Saturday, March 30, 2013

Running in place

We spent the last few days in Pennsylvania with my mother-in-law.  She is at home and doing OK.  It was good to spend some time with her, chatting while watching her two favorite shows - NCIS and Fraiser.  And by now, I think everyone knows what I do when I watch TV, right?  QUILT!  I worked on the rainbow rail fence quilt for hours upon hours.  With all those straight lines, I figured it needed curves, so I popped it in the hoop and quilted concentric circles using the hoop and the length of my pinkie finger as a guide.

It was a good idea in theory, but my curves just weren't uniform enough for me, so then I spent hours upon hours taking all the stitches out.  Man, I hate that!  But now that I'm back home, I plan to do some freehand baptist fans using one of my half circle rulers as a guide to get me started on each fan.  I love the way baptist fans look, so I'm happy about that, but I'm not happy about starting over - I feel like I've been running in place, doing all that work with nothing to show for it.

But the mail cheered me when I got home.  My hubby says I single-handedly keep the postal service in business.  I'll certainly be keeping them busy this week.  Know what this is?

250 thank you post cards to send out to the folks who helped me out with the Hurricane Sandy Quilt project.  If you are one of them, watch your mailbox for some love from me.

And an update on that project - I have one completed quilt and 5 being long-arm quilted right now, with a couple more still waiting for quilting.  They'll get done eventually, but not until these babies get their quilts.

OK, off to address some postcards.  Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Why do I always feel like I am disclosing on here what I DIDN'T get done? (sigh)

So, I didn't get the 2nd baby quilt top put together yet, although I did get all the Indian Hatchet blocks pieced.

I REALLY wish I had enough blue/gray fabric for one more block because this is one quilt I think I would really like to be square (8 x 8), but since I used every scrap of that fabric already, it will remain a rectangle (7 x 9).  Or perhaps I make it 7 x 8...or maybe I move the "center" further down...we'll see once I start sewing it together.

And I am forcing myself to sew these blocks together before I tackle this tempting pile of BONUS TRIANGLES!  There is a mini quilt in here just screaming to be made!

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Baby rainbow quilt #1 is pieced and ready for sandwiching and quilting.  However, another pregnant friend was taken to the hospital this weekend, and will likely be staying there until her baby makes an appearance, whether it is 2 days from now or 2 weeks.  I hope it is 2 weeks or more because she is only 32 weeks pregnant and that baby needs more time to develop before coming out to meet us.  But when he/she arrives, I want to be sure there is a quilt waiting.  So before working on rainbow quilt #2 for the other twin (the baby shower isn't until May 11), I started piecing a quilt for this other baby who seems to be in a hurry to get here.

I needed something quick and easy, as well as something scrappy and colorful, preferably something where I can use some of my pre-cut scrap squares.  I absolutely LOVE this quilt by Andie Johnson, so I decided to make something similar.  I've gotta say, though, her scraps are WAY MORE FUN than mine!  Do we all feel that way about other people's scraps?

Here's what I've got so far - blocks aren't sewn together yet.

I have 37 more blocks to make, which will be super quick because I cut all the blue/gray fabric yesterday and the scrap tins are overflowing with pre-cut squares to sew onto the corners.  It will be 7 blocks x 9 blocks, a rectangle, because I could only cut 63 squares out of the yardage I had.  I used Bonnie Hunter's Smokey Mountain Stars tutorial to make the "Indian Hatchet" blocks.  I hope to be able to finish piecing it today and get it sandwiched to hand quilt this weekend.  Even though it is cold outside, the Drive-In is open again for the season, so we'll be there this weekend to see Wreck-It Ralph and Parental Guidance.  Thanks to my handy little hands-free LED light, I can quilt while I watch the movie in the dark.  It doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inquiring minds want to know

Well, then, I guess Toothbrush Rugs aren't widely known.  Basically, it is a crocheted rag rug made with strips of fabric, but I don't know how to crochet so I use a toothbrush needle.  The toothbrush needle is usually made from plastic, but some people custom make them from wood.

Back during the Depression era, they were made from toothbrushes, which nearly always had a hole at the end of the handle.  The bristle end was cut off and then filed down to a rounded "needle" point.  You tear (or cut, but I think tearing is better because you you eliminate much of the fraying that way, it is quicker, and oh so therapeutic to just RIP!) fabric strips the width of your fabric from selvage to selvage.  I don't know the exact width you are supposed to use, but I tear mine approximately 1.5" wide (but I don't measure).

Here's my first rug on a porch chair before I realized how great it would be under my sewing machine pedal. 
I learned the technique by watching the video at Rag Rug Cafe.  I have fabric that isn't really appropriate for quilting, but that I wanted to use for something.  My first round rug has been under my sewing machine pedal for months now.  I love that it keeps the pedal in place - the pedal used to always scoot around on my wood laminate floor in my sewing studio.  The rugs can be round or oval or hearts or rectangular.  I encourage you to Google "toothbrush rugs" if you want to learn more.

But after all that explanation, I haven't really worked on my rag rug since my last post.Instead, I've been focusing on cranking out some baby quilts.  First up, one of my karate instructors is having twins (girls, they say). For her birthday a couple of years ago, I made her a mini confetti quilt in rainbow colors, so I'm planning to make rainbow quilts for her babies, too.  I started with this rail fence - the blocks are made but not sewn together yet.

Inquiring minds want to know - how do you feel about square quilts?  For some reason, I am more drawn to rectangular quilts, so I am debating adding another row or two.  What do you think?

