Monday, June 18, 2012

Sewing on the road

I left home on Friday morning, not to return until the beginning of July.  While I brought a quilt that needs hand quilting, I wasn't convinced I wanted to be away from my sewing machine for that long.

Solution:  I brought it with me! 

And since I couldn't bring my whole stash with me, I collected up all of my Goodwill pillowcase purchases (OMG!  How did I end up with 19 pillowcases?  Especially considering that I've already upcycled 16 of them into reuseable grocery bags and aprons?) as well as some of my 2" squares to play with.

17 of the 19 pillowcases I have amassed through my pillowcase purchase addiction.
I spent Friday and Saturday at Princeton University where I presented at a conference and was interviewed on camera for publication online - nervewracking!
On Saturday night, I drove up to my MILs in Easton, PA where my kids were waiting for me.  I surprised them with an all day trip to Dorney Park (an amusement park) on Sunday.  I conquered my fear of rollercoasters and had a ball!  I even went on the ones where you go upside down!

Today, I walked my niece's dog while the boys rode their bikes all over the neighborhood (we live on a dirt road that goes straight up a mountain, so riding on paved roads is a treat for them), then went to the movies to catch Madagascar 3.  Needless to say, my kids have not stopped chanting "Circus, Afro, Circus, Afro, Polka Dot, Polka Dot, Polka Dot, Afro!"  Heaven help me!

After the movie, I decided to channel my inner Em and brought my sewing machine outside onto the deck to sew.  Time to tackle those pillowcases! 
Sewing on the deck
Two down!  Someone in my family will be getting some reuseable, washable grocery totes. 

Why is it so hard to photograph stripes?  The one on the left is red, white and blue stripes.

I love the 5 I made for myself, and use them every time I go shopping, whether for groceries or anything else.  Maybe tomorrow I'll make aprons.

I love vacation!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Linking up with the Zig Zag Quilt Challenge

Marcia over at Marcia's Crafty Sewing and Quilting shared how to make a zig zag block and challenged us to make a small quilt using it.  It's easy, she says, and you could make a quilt in just a couple of hours!  And if you link up with her by June 18, you can be entered to win free quilting on your zig zag quilt.  What's not to love about this deal, right? 

So I picked out some polka dot fabric that has been languishing in my stash for YEARS, and added some primary solids of which I had only a fat quarter or less of each.  Gotta use up the stash to make room for more, right?

She shared two ways of making the blocks on her blog - I chose to sew strips together and subcut.  My polka dot strips are 4" wide and my solid strips are 2" wide.  I cut:

sewed, and then sub-cut into 4" wide sections.

Then I pinned those to another strip of solid and sewed.

After cutting apart, I used my ruler to make wonky 4.5" squares.  Definitely easy!  The only thing I don't like about this method is the waste.  The fabric I cut off really wasn't big enough to make anything with, but when you add all the cut off fabric together it adds up.  The frugal scrap quilter in me balks at that.  But my scraps are currently helping to fill up an old pillowcase which will then be sewn shut into a "free" doggie pillow.  So in truth, my "waste" isn't wasted.

My initial layout had alternate polka dot squares, but I worried that I would run out of fabric.

I decided to forgo the alternate squares.

I didn't want just a wide border, so I split it with a 1/4 " flange - is that the right word?  It is sewn into the seam and is like a little flap.  The finished quilt is about 33" x 37".

And while the quilt didn't take me "just a couple of hours", it WAS quick and easy and I'm excited to gift it to a baby when it is quilted.  Here's hoping I win the free quilting!  At the rate that I hand quilt, and with the number of other quilts I have in line before this one, I might not get to gift it to a baby until it is my own grandchild if I have to rely on quilting it myself!

There's still time to make a zig zag quilt - are you taking the challenge, too?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Uncharted waters

I get to add a new title to my ever-growing list of roles:  Swim Mom.  My boys joined a summer swim league, and are thrilled, but I gotta tell ya, I'm out of my league.  At the first practice yesterday, my boys were the only ones wearing swim trunks instead of Jammers.  I'd never even heard of Jammers before.  Someone explained to me that swimming with the surfer dude trunks that my boys wear is like swimming attached to a parachute.  We can't have that now, can we?  My boys were also the only ones not wearing goggles.  Oops!  Or swim caps.  Let's just say I did some online shopping today, and it wasn't for quilt fabric.

I took some time today to retreat back to my comfort zone - quilting.  I received my first blocks back from the Let's Bee Together Bee from Shannon in Idaho.  Here are the 2 she sent along with the 6 I've made so far.  I love how quickly a quilt grows when you use big blocks!  These are each about 11" square.

