Finished Ornaments

I hope you had a nice holiday season.  I can't believe it's already the end of the year!  As they say, the days are long and the years are short.

I managed to get all of the cross stitch ornaments done before Christmas, along with Ralphie that I showed last week and one that I finished at the beginning of the year.

Pattern by Country Cottage Needleworks
Pattern by Country Cottage Needleworks
Pattern by JBW Designs
Pattern by Country Cottage Needleworks

Last week I forgot to show what I did for my guild Christmas party, which I ended up missing due to being sick.  One of my guild mates lives near us, so she graciously took my gift and brought one back for me.  I sent these items to the party--Lori Holt tin, hexagon paper pieces, a spool of thread, scissors, fabric tape, a charm pack, and a gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop.
I received this back.  I'm so sad I missed the party, but I have retreat coming up in a few weeks, so I can see my sewing friends soon.
I'm sure by now you've seen the news that Bluprint by Craftsy has dropped a good number of the independent pattern sellers from their platform, due to take effect on December 28. I'm pretty disappointed by that decision, especially since they only gave designers just over a week to make new arrangements.  In the meantime, I've downloaded all my purchased patterns just in case they are no longer available.

Until next year, happy sewing.

The Finish Line

I'm so close to having things done.  I just finished quilting this top this morning.  I did custom quilting on it.  The pattern is Jelly Roll Diamonds by Fig Tree Quilts.  My suggestion would be to purchase extra fabric for the outer setting triangles.  The fabrics are Celebrate Spring by Sandy Gervais.  I bought this fabric and pattern in 2007, I think.

I have two of the three cross stitch ornaments stitched and am close on the third. I'm hoping to finish stitching the third one today and get them mounted tomorrow.

I stitched this Ralphie ornament.  It's been on my to-do list for three or four years, so I'm glad I finally took the time to make one.  It's based on a picture I found online.  I think the recipient will like it.
My kids painted these gnomes on pieces of leftover door jamb.  We'll be giving pairs as gifts.

An Inconsequential Finish

Well, I haven't been great about working on what needs to be finished, but I did finish the really ugly butterfly quilt.  I decided that since I didn't care much about this quilt, it would be a good time to try out a pantograph I wasn't sure about.  And I used a bright pink thread--why not?  I learned that I don't care for this particular pantograph and that bright pink thread hides in orange and in multi-colored darker fabric.  I finished the binding by machine.  I like using a zig-zag stitch on machine binding to help it to lay flatter.  This quilt finished at 69.5" x 81" and I think I know where its new home will be.

I've been slowly working on the second snowman cross stitch.  I need to have at least one of these totally finished by Christmas.
I've been working extremely slowly on the other major project I am hoping to finish by Christmas. At the moment I'm not feeling especially confident that it will be done in time.  I have to do part of the sashing still and then the setting triangles seem to all be set in.  Yay.  I can hardly wait.
Maybe I'll actually finish the Queen Bee quilt someday!

I also have a few smaller things I'm hoping to finish (and start) in the next week too.  Those aren't as critical as the cross stitch and the quilt though.

We got our Christmas tree decorated yesterday and I did a minimal amount of decorating.  I swear I missed out on the attractive home decorating gene.  

I still need to wrap presents.  I ordered a bunch of things online this year and am still waiting on several of them to show up--it can be a bit nerve-wracking.  One thing I noticed with some of the smaller places I've ordered from this year is that they print a shipping label right away and then don't actually mail the parcel for several days to a week.  WHY?  When someone orders from me, I am super excited and mail it as soon as humanly possible, usually the same day!

This picture doesn't look like much, but my husband ordered me the two-foot extension for my long arm frame so that I will be able to comfortably quilt king-size quilts.  The box was damaged, so I got to open it early to make sure everything is okay.  We won't actually enlarge my frame until we take it down to move into the finished sewing room, which is probably at least a month away.

He's been spending most of his free time over the past several months working on a pole barn for the wife of a co-worker who died in an accident this summer and he finished his part of the construction this past weekend, so my room bumps back up in priority now.

I forgot to mention last week, but the people who run MQX Midwest announced that they are discontinuing the midwest show.  Disappointing, but not surprising.

