Monday, August 30, 2010

Could it be?

...I sit too much?  My back is killing me.  I hurt it weeks ago while trying to put the leaf in my table.  It took awhile to get better and I was feeling pretty good but I must have tweeked it again.  The only thing I've done is lift my sewing machine from the table to the floor and back again.  And sit -- sewing.

I finished another quilt this weekend.  I love the colors-mauves, maroon and brown.  I tried a new approach to the quilting.  I marked the top (which I've never done) and free motion quilted most of it.  I was practicing sewing on the line.  It was pretty sad looking at first but by the end I was getting pretty good at it.  After washing, you can hardly see the mistakes.

top left:  Nine Patch Straight Furrow    top right:  Pinwheel    middle left:  Four Knaves    middle right:  4 Patch    bottom left:  Big T    bottom right:  Fair and Square




I also finished another applique block.  It's pretty wrinkly because I haven't ironed it yet.

Dancing Tulips
So I'm off...to the next project.

Hope you have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Edge Ruler

Some have asked that I let them know what I think of my new Edge Ruler.  Here goes.  The major selling point for this ruler is that it's supposed to sharpen your rotary blade as you cut.  I'm very disappointed.  With a fairly new blade, I made about 10 cuts and had to replace the blade.  Not good.  The ruler has a frosted  finish that is slip resistant however I have trouble seeing the fabric through the frosted finish..  If I cut dark fabric on a light mat and cut a light fabric on a dark mat, I can see fairly well however the 1/8 inch markings are white making it difficult to see.  Actually... the only thing I like about this ruler is the size - 6 1/2 x 18 1/2.  It's my new favorite size.

So...I'm in the market for a new ruler.  Here's what I'm looking for:

-- 6 1/2 x 18 1/2 or 6x18
--clear plastic
--black markings
--1/8 inch markings

Any suggestions?

On a different note.  You may have noticed, my quilts are mostly the same (with the exception of the blocks).  Today I found inspiration from Quilting in Oz.  Mary has just finished her 100th quilt.  She has a button on her blog to view a slide show of those quilts.  If you get a chance, you should check it out.  I'm hoping to incorporate some of what I saw into my own quilts.  (hope she doesn't mind).

Hope you have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blue Flower Quilt

Am I supposed to name my quilts?  I notice others do but I wonder about a sampler?  I guess I do name them sorta.  I call this one Blue Flower quilt.  There was the Harvest quilt, Green quilt, Cat quilt.  The names are really a reference for me.  I finished quilting this last night.  And yes, I do stop to eat!

top left: Attic Windows    top right: Double V    middle left: Counterchange Cross    middle right: Baby Bunting    bottom left: Aunt Dinah    bottom right: Anvil
The backing was not wide enough so I added some of the blue flower to the edge.  I think I remember reading somewhere that you're not supposed to add fabric to the edge but to do it further in but I can't remember why.  I'm told the quilt police won't come and take me away.  If anyone knows the reason why, let me know.


I have to admit that I made a few more mistakes with the quilting in this one but unless you really look close you'd never be able to see.  Quilters would.  But I guess what I really strive for is a good-looking, sturdy quilt.

I've decided finally about labeling my quilts with my name, date and place.  I've thought that it was kinda like bragging and I don't want to do that.  But when you purchase a quilt from Walmart or other store, it always says something like 'made in China', 'inspected by'... whatever.  I'm much more proud of my work than those so from now on, I will be labeling my quilts.  There--another decision off my list of decisions to make.  So that's what I'll be doing today.

Have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Busy! Busy!

I wrote about being lazy then got my butt in gear.  I've finished 6 blocks.  They look like black & white in the pictures but are really dark brown & cream.  I've set them aside for a quilt at another time.

dark brown & cream

Look what I just received from UPS.



Makes me want to drop what I'm doing just to try it out.  However my table is being used at the moment.

blue flower with maroon

Maybe Friday.

Have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eye Candy?

Don't be fooled.  I don't mean men!  I mean quilts, fabrics, colors!  What quilter doesn't get excited over such things?  In a group I belong to, we discussed how much we love to look at stacks of quilts.  I took a picture of the ones I've made over the past two months.

my quilts

I'm just enjoying them until it's time to give as gifts or donations.  It seems kinda silly to donate now when it's in the 80's and 90's but when cold weather comes...

I finished two more applique blocks.

