31 December 2010

Thank you, Shelly!

In case you don't know, Shelly of Prairie Moon Quilts is doing a series of challenges to start the new year off right sewing-wise. The first one was easy - locate your oldest UFO and do something (anything!) about it. That was easy for me because my oldest UFO is the biggest UFO/WIP I have. It's lowest on the totem pole, but I took it out, looked at it, and put it back into the corner of my sewing room where it will live until I finish the quilts with due dates attached. But Shelly counted that as doing something - after all, unlike her (until she did her challenge) I know where it is!

Second challenge was a bit harder - clean off a flat surface in my sewing area. My sewing table was covered in stuff as I've been doing hand-sewing lately, not touching my machine. All of the stuff you see here in this picture (except for the suitcase that's holding my thread) was on my sewing table surrounding my machine:

My sewing table is really small - it's a little card table, so it was rather covered. You can't quite tell, but most of the stuff was scattered - pins, bags with holes in them, three pairs of scissors, my thimbles, my thimble with a hole in it (someday, it will be a necklace - after all, how many of you have used a metal thimble so much that it developed a hole in the tip?), etc. - all over the table until you couldn't work there if you wanted to. Now, it's organized on the windowsill (after all, I can't use the windowsill for much else!) and my sewing table looks like this:

Hooray cleanliness! I also cleaned up the floor in the room. You can see in the bottom right corner my fabric basket, my tote bag of scraps, and my tote bag of batting scraps. My poor curvy cutting mat is on the table, and my wonderful red Ikea lamp (doesn't it look like the one from the beginning of the Pixar movies?) shining on Jenny the Janome. 

In case you were wondering, the quilt on the left and the one on the right were made by my Grandmother. The one on the left was my garden - at night as I was in bed I'd imagine wandering through the garden, thinking about what beautiful flowers I'd see. On the right is my little bunny - he was my pet until my parents actually let me get my own pet (an adorable little white mouse named Treasure who was tame as can be and that I loved beyond imagining). In the middle is my first quilt - aptly named "Primus" ("First" in Latin). It was made from designer fabric swatches (not even kidding!) that we got from a friend of the family that was an interior designer. It was completely hand-sewn and is totally falling apart, but it's my inspiration because of how far I've come.

So thank you, Shelly, for getting me to clean my room. My husband thanks you too! This year I'm going to try to finish all of the projects that were started last year. So there's one baby quilt, a Quilts for Kids quilt, and my bed quilt. Plus I have to finish my brown bag quilt challenge, one and probably a second baby quilt, and hopefully my sister's quilt. Hers is simple - it's a wholecloth front, but there is going to be a TON of quilting. I can't wait to start it, and I promise to post progress pictures as it'll be awesome.

Happy New Year, and I wish you all happy sewing in this coming year!

27 December 2010

It's Been a Sprint-a-thon...

...which is like doing a marathon-length's worth of sprints. Remember those Christmas quilts I wanted to have done? One for Pop-Pop, one for my mom, and one for my Mother-in-Law? Done. They're in the mail. I finished the binding on the last one the day it needed to be sent out, about an hour before the post office closed for taking Express Mail packages (haha). How's that for a last-minute cram session? And now, I guess there's no time for anything else but the big reveal...

This is Pop-Pop's Quilt. I entered it in the Project Modern Challenge 1, but it didn't win (obviously). To some extent, I'm a little peeved that I actually read the rules and regulations because I limited my description to 100 words like it said in the fine print, but none of the winners did. But that's all beside the point - I LOVE the quilt, and several guys who have been asked what it looked like to them have correctly identified it as looking like flying over farmland. My description of the quilt that I sent into the challenge was:

"My quilt captures the beauty of flying; my grandfather, my husband, and I are all pilots. My grandfather has just been moved to a nursing home, so I wanted a quilt to comfort him and remind him of the beauty he saw when he was flying. I chose a Disappearing 9-Patch design to capture the patchwork you see when looking down at farmland, forests, and peoples' yards. The quilting is simple to ensure that the overall pattern of interlocking fields of all different shapes really stands out. "For once you have tasted flight...there you will long to return." -DaVinci "

This was my inspiration photo - it was taken from Google Maps, somewhere over Kansas...go figure, right? This piece of land epitomized the "patchwork" of the land below very well. 

The second quilt I finished was my mom's quilt. The falling leaves quilt, full of brilliant fall colors and (I think) somewhat whimsical quilting.

The overall quilt - I love it. The lighter squares on the tree remind me of sunlight filtering through the leaves, and the leaves are just as random as I'd hoped for. They really look like they're all falling because of a stiff gust of wind. I really love this quilt!

A closeup of a few of my favorite leaves, showing off the quilting in the leaves. Each leaf's veins is totally different, which makes them even more perfect in my mind. I learned on this quilt that it's hard to quilt backwards one-handed on a curve (my machine's reverse lever requires one hand to push it). But I managed! More than a few of the leaves are actually made out of leafy fabric, which makes me all kinds of happy and giggly inside (which my husband thinks is a little crazy, but hey - I made it, I reserve the right to be happy and giggly inside). 

A closeup of the tree's hole. This picture was taken while draped on the couch, so the quilting is a bit more symmetrical than that. I'm glad that I didn't use a 100% black fabric for the hole - after all, you can usually see a bit of the wood farther back in a hollow in a tree. And I love that the quilting added depth. You can also see the quilting on the tree here too - freehand mostly vertical lines, spaced randomly apart. It mimics actual maple tree bark (the leaves are maple leaf blocks, so I stuck with that theme).

Closeup of one of the better areas of grass. The grass was interesting to try to sew, as it was totally free-hand with nothing to follow. At least with the veins on the leaves I had a general place I knew the line had to go. Not all of the grass looks this grassy, but this quilt was a huge learning point for me. I've never done anything like this, both piecing-wise and quilting-wise. You can see I chose a nice red for the binding (I'm almost out of this fabric, which makes me really sad...the selvage said "Kimono Collection" and it was purchased at Joann's about six years was red with gold butterflies on it) at my husband's suggestion. I usually get his opinion on bindings and he's usually spot on with his choices.

Finally, Texas Mom's quilt. I apologize for these pictures as they were taken with my husband's cell phone in the hallway of the post office prior to wrapping it up and sending the box to Texas. Fluorescent lighting + cell phone camera + door behind me that people came into, bringing the wind with them = blurry pictures. Hopefully by next week I'll have better pictures for you. The package didn't get there in time for Christmas (stupid Postal System!) and they left yesterday to go to New Mexico and Colorado so it will be there when they get back and I'll bribe one of my brothers-in-law to get some better non-blurry pictures of it.

Overall view of the quilt. It's a 4-Seasons quilt, so I wanted it to look like you were looking through a window. I tried to strip-piece the brown window-border, but realized that my seams weren't exactly straight, so my cuts weren't exactly straight so the outside edge doesn't line up with the squares in the quilt. I learned to let go and not care with this quilt...a valuable skill when I can't seem to sew a straight seam to save my life. At my husband's suggestion, I bound this quilt with white. It gives it a bit of a bright edge, and lightens up the neverending brown.

A blurry picture, but you can kind of see what's going on here. I tried to use the light blue squares to shade the snowman and snow on the ground. I quilted this section by outlining everything (top of the snow, outer edge of the tree, buttons and scarf, snowman parts). I quilted in the ditch on the background squares but also did diagonal lines both directions (/ and \) so in the corners of the background squares it made asterisks - kind of like quilted snowflakes! I echoed the tree's outline into the foliage about 1/4-1/2" apart. The blue squares in the sky have snowflakes on them too, but they're not as easy to see in this picture. The white and blue in the snow also have snowflakes. 

