A little of this and A little of that

Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010
I've been busy this last week. We had rain, hail, rain, snow, rain, sleet, and more rain for 3 days. Then the clouds left and Mother Nature gifted us with beautiful Spring weather. It's been wonderful these last few days. My indoor hobbies are starting to take a back seat to my favorite outside hobby: gardening. I am an avid gardener living in an area that can challenge even the most die-hard gardener. Deer run rampant through my property. It's not uncommon to see 10-15 deer when I look out my windows. And they eat almost EVERYTHING. I finally extended the height of the fence in the backyard area so there is one safe area. I have been defeated in the front yard.

Then there are the *&$#^@*&%$^ gophers. I had to give up on veg gardening for a while because of the gophers. When my new beds were built, I had them wired for gophers. Last year it worked and I could tell they were trying to get into the beds. Hopefully it will continue to work. I can't wire the entire property so the only way to grow flowers is to put them in pots. This means I have lots and lots and lots of potted plants because I LOVE to grow flowers. Then there is the winter weather. This year we had the hardest freeze in the 20 years that I have lived here and I lost more plants then I can count. It's been heartbreaking.  But a gardener knows how to grow cheaply so I have been trying to get cuttings from friends and am planting a lot of seeds. I've spent the last couple of days prepping the veg garden beds, re-potting a few plants, potting a few others, raking, mowing, and doing general cleanup. I was hot and dirty and smelly and happy as could be!

During all that rain, I managed to get caught up with the Pinwheel Party blocks.  I'm beginning to really like how this quilt is turning out.  And I am getting really fast at making pinwheels!  The next block is comes out tomorrow so I'll be back in the sewing room again sometime this week.  I've also been mulling over the Christmas BOTM.  I think I will swap out a few fabrics. There are 4 trees to make this month. One of them is appliqué. Not my favorite thing. But this is a learning project so I go ahead and do it.  But first you have to get me out of the garden!

Jelly Roll Quilt-Along Block Five

Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This is the Fifth block in the Jelly Roll Quilt-A-Long being sponsored by Moose on the Front Pourch Quilts. What a fun pattern! It's a bit more complicated than the other blocks and took more time. I think when the next block comes out, I will lay them out against the black & white polk-a-dot sashing fabric to get a feel of what the final quit will look like. This is the first time I have used a jelly roll and I really like it!

I'm joining the Pinwheel Party!

Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2010

I've been watching the Pinwheel Party Quilt-Along on the twiddletails blog for a while. I just love seeing how different the blocks look with the different fabrics.  I had no plans to join in but well, you know what happened next. I've decided to jump in and join the fun. I've chosen a rather weird looking black and white fabric for the background.  The pinwheels will be scrappy. The sashing and border is made out of the background fabric with small pinwheels intermixed.  They are on week 8 so I am a tad bit behind (now there is an understatement!).  I've been working on it this last week and now have 5 blocks done.  I've never done pinwheels and I admit I find them to be a bit tedious.  I'm getting faster though and getting better at it. What I don't understand, and I am not just talking about this quilt, is why my blocks are NEVER the right size. They are always smaller than they are supposed to be.  I measured my seams again today and they are 1/4 inch. I use a variety of rulers and it's hard to believe they would all be wrong.  I just don't get it.

Today we received our first block in the $5 BOTM being offered by SharedStitches, a local quilt shop located in Cameron Park.  It will be a lesson in points. Oh, lucky me!  This is absolutely the last quilt I am going to start for a very long time. I need to finish up some of my many projects and spend time cleaning up and organizing the sewing room.  Warmer weather is also right around the corner and the garden is calling. I am so glad this one is one block a month

Want to meet my sewing buddy?  This is Aragorn. He is around 10 months old. I adopted him from the local animal shelter last Sept.  He thinks that everything in my sewing room is his and he should sleep on all fabric.  He is the reason I need to clean up my sewing room! 

A technique made just for me!

Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2010

After 35 years of programming computers, my hands and arms have a habit of complaining.  I have chronic tendinitis and carpal tunnel problems. This has caused me a lot of problems with the actual quilting process and I'd about given that part up.  The best I could hope for was to borrow a friend's long arm.  Other than that I was going to have to send my quilts out for quilting and that costs money.  But no more!!  I took a wonderful quilt-as-you-go class last weekend. Unlike the technique I was taught a few years ago, this technique requires no handing sewing. Yea!!!  With this technique I only need to quilt a small area at a time and that I can handle.  I am so excited!!!!!   I've posted a few pictures. We did all of this in the 5 hr class.  The final quilt will be 4x4. Around 44"x44".  The purple, yellow and green are the front side. And the other blocks are the back.


