Friday, December 30, 2005

Scrappy Spools with Secondary pattern

Ready to make some spools? :) First you need a pile of 4-patches made from 2" squares. And then you need a pile of 3.5" unfinished Half Square Triangles that are three times the amount of the 4-patches. Example: ten 4-patches and 30 HSTs.

I haven't had a chance to put my WonderCut Ruler to work yet, but I bet it would be much faster than taking two 4" squares, marking one diagonally, sewing a quarter-inch on each side of the line, cutting it in half, trimming it down to 3.5" and ironing them open. Whew... that made me tired just to type it all! ;)

Next I laid out one block to give you an idea of the layout. It will finish at 12" square.

To make it a little more easier to see, I broke the block into quarters. If you look closely, each quarter is exactly the same, only they're turned accordingly to form the spool block. Three HSTs and one 4-patch in each quarter. If you stack them all in one direction, sewing them together goes pretty fast!

I sewed the quarters up, sewed the quarters together to form the block and made a total of 4 blocks. Place the spools tilting all in one direction - in my case, to the left.

And ta-dah! The 4 bocks together form a 5th spool in the center. Obviously the more blocks you sew together, the more secondary spools will pop out. It's so cool! :)

I'm officially all ready for the mystery tomorrow. Half a dozen bobbins wound, new spool loaded, sharp needle and some back ups nearby. Fabric is all cut and in ziplock bags according to the clues. I know where my thread snips are, my rotary mat is clean. Yup! Now I just need to be able to fall asleep tonight. :)


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Green and Purple, finally!

Last Green and Purple project that I'm gonna torture you with. ;)

When I saw Bonnie's post about her lastest Leader and Enders project, I just had to try it for myself! On her website she has a page on how to do certain measurements, like for corner and side triangles. With that, I was able to figure out I needed a 3.5" square cut diagonally twice to get the perfect side triangles.

Through trial and error I discovered it was best to press everything away from the "light" - in my case, the purple. I was trying to see if pressing them all one direction was better, but nope! I also made the purple the dominant color, 3 squares of purple in a "row" and 2 green squares in a "row". I swear, green is my favorite color!! :) I just have a lot more 2" purple strips from the Pineapple Blossom. I know it doesn't sound very believable that I like green more... especially since I have more purple fabric. My problem is that not all greens are compatible with each other. Hot neon green with a "drab" olive green? Bleh!! It just hurts my eyes to put certain greens together. But with purple? I feel like any and every shade of purple is pretty and compatible. I know that's not true, but I will buy any hue of purple, whereas I'm more picky when it comes to green.

Now with that said... I still swear that green is my favorite color! No, don't look at the fact that I have more purple shirts than green ones. Or that I have purple sheets... I have green ones too! Or that my diary is purple. Or that I write with a purple pen more than any other color. I'll get a green diary next time! :) (Isn't it odd, that in this modern world with all the nice conveniences and time-saving devices, I still like to handwrite in my diary? I just like being able to slow down for a while, sit back, and write out my thoughts and ideas. Heh, it's also a great place to say something private or vent.)

With me being sick last week and not feeling 100% yet (95% maybe?) I haven't been actually sewing very much. Nor feeling strong urges. Well, I didn't realize how much my husband pays attention to my sewing time, until today. He made a comment about how I haven't turned on my machine in a week, is something wrong? I couldn't help but think "wow... he actually noticed. I wasn't paying so much attention myself." It really helped that I cleaned off the ironing board and my cutting table yesterday. So today I continued to cut for the "New Year's Eve Mystery" that's going to be hosted on one of my groups this Saturday. I asked my husband as I was cutting "do you feel like I'm 'sewing' when I cut?" "Yup!" :)

Here's my fabric selection for the mystery.

The host said to pick three compatible fabrics and one background, light or dark. Apparently there needs to be a strong contrast between the background and the other fabrics. And no large prints. That's all I know! I'm gonna have my husband set the alarm for 5:50am Saturday so I can sew as soon at the host gives the clues - 6am my time. No, no, no, I'm not excited at all! ;) Last mystery she gave, I was crazy enough to get up at 5am because of the time difference! *ahem* I do believe that I also went to bed around 2am the night before, and in my excitement, I couldn't fall asleep until after 3. I hope to be a little more rested this time! :)


Monday, December 26, 2005

More Green and Purple

Will the addiction never end? I have yet another green and purple quilt for your pleasure. The purples are more on the red side of the purple scale than blue. This was a mystery quilt hosted on one of my online groups. I had no idea what it was going to be, only that I needed two contrasting colors and that scrappy was encouraged.