You might recognize some of these leaves - I quilted them just like on my mom's quilt. The pumpkins (which do have half-square triangle stems on top) are outlined and have pumpkin curves quilted into them. The stems have close-set lines to mimic how the stems look on real pumpkins.

This is the summer pane. It's a stylized sun, and I quilted the sun itself as echoes. I put out straight lines up, down, and left to right emanating from the sun, and I also did lines on the diagonal (you can see them bisecting the diagonal triangles). I then outlined each of the little triangles. I'm slightly peeved about this pane as I placed some of the triangles wrong, but if you didn't know what it was supposed to look like, hopefully it doesn't show...right?

Finally - the spring pane. The bluebonnets look slightly bluebonnet-ish, although I think they're a bit more wheat-ish. Regardless, I like them and the quilting does make them stand out from the background. I quilted them 1/4 inch apart following the V shape made by the way I pieced them. In the top diamond I echoed the diamond shape into itself. It was a lot of turning the quilt (most of these pieces were) but it worked. I quilted in the ditch for the green background squares to hold them down but nothing closer than that - I have found that if you want one part to stand out, quilt that area heavily and everything else loosely and it will truly stand out.

So there we go - my sprint-a-thon is finished and I'm free to not quilt if I don't feel like it. I'm trying to finish a few WIPs so hopefully I'll have some good news to report on that front! I have a baby quilt that's about 3 months overdue already, and it's hand-quilted (it was my work on the plane ride over here, and you really just can't mix hand-and machine-quilting on the same quilt, so lots more hand work to go!) so it'll take me a bit longer. I'm almost 3/4 done with the quilting, so hopefully by February at the latest...let's hope! My husband is holding me to the "finish Heather's baby quilt before starting anything new" thing so I guess I'd better get to work.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and here's to having a great new year!

28 November 2010

Sorry, guys

I realize I've been silent for over a week now...sorry about that. I'm sewing like a madwoman to get these quilts done in time to ship to their recipients by Christmas! I have a picture of Pop-Pop's finished quilt, I'm in the middle (well, towards the end) of quilting Mom's Fall Leaf Quilt, and TX Mom's quilt top is pieced and ready for basting. I promise I'm working!

Oh, and I'm learning how to Free-Motion Quilt! Kind of by accident...I wanted to give the leaves on Mom's Quilt veins, which meant that I had to free-hand draw them. I've only done a bit of curves with the leaves (which are completely quilted now!) and drawing out blades of grass (some are more straight up-and-down zig-zags, but some look like grass! I only had one time where I had a tension issue, too...I switched thread from one brand to another and had to raise my top-thread tension about 1/4 of a value on my machine (2.5 to 2.75-ish). So hooray for that. I haven't ventured into stippling (it just looks like way too much turning the whole quilt sandwich for machine has a really little throat and you get a workout every time you turn the quilt at all!) but hey - gotta start somewhere, right?

It's been great to have my husband home. Unfortunately, he woke up several times last night sick and hasn't been feeling well all day so boo on that. We did do some shopping and small travels earlier this Thanksgiving weekend - Christmas Markets opened this weekend and we hit up two, plus found me my dress for the ball in two weeks. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh? The dress fits pretty well (the arm-hole...yes, it's asymmetrical so there's only a little tight but definitely looks great) and while the color is a bit out of my comfort zone (lavender) it goes great with a silver pair of heels I had left over from my sister's wedding a few years back. Add in a pair of silver long gloves we found at the same store, some jewelry I already had, and a touch of makeup - voila! I'm ready for my carriage to take me to the ball!

My hope (which seems fairly doable) is to have Mom's quilt to the point that it needs only hand-stitching (binding) by this weekend because I think we're going to be doing a bit of traveling. We'll see.

In other news, if you remember how I talked about my Grandfather being moved from Florida to Ohio to go into an assisted living facility...well, the lease on his old place was paid for a year after he left to give my dad time to go get it cleaned out. Apparently Pop-Pop didn't throw ANYTHING away. At all. My dad found 20 boxes full of pictures of my Grandfather from WWII, his wedding, etc. He also found more of my Grandmother's jewelry. I already have quite a few pieces of her jewelry from when she died while I was in high school. I love her jewelry and wear it a lot even if some of it is only costume jewelry. He also found some of her old quilting fabric, which my mom is going to send to me with her jewelry and some other things.

Now, I never really knew my Grandmother as an adult - I was in high school when she passed away, but she had Alzheimer's pretty badly before that. I knew her as a child, because she and Pop-Pop visited a few times and I stayed at their place in Florida for a few weeks one summer, but I didn't know her as an adult. It wasn't until very recently that I realized that she had quilted. I have two small quilts she had given me when I was a kid and when looking at them I realized she had hand-quilted them. They're hanging on the wall in my sewing room. I take after her (and her side of the family) more than any other of my family members physically - she was over 6' tall and had feet so big she had two pairs of custom-made dress shoes and wore men's shoes the rest of the time. I'm not that bad (5'10" and my feet are a mere size 11 womens) but even my face structure looks like her side of the family. I was born six days after her birthday too - another way I feel connected to her. I'm excited too because one of the pieces of jewelry I'm getting is an opal ring...we share that birthstone and the ring is real opals - a larger center one with smaller ones around it. My mom showed me on Skype and it's gorgeous!

Is it silly to feel so connected to someone I barely knew as an adult? And yet I do, because in a way I feel like I'm following in her footsteps. I'm a lot like her in a lot of ways...and I hope I become more like her because from what I can remember, she was an amazing woman. I can only hope to be more like my Grandma. And that's about the hokiest thing I've said all day. Oh well - such is life. Have you ever felt this way towards someone you only barely knew or who you didn't know at all?

16 November 2010


I will be unplugged for a few days as my husband returns from his business trip in the middle of the night tonight. He's been gone since August. He won't have internet access until he gets home, so I can say this and surprise him - I love you so much, honey! I'm so excited for you to come home! I can't wait to see you! I've missed you...but my love has only grown while you've been gone!

Hopefully when I start blogging again it'll be on my computer, not my phone!

Also, this made me laugh...because for me, at least some of the time, it's true.

So let's get that adrenaline going!

12 November 2010

I'm pretty sure you'll think I'm crazy, but...

To start off with, I've finished the bluebonnets for Texas Mom's quilt. Aren't they pretty? I haven't figured out how I want to quilt them yet but I still have a little time before that's an issue. I feel almost a little guilty because I've been invited to guest post on the Slow Poke Quilters blog but I feel not quite so slow this week. Oh well!
Now for my crazy side. I did something today that I haven't done in months: I threw away perfectly good food. It wasn't moldy and hadn't yet spoiled. But I dreaded eating it like the plague. It started its life innocently enough. Tuna casserole from scratch doesn't sound evil in the least. But I tried doing it without a recipe and that's where the casserole turned evil. I didn't make enough of the creamy sauce, or maybe I just used too much tuna or added too many vegetables. Whatever the reason, this casserole went the way of Darth Vader: it turned on its old teacher. But unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, I was able to take its evil out with only a bit of a guilty conscience. The frugal side is throwing an all out hissy fit over the whole thing, but even she can't look a can of tuna in the eyes right now.
And so now that you probably think I've totally gone off the deep end, I'm going to sign off with the promise that the pan that once held the tuna casserole will, by the end of the weekend, hold something much yummier - my mother in law's cranberry date bars. I promise to use a recipe to make them too.

