Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sew Busy!

Where do I even begin? Lets see... this morning I headed over to the in-laws house to drop off my SIL's quilt that I made for her in Christmas 2004. The only thing I didn't finish was quilting around the stars. I didn't have free-motion quilting at the time, so my only option was to hand quilt. Big ouch!! I used the highest loft of batting I could find and then fleece on the back. It was important to my husband that the quilt was thick and warm. I think we covered that. ;)

So while the in-laws are on vacation, I "steal" the quilt and finish free-motioning the stars. It looks so pretty on the back! But I'm glad to have the stars done.

After dropping off the quilt (and making her bed with it) I mailed a bill and headed to WalMart to get 3 new shirts and juice. Got back home and checked the mail - there was a note saying a package was waiting for me... dare I hope it to be my thread?

The sad news is that Huckleberry Quilts are no longer going to carry Aurifil thread. They still have quite a few spools left, so if you wanna grab some at $4.40/spool/1422/yards, now's your chance!

Last week I had the chance to test out a quilt pattern for Cathy - it turn out pretty nice! Now the thing is that she's going to make it a mystery pattern for her Yahoo group... so I can't show you the results. Not until she does the mystery, which should be about September. So here's a teaser, my fabric choices:

I also took step-by-step photos of each clue and Cathy will be using my pictures for the mystery. The quilt finishes at 60x60 without borders and it looks like a great picnic quilt. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Some mysteries can turn out bad if you pick the wrong combination of colors, but this one didn't. :)

I'm working on a quilt for a customer - a simple 36" square baby quilt, sex unknown. She asked for red and cream, and here's what I came up with!

Last night I finished making all the blocks, now I need to put it together and piece the backing. I don't have enough yardage left to make a full backing, but it should turn out ok - maybe even look like a two-sided quilt! There's no mistakes in quilting, just opportunities. :)

Also last night I pieced this block the Birthday Block swap I'm in. I'm already behind in the swap - thanks to the move. :(

It's a 4-Patch Nine block. I had a hard time telling where to place the focus fabric, but this is what looked best to me. Hopefully the birthday gal will agree! :)

The other news is that I finally finished the Around the World quilt.

I had the hardest time trying to figure out what to quilt in the border. I finally decided on loops up and down - felt like I was quilting cursive L's. :)

And what to do with the spare blocks that didn't make it to the top? Toss them in the backing of course! :)

I've also been working on this quilt, but have nothing to show for it yet. Definately been keeping my machine humming!

Last night I got an email from my mom and she said that we'll be going to Pine Mountain Lake (near Yosemite) when we visit in July. We will rent a cabin by the lake and can blast hours away with the pool table, canoe and swimming. I love to swim in freshwater lakes - hopefully it'll be plenty warm! :)


Monday, June 26, 2006

We've got curves!

Yes, I have curves... and a few extra ones too, want some? Oops. Wrong curves... moving onto sewing ones. ;)

It was pretty successful! I was very slow in sewing them. Two stitches, realign the piece, don't stretch it either, two more stitches, realign and on it goes. :P I didn't use any pins or tweezers or such. I didn't even clip either fabrics. I just gotta figure out how to do it faster than 2 stiches at a time. :)

Time to get sew busy... and maybe sneak a nap in. :D


Dangerous Curves Ahead!

Wish me luck... I'm going to try curves. Nope, never done them before in any type of way. :P

I'm using a 4" Quarter Circle Template and I was able to cut it all with a 45mm rotary cutter - no tracing or scissors.

I'll get back to you later with the results! :)


Sunday, June 25, 2006


Still here, been extra busy sewing and watching my in-law's dog. Father-in-law returns tomorrow so hopefully I can catch up on my online life. :)

And try to win the war against ants. Bleh!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day Dad!! (Yup, both of my parents read my blog). Here's a picture of me with my dad when I was about 4 years old. Or maybe it was three. I can recall myself wearing that shirt in another picture with grandma and my mom being VERY pregnant with my sister Sarah. So 3.5 years old then.

And here's the two of us on my wedding day, July 2004. I sure grew a lot, but Dad still looks pretty much the same!