My first two Bee blocks along with 6 blocks of my own making
I have also been working on my Zig Zag Quilt Challenge quilt.  I have all the blocks, now I just need to sew them together and add something for borders.

Zig Zag Challenge Quilt
And Jason, ever the entrepreneur, has been busy, too.  Our hens are now laying 3 eggs per day, much more than we can eat, so he created order forms and got 3 weekly customers signed up for half a dozen eggs per week (my co-workers are such good sports!).  They mentioned how the eggs were not only yummy, but also so CLEAN.  Here's why:
Jason takes his egg cleaning duties very seriously!
Now if I could just surreptitiously slip some dishes into the sink while he is scrubbing away...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Keeping the postman busy

I gotta tell ya, there are some gadgets out there that just THRILL me!  Two came in the mail yesterday:

a double dog leash so I can walk my 176 pounds of dog flesh (apparently, together my pups are about 20 pounds overweight - I'm not saying how overweight I am, but if walking them helps me shed some pounds too, then BONUS!)
These aren't my dogs, but the lab looks quite a bit like my Biscuit

a Beam N Read hands free 3 LED light.  I foresee much more hand quilting this summer.  See, here's the problem:  I like to hand quilt while watching something.  And I long to use my home movie theater more.  But the movie theater has a projector and screen, so you need to have the lights off for it to really work.  If the lights are off, then I can't see to hand quilt.  Enter the Beam N Read!  I've been wanting one for a while, but hadn't gotten around to getting one (I'm pretty cheap, guys; I talk myself out of lots of purchases because I don't NEED them).  I finally decided to treat myself, and I LOVE IT!  I used it while reading to the boys at bedtime last night.  I used it while closing up the chicken coop last night.  And I pretended to use it in the movie theater last night, but didn't actually quilt because the other thing that came in the mail was...

the first disk of Cranford.  Who was it on here who recommended that?  I watched the first episode and loved it!  I look forward to having time to go down there and watch the next episode - maybe tonight?  But anyway, I didn't hand quilt because with a new series, I need to pay attention, get used to the accents and figure out the characters, otherwise I'll be lost.  Perhaps on episode 2 or 3 I can multitask.  Certainly with McLeod's Daughters or Glee (my current watches).

I'm also sending something OUT in the mail today.  Yesterday I finally made my star block for Beth at LoveLaughQuilt.
For Beth's Starry Quilt project

I also started my Zig Zag Quilt Challenge quilt - I want to make another baby quilt, so I'm using a multicolored polka dot and some solid primary colors.

Fabrics for Zig Zag Quilt Challenge

The beginnings of my Zig Zag Quilt

And for my leader and ender project, I made a couple more blocks for my Summer Breeze quilt. I think I am only going to make 3 more for now, and make this into a baby quilt, too. I have enough bed-sized quilts waiting to be quilted - I think my new projects should be smaller.
Lots of other things going on on the deisgn wall - ignore those

So yesterday was a GOOD day - great mail, progress on projects, some time to relax in the home theater.  Here's hoping today will be a winner, too!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reading instead of sewing

After work yesterday, I was determined to sit and sew a bit.  I wanted to make a star block for Beth at LoveLaughQuilt, start my Zig Zag Quilt Challenge quilt, and maybe make another string block for myself. 

But first, I thought, let me finish this book I am reading - Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah.  I highly recommend it, folks; it was an entertaining and emotional read, a bit predictable, but so interesting.  By the time I was finished, the kids wanted dinner (EVERY DAY they want to EAT!  Sheesh!  Apparently, parenting is a full time job!), and then it was nearing bedtime and then I got sleepy and well, you know, I never made it to the sewing machine.

I started another book at lunch today, Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts.  I know I am late to that party, it was an Oprah's Book Club book years ago and then a movie, but so far, I'm enjoying this as well.

What I'm starving for is some more quilt fiction!  I've read everything I can get my hands on.  There is a Southern Sewing Circle mystery series by Elizabeth Lynn Casey that isn't quilting, per se, but I have read the first and am waiting on the 2nd to arrive so I can read that, too.  In the meantime, I read the Florabama Ladies Auxiliary and Sewing Circle, a silly title but an entertaining read.  Got any other suggestions for me?

Sunday, June 3, 2012 so many ways

Short seems to be my life's theme these days.

Short on time. 
I finished hand quilting the pinwheels in the Good Fortune Lil Twister quilt top, along with two stitch in the ditch lines in the borders, but that is it.  I was out of time, and it was going to have to be enough.  And since I had so little time, I decided to bind the quilt by folding over the backing. I've never done that before, but I knew I had to try, because it was the only way I would finish on time. 