Jelly Roll QAL - Block 4

Posted on Friday, April 16, 2010
This is the fourth block in the Jelly Roll Quilt-A-Long being sponsored by Moose on the Front Pourch Quilts.  I haven't decided if I like my block or not.  I think I do but I won't really know until all the blocks are done.

Everyone needs a little purple and orange in their life

Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010

The weather last weekend was miserable forcing me to stay inside so I decided to spend some time cleaning up and organizing the sewing room.  I didn't get very far before I ran into this pattern and fabric and the next thing I knew I had started another quilt.  Doesn't take much to distract me. The pattern is simple and very fast to cut out and sew. What really makes it dazzle though is the fabric.  A real eye catching combination!  I even have orange fabric that works for the backing. I just love it when it all works out like that.  The weather is looking good this weekend and I have tomorrow off work so I won't be spending much time in the sewing room. But I am going to work on the Jelly Roll QAL tonight and Saturday is the reversable quilt class.   Leave a comment and let me know you stopped by!

Done with the past. Let's Go Forward!

Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010
I'm taking a reversible quilt class next weekend and I have been picking out fabric. The prints in the first picture will be the squares, the red will be the binding, the black is the border, the purple is the binding.  In the next picture, the green, yellow, and purple will be the background in the squares with the stripe fabric as center diamond, the black is the border and the same purple for the binding.  Haven't figured out what to use for the sashing yet.  What do you think? 

So...what's next? I need to piece together a quilt back.  And then it's play time in the sewing room!  I have so many projects to choose from that I don't know what to work on next. Think I will go play with fabric for a while and see which one is calling me the most.  I'm done blogging for a while. Happy sewing everyone!

Jelly Roll QAL

Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010
Got a Jelly Roll itching to be used? Then come join the Jelly Roll Quilt-A-Long being offered by Moose on the Porch Quilts! It's free, you choose your own fabric, you work at your own pace, and you could win a prize! How easy can it get?  I wanted to do something that used only fabric from my stash and this fit the bill perfectly.  This first picture shows my fabrics.  The jelly roll consist of solid colors (they are bright of course.  What else would I choose?) so I decided to add a bit of pazzaz with the red and white stripe. I plan to use the black and white polkadot fabric for the sashing.  I think I will wait until all the blocks are done before I pick out a border.  

Here are blocks one and two.  The first block used all of the fabrics. I thought that was very cool!  The second block used only 4 fabrics.  I debated on changing it after I had it all put together. I think it would look better with the stripes going diagonally.  But then I decided I had better things to do than to rip out quilt blocks! LOL I'll wait until all blocks are done and then take another look.

This last picture is the latest block. The original block has just a solid block in the middle but I changed it a little bit because I want to have some of the red and white stripe in each block.  This is a fun quilt-a-long.  I like the mystery factor and look forward to each installment. It comes out on Monday. Cross your fingers I win a prize!

Christmas BOTM

Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010
So now we get to talk about my current projects!  I join the BOTM at one of my local quilt shops.  It's a 6 month project that makes a Christmas quilt. The pattern is called Be Merry from Bits 'n Pieces.  This is the first time I attempted to make a picture quilt and it's definetly a learning experience for me.  Now I am going to whine (although I would rather have wine and cheese).  I am not pleased with the fabrics the shop has chosen and neither are a lot of other people.  I've swapped out quite a few. The instructions in the leaflet are written for an experienced quilter without much direction and that annoys me because the quilt shop owner swore to me that it was a good quilt for a beginner (NO IT'S NOT!). And, what really ticks me off is when we meet to pick up the blocks we are NOT given any instructions just a sales pitch.  Grrr!!

The tall church at the beginning of the post was block one.  I've swapped out the fabric for the sky, the roofline, and  the church. I ripped out the church so many times that I had to replace the fabric.  I did learn from my mistakes though and that is important.

These 5 blocks were the next BOTM. Yes, 5 blocks in one month. Someone needs to learn to count. These were much easier to make.  I swapped out the fabric in the sky again and a couple of others.   I liked making the houses and hope someday to make a house quilt with very bright and colorful fabric. I would much rather make a fun quilt! 

I pick up the 3rd installment on Sunday.

Color! How I love color!!!

Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010
This quilt-top was finished this month.   The pattern is called kaleidoscope or modified spider.  I believe I have finally found my niche in the quilting world. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this quilt-top! It was so much fun to choose the fabrics for each block.  Making this quilt was liberating. To be able to use so many prints and colors with such freedom brought me a lot of joy. And now I find myself designing quilts in my head or during boring meetings at work. (sssh! don't tell anyone that I am not really taking notes!).  How I wish I had found this creative spot within in me years ago. Who knows what wonders I may have created? There is so much freedom in designing with bright bold colors. And how can you not smile when you look at it?  I am currently signed up for 2 BOTMs and a Jelly Roll QAL but what I really want to do is start another wild quilt. Soon...soon....

I almost forgot! This is the first quilt where all my squares laid flat. You have no idea how proud I of that! LOL  I plan to give this quilt when it is finished to a friend.

Colorful Batiks!!!!

Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010
I took a class to learn how to do French Braids which I found out are surprisingly very easy. The instructor supplied the fabric for the braids but no border.  After I made the braids I set them aside for several months because I was afraid to do the trimming. It sounded so intimidating. And I figured that lining up all those points would be a nightmare.  When I signed up to take another class I challenged myself to finish two UFOs before the class so I finally got around to trimming and sewing the braids together.  And it was easy!  I felt so silly for waiting all that time.  I tried out many fabrics and patterns before I could settle on a border and I am so glad I waited because this border suits this quilt perfectly. And I love the colors!!!!  It is a very HAPPY quilt! This quilt will probably stay with me. I don't think I can give it away. It makes me smile too much!

Afternoon Delight?

Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010
The center portion of this quilt is called "Afternoon Delight" because you are supposed to be able to make it in an afternoon. Yeah, right. It took me weeks. I think of all the work I have done, this quilt defied me the most. Nothing lined up. It was so frustrating but the experience was valuable because it did send me back to the books to figure out what I was doing wrong. From this quilt I learned that you cannot ignore the basics and have to pay attention to the details.  My technique really improved afterward.  The fabrics came from my stash and the border is my own design.  The picture does not do this quilt justice. The colors are really very deep and vibrant and mesh very well.   I think the other thing that I notice with the quilt is that I frequently use black. I like the way it makes the color pop.

Falling in love...

Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010
This quilt was a turning point for me. My earlier work was mostly made from kits or charm packs. I bought the panel for this quilt several years early before I even started sewing again. I spent a long time trying to figure out what to do with it and to find complimentary fabric.  Then I finally hit this combination. The irony is the fabrics I eventually used were in my stash all along!  Nothing in this quilt was properly squared off - a lesson I hadn't fully learned yet. And I was ironing instead of pressing which also caused distortion. But it doesn't matter because I LOVE THIS QUILT!!!  Color! OMG!  Color! I finally discovered color!  If you look at my earlier work, I always used bright fabrics but I didn't really understand using color and pattern.  Now there was no turning back.  Look out world!  There are a lot of crazy wild color combinations coming from me!!!  As an aging old hippy I would really like to keep this quilt but I have been thinking of sending it to my niece who is at college.  But I worry someone may steal it so maybe not. :o)

A present for Mom....

Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010
This is a quilt with a story.  My grandmother was a very lucky woman who lived most of her life with no major medical problems.  She took no medicine and up until the last year of her life she walked on her own.  A remarkable feat for a 96 year old woman.  In July 2009 her body started to give out and she spent 3 long weeks in hospice.  My mother was spending her days with my grandmother at the hospice home and her evenings at my grandmother's apartment. It was difficult time for her watching her mother wither away.   On her 79th birthday she was driving back from hospice to the apartment when she rear-ended another car. Then my brother and sister (who lived within driving distance) canceled dinner plans with her. One very crappy birthday. 

My mother had plane reservations to visit me about a week and a half later but told me she was going to changed them to a later date because she would need time to clean out my grandmother's apartment.  I decided that I wanted to give her something extra special for her birthday and had just enough time to make a fast quilt for her. And I would have until she decided not to change her plans and show up as originally planned. I had to quickly zig-zag the binding in order to get it done before she arrived.   Whew!  She loved it of course. I told her that anytime she was depressed that she should wrap herself in the quilt because all those sunflowers are bound to make her smile. :o)

I suffered a very bad tendinitis episode after I made this quilt and finally realized the problem was the machine quilting.   I will probably always have to send out my quilts for quilting or else borrow a long-arm quilter.  I have find too much joy in creating quilt-tops to give it up.

