Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow Days (Yes! in Florida!)

We've had some weird weather here in Northwest Florida the past few days...  the kind that drives you into the house and you don't leave.  Living in this house for almost 25 years, I can't remember ever seeing icicles on the roof before.

Or seeing a forecast like this very often.  (Notice how it will be back to normal by the weekend!  Sheesh, if we don't all have pneumonia, it will be a miracle!)

And while we've had snow before, I don't recall ever seeing snow on top of a layer of ice like this.  Or having it stick around for more than a few hours.

It was kind of pretty, though.

And since my husband was stuck in all the madness that was snow in Atlanta over the last several days, I had the house all to myself.  (Thankfully, he was warm and dry and out of this mess!  But certainly not trying to head home - especially with both airports closed.)

It was the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and sew, and I'm happy to say that I've made some progress.

Hoping for two 14 in 2014 finishes in January, I worked on the circles quilt.  Officially called Spot On, the pattern is from Camille Roskelly's Simplify book, and is part of my goal to make every quilt in the book.  I think I only have a couple more to go.

As you can see, I quilted a large spiral in the center to outline the circle, then swirls in the borders.  I used the Bernina 4 stitch for the sashing.

I wanted something with rounded edges in the borders, and I thought I would try something new, so I quilted hearts in the inner border.  Or at least an approximation of hearts.  I never did get them down perfectly, but I am satisfied with them as a first try.

I decided I wanted to try feathers in the outer border, but I didn't want to just go for it.  I had this quilt (which was one of the first ones I made when I got back into quilting after my long working-mommy-hiatus) which had no quilting in the borders, and was just screaming for something - anything.  So I practiced my feathering skills around the borders of this disappearing 9-patch quilt.

After some helpful critiquing via text message from my friend Krista, I revised my technique a bit, and while not perfect, they are much better.  I'm not displeased with them for a first try.  (It seems like every quilt I make is a practice quilt.)

And so this one is finished and bound, thanks to mother nature, and since the sun is {finally} out today, maybe I'll get a chance to take some real pictures.

Photo courtesy of Riley Blake

Because I was stuck indoors, I finally started work on my project for the Riley Blake MQG challenge. I've been staring at these 6 fabrics on my design wall for months (literally!) without a clue what I was going to do.  But the deadline for our guild is a week from Saturday, so it was time to dive in.  I honestly had no idea what I was going to do until I did it.  This is certainly a great example of being led along, one step at a time.  Or as my mother would have said, I work better out of desperation than inspiration.

I decided I wanted to do something Dresden-style, so I started with that.  I cut the wedges (some of which I had to piece because of the way I wanted the design to go).  Then I decided that narrow black strips between would unify these disparate pieces.  The rules said you could use any solids with these Riley Blake prints, and since I was stuck inside, what I had on hand was Kona black.  I used the gray/brown (I never could decide which it was, but the gray thread looked best) as the quarter circles in the corners.

I had only two bolts of fabric on hand for the background - yellow and white.  I decided I liked these wedges better on the yellow.

I appliqued the circles into blocks, then spent about an hour on Pinterest searching Dresden blocks.  Finally, I decided on this block arrangement.  (I apologize for the clutter in the photo, but my sewing room is small, but it was the warmest room in the house during this crazy weather.)

I found a white sheet in the stash that I bought on sale at Target several (maybe 4) years ago to use as the backing, and I just bought a 25-yard bolt of batting on sale at Joann's which was delivered last week, so I had batting on hand also, which was a good thing, because all the stores were closed for two days.  I might have made a trek to the fabric store to find backing if I hadn't been trapped in the house, so this is a case where having things in your stash was a big plus!

I tried my new spray basting skills, and had a bit of a disaster.   Notice how alike these two cans are?  Yup, yours truly picked up a can without looking and sprayed blue stencil marking spray all over her quilt batting.  Omgh!  But, I figured that since it was meant to wash out, maybe it would wash out of the batting, so before I sandwiched the quilt, I took my batting-and-backing sandwich, which had already been bonded with adhesive, to the kitchen sink and scrubbed.  I'm glad to say the stencil marking spray washed right out.  (Yup, the painters tape on the bottom of the stencil spray is so I don't make that mistake again!)

Note to self:  put on your glasses and pay attention.

I sewed, and I quilted and just had a great time in my nice warm room...

And I ended up with this.  I'm in the process of binding, and it should be finished in time.  Whew!

