Monday, December 28, 2009

In between...

The week between Christmas and New Year's Day always seems to be a time in between for me.  It's not like the rest of the year.  Most of us are so busy leading up to Christmas Day and then... this week.

The weather's cold here and Mr. QuiltingBug and I are taking this time to relax, sleep, and spend time together.  It feels a little shameful to admit it, but I took 3 naps the day after Christmas (and no - I didn't get up early).

I hope you had a great Christmas and spent it with the ones you love most.  We drove down on Christmas Day to my sister's.  She has the only little ones in the family and it seems right that the kids get to wake up and celebrate Christmas in their own home.  And they were so very gracious about the gifts they received.  My nephew even exclaimed after opening one of his gifts that everyone really had gotten him too much.  And he's only 8!  It was a blessed time.   The drive back, however, was a little tense with all the rain, but we made it safely.

What was the gift you liked most this Christmas?  Mine was a rug cleaner that my sister completely surprised me with.  You can imagine how necessary it is with 6 pets in the household.  We had borrowed my parents long enough to clean all our carpets and were planning to buy one next year. (If someone had told me when I was a teenager that I'd be so excited over a steam cleaner, I would have thought they were joking.)

Mr. QuiltingBug and I didn't exchange gifts but he did make me an ironing board cover while he's been on vacation.

I got the dimensions from Tamah and he was very sweet and made it for me.  It sits over the top of my existing ironing board to extend the surface to 22" x 60".  Now I can easily iron large pieces of fabric - like the backings for quilts.  I ironed about 8 yards of fabric today and it made it so much easier.  I covered the surface with batting and some canvas I bought at JoAnns.

Not much sewing going on right now other than handwork.  Mr. QuiltingBug and I spent a good amount of time watching Dexter Season 4 in the last couple of days and I'd sit there and applique at the same time.  Tonight I finished block 6 of the Baltimore Halloween quilt.

There's less stitching in these blocks than on the ships, but the pieces also tend to be a lot smaller and more difficult to applique.  Still, I'm liking how they're turning out.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

Just a few hours to go before Christmas is here.  I remember being so excited Christmas Eve and having such a hard time falling asleep.  I imagine my niece and nephew are going through the same thing right now.  I'm looking forward to spending the day with them and the rest of my family - celebrating and enjoying each other's company.  I hope all of you get to do the same.

I managed to get a few last minute things taken care of.  I worked a little on my sister's quilt.  I'm adding some trapunto to the stars in it.  This is the first time I've attempted this technique and so far, so good.

I finally dyed the fabric I need for the 2nd annual Crayon Challenge on HGTV.  I mentioned some time ago that my crayon is Wild Strawberry.

I couldn't find this color in my local quilt stores and ordered the dye to make my own.  It's been on my to do list for quite a while now.  The quilt is due Feb. 1st, so I needed to get on the ball.  I also purchased this fabric that I thought would work with my pattern.

The rules state that you can only use the color you're given plus one other crayon of your choosing.  My second color is black - so I couldn't use this fabric without a little change.  So now it has become this...

I  also dyed a 12 step gradation of the pinks.  Each one is 5/8 of a yard.  Here are all of my fabrics for the challenge together.

Now I need to get busy and make the quilt (after I finish the 2 Christmas UFO's).

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.  And for those of you traveling tomorrow, I pray that your trip is safe.  Until next time...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Two more nights...

Wow!  Christmas is almost here.  This month has really slipped by me.  I haven't been in a festive mood - more in a hide out in my bed frame of mind.  But I think I'm finally turning the corner, and just in time for Christmas.

My quilt bee celebrated Christmas with each other last Wednesday.  Everyone brought a dish and a present.  There was so much food and Carla was a wonderful hostess.  As for our presents, I think everyone put a lot of thought into them.  I loved mine!  Hilary gave me 3 half yards of Laurel Burch fabric and a beautiful crosstitch of an angel that she did.  Hilary really does the most gorgeous crosstitching and I'm lucky to have a piece.

