Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Swappy Stuff

I recently participated in a pin cushion swap.  I had a terrible time with this one - for some reason I kept putting it off.  And when I finally decided it was time, I had lost the pattern I intended to make, which of course required another trip to my LQS.  In the end, instead of replacing the first pattern I bought a different one.  This is Heather Bailey's Effie and Ollie pattern.  I think he turned out super cute, even though his trunk isn't quite round.  I stuffed him with rice, so I think that may be the problem with his trunk.  If I ever do him again, I will stuff the trunk with fiberfill before I stuff the rest of him with rice.

I especially love his ears.  I think they are so fun!

In return, I received this fun AMH Wild Flower pin cushion from Jodi (usairdoll), which I have been meaning to make for myself ever since Amanda made herself one several years ago.  As is so often the case, I never got around to it.  But now I don't have to!  Isn't it fun!  I love the fussy cut petals.  And the colors are perfect - bright and fun.   Perfect for my new sewing space.  And it's filled with walnut shells, so it won't go flying across the room when I try to stab it with my not-so-sharp pins.

Lastly, I received this really cute angel friendship bag from Laura VanVleet in the Friendship Bag Swap.  I guess my friendship bag got lost or something, and Laura, who is one of the mamas, made me this fun bag.  Don't you love the little strawberry and kiwi in that fabric strip?  So summery and fun.

And look at all the fun goodies she stuffed inside.  A pattern, a honey bun (yummm), a pin cushion (which matches the bag), a tissue holder, some fun trims, and my personal favorite: a credit card holder - yet another thing I have been meaning to make for myself, and haven't gotten around to doing.  Maybe next someone will make me a new wallet.  LOL.  That's been on my list for awhile.  The Kate Spade one Arielle got me on her 9th grade chorus trip is just about shot.

In other news, the my new sewing space is in its 3rd or 4th iteration (nope - no new pictures yet...  soon I hope).  I thought I had it nearly finished yesterday, but then the wall bracket came for the computer monitor (I have visions of watching movies and Craftsy classes while I sew)  which required moving all the stuff stashed against the wall, and then finding studs (which are apparently hiding), so it's not up yet. 

And in the process of creating this room, I have managed to tear up Every.  Room.  In.  The.  House.  Of course there are paint and tools (including some kind of saw) in my kitchen.  And goodwill stuff and the old bed frame in the living room.  And too much furniture in Arielle's old room.  And a complete reorganization of the garage.  How do projects mushroom out of control like this???

And I haven't really sewn in 10 days.

It's making me crazy.

Tell me it will get better?  Please?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Photography Lessons

I mentioned in this post that I was making this Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day Log Cabin in exchange for photography lessons (no one told me I had put that middle block in the bottom row in sideways - I'm sure glad I saw that before I quilted it!  After a nice little session with Jack [as in Jack-the-Ripper] I got it fixed and it is ready to quilt.)  Anyway, I am really having a blast learning all these new things.  And while I'm not an expert photographer yet, I thought I would show some of the photos I took at our last session.  Honestly, they really amaze me.

We played with a macro lens and learned about light.  It was great fun.

I didn't know I could take photos with such detail.  And I love the instant gratification of the digital camera.  You can see what you're doing right away.

I am having a blast!  In this shot Billie was teaching me about using the greenery to lead the eye to the focal point.  I also learned a lot about reflected light.

 In this one, she taught me about framing the subject.  I truly am amazed at the detail.

This was so fun - and a nice change from painting and the chaos that is my house right now with the great sewing room relocation.

Hopefully my quilty pictures will improve so much!

What are you doing that is different and fun?  I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Coming Along

My new space is coming along.  I have sorted, stashed and stored, and I've found the floor.  It's not very exciting or beautiful yet.   In fact, it still looks a little stark, doesn't it?  I got the blinds up, but not the curtains - yet.   I'm not sure about keeping the bed in there (see the frame in the foreground?) and until I decide, I don't want to make any holes in my freshly painted walls.  But it's starting to be useful.  WH didn't feel well yesterday, so we didn't get the other machine in there.  The wall mount for the computer monitor hasn't come yet.  So there's plenty still to be done.  In fact, after I took the first photo I realized that the step stool and the vacuum were still in the middle of the floor.  Oops. 

