Monday, April 30, 2012

Gimme a D!


Gimme an O!

Gimme an N!

Gimme an E!

What's that spell???
Completed charm quilt - lap/baby size - 42.5"x47.5"
It needs a name besides Charm Quilt.  Got any ideas?  Leave a name suggestion in a comment and I'll draw a random winner on Sunday, May 6 to receive twenty-five different 5" charm squares from me, either all in one color family or assorted, your choice.  I used 60 different ones in this quilt, and I have MANY MORE where they came from.

Aaahhhh!  It feels so good to FINISH something!

(And yes, I was a cheerleader in the 80s.  And a spelling bee champ.)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April Bee Block and balance

It is easy making a pretty block when you start with pretty fabrics.  This block will go out in tomorrow's mail to Melinda in our Let's Bee Together quilt bee.
April Bee Block for Let's Bee Together

What isn't easy is finding balance between actual quilting and blogging.  I get so much inspiration and sense of community from blogging, but once I get online, I find it hard to get off again to actually sew!  How do YOU find the right balance?  Do you time yourself?  Only get online at certain times of day? I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Auction and Etsy

There was a local auction today.  I missed most of it because I had to work all morning, but I did manage to get there for the last hour or so.  I had my kids and one of their friends with me, and I left them on the playground outside while I went in to see what was left.  I saw a box of linens (man, am I ever predictable!), so I got a number and took a seat.  It didn't take long for that lot to come up, and I won the bid.  All the vintage sheets quilts out there have me wanting to make one for myself, and there were 3 good sheets in there to add to my growing stash of sheets

along with some more pillowcases crying out to be made into shopping totes or aprons or something.

The rest of the linens didn't excite me, so they were dropped off at Goodwill on the way home.  Along with my other purchase...

When my kids came in to the auction room from outside, I waved at them so they would come over to me, forgetting at that instant where I was.  "SOLD!  To'am?  What's your number?"

CRAP!  In waving to my kids, I accidentally bought something!  Luckily, "my bid" was only $5.  It turns out, I bought a box of records.  Lovely.  I don't even have a record player.  Straight to Goodwill they went.

I also bought two old chairs with seats that are falling apart.  You know those chairs where the seat is made with neckties?
Why is this sideways??? Image borrowed from

I want to try that.  So I bought these two sad looking chairs.  Let this serve as the BEFORE picture.  Hopefully there will be an AFTER picture one of these days, although I know better than to give myself a goal completion date which I will fail to meet and then feel like a slacker loser.

So that's the auction - on to Etsy.  Some of my upcycled aprons have been selling, so I made some more to post.  First, why should the kids have all the fun with the denim aprons?  I made an adult sized one, but instead of making all that binding for the edges, I sewed one long 138" tie, fed it through channels sewn up each side of the torso, and then pinked the rest of the edges for a ragged edge look.  Two roomy, denim lined pockets made from the same pillowcase from which I made the ties, and I was done.  I love it!  Definitely gonna make more like this!

And that orange pillowcase still had more to give, so I paired it with a big floral pillowcase and made yet another half apron.  I was sure to make the pocket big enough to be functional this time, instead of just decorative.  I love orange - it makes me happy!

Enough with the little projects - I want to finish a quilt!  Time to pick up the needle and find a good movie on TV.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, y'all!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

So stinkin' cute!

Remember the child-sized denim apron I made a while back?

My sister wanted it for her son, one of the cutest creatures on God's Green Earth.

But the apron is sized for kiddos about 8 - 12 years old, and he's just about to turn two.  You know what I had to do, right?  Make a toddler-sized one!

I thought I loved the first apron, but this one is my new favorite - it's just so stinkin' cute!  Stripes are FUN!

I'm sending it off tomorrow - hopefully I'll have a photo of him wearing it to share in the next week or so.

My leaders and enders work for this project was two of these blocks.

That brings my total of these blocks up to 17.  Sounds good, until you realize they are made with 1.5" squares and measure a mere 6" finished.  Gonna take many more than 17 blocks to make a serviceable quilt.

That's it for today.  I'm not going to mention the 294.75 hours I put in at work over the last three days...

I'd say "Thank God it is almost the weekend," but I have to work on Saturday, too. 

Boo hiss.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

All prepped and ready to go!

This is a high stress week at work.  We have our Accepted Students' event on Wednesday, and since there are many students we've admitted who can't afford to get here to see the school on their own, I've been playing travel agent to bring about 40 families from around the country to campus at our expense.  Which would be fine if the blasted kids wouldn't keep changing their minds and their plans!  Every time I think I have everything done, I get an email or a phone call that throws my best-laid-plans right out the window.

