Friday, April 30, 2010

2nd OPAM Finish for the Month - Woo Hoo!

Can you believe it? The baby shower quilt is finished, and it's only 10 p.m. the night before. It's certainly large, but it will be good to throw down in the backyard, or on the floor.

A sassy little label completes the project:

Mom wouldn't divulge the sex, not even to her own mother until a month or so ago (she knows now, but the rest of us don't, though we will find out at the shower tomorrow....I'm guessing boy).

Since it's 10 p.m., I don't think I can complete anything else for April, so I'll be happy with the two finishes I did get and look ahead to May.

Maybe we'll spend the rest of the evening nursing a martini and gussying up that thread stand. Where's my monkey?

Oh, there you you want to touch my monkey?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's Here

The first couple of times it's little legs popped out and then back in when I touched the handle made me jump--iron possessed. I just wasn't expecting this little robotic noise. But after I got used to it, I could focus on it's ironing capability, which was pretty good. It's fun having a new toy, especially after a somewhat mediocre day at one job and somewhat pissy day at the other.

I knew this baby was being delivered today, so I reminded the hubs to check the front 'porch' when he came home, since I'd be late. When I got home and asked after it he mumbled that he hadn't seen an iron, from behind the paper he was reading. I set my stuff down, and even before pouring a glass of wine (I was on a serious mission here), I'm heading into the office to go retrieve the tracking number. He sprints in ahead of me,  throws himself into the chair in front of the laptop and says 'go upstairs and use your own computer'. He needs to make a baseball trade or something silly and can't wait 30 seconds for me to do what I need to do.

Exasperated, I head upstairs and there's the box on my chair in the studio. Ha ha ha! He's such a tool. Unfortunately, I wasn't exactly in the right frame of mind to appreciate it, but then again, I didn't bite his head off.

Not in the mood to sew tonight, I'm almost done with the baby quilt that I need for the shower on Saturday. I'll be hard at work on that tomorrow night and Friday night. I don't want to be sewing the binding on Saturday morning (like that hasn't happened before), because I'd like to count this as an April OPAM finish.

Spiraling out of control....par for the course for me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guild Quilt Show Over, Back to Normal

Spent the day (and more money at the show). Came home with a second round of Superior thread, including Ricky Timm's Razzle for couching. Got some dog fabric to make the dogs a, before you ask 'is she out of her mind', let me tell you that we've got a sofa in our living room (aka my future long-arm studio) that not even the Salvation Army would take. Not quite standard slipcover shape, the one I bought split, not to mention it's a huge ironing project when it's washed, so it's been sitting in a ball in the guestroom closet since it's last launder. For now I've strategically placed a decorative pillow on top of the cushion with the huge dog nail slash down the center of it. It's time to start looking for it's replacement, and a snazzy little dog quilt will be way better than Scotchguard.

How about this:

Brown and red indigo (what's up; with red and brown indigo, isn't indigo blue?)

But, it's actual South African indigo from deGama

I won a ribbon for my challenge quilt:

ha ha ha!

They put ribbons on all the quilts that participated. I feel like a winner because it wasn't a 'great effort' ribbon. Slight disappointment though, on getting my award-winning quilt home, I find that it's too big to use on top of the dryer, Somewhere there's a table screaming for this quilt. Maybe we'll find it--in Latvia, or Warsaw.

I think I found a great pattern for my indigo collection, so I picked it up. And I also picked up a couple of McKenna Ryan projects...Harmony and Peace.Someday I'll get to them. They're very Zen, so I'll need to be in the mood.

Almost in the mood now, from the looks of the sewing table, but I've got to finish up the baby quilt. Roses courtesy of my friend Anna, champagne left over from our dinner last night.

Now I've got to figure out where to hang a couple quilty watercolors I couldn't resist--running out of studio wall space for the moment. Then I need to finish pinning the baby quilt, and I'm thinking about taking a little creative (paint) license to my new (ugly) thread stand.

