Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fake snow

That's what the mound of batting looks like, a pile of fake snow. I better enjoy it, cuz it's the closest to the real thing I'm gonna get this year. ;)

My husband's happy, I was able to move the roll of batting from the bedroom couch to my quilting closet. Admittedly... I needed 3 dumbbells totaling 40 pounds to keep the closet door from bulging out. There's no tracks on the bottom, so the doors sway with pressure.

I'm never gonna order that much batting again until I have a house or 50 quilt tops in waiting. :)


Saturday, January 24, 2009

A crayon box!

Yay! I was able to get the top completed today, despite a hiccup of needing to go to the Urgent Care on Friday night for another ear infection... or rather, the one from the holidays never fully healed. But this time I got some good drugs! ;) Stronger dosage of antibiotics and different drops than what I had before. Oh, and strict instructions not to wear my hearing aid for week; it's very likely my hearing aid preventing me from healing as I should.

Anybody wanting to make this quilt can get the instructions from Bonnie's site. I figured I'd just toss in a few photos of my progress. :)

It's really easy, lots of straight sewing. I did press after sewing a piece onto the main body. Sew on one side, press, sew on the other side, press and so on.

Such fun colors! Who could be sad with this fabric?

Not me! Plus, the only time my ear was actually hurting was when the hearing aid was in. With it off, I can't feel any pain and wouldn't know that I have an infection.

Once you get all the pieces cut, this whips up pretty fast. I love how there's no more sub-cutting needed.

My goal was to make sure there were no repeats in one single block.

When I was sewing on the last sides (the 6.5" pieces) I had to lay out the blocks and figure what colors the block didn't have yet.

Kinda looks like a funky artwork quilt. Something that you might see from Melody Johnson perhaps. :)

Ooh, almost finished with the blocks!

I'm just grateful this quilt isn't on-point. On-point sure looks nice, but all the side triangles can be quite maddening.

The top in it's bright glory. ;)

You know how photos help you take a step back and look at things differently? Yeah... I could only see the turned block when I was cropping this picture. Since it's smack dab in the middle, there's no way I'm gonna take it out and redo it! :P And hey, isn't that what a real crayon box is like? A jumbled mess with no sense of order? :)

I actually cut out enough fabric for two 20-block sized quilts. The other half is going to a friend who I've been pushing... I mean, encouraging her to quilt. ;) Both quilt tops will tally up to 7.5 yards outta my stash. I need that space too, for that monster sized batting! :D


"It's kinda big."

I got my batting yesterday! I was happy, but half way apprehensive because Suzanne warned me it'd take more room that I'd expect. Boy... she wasn't kidding!!

Here's what it looked like when it arrived. Clearly, it was folded in half. I couldn't quite reach my arm span around it... but had no problems lugging it around the room.

But I did feel like I owed my husband a warning. So I sent him an email saying that "it's kinda big", with the picture of me next to it. Just trying to break the news gently!

Then I started unwrapping it. Oh boy...

It's exploding a lot more than my strings ever did. So I send off another email to my husband. "It's really kinda big!"

Then I laid it full out and it had a chance to properly fluff... yikes!

Emailed my husband again, "it's REALLY big! So... would you rather be able to open the door or sit at your computer?" And sent him the last picture and hoped he was in a forgiving mood! :P

Currently it's smooshed into the window nook of our bedroom. I think I can get it in my sewing room as soon as I properly pick up all the fabrics off the floor. I was looking for a specific fabric a few weeks ago and started to dig... kinda like a dog does with a bone.

Here's my advice: if you don't have room for a long arm machine, you don't have room for 96"x55 yards of batting. :)


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back on track

I'm back on track for the Crayon Box. Just had to cut out a few more pieces before I could begin.

All those yummy colors! And it's going together pretty quickly. At this rate, I expect a quilt top this weekend. :)

Speaking of quilt tops, I'm hoping the solution is well on it's way to me - a GIANT roll of batting! Yeah, I saved up my birthday money from November and finally bought a roll of polyester batting. 55 yards!! I have a feeling I don't know what I'm getting into... but I'll find out on Friday. I think I counted at least 15 tops in view from my seat. Who knows what else is buried! :P


Monday, January 19, 2009

Ann's NYE 2008

Another quick and easy mystery from Ann Smith. Well, it wasn't much of a mystery to me because I couldn't start on New Year's Eve like most other people. :)

The nice thing about knowing what the mystery is going to look like, you can more confidently select fabrics to compliment the pattern. I'm just so, so, so happy that I didn't need to use one SINGLE pin in the entire quilt top piecing! Oh, how I hate pinning.