But these two pictures sure make me think of all the things that have happened between them. I remember learning to ride my pink bike when I was 6 years old - with no training wheels! Dad just kept saying going faster (so I wouldn't fall). But definately remember him just standing on the sidewalk, watching me go in circles on my bike. :)

He taught me how to mow - no, you can not just go all over the lawn like you're on a stroll, you need a pattern to tackle it. :P He made me help him unclog the kids' shower drain several times (ick! ick! ick!), but it was us girl's (and our long hairs) fault. He taught me how to drive a tractor. I think it's a pretty darn cool skill, even though there aren't any tractors handy 'round here. :) Dad was also the one who taught me the meaning of hard work - through many hours of cleaning the yard or garage. He also taught me how to drive, starting off with his big yellow Ford truck... well, I'm afraid Mom had to take over the lessons though. ;)

He also took the whole family on lots of vacations - a 4th of them were skiing trips, half of them were camping trips and the rest were to relatives or a special one-time spot. Some of my best vacation memories are in cabins by a lake or to Yosemite where we covered skiing, camping, hiking, biking and ice skating. Definately fun memories there. :)

So, Happy Father's Day!! I'm sorry I can't be with you today, but looking so forward to seeing you next month!!


Friday, June 16, 2006

Clumsy Fingers... what my new name should be. I was cutting more pieces for the block below. I tend to be a little ambidextrous when it comes to cutting fabric. My right hand will tire faster, but it's very useful when you have that little wobbly sliver end to trim off before you can start cutting your pieces. Well, I managed to cut myself when I was transferring the rotary cutter from my right hand to my left. My absolute very first though was "don't get blood on the fabric or mat!" My mom was the exact same way when she cut her finger when wallpapering... must not get it on the wallpaper! I rush out of the room to get a paper towel and then a few seconds later the pain really started to hit me and left me in tears.

While this is my worse rotary cut ever, it's not very deep, about 1/3rd of an inch long. Lots of blood (compare to my usual pinpricks!), but I didn't think a photo of the bloody paper towel would be appealing. :P So instead, witness a block of the quilt I'm currently making:

It was just one of those pattern ideas that popped into my head and I just had to see how it would transfer from paper to fabric. So far, so good! :)

That's one thing I love about quilting; ideas can pop into my head, I can write or etch them out, do the math to figure out the pieces, sew it up and actually get what I was thinking. It kinda astounds me because I couldn't draw decently if my life depended on it! Even my quilt drawings are pretty wonky, but they can turn into a beautiful design with fabric.

The good news is that fingers heal, the quilt will outlast the owie and now I'm off to sew some more blocks before heading to bed. :)


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

June Picture

I'm thinking I should have a new picture on my sidebar every month. Add some spice 'round here. ;)

I've been getting pretty tan these days - a combination of being out and about from the move and I have enjoyed a few walks and sitting out on the balcony - all adding sun time.

And oy! It's kinda hard to remember to SMILE when you're trying to take your own picture. You're almost too busy thinking "is the angle right? I'll take 3 at this position just in case... oh no, here comes the flash!" and then you wonder why you look so grumpy afterwards. :P But my favorite thing about this picture are my eyes. I love green and I'm happy that it's showing up pretty well in the picture.

Huh? You expected something quilty? ;) Well, as productive (and needed) as ironing and cutting are... they don't give ya interesting pictures. So far everything is going good with my new iron! It's a little smaller, but I'm rather pleased how quickly it heats up.

I'm definately busting stash these days - I love my quilting room! I'm really glad my husband let me have the entire room. :) I also love my sewing machine that my parents helped buy - really helps makes quilting a pleasure. :)

Off to do some productive cutting! ;)


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ahhhh... my iron!

My iron has finally done it... it died. I had it for almost 2 years and it met my needs just fine. Tonight I started to iron. First piece of fabric went with no problems. On the second piece, with about 12 inches left to iron, it started spewing pretty badly. Then I noticed it wasn't as hot as it could be. Start to fiddle with it... start to fuss... nooooooooooooooo!