Okay, industrial strength...yes. Overkill...totally. Ugly....without a doubt. But it only cost $12, as opposed to the really cute sculptural one with the leaves that sells for $40. We'll just have to see if we can make it a little more presentable.

Watch this space to see if it becomes a work of art.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ya-ay Seth Aaron!

Congratulations on your Project Runway win. I knew you would do it. And thanks for being my studio entertainment on Thursday nights (though I have to admit, I probably watched more than I sewed).

Like tonight....

Yesterday I was in one of my rare 'girly' moods, so while at the 'Gangs-R-Us' mall, I popped into Trade Secret and picked up a few of my favorite nail lacquers, including this lovely teal blue, some overpriced shampoo and conditioner (like it's actually going to change the texture of my hair), and some protectant for the flat iron, which I actually use when I've got free time. I've got some really old hair product under my sink that really should be tossed . You know, the kind you dig out and put on your freshly washed hair and find that it suddenly smells like your bare feet that came out of the cruddy old tennis shoes you wear to garden, at the end of a day out working in the yard.

Or you use the styling product and spend 30 minutes with the ion blow dryer, and then not quite satisfied, you spend another 30 minutes going over it with the flat iron, and by the time you wake up the next morning, your hair looks like it hasn't been washed in a month, it's greasy, and stringy and limp.

Old product is bad product, and using it is a huge waste of time that could be better spent painting your toenails fire engine red while sipping a glass of Merlot.Ah, but it is hard to give them up, especially since most of them were bought at the salon.. As if spending that extra $100 on the product the stylist used is actually going to give you the same look tomorrow morning. You'd be better off asking the stylist to swing by on their way to work and giving them $25 to stop by once a week for a month (it's a lot more than the commission they made off of suckering you into buying that product to begin with). Face it, you will never look like you did when you got out of that chair, on your own. Not happening. And if there was product that did this, we'd all know about it, and it would cost a lot of money and we'd all own it (and we would all look fabulous).

I think the girly thing is going to be around for at least another week because SephoraInJCPenney (not just Sephora, mind you, SephoraInJCPenney) has their grand opening next Friday. Free cosmetic bags full of samples for the first 750 'beauties' to show up at the opening. Now, for a fleeting moment I thought about going into work late that morning so I could swing by for mine, and then I remembered that a couple of years ago there was some kind of forced legal settlement involving some overpriced cosmetics and if you bought a Clarins or Estee Lauder or Lancome cosmetic in a department store in the previous five years, you could get a freebie on this particular day.

When I got to our mall after work, the line inside of Macys was UN-believable. Out of say 300 people in the line that wrapped around the store, I'd have to say that 250 of them were Hispanic gentlemen that did not speak English. The other 40 were their mothers and grandmothers, who probably have never worn makeup in their lives, and 10 were actual women who looked like they had actually bought Lancome or Clarins or something at Macys.

By the time I made it to the table and signed the paper releasing them from all responsibility for fixing prices in the past, and swearing that I would not follow the 240 people in line in front of me over to Lord and Taylor to obtain another freebie using a different name, all they had to hand out were sample sizes of products that I suspect one could have just walked up to the cosmetic counter the next day and asked for. I wound up with some little tube of fake(oh, sorry....faux) tan cream that would cover one of my legs from the knee down, which I'm saving for some Halloween that I might decide to dress up as the office brown nose.

I could never figure out what was up with that. Were all these men standing in line for their wives? Or were they working for some Central American cosmetics cartel to get freebies that could be shipped out of the US and resold by street vendors in El Salvador? Kind of like the people the ticket scalpers pay to stand in line for Springsteen tickets.

So I'll skip the SephoraInJCPenney opening. I'll swing by next time I've got a merchandising job in Penneys. I could use a new eyeliner to accentuate the new long lashes (thank you Latisse).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Yellow Brick Roadblock

We press.
We carefully measure and cut.
We count

We stitch perfect quarter inch seams.
And once again, in the end, we wind up with too few of some strips and too many of one strip set. I've made this super fast quilt three times now, and managed to do this twice. In fact the last time I named the quilt 'Detour on the Yellow Brick Road'.

