Thursday, August 28, 2014

My 10 (ok really 17) Quilty Little Secrets

Confessing is the online quilty theme at the moment so I decided that I will share too.  We can all blame Amy from 13 Spools for this bit of fun and airing of our quilting dirty laundry.
13 Spools
1.  I too am not into hexies.  There, I said it too.  Some projects that other create with them are interesting and I can appreciate the that but for me, I'm just not interested.

2. As a continuation of #1 , I just don't get the appeal of the EPP blocks like the hexies.  All those tiny bits sewn by way baby. 

3.  Another thing I don't get into much is appliqué. Yes I will use it sparingly in a project here and there but you will never see me making a Baltimore Album Quilt. Ever!

4.  Squaring up my quilts. Nope. I don't do that.  Unless I'm making a show quilt to be judged I can't be bothered. And when have you seen me working on a show quilt? Not yet at least. Maybe never.

5.  I echo the sentiments of others.....what's up with all the fabric featuring the critters?  Deer, fox and the like?  You can keep it, thank you very much.

6.  I like working with solids but I hate, hate, hate the way some of them unravel like there's no tomorrow. And some of them are the big name brands. I don't understand how most non-solids ravel so much less but they can't make the solid fabrics behave the same. Someone needs to solve this problem.

7. 99% of the time I don't bother with squaring up my HST. Over time I've gotten much better at making them so that if they needed trimming, it is so minor that I'd rather make it work than spend all that time cutting miniscule bits off my blocks.

8. Why do some designers churn out fabric line after fabric line with the exact same motifs and in the exact same color way? Yes it is good IF you have an older line and need something to coordinate with a project that you are currently making BUT if I already bought a pre-cut bundle or yardage of the older line and have all I need, I'm certainly not going to buy more of the same with just a different name on it.

9. Pin baste? Not! Either I spray baste or it goes on my longarm frame. I can't be bothered having to remove those pins as I go along.

10. I can't get excited about Civil War or other similar Reproduction prints. They just do nothing for me. Bring on the bright and full of color ones please.

11. What about cutesy prints? Nada to these too unless I'm specifically making a baby quilt.  Then they are totally appropriate.

12. I refuse to spend my hard earned money on specialty tools that I see no reason for like the log cabin ruler. I have a regular 6' x 24" ruler and I can cut strips perfectly fine with that. The less I spend on useless things like that the more I have to actually buy fabric with.

13. Ditto for things like needle threaders (I can see perfectly well to thread a needle) and thread cutters/cutting gizmo (isn't that what my scissors are for) and triangles on a roll paper (I prefer to learn the way to make these things without specialty items involved that I'd just have to buy over and over and over again. I know that is their point with the papers at least, but this hobby is expensive enough already.

14. I simply can't spend upwards of $12 for a spool of thread.  You know what brand I'm referring to. Yes it is thinner and it probably does produce less lint but cleaning out my bobbin case more often just doesn't justify the added expense. The thread I typically use has the same amount of yardage on spool at a fraction of the cost and it performs perfectly fine.

15. For the most part I'm not going to buy any Cotton + Steel fabrics either. I might use a coordinating print for some other project but the vast majority of them don't appeal.

16. I also skip over some other big name designer's stuff like KF and AMH and TP.

17. I don't prewash anymore either unless it is a Red or Brown that I worry might bleed. As others have stated, life is too short as it is.

