Baby Steps with Projects

I've gotten a little bit of a lot of things done in the last week.  Here are the highlights.

First, I've gotten most of the quilt top that was on my design wall assembled.  This is a big accomplishment for me because I really need my design wall open for when I start sewing my Postcard quilt.  

This quilt is the result of a class I took several (three?  four?) years ago from Kimberly Einmo.  I just have to add the outer borders and then figure out how to quilt it, which might take me another three or four years to accomplish.  The good news is that I already have backing and binding purchased.  Fabric is Kate Spain's Horizon.

The next accomplishment belongs to my husband.  He grouted all the tile over the weekend.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Here are a few garden pictures.  The first two are of the shrubs we moved.  So far they seem okay. No new growth, but it's been really rainy and not as warm this past week.  We definitely need to clean the siding on the back of the house this year!

My daffodils are starting to bud.  Last year at this time they were blooming, so we're not too far off.  I'll be so happy when everything is greened up again.  

I also had another quilt finish.  I got the binding all sewn on this Christmas quilt. The pattern is available for free from Fort Worth Fabric Studio and the fabric is Kate Spain's Jingle.

Tomorrow I'm going to a quilt show.  Maybe I'll have some pictures to share next week?

Postcard from Sweden QAL

I decided (perhaps in a moment of insanity) to participate in mmm! quilts' Postcard from Sweden quilt along.  I had purchased the quilt kit from Stitch Stash Diva on Etsy a few weeks before I saw the post about the quilt along on Instagram.  I wasn't going to start it yet since I don't have it on my list for my quilt guild's UFO Challenge.  But the fabric in all its bright rainbow gloriousness kept calling to me.  And I caved.  I am fantastic about starting new projects, not so great at the finishing.  I always have 60 million things in progress.  Maybe I can actually get this one done in the time prescribed?
I started cutting last week.  I made a bunch of labels to help with organization.  You can grab a free copy of my labels on my free patterns tab.  I got everything cut and then decided that there was enough fabric left to cut a mini version of the quilt too.  I was only short a few squares of the thistle and peach colors, so I ordered more of those since no one had them locally.  Nothing like ordering a fat quarter so that you can cut a 2.5" square out of it!
After that, I laid everything out and started pairing up the fabrics according to the layout in the pattern.  By the way, you can download a free copy of the Postcard from Sweden pattern from Jeli Quilt's Craftsy site.  I broke the initial cutting into two days, the mini cutting I did in one, and the pairing up took two days.  I got the pairing up finished up yesterday.  

Then the reality and the panic set in.  Even though I labeled all the colors before pairing, after pairing I only have them labeled with their positions.  I will have to go back look up each color to make sure I get the placement correct.  I'm also a little worried that my HST aren't going to come out exact and I will have to trim them all to a smaller size.  I'm not the best at accurate triangle sewing.  And I will need to sew the project that's laid out on my design wall fairly quickly (and it's really not a quickly-type quilt) so that I can use the design wall to lay this one out.  Panic!  Panic!  Deep breaths.  It's just a quilt.

On a side note, I started off pressing my fabric with Best Press and it was leaving blotches all over the fabric that didn't dry away.  Have you ever had this happen?  You can see it a little bit in the Delft fabric above.  I was worried, so switched over to just spritzing the fabric with water.  Too bad, because the first few had a lot better body and will be easier to sew, but I couldn't risk the blotches.

Another side note, my nice camera seems to no longer focus, even in manual mode.  So I'm using my cell phone only and I feel like I'm not getting the best quality photos, even though I upgraded my phone over the weekend.  I feel like the cell phone photos are really grainy.  Any tips for bettering the quality would be appreciated.  

We had a burst of really nice weather the last few days and I noticed my daffodils are starting to come up.  We have a few shrubs that outgrew their spaces and needed to be transplanted before they are actively growing, so I knew it needed to be asap based on the growth of the daffodils.  We pulled two of them and moved them this weekend.  One was a lilac--that thing had super deep and spreading roots.  The other was a hydrangea and it had a surprisingly small root system.  I think I'm going to pull out my knock out roses too because they only look good while they're blooming.  Between that and the die-offs I've had with the perennials the last few seasons, my foundation is looking rather bare at the moment.

I put my kids to work cutting down the dead stuff from my lower garden while we were dealing with the upper.  My son pulled a milkweed stalk that had a good six feet of root attached.  He was operating it like a lasso.  I've never seen one have a root like that.  I also was unpleasantly surprised to find that the deer had ripped out a few branches off of two different evergreen shrubs down there.  And pulled some of the irises out of the ground again.  At least those recover easily.

I also did a hard prune on my spireas since they were scraggly and out of control.  We found an unexpected bird nest in one of them.  It was only a few inches off the ground.  I'm wondering what used it last year.  It was pretty small.

Well, I'd better get to my usual daily tasks of cleaning, cooking, and sewing.  I'm certainly not lacking things to do in any of those categories.

It's Olympics Time

We've been watching lots of Olympic events.  My son and I love the snowboarding events and my daughter enjoys all the ice skating events.  I stayed up late last night to watch Shaun White. Totally worth it!

Meanwhile, not much is getting done on the sewing front.  I have added another small finish to my 2018 finishes page.

