We Took a Trip

Last week we travelled to Huntsville, Alabama, for an FTC robotics off-season event. While we were there, we were able to do several touristy things. The first evening we walked around downtown looking for artwork. It got dark much quicker than it does at home! 

The next morning we joined several other robotics teams for a visit to the U. S. Space and Rocket Center. This is home to space camp and it was fun to see little kids running around in their space jumpsuits. The docents were very knowledgeable and the boys (and my husband) got to talk to a man who helped create the lunar rover! 

In the afternoon, we dropped the team off at the high school for the event and my daughter and I went to Southern Charm Quilting. It looked really tiny from the outside, but it was huge and amazing inside! They had Handiquilter longarms, Bernina and Bernette, Janome, and Brother machines of every type. There was loads of everything--patterns, fabrics, notions and thread, and even vinyl. I've never seen so much Alison Glass fabric in one location before. 

I could have done a lot more damage to my budget, but I restrained myself. I bought some Tula Pink fabrics and a spool of Glide that I was running low on. Oh, and maybe you remember when I went on the Indianapolis-area shop hop earlier in the year and couldn't believe that noone stocked Swiss dot fabrics? Well, Southern Charm Quilting had them all! If you're ever in the area, it's a fantastic shop and well worth the visit.

We also stopped by an antique hardware store where we grabbed a few small souvenirs and quickly walked through a three-story antiques store--that one was primarily expensive furniture, not the usual knick-knack type things we were used to and more interested in. 

Saturday we dropped the team off again and went to a few stores and then visited the art museum. It was a nice little museum. About half of the galleries were closed in preparation for a Picasso exhibit, so we saw mostly local artworks. They had a very impressive collection of Italian sterling silver animal/bird sculptures. Those were my favorites.

After that, we headed back to the school to collect people for lunch. We all ordered takeout Jamaican jerk chicken meals from a restaurant in a strip mall by a Wal-Mart. They took much longer than expected and the restaurant itself was a little sketchy looking, but the food was delicious. 

We watched the robot runs in the afternoon and our team took first place in robots and second in obstacle course. That was really awesome! It was interesting to see how teams from outside our usual region ran their teams, designed their robots, and so forth. 

After the tournament, my family and one other toured the botanical gardens. It was super mega hot and humid, but still a nice experience. They had an origami sculpture exhibit on display outside amongst the landscaping. They also had a very large section of daylily beds and a small amount of butterflies in an exhibit.

Saturday night my family attempted to go to the Trash Pandas store (local minor league baseball team). The lights shut off literally as we parked our vehicle (according to Google they were still open for another hour--nope). However, my daughter was super interested in another store in the strip mall--Poke Collect. So we went in there. I've never seen an actual Pokemon store before! They had cards, stuffed animals, Funko Pop, collectibles, and loads of gaming tables set up. The kids picked out some Pokemon cards, including some Japanese editions, so at least the drive out there wasn't wasted.

One other notable thing--on the way down we noticed a place with loads and loads of old Fieros parked outside. My son looked it up--it's called The Fiero Factory, or TFF on their sign. We got a kick out of that one. Brought me right back to college. LOL. I attempted photos from the moving vehicle, but they didn't turn out.

Sunday we drove home. We made a stop at the American Girl store in Nashville. I haven't been in one since 2017. Things have really changed. I saw that many of the actual stores have shut down since then. I'm thinking maybe they were victims of COVID. I looked up used dolls on eBay when we got home and saw that most were in the $20 range instead of $100 when I last looked multiple years ago. I was a bit disappointed that very few of the historical items are still available at the store. Those items are still going for high prices on eBay. I was super disappointed that they no longer have souvenir shirts with the location on them. That was always my thing to purchase at the stores.

We were originally going to stop at the Parthenon in Nashville, but decided it was just too blooming awful outside. My son asked to stop at the Lane Motor Museum, so we did that instead. I was pleased to see that they had brochures with discounted admission on them just to the side of the payment window. Score! While my daughter and I kind of enjoyed it--there were a lot of quirky cars in there--my son and husband were in heaven. It took them quite some time to go through everything. I guess it was for the best because we spent long enough in there that we avoided all the dangerous weather all the way home.

Back to my sewing life, in case you missed it, I finished the Women's Voices quilt. Scroll down to my previous post to see it. Women's Voices was my June OMG. The finish party link up for June is still open for a few more days. I'm thinking about my options for my July goal. That link up will open on Saturday.

