May PHD Report

I made some good progress on my PHD this month. I completed two of my projects, which gives me six finishes so far this year.

I'll be linking with Ms. P for my PHD report.

You may have seen my first finish of the month, my custom dress form, in my last post. A humorous aside: I have my dress form parked near my closet doors and it keeps startling me because I think someone is standing there. 

Today I have a quilt finish to share: my Log Cabin Stars quilt. The pattern is by Emily Dennis of Quilty Love. I used stash for the entire front but I did have to buy backing fabric (bought from the sale section) since I'd exhausted most of my fabrics in the color ways used in the quilt and didn't have enough coordinating left to make the size.

I quilted it with the Perm design from Longarm League. I will freely admit that I saw Jess's Log Cabin Stars quilted with Perm and decided to copy. :) It's very densely quilted but still flexible. 

I took a break from quilting over the long weekend since I'd been going six to seven days a week for six or seven weeks and really needed a break. I do have just a few quilts to share.

Toni's that I started last Tuesday and finished Wednesday, quilted with In the Swirls.

Carol's Bedford Tiles quilt made with Halloween and Aboriginal fabrics, quilted with Malachite. Carol's in my small guild and we had a class on this quilt. A few people from the guild have finished theirs. Mine's still a work in progress.

Jeri's baby quilt, quilted with Outside In. I fully bound this one.

And finally, Jeri's Strip Tease quilt, quilted with Dragonfly Dance. I still need to bind this one and I have one more of her quilts to go in this batch. 

Out in the garden, the peas are still struggling. The lettuce is ready to harvest. It's a very tiny harvest this year. We're getting a handful of strawberries once or twice a week. I didn't plant zucchini because I thought I had all these volunteer plants. Well, it's time to face reality. They are not zucchini, but pumpkins. The leaves are HUGE. I haven't grown pumpkins since I was a kid. I'm sad about the zucchini and am planning to start some in some sort or bucket or container this week with the hopes that I can get a small harvest. My neighbors didn't plant a garden this year, so I won't be getting any extra peppers or zucchinis from them. (We traded crops last summer.)

I found a few interesting plants out in the jungle surrounding the spare garage. There are some wild dianthus in the middle of the ragweed forest. Ragweed is native in the US but invasive in Europe. Ragweed, though an allergen, is good for wildlife. 
I think the flower of the onion grass below (also known as wild garlic and wild onion) is really cool. I guess this plant is considered invasive along the east coast and into West Virginia and Tennessee. We have it here and there in our lawn, but I don't feel it's as invasive as some of the native plants the local plant people push. We just mow it with the rest of the grass. 
I'll be back Saturday with June's OMG link up. 

May One Monthly Goal Finish Link Up

How did you do this month? Did you complete your goal? Or at least move it a bit forward?

This link up will remain open until May 31 at 11:55 pm EST.

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

It was pointed out to me that many of the links for OMG were not working. I'm not sure what happened--when I went to check them, many of web addresses were completely missing and some had random capital letters inserted that made them break. They should all be corrected now. Please let me know if you find things that aren't working correctly and I'll do my best to rectify them. 

Moving on, my goal this month was to make my Bootstrap Fashions custom dress form. The worst part was not the stuffing, but rather fusing interfacing to the fabric and then cutting out the pattern pieces. I used Shape Flex 101 and it really didn't stick to the upholstery fabric I'd purchased. This first picture shows me laying out the pieces and making sure they fit on the fabric. I had quite a bit more fabric, but didn't want to add interfacing to it all, so I cut just what I needed.

My fabric choice ended up being poor. The fabric wasn't as tightly woven as I thought it was and it frayed tremendously. I spent a lot of time sweeping the floor.  Imagine this photo times 100 and that's how much frayed threads were on the floor. I'm going to need to vacuum even though I swept constantly. Those little threads are turning up everywhere.

Also, like I mentioned, the interfacing didn't stick well to the fabric. Another issue is that the seams need to be pressed open and my seams didn't stay open despite using a very hot iron and steam.  It also made a mess of my iron. I stopped and used iron cleaner a few times during construction.

