Monday, April 30, 2007

Beginning the quilting

I got the heart quilt pinned and trimmed for quilting this afternoon.

I almost ran out of pins, but then I remember I used about 100 of them for the sleeve for the antique quilts, back in the quilt show in February. Yup, this is the first quilt I have gotten around to quilting since the show! :P

Action shot of me meandering in the border. I had ran out of bobbin thread, so I'm taking a break. Then I hope to finish meandering the rest of the border before bed.

Yeah, I'm backwards, I did the border first. :D But it's the easiest! And I have never had trouble with my pinning, so I'm sure I'll be fine.

But I feel the urge to hurry up and get it quilted, I need the pins for the Star Struck quilt! :)


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Backings galore!

Today I made backings. I'm pooped now. :)

Below is the backing for the Star Struck quilt. I'm going to make the binding the same pink/peach color that's in the backing.

That one was rather easy to make and took about half an hour.

The backing for the Heart quilt took much longer! First I had to finish up the label. Then I sewed it to some larger pieces which make up for the upper half of the backing.

When I was cutting 2" strips for the scrappy part of the quilt, I also cut 6" strips for the backing. What you can't see is that the strips go all the way down to the foot of the bed! I guess I have enough. ;)

So tomorrow I'll try to pin the heart quilt. Gotta clean and vacuum the living room. The pick up all my safety pins, cuz I spilled them... again. :P Good thing I always keep them closed! Then pin it between laundry loads and my sister-in-law's bridal shower that the church is hosting. Oops. We don't have a gift for her yet... :D


Friday, April 27, 2007

JoAnn Loot

I got back yesterday, but I was kind uptight because I basically traveled 180 miles for something that could have been told on the phone to my husband! I guess the office has privacy issues... but you can believe next year I'll tell them that they can relay the information through my husband. And my car's odometer hit 50,000 miles. 7 years old, so about 7,000 miles/year. Hrmm. Maybe when I hit 50,000 visitors, I should offer a little prize. :)

Anyhow, I went to JoAnn's. All their keepsake stuff was 40% off... and would you believe that I only got 2 pieces?! And I also got some 108" wide muslin, which I'll take with me to my parents and my mom and I can dye it with any leftover dyes we might have. It'll be good for backings.

I'm already entertaining an idea for the blue fabric. The purple fabric is... just because! :D

But I was largely annoyed that the majority of the bolts now read $3.99/yard instead of $2.99. Stop raising the prices! We actually had to take a pay cut this year (well, start of the school year, August) because my husband no longer does Student Council. We dropped down about $100/month. And now all the prices are going up cuz of gas and bad crops and higher wage minimums and whatever they seem to find... Our rent is going up $20/month too. I'm ready to bash my head on a brick wall. We're not in financial trouble or anything, but I don't feel like we're having room to save a lot of money either.

Ahh, I think I'll turn on my sewing machine and sew away my troubles for a while. :)


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Getting tired

I'm trying to work on a label. First thing I did was change the thread colors and just had to compare the spools. I've used up a lot more white that I realized. Guess I've been busy at my machine! ;)

And here's the start of the label. Yes, I modified Bonnie's Poem.

Stitching it out has been VERY time consuming. At this point, I'll guess that I've spent 3 hours on it already. Yeah, for that little results. I can see why people buy an embroidery machine! But because of my little time problem, I am cutting out certain parts of the poem.

I was also running into another problem, I didn't quite cut my strip wide enough for the label. It's certainly is long enough though. :)

So I decided I'd give that little knob off the right of my machine a twist. It's blurry, but you can sorta see the top symbol is wide, the left one is normal and the bottom one is tight - I can control the stitching space! :) And that's why the third line is off, because it was going to be bigger I moved it more to the left, until I realized that I could try tightening my stitches. Yay, no more panicking. :)

And that's what I've been doing. It's kinda frustrating, so much work for so little results. I can't floor the pedal or anything, or else my letters start to split. I think you can see what I mean in some of the T's. Also my machine's memory only goes up to 30 characters, so I'm doing half a line at a time. I think I really need to look into printing my own labels on fabric sheets... well, at least for something so big like this.

