A Start, a Finish, and Progress

I completely finished the Serengeti quilt I quilted last week.  I made a flanged binding, the fabric for which came in the kit I'd purchased.  There weren't any directions for how to make the flange, so I turned to Google for help.  I read through several different tutorials and finally went with the one that made a 2.5" finished strip, since that was the closest measurement to an actual binding I could find.  It went pretty well and I feel that it adds a bit of oomph to the finished quilt.  The only thing I didn't like about it was that it cut off the points of my top and bottom flying geese units.

I started a new project too.  I am pattern testing for Megan of Tiny Orchard Quilts.  This is still a work in progress.  I have three blocks done so far.  The fabrics are Tula Pink's Spirit Animal and Kona Snow.  When I purchased the Tula fabric, I figured I'd just use one of the white fabrics I had at home.  They were too stark with the fabric, but then I remembered that I had a large chunk of the Snow that was the wrong color for a previous project.  It looks good with the Tula and I used up something from my stash.  Score!  Be looking for her new pattern soon!

Last week I was debating whether my paint color choice (Valspar Homestead Resort Jefferson White) for my sewing room was going to work.  My wonderful husband wired the lights in the room so that I could see how the actual lighting looked with the paint.  I think it will be fine and put the second coat of paint on yesterday. In case you're wondering, we always tape off around the ceiling with the wider painter's tape.  This helps not only with getting a clean edge, but with avoiding roller marks on the ceiling too.  They land on the tape instead.  Which is good, because painting ceilings (or touching them up) is just the worst.

I ordered my flooring from flooringmarket.com.  We chose this place because it had good online reviews and the price was very competitive.  They also offer free shipping. The ordering process was super simple and painless.  I ordered on Tuesday and had my flooring delivered Friday.  I had anticipated that each box would weight 20-30 pounds, and in reality each box is just under 50 pounds.  I'm really thankful for the FedEx driver who used the lift gate to unload the pallet even though the shipper didn't pay for the lift gate.  As you can see in the picture, the flooring is AduraMax by Mannington.  It's a luxury vinyl plank. The color I chose is Sundance Gunstock.  I'm sorta laughing because it is very similar in color to the paneling that graced my walls in my childhood bedroom, which I always thought was dark and ugly.  Hopefully it will be better on the floor!  
Can you see my ugly paneling on the wall behind me (I'm in the center)?
An approximation of the wall color, flooring, and trim.  The trim will be more white.
I've been meaning to get this Nessie quilt quilted for several weeks now.  My son has laid claim to it and has very specific ideas on how it should be quilted.  He wants random clouds across the top around Nessie.  I can't draw a cloud to his liking, nor can he draw an example of what he wants.  We use the Magna Doodle to practice designs.  Until I can figure out the cloud situation, it sits and waits.

I'm still agonizing over my fabric choices and what to do for extras for my Woppet swap partner.  This is a tough one.  I think that almost every time I do an Instagram swap because my partners generally like things that I do not have in my stash and that are extremely specific.  I thought I knew what to do for this current partner, but now I am really questioning it.  And I can't just keep buying all sorts of different fabric.  I wish, but that is not my economic reality.  Gah!

MQX Midwest is quickly approaching.  Just three weeks away now.  I'm excited to learn more longarm skills.  What shows or expos do you like to attend?  Do you go to take classes or just to browse the exhibits?

Have a great Labor Day weekend. I can't believe it's that time of year already!  Until next week, happy sewing.

Hey! I Quilted Something

I've been agonizing over how to quilt my Serengeti top for weeks now.  I was seriously frozen with indecision.  And that meant that I couldn't move to get anything done, related or not.  Yesterday I decided enough is enough.  It's time to start getting stuff done.  Other than my guild swap stuff, I haven't finished anything since JUNE! I did make that giant churn dash quilt and backing in July, but haven't touched it since.  

Anyway, this quilt has no intended recipient.  It is a crib size.  Baby quilts need to be washed a lot, so I decided that just doing random loops all over was good enough.  I did want to do a little pattern on the flying geese, and I decided to load the quilt sideways so that I could do the pattern all in one pass instead of scrolling back and forth.
What I neglected to remember when I loaded the quilt backing was that although I had ample room top to bottom, the sides were very tight.  I had started with my leader grips above the take up bar like usual, which uses 4-6 inches of the backing fabric.  So I was quilting along, and then I got to the last bit.  Oh no!  Not enough backing!  Ugh!  I had enough batting though, so I unhooked everything, clamped only the batting to the bar, and pinned the backing to the batting to hold it in place.  It was a tense few minutes, but I got it done.  Luckily this is a quilt pattern without much piecing, so if I need to trim off a little extra on one side, it will still turn out okay.  However, if I would have been using my brain, this would not have even been an issue.
I clamped the batting onto the leader to try to finish.
Can you see the pin under the first two circles in the picture above?
That's where the edge of the quilt top is!
It's hard to see, but I pinned the backing onto the batting to hold it in place.