The sewing was actually fairly easy overall and everything went together well for the outside of the form. It is imperative that you mark all the reference lines and notches on the back of your fabric. I also labeled each piece, such as "center front", "side back", etc.

One change I'd recommend is to sew the reference lines (hips, waist, bust, underbust) once you sew the center front seam. The pattern has you do the front and back pieces separately and then you have to try to line up the stitching. I think it'd be more accurate to do it after that seam is sewn because you can then stitch one continuous line and only have to line up the center back seam. 

The instructions are fairly brief and I noticed a few steps are missing, but I had already watched many videos and read many accounts of sewing the dress form, so I knew what to do. I discovered that I didn't have a neck insert pattern piece. I had ordered my pattern with seam allowances, but the neck pattern for the filler needed to be without. I thought I'd just print another page of that pattern piece and cut the seam allowance off, but decided against that when I saw that the little circle was spread over four pages in the pattern layout. So I drew up a circle the correct size in Affinity Designer and printed it on one page. Cutting out the sponge piece was difficult. I had a 1" piece of foam, so I had to cut three and glue them together. They all ended up different sizes, so I matched them as best I could and filled in with poly stuffing.

I found inserting the arm covers to be quite difficult and had quite a few pin pricks during the process. You were supposed to be able to sew in the lining pieces after first basting and inserting the cardboard, but I ended up having to just use the basting stitches. I'm not sure if it's because my cardboard was really thick or if I did something wrong. 


The inner support pieces were a whole other thing. One, the fabric layout shows this piece just doubled on the regular fabric, like how you would cut out a regular clothing pattern. Note that the pattern piece says "fold". 

There was no possible way it would fit on my fabric since I needed 72" continuous and the fabric I had was one yard of 52" fabric. I did think about seaming the piece, but ultimately decided against it because the pipe would be pushed right against it and I was worried about straining that seam. So I sent the kids off to buy me more canvas. Guess what? The in-stock stuff JoAnn sells is very limp. I added more SF101. I messed up and the stabilizer ended up on the outside of the piece, but since it's inside the form, I decided not to rip and redo.

Two, the directions for this part are confusing. I had to search for and watch a ton of videos. Most didn't actually show this step, but I found a few that, when coupled with re-reading the instructions, helped me see what to do. It ends up like the photo below. The inner support divides the dress form down the middle so that you end up having to stuff the left and right sides of the body separately.

The bottom of the dress form with the zippers presented another challenge. I think that I should have used one layer of my outside (upholstery) fabric and the lining should have been my canvas. Instead, I cut both from the upholstery, as it says in the instructions, and it is really, really thick and was hard to cut and hard to sew through. I realized afterward that I was using the wrong side of the zipper foot too. 🀦🏻‍♀️ I guess I needed an additional challenge. 

It was really hard to figure out how to fit it into the base of the dress form. I attempted to match all the notches, but in the end I matched only the center front and back and the side seams. I tried to ease in the rest the best I could. It took a long time and I had many pin pricks and bleeding. 

Sewing the base into the rest of the dress form was also quite challenging. I broke two needles. I also broke another earlier in the process, so three total broken needles happened in this project. I also had more pin pricks and bleeding. Worst of all, I sewed almost halfway  around and removed the pins before noticing I had no bobbin thread. So I had to re-pin and try again.

It was finally time to stuff the form. I had a partially used five pound box of Poly-fil that probably had four to four and a half pounds remaining. I used all of it but didn't have enough stuffing. I thought about driving into town to get more, but remembered that some of the reviews I'd read or watched talked about using the guts of old pillows. I have lots of old pillows. I cut one open and found out that it's basically a really long sheet of poly fiber rolled up and fused or combed or something into a pillow shape. I had to cut it with scissors and try to pull it apart as best as I could. It worked, but I definitely don't recommend it because it wasn't moldable like regular poly stuffing is. 

