Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rear view

Not much sewing happened at my house last night. First of all, there was basketball practice for Jason, and second of all, I am in charge of the Cub Scouts for the Christmas parade this Friday night. We are partnering with Hull's Drive In (whose Board I was recently elected onto, so this knocks out two organizational responsibilities at once), and Orrison's Tree Service, a business owned by the father of one of the cub scouts in our den. Here's the deal:

Some Cub Scouts will lead the way with our Pack banners and flags. Then comes the Tree Service truck, on the back of which will be a movie screen and projector (and generator) showing a Christmas movie (Charlie Brown, I believe). Then come the Cub Scouts, in cardboard cars, eating popcorn and watching the movie. And bringing up the rear, a Hull's Drive In banner which reads "Follow Us to Hull's Drive In."

The good news is that it is the first time I've been excited about the Christmas parade. The bad news is that I'm in charge of making the cardboard cars. I made my prototype last night (and of course forgot to take a photo), and now I have only 13 more to make by Friday. Ha! At least I don't have to decorate them - that will be the kids' responsibility while we are lining up for the parade on Friday.

But on a sewing front, I have finished 3 of the 4 twelve inch blocks to be framed. (yup, another goal not met; it seems to be starting to be a habit!) I don't really want to show the fronts until I have them framed and ready to go, but here are the backs. First, my favorite so far, probably because there is so much stitching to see:

In comparison, this one seems to need something more, don't you think?

This one, too. Hmmm, if I find myself with a little extra time before they get wrapped, I might just put a few more stitches in.

That's it! Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Art of Making Do

There's been a lot going on at Casa de Hutchinson! Thanksgiving was fantastic! (Of course! Any holiday with that much food is great in my book!) But since Adam had to work on Friday afternoon, we were back home by 1 PM on Friday. I spent the afternoon putting together a captain's bed that I bought for Donald. Lots and lots and lots of screws, but I did it! He likes it and I like it, so everyone is happy. But in addition to the big box holding the bed parts, there was another box waiting for me - my long-lost string quilt, Calling All Strings (because it was foundation pieced on phone book pages) that I sent to the long-arm quilter's in February.

Granted, the wait time was horrendous, but there were extenuating circumstances, so I'm not mad. And she did a lovely job!

Originally, I had planned to give this to my father-in-law for his birthday last March, but obviously, that couldn't happen. Instead, I think I'm going to give it to my brother for Christmas. He mentioned earlier this year that everyone had a quilt from me except him, and he's right! Well, except for me and Donald.

I'm going to have to wait, but hopefully, Donald's will be ready by Christmas, too! I finished piecing the top this weekend, and here it is on his captain's bed that I put together.

It isn't very wide by design - I didn't want the quilt to get in the way of opening and closing the storage drawers under the bed. I meant for it to be longer, but I ran out of fabric. So much so that I had to cobble stuff together. There are three of these patched together white pieces,

and about 5 of 6 of these cobbled together red and blue blocks (the blocks are supposed to be 5" square, but for some I had to combine two fabrics to make 5").

And, of course, I already mentioned that the inner white border is not the same white as the white in the blocks, because I ran out of that, too. I've already shared before that Roberta Horton's Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do was my primary source of inspiration when I first started quilting, so "make do" is what I did. You can't really tell from a distance. Besides, it is not meant to be an heirloom, but rather a utility quilt, made with love.

In fact, all that is left of those 9 fat quarters are these few scraps. There goes my idea of making a matching pillow sham. I'll just cut these down to useable squares and add them to my scrap squares tins.

And you know I couldn't resist cutting into some of my other new fabric, right? I decided to join the ranks of those who are making mug rugs for themselves and others. This one is for ME!
Hand quilted in the ditch.

It is on my desk at work right now, which reminds me, my coffee cup is empty.
But before I dash off to the coffee machine, I just have to brag on my hubby a bit - his team has started the season undefeated, 4-0, their best start to date! On Saturday's game, my brother and his girlfriend came over (the guy waving and the woman next to him), along with her two children (who are also waving) and my two children (who are making faces, OF COURSE!), and my cousin and his wife (in front of my brother). I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who inspires you?