This kind of stress calls for therapy.  Sewing therapy.  Our quilt guild's annual retreat is coming up May 4 and 5, and we will be making quilts with the Lil Twister tool.  You know, this kind of quilt:
Photo borrowed from
My cousin will be having his first baby in July - this seems like a perfect way to knock out a quilt for the newest member of the family.

Is it true for you, too, that one of the hardest part of making a quilt is fabric selection?  I thought I'd make it easy by using some of the Good Fortune charms that I won from Linda a while back.  After all, Good Fortune is a great name for a baby quilt!  But I only really wanted the oranges and the greens and a touch of light blue.  Once I took out the purples and dark blues and pinks and grays from the Charm pack, I didn't have enough.  Into the stash I went, and found a darker orange and a darker green to sprinkle in there for POP.  And there was one orange piece from a City Weekend Charm Pack that seemed to go well, too, so I threw it in there.  And then, of course, I stalled out at border time.  It's pretty scrappy looking, which means I'll probably love the end result, but will my cousin?

Back to the drawing board.  I decided on a safer alternative for the baby - perhaps I'll make that other version for myself!  I alternated all of those purples and blues from the Good Fortune charm pack with a white.

There are some really fun fabrics in here.  Two of my favorites are:

Anyway, I am super impressed with myself that I am ready for the retreat nearly two weeks early!  Now, I just need to get ready to face the rest of this week at work.  If you don't hear from me, send survival thoughts my way.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scraps - using up the uglies & acquiring more!

When I haven't posted for a while, I feel so overwhelmed when I DO sit down to post - where do I start?

Sat, April 14 - I went to a quilt guild meeting.  Beyond loving the fellowship with other quilters and the programs that we have, I love the FREEBIE table!  This month I picked up some Ghastlies fabric,
as well as two magazines to read on the plane to Atlanta that afternoon.  In one magazine, I came across directions to make a rag rug using a Toothbrush Needle.  Intrigued, I read that pattern prior to leaving for the airport.  Not only did I have that trip to Atlanta, but in the next six weeks, I am also presenting at conferences at Princeton, Stanford and Nortwestern, so I have travel coming up for which I'd love some handwork.  We know that hand quilting on the plane is hit or miss - sometimes they steal my needles and pins!  The toothbrush needle, however, is plastic and blunt - I quickly scrounged up some ugly material to take with me and vowed to get started on learning this right away.

Sun, April 15 - I spent Saturday night with my quilting buddy, Nancy.  When she asked what I had brought with me to work on for that trip (she knows me so well!), I showed her the article for the rag rug.  It turns out, she had a Toothbrush Needle to loan me while I order one for myself - obviously, this project is meant to be!

Mon, April 16 - I spent Sunday and Monday night with another Atanta area buddy.  After attending two work events on Sunday afternoon and evening, I hadn't planned anything for myself on Monday.  We dropped her kids off at school, hiked up Kennesaw Mountain, had a delicious brunch at a French bakery/bistro, and then visited TWO quilt shops!  She's not even a quilter!  What a good friend! 

This was my first visit to Tiny Stitches in Marietta.  I picked up half a yard of this coffee print

Beware - washed out colors from phone camera
to hopefully add to this stitchery I did this winter.

Then, it was off to Little Quilts, a shop I remembered from last year because of their "fill a baggie with scraps for $5" bin.  Tiny Stitches has that, too, but their scraps were limited in variety and really small.  Little Quilts' bin, however, is big and diverse and I just wanted to pour it over my head and roll around in all the scrappy goodness!  So, of course, I filled a baggie.  When I got back to my friend's house, not only did I photograph it all, but I laid it out on top of my half yard from the other shop to see how much scrap yardage I got for my $5.  Any guesses?

Multiple pieces of each of these

twelve bird panels total


I can't wait to do something really fun with these fabrics!


Random scraps
Over 2 yards worth!!!  You know how Bonnie Hunter, when discussing her scrap user's system, says that scraps are worth just as much per yard as your yardage?  What a bargain I got!

Tue, April 17 - After attending water aerobics with my girlfriend (which is a killer workout, by the way!  I used muscles that I'd never noticed before!), I presented a workshop to some faculty at an Atlanta high school, ate some delicious Thai food, and headed to the airport, determined to figure out how to make this rag rug.  During my down time, I had already prepared all the strips of fabric and watched some videos online, so I was ready to go.