Here you can see how little fabric I had left on this side.
I didn't quilt all the way to the edge of the top, so there's even less than what shows above.
And on this side, I had tons of extra fabric.
I also finally finished this little frog cross stitch (pattern by Sewing Seed on Etsy) that I started in July.  This is for my son, who loves frogs.

In other sewing news, I signed up for the Woppet bucket swap on Instagram and as usual I have none of the fabrics that my partner likes.  Funny how that always happens to me. I spent a few days agonizing over what to pick and finally just made a decision and ordered a bunch of stuff yesterday.  I hope it's a good decision.  I feel a lot of pressure to make sure I pick the right things when I do swaps.  I want the person to like it and I do spend a lot of time trying to figure out what they would like based on their social media information.  Hopefully it's good, but you really never know.

In sewing room news, we finished leveling the floor and I got to put the first coat of paint on the walls.  Right now I'm not sure if I love it.  It is supposed to be the same color paint as my bedroom, but for some reason it looks really yellow in the sewing room.  And I am not a fan of yellow.  I'm not sure if it's because of a reflection of the green tape on the ceiling, or using a halogen work light which is really yellow, or they changed the tint mix or what.  The plan right now is to get the lights wired so that we can see what the room will look like with the actual lighting.  If I still don't like it then I will need to get a different color of paint for the second coat.  Yippee.
I ordered the flooring for the room and should have that by next week.  I chose Mannington's AduraMax luxury vinyl plant in Sundance Gunstock color way.  I still need to order Formica sheets and edging for the counter.  The cabinet boxes are built, but I don't think the doors are done yet. We will have to install and paint the trim after the cabinets are in, and the wiring needs to be finished.  I also need to paint the two closets that are in the room, but they need a little touch up to the drywall before I start.

I found this moth in the yard a while ago.  I think it's a Luna Moth, and it was only there for a few minutes.
Last year we had virtually no monarchs, and we've seen just a few this year.  Our lower flower garden sprouted loads of milkweed this year.  Even though they are in really random places, I left them because of the monarchs.  The other night, after seeing lots of social media posts about monarch caterpillars, I checked my plants.  Look what I found!  There were various sizes of caterpillars along with aphids (gross) and several other bugs (also gross).  So hopefully we are helping to maintain or repopulate our monarch population.

Oh, and I was so excited to see that the deer left this rose of Sharon alone enough that it actually has a flower on it.  Usually they eat off the majority of the blossoms from my plants before they even open. I think this is the first time this bush has flowered.

FLL starts tonight.  It tends to eat a lot of our time, but most of our team are returning this year, so hopefully that will make it a bit easier than last year.  My husband started class 9 of 10 for his MBA this week too, and that for sure is the biggest time drain.

Guild Swap & Leveling

Our guild swap happened last Friday.  As you may recall, we each brought in our own fabric and filled out an information sheet.  The bags were blindly swapped and we had to make something for our partner using their fabric and based on the information they gave on their information sheet.

Part of the things included in my bag were zippers and a small pillow form.  The zippers were the right lengths required by Sew Demented's Sew Together bag, so I figured that would be a good bet. I used my partner's fabrics for the majority of the bag.  I added the orange Cotton + Steel basic for the binding and the green travel print by Rifle Paper Company for Cotton + Steel as two of the pocket linings.   (You had the option to add your own fabrics in the same color ways as long as they checked the okay box.)  I felt it looked a tad plain when I was finished, so I made a needle minder and placed it on the outside of the bag.  It is, of course, removable.  I also made a little beaded zipper pull charm.

I also wanted to do something with the pillow form.  I found a pattern for a Delectable Mountain Variation that I thought would work well with the fabrics and information.  I drew up my own version and got to work.  I'm pretty pleased with how the finished product came out.  It's a 12" finished block. I should mention that the background linen fabric and the center, bright green fabrics were my partner's and I added in the other three from deep in my stash.  I learned how to do an envelope pillow back too.  I know, you probably can't believe I hadn't done one before since it's basic sewing.

I received this cute flamingo quilt from my partner.  I'm pretty sure it's from an Elizabeth Hartman pattern.  This is such a perfect pattern for me.  I love whimsical, kitschy flamingos and I may or may not have at least five pink flamingos in my front landscaping.  She made great use of my fabrics and I am so pleased it's mine.  She added in the black fabric.

I was surprised by how many purses/bags/pouches were made for this swap by my guild mates. Everyone was so thrilled with their things!  We're going to do the same swap again in a few months.

My kids have been in school for a week now and I feel like I have accomplished nothing.  In reality I've done quite a few things, just nothing sewing-related other than the swap.  I have three quilt tops I want to quilt.  I can't decide how I want to quilt them.  I did piece together a backing yesterday and then stalled out when I couldn't make a decision on quilt design.

We've been working on refinishing my grandma's dressing table for my daughter.  I think I mentioned that last week too.  My mom told me it was her grandmother's table before it was my grandmother's.  With that information, we estimate it to be around 90 years old!  Interestingly, my younger sister does not remember this piece of furniture at all even though it is one of my stronger memories of being at my grandparents' house.  Anyway, it's primed, sanded, and ready for paint. We are having some problems finding butt hinges (who knew that was a real term!?) in the right sizes to replace the old ones.  And we are debating what to do with the tri-fold mirror as well.  I'm hoping to get it done within the next two weeks.  We'll see.  We work slowly and we have a bunch of other things going on right now too.