11 November 2010

Even more progress!

Pop-Pop's quilt binding is sewn down! I finished today since I had the day off for Veterans Day. It hasn't been washed yet because my washer takes between two and three hours to complete a load and I wasn't going to be awake to put it in the drier. Pictures will be posted as soon as it's been washed and dried!
The picture with this post shows the progress I've made on TX Mom's quilt. Row two of bluebonnets is now complete. This quilt is teaching me how to stress about it less. There are two places where a square and a triangle of the same fabric are touching but after spending some time staring at it I really just can't bring myself to care about it enough to rip it apart to fix it. Did you notice it when you looked at it? Or did you have to look specifically for it? Do you think it looks bad enough that I should redo it? I'm really curious about what you all think.

10 November 2010


I've been making slow but steady progress with MT quilts this week. I've started piecing Texas Mom's quilt. It's the 4 seasons quilt. I've started with spring - bluebonnets. If you've ever been to Texas in the spring you've seen field upon field of those beautiful flowers, purple blue as far as the eye can see. I'm not sure if mine look quite right but my husband thinks they're fine. What do you think?
Beyond that, I'm over halfway done with hand sewing the binding down on Pop-Pop's quilt. I love the vibrant turquoise blue against the brown and green - it makes it look so bright! You will have pictures of it as soon as it's done.
One other thing - my husband will be home from his business trip next week! I've missed him so much. Do any of you have suggestions as to what sort of foods I should make to celebrate his homecoming? I'm running a bit low on food ideas.

05 November 2010

Quick post

Mom's quilt top is done! It doesn't lay completely flat but after all of the fudging I had to do plus all of the inset seams, I don't think I really care. I'm in love.

03 November 2010

I am not dead

...but my computer is. My phone blogging app only lets me post one picture at a time and I have no completed quilts at home so no Bloggers Quilt Festival for me. Sigh. I can't even post links.
Never fear, I am still quilting! Pop-Pop's quilt just needs its binding hand sewn on and Mom's quilt top is about 2/3 done. I just have the tricky inset seams in my future.
I have run into a snag though. I wanted to do a scrappy brown sashing on TX Mom's quilt but have run out of brown fabric! I've looked around online and have found only one store with a "brown" Fay quarter bundle but last time I ordered from them it took almost two months to get here. Do any of you know of other stores that have color sorted FQ bundles? I need a variety of brown fabrics, not just a bunch of brown batiks. I'll accept free fabric too, haha. I'm only mostly kidding.
It's late, and I have an early morning. I promise pictures later! Good night!

24 October 2010

Happy Birthday!

In honor of my birthday, I'm being lazy and not posting any pictures. I have 10 more disappearing 9-patch squares (the unit with one big square, two small rectangles, and one small square) left to quilt on Pop-Pop's quilt and I'll be done quilting it. I'm really excited, although I'm a little disappointed that I didn't finish it this weekend. I had hoped to be able to enter it into Amy's One Thing One Week Challenge but didn't get it done. Oh well! I've made a TON of progress on it, so I'm happy.

Today (Sunday) was my birthday so I...did a ton of cooking and house cleaning. Exciting, right? That's what happens when your husband's on a business trip. My landlady brought me some of her apples from the tree in the back yard (organic, home grown!) on Saturday morning so I turned those into applesauce today. I also experimented with a Mexican dish that turned out almost right - the recipe said to use the pepper and onion fresh but they didn't get cooked enough in the oven. They were easy to pick out though and the rest of the dish was good. I made myself a carrot cake to celebrate, and I'll bring the rest of it to work so I don't have to take it home.

I went over to Karin's house to play with her adorable little kitten Moritz. He's adorable...I have a few scratches on my hand from him but that's a small price to pay for playing with an adorable kitten! He wasn't really into snuggling, which was a little sad, but playing was fun too. I got to see some of Karin's quilts in person and they're pretty breathtaking. I saw pictures of all of her other quilts - she keeps a journal complete with pictures of each quilt or sewing project she makes, and believe you me that there are a lot of them and they're impressive!

With that, I must be up the kitchen, frosting the last cake, moving the laundry to the dryer, and going to bed. I hate having a birthday at the end of the weekend!

17 October 2010

Weekend Update

Hello! I thought I'd give ya'll a little update on my weekend. It's been quite wonderful so far...too bad it won't last longer. I went out to dinner on Friday night with a friend, her kids, and a few other ladies with their kids. It was one of the most stressful dinners I've ever been to. We had 7 children there all told, with the youngest being a baby and the oldest being about 6 or so. Four boys, three girls. Needless to say, it was a bit of a headache. We were in a back corner of the restaurant, but those kids would not listen for anything. Nobody got dessert that night. I think the restaurant, and everybody there, was glad to see us go.

Saturday, I went to a Pampered Chef party. I was only allowed to spend the cash I already had in my wallet, which was a whopping $15. I got two spice rubs...that mandoline slicer was calling my name, though. SO awesome. I always cut myself when I try to use my grater's mandoline side. Last time, I got my knuckle and it took almost a month to finish healing. Something to save up for, I guess!

I spent all of the rest of my day grocery shopping and sewing. I made this Potato soup for dinner, and it was amazing. I altered the recipe a bit, though. I used more of the celery, onion, and potato - I used the whole onion, I think either 3 or 4 stalks of celery, and 3 potatoes. Then, before I added the cream at the end, I added some baby spinach leaves and let them get all wilted. It was awesome! My bacon was a little chewy, though, because I tried using too small of a pot. If you have a large saucepan (a few inches high but with a very large bottom), use that for this soup. That recipe was enough for me to have one bowl plus seconds for two meals.

Sunday morning, I got up and made two batches of my favorite cookies. We were having a potluck lunch after church. Once those were made and baking, I put together some beef stew in the crock pot. I wasn't planning on eating it tonight, since I wanted to finish the soup, but I wanted to have it done for tomorrow night. I kind of ad libbed on the recipe, so I'll have to let you know how it tastes! I also made bread, and this time, the loaves didn't stick to the pan. Picture perfect! I'm thinking about trying to make whole wheat bread, but am kind of reluctant to change. I love this recipe for its simplicity, so does anyone have any advice?

On the sewing front, I ordered the backing for my mom's and my mother in law's quilt. They're actually the same backing, a batik that was on sale at Hancock's of Paducah. I felt really bad for buying it though, because I had to get a ton (pieced back) and even on sale it was expensive. 10 yards of a fabric that's priced at almost $10 a yard...yeah. I had my husband's permission, though, so I bought it. This is the backing:

I swoon over batiks, so this was right up my alley. Hooray! I'm now about 2/3 done with the quilting on Pop-Pop's quilt. I'm so excited because this means that it'll be done with plenty of time to enter it in the Project Modern Challenge!

In other news, I got to see Pop-Pop today. I was Skyping with my mom, and my dad was picking him up from the Assisted Living Center for Sunday lunch at my parents' house. We stayed on long enough so I could see him and he's looking great. He's looking much better than the last time I saw him. The Assisted Living Center is definitely taking good care of him. If nothing else, the food has made a big difference. He hated cooking for himself, so having food prepared for him is a huge thing. My dad got him to talk a little bit about when he was in WWII, which I always love hearing about. I can't wait to have this quilt for him. He hates the cold, and it's about to be winter so it'll be just in time. He seriously is a bigger baby about cold than my husband (I love you, honey!), who's from Texas. He was wearing his jacket, zipped all of the way up, at my parent's house today.

