Thursday, April 28, 2011

FMQ Challenge

Are you participating in the FMQ Challenge? I've been having so much fun free-motion quilting that yesterday I took an hour off from work to go home and quilt!

Here's my quilt all prepped for FMQ. I basically printed the design, made several copies, and am pinning them to the top of my quilt and quilting right through the paper. I would go crazy if I had to mark every square with a feather wreath.

My second wreath! Those bright spots are the paper stuck in the quilting. They will wash out, so I don't worry about them. So far I've only picked two quilting designs and will just concentrate on those. My head hurts if I think about this quilt too much!

So I am doing feather wreaths and feather sprays. I'm doing all the black ones first because I'm sooooo lazy about changing the thread in my sewing machine! It's slow and painstaking work, but I'm getting through it. A great chance to catch up on my House episodes! My head reels every time I think about how many feathers I have to quilt. It's a little too early to tell if I'm improving yet, but I have faith!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Basting Day

Wow, this weekend was intense. My goal was to baste my Rehab quilt and get it ready for the FMQ Challenge. I came home from work Friday and laid the backing on the carpet. I was just going to cut the batting to size, I swear! I had dinner in the oven and we were getting ready to head over to a friend’s house for his birthday party. The batting was the exact perfect size for the backing (lucky me, I bought that extra yard!). I got so excited and just started basting the quilt right there.

What a mess! I hate basting quilts on the carpet. It is so hard to smooth everything out. I’m not going to lie: there was feet stomping, pouting, and a few swear words. Then my husband came home and helped me smooth everything out. He is very strong and wrestled his half of the quilt smooth! I ran out of basting spray in the middle of doing this. So what did I do?

I took dinner out of the oven, ran to Joann’s, bought my basting spray, ran home, put dinner back in the oven and finished basting my quilt.

Obviously, I had Quilter’s Insanity. It wasn’t until I left Joann’s that I realized what I had done. I had taken dinner OUT of the oven. I stopped everything in the middle of cooking dinner. Holy cow.

The next day, we headed to our friend’s house to help him lay the foundation for a backyard deck. The boys did that. I brought my sewing machine with me (and uh, a few accessories, see picture). Then I noticed his huge hardwood-floor dining room. I can baste quilts here!

I basted the top of my Rehab quilt. It went so quickly and was so easy to put together that I went back to Joann’s to buy more 7 more yards of batting, then went home to pick up the rest of my quilts that needed basting. And I basted. And basted. And basted! I basted 3 more quilts! It took me all day and at the end I was so sore. I worked just as hard as the boys digging holes and laying cement. I swear!

I didn’t touch my sewing machine all day! But that’s okay. I hate basting and getting all those done in one day is such a load off my mind. I found a few tips: Lay the batting down, tape it to the floor, lay the backing or top down, and then iron right there. That helped me pinpoint the places where the quilt doesn’t quite lay flat, and makes it so much easier to smooth. I also basted half the quilt at a time. I laid the top on the batting, then folded it in half. I sprayed half the quilt and pressed and smoothed just that half. Then I did the other half. Wow, that is so much easier than doing the whole quilt at once.

I had the only injuries of the day too. I ironed my toe (don’t ask) and I nicked myself with my Gingher scissors. Ouch! As I was cleaning my scissors I also pulled a doh! and ran my thumb along the blade. Ouch! But, they're basted!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quirky Wilderness

I won a prize! Do you play the game sponsored by Martingale Publishing Company? Every week they post a Quirky Question. You answer the question and select the box “Notify me when a new Quirky Question is posted.”

This was my question:

What's the main reason you're glad there are no quilt police (or knit/crochet police)?

And my Winning Answer:

If there were quilt police I would be banned from quilting forever! There would be a restraining order on all my cutoff points. My wavy borders would be on America's Most Wanted. I would be charged with keeping all my beautiful fabric hostage. Thank goodness there are no quilt police!

I know, cute, right? I had a really good feeling about this answer when I posted it. And I was right! My prize is an e-book from Martingale Publishing Company. I get to choose from their extensive list. The book I chose is: All Through the Woods: Quilted Projects from the North Country.