It's a Snail's Trail (or Monkey Wrench) - although honestly, it does look like a demented starfish. ;) This pattern is a little different in the sense that they didn't use triangles to create like in this version. They're still blocks right now - I'm thinking maybe I'll find a green and purple fabric for the border and maybe make baby blankets by putting 12 blocks together. Who knows. Definitely a UFO. :)

What a great Christmas! I got everything on my list. I had a bunch of exercise equipment - heart rate monitor, bench (which is still in the car because there's no room here...) and two 30lb dumbbells. I heft one out to show everybody what I got and I nearly bashed my husband's face in because he was leaning over to see what I got! Oops. :) He gave me $100 to spend at JoAnn's and permission to get my sewing machine professionally cleaned. Best of all, I got the WonderCut ruler and the dye starter kit!! I'm still doing a happy dance about that. :)

The downside is that I might have killed my in-law's washer. It's been on the blink for a couple months now, but they were able to get it running again... until Christmas. I was doing a medium-large size load of towels and a few jeans, everything is going fine until it needs to drain off the soapy water. No go. It won't spin either. I'm personally wondering if there's a soap overload because my in-laws have been using this blue laundry soap for years. The thing is that they ran out of the soap recently and the only bottle around is one that *I* bought which is clear, which I used. Well, with the water sitting in there all day, it slowly started getting bluer and bluer. So soap build-up crossed my mind... but nobody else agrees with my theory. I kinda feel like it's my fault that the washer broke, but my husband assured me that it's been happening to them too. I still feel bad, because it's right after Christmas and they just spent boatload of money on all their kids. Maybe they'll find a good sale?

Tomorrow I really hope to get some decluttering going on here. I want my sewing areas to be clean and comfortable to work with. Currently I have a pile of clean clothes on the dining room table - on my cutting mat specifically! And the box that held our Christmas gifts for transportation is on my ironing board. The dye kit is on my sewing chair. I'm ready to shriek "it's a mess!!!!!!!" Nevermind that every room here could use a good overhaul. Flylady here I come! :)


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Green and Purple... again!

This started out as a Leaders and Enders project, using 2" squares of green and purple... leftover from the Star Log Cabin and some more added in.

The blocks measure 12" finished and I had the crazy idea that there should be matching 6" blocks in the corner. Yes, crazy me. :)

I have had a few people comment that they have never seen this type of pattern of spools before. I have been calling it Scrappy Spools. If you look closely, the purple sashing fabric is of Sewing Sues - couldn't be more fitting! :)

I love this pattern so much that I've done it again - the all purple one went to somebody that will put them in a Love Quilt. (The color is off a little... I accidently lightened it up too much. :P)

The blue and yellow one went to a lady who got a "block shower" because she already had a love quilt and her mom that was ill also had a love quilt... what to do, but shower her in blocks of her favorite color.

Since I have a bunch of purple and green HSTs and 4-patches left, I'm thinking I'm gonna do spools again... but with a little twist. I'm not going to use any more white filler pieces, but create a secondary spool that will only make sense when 4 blocks are joined together. See? I'm probably not making sense, and now I'm gonna have to actually do it so you know what I mean. :)

Hope you all have a nice Christmas and you get what you really want. I am hoping for JoAnn gift cards, the WonderCut Ruler and especially the fabric dye starter kit from Dharma Trading. I really hope I get it!! :)


Friday, December 23, 2005

Green and Purple

Last year for Christmas I gave my youngest sister-in-law this Star Log Cabin, done in scrappy green and purple.

The quilting was a nightmare. I wanted to sew around all the stars, but this was before I got my Bernina sewing machine. I had no idea what free-motion quilting was. Or that you even needed a spring-loaded foot! I ended up stitching diagonally from star to star, but I would "skip" over the stars so I wouldn't mar them. Then I set out to hand sew all the stars so they would "pop". Eh, I got 4 done. They took me an hour each!! I wasn't so aware of the importance of ironing fabrics in certain directions or colors to help reduce the bulk. My husband had insisted that I also use the highest loft batting to make it "nice and thick". Top of it all? Fleece for the backing. Did I also mention that I never hand sewed before, aside from whip stitching bindings?

Rocking the needle was completely out - I would need fingers of steel for that. It was stab down, pull the thread through some, then blindly stab back up - it was a good stitch when I could get it to stab in the right spot by the 4th try! I was also crazy enough to measure my stitches... 4-6 stitches per inch, depending where the seam allowance bulk was. I spent the first half of 2005 trying to sew a star every Sunday I was there. I probably have 9 or 10 stars done... a year later. I'm just tempted to "borrow" the darn thing and use my free-motion foot to finish the rest of the stars!