Tomorrow I have to make an unexpected trip to Tucson. :( I hadn't planned on going until I got back from my parents in May. Oh well, I'll make the best of it, getting a batting for the Star Struck quilt and grabbing some goodies for my husband while I'm gone. :)


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Change of pace

I decided I am going to finish the Star Struck quilt. I had grand plans to make it 12x12 blocks, but I settled for 6x9. Given the fact that I haven't touched it in almost a year, it was time to do something. Plus, it was a nice break from the hearts and all those itty bitty pieces! :)

With borders, it measure 56x80. Good lap sized quilt. Maybe it's closer to twin size for the average person, but given the fact that I'm 5'10" and in the SHORTER half of the family (my side), I'm used to going the extra length. :)

Tomorrow is the Sew-In! I have no idea what I'm going to bring (handwork), but there's going to be a Pampered Chef party, so it'll be interesting to see if I find anything worthy for my tiny kitchen. :)


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Beary Cute

The bear fabric border is on! I declare the top done. :)

Now for backing, label and binding. The binding is going to be red from the hearts. I hope to have it all done in a week! Then to wash it... *ducks and hides*... so much red! Yes, I'll buy some color catchers and add vinegar to the washer. And yes, I prewashed everything. I'm safe, right? :P

My Safeway is having a sale on watermelon. 25 cents/pound! Seedless too. :)

Toss in some cantaloupe that's 50 cents/pound, and you've got yourself a simple fruit salad. And yes, it's all gone, sorry. But wanna come with me to the store tomorrow and get a watermelon or two before the sale is up? ;)


Friday, April 20, 2007

A bit of history

I've been feeling "off" the last 2 days, like my body is fighting something, but I can't pinpoint WHAT is it. Seems like something different is tender or aching every hour. Right now it's my jaw, this morning it was my tummy, last night it was my ear... maddening. :)

Anyhow, I got the red border on today and plan to at least iron the teddy bear border tonight, hoping to cut it too.

Earlier today I was nib-nosing around in my drawers next to my computer and I found my dad's and Pops' side of the family history written in a booklet by Pops' aunt several years ago.

It starts off with my great-great-grandmother and her engagement (no, not the one who made the antique quilts). In those days it was customary for the man to give his fiancee a wedding band before the wedding in lieu of an engagement ring. Mother told me that she was admiring her ring as she was sewing and ran the machine needle through her finger! Ouch!! Must have been a pretty eye-catching ring. ;)

Then many years later, after the kids were gone, they bought a house on 10 acres of land. An old family friend...offered Dad (my great-great-grandfather) a 10-acre place on Camelback Road north of Scottsdale High School. It was a long, narrow place with a little frame house in which we had inside plumbing--our first!! I was a little shocked to realized where they lived, Camelback Road is in Phoenix and it's REALLY long and most importantly, it has the one and only Fish Market in the entire state of Arizona. Can you tell I've been there a few times? ;)

They bought the house on Camelback Road for an "outlandish sum of $5,500!!" in 1937. Their dad died in 1953, and they soon sold the "back-five" acres for $20,000. In 1959 they sold the front-five and house for $125,000. Just think, an investment of $5,500 in 1937 brought $145,000 in 1959! Betcha we won't see that kind of "return" in 20 years... or those kind of prices for housing and land these days! That's a 2636% mark up! :P


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Heart blocks are done!

Obviously today was more successful at the machine (and counting!) today. :)

In fact I started to sew them into rows tonight. Hopefully a whole top by tomorrow! And I want to make a small red border around before I put this cute bear-fabric border on. :)

But boy! It's sure nice to have those 1500+ pieces down to about a dozen "pieces" now. I'm started to feel a renewed desire to get this done, done, done. :)

The other cool thing is that I've spent $26 at the grocery store and got...
-16 boxes of cereal! They were on sale for $1/box.
-4 boxes of Nature Valley trail mix bar stuff. Will be good for my husband to grab for a bite at school. I don't really care what he eats in the morning, just that he gets any calories possible to avoid the typical noon "I'm feeling woozy" problem. :) Also $1/box
-1 pound of strawberries, $1
-1 gallon of milk $2
-2 jars of spaghetti sauce $3

Saved over 70%. Happy dancing over here. More money for fabric, right? ;)


Monday, April 16, 2007

I can't count!

