Friday, September 11, 2015

Shopping to Shop

We're all guilty.  This is why quilter's have stash.  The Holiday weekend found a 25% off sale at one of the local quilt shops.  This was a VERY smart move on their part because the other LQS chose to close for the holiday weekend to have a retreat with their staff .  I can't begin to tell you how many regular customers from the closed shop I saw shopping the sale in the open shop.  Anyway, they sucked me in.  I just love it when the quilt shop groups a line of fabric together and features it at the end of an aisle.  That's where I found those fabrics above.  While it was the vari-colored dots that sucked me in, I had to add three prints to them.  Don't know what I'm going to do with it...a little too whimsical for a table runner, but it would make a cute kid's quilt. This is a line I'm not too familiar with--even the bolts themselves had a unique shape--Cute Critters, Debbie Mumm, Wilmington Prints.

After that I moved on to the Christmas fabrics.  I have convinced myself that I need a Christmas-y throw. (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I need to finish 'Jingle'), but I've had my eye on that Moda fabric on the right  (Tole Christmas by Gina Martin--and it's made in Japan, it has a nice hand to it) my last couple of visits to the shop, so I came home with a yard of each of these prints (which, believe me, was an exercise in control, as they had at least 5 more prints in this line on the floor).

Come Sunday, as I'm sitting there admiring these 4 prints I decided that I needed to go back to the shop and buy more fabric at 25% off.  And the justification would be that I needed some Bella Solids to go with these prints.

So four more yards came home...and my color selection was a tad unconventional...salmon and olive as opposed to red and green. I must have had some kind of influence....I think you'll the next photo will clear that up.

I also came into the shop with a some fabrics from my stash that needed matching. I picked up those two top prints from a 'discontinued fabric' basket at a recent show in a wool vendor's booth. Half yard of one, yard and a half of the other.  Table runner fodder.  But it needed something to go with it, so I found something.

Hmm.... I think my decorating this holiday is going to be salmon and sage-centric.  Oh my!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fun With Fabric -- It's Not Always All About Sewing


Labor Day weekend... Market Days at the repurpose/shabby chic barns...check.  Big fabric sale at the LQS...check. Hubs spending the day at a Fantasy Football draft and now I'm bored, what can I do?  Well, I can unload my scrap strip drawers and pull out all the Halloween strips, and then neatly fold all the other strips back into said drawers..that'll take an hour and a half...check.  And then I can raid the craft room and look for leftover styrofoam trees from Christmas crafts past...check. Queue up a few episodes of UK Celebrity Big Brother on YouTube and get to work.

 Sew those random width strips together.

Fold them in half and give them a slight twist as they are twisted around the styrofoam cone.

Find some wooden 'doll head' beads, paint them black, and then come up with a creative way to rig them to attach to the cones (bent flower head pins hot glued on the bottom and up the side).

Wah-lah.  Halloween trees (sitting on pillar candle holders). 

I used 14" cones for the trees, because that's what I had in the workroom, but you could certainly make these a lot faster on a smaller scale (or use 3 different sizes).  I'll likely pick up some more appropriate bases and put two in my Etsy shop. I definitely don't need three of these in my decor--which I think is going to be more on the 'dark side' this year.

Happy Thursday...and hang in there, it's almost the weekend!

Friday, September 4, 2015

It's a Long Weekend, and I Hope You Have Far Better Plans Than I

And I'm feeling good about the fact that I'm going into it having finished up another project from my little PostIt note board.  

These three elephant pincushions finally got finished and listed for sale in my Etsy shop.

I even finished an elephant pincushion to add to my own collection.  I always like to make one to keep when I'm making something new.

So now I'm ready to move on to another project.. most likely some more pincushions for the shop.  Maybe something simpler that I can put together in an afternoon.  I have something in mind.