I went to my husband to whine some "my iron was good. I didn't want it to die. Blah, blah, blah." Then he stops me short and tells me to just go buy another one. I replied with "huh... why do you have to make things so easy?" :D

But boy, I'm picky when it comes to irons! I want something that I can see the water level in. I don't care if it has an on or off button, I unplug it anyhow. I didn't want a retractable cord. I have my ironing board set up so the cord doesn't get in my way. I wasn't looking for fancy features. I just want something that can steam and iron! Oh, and I'm VERY picky about the soleplate. My mom has a green iron that had a greenish protective coating on the plate and over time it started to rub off a little. I actually have some log cabin blocks that give a greenish hue on white fabric. Definately want to avoid that. In fact, the only soleplate I'll consider is stainless steel. Hasn't disappointed me yet.

I wanted to get another iron exactly like my old one... but they didn't have it. It was a Black & Decker Steam Advantage. They had something similar, but I wasn't feeling good about it. I ended up getting a Hamilton Beach Steam Storm Ultra, on sale for $20 at Target. I did eye another Black & Decker iron, but got kinda suspicious with how dusty the box was. :P

I'm keeping the box and receipt just in case, but was pretty please with how fast it heated up. I'll be happy if I get at least a year out of it. It's amazing how much ironing quilters do! Does anybody want to chorus with me "they sure don't make irons the way they used to"? ;)


Friday, June 09, 2006

Meandering Away

I finally got rid of an I-don't-like-you piece of fabric by cutting it in half, sticking some batting in between and practice free-motioning. The good news is that I haven't lost my ability, cuz I have NO idea when was the last time I free-motioned. :)

I'm a weirdo - I started quilting this piece on the outside, working my way in. I don't usually do it this way. Must have been feeling lazy. I couldn't come up with any brilliant quilting patterns, so I fell back onto good ol' meandering. It made me yawn some, and I did end up taking a nap. :D

I was afraid a better design was gonna pop into my mind, but thank goodness that hasn't happened yet. I also love using the open-toe darning foot. It drives me nuts trying to crane my head to the right angle over closed-toe foots to see exactly where the needle is going to land.

I'm using my Aurifil thread, 50WT. I wasn't sure how it was going to work out - I was imagining lots of breakages, but I have never broken thread or needle in any of my free-motioning. So I think I'll go ahead and order more 50WT thread - I don't care how showy it might not be, thinner thread can be easier to hide mistakes. :)

Funny, the past few days my husband was feeling blah. He couldn't exactly describe it, just "blah". Now today it's my turn. Well, I have a pretty good idea where it stems from - I woke up in the middle of the night with a HORRIBLE leg cramp in my left calf. Didn't sleep too well after that. Then when I got up, I went for a walk, hoping to stretch my muscles around. It helped - I went from feeling pained to just sore. But by the afternoon I was popping some Tylenol. The nap helped too, it felt less tense afterwards. I just want the tension to go away!

My right leg was also getting cranky earlier this week doing double duty at my machine, as a knee lift and pressing the pedal. I had the brilliant idea to switch the pedal to my left foot. I used to use my left foot all the time, but then I learned how to drive and got used to using my right one. After last night's cramp, it was back to double duty for my right foot! :P

I'm sure I'll be better in no time at all. I do think I'll keep walking in the mornings to help prevent another cramp attack. Hopefully! :)


Thursday, June 08, 2006

175 miles later...

...and I'm back home! I couldn't believe the amount of tires strewn on the I-10. There was a tire like every half-mile! And pretty much any time you looked at the side you could see chunks and bits of the tires. But for all the blow outs... I've never seen one happen in front of me.

I went to a town that's 30 minutes away and checked out a WalMart copy-cat type of store, because I heard that they carried Thimbleberries! And yes indeedy, they do. I only got two, the blue and green on the bottom left side. I also got the sheep print, quilting fabric and ABCs cream at the store. A total of 7 yards for 20.58. :)

The reds are for a quilt a lady asked me to do for a baby that's due in October. I bought quite a few so she can select as desired. :) On the far right is almost 8 yards of white on white fabric that I got from JoAnn's. Can never have too much background! The cream on the left has the alphabet jumble around on it - very appropriate for a baby.