Of course, it can always be salvaged, it's just not exactly like the pattern, it's got a 'special' block that isn't in the pattern.  Can you tell which one it is?

Not the best lighting in the studio tonight, but you get the idea....I've actually been working for the past two nights on the baby shower quilt.

And what have I learned? Do not use obvious stripes and plaids in a quilt unless you are going to take the same care cutting and lining them up as you would in garment construction. Fortunately this is for a baby and he/she won't notice.

All that's left are borders and backing (no batting in a flannel baby quilt) and a quick machine's small enough that I shoiuld have this done by the weekend (ha ha ha) ... okay, in time for the baby shower on May 1st.

While I would have loved to provide you a witty post tonight, it's almost one a.m. and I seriously need to go to bed. These 2:30 a.m. bedtimes on worknights make for cranky, unfocused afternoons at the office. G'night!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Weekend of Organization

While there's nothing more I'd like than to explain my week's absence as unavoidable due to my collecting my Powerball winnings, the truth is that I somehow found myself with a one-way ticket to organizational land and was comped for the weekend.

In trying to move some project fabric from the closet cubbies to make room for the sandwiches waiting to be quilted, I hopped on the OCD fabric-folding bus and patiently refolded a lot of the fabrics in my cutting table cubbies to make room for the new.

It almost looks like I pasted pictures on the cubby fronts. There was some serious stacking going on this afternoon. Second row, center cubby is my 1930s repro collection. There are 38 fat quarters in that space. Next to the indigos on the top row are 10 yards of Sew Batik fabric. It was a precision folding day that Martha would have been proud of (actually, I'm pretty sure Martha would have been jealous).

The sewing armoire is looking pretty empty. Do you think it suspects that it might be on it's way out of the studio? It's such a hard decision to make. It's not white, but on the other hand, it's a darn nice piece (well, 2 pieces) of oak furniture with an electric sewing machine lift in the bottom cabinet with a fold out table. I just don't have the heart to paint it white. It's akin to spray painting a '57 Chevy--sacrilege.

What happened to the threads that were on the armoire doors? Hey, where are the 6 plastic thread boxes that were on the shelf? Well, this is how I spent my Saturday.....building them a modern, new home....

These are modular scrapbook storage cubes from Michaels. They were on sale last week, so each 3-drawer cube cost a painless $15. Two stacked cubes are desk-height and at some point (when the armoire moves on) I will use one of my white desktops across them. For now, they are prefect to set my little portable ironing board on top of (photo of that next week when my new Oliso iron arrives).

The drawers hold a lot of thread. They're about 14" square. You can fit about 8 rows of 12 spools in each drawer. That's a lot of thread. This morning was spent obsessing over the drawer labeling. 3 drawers of cotton, 3 drawers of poly sewing thread, 3 drawers of embroidery thread and 3 drawers of miscellaneous - hand embroidery/couching cord/embellishments (rick rack).

Won a great auction on eBay.....the 60mm rotary cutter and 10 replacement blades. $18 for the lot. I shall now become a cutting fool.

And since we were in Michaels, why not buy a new home for the rotary family as well?
There are 7 cutters in that box (in 4 different sizes) and a lot of replacement blades. (And if you look very closely, on the left you might see a stack of Bandaids -- hey, nobody's perfect.)  It looks pretty on the cutting table. And who doesn't like a magnetic flap box?

It's aIways fun to clean things up when you find little unexpected surprises. Like these two packs of seam binding that came out of my extensive stock of bindings and tapes. Can you say vintage? I didn't even know they were in there. Those, along with a boatload of thread were part of the armoire inheritance. It came to me chock full of lots of neat stuff. These will most likely find their way into a shadowbox and become studio wall art.

Check midweek. Hopefully, now that I'm all organized I'll be able to get some sewing done. I would have today, but my daughter came by with the grandpup and we all spent the day in the studio, the grandpup napping, me folding fabric, she cutting little Cricut shapes for me so she could take her Cricut (which I have been holding hostage for a year, in order to do just that) home with her.