Current Status

Here is the pile of things I need to work on.
I have a sick child on her way home from school.  I imagine nothing much is going to get done over the next few days while I freak out.

We won a Research Award for our project at our state FLL competition over the weekend and placed fifth of 23 teams in robot runs.
On the way home, we were on the phone with my mom when I heard a noise.  I asked my husband what it was and he said it was the wiper.  It flew right off the arm.  Luckily we were able to stop at the one town between the competition location and home and buy a replacement after 9 pm.  The sad thing is, we just replaced that wiper this summer when it came loose while driving.

The next morning we got in the car to run errands and discovered we had a flat tire!

In other sewing news, I'm sad that Amanda of crazy mom quilts is discontinuing her blog at the end of the year.

I hope you all are having a better week than we've had thus far.  I'm off to decontaminate my house.  Sigh.

Odds & Ends

I (finally) finished my Astrid/Megan's test quilt.  I don't have great pictures of it because there is no one home to hold the quilt while I take pictures.  Here are the details: 

1. You can buy the pattern from Tiny Orchard Quilts.  
2.  I used Tula Pink's Spirit Animal and Kona Snow for the top and binding and Tula Pink    
     Free Fall wide back fabric in the orchid color way.  
3.  I custom quilted this top using Superior Thread's So Fine 50 wt in Snow.  
4.  I used rulers from The Quilted Pineapple.

Things I learned from project:

1.  It took around 24 hours of actual quilting time to finish the top and I got pretty bored 
     with it.
2.  It seems like I never have quite the right curve ruler for what I want.
3.  I found two areas I'd forgotten to quilt while I was binding.  I need to check more 
     closely as I go along.
4.  Even though I took pictures at the beginning, I forgot exactly what I was doing and had 
     some continuity errors.  Write everything down.
5.  I used a significant amount of thread with quite a few stops and starts and had a 
     significant amount of threads to bury when I was finished.  In the future, I'd consider          
     burying threads as I go along.  It seems like I think I have everything buried and then I 
     find more loose ends.

Overall it looks pretty good, but there is definitely room for improvement in my quilting.  The pattern itself is great, and very forgiving.  

I've started working on my Devil's Tower cross stitch again.  I'm finally at the point where it's getting less fussy with the colors.
I am still working on the super ugly quilt.  I need to put the outside borders on.  The original pattern calls for mitered borders, but I just went with straight for this. It's a fairly large quilt at 72" x 84" once the borders are on.  I bought white with black polka dot fabric for the back from JoAnn.  They didn't have the yardage I needed, so I have several chunks and the back will have more seams than I'd like, but the price was right.  I'm going to quilt it using a Baptist Fan pantograph that I've been wanting to try.  I will likely donate this quilt when it's done.  The pattern is called Caribbean Nights and was published in Fons & Porter in the January/February 2006 issue. Yup, it's been hanging around for 12 years!
Seriously, what was I thinking with these colors?

Other than that, I finished painting the closets in the sewing room.  I ran out of paint with one coat left in one of the closets!  Between the room and the closets, I used about 4.33 gallons.

I have a bunch of projects I need to finish (or start!) as gifts.

We have our state FLL competition this weekend and a school district demonstration one evening next week.  We are in the mad rush of final preparation for the competition, but after that things should be smooth sailing for the rest of the year.  Maybe I'll actually get my gifts done on time! And hopefully we can get my sewing room done by the new year....

What are you working on?

Funny Things #45

If you're out shopping for Black Friday, be careful out there!  :)

The Start of My Sewing Room

At long last, my sewing room is finally starting to look like a sewing room.  My father-in-law built and brought the cabinets to us and he and my husband installed them this week.  
Isn't the hinge on the cabinet for my embroidery machine awesome?
This cabinet is HUGE!

I went with Formica countertops.  I like how Formica allows fabric to slide easily over its surface.  We tried something new this time by using Ideal Edge to finish the edges.  We ordered both the sheets of Formica and the matching Ideal Edge from Lowes.  When we took the sheets out of the box, we were surprised at how thin they were compared to what we've used in the past.  Turns out that Lowes (and probably other big box home improvement stores) is now selling this very thin version instead of the thickness that you see in the color chip samples.  It goes down the same, but you have to be very careful when handling it before it's glued due to the flimsiness.

