Friday, December 10, 2010

Secret Santa runner is finished- finally!

OK, I was chugging along on this and was well on my way to having it done by the first of the month when I was hit by a series of nasty migraines.  Because the first couple of weeks of December are a very busy time for me at work and I had to be there, I pretty much toughed it out and went to bed every night as soon as I got home.  Needless to say, this really cut into my sewing time significantly.  I'm feeling so much better this week and finally got the last of the quilting done.  After burying tons of thread ends, I got the binding done Tuesday night.  Just as I was ready to pack the runner up and get it on its way, I realized that I had forgotten to put a label on it so I'll do that and get it in the mail this weekend.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.  The blocks in the center were plain, so I machine-embroidered the letters in them.  Quilting was the hardest part mainly because I haven't done all that much in the past so my skills are still a little shaky.  I hope that the recipient enjoys it as much as I did making it!

BTW, I'm going to try taking a better picture to post.  This one was taken laid on the carpet with me standing on a stool over it and no matter how I tried, the edges always came out looking crooked.  They really are straight!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Charming Girls November/December goals

Now that it's getting cooler, my sewing mojo is returning full force and I'm really looking forward to working on my projects that I've selected for my November/December goals.

First off is my secret santa which gets top priority since the deadline looms ever closer.  After mulling over several possiblities, I've finally selected a runner pattern and have begun pulling fabrics out of my stash.  I just love the green and red print and am happy to have a chance to finally use it.  I still need a few more fabrics to round it out, a perfect excuse to drive to Harriet's and do a little shopping (heh, like I ever need an excuse to go there!)

Next up is the quilt that I started for my Dad back in June before life got a bit frantic.  I'm sort of designing it as I go along and will be putting it together using the Cotton Theory method so that the quilting is done as it's assembled.  Along with the log cabin blocks, I will be embroidering blocks with farm animals and buildings.  Daddy grew up on a farm and is very much still a farm boy at heart.  My uncle has a small farm and Daddy loves to visit there.  By the time he leaves, the chickens are so spoiled because he's always giving them whatever a chicken considers a treat.  I'm calling this quilt Farm Memories.

Ok, right now, this project doesn't look like much because it's still in the planning stages.  I'm making this tote for a dear friend for Christmas and will be using the hand-dyed perle floss to do bobbinwork embroidery on the front panel using an iris design.  She was with me when I spotted the floss at the Quilt-a-Fair and just loved it so at least I know that I'm on the right track color-wise!  I'll be getting coordinating batik fabrics for the tote.

I made the same tote when I was at Camp Cotton last year.  My version has an embroidered rose stitched with red floss in the bobbin.

Also on my list is to catch up on my American Beauty blocks that I am doing as part of a BOM at Harriet's.  I missed a few classes and didn't get some of my blocks completely finished in others.  The fabrics for this quilt are just gorgeous and when I first saw the line in the shop, it's not much of an exaggeration to say that my head just about exploded because they are so "me."

Rounding up the lot is the cover for my acrylic portable sewing table for my machine that I take with me to classes.  It's another project that I'm creating as I go along and I really want to get it finished because I'm getting tired of shlepping my table around in a pillowcase, LOL.

Here's a close-up of the cute quilter's crest embroidery design that I found and couldn't resist adding to the front of the cover:

Ok, I think that's enough to keep me busy for a while!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Contrary to rumor, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth

Wow, I can't believe that the last time I posted was in April.  A lot has happened in the meantime, including my parents having some serious health issues that had me making an unexpected trip to Tucson (in the sizzling heat of July!) at one point.  Things have settled down pretty much but my dad has decided that he no longer wishes to spend much time with my mom (that's a story for another day) so he's up here frequently for three week stretches at a time.  He stays with my sister or goes to visit his brother up in Ft. Collins and it's usually me who has to drive him back and forth as his hearing and eyesight are rather bad.  I love my dad but this really was putting a crimp in my weekends (my only free time to really work on my projects or on the house) so we are currently working out the logistics to make things go a little smoother while he's up here.  And that's how things are at the moment in my life.