I had a horrible time at JoAnn's - due to overlapping emails and extra promotions, I had a total of 6 printed coupons, each with a different barcode. Usually I have no problems using them, sometimes I have to re-enter the store. A few times I got lucky and had them just give me individual fabric tickets all at once, saving me time from having to go in line each and every time. Well today some rude lady said that nope, you're only allowed to use one coupon a day, period. *gulp* But...but...but... JoAnn's is like 80 miles away! They've always let me do this before. I noticed that this lady also had two of the cutters practice measuring out a piece of fabric, pin the measurement spot, and then she measured it herself to make sure that they were EXACT. Not picky are we...

So in the end... I only got to use three coupons... and here's how:
- Coupon 1 - I used myself, on the 8 yards of WOW.
- Coupon 2 - I found a lady in the quilting section, asked her if she was buying any fabric... said nope, so I asked her if I could have her stand-in for me and get the cream shown in the middle of the picture. Since there was no line, she didn't have a problem with that. :) I also gave her one of my coupons since she didn't have one with her.
- Coupon 3 - I bought a pre-cut roll of 10 yards of batting and just presented the coupon to the cashier... not the drill sergeant lady at the cutting table.

For the red fabrics on the right side of the picture... I had to sucker up and pay full price. I did end up getting less than what I planned. All the other fabric was bought at the other store. I'm pretty disappointed about the whole thing... why email me so many coupons if I am not going to be able to use them all? I have aboslutely no JoAnn's or Hancock's locally - I'm stuck with WalMart and 2 quilt stores. JoAnn is going to be losing money from me at this rate.

Enough doom and gloom! :D I also went to a Organic food co-op, searching for bulk wheat for bread making, but alas, very disappointed in the store. I got lost trying to get away from the store. I wanted to go on Broadway, but somehow I got confused and had to keep driving until I saw another familiar street name - Speedway. So down Speedway I go... and I find the Bernina Sewing Center. Yay! :) At least I know where it is now and hopefully later this summer I'll get a chance to take my machine in for a cleaning.

After that was Trader Joe's. Oh how I wished we had one local too! Hrmm. JoAnn's or Trader Joe's? Ugh, I can't decide. :P But I got some Cod fish, wheat flour and I indulged in a quart of Goat Milk. Mmm! Although I'm sad, they used to be $2.39 a quart, and now they're $2.99.

And Costco. Whew... I spent the most money there, easily. More fish, toilet paper, paper towels (especially for when I put on/take off my contacts), girly stuff, contact solution, hearing aid batteries. Chicken, sausage, ground beef. Cheese, butter, cereal. Oh, let's not forget the 4 cases of water. They are SOOOOOOOO worth it in the Arizona heat. I don't take the time to be properly hydrated through the faucet. Bottles make it easier. 4 bottles a day and I'll have my 64oz. :)

So tomorrow then, I'll start quilting the Around the World. I'm planning to use light yellow thread. I still haven't decided what kind of pattern I should quilt yet. I figured once I sit down at the machine, it'll come to me. :)


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pinned Around the World

There! I went ahead with some of your suggestions and switched to a yellow border. I narrowed it down to two yellows and asked my husband which he liked best. I would imagine some people are uncomfortable asking for a guy's opinion, because they just glance at it for 2 seconds and tell ya. But it works out pretty nicely for me because most people are going to be like my husband - just glancing at the quilt and deciding if they like it or not.

So it's safety pinned and ready for free-motioning. I was all eager to think about quilting it tomorrow... then duh, I remembered that I'm "going to town" for the first time in three months. :P

Heading to Tucson... planning to go to 6 different places and spending lots of money. Two different fabric stores and a handful of different grocery stores. Oops, my husband just reminded me that I need to check the pressure on my tires. Unfortunately June is the most popular month in Arizona to have tire blowouts, due to the heat. I'm sure I'll see almost 100 degrees in Tucson. At least I'm going now... next week they're predicting up to 104. And 111 in Phoenix in a week! Wow. That actually makes me feel cool with our 91 degree day. :D

I also went to my quilt guild meeting today - first time since the beginning of May! The speaker there was demonstrating how to make puff quilts. Her method is so easy! Sure gets me wanting to try one. :)


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Around the world

A gal gave me a bunch of blocks from a swap she was in so I could make a quilt for charity. They are signed by various people who partipated in the swap. Some locations include England, U.K., Austrailia, New Zealand, Kuwait and of course the good ol' USA.