Topeka Rose

Unnamed
I've spent the morning perusing 198 quilting blogs.  I don't actually read them all but some I follow faithfully and some of interest.  But all that reading makes me lazy.  You'd think I'd be motivated to get right up and jump into quilt projects.  As I'm dropping off to sleep at night, I'm trying to decide what project I want to do the next day - cut and sew blocks, add sashing and borders to already assembled blocks, applique, paper piece, organize fabric.  I'm even tempted to look around for things to iron.  (I bought a new iron and a new ironing board cover).  Probably not a treat for everyone.

Speaking of paper piecing.  I did try a couple more blocks yesterday.  I got so frustrated with 'unsewing' that I just put the 'completed' blocks aside.  I don't think I like paper piecing.

Hope you have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pink Sewing Machine?

I've been working for the past two days quilting the snowman quilt.  I thought I washed the 'reddish' fabric pretty thoroughly, I even used the color catchers but when I finished with the quilt I noticed the bed of my sewing machine is now pinkish.  I tried to wash it off and was able to get some of it.  I'm tempted to try something like SoftScrub.  I think it might work.  We'll see.

As I said, I finished the snowman quilt and washed it again with color catchers.  Here it is finished:  I love how crinkly it looks.  I used the 80/20 batting.

Snowman finished
Years ago I tried paper piecing without much luck.  Today, I tried it again.  I understand the concept but I still had a little trouble.  Here's my first block.  You can see down on the left where I miscalculated fabric size.

1st paper pieced
Here's the QOV block I finished:


Hope you're having a good weekend.  Happy Quilting!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday already?

  When you live alone and don't work, it's hard to remember what day of the week it is.  This quilting quest keeps me so busy, the days just fly by.  It's almost the weekend again.

I put together a top this morning.  It's very easy when the blocks have already been made.  Here's what it looks like:

top left:  Birds in the Air    top right:  Shoofly    middle left:  Ohio Star    middle right:  Homeward Bound    bottom left:  Perkiomen    bottom right:  Cypress

I also finished another applique block.

Bluebird of Happiness

I don't think I've given the link for where I've been getting my applique patterns.  Perhaps I should.  Here's where you'll find them.

Hope you have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fun (at last!)

I spent most of the morning, washing, drying and ironing clothing and mucho fabric.  Tedious.  Then I thought I'd do a few blocks.  I pieced the final rendition of the QOV block and packaged it up for mailing to Montana.  I forgot to take a picture.  Very happy with the way it turned out.   I cut out and pieced one 4 inch block that I was not overly excited about.  Don't look too close or you'll see mistakes but it does have an interesting optical illusion to it.

Around The Corner
The other day I watched a video on making pillowcases.  I loved the idea.  I could make some as Christmas presents. Then I thought...I can make some for Halloween, for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter, Valentines, etc. etc.  (I tend to go overboard!)  But before I buy any fabric, I thought I'd make one to see if it was really something I wanted to do.  I pieced together some strips for interest and.... this is what I got....

First Pillowcase



Pretty cool huh?  Fun? yes!!  At last!

Hope your day was fun.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Diet and Exercise

I've been following Weight Watchers for a year now.  I've lost 25 lbs.  I reached goal 4 months ago.  I was so excited.  I haven't been at this weight in 10 years.  It hasn't been easy.  Especially now that summer is here.  I love ice cream.  And not just any ice cream.  Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch.  I've managed to keep it to a minimum but I have indulged.  At times, too much.  Needless to say, I'm trying to find a happy medium.  I've been up and down 2 lbs. since I reached goal.  I think it's harder to maintain than to lose.  Through it all, I've managed with a minimum of exercise.  I especially like the following.  It's a special exercise suggested to help older people build muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. It's so easy I thought I’d pass it on to some of my friends.  I suggest doing it three days a week.  Begin by standing on a comfortable surface where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can.  Try to reach a full minute, then relax.  Each day, you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.  After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then try 50-lb potato sacks and eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arm straight for more than a full minute. (I’m at this level.)  After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

Seriously, I do some walking.

I've been so busy quilting, I've gotten a little behind on some things.  This is one:




I subscribe to umpteen magazines.  These are the ones I haven't read yet.  I plan to start working on the pile today.

Hope you have a great day!  (doing whatever)


Monday, August 16, 2010

Make it up

I've noticed in quite a few blogs that most quilters have a design wall or whatever to plan their quilts.  I'm afraid I'm just not that organized.  I don't really have much of a plan for my quilts.  I mostly make it up as I go along.  I group similar colored blocks in groups of six and make lap quilts from them.  Most of my quilts look very similar.   Long story short, I finished the green quilt today.  I was a little more brave on the quilting and added some stippling in the white sashing.  I really like the look of it.




I finished another applique block.  I think that's five now.