I had a hard time getting the breasts to look right and to match my measurements. The under bust, waist, and hips were really easy to get to match. You can see in the photo below that the breast had odd shapes through the apex. I worked quite a while on making them resemble real breasts. 
I finally finished with a few hours to go before the link up opened. 
I'm not convinced that the final shape looks like me. I think my butt and gut stick out further than the form and my upper back is probably more rounded, but the measurements are pretty close and the bust is where I struggle with pattern adjustments anyway. Overall, I'm quite pleased with the finished product and I'm looking forward to trying some pattern draping soon. 
I would recommend this project if you're looking for a relatively inexpensive custom dress form. I had to buy the pattern ($28) and the upholstery fabric (can't remember, maybe $40ish?, but I have a lot of extra), plus the extra canvas ($10). I also bought an IV stand from the surplus store (can't remember, less than $20). I had the fiberfill, pipe, cardboard, foam, SF101, and zippers (marked $.50 each) already. 

I also purchased the arm patterns ($14), but I'm gonna need to recover from this one before I try those! 

I do have to say that I am totally choosing something easy for next month's link up. πŸ˜„ I don't know what yet, but definitely easy. And quilt-related. 

So now it's your turn. Add your link to show your finish, visit other linkers, and make new friends.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Pink RSC

This month's color assigned by So Scrappy is pink. Trying to plan ahead strategically with the amount of blocks I want to have and the scrap basket colors/amounts I have left, I decided to make four blocks instead of my usual two. I made light and dark blocks.

I have a total of 12 blocks sewn. I want to have 20 when I'm finished--I prefer oblong quilts over square quilts. 

I spent some time over the weekend working on my dress form. I'm not done yet, but I have until late Friday night to get it finished. I'll write about it more on the OMG link up post on Saturday, but I can say that I think my choice of fabric was a mistake. I used an upholstery fabric that seemed like the right texture. Despite fusing Shape Flex to the back of all the fabric prior to cutting, the upholstery fabric is unraveling at an alarming rate. It's making a giant mess! Also, although I'm pressing the seams open as directed and with a very hot iron, they are not staying open. Proof I am sewing. ⤵️

I've quilted just a few more quilts this week. Life has interrupted many times. 

The first one belongs to Penny. It's quilted with Diagonal Plaid Bias.

the next one is also Penny's. It's quilted with Sunshine Shells. 

Then I quilted Patricia's with a hand-guided loopy meander. This quilt is pieced front and back.

I started Toni's quilt yesterday, but don't have a picture yet. I'll finish it up today and then put the picture in next week's post. 

I also want to share the cutest little thing that Maria brought me when she picked up her quilts. She was visiting the Texas Quilt Museum and saw these little hens. She said a woman who's 85 years old makes them and donates the proceeds to the museum. Isn't it just darling? I should have put a ruler in the picture for scale. It's just over 1.5" from from to back! I hope I can sew that well when I'm 85.

Out in the gardens, everything needs to be weeded. The vegetables are growing, but I'm not sure at this point that I'll get any peas. The lettuce is struggling. Our volunteer zucchinis are looking awesome and already have buds forming.

I'll see you back here on Saturday, hopefully with a finished dress form, for the OMG finish link up. Then next week Wednesday I'll share my PHD progress. 

Churn, Churn, Churn

Do you have people in your quilting journey that have totally changed the way you look at things? I have a few:

  • Donna, a late coworker who convinced me to use pretty fabric on the back of quilts (I had always used muslin previously.)
  • anonymous person from the internet who showed me a better way to hand-stitch binding (their website is gone now and I don't remember their name)
  • Denise from A Quiltery, who made me more successful at paper piecing
  • Teresa Silva, who helped me get over my fear of ruining quilts when quilting by hand 
  • Kelly Young, who helped me look at my fabric scraps and improv quilting in a favorable way

Last week I got to spend the day with Kelly and it was so fun! We made the Churn, Churn, Churn mini from her Scrappy Improv Quilting book. If you are looking for a guild speaker, please consider Kelly. Her trunk show was fabulous and the class was perfect. She's booking 2025 right now, I believe.