Not only did my seams match up beautifully, but my sewing machine gave out lovely tension, no thread or needle problems... don't wake me up from this dream! ;)

Certainly not how I was feeling last March where I finally had to give in and take my sewing machine into the shop. I've noticed the biggest thing in helping me get good tension is doing a full oil clean in the bobbin area every time I go through 2 bobbins of thread.

Do you have any idea how neglected housework gets when you bury yourself into a quilt or two? :P


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Splurged a bit on me

I splurged and got the most expensive iron WalMart had to offer. Wiped me out by $54. ;) It looks very similar to the kind my dad got last summer. I really liked how hot it would get, the constant steam and the nice heft to it. Frankly, I don't expect it to last very long at all. :)

And with such a nice iron... why not iron a bunch of fabric to see how it works? Why not start a new quilt project too?! It's Ann's NYE 2008 Mystery and helped me bust out 5 yards of fabric from my stash. It also happens to have the colors of my wedding. Sunflower themed, with dark green, light green and yellow.

Maybe I should try growing some sunflowers this year. :)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quilting on hold

Don't call me Leah, call me Iron Killer. It wasn't even three months ago that I went through this.

My iron stopped heating and began to drip like CRAZY. Yeah, so much that I decided to make my picture look soggy too. The good news is that the receipt is in the box, and I'll be exchanging it tomorrow morning!

The really bad part? I also killed one of my mom's irons at the Christmas holidays. It was such a nice iron too! My dad bought it when I was visiting last summer, and they were using it ever since... till I killed it. :P The good news is that my mom has 2 more irons, but I have issues with both of them. She also has three ironing boards too! I don't seem to kill those, thankfully. :)

Goodnight from the Iron Killer. *sigh*

P.S. Any Battlestar Galactia fans out there? Who's your guess for the 5th Cylon?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Onward to the next bin

I think the bin plan is working out very well! Maybe it's because I gave myself a mental "clean slate" for my quilts. Never mind all the UFOs or tops hanging around, it's just anything I put in a bin from this point on.

So today I pulled out the Crayon Box bin, and have started to cut the pieces I need. For some reason it's been a little slow going - partly because I'm not having a lot of energy today, partly because I don't want to mess up the rainbow. :P

But the rainbow of fabric will be sliced up, and it will become a pretty quilt top. Hopefully this week. ;)

(At least I'm honest about it not becoming a completed quilt for some time!)


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Disappearing Nine Patch

Whew... I've kept my sewing machine humming for the past 24 or so hours. Does that make my machine love or hate me?

When I was at my parents house and helping my mom make curtains, there were gaps of time where I couldn't do anything. So I raided my mom's stash (it's existence is probably all my fault though!) and helped myself to enough 4.5" strips to make a Disappearing 9-patch quilt.

Mom was a little surprised when she saw me using her beautiful batik fabric with gold stars. It's one of her favorite pieces (I gave it to her for a birthday gift) and just how much of it was I using?! Not to worry, only 13.5 inches worth. :)

She had no issues with me using the black fabric - it'd just be a quick trip to JoAnn's to replenish that.

And I only used one 4.5" strip from 12 different hand dyed fabrics. Why is it so fun to play with somebody else's stash? :)

The strips were sewn together at my parents house, but the subcutting didn't start to happen until I was back at home.

My biggest concern was making sure that I was getting the same quarter inch from my mom's machine as I get at home. I think I was able to eyeball it pretty well.

But I had to be careful, mistakes weren't allowed because I don't have access to my mom's stash anymore!

I did boo-boo once, but I was able to save it and avoid weeping and gnashing of my teeth. Good thing too, I've got a dentist appointment on Monday. :P

Sometimes it's so nice working with such large pieces, they come together much faster. And shows the depths of the dyed pieces better.

Larger pieces help keeps the excitement and energy flowing. It didn't hurt that I've been thinking about doing a 9-patch for the longest time, but didn't take action within my own stash.

Another boo-boo, but this one was definitely in my favor.

Instead of a 4.5" strip, I somehow cut a 4.75" one. No problem! Just whack off that extra quarter inch and keep trucking on.

Finally the magic starts to happen.

Slice the center in half one way...

...then the other way.

The nine-patch is about to disappear...

...and become a whole new block design.