I probably could add a few more confessions here if I thought about it some more but for today I'll leave my list as is.  So how many of these items would be on your list too?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Keeping it real

In the interests of keeping it real and prove that I am far from being a longarm quilting superstar Yet, I'm sharing my current struggles with the kids art quilt, which by the way really needs to be done by Friday for the back to school BBQ.
My original idea was to keep it simple with some easy loops. The sashing is only 1 inch and in reality, not so easy for a newbie to keep looking good in such a small space while pushing around a 75 pound machine. 
I completed the 1st row on Friday and didn't like it at all. 
So of course it had to be unsewn.
This lint roller works fabulously for picking up all those little thread bits off the quilts.
So then Friday night I pulled out a huge pile of my quilting books to hunt for ideas and after nothing totally grabbed me with that "Ah ha!" moment, I remembered the straight line quilting on last year's kids art quilt. It looked good so that was my new plan for Saturday, after Sunshine and I got home from a classmate's birthday party.
But.....the trick that I learned from Kimmy Brunner at MQX for channel locks if a machine doesn't come with them doesn't work on my machine due to the type of carriage it sits on. Thankfully after a bit of online searching I found this method: using binder clips against both wheels.
The binder clips are hard to put on but it did work. The bad part? I didn't like the result. It does nothing for this quilt. Blarg! Now what?
More unsewing occurred yesterday morning (not fun at all) and I again flipped through the books for a new idea that I thought I could pull off decently well and would suit the quilt.  Here is the next attempt.

Am I happy with this? Nope! Again not being a professional and really skilled at this yet, they don't look great at all. But then it sort of looks like a kid did it which could be an IDE = Intentional Design Element. Still I didn't really like it and I don't want all the people that will be seeing this quilt hand in the school's lobby to see it this way.
A new idea is needed. We are meeting friends in Lake George for dinner tonight so I don't know if I'll be up to ripping out these 3 rows when we get home. If that doesn't get done today, it will get done tomorrow after work. Then I need to get on the ball on Wednesday and get this done once and for all. Hubs thought I should do a meandering wavy line out and then back again, sort of like what a single cable looks like.
I think this would be hard to make even cables in that small 1 inch space.  I could just do a single freehand curvy line down the middle of the sashing like what is in the middle of this table runner tutorial from The Intrepid Thread. 
  Any other ideas that you could suggest that can both 1) look good with the abstract kids' art and 2) be completed fast and 3) that this newbie quilter can pull off?

Which block am I?

I saw this over on Sharon's blog and had to hop over to Missouri Star Quilt Co to check it out for myself.
So what is my result?
Flying Geese!
Interesting.  I would have never guessed this one. It isn't a bad block to make but it certainly isn't a favorite of mine either.
What else did it say about me?
"If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right! You might seem shy at first, but once people get to know you they can't help but love you." 

Well I totally agree with the 1st part but the shy thing? So not me.  
Anyway it was fun for this morning. Go try it for yourself.
Now I need to get off the computer and ready for work.
Have a great day!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stunning Stitchin Sunday

 With all the craziness going on here, I of course got behind on my blog reading and therefore there wasn't anything to share on Sundays. But now I'm back in the groove and have plenty of quilting eye candy to show you today. Some of the posts are a few days old but they are certainly still drool worthy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lots of bits

No I haven't fallen off the face off the earth as it has been rumored. Life has been extremely busy and I although I have been doing some sewing, I haven't had much to really show as of yet.

