Thursday, December 27, 2018

2019 - A Fresh Start

This past year wasn't what I expected. I'm not saying it was bad, but I definitely didn't accomplish as much as I would have liked in terms of sewing and blogging. In looking back, I never even set any goals for 2018 so maybe that contributed to me getting derailed. But this year I really want to make every effort to set some goals and stick with them. Yvonne from Quilting Jet Girl is hosting a 2019 Goal Planning Party, so what better way to start the new year than to participate. I particularly like the idea of accountability partners to help each other stay on track.

2019 Goals

1. Block of the Month Sewing - this year I am no longer the bee mama of Stash Bee so I'm happy to just be a participant for the first time in a few years. In addition to making 1 block per month for Stash Bee, I plan on making 1 block per month of my own, my own dutch windmill block. I've made about 5 blocks so far and I have all the pieces (except for the white) cut out for several blocks so it will hopefully be easy and quick sewing.

2. Develop and implement a daily routine - my job hours are evenings and weekends so it actually leaves me time throughout the weekday to sew and blog, but I'm never consistent and easily get sidetracked. (Naps often come into play depending upon how late work went the night before). I'd like to develop a weekly calendar that blocks out specific times for me to sew and blog.

3. WIP List - surprisingly, I don't have that many major unfinished projects that I need to tackle, most of which are just waiting to be quilted:

  • Moroccan Tiles Quilt (A Meadow Mist Design Midnight Mystery Quilt) - this quilt has been sitting in my closet for almost 3 years now, just waiting to be quilted. Now that I have my own longarm there's nothing stopping me other than coming up with a quilting design that I think will do it justice.
  • Red & White Bee Blocks Quilt - these were blocks that I won at my local quilt guild and finally put together back in July. I finally got some backing fabric so all that remains is to quilt it.
  • April Showers Quilt - this one is already on the frame and more than halfway quilted. I anticipate getting this one done in January!
  • 2018 Stash Bee Blocks - I need to make some more blocks in order to get a decent size quilt and then put it together.

4. Sew from my stash - this shouldn't be too difficult as I have more than I really need. The only fabric I could anticipate purchasing might be backing fabrics (but I have a stash of that too!). Batting, of course, doesn't count.

5. Exercise more - Not exactly sewing related, but in an effort to get my health back on track I really need to get more exercise. I still have chronic migraines that sideline me more often than I'd like to admit. I used to play tennis competitively, playing year-round and competing on 2 USTA teams. I stopped when we moved to Florida (crazy, I know since we have warm weather year-round). I really should start playing again or at the very least, start cardio walking every day to get my endorphins flowing. I think that would definitely help.

So that's the plan. Here's hoping your New Year's is merry and bright, offering all the hope for the coming year.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Musical Trio

I finished these last month and very excited to be gifting them to my son's music teacher tomorrow. I've been wanting to make something for his classroom since he started kindergarten - he's in 3rd grade already! Better late than never, I guess.

I have to admit, they turned out even better than I had hoped. And bonus, for the first time in 4 years I'm ahead of the game in teacher gifts for the year. That's a win-win in my book.

Friday, August 10, 2018

A Traditional Wedding Quilt

When one of my best friends met the love of her life 6+ years ago (I think?) I knew I wanted to make them a quilt for their wedding gift. And lucky for me, I had lots of time because they weren't planning on getting married anytime soon due to geographic and child custody logistics. This quilt was going to be different from what I would normally tackle. My friend loves things like Colonial Williamsburg, folk music, and antique furniture, all of which told me that a more traditional quilt was the way to go.

I got the fabric back in 2013 and made pinwheels with Kona Snow. I think I finally finished the flimsy sometime in 2017 and it's been hanging in my closet ever since. I didn't want to quilt it on Ruby, my quilting domestic machine because it was just too big so I was originally planning on borrowing someone's long arm. Lucky for me, I bought one of my own so it was simply of making the time to finish it.

I love how it turned out and it really helped me to push my longarm quilting experience using rulers. I used a combination of feather and straight lines in the pinwheels which created a really cool movement effect. For the inner borders, I opted for straight lines throughout and for the outer border, I stuck with my favorite -- feathers.

This quilt only took me 5 years to complete and now that my friend's youngest daughter is off to college in a few weeks, I'm hoping to hear more about an upcoming wedding!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Thank You For Your Comments!

