Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last Chance for April

Last day of April. Hopefully it's all May flowers from here on out.

I'm just popping in to offer you one final chance to enter the April Giveaway for the Think Spring paper piecing pattern. I'll be in a short workshop with Mimi Dietrich tomorrow afternoon so I'll try to announce the winner tomorrow evening.

My daughter and I went to Filene's Running of the Brides yesterday....I was not impressed, and we did not leave with a dress. It was definitely interesting....a bunch of women standing around in their underwear in the middle of Filene's Basement while guys who worked there and guys who did not were walking about. Seriously, you just flung off your clothes and had your friends load you into dresses. Dresses that were in various states of clean, some missing parts, some without sizes, hung in  plastic zip up bags on about 59 rolling racks,  in no specific order of size or style (and I use the word 'style' rather loosely) . Most were $499.99...marked down from anywhere from $1500-$6000 (and honestly, I was having a hard time believing that some of them actually ever sold for those prices, which might explain why they are at Filene's...think wedding gown outlet store. )

The important thing to remember was 'no refunds/no exchanges', and while I don't know a whole lot about wedding gowns, and have yet to go to a 'real' bridal store, I have to think there's something nicer for our $500 in an actual bridal store...along with a woman who will bring my daughter dresses in a dressing room (where she doesn't have to try them on over a pair of shorts her friend has run to the Jr.s department to snag so she doesn't have to stand out in the middle of the store in her panties). A 'boobologist' who will stick enhancements in her strapless bra to provide the necessary cleavage, while her friends and I sit in upholstered furniture sipping wine. (do ya think I might watch too much reality TV (Jersey Couture)?  I'm going to wind up driving her to Jersey to Diane & Co., I know it!). Sigh....

Well, she did have fun, and got to try on some dresses to give her some idea of the dress type she's looking for.  All was not lost. (Except the $9.00 we had to pay to park at Filene's Basement....seriously, what's up with that???!!! Since I'm shopping at a discount store, I can afford to pay $9.00 to park? Whatever!)

Today I picked up my circular embroidery attachment and I am dying to use it, but tomorrow's another day, and right now I need to take my Tylenol and put myself to bed.

Have a lovely Sunday....good luck in the drawing!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Final April OPAM Finish

Sorry, I've been a little under the weather the past couple days, but I wanted to post a quick update and give you another chance to enter the giveaway for the paper piecing pattern.

Let's start with my OPAM finish (Hi Peg!) No name yet, but it will somehow include 'Mexican Star' I really liked this pattern and the whole curving thing it's got going on (nope, not an illusion, there are actually pieces that are dimensional that have been bowed and stitched into curves)

What's left on the design wall are these pieces from the 'WInding Ways' experiment in non-contrast. I'm wondering if there's some way to somehow use those on their own?

Of course, I was feeling well enough to go on a strip piecing jag for the rest of the Winding Ways last night.

Last, but not least, leaving you with a photo of our Easter desserts. I made the bunny cake (tuxedo Peeps and choc dipped berries...which were leftover from my contribution to Happy Night last weekend), my daughter made the cake pops.

The wedding planning has had it's ups and downs (more like working in a mine). We've made a little progress and tomorrow is Filene's crazy bridal gown madness event, which I've encouraged my daughter to attend, even if it's not until  after work that she can finally get there . Who knows, she might find something. She's bringing two friends, so I'm not sure I need to attend, though she has said I need to go because I'll tell her if something looks bad on her or not. Ummm.....let's see, after the last week sharing my feelings about venue and costs, and wondering if the resulting backlash isn't somehow related to my need for medical attention, I can assure you that I most definitely am not going to tell my daughter that the bustle on this dress makes her butt look big, or that this bustier makes it look like she has back fat. Her friends can do that with far less drama.

I hope to be in tip top form for the weekend as I've got the first of a monthly mini-workshop on Baltimore Applique with Mimi Dietrich on Sunday and I'm also hoping to get in a little garden clean-up. It's been pretty hot here for a few days and I was forced to turn on the A/C (yep, furnace/heat pump was finally fixed). A/C in April!!!!! Outrageous!!!! Forecast for the weekend is reasonable, so I'll be shutting it off tomorrow.