In the meantime, I'm halfway through a wool applique pin cushion for my personal collection--a Christmas themed -- it won't have a long use-life before it's relegated to a shelf until the holiday rolls around again, but I'm a sucker for wool applique and Christmas, so it'll do..

Today I get off my 'real' job three hours early.  We always have a three hour early dismissal on a major holiday eve, it's one of the nice perks of my job.  And I'll be using this 3 hours to do the work for my second job that I've been putting off all week (merchandising).

No family plans for the last long weekend of the Summer.  In fact the hubs is spending one day at a fantasy football draft and another golfing, so that leaves me home alone to clean the house and sew. Woo hoo.  Well....actually, I'll be going to the shabby chic/repurposing vendors on Saturday morning just to look around and see what's trending in home decor while the hubs cleans one of the bathrooms and mows the lawn. Maybe I can convince him that we need to go out for some hard-shell all-you-can-eat crabs and a pitcher of beer Saturday night. That would definitely be way preferable to making pincushions or sewing rows together.  Yep, now that sounds like a plan.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

We Aren't in Kansas Anymore, Are We Toto?

That's right Dorothy, sadly we are in the office today. (and yes, those are snowmen that never got taken down last winter--I'm only here one day a week, not one of my priorities).

You've seen my studio, so since I'm here let me show you around my office. I work in the attic of a 100-year-old house that was converted to a few tiny offices with gabled ceilings and cool old wooden doors with interesting doorknobs. 

Even though I'm only here one day a week I do keep some toys around to make me feel at home. 

If I had room on my studio walls, this bad boy would go home with me where it might actually get used. 

Nothing special. Nothing remotely quilty either. But I'm only here on Wednesdays. I think my office mate is glad to have the place to himself the rest of the week. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer's Almost Gone (Wasn't that a lyric in a Doors song?)

As much as I love the Fall, it just sucks that it's September...the precursor to what the Farmer's Almanac is predicting is going to be one Hellacious winter.  It's times like these I wish I were a Snowbird with a nice shuttered condo on a Florida Atlantic Beach that I could retreat to at the first sign of Frost.  But, clearly that will never happen in this lifetime, so we make do.

I just discovered that the UK Celebrity Big Brother...which is NOT AT ALL ANYTHING LIKE the US Big Brother (which, trust me, is a GOOD thing) fired up this weekend on YouTube, so every night I retire to my studio, and tune in to the day's episode (yes, it airs daily, people). I find this show extremely entertaining. Yes there's a bit of nudity here and there, and a lot of cursing (as if that would be a shocker to me), but it's really refreshing to watch the British celebs who simply refuse to take any shit from their American counterparts.  There's no backstabbing...they are simply in your face and will not hesitate to call you out on any nonsense you think you can get away with. Straight guy shares a bed with a gay guy and it's a raucous slumber party--unlike how that might go over in America.  Anyway, I digress (but seriously, if you watch Big Brother in the US, check it episode 2, 3 or 4 to get a taste of what this show is about--and how the US totally bastardized the concept they stole).

So, since I'm invested in this drivel (as the hubs would call it), I can't be distracting myself cutting fabric, or impede my hearing because I'm running the machine, so I've pulled out the hand stitching projects I've put together for my future road trips.
I HATE French knots.  Three times around the needle or four?  And Heaven forbid you stick your needle back into the thread, you'll never yank it through.

Ooops....good that I finished a project...bad that now I have to find something else to take with me on the 3 hour drive to visit our old neighbor with the Happy Hour Ladies. 

And yes....track 5, Waiting for the Sun (when I was in 7th grade my fantasy was to marry Jim Morrison--sorry, I was just not going to be a Davy Jones kind of girl.  Even at 13 my taste in men was bad boy' :) )

"Summer's almost gone
Summer's almost gone
Almost gone
Yeah, it's almost gone
Where will we be
When the summer's gone?
Morning found us calmly unaware
Noon burn gold into our hair
At night we swim the laughin' sea
When summer's gone
Where will we be?
Summer's almost gone
Summer's almost gone
We had some good times
But they're gone
The winter's comin' on
Summer's almost gone"

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Love Organization

I should have made a career of it (but I didn't).