My husband today was saying that I'm perfect. Why am I perfect? Because I can make yummy food (like beef stew and homemade bread and cookies and potato soup) and I can sew and make quilts for people AND...I'm a nerd. I'm a nerd because when he sends me links like this one I start thinking of what else I would have to put with it to have the right outfit (my black leggings and my Rocket Dogs shoes). And when I can't figure out what movie to watch, I watch our Special Extended Edition of the Lord of the Rings movies. And then laugh at them. Because quotes like "Are all these children yours? Gracious, you've been productive" just make me laugh. Besides, when Agent Smith from the "Matrix" movies comes out with long hair and elf ears and says "Welcome to Rivendell" you just can't help but mentally a "Mister Anderson" to the end of it. And then, because you really can't talk about Lord of the Rings without showing this, here's one of my favorite little songs made from bits of the LOTR movies:

Now whenever you see the movies, you'll remember these little bits of the movies and will laugh at them. I love this video...seriously!

I'm supposed to get the first snow of the year this week. I don't know if I'll see it, since my office is in the basement, but I hope I do. There's something magical about the first time it snows. But if it snows daily until spring, I might start having problems. We'll see!

Anyways, just out of curiosity - what did you get done this weekend, sewing or otherwise? I'd love to see some comments about it!

11 October 2010

It's Been a While...

No, I'm not referring to the song by the same name by the band Staind. I'm talking about how long it's been since I last posted. I've been very busy at work, and for the next two weeks or so it'll be busy, but hopefully after that it will hopefully calm down a little bit. Well, it probably won't, but I can always hope, can't I?

On Thursday, I got the package I was waiting for in the mail. What did it contain? Well, it had 5 yards of this fabric:

That's "Journey's Beginning Brown Trees" by Wilmington Fabrics - t's the backing for Pop-Pop's quilt. Isn't it pretty? It's soft and subtle and just generally awesome. I'm excited that I'll have some of it left over for future projects. :) The package also contained three packs of Warm 'n Natural Batting, the twin size pieces. So I put aside the piecing of my mom's quilt top and got working on Pop-Pop's quilt. I started by ironing the backing, which I've never done before, but it made a world of difference in getting the fabric to lay flat and not be wrinkled on the back. I pieced the back for the first time using the masking tape method of holding the fabric down and stretched out. It worked kind masking tape wasn't very sticky so a few pieces of it came up while I was pinning, but hey - it held it out flatter than it would have been otherwise. Once I basted it (I miraculously had enough pins! I put one pin in each of the big squares of the design, in alternating directions...if one pin was vertical, the next was horizontal, etc.), I had a brilliant idea. The kind of idea that makes a light bulb appear over your head...and break, because it can't handle the brilliance of your idea. Why don't I move my sewing machine and table out into the living room? My laptop hates playing DVDs, and I could just go play my movies on the TV and watch them that way. Plus, since my sewing table is usually against the wall, it would give me much more room for keeping my quilt away from the machine while quilting it! So I did just that. My sewing setup is in the living room, and I can enjoy my movies and work on this quilt simultaneously. Hooray for me. I am so'd think I would have figured this out sooner, but hey - late's better than never!

I did change my quilting plan. After a lot of consideration, and reading a lot of different blogs about quilting, I decided that instead of quilting in the ditch, which would draw attention to where my blocks don't line up exactly, I would echo quilt inside of each shape. I'm just using plain white thread, and I absolutely LOVE the effect it gives. It really accentuates the fact that each piece of the disappearing 9 patch block is separate, and that the "fields" of the quilt are all separate. Plus it makes a nice design on the back! I'm not quite halfway done with the quilting. I was hoping to get more done tonight, but I got a chance to talk to my mom tonight and I wouldn't have given it up for anything, even if it meant that I could have this quilt completely finished.

Don't get me wrong, this quilt is far from perfect! I'm not sure if any of my quilts will ever have the corners actually line up, or if I'll ever manage to do my anchoring stitches without ending up having sewn sideways and having it be perfectly obvious that I went back over that area...but I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure if I care that my quilts aren't perfect. I mean, I'll strive to make them well. I want my quilts to not fall apart in a few years or less...I'd love it if I could still see some of my old quilts from when I was just starting out quilting when I'm old and gray, and see that they've survived the years...the being dragged around the house, the spills that inevitably happen when babies are involved, etc. Sometimes I wonder if I really should care about getting my corners to match up exactly, and whether I should be bothered when my quilting isn't perfect. It seems like all of the quilts I see online that other women make are perfect. I can't see any flaws in them. But are they really there?

My mom (who used to sew all of my clothes when I was a kid...surprisingly, I still can wear a pair of shorts she made me...they were more like culottes back then and now they're the type of shorts that I'll only wear in the house when it's just my husband and I...but she made them I think when I was in 5th grade so I take that as a sign that I'm doing okay!) tells me that I shouldn't strive for perfection. There are cultures in this world that purposely ensure that any product they make isn't perfect. For instance, Persian rug makers used to intentionally mess up the pattern somewhere just so that they wouldn't insult Allah - since Allah (in their religion) was the only perfect thing in the universe, they would ensure that nothing they made was perfect. Maybe I should just say that I agree with that idea - God is the only perfect thing anywhere in the universe, so why would I want to make my quilts compete with Him? Haha, somehow I don't think that would fly. My wonderful mom has sent me pictures of quilts in magazines that have obvious flaws, where corners don't line up, etc. for me to look when I start feeling inadequate because my quilts aren't perfect. But it still kind of bugs me. Should I really care? I'm not sure. I'd love feedback. I love quilting, but I am afraid that if I were to pick out every seam that wasn't 100% perfect and straight, I'd hate it. Any thoughts?

On a lighter note, my dad found this blog. It's kind of a funny story how it happened. I had sent my mom the link to this post by Lynne at Patchery Menagerie. One of my mom's favorite words is Aubergine, and she absolutely loved the quilt that Lynne is making. Apparently she forwarded the link to my dad. Not thinking about my mom looking at the quilt, I left a comment on Lynne's post, offering up some of my scraps if she wanted them for her next few words. My dad checked out Lynne's post and saw that "Emma" (with my avatar, which he knows from my other blog) had posted a comment. He clicked on the link, and found the Quilting Hermit. Don't worry though - he read through it a little bit and saw that I was posting about making a quilt for my mom, so he did not send her the link to this site. He and I will keep it a secret until after I give her the quilt. Hi, daddy! It sure is a small internet, isn't it?

Anyways, on that note, I'm off to bed. I start work again tomorrow (hooray for 4-day weekends!) and I desperately need to get a workout in before heading to work. I've eaten entirely too much this weekend, thanks to sleepover movie nights, movie and a board game nights, and a farewell lunch for a friend. I hope your weekends were as productive as mine was! Tschüss!

03 October 2010

How I Know I'm Insane...

I had an impromptu long weekend this weekend. The rest of the office was going to a "golf tournament" (weather forecast for Friday was no higher than the 50s and rainy/overcast all day). Their plan was to drink a lot and pretend like they enjoyed golf. The best part about it - because I would have been the only one there, my boss gave me the day off.

I sewed all day Friday. I mean LITERALLY all day. I took a few breaks, mostly just my mealtimes, and I sewed until midnight. By that point, I was delirious and nothing was working right so I stopped, and I finished the last of the leaves Saturday morning. But...I forgot to take pictures. I then started sewing leaves and the rest of the quilt top together...but I forgot to take pictures. Are you sensing a theme?