I'm so close to finishing the heart blocks... and then I realize that I have 14 top and bottom sections and 15 middle sections. And I need 15 blocks. I can't count! Ugh. I'm outta patience too, calling it a night. :)


Sunday, April 15, 2007

A step closer

I'm a step closer to being done with the heart blocks, but I let myself get distracted by my husband. :)

So tomorrow, I'm determined to have them in blocks. They're all ironed and ready for the next step.

Here's to hoping this is an easy week, not doing much, not going much. It's going to be plenty busy til June! :)

Psst... hope you've done your taxes. ;)


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saturday Sewing

Here's my sewing machine after half a bobbin of Essential thread. Both the top and bobbin thread are white, I'm piecing red and white blocks. Not too bad. :)

Why only half a bobbin? The top thread broke half-way through. I rethreaded it, sewed for several inches... and it broke again. So I swiped a q-tip around to get rid of any lint and replaced the needle. That took care of it, didn't have any more breaks until the second bobbin.

The second breaking session was harder to figure out. I replaced the needle again, sewed a few inches... and it breaks. Did a quick clean, sew a few inches and it breaks again. I'm almost ready to throw the towel in, but I figured I might as well oil my machine, as I haven't done in that in a handful of bobbins. I noticed my sewing oil is very lightly starting to turn yellow. Ugh. Need to replace that. :)

Just as I'm about to take the spool off the machine (and I already had tried playing with the tension at this point) I realized that the spool of thread is on much snugger than I've ever put my aurifil spools on. Ohh... loosen that up a little bit (the spool cap was on too far) and it's been smooth sailing since. :)

So, I think there's a little learning curve and adjustment with this thread. It's thicker - but I'm actually like that. I have had some aurifil seams work about a quarter-inch apart, just from handling and ironing and sewing. I've had absolute NONE of that with the essential threads. It's holding together very nicely. :)

And what have I been sewing? The heart blocks! :)

The reds are pretty close to being done, just have to piece it together like a 9-patch. Hopefully tomorrow! The thread issues stalled and frustrated me some. I really need to get my machine professionally cleaned. I've had it for over 2 years now and have never taken it in yet. I'd easily guess that I've put several hundred hours on it.

I actually wish I was sewing Cathy's mystery quilt. She let me have a sneak peak and it's so pretty!! One of her best designs yet. :) The mystery is being stretched over 3 weekends, starting today. The pieces are pretty simple - mostly HSTs and squares. But the pattern itself is so striking. You can join her Yahoo! group where she's hosting the mystery (available for 2 months, then it'll be on her website for sale)... go to here. Can't wait til I have a free moment or two to do the quilt! :)


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bought the tickets!

I bought the plane tickets for me to fly up and see my parents for 2 weeks next month! So excited!! :)

My mom and I are already planning to dye a bunch of fabric. I'm hoping for 70 yards this time. We had a fabulous time last time! :)


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

And the wind blew...

I opened my window to cool down a bit (we still haven't needed to turn on the AC yet, yay!) and a huge gust wiped everything off of my design wall and a nice pile I had on top of the plastic drawers.

Although, the water bottles aren't from the wind, but merely me being lazy. :P

I was pretty wiped out and out of whack from the baseball game. The good news is that they finally won! :) But what is it with the I-10 closing the last three years we've gone to the game?!

April 2005: We were already in town for a Live concert, so we figured it'd be an easy 30-minute trip to the Opening Game. Nope, I think it was closer to 2 hours. We creep and crawled towards the game. Somebody even gave me the finger, and I wasn't even driving! We made it in time for the game, my brother-in-law didn't though. Turns out that somebody had shot a person in the car, which happened to be on the I-10. Yeah, that'd close the interstate.