The cutting goes surprisingly fast, especially if your husband happens to be away for the evening due to a work-related event. ;)

By bedtime on Friday night, I had half of the block pieces sewn together.

But I couldn't empty that bin just yet - the quilt isn't a top.

Today I finished piecing all the blocks.

I tried my hardest to spread the colors around evenly, but it never fails and somewhere in the quilt two colors from the same fabric sit next to each other.

By nightfall I have a completed top! I think my biggest motivation was so I didn't have to arrange the blocks all over again. :P

Best of all? I can officially declare a quilt bin empty!

I did tell my husband about my plans for making sure that I never have more than 10 "current" quilting projects at a time. Knowing that he knows about it, and knowing that he'll likely ask me several weeks or months down the road how it's going helps keep me in line! ;)


Friday, January 09, 2009

Take a moment

Yesterday was the first day I turned on my sewing machine in 2009. Before spending any dedicated amounts of time with my needle going up and down, I took a moment to thoroughly clean out my machine. Gave her new sips of oil and a fresh needle too.

This is my favorite sewing machine cleaning tutorial. It does help that she has a Bernina like I do, and we share a lot of common components. But even if you have a totally different machine, it's worth taking a few minutes to pop off the faceplate, open up the bobbin area and use a q-tip to swipe at any lint you can find.

One of the best things I have done for my sewing machine is to buy bulk amounts of needles. If some thing is the slightest bit iffy on my machine, one of the first things I'll do is swap out for a new needle. I don't try to delude myself into thinking that it's still kinda sharp... I can sew some more with it. You never know if the needle is bent, misshapen or weak. It's not worth fussing over your tension or thread breaking for one single needle.

Currently, I'm a member of a Yahoo! Group call Needlecoop. Once or twice a year they do a needle order. (They are required to have a minimum of $1,000 order from the group before they can make the purchase.) I can buy 100 Organ needles for $9.00 and $4.50 for S&H. They have an order set up right now, due to close January 31, 2009. I've put myself down for another 100 needles (which I've been using to both piece and free-motion), and 100 needles for my mom, as she was almost out when I was visiting at Christmas.

I hope you've taken a few minutes to get lint and gunk out of your own machine. :)


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Quilt guild meeting

Today was my quilt guild's program meeting. I decided to do something I had never done yet - ride my bike to a specific destination. All my other rides have just been around the neighborhood. This morning I rode over to the church where the monthly meetings are held, just a bit over a mile from my apartment.

In my backpack was a bike lock cable, water, my purse, and this quilt below.

I think back in October or November, somebody paired up several small quilt tops with backing, batting and binding. They wanted quilters to take the ziplock baggie home and finish the quilts for charity. Since the guild strongly encourages everybody to do at least one charity quilt a year, I figured it was a perfect chance for me to cross that off for 2008.

It's just scrappy squares and bars for the top. I liked the backing and binding fabric so much that I kept them for myself and use the zany purple fabric from my stash. I also had the purple swirl fabric from the quilt top in my stash, so that replaced the binding.

One big excitement was the annual quilt guild challenge. I signed up this year (didn't for 2008), because the guidelines sound easier and I instantly had a great idea pop in my head. (Yup, that's a 3rd plastic box committed to another quilt project.)

They gave everybody who signed up a yardstick, a copy of the rules, and a baggie of leftover Christmas chocolate. :P Let's just say I probably looked quite noticeable with that yardstick sticking out of my backpack on my ride home! ;)

Here's the challenge rules - they change every year to whatever theme the challenge makers picked.

Now I'm hoping for some suggestions. My initials are "LS" The VERY first thing that popped into my mind was "Loves Scraps". But should I make a quilt with stars, and do "Loves Stars"... or does somebody else have a better idea for the LS initials? I'm planning to do this quilt with black and hand dyes - that almost seems to be my trademark. ;) Most likely a variety of blocks using all colors of hand dyed fabrics to create a scrappy look.

On the way home from the quilt guild meeting, about one-third of a mile from my apartment, my right bike pedal fell off! It only took me a few minutes of fiddling to clearly see there was no way I could fix it myself, no matter how determined I felt. I was pretty sure the screw was stripped or there was a missing nut. I walked the rest of the way home, and my husband and I went to the bike shop that afternoon. They said whoever put the bike together incorrectly installed the pedal. $42.66 and a couple hours later, my bike is ridable again.

Hopefully that'll be the last of my bike woes for a while! :)


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Organizing my quilts in progress

I'm trying something new for my quilts in progress. Hopefully it'll prove to be a long term success!