I haven't done much sewing in the last few weeks. I made two blocks for the Betty quilt from the Just Two Charm Pack Quilts book. They're on my design wall behind the longarm, so not the best photos.

The Meadow Mist Malted Mystery starts next week on July 6. I am sponsoring a quilting prize again. I will be taking advantage of the sneak peek/un-mystery.

With everything else that's been distracting me, I haven't yet shared my rainbow quilt. This is the second of two I made during the Sunshowers quilt along several years ago.  The color on these photos isn't very true to life. Oh well.

I also made a baby quilt. They match other than the thread color and quilting designs. I used the Chip design and mint green thread (same as green in rainbow) on the larger and Rain Lines and purple thread on the baby quilt. I think I prefer the baby quilt quilting, but if you like texture, the large throw has texture in spades.

I haven't shared customer quilts for a couple of weeks. Here's what I have done for others recently.

First is Terry's dots quilt. She requested Circle Drama for the quilting.

On Amber's scrappy heart quilt, I picked a very large scale Opal. I saw the fully finished quilt and it looks great! She brought me a smaller version that I'll be quilting the same way this week.

Legene wanted A Fishy Tail for her baby quilt. This one is going to her soon-to-be-born grandbaby! So fun! This one has Tar Heel blue thread, which is very similar to the background of the inner border.

Charlene selected Midnight Sparkle for her tree quilt and requested dark green thread.

Marilyn sent me this one. She is going to make a quilted jacket from this, which I am anxious to see as a finished product. We decided on Opal for the quilting.

Out in the garden, the coneflowers are starting to bloom, as is the bee balm. I was able to harvest a few beans and peas Monday evening. I planted purple varieties of both this year to make it easier to see them. The peas aren't quite right though, since some are green and some are purple. The green ones are a lot fatter/puffier than the purple. Weird.

We had the most surprising thing happen a while back. Our injured rooster Henry started crowing again! He has the tiniest little voice now. Please enjoy this three second video. πŸ˜€

June One Monthly Goal Finish Link Up

It's time to link up your June finish.

This link up will remain open until June 30 at 11:55 pm EST. Remember, you can link up from either my post or Patty's at Elm Street Quilts and your link will show up in the same link party. 

Want to see everyone's goals? Check out the June goal page

Although I wasn't able to comment on all, I did visit everyone's links at the beginning of the month and there are some wonderful projects in the works. 

And how did I do? My goal for June was to put together the top on my long unfinished Women's Voices quilt. I accomplished that and then went above and beyond to finally finish this thing! I like it better now that it is complete, but it's still not really my style, so it won't remain in my collection much longer. 

I no longer have this pattern. It is still commercially available from the designer. Please do not ask me for the pattern; please go honor the creator and purchase a legal copy.

At the beginning of the month I mentioned that I'd need to buy backing fabric. I wanted a muslin wide back for this. Armed with a 60% off coupon, I headed into Jo-Ann Fabrics. None of the fabrics I was considering were on sale online when I checked ahead of time, but they all were marked down in-store. So I stood in the store and ordered online with the pick up in store option so that I could use the coupon. 🫀 One glitch is that the fabric I got wasn't the one I thought I was getting. I was hoping for a more traditional muslin-look and received a silky-feeling solid. But it was acceptable and was a bargain at $5/yard.

I used Warm Plush batting for this quilt. While the package was marked 90 x 108, the piece of batting was actually closer to 100 x 100, which suited my 91 x 91 quilt just fine. This particular package of batting had been hanging out in my closet since I'd ordered it as an experiment on sizing a while back. I had a client provide me with two packages of the 90 x 108, the biggest size this particular batting comes in. One was quite a good bit bigger, but she'd cut a chunk out of the corner, so it was not big enough for her project. The second package was closer in size to the one I'd purchased, more like 100 x 100. So beware--I've had bad luck with the larger Warm packages not being sized as marked on multiple occasions. The Plush batting is quite nice though and yielded really nice stitch quality.

Now it's your turn to share your finish. Please add a link to this OMG post so that others can follow where you are linking.  Just paste this into your post:

Stories from the Sewing Room One Monthly Goal June Finish Link Up

Take a few minutes to visit others and make new friends!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Tall Tales Quilt & Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs Review

Today is a day to celebrate! Kelly from My Quilt Infatuation's new book, Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs, is now available everywhere you buy books--Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Connecting Threads, and many quilt shops. Or you can buy a signed copy right from Kelly herself!

