2017 In Review

This year I wanted to finish more quilts.  I didn't do as well as last year, but I had more responsibilities outside my sewing bubble.

I finished nine large quilts and six minis.  I gave away nine of the 15 quilts I finished this year.  I also finished several cross stitch projects (and gave away one) and one knitting project.

I had also hoped my sewing room would be finished, and it's not, although it's definitely further along than at the start of the year. We are hoping to start priming this week.

My big accomplishment for the year was losing 25 pounds.  I'd like to go another 15.  We'll see how it goes.

Goals for 2018:  finish the sewing room, finish more half-done projects, start a long arm quilting business, lose a few more pounds.

I hope your holiday season was nice and that your 2018 is filled with peace & prosperity.

My Son's First Quilt

My elementary-aged son decided that he wanted to do all the sewing for his teacher's gift.  I did a little bit of the rotary cutting--he tried, but couldn't make the cuts.  I guided him on what to do for each step, but he did the drawing, scissor cutting, most of the ironing, and the sewing.  I helped him attach the binding, but he ran the sewing machine.  I think he did a great job!  I did sew the label on the back because he didn't want to try hand sewing.  The finished product is about 7" x 9".  The pattern is based on one by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts.
I'm in a lot better place this week than last.  Everything is ready for the holidays.  My wonderful husband helped me set up the shirts to be embroidered, so it took just over four hours with both of us working on them.  I finished up the fish quilt and am just waiting for a sunny day (between now and Sunday!) to get a finished picture.  It's been so dark and gloomy lately.
 I finished up this Kaffe top too.  I'm considering trying to get quilted today.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Guild Mug Rug/Coaster Swap

My guild met last week and we exchanged the coasters/mug rugs.  Here's the one I made for my partner.  It definitely fell into the large mug rug category.  I used Cotton Way's Bobbin Box pattern as a base and used Bonnie & Camille Basics for the fabrics.

I received the cutest hexie-shaped coaster.  It's perfect because the fabrics and colors are all ones I love and it's also something I would never make for myself.  
We also had the gift exchange.  Here's most of what I included in my gift.  Not pictured is one more pattern and a pin.
Here's what I received.

I was quite happy that the mug and my mug rug match.  Nice coincidence.
In other news,  I'm so relieved that Alabama came through.  I feel a small amount of hope from this.

Also, I finished up the fish quilt top and quilted it yesterday.  I had a moment (or ten) of panic when I thought I broke my bobbin case with a row and a half left to go.  I thought the bobbin was empty, so I went to pull it out of the case and the check spring fell out too.  After reading posts in the FB group about it, I finally found a description of how to reinsert it that made sense.  Whew! Disaster averted.  I started binding last night and only have about 380 inches left to go.  I have 10 days.  No sweat, right?

I was feeling good about it until I realized that I still have to embroider 10 shirts and make a teacher gift in that time or less.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.

At least the decorating and wrapping is done.

Finally, Some Breathing Room

We have now officially ended our FLL season.  The boys won the Innovative Solution award at the Southern state competition, but were not selected to move forward with the Global Innovation Award.  They were in the top 13 teams in the state, and one of the youngest.  So it's an honor, but we're still disappointed that no reason was given why they weren't selected.  I am proud of this year's team because the kids did the work.  We also had the opportunity to do a little outreach in our community last night.  It was a lot of fun and we're hoping to do more.

This is the first free Wednesday night we've had since July.  I almost don't know what to do with my time.  Ha ha.  Of course I jest because I have a to-do list a mile long.

My quilt guild meets this week and we will be exchanging our mug rugs and also having a gift exchange.  This leads me down a path a bit...the intent of the exchange is for each person to bring one nice gift and then we exchange them by drawing a number and selecting a gift from the pile. Each person after number one has the option to draw a new gift or take someone else's already opened gift.  

What do you call this kind of exchange?  It was labeled first as "Dirty Santa" but someone said that's usually done with risqué gifts.  It was then relabeled as "White Elephant."  To me, White Elephant indicates a tacky but useful gift.  However, I have lived in several regions of the country and it seems to mean something a little different in each place.  

So it should be interesting.  Nice gifts, tacky gifts, something in between?  Here's what I have so far ($20 limit).
I've also been very sloooowwwllly working on the fish quilt.  I have two of the six seams for the main top done.  Then there are two sets of borders, quilting, and binding remaining.  18 days to finish it.  😬

Can you find the "oopsie"?  Poor fabric cutting?  ha ha
I am hoping to start priming the basement this weekend.  Although painting isn't my favorite thing, I'm ready to get the show on the road.  