Needlekeeper kitties

Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010
In the Spring of 2009, I organized an EGA Regional retreat (embroidery guild) for 40 people. I never would have been able to do it without my wonderful committee. I made these needle keeper kitties as a thank-you present for them.  I thought they would be "quick and easy" to make. Hah!  The cats are made from muslin. The fabric for the dresses came from my stash.  Each cat has a pink felt heart that holds a needle. They were a lot of work but were worth the effort. My committee ladies were very surprised!

Pesky points

Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010
This a Christmas table runner that I think came from a charm pack.  I had to supply the background fabric.  If  I remember correctly, I didn't finish it in time for Christmas. I call this a learning piece because every single point was cut off.  I think the only thing I learned was frustration!  At this point I was still struggling with points and squaring off blocks and other basics.  I like the patterns so maybe I'll try it again. I can do much better now!

A Journey into Fuseable Applique

Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010

About this time I took a fuseable applique class. I had picked up this kit when I was on vacation a few years earlier. If I remember correctly, it's a McKenna Ryan pattern. It's a simple piece making it a good first project. It looks very nice on my living room wall. :o)

A few stumbles

Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010
After the Halloween quilt I started a couple of quilt-tops that still aren't finished. Both were kits. The first one is a wall hanging made up of colorful tropical batiks done in stack-and-whack style. I like the quilt but I made a ton of mistakes. I took a quilt-as-you-go class and I brought this quilt to work on. That was a big mistake since I really dislike the technique that was taught. Then I tried to improvise and that made it even worse! So it's been hanging around as a UFO for the last year and half. But last week I took a good look at it and decided that it was salvageable. Mostly because I have learned so much since I had given up. Look for this to become a finished product sometime over the next few months.

The other quilt-top I started was a teapot themed quilt for a friend. Sadly none of the tea pots are centered properly. I tried to balance it off with some fusible applique but it doesn't really work. Partly because I hadn't had much experience with fusible applique! I'm not sure if I will finish this one or not. I need to stare it a while and decide if it is salvageable. To be honest, I don't really care for the fabric and I have since made another quilt for my friend.

Bravely moving along....

Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Soon after I finished the beginner class quilt, my friend and quilting buddy, Suzie, took me on a "quilt rush" where we visited a bunch of shops in one day. What an experience! Suzie is the ultimate enabler and my fabric stash grew that day. At one of the shops I picked up a Halloween panel and a charm pack. Then I went home and made a quilt from scratch and no pattern. What was I thinking? LOL I had to keep changing the layout and adding more fabric from my stash before it all fit. But it came out wonderful and I use it often. The latter may be because I have only actually finished 3 quilts. One of those is a wall hanging and one I gave away. That leave me just this one to warm me up. :) I suppose you could call this my first quilt design. I had a tendonitis flair-up after I finished it and didn't sew again for a few months.

Here I am!

Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Well, here I am writing my first blog post. Honestly? I never thought I would have a blog. Who would want to know about boring old me? But as the saying goes..never say never. :) This will be my sewing & quilting blog.

I've had many hobbies in my time. For a while I made pottery but tendinitis & carpal tunnel ended that. So I focused more on needlework. Learned a lot of new techniques...made many wonderful friends...spent a fortune on stash (oh, yeah)...created many beautiful pieces...won a few awards at the local county fair. But once again, tendinitis reared it's ugly head and when my aging eyes started to rebel I knew my stitching days were numbered. So a couple of years ago I started to look toward quilting. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was a young child and in my teenage years I made most of my clothes. That came to an abrupt end once I hit college and I didn't sew another thing for 30 years. I didn't even own a sewing machine! In 2007/2008 I had a lot of work done on my house and one of the end results was a fabulous sewing/craft/junk room. Then in the summer of 2008 I took my first quilting class. I was hooked!!!

It's hard to describe what quilting has become for me. When I was making pottery, I made some nice pieces but nothing to brag about. I really wasn't very good at it. I am good at needlework but while I might change the fabric or an occasional thread, I have zero needlework design talent and have to follow a pattern. But the quilting world is an entirely different subject. I absolutely LOVE playing with color and fabric. There is so much freedom! Walking into my sewing room automatically brings a smile to my face. How I wish I had discovered this world earlier. Why didn't anyone tell me about it? Of course with my preference for bright colors that might have been self defense. LOL

If you have read this far, well I thank you. Hope I can keep it interesting. I think I will try to start from the beginning and go forward because this really has been a journey.  The picture at the beginning of this post is from my first quilting class. I am happy to say my technique has improved vastly. More to come!