Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Finally, Some Progress

I've made a good deal of progress on my unfinished Strawberry Social quilt.  We've agreed on a layout (which I spent a ridiculous amount of time on yesterday), so now I just have to sew the columns together and finish the top.  
I had set this one aside for the longest time because I got hung up on one part of the instructions.  It truly wasn't difficult and I'm not sure why I waited so long.  One thing I was really surprised by was one of the trimming steps.  I cut off a good deal of fabric!

Top row is before trimming, bottom row is after trimming!
I also have finished quilting R2-D2!  I'm going to machine bind this one.
In other news, we discovered that something, probably a squirrel, has chewed up three separate sections of our composite decking.  This does not make me happy.
I also discovered fire blight on both my newly planted pear trees, so we spent an evening trimming off and burning the infected parts.  Hopefully this takes care of it, but I'm feeling rather pessimistic right now.  The Moonglow variety is supposed to be more resistant and it's the one that had it the worst.

The potatoes are coming up pretty well, and I'm starting to see some growth in the broccoli rabe and the cabbage.  My lettuce seems to be faltering.  I was really hoping for a harvest by now, especially since there are signs at the grocery store saying there's a lettuce shortage!  (What???)

Anyway, I feel like I'm finally making some progress sewing-wise, so that's good.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Second Verse, Same as the First

I started quilting the Bobbin Box mini.  And now I am "unquilting" it.  I either need to really play around with the foot pressure or my walking foot has died, because it pulled all the fabric so much that the quilt no longer lines up properly.  The feed dogs also scratched the backing fabric.  And the stitches are various lengths.  So, fun times continue with this one.
See how none of the vertical sashing lines up?  It did before quilting.

I've made a modest amount of progress on the horse cross stitch.  I'd mentioned before that I was probably going to run out of thread.  I was looking through my DMC floss boxes to find a match to one of the threads and found one right off the bat.  I happened to look down at the chart and notice that the DMC colors are all listed, just with a 1 in front of each number.  This made me so happy!  One less thing to worry about!
I made a small amount of progress on the R2-D2 quilt as well.  I fixed the ruffly spot, stitched two more passes of the pattern, and noticed that I have a huge ruffle again.  So I am picking out more stitching and trying to figure out how to blend in this new trouble spot.  Can't wait to see the end of this project.

I am frustrated with many of the projects I have going, so it seemed like a good time to work on something different.  (Why do I have so many UFOs again?  ha ha ha) I pulled out this half-done strawberry quilt to work on.

I still have plenty of other things to work on, just like always.  I probably will never run out in my lifetime.  I still need to make my shirts (I think going on a year now and getting to the point where I really NEED them done), I want to make a small travel wallet, I have tons of quilt tops to be quilted, tons of doll clothes to finish, tons of UFOs, gardening, cleaning, etc.  I don't understand when people say they would get bored staying at home.  I really never run out of things to do.  Maybe I don't want to do them, but there is always something to do.

I'm kinda bummed I won't make it to the AQS show next week.  It would be a temptation to spend money I need for other things.  I would really like to see Innova's PantoVision in person though.  I find it fascinating.  No idea if it works with my machine, but what a great idea!  Honestly, I think I may have seen it working at the last quilt show I went to, but assumed it was just the computer system, which I will likely never own, so didn't pay any attention to it.  I need to be more mindful of things.  And quit frittering away time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bobbin Box

I finished up my Bobbin Box top last week.  As I mentioned before, this pattern looks easy but is pretty hard to sew with everything matching.  I made the smallest version, which is 20" x 14".  I used Bonnie & Camille Basics fabrics for this one.  The pattern is by Cotton Way (Bonnie).  I haven't started quilting it yet.  No reason why; I've just been in a sewing slump this year, dragging my feet on every little thing.

I've also been very occasionally working on this tiny little cross stitch.  It is from a Bucilla kit--one of those that comes with everything including the frame.  It looks like it would be an easy thing to stitch, but I'm finding I have to take a good bit of care because the colors are all very similar.  I'm also going to be short thread because it called for using two strands and I've been using three.  I really prefer the look of three threads on Aida with a lower count.  In case you couldn't tell, this will be a horse head and it's in a 4" hoop.  It's been hanging around probably 5-8 years.  Cuz, you know, that's the way I work!
We've picked out a 12" x 8" or so section on the R2-D2 quilt.  I think that's enough to go back and straighten out the ruffly edge.  The needle has left a perforation pattern that I think I can follow from the front of the machine to stitch everything back into place.  I hope this works.