How Many Scrubbies?

I mentioned last week that I was knitting some scrubbies with Red Heart's Scrubby yarn and Lily's Sugar and Cream yarn.  In case you missed it, I used size 8 knitting needles, cast on 15, and then used garter stitch on every row until I thought it was a good size, around 3 x 4 inches.  

I decided to see how many I could get from one skein of the Scrubby yarn.  The answer: 7.5 scrubbies.  I think I could have made each of them one or two rows less and then I could have eight total instead.  I will use them as stocking stuffers.
I've also made a bit of progress on the fish quilt.  I laid out all my blocks and put numbered pins in over the weekend. I started sewing yesterday.  I have four rows sewn and am hoping to get the other three knocked out today.  Then it's six seams to join the rows and two sets of borders.
Be sure to check out my Etsy shop (link to the right----->).  Everything, patterns and finished clothes, is on sale through Saturday, December 2.

More of the Same

Still FLL.  This QT was a little different than the one we've attended in the past.  There were only five awards given instead of 15-20.  The boys won the project category and also were nominated for the Global Innovation award, which is a big deal.  We are competing in the Southern State Tourney in a week and a half and we have also been invited to apply for judging in the state Global Innovation competition, which is a week after our state tourney.  There are up to 13 teams nominated in our state for the G.I., and the judges will select four teams from those that apply. Two of those will move forward to apply for the national G.I. competition.  Twenty teams worldwide will be selected to compete.  Like I said, it's a pretty big deal.  Keep in mind our team is elementary school aged.
The tourney was held in a town known for limestone, so our trophy is a small limestone Lego.
Besides that, my husband had a freak car accident Monday morning on his way to work.  He's fine; the car is not.  Someone heading the opposite way hit a deer, flinging it into the air.  It landed about 10 feet in front of our car and my husband hit it and drove over it.  The other car never stopped.  He had to call 911 to get an accident report.  While waiting for the police he had about 10 people stop and ask if he needed help, which I found nice. Once the police officer arrived, two more people hit the deer remains, so the officer had to drag the carcass out of the road.  The car has $3500 of damage!  
I haven't gotten much sewing done, unfortunately. Time's-a-ticking.  I have 11 more blocks of the fish quilt to sew and three that are 1/2 done.  This is my most pressing project at the moment. There are 35 blocks total, plus borders.

I have made a few scrubbies using Red Heart Scrubby yarn knitted along with Lily Sugar n Cream yarn.  I'm thinking these will be stocking stuffer gifts since I can do one in an evening or two--the Scrubby yarn is pretty rough on my hands.  I have one skein of each yarn.  I'm curious how many finished scrubbies per skein I can get.  I'll try to update soon.  I'm casting on 15 with size 8 needles and working in garter stitch until it's about 4" wide.

Have you seen the new "Snowy Day" holiday stamps?  So cute.  By the way, postage is going up in January.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Life This Week

Things I want to do:  sew, quilt, relax.

Things I am doing:  FLL prep, FLL prep, and yet more FLL.

Things I'm thinking about:  FLL, Christmas shopping, FLL.

FLL stands for FIRST Lego League.  My husband and I are coaching our son's team.  We have six elementary school boys this year.  Here's our robot.  Our qualifying competition is this weekend. We have two more practices to go, along with making sure everything is ready for Saturday.  I have lists, papers, supplies, and parts everywhere!  This season has been pretty smooth overall, but the last week before competition is always crazy, as is competition day.  I'm proud of how well the boys have worked together and the amount of work they've done this year.  In case you're wondering, in my opinion, six is the perfect team size.

Moving on to sewing, last week I got most of the Kaffe top put together.  It still needs three borders.  The backing we ordered came yesterday and it kinda matches.  I'm ready to go with quilting next week (assuming I find time to get the borders on).
I sewed with my guild friends on Saturday.  I got about half of the blocks done for the fish quilt. This thing is just so tedious.

I really want to work on this Lori Holt mini.  It will be next up.