The new book has 30 different quilt backs; each in three sizes. Fifteen of them use scraps (arranged by scrap size) and the other 15 are for stash and yardage (arranged by number of fabrics), so you are sure to find something that works with what you have. 

Many of the quilt backings look like quilt fronts, which really ups the value. You could mix and match the backing patterns to create an entire quilt. On top of that, there are 18 bonus lap-size quilt patterns that you can download for free! As always, full quilt finishing instructions are included. 

I really wanted a pieced back for my Tall Tales quilt top, so Kelly's book launch timing was perfect. Looking through the book gave me inspiration. For my quilt, I chose to use the Cool Columns backing as a guide. I had loads of pieces of novelty fabrics in varying sizes that were either left over from the front or didn't make it into the front. I enlisted my son's help to draw up my piecing plan based on the size of my Tall Tales quilt and the maximum and minimum sizes of the fabrics I had available to use. You certainly don't have to be as fancy or precise as what we did in order to be successful--just follow the easy-to-understand instructions in the book. The inspiration photo from the book is on the left and the diagram he drew me is on the right.

Here is the back of my quilt. Isn't it fun! 
And here is the front of my fully finished Tall Tales quilt. I made this quilt top over two summers, several years apart, during quilt alongs. The book block pattern is available here. I quilted it with a modern Baptist Fan design using 60 wt thread so that there was texture without being too thready over the novelty prints.

Visit the following bloggers to see more quilts inspired by Kelly's book:

Sandra @ mmm...quilts
Anja @ Anja Quilts
Vasudha @ Storied Quilts
Kris @ Sew Sunshine
Leanne @ Devoted Quilter
Anne-Marie @ Stories From the Sewing Room You are here!

#Trending quilt

I surprised myself and finished up all the binding on my #trending quilt, thanks in part to the weather being a bit cooler than normal over the past few days. Indoor photo this time due to high winds outside.

This quilt pattern is by John at Art East Quilting Co. When the pattern first came out it was a mystery, with only the first block, the sloth, revealed. I bought the kit directly from John and kind of kept up with the mystery, but finished the top several months behind schedule--not too bad for one of my own projects. I quilted it with the Arches pattern in December and have been working on stitching down the binding off and on for a few months now. 

One thing I really like about this quilt (besides the sloth!) is the backing material I found. It is an older print from Paintbrush Studios called Over the Rainbow by Ampersand Design Studio. The colors were just about a perfect match to the Kona cottons he picked for the front. 

I will prep the binding for the strawberry quilt soon. I'm planning to stitch that down by hand, but also trying to stay on-task with my Women's Voices OMG since I need to be done by the finish link up next week, so it will have to wait a few days until I have WV finished. I have 60% of the WV top assembled and am hoping to make short work of the rest. Here's a bit of proof that I'm working on it. Also, I have mentioned how ugly I think the provided sashing fabric is, but I will say that it is helping tie together the huge color differences in the blocks. So I'm warming to it.

I've decided that my next project will be a new one. I deserve a treat after finishing up the Women's Voices! And it will be July, my birthday month. I received my copy of Cheryl Brickey's (Meadow Mist Designs) new book, Just Two Charm Pack Quilts. I've had a few charm packs of Sweetwater's Elementary line forever. I looked it up and it came out in late 2014. Oof, older than I thought. It's time to use it! I had just enough of everything to make the "Betty" quilt in the book. There are lots of great projects in the book, so I'm sure I'll make more as time allows. 

Side note, I also received Kelly Young's (My Quilt Infatuation) new book, Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs, and I recommend that one as well. They are both really great, useful books. In fact, I will be using Kelly's ideas for the backing for the quilt from Cheryl's book since I will need just a little bit more than what I have and have some extra charm squares.

After that, it will be back to finishing another UFO. Probably either Grassy Creek or the Batesville BOM I've been sharing recently. Preferably both. Or maybe something totally different. I do have a hard time staying on-task. 

Let's look at the quilts I've worked on over the past week. 

First up is Trish's Lighthouse (by Camille Roskelley) quilt. She picked Diagonal Plaid and I suggested using a 60 wt thread on top so that the contrast wasn't so stark. It looks really good. And check out that backing fabric--it's so fun!  I know, it's really hard to see. You'll have to take my word for it that it's cute.