Have a fabulous week!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday's Results


A relaxing Saturday evening in the studio. No pressure.

Tonight's goal....sandwich this, the two QFKs and finish the bottle of wine. Sounds like a plan.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

About Last Night and Onward and Upward Into Saturday

So last night, after setting aside the Diet Coke in favor of a far more civilized dirty martini, I popped the CD that came with my sewing machine into the laptop and started the tour. Not bad. I learned that my Aurora will actually sew on a button (we shall not fail to note how lucky it was that the clothing I was wearing at the time was devoid of buttons), there's a stitch that looks exactly like a hand-sewn blanket stitch, which I frequently HAND SEW on wonky little applique projects, like the woolfelt Easter Eggs that have now been packed back up for next year--not a single egg completed this year), and --star of the car-- when using a walking foot you should move your needle all the way to the right and line the inner edge of the right toe along the seam line for perfectly placed stitch in the ditch. (Who knew!).

Absolutely perfectly aligned, and barely even visible. How have I not known this for the almost 2 years I've been a quilter?

A learning experience and I'm only half-way through the CD. Haven't gotten to the embroidery or accessory sections yet. It was also chock full of various fun projects, with pdf patterns to print out. Good thing I was bored. I never watch the CDs that come with printers/computers/cameras. Wonder what all I've missed over the years just assuming (a definite case for 'make an ass out of u and me') they'd be a waste of time.

Onward to today's ambitious project:

The poor kitchen table is in serious need of a table quilt. So Vera's Garden came out of the cubbies in the closet for today's self-entertainment challenge. Wracked the brain with a tape measure on the round table trying to figure out what size square quilt to make (have I mentioned that I don't do math?). The hubs stepped in to assist, but he just wasn't getting through the calculations fast enough for me, so I whipped the coffee table quilt off the coffee table and tossed it over the kitchen table. We then proceeded to fold it up a bit here and a bit there to figure out what would be a good size and then measured that. I decided to settle on a 40" square (it's a 40" round that a big 'DUH' or what?)

Next I need to peruse some books for some type of pattern or combination of patterns that suits my fancy, that I can adapt in some way to create said 40" square table quilt. Nothing too simple, nothing too common, something that will work with Vera's Garden prints, which are kind of busy and kind of large.

Once I've settled on something I need to start figuring out how to cut the fabric, not to mention checking to see that I have enough. Draw, add, redraw, add, subtract. My head is spinning. Of course, once I settle on how to adapt the pattern to work for 40",  the original idea for a center medallion matching the borders quickly fizzles as I realize that I don't have quite enough fabric to do that without having to do some serious piecing together of the borders....which is something I do not want to do. So now I need a change of plan for the center medallion.

Maybe I can cobble together some HSTs and squares from what's left from the border cutting, add in a solid color fabric that I happen to have on hand that just about match one of the colors in the prints and make a center star. Or maybe I can see what kind of fabric I have left over after making the bricks I'm going to use that outline the center square and make a 9-, 12- or 16-patch center and not use the solid fabric. Sigh....what to do.

Okay, Susan get a's a table quilt. You're going to use it to hide a scuffy wood kitchen table. You'll most likely put hot dishes on it, drop food on it, basically use it as a huge placemat. WhatEVer! Just do SOMETHING! It's not going to hang in Houston, you aren't going to take it to show and tell at the guild meeting, this is utility, not art. Put on that old pioneer girl bonnet and get this show on the road.

And most importantly, remember your mantra......


(Make it work!)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Heading Into the Weekend

Life is good. I rummaged through the FQ cubbies and came up with fabric to add a second Quilt for Kids to the Downy project.

That's my fabric on the left, Downy's on the right.

Now the big news......I DID OUR TAXES. Signed, sealed and delivered. Done, finished, over. Yippee! No more procrastinating. Whatever will I do? We've closed on the refi, the house is clean (except for washing a couple of floors), my Bernina Guide class for tomorrow was cancelled...O-M-G....I've got a totally free weekend on my hands, with absolutely no plans.

