding events and my daughter enjoys all the ice skating events.  I stayed up late last night to watch Shaun White. Totally worth it!

Meanwhile, not much is getting done on the sewing front.  I have added another small finish to my 2018 finishes page.

I also finally got this Kate Spain Jingle top that I made in 2015 quilted.  The free pattern can be found here, along with lots of other great, free patterns.  Anyway, the binding's been ready to sew down for three days but I've been too busy watching the Olympics in the evenings to work on it.  

The kids finished off the puzzle the other day.  We haven't started a new one yet.
We got the ruler table attached to the Juki.  I'm hoping to try it out soon.

A few weeks ago I bought a Postcard from Sweden quilt kit from Stitch Stash Diva on Etsy.  I wasn't going to start it yet, since I didn't have it on my guild UFO challenge list, but today on Instagram I saw that mmm! quilts is hosting a quilt-along and I think I may do it! Anyone want to join in?

Have a great week, and happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My First Finish of the Year!

I'm off to a really slow start, but I have my first finish of 2018.  I finished up binding my Kaffe quilt last night and buried the threads this morning.

The pattern I used for this quilt is Walk About by Grizzly Gulch.  All fabrics, front and back, are Kaffe Fassett.  I used the Echo Blossoms pantograph available from Willow Leaf Studio and So Fine 50 wt thread by Superior.  I love how this turned out.  So does my daughter, who picked the backing fabric and claimed the quilt when it was just a pile of fabric.

My next project in the queue for completion is this doll quilt.  I pattern tested the top for Pixie Faire back in the day.  The pattern is by Lilie Stone and you can buy it at Pixie Faire.  Anyway, I had it almost bound when I realized that I'd somehow chopped off the corner of the binding.  And there it sat for a few years.  Yesterday I removed the binding and replaced the cut piece.  Now I just need to sew down the binding.
I made this baby quilt top years ago for one of my husband's bosses, who did not like it.  (Had to make a different quilt, but that's a whole other story.)  I had started to quilt it on my domestic machine and it had tucks in the back.  Again, I got frustrated and there it sat.  I'm guessing about 13 or 14 years now.  My daughter rocks at seam ripping--she is super fast!  So I had her rip out the quilting.  I'll give it all a good press and quilt it on the long arm.  I'm seriously contemplating trying out my rulers on it.  I just have to figure out how to attach the ruler table to the machine.  It involves attaching magnets to the machine.  Meh.

I also got the "My Dogs Are Barking" row by row from Modern Domestic pieced.  There was very little extra fabric in the kit.  I messed up one black piece--accidentally cut my 1/4" from the wrong side and chopped my piece right off.  There was not enough extra black to redo it, so I had to go buy more.  How did I not have any black fabric in my stash?? I had just enough of the coral and the brown; good thing, since those would have been much harder to replace locally.  I do have a decent piece of the background and a small piece from the coat fabric left.  

That being said, I think it's super cute.  I bought some polka dot backing that matches the coral and will bind in black.  I just have to figure out how to quilt it now.  Always my hangup.  I'm planning to hang it in my future sewing room when both are finished.
Our basement project is moving along a bit.  We got the tile mostly laid in the bathroom.  The tile is Style Selections Serso Black Walnut Wood Look Porcelain tile from Lowes.  I'm very happy with how it looks.  We special ordered matching epoxy grout from a flooring store that should be in this weekend.  One comment on the tile--my husband found that the tiles were not consistently sized from end to end, so he did a fair bit of sorting so that everything lined up.

