Friday, May 30, 2014

Lazy Sunday Quilt - On Friday {is that a problem?}

A little over a year ago, my friend Leona and I came up with a bargain - she would "sell" me her Accu-Quilt Go! cutter and I would make her four quilts.  What a deal, huh?

First I made this scrappy Flea Market Fancy Hugs and Kisses quilt.

Then I made this Neptune Snow Globes quilt.

Then I made this dotty Scrappy Trip Along quilt.

And the whole time I was kind of plodding along with this Fat Quarter Shop Vintage Modern Block of the Month Mystery quilt.  About the time I was finishing up the blocks and starting on the finishing kit, she decided that this quilt had some difficult memories for her and she really didn't want the quilt after all.  And this after I had made doubles of all the blocks!  Note that FQS BOM kits are so generous, I got two blocks out of almost all of them - I was thinking "a quilt for Leona, and a quilt for me."  But since she decided she didn't want this quilt, I've been feeling a little guilty....  I didn't feel like I had lived up to my part of the deal we made.

So when Leona decided she wanted this Lazy Sunday quilt (pattern by Lee of May Chappel Designs) made from Anna Maria Horner's Dowry and True Colors lines, I agreed to make it immediately.  Even though there were 112 blocks required to make the double size quilt, they were fast and easy and fun.  In a day I had the blocks made and I put the quilt together over the next couple of days.  Then it took me another two days to get around to taking the pictures.  Less than a week from start to finish, and on top of a bunch of other stuff I was doing.

Since I was trying to take photos between rain squalls, I asked my friends Bob and Billie to hold the quilt up off the ground for me, rather than my usual pin-it-to-the-fence method.  And it's sideways for the same reason.

Here's the quilt right side up, but everything else is kind of topsy-turvy.  Anyway, I love how these fabrics in this pattern make just a riot of color!  I think it will be truly spectacular when it is quilted.  I just can't wait.
Meanwhile, I finished up another baby quilt, this one for Billie's new grandchild, Locke.  Mom and Dad decided not to find out the baby's gender beforehand, so neutral colors were the thing.  Their nursery is green with a monkey theme, so I used a really cute monkey fabric for the backing.  I really had fun making these two hexie flower baby quilts (click here to see the pink one).  They're super fast and a blast to make.  I think there will be more of these in my future.

I'm linking up with crazymomquilts for Finish-it Friday.

So what have you been up to this week?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Little Light Reading - May Edition (and some quilting)

I knew it couldn't last...  After actually posting a whole week of consistent blog posts, I took yesterday off.  I was in the middle of a book (or rather book series), and just couldn't tear myself away long enough to blog.  I actually read the whole series of 3 books in less than 24 hours.  So, given that I spent most of yesterday reading, I thought I'd share my  reading finishes since my last light reading post. 

I actually did do a little sewing.  I started putting together this AMH Lazy Sunday quilt...

I made a baby quilt for a baby shower I attended on Saturday.  Baby Ciana's mommy and daddy have been waiting a long time for her, and we are all excited to meet her.  What better way to celebrate the pending birth of a sweet baby girl than a luscious pink flower quilt?  The fabric was part of a Daydream layer cake by Kate Spain.

This quilt was inspired by a quilt I saw at The Scarlet Thread in McDonough, Georgia while I was at Stash Bash.  Yup, even the fabric was the same.  I used my Hex-n-More ruler, and it was perfect for said layer cake.   The quilt went together super fast and I really enjoyed making it.  In fact, I had so much fun with it I made another one in green that just needs to be quilted.  Hopefully I'll get to that this week. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day - A Time to Remember and Appreciate

This weekend is a holiday in the U.S.  The start of summer.  School is letting out.  The weather is warming up.  The beaches are packed. 

Memorial Day.

Perhaps, like me, you've been seeing these photos crop up on Facebook and Instagram this weekend as reminders of what this weekend is really about.  The photos come from FB, but have passed around and shared so often that I have no idea who to credit.  This one is very familiar to me - it is a photo of Barrancas National Cemetery at Pensacola Naval Air Station. 

Or maybe you've seen this one.  It tugs at the heartstrings and reminds us of those who have given so much - and those who are left behind.

I am grateful to those who have worked so hard to make this country free, and to help us keep the freedoms we enjoy.  I'm married to one of those people.  For 23 years he served his country faithfully.  And the rest of us were along for the ride.  I'm grateful that he served. 