I know I'm insane...because of how I designed the leaves to fit together with the rest of the quilt. There are multiple places where the only way I will get the pieces to fit together are inset seams. Places where I can't attach piece A to piece B without piece C too...but I can't attach piece C without also attaching piece D to piece E...and so on. Places where the only way to fit them together without piecing the whole quilt simultaneously is to sew a 2.5" block individually to one of my leaf blocks - which will require, in the future, doing a 90 degree Y seam - something I abhor. I hate Y seams, mostly because they always make the centers off. I'm pretty much insane.

I mentioned this to my husband when we were talking, and he laughed. His reaction was "well, you don't do anything halfway or easy...and I love you for that." I think he's ridiculous...but he loves me, and I love him so I guess I can tolerate it. :)

My other insanity...I babysat a 2 year old today in a non-childproofed house and I still want to have kids someday. My feet hurt from running after him all afternoon (well, for about 3 hours of it), taking him upstairs to look out of the window, and letting him go out on the terrace to ride his tricycle and come within inches of my toes...but he's awesome. He's an adorable little kid, even if he is 2. We watched a grand total of 3 VeggieTales movies, but I think we officially only saw a total of 1.5 movies - half of each one. His attention span isn't that long. Despite his being 2 and my house not being childproofed, I managed to cook dinner and feed his mom when she came to pick him up (his older brother wasn't feeling well). Chinese food is my favorite thing to cook, even if you do have to spend an hour or more on prep time before you cook. I made Orange Beef, Chinese Green Beans, and rice. For dessert, we had bread (my bread stuck to the bottom of the pan and tore, so we ate the chunk that stuck) with local honey. It was fantastic. And I did it while also having to chase a 2 year old. I rock.

Sorry for no pictures, but I'm tired and want to go to bed. I hope you all have a great night, and I'll check back with you this week!

28 September 2010

My Weekly Challenge

I just posted this over at Prairie Moon Quilts, and for accountability, I'm posting it here. Shelly does a Weekly Challenge, where she posts a project that she'd like to get done, and then updates everyone on her progress the following week. I'm thinking that might be a good idea for me - that way I can hopefully get more done on all of my projects! So, without any further ado, here's what I told Shelly:

Hmmm…maybe I should try these Weekly Challenge things. Let’s see…for this coming week, I want to make progress on both my Mom’s quilt (I hope to get it done by Christmas, although I always bite off more than I can chew) and Heather’s baby quilt. Heather’s baby was due on the 10th of September, but as of the 21st hadn’t come yet. I haven’t heard if he’s here yet.
For quantifiable stuff…I want to finish both square #29′s quilting (almost there already) and #30 (it’s just one more square…a few hours…or a few movies! of time hand-quilting will get me there). On Mom’s quilt, I’d like to complete at least another 6 leaves. Granted, I may be able to accomplish both of these goals this weekend, but I’d rather get more done than my goals than less.

I wondered whether I had bitten off more than I could chew, so to speak, after I posted this. But then Saturday happened. On Saturday, I managed to round out the number of completed leaf blocks to 15, and by Sunday I had 20! Aren't they pretty?

The colors aren't quite right. I tried fixing them to no avail. The middle leaf on the bottom row is a bright tangerine, and the top row's second leaf from the left is a bright yellow gingham. The one that looks black is a beautiful not quite black burgundy color.

I finally figured out the secret to these blocks - a SCANT 1/4" seam. It's solved just about all of my problems. My other solutions were to mark lines for where I should sew on my HST blocks (instead of relying on what I think 1/4" looks like), and then...the stem blocks...if you're making stems for your leaves (which I think they look funny without), draw a diagonal line from corner to corner of both sky blocks. Line the sky piece up corner to corner with the stem fabric. Then don't sew on your line. Seriously. Sew between 1/16" and 1/8" outside of that line (towards the corner, so as to make the stem itself bigger). You'll probably have to trim off small slivers of sky fabric after you iron the block, but following that advice will make your life ten times easier at a minimum.

While I'm on the subject of those stem blocks, don't forget! You'll be cutting off a triangle of each fabric, so make it into a small HST! Here are my little guys (they're really little...the biggest one is 1 1/4"-ish...I free-hand the seam for these little ones so some are bigger, some are smaller, some are more rectangular, etc.). I think I'm going to foundation piece them (like making a string them down to a piece of muslin, so that they're strengthened as they're going to end up SUPER tiny) and use them in my back somewhere.

They're cute, and I think I like the zig zag pattern for them. Although I'm not sure how I'm going to fit in the leftover HST blocks from the leaves that don't have blue sky behind them (there are some on the grass or against the tree). I guess I'll figure it out! I just think those little guys are adorable, but I'm sure they're going to be absolutely awful to sew. Oh well, can't win them all!

Not much else has been going on...I've had to go in early and stay late both days this week, and I have to go in tomorrow but I shouldn't have to stay late. I hope. I do, however, have church band practice tomorrow night so I won't even be home until almost 9 most likely. Oh well...Friday is coming soon. And it's payday this week. And my husband will be home in about a month and a half!

As for the hand quilting, I have finished quilting block number 29 and have started 30. I'm about halfway done with 30, but I didn't touch it today. I watched a movie while eating dinner and had ample time to work on it, but my eyes were killing me (cleaning fumes at work from the bathrooms getting a thorough scouring) and I just didn't feel like working on it. That's strange for me...quilting usually calms me down, but tonight all I wanted to do was wrap myself up in a blanket and watch my movie. Which I did. In my defense, it was 69 in my house when I came home...and the heat was on. I'm still figuring out what settings I need to use on the radiators and heated floors to keep the house comfortable. While watching the movie, the house cooled down another degree, so I'm going to have to go turn the radiators up probably half a setting. I don't mind the house not feeling like an oven, but I want it to at least maintain 70 no matter what. When it gets colder (today got up to almost 50 in the afternoon, although it was drizzly), I'm going to have to warm the house even more! Yikes! My heating bill is going to be a bit higher than I'm used to (moving from the Southeastern USA to an area more northerly than the US/Canadian border will do that to you!). I foresee lots of nights curled up, hand quilting underneath my BIG hand-quilting project and drinking hot chocolate in my future. :)

What's YOUR favorite thing to do in the fall/winter?

24 September 2010

Not FNSI, but...

So Friday Night Sew-In isn't for another few weeks...but I may or may not have had my own FNSI by myself tonight. I was originally planning on going to my real-life quilting friend's house for dinner (leftover tacos) and a movie (who knows what) and probably some quilting or at least drooling over the Hancock's of Paducah catalog. But with this cold, I didn't want her or her two little boys to get it (little kids are even more miserable than grown-ups when they're sick!). I'm feeling much better, but I don't want to risk it. To top it off, I ended up having to stay at work until just late enough that I had to choose between checking the mail just in case Pop-Pop's quilt backing and batting arrived and getting gas in my car. Needless to say, I chose the mail. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything there. :(

So back to my evening. I had leftover tacos anyways, and hand-quilted on Heather's baby quilt while watching Pride and Prejudice. It's my all-time favorite movie, and I really wanted to see it. There's just something about Lizzie and Mr. makes me smile. And, since I haven't made any progress on the sewing front beyond the hand-sewing (which is extremely slow and I won't bore you with pictures until I'm done with that quilt), I wanted to share with you all the evolution of my plan for my mom's quilt.