What are your plans? Anyone planning to watch the Royal Wedding?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another Day, Another Venue, Another Chance to Enter the Giveaway

Another reminder to comment for your chance to win this cute paper piecing pattern. This includes the tissue paper foundation to make four 15-1/2x18-1/2" for you, and three for your friends and family. As long as you're a follower, every comment you make on any post counts as an entry in this month's Follower Appreciation Giveaway. Don't know what to say? Well, I always want to hear what projects you are working on, and which fabrics you've got on your wish list. I'm always looking for inspiration.

So last night I took the new walking foot sole plate for a spin. Here's a better photo...I managed to figure out how to use the macro setting on my camera for the one photo, and then it just went way over my head, so this is the one shot that is postable.

The blade you see down the center is part of the soleplate. It sits in the seam and your needle goes into the fabric behind it, and your stitches drop perfectly into the seam and are just about invisible. It's interesting, but it's going to take a bit of getting used to. Those of you with Berninas know that two soleplates come with the walking foot, and one of those is more open so you can see the needle movement and exactly where it's going into the fabric. Well, this new soleplate has really low visibility. It's a little awkward bringing your bobbin thread up through the top fabric when you begin to sew (I used a small pair of scissors to slide under the foot and catch the threads so I could pull them up and to the side so that I didn't start out with any birds nests on the backside.) It's going to take some getting used to, but I'm sure I'll use it often. And, if you've got a Bernina and you don't already have a walking foot, the new walking feet are packaged with all three soleplates, and the price has not increased with the addition of the new soleplate. If you've already got a walking foot, you just need to order the soleplate, and it ranges in price from $24-$36 depending on your dealer. Right now they're hard to come by, so your best bet is to place an order and be patient.

Our little thread fairy looks extremely patient, don't you think? She must be waiting for her Stitch in the Ditch Walking Foot Sole Plate....or maybe she's been hitting the Svedka a little hard this evening. Gotta say, if I don't wash mine tomorrow, she won't be the only one in this house rocking that hairstyle.

If you're with me on Facebook, you've seen these photos, but I needed to take a break from sewing to try out something crafty, so Sunday we Peeped...

The blue Peep? Come on, every family has at least one Black Peep (black sheep), right?

And these are going to join some lemons and chocolate and whatever else I'm feeling, on a white cake pedestal for a centerpiece. But for now, I like to refer to them as: "This is what you get when you don't check the expiration date on the package before you buy."

Two more venues to visit tomorrow (so far), so I'll save the wedding prep talk for another post. Have a wonnerful, wonnerful's supposed to be a beautiful Spring day...Enjoy it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Welcome to Wedding Wars

We've gone to visit two venues so far. There's another scheduled for tomorrow evening and one for Wednesday afternoon. Dear daughter and I aren't seeing eye to eye on a few things (like the day, the time, the venue) but I'm sure we'll work that out. At the moment dear daughter is doing her best to be impulsive (which is what she does best), and mother of the bride is doing her best to be negative (which is what she does best). We've got until next Thursday to come together in a Vulcan Mind Meld, so hopefully we'll make some progress this week.

Life is still a bit scattered. I've not had proper time to correspond with my newly connected Jr. High School friend, Debbie, so I've not corresponded at all (shame on me!). I think I'll fix that after this post and at least shoot her a short message...a short message is better than no message at all, don't you think?

The heat fixer guys come again tomorrow, and from their last call, it sounds like they may have come up with an ingenious way to blame the problem on the possibility of mice in the wallschewing the wiring that goes from the thermostat in the dining room to the heat pump outside.  (I don't think it matters that we haven't seen a mouse, let alone any evidence of a mouse in the house since the 1st year the house was built and it was still all woods around us...we've been mouseless for at least 20 years.) Obviously they're stretching to find something outside the warranty. Honestly?  I'll tell you this, when he brings those wires in to me tomorrow, he better have sufficiently chewed them and I'd better not see any plastic coating in his teeth.

My boss gave his notice last Friday, and I've got until Wednesday to decide if I want to apply for his job. This is a tough one for me, for many reasons, and at the moment, I can't believe I'm saying this, I don't think I want his job. It would mean no more telecommuting days. The hubs says I need to figure out how much of a raise it would have to be for me to give that up. There's a lot to be said about rolling out of bed, grabbing a cup of joe and starting your workday in your PJs two days a week. Decisions....decisions.....