And while I was in my toasty sewing room, I decided to finish the pillows that I started months ago and never finished for my daughter to go with her Wallflowers quilt.  I made the blocks a long time ago, and they have just been sitting there neglected on my design wall.

So I bordered and quilted and zippered and backed and am now in the binding phase with these too.  

All in all, it was a pretty productive couple of days.  And today the sun is out and the ice is melting and the husband is coming home, so it will be back to normal very soon.

Monday, January 27, 2014

14 in 2014 - First Finish

I know my poor little blog is feeling very neglected, but I've been quilting up a storm.

Remember this?

It took way longer than I thought it would, but it is now done.  D.  O.  N.  E.!

Lots of quilting late into the night.  LOTS of bobbin changes!

Some quilting stitches I've never tried before - chrysanthemums and whatever you might want to call those swirly things...

And some that I'm pretty comfortable with, like leaves and herringbones...

And while I haven't been able to get a good picture yet - can you believe they've closed schools for the next 2 days because they expect snow!  In Florida!! - I'm pretty pleased with this one.

The pattern was designed by my very own daughter.  You can find it here.   The fabric is Beechwood Park, by Jeanean Morrison, and it is backed by one of the prints in the line.  It finished at about 59" x 70". 


My first finish for 2014.  One down, 13 to go.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back in the Saddle - um... Sewing Room

I've been back in the sewing room this week, and it feels pretty good.  I feel like I'm ready to tackle a few of the projects in there waiting for my attention, so maybe I just needed a bit of a break.

My friend Leona asked me to quilt this little mini pinwheel quilt for her, and it was a fun little project.  I outline quilted all the little twisters to emphasize the pinwheels, then carried that through to the first border.

I really love the texture the outline quilting gave this little quilt.  It feels great as I run my hand over it.

I herringbone quilted the outer border.  I really like the rhythm of quilting herringbones, even if they are far from perfect.  And I really haven't figured out corners yet.  They're getting better, though.

I'm still doing a couple of swaps - the ongoing kind, that I've been doing for a long time.  I made this little turtle for my partner in the Sewing With Friends swap.  The theme this time was pin cushions.  I meant to make this little guy last summer, but I had misplaced the pattern.  Finally found it and created this fun little critter.  The pattern is Henrietta by Heather Bailey.  So cute.  And fun to make.

Another swap I started just this year is the Handmade Birthday Swap.  I'm in the sewitsyourbirthday group.  Since my birthday is in January, I've been receiving fun little gifts for awhile, and when I have them all, I will do a big reveal.  In the meantime, this little quilted tool caddy is what I gave to the other birthday girl this month.

I filled it with a few fun little goodies too.

Always before I have pin basted my quilts, but when my sister asked me to quilt the quilt she made for my grandson, Britton, and sent it already spray basted, I began to think I was missing something.

So, at the ECMQG meeting last Saturday, I asked for expert help.  Cindy and Kim each showed me their method for spray basting and helped me spray baste a couple of quilts - the bookshelf quilt and the starflower quilt. 

So I decided to quilt the starflower quilt this week.  I have to say, I really like the spray baste.  No wrinkles or bumps, despite all the bias edges in this quilt.

I did swirls in the stars and what I called chrysanthemums in the hexagons.  It seemed to me to take for-ev-er, but I finally got the main body of the quilt done.

Now, all I have to do is figure out what to do with the borders. 

One of the fun things about having such a talented daughter is that occasionally I get asked to do something fun, like test a pattern.  This adorable little nosegay pattern was designed by my own sweet girl, known on IG and Flickr as @acraftyfox_amanda.  She and her husband own Westwood Acres Fabric, and she not only raises kids, runs a shop, and makes quilts, but she designs them as well.  Each month, in the Westwood Acres Fabrics monthly newsletter, she includes a unique pattern that she has designed especially for her customers (in fact, the starflower quilt above was one of her designs!)

This month, it's this cute little nosegay pin cushion.  She designed it to be made with Liberty Lawn, but I don't have any, so I grabbed some @annamariahorner Dowry and set to work.  In about an hour and a half, I had this adorable little pinnie.  If you haven't signed up for her monthly newsletter, you really should.  There's a link on the Westwood Acres website. And I think she just may have some Dowry left in the shop.