I think I finally have made a decision on my sewing room flooring.  I think this Mannington Adura Max luxury vinyl plank in Sundance Gunstock is going to be the one.  My wall color will be very similar to this, if not the same.  It's Valspar Homestead Resort Jefferson White from Lowes.  I was also forced to come up with a for-sure layout for the cabinets since the floor has to be laid around them.  We're just about there with that; I have a few measurements and a few specialty hardware layouts to confirm.  I hope I like it since it will be permanent!
I want to take a moment to address leaving feedback on a handmade item.  The internet gives voice to anyone, for better or for worse.  I think that people forget that there is a human on the other end of the transaction.  Unless something is seriously defective with the item you purchased or they took a month to ship an in-stock item, why leave either a less than stellar rating or a passive aggressive, seemingly positive, but in reality, negative review?  

If you don't like hook and loop tape, don't use it.  If you don't like the construction methods the designer chose in the pattern, do what you want instead. You don't have to exactly follow a pattern. Or if you don't like clothing that closes with hook and loop tape, ask for a custom instead of leaving a poor review, especially when it was disclosed in the listing that hook and loop tape was used.  I don't know.  I would rather receive no feedback than drivel like that. Anyway, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.  Or address your concerns with the seller via convo first rather than poor public review with no chance for the seller to respond.  Just be nice and considerate. Please.

On a happier note, if you are craving a chocolate chip cookie but don't want to make a whole bunch, try this recipe.  Leaving out the cornstarch and using semi-sweet chocolate chips (no adding extra to the top), six big cookies have about 200 calories each.  Just really reduce the baking time.  I'd start checking at 5-6 minutes.  I think you could easily make 8 smaller cookies too, at 150 calories each. 

Oh, and we started a new puzzle.  This one is all Mustang advertisements.  We decided since this was easier than the London puzzle we would not refer to the picture on the box at all.  It's a little harder in that the pieces are all really unusual shapes and not just interlocking like the last one. Our strategy here was to build the border and then put all the pieces with words inside.  This may bite us because we don't know where inside each part goes.  Oh well.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Getting Stuff Done!

My guild has officially started the UFO challenge.  We had to turn in a list of UFOs that will count toward the challenge.  I listed 21 tops to be quilted/bound, nine of my in-progress projects, four cross stitch projects, and eight shirts to make.

I'm starting off okay--I got the Kaffe quilt quilted (that sounds funny) this week and binding attached to the front.  Now I just have to sew it down.  And then I will have my first finish of the year and my first entry for the guild prize.
I also have almost one top of my two Bubblegum Kisses minis done.  It just needs borders attached. And it's not so mini either.  Hmm.
We had a guild Sewcial Saturday and I worked on my Aviatrix blocks.  These five need to be taken apart and redone (again) because they don't quite line up.  The sad thing is that I already redid them at least once.  But I know it will drive me crazy if I don't fix them.
The other thing we worked on at Sewcial was some quilt kits for kids whose parents are deploying. One of our members knows someone at Fort Bragg and got the kits for us.  They come with everything that's needed to make it, including batting.  Just don't mess up because there's not any spare.  You cut, sew, quilt, and wrap over the back for binding, put it back in the labeled bag and send it on back.  I'm not sure how one goes about requesting kits, but you can check it out here if you're interested.

I got my Kimberly Einmo class quilt blocks rearranged.  Sorry for the lack of quality on this picture. I took it in the dark because my laundry room light makes everything look so horribly yellow. Since it was completely dark in there, the camera (or me) didn't quite focus.

And because I have craft ADD I am also planning to make this cute mini.  It's one of this past year's row-by-row quilt kits.  I saw an image of it on social media and just HAD to have it.  I ordered it from Modern Domestic in June and waited until the fall mailing date to get it.  Totally worth the wait!  It's so cute!
We finished our puzzle last week!  It took us almost a month.  Definitely got our money's worth. My son wants to get the completely blank, round puzzle that Ravensburger sells.
I haven't mentioned a whole lot about the basement project lately.  We have all the drywall primed.  Most of the drywall issues have been repaired, part by the actual people we paid and the rest they didn't/wouldn't fix was done by my husband.  The ceilings have all been painted.  Some of the doors are installed since my father in law needs the actual measurements to finish making the trim.  All the can lights have their LED fixtures installed, but only the living room area has been wired to have working lights right now.  The rest of the light fixtures have been purchased but not yet installed since I don't want them to get broken.  