I've been looking at the Winding Ways blocks on the design wall for a week now and they just haven't inspired me to sew them. I think there's a reason for that, and that would be....

Yay!!!!!! The Stitch in the Ditch sole plate for my walking foot finally arrived. See the metal piece in the middle of it?  (look at the bottom). Well, that sits in your seam as you stitch....invisible in the ditch stitching, every time.  For you Bernina users, it's like having a #10 walking foot. It's been a long time coming. It was ordered back in March and it took more than month for it to get here.

I think I'm going to throw caution to the Winding Ways and I'm going to thread up the Bernina and finish off the Mexican Star. All that's left on this is to ditch stitch the vertical and horizontal bars, and I've been holding off waiting for this soleplate to excuses anymore.

Saturday was one of those crazy, rainy days and the hubs needed to go shopping up in Frederick, so I volunteered to go along as long as he would stop at JoAnn Fabrics for the last day of the Daffodil Dash sale. Now, mind you, there's really nothing I want from JoAnn except some thread, some batting, some rulers, books...and I had seen this really cute bird print home dec fabric in their flyer that I thought would make a great chair cushion and sewing machine cover for the studio.

The bird  print I had my eye out for wound up being way too large for what I had in mind, so I wandered back to their quilting department. This is a JoAnn superstore, and I gotta tell you, as I'm walking down this 'special purchase' fabric row that was 30% off,  I was experiencing a little quilt shop deja vu.

I don't know about you, but I can spot an Alexander Henry fabric in a JoAnn like Sara Jessica Parker can spot a pair of Louboutins in Payless. And it's not that easy because in JoAnn, the Alexander Henry fabrics aren't on gold foiled bolts. I don't ask why they have them (for $7.99 and 8.99 a yard, no less---on sale for 30% off that), I just buy them.

As it turns out, I've already got the Day of the Dead print on the left, so you'll see that again in an upcoming giveaway.

With the hubs beginning to whine about how long he'd been in the store, and how he thought I was just running in for one thing, whaaa, whaaa, whaaa....I was somehow miraculously able to maintain brain function and remember that I needed to see if they had wool on! I was able to pick up a yard of lovely cream wool for 50% off to use on one of my upcoming wool applique projects. It's so much easier to throw it in a hot water wash when you only paid $13 a yard for it. :)

So, life is almost back to normal. And now I'm off to test drive the walking foot.

Don't forget to post your comments for a chance to win the April giveaway!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Need a Vacation

It's officially Wednesday. Big whoop. 'Hump Day' offers ltitle hope of escaping the downward spiral that is my week. The only way this week could turn around is if the UPS guy drops off a box tomorrow and instead of containing some impulse-buy quilt book, the package contains a plane ticket South, a wad of cash, and the keys to an oceanfront beach house where it's at least 80 degrees and rains only at night for no longer than 10 minutes...oh, and there may as well be a herd of wild unicorns grazing in the front yard.

No, those aren't's a herd of a dozen ratty does that minutes before were chowing down in my perennial garden. I was able to shoo them to the back of the yard where they are waiting for me to walk away so they can resume helping themselves to free appetizers in my garden.

So much for yardwork this year.

Today was Day 4 for the heating/cooling system repair guys. Just another day of things not working out for them so they screw the heat pump back together, hook me up to 'emergency heat' (or as I like to call it '$800 per month electric bill', which is why the thermostat is set at 62 degrees), and tell me they'll give me a call tonmorrow. I telecommute for my regular job a couple of days each week, so they know they can come hang out on Tuesday and Thursday, which means 'see you guys Thursday'.