I've been attempting to gather up some April Showers fabric.  I won a jelly roll on eBay and was trying for yardage and a layer cake, but I keep getting outbid or the system would freeze and not let me bid at all in the final minutes.  It's so frustrating.  I did find a couple half yards and a fat quarter on Instagram.  I still need either another jelly roll or a layer cake for the project I want to do.  Finding one at a reasonable price will probably be a challenge since it's out of print and people jack up the prices ridiculously--think up to quadruple retail in some cases.  :/

The quilt my friend and I made for our guild mate had a bit of the backing bleed onto the front.  I managed to get it (red) out of the white and thought all was well.  Then I looked again in the sunlight yesterday--so nice to be sunny, raining again today--and some of the blue had run all over it.  Sigh.  So far I'm not getting it to come out very well.  At least it's less noticeable than the red. I used Dawn, water, and hydrogen peroxide to get the red out. 

I added photos to the 2017 finishes page.  Guess I'd better get back to work.  Until next week (which will be much less hectic, can't wait!).  

PS--Can you believe Christmas is only 40 days away?  Eep.

The Power of Fabric Choice

Over the summer I went to an all-in-one shop hop--many shops, one stop.  I fell in love with a quilt that Scarlet Thread had on display.  It was my normal colors, but not my normal fabrics--it was made all of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  I bought the fabrics and ordered the pattern since they were out. (Yes, I am making an exact copy.) I would never in a million years have purchased the pattern based on the cover image.  But seeing it made with much different fabrics made all the difference.  It's a good reminder to look past the cover/outside--a good lesson in quilting and in life.

I need to order backing fabric (my daughter and I chose one yesterday), and I think I know how I'm going to quilt it already.  Just need to finish the piecing.  If I could settle down and concentrate, I could have the top done in a day or two, tops.

I've also been working on my Tasha Noel snow globe quilt.  Half of the blocks are made.

I'm sewing with my friends this Saturday.  I'm planning to work on my Fishline quilt blocks.  It's very tedious, repetitive sewing, so hopefully it will be a good one to sew while talking.  Maybe numb some of the tedium.

I think I wore out my walking foot.  I'm sure it will be pricy to replace.  Sigh.  But I really need one.  Just bummed because I'd rather spend my money elsewhere.  And really bummed because I ripped all the quilting out of my B&C Bobbin Box quilt (poor tension, too much foot pressure), replaced some snagged fabric, started again with proper settings, and the stitches are terrible. Some are microscopic and some are huge.  More ripping.  Yay.

We have a week and a half until the FLL competition.  Time will pass very quickly, I'm sure.  I'll be glad to have the time freed up afterward.  I can't really complain though; this year's team has been a really great group of kids (and parents).

Some Bonnie and Camille Stars

I finished up the scrappy string block I was working on last week.  It's less controlled than I would normally do, but I like the results.  I'm trying hard to stretch my creativity into things I usually wouldn't do.  This is a 12" finished block loosely based on a template I found at Coriander Quilts via Pinterest.
I bought a kit from McCall's a while back (a year, two years??).  It's a lone star made with Bonnie & Camille's Miss Kate and a solid blue print--not really a solid because the it has a definite front and back.  I had made it to the point of sewing and cutting all the strips and then put it away.  This week I've been working on assembling all the strips, which is a lot of pinning, sewing, ripping, and resewing.  Now I just have to join up the chunks and sew the corner triangles on.  I do have a coordinating backing saved for this project, and I think I have an idea of how I want to quilt it.

Something I was thinking about while sewing this yesterday is how I pretty much never read all the way through the directions before starting.  I glance at all the pictures, but that's about it.  I had been sewing along, pressing the seams to one side.  I got to the point of needing to flip the page to the next set of directions and noticed that there were actually directions on how to line up the angled strips.  The VERY LAST direction given in the pattern is to press the seams open.  Well, too late for that!

I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make here.  I always put a little disclaimer at the beginning of my doll clothes patterns to read all the way through first.  Many patterns give that direction. 99.9% of the time I do not follow that.  I try to give all directions in a logical sewing order.  If you need to know a special technique, I'm going to either direct you where to find that technique when you are at the step that is required or put it right at that step where it's needed.

Do you read all the way through before you start?  Let me know!

I did send out two "Get your Quilty Wishes Granted" packages.  One of the ladies was so gracious and thanked me publicly and privately and offered to send me something, which I declined.  The other lady thanked me when she sent her address and then sent me a written thank you. I was trying to put out good karma and I guess it worked.  Keep reading.