The hubs went out to play poker. My plan was an impromptu call to a couple neighbors to pop over for a glass (bottle) of wine, but the first one I called is in NC for a wedding, so that tanked. So here I sit, alone on a Friday night.

I've weighed my options.....

Drive up to Milestone and pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir and duck into Borders to see if they've got an Australian or New Zealand quilt magazine, then cozy up for an evening of reading. Tempting.

Drive over to Lakeforest Mall for Macy's shoe sale. Had my eye on some cute wedges and the Ed Hardy slip-on low tops (mine have seen better days). But it'll be dark soon and the mall in Gaithersburg is also known as 'Gangs-R-Us'. An errand best left for the daylight hours. Actually, an errand best left for a nicer mall where 90% of the stores aren't random gift shops with names like Dragon Cave, Dollar Ocean, Himalaya Gift Shop, selling paintings that make waterfall sounds, Buddhas... Or the random teen clothing stores (definitely not national chains) with their store names spray painted on plywood hung over their doors. Yes, our mall is in no danger of being classified as 'upscale'.

Waste the evening on the computer

Find a productive project to work on in the studio, which is sort of the direction I'm headed, except the fool dogs think it's open mic night at the Big Bark cafe and feel the need to bark their fool heads off at the wind, the neighbor kids on bikes, the random dog walker, any car that drives by.

I'm nursing a Coke Zero (poured when there was a chance I'd be hitting the road), but now that it's looking like I'm going to stay in all by my lonesome, I think I'll go swap that for something a bit more conducive to nursing a creative vibe. I'm thinking dirty vodka martini, 3 olives.

Ooops...Barkfest is going into it's 32nd encore...I'd best break out the BIG shaker (and my big angry yelling voice....not that they pay the slightest bit of attention to what I have to say).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quilts for Kids

Tonight I finished my Downy Quilts for Kids quilt top. All I need to do is sandwich, quilt, wash and ship it back. This is a great program. They will send you the precut fabric for the quilt top, backing and clear instructions. All you have to do is stitch it up, provide the batting, quilt it, wash it, and pay the return shipping. They even send a label.

The fabric was colorful, a quick two-hours to knock out the top. If you'd like to donate a day and make a quilt, go to to request a kit to make a quilt.

Before I started this I made 7 neonatal quilts for the Guild. Still need to quilt those, figure I'll just do all my machine quilting in one stretch. Get the piecing out of the way now. All that's left is a child-size quilt to bind and I'll get back on my own projects (and maybe the baby shower quilt (or maybe not).

It was a thousand degrees here today (okay, 94, but it certainly felt like a thousand degrees...thank goodness for the ceiling fan in the studio this evening). Of course, after the winter we've had, it can stay 94 degrees from now through September, I'm not complaining. It's just a little early for summer. I've still got a pair of brushed corduroy pants I bought at Coldwater Creek back in December that haven't been hemmed yet. (Okay, so I suppose I should just kiss that off)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

A lovely Easter to all. Hope you are all enjoying beautiful Spring weather. We don't have to be anywhere until 3:00, and it's an easy appetizer to be made to take with, and load the white chocolate truffle cake we picked up at the bakery into the car with the requisite libations, so I'm pretty much free for a stretch.

Finished up EVERYTHING for the quilt show pieces last night (labels, sleeves, bindings). Have got my first April OPAM finish....

I call this 'Bloomin' Baltimore - a quick trip around the Baltimore block.' This is the Guild challenge quilt for this year's show, and likely to be the only non-art quilt challenge. Admittedly, I've got a long way to go on the art quilt front, so this will have to do.

Click on this to see the tiny stippling I went back and added to the center block yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday, the neurotic beagle seemed to think that because the windows were open and the blinds would gently rustle in the breeze, that there was a storm of dire proportion on it's way. This is where he spent his the chihuahua's bed under the sewing table, hyperventilating hot, stinky dog breath on my legs. Note to self....find source of tranquilizers and appropriate dosage for him before we actually do have our first thunderstorm.

