Saturday, September 30, 2006

When all else fails... an old quilty picture. ;)

This is a quilt that my aunt (a different one - I have 11 aunts) asked me to make for a baby that was due March 2005. She gave me a pattern size for the quilt - it called for 2 pieces of fabric with the ruffle, but she wanted me to "spice it up" with actual quilt blocks in it.

The top itself went pretty well. The problems started with the ruffle. I had never made one (not even when I would try to sew clothes) and I had oh-so-fond memories of my sister ripping out a mile long worth of ruffle because she goofed and it broke when she was gathering... Anyhow, I sewed the two strips together, start to gather and pull the thread, and of course it breaks. I went through the process 2 or three times and finally ended up buying upholstry thread. I didn't care about damaging my sewing machine because I was using my el cheapo WalMart machine at the time and I was just a few weeks away from getting my Bernina.

The upholstry thread did the trick. I gathered it, sewed it down and attached it to the top. Then cutting the backing and batting to the size of the top, I sewed all the layers, wrong sides together and left a gap so I could flip it. I flipped it and set it aside for a week or so - it was a source of frustration at the time.

Then my Bernina came - with a walking foot - and I put it to use by stitching in the ditch and around the borders. That was the first and last time I used my walking foot; I got a surprising amount of puckers on the back, especially where I pinned. Wasn't impressed with the walking foot - I am much more pleased with my free-motioning foot. Could have you guessed? ;)

The end results of the quilt is beautiful. The ruffle looks fun and playful. The blocks look entertaining - I'm pleased with it. But I stay away from ruffles. :P The quilt arrived to the new mom in time - they had a boy, named Sam. Haven't heard anything more since, but I sure hope that kid enjoys the quilt and drags it around every now and then. :)

Not much has been going on. I'm drawing blank at what I've accomplished in the past week. I *know* I've been keeping busy though. I did get a bunch of library books - financial, quilting and some Prevention magazines. What do they all have in common? They use numbers. :D Although after reading some of the financial books, I went whining to my husband "I need more money!" cuz the book was giving me great ideas what to do (pay off debt, save up for a house, build a retirement fund)... but I don't have enough to do it all! :P

A little sewing has been done, but nothing impressive. I've noticed all over quilty-blogland there seems to be either big distractions/problems or no quilting energy for the past week or so. So let me raise my bottle of water to a toast for us quilters to get more needle time! :)


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fire Scare and Leaf Season

Last night my dad called and said that there was a fire. At first I thought they meant IN their house, but no, more like 1/5th mile away. I went online to read about it - said 30 acres burned, but no houses. From my understanding, my dad said that the phone and cable lines are down - damaged from the flame retardent stuff.

I found this picture online and I'm *pretty sure* that the tiny little white blip that I've circled in yellow is my parents house.

Scarily enough... this is the third big fire in the 6 years they've been living there. The first happened like 5 months after we moved in, during November 2000. I was online, chatting with my would-be husband and the power went out around 1:30am. (A transformer blew out). Around 3am my mom woke me up - the power was still out, but she said there was a fire coming towards us. We began to pack all the important stuff - legal papers, photos, near and dear stuff that couldn't be easily replaced. Everything was loaded into the cars. Then we began to hose down around the house (they have firehoses and hook-ups), and I think my dad even tried to trim some tree branches away from the house. We knew once we left the house, we wouldn't be allowed back up (they live in an area that has only 1 pavement road access). So we kept putting it off, chatting with the neighbors, hosing some more. And then finally the firemen got it under control. It did burn down a few houses though, including one that had a restored Ford Model A 1930's car that was insured for $1,000,000. The things you remember... :P

The next fire was last year - my brother was leaving for a college class and notice that a neighbor's house was on fire. His cell phone wasn't receiving reception, so he went next door and had them call the fire department. Turns out the lady left a fire in the fireplace unattended and it got out of hand. Nobody hurt, but a year later, they still haven't fixed their house. My brother took some interesting photos with his cell phone camera. My sister watched from our property and reported that a helicopter dumped extra buckets of water onto our land. An odd patch of greenery there for a while. :)

But I'm glad to hear everything is ok... they get too many fire scares!

