Last week I was talking about how the R2-D2 quilt had been a series of annoyances.  I also mentioned that I had it on the frame and hoped quilting went smoothly since nothing else about this project had.  Well, I jinxed it because quilting is currently at a standstill while I pick out a 9" by width of quilt row of stitching.  (I offered my daughter $10 to pick it out, but she quit after a few inches.)  Somehow I managed to get a huge ruffle in the border.  I'm hoping that removing the one row will allow enough where I can go in and somehow fix it.  I've never had that happen before, and I'm not really sure what caused it.

Since I'm quite annoyed by having to rip out a giant row, I moved on to other things.

I bought a B & C Clambake kit on Etsy and cut and sewed that.  I changed the pattern slightly by omitting the solid strip along the bottom.  I was thinking maybe I'd make this into a pillow cover instead of a mini, but it's not square, nor is it a common pillow form size, so it's hanging around on my design wall until I decide. (And yes, I know I can make my own pillow form, but ugh!, more work!)

I also cut out a mini Bobbin Box quilt, but have not yet had time to start sewing.
I really need to make some new short sleeve shirts for myself now that it's warm again.  I bought all this fabric last summer and have yet to do anything with it.  Fitting oneself is a scary prospect. I used the same pattern to make some shirts for my daughter last year and perfected her fit, but we are built quite differently.  I just need to take the plunge and cut one out and try it.  Wish me luck!
In other news, we got part of the vegetable garden planted.  This year we are growing lettuce, broccoli rabe, red cabbage, potatoes, green and purple beans, and ONE cucumber plant.  We planted all but the beans and cucumbers, but nothing has sprouted yet.  To be fair, it's only been three days.  :D

If the weather is decent this weekend, I really need to clean out the dead stuff from the flower gardens and get some new mulch put down.  The deer have already decimated my tulips and most of the day lilies.  I'm sure the newly emerged hostas will be next.  Have I mentioned how much I detest deer?

Oh, I've gotten half of the pumpkin quilt bound and am a block behind on the Sewcial Bee Sampler.

Something I'm proud of this week is that I had bloodwork done and have lowered my cholesterol over 40 points since last time it was tested and cut my triglycerides in half!  This was the best result I've had in 10 years!  I attribute this to all the walking I've been doing since the last test.  It's good motivation to keep it going.  I alternate walking outside and on the treadmill, 3 to 3.5 mph pace pretty much daily.  I'm going to add in a rowing machine next week for some variety and to spare my poor feet.  Now to lose 30 or 40 pounds......

What I'm Working on This Week

I made a tablecloth for a DJ table, but that is not an exciting project to look at.  It just looks like a pile of black fabric!

Here are blocks 1 - 7 of the Sewcial Bee Sampler.  I feel like my photo looks almost fish-eyed.  How strange.    I was standing directly over the blocks with a regular camera.
I'm very, very, very slowly binding my pumpkin quilt.  I only have about 24" done so far.  :/
I have the R2-D2 quilt on the frame.  I'm using BB-8 fabric for the back.  If you look closely, you'll see there is no batting.  My husband kindly finished loading the quilt for me while I got my son into bed.  He left out the batting though.  :)  
This one has been full of frustration.  When I originally finished cutting out the pieces, my son informed me that he wanted a different pattern.  Then it took me over a year to finish sewing because it was so tedious.  Then it was too small, so I had to buy border fabrics.  Next, my son told me he doesn't really like quilts.  He did pick out the backing and I bought what was left on the bolt, which I thought was a half yard extra.  Somehow I calculated wrong because there was not enough backing.  Then I remembered that I'd bought a piece of it when it first came out.  Luckily it was two yards, just enough to very carefully add to my other yardage, but it's going to be really close side-to-side.  Hopefully the quilting goes more smoothly than the rest of the project has gone. 

I have a Thimbleblossoms Mini Clambake cut out and arranged on my design wall.  I'm toying with leaving the solid strip off the bottom.
Last week was our spring break.  It was super cold and blustery and we even had snow--more than what we'd had most of the winter.  Since it had been unseasonably warm many of my plants were emerging, only to be partially frozen.  The birds didn't know what to make of it.  I had flocks of robins in my yard and a lone red winged blackbird at the feeder.  Today is absolutely gorgeous and I happened to spy a towhee.  I got a really grainy picture through a screen before he hopped out of view.  I rarely see towhees in my yard.  I'm hoping this means spring is here to stay.

Quilting for Charity

I like to lend my efforts to charity quilting now and then.  In the past I've made quilts for Quilts for Kids and the local NICU.  I've also worked with my guild to assemble a few quilts for Pulse victims.  

Here is a list of organizations I found that accept charity quilts (please remember I've only worked with Quilts for Kids).  This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but it's a good starting point. Be sure to follow the guidelines each organization stipulates so as to make the most of their time and yours.  Expect to pay for shipping if the charities are not local.