Or so I thought.  I couldn't figure it out for the life of me!  I must have started and then started over TEN times in Atlanta, and then in Charlotte during my layover.  Just before we boarded in Charlotte, it clicked.  It actually isn't hard at all!  I'm glad I stuck with it, because I was mightily frustrated for a while there, but this truly is a perfect travel project!

Wed, April 18 - Going back to work after nearly a week away stinks.  Need I say more?  When I got home from work, I went to bed.

Thu, April 19 - work, took a karate class, taught a karate class, attended a Cub Scout committee meeting, went to bed exhausted

Fri, April 20 - work, put some finishing touches on the chicken tractor (yes - I am STILL working on that; all that remains is attaching the hardware cloth and getting the chickens), volunteered at the Drive-In Movies, went to bed exhausted

Sat, April 21 - cussed at the alarm clock when it rang, got up and made the kids a hot breakfast before the District Pinewood Derby (where my kids came in 17th and 18th out of 18 cars.  They are also the only two kids who built the cars themselves, rather  than assisting their dad with car construction.  I'm proud of them, but they were pretty bummed.).  Shopped for groceries, stopped at the Post Office to send out some squishy love to my mom, my sisters, and one special, hilarious quilting woman in southern Australia who will remain unnamed but most of you probably know who she is, and stopped at the Goodwill to check for bedsheets that I could use in rag rug construction (yeah, I know the whole point was to use up the uglies in my stash, but I couldn't resist).  Instead of bedsheets, I scored some FABRIC - 3.5 yards of the pink and 4.33 yards of the floral. 
I've already picked out an ugly from my stash to pair with the pink for a rag rug, and the floral will likely end up the backing of some scrappy quilt.  Oh, and each piece of fabric was $1.00!

I spent the afternoon alternately eating and working on my rag rag.  While sitting at my little iron bistro set on my front porch, I realized that these round rugs would actually be great seat "cushions" for those bistro chairs; the current seat "cushions" have no cushion left in them and I have been unable to locate the right size cushions anywhere.  Voila!

I'm going to try to attach an elasticized sleeve to the back to keep them in place.  Now to make another one!

Sun, April 22 - I've got cub scouts this afternoon, our last Den Meeting of the year, but other than that, there is nothing that I HAVE to do.  So instead, I'm doing what I WANT to do - read, blog, nap.  A lovely Sunday.  I hope your Sunday is lovely, too!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Firsts - french seam and Dresden Plate

Yesterday, the kids and I took a road trip to Patchwork Plus, a quilt shop outside Harrisonburg, VA.  My friend, Nancy, gave me her punchcards for the place when she moved to GA, so I had a $20 credit to use.  Now, we all know I spent WAAAAYYY more than $20, right?  First, my boys were with me, so they both got to pick out a yard of fabric for themselves.  They both picked novelty flannel - Jason got the soccer balls and Donald got the robots.

And while I was supposedly there to get batting, I was drawn to the sale fabrics.  I found these adorable piggy banks in orange and green and yellow that reminded me of growing up in the 70s, for some reason, and I had to get them.  I picked up the geometric in similar colors to go along with the piggies.

I also picked up these black and cream dragonflies, and as is my rule when I buy new fabric, a couple yards of a neutral - this time a cream on cream that works well with the dragonflies.

And finally, I picked up another black and white print because I don't think you can ever have too many of those.  Add another thimble and some sewing machine needles, and I called it good.

On the way home, the boys and I stopped at the skatepark and I sat in the car quilting while they did their thing for nearly 2 hours.

Today, the appliance repairman came to check out all my broken down stuff.  The bad news is that I need a new oven - the part that I need to make my oven work again isn't manufactured anymore.  How old does that make my oven???

The good news is that my washing machine WAS fixable, so I'm back in business there!  Going to the laundromat these last few weeks darned near bankrupted me!  And lucky me, it was a clothesline perfect day, so I put a couple loads out there (including my new fabric!) before the sun went down.

Speaking of that new fabric, you know I had to cut into it right away, right?  And although I don't need more "green" shopping bags, I made another one anyway.  For this one, I used a plastic Walmart shopping bag as a template, so it is the same size and shape, just MUCH stronger and prettier, fully lined and machine washable. 

Plus, it has a pocket on the front into which you can fold the bag, nice and neat, for when you aren't using it.  Kinda like a quillow, right?

I used a tutorial that I found online, and I love how "finished" the bag is.  I made my first french seam, something I've never done before.  I will definitely be using that technique again.

Saturday is quilt guild meeting day before I board an airplane for ATL for work.  Gotta get to quilting - I want to finish quilting the Charm quilt and get the binding sewn onto the back so I can not only have something to work on during the meeting, but also something for show and tell.