I also have my fabric for Judy's Leaf Season quilt. I'm still a little hesitant on some colors I have in the batch, but I'm gonna go ahead and make at least one leaf out of it... who knows if I'll like it or not.

The green/tan/brown is going to be for the non-leaf blocks. The fabric with purple and blue stripes didn't come out right - but it's definately one that I'm going to use.

I'm mostly hesitant about the red, it seems so vibrant! I have been aiming for a blues-greens-purples type of quilt, with a little orangish and reddish in there.

We'll just have to see how it flows together when it's in blocks. Oh, the background is white - the same stuff I used in my other quilt-for-a-hour-a-day. I know, I'm so boring. ;)


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Aunt's quilt finished

Thursday afternoon I finished the binding on the love quilt. Then I felt an urge to call up my mom and get the details for making the label for my aunt's granddaughter's quilt. (Yeah, I do realize it's my cousin's baby). I got the details I need and an address to mail off the quilt. The baby is due "any day" now.

I spiced up the label a little bit by using one of my 6.5" unfinished sea-themed acrylic blocks. The first time I sewed out the name, the S was just a smidgen too far on the right side, and would get cut off with the seam allowance... rip it, rip it and rip it! At least I didn't have to reprogram my machine's letters to sew it again.

Then when I was doing the Love Nana part... somehow the E didn't make it into the programming... yeah, Lov Nana doesn't have the same ring to it. :P So more ripping. I think in the future I'll "dry stitch" (no thread) all my words, so that way I can get an idea of what I need to fix without having to rip it all out.

I also choosed this sea theme block because if I recall correctly, my aunt's favorite color is purple. Also my aunt lives about an hour or so from the ocean, meanwhile her granddaughter lives in Nevada, so I'm guess she'll someday associate her Nana as somebody who lives near the beach.

Don't worry, I also penned in my name, location and date on a little spot on the quilt. Just didn't want to mar the real label. :)

Here's the completed quilt, just before mailing it off.

And here's the backing, with the label sewn on.

Now I just need to put a label on the love quilt, wash some fabrics I bought for Judy's Leaf Season - no way did I have enough of the brown or even enough to make a scrappy brown alternative block.

And I also want to make Dawn's Canister - I think they'd be great for girly stuff/bath products, etc. As much as I want to continue to live in denial... Christmas is coming up. :P


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Leah? Who?

Uh yeah... haven't been around much, have I? I've been working on a secret project. Well, it's not really a secret... but just in case the gal who's getting the quilt reads my blog... I don't wanna reveal too much. :)

Anyhow, I'm working on a "love quilt" - where a bunch of ladies donate quilt blocks (usually 12.5" or 6.5" unfinished) and somebody puts them together, and usually somebody else quilts it. This time I'm the somebody who's quilting it... and it hasn't been the smoothest ride. :P

Quite a few complications have come up - I was supposed to get the top in June, got it in July, right before my trip to my parents, then I when I got back I was fighting with my hearing aid, on top of it the lady who made the top found a block she forgot, so I need to wait for it to be mailed and patch it to the backing and so on it goes. Well, when I was pinning it I came across another bump, litterally.

Partly my fault, partly a wonky quilt top. So with lots of spreading and tugging and a little easing and "make it fit", I got the top to lay flat enough to sew.

There's a few minor bumps and folds... but that's just beyond my control. Believe me, I'm having a lot more sympathy for long arm quilters now!! I can't even begin to imagine the patience some quilt tops demand of you.

After I finished quilting the top (less than a bobbin and a half), I popped off my stitching plate and dropped my jaw. Yikes!

