Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Wishing everyone a safe and spooky Halloween! I'll be out trick-or-treating with this handsome guy tonight --

And don't forget, 2017 Stash Bee sign-ups begin tomorrow!

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Cat's Meow - A Friday Finish

My local modern quilt guild adopts a charity each year to whom we gift handmade quilts. This year's charity is The House Next Door, an organization that counsels children who have been abused. At their first counseling appointment, they receive a quilt. Here is my contribution (and the first of my 4th quarter finishes) --

The cats were part of a much smaller panel so I decided to cut out the squares and sash them to make it a bigger quilt. When I first started quilting, back in 2013, I purchased a few yards of an adorable fish print. It was one of those impulse buys that just sat in my sewing room until now. I thought it was the purr-fect backing for this quilt.

It's hard to see any of the quilting detail in the orange border but I promise you, it's there. I photographed this quilt at my workplace and it was really sunny when I did it. The front of the building is floor to ceiling windows. Next time I need to try an overcast day or in the evening.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to Mail a Quilt Block without Breaking the Bank

More and more I find myself making quilt blocks and sending them to other people. Oftentimes it's for an online quilting bee, other times it's for a charity drive, and sometimes it's just a surprise gift. The rising costs to ship blocks around the world has been a recent topic over at The Stash Bee. I wrote the following blog post on that site initially, but thought it was helpful information that I could share here, too.

(And to answer your question -- No, you're not going crazy. I originally had a short post here linking to that Stash Bee post!)

Being the daughter of a lifelong USPS employee, I've learned a thing or two about mailing letters and packages. For example, did you know that there is such a thing as a book rate (formally known as media mail)? Yep! Of course, some restrictions apply but it's often a rate that many people don't know about.

So let's talk about mailing out your blocks and how to get the cheapest rate possible. Here are my 2 not-so-secret weapons: Glad Press'n Seal and 6"x9" manilla envelopes.

The key to cheaper postage is getting your package as flat as possible. The envelope shouldn't be padded. What's important about this envelope is the size. A 6"x9" envelope is considered a standard letter size, according to the US Postal Service (see this handy chart).

Now in order for it to ship at the letter rate, it cannot be thicker than 1/4" and it should not be completely rigid. It needs to be a bit flexible so that it can go through the automated sorting machine. If you add in a rigid piece of cardboard it might have to be sorted by hand and that increases the postage. The best product I've found to protect my block during shipping is Press'n Seal. Not only does it protect your block, it aids in getting it as flat as possible. Unfortunately, I don't think that this product readily available outside the US.

So here are the steps I take:

First, I rip off a fairly large piece of it and lay it sticky side up. I include a small note that has the name and address of the recipient, face down.

Next, I fold up my block to a size that will fit in the envelope. I find that you can get it flatter by folding it with the seams on the outside.

I carefully fold the block up in the Press'n Seal, pushing out as much air as possible. I then use tape to secure it.

And here is how thin I was able to get it:

I don't live near a post office, so I always mail my domestic blocks from home. How do I know how many stamps to put on it? I use my kitchen scale to determine the weight of the envelope and go to this USPS site to calculate the postage. Typically, it will require 2 stamps to send a block.

International blocks require a trip to the post office, but I still package the envelopes the exact same way and if you keep it to the letter size, you shouldn't be paying more than $6 to send it overseas.

And there you have it! I hope this helps to reduce your shipping costs the next time you need to mail a quilt block somewhere.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Stash Bee 2017

It may seem quiet on the blog these last few weeks, but I can assure you I am a busy bee right now. Why? Because I am happy to announce that I am the new Bee Mama for The Stash Bee! If you've not heard of it before, I recommend that you check it out. It's a great opportunity to connect with quilters from around the world, make a different block each month, and end up with a great quilt at the end of the year!

Sign-ups will begin on November 1st on the Stash Bee blog. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Weekend in the Mountains

My favorite time of year is now in full swing and what better way to celebrate than to deal with a hurricane. Okay, maybe not. Hurricane Matthew threw a few punches our way last weekend and made traveling up to North Carolina for my Dad's wedding challenging but nothing we couldn't handle. I love autumn with the array of colors on the trees and the pumpkins everywhere. We don't get to experience that very much in Florida which is why it was all that more special heading up to Maggie Valley.

This was a local church that was near my parents' home (not where they were married). Every inch of the property was literally covered with pumpkins! I couldn't help but smile each time we saw it. On our way out of town, my husband snapped a drive-by photo with his phone.

As for the wedding, it was a wonderful time spent with family and I couldn't be happier for my Dad and Step-mom. The church was nestled in the mountains up on a steep cliff with some breathtaking views. While it rained all morning and before the ceremony, things cleared up for us to take some family photos.

I feel like we have so few formal photos of my little family that I just had to share this one. Now if we could just get my son to smile without gritting his teeth!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

4th Quarter To-Do List

It's hard to believe it, but we're in the last few months of 2016 and there are still so many projects that I want to get done before we ring in 2017. Will I get to them all? Probably not, but it can't hurt to try. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. My Holiday Wreath Quilt -- this one rolled over from last quarter.I have the layout planned and the blocks back up on my design wall. I'm just waiting to finish a few other projects first.

2. The Cat's Meow Charity Quilt -- this one was so close to being finished for Q3! All that I have left to do is quilt the orange border and bind it.

3. Mystery Project - I've obscured a bit of this photo on purpose, but this is ready to be quilted and is my top priority this quarter.

4. Placemats for our new dining table - I'm hoping to make a total of 8.

5. Final Pelmet Box for our sliding glass door - this one is going to take a bit of work due to the length of the slider. I think some wood shop tools will be involved this time around, instead of just foam core and staples.

6. BB-8 Quilt - This is going to be a Christmas gift for my son, so I really need to get crackin' on this!

I think that's plenty to keep me busy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

All Bound Up

During the last week of September, I'd spent countless hours in my sewing room trying to get as many Pulse quilts done as possible.  I've lost count of the number of quilts that I've bound, but here was my latest stack.

I also quilted the one with the aqua binding on Ruby, my Babylock Symphony. It's such a quick and easy free motion pattern for me and adds a lot of texture. I think I quilted it in just over an hour.

Next week we start delivering the quilts so I expect a few more Pulse posts and a lot more tears in the upcoming month.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Fun Little Photo Shoot

For quite a while now, I've wanted to do a photoshoot of some of my quilts at the theatre where I work. But during a typical work shift there are usually hundreds of patrons in the lobby. This past week was a bit different, though. We had morning performances with young students from our local public schools. Since we had a bit of downtime in the lobby before they arrived, I enlisted the help of a coworker to photograph a few quilts on our grand staircase.

First up is my cathedral window bed runner that I just blogged about. It looks so much better on this staircase than the one in my home. The other quilt that I brought that morning was my Turquoise Facets quilt. I just wasn't pleased with my original photo.

Our broadway season kicks off this week so I'll be spending more time at work. My plan is to photograph all of my quilts somewhere inside the building.