The good news is that Emily sleeps with it EVERY single night. That's one well used and loved quilt. Purple is her favorite color and green is my favorite, so it was a nice visual quilt for me to piece. And the best part? All the log strips needed to be 2" wide - got a head start on the Pineapple Blossom quilt without even knowing it! :)

Erin, the almost last sister-in-law also got a quilt that Christmas too.

Erin hopes to be in the Peace Corps someday and really wants to go to Africa. So hence the "Jungle Pathways" quilt. The original pattern is call "Lilac Pathways". The fabric is all themed on Africa. The black has orange leopards. There's "sand" fabric, blue and green (sky and water), red and orange batik with gold crackles (fire?) and also a jungle animal print. Honestly the print was too large for this quilt, but it really fitted in! I also love the border on this one - took a lot of thinking on how I could make it work out, since only every other line did the animals go the same direction. It worked up amazingly fast and I just stitched-in-the-ditch - nice and easy! And Erin sleeps with it every single night too. :)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

*cough* Sewing Corner *cough*

I got attacked with some horrible cold/coughing germ. So bad that on Monday all I did was either sleep, watch TV or do a little computer. Usually when I start to feel the sniffles or a sore throat, my husband will say "you're not sick, you're not sick!" and I'll respond "fine, I'm not sick!" and I'm not sick. :) This time he hasn't said it at all... no, it's more like "you sound horrible." "Why don't you try sleeping for a while?" "Can I get you anything?" Yeah, that's how I know when I'm sick. :)

Tuesday I told myself that I was getting better and that I was gonna play "human", put some clothes on and go out. I went to the post office to mail a bunch of BOMs (Block of the Month) and on the way home I swung by Target for some throat drops because mine feels so raw. Got home and basically vegged out. Good thing my husband does a lot of cooking, cuz he's been on his own the past few days. I did check my temp - 98.6 - perfectly normal. I slept poorly that night too.

Move onto today, as part of Operation Feel Better, I decided not to take any medicine. It worked... sorta. I don't sound like I have rocks in my throat when I speak, but it feels like the entire cold dropped from my head to chest. I promptly freaked out thinking I might have bronchitis... again. Nothing like feeling a rubberband around your chest as you try to take deep breaths. So we went to Target for the 4th time in 4 days and I got some Mucinex, which is supposed to help with chest congestion and the bronchital pathways. And supposed to make me cough up a lot of gunk. No luck there yet. All dry hacking.

But I'm so tired of being sick! One day is enough. I did cut some fabric for blocks for Love Quilt requests on one of my quilting groups. All ready to start sewing... but alas, no energy. I decided that I'm gonna have to entertain you with a picture of my sewing area.

It measures 8 feet by 4 feet. Our whole living room is only 8x13. Currently that area looks waaaaaaaay worse. I have bags and bags of fabric that I have to leap over near where the purple box is. And I have to do it carefully cuz there's some dumbells near the bottom of the pile and they HURT to stub your toes on. :) Oh, and the couch is a fantastic place to lay freshly ironed fabric. I'm left-handed, so I'm able to conviently use the iron while, say, I'm paper piecing. The green bins in the back hold fabric and projects. I have two more green bins full in the dining room. Which the dining table doubles up as my cutting table.

I keep my stash of fabric near the bedroom walkway, but that's only a part of it. I ran out of room. :)

I could probably fill another one of those cube thingies. At least with them out in the open like this, I'm feel like I have more variety of fabric. And if you look closely, there's very few background fabrics. At the most, I have 15 yards. That's my goal for 2006 - getting enough background fabric so that I don't groan every time I need some - cuz either I don't have enough or I gotta go to WalMart and make do.

What I love about my husband is that he said if we get a 2 bedroom apartment, I can have the other room for all my sewing stuff!!!!! Thrills me to think about everything in one area... opposed to in every place except the kitchen, like right now. :) Although I imagine some bookcases and storage will end up in that room. No biggie - I love the idea of being able to sew in the middle of the night when inspiration hits. With our current studio, I gotta go to bed when my husband does or else he'll never be able to sleep. But as the moneymaker in our family, it's only fair. :)


P.S. Wanna say thanks for the comments - I tried to reply, but it didn't work out very well. On the other hand, it seems like most of you just graciously accept comments and keep us happy by posting every few days. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

First Scrappy

My very first scrappy quilt. I got the design from the book "Quick and Easy Scrap Quilts". I think that's the very first quilting book I have bought for myself. I borrowed a bunch from the library and completely fell in love with Patricia Wilken's book. And oh, how small my stash was then!

It ended up going to an Aunt and Uncle that were a GREAT help at my wedding, especially with the rehearsal food. The aunt reported back that her months old granddaugher just loved looking at the colors. It always makes me happy to hear that my quilts are being used and out and about in the house. So what if the baby spits up on it? Toss it in the washer and give it back to her when you're done. I don't care, I'd rather have a quilt be used, even with a little abuse, than stashed away on some high shelf where nobody can enjoy it.