Speaking of regular job (production manager for a scientific journal)  has not been a walk in the park. I'm so behind on reports.I need to do, and we just went through a data conversion that has been my worst nightmare, so just when I think I've got one thing under control and can play report catch-up, something dire goes wrong and I'm working until 7 or 8 just trying to deal with the latest in a series of 'this should not have happened'  that seems destined to remain withme  forever, or until Hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

The second job (part time merchandising, which I do after the full time gig) has assigned a good deal of projects to me this week, and I've yet to get out. Thursday I'm on 'venue scout' detail with the daughter, so that cuts me down to 2 days to complete a weeks worth of assignments. And Wednesday's lunch hour (where I usually run at least a couple of those assignments) is out for merchandising as I've got a noon appointment with the doctor, who has already seen the test results on the blood that a clumsy lab technician leeched out of my still bruised arm a week ago, and from what I can interpret...this isn't good and I'm expecting I'll be spending a full day in the Labcorp House of Horrors for a glucose tolerance test next week.

Had I not given myself a major tension headache trying to explain to the daughter why buying life insurance was not an acceptable alternative to a retirement fund, I might have not stress eaten half okay, 3/4 of a bag of Chocolate Chex Mix while sending her links from CNN and Money and typing emails imploring her to call her benefits office and try to switch to something a bit more suitable. Had I not stuffed  my face after midnight the doctor might have been able to suck a little more blood out of me and retest and hopefully write off those last results. Of course, then I would have been forced to be a martyr and forgo my morning coffee, so it's probably a good thing I sacrificed myself (and my hips) to the chocolate.
And did I mention the three yards of fabric that arrived from Hawaii yesterday that I purchased to use as background for my Baltimore Album...only to find that I ordered the wrong color?

I made two lasagnas to freeze and one for dinner. The one for dinner I decided to go old school and actually cook the noodles (the one for the freezer I was lazy and went with 'no bake'). The recipes were a little different for each and I managed to misread the dinner one and mixed everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING together (sauce, meat, ricotta, mozarella, parmesan), so instead of having layers of sauce and cheese, I had gobs of goop between layers of pasta. What was I thinking?

I figure that even if I did have time to sew, I'd likely break a needle, or lose a finger on a rotary cutter blade. It's best I just go to bed. Would someone please call me when they hear the UPS truck heading up the street?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Accuquilt GO! Winding Ways.....The Long and Winding Road

Today I decided to take on an ambitious little project and test out my new Accuquilt GO! Winding Ways die. Looked like fun, looked like I could whip out a table quilt in an afternoon.....looks can be deceiving.

As I've stressed in the past, the most important thing to remember is to iron your fabric. I like to spritz on a little Mary Ellen's Best Press for good measure.


You don't want to layer too much fabric on your die, or you won't be able to run it smoothly through the GO!. I generally like to cut no more than 4 layers at a time, so I press into 4 layers and cut to fit the die I'm using.

When I get a new die, I like to take a Sharpie and outline where the blades are going to pop up. This way, I can be sure that I've covered the areas and I don't  ruin any fabric by lopping off a tip or an edge.

Once you've got your nice little pile of die cuts, you're left with a bunch of scrap...

And now is a good time to figure out the optimum scrap size you can cut from these and  make short work of clean up.

I was able to whack off a bunch of two-inch strips from the skeletons left over from the Winding Ways shapes.  I think I'm going to clean out a rolling drawer set in my closet and label one of the drawers "2-inch Strips" and toss these in. Some day when I have no other projects to tackle I can go through the rest of my scraps and try to apply some uniform scrap cutting code to them and sort them out. (And then ten years from now, I can toss them out :) )

If you don't have a design wall, you should think about getting one.  I'm partial to Cheryl Ann's. It was a Christmas gift from my daughter and I use it a lot. It doesn't take a lot of room, I can put it together in about 5 minutes, easily move it from one room to the next and it stores away in this nifty little bag when I'm not using it.  I was laying blocks out on my bed, but that didn't offer the luxury of mulling over my layout for long, not to mention I had to run between rooms to retrieve blocks for piecing.

My wall is 72" x 72" and it takes up less than a foot of floor space if assemble it as an easel. Sometimes I just forget about it being 'free standing' and lean it against the closet or the windows. It's occurred to me that I could also tap a couple long nails into the wall and hang it (it's open at the connecting corners, so you wouldn't damage the felt). All in all, it's pretty versatile.

Laying out your pieces on a design wall gives you a good deal of this case, it tells me that my choice of fabrics is rather busy and that I'm going to have to do some heavy quilting in order to make the shapes pop off the backgrounds.