Lately, I've been getting lots of inspiration from Beth at Love Laugh Quilt. Thanks again, Em, for pointing me her way. First, there were the house blocks for her Friendly Neighborhood. Then yesterday, as I contemplated how to make my final 12.5" block out of my GGG fabrics, I remembered a Spiral Log Cabin I had seen on her blog. Perfect! So, now all four of my 12.5" blocks are ready for quilting. I sandwiched and basted these three last night so I will have some hand work to take with me to my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving.

My goal (here I go again with the goals!) is to have them quilted by the time I get home on Friday night. Angela tells me that the custom frames are nearly ready for shipment, so hopefully I can put the blocks in them next weekend and then they are done and ready for gifting.

I've been making good progress quilting the GGG quilt. I'm sad to leave it behind for 4 days, but next weekend, I'd love to just sit and quilt on it for hours.

My goal is to have it quilting by December 1, so I can start quilting another project - Donald's quilt. I made some progress sewing his borders together last night, and putting his whole top together shouldn't take more than a couple of hours more.

And finally, there was squishy mail waiting for me when I got home yesterday! I showed you most of the end-of-bolt fabrics I bought from Above All Fabrics - here are the three for which I couldn't find a photo. Aren't they yummy!

I'm so proud of myself for buying some COLOR! I'm gonna have to make something for ME; I'm thinking maybe a Mug Rug since I do enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Which reminds me, I am cold and my coffee cup is empty - time to get my daily dose of hot caffeine.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

48 hours of fun

After the skunk madness of Thursday night, it was nice to take the kids and the (still slightly smelly) dog to my mom's house Friday night. Adam was in Philly with his team for the weekend (they won both games and are now 3-0; GO GENERALS!!!) so I thought a visit with my mother was in order. Mostly, we just ate and played Bananagrams while the kids played.

I love visiting my mom. There's no hassle, no expectations, just hanging out, working together to do what we want to do and eat what we want to eat.

After we left her place on Saturday, life was pretty hectic while I
  • took Jason and his buddy around to deliver their Cub Scout fundraising peanuts and popcorn

  • delivered a couple bags of stuff to Goodwill
  • dropped the kids off at their sleepover
  • dropped the dog off at home and emptied out my car
  • drove to 30 miles north to pick up an Air Hockey table from a co-worker who was selling it

When I finally got home, it was 6 PM and I was tired, but I had the house to myself and there was NO WAY I was going to waste it sleeping. I brewed a pot of coffee and then settled down with my GGG quilt to do some hand quilting while watching MEET THE FOCKERS on TV. I ended the evening by running a bubble bath, lighting some candles and sinking into the tub with my current book, one of the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle.

This morning, the kids didn't get delivered home until 11:00 AM, so I slept late (8:30!!!) and then hit the sewing room to work on Donald's quilt. I'm trying to not work on it while he is with me because I do want it to be a surprise, but it is hard when he seeks me out to play where I am. This is what is currently gracing my sewing room floor.

It was a wonderful day. The kids came back in great moods, made even greater when they saw the Air Hockey table. (Yeah, we STILL haven't finished painting our basement; what of it?)

I sewed, I took a nap, I snacked, I read, I claimed the title QUEEN of the Air Hockey table. Now I'm planning to head into the living room to get some more done on my GGG quilt while watching another movie. But first, here are some things I got accomplished in the sewing room today:

I made another 12.5" block from the GGG scraps to be quilted and framed

I finished the rows of Donald's quilt. Now I just have to sew those together and sew on the borders. I had planned to do an inner border of the white in the blocks, but I ran out. I'm hoping to find another white in my stash that is close enough to not be noticeable except right up close. (By the way, did everyone except ME realize that what I was making was a Disappearing 9-patch, except I didn't make it the D-9 way, but rather cut and measured every single piece separately? What a ninny!)