I love the theme of this book. I am all about wilderness and nature. I lived in Alaska for 2 years and loved it. I loved the moose snoozing on the lawn of my university, I loved hiking up the side of the mountain so high that you feel like you reached the huge blue sky, I loved sleeping on the soft tundra and picking blueberries and watching the northern lights and drinking home brewed beer in taverns in the middle of nowhere. I loved waking up every day and walking outside and feeling like you just stepped into a miracle. What I didn’t love was the distance: a 4-day drive or $800 plane ticket every time I wanted to see my family. Eventually, family won out over The Last Wilderness, but that doesn’t mean my love affair with Alaska ended.

The only Alaska picture I can find at the moment.

I would love one day to make a quilt tribute to Alaska. And this book would definitely help!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday UFO Progress

This week I've been working hard on my UFO's! I started quilting on my First Quilt.

Sorry for the picture. I remembered at 6:20am to take the picture as I was running out the door to work. I really like this quilting design. It's basically a bunch of suns. I traced circles and then just free handed a bunch of radiating lines. For the most part they are straight, but I'm not going to lie: some of them start straight then dive off in a large curve. I really like how it's not just straight lines, which I wanted to use on this quilt, and that it's minimalist, which fits with the whole Asian-inspired fabric choices.

Then I started working on my second UFO. I introduced this quilt in yesterday's blog post. I worked this week on piecing the back. The quilt is huge. I couldn't get the back big enough to fit the top. It seemed like I just kept adding fabric to it forever. Then I hit on an ingenius idea: I took a row from the top and pieced it into the back. Perfect. Makes it that much smaller to wrestle through my sewing machine too!

This is me unpicking the row last night. This quilt has been upicked so many times! It took me all week to get this quilt ready for the FMQ Challenge. Piece the never-ending back, buy batting, iron the stupid pieces (believe me, that took hours!). This weekend I plan to baste it and started FMQing on Monday!

Azrael approves of the backing!

I feel really good about my progress this week, even though I didn't follow my plan of working on my First Quilt. Sometimes plans change, and right now I'm just going with the flow!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rehab is a Monster

I started this quilt right after I finished my Intro to Piecing class. I thought that since I had one quilt top under my belt it would be no problem to bang out another one. After all, quilt bloggers banged them out in about a week, right? My good friend was checking into Rehab and I thought a Friendship Quilt was just what he needed. I gave myself two weeks to complete it.

Uh, yeah. That was 2 years ago. I lost touch with that friend but still worked on that quilt top. Oh, how I worked on that thing. I must have pieced each of these blocks 3 separate times. Remember, I had only tried introductory blocks in a classroom setting. I pieced the rows and unpicked and pieced the rows until the points matched just about perfectly. That took me about a year. My friends would make fun of me when I was going through that stage. First, because I was quilting, and second because I was actually un-quilting. Then I sewed the rows together and my problem became apparent. The stars were completely wonky. My quarter inch seam must have been all off. I did my best to salvage them. I was over the perfectionist angle and was just trying to finish the damn blocks.

It took me another year to sew these guys into rows. Then I realized that a few blocks were put together incorrectly. Oh no. I knew I should unpick the rows and take apart the blocks and put them back together. Instead, I hung it in my closet and tried not to think about all that work. I had already spent so much time unpicking this quilt already. I didn’t have the heart to tackle that job.

Then I moved. I packed the quilt up in a box and put it in storage for the summer while I was temporarily staying with family. I got my own place and unpacked it and realized that soy sauce had spilt all over the quilt and there were large brown, stinky splotches on it. After hand-washing the spots, soaking it in vinegar to remove the smell, and letting it air dry I was tired of it again! This quilt is too big! I hate it!

(Rehab, Batting, and Binding)

When I first heard of the FMQ Challenge, I thought to myself: “Do I dare?” After much consideration and temptation I said “Of course!” Get this monster quilted and finally enjoy it! After all we’ve been through, I can’t really ruin this quilt! I can only make it better.

Which I guess makes this quilt the perfect Rehab quilt. It has hit rock-bottom and the only place to go is up. It has let me down and been dragged around. It needs to make amends. It needs to be Rehabbed.

Read more about the FMQ Challenge here. And come join us!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Black, White, and Batik all over

I was a busy sewer this week-end! Even though my little brother came to stay with us for the week-end, I still managed to squeeze in about 8 hours worth of sewing on Saturday. Which is good, because Friday and Sunday were big busts.

I put together the first three blocks of Black and White Delight. The pattern calls for black, white, and a different accent color for each block. I decided to stick with black, white, and green. Luckily, I had just bought a large stack of green fat quarters at Joann’s, so I was ready to go!