One recent trip we took was to our annual China travel group reunion. This year 9 families out of the 15 total in the group were able to attend. Seeing the girls together was wonderful, watching them maintain their connections to each others is priceless. Now each of the girls are truly starting to understand the meaning of their "China Sisters". This was just one of the group photos we captured, on Sunday morning at breakfast before everyone started their trips home. This time we lined them up by height. As you can see, Sunshine is on the far left. She is the 3rd oldest of the girls but the shortest. And the tall girl on the right? She is the 2nd youngest of them all.
School starts back up for my 2 the Wednesday after Labor Day as is tradition in these parts so I've been taking each of them out shopping for the needed new garb. Thankfully I ordered Sunshine's uniform shirts and skorts a few weeks back and the shirts are currently getting the required school name embroidery done.
Of course along with the new clothes is the need for school supplies and I'm happy to say that neither kid's list was bad this year and everything is purchased and ready to be delivered to their classrooms during the "Meet the teacher" events this coming week.
We have been working on other projects around the house. We've finally painted the new bookshelves that hubs is permanently installing today in the playroom/future library. I love the pop of blue pain on the back. We still need to paint all the shelves and the doors for the bottom part but that will be easier without these big things taking up so much space in the basement. I'm now on the hunt for the perfect blue and white curtains for this room to give it the punch of color it so desperately needs.
This morning Sunshine was all about making rubber band bracelets and this necklace.  She learned how to do it, without the loom, at summer camp yesterday and now she is planning on making a bracelet for each of her China sisters.
In the studio there has been some progress too. I've finished the projects for the It's A Sister Thing Swap and I was able to take the pictures this morning so it will get boxed up and sent on its way on Monday. I won't show you what I created until it is received but I will show you this little sneak peak.
I've also been adding to the pile of completed blocks for my leader/ender project.
Both kiddos were home sick on Monday and Tuesday so I wasn't able to work on much but eventually I was able to load Spellbound onto the frame and I got it quilted. Plus I even got the binding sewn onto the front. Now all that is left is the hand sewing onto the back and the label. Until it is 100% and I get some proper pictures, here is a little teaser.
Another recent completed top is the kids art quilt for Sunshine's school. After I finished piecing the blocks and showed it to them on the last day of school, they wanted to keep it up on the wall for a few weeks of summer camp. I picked it up after returning home from our vacation and got the final top row and the applique letters done and last night it got loaded on the frame. Once I get the tension right, this should quilt up fast. It has too.... I need it finished for the welcome back BBQ on Friday night.
And while I was away at the China group reunion, this box arrived.  Do you see where it came from?
It just might have something to do with this.
Yes it is a super secret project that I can't tell you about but trust me, it is going to be fabulous and Yes I will torment you in the coming weeks with a few sneak peaks until the big reveal in a few months. I'm just nice that way.

It seems like everyone else is regrouping after the end of their summer activities and the return to the school year schedule and I will soon too. Then the pedal will be to the metal carpet as I work toward completing many things on the list. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pretty trash

I couldn't take it anymore!

This ugly plastic car wash trash bag just wasn't cutting it, refused to stay where I put it and was just depressed me to look at.  But a gal needs a car trash bag to help keep her vehicle up as best as she can while still toting around two kidlets who can be pretty messy, right?
The other day I was flipping through a bunch of books and magazines looking for a specific quilt pattern and one that I looked through was this copy of 101 Patchwork Projects & Quilts, published in 2011 by Quilting Arts Magazine.
Inside I saw this picture.  I knew immediately that I needed one of those for myself and it would be the answer to my ugly car trash bag problem.
I grabbed a couple of pretty coordinating leftovers from the Kate Spain Charm Swap and within minutes the pieces were sewn and ready to quilt.  I didn't have the flannel the pattern called for so I used batting scraps instead. 
Some straight lines were the order of the day and were done quickly. 
My plan was to add cross hatch lines in the opposite direction but after I completed the first line I decided that I didn't care for it and chose to leave it with just the the horizontal lines only. A little unsewing was in order but at least it was only one row. 
Ta Da! Here is my new and much improved car trash bag.  I love the result and it makes me so much happier to look at. Sometimes I'm an easy gal to please. 
Isn't this so much better than that nasty plastic thing?
The prints are oriented sideways because it was all the width that I had of these scraps but I'm ok with that. 
This little project was super fast to whip up and I know that I'll be making a few more. I'm sure that everyone in my family needs a nicer car trash bag plus hubs wants a bigger version for his truck. It will be made with more man-ish fabrics of course. 
I lined it with another favorite Kate Spain print. The only other thing that I did different from the pattern was I made a fabric strap instead of using the ribbon called for. 
I knew that the ribbon wouldn't hold up as well plus it is just pretty. And to be totally honest, I didn't want to wait to finish it til I went to the store to buy the matching ribbon.