(They are hanging backwards - that's why they look like pastels here)

I made two 12.5" houses to play along with Beth at Love Laugh Quilt and her Friendly Neighborhood Quilt Game.

The first is one of the blocks I made to send to V at BumbleBeans, and then forgot. I just had to add borders to make it 12.5". The second was inspired by Em, who always has the most fun wonky houses. I'm just not feeling it - how do hers turn out so cool and mine turn out so weird? It was supposed to be a castle with three princesses. Oh well. I have until Jan 1 to make as many houses as I want. Are you going to play along, too?

Friday, November 19, 2010

I love my dog

Really, I do. But last night I had to keep reminding myself of that fact. First of all, I went to bed late, 12:30 AM, because I got some sewing done last night. First I made a bib for a friend who just told me they are expecting. I used one of the Urban Circus fat quarters that I won from Laurie Wisbrun, and I'm excited now about the prospect of making their new baby a quilt from those winnings.

And then, as I vowed I would, I started cutting and piecing the Boys Will Be Boys quilt for Donald. I had no idea how much faster it is to cut out a quilt using just a few coordinating fabrics rather than all scrappy fabrics. I was cruising! And I am loving the look so far:

So, I was in bed at 12:30, but the dog woke me at 2:30 to go outside. I tried to put him off, but he was insistent, and as someone with a weak bladder myself, how could I not let him out. What did he do but promptly get himself sprayed by a skunk. Ugh!

I crawled back in bed with my Blackberry and got online to find out how to "deskunk" him. There were lots of recipes, but they called for ingredients that I didn't have around the house, and since Adam is out of town and both boys were sleeping and we live 20 minutes from the nearest store, I couldn't go shopping. Finally I came across Listerine as a deskunking agent. We buy those ENORMOUS Listerine bottles, and I had just bought one earlier this week, so this became my deskunking agent of choice. I'm happy to report that it works. First a Listerine bath, and then a regular bath, outside in below freezing temperatures at 3:00 AM. I kept chanting under my breath, "I love my dog, I love my dog, I love my dog."

When I got into bed at 3:30, the 6:30 AM alarm seemed entirely too close for comfort. I'm so glad it is Friday and I can sleep in tomorrow! Have a great and RESTFUL weekend, all!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I may need to reinstitute that NO-BUY policy...

I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, going about the business of college admissions, when I received an email from Above All Fabrics about their End of Bolt sale. I innocently clicked the link provided to see what ugly fabrics were left on the bolt that they were trying to unload.

Unfortunately, the fabric WASN'T ugly, and, of their own volition, my fingers started scrolling down the page and clicking ADD TO CART, over and over and over again. In mere seconds, I found myself with a full shopping cart! How did that happen!?! I don't need to buy new fabric! But I was good and culled back my 26 choices to a mere 11 fabrics: Freebird Garden Vanilla
Flower Shower
Amy Butler Daisy Chain Water Garden Forest Water Garden Forest
Play Lolli Dot Play Lolli Dot
Clematis Natural Natural Clematis
Citrus Clown Stripe Citrus Clown Stripe
paisley willow Charisma Paisley
Cedar IronworkCedar Ironwork

I couldn't find photos of all of them to link to, but rest assured I'll show you photos when they arrive. Aaahhh, squishy mail!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big plans, little progress

Well, it is decided! I will make small framed wallhangings. Thanks for your feedback everyone! The first wallhanging is currently being quilted; so far, just in the ditch around the print diamonds.

I just finished piecing the second this afternoon.

Now I need to come up with two more 12" blocks for the last two wallhangings. I already ordered custom frames from Angela (well, actually from her husband, Jim) at Country Scrap Quilts. I've bought two quilt block frames from them before and I love them!

This time, I asked that they just be frames, no shelf or knobs.