So a couple of nights ago, as if I didn't have enough projects going on, I decided to finish cutting the fabric for the Amish With a Twist II quilt kit that the hubs got me for Christmas last year (or was it the year before?).  A big incentive for this was the fact that I saw a photo of Amish With a Twist III and thought that it would make a nice addition to this year's Christmas list but knew that the hubs would have plenty to say about that if I hadn't finished the previous quilt (yes, he's saavy enough to keep track---he's still asking about why I never finished the Gees' Bend quilt kit he bought for me the first year I started quilting (2009.....I didn't really like the colors in the kit he picked for me).

 Well, we were able to take this Post It off the board this evening.

End result:  A basket full of Ziploc bags that contain the pieces and patterns for each block of this quilt.

Made easy by the fact that the day after Christmas I pulled a little memo book out of the desk (doesn't everyone have a supply of little memo books in their desks?)  and went through all the fabric, identified which fabric was which color, and made notes as to what needed to be cut from each color for which block.  Then I grabbed a box of Ziplocs (I'm a Costco shopper), labeled one for each block, and started cutting and sorting.  Because it wasn't easy identifying the colors in the kit (I blame Hancock Fabrics for being a bit lax on that front), I made sure that I used a glue stick and glued a swatch onto each page so that I had a color reference for later.

 Now, if you have a kit for this quilt from Hancocks of Paducah (or anywhere), that uses the dark blue background, and you haven't started on it yet....message me.  When I am done with my quilt, I am more than happy to send you my notebook to make it as easy for you to cut as it was for me.

Right now, I'm ready to start sewing blocks.  Yeah, yeah, yeah....I've got the surprise quilt. I've got the orange peel rows to sew together.  I've got the Halloween quilt.  Jingle is just waiting for someone to step up and volunteer to miter those damn borders for me, there's a QOV, a mystery, a Christmas runner and an early BOM hanging on a rack waiting for backs.....whatever.

The only thing holding me back is:  WHICH COLOR THREAD???????  Should I use white?  (There's a lot of dark colors)....or grey (there's also a lot of light colors).   Decisions, decisions.

But as far as organization goes....wouldn't I make a hell of a Doomsday Prepper? (ha ha, if I were so inclined).....
....or maybe not.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

10 Years After Katrina

On this 10th anniversary of Katrina's devastation of the City of New Orleans, the Washington Post has been running a series of daily essays related to the City, the storm and it's aftermath. Monday's article was about a lone guy in a boat who just motored around in a PTSD fog trying to convince people to leave. He was responsible for the single-handed rescue of hundreds of residents and his boat is now in a museum.

Tuesday's essay was written by a journalist who was a teenager at the time, whose mother wanted him to skip a party and evacuate to the Superdome. He wasn't having that, and when he couldn't reach his father to go stay with him, he wound up staying at a relative's house playing video games, which was much cooler than what his mother had in mind.  His father showed up just before the storm hit and loaded him in the car and headed off to Mississippi.  He never saw his mother again.  They found her in November, when the water receded, face down in the front hallway of her home. She never made it to the Superdome.

The stories of survival are disturbing and enlightening all at once. And so are the stories of restoration.  So many left their homes, having lost everything, with no intention to return.  And so many that returned, did so to find their City unfamiliar, their homes lost to gentrification. 

I think I need to take a trip to The Big Easy ...

Monday, August 24, 2015

Off On Various Tangents -- Surprises and Other Projects

No Rest for the Wicked......Idle Hands, Idle Minds.....never let it be said that I have nothing to do. While I may sit around acting like I have nothing to do, pay me no mind, that's a ruse to go out shopping (for more fabric).

