365 Challenge Week 8

February 23, 24, 25, and 26.  Still 3" blocks.

February 27 and 28.  February 28's block, which is part of the central medallion, measures 10.5".  Sadly this block took me around two hours.  I had to do a lot of finagling to get it to fit right.  I'm still working on February 29, which is the remainder of the central medallion.  
Update:  Here is the finished central medallion.  This block just gave me lots of problems.  I sewed part of the 29th parts upside down and had to redo it. (You can see where I messed up!)  Overall I like the look of the block.

Quilts for Kids 2016

Charity quilts are such a nice thing.  You can help someone in need and practice new skills or use up fabric you no longer have a use for.  Last year my daughter and I made four quilts to donate to our local NICU.  In 2014 I made a quilt for Quilts for Kids.  Quilts for Kids sends you the fabric, partially cut, and pattern (you pay shipping both ways).  You donate your time, thread, and batting and send back clean, finished quilts within four to six weeks.  Last week I ordered two more kits from Quilts for Kids.  

The kits arrived Monday.  Here's the fabric they sent me:

Yesterday I put both tops together.  I did have to go buy some batting, and am planning to quilt them this week.  I'm looking forward to practicing free motion quilting on these tops!

365 Challenge Week 7

February 16, 17, 18, and 19
February 20, 21, and 22

Stuff I've Been Working On

One of my quilt guilds hosted a swap for members.  We traded quilts last week.  Here's what I made.  My partner likes tractors and Lori Holt's Farm Girl Vintage.  I had to resize the tractor to make it fit.  That was an interesting challenge!  My math was way off on my first attempt.  I finally figured out I could scan in the block diagrams from the book, drag them up to the size I wanted in Word, and then print them off and use them as templates.  I also found out that I can stretch mini quilts on my long arm frame and quilt them on the long arm!  That was pretty exciting!

Here is the quilt I got back.  I love it!  My pictures just do not do it justice at all.  This swap was pretty fun because I actually knew who my quilt was for.  The actual swapping was so fun too.  We just had one person volunteer to give theirs first, and then the recipient gave theirs, and so on.  Lots of oo-ing and ah-ing.  We're planning another one for this summer.

I've also been working on my rainbow swap.  This one is really tough for me.  It's paper pieced, which I do not really enjoy, but felt my partner would like.  I had a horrible time getting the wedges to line up correctly.  I finally got to the point of accepting its imperfections because I just couldn't take it apart any more.  I added a thin border of the background fabric as well.  I'm planning to quilt this one this week.  I'm just not sure how to; that's something I really struggle with, quilting designs.

I've been slowly trying to learn English Paper Piecing (EPP).  I have a large chunk of it to do in order to finish my Queen Bee quilt top.  I decided to start with something smaller and have been using the Fat Quarter Shop's tutorial they posted on Instagram a while back.  Here's my progress so far (half done).  I'm pretty pleased with it so far.

365 Challenge Week 6

Last week I was behind.  I caught back up!
February 6, 7, 8, and 9
February 10, 11, 12, and 13

February 14, bonus 14, and 15

Here are all 47  three inch blocks I've made so far.  I'm proud that they are all from my stash.  What a great way to use up some fabric.  :)

PEX Plumbing Failure

Today on the blog, I bring you a PSA about PEX plumbing and fittings.  While we were planning out walls and such for the basement sewing room and bathroom projects, my husband pointed out that the joints of our PEX waterlines looked odd.  They have white crusty, foamy looking stuff all over the brass fittings.  This seemed rather alarming, especially since our house is only three years old.

After a little research, my husband found that what we were seeing is called "dezincification" and there was a known problem with some brands of fittings and even some class action lawsuits because the parts can fail.  Basically, dezincification happens when water penetrates the surface of the brass and removes zinc, which in turn creates a honeycomb effect on the metal, thus weakening it and eventually causing failure.  Great.  