I've given a brief overview here.  Click the name of each charity to go to their list of requirements.

Quilted EMbrace

  • supports senior citizens in nursing homes
  • 36" x 48" quilts
  • very few restrictions other than size

Quilts of Valor

  • given to those touched by war
  • approximately 60" x 80"
  • many rules/restrictions for all aspects of quilting--click on link for more info

Quilts for Kids

  • primarily given to kids with life-threatening illnesses
  • approximately 40" x 46"
  • due to health issues of recipients, must use only new, quality cotton, must be machine quilted and machine bound, no laundry scents--must be very clean
  • can request kits from organization; you pay shipping and provide batting

Million Pillowcase Challenge

  • you donate pillowcases to your own charity, link goes to list of ideas
  • use 100% cotton fabric
  • free patterns are provided, but you can design your own as well

Project Linus

  • given to children in crisis via local chapters
  • new, handmade, washable blankets or afghans
  • 36" x 36" up to twin size
  • knit, crochet, fleece, or quilt--many free patterns available on site
  • no smoke, strong perfumes (including detergent/softeners), or animal hair

Quilts Beyond Borders

  • given to orphans worldwide
  • 45" x 60"
  • must be quilted and bound by machine
  • also accepts quilt tops

Wrap Them in Love

  • given to children worldwide who are victims of tragedy or disaster
  • 40" x 60" recommended size, but will accept larger too
  • will accept fabric, batting, blocks, quilt tops
If you want to stay local with your donations, good places to check with include hospitals (especially NICUs and children's hospitals), senior centers, women's shelters, and animal shelters. Police departments or school counselors could possibly offer guidance as to where local need lies as well.  

IHQS Show & Free Printable Quilt Care Card

Last week I visited the IHQS show.  It's fun to see local quilters' works displayed alongside national and international quilters'.  Another feature at the show the last few years is first quilts made by high school (or younger) students.  Although I generally do not photograph these, it's so fun to see new quilters represented in the show.  

This year's special exhibit was one I really enjoyed--mini quilts based on the National Parks.  Here is more information on these quilts.  I took pictures of a handful of the quilts on display.  Although I used my cell phone camera, I feel they are still decent enough to share--please enjoy them!

This week I am gifting the baby quilt I shared last week.  I made up a printable card with quilt care instructions.  I am sharing it with you, free of charge, here.  There are two cards per page.  I'm planning to mount mine on a pretty background paper.

I haven't really accomplished a whole lot in the last week.  I worked on a UFO and cleaned my kitchen.  I think my taxes are done.  I read a few books and kept up with the usual household tasks.  My daughter and I have been watching a bunch of episodes of Case Closed and my son had his Pinewood Derby (which he did quite well at--two trophies!).

Many of the trees are budding out and more daffodils are blooming.  We are supposed to have several inches of snow over the weekend.  Next week is the big braces installation!

I Finished Something!

Last week I shared a baby quilt I was working on.  I actually have it completely finished!  I sewed down the last of the binding last night.  I used Greatest Adventure fabric from Riley Blake on this one--it's just four packs of charm squares sewn together.  (Note that each charm pack has only 18 squares.)  I did a quick, all-over loopy swirl quilting pattern on it.
About 36" x 40"

I also finished the R2-D2 top and found out that neither of my kids is that into quilts.  WHAT!?  How did they come out of me?  

So I opted to quilt my pumpkin quilt before R2-D2.  I'm trying out the Leader Grips I bought at last year's AQS show.  I'm not sure that they're faster for me than pins, at least not yet.  It takes me approximately one hour to load a quilt using pins and it took an hour to load a quilt as a joint effort with me and my husband using the leader grips.  :/  It is really fast to remove the quilt from the frame, however.  I had to make a few adjustments with how I set up things to accommodate the bulk of the grips, but I don't think that will be a huge deal.  Just have to remember to make sure the grip for the backing is clear of the dead bar before starting.
In other news, we've reached the wiring phase of the basement project.  This is a corner of my future sewing room.
My early daffodils are starting to bloom.  That means spring is here, right?  It's so awfully early for them though.  We'll see.

My son took his first standardized test yesterday.  He commented that it was really easy and only took him about five minutes to finish the whole thing.  I'm not really sure how to take that!  I will say that he doesn't have the best time sense yet.  He takes the high stakes one next week (if you don't pass, you don't pass third grade no matter how well you do otherwise).

I have tried cooking a few different things in the pressure cooker--some chicken breasts, ribs, and baked beans.  The chicken came out a tad dry, but most likely due to operator error.  Ribs were decent, beans I was not impressed by.  At all.  Anyone know how to remove onion smell from the lid sealing ring?