It started off with me just wanting an Autumn quilt. So what's more Autumn-y than falling leaves, right? Right. At this point, I was living in a hotel, so my resources were very limited and I didn't have any graph paper. My first attempt at figuring out the quilt was this:

Pretty impressive picture-taking skills there, right? And pretty awesome artistry too. It's hard to get a picture of a piece of paper that small....but if you look, there's a tree with a knot hole and leaves falling in the air. As soon as I had drawn this (on the back of the hotel's pad of paper), I realized that the quilt would need something to help anchor the right side. The left side would have the tree, but the right would have a lot of air. So I took a lined notebook I had, tore out a sheet and used it to mark up another piece of paper and made my own graph paper. Sometimes you just have to make do! So I added a hill on the right side - that would provide a bit more vertical interest on that side and make the base of the quilt visually more heavy. The solid green down there would weight it and make it seem more...real. Does that make sense? Here was my next version, on homemade graph paper!

Again, sorry for the flash. Taking pictures at 9 at night isn't easy. Originally, I didn't have as many leaves as you see here. I thought that I wouldn't want leaves directly next to or diagonal from each other, nor would I want the touching. My husband, as you can see, threw that out of the window! He also re-did my leaf color scheme. Aren't I lucky to have a husband who's willing to get involved in my quilting? I love him!

And then, you've seen my final design. I did this when I got a pad of graph paper, and I made the quilt a little bit bigger (about 6 inches wider). I did this because I'm a fan of quilts that are more square than long, skinny rectangles, and I didn't have enough room on the original homemade graph paper to fit any more width. I also added some leaves, since I made so much more room (my blocks will finish to 6 inches wide...if I can manage to sew correctly, which is always a big if!). Finalized design is here:

Don't be afraid to change your design...or to make a quilt that scares the living daylights out of you! I'm not afraid to admit that I'm terrified of this quilt. The leaf blocks don't line up in the least, which will make sewing everything together a pain in the rear end, I'm sure. To top it off, there are a TON of seams per leaf block, which is a TON more places where I can mess up my blocks. So far I've managed to keep my blocks big enough to at least fudge size-wise, but I'm nervous.

What scares you most as a quilter?

23 September 2010

Jenny is back!

We can all rejoice, for Jenny my Janome sewing machine is fixed! She can sew again! Total cost to me was about $35 (29 Euro), but I'm still not quite sure what exactly was wrong with her due to the language barrier between myself and the repairman (his daughter tried, but technical sewing machine words aren't part of her vocabulary). I tried just translating the bill, which had a description of services performed, but his handwriting was so terrible I couldn't figure out the spelling on a lot of the words. Of the few that I did figure out, there was "thread-way," "grabber (seriously!)," and "oiled." So based off of that (ha!), I can only imagine that there was something wrong with the way the grabber grabbed the thread from the thread-way, and he also cleaned and oiled my machine (one less thing for me to do!). It looks great, it runs like a charm, and I feel so much better.

The repair guy kind of reminds me of an old German version of my dad. He knew very little English, but he was very emphatic in telling me that my machine "was not the best" (seriously...over, and over, and over again) and that I should buy a new one from him (he's a Singer dealer). Then, as I was leaving, he was teasing me because I knock instead of ringing the doorbell. In my defense, there are two doorbell buttons, neither of which is labelled. A lot of houses/businesses around here have people living on the second floor, and since the doorbells are side by side instead of one above the other, I didn't know which to push. So I knocked. He followed me outside and rattled something off in German, pushing both doorbells to show me that both ring in their house, so I could use them. He then smiled, laughed, and walked inside. It was exactly like what my dad would do, but the random German would have been something sarcastic, just to make you blush, then laugh. Any quilters in my general area - let me know if you want his contact information, I'd love to pass it along!

I did a test run with her (of course!) and finished up the block that broke the machine. I then started another block but realized quickly why you shouldn't sew with a cold. I use the "sew both seams and cut apart into triangles" method of making half-square triangles, and I cut one set apart before sewing the second seam. Then I stitched my blocks together wrong on the first row. So I decided that it was time to call it quits for the night. But she works. My sewing machine is back.

In other news, my blog has been added to the blogroll over at Quilter Blogs! If you haven't seen the site, it's a great way to waste time I mean look at some amazing stuff from over 1250 quilters worldwide! It's a great site to look at when you only have a few minutes and want to see something quilty. It's what I do at work when I have some time off (like at lunch if it's raining outside).

As for the cold...I'm pretty sure that my head is going to explode. Or implode. I can't even tell if it's inward or outward pressure. I started having symptoms of my cold yesterday, and today it was all out. I woke up and swallowing was painful because of how swollen the glands in my throat were. My sinuses have been switching back and forth with which one feels like being stuffed and painful, but I've had sinus aches all over my face. You know, when you feel like your cheekbones are trying to explode out of your head and your teeth want to jump out of your mouth...yeah. Work was fun today. I've had tea twice today (it's a "Wellness" tea that has peppermint, berries, several different flowers, etc.) which has helped, and I've done saline gargles and nosewashes (I hate inhaling salt water but it helps the stuffed-up feeling in the sinuses). I am not going to take medicine...the side effects I get from even the most benign cold medicine are not worth it. Even those little tiny red sudafed pills make me extremely dehydrated, dizzy, and have a racing heart, while some of the more hardcore meds make me feel almost drunk. So please pray that I start feeling better! I'm heading to bed early tonight (it's almost 9) to hopefully feel better in the morning!

Have a great day/night/whatever time it is in your part of the world!

19 September 2010

FNSI Results, and a bunch of overdue pictures!

So, my Friday Night Sew-In didn't encompass any sewing at all. But that's just fine with me! I started off with finishing cutting out squares for my mom's quilt. The plan for the quilt is here:

Each of those boxes is going to be a maple leaf block. The letter in it (Y, R O, G, B) corresponds to its color (yellow, red, orange, green, brown). On the left is a tree and the bottom (where you can see the line sloping up to the right) has a little hill of grass. You can see all of my progress as I cut out the blocks because I crossed out how many of each block I needed and replaced it with the new number needed...I can't keep track of numbers in my head very well (short attention span) so I write down how many I need to do. I needed over 800 squares for this quilt, most of which were 2.5", but there were some that were 2 1/8" (to make the sky on the stems of the maple leaf blocks) and some that were 2 7/8" (half square triangles).

I finished cutting out squares on Friday, leaving this:

Yes, that's a TON of squares to cut, but I did have a bit of a break. I had made a baby quilt a while back that was various blues and greens in 2.5" squares and I did have some leftover. I know some quilters cut their squares ahead of time, but I use all sorts of different sizes of squares and fabric pieces (most of my fabric is either fat eighths or fat quarters) so I'd never have any larger pieces of fabric if I cut anything less than 1/4 yard!

After I finished cutting, I then reorganized my scraps into their color bags. That took a while, because I try to make everything nice and neat in the bags. That result is here:

Then, because my fabric was literally strewn all across the couch and living room floor (I didn't take any pictures of that!) I folded all of the larger pieces of fabric and put them away neatly into my fabric basket.

Hooray for a neatly folded stash!

Then, on Saturday, my swap partner for the Brown Bag Quilt Contest and I met up. She came over to my house (I was cleaning as my mother-in-law was going to call me on Skype that evening, so I had to clean...she's one of those people who has to clean the house for a week before guests come over) and we were both totally surprised when we realized that we were less than 10 years apart in age! Hooray for that! Here's a picture of the fabrics I gave her (the pieces were 1/4 yard or 1/8 yard cuts...most of which I cut myself).

And, tied up in a bundle with a bit of leftover ribbon:

She was certain that I would hate her for the fabrics she gave me, but how could you hate anything as cute as these?

I have no clue what I'll make with them, but look at the adorable (homemade) bag they were in!