Oh, and last thing - this weekend's quilt show at the Quilting Gallery is Delightful Dresdens.  How ironic since that is the next quilt I will  be working on!  But those of you who have been with me a while remember my first Dresden Plate, the stack and whack style that I made for my younger sister's college graduation - I think I called it "My Sister, My Friend" because that is what I quilted around the center dresden plate, although I may have called it Hello Yellow! (Unfortunately, I had all this catalogued on my old blog site which crashed, and my memory is crap! Also, I don't seem to have a photo of it with the binding on.)

I entered it in the Delightful Dresdens Quilt Show at the Quilting Gallery this weekend, which goes up Friday morning.  I encourage you to check out all the Dresden Plates that are entered - you are sure to find inspiration there!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A day off!

Well, three, actually!  My kids are on spring break this week, so I am taking off today, tomorrow and Friday to be with them.  Which, of course, means that yesterday at work was AWFUL!  I swear, sometimes days off almost aren't worth it with all the extra work you put in before and after you leave!  Almost not worth it, but after not setting my alarm clock today, dressing in comfy sweats, and lingering over breakfast, I'll say they days off definitely ARE worth it!

So, with 24 commenters about which quilt I should quilt next, the one with the most mentions was Star Power with 13 mentions.  I don't think I said I was going to quilt the one with the most votes, did I?  'Cause I'm not.  I'm not even going to work on the one with the second most number of mentions, Make Mine Nine with 11 mentions (although, if only 9 people had mentioned it, I probably would have considered that a sign...).  Nope, I'm going to start with Plaid Dresden with 9 mentions because 1) I think the quilting will be straightforward and obvious to me once I get started and 2) I made it for my sister's vacation home in New Hampshire, and I can't wait to snuggle up under it while I am up there visiting.
Imagine me, a cozy lump curled up under the quilt
 I'd love to have it done for my visit at the end of June...but that isn't happening.  I know my limits, and I'm not going to make myself crazy.

Thanks everyone for pitching in your two cents.  I used the Random Number Generator to pick a winner for the giveaway, and I got #15, my sister.  That won't work - she doesn't quilt, and didn't want to be added to the drawing.  Back to the RNG, and #8 came up this time, Char!  Let me know what you'd like me to buy for you at the quilt shop this week, Char!

On the quilting front, I haven't finished hand quilting the Charm quilt yet.  My step-father made a surprise visit on Sunday, and we spent the afternoon finishing up construction on my chicken tractor.  I just have a few details left to take care of, and then it will be ready for residents.  I'm excited to be so close to being done, but that meant many valuable hours away from needle, thread and thimble.

I've also been reading up a storm.  I finished Sonoma Rose, by Jennifer Chiaverini, and am now finishing the second of Dana Cameron's Emma Fielding mysteries.  The third is en route to me from a member right now.  I sure do love that site!  This week, 3 items were requested from me, 2 audiobooks and one paperback, so once they reach their destinations, I'll have 5 book credits!  If you like to read, have books that you are willing to part with, and like getting goodies in the mail, I encourage you to sign up for!

OK, off to quilt and watch McLeod's Daughters - a perfect way to spend a couple of hours.  Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Will you help me decide? (giveaway)

My sister called with something akin to panic in her voice, wondering if I had dropped off the face of the earth.  Apparently, I haven't posted anything on my blog for a while.  OK, sis, I get the hint.  It's just that I haven't done anything new lately, and I don't want to bore anyone, myself included.

But seriously, I have made significant progress hand quilting my Charm lap/baby quilt.  I'm hoping to have it done this weekend. I like the meander around the polka dots on the backing, but it isn't the fastest way to quilt. 
The back - I'm quilting from the back with the dots as a guide

The front - makes me even more diligent about making sure my stitches are even since it is the back of my quilting that will be on the front of my quilt!

For my next hand quilting project, I want to do something even simpler, something with straight lines, either a crosshatch or outline stitch.  And I would like my next quilt that I finish to be one that is big enough to sleep under.  So, I pulled out my quilt tops and selected the bed-sized ones that could conceivably look nice with simple, straight line stitching. 

I can't decide which to quilt first, so I'm hoping you all will help me decide.  There will be a fabric surprise in store for one lucky commenter - I plan to use some credit at a quilt shop next week to buy some batting, and I'm willing to use some of that credit on one of you.  Let me know which of the following quilts YOU think I should quilt next, and if you want to suggest a quilting motif, too, even better!  Next Tuesday (4/10/12), I'll choose a random commenter and find out what kind of fabric that person would like me to find for him/her at the quilt shop next week.  Just consider me your personal shopper!