On the fun side of things, Eric and I had a great time visiting Lincoln, Nebraska when we went in May for our niece's wedding.  We stayed at Atwood House, a lovely B&B that is very romantic and was the ideal place to celebrate our anniversary which was also that weekend.  Naturally, I had to sqeeze in a visit to a local quilt shop and hunted up the Quilted Kitty.  Good thing I had some extra room in the suitcase to pack all the goodies that I found there!  We also paid a visit to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum on the University of Nebraska campus and Eric surprised me by how much he enjoyed the exhibits that they had there.  The wedding itself was beautiful and all in all, it was a terrific weekend. 

In early August, my friend and I did the local shop hop, visiting the six participating shops that were spread around the metro area.  We had a lot of fun and I managed to spend, spend, spend.  Later that month we went to the quilt show in Loveland where the entries for the Hoffman challenge were on display.  So many gorgeous things to look at and it's amazing how many different designs that people can come up with using the same fabric.  I always find the show to be very inspirational.  Then in September, my most favorite event of all took place:  Quilt-A-Fair.  Booth after booth of fabrics, patterns and notions from shops all around the state and others all under one roof.  My pocketbook will never be the same!

Finally, October rolled around and I was more than ready to pack in the yard for another year but so far it has been hanging on because it has remained unseasonably warm.  Here is a picture that I took today of my geraniums still blooming away.  Last year at this time they had already been buried under snow.

Well, uncooperative weather or not, it's time to get back in my sewing room and create!

Friday, April 30, 2010

April finish

Well, only one measly block to show for this month!  This Saturday Sampler block didn't go together easily since I had cut some of the flying geese pieces bigger by accident and it took me a long time to figure out what the problem was. Needless to say, my seam ripper saw a lot of action that night!  I have three more blocks similar to this one to make but by the time I finished this one, I just wanted a break from doing them.

I've been in the spring cleaning and reorganizing mood lately so I've been spending time doing that rather than sewing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First tote bag finished

After staying up pretty late Saturday night, I did mange to work some more on my rose print bag Sunday afternoon and finished it tonight.  Here it is:

I made this for my cousin's wife so I machine embroidered her initial on the tab:

One of the things that makes this tote so popular with the ladies that I give it to is that the sides are held in with magnetic snaps that open when more room is needed to stash stuff in the tote.  This is what it looks like with the snaps open:

The bag is made out of decorator fabric that my aunt found left behind in a rental house that she and my uncle own.  It's dated 1986 on the selvage so it's kind of vintage and it was made to co-ordinate with wallpaper.  I really like it because the print has a hand-painted look to it.  There was quite a bit of yardage so I'll probably be able to make some more bags out of it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tote party-I'm beat

It's 1:15 am and I'm packing it in.  After spending some time with Eric eating dinner and watching a little TV, I headed back up to work on my lining panels.  Nothing major with these, just straight channel quilting which was a breeze after the fronts.  I then spent the rest of the night until a few minutes ago getting the handle done for the rose print tote.  This particular pattern has you sew a long tube about 120 inches long that you then pull cotton webbing through.  While not the quickest thing to do, I normally don't have too many problems with it when using regular cotton fabric because my fasturn tubes make it a snap and the webbing pulls through relatively easily.  Not this time, though.  This fabric is heavy decorator fabric and was too thick stack all the way on the fasturn tube so I had to turn it the hard way which took forever and then the webbing didn't pull through all that easily.  The guide kept pulling off the webbing and I had to pull it out and start all over again.  I finally ended up using the tacking stitch on my machine to attach the guide (using the slots on it) to the webbing so it wouldn't come off and it really worked like a charm!  I wish I had thought of that from the beginning.  I also wrapped some tape around it so that the edges of the webbing tapered down to the guide which was narrower.