February (I didn’t think I’d like this one. But I love it in real life!)

March (oops, just realized I put a piece in wrong. I’ll have to fix that!)

I need some more black and whites. I see another trip to Joann’s in my future!

I also paper-pieced the first block of Jewels in the Crown BOM. I love paper-piecing! Everything turns out so perfect. I just hate the waste that goes along with it. I'll have to get more batiks too! Don't you love these colors?!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fabric Rummage Sale

Saturday was a local guild’s annual rummage sale. I have been looking forward to this day all month! I arrived a few minutes before the doors opened. The line wasn’t too bad, only about 15 ladies in front of me.

The line grew quickly behind me though! As soon as the doors were opened, the crowd swarmed the tables. There were about 12 tables piled high with fabric, notions, books, or thread.

There were a lot of different kinds of fabrics, not just quilting cottons (wouldn’t that have been wonderful?!), so you had to be careful on what you grabbed. This is what I was looking for: cotton fabric, yardage, price. If it was less than $1.00 and made of cotton, I threw it in my bag.

There were probably about 60 other women there too. So I wasn’t exactly mulling over my purchases, more like shoving as much cute fabric as I could into my bag. I first walked in and found a good table. I picked up a bunch of cowboy-themed fabric.

Then I wandered around the other tables and didn’t find as much good stuff. So I went back to the first table, kicking myself for not grabbing as much as I could the first time.

There were a few large ziplock bags holding a handful of fabric that I scooped up.

I stumbled across an American Jane panel by Sandy Klop.

Then I found this cute piece of fabric in a bundle. I kept coming back to it. I finally decided that I loved the retro mommies and would buy it just for that piece of fabric. This was my biggest disappointment. Seriously, the piece of fabric is missing half the top and half the bottom. Their heads are chopped off! It’s so cute too. Does anyone know who this is from? I would love to grab a yard or two.

Final damage: $60. 2 bags of fabric, two stacks of magazines and books, a thread holder, a huge bag of blue Gutterman thread. One hour. When I came home, I said “Wait, where’s that other thread I got?” Which taught me: toss it in your bag. You can think about it later. Also, bring your husband to hold and carry stuff for you. I would have grabbed a large package of batting but didn’t have any place to stuff it and maneuver around all the other ladies. I had to shop in two trips, which took up precious time. The whole sale was ravaged in about an hour.

I’ll be back next year!

Friday, April 15, 2011

UFO Bust Progress

This week was a big step forward toward completing a UFO.

I basted my quilt.

This is the first top I ever pieced. It is from a beginning piecing class taught at Quiltique (in Henderson, NV) based on a book by Alex Anderson. Of course, I changed up the pattern. I thought why spend all this time on a teeny quilt that won’t even cover you up. I made extra blocks and added sashing and cornerstones. It’s been hanging on my wall for almost 2 and a half years. *hangs head in shame*

I found this fabric in my closet and decided that it would be the perfect backing. I have no clue what it is. It feels like faux suede. It is very heavy and super soft. It will give My First Quilt some depth and heft.


Hopefully it won’t ruin the quilt.

If it does, then I learned something. If it doesn’t, I have a nice warm quilt.

Basting was a pain. Literally.

I basted it on our kitchen floor. We have a tiny apartment galley kitchen. It is long and narrow. There was about a half an inch on either side between the quilt and the wall. The backing is just a hair bigger than the quilt top. I duct-taped the backing to the kitchen floor, then sprayed it with basting spray. I put the batting down and smoothed everything out. I know you are supposed to spray the batting. I think I had a good reason for doing that, but it escapes me now. I sprayed the batting then smoothed the top on. I was putting in some pins to secure all the layers when I realized that the top and back weren’t lining up. So I pulled it apart and did it again. Luckily, the backing is so heavy that the basting spray couldn’t hold it well.

Of course, after looking at this quilt for over 2 years I finally decide to baste it on a week-night about an hour before bed. By the time I got everything repositioned correctly I couldn’t stay up any longer to secure everything with pins. My back and knees were so sore. I folded it up and draped it over my sewing chair.

Maybe this weekend I can decide how to quilt it and get started!