Yesterday at Target, I picked up ten 6-quart Sterlite plastic boxes, marked down to $1 each. They stack up very nicely.

My idea is that any new quilt project I start, or any UFO I pick up, it goes into the box until it's a quilt top. I'm not going to round up all my UFOs. That'd just get too overwhelming. (And I'd need 50 more boxes, at least!) Instead, it's any project I work from here on.

The other thing I'm doing is sticking half of a 4x6 index card with the quilt name and the date I stuck it in the box. Then I know what the pieces are supposed to be for, and how long they've been sitting around.

The one on the left is a Disappearing 9-patch. The other one is a Crayon Box.

If I fill up all ten boxes, then I'm telling myself that I have no choice but to complete a quilt top before selecting another pattern. Think it'll work? ;)


Monday, January 05, 2009

Don't cry for me

On the way home from my parents house, my husband and I stopped by Costco. Most everybody knows that Costco only sells in bulk. You either need to be a large family or great at preserving and freezing to avoid spoiling! Buying 10 pounds of onions for $3.79 sounds frugal (only $.38/pound!) until you realize you're looking at a three month's supply. :P

Thankfully, before we actually bought the onions, we agreed that I would dice up several, bag them up and toss them into the freezer. Since 95% of our onions is for cooking, we don't need the onions to be fresh.

I chopped up 6 onions (they're bigger than softballs!) and started to feel my eyes stinging around the 4th onion. Took a moment to walk away and grab my camera. And then I fell in love with my camera all over again! It's been exceedingly hard for me to take pictures in the kitchen with my old camera. Too much bland color, I'm guessing. New purdy camera? Show things with wonderful clarity! Thanks again Mom and Dad. :)

(In the background are my new kitchen toys that I bought on Saturday. I needed stainless steel for the soap making I want to do this year.)


Sunday, January 04, 2009

"I popped my tire."

Let's set the scene. It's late in the afternoon of New Year's Day. Old family friends come over to visit, and my brother offered to take the son for a ride in his fairly new Mustang. I was given a ride in about a week before that, it's pretty fun! :D

About ten minutes later... *ring, ring*

Dad picks up the phone and hears, "Everybody is OK." (Yikes! Just what every parent wants to hear.) "I popped my tire. I hit a curb. I'm at the bottom of the hill."

So my dad and the visiting dad drive down to check up on their sons. They come back in a short bit, laughing and shaking their heads. Dad asks me for my camera, and I offer to go down the hill instead. My sister and the two visiting sisters joined us. We all wanted to see what Ben's popped tire looks like. I wasn't understanding why they couldn't just change the tire and go on their merry way?

Perhaps it's because Ben understated things a little when he said "popped my tire." :P

Yeah, popped tire, bent the axle, tore up the side of his car. Not exactly the simple tire change I was envisioning!

He also blocked the road and police were needed to keep the traffic away from the accident.

Ben's right, everybody was ok. No other cars, people or things were damaged, just his car.

From what I was able to pick up, Ben was doing a 180 turn around (a half-donut, actually), going about 10 mph (hence why no air bags went off). He swerved a bit to avoid something in the road (sounded like debris) and overdid it and smacked into the curb. And absolutely no alcohol was involved.

You should have seen how hard the police officers were laughing with my camera in my hands! Then just for fun, they wanted me to take pictures of putting Ben into handcuffs.

I think their grinning faces kinda gives it away.

The officers were very nice though, and Ben didn't even get ticketed.

I was a little surprised though, I was sure they'd be frayed out after a day of chasing down people who've partied too hard. Perhaps they were just relieved to see it was mainly a case of testosterone overload in a 20 year old guy. ;)

The car got towed to my parents house (just 1.5 miles from the accident). Last I heard, Ben was calling the insurance on the 2nd - the day my husband and I left.

Ben guessed it'd be about $4,000-6,000 in repairs. It's all his responsibility too. He bought the car (half of the cash up front), he's paying the insurance and gas.

Both of my parents took the whole accident very calmly. Mostly laughing and some eye rolling. As far as accidents go, this is definitely one of the better ones to have. Perhaps it'll make Ben drive a little more carefully... perhaps not. :P


Friday, January 02, 2009

Almost home!

I'm almost home from my Christmas trip at my parents. More details and pictures will have to come later... but let's say that something rather "exciting" happened yesterday to my brother, and I have proof in the form of some pretty priceless pictures! :P