OK, I'm off to bed and will be back at it later today and hope to get at least the rose print bag done.  I didn't think I'd get either one done Saturday but at least I've got all the time-consuming bits done which really helps.  This isn't the quickest bag to make but really is a good one.  My friends who've gotten one as a gift really like them and these will be gifts, too.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tote party #3

Panel 2 is finished!  I also cross-hatched this one but chose to do a more open 45 degree angle and used my serpentine stitch since the fabric design is so curvy.  I'm really happy with the result!  I took the time to mark out my lines which really helped because I could just put the pedal to the metal and guide the fabric through.  The last line was a thrilling race to get to the end before the bobbin thread ran out.  Heh, why is it that I think if I just sew faster, the bobbin won't run out on me?

Thanks for all the wonderful comments you all are leaving, they really keep me going!

Tote party #2

Oh geez, I can't believe that it's already past 2:30 and this is as far as I have gotten!  I just finished the outside panel for my first tote.  Because the background is so open, I chose to do a more dense diamond hatch to give it some visual interest.  Unfortunately, that meant tons of lines to stitch one way and the other.  On top of that, half way through, the lines started to bend so I had to rip out each one half way back and redo them.  Arrgh!  OK, on to my next panel!

Tote bag party!

10:30 AM:

Getting a late start here!  I am going to be working on two totes today, both from the same pattern.  I've made the tote before, so that will help speed things up a little bit.  Here are my fabrics:

OK, the first step is get the outside panels cut and quilted.  This part takes the longest to do.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quick project

My co-worker is getting married this weekend in Las Vegas and we took up a collection for him in the office.  I volunteered to create a holder for the money and spent this evening working on it.  Here is the result:

This is the front side which I personalized with their wedding location and date, accented with doves.

The envelope back has a border using the same dove motif that is on the front.

All in all, I think it turned out pretty well.  There are a few things that I'd do differently the next time around but not bad for something right off the top of my head!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April projects

Just a quick post for my April projects since it took way more time than I anticipated this evening to set up my new printer in my sewing room.

First up, my Saturday Sampler blocks for this month. This time it's trees with a lot of flying geese in those trunks! There will be four blocks all together as I will be making two of one particular block. I haven't done too many flying geese so this should be interesting.

Next up will be to get started on the Wedding Ring quilt. I'm shooting for finishing 10 full squares and 5 half squares a month for six months in order to make this more manageable. I have to piece a lot of these arcs together before I can applique them to the squares and this way I won't get too overwhelmed by it. Unfortunately, this means I won't be able to give this to our niece right away but I'd rather give her something that is well made than a hurry up job full of mistakes (and I'm really prone to them, too, when trying to do something too fast.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Some new toys

One of the things that I really enjoy doing aside from sewing is knitting. Most yarn that you buy in yarn shops comes in hanks that have to be wound into balls and usually that's not a problem as the shop is happy to wind the yarn for you. Not so long ago, I spotted a pattern for a lace stole in a yarn catalog that I really wanted to knit to wear to my niece's wedding in May. The only catch was that to get the pattern you had to buy the yarn as the pattern came with it. That was fine by me so I ordered and didn't give it another thought until the yarn arrived and I realized that it would have to be wound. Now, I really hate winding balls by hand and it would be really pushing it to go to my local shop and ask the proprietor to wind them for me seeing as how I didn't actually buy the yarn from her. I finally broke down and got myself a swift and ball winder. Tonight I set them up and put them to work:

The final result- a nice tidy yarn "cake" all ready to go in minutes:


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March tag and finish

This is an exciting post for me because it's the first time I'm using my laptop in my sewing room. We finally got our new desktop PC installed downstairs along with a wireless connection so that my computer would be functional upstairs. I'll finally be able to spend some time in the evenings visiting the Charming Guys and Girls blogs in peace and quiet without Eric's JAG DVD's blasting away nearby. It's kind of hard to think coherently when it sounds like an F-16 is landing next to you! It's kind of my fault, really, because I gave him all ten seasons worth of DVD's to begin with! The man just never gets tired of watching them either.