Wednesday was a bit odd because we'd had a tornado warning overnight which interrupted our sleep. (No actual tornados occurred.) I felt bad because I knew Kelly was staying in a hotel and I thought about how that must be scary, especially since you aren't familiar with an area.

Then I was driving in to class and got a text from my son that a teacher had died and the kids had been evacuated to the football field due to a gas leak. About three hours and around 35 phone calls, texts, emails, and automated voicemail messages later, we determined that they didn't know the cause of the smell, but the building was cleared as safe, the teacher died in hospice care, not at school, and the kids were all sent home early as a precaution. I wish I were joking about the number of messages. I had to have my ringer off because it was going non-stop for a while.

Anyway, once the phone situation calmed down, I was able to relax and enjoy sewing. I didn't have quite enough time to finish during class, but got it done the next day. It's now awaiting quilting and binding.

Of course I've been working away at my quilting queue too. First up is a baby quilt by Sara. We picked Moon and Stars for the quilting.

Next is Barbara's quilt, quilted with Songbird.

Then Charles', quilted with Spaceman. This quilt is made using fabrics from Karen Nyberg, an astronaut.

Finally, another of Barbara's, quilted with Cobwebs.

I admire all of her perfectly spun seams. This is something that I know how to do in theory, but really struggle with in practice. 

I also got all three quilts that needed binding done over the weekend and shipped back to their owners. 

Out in the vegetable garden, I cleared out the weeds from the garden tanks (again) and got almost everything planted. I decided to hold off a bit on the bell pepper seedlings to let them get a bit bigger before transplanting. I also dug the walnut saplings out of the upper flower gardens. The lower garden needs a lot of help still. 

My son took this photo the other evening.  I'm glad you can't really tell that this garden is full of unwanted trees that nature planted.

Were you able to see the northern lights over the weekend? We tried the second night, but were unsuccessful. Good thing people like to share their photos on social media. Here's the picture I took. Clearly no northern lights. I thought it was interesting that the moon looks full in the picture, but was more of a crescent shape in reality.

A friend who lives nearby really wanted to see them and spent much more time outdoors looking than we did. She was so disappointed that she wasn't seeing anything. She finally posted a picture of the sky near her house where she had drawn pink and purple lines over the sky to create her own. I thought that was cute. 

Oh, my sponsor prize from the Villa Rosa blog hop arrived. I received two charm packs.

Finally, I have an update about this month's OMG--making my dress form. I was planning to get started over the weekend. I went to YouTube to pull up the step-by-step video I'd found helpful previously. It was GONE! 😫😫 The person seems to have wiped their channel and their social media. This is what happens when you procrastinate. Ugh! So I've been pouting and haven't started yet. Maybe this weekend. Especially since I'm now down to about a week and a half before I need to post the OMG finish link up. Yikes!

Swiss Star Top

I have completed the Swiss Star QAL top. The pattern was provided free on the Bernina blog. The original quilt was made of three colors. My daughter decided to recolor it into a rainbow. Everything except the background was from my stash. Though the pattern was labeled as advanced beginner/intermediate, I found this pattern to be very challenging and I would have labeled it as advanced based on the cutting techniques and construction methods used. Anyway, I'm glad the top is done. I'm annoyed that it came out a bit wavy (again, due to construction and large amounts of bias on the edges). We're considering options for backing fabric and I think my daughter will be okay with an E2E design on it. 

Today I am taking a class with Kelly Young from My Quilt Infatuation! We are doing the Churn, Churn, Churn quilt from her Scrappy Improv book. She spoke at our guild last night. It was so much fun!  