Laying this out also clues me into the fact that I've got 'direction' to think about. If I had just grabbed these pieces an started stitching them together, I wouldn't have seen that those wedges had a clear vertical/horizontal pattern to consider.

Problem averted....seam ripper blade saved.

I was able to play with various fabric combinations to come up with one that offered the best contrast for the busy fabrics I chose for this project.

What I didn't count on with this project was the amount of time it as going to take to piece and sew 12 curved seams for each block. (Whew!---definitely not a  'Quilt in aDay' project). But you have got to love Accuquilt dies because they've added a nifty little notch on curved pieces, and they've squared off the tips so aligning, while tedious, is painless.

Just be sure to use plenty of pins and use a seam guide or a good 1/4" foot... and....I can't stress this enough....iron every seam before you move on to the next,  and you'll wind up with blocks that even the most discerning quilt police can't find fault with.

This is what the back of the block should look like, seams pressed in the correct directions, no bunching, nice and flat for when you get around to quilting. No lumps in this one. (Obviously, I'm going to need to square these up before I put the blocks together, but I won't do that until all the blocks are constructed.)

So, with a fair amount of distraction--my daughter and her fiance---oh wait, did I neglect to tell you she got engaged on St. Patrick's Day?---anyway, they came by to pick up the grandpup and hang out for a bit, so I was in and out of the studio today, and only managed to sew 4 of the 16 blocks.

At the moment, this isn't one of my favorite projects, but we'll see how it comes together and if I'm able to quilt my way out of the obvious lack of contrast in the fabric. When I started quilting I told myself that every quilt I make will be a learning experience. If it weren't, it might not be as much fun :)

Have a great week. I hope to be back with a progress report on this. And I'm sure I'll have some amusing wedding planning stories to share over the next few months. How could I not? We've got an opinionated, control freak mother and a daughter is who is equally opinionated and the spitting image of me, when I was her age. While I most certainly don't think my lovely daughter will prove to be 'Bridezilla', if it were to happen, I'd know from whence it came.:)

Right now my plan is to be Dream Mother of the Bride...Mother of the Bride of the Year. Ah....the road is always paved with good intentions...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Call Me a Thug in a Cocktail Dress...

...but as I look at the sewing machine, and the binding that needs to be pressed so I can finish the Japanese wrapping cloth wall hanging, thoughts are focused on the 10:00 season opener of Real Housewives of NYC. I just love a good train wreck of a reality show, and the Real Housewives franchise knows how to deliver. Granted, it's not NJ, but it runs a close second in my book.

I have always been reality tv's biggest 'prostitution whooore' (as Theresa from RHNJ would scream, while upending our dinner table), and gauging from what's on 57 channels these days, I'm not alone. Top Model, Top Chef, Cupcake Wars, Survivor, Idol, Race, Loser, Matchmaker, Jersey anything....if it's on cable, I've seen it. I think one of the reasons the hubs bought an HD flat screen for my studio last birthday was to keep the trash off of his 60" (which seems to be reserved for dismemberment, murder, rape, aliens, explosions, mayhem and such--though wait....that Allstate Mayhem guy can share my screen any time! Yum! I am SO about the bad boys with an edge and a dark side {smile}).

And  say ya-ay! Housewives premier was so non-riveting that I got the binding sewn on the wrapping cloth. I was planning on turning up the Asian Indigo backing, but the hubs thought the pink packaged binding matched the centers of the flowers perfectly and voted for that.

Here's a closeup that you can enlarge to check out the quilting. For the light blue I just decided to freemotion along the obvious and non-perfectly spaced weave of the fabric. Just the verticals. So, we now have an OPAM finish for April (said as I pat myself on the back).

With so many projects in the wings to choose from, I'm not sure where I want to go right now. I'm thinking it needs to be an Accuquilt GO! project, but I'm wavering on traditional or free-style. It's a bit late to get started now and I'll be out with the ladies tomorrow night, so I've got until Saturday or Sunday morning to make up my mind. Suggestions appreciated.