And on a completley unrelated note: Aren't these the most beautiful radishes you've ever seen?! We got a new grocery store in our neighborhood full of fresh, affordable produce. These are the healthiest radishes I've ever eaten.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Civil War Blocks

I’ve been banging out my Civil War Blocks. These are so much fun! My new plan is to spend Sunday laying on the couch, watching TV and cutting fabric on my coffee table. It’s such a relaxing way to spend the day. I hate cutting fabric! This way, I get them all cut out. I stick them in Ziplock baggies and stick them on my sewing room corkboard. I don’t even label them. During the week, I grab a bag, lay the pieces out and guess which block it is by scrolling through the Civil War Quilt Blog. Then I sew it together and keep the baggie for next Sunday. They are so easy and fun to put together!

Except this one. I don’t know what happened. Too many bias edges maybe? I trimmed the three rows down so I could sew them together. I thought it looked nice until I checked the size. It’s from a quarter of an inch to a half an inch short all the way around. Geez.

I found a great blogger who really breaks down the construction of the blocks. She even has suggestions for chain piecing and other piecing shortcuts. I know if I really think about it, there are a ton of time-saving tricks to utilize. I’m just lazy! Lillian's Cupboard is a great blog full of quilting, family, and recipes (waffle-grilled cheese sandwich, anyone?)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Resolution Revisit

The first quarter of 2011 is over. How are my resolutions going? Let’s take some time for a revisit, shall we?

1. Get Healthy. Well, the weight loss never happened. Or…hasn’t happened yet. Any day now…I’ll start a diet…wink, wink. I feel round and a little roly-poly but happy. With the nicer weather here we are getting outside more: playing on a softball team, playing in the park, walking along the river. We are having fun and enjoying our newlywed status. There’s been no cigarettes, or crazy cravings, so we are doing fabulous in that department!

2. Spend 15 minutes per day in my sewing room. I’m doing pretty well! Except for that month with no sewing machine. The break was nice. It was a reminder that quilting is a hobby, not an obsession!

3. Learn how to embroider. I could do better! Embroidery is not nearly as fun as quilting. I need to learn some stitches. I have been working on the Birdie Stitches BOM, but haven’t completed one yet.
Ugh...horrible picture. I promise it does look better in real life. I need to learn a french knot so I can do the eyes!

4. Practice more FMQ. With my sewing machine down for a month, I didn’t go much FMQ in the last few months. I did quilt two small projects. One I like, one I don’t. I am thinking of joining along in Thread Head's Free Motion Quilting Challenge . You FMQ everyday for two weeks and results are guaranteed!

5. Buy a home. We are still saving money. We have a budget and stick to it like glue. We’ve also stepped up our debt repayments and are serious about paying off that credit card.

So there I am. Seems pretty obvious what I need to do. Be healthier. Surprisingly, spending 15 minutes per day in my sewing room is no longer as important to me. I'm not stressing about my creative time. The weather is great, I'm busy, I'm happy, and my quilts are coming along!

Monday, April 4, 2011

LizzieB prizes

My package from the LizzeB Girls arrived today! I actually won two prizes from them within a short while, so they shipped them together.

I won a bundle of their new fabric line: Tuscadelphia! These fabrics are fabulous. Here are some of my favorites:

I love that font print. (I don't know what else to call it!) It says "home is where the heart is," There's no place like home," "Love at home," "Beauty all around," and "Peace surrounds." Pretty cool, huh? Some close-ups:

And some Aurifil thread!

How fun!

Have you heard of the LizzeB girls? They are so much fun. They just began to write these stories that I love: The Adventures of the LizzeB Girls, it's a few chapters (so far, but I see a book in their future!) of two quilters who get themselves into pickles solving crimes, and then get out using notions. Kinda like a quilter Indiana Jones! They also produce an online magazine, design fabric, write a blog, and make the cutest quilts! Check them out!

Friday, April 1, 2011

UFO Bust Report

My first UFO Report. Ack! I'm linking up at Blackberry Creek Home Arts.

Well, I don’t have a Bust to report, but I do have some progress! I have been working on my Layer Cake Quilt Along blocks this week. It feels so good to be catching up on this quilt along and to be progressing on my UFO Bust Goal too! I find that it helps so much if I cut and prep on the week-end and during the week I have my grab-n-go bags. Just like my cooking plan: prep and cook on the week-ends and save the easy stuff for the week nights.

I am almost caught up!

I also put my first UFO on my To-Do list for April. Once I jump in and start quilting it, it should go quickly from there. Procrastination, why do you curse me?!