Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yay! For Giveaways and Meeting Goals

First off, I am so proud of myself...I actually met the goal I set for January. Five, count 'em FIVE Baltimore blocks completed this month and it's not even midnight! Can I maintain the 4-5 block a month momentum for February? Wait and see.

I had to pull out my Valentine's day pincushion. It's a cute little felted wool heart. Don't you just love it?

I'm glad because I've got another one to send to one lucky person who posts a comment on this post. Tell me what you're making for Valentine's Day. It can be quilty, something baked, something crafty. And feel free to include a link to a photo. This giveaway will close at midnight EST on February 7th and I'll draw a winner on the 8th and get this in the mail to you in time for you to have it on your sewing table on the 14th.

And......if the winner happens to be a follower of my blog, I'll also include a little scissor/rotary cutter bling as a follower appreciation bonus.

Can't wait to hear what you're all up to. I'm off to spend the rest of this night prepping February Baltimore blocks, and tomorrow I hope to finish the wonky pieced rag quilt. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lost in Baltimore / Coming Up For Air

Early this, month, after my class with Mimi Dietrich, I realized how far behind I was on my progress on the two Baltimore Album quilts I'd like to finish this year, so I set a pretty steep goal for myself, which is to finish 4-5 blocks a month. (Go ahead, laugh, I don't mind).

Anyway, I actually have finished 5 blocks this month. One really doesn't count because I finished it in class, before I set the goal, but I did get busy and knock out 3 'wreath' blocks, which weren't exactly the easiest blocks to do. I played with some different techniques on each, after all, this should be a learning experience.

This was the papercut block I finished in class. I was thinking that these were the most tedious and hard to sew blocks in the quilt, and I've got to do 8 of them total, so I wanted to knock them out first.

This one taught me that yellow is not a good color choice. You can hardly see the markings on the fabric to turn it. This was papercut 7 of 8. I have one left to do for the second quilt.

All berries were done the same way. Cut a circle of fabric a quarter inch larger than the circle I wanted, sit in front of the tv one night and sew a small gathering stitch close to the edge. Then I popped in a cardboard circle, punched from a file folder, the size of the berry I wanted. Pinned that, like a butterfly, to my ironing board and pulled the stitches to gather around the cardboard. You hit it with the iron, then you spray it with starch and hit it with the iron again. Once it's cool you can loosn the stitches just a bit and pop out the cardboard and gently regather it into the circle shape it was. Easy peasy.

The leaves were folded over freezer paper templates and pressed. You iron the freezer paper to the wrong side of your fabric, cut around, leaving a 1/4 inch and then you take a paintbrush and paint spray starch on the overhang. Fold it in on the freezer paper, smooth it, and press dry. Then you can use a tweezer to pluck the freezer paper out before you stitch.

This was my Florida project. We flew down a couple weeks ago for 5 nights for my SIL's big birthday bash (it was a wild and crazy 80's theme, attended by Billy Idol, Slash, a few Magnum PIs, a couple of Sonny Crockett/Don Johnson, Tom Cruise in his white socks and boxers, a dozen Material Girls, and a few Jernnifer Beals Flashdance Wannabes (myself included)--the funniest of which was a fairly large man in striking hot pink ballet flats, leg warmers, and a slinky off-the-shoulder sweatshirt that showed off the nipples on his quite ample bazooms ('feel my boobs!'). I can't recall a Saturday night where I drank so many martini's. (And I don't recall much of this one after about 11 p.m. :) )

Anyhow, technique on this one was the leaves. I used a super fine lingerie interfacing and stitched it to the right side of the leaf, cut a slit in the center of it and pulled the leaf through, forming a closed seam all the way around the leaf. A quick press to flatten it, and it was an easy sew. Not the most perfect edges, a little hard trying to hide the white interfacing at times, but probably quicker than needleturn.

This is my least favorite block so far. I thought it would be my favorite when I chose the design, but I was wrong. I'm not loving the colors I chose, or the shapes of the oak leaves. These were freezer paper ironed to the right side of the fabric. I cut around, leaving 1/4" all around and then I pressed the fabric to warm it and used my chalk pencil to draw around the freezer paper template. You needleturn it on the chalk line....and this doesn't always turn under perfectly. You can see chalk on mine, which will eventually wash off. (I hope).

All three of the above 'wreath' blocks will get some embellishment....a ribbon, a bow, a bird...something. I'll figure that out once I've laid the blocks out to see what colors are needed, or what sort of embellishment will balance it and tie it to the blocks around it.

I've got tonight and tomorrow to knock out one more block. I've got a papercut ready for the other quilt I could probably finish.  And it's probably the perfect project to tinker away at during the Beverly Hills Housewive's Reunion show at 9:00. Hmmm......

Oh, you didn't think I went to Florida and didn't hit up a quilt shop, did you?