I wonder if somehow scrappy quilts encourage people to use them. They look so easy-going and comfortable. Not all white and pristine and "oh no! I breathed too hard on it!" No, I ask anybody who gets a quilt from me to USE IT! That's the biggest way to say "thanks" to me, by actually using the quilt. Then I know it's loved, that you're happy with it and you find comfort and warmth in it. :)

I have seem to come down with some sore throat and coughing. I'm trying to finish up 5 blocks right now for a monthly swap I'm in. I took some Tylenol nighttime cough syrup. Bleh! Nasty stuff. I wonder if sewing machines qualify as "heavy machinery". Well, I did tell my husband that if I tipped forward on my machine, the off button is on the lower right side. :)

Leah S

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas Overload

Tomorrow I need to safety pin my baby sister's Christmas quilt. It's a Pineapple Blossom quilt from Quiltville.

As you probably can guess, purple is her favorite colors. I had lots of 2" purple strips leftover from doing a green and purple Star Log Cabin last year. I think those two colors are my favorite combinations. I already have a purple border on, and will take more pictures before I start to pin the layers.

Sarah is 4 years younger than I am. I spent the first 11 years of her life disliking her. Then when I was 15, things seem to do a 180 and we were just about best friends and have been since. We stay up late giggling, talking just about everything; siblings, hair, weight, sex, animals, college, sign language (she's getting her certification to become a Deaf Interpreter), and just about every other thing you can think of. I know her moods pretty well too, and sometimes I'm just best off ignoring her and letting her be.

One thing she kept thanking me for after I married was my habit of asking her the fastest way to get from one point to another. In the Bay Area, California there are MANY ways to get around, and sometimes I just couldn't decided which method I should take. So I would ask Sarah and she'd give me her opinion. Turns out my little habit caused her to really think about where she's going, what streets are where. She's able to navigate around pretty comfortably and she's been very grateful for that. :)

So for Sarah, I make a Christmas present of a lap quilt. It should finish at 54 x 72 - a good lap size. I just have to say Sarah, I'm sorry that it's probably not going to get to you in time. I didn't plan the mailing thing very well, especially since this is my first Christmas without you! I hope you enjoy it when you do get it. :)


Friday, December 16, 2005

Starting Anew

Taking a break from my sewing machine... turning out rather long as I try to get the hang of Blogger. Already lost a post. I'm switching over from Tripod because I found out that Blogger will allow 300MB of photos, while Tripod gives a measly 20MB (and that includes text!).

Last night I finished my sister-in-law's Christmas quilt. She loves pink, any shade of pink. I struggled with this and it couldn't be helped... some green and blue slipped in! Green is my absolute favorite color... there can never be too much green in this world! :)

Here's the top - all pinky and nothing outstanding.

Now the backing is more fun! Just trying to use up stash here... and why do you need a perfectly even backing if you're not gonna professionally long arm it?

I did free motion quilt it, it was my first time doing an entire quilt FMQ style. I couldn't believe how fast it went. There were a few hiccups. I ran out of bobbin thread and after I replaced it, I ended up with a huge nest of thread. Since it was already late, I just took the quilt off the machine, took out the bad thread and said "tomorrow!". The next day showed a huge pile of thread lint under my sewing plate. Oh yeah, that would do it.

The next woe was as I was less that 2 feet away on the border from being completely done, I ran out of top thread! Have I mentioned I don't care for pink? So no back up spools for me. Off to WalMart I go... and they don't have "hot pink"! Gah. Ended up using another pink that looked close enough. I hope that's the last time I have to buy thread from WalMart... of course it's icky and linty thread. But there's no other place in town that has thread, except for two quilt shops that close too darn early.

I feel like there are 4 things that you should NEVER have to worry about:
*Background fabrics
*Rotary blades
*Sharp needles
Well, I sorta did take care of the rotary blade problem by bidding on eBay. I was the happy winner of three 5-packs of 60mm blades for a total of $23, including shipping. That sure beats JoAnn's single 5-pack of 60mm blades for $39.99!

I gave one pack of blades to my mom as a birthday gift - I'm trying hard to turn her into a quilter! She's the one who taught me how to sew - was brave enough to let a 5-year-old me just "play" with her machine. I remember sewing wavy rows up and down a piece of fabric, what fun to a little girl! :) But I never did pick up on clothes sewing. My baby sister did, and between the two of us, we put many hours on my mom's sewing machine! Of course we'd "grump" at each other for changing the settings - nothing like aiming for a perfect quarter inch seam allowance, only to find out that the machine was set to zigzag or basting stitch! :)