And I'm grateful he's still here beside me, some 38 years later.

So today, I'm reflecting on some of the things I take for granted that these courageous men and women have worked so hard to preserve for me - for all of us:

The privilege of worshiping my God according to the dictates of my own conscience.  How grateful I am that I don't live in a society that restricts my freedom to worship.  And as a corollary to that, the privilege of teaching my children what I believe, without interference. 

The privilege I have of speaking my mind about things that are important to me, whether or not society agrees with me.  Some of these I maybe only express in FB "Likes", but they are no less important for all of that.

The amazing bounty of our country.  Even though prices seem very high to me, there is still an amazing variety and quantity of goods available, from foods to technology of every kind.  (And fabric, of course.  Lots of fabric.)

The gift I have, however temporary, of being able to spend my days doing something I love.  There was a time when I had a job I loved, but things changed, and the job I loved became just a job.  And then there was no job.  But right now, at this time in my life, I have the privilege of spending my days any way I choose.  I often quilt or read or do something else, but the fact is that I have a choice, and having a choice is wonderful.

My family.  I am so grateful for each of them, and the joy they bring into my life. 

To say "Thank you" to these men and women that serve our country seems so inadequate, and yet, it's all I have.  So to you who are serving - and who have served - I say a most grateful "Thank you."

Perhaps then, as we celebrate this weekend, it would be fitting to take a moment to think of things we are grateful for, and say a little prayer for those who are serving their country, perhaps even in harm's way, so the rest of us can enjoy these blessings. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Swappy Stuff - Pouches and Baskets and Blocks, Oh My!

After my swapping hiatus earlier in the  year, I have finally decided that a bit of judicious swapping would be fun. One of the first swaps I signed up for this year was the 4S Swap.  Originally titled the Sweet and Simple Scrappy Swap, 4S just seems easier, you know?  This round was baskets following the Birch Fabrics tutorial.  Anyway, I was gifted with this lovely package from Amber_Crawley.  So, so fun!  The paper pieced balloon is just awesome.  And being that I have just reorganized my sewing space, fabric baskets are especially welcome.

And while the front of the basket is just spectacular, the back is just as cute.  Love that eyeglasses fabric.  And all the dots.  I'm always in love with dots.

My little basket turned out well, I think.  While cleaning my room, I found a half yard of Hello Petal Jump Rope that I had no idea I had.  It made a great focal square in the middle of my QAYG panel, and a fun lining too.  The rest of the QAYG is just out of the scrap bin.  I love creating projects from scraps - it makes me feel so thrifty.

I used a different fussy cut square on the back.  

Last month, our ECMQG swap was Friendship Baskets using the psiquilt tutorial.  I received this fun little bag from Elaine.

Apparently I neglected to take a picture of the one I made, but it was similar to this one I made last summer from some AMH Loulouthi selvages my daughter sent me.  I love using selvages - especially pretty ones.

I've been playing along in the Sewing With Friends swap for a couple of years now, and this time I am swapping with my good friend Leona.  We met for dinner the other night, so I had a chance to take her her pouch for this round.  I used a fussy cut from the Heather Ross Crafty Chloe line she did for Hancock Fabrics a couple of years ago, and quilted it with the Bernina zigzag stitch #4.

On the back, I just used a scrap of Denyse Schmidt fabric from JoAnn's.  In fact, this whole project - with the exception of the fussy cut square on the front, was directly out of the scrap bin.

I used a piece of pink I found in my recent housecleaning for the lining.

One of the fun swaps I'm in this year is the Handmade Birthday Swap.  I've been making these little pouches for the birthday girls, filling them with a few fun sewing goodies.  This is my latest one, made from Hothouse Flowers, by Mo Bedell.  I just love these colors.  They make my heart sing!  This is from a FQ bundle I bought from Westwood Acres when I visited a couple of months ago.

The ECMQG does a block lottery each month.  Everyone who contributes a block also contributes a dollar, and one (or sometimes two or three) lucky winners take home enough blocks to make a quilt.  This month we are doing a 12-1/2 inch carpenters square (swoon) block.  These blocks are 1/4 the size of Camille Roskelly's Swoon pattern, but they still have a big impact.