We decided that even though it is a major hit to the budget, it would be better to remove all the plumbing lines and replace them and all the fittings.  I'd much rather take the budget hit now than have everything fail and flood us out later.  We used NIBCO (R) HydraPure (R) bronze fittings because they have the least amount of dezincification we could find.  My husband also installed a MANABLOC so that we can turn on/off each line individually.  This has been especially helpful as we are replacing all the plumbing so that we could get some of the fixtures back up right away. Going without water is not fun, even when it's only for a day.  I would have been a terrible pioneer.

Here are some pictures of what we first noticed on the lines.

 Here are some shots of the insides of the pipes.  For reference, the pipes are all 1/2".

Here is a shot of some of the new plumbing lines and also the MANABLOC.  If you like to watch Mike Holmes on TV, chances are you've heard him talk about the MANABLOC before.
Do you notice the white PVC pipe with the red "u" shape on it?  That is our radon mitigation system.  I would highly suggest you have your home tested for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.  Many health departments will test your home for free or a minimal charge.  We were shocked that our house was well above the safe limit.   Radon is colorless and odorless.  Testing is the only way to find out if it is present.  If you're building a new home, installing a PVC vent pipe from the basement up through the roof is an inexpensive way to help mitigate the gas.   You can, of course, install one afterward but it will cost more than doing one upfront.  And then if you need to add the fan, like we did, expect that to be another $800 or so.  As long as our red "u" is uneven, our fan is working.  You can expect the fan to last five to 11 years.  The pipe and fan system is the only EPA-approved method for mitigation.  Paints and sealers DO NOT work.
You may be wondering why we didn't go back to the plumber who did the rough in.  That is a bit complicated.  First of all, most outfits only guarantee their work for a year, which we are past.  Second, we actually let them go before the entire job was done after they completely trashed the kids' bathroom cabinets, damaged an irreplaceable sink top, and bumped a hole in the finished wall all in a few hours, so we didn't part on good terms.  Sadly, these plumbers were recommended by our realtor.  She thought we were being too picky on things.  Thanks.  

I am extremely thankful that my husband is very talented and is able to do most anything our house requires.  Thankful for modern plumbing too, even when things go wrong.

Anyway, if you can afford it, I'd totally go the all-copper route. Ours is copper in the walls and under the sinks with PEX supply lines.  If you do have any or all PEX tubing, I'd suggest you check the fittings for dezincification.  Don't want any floods happening.

365 Challenge Week 5

Here are February 2, 3, 4, and 5.  I am behind.  I've mentioned before that we were going to start working on my sewing room in the basement.  While we were working, my husband noticed that the metal joints in our Pex plumbing were quite corroded looking.  Apparently this is a known defect.  Anyway, we are now replacing ALL of the plumbing lines for the whole house.  And my house is only three years old.  :(  So I've been kinda busy the last four days being a go-fer while my husband replaces each line.

#tbmqs2 and #handmadebirthdaygirls2016 Swap Updates

I sent out my Thimbleblossoms mini quilt swap this week.  After a long struggle with what fabrics to use that would suit my partner's tastes, I ended up using some Cotton + Steel basics and a Jeni Baker stripe.  I loved how the quilt came out, but was a little worried still.  Luckily, the recipient commented that she liked the colors.  Whew!  Here's some photos of the quilt and extras I sent:

It's really hard to get a nice photo of this quilt for some reason; this one has
the truest color representation.

I also received my quilt for this swap.  I'm guessing my partner is very new to quilting. I love the needle minder she sent (it's the little aqua flower to the left below).  I'm planning to use it as a regular magnet.  I also like the little hexagon label on the back.

I sent out my next birthday club gift to Jennifer in Germany.  Here's loads of photos of what I sent.  I had a lot of fun putting this one together.
Here's everything--1/2 yard of moon phases fabric, a mini Olfa cutting mat, hexi sticky notes, 1/2" hexagon paper pieces, some post its and page flags for a planner, a tape measure, two cross stitches, a Baymax USB, two Tsum Tsum washi tapes, two Frixion pens, and a rainbow of cross stitch floss.
Luna Lovegood cross stitch.  I framed it myself!
Some Felix Felicis
Baymax in a hoop