I'm already planning a few other new car trash bags for myself, perhaps one for each season. People change out their home decorations seasonally so why can't I do the same in my car?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

There's a Ghastlie whisper in the air

The leaves are a rustling and the fog is rolling in.
There is a whisper in the air and a low cry of "Nooooo" being heard amongst quilt blog land.

If you haven't heard yet, it seems like this newest line, Ghastlie End, is truly going to be the end. Rumor has it that it will be the final installment in the wondrously ghoulish Ghastlie line.

To celebrate (if you want to call the end of one of my absolute fabric lines a celebration) my friend Kathy of Kwilty Pleasures is going to be hosting a Ghastlie Swap.
Kwilty Pleasures
Sign ups open on August 15th and spots will be limited to 30 people. You KNOW that I've already let her know that I'm claiming spot #2 (since she obviously gets to have spot #1).

If you are a Ghastlie lover like I am, you won't want to miss out on this creepy fun.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Danny's Quilt - the final pictures

I finally got the opportunity to take some better pictures of my Tribute to Danny quilt at the recent annual softball tournament to benefit the scholarship in my nephew's name. It is the quilt I put together 2 years ago with blocks made by some of my readers and it was raffled off at that year's tournament. The binding on this quilt was completed that very morning as we drove to the event and the label was sewn on during the game breaks so I never got a chance to take some proper pictures of it.
For those of you that are my newer readers, I put out a call in April 2012 for 12 inch 8 pointed star blocks in the school's colors of Red, White and Black. The idea came to me as I drove home from visiting my niece (Danny's sister) and her family the morning after her house burnt to the ground. It was close and luckily everyone got out safely, but barely. To say that it shook all of us to our core to know just how close we came to losing more family members is a huge understatement.

At that time, I was in the midst of working on many other quilts and there was no way I could have made these blocks myself. So my loyal readers came to my rescue and sent these gorgeous blocks.
The variety of 8 pointed stars and Red, White and Black fabrics truly worked together to create one fabulous and very special quilt.

Why did I specifically request 8 pointed stars? It was Danny's jersey number and that jersey is what he is buried in (along with his favorite Spiderman jammie pants.)
While I love each and every block sent for different reasons, I love this one the most because of the baseball square center. Danny was a star athlete on both the football and baseball fields.
My quilter at the time Dianne did the impossible and quilted this baby in 24 hours. I can never thank her enough for dropping all her other quilts for the day and getting this one done for me fast so that it was ready for the tournament.
The label includes all the names of those that helped make this quilt (along with the companion quilt made from the extra blocks) a reality. I will forever be in each of these ladies' debt.
The backing is a really cool circle print and I pieced the simple white star that I received in the exact middle.
 It seemed fitting.
This is the companion quilt, Remembering Danny.
In the end, in a very magical and mystical moment that we are sure Danny himself had a hand in, both quilts ended up staying in the family. You can read that story if you like on my original reveal post.

As I've mentioned before, next year will be the 10th and final year of the softball tournament. I think Danny's mom is ready to close this chapter and we will certainly do it up in grand style. Another quilt raffle is being planned for next year and hopefully if all the stars align, my idea will again become a reality and a lot of money will be raised for the scholarship fund. In 2012, with proceeds from the fund, a new scoreboard was erected at the football field and next year something special and long lasting will be done for the baseball team.
Danny truly embodied all that is good in teens and sportsmanship. He wasn't perfect but he really was a good kid.  As quoted in the event's story by Kevin Edwards of the Wayne Independent
"Danny Branning was a 16-year-old standout, multi-sport athlete.The always-affable, ever-smiling, mischievous lad starred in football and baseball. He was an up & coming quarterback on the grid and a tough-as-nails catcher on the diamond."
To know that Danny will always be remembered is heart warming and to know that other kids will continue to learn about him and his dedication to his sports will always be a comfort.