Carla was also very sweet and gave each of us some personalized gifts.  I put the note box right next to my sewing machine because I'm always looking for something to right down measurements on.  Thank you Carla!

With Christmas Eve only hours away, I wish I could say I was finished with my Christmas gifts.  My neck, jaw and head have been giving me such a fit for the last week or so that I've been unable to quilt.  I have two quilts tops that are made, just not quilted.  And that's how they're going to have to remain until after Christmas.  They're both for members of my family and they're very understanding.

I was able to do a little straightening in my sewing room over the last couple of days.  Jan gave me some thread racks over a year ago and I finally got around to putting them up.

Doesn't this look very clean and organized?  We'll  see how long it stays that way.  Until next time...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Prize Package...

While I was out of town, I received a package in the mail.  (Don't you love getting packages in the mail?)

This one was my prize package for winning the Best of Show for the Scraps to Treasures challenge on the HGTV forum.  There was a bunch of stuff in it - including a quilted ribbon, a book and lots and lots of FQ's.  It was my first ever quilting prize and I'm really enjoying it.

While I was away, I finally managed to finish the rigging on my 6th Ladies of the Sea block - the Golden Hind.  Now I'll put them away until next year.  I completed 6 blocks this year and I hope to do the same next year.

Tomorrow is our quilting bee's Christmas party and I have some things to finish, so I'll end for now.  Until next time...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's been a while...

OK, I've fallen down a bit on posting.  It's not that I don't have a lot to show, but I've been struggling with motivation problems...

I did manage to finish the prayer quilt for my friend Terri.  I found out recently that not only does she have to deal with MS but she was just diagnosed with brain cancer.  Although her prognosis is hopeful, I really wanted to get her quilt done and into her hands.  I worked hard on quilting it over the weekend.  I could have just stippled it and had it done sooner, but I wanted it to be special for her.

Besides stitching in the ditch, I did crosshatching in the sashing and outlined each bird.  I also did feathers and hearts in the outer borders.

I printed out the label on fabric and sewed it to the back before quilting.  I can't take credit for the wording.  I found it in a book and just changed it a little.

I brought it to the church on Monday so they could pray over it before giving it to her.  She's scheduled to have surgery to remove the cancer in her brain in January.  It's a long procedure so please keep her in your prayers.

I also finally finished stitching the rigging on the 5th block for Mr. QuiltingBug's Ladies of the Sea quilt.  Woohoo!  Only 11 more to go!  I do these blocks 2 at a time, so I'm working on the rigging for block 6 as well.  There's a lot of it though - more than any other ship.

This ship is call the Hannah.  Until next time...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


121 Extra Small
125 Small
167 Medium
132 Large
109 Extra Large
654 Total

This is the total number of dog (and cat) bandanas that I've finally completed.  Whew!  What a task that was.  I made 5 different sizes of these bandanas that fit around your pet's collar. Back when I started cutting these out (several years ago), I thought I might sell them on ebay or something.  Now I'm planning to donate them to one of the daughter's from my quilting bee so that they can use them to raise money to help animals.

I literally just put the last stitch in them less than half an hour ago.  I'm relieved to have finally finished this UFO.  As you can see, I made them with all different kinds of fabric.  There are pet motifs, sports, seasonal, almost every holiday, tractors, camouflage...

There should hopefully be something for everyone.  I thought you might like to see a picture of one being used so I put it on my cat David.  He's the most camera happy.  But every time I tried to take a picture he was right up in the lens.  This was the best out of about 20 pictures...

Take care!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A break...

Rather than continue blogging about my quilt retreat, I thought I would take a break and share some pictures and news about our furball family.

Our vet came out today and weighed both Sam and David.  Sam has now dropped from her max of 16+ lbs to a sleek and trim (ha) 13 lbs.  The weight loss is really helping her arthritis and she can jump a lot easier.  She's developing bags of skin around her elbows and tummy where her skin was stretched out.  It's not a health issue, but it's not very attractive.  Her final weight loss goal is around 10 or 11 pounds.