I just wanted to say thank you if you've commented on my past few blog posts. I thought I had just lost all of my readers but upon further inspection of my blog, I did indeed, see that I have several comments. They just weren't getting emailed to me, hence, I can't respond to you unless I happen to have your address from a previous exchange.

Apparently, it's a known problem by Blogger and they're working to fix it. I added a secondary email to get notifications and that seemed to have worked but I'm not sure for how long.  Here's hoping that it gets resolved soon (if not already) and that it hasn't happened to you as well.

I promise, I haven't been ignoring you!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Charity Pet Quilts

In the few weeks before Gideon's passing, I made quite a few trips back and forth to the vet's office. My vet provides a boarding service for cats and while the cages are spacious and multi-tiered, there wasn't really anything cozy for them to lay on. The vet technician told me that sometimes the owners will bring a small blanket or something, but if they don't they will oftentimes put a towel in the cage for the kitties. 

Well, that just wouldn't do in my opinion.  Right there in the office, I pulled a tape measure out of my purse and asked if I could take the measurements of the bottom of the cage so that I could make some small pet quilts.  I had some larger panels of practice sandwiches just lying around from when I first got my longarm and cutting/binding them would be perfect.

I've gotten 3 done so far and can probably bind 4 others that are smaller but still useful. I'll be able to drop them off when I bring Oliver, Quilt Inspector #3, in for a checkup on his thyroid in just a few weeks.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Plaid Picnic Crib Quilt

Even though school is out and the summer break is in full swing, I'm still making sewing a priority. Do I manage it every day? No, but when I do get in my sewing room I make the time count. I'm really trying to get some of my WIPs finished up and really want to start one of the scrap projects from Kelly Young's book Stash Statement.

I finished this little project almost 2 weeks ago:

It was made from blocks that I started for the Quilters Planner 2016 Quilt Along but I never finished them. I guess the saying "Finished Is Better than Perfect" really is true in this case. Adding the borders to the blocks made it big enough for crib size and it was a really fast finish quilting an all-over loopy meander. Now the big question is... who's having a baby boy soon?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Spring Sew-Jo

It's so great to be sewing again and of course, I got my sew-jo back 2 weeks before school lets out for summer. I started using a dry erase board to list all of my WIPs and projects that I need to make and seeing them all written down really helped to motivate me. Here are just a few of the projects that I'm actively working on:

Picnic Plaid Blocks
These blocks were part of the Picnic Plaid pattern in the 2016 Quilters' Planner. I started the 2016 sew along but never finished it. These blocks weren't even finished - there are more to them but I decided that they were good the way they were and decided on this layout.

Valentine Magic Pinwheels
I won these red and white magic pinwheel blocks at my local guild meeting in February. I made 6 more blocks to make it larger and now they're ready to be put together.

These are practice quilt sandwiches when I first got my long arm. Not knowing what to do with them, they've just been lying around on the floor in my sewing room. When my cat Gideon was sick and had a difficult time getting around, I brought them downstairs where we had hardwood floors and he took to sleeping on them in the various rooms. At the most recent trip to the vet, I got the measurements of their feline boarding cages and I'm going to cut them to size and bind them. It's not glamorous sewing but cats always love sleeping on quilts.

Here's hoping my sewing streak lasts!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Jubilee - A Holiday Finish

I'm excited to share my recent finish with all of you! I've had this project for more than a year, the blocks were gifted to me by Libby from Life on the Hill. I absolutely loved these blocks the moment she posted that she was giving them away and when I received them in person I was envious of her mad piecing skills. PERFECT POINTS, people. On ALL the blocks. And they were square as square can be. It was such a joy to put them together.

I got them put together quickly enough but then got sidelined with health issues and a move to a new house so it sat for much longer than I would have liked. This winter I put some borders on it and quilted it last month.

I did custom quilting in the blocks (they're all the same design) with pebbles in the interior borders.

I made up a holly leaf design for the solid green border. I quilted a serpentine feather in the floral border. They were easier to see on the back of the quilt.


This was a great quilt to stretch my longarm skills. It may not look like it, but I used rulers quite a bit on it, from the stitch-in-the-ditch to the curves in the center square of the blocks. That's a win in my book.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hawkeye Finish

One of my coworkers is a HUGE Iowa Hawkeyes football fan and has been asking me to make him a quilt for the last 4 years now. If I could make a quilt for everyone who asks me, I would, but then I'd never get to a place of making a business of quilting (which I'm still wanting to do).