We've had a good bit of rain lately and everything is greening up nicely.  The redbuds are really pretty.  Some of the trees are leafing out.  All of our ornamental and fruit trees have leaves.  I say this like there's so many, but all totaled, there are five that we've planted!

My weight loss plan is going well.  In 25 days I've lost eight pounds!  I'm not denying myself any food category, just working to keep the portion size and calories in check and making better snack choices.  I've given myself a 1900 calorie allotment each day and am tracking it in the My Fitness Pal app.  I've only been "hangry" a few times....
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mostly Gardening

Not much has been happening on the sewing front.  I did finally finish binding the pumpkin quilt. The pattern is available from Cluck, Cluck, Sew.
I sewed and then took apart the bobbin box mini I was working on.  I'm finding it hard to get the pieces lined up properly.  I'm still very slowly removing the row of quilting on the R2-D2 quilt.  It might be removed by next fall!  If I'm lucky.  Definitely not fun.

We bought some pear trees over the weekend.  We also bought a twisted filbert, red twig dogwood, and a mini evergreen.  My daughter helped me clean out our lower flower garden, move a few shrubs around, and get the filbert and dogwood planted.  She found a mouse nest under one of the plants when she removed the dead growth. There was also a mouse nest in the pile of compost we had sitting on the utility trailer for a week. 

As if the mouse nests weren't enough....I needed to hook up the hose at the front of the house to water in the new plants.  I'm not a fan of the area where the faucet is because there's always giant spiders hiding back there.  So I had my husband help me.  We keep the hose in a plastic hose reel box.  I tried to tug on the hose to get it started unspooling. It would not budge.  So he tried.  Still nothing.  He moved the box a bit and really gave the hose a hard tug.  Out shot a rabbit!!!!  There was a rabbit nest inside the hose box!  That was not a pleasant surprise.
Meanwhile, my husband and son planted the two pear trees.  We bought some seven foot tall deer fencing to block off the trees.  Hopefully this will keep the trees safe until they are more established.
The lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli rabe are starting to sprout in the vegetable garden.  I haven't seen any signs of life from the potatoes yet.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Last week I was talking about how the R2-D2 quilt had been a series of annoyances.  I also mentioned that I had it on the frame and hoped quilting went smoothly since nothing else about this project had.  Well, I jinxed it because quilting is currently at a standstill while I pick out a 9" by width of quilt row of stitching.  (I offered my daughter $10 to pick it out, but she quit after a few inches.)  Somehow I managed to get a huge ruffle in the border.  I'm hoping that removing the one row will allow enough where I can go in and somehow fix it.  I've never had that happen before, and I'm not really sure what caused it.

Since I'm quite annoyed by having to rip out a giant row, I moved on to other things.

I bought a B & C Clambake kit on Etsy and cut and sewed that.  I changed the pattern slightly by omitting the solid strip along the bottom.  I was thinking maybe I'd make this into a pillow cover instead of a mini, but it's not square, nor is it a common pillow form size, so it's hanging around on my design wall until I decide. (And yes, I know I can make my own pillow form, but ugh!, more work!)

I also cut out a mini Bobbin Box quilt, but have not yet had time to start sewing.
I really need to make some new short sleeve shirts for myself now that it's warm again.  I bought all this fabric last summer and have yet to do anything with it.  Fitting oneself is a scary prospect. I used the same pattern to make some shirts for my daughter last year and perfected her fit, but we are built quite differently.  I just need to take the plunge and cut one out and try it.  Wish me luck!
In other news, we got part of the vegetable garden planted.  This year we are growing lettuce, broccoli rabe, red cabbage, potatoes, green and purple beans, and ONE cucumber plant.  We planted all but the beans and cucumbers, but nothing has sprouted yet.  To be fair, it's only been three days.  :D

If the weather is decent this weekend, I really need to clean out the dead stuff from the flower gardens and get some new mulch put down.  The deer have already decimated my tulips and most of the day lilies.  I'm sure the newly emerged hostas will be next.  Have I mentioned how much I detest deer?

Oh, I've gotten half of the pumpkin quilt bound and am a block behind on the Sewcial Bee Sampler.

Something I'm proud of this week is that I had bloodwork done and have lowered my cholesterol over 40 points since last time it was tested and cut my triglycerides in half!  This was the best result I've had in 10 years!  I attribute this to all the walking I've been doing since the last test.  It's good motivation to keep it going.  I alternate walking outside and on the treadmill, 3 to 3.5 mph pace pretty much daily.  I'm going to add in a rowing machine next week for some variety and to spare my poor feet.  Now to lose 30 or 40 pounds......
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.