Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Obviously, reflect on the holiday. Enjoy the beginning of summer and whatever it is you have planned for today. I hope everyone is having wonderful weather, and a relaxed day. Tomorrow it's back to work :-(.

So far it's been a great day. Spent the morning making the fruit salad and deviled eggs for the picnic at the BILs later this afternoon. The hubs went out to pick up the corn. I don't think he was gone long enough to shuck it, so we'll put the niece on that when we arrive. Yesterday I made the potato salad, so all that's left now is to get myself ready and get out of here. It is going to be quite the feast this afternoon (crabs, ribs, burgers, dogs, tenderloin....yes, my BIL is crazy).

Managed to qulit another row of blocks on Neptune this morning after I was done with my chores. It always helps to spend even a small bit of time on something creative. I was hoping to have finished it so I could sit on the deck today and sew binding, but alas, not in the cards.

Tomorrow's my birthday, so check back for the birthday giveaway. For a moment there, I was thinking of offering up the hubs, particularly when he asks me this morning what I want for my birthday tomorrow (and he happens to be playing softball tomorrow night). But he does have some redeeming qualities, so I think I'll keep him around a bit longer and giveaway something that won't cost quite so much to ship.

See 'ya tomorrow!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Billy The Exterminator

So sue me, I've only quilted one row across Neptune. I went into the studio and turned on the tv. Lord knows how it was on Channel 50 (A&E), but it was. A wicked twist of fate. And they are apparently running a 'Billy the Exterminator' marathon today. That was at 4:00. It's 8:45 and I'm sitting downstairs in front of the 60", Dirty Martini (2 olives, fat), breeze from the ceiling fan, feet on the coffee table quilt....hooked. And unconcerned about finishing Neptune in May

If you've never seen it, I recommend you watch a couple episodes.

Sometimes I am so hopeless. Oh wait, your glass empty? Another? Please. Shaken, not stirred, and Brian (my fantasy womanservant), let's spring for 3 olives this time, okay?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Does This Orchid Look Like It's Dancing? (Wait...How Much Did I Have To Drink Last Night?)

Yesterday, I popped into Trader Joe's to pick up dessert to take to dinner and also picked up this orchid I could not live without. I justified it's purchase on the fact that I haven't purchased any fresh flowers for the studio for 2 weeks, so if I hold off one more week, the cost of the plant equals what I would have spent on flowers. Makes perfect sense, no?

Besides, there are only two other orchids in flower in the house, and they aren't going to last much longer. This one is in the family room.

And this one is on it's last few flowers in the studio. I love orchids. Go figure, I'm not really a plant person (my garden will scream that to you...hey, why am I not out there working in it?...maybe because when I got up and let the dogs out at 5:30 this morning there were three young does out in the middle of it weeding for me....okay, well their idea of weeding was eating the real plants, but we won't quibble. Anyway, it's probably tick-fest out there today, so we'll play inside.)

Against everything I told myself...I do not need any more fabric, regardless of the email my LQS sent about the Wall Street Journal saying the price of cotton went way up this week, so we'll see that reflected soon in the cost of fabric and batting, and gee, they are having a 20% off sale, so we really should consider stocking up...Anyway, I went there. Bought some Kaffee Fassett backing and possibly border fabric to use with my jelly roll.

And if that wasn't enough, I had to do a little merchandising in Kohls and had some Kohls cash to spend, so after buying 4 bath towels, I had some leftover to use on these kitchen towels. 

I'm going to trim them out with patchwork borders. Some people make those flimsy, scratchy, need-to-be-ironed dishtowels and attach  preprinted panel borders to dress them up for holidays. Pretty, but I'm a terrycloth (absorbant) kitchen towel kind of gal. I want a towel that dries, not one that just smears the water around. Not to mention that ironing a towel is so far from even being on a list of things I would's bad enough I only iron clothes 3 times a year when it takes 2 grown men to carry the ironing basket from my closet, where it has been filling up with clothes for months, to an ironing board set up in front of a TV queued up to play 4 DVDs to make the punishment a little easier to get through.