This is just my partial list of more or less 'immediate projects at hand'.  Good Lord, I'd need an entire wall full of  PostIt Notes to list all of the projects I've started or have patterns or fabric or craft supplies for. No, that list is just me being 'realistic' (ha ha ha ha ha ha).

And not on that list we have

the SURPRISE project. Two weeks in, and I can tell you it's a finished quilt top. But that's all I can tell you. It'll be a while before this one makes a public appearance, but it will also be a finished quilt by the weekend.

My....considering the unfinished quilts in the studio, this one must be something special. (wink)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Off on Various Tangents -- What Happened to Sea Swept?

The County Fair ended yesterday, and Sea Swept slept blissfully through it, in the closet.

While my intention for this quilt was to finish it and enter it in this year's Fair, I decided that after 2014's disappointing showing of the 2,360 piece, double flanged, Kaffe Fassett quilt (5th place in the pieced quilts category--it didn't receive a single excellent grade in any of the judging criteria), that I was taking a break from the Fair.

2014 Fair Entry - 5th Place

Maybe by next year I'll be over the need to want my work validated with ribbons and I'll enter Sea Swept and it's 1829 pieces and their perfect (paper pieced) pointsr.  Or maybe not....not sure I can get past the 'Very Good' grade the judge gave me for 'piecing' on that Kaffe last year.

Well, since I don't have to go stand in line to pick up Fair entries today, I'm free to work on those pincushions.  (Or some other pincushions ). 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Off on Various Tangents -- Creative Deprivation

Having spent a week in Minnesota, away from my studio, finding no quilt shops, I was feeling quite restless. The hand sewing just doesn't cut it, especially when it's mostly embroidery with black thread. That just just gets old.

On one of my last days there I found this really cute pincushion on Facebook, so I decided that this was going to be my project the day I got back. (Heck with everything else).

A quick trip to Michaels for some unusual colored craft felt (not something I had in my woolfelt stash), and some supersize googly eyes, and wah la...

He turned out pretty well.  I think you do much better work when you've been away from it for a bit.

Shortly after that, I decided to work on some more pincushions.  They are going to be elephants.  For the Etsy shop. (Obviously that thrill was short-lived--they're stashed in a basket at the moment.) Maybe tomorrow I'll get back to working on them.  Or maybe next weekend. Or maybe something better will show up on Facebook......

Friday, August 21, 2015

Off on Various Tangents -- Anything But Sewing

At the end of July I had to go to Minneapolis for a week for work. We have relatives outside the city, so the hubs tagged along to abandon me in the hotel for a few days while he had some fun exploring Minnehaha Falls and the Mall of America and such fine places. And when he returned, he amused himself by walking to a Twins game while I was working at the Convention Center.  So, basically, one of us had a good time.

To prep for this trip, I figured I needed some hand sewing.....LOTS of hand sewing.  I had two lengthy flights, with equally lengthy airport waits.  I'd be hanging in the hotel room at the end of the day by myself, with nothing to do but try to figure out why the 11 o'clock news was on at 10--and how I managed to miss Big Brother--who's watching 'prime time' TV at 7 o'clock?  That's when you're cooking dinner and you've got Wheel of Fortune on for background noise.

A week or so before the trip, I spent two days rearranging my studio closet solely for the purpose of integrating that little 10-compartment canvas shoe hanger on the right that I got at Aldi for $4.99 one day because I thought 'Gee, that looks like a cute thing to put some projects into'...and while I'm at it, I can put together a bunch of hand sewing projects to take on my trip.

So, I packed up my cool little Vera Bradley bag with some Karen Kay Buckley applique work, a wool pincushion applique project,  another panel from the embroidered Halloween quilt, and a new Halloween banner embroidery. Tossed in a couple of Halloween panels (to embroider and frame), and two sashiko panels.