March 2006: We head west to Tucson for a Spring Training game. The eastbound lane is closed and we see a back up of stop and go for like 7 miles! Ack... we're gonna have to go home in that?! We ended up taking a back way out, going through lots of hills, and I actually enjoyed the scenery. Turns out that an cooking oil tanker of 40,000 gallons of oil spilled on the I-10. Yeah... that'd close it.

April 2007: We're heading on the westbound and traffic starts to slow. We also notice that there's no cars, at all passing us on the eastbound. Finally we come upon the problem - this is just me guessing, but here's what I think happened. There was a trailer pulling half of a mobile home. He was approaching a bridge with NO shoulders at all and was force to scoot into the middle of the 2-lane interstate. Either he didn't see the pickup truck, or the pickup truck thought he could pass fast enough, got completely crunched into the side of the bridge. The trailer guy stopped so hard that the mobile home slipped forward, crunched up and slipped off the trailer.

You have to realize that this happened on the entrance of the bridge, with 2 miles of cars behind them. It wasn't really an option to push the trailer back and onto the side, so somehow they gotta figure out how to get the mess across the bridge and get the traffic going again. I actually watched the mileage on the car - there was 2 full miles of stopped cars. Parked, with the doors wide open for air. People were just standing around and chatting, taking their dogs for a potty break... nothing was moving. Then there was a mile gap of no cars, the there was 3 miles of stop and go cars being diverted off an exit. But yup, that'd close the interstate too. :P

I did ask my husband to fill up the car with gas - that wasn't the plan, but I didn't want to have a quarter-tank and be possibly stranded between Phoenix and Casa Grande if there were still problems. Thankfully it was smooth sailing home and we saw the mobile home pushed off to the side at the end of the bridge.

Also there's a huge mess of construction on the streets that lead to the ballgame and we got confused and turned around a few times trying to get there and get out. All in all, my husband drove over 5 hours that day, and I drove the last hour home.

But now I'm ready to get back into my normal routine! Here's to hoping I turn on my sewing machine tomorrow. :)


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Off to the ball gaaaaaaaaaame!

Here's the heart progress, onward to the red hearts now!

I don't think I'll be posting tomorrow, the baseball game is gonna keep me busy. :) I hope they win... or else it'll be the third time in a row that I've watched the opening day game, only to see them lose. Pfft. If they do, I'm gonna insist that we don't waste our money next year. ;)


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter is here!

Happy Easter! Every quilter should have at least one Easter fabric in her stash. ;)

I've been plenty busy at my machine! So far, I can tell you that the Essential threads are thicker, stronger and doesn't badly lint at all. I've used up half a bobbin in piecing the heart quilt. I hope to have pictures of those blocks tomorrow. :)


Friday, April 06, 2007

Essential Thread System

Yay! I finally figured out how I am going to keep track of my thread. Since the spool cone doesn't have markings and once you take off the wrapper, you could be out of luck in trying to figure out what thread you have.

So I made a chart in Excel. I have the Item number (for re-ordering), color description, my own thread code, what I do have in stock and a column for how many I want to order the next time. As I use them up, I'll be able to figure out my "supply and demand" needs. :)

The Thread Code is my own system, my way of being able to tell what's what after I take off the wrapper. Even though I don't have ALL the threads they offer, I gave them each a number. Then I wrote it inside of the spool.

You can see on the Excel chart that #14 is Honey.

#24 is Green Tea - it doesn't look like ANYTHING on their webpage and I'm a little disappointed in that spool.

It looked so yummy on their webpage! :P In fact the light green on the pastel set looks more like their picture of green tea. I'm only bothered because I ordered 2 spools of green tea! :P

Now I just hope the sharpie ink doesn't wear off as the spools get used up. I'll be in big trouble then! ;)


Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's here!