Eventually I couldn't take it anymore so I headed downstairs to the office computer to make and print out some quilt labels (so Beagle Bailey here could instead attempt to paw his way through the carpet in the corner next to my desk chair to some imagined safe haven from the nonexistent impending doom of a lovely Spring day). 

Here's the quilt labels I made. I was lazy and just used label templates off the Internet and borders out of MS Word.

As I said,  I've got some free time, so before it gets away from me I'm going to tidy up the studio and spend some quality time with my workbook and EQ 6 software. May as well learn how to use 6 since I just saw in a quilt magazine this morning that 7 is soon to be released (figures!).

I'd love to design a quick table quilt for the Vera's Garden fabric I picked up a few months back. Of course, in addition to playing EQ6 school, I've also got pillowcases/charity quilts/Bernina class next Saturday/quilt show volunteering/Neptune/Kiwi Jubilee/baby quilt/learn to embroider all on my plate for this month. (groan!...oops, forgot income taxes....MAJOR YIKES!)

Sounds like I need to hop on down to the kitchen and refill my coffee cup.

Again, enjoy this beautiful Easter Sunday, and I hope you get to spend quality time with people and things you love today.

Also, if you get a chance, check out the winners and best entries in this year's Washington Post Peeps diorama competition. Fantabulously amusing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Newsworthy Quilting Update

At the the bottom of the page I've added a video you will enjoy.

And please take a minute to read the full story from the Wall Street Journal:

It's been a good day, took off most of it to take advantage of the early Summer weather. Did a bit of weeding, a bit of mulching. Looking good.

One moment of panic though. When I decided that I had had enough (4 hours is about my limit for outdoor projects--and that's on a good day!) and was checking out my arms to see if I got an early start on my tan (aka freckling), I was horrified when I took off my garden gloves exposing lily white hands and wrists, while the forearms were bright red. Egads!!!!!! Now we've all heard of 'farmer's tans', but 'glove lines'????? However was I going to camouflage this?

Thankfully when I got inside it all washed off (I'd been spreading red mulch). Phew!!!!!

Maybe photos tomorrow. I've got about one more glass of Merlot in me and then it's off to bed for what is going to be a very sound sleep.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Another lovely spring day. Fortunately, it's a telecommute day, so it's just a step outside the office and I'm out in the sunny, warm weather. Frequent breaks today (wink).

Here's how we're shaping up. This is the Magnolia out front. This will flower multple times between now and fall.

While the rest of the neighborhood is flush with daffodills, the pentultimate sign of spring, we got:


We yanked all the mature landscaping last year to start over and all but this and maybe 3 tulips bought the farm.

For a person who seriously does not have a green thumb, loves the flowers, but not the gardening, and still has a box of summer bulbs I bought at Costco LAST SPRING sitting in the garage, it's pretty amazing that some little grocery store primroses I haphazardly chucked into the ground when I got tired of watering them inside the house have bloomed.

There's three more on the kitchen windowsill. If I didn't know better (never plant flowers here until after Mother's Day), I'd paw out a couple holes and give these guys some company. Not sure I can still be responsible for them inside the house for another 6 weeks.

And while not the most stellar specimen (actually, the lamest one in the entire neighborhood), the small forsythia I bought for the hubs last year has survived being a source of deer food and has actually attempted to show us a little Spring color. Maybe that will last through the weekend. Doubtful with the number of deer on the loose here. Sadly, it will likely become just another tasty morsel (along with a few hundred dollars worth of perennials that went in last year that seem to have vanished into thin air over the winter).

Maybe I'll be back later to share some stitching. That is, unless I succumb to Spring Fever when I get off in the  next hour and take this show on the road rather than up to the studio. The hubs is out golfing, the lucky ducky, and I'm seriously thinking about requesting an emergency day off for tomorrow. There's just something about near 80 degree days in April that scream "CALL IN SICK". (grin)