I'm sure it will get there.  I'm excited to put my treasures on the walls...  I have so many beautiful minis, buntings, hoops and mug rugs, I'm excited to have a place to display them.  This was all the wall space I had in the "breakfast nook".  But there's so much more to display...

So I really need to make up my mind soon.  The good thing about keeping the bed is having a place to display all the pillows...  But it does take up a lot of room.  I'm undecided at this point.

I went in the room yesterday with the intention to sew, but I have to admit that I didn't feel very creative.  I sometimes felt that it was a miracle that I could sew at all in the old space, it was so crowded.  I decided that I just needed to make something so I got busy on a project that has been planned for awhile.  The fabric (I know you can't see it - sorry) is a jelly roll of Santorini by Lila Tueller, which was a gift from my quilty friend Leona, who has kindly shared her fabric stash with me lately (although WH thinks I have enough fabric - one of the drawbacks of the open shelves in the new space, I imagine.)

Inspired by this quilt by Faye, who is a member of our guild, the quilt will sort of resemble stacked books on a shelf.  I think it will be fun when I get it done.  So far, I only have the circles made, which honestly is going to complicate the layout a lot, but at least I got some sewing done. 

This will get better, won't it?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The New Space

A few weeks ago, WH suggested that I move my sewing space from the "breakfast nook" where it has been since our third child was born almost 23 years ago, into one of the now-vacant bedrooms.  It seemed like such a great idea....

It was a lot of work.  We started painting on Monday, and of course home improvements never go as smoothly as you hope.  The previous paint didn't cover very well.  Nevertheless, I was hoping for one coat of primer and one coat of paint.  Not to be.  Two coats of each later, my room was painted.

Thankfully, WH finished the last coat of primer, and the painting.  My shoulders were killing me.  He did very well, especially considering he had rotator cuff surgery last year.  He's a keeper!

I can't find the photo I was looking for of my earlier space in its most pristine state, but this will give you an idea of what it usually looked like.  LOL!  The room was 8x8 with 4 doorways - one to the kitchen, one to the garage, one to a bathroom, and a patio door to the back yard.  A few years ago, WH put in some cabinets for me, and they held A LOT.  And I had stuff stashed in every nook and cranny.

I have yet to find all the nooks and crannies in my new space.

But it is coming along.  I have now found the floor.  And sorted my stash by color....

And moved the furniture from one side of the room to the other a couple of times...

Hopefully, I will be able to sew again soon.  My fingers are itching for a sewing fix.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Been Quiet Around Here

It's been a little quiet around the blog lately, but I've been busy.  BD#2 came home again this weekend and we had a lot to pack into a day and a half!  She finally got all the paperwork done to change all her ID documents to her married name.  We were fortunate that we were able to get it done when she first arrived so we had all day Friday to play.  We went blueberry picking, I came home and made a pie while she went to the beach, we celebrated first Father's Day, and generally had a great time.  Scroll below for my favorite Blueberry Pie recipe.

She asked for something cute to keep her sewing feet and supplies in.  The plastic bag that Janome provided with her machine was pretty lame.  Marcy had this already-quilted fabric up for grabs in her scrap bag at the ECMQG meeting last week, so all I had to do was cut it into a rectangle, add a zipper, sew up the sides and box the corners.  It made a pretty cute bag I think.

Then I had the blocks done for two quilts, and got them put together yesterday when I was feeling a bit down that my girlie had gone home.  This one is a reprise of a quilt I made several years ago that I called "Woodland by the Lake", so I guess this one is "Woodland by the Lake II".  It is a simple Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day Log Cabin.  I have made tons of these quilts over the years.  They are straightforward and fun.  I doubt many modern quilters really realize just how indebted we are to Eleanor Burns.  Her methods were truly revolutionary in their day.  None of the methods that we take for granted today (strip piecing, for example) really existed before she came on the scene.  Thanks, Eleanor, for simplifying quilting so much.