On the other hand, David is now a sturdy 12 lbs and 4 ozs and hasn't finished growing.  He's almost 7 and 1/2 months old so I'm figuring he'll probably gain another 3 lbs or so.  Hopefully not much more than that!  He's the most laid back cat I've ever met.  He always just seems to go with the flow.

In the last month or so, Sam has started climbing on Mr. QuiltingBug's stomach and going to sleep.  She's always kept herself just to me, so it's out of the norm for her.

It looks like a pretty comfortable place to me.  Unfortunately Gabriel is just a bit jealous at having to share any attention...

Oh, to be so loved!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A clean machine is a happy machine...

Did you know you should change your machine needle with every project?  You should also clean out your bobbin case every time you refill the bobbin.  And finally, they recommend you have your machine cleaned at least every 2 years. 

But how many of us really follow these recommendations?  I'm usually pretty good about changing the needle.  But I'll also spend the extra money for titanium needles so I don't have to change it as often.    And my Husqvarna Viking sewing machine has only been in for a cleaning twice in the 9 years I've owned it.  It's a workhouse and I'm glad it's kept going.  I just find it difficult to part with the ~$85 a cleaning usually costs, although I realize that would be a better investment than paying for a new machine!  I'll have to put that on my New Year's Resolution list.

As for cleaning out the bobbin, I'm hit or miss.  If I have deadlines looming, I tend to forget about it.  But when I do get around to it, I do a very thorough job.  I take apart all the pieces and use my tweezers to remove every bit of lint I can reach inside the machine.  With my machine, I can rotate the bobbin case to get all the way around.  (You probably have to see it to understand what I mean.)  At the retreat last week, Tamah (who also has a Viking) began to clean her machine and so reminded me I should as well.  Look at all the lint I managed to get out!  Gross huh?

Remember each square on the mat is one inch!

Now back to the things I sewed to accumulate all that fuzz...  I started a pieced BOM (block of the month) last year through Quakertown Quilts.  There were 12 blocks in varying shades of white, red, gold and green.  I had finished all but the last 5 blocks.  At the retreat, I managed to finish those as well.


I enjoyed working on them even though they aren't really my favorite colors.  Each block finished at 12" so they would make a nice lap size throw by the time you add sashing and borders. 

However, I have enough quilts that size and figured a small wall hanging would probably suit us better.  I don't know yet what arrangement I'll use.  It will continue to sit in the UFO pile until some time next year.  

But I have taken a couple of the blocks and made a table runner for my SS.  December is the last month of the secret sister program and the time of our big reveal.  I haven't quilted it yet, but when I do, I'll take a picture and share it with you.

Now for the next step in the ugly quilt saga.  Just to remind you, my sister picked out a fabric she absolutely loves and asked me to make her a very simple quilt for her living room.  It's gone through several iterations and has been pretty hideous through each of them.  I decided to throw it out the door and start over.  I never felt comfortable with that design and I should have listened to my instincts.  I played around with EQ5 (Electric Quilts software) last night and came up with a design that I liked much better.  Luckily my sister agrees with me - so I'll get started on (hopefully) my final attempt.

This was the first time I imported fabrics into the program, but it won't be the last.  It was so easy to do and you get a really good idea about what the finished product will look like.  When I finish it,you can judge for yourself!

Until later, take care!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some more projects...

I'm back to share some more projects from the quilting retreat last week.  I'll start with a quilt that I'm making for a friend who's dealing with MS.  I had everything cut out before I left so all I had to do was sew it together.

She likes color so I thought this made a very cheerful quilt to snuggle up in.  The fabric is actually from the Legacy Studio collection at JoAnn Fabrics.  The pattern is also a free one they offer in their project section.  If you'd like a copy, it's called Nestled in the Branches Quilt.  I saw the pattern in one of their catalogs perhaps 6 months ago but only recently found the fabric in the store.