I didn't get much sewing done today because once we got home, I was interviewed for my high school's alumni newsletter over the phone for nearly an hour. I was so honored to be asked, and I really enjoyed reminiscing about high school and my adult life up until now, my dreams, my hobbies, my family. Then, I helped Donald with his homework and put a ton of fabric in the wash (seriously, a ton - I can't believe how much new fabric I had, both purchases and winnings, that I hadn't washed yet! Inforgivable!), and then it was off to Jason's basketball practice and then a Board Meeting. Lots of possible sewing time taken up with other things, but at least they were all worthwhile pursuits.

So, even though it was in my plan for myself today, I didn't cut into the Boys Will Be Boys fabric yet, but I did find a photo of a quilt that I think I'd like to recreate in these fabrics, and sketched out a plan for myself - block size, cutting instructions, how many of each I need.
This may be the most pre-planning I have ever done for a quilt! Tomorrow, after work and school but before karate and a cub scout meeting, I vow to start cutting. This is yet another project that I'd love to have done before Christmas. We shall see...

Now it is off to bed. One of these days, I'm going to catch up on everyone's blogs, but lately, I've been feeling the need to get a full 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night. If I'm craving sleep, it must mean that I need it. Sweet dreams, blogland!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seeking opinions!

Quick survey - Let's just say, hypothetically, that you had a sibling (let's make it a sister) who was a quilter. (Lucky you!) Let's also say that this sister/quilter had deconstructed a quilt made by one of your ancestors (let's make it your Great Great Grandmother, just for kicks) and had a couple small leftover pieces from the original quilt that didn't make it into the new quilt. Let's say this sister/quilter wanted to make each of her siblings something quilted that incorporated this old fabric, perhaps something about 12" square. If you were one of these siblings, what would you prefer that you get, a pillow or a framed quilt to hang on the wall? Or perhaps something else? Please let me know what you think. Of course, this is all just hypothetical, but my hypothetical curiosity really wants to know...

On to other topics - since I failed so miserably at buying light and bright fabrics on my shopping trip last week, I'm really hoping to win this giveaway from retromummy:

It is open until Sunday, November 21 if you want to give it a try.

And speaking of giveaways, I put Vera's and Shay's winnings in the mail to them yesterday, and mail karma kicked in. Look what was waiting for me when I got home - my winnings from Leona's giveaway!

It took every ounce of willpower to not immediately get to work making something from those fun fabrics for one of my boys.

And finally, people have been commenting on my Pink Ribbon Pin a lot lately.

I wear it every day, kind of a daily tribute to the survivors that I know and the ones I have lost, but also as a reminder to me to pay attention to my own health and to not take any day for granted. I have a link on the top right of my blog page every day, but I wonder how many of you Click Daily to help fund free mammograms at The Breast Cancer Site? I encourage you to do so, if you don't already.

Today is dark and cold and rainy in Virginia, a perfect day for cuddling up under a quilt with a cup of hot cider and a good book or movie. What am I doing? Sitting in my freezing office working, then off to a couple hours of karate and errands. Oh well. I'm sure it will still be cold, dark and rainy when I finally get home this evening. May your Tuesday be warm and cozy and full of light!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tomorrow, I'm headed to the post office!

First, to send off the fabric winnings to Mrs. P of Quilting in My Pajamas fame. Her guess was so close it was scary! The total cost of fabric before tax was $132.13. She wrote:

I'm guessing $132.75.

Second guess...$147.78

If you had bought that much fabric here and it wasnt on sale and it was from a quilt shop it would have cost you about 600 bucks. Seriously. Online shopping has changed my life.

Oh and wasnt it you that commenetd about my 33 yards of fabric a few weeks ago...I wish I could find the comment because I have a feeling it would be a case of it coming back to bite you!

Glad you got to treat yourself :)

I also learned through this giveaway that Vera of Seams to Sew and Quilt has never won a bloggy giveaway. Never!?! I'm obviously hogging all the winnings if she's never won, so it is time to change that. None of her guesses were right, but she's been a follower since I blogged back on MyQuiltBlog.com, so Vera, some fabric goodness is headed your way, too!