So, that's what I've been up to.  How about you?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Swappy Stuff

Photo courtesy of Dee3103 via Flickr
I recently realized that with the craziness around here last fall I totally neglected to take pictures of a couple of the beautiful swappy things I had received.  This awesome tote bag came to me from Dee3103 all the way from Australia in the Secret Tote Bag Swap.  I borrowed her photo because my photo simply didn't do the bag justice.  I was so obsessed with the back of the bag...

and the cool backpack feature, that I totally neglected the front of the bag...

and the only photo I took had horrible shadows.  Apparently Dee had a helper also, as her model was outstanding!

And she put this cool pocket inside with a very fun gingham lining.

The other awesome item I received was from BetseyLynn50 on Flickr in the Fabric Basket Swap.  This fun little package was waiting for me when I returned home from my Thanksgiving trip.  It was such a fun package to open - BetseyLynn had wrapped everything individually so there were lots of adorable little tissue-wrapped packages to open.  And the basket is perfect!  I love the hexies and the hand quilting.

It was the perfect medicine for my coughing and sniveling, but since I wasn't feeling well, I tucked it away and then got wrapped up in my Christmas sewing.

I'm not doing as many swaps this year - at least so far I have managed to keep myself for signing up for any new ones - but one swap I did start is the Handmade Birthday Club.  We have committed to making a handmade gift for each of the other 11 members of the Club during their birthday month.  Since I have a January birthday and the due date is the 15th, I haven't received most of them yet, but this one from my friend Krista arrived a couple of days before my birthday.  She made me another  hexie flower for my GMFG, gave me the floss to start {another} new embroidery, and made me a pattern and needle minder - something I had no idea I even needed, but now that I have it, I think it's awesome!  She also included a Frixion pen, an item I've been dying to try but hadn't actually purchased yet.

Thanks so much to each of you for such thoughtful swappy items!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Obsessed! Or how I got distracted by technology

I mentioned yesterday that I had gotten totally distracted by my new Kindle that the hubs got me for Christmas.  I never thought I really wanted a tablet, but I finally decided that for traveling and so forth a reading device would be nice.  He decided on the Kindle Fire HD.  It's a great little device.  Although you can't tell it from the photo, the resolution is wonderfully clear and sharp.

And then my friend told me about BookBub.  Have you heard of it?  All you do is go to their website, enter your email address and the kind of reader you have and the types of books you like to read, and it sends you a daily email of available books under $2.99.  Best of all, almost every day there are several free books to choose from.  Totally free!

 And it got me hooked.

Here are the books I've read so far this year...

Yup, I was kind of obsessed, I think.  Now we know why I almost gave up reading when my children were small...  I would have been accused of neglect.

And best of all, most of them were free or close to it. 

So now we know why I haven't done much sewing so far this year.  But I am going to start exercising a bit of restraint and get busy.

Good plan, don't  you think?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I woke up yesterday morning thinking I would get busy in my sewing room and get some things done after more than a week of Christmas distractions - my son arriving on Christmas Eve (his birthday) to spend the holidays with us...

Christmas itself...

A week of movies and football and dates with my son and card games and just plain goofing off and bonding and having fun...

A midnight drive to New Orleans on New Year's night so he could catch a flight home to be at work on time since the snowstorms in the Northeast meant he had been called in to work a day early to deal with angry passengers delayed by flight cancellations and people unable to get home on time (he works for an airline - sounds fun most of the time, but NOT when the whole travel system is messed up by the weather)...

A sleepless night because of said drive that left me feeling as if I was going to suffer a relapse of the bronchitis I've been fighting for a month...

A room that was too cold to sew in this morning that allowed me to be distracted by the 100 or so emails in my inbox...

Which led to spending the morning catching up on blogs I love, that I hadn't had a chance to read in a couple of weeks (just until my room warmed up, you know)...

And really being blown away by all the truly thoughtful blog posts I read.  Plans for 2014.  People wanting to create.  People wanting to become better.  People wanting to learn more and love more and give more.  Words people chose to help them remember what they want to do and be and become.  Ultimately, people expressing their desire to become the people God wants them to be...

Which caused me to reflect on just what I want to achieve in 2014 - outside of the quilty goals I've already set...

Which left me feeling totally despondent and I decided to play with my new toy...

And I have to admit that I've read more books in the last 3 weeks than in the previous year.  And it's been great.

But now I think I'm refreshed and ready to begin again.

Here's to a gloriously restful, fun, and productive 2014.