The funny thing is several of the ladies in our quilt bee wanted to make one as well and went down to JoAnn's after our meeting to find the fabric.  Unfortunately there wasn't enough there for everyone, but hopefully they can find more at another store.

So that was one of my finished quilt tops.  And while I was busy piecing tops together the whole week, Jan was busy sewing half-square triangles - hundreds and hundreds of them. 

First she had to mark each pair of squares, then sew a quarter inch seam on each side of the line, then cut them in half, then iron them open, then trim them to 3 1/2", then...  And she had hundreds of quarter square triangles to make as well.  What a time consuming task! 

I don't know that I would have the patience for this quilt, but I will admit, it's going to be gorgeous when she's through.  This is only 9 of the 180 blocks she'll need for the quilt, but it should go a lot faster now that the smaller units are made.

I still have lots more to share, but I'll save it for another time.  Take care!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rules to live by...

Well, I'm back from my first ever quilting retreat and I've had a few days to catch up on sleep.  I managed to sleep 18 of the first 24 hours I was home.  I got tons of sewing done but very little rest so it's taken me a while to download my pictures and write this post.

My trip was extended another day because of the November Nor'easter that swept through Virginia.  The weather was pretty awful but we were nice and cozy inside and luckily we didn't lose power.  I managed to finish 5 quilt tops, a table runner and the next step to our mystery quilt.  I was a sewing machine!

There was also a quilt store not too far away where we all managed to help the economy some.  It might be a good idea if any future quilt retreats are at least an hour away from the nearest quilting store...

About a month ago my dear sister asked me to make a quilt for her living room using this fabric that she fell in love with.  She also wanted a very simple pattern.   I brought it with me to work on at the retreat.

I needed the advice of my quilting friends on the layout.  This is not a color scheme I usually work with and I was having trouble finding something pleasing to the eye.  This is the first layout we came up with...

I think we unanimously agreed it didn't work.  So we tried again...

This was better and I ended up sewing it together.  However, none of us were in love with the result.  I sent a picture to my sister and she wasn't too impressed either.  See for yourself...

After discussing it with her, we're trying yet another layout.  I removed the stitching in the columns and have laid them over a large piece of the background fabric on my design wall.  I've sent her some new pictures and I'll wait to see what she thinks.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to post them.

Now to quote Jan, "Never use a stitch length smaller than your seam ripper."  I imagine Tamah will never forget this.  She worked for days on a quilt for her granddaughter who attends West Virginia University.  She wanted a simple pattern using the blue and yellow for her granddaughter's dorm room.  The top went together pretty quickly, only when she spread it out to show us, Verna's eagle eye picked up a discrepancy.  Then we spotted two, then three, then...  We lost count.

When Tamah was putting the four patches together in rows, she didn't realize that the direction mattered and a number of them were facing the wrong way.  We helped her determine which ones needed to be turned and she placed a little sticker on each square that had to be ripped out.  (And yes, she used a small stitch length the first time around that made this a lot more difficult.)  She was determined to stay up all night if need be to fix it. 

Here it is during the process...

And here's Tamah by the next morning...

Even after she cleaned up, we still found stickers in her hair.  But her perseverance was rewarded with a beautiful quilt top that I believe her granddaughter will love!

She did an amazing job on the center applique!  Way to go Tamah!

I have tons more pictures from the retreat to share with you, but this is long enough for tonight...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Short and sweet...

I am so tired and sore right now.  I enjoyed dyeing the fabric yesterday but must admit I'm paying for it today.  I want to quickly show you the dyed fabrics and then carry myself off to bed!

Here are the 15 FQs in a gradation using Tangerine, Sapphire and Boysenberry...

Aren't they vibrant?  I also had enough dye left over to dye 3 additional yards.


I don't know what I'll make with it yet.  I just wanted to see how hard it was to do it.  I know I'll do more in the future.  I took a bunch of pictures of the whole dyeing process, but will have to share them with you another time.

Also, I probably won't post again for another week because I leave for a quilting retreat on Monday!  So until next time, take care...