And finally, I'll be shipping off a birthday present to my brother-in-law. He writes poetry, so I made him a hand-quilted journal cover for his writings.

I hope he likes it! And I hope he thinks that the fact that the A is off-center is on purpose - of course, it was supposed to be centered, but me and my "no pattern, guess and pray for the best" attitude ended up a bit off center. I strategically planned my diagonal quilting to make it seem intentional. Were YOU fooled?

Now, off to pop in a movie and quilt away on my GGG quilt - after I whip the kids' tails in dominoes!!! Dare to challenge your mother, do you? (insert evil laugh) Ah ha ha ha haaaaaa!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sharing the wealth! (giveaway)

Yesterday, I had to drive down to the airport to pick up 12 visitors to my university. On the way to the airport, there just happens to be a quilt shop that is going out of business and having an AWESOME sale. I had to stop, right?

Remember me lamenting the fact that I don't have enough yardage of anything to do borders? That was my goal - buy yardage. Since I didn't have much time, I didn't want to wait around for lots of cutting, so I looked for bolts that I could deadbolt - after all, the discount was 45% if you finished a bolt. And in my mind, I told myself to buy some bright fabrics; it seems I always gravitate towards darker, more somber/earthy colors, and I wanted to brighten my stash.

OK, don't laugh, but here's what I got:

Not a bright fabric in the bunch! Oh well, I guess you like what you like!

I also picked up 3 yards of this flannel to see if I'd like it better for my Get Well Checkerboard Quilt border - we'll see. (Sorry for the crappy photo)

So, I left with nearly 28 yards of fabric (27 and 7/8). Wow. I've never bought that much fabric at once in my life. It is truly more than I need. I should share, don't you think?

So, here's the deal - guess how much I spent on those (almost) 28 yards. Whoever comes closest to the actual amount spent (not including tax) wins, and I will send you a half-yard cut of any three of those fabrics - your choice. You can guess as many times as you'd like. I'll close the giveaway on Sunday morning, 9:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time). Be sure to tell me which three fabrics you'd like in your comment, because I plan to wash all the fabrics on Sunday, and I want to cut your winnings out first (since not all of us pre-wash).

Oh, and part of the reason I'm feeling so generous - I won a giveaway this week from Leona's Quilting Adventure! My boys both need new quilts, and I'm trying to picture what I can make with these - any ideas?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tis the season...

...for hand quilting!

When I went down to my sewing room last night after putting the kids to bed, I realized that I'm not particularly motivated to piece late at night. My windows are black, the house is quiet, and I feel closed in and uninspired. I was lamenting the fact that I had already finished the appliqueing of the Dresden Plates, because what I really wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a good movie and some hand work.

My eye fell upon my GGG quilt top, the one made from fabric rescued from a deteriorating quilt made by my Great Great Grandmom.

My goal was to have it quilted by Christmas (but we all know how meaningless my goals are). But here was a hand project that I was excited about working on, the only obstacle being that it wasn't yet basted. Have I shared yet that basting is my ABSOLUTE LEAST FAVORITE part of quilting? I actually turned to go back upstairs and get into bed with a book. But I'm proud of myself for turning back around.

Basting actually went pretty quickly - after all, the quilt isn't all that big - and soon I was upstairs in my room, sitting under a pool of light, happy as can be. I started by outline quilting about 1/4" inside the blocks.

Before I knew it, it was midnight and hubby was back from his scrimmage (which they won - yay!) and it was time for bed.

I LOVE having hand quilting ready and waiting for me to pick it up whenever I get the urge. I foresee many hours of this peaceful activity as the brilliant colors of fall fade into winter. I'll save piecing for those rare days when I am home and I can sew when the sun is shining and the vista outside my window inspires me to create. But for now, tis the season for hand quilting!