I'm planning to make a snapshots quilt that Fat Quarter Shop did a few years ago.  It called for a FQ bundle, but I could only find fat eighths, so I bought two of those.  And I found all the extra yardage except for the backing print.  Then I read through the pattern and realized I needed some pieces bigger than a fat eighth could yield.  Luckily I either have or was able to find the few prints I needed, which is outstanding since the fabric's been out of print a few years.  Well, all except one.  I couldn't find it anywhere.  I decided to take to Instagram yesterday pleading for a 3 x 16.5" piece and within an hour, someone said they'd send it, at no cost to me.  I feel so thankful!  Karma in action.

I didn't have to make any Halloween costumes this year since my younger decided he didn't want to trick or treat this year.  My older was quite disappointed, but she is really too old for it now.  At the last minute they decided to go to two neighbors' houses, but only one was home.  We actually had a fairly light turnout this year.

In other news, the drywall in the basement is mostly finished.  I don't understand why they won't fix the bad spots without me begging.  He tells me to put one coat of paint on and then they will come back and fix anything that shows.  I find this incredibly frustrating.  I'm paying them not just big, but HUGE bucks for this job.  I have previously painted five houses.  I know what will show and not show.  Fix the darn stuff now so that I don't have to repaint.  Why do people not take pride in a job well done, but just try to coast by with the minimum?  Don't accept poor craftsmanship, people.

Scrappy String Block

Last week I'd mentioned that I won some Bonnie & Camille scraps.  I decided to make a scrappy star block with some of the pieces.  I've had very little sewing time in the past week (which was making me pretty cranky), but I started on the pieces.  Although I thought I had too much fabric for each piece, as it is turning out, I don't have quite enough.  I will need to pull a few more pieces for the majority of the block components.
I finished binding the special quilt last night.  I just have to tuck in all the thread ends to finish.  I need a photo helper to get a picture of it and the other finish I've had recently.

Happy sewing!

A Surprise Finish & Other Odds & Ends

I received word that a guild mate's husband died Friday.  Another guild friend and I wanted to make a quilt for her.  We pooled resources--I had this twin sized top completed and she had backing fabric and batting.  We decided to add a row of hearts to the back--she is known for being anti-boring backs.  Plus we thought adding in a row of hearts would make it more special for the grieving friend.  I can longarm and bind.  She brought me everything Sunday night.  I made the backing and got the quilt loaded on Monday, I quilted it yesterday and am currently working on the binding.  I really love how it came out and I hope that the new owner will love it and know how much we care about her too.

The pattern is one I drew up years ago and taught as a class. The hearts on the back are available from Cluck, Cluck, Sew.  We used the 10" size.  The quilting pantograph is called Hubby Love; it seemed appropriate.

We're working through ways to set up my new sewing room and trying to figure out how to do the sewing table itself.  I would love for the arm to be at the table level for a smooth surface, but my bobbin is not top-loading and I need to be able to access it.  And what if I ever need to get a different machine?  The hole size could easily vary.  We thought maybe buying a Sew Steady table would be the answer.  I got the 18 x 24" size.  Right now I'm of mixed opinion on it.   I wish there was a size in between the large and junior.  This one is pretty huge for putting in a table.  My other complaint is that I have to lift it up in order to access the bobbin door.  Not a lot, less than 1/8", but it is sorta annoying considering this is supposed to be a custom-made piece.  I do really like the ruler that is mounted on it.  If you have a Bernina 440QE and are interested in this table, I'm willing to sell mine for $85 shipped in the US.
I won this bag of Bonnie & Camille tiny scraps from Sunshine Quilt Studio on Instagram.  I'm planning to make the block shown with the scraps.
The pink fabrics I was planning to work on last week did not work out.  I made something different for my swap, and it is finished, but I'll probably wait to reveal it until when it's received in December.

Have you ever seen the GetYourQuiltyWishesGranted hashtag on Instagram?  I haven't participated in it before, but I'm considering it this year.  


It's been a strange and interesting week here.  Without getting overly personal, let's just skip on to the cool stuff.  We had drywall delivered Monday and it was all hung yesterday!  It looks so different in the basement now.  It's been a long time coming.  I looked back on my Instagram feed to see when I'd posted pictures of the start, and it was in January 2016.  It's still a long ways from being done, and they won't come back to mud it until next week, but WOW!