Makes me wonder why people claim that Aurifil thread is less linty... doesn't look like it in the picture. ;) But I truly enjoy how much fits on a bobbin - I'm changing them out less often. Pros and cons everywhere. :)

I'm near the end of the binding, need to put a label on and I should get it in the mail Friday. Off to do some more binding! :)


Saturday, September 16, 2006


I need a picture... and I don't have any. So I'm posting one that's 4 years old. It was right after my dad bought my mom a digital camera in 2002. I practiced using the timer and sent one to my husband.

Of course this was back in the days of dial up... 10 minutes for me to send it, and 10 minutes for him to download it. I didn't send too many pictures! :) But everything is pretty much the same. My hair is still that long and I haven't dyed it or anything. I still have that shirt. I did gain about 20 pounds since... but that's it. :)

Hey... I can make it quilty after all. I just noticed on the right side of the photo is the pillowcase I made to match the quilt that my mom started and I finished.

I wanna say that she started it in 95 or 96... She completed a dozen log cabin blocks and then somehow it got buried with other needs and building their house. In 2001 both of my grandmas died. My mom's mom was at my parents house for her final days and a close friend of hers gave her this quilt:

I spent hours studying it and felt compelled to try to make one myself. I had to hunt pretty hard to find Eleanor Burn's Log Cabin In a Day, but I easily found the unfinished blocks. I proceeded to complete the quilt in the beginning of 2002 and that was the start of my quilting hobby.

The last 2 years I've been sleeping under that log cabin quilt. Well, it does get kicked off a lot during the hot summer nights. :P Definately one of those "comfort" quilts that have a lot of handling and love. No holes, yet! :)

My trip to Tucson was pretty successful. I got to see that Wild Oats is a lot like Whole Food stores. I had a little sticker shock as I went through the store though. :P Then I realized EVERYTHING was organic or natural, and that's not quite up my alley. I'm more interested in non-processed foods, rather than organic itself. But I had much better luck at Trader Joe's... wish one would be built closer to here!

I spent about $40 less than I expect at Costco... so of course I went to JoAnn's! ;) I got 2 yards of Kona Black at 50% off and a bolt of white on white circles. Great backgrounds... but they don't photograph well. I also bought extra high loft batting for my husband's quilt... that I hope to have done for Christmas. And I hope he doesn't read my blog! :P

On Friday I was going to vacuum the living room floor so I could pin a quilt (or at least start to think about it) and the vacuum made a horribly loud sound! Closer inspection showed that the beater bar is stuck. It will absolutely not budge, no matter how much I poked and prodded at it. I did test the hose attachment to see if the vacuum was still sucking in general. Told my husband "well, it still sucks, so that's good... uh, wait... duh, this sucks!" So looks like I'm stuck without a vacuum until we can go to Costco and replace it... beginning of October. Dang. And I was finally starting to vacuum more than once a month. :P


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Baltimore Album

Today at the quilt guild meeting, Mary Lou McDonald from Maryland gave us a presentation on Baltimore Albums.

She mostly spoke about the quilts from 1846-1854 and showed examples where she copied their blocks. Makes me want to run away far and fast... all that tiny applique work! I don't even know how to do applique (and probably don't want to know, just yet. :P)

I was also probably the most squirmiest girl there too... a mesquito bit me at least 5 times during the show, if not more. One welt was like 1.5" x 1". Another one looked like it was on the verge of bleeding. I tried soooooooo hard not to itch them, but they just drove me crazy! At least they're not bothering me anymore now. :)

Tomorrow I'm going to Tucson...without my husband. :) As much as I love him, he doesn't enjoy long leisure trips and doesn't like the traffic. Me? I'm like "posh! Traffic? This is nothing compare to the Bay Area!" On the list of things to do is to go to Wild Oats (health-type store), maybe Trader Joe's if I can't find what I want at W.O., next is Costco and then maybe JoAnn's - depending on how much I didn't spend at the other places! :D


Monday, September 11, 2006

Shhh, don't faint...