Whenever the hubs gets a  new shirt, as he takes it off and tosses it in the hamper, he bids it a fond farewell, and goes on about how he'll never see it again until next year, and how nice it's been wearing it two times, and say hello to the madras Polo shorts if they meet up in the ironing basket--tell them not to give up, someday they'll make it to the golf course again....after hearing that enough times, being a sympathetic, caring wife, I take his shirts to the dry cleaner (as for the madras shorts, what can I say but buy shorts that don't need to be ironed).

At some point I'll figure out a little design for these towels and you too can dress up some towels for your own kitchen.

Last, but not least, I was excited earlier this week when the 28wt. cotton Aurifil thread I ordered from Sue's Sew EZ Designs arrived. She was practically giving it away ($4.50 a spool), and I ordered it on Sunday and it arrived Tuesday. I can't wait to use it on something, but I've got to make something first.

This summer, quilting is all about me. While I will make a table quilt for my daughter, everything else  I work on is going to be my own projects. Yesterday I had two requests for my services, and I invoked something very new to me...'just say no'. And I survived. Today I'm hoping to finish the freemotion and binding on Neptune and get started on Kiwi Jubilee. I do have 2 or 3 pillowcases I need to make before the last Guild meeting next week, but I'll squeeze them in after Neptune.

Next week is my birthday giveaway, more scissor bling coming your way. Be sure to check back. Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cheat Binding (faux binding) Tutorial

Well, hooray for me. I finished up the second of my Quilts for Kids quilts, so the hubs can UPS them back to QFK for me. With 2 quilts for me, waiting in the wings, I've made splendid progress on Neptune and expect to have it totally done before the end of the month (and if I'm extremely productive, I'll have the batik French braid one done as well).

Anyway, since many of us make charity quilts, or flannel baby quilts and don't really want to mess with binding, as these quilts are meant to be loved and laundered, and dragged through the dirt, the best way to bind one of these is to use a 'self binding', or what I like to call a 'cheat binding'. Or more properly....'faux binding'.

After you've quilted your top, trim all around the outside edge of the sandwich.
Flip your quilt over (front side down) and fold back the quilt don't want to cut this accidently, so best to fold it back as far as you can.

Think about how wide you want your quilt binding to be. I wanted my binding on this quilt to measure 3/4". So once you've figured that out, double that measurement and cut that much off of your quilt front and the batting. (Note, I'm cutting 1-1/2" off of mine.)

Cut carefully.

And be sure to separate the fabric from the batting. You can toss the batting out unless you are a hoarder or have some amazing project that uses batting strips, but keep the fabric because you never know when you're going to want to make a string quilt (I toss all my strips in a plastic storage bin for that day, which I am sure will eventually come to pass).

Now would be a good time to heat up the iron. (I love my little ironing board that Pat's husband made, and the cute little cover my sister got for it at Tarj-eh. Fits right on top of my cutting table for a quick press.)
Flip your quilt back over, face up and fold down the edge of the remaining backing to meet the edge of the quilt top. Press. (Or, if you're lazy, use your fingernail, or your teeth, or just don't--it's up to you.) Do opposite sides (note the corner at the top right) and then do top and bottom.

Now, fold it over one more time. This is the real binding you are going to see, so you might want to actually use an iron this time and save your teeth. You won't need pin or clip this if you're pressed it properly.

Take it to your machine and use your walking foot to sew it down. You can use the stitch plate seam markings, or line it up with your foot.....whatever works for you, just sew a straight seam, no more than 1/4" from the edge of the binding.

Again, you are going to want to sew the sides first, then top and bottom (or vice versa). When you get to a corner it will help if you fold the edge diagonally to the inside before you proceed down the next length of fabric.

Surprise....  Surprise......Surprise......

Houston....we've got binding! And it took less than an hour, used no additional fabric, and it's straight!