I loaded up my Paradiso #2 quilt on the long arm, and by myself, no less.  I really wanted to test out the dampener plates by working on a pantograph.  What a huge difference!  The laser never bobbled off the lines I was following, with the exception of the points.  The points look really, really good though.  It was really enjoyable.  The only issue I had was that the power box and cord were falling out occasionally.  That may be because I was using a different extension cord and I had a lot more stuff in there in preparation for the drywall.  I will update my Juki post with the current information too.

After that went so well, I decided I wanted to try something new from the front too.  So I loaded up my snowflake quilt from Threadbare Creation's mystery stitch along a few weeks ago.  I tried to do the repeating flower design freehand.  It's far from perfect, but I got in done in just over an hour and while the mistakes really stand out to me, hopefully they aren't totally noticeable.  I bound the quilt that evening, and here it is.  Oh my gosh, now that it's completely done, I see another mistake.  Argh!  Oh well, too late now.

I also finished up this Luna cross stitch over the weekend.  I'm unsure on it.
Here's a view of my work table.  I'm working on a swap.  Not sure if my idea is going to work out though.   :(
I also saw a new bird this weekend.  It is a yellow throated warbler.   I saw two flying around, but this guy flew into the slider, so he sat for a long time.
We also had a lot of bluebirds hanging out on our feeders, which is odd.  They typically eat bugs and worms, not seed.
And, while watching the warbler, I saw this hawk overhead.  
Until next week.

MQX Midwest

I enjoyed my time at MQX last week.  I took two classes from Linda Hrcka:  one on feathers and one about how to use rulers, which was a hands-on (using a machine) class.  Both were excellent although I have a long ways to go on the feathers!  I also took a beginner basics class from DeLoa Jones and a trunk show with Teresa Silva.  Teresa showed us how to draw a lot of different designs too.  She showed us many of the quilts from her new book and I have to say that though the photos in the book were nice, I was so fortunate to see them in real life, because they were so much more amazing in real life.

Things I learned:  all three instructors use primarily Superior Threads and mostly So-Fine and Bottom Line.  They all prefer Quilter's Dream battings in most cases.  They use the Dritz blue and purple markers or Bohin (white only) chalk. Two of the three use Linda's rulers (The Quilted Pineapple) and they were sold out by the time I got to my ruler class with Linda.  Most of them don't change needles as often as you'd think.  Wondering which way the batting goes, or what is right side up?  The scrim side, which will look like it has an interfacing dot pattern on it and may be a bit shiny, goes down.  Trying out machines at a show?  Try making bumps, sort of like clamshell quilting, and see how the machine comes out of the valleys.  Make sure the stitching stays consistent (same stitch length) coming out. Also go from right to left in a straight line to see where the thread breaks.

I didn't find much to buy since many of the vendors were machine vendors.  I bought a few spools of thread, some extra pieces for my Leader Grips, and Teresa's book, which she autographed for me.
Linda Hrcka showing us some of her quilting.
Detail of one of Linda's quilts.
One of Teresa Silva's quilts.
Teresa's Lone Star quilt.
Teresa's business name quilt.
I took a few photos in the show.  The lighting was kind of odd, but it did really help the quilting texture show.  The way the quilts were hung, you could see many of the backs too.  I only had my cell phone with me, so these aren't great, but hopefully they are still enjoyable.

The special exhibit was the Cherrywood Lion King Challenge.  120 quilts were selected for the traveling exhibit.  The quilts are 18" x 18" I think.

Here are some other quilts I liked.  I unfortunately didn't get good enough pictures of the labels, so I've included them where I could.
Me:  "Is that George Michael?"  My husband's response to the picture of the quilt I texted him:  "Is that George Michael?"
Quilt is George Michael by Mary Menzer.
This is one of Margaret Solomon Gunn's quilts.
I don't know.
Ruby Splendor by Rhonda Stockton, quilted by Cindy Gravely
With Milk or Sugar? by Rhonda Adams, quilted by Jane Hauprich 
Galactica Supernova by Corrine Woodward
Soft Serenade by Suzy Webster 
I can't read the tag on this one.  :(  It was all black, white, and gray and really striking in person.
Blush by Cindy Seitz-Krug, quilted entirely on a sit-down machine.  Tag below.

Mini Wholecloth by Linda Read
My absolute favorite at the show--Birds Fly by Barbara Lies.
Back of Birds Fly
 Hope you enjoyed the pictures!