On the flight to Minneapolis I was totally amused by the fact that the seat in front of me had a video screen and I could plug in my headphones and watch a movie--for free.  Get outta town!  So after determining which movies weren't going to be longer than the flight, I settled in to watch Al Pacino in Danny Collins. (As usual, the hubs slept--what is it with men and sleeping on planes)

Once in Minneapolis I found myself going to 8:15 a.m. breakfast meetings, or being asked to show up for 9 a.m. meetings at 8 a.m.. I went from working all day at the Convention Center to walking back to the hotel to meet up with coworkers for dinner before heading back to the hotel room to do my regular work that I hadn't been able to do at the Convention Center. Never once did I delve into my project bag. (Heck...I never once opened the cute little bottle of Vodka I bought the day we got there.)

On the upside, there were no videos on the flight home, so I was able to get a little embroidery done.  Guess all those Halloween projects are ready for future trips, and (sadly) future Halloweens.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Off on Various Tangents - First Up, An Epic Fail

It's been a frenetic couple of finishes.

When I last left you I was working on an orange peel quilt. Well, the rows are together, but now they're hanging in the studio closet and I've moved on.  It became painfully evident that there was something seriously wrong with this Missouri Star tutorial/instructions/template from the get-go, and that these peels were not going to touch unless this was sewn together with something like a 5/8" seam.  I went so far as to use a 3/8" seam and call it a day. Maybe from a hundred feet away it will look like a 'real' peel.  Maybe if I had done this as a raw edge applique it would have worked, but no way in Hell was using their template, stitching to a fusible interfacing with a 1/4" seam, turning, and fusing to a 5" square going to yield points that met. It's my own fault for not measuring and double checking those instructions before I started.  I know better. 

By my calculations, if you used 100 wt. thread, sew a super scant 1/4" seam, use the thinnest featherweight fusible interfacing you can find, then the turned peel would measure just a fraction over 5-3/4". The diagonal length of a 5" square is 7". If you use a quarter inch seam to sew your squares together you've still got over a half inch of space between each peel--hmmm...not what Missouri Star represents in their videos and stills.  And I didn't use 100 wt. thread, my fabric wasn't all that thin, and I used regular fusible, so my turned peels measured 5-5/8"(sigh)  All I can think was that was a lot of EXPENSIVE French fabric. C'est la vie.  When I'm over the fact that it's not going to be a real orange peel -- the perfect quilt I thought I was making with the fabric I had saved for 5 years, and just some cute little 'posey' quilt, I'll go back to it. In the meantime, I'm seriously considering appliqueing a million little circles in the center of every set of  'petals' to hide the fact that those damn 'peels' don't touch.

Until then, you'll excuse me if I mutter curse words whenever I see Jenny Doan 'teaching' someone how to quilt.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

So, yesterday I decided to mass produce a bunch of peels while binge watching the last season of Real Housewives of Orange County (yes, I am incorrigible). Facing the repetitive stitching of 288 peels, I decided that this would be a most excellent project to learn something new.

And that would be how to use the knee lift on my Bernina. Especially since I've been using a Berninas for the past 12 years that have come equipped with this handy-dandy feature.

I'm not going to tell you it wasn't awkward.  I'm still not totally fluent in not stepping on the foot pedal while using my knee to lift the presser foot (teeny tiny little stitches impossible to rip out ensue). But I basically did okay.

I managed to piece a pile of peels to turn inside out while watching American Pharoah win the Triple Crown. (And I managed to win an ever so small sum of money on my Exacta :) ).

I'm off to do a little merchandising....dragging the hubs along to help today (this will probably be regrettable).  Hopefully we aren't out too long so I can get back to practicing knee lifts on the remaining peels.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Happy National Gingerbread Day!

I love Gingerbread decorations for Christmas.  This is my gingerbread tree that goes up in the kitchen every year. It started out as a simple tree...I made every ornament on it, in some wacky/misguided  effort to be frugal (as if the hubs wouldn't notice that I was bringing in yet another Christmas tree).