*squeals* My thread is here! I wasn't expecting it until tomorrow or later. But it came today! I also grinned so widely over the thought of my thread finally being here that I pushed my left contact up my eye. :P Yeah, fixing that will take off your smile.

Aren't they yummy? I miscounted, 40 spools, not 41. I'm afraid to open them. All pretty... all nice... don't want to mess it up. :) But actually, I want to get a "system" going so I can replace spools as I get low. So I need to make a chart or something and tape a few pieces of thread so I know what is what. Hmm... maybe I can put a number in the spool....

I also had fun flipping through Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space. I know the perfect place to get furniture for my dream quilting room - IKEA! In the meantime, gonna make do with what I have. :)


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Day off

I took a day off, in more ways that one. Not only from blogging, but also my tummy was upset all evening, all night and all today. :P The only advice I can give you is not to eat Brach's sugar free jelly beans. :)

I had my husband wake me up as he was leaving for work (I make his lunches the night before, it's easier) so I could get my blotto blocks done in time.

I didn't win. Pfft. And I didn't sign up for the next blotto - the colors were unappealing to me and I'm going to be too busy between now and July. There's likely going to be a couple trips (including some school-related conferences for my husband) and my husband's sister is getting married in June. Not to mention May is the busiest month of the year for us with finals, tons of grading and graduation of my husband's students. Makes me tired to think about it.

Speaking of sleepy, I'm tempted to drink some coke. My brain is backwards - when I drink caffeine, I get very sleepy. I drank a can of Mountain Dew last Sunday and conked out for 2 hours! I thought it might be the sugar, but no, I can drink root beer and not crash like that. I really do believe caffeine has the opposite effect on me. Instead... I have some bottled water in the freezer that's chilling right now. More appealing than warm soda. ;)


Monday, April 02, 2007

Elbow grease will be needed

First off - to Kathy who commented in my previous post (sorry, don't know which Kathy you are! :( That's the same name as my MIL and a few other ladies I know of). I have been taking step-by-step photos of making the green and pansy Quick Twist quilt, so that even a complete beginner could try it. Well, I am assuming that you'll know how to operate a sewing machine and cut the fabric. :)

Today I spent a bit of time cleaning up the living room. We had to drag some chairs from outside in last week because of the rains. I'm ready to toss the chairs away, hubby wants to keep them... so I keep them outside if I can. :)

Anyhow, I took a moment to clean off the Singer Cabinet, I had the brilliant idea of folding up my antique quilts on top of it. I figured a few swipes would get rid of the basic layer of grime and not hurt the quilts. Alas, I was wrong.

When I first started swiping, I could only see 2 or 3 rings. I kept wiping and wiping and wiping and the paper towel continued to look like it was cleaning up spilled coke. Afraid that I was starting to wipe off the finish, I gave up and resigned myself to having to consider refinishing it. After some sanding though! :)

So I went ahead, clipped a little bunch of flowers and added a little cheer to the room. I did make sure the cup was dry on the bottom, but I doubt if anybody will actually notice one more ring. :P


Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm gonna kill my sewing machine!

And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Dot manage to wear out her sewing machine from sewing every day on it, for at least 30 minutes a day. Clever way to get a new machine eh? ;) Plus, you'll have lots of quilts finished too! I figure I have about 5 or 10 more years to go. :D

I started another Quick Twist today! I wanted something that was more spring-y.

I bought the flower fabric from WalMart several days ago. I place it near my computer and looked at it a lot. I knew I wanted to use it in a Quick Twist, but... do I pair it with a yellow? Purple? Wait... green! I've seen this fabric around before and most people seem to pair it up with yellow or purple, but I had the perfect green for it. And the perfect amount too - enough for the strips and binding. :)

And it makes me think of a garden. Green is the grass, the flowers are in beds, swirling all around the grass. Yeah, it's a happy quilt for me. :)

April Fool's Day... no jokes around here, except that I've gotten an unusually lot of visitors today - over 160, when I usually get about 60-80/day. So hello to everybody who's stopping by! :)