Old Tulips

I'm trying to decide if I want to make six squares into a lap quilt or keep on and work them into a bed quilt.  I guess I don't have to make that decision just yet.

Have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Excuse me...


You'll have to excuse me if my posts are doubled or incomplete.  My new computer's mouse pad or touch pad or whatever they call it now is so sensitive, I keep losing or scrolling or closing when I don't intend to.  I usually use my right hand to move the cursor and my left hand to click the left button but I find that if my left hand is even hovering over the pad, I can end up who knows where.  I was going to put a cute quiz in this post but in all the confusion, I lost it and where it was located.

These are my works in progress:

pinned and basted
I need to get some green thread for quilting.  Joann's is having a sale starting tomorrow.

Old Tulips
I've actually started on this applique I just haven't taken a picture yet.

Plans for today:  Watch Star Wars (so I can speak intelligently with my 6 yr old grandson)
                          Organize the kitchen (the sewing clutter is driving me crazy)
                          Work on applique

Have a great day!  Happy quilting!


Friday, August 13, 2010

A new day

As you may have noticed, I am fixated on the QOV block.  I've been totally dissatisfied with what I've done so far.  Yesterday, I purchased my FINAL selection of fabric.  (I know - I need to get a life!)  Below are the fabrics:  


green and cream
I finished another applique block:

Donna's Nosegay

I purchased a new rotary cutter.  Fiskars.  It's the brand I had before but the configuration is a little different.  I don't know how they expect you to make a good decision when you can't try it out first.  I also ordered online the new Edge Ruler.  It's supposed to sharpen your blade as you cut.  If it works, it could be a big savings on blades.  I'm finding myself going through them fairly quickly.  It may be my technique.  I'm sure that's the reason I 'broke' my old cutter.  Anyway...

Today I was cleaning out some notebooks and came across this:

(Monday)  FOR SALE - R.D.Jones has one sewing machine for sale.  Phone 555-0707 after 7pm and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him cheap.

(Tuesday)  NOTICE - We regret having erred in R.D. Jones' ad yesterday.  It should have read:  One sewing machine for sale.  Cheap: 555-0707 and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him after 7pm

(Wednesday)  NOTICE - R.D. Jones has informed us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of the error we made in his classified ad yesterday.  His ad stands corrected as follows:  FOR SALE - R.D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale.  Cheap. Phone 555-0707 and ask for Mrs. Kelly who loves with him.

(Thursday)  NOTICE - I, R.D. Jones have NO sewing machine for sale.  I SMASHED IT.  Don't call 555-0707, as the telephone has been disconnected.  I have NOT been carrying on with Mrs. Kelly.  Until yesterday she was my housekeeper, but she quit.

I still find it humorous.  Hope you do too.

Have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Note to self

1.  Rotary cutters are not made for full body pressure
2.  Buy new rotary cutter

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quilt of Valor (QOV)

For weeks now the online group I belong to has been planning another Quilt of Valor (QOV).  The quilts are for those servicepersons and veterans touched by war.  The last one done by this group was in patriotic colors.  You can see a photo at Quilter's Passion QOV   It turned out so well that we decided to do another.  Our colors this time are based on Corian Healing Colors.  Finding just the right fabric was so nervewracking for me.  I've never done such an important project before.  But I did find one I liked representing an earth tone (promotes comfort).  The requirements for our quilt are 12 1/2 inch squares with cream background.  I made my block last night.  I was ever so careful.  But the square is a little larger than required.  I think my 1/4 seams were a little off.  I plan to try again after some adjustments.  I usually do my 1/4 inch seams by adjusting the needle position, but I think my adjustment is a little 'off'.  I may just break down and use my 1/4 inch foot.  I've refrained from using it in the past because I can't sew over my pins with it.  But it will be worth the extra effort to get a 'quality' block that won't embarrass the group.  Here is a photo of my 'sample' block.  In the photo it looks greenish but it is really more earth tone.


Ohio Star


I finished another applique block.  Here it is:

Oak leaf and Acorn
Except for re-doing the QOV block and starting a new applique block, I don't have any concrete plans for today.

Have a great day!  Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beautiful Award




My daughter, Corey gave me this award.  Let me tell you I'm surprised and secretly tickled.  I've never had an award before.  Pretty cool!  Now let me see if I remember the rules:  1) post the award on your blog, 2) link back to the person who gave it to you, 3) give it to whoever you want to.  So I'm giving it to Betty  who has been a big help to me as I learn to do applique.  She says, it's the blind leading the blind.  But isn't that how we learn.  Sharing makes things so much easier.  Check out her blog, you'll see that she's quite talented.