But then as friends and family got wind of it, decorations started appearing...some came in the mail, a few were attached to my Christmas gifts, they jumped into my basket when I was at a Christmas or craft store.  Soon there were hundreds of ornaments on that tree...and very wisely, I wired each one to a branch, planted that tree in a planter filled with everything you need to make gingerbread, and when the season is done, it's wrapped in plastic and carted down to the basement.  No muss, no fuss!

If I weren't such a lazy bum, I could bring it up to the kitchen for National Gingerbread Day, and make up a big old batch of gingerbread men to take with me to Ladies Night tonight.

Or I could spend the time that would take sewing together the backing for that batik paper-pieced quilt.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

203 Days Until Christmas

Every once in a while I need to stop thinking (obsessing) about quilting, and focus on other creative pursuits.  In this case, since tomorrow is National Gingerbread Day, I've got Christmas on my mind.

It's probably time to start adding Christmas crafty items to my Etsy store (, and maybe start working on some of those crafts I didn't get to last year that are piled up underneath the workbench in my craft room.

And I should definitely start thinking about what I'm going to do with these two VINTAGE Flexible Flyer sleds I picked up at an auction last month. (Decorate them with greens, berries, bows and LED lights, or sell them 'as is'?)

Or maybe, I should focus on the holidays that are coming BEFORE Halloween.  While I did finish one more block for the Crabapple Hill Halloween quilt...I don't put much confidence in it being ready for 2016...though I do have a business trip for 6 fun-filled (NOT!) days in Minneapolis coming up that will certainly offer an opportunity to put in some serious in-flight stitching.

Have you got Christmas in the back of your mind? And most importantly, have you started your shopping yet?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Orange Peel

As promised, here's the latest project I have thrown into the mix.  ORANGE PEEL!  5 years ago I went to the International Quilt Festival in Houston and fell in love with French fabric sold by one of the vendors.  For a couple of years, every time I saw this woman at a quilt show, I bought a few 'FQs' (and I use that term rather loosely---these fabrics fall far short of measuring 18x22....some are 15x20, some smaller due to these hideously oversize selvages that seem to be on many of the pieces I picked up).

I've got a lot of fabric 'collections' just waiting for the right project to come along, so when I saw this one last week, I thought 'Gee, wouldn't that French fabric be great in an orange peel quilt', and I promptly ordered 6 yards of Moda Bella Oyster solid and a template.  Cutting for a couple hours here and there for the past couple days, I managed to get 288 peels out of my FQs, so last night I cut out 288 5" squares to applique them to. But before I can do that, I need to cut 288 peels out of some featherweight fusible interfacing (seriously, I am not crazy and do not plan to needle turn this project, nor do I want raw edge machine applique), and then I can get started appliqueing each peel to a solid block.

This is going to be a fun one for the design wall...should the circles be a single color, or should the 'jacks' be a single color, or do I mix them all up??  We shall see how this plays out later this summer once all the applique is done.

And prior to cutting into those French beauties, I had a lightbulb moment when I put a fresh blade in my rotary cutter.  Dry erase pen!

What are you working on now? Are you a master of machine applique?  If so, I could certainly use some tips.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm Back

finished the Grand Illusion quilt 2 days before quilt show turn in. It was a major undertaking to quilt on my 440 and I don't consider the quilting to be good enough for the County Fair so it's been put into service on our bed. Just glad it's done. 

With that out of the way I whipped out a quick little table runner for my daughter in an afternoon. 

I also managed to hand sew an adorable summer wool appliqué project the next weekend. 

And then I became a paper-piecing fool and burned some serious hours piecing a Fair entry...

I just need to get in the proper mood to piece the back/sandwich/quilt the darn thing. But nooooo.....I wouldn't be me if I didn't distract myself from a finish to start on a new project. (Tune in tomorrow for a peek at that one)

Happy Wednesday!