Last weekend's project was to grind the sealer off the cement floor in the sewing room and then pour floor leveler on it.  We already knew there were low spots in the corners and in front of the window and the flooring I've selected allows for a 3/16" variation over 10 feet.  We rented a giant floor grinder and that worked much better and was easier than our hand-held one that my husband used in the bathroom down there.  Monday we applied the floor leveler.  We had three 55 pound bags and got halfway across the part that needed leveling.  It's the lighter gray in the corner with the wavy edges.  We'll finish the rest this coming weekend after we buy more leveler.  

Funny Things #42

Funny things we've seen on cars lately.

Let's Talk Canning and Preserving

Over the last week I was busy with canning some pineapple and pears.  I also made a batch of freezer pickles.  I'll probably make some applesauce this year once apples are available to pick.

I haven't made canned pineapple before.  I used four large pineapples from the grocery store at $2.49 each.  I canned them in ultra light syrup using the recipe in the current edition of the Ball canning guide.  My yield was eight and a half pints (could have probably squeezed them into 8 pints), putting them at about the same cost as canned pineapple from the grocery store.  We'll see if the taste is good enough to recommend home canning over purchasing, because let's be honest: canning is a ton of work.
I bought eight and a half pounds of Bartlett pears from the grocery store at 99 cents/pound.  I used the Honey Vanilla Pear recipe from Simply Canning.  I made this same recipe a few years ago and these are the best pears.  I could eat an entire jar by myself per day if I had them!  Anyway, the first time I made these I used the sugar syrup recipe as directed in the recipe (not the honey version).  This time I used the light syrup ratio in the Ball canning guide.  My yield was eight pints. These are worth the time, effort, and cost for me.  They are so delicious.  That being said, I love grocery store canned pears too.  I'm maybe a bit unusual in that I far prefer canned pears of any type over fresh. 

As a side note, my Bartlett pear tree has a handful of tiny, walnut sized pears on it.  I'm not sure they will be edible.  This is the second year we've had the tree and the first year that it has born fruit.

I also made a batch of freezer pickles.  Most of the cucumbers I used for this came from my in-laws.  I think I added two whoppers from my garden to get up to 12 cups, or 3/4 of the recipe.  My yield was five-8 ounce Ball freezer containers.  They are best when eaten within a day of thawing.

We harvested the rest of our potato crop too.  They didn't do very well this year.  The red ones had scab and many were super tiny, as you can see in the photo.
I also tried a new recipe, pecan pie muffins.  They are pretty good the first day.  Second day, okay, third day, dry.  They are easy to make, but very high in calories.  Be careful not to over-bake them.  The recipe said eight muffins; I got 12.  I noticed the recipe I used referenced an original that used half the amount of pecans.  I may try the original too as a comparison.  Regardless, they are definitely a dessert due to the amount of sugar and calories.
I've basically finished up my guild swap projects.  I'll share those next week after she's received her things.

We've also been moving forward on sewing room prep.  We're going to have to level the floor before we can do anything else.  That is not a fun process.  We had to do that in the bathroom area that we just finished and the sewing room is much larger.

We're also finally getting to the point of refinishing/repainting the vanity table my daughter inherited from my grandmother 12 years ago.  We've done many rounds of stripping on it and my husband has been sanding and gluing and patching. My daughter is super excited and has cleared out the alcove in her room where we had always intended to place the table.  We work slowly. 

Today is the first day of school for my kids, so I'm hoping to become a little more productive during the days again.

Do you can?  What are your favorite canning recipes?  

Funny Things #41

This one isn't so funny.  Grammar matters.  

P.S.  This is actually a gas station, not a bar.  Well, not just a bar.  We attempted to get gas here, but they were only selling premium, so we took our business elsewhere.

Giraffes and Cabinets

We visited my in-laws over the weekend and got started on the sewing room cabinets.  We finished up the trim prep work and brought the trim for the basement back home with us.  I got all the casing sanded while we were there.  I still need to sand the base and the door head pieces.  Even though we had it wrapped up for the trip back, we went through some pretty heavy rain and it is all drying out right now.
Cabinet drawings, idea pictures, and the building plan.
Making a face frame.
All of the sanded casings.
This cabinet will house my embroidery machine.  
I also got to see all of my nieces and nephews, went to two animal parks, saw a three week old baby giraffe, and visited Stitched Studio, which I highly recommend if you are in the area.
Baby giraffe
Mom watches over baby
The only sewing-related thing I've worked on this week is this cross stitch that I worked on in the car.  Pattern is by Sewing Seed on Etsy.
I can't share the other sewing project I am working on.  It is a guild swap where each participant put their own fabric into a bag, we traded, and we make something for the person whose bag we received using their fabric.  It is due next week Friday, so the reveal will be in two weeks.