OK, the March tag was to post a joke. I don't know if this qualifies, but I just saw this the other day and, oh boy, is it ever the truth:

"One of the saddest things about getting older is the trail of smaller jeans you leave in your wake."

I tend to be more of a visual joke kind of person and LOLcats is one of my favorite sites to visit. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

This one because I deal with this response a lot at work-

These next two illustrate that my sense of humor can be kind of off-beat at times...

And last, but not least, here's one especially for Joan-

As for my finishes this month, I only managed one. I had just completed my Saturday Sampler block a few days before my father-in-law passed away and after that I simply didn't have time to work on my Wedding Ring blocks. Things are starting to get back to normal and I'll have more sewing time soon. Eric's been helping his mom quite a bit with stuff that needs to get done and she's coping remarkably well. Sometimes it doesn't seem real that his dad is gone and other days it's felt all too keenly.

This was the first time I've set a block on point and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Springtime in the Rockies

Saturday was was the first day of Spring, my most favorite season. This is what my garden looked like early that morning:

A little later, the clouds had cleared away, the sky was blue, and the cheery little crocus were once again brightening up the yard:

Alas, tonight they are buried under snow- again. I think Spring is the toughest time for me to bear, garden-wise. We usually get warm spells though March that encourages all the daffodils, jonquils and tulips to bloom just in time to be crushed under the late Spring snows. Last year everything budded out so early only to be killed by a late freeze, leaving us with no pretty trees or lilacs in bloom that Spring. Needless to say, I was heart-broken. But for me, hope is always eternal and I'm optimistic this will be one of those years where we really do have a beautiful Spring. It's been cold enough that the green shoots are just now appearing in the beds and the trees aren't really budding yet so maybe, just maybe, my flowers, trees and bushes will put on a glorious show come April. I really, really hope so.

This has turned out to be a difficult month for us. Eric's father passed away March 12th and his funeral service was last Tuesday. He had been ailing as the effects of his emphysema were finally catching up with him. He managed quite well for many years with oxygen but the last year really took its toll. He passed away at home early in the morning while napping in his favorite chair. We are all thankful that he went so gently and that he is no longer suffering. However, it goes without saying that he will be greatly missed. He was a really terrific father-in-law to me, I couldn't have asked for a better one.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March projects

Just a quick post with my projects for March.

First up, my latest Saturday Sampler block. I've managed to get a part of it cut and ready to go but still need to cut the rest of my fabric pieces. This block's finished size is quite large-16"!

Next up, the project that will be taking up most of my time this month is the wedding ring quilt that I am making for our niece as a wedding gift. I'm using an interfacing method by Quiltsmart for the arcs so that there is no curved piecing involved. Frankly, I'm not all that sure that I'll get the top finished this month since I decided to make the queen-sized version but I'll try! Why I couldn't have been content to make the throw-sized version I have no idea but sometimes insanity gets the best of me.

I spent most of my time yesterday cutting my strips for the arcs. I have to confess that cutting is my least favorite part so I'm happy that I've accomplished this much already.

Spotted, the first harbinger of Spring: tiny little yellow early crocus blooming in my front yard!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February finishes

Ok, I swear that yesterday was February 1st! Where did the month go and how did it slip by so fast? I didn't get to spend quite as much time as I would have liked to this month working on projects but I did manage to complete all but one of my finishes. The only one that didn't make it was my Valentine wall-hanging and no worries on that one now that I have nearly a year to get that one done!

All righty, on to the good stuff. I'm all caught up on my Saturday Sampler blocks. Yay! I had six kits in all to do and here they are. I'm a big fan of triangles on a roll and they came in handy with these blocks. By the time I was ready to assemble the blocks, I almost didn't care if my points were matching up anymore, I just wanted to get them done. The last kit turned out to be 36" strips that needed to pieced together which was a huge respite after completing the other ones. The strip will eventually be appliqued with leaves and acorns.