Now this isn't something you are going to want to use on your good quilts, but it's great for table runners, table quilts, charity quilts, etc. Save time and money, and most importantly....frustration.

I hate to tute and run, but there is a bottle of champagne and a dinner I didn't cook, calling my name and I'm already 5 minutes late and need to be on my way. Happy binding!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Entry In The Bloggers Quilt Festival

This is my first convergence quilt. I've been enamored with Ricky Tims' theory of convergency since I first heard of it. I ordered the book, and while I awaited it's arrival I cut up a bunch of colored Post-It Notes and spent an hour arranging them on an hour-long car trip to Web Fabrics one afternoon. Not quite the result I had hoped for, I decided to give it another shot, which resulted in this:

Wall art for the studio, and another not-quite what Ricky meant by 'convergence'.

Anyway, I read my book, and I took a class at my LQS. The ladies in the shop were very patient with me, steering me to color choices that would work rather than meld together (my next convergence piece will be high contrast, trust me). The teacher was great, and I was very happy with the result.

So much so that I stepped outside my free-motion comfort zone and did a little outlining of a leaf print I used, and

then I went a little crazy and just started making up little leaf patterns of my own.

So, all in all, this wall quilt is one that I'm going to remember as one of my better lesson learned pieces. I picked up a little information about color, I was taught about careful cutting and piecing, and I realized that I could do way more than meander and spiral my quilts and they'd look okay.

I enjoyed meeting Ricky in Houston last fall, and I came home with his next lesson...the kool kaleidoscope. Who knows, maybe I'll get over the familiar trepidation with starting something unfamiliar and I'll be able show you my kaleidoscope next Bloggers Quilt Festival.

For now please use the Festival link in my sidebar on the left to jump to Amy's Creative Side for a list of all of the quilters participating. Lots of beautiful work and fun blog entries. Visiting all the participants will keep you amused for months. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Scissor Bling Tutorial

Alrighty then. You've asked, and I'm delivering. Yesterday I made a dozen plus seven scissor leashes. Some will be used for future giveaways, some will be sold in my Etsy shop. But for now, let me show you how easy it is to make your own....

First off, you've got to go to Michaels (or AC Moore or JoAnn) and spend about $25 (if you buy everything on sale) for supplies. You are going to need crystal beads, charms, cell phone straps, eyepins and other beads.

You should also have these two tools. One is a wire cutter, the other small round nose jewelers pliers. You can buy both of these at your local craft shop if you don't already have them. You can get away with not having the wire cutters and use scissors, but DO NOT use your sewing scissors that you'll be blinging out. And you can also use needlenose pliers or flat head tweezers, but having the jewelers pliers will make your work much easier.

Using your pliers, gently open the loop at the end of the eyepin.

Slip on a charm

And gently close the loop, once the charm is on, using your pliers.

I'm a mass production kind of gal, so I like to do all of one step at a time, so I hooked up all of my charms before I moved on to the blinging.

I like to start with a small bead at the bottom. I've then strung a crystal and another small bead....

Then I added a focal point bead and followed that up with a repeat of what I had strung on the eyepin to start. Notice there's a big old piece of wire left art the top. The next thing you are going to do is turn this into a loop, so unless you want a huge loop, this is the time to cut off a smidge of that extra wire.

Making a loop is easy, just clamp on to the tip of the wire with your pliers and wrap it into a circle. Again, this isn't industrial wire, so be gentle, or you'll find yourself breaking that wire you grabbed off and you'll need to start over (not to worry, there's lots of eyepins in a package).

Now we need our 'leash'. These are cell phone straps found in the jewelry findings aisle at Michaels. I couldn't find them at JoAnn, so stick to a craft store or bead outlet when looking for these.

Use your pliers to open the ring at the end of the leash just enough to slip over the loop of the eyepin you just made. Notice that I open my loop by just pulling one end of the loop to the front. I didn't pull the ends apart, I just sort of pushed one side back and one side forward. Doing this makes it easier to close.