Now I just can't figure out what border color I should use. I was thinking a bright blue. And probably a green binding. I do love how it's one of those "anything goes" quilts. :)

I can't help but think this layout would be great for a signature quilt. The names are turned in all directions - so it can be enjoyed from all views. And rail fence blocks work up so quickly! I'm gonna have to ponder on that idea for a while longer. :)

I love having my husband home for the summer - he doesn't get in the way or anything, only creates a little more trash. ;) And I also can get away with asking him to make some meals throughout the week - more time to sew! And the more I spend in this room, the more I'm motivated to sew and complete projects. Well... so far it's been working on projects more than any completions yet! :P

The only downside these days are how hot (90*+) it's getting and that I'd rather sew than continue to unpack and clean. Well, if I'm going to eat so I can have energy to sew... I gotta run the dishwasher soon! :D


Friday, June 02, 2006

Mail goodies

I love getting the mail! This is something that's been a highlight of my day ever since I was a little girl. It didn't matter that there was hardly any mail for me, it was fun to get it! I did butt heads with my dad for a little while over the mail. I think I kept misplacing it or just scattering it around. He threatened to get a P.O. box at the post office if I didn't behave with the mail. I think my solution was to look at the mail and put it right back in the mail box. :P Lucky for me, my husband doesn't care about mail, so I get the mail key all to myself. :D

In yesterday's mail I got an Austrailian Patchwork & Quilting magazine from a gal in Austrailia. I've heard quite a bit about this magazine - seems like it's hard to get outside of Austrailia and I just had to see what it was all about!

It's certainly inspiring! I already have a few ideas popping into my head. I fell in love with this 9-patch/snowball flowers quilt. A little too pinky for me, but otherwise I could have so much fun with it!

Have I ever mentioned that I have never done applique yet? But lately I've been getting over my mental fear of it and been thinking about what I can try with. I think I'll just use the blanket stitch on my machine and see what happens. :)

Today's goodies brought a card with a little cross-stitch bookmarker - a small prize I won. The mail also brought a letter from my grandfather - Pops - today. Enclosed was some $$ so I can make quilts for Project Linus. I was only asking for enough money to cover the supplies - the pattern, thinking and time are all on me. :) I will also include his name in the label - something like "Donated by Pops, Pieced and Quilted by Leah".

Pops also replied to my inquiries of some antique quilts his Grandmother made. The two quilts are scrappy Double Wedding Rings - all handsewn I believe. I only caught a glimpse of them in 2004. I'm pretty sure they're also made out of original 1930s fabric. This is what he wrote:
I'm very pleased that you want those 2 quilts, Leah. I may be able to think up a good story to go with them. They've been in the family a long time. I can remember as a little squirt that Minnie (grandmother) and all the other farm ladies would gather on one of their porches and quilt. And quilt. And talk. And talk some more.
The last part had me laughing - it's so true, even today! :) But I'm thrilled at the prospect of owning some 70+ years old quilts and family history.

I'll have to write Pops back - probably either tonight or tomorrow. Snail mail can be so much fun! :)


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sewing away!

I'm absolutely loving my quilting room! I'm sewing so much more... and I'm also starting new stuff. Just playing around! :)

Here's one Strip Twist block. They're bigger than I expected - should be about 15" finished. Hrmm. Looking at it, it seems to be a little off... oh. I figured it out, the center doesn't have a half-pinwheel like Bonnie's does - but I just turned some blocks wrong. (Yeah, I had to play around on the design wall to figure out... I love that little wall!)

Next two pictures are from using Keryn's Good Value Strips. I think it's a pretty cool pattern and makes great scrappies!

Mirror imagine blocks below.

And these are the other blocks - I just love how there's no repeats! It kinda looks like an odd version of the Depression block.

I've already "dumped" that project to sew a bunch of rail blocks together for a charity quilt. That's whipping up fast - very scrappy too.

Secondly, I've ironed and prepared squares and triangles to continue my latest Leaders and Enders project.

And I've also done the math to figure out how much more 4-patches and HSTs I need to finish my Scrappy Spools quilt - now just gotta find suitable stuff in the closet... cuz who wants to organize fabric when they could be sewing? ;)