I also finally got this Kate Spain Jingle top that I made in 2015 quilted.  The free pattern can be found here, along with lots of other great, free patterns.  Anyway, the binding's been ready to sew down for three days but I've been too busy watching the Olympics in the evenings to work on it.  

The kids finished off the puzzle the other day.  We haven't started a new one yet.
We got the ruler table attached to the Juki.  I'm hoping to try it out soon.

A few weeks ago I bought a Postcard from Sweden quilt kit from Stitch Stash Diva on Etsy.  I wasn't going to start it yet, since I didn't have it on my guild UFO challenge list, but today on Instagram I saw that mmm! quilts is hosting a quilt-along and I think I may do it! Anyone want to join in?

Have a great week, and happy Valentine's Day.

My First Finish of the Year!

I'm off to a really slow start, but I have my first finish of 2018.  I finished up binding my Kaffe quilt last night and buried the threads this morning.

The pattern I used for this quilt is Walk About by Grizzly Gulch.  All fabrics, front and back, are Kaffe Fassett.  I used the Echo Blossoms pantograph available from Willow Leaf Studio and So Fine 50 wt thread by Superior.  I love how this turned out.  So does my daughter, who picked the backing fabric and claimed the quilt when it was just a pile of fabric.

My next project in the queue for completion is this doll quilt.  I pattern tested the top for Pixie Faire back in the day.  The pattern is by Lilie Stone and you can buy it at Pixie Faire.  Anyway, I had it almost bound when I realized that I'd somehow chopped off the corner of the binding.  And there it sat for a few years.  Yesterday I removed the binding and replaced the cut piece.  Now I just need to sew down the binding.
I made this baby quilt top years ago for one of my husband's bosses, who did not like it.  (Had to make a different quilt, but that's a whole other story.)  I had started to quilt it on my domestic machine and it had tucks in the back.  Again, I got frustrated and there it sat.  I'm guessing about 13 or 14 years now.  My daughter rocks at seam ripping--she is super fast!  So I had her rip out the quilting.  I'll give it all a good press and quilt it on the long arm.  I'm seriously contemplating trying out my rulers on it.  I just have to figure out how to attach the ruler table to the machine.  It involves attaching magnets to the machine.  Meh.

I also got the "My Dogs Are Barking" row by row from Modern Domestic pieced.  There was very little extra fabric in the kit.  I messed up one black piece--accidentally cut my 1/4" from the wrong side and chopped my piece right off.  There was not enough extra black to redo it, so I had to go buy more.  How did I not have any black fabric in my stash?? I had just enough of the coral and the brown; good thing, since those would have been much harder to replace locally.  I do have a decent piece of the background and a small piece from the coat fabric left.  

That being said, I think it's super cute.  I bought some polka dot backing that matches the coral and will bind in black.  I just have to figure out how to quilt it now.  Always my hangup.  I'm planning to hang it in my future sewing room when both are finished.
Our basement project is moving along a bit.  We got the tile mostly laid in the bathroom.  The tile is Style Selections Serso Black Walnut Wood Look Porcelain tile from Lowes.  I'm very happy with how it looks.  We special ordered matching epoxy grout from a flooring store that should be in this weekend.  One comment on the tile--my husband found that the tiles were not consistently sized from end to end, so he did a fair bit of sorting so that everything lined up.

I think I finally have made a decision on my sewing room flooring.  I think this Mannington Adura Max luxury vinyl plank in Sundance Gunstock is going to be the one.  My wall color will be very similar to this, if not the same.  It's Valspar Homestead Resort Jefferson White from Lowes.  I was also forced to come up with a for-sure layout for the cabinets since the floor has to be laid around them.  We're just about there with that; I have a few measurements and a few specialty hardware layouts to confirm.  I hope I like it since it will be permanent!
I want to take a moment to address leaving feedback on a handmade item.  The internet gives voice to anyone, for better or for worse.  I think that people forget that there is a human on the other end of the transaction.  Unless something is seriously defective with the item you purchased or they took a month to ship an in-stock item, why leave either a less than stellar rating or a passive aggressive, seemingly positive, but in reality, negative review?  

If you don't like hook and loop tape, don't use it.  If you don't like the construction methods the designer chose in the pattern, do what you want instead. You don't have to exactly follow a pattern. Or if you don't like clothing that closes with hook and loop tape, ask for a custom instead of leaving a poor review, especially when it was disclosed in the listing that hook and loop tape was used.  I don't know.  I would rather receive no feedback than drivel like that. Anyway, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.  Or address your concerns with the seller via convo first rather than poor public review with no chance for the seller to respond.  Just be nice and considerate. Please.

On a happier note, if you are craving a chocolate chip cookie but don't want to make a whole bunch, try this recipe.  Leaving out the cornstarch and using semi-sweet chocolate chips (no adding extra to the top), six big cookies have about 200 calories each.  Just really reduce the baking time.  I'd start checking at 5-6 minutes.  I think you could easily make 8 smaller cookies too, at 150 calories each. 

Oh, and we started a new puzzle.  This one is all Mustang advertisements.  We decided since this was easier than the London puzzle we would not refer to the picture on the box at all.  It's a little harder in that the pieces are all really unusual shapes and not just interlocking like the last one. Our strategy here was to build the border and then put all the pieces with words inside.  This may bite us because we don't know where inside each part goes.  Oh well.