Because then all you have to do is give it a gentle squeeze to align the the ring. If you pull apart the ring, you need a flat plier to squeeze the two ends touching together, and you'll likely squeeze your ring out of it's circular shape. This way, your ring stays circular.

Wah-lah! You've now got scissor bling.

Loop the leash around your scissor

Give it a little tug to pull it taut and secure

 And now your scissors are definitely identifiable as your own, no matter where they go. (And I like to think they stay sharp longer and cut effortlessly because they are oh so proud and happy to be blinged out :-) )

Oh, and don't forget to bling out your rotary cutters as well. Heck, bling out your plastic rulers. We wouldn't want any of our tools to feel left out now, would we?

Go make bling, and check back later tonight or tomorrow for my Bloggers Quilt Festival entry.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And the Giveaway Winners Are....

Drum roll please...oh wait...let's channel Ryan Seacrest....dim the lights, please....

Pincushion Winners:
Cupcake Cutie (4)
Happy Cottage Quilter (14)
Helena (Thumbelina Dreams) (107)....I NEED YOU TO CONTACT ME WITH YOUR ADDRESS

Scissor Bling Winners:
Stephanie (126)
Willow and Moo (40)
KT Quilts (82)

Sorry you couldn't all be winners, but we'll be having another giveaway on June 1st, so stay tuned.

The random number generator used was my daughter, and her friend, phoned while they were enjoying Happy Hour (fortunately they were sitting at an outside table, so it was quiet).

Have a good evening. I've got to email the 5 winners who had contact info in their entries or on their blogs.

Last Chance for Giveaway Day

I'll be drawing the winners around 7 p.m. EST (US) tonight, so be sure to get post your comment on the PREVIOUS  post  to be entered for a chance to win.

I've avoided posting the past couple days in order to keep the giveaway post at the top of the page, not that I've been lazy or shirking my responsibility...far from that. The house is clean, the scent of peonies (which you will find on every flat surface throughout the house) is fighting for control with the last lingering Middle Eastern aromas from Tuesday nights' Curried Carrot and Apple Soup -- which, by the way, was de-lish...I had phoned the hubs at work and asked him to bring home a couple apples and why, to which he immediately went ' one wants apple in their soup'--of course he lapped it up like a kitten would a warm bowl of milk

Anyhow, busy day today...all sorts of work to do (in case 'the wrench' is reading ;-) ), a little retail responsibility (Yankee Candle and Macys exchnges),  replying to some of your comments, and drawing giveaway winners. I'm thinking the winners would love me to go to the Post Office tomorrow, so if we can stay on task today and tomorrow we are on our way to having a fabulous guilt-free weekend chock full of all things sewing. Woo hoo! (the hubs is in a softball tournament, so we've been socially disabled since when they play depends on when they win--can't very well accept an invitation or invite guests for dinner and then he doesn't show up until ten.).

While I'm out today I'm going to see if I can wrestle up some scissor leash supplies and if so, I'll post a tutorial on how to make your own, and in so doing, we'll have some extras to give away next month (June 1st) to those of you who didn't win today.

Have a great day, and good luck to everyone in the Blogger Giveaway drawings tonight!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Good Giveaway Morning To You!

Well, it's Monday, and you know what that to work. But, on the bright side, it's Bloggers Giveaway Day, so throughout the world, there won't be much legitimate work being done today (though there will be lot's of bosses thinking we are all so industrious glued to our monitors, fingers flying across the keyboards (grin).

Since I am the not the luckiest person I have decided to offer 7 (count 'em SEVEN) separate giveaways. After all, 7 is supposed to be a lucky number, and I am going to Vegas in a few months, (and will be buying lottery tickets this week) so maybe this '7' thing will align my chakras, bestow some karma, change my luck. We shall see.