We also had an experience with using floor leveler.  It needed to be done and it was messy and parts of the process were smelly too.  The bathroom is now level (I think).  If it is, then my husband will start working on tiling the floor in there. We will still have to level at least part of the sewing room as well.  At the moment we are considering using luxury vinyl plank that has some padding on the back for that room.  The living room and guest room will eventually be carpeted.

My big project for the basement this week is that I need to decide on the layout for the cabinets so that my father in law can get started on those.  I had a plan before, but it's been so long that we can't remember what we meant by parts of the drawing.  I'm freaked out because what if it's all done and then it doesn't function well?  It's a big, permanent decision.   Wish me luck!  And offer suggestions if you have something you love or hate about your sewing room.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018


My guild is starting a UFO challenge this week.  You get an entry for each UFO you finish from now until June.  I made my list of what I'd like to finish (mostly get all the tops quilted--there are currently 21) and decided to start with my Kimberly Einmo class blocks.  I laid them out on the design wall and we made several changes.  I thought we'd settled on one we thought looked good. I took a photo of it this morning and it doesn't look that great in the photo.  :(

So I went looking back through my old photos and found the original layout I was going to do.  I think I prefer this one and will use it.  My tasks today are dishes, laundry, Mom's taxi service, and rearrange the blocks to look like this.  If you want to see my original posts on this quilt and class, just type "Kimberly Einmo" into the search bar and the posts should pop up.
While looking for the original photos, I found the quilt show photos from that year (2015).  I thought I'd share the cow quilts that were on display in 2015 at the IHQS show.  The tags aren't very legible and I'm sorry for that.  I love the themed challenge quilt exhibits each year.  They are so full of creativity!

I hope you enjoyed the quilt show photos!

I've also finished piecing the second set of Bubblegum Kisses blocks.  Finishing both of these mini quilts is also on my UFO challenge list.  I have 21 quilt tops to be quilted, eight in progress quilts that I'm serious about finishing, four cross stitch projects, and fabric to make eight shirts on my challenge list.  I'm not feeling overly optimistic about my chances of finishing these things.  I have the hardest time figuring out how to quilt the quilts.  Plus the basement, where the longarm resides, is such a construction zone I'm having a hard time actually finding time and lighting enough to get anything quilted.
We're almost done with our London puzzle.  One more evening will probably finish it off.
Here are a few recipes we made recently that are really good.  First, these blueberry and banana muffins were excellent.  I used two full bananas.  Next, these brownies are really good and pretty light too.  I used one cup of sugar and sprinkled a few mini chocolate chips over the top.  Finally, these homemade french fries are tasty too.  One thing to note--the recipe says one serving.  We felt that eight servings was a realistic and very generous serving size (200 cal per serving).  I froze and reheated 1/2 the recipe (425 for 25 min).  The reheated ones were okay, but not nearly as good as fresh.  I think I'll make half the recipe next time.

Finally, thanks to reader Pam who contacted me last week.  I love to hear from readers!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Too Much Snow, Too Much Cold

We ended up with a five day break due to bad weather.  First freezing rain, then lots of snow.  And it's bitterly cold outside.  I don't get anything done when everyone is home.  Somehow I managed to get everything off my to-do list done last week; probably because I got most of it done prior to Friday. This week is not looking good.

Here's what I've accomplished in the creativity department.

