Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What I'm Working on This Week

I made a tablecloth for a DJ table, but that is not an exciting project to look at.  It just looks like a pile of black fabric!

Here are blocks 1 - 7 of the Sewcial Bee Sampler.  I feel like my photo looks almost fish-eyed.  How strange.    I was standing directly over the blocks with a regular camera.
I'm very, very, very slowly binding my pumpkin quilt.  I only have about 24" done so far.  :/
I have the R2-D2 quilt on the frame.  I'm using BB-8 fabric for the back.  If you look closely, you'll see there is no batting.  My husband kindly finished loading the quilt for me while I got my son into bed.  He left out the batting though.  :)  
This one has been full of frustration.  When I originally finished cutting out the pieces, my son informed me that he wanted a different pattern.  Then it took me over a year to finish sewing because it was so tedious.  Then it was too small, so I had to buy border fabrics.  Next, my son told me he doesn't really like quilts.  He did pick out the backing and I bought what was left on the bolt, which I thought was a half yard extra.  Somehow I calculated wrong because there was not enough backing.  Then I remembered that I'd bought a piece of it when it first came out.  Luckily it was two yards, just enough to very carefully add to my other yardage, but it's going to be really close side-to-side.  Hopefully the quilting goes more smoothly than the rest of the project has gone. 

I have a Thimbleblossoms Mini Clambake cut out and arranged on my design wall.  I'm toying with leaving the solid strip off the bottom.
Last week was our spring break.  It was super cold and blustery and we even had snow--more than what we'd had most of the winter.  Since it had been unseasonably warm many of my plants were emerging, only to be partially frozen.  The birds didn't know what to make of it.  I had flocks of robins in my yard and a lone red winged blackbird at the feeder.  Today is absolutely gorgeous and I happened to spy a towhee.  I got a really grainy picture through a screen before he hopped out of view.  I rarely see towhees in my yard.  I'm hoping this means spring is here to stay.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quilting for Charity

I like to lend my efforts to charity quilting now and then.  In the past I've made quilts for Quilts for Kids and the local NICU.  I've also worked with my guild to assemble a few quilts for Pulse victims.  
Here is a list of organizations I found that accept charity quilts (please remember I've only worked with Quilts for Kids).  This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but it's a good starting point. Be sure to follow the guidelines each organization stipulates so as to make the most of their time and yours.  Expect to pay for shipping if the charities are not local.

I've given a brief overview here.  Click the name of each charity to go to their list of requirements.

Quilted EMbrace

  • supports senior citizens in nursing homes
  • 36" x 48" quilts
  • very few restrictions other than size

Quilts of Valor

  • given to those touched by war
  • approximately 60" x 80"
  • many rules/restrictions for all aspects of quilting--click on link for more info

Quilts for Kids

  • primarily given to kids with life-threatening illnesses
  • approximately 40" x 46"
  • due to health issues of recipients, must use only new, quilt shop quality cotton (not chain craft store fabric), must be machine quilted and machine bound, no laundry scents--must be very clean
  • can request kits from organization; you pay shipping and provide batting

Million Pillowcase Challenge

  • you donate pillowcases to your own charity, link goes to list of ideas
  • use 100% cotton fabric
  • free patterns are provided, but you can design your own as well

Project Linus

  • given to children in crisis via local chapters
  • new, handmade, washable blankets or afghans
  • 36" x 36" up to twin size
  • knit, crochet, fleece, or quilt--many free patterns available on site
  • no smoke, strong perfumes (including detergent/softeners), or animal hair

Quilts Beyond Borders

  • given to orphans worldwide
  • 45" x 60"
  • must be quilted and bound by machine
  • also accepts quilt tops

Wrap Them in Love

  • given to children worldwide who are victims of tragedy or disaster
  • 40" x 60" recommended size, but will accept larger too
  • will accept fabric, batting, blocks, quilt tops
If you want to stay local with your donations, good places to check with include hospitals (especially NICUs and children's hospitals), senior centers, women's shelters, and animal shelters. Police departments or school counselors could possibly offer guidance as to where local need lies as well.  
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

IHQS Show & Free Printable Quilt Care Card

Last week I visited the IHQS show.  It's fun to see local quilters' works displayed alongside national and international quilters'.  Another feature at the show the last few years is first quilts made by high school (or younger) students.  Although I generally do not photograph these, it's so fun to see new quilters represented in the show.  

This year's special exhibit was one I really enjoyed--mini quilts based on the National Parks.  Here is more information on these quilts.  I took pictures of a handful of the quilts on display.  Although I used my cell phone camera, I feel they are still decent enough to share--please enjoy them!