This quilt was "commissioned" by my friend Billie, who is a Master Photographer, and is teaching me photography in exchange for some quilting.  (I love that the quilt looks a bit like stained glass in this photo.)  I am having a blast and learning a lot about photography.  (And the chatting is fun too.)

I also had the blocks {mostly} done for this Neptune quilt for Leona.  Sorry it's hanging sideways, but I didn't want it dragging in the dirt.  This was a really unique pattern, and I had fun putting it together.  The pattern is Snow Globes, by Tula Pink, and the fabric is mostly Neptune, with a bit of Prince Charming added.  The biggest challenge to this quilt was that most of the prints are directional, and it was kind of tricky to get them all going the right direction. 

And, since it's Father's Day, I thought I would share this early-90s photo of the fam.

Happy Father's Day 

to my sweet husband and all the dads out there.  Thanks for all you do!

Betty's Blueberry Pie

For a 9-inch pie
4 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon-sugar

Prepare pastry (I use Pillsbury All-Ready Crust).  Heat oven to 425.  Rinse berries and stir in flour, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.  Pour into crust.  Dot butter on top of berries.  Put on top crust, flute edges, and pierce with knife.  Sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling bubbles through pierced crust.  Cool and serve.  (Betty says you may want to cover fluted edges with tin foil to prevent over-browning, but I don't do this.)  {Also, I always place my pies on a foil covered pizza pan so they don't boil over into the oven - I hate cleaning up that mess.}


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Intervention Needed?

 I think perhaps I'm addicted. Maybe I need an intervention.  It's entirely possible I am obsessed.  I just can't seem to help myself.  What's up with me?

On Monday, after I finished the hexagon bag for the Secret Tote Swap, I had a whole bunch of things that I could have done, but I ran across these blocks that I made for Val's charity quilt back in January.  I got the dates wrong, so it was too late for her to use them, so she said to keep them, and they've been bugging me ever since.

So I made them into {another} bag.  Don't really know what I will do with this one.  It was truly just compulsive behavior.

But it's out of the WIP pile at least, so that's something.  Isn't it?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Shhhh... It's a Secret

Knowing how much I like hexagons and tote bags, a few weeks ago Leona gave me this Charming Hexagons tote bag pattern by A Quilting Life.  Sometime later, Krista invited me to the Secret Tote Bag Swap on Lia's blog.  The two seemed destined to go together.  While Krista was doing her chemo last week, we picked the charm pack/fabric via text message (isn't modern technology wonderful?) and I cut the hexagons with my new {to me} AccuQuilt.  I'm not sure whether I'd use the AccuQuilt for simple squares, strips and rectangles, but for shapes like the hexagon, it is wonderful - accurate every time is awesome for machine piecing hexagons.

Since the topic at the ECMQG meeting on Saturday was hexagons, it was perfect.  I used the method Marcy demonstrated at the meeting to do all the Y-seams and it came together very quickly.

Marcy had some scraps up for grabs, and they came in pretty handy, too.  Anything you recognize here, Marcy?  I quilted down each row, and then came back to quilt each crossing line individually.  Honestly, it went more quickly than I expected.

The only thing I didn't like about the pattern was that it had no pockets.  I think pockets are an absolute must for tote bags.  Luckily, since I've  - ahem - made a number of tote bags lately, it was a simple matter to add a couple of pockets to the interior of the bag.  My favorite divided pocket on one side....

And a zipper pocket on the other side.  (Um, Marcy, do you recognize anything else?)  I really love scraps!

So, one more project ready to mail. But don't tell...

Shhhh....  It's a secret!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Two Finishes for Project Linus - an FMQ Journey

Awhile back, I promised to share real pictures of my May Finish.  But more exciting to me is that I got 26 blocks out of my WIP pile. 