We still need to clean up, put on the crown molding, install some of the shelves, get some glass inserts made for the one cabinet, install knobs and pulls, put down flooring, install and paint the trim, finish the wiring, finish fixing the drywall in the closets, paint and trim the closets, put in the doors, and find someone to install the hunk of carpet we have for the larger closet.  Wow, that seems like a lot!  The good news is that we have everything except for the glass purchased already.

I decided to work on a project this week that I thought I would never finish.  It is one of the ugliest quilt tops I've ever made.  I do not know what I was thinking selecting these colors.  I like the fabrics individually, but not all together.  However, I will finish it and donate it to a good cause.

I'm still binding the Tula quilt.  I'm about 3/4 done.
Finally, deer are jerks.  They keep ripping out my pink flamingos.  Like, several times per week, they rip them off their wire legs.

Three Years Later...

Three years ago, Fat Quarter Shop hosted an EPP sew along.  I bought all the things and stitched together the pieces in a somewhat timely fashion.  Then I had to sew the finished piece to the background.  And there it sat, in various stages of completion for close to three years!!  Have I mentioned how much I dislike appliqué?  

I finished stitching down the star to the background Monday night.  I had enough backing fabric that I could hook it to my long arm.  I was going to stitch a small, wavy line using a ruler.  Well, the ruler was actually little scallops, not waves.  So then I was going to try to use the Jane ruler I bought at MQX from Gina Perkes.  This ruler does clamshells.  You need to have a marked one-inch grid.  I pulled out the stencils I bought from Dorie Hruska.  They are all on the diagonal and I need a straight grid.  So I marked it with my rotary cutting ruler and blue marker.  I guess it's really easy to get slightly off while marking by hand.  Enough that the accurate grid the ruler depends on is just not there.  (Lesson learned:  buy the stencils.) Okay, now I have a more-or-less one-inch grid marked all over the top.  What do I do?

I finally decided to try doing an all-over continuous curve design, specifically, the Terry Twist(TM). Yes, that is a trademarked design.  I thought the one inch was a bit small, and I did not feel confident in my ability to stitch it.  So I went with a two-inch grid.  I did much better than I expected.  The one-inch would probably have looked a little better, but this mini quilt is finally done after three years.  Good enough!  Pattern is by Fat Quarter Shop, fabrics are Kona Snow and Meadowbloom by April Rosenthal.

Our FLL competition was Saturday.  The boys did so well.  We set goals to improve performance in Core Values and Project over last year and score at least 150 on the robot.  While we haven't seen the judges' marks yet, we felt that we significantly improved Core Values and we thought our project was outstanding.  Our robot crashed and burned during the table runs.  We always expect a bit of that, but it was worse than normal this year.  Our third run, the robot actually froze up and wouldn't run the program.  Still, we got third place in robot score and third place overall, which means we're heading to state on December 1.  And the middle school team, 3/4 of whom were on our teams during elementary school, also qualified for state and got a robot design trophy too. Overall a pretty good day!
My father-in-law is coming in just two more days!  I cannot wait to see the cabinets.  I don't think I mentioned, but he is also bringing a few more cabinets for my pantry.  Those will enable us to store away the canning jars and accessories, along with a few rarely-used counter-top appliances. We've been busy trying to finish off a few small things in the sewing room and also picking up the main part of the basement so that there is a clear, clean path from the slider over to the sewing room to bring in the cabinets.  My husband does outstanding work, but cleaning as he goes along (or at all) is not his strength.  And the basement has been a construction zone for two years. Anyway, we're just about there and I cannot wait!

Funny Things #44

He's been waiting for his partner to emerge from Target for way too long!

Postcard from Sweden Mini Finish

My last week has been fairly stressful--the last bit of preparation for the FLL tournament this Saturday, elections, well...actually that's about it.  Things are falling into place nicely for the tournament.  I had some issues with getting the t-shirts printed.  I think everything is under control there, finally, at the last minute.  Elections.  Not a super great day to be a Hoosier, not that I ever fully feel like a Hoosier, nor do I think I ever will feel like one.  I'm always a bit embarrassed to say that I live here.  Well, on the bright side, the political ads are over for a bit. Just think of all the good that could be done with that money instead of spending it on advertising that no one likes.  Do these ads even influence any voters?  I only ever hear complaints about the commercials.