I'll probably do it again on select projects, and it turned out very neat and my corners are nicely mitered, but I will continue to bind with a separate fabric(s) on most projects.  I'd seen someone bind this way using a decorative stitch (was that Cheryl, perhaps?) so I tried that as well - I like the result.

Short on fabric.
Once I decided to bind with the backing, I started trimming the excess batting off, and squaring up the backing fabric.  Once I got to the 4th side of the quilt, I discovered the backing fabric was too short by 1/2" on that one side.  I proceeded to go around and trim 1/2" off all sides of the quilt and the backing to make it work.  So the quilt is 1 inch smaller in length and width than I had anticipated, but you do what you have to do.

Short on ink.
Since I didn't have a seam on the back to sew my label into, I decided to write my label directly on the front of the quilt.  I chose a purple pen.  As I was wrting, first I misspelled the baby's last name - yikes!  So I transformed the misspelling into a heart.  Then the pen ran out of ink halfway through the last line.  It looks shabby, especially with my less than pretty handwriting, but I wrote the last two lines in blue. (It turns out, they've picked out the name Maya for the little girl they are expecting, but I don't trust that you always get what the ultrasound technician tells you you will be getting.  My cousin calls me "Cuz" all the time, so I wrote "Baby Cuz" on the quilt, just in case.)

Short on sleep.
I finished the quilt at 2 AM.  I had to wake up at 7:30 AM to get the kids fed, get the campout stuff out to our campout site, and then get into town with our bikes for the Cub Scout bike rodeo that started at 9 AM.  The bike rodeo ended at noon, at which point I handed my kids over to a friend for the day, hopped in the car, and drove the 4 hours to the baby shower.  After 4 hours at the shower, I had to leave if I was going to make it back home for any part of the cub scout campout that had started without me.  I was so tired, however, that I had to stop twice on the 4 hour drive home for power naps in random parking lots.  I made it home at 1 AM, changed clothes, tended to the animals, brushed my teeth, and was at the campout by 1:20 AM.  Some of the parents had kept the fire going and waited up for me, worried.  Even though I was exhausted, it was so nice to sit and chat, gazing into the fire, that I didn't go to bed until 3 AM.  But it is a campout...all the boys, and therefore I, was up by 7 AM.  After a fun morning fixing our breakfast over the campfire and doing a scavenger hunt, we were home by 11:30.  I got done a couple of tasks around the house, sat in the sun with a book for a while, and then gave in and took a nice long afternoon nap.

This was my view until I finally came in to take a nap.  I love sitting on my porch!

Short in stature.
Here is my cousin and his pregnant wife.  They are over the moon about this pregnancy.  They are both in their 40s, and have been trying to get pregnant for most of the past decade.  Those smiles were on their faces all day yesterday.  I am so happy for them!

Seeing this picture made me feel really short.  It also made me realize that, if I hang out with pregnant women, it will make me feel really petite.  I'm filing that away for those days when I feel dumpy...

The quilt seemed to be well received.  There were the usual Oooohs and Aaahs, but then someone said, "Wait, is that HANDMADE???"  One woman attending the shower hugged me, said she was a cross stitcher and knew how much work must have gone into my quilt and was brought to tears that I would make such a gift for my cousin.  I hope they like it.  I hope they USE it.  I hope the rest of the pregnancy goes smoothly.  I can't wait to meet and hold my new little cousin.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spreading the word

There's not much new in my world. 

My hens left us TWO eggs yesterday, instead of just one.  Jason yelled so loudly, I thought something was wrong.  He was just excited.

My beans are flowering. (what can I make with eggs and green beans???)

I'm still plodding away at the baby quilt for the shower tomorrow.  Yes, I said TOMORROW.  I have just 3 pinwheels left to quilt, and then the binding to put on.  It isn't much, but I feel safe saying I'll be up late tonight.

Rosabelle has had the Hershey Squirts two nights running, so I took her and Biscuit to the vet today for checkups.  She has some kind of infection or something.  Oh joy!  I get to feed her antibiotics for a week.  As long as I am not scrubbing floors all week...

Blah, nothing exciting to share.  Let me share the news of others! 

First of all, Bonnie Hunter is taking pre-orders for her next book, String Fling: Scrappy, Happy and Loving It.  Yeah, I already ordered it!

And there is a 12-year-old with a quilt in the weekly quilt contest at the Quilting Gallery this week - she made the quilt when she was 9 years old.  I had to vote for her - I think young quilters need all the support they can get!  I don't know who she is, but I hope she wins.  At the time of my writing, she is just 8 votes outside of the lead.  C'mon guys, let's make her a winner!  Her quilt is called Garden of Posies.

That's all for me.  Enjoy the weekend, y'all!