This week I am gifting the baby quilt I shared last week.  I made up a printable card with quilt care instructions.  I am sharing it with you, free of charge, here.  There are two cards per page.  I'm planning to mount mine on a pretty background paper.

I haven't really accomplished a whole lot in the last week.  I worked on a UFO and cleaned my kitchen.  I think my taxes are done.  I read a few books and kept up with the usual household tasks.  My daughter and I have been watching a bunch of episodes of Case Closed and my son had his Pinewood Derby (which he did quite well at--two trophies!).

Many of the trees are budding out and more daffodils are blooming.  We are supposed to have several inches of snow over the weekend.  Next week is the big braces installation!
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Finished Something!

Last week I shared a baby quilt I was working on.  I actually have it completely finished!  I sewed down the last of the binding last night.  I used Greatest Adventure fabric from Riley Blake on this one--it's just four packs of charm squares sewn together.  (Note that each charm pack has only 18 squares.)  I did a quick, all-over loopy swirl quilting pattern on it.
About 36" x 40"

I also finished the R2-D2 top and found out that neither of my kids is that into quilts.  WHAT!?  How did they come out of me?  

So I opted to quilt my pumpkin quilt before R2-D2.  I'm trying out the Leader Grips I bought at last year's AQS show.  I'm not sure that they're faster for me than pins, at least not yet.  It takes me approximately one hour to load a quilt using pins and it took an hour to load a quilt as a joint effort with me and my husband using the leader grips.  :/  It is really fast to remove the quilt from the frame, however.  I had to make a few adjustments with how I set up things to accommodate the bulk of the grips, but I don't think that will be a huge deal.  Just have to remember to make sure the grip for the backing is clear of the dead bar before starting.
In other news, we've reached the wiring phase of the basement project.  This is a corner of my future sewing room.
My early daffodils are starting to bloom.  That means spring is here, right?  It's so awfully early for them though.  We'll see.

My son took his first standardized test yesterday.  He commented that it was really easy and only took him about five minutes to finish the whole thing.  I'm not really sure how to take that!  I will say that he doesn't have the best time sense yet.  He takes the high stakes one next week (if you don't pass, you don't pass third grade no matter how well you do otherwise).

I have tried cooking a few different things in the pressure cooker--some chicken breasts, ribs, and baked beans.  The chicken came out a tad dry, but most likely due to operator error.  Ribs were decent, beans I was not impressed by.  At all.  Anyone know how to remove onion smell from the lid sealing ring?
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sewcial Bee Sampler Weeks 1 - 4

First off, here is what I found on my sewing work table this morning:
Here are the Sewcial Bee Sampler blocks I've made so far.  These are way out of my normal color scheme.  I'm not really an orange person, but it goes well with aqua.  And, if you recall, I'm using only fabrics I had on hand.  If I could have bought new, I'd probably go with my favorite hot pink and navy.

Week 1--this is my favorite so far.
Week 2 
Week 3--this one is a bit intense.
Week 4
I decided it was time to make the backing for my pumpkin quilt and get it onto the frame for quilting.  Then I realized I'd never bought the correct size batting.  No!  I made a baby quilt top this week.  I bought a batting for that without looking at what I had on hand.  Not only did I already have the proper size batting on hand, I could have actually fit it onto one of my batting scraps.  Double NOOOOOO!  Where is my brain?
Simple baby quilt top
I finally got R2-D2 off the design wall after a year and a half.  However, my son has grown quite a bit since I originally cut out the top, so I needed to add borders.  (As a side note, the squares were cut at 2".) After going to two different JoAnn's, I got the small amount of black fabric I needed to make the inner border and the proper size batting for this one.  And we bought a backing of his choice since I no longer had enough of what I'd originally planned--that will be BB-8.
Top minus outer borders
The outer border will be this R2-D2 print.
Once the backing for the baby quilt and the batting for the pumpkin quilt arrive, and once I finish adding the borders and make the backing for R2-D2, I will be spending some (hopefully) quality time with the long arm.

In other news, my mother in law sent me a pressure cooker.  I am kind of scared of it.  If you have any tips or great recipes for me to try, let me know.
Random tidbits of the week:

  • My son informed us that he likes babies because they have huge heads.
  • I have a B.S. in Mathematics, but I think I've forgotten most of what I learned--if you don't use it, you lose it!
  • The lot behind my house sold.  I have to get some type of window coverings now.  Sigh.
  • Still looking at making a compost pile; husband is on board too.  Just need to get it set up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Guild Mini Swap

My guild swapped minis last week.  Here's what I made for my friend Sarah:
14 x 18"  Pattern by Stars & Sunshine. Background fabric, horn fabric, hair fabric are all Cotton + Steel.
Unicorn body is by Moda.  Hooves are Tula Pink.  Binding is Elizabeth Hartman.
Backing fabric is Sarah Jane.
I tried to quilt words into the unicorn's body.  They are hard to see.
It's hard to see, but I layered sparkle tulle over the
horn fabric so that it had a bit of shimmer.
My friend Annie made me this beauty:

My picture really doesn't do it justice.  And the background is white.  Be sure to notice the outstanding quilting on it!  I'm so pleased I got this because it is just, wow!