I finished one mini quilt's worth of blocks for Bubblegum Kisses.
I am working on the second group of blocks.
I needed some more design boards.  These are made using Lori Holt's instructions.  I used all batting scraps.  I bought some inexpensive fabric for the bindings.  I measured, sewed, cut....and still ended up about three inches too short.  😞  I really don't know how this could happen.  The other crazy thing about these is the amount of hot glue I went through.  My last stick is in the glue gun and I'm not convinced it's even enough to tack down the binding on the last board.  I used more than 10 sticks on these eight boards.  That's more than a stick a board.  CRAZY!
I'm making a small amount of progress on the cross stitch.
We made a decent amount of progress on the puzzle this week.
Have a happy, productive week.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Clean Start to the New Year

My kids are back to school, my husband has been back at work for a week, and I am starting to get more things accomplished.  

My big project right now is deep cleaning the house.  I was really embarrassed when I saw how dirty my windows were last week, and looking around, everything needed help.  We are basically done with the drywall sanding now, so I feel like I can give everything a super-good, thorough cleaning and it won't immediately be covered in drywall dust (even though the registers downstairs are blocked off and the stairwell is taped off with plastic sheeting as well).  

As a side note, the drywaller rep came back last week to patch the mess they made and asked me to walk around the basement with him because he couldn't see why so many things were marked and that he couldn't see anything wrong with any of it.  He had the nerve to tell me that visible seam ridges at the joints are just how drywall is.  By visible seam ridge I mean a protruding line about 1/8" tall and 1/8" wide sticking out of the tape at the joint. Anyway, he had to call his boss (father), get more materials, and get a helper, but most of the things were fixed.  I truly don't feel we got our money's worth on this job based on how much labor we also put into it.  :(

Anyway, back to the cleaning. So I am doing one room per day and really cleaning every nook and cranny.  It's not fun, but it sure looks wonderful when I am finished.  And one room per day feels manageable and still leaves time for other, more fun things.  

In sewing news, I finished piecing the Pixie Noel blocks I was working on for the last month or so.  That leaves five more blocks to piece, then top and border assembly.  I find this one a bit tedious, so I had to move on to a new project in between blocks.

I started working on the Bubblegum Kisses Lori Holt mini that I'd been saving.  I didn't like how the original pattern wasted a lot of background fabric and also had cut off points when assembling the blocks.  So I attempted to use math to figure out how to cut squares into triangles that would solve both issues.  The first attempt was too small--I'll blame my husband since he was the one who told me what size.  You can see that block below. I got the correct size, 3.25",  worked out.  This leaves a little bit of trimming to square up the block afterward and also makes the block a bit larger than the pattern called for.  But it avoids the cut off points, which would have driven me crazy.
I had seen a post on Instagram of someone's finished product, along with a table runner, mini mini, and a rope bowl too that they had made from the original kit.  Cutting carefully, you can make double the amount of blocks plus have some scraps to make a basic mini mini.  Using my background fabric carefully and purchasing an additional 1/2 yard means I have plenty to make two minis from the original pattern.  I used a different binding fabric and then just purchased another fabric for the second binding along with some backing fabrics.  I am waiting on my extra background, binding, and backing fabrics to arrive before I completely finish.  I made it a week into the new year before purchasing fabric!  Ha ha.  But it's to finish a work in progress, so it's all good.

I finished most of this cross stitch.  I still have to attach all the beads, but can't remember how to do it.  This one will be turned into an ornament.  It was supposed to be done for Christmas, but now I'm just ahead for this year's gifts!
Since I haven't gotten anything quilted and have nothing to bind due to drywall and paint, I started another cross stitch for my evening project.  Any guesses as to what it is? 
I gave three quilts as gifts for Christmas.  I think my sister-in-law was most appreciative.  She sent me this photo of the quilt on their guest bed.  It made me feel good.  I was also surprised it fit on a bed since I thought of it as a throw quilt.
My guild is starting a WIP/UFO challenge this week.  It runs until June.  I would love to finish up many of my WIPs.  Reality, probably won't, but at least it's sort of a goal/competition to maybe motivate me.

Oh, and we made a small amount of progress on the puzzle.  :)
Finally, I found a good recipe for healthier mashed potatoes.  I used three of the large, bulk produce baking potatoes for this.  They turned out really well.