In addition to something on the GO! I've got quite a few other ideas....
  1. I can make the pedestal cake plates for my sister and myself from our Mom's china dishes my sister had displayed on her dining room wall.
  2. Switch to dollmaking and start on the Beachwalker Santa that's been in procrastination limbo for a couple of years now.
  3. Maybe I should catch up on the Fiesta BOMs
  4. I can spend a day making pincushions of all types...cupcakes, pies, donuts, petit fours.
  5. What about taking on the painted batik wholecloth project?
  6. There's always another Japanese wrapping cloth to be quilted
  7. Don't I have a Bali briefcase pattern, Pop, and a hank of clothesline patiently waiting in the closet?
  8. And let's not forget sewing border prints on dishtowels.
And we aren't even thinking about taking the Bernina embroidery module out for a spin...or cracking the EQ7 manuals open and designing a barn quilt for the Accuquilt contest.

Maybe I should call in the Calvary...what do you think? Or maybe you'd like to come over and motivate me. There's an idle Bernina 1260 and a Babylock Imagine available.

Oh, and here's the catalyst for the little Japanese furoshiki I just finished:

There are so many cool  'wrapagami' projects that this cloth could be used for, it's almost a shame to quilt it and turn it into a boring wallhanging....well.....okay....I have seen it quilted and turned into a wallhanging and I have to say 'boring' wasn't an adjective that came to mind that day, I was pretty amazed when I found out it wasn't an arduous labor of strip piecing that I was trying to purchase the pattern and fabrics for :)

I'm open to suggestions for my next project, so if there's something you'd like to see, drop me a comment and let me know. I always appreciate your input (and a little direction is always a good thing).

Have a great what you love. (and if your weekend will be spent doing taxes...take lots of sewing breaks).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is It Spring or What?

I've been missing from blogland for a bit. Once I got over the week-long flu, ran about trying to play catch up for a week, I got knocked down by strep. (Will it never end?...No, next week we'll likely begin the allergy issues.).

In the meantime, what little time I did have in the studio I spent working on the Japanese wrapping cloth.

I've outlined all the elements in the design, did a small stipple with navy thread on the navy background, and I'm trying to come up with something to do on the light blue and it will be done. Good thing, because the larger wrapping cloth arrived yesterday.

 And what do we have here? Looks like someone just got 3 new Accuquilt dies. There's a 4.5" strip, the Winding Ways set, and Rob Peter to Pay Paul. I've taken to test cutting on paper towels to remove any Sharpie that may have gotten on the die when I was marking them for position. I decided that this is a rather fun way to test out placement of the shapes before I cut actual fabric.

The two Sharon Schamber-style machine quilting pieces are finished, bound and washed. Now, what to do with them? Oh yes, check them off as a March OPAM finish.

Saturday was the first day last week I was feeling pretty good, so the old Bernina came out of the armoire and my sister spent the afternoon working on her own Peeps bunting while I quilted an Easter table runner she had made. (She's afraid to quilt, and I love the practice--though when you're quilting for someone else -- even if it is your sister -- you're not so relaxed with what you're doing. How do those long-armers do it? Don't they worry about making the slighthest slip up and ruining the quilt they're working on? A quilt that isn't their quilt?)

The taxes are done, the house is clean (well, mostly), this month's Guild meeting was tonight, my daughter's birthday celebration was last night (Texas de Brazil), they're coming to try to fix the furnace again tomorrow (don't ask...though I'm hoping that I'm not paying for it), there's a Happy Night scheduled for Friday, and we're going to see Arturo Sandoval on Saturday, so I'm hoping to get in some creative time a couple nights this week.

And we need a March Follower Appreciation Winner. This months' prize is scissor bling, and this month's winner is:
Quilt Sue
I've sent Sue an email off-list and scissor bling will be winging it's way to her soon. And scissor bling also just went out to my 100th follower (an unannounced giveaway).

Stay tuned for the April Follower Appreciation's our prize for April:

This is a 'Little Bits' Think Spring pattern. It's a miniature paper piecing project and includes the paper foundations to make four 15.5 x 18.5 inch quilts. I chose this pattern for a giveaway while I was at the AQS Lancaster show. I thought the tulips made it a perfect giveaway for April.

Every comment you leave gets you a chance in the long as you're a follower. The first two random numbers generated this month turned out to not be followers so we had to draw a third time. If you aren't sure you're following me, check your lists the blogs you are following.

Good luck, and I'll try to give you lots of chances to comment this month.