On to much happier things.  Last week I was ready to re-quilt my Postcard mini.  I got the quilting done on Halloween and even started binding it.  I finished it totally on November 1.  I decided to use clear thread on the top and a gray on the back (which is gray).  I quilted in the ditch horizontally and vertically and also did the diagonals.  Because I had many attempts at the quilting, I had a lot of needle holes to address.  I ran the finished mini through the steam cycle on my dryer.  That took care of the holes and also made the quilt shrink a bit out of square.  I went with it, happy to have it finished.  Even though it is now a bit wonky, I still am pleased with it.  It's around 18 x 22.
(c) A. Hammond

Last week Monday my guild got together to make a charity fundraising quilt.  We made some improv-like Christmas tree blocks based on a tutorial available from Amy Smart.  Improv is NOT my thing.  I am a math major and a type-A.  I like my things even and as perfect as possible.  I like preciseness and improv is not that.  I went along and tried to contribute a few blocks.  I then got the job of attaching the vertical white borders and the outside borders, along with quilting it.  The quilt top in progress and some fabrics for borders and backing made its way to me on Friday.  I worked on the borders and quilted it Friday and Saturday before passing it along to another member for binding.  Since this required a quick turn around, I chose to do an all-over loopy meander. It is 40 x 60.

Can you find my seam join?  I was pretty proud of it!  LOL

Because this week wasn't stressful enough, the power cord that runs my stitch regulation decided it would be a good time to develop a wire break.  I would be quilting along and my machine would just stop mid-stitch.  We found a similar cord on Amazon that I hope will do the trick.  It arrived yesterday and I haven't had time yet to try it out for compatibility yet.

Kim of Maggie Magpie Studio sent me a bunch of Bonnie & Camille's April Showers scraps as part of #getyourquiltywishesgranted4.  I feel very thankful for her generosity.  Look at all this beautifulness!  My plan is to make a king size granny square quilt for my bed using these plus the jelly roll and a few other scraps I've managed to buy.

I really have felt the need lately to work on getting more UFOs finished.  I started an EPP mini back in 2015 when Fat Quarter Shop did a quilt-along.  I was new to EPP then, but got it all stitched together well enough.  Then I had to stitch it down to the background and there it has sat, in progress, for almost three years!  I picked it up again this past week to try to finish stitching it down.  I'm getting closer; more than half way.  I just have the top six diamonds left to sew down.  Have I mentioned how much I dislike appliqué?  To clarify, I love how it looks and HATE doing hand sewing of it.  I cannot figure out a good way to get a nice point on the ends.
Let's see.  I finished both pairs of pajama pants I was working on for my kids last week.  No pictures though.  I have almost one side of the Tula quilt binding sewn down.  No progress made on any cross stitch.  I've been focusing on sewing down the EPP and alternating that with binding. Sunday my husband and I will try to get everything in my sewing room ready for my father in law to come in and work.  We have a bit of floor leveling left to do, a bit of drywall patching and then painting in the closets, and painting the window frame if there's enough time. I cannot wait to see my cabinets in there!

Last Friday, after several days of heavy rain, I looked out into my garden to see an obscene display of stinkhorn fungus.  So gross.  They smell terrible. The only way to remove them is to remove all the soil and mulch around them.  Not worth the effort since they are, um, erect, for a day or two, spew seed, then become flaccid and wither away.  They are sort of funny in a juvenile sort of way.

I have four pink flamingos protecting day lilies in my lower garden.  Lately I've been finding them off their posts in the morning.  At first we thought it was due to high winds, but now I am convinced the deer are pushing them over in an attempt to get to the lily leaves.  Evidence--lots of deer footprints and chewed off leaves.  I did, however, find that one of my flamingoes was host to a monarch.  My picture is rather blurry, but maybe you can see the empty cocoon?  It's circled below.

Well, I guess that's it for this week.  I need to get going on cleaning since we have a dinner guest tonight.  And I have a few more FLL paperwork things to get done.  Until next week.

Update 5/13/21:  Linking with For the Love of Geese.