Last but not least are my two final heirloom blocks. Now that all of my blocks are done, I can't wait to get the quilt assembled!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Doing the happy dance!

After years of putting up with a phone line that would randomly go dead for no reason at all, sometimes for days at a time, and static so terrible that I could hardly hear the person on the other end (especially annoying because I'm hearing impaired), the phone service guy finally located the source of the problem and fixed it today. Now I don't have to worry whether or not the DSL line is going to be working long enough for me to be able to log on and post on here!

I can't tell you how annoying this problem has been, and it didn't help that the phone was always working the previous times a technician was called out. All I can say is that I'm so glad the issue has been resolved and I can now make phone calls again without worrying that I won't be able to hear the person on the other end because the static will start up again and drown him or her out.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February projects

Oops, here it is the 7th already and I just realized that despite taking pictures of my projects at the beginning of the month, I haven't posted them yet. The Rocky Mountain Sewing Expo is this weekend and I've been there both Friday and Saturday. I'll write more about that later in a separate post.

OK! The projects that I want to get finished this month! First, a little background on this one. The Great American Quilt Factory is a fabulous quilt shop here in Denver that does a Saturday Sampler program every year. Basically, the idea is that you collect a kit to make a block the first Saturday of each month. You take the completed block to the meeting the following month and you get the next month's block kit for free and on it goes. If you miss the meeting, you have to buy the kit, make the block, take it to the next meeting and you are back on track. When I did Saturday Sampler previously, I had perfect attendance. This time, not so much! For various reasons, I've missed three months in a row now, so I have those basic kits plus the the enhancement block kits (that are always paid for) to construct. Eventually, those blocks will be assembled to create this enhanced quilt called Pine Lodge:

Here are my kits, six blocks total to complete:

Next up are my final two blocks for my Heirloom Sampler quilt. I am meeting with my instructor at the very end of this month to start assembling the quilt top and I can't wait to see it completed.

Last, but not least is my Valentine wall hanging that I started during the Valentine Sewing Party. I spent the whole day after the party trying to come up with pieced panels that I liked to go on the top and bottom of this block and nearly drove myself nuts in the process. I learned some really good lessons that day, one being to just step away and go do something else for a while. If I had done that, I think I would have saved myself a lot of frustration when it just wasn't looking like I wanted it to. The other lesson I learned was not to hack up a fat quarter if that's all you have of that fabric! The store has none of that fabric left and I'll have to pick apart the blocks that didn't work to salvage the pieces that I need for the fabric combination that I eventually settled on. Of course, only after the fact, did I remember a tip that I had read a while back that if your fabric is limited, copy it on a color printer and use the printed paper to make block mock-ups to decide on your final design.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January finishes

The end of the month really snuck up on me! It was one of those weeks where after work I just came home every night and collapsed and yesterday was full of must-run errands so I finally made it into my sewing room today. I managed to bang out all five of my blocks for my heirloom sampler quilt that I needed to finish for this month and can't quite believe that I actually got them all done! They still need to be washed to get rid of the markings and trimmed but at least the hard part is done.

On this block, I finished the stitching on the crazy-quilt center, then stitched on the lace frame and cut away the fabric behind the lace.

This one had almost been finished in class, I just needed to stitch open the cathedral windows in the center and then add the decorative stitching to each side of the center panel.

On this one, I needed to stitch the pink waterfall panels onto the block on each side of the embroidered center. I almost wish that I could re-do the waterfalls as the stitching on the lace isn't the greatest. I usually do much better than that!

On this, I did the sharks teeth on the sides. They look relatively simple to do, and they are, but jeez, they take a lot of time to do!

On this one, I did the bias-shaping in the center then stitched it down. For some reason, I could not get my bias pieces to work in class but when I cut new ones tonight, they did what they were supposed to do without any problems at all.