Anyway, here are the options, with names that I am trying out for now.  Feel free to suggest better names if you think of something. (ignore the wrinkles - the poor tops have been squirreled away in an armoire for months, or even YEARS, in some cases.  I swear I could hear them breathe a sigh of relief to see the light of day when I pulled them out!):

A. Plaid Dresden
It isn't really as washed out looking as it appears in this bright sunlight
B. Ribbon of Hope
Flapping in the breeze - this quilt just wouldn't stay still for a photo!  It was like photographing one of my children!
C. Star Power
I completely forgot I had made this top!
D. Lincoln Logs
I thought you were supposed to photograph your quilts in natural light - why do all mine seem so washed out?
E. Make Mine Nine
Just pretend this is a decent photo - I despair of ever getting a good-looking shot of these quilts!
Got an opinion about which I should plan to quilt next?  I'd love to hear it!

Some of you may be wondering what I've been doing since I haven't whipped out anything new or finished anything old lately.  Honestly, I've been reading.  Somehow I completely missed that Jennifer Chiaverini's Sonomo Rose came out, so that's what I'm reading now.  I didn't even realize it was an Elm Creek Quilts book since it doesn't have "quilt" in the name, like all the others do!  I also discovered a new-to-me cozy mystery series.  Some of you know I grew up (mostly) in Maine and that I majored in Archaeology in college.  Dana Cameron writes a series of mysteries with a female archaeologist from Maine named Emma Fielding as the protagonist.  I picked up the first book in the series, Site Unseen, at a used book store last weekend and blazed through it, thoroughly enjoying it.  The only thing that could have made it better is some quilts.  And lucky me, there are 5 more books to enjoy in the series!  I ordered the 2nd and 3rd in the series from  Which of you introduced me to that site, anyway?  I have yet to properly thank you - I LOVE IT!  It is my go-to location when I am looking to acquire new books, and such a great way to unload the books I have that I don't want to keep.

I've also been playing basketball.  Me, the 5 foot tall soccer player (well, 25 years ago, anyway) who has never played an organized game of basketball in my life!  I got together a team of women (we called ourselves the I Team - I for Ibruprofen!) who also work at the University where I work, and we've played a game every week for the last 5 weeks against some sorority girls, also known as tall, quick, lithe, energizer bunnies half our age.  We beat them the first 4 times out, but last night, we just couldn't keep up and lost.  I can't wait to play again next year!  My bruises should have faded by then...

The chicken coop is coming together slowly.  Unfortunately, I approached its construction much like I do my quilts, with a general idea of what I want, but no pattern.  I've discovered it is easier to fudge things with fabric than with wood.  And my kids have the attention span of gnats, so they only ever want to work on it for about 20 minutes before they lose interest and want to skateboard or ride bikes or do anything other than build.  We might not have chickens for a long time...

I've also been busy with Cub Scouts.  We've been working on Language and Culture Belt Loops and Pins, which included a trip to a Mexican restaurant in town with some native speakers and a performance of a skit/song at last night's pack meeting where I was the ONLY ONE SINGING!  The little twerps left me hanging out to dry, which was unfair since they were wearing homemade Elephant masks to disguise themselves and I was just myself.  We've also been working on Art Belt Loops and Pins, which included a visit to an art gallery with lots of western (read Cowboys and Indians) art that the boys loved.  And finally, we've been working on Disability Awareness Belt Loops and Pins, which included a trip to a Special Olympics event and a visit from a blind Eagle Scout who shared with us his guide dog, his cane, his talking computer, his braille, and his Goalball.  Goalball is a Paralypmics sport, and he was on a world championship 19-and-under team, and is still playing now on the US National Team.  Needless to say, not only were the boys rapt, but so were the parents!  Cub Scouts is a lot of time and effort and work for me, but it is one of the most rewarding things that I do!

As of last weekend, it is Drive-In Movie season again.  I'm still on the Board of Directors, and still the Volunteer Coordinator, so that is keeping me busy, too.  We'll be heading there tonight for a double feature of kids movies - The Adventures of TinTin and We Bought A Zoo.  I'm not sure who's more excited, the kids or me!

Finally, I'm still teaching karate once a week, as well as taking classes myself.  I find it hard to believe that I enjoy teaching it even more than I enjoy learning it myself.  I know I do a lot, but they are all things that I really enjoy doing - how can I say "no"?

And for those of you who are wondering, no, I didn't quit my job.  I'm still going there every day, too.  Somehow I convinced myself that things would slow down in April, but I haven't had lunch or left on time all week. (sigh) I'm so glad I enjoy my job since I spend so much time there.