Most of the blocks were from several rounds of the 3x6 bee. I love the way they all look together.

They say the only way you will improve at anything is to practice, so I did a different motif from Angela Walters' Free Motion Quilting in each block.  I love that book.  Her instructions are super easy to follow, if maybe not so easy for me to execute.  Something about hand-eye coordination, and the disconnect between my brain and my muscles.

I decided on this block that I don't like pebble quilting any more than I did the first time.  But I do like the texture when it is finished.

I kind of wish that Angela would come out with a practice book like we used to practice penmanship when I was in school (I understand they don't teach cursive in school any more, let alone penmanship!  What's up with that?)  Then you could really do as she suggests and practice the designs with a pencil over and over and over...

I did the yellow quilt before I did Krista's quilt as a practice quilt so I would get at least a little better at FMQ.  It really doesn't come naturally to me at all.

This block is far from perfect, but it ended up being one of my favorites.  I tried 3 different motifs in this block.  I really love how it turned out.

I think I just got tired and did stipple quilting in this block.  Never a bad choice, right?

These were bee blocks, which have a tendency to vary in size, so I sashed all the way around each block to even them up.  I ended up trimming to 15", so each block finished at 14-1/2" square.

I tried paisleys on this block.  I really love paisley anything, and this motif was very fun to do.  I obviously need to work on the size consistency of my paisleys though.
 I used another stripe fabric from my Stripes That Bind bundle for the binding from my favorite fabric shop.  I think it looks like it was made for this quilt.

 In her book, Angela talks about not getting stuck in a corner, and that wasn't really my problem.  It was more that I would finish the block and find that I had left a whole big area unquilted, so I need to work on how to get around the quilt more logically.

I really love that these blocks are all so different, but coordinate with each other so well.  This one is more seafoam than aqua, but it still works perfectly.  And the yellow in this block blends so well with the sashing.

I pieced the back together from the two extra blocks and some leftover yardage.  I really like that blue swirl.  Despite its faults, I am fairly pleased with how it turned out.

The second aqua/red quilt is my ALOYF finish for June.  I sashed this one in aqua.  I like how it gives it such a different feel.

For this quilt, I decided I wanted to improve my swirls, as they are such a basic part of FMQ, so I did swirls in all 12 blocks.

 I hope my swirls improved over the course of quilting 12 blocks.

 Still pretty rough, I think.

 I used a different motif in all of the sashings in this quilt.  I like the wood grain.  Not polished, but really fun.

 Wavy lines in between some of the blocks.

 I tried pulleys up this one side (and then covered half of them up with the binding).  I think here they look a little like safety pins.

 These swirls are far from perfection, but I will keep practicing.

 The figure 8's were really fun too.

 These swirls might be {a little} better?

 The triangles were fun, but it took me awhile to get the hang of it.  The first dozen or more were backwards. 
 The wavy lines were harder than they look.  I never did get the hang of keeping them even, so I decided to just let 'er rip and have fun with them.  I really like the texture.

And stripey binding again.  This one was from my stash.

 This fabric was some that Krista gave me that her mom's friend's family had given her.  She brought it home to Arizona from Seattle in a Coleman Cooler, so we call it Cooler fabric.  LOL  This was a pretty large piece, although not quite wide enough so I added a couple of coordinating pieces to make it work.

The print reminds me a bit of Tarzan, or John Steinbeck's The Pearl.  In any case, I think it will make it boy-appropriate.  The ECMQG is participating in a large quilt request from Project Linus.  They specifically asked for gender neutral or even numbers of boy and girl quilts.  They are specifically to go to Camp Corral, a local camp for military children who have a parent who is deployed, wounded or fallen. 

I really had fun quilting these quilts, and perhaps I made a little progress in the FMQ department.  In any event, though, I hope they will keep a child warm, and perhaps let them know that someone cares.  These men and women have given great service to our country, and as always, it is often the children who suffer most.

With a husband who served 23 years in the military, a good bit of it in combat, I often think, "There but for the grace of God go I."