I plan to make the other twin a quilt in the same colors, but probably a chevron pattern - similar, but not the same, just like twins.  You guys know I'm an identical twin, right?  Twins hold a very special place in my heart!

Oh, and bonus for the rail fence quilt - I made the blocks using my pre-cut 5" charm squares so I wouldn't have to seek out and cut fabric.  I put the two fabrics right-sides together, sewed along two opposite ends, then cut 2" in from each sewn side, giving me two identical sets of 3.5" x 5" blocks.  I set one set aside because I only wanted each fabric to show up once in the quilt - you know, scrappy ole' me.  To the first set, I added a 2" x 5" white to each block, and voila, 5" rail fence blocks.  But now, I have a whole other set available, just awaiting the white, so I can make another baby quilt for another expecting mother some other day without too much preparation.  I love it when things work out like that!

On the home front, things are stable.  My MIL is hanging in there at home.  I'm hoping to get back up to see her during my kids' spring break later this month.  My mom has been struggling with some health issues, too, and I'd love to get up there to see her, but all the snow days have cut my kids' spring break in half, and it would be a challenge for us to make it all the way up to New Hampshire and back in just 4 days.  The boys and I have been busy with scouting (Pinewood Derby was this past weekend), and karate (my third mid-term test is this Thursday - I'm on track to test for my second-degree black belt in October).

Oh, and I gave notice at my job, so starting in July, I'll be a free agent.  I've already arranged to teach quilting to middle school aged kids at an art camp in July.  I'm ready to stop working at the breakneck pace I've been maintaining for years and be more creative.  I feel excited and proud of myself for taking this leap of faith (after all, who gives up a secure and lucrative job in a recession and sequester and in this job market???), but I'll admit, I'm a bit nauseous, too, not knowing what comes next.  I'm choosing to just believe in myself and that someone up there rewards leaps of faith.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Checking in

My goal this past week was to take time to recharge.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a ton of time available to do that, but every moment I could find to sit and stitch or read or just relax, I did it.  My latest project, beyond working on some baby quilts since everyone seems to be pregnant these days, has been making another toothbrush rug.  I had two large fabrics that aren't really right for quilting that I decided to make a rug with.  I still have a long way to go, but so far, I love it!  It is about 16 inches in diameter right now.

I have so much more to write, but it is going to have to wait.  Instead of using my weekend to recharge my batteries, I gave a friend a chance to recharge hers.  When I found out that my friend had not spent even one night alone with her husband since her first son was born over 10 years ago, I offered to have her 3 boys over for a sleepover.  This weekend was the big day.  She was a bit of a Nervous Nelly dropping them off, but the boys - aged 10, 9 and 4 - were like old pros at sleepovers, even though 2 of them had never done sleepovers before.  We played games, we ate, we watched a movie - it went well.  And hearing this morning that she slept in until 9:30 AM and then was able to drink her coffee, - uninterrupted and while it was still hot! - well, even if it hadn't gone well, it would have been worth it.  As it is, they are definitely invited to come stay again.  If there is one thing I've learned through my 10 short years as a parent, it is that I am a much better parent when I take the time to take care of myself.  When I am rested and healthy, I am so much more patient and engaged with my boys.

So instead of rambling on, I will sign off for now and go have some ME time.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Goodies! First come, first served

I re-entered the public world of quilting today.  Our guild held an auction, and I brought in quite a bit of stuff - fabric, patterns, books, a floor-standing hoop - to auction off to raise money for the guild.  My goal was to come home with less than I took.  I did it, but barely.  The items were auctioned off in such large lots that it was impossible to get just what you wanted.  "No worries," I thought.  "Maybe someone who reads my blog will want some of it." 

So, here I am, re-entering the blogosphere today with goodies to giveaway.  But it isn't a giveaway.  If you see something you want, leave a comment to claim it - first come, first served.  I'll try to update/edit the post as things get claimed, and I hope to mail everything out on Monday.  I didn't even bring it in the house - took pictures outside and left everything in the car!  Here's what is up for grabs:


GONE! 3 Wool Applique Patterns - Primitive Pineapples, Thanksgiving Pumpkin and Weather Vane Roosters

GONE!  3 Bag Patterns - Fab-u-wear Purse, Triple Square Scrap Bags and Having It All Satchel

GONE! A whole passel of quilt patterns - Little Charmer by Karen Comstock; Bound to the Prairie and Charm Bracelet, both from University Moda; Flying Squares from Cobblestone Quilts; Homeward Bound by Bloom Creek; 24 Batiks by Jackie Robinson; Snappy Scrappy Stars by Augusta Cole; Confetti Stars by Atkinson Designs; Strippy Stars by Prairie Hands Pattern Co; Little Christmas by Donna French Collins; Western Star by Laundry Basket Quilts; Cranberry Sparkle by Lynette Jensen

GONE! Five 1/8 cuts of batiks - beautiful, they are too hard to hand quilt through

GONE - Assorted fabrics - fat quarters of the green with multicolored pins and the light blue stars and stripes, just under 1/2 yard of the golden stars, 9"x36" of the red and white houses/hearts/stars/baskets and scrap sizes of the floral on gingham

GONE! Any Laurel Birch fans out there? 23" of her Holiday Celebrations (sorry about the shadow at the top)
GONE! Do you like to make pillows and cushions?

GONE! Are you itching to try curves?

GONE! Something simple (Country Weekend Patchwork Quilts) and something not-so-simple (Feathered Star Quilts)
I'll be back soon to actually blog - share what's been happening in my life (a lot), and photos of what I kept from the auction.  I've also done a tiny bit of hand quilting lately, working on a quilt for MY BED.  Can you believe it?

It's good to be back.