Next up is one of my unquilted objects. This is one of two Sunshowers (pattern by Megan Collins) quilts I made. I finished the baby version I did last year, I think. I went really bold with this one, using Glide Mint and the Chip design. The Mint appears white in my pictures, but it is the same color as the top arc of the rainbows. I am planning to machine bind this quilt as time allows. Maybe next week? We'll see.

Amber's little panel quilt is next. She picked In the Swirls for it. It's really hard to see on the front since I went with 60 wt thread again so as to avoid overpowering the text on the panel. I've included a shot of the back as well so you can see.

Finally, here's Terry's Japanese fish quilt. She requested Boho Boxes and we decided to use black 60 wt thread on this one. I'm sensing a theme in this week's quilts. πŸ˜„ Funny how things go in spurts like that.
Monday I had to drive my daughter to an appointment that was over an hour away. Only a few miles from home we got stuck in a line of traffic. We could eventually see that there were two large trucks with a man standing in the back of each. Each held a hose. The road had been recently resurfaced and they were apparently reseeding the sides of the road. It looked like one guy was spraying seeds and one was spraying water with a slight green tinge and some chunks in it. Not sure why they were doing it right when people were driving to work.

On the way home after the appointment, my tire light came on. It started flashing, so I turned off the highway into what looked like a gas station. Well, it used to be a gas station, but now it is a U-Haul rental place. No help there. I got out and looked at the tires, which all looked the same. Called my husband and he told me to just keep driving and if anything happened, to call the roadside assistance number on the insurance card. Okay then.

I was feeling relieved when we crossed into our home county with no issues. We turned back onto the resurfaced road and had to laugh. It now looked like this:
A lot of mailboxes were green on the fronts too. Weirdly, they sprayed seed where the grass was still growing and on spots that never had grass before. And clearly had poor aim. They were men, after all. 😏

When my husband got home from work that evening, he checked my tires and determined that one of the tire pressure sensors was bad. My car is pretty old and he had recently replaced another one. He had to borrow a tool from a co-worker. Tuesday night he went to replace the sensor and found that there was a commercial screw lodged in my tire. Well, isn't that special?

Not a whole lot else has been going on. We got a much needed, really nice, steady rain over the weekend. The barn walls are nearly complete and the trusses are supposed to be delivered later today.

I have lettuce to harvest in the garden. Nothing else has anything edible yet. 

Guess that's about it for this week. See you next week! 

Linking with For the Love of Geese, From Bolt to Beauty, and Alycia Quilts.

Off Task

Good grief, I have not been able to stay focused lately. I have too many things pulling at my attention. 

Before I get into everything, I want to brag about my daughter for a minute. She's been spending her days off working on drawing seamless patterns. She has them all uploaded to Spoonflower in her Seamless Stardust shop. We discovered that Spoonflower requires you to purchase all of your items, including different color ways, on a product prior to them allowing you to list them. She did the fill-a-yard thing. Here is one of her fabrics, based on our rooster Henry. I cannot draw at all, so I'm in awe here. She will take requests as well. :)

Ok, back to my stuff. I quilted my strawberry quilt. I'd originally made this for my daughter probably seven or eight years ago. She helped pick all the fabrics and then wanted custom quilting on it, so it sat. She is no longer interested in the quilt, so I picked the Van Gogh design and I think it looks cute. I'll work on binding this over the next few months. I am halfway around my #Trending quilt and I don't usually want to sit under a quilt to bind in the summer.

I decided to empty out the drawer that I keep my to-be-quilted tops in so that I could put all my Glide thread in it. My husband said it wouldn't fit, so my daughter was eager to help me prove him wrong. πŸ˜‚ We were all a little wrong. Most of my thread did fit in the drawer, though I did have some overflow. The nice thing about the "new" drawer is that it fully extends. It is much easier to see (and use) the threads now. The upside down cones are the duplicate, partially used, colors.

I was keeping my thread in an IKEA Alex unit, but I had a serious amount of overflow. {I was gifted a very large amount of thread and prewound bobbins from a very sweet lady last year.} Also, if you are familiar with the Alex cabinets, you know that the drawers don't open all the way, which makes getting to the thread in the back a challenge. I now have my neutral Glide threads in here (fifth down), along with the prewound bobbins and other threads I don't use often (drawers 3, 4, and 6). The top drawer is all the longarm parts and accessories and the second drawer is longarm rulers.