We're also doing a wonky star charity quilt made from Moda's Sphere fabric by Zen Chic.  This is the block I made. Can't wait to see the quilt when it's finished.

Last of all, I'm working on a quilt for my friend Leona.  Once I got the blocks for the Block of the Month nearly done, she decided she really didn't want the quilt after all, as it held difficult memories for her.  I've been feeling guilty for almost a year, so when she said she wanted this Lazy Sunday (pattern by Lee Chappel) quilt out of AMH fabric (Dowry and True Colors), I jumped at the chance to make it for her.  I've got the blocks done (all 112 of them!), and now just have to put the top together.  I think this quilt is going to be fabulous - all those rich colors will just take your breath away, I think.

So, that's what's been going on in the sewing room this week.  What fun things have you been working on?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sewing Room Makeover - Again... The Big Reveal

Last summer, at my wonderful husband's suggestion, I moved my sewing space from the breakfast nook, where it had been for more than 20 years, to one of our now-empty bedrooms.  At the time, I thought I knew what I wanted by way of organization.

Now that several months have passed, I can tell you that it just wasn't working. I had stuff hidden behind stuff and fabric in bins that were buried under other things that I just couldn't get to.  I had piles on my piles, so to speak.

It all started when I was at Target last week and they had these ClosetMaid Cubeicals on clearance.  I've been stalking them since I bought the first ones last July, and I never saw them go on sale.  But at 30% off for the organizers and the baskets, I decided to go ahead and get them.

So put together the Cubeicals and tore the room apart.

Naturally the mess kind of exploded into the hall.

I moved most of the storage along one wall.  (All by myself in fact, because the husband wasn't home.)

By the end of the next day, I had made a lot of progress.  It was still a mess, but I could see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

One of my problems is that I tend to use and re-use only the fabrics I can see.  Unless I'm looking for something very specific, I will make do with what is readily at hand.  This was all the fabric that was sitting on the top of my sewing table.

I purchased comic book cards months ago, when I first started my sewing room project, so I folded all that fabric onto cards and added it by color on the shelves.

I had also purchased a giant box of destash fabric from IG, amongst which was this treasure trove of 2-1/2" squares  Sadly, even though it was obvious that they had been mostly sorted by color, they had gotten all mixed up in shipping.  So, I took a couple of hours and sorted them...

and they fit perfectly into this perfectly sized box that my friend had given me months ago that was just sitting empty.  I guess it was waiting for these squares, because it is amazingly ideal for this purpose.

So now it is much better.  This room is very small - only 12' x 12' - but having most of the storage along the one wall makes a huge difference.  Best of all, I can now see what I have.

There's lots of thread.  And I didn't move the computer screen, although I may have the husband do that next time he's home for any length of time.

The other side of the room still looks messy, but it is a vast improvement over the way it was before.  And next time I am at Home Depot or somewhere, I'm going to get some shelves for that wall which are slightly larger.  I think that will make a big difference.

I had to cut the design wall down by about 6" to make the whole thing work, but it seems a small price to pay.  And it makes a great display place for random blocks and other miscellaneous items when I don't have a quilt up there.

And I still have most of my minis on the wall, although I have a few more to hang.

All in all, it's a pretty pleasant space.  Hopefully, the new arrangement will be a lot more functional too. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Five Easy Pieces - Part V

At the March ECMQG meeting, the lovely Diane taught a class on improv curved piecing.  I hadn't given much thought to this technique before, so I grabbed a stack of FQ's and headed out the door to the meeting. 

Diane's creations are truly awe-inspiring.  I love the way she just takes ordinary fabric and makes such amazing things.  Be sure to check out her blog.

Me?  Not so much. 

I thought about cutting the blocks in quarters and trying to do something with them that way.

But in the end, this is what I ended up with.  Five big blobs in a bigger gray blob.

And I hated it.

So, in the end, I took it all apart.  I left one third of it alone. I cut part of it into a row of small, narrow blocks, kind of like a ladder and fit it in the center.  Then I cut one of the blocks apart and put it at either end of the larger block.

I still don't think this will ever be my favorite quilt, but it's better.  And I learned a few things about curved piecing.  I might try this technique again, but not with these colors and probably not with curves in both directions.

But, when it's quilted, it will still be bright and cheerful.  It will still keep someone warm.  Those are good things I think.