I attended the h+h americas trade show in Chicago last week. If you are a longarm quilter, it's probably not the best use of your time and resources unless you were interested in taking some of the classes or listening to the speakers. I was, but the things I was interested in were above my current budget. Plus, I only had one day to spend due to driving time and needing to be home in time for my daughter's Friday morning graduation ceremony. I'll spare you our selfie and just show the backdrop. πŸ˜„

There were a lot of really gorgeous yarns and knitted or crocheted projects. Truly amazing! Here are a few pictures of the Mochi Mochi table that my husband took.

Many of the major fabric distributors were also there, along with some of the notions marketers. Hobbs had a booth, as did a batting company I wasn't familiar with--Air Lite. It was very much a time to see products in person and place your orders for your retail sites. 

While I was there, I met LORI HOLT! She's just as nice as you'd expect. I didn't do photos with her or anyone else I recognized because I'm an introvert and it feels like invading their personal space. She was crocheting and had lots of her chunky yarn and granny squares on display.

Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie fame was also there. We didn't speak to her. She's got a new line coming out with Riley Blake. 

After Quilt Con and h+h, I am totally realizing my shortcomings. I need to be more outgoing and speak to more people and take more photos. Same things, I feel like I'm invading people's personal space and also, several of the people I did introduce myself to at Quilt Con seemed as if I was a bother or it was just very awkward. Or they didn't remember me at all from previous interactions. I guess I'm pretty forgettable. Maybe I should join the FBI. LOL.

I did decide to circle back to talk the the Villa Rosa people, and I'm so glad I did. I talked to Pat Fryer herself and thanked her for the quilt I won in the recent blog hop. She handed me a baggie of all of the latest VR cards free of charge!! I told her that was the highlight of my day and she kinda gave me side-eye. Oh well. I was thrilled!

If I go again next year, I'd like to go for more than one day and be able to take my time and maybe push myself by doing some meet-ups. I found the crowds and the lights overwhelming and felt rushed and unprepared, so I probably didn't take advantage of what was available to me.  

While we were in Chicago, we were able to have dinner with my husband's aunt, uncle, and cousins, who we hadn't seen in close to 15 years! We stayed overnight with the cousins and that was very enjoyable. Meanwhile, I noticed I had a rash popping up on my arms and I wasn't feeling the greatest. At first I thought it was chiggers, but it wasn't reacting the same and I was really dragging.

After the graduation ceremony Friday morning, I took myself to the urgent care. It turns out I have poison ivy. I've never had it before. It took all afternoon to get through the appointment and actually get the prescriptions filled. In a weird turn of events, one of the meds was being filled by robot and had gotten stuck in there. They said there was nothing they could do besides wait until it came out. 🀷🏻‍♀️ I'm finally starting to feel more like myself again, but I'm scared to do more yard work now because I don't know where I encountered the poison ivy. I had been weeding the lower garden and there is not any growing there. We considered that maybe it was on the gloves or the bag we put weeds in. We'll probably never know. I do have some Farmer's Defense sleeves that I wasn't wearing but should have been as I am prone to contact dermatitis anyway. I also think I have it in one of my eyes. πŸ˜’

Our lilac is blooming right now and is very fragrant. It's raining a lot of petals into my sewing room window well. Our yard zucchinis are looking good. It's about time to transfer my tomato starts out to the garden and get beans planted. My four little pepper starts look okay. I'll probably let them go another week or so before transferring them so that I don't accidentally pull them out. Our strawberry patches got neglected, but we were able to harvest a couple strawberries this week. 

Thyme and one dill in the left unit, four peppers and two tomatoes in the right.

the raining lilac petals

Amazingly, I have managed to get a few more quilts done:

Pat's Wisconsin quilt, quilted with Diagonal Plaid Bias.

Pat's other Wisconsin quilt, quilted with Taffeta.

Jae's quilt, quilted with Malachite.

And Hannah's, quilted with Circle Worms.

Three of these need to be bound my me.

No progress yet on the dress form since I was really trying to get the Swiss Star finished in order to enter it in the contest.

I guess this is totally long enough for now. Take care, and I'll see you next week.

Linking with A Quiltery, My Quilt Infatuation, and Alycia Quilts.