Here is a picture of the applique project I just finished:


The lighting is a little deceiving.  The colors aren't really neon.  I enjoy doing applique but I have to admit, I'm not crazy about doing leaves.  Maybe that's because I'm not that good at it.  But I'm not giving up.  I'd like to make enough blocks to do a quilt someday.  I've started another block but I need to go to JoAnn's to buy some green fabric.

I tried the free motion quilting I wrote about yesterday.  Those that I marked came out reasonably well.  This is the photo. (I'm not showing you what I tried freehand - it was bad!)

leaf     -     feather wreath
I don't know how much I'll ever use the 'fancy' quilting because on the quilts that I do, I want the focus to be on the blocks, not the quilting.  But I do think that some of the quilting can enhance the look of the quilt.  Most of what I've done so far is stitch-in-the-ditch, stippling and top stitching. (I don't know if that's what it's called but...)  Here are some examples:

Stitch-in-the-ditch

Stippling

Top Stitching
I'm not sure how to quilt applique but I imagine I'll have plenty of time to figure that out.  There are a lot of people 'out there' in the blogging world who know these things and are willing to share.

Hope you have a great day!  Happy Quilting!







Monday, August 9, 2010

Duh!

I've been working on applique lately and have used a needle with a large hole to sew with.  Even with reading glasses I have a hard time threading needles.  I've tried those little wire needle threaders but I have a hard time seeing the hole to thread the threader.  Needless to say, the longer, thicker needle has made sewing a little difficult (and I have the sore thumb to prove it!).  Last night it occurred to me that I have the solution.


About a month ago, I purchased these needles for a different use from Day Style Designs Online and hadn't used them yet.  I even found them in my 'stash of stuff' on the first try!  The small needle is the perfect solution.  It makes the sewing so much more enjoyable.  My current applique project is moving right along nicely.

Yesterday, I pieced some more 4 inch blocks.  Here they are:

top left:  Diagonal Square    top right:  Dutchman's Puzzle    middle left:  Connecticut    middle right:  Double X #3    bottom left:  Economy    bottom right:  Double X
Most patterns call for light, medium and dark fabric.  Occasionally, a block will call for two lights and/or two mediums.  The top left block, Diagonal Square, is an example of not choosing fabric with enough difference in value between medium and dark.  The cross looks a little muddled.  My favorite block in this grouping is the bottom left, Economy.  I like the color combination.  I may use these colors for the Block of the Month project that starts up next month with the online group I belong to.  I've never done a BOM before.  I think it'll be fun.

Today I plan to teach myself to do quilted feathers.  I just love the look of them.  I know I'll have to mark them.  I just hope I can follow the lines.  I'm not very good at free motion quilting.  But they say 'practice, practice, practice' so....

I also plan to work some on my current applique project.

Have a great day!  Happy quilting!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A new (old) me

I got my hair cut.  I've been growing it out since sometime last winter.  I wanted to try it long again for some time.  But it's so much trouble, so hot, so always looking bad, so...
Before

After (without glasses)

The photography is not great in either of them (or maybe I just don't look as good as I thought I did!).  Whatever.  It feels good to be back to the haircut I've had for over 20 years.  So easy!

As I was looking through my photos, I ran across this one that I took of a plant I bought at the beginning of the summer.  It looked so beautiful then. (it was doing the 'dead stick trick' when I tossed it out yesterday)


I had a nice surprise when I picked up my mail.  Another heart block.  I'm in a heart block exchange with an online group that I belong to.  Nineteen of us are exchanging 8 inch heart blocks.  I've received 3 so far.  The project won't be over until November.  Something to look forward to.  These are the blocks:

Heart Block Exchange

That's it.  More applique today.

Have a great day!  Happy quilting!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Clean-up day

I won't be doing much today -  laundry, vacuuming, dusting, get my hair colored, get the dead plants off the balcony, you know, all the really fun stuff!  It really shouldn't take long, it's a small apartment and I live alone so...

I finished a top yesterday from some squares I made previously:

 top left:  Attic windows   top right:  Thrifty   middle left:  Hour Glass III    middle right:  Electric Fan   bottom left:  Ladies Aid Album   bottom right:  Boxed In

The block in the upper left isn't the same as the one in the lower right, even though it photographs that way.

I finished the applique project I showed yesterday and have started another:

Forget-Me-Not Wreath
Here's the first of the back basting.  I love this method.


See - I do have some fun stuff planned for today!

Have a great day!  Happy quilting!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thread

As in sewing, quilting, applique...I've read that in applique you should use thread the color of the piece you're sewing down