Things I'm working on:
  • Sewcial Bee Sampler
  • R2-D2 pixel quilt--soooooo tedious

Things I like this week:  
  • Melissa McCarthy as Spicey.  Seriously hilarious.
  • Daylight lasting a bit longer.
  • My daffodils are starting to come up and some of the trees are budding.
  • My foot is a lot better, but unfortunately I caught a cold.
Things I'm thinking about:
  • I think I need to start composting.  I am lazy and I need to find the easiest possible way to do so.
  • What to plant in the garden this year.  I think I'm going to plant only one cucumber plant so that I don't have so many this summer.  Last year's crop was out of control!
  • Why don't people believe scientific facts?  Vaccines are important.  Running oil through water supplies is always a bad idea.  Etc.  Our actions have consequences.
  • Why don't people recycle?
  • I think I need to redo part of my front landscaping.  Not sure what to do with it though.  Part has died off and part has gotten way larger than the mature size on the plant tags.  It's pretty wild-looking.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My New Quilting Project

I really wanted to finish half done projects this year and use my stash.  I've been in a sewing slump after finishing my 365 Challenge quilt top. I guess I just got used to knowing what I needed to sew each day and then when I finished I just couldn't decide what to work on.  First world problems.

Anyway, in an attempt to get my sew-jo back and reduce my stash, I decided to go ahead and participate in the QAL I mentioned last week.  It is called the Sewcial Bee Sampler.  Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell are the hosts/designers for this one.  You make one quilt block a week for 25 weeks and end up with a 72" square quilt when you're finished.  The blocks are published each Wednesday.  And it's free!  You can even grab this button if you click on the blog button at the top of Sharon's page and go to "older posts".

I pulled the majority of the fabrics I'll be using from my stash.  I was lacking really light and dark tones, so I spent $20 at JoAnn to get a few filler pieces.  I will also need to buy more of the solid on the lower left since I'm using that for sashing and don't have enough.

I injured my foot last week, so walking, driving, and sewing have been a challenge.  I did go in to urgent care Saturday and they couldn't determine the issue.  They referred me to a podiatrist, who conveniently can't see me for more than a month!!  I did feel well enough yesterday to get last week's block sewn.  I changed the color placement a tad and am pleased with how it came out.
I just printed off this week's block and am hoping to get it done today.  I'm planning to share here and on Instagram (feed to the right--->)

In other news, I finished the cross stitch I shared last week.  Obviously I broke the cardinal rule of not leaving it hooped, but since its frame will be a hoop of the same size, I'm not too concerned.

I haven't shared any bird photos lately.  I was attempting to get a photo of a flicker in flight so that I could show my son the yellow feathers.  I didn't manage to get one, but here are a few shots I did take.
One of our many Pileated Woodpeckers.
Can you find the Northern Flicker?
I'll be sharing my first finish of the year (a mini for my guild swap) next week after the mini has been received.

Things I've been thinking about:  Why does it seem like rich people have to have their names on everything that they donate to?  If I had enough money to give a really good donation to something, I'd do it anonymously.  I just don't understand the need for recognition.  It also seems like political favors are implicit in the donations.  

Also, why can't educators be the ones responsible for making school decisions?  Why do politicians have to be involved in something the vast majority of them do not understand?  Testing and overtesting is not the way.  One single test does not give an accurate representation of a student's understanding, nor does it reflect a single teacher.  Also, comparing testing by grade from one year to the next doesn't make sense because you are not comparing the same group of kids.  Way too many factors influence this.  We are losing creativity in teaching and we are losing good teachers.  The current climate has led to teaching only to the test since funding and pay are now tied to these flawed testing models.  It is not fun for a teacher or a kid to spend the year learning only what will be on the test and spending hours on review.  Things need to change for the better.

We watched the entirety of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s August 28, 1963 speech--the one with  I Have a Dream in it--the other night.  I was struck by how issues back then are issues now, 53.5 years later.  One of my friends shared an article comparing current rulers to rulers of the Roman Empire, same theme.  The more things change, the more they stay the same?

Both my kids will be getting braces over spring break.  I never dreamed they'd be at the same time given their 5.5 year age difference.  Fun times.  If you made it all the way to the end of this, thanks for reading.