...but I actually turned on my machine and did some sewing before NOON! I know, you're so shocked. ;) But more progress has been made on my Star Struck quilt.

Actually, I had to get up and look decent by 9am for my hearing aid appointment. And yay! They got it to work without feedback/ringing - thanks to an adjustment in the tube and a damper in the tube. Now my problem is that I've spent pretty much the last 3.5 months without the hearing aid and it sounds so weird to have it back again! I might need to make some adjustments (I can do that myself), but first I needed to practice hearing for a while... so I hooked up the iPod next to my machine and sewed for a while. Then my head started to go crazy from dealing with all the new auditory (more like ow-ditory) input, so I yanked both hearing aids out and took a nap! :)

In other news, I spent a while looking at the mystery top this evening... and I couldn't help but wonder what it'd look like if I made a few adjustments...

So I dug through my stash (yay!) and came up with this color combination. I'll be making at least 2 changes to the original junior pattern - I want the stars to "pop" more and I want the Laurel Birch fabric to be the focus of each star.

Don't worry, no quilt top in a day today. :) But I bet Cathy is thrilled... and now she'll want me to test every mystery she makes! :D Probably going to have to pass on that thought, but I'm definately having fun with this pattern. :)


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mystery Revealed

Today was the day! I mentioned here about the mystery pattern I tested for a fellow quilter, Cathy. Now you can see it for yourself! :)

As Cathy gave out the clues and chatted with other folks who were doing the mystery... it just made me want to do it again, except I wanted to use my Wonder Cut Ruler this time around. My today's fabric selection:

I love the 3.5" size on the WCR (because you need to cut 3" strips on a regular ruler) so I modified the pattern and made a "junior" version.

It's a lot like my other one, except I made the green framed blocks dominate the quilt, instead of the pink. I also switched around where the white fabric was, putting it in the inside diamonds, instead of the border. It finishes at 36" square, opposed to the original pattern of 60". I like it! :)

Now will somebody please tell me where I managed to get the energy to select fabric, cut, sew, piece and produce quilt top, starting early this afternoon and finishing at 11pm! And I certainly didn't have an imaginary whip over my head, cracking me to get this done. I took plenty of breaks, cooked up myself a quesadilla, had a few popsicles, husband got pizza (mine tastes better though! ;)) and certainly didn't feel any rush or pressure. I can't figure it out, and I wanna know so I can do it again, or bottle it up and sell it to other quilters! :D


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Quilting 101

Today I made a simple 12" finished 9-patch block.

I took 94 photos of my progress so I can give step-by-step photos of how to cut, sew, iron and complete this block. This will be going in the Quilter's Corner of a forum I frequent. I'm probably going to make 8 more 9-patches and then demonstrate how to put them into a quilt top and quilt them. Or my other option could be to show how to make other simple blocks - rail fence, churn dash, log cabin, bow ties, maybe a star or two... gonna ponder on it. :)

I got the living room cleaned and vacuumed, whoo! :D I made Patty's Spicy Apple Bars yesterday... so good! Yes, they're all gone, or else I'd be bribing you to do more dishes. ;) Very tasty, definately will make again. I did have to use an 8x8 glass dish, and it needed about 15 more minutes of cooking time, if anybody's wondering. :)

I also found out that a lady from Maryland is coming over to lecture and teach our quilt guild about Baltimore Album Quilts next week. I'll probably come home with my jaw dragging on the floor, mumbling something about never ever even trying to learn how to applique! ;)


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day?