The only issue with all this is that I had to find homes for my unquilted projects. Looking at them, I have three that I am planning to edge-to-edge and seven that I would like to custom quilt. I'm hoping to get to the three over the next few weeks. I am very, very slow on custom quilting--it takes me quite some time to come up with designs that I am satisfied with and usually about a week to complete the stitching on a lap or larger quilt. Anyway, I moved most of the custom ones to the lower drawer, which is where I usually store completed mini quilts. There was plenty of space. Wouldn't it be fun to completely finish all the to-be-quilted pile though?

I've also been trying to learn Pro-Stitcher Designer. I have been watching some classes I purchased and I thought I knew what I was doing. Nope. I have spent so much time trying to figure out a design. The artwork looks good, but when I change it to stitches, all my curves are gone, leaving ugly, jagged lines. I cannot figure out where I've gone wrong and finally had to just set it aside for now and get back to other things.

I've been wondering if I want to do some updating on my business logo, website, and/or colors. I for sure want to make better business cards. I paid someone to design them the first time around and I didn't like how the cards looked when printed. So I have to decide what to do and how to do it. Too. many. decisions. Also sidelined this for a bit.

I have not even begun working on my OMG yet. πŸ˜’ I need to get a move on because we had a surprise robotics competition pop up that we will be traveling for this month. Maybe it will dispel the ennui (Wordle's Monday word) we seem to be trapped in lately.

I have completed the astronaut Quilts for Kids. This one is quilted with Driftwood. Quilts for Kids projects are good for trying out new designs.

I have also completed all my remaining guild secretary duties with the exception of handing over the binders to the incoming secretary at the board transition meeting in a few weeks. πŸŽ‰

Just a few client quilts to share this week:

First is Deb's bow tie quilt, quilted with Stipple.

Next is Trish's jelly roll race quilt, quilted with Ginger Snap.

Finally, Jae's quilt, quilted with Cakewalk.

Out in the gardens, things continue to be extremely dry. This morning is the first time in probably three weeks that we've had some rain. Most things are holding their own, but there are very few flowers, other than the clematis, catmint, and lamb's ear. Lamb's ear grows like weeds here. You can throw a hunk on the ground and it will start growing and spread everywhere.

After nagging my husband a bit, he got the solar-powered watering system running again (it was on hiatus for a growing season or two) for the vegetable garden. The lettuce has a few leaves that are of harvestable size. The peas, zucchini, and beans are growing well. I think I see the start of flowers on the beans and zucchini. The cucumbers are there, but off to a slow start. Beets seem okay right now. I planted tons of bell pepper seeds, but I have only found three things that I think are peppers. We did find a bunch of one weed with purple undersides that we pick out of both flower and veg. gardens regularly. My son used his "Picture This" app and it came up with nightshade! Eek! I guess tomatoes and peppers are also in the nightshade family, as is horse nettle, which grows all over the place here. Wouldn't that be funny if I pulled out all my pepper starts thinking they were weeds? I should have started them in the Aerogarden.

Speaking of the Aerogarden, I decided that the tomato starts were ready to go outside. The thyme looked close too. The dahlia seeds were pretty much a failure--I'd planted 15 seeds and only three germinated. Of those, only one had any size at all. I made the perhaps rash decision to skip the hardening off. Well, the tomatoes and thyme are doing fine and it looks like only the mid-sized dahlia might survive, though it's quite questionable. 

Look at the growth from one day to the next. It was shocking! 

Our strawberry harvest was a major bust. We had a small handful of ripe berries and the remaining ones disappeared. There just weren't that many this year. 

We have been heavily watering all the Norway spruce to try to keep them going in this drought. They are guaranteed for the first year as long as we water them regularly. We did find a bunch of poison ivy on the ground near them. Usually the poison ivy we find is on the trees, so that is unusual.

Other unusual things--my husband found a 42" snake in one of our trees. I declined go outside to view it. Just the picture on his cell phone made my hair stand on end. Yuck. We've also had several neighbors tell us that they have seen a bobcat roaming the neighborhood. Good thing our chicken coop is pretty secure. And how about this weird picture? This moth(?)  was actually no more than 2" at the widest part, but my picture made it look huge!

Most of the walls are up on the barn now. We've had one fall off the ladder and three tool casualties so far. 

Did you make it all the way down here? Thanks for sticking with me!

Linking with For the Love of Geese, My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Alycia Quilts.