So how did he get so lucky? It's called the barter system. We made a trade of goods - he provides me with free parking vouchers for when my husband and I go to see the Broadway series shows and I make him a mini that had something to do with the Iowa Hawkeyes. He gave me absolute freedom to do what I wanted so I started looking at the logos online until I found the one I liked, with the logo inside of the capital letter I.

This project challenged me in 3 ways: I've never really done satin stitching to this degree. I can say that I'm now much more comfortable with it and I completely understand the need for a stabilizer.  This was also my first time trying a 3/4-inch wide single fold binding using this tutorial and it worked perfectly! Of course, using this method meant that I would have to hand stitch the binding onto the back which was also a first for me but I managed to do it and by the end, I felt pretty comfortable with doing it.

I kept the quilting very simple, just straight lines a 1/2-inch apart throughout most of it. If you look closely at the bottom though, you can see the outline of the word IOWA, in the university's trademark font. For that to pop, I did matchstick quilting. I tried getting a photo of it, but I just couldn't get it to read very well on camera.

The mini measures 20 x 24 and will be gifted during our next work shift together.

Monday, May 07, 2018

RIP Gideon, My Quilt Inspector #2

It is with great sadness when I tell you that Gideon passed away a little over a week ago. We had 6 weeks with him since his diagnosis but we could tell that he was finally starting to feel the pain and decided it was time to let him go.

He and I had spent his last hour nose to nose while he purred a bit and enjoyed all the good rubs I was giving him. He even gave me a few nose kisses right near the end, almost as if to tell me that everything was going to be okay. :'(

Now I prefer to remember him when he was my big guy, always lying next to me on the couch just purring away, or sleeping on the stairs expecting everyone to walk around him.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Outside My Comfort Zone

It's been a while since I've been pushed outside of my comfort zone. I'm working on a project for a coworker of mine. He's a huge fan of the University of Iowa football and he commissioned me to make a wallhanging with the Iowa Hawkeye logo. Other than that, he gave me complete freedom on what I wanted to do. This is what I have so far:

It's raw edge appliqué with satin stitching which is something I don't really enjoy doing but so far it's turning out well. I still have to stitch down the individual pieces that make up the hawk's face and then I'll have to decide what to do after that.  It's definitely a work in progress.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Quilt Inspector #2

It's been a stressful few weeks in our household. About 3 weeks ago we discovered that one of our fur-babies, Gideon, has cancer. He was always my big guy, a panther of a cat, not just in color but in size too, weighing in around 18 pounds. He was quiet but oh, so lovable and would lay on me in bed and give me nose kisses. 

He was also one to enjoy being near me in my sewing room, being dubbed quilt inspector #2.

On my niece's Pocketful of Posies quilt in 2015

Helping me to select fabrics for my most recent Take Wing mini

Despite our best efforts, there really isn't anything we can do other than keep him comfortable. The vets originally suggested amputation of his right hind leg but because the tumor was so large and high up on his leg, they would have also had to remove half of his pelvis and do radiation after the surgery. We just couldn't see putting him through something like that, when there's no guarantee that it would prolong his life all that much.

So, we're going to cherish every day that we have with this sweet, loving, boy until it's time to let him go.

Sleeping on his favorite pillow

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Take Wing, Take Two

So I finished my teal and green version of Take Wing a few weeks ago but just got around to hanging it in my sewing room. I couldn't be more thrilled with how it turned out.

I just love how this pattern works so well with scrappy fabrics. It's one that I'll definitely make again, I'm sure.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Summertime Finish

Since I took an extended blogging break, I never shared the quilt that I made for my cousin's wedding from my Stash Bee blocks last year.  I had asked for a disappearing 4-patch block in purples and grays and my bee mates didn't disappoint.

Of course, the day that I was mailing it off, I realized that I hadn't taken proper photos of it so these are the few that I got before it was sent off.  You may recall seeing a photo of it laid out and then on the quilting frame. I'm happy to announce that It was gratefully received.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Make A Mini, Make a Friend

I decided to participate in the Modern Quilt Guild's second ever mini swap. I was disappointed that I missed the first one they did last year. It would have been fun to have swapped with someone at QuiltCon while I was there. That's why I made sure to jump on the chance to participate when they decided to do it again, even though I won't be in Pasadena for QuiltCon this year.