You might recall the pincushions I made a while back. A celebration of my newfound love for batiks combined with my love for shopping:

3 of you will take home these cute little pincushions. They're 5" tall by 2.5" wide. A little smaller than a coffee cup, they'll hold lots of pins, and under the flap is a square of felt to hold your needles.

Yesterday I dropped a hint by showing you my scissor collection. Yep, I'm offering scissor bling...

I'm  giving away 4 one-of-a-kind scissor fobs/scissor leashes, freshly made yesterday, to four of you who need to keep track of your scissors at classes, or who just like to bling out their tools.

Doesn't matter whether you live in Tallahassee or Tasmania, you can be a winner. Just leave me a comment and be sure to check back on Thursday evening when I'll announce the winners, who will be chosen in a random draw of all who comment. Be sure your comment links to your blog, or includes your email address.

Check out my past posts, sometimes I actually succeed in entertaining my readers with my acerbic wit (or so I've been told...actually, chastised for when I become boring and just talk shop). By all means, feel free to critique. If you've got speakers, turn them on and enjoy the tunes. And do check back because I've decided that it's fun to share, so I'll be running monthly giveaways. Obviously not sewing machines or AccuQuilt Gos, but fun little things I've picked up in my travels, and crafty swag I've made.

Good luck in all of the giveaways, if this is your first stop, click on the Giveaway Day link at the left to hop over to SewMamaSews for the links to all the bloggers participatiing. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How the Weekend's Been Treating Me

On Friday I found out there as a Bernina Guide class scheduled for dead center Saturday afternoon, so as you are all aware, while I would have much rather worked in my garden......I decided I couldn't miss this class, particularly since it's been cancelled the last couple times I'd been signed up for it.  This was the BSR class, and I've only been using mine for 6 months now, so I thought I REALLY needed to go. So, while it broke my heart to walk away from the gardening, I made the sacrifice for the class.

I'm glad I did. I keep forgetting that when you take a class at your Bernina dealer, they let you play with their feet. (Kinky, no?) I've got a list of feet that I'm thinking might work for couching, which is something I aspire to, so the instructor sent me and my list downstairs to the 'Wall o'Feet' to bring some back for a test drive. Now, if you're a dealer, and you don't do this....shame on you!. I left with both of the feet I tried out. Playing with them in class and seeing what they would do, I decided that I couldn't live with just one...I had to have them both! Great marketing strategy. I also placed an order for a bobbin case that I could use for thicker threads (Ricky Tim's Razzle Dazzle), in my upcoming education in 'thread play'.

Need I mention that I also left with the brochure about the new Janome Embellisher? But they also told me that Baby Lock now makes a 12-needle embellisher, so I'm thinking that this may wind up on my birthday wish list (which would be highly unlikely to expect as the birthday is in  2 weeks, and the hubs is convinced that I have become a hoarder of sewing paraphernalia (have I???)

Have you been entertained by the totally out of control garden photos? Hopefully, if you've been giving short shrift to your own yardwork, this will inspire you. Hoe down, before it's too late.
But, on the upside, had I weeded, I might have mistaken this hot mess for some random weed and yanked it. Rather than recognize it for what it appears to be...

WILD STRAWBERRY!!!!! Now, how that got there, I have no idea. Either the deer had the foresight to plant it to feed themselves through the summer, or they make red mulch from stawberries. Got me.

In anticpation of tomorrow's giveaway, and in helping to determine whether I am a sewing hoarder, I leave you with my scissor collection....

And now I've got to run as the grandpup was just tossed in on a drive-by, the hubs was dragged out to our daughter's boyfriend's basketball game, and I've been left to feed 3 rowdy, hungry pups, who are not happy as I had started to fill their bowls and left them out of reach on the counter. On top of that I've been recruited to barbecue chicken on the grill thatt the hubs has been planning and marinating all afternoon. (Sigh). At least he left me his margarita (and the cookbook open to trhe explicit instructions) (Phew!).

Check back later tonight for the giveway details.