Monday was more like "Lazy Day" instead of Labor Day. :P We didn't even step outside once. Hey... on the bright side, we didn't spend any money, right? ;)

Didn't get any quilting done today either - I picked up my hearing aid today, and the volume sounds good, but I'm having problems with keeping the earmold in my ear deep enough so that it doesn't ring or cause feedback. But I have an appointment set up for next Monday, so I'll bring all my complaints in then. :)

So in order to give you some eye candy, I dragged up some old photos. These are placemats that I made for a Secret Sister thing. I never did hear if the gal got them though... and you can't exactly ask, it kinda gives it away. :)

This was my first time doing in-depth amount of free-motioning, and the small size of the placemats make it a GREAT practice piece. :)

I was so proud and excited about my handiwork. My husband wasn't too thrilled about how noisy it can get - machine going at full speed, spool of thread wobbling loudly in it's holder, and me breathing hard a few times cuz I'd forget to breathe and blink! :D

I'm also happy that TV show House is back on. I'm amused by that guy. And I got suckered into watching Standoff afterwards. They had a captivating start... hope they can keep up with it. :) And better yet, on September 21 is going to be the new season of CSI. I'm also probably going to end up watching The Biggest Loser. So my shows will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday... my husband likes to watch wrestling on Mondays and Battlestar on Fridays... works out good! :)


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Messy Quilter

Let's face it... I'm not the neatest quilter in the world. :P You get the uneditted and uncropped version of my sewing table and cutting table.

But I can function perfectly fine in all that chaos. It doesn't slowly drive me mad. Since I'm the only one who plays in this room, things are exactly where I left them. I do have to work a bit to keep my cutting table and ironing board clear so I can actually work at them... but otherwise it's like the mess isn't there.

In the piles of fabric on my tables, I have projects and leftovers from:
  • Judy's One Hour A Day Project
  • the Depression Quilt for my husband
  • 4-patch Chain
  • Star Struck
  • Leaders & Enders
  • my Aunt's quilt
  • the Simple Cross
    ...and a whole bunch of handdyed strips just lying around.

    I'm sure you didn't miss my notions and non-fabric quilty needs. Thread, rotary cutters, markers, tissue box for scrap ends that are too small to sew, Kabnet Wax paper, a box that I'm going to use to either hold thread or a UFO, my lamp, magazine, and even a glass vase that I use to hold the ends of my dog ear trimmings from HSTs. Cheerfully adorned with fake sunflowers. ;)

    So, does anybody else wanna fess up to being a less-than-neat quilter? ;)

  • Saturday, September 02, 2006

    A cutting hour

    Tonight I cut for over 2 hours on my Star Struck. You can read a bit about it here and there.

    For some silly reason my brain just can't grasp that I need an even amount of black and handdyes. I keep shorting myself on the black... even though I still have a bolt with 11 yards left. Hmm, while I'm thinking about it, I should cut off some more and wash it. I have another quilt that needs that black. :)

    I didn't pin any of the tulip quilt... didn't even get the laundry baskets emptied! :P But hey, I did half of the dishes... there's still some homemade bread if you wanna do the other half. ;)

    I know I'm feeling so sluggish because the heat is getting to me. I am also jealous when I hear about other people talking about pools closing, leaves colors changing, needing warmer PJs, turning off the A/C... ahh, blow some of that weather my way, will ya? ;)


    Friday, September 01, 2006

    A Postcard

    A non-quilter asked for a postcard, and I volunteered to make one... just to see what the process is like. :)

    Don't worry, I'm not gonna turn into an art quilter. This was fine, but I'm not sure if my brain likes the whismical part of constructing quilts. There was no math, no logic. I couldn't get excited doing this. :P But they are a great way to send a little personalized note to friends. Maybe a few more post cards in my life. ;)

    I also got all the unstitching done out of the tulip quilt and hope to have it pinned together tomorrow. But that means cleaning and vacuuming the living room. Oh, let's not forget about putting the laundry away either, cuz I sure need those baskets for when I do laundry on Sunday at the in-laws. :)

    And does anybody want to do my dishes? Cuz I've been doing a lot of cooking, but no cleaning. Eh, unless you count pushing stuff aside so I can have more counter space. :P But I'll feed you homemade bread and stuffed French Bread "pizza". ;)