I had a really hard time deciding what to make for my swap partner. She wasn't active on Instagram and doesn't have a blog, so the only thing I really had to use for inspiration was the information sheet that was filled out. She noted that she liked the Seattle Seahawks and butterflies. My original thought was to make a mini of the Seahawks logo using the scrappy appliqué method that Shannon Brinkley teaches but I just didn't feel it was the right thing. That's when I got the idea to make a butterfly mini. After searching the web for a while I found the Take Wing pattern by Nicole at Lillyella Stitchery.

My finished mini.

I knew it would be a lot of work but it would be worth it in the end, and boy was I right! I absolutely love how it turned out. Now I'll be honest with you. Those beautiful oranges and reds aren't the colors I started with. Here is my original fabric pull:

I even went so far as to get the half of it sewn when I went back and looked at her likes and realized that she specified Monarch butterflies so I set this one aside and started over. But I'm okay with that because I loved this one so much that I plan on keeping it for myself. I just have to finish it and not get sidetracked.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Longarm Design Flaw?

With everything else that had been going on in my life, I'm not sure that I had officially mentioned here on the blog that over the summer we were building a new house. I like to think that it was because my longarm was too big and I needed a bigger sewing room, but it was for many different reasons. Fast forward to December when it was time to move Peggy.

{Side note: Yes, Peggy is now the name of my longarm. When I originally named her Eliza from the musical Hamilton, I had joked that maybe I should call her Peggy, just to be funny, and wouldn't you know it, that's what she really wanted to be named in the end. So she has been rechristened}

It was finally time to move Peggy, my HandiQuilter Avanté. Per their instructions, you should pack it in its original box anytime you need to move it, but first, you need to remove the thread mast, something that should be hand-tightened onto the top of the machine and take no effort whatsoever. One simple turn of lefty-loosey and this is what happened:

Ummm.... great. Now what do I do?  After getting my machine and the frame moved to the new house we see if there's enough on the top of the machine to grab with some pliers to unscrew:

Just barely, IF the metal wasn't so incredibly soft that it doesn't allow you to grab onto it. Grrrrr... Plan B is a call to my local dealer who originally set up my machine for me. They called HQ Headquarters and the recommended drilling it out with a special drill-bit so this resulted in my taking my machine to the dealer (about an hour away).

The technician tried drilling it out but the metal was so soft that even with the drill-bit, it wouldn't catch and drill out. He said that it's not the first time he's had a mast snap but it didn't happen this low before and that he's noticed that they seem to be made of softer metal. That sounds to me like a quality control issue. It got to the point that he was reluctant to try and drill any further without damaging the machine casing so he stopped and called HQ Headquarters.

Onto Plan C -- My entire machine is now being shipped back to their headquarter warehouse where they will probably have to open it up and drill it out, up from the inside and then put in some sort of plastic dowel inside for the mast to screw into (kind of like a wall anchor). Luckily this all covered under warranty but it seems like this is a bit of a design flaw for just a thread mast that can possibly break at the base of the machine. Have they not thought that screwing in a permanent small U bracket (on its side) and then screwing the mast onto that would be a better option?

Good thing I have smaller projects and deadlines that I'm working on right now but it will be nice to have Peggy back and in working order. Once I do, I will give you a tour of my new sewing room. It's nice and she's no longer partially tucked in a closet.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

First Sewing of the New Year

It's amazing how hard it can be to come back to blogging when you've been away for so long. Now I know why so many bloggers have chosen to flip over to Instagram and abandon their blog. I've not given up on this ol' girl, but it's gonna take time to get reacquainted again. I just hope I still have a few readers left!  The entire reason for my blogging hiatus hasn't gone away, I'm still having some health challenges but my goal is to put out one blog post a week. So without delay, here is this week's!

With the new year, another year of Stash Bee is underway. Managing this bee is a huge undertaking, one that I'm not sure that I'll be able to continue another year, to be honest, but the finished quilts are always so rewarding. I kicked off January with this fun block:

I also made this angel block for a bee-mate who didn't receive enough blocks at the end of the year. It's a big block, measuring 16" x 16".

Both of these were nice small projects to sew to get my year started. I hope your sewing year has started off well.