We happened to be in the neighborhood while we ran over to the Hobby Lobby in Viera, so I was able to pop into The Quilt Place in Rockledge, FL. This shop has a TON of fabric. They advertise something ridiculous like 10,000 bolts or something (seriously, who has counted them--wouldn't that take DAYS?). Numbers aside, they do have a vast selection of fabric, and the prices are much more reasonable than they are locally in the D.C. suburbs. (Like $1-$2 less per yard).

Having seen a couple of the prints in this line at my LQS, I couldn't resist bringing home a sampling of Timeless Treasures' Plume. I'm not normally drawn to fabrics with metallic gold, but this one was the exception. And I even picked up the Timeless Stitch Star challenge application. Not sure I'm up for a challenge where I've got to design and stitch an original in 2 months, but I'm ready if I do.

And while the photo makes it look gray, I wanted you to see this new line by Kaufmann...Kona Dimensions. See the dots? It's a solid fabric (for all intents and purposes), and the dots are pretty subtle. I had to manipulate the lighting so you could see the pattern. Reminds me of some striped pants I had back in the 70s that were like this--solid from afar, striped up close. It comes in a wide range of colors--24 to be exact. I picked up black to use with the Plume. If the hubs hadn't been with me, I might have picked up a whole lot more of this, but I was being good and using my vacation spending cash which I just about depleted on the Plume on Day 1 in Florida. No worries, I'm sure I'll find it online.

Check back later this week. I've got a fun little Valentine's Day giveaway coming up. Don't want you to miss it.

Now it's time to tune in to Bravo and be thankful I never went through with lip enhancements :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome 2012

I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas and got lots of great quilty gifts. Apparently I was a very good girl in 2010, as Santa was very good to me. I got some great quilt books, basting needles, the Accuquilt birds die, a Slice Fabrique (which I have yet to make work), a Beam N Read light, and a Reliable iron (the orange one, to go with my yellow Oliso iron). If you know me, you also know that I loathe ironing more than Madonna loathes hydrangeas, yet I own two of the coolest irons on the market...go figure....(apparently I have taken up iron collecting.). Actually, the Oliso may find itself on Sew Its For Sale. We shall see. I need to fire up the Reliable before I decide.

I was also lucky to pick up a little after-Christmas item for myself

The Fed Ex guy had a struggle carrying this huge box up the front steps.

And inside was another huge box.

And inside was the 'real' box.

Which held the new Beyers Choice Vanilla Icing Gingerbread house I added to my collection for half price this year. It's a lot bigger than I thought it would be, but I'll manage to find a place for it.

I tell you, those Chinese craftsmen are something else. You'd swear these were real candies they glued on, but they're just plastic replicas. (Ummmm.....gummy bears.....one of my favorites).

I put it away, though I've yet to put away any of the other Christmas decorations. I'm playing the "I'll take the decorations down after Three Kings' Day (January 5th)" game this year. In all honesty, I'm checking out the fresh tree tonight and darned if it's not dropped a needle, is still soft and pliable, and could likely make it another month....and the rest of the trees aren't real, so what's the hurry? Okay, so we are going to Florida in a couple of weeks and it would be nice to not have to come back home to Christmas decorations (not to mention embarrass myself in front of our house sitters), so I'll likely tear myself away from my sewing machine this weekend and put things away.

Speaking of sewing.....I've got a class with Mimi Dietrich this Sunday and I did not do the homework (horrors!!!), and it is way too late to start. Actually, it was a reverse applique project that she assigned in November and gave us 2 months to do .... along with the admonishment to not try to start it a week before the class. (do you think she was directing that at me??)  Anyway, I didn't see myself using the block in either of my Baltimore quilts, so I just worked on straight up paper cut blocks. It would be nice if I could finish one more of those before Sunday so I don't look like such a loser, but not sure I can finish the one I've been working on for the past month, let alone one more. (sigh)

While I did have most of last week off from work, I didn't get a lot of sewing done.  I did spend some time over the weekend and finished piecing the 63 flannel quilt blocks for the rag quilt

And yesterday I was able to put the sandwiches together, and today I finished quilting them.

Tonight I laid them out on the design wall, which was kind of tricky as there's also a pattern on the back to consider. I'm pretty sure I managed to lay them out with no two same blocks together. Guess we'll find out when I start sewing them together. Oh well if I did.

Well, I'm off to bed. Early tomorrow morning I've got to meet with a trainer at the gym, and then it's a work day (both jobs). I hope to get the rows sewn together tomorrow night and then rag it before Saturday morning, which might be a good time to take it to a laundromat to wash.

Oh, and if you find any drunken Karaoke New Years Eve videos of me on YouTube, do me a favor, and don't tell me about them. :)

I've got a couple great pincushion giveaways coming up, so check back later this week for how to enter.

Stay warm!