She also gave me some (what I thought were) white chocolate truffles. When I bit into one, I quickly realized that these were alcoholic truffles! They have Marc de Champagne brandy listed as an ingredient...they're good, but the flavor is a bit strong.

And, just to share a bit of my life with you, here's a picture of my landlady's cat, Felix. He has a brother named Tommy, but I've only seen Tommy from a distance once, whereas Felix loves to rub all over my legs and try to trip me. He's really friendly, and it's like I have a virtual pet (since I can't have any in the apartment).

He's awesome...and about a minute after I took that picture, he rolled right off of the step. Classic!

And one last bit of my life - here's a picture of Mr. Rooster and his harem! Mr. Rooster and his ladies live in the house behind mine, and while Mr. Rooster isn't overly loud, you can definitely hear him challenging the rest of the world to a fight every half hour or so.

Then for some sad news...Jenny the Janome is broken. I was in the middle of sewing some of my maple leaf blocks for Mom's quilt and suddenly the machine seized up. I took off her needle plate and cleaned out the lint (I haven't cleaned it out in a LONG time), put her back together, and she still didn't work. I took the needle plate off again and hand-cranked a few stitches, and the thread from the spool is getting caught on the hook that goes in a circle around the bobbin that lets the thread catch on the bobbin thread (I don't know what the name of it is) but it never gets OFF of that hook and onto the bobbin thread. So the hook circle thing (anybody know what that's called?) goes around two or three times, and then the thread somehow manages to get looped around the feed dogs, which is when it seizes up. I think it might just be a timing issue, but we'll see.

The good news is that I found a repair place (in all honesty, I think it's an old guy who's mechanically inclined...his daughter says he fixes all kinds of sewing machines) that's less than 10 minutes from work for me, so I am dropping it off on Monday. I'll try to get a cost estimate beforehand, because the machine wasn't very expensive, and if the cost of the repair is more than about $125 (half the cost of my machine), my husband gave me permission to not repair it, but instead replace the machine. I'll probably go into Nürnberg to the Pfaff store and get a Pfaff if that's the case but I will see ahead of time if I can sell the machine to the old repairman since I don't know how to fix it, and it's probably silly to keep a not-working machine. Maybe I will keep it, though, and get it fixed when I go home to the states. Luckily, my quilting friend (the one who was the subject of the "I have a real life quilter friend!" post) is in between projects and she said that I can use her Husqvarna until mine gets fixed or replaced. I had one seam left to finish my 4th maple leaf block too...figures.

Anyways, long post with tons of pictures! Hooray! Hope you enjoyed all of that, and good job for making it down to the bottom!

16 September 2010

What is Modern Quilting?

I stumbled across a post about whether Modern Quilting is a revolution or an evolution. Reading it triggered a sore spot of mine that has developed after looking through the Flickr Fresh Modern Quilts pictures. I wrote out the following reply to the post but when I realized how hugely long it was, I realized that it might make a good discussion blog post too. Keep in mind, I'm not trying to bash anyone. I think I just have a different way of looking at quilts and quilting than some, and I wanted to share why I think the way I do. So read on, and pass this on if you like it or think that someone else would want to see it. I'd love to hear other peoples' thoughts on the matter!

I realize that I'm really late to this discussion, but I wanted to chime in, even if nobody will ever see it. I read this article and all of the comments, and have mulled over what to say for a while now. It almost seems to me that many who call themselves modern quilters and just make quilts from kits with a single line of fabric and maybe one solid fabric mixed in or, if not from a kit, at least they make their fabric choices based off of a single line or two of fabric, are afraid. Quilting is something that so often today is associated with grandmothers. Grandmothers who sat up late, working on incredibly intricate blocks just like their grandmothers. In our society, we are taught to fear aging - you should look like you're 20 for the rest of your life, right? Botox, cosmetic surgery, all of the age-defying products on the market...we as a culture in the US, anyways, are afraid to seem old. So why would we want to do something that our grandmothers did?

While we love quilting, we also want to separate OUR quilts from THEIR quilts. We want a way to say "I quilt, but I don't do it like old ladies...I'm not old, I'm modern!" so that our friends, when they find out we quilt, don't instantly think of us as shriveled old women. We use fabrics bought at the store specifically for a quilt so we're not scrimping and saving everything the way the quilters of old did. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against buying fabric for quilting...quite the opposite, if you look at my stash. I have a problem with the way we don't push our boundaries. We're lucky to live in a world where quilting isn't a necessity anymore. We don't have to make a quilt in order to keep our newest child from freezing to death in the middle of the night. And that's great. But that has changed quilting.

I'm not going to lie, I get sick of looking at flickr pools that are all full of the same quilt designs - they're great designs, but the quilts aren't really unique. I'm not going to name any because I don't want to make anyone mad, but there a few newer designs that have been showing up almost daily in the FMQ pool. Traditional designs, sure - everyone recognizes a 9 patch quilt, and it's one of the simplest ones out there. I just don't understand why, after seeing umpteen other quilts that are identical, just with different fabric, you'd want to make it yourself. Maybe I'm just jaded, or too stubborn and independent, but I've made a few quilts with traditional designs (Log Cabin, Disappearing 9 Patch, pinwheel, Trip Around the World, etc.) and am rather proud that I've never made someone else's quilt.

At the same time, my quilts are still in the FMQ pool. I submit them to a lot of different flickr pools, but every time I submit a traditional-designed quilt to the FMQ pool, I feel like I'm being a rebel. After all, my quilt isn't modern - there are quilts hundreds of years old with the same design. The first few times I submitted images to the FMQ pool, I wondered if my quilts would make it in, since every other quilt had white sashing, multiple borders, and designer fabrics. I'm not using designer fabrics, either - I think I have 2 Moda fabrics. Maybe 3. I have less than a yard of each, as I picked them out based off of the color and design, only later realizing that they were made by Moda. I have FQs from Joanns, Hancocks, Hancocks of Paducah, and all sorts of other stores. The fabrics aren't even usually bought as bundles - I don't really do coordinated stuff, I just pick out a few individuals that catch my eye and work them into my future quilts.

I'm not trying to bash Moda or any other fabric line, but too many times other quilt bloggers buy tons of it, post pictures of it on their blog generally with the caption "delicious" or "yummy" something similar, and never use it (or it's a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but I just laugh as I don't even know what fabric it is). They complain about never using it, too, which bugs me. What's the point of a fabric if it never gets used? I have trouble finding homes for some of my fabrics, too, but with each quilt I design, I try to use at least one untouched fabric. I'm a scrappy quilter, so I might have as many as 10 or 15 different fabrics of one color (say, brown) in a baby quilt, let alone in a larger one! It might take a little more time for you to pick out your fabrics if you don't just pick up a charm pack or layer cake or jelly roll or whatever, and you'll probably spend a little more time cutting since your pieces of fabric aren't already partially cut for you. But it's not that much me, I work full time, and I still manage to do it!

My challenge to "modern quilters" out there - try something different than everyone else is doing. Make a quilt that doesn't involve pre-cuts. Make a quilt that doesn't have sashing in between the blocks and a narrow and wide border. Make a quilt that you designed - it's not that hard, even if you don't have EQ software. It takes a little longer to count how many squares you'll need, but it's totally doable. For me, maybe I'll try some of those things...sashing, or borders. I don't use them at all, so it'd be a step out of my comfort zone. Because that's what modern quilting really is - it's us trying something new, and knowing that we won't be rejected for it. After all, if a traditional block with no sashing and no designer fabrics can make it into a modern quilt pool, break out of the wonky log cabin rut and try a real log cabin!

So...what do you think? I hope I didn't hurt your feelings, but I would love to see this post foster some healthy debate/discussion! Do you agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments!

14 September 2010

FNSI and other exciting news!

First of all, Friday Night Sew-In is back!

You know, Friday Night Sew-In! Where we as a quilting community all stay home on Friday night and sew our butts off! Not that it's any different than what I've been doing on my last few Friday nights, but hey - it's a good excuse to use to stay home and sew. It's taking place this Friday, September 17th.

As for me, I got my email matching me up with my Brown Bag Quilt partner this morning. The Brown Bag Quilt project is being run by JoyLyn, a poster on Stash Manicure (link goes to the BBQ post), and basically you get matched up with a partner, exchange 2 yards of unwanted fabric, and make a quilt using 90% of the fabric given to you by your partner in it. You are allowed to buy a backing, though, and add as much of your own fabric as you'd like. The best part about'll take a mini story to explain.

As you know (if you've read this at all), I live in Germany, but I'm not German. I'm just here for a few years. I live in a German town, but I work with other Americans. When I signed up for the BBQ contest, I gave JoyLyn my American address. APO boxes are fantastic for those of us living here, because shipping isn't any more expensive than sending something to New York City would be. So families can send you care packages without having to pay tons of money. I had to explain how that address worked to JoyLyn, but in the end she was happy and everything was finalized about my address. When I got my partner email, imagine my complete shock when I saw that my partner lives less than a mile from me! JoyLyn didn't know what city I lived in here, but she somehow paired me up with someone who lives in my town! I mean, seriously - how cool is that?

Karin (my partner) and I are going to meet up in person to exchange our fabric this weekend (hey - we both work full time, so give us a break!). I am going to have another real-life quilting friend! She's interested in maybe hanging out and sewing together sometime too. I'll have to clean my house thoroughly (I think the excuse that I just moved in is starting to wear off a bit) and find homes for some stuff before she does, but I'm so excited!

In other news, I finished Pop-Pop's quilt top. I don't have a picture, mostly because it looks exactly like it did in my picture. I have a package that I'll be getting tomorrow - I really hope it's the backing and batting for this quilt! I ordered it about a week ago-ish, so maybe it is. :) While waiting for Pop-Pop's quilt pieces to come in, I've been working on my next quilt - the fall quilt. Surprisingly, I've cut out all the squares except for the tree (I'll post the design hopefully by this weekend...tomorrow and Thursday are busy for me, so I doubt I'll get it done before then) using just my stash. I did get a bit of help, since I had a few leftover squares from a baby quilt I made. I purposely cut out extra squares for that baby quilt since I was doing a scrappy trip around the world design (it was made of blocks of trip around the world, so I didn't need to have a bunch of any one fabric) and wanted to make sure that I'd have enough blocks to complete the design. So some of my sky blocks and some of my grass blocks are leftovers from that, but I've cut almost 600 squares in the last few evenings. I'll have to get a picture of my living room for you - it's a total mess! I have fabrics literally strewn all over the couch and floor! Most of them aren't folded, and the piles of squares on the table are really impressive!

Anyways, I hope you guys are having a wonderful day/night/whatever it is for you! It's almost bedtime for me (almost 2030 here!) so I'm off to finish cleaning the kitchen and make my lunch and dinner for tomorrow. Tschüss (that's German for bye, and it's pronounced kind of like tchewsss)!

09 September 2010

No picture, but...

Hey all - sorry it's been so long since I posted. We got internet in the house, finally, but I had to start working again the next day so it's been a bit hectic. I also just started facilitating a ladies' evening Bible study on Thursday night, so as you can imagine I've been a little bit stressed lately!

The downside to all of this is that I have less time for sewing. I don't have the time at the moment to just sit down and work on quilts all day. I do try to squeeze in at least sewing one row together and onto the quilt right now, because sewing is my primary method of stress relief. As it stands (or lays) the quilt now has 8/12 rows attached, and the other 4 are neatly waiting in a pile.

I have grand plans this weekend to go to a high school football game on Friday night and then the circus on Saturday (it's tiny and I don't expect much, seeing as the only things visible were 2 camels, a few miniature horses, a few goats, and a tent) but I'm hoping that a friend and her two boys will come with me. I don't like doing circuses alone - carnies are creepy. It may sound cliche, but they are. I may wimp out of one or both of these events depending on how much I want to relax this weekend. Between yesterday and today, I haven't been in my house and not asleep for more than an hour and a half straight, and I tend to be a bit of a homebody. In my defense, I'm trying to get a lot of quilting done.

Also, I have a few question for my readers. This is going to be the biggest quilt I've ever made with a machine. My quilting plan is to stitch-in-the-ditch which, given the random nature of my block placement, will mean some starts and stops. And by some, I mean way more than I'd like. But stitching in the ditch will not detract from the design on the front and what it is intended to represent, plus it will put the nice echo of the design onto the back (which is going to be this fabric). So when faced with this sort of quilting endeavor, how would you start and stop your threads? I know that some make it kind of like chain piecing, where, when they stop and go to start again, they move the thread around a bit to get some extra in between the stop and the next start, then start again and, when all done, they cut the threads, knot them, and pop them in between the quilt layers as if they'd hand quilted it. I know that some just back up over the beginning and endings with the reverse lever on their machine, and go back over it forwards again. I've done the second usually, but I'm going to be using white thread on brown and green and if I get the tiniest bit off on the backing up and forward portions I'm afraid it'll be really obvious. What would you do? I know how I sew, and there will be plenty of places where I get a little out of the ditch with the quilting. It happens to the best of us, right? I hope I'm not the only one...

So what would you do if you were me?

06 September 2010

Sneak Peek!

This is what Pop-Pop's quilt will look like once I sew it together. I sewed together row 1 together, although I sewed the first half of it together wrong. The squares were all turned 90 degrees to the right, so it messed up the design big time. After ripping out the three seams, I turned the blocks 90 degrees back to the proper position, sewed them together the right way, and row 1 is sewn together. I'm glad that I took a picture of the layout, because I've used it to double check my sewing more than a few times now!

04 September 2010

In which I explode from excitement

No, I'm not done with the quilt... or the cutting and squaring of the 9-patches. I am halfway done, and my cutting mat (that was bought and has been used since around 1998... maybe it's time for a new one?) is almost flat again (stupid movers). No, what I'm excited about is that I just found out that one of my friends here is a quilter!
How did I find this out? Well, she and I and a few other ladies were going to a really cool super huge music store about an hour away and we met up at this friend's house. We had never seen the whole house, so she gave us a tour of the upstairs as we never had been up there. And guess what was on one of the guest beds? A hand quilting hoop! I looked at it, looked at her, and said, "This is a quilting hoop" in a rather dazed voice (pretty original, right?) She said "yeah, I quilt... why, do you?" How cool is that? We talked about it in the car a little bit. She does it all by hand, but so did I until this past January, really. So yeah. I have a real life quilting friend! She is only the second quilter I have known in real life so this is a big deal for me.
As for my quilting, the picture at the top is my sewing table (sorry, I can't control where the picture shows up on the post) at this very instant. There is a green pile of 9-patch pieces, a brown pile of 9-patch pieces, some scrap batting, pins, broken camera, water bottle, and bag for scraps and strings. In the middle is my not quite flat cutting may with the next block to disappear. On the right is the pile of blocks that still need to disappear and my workhorse - a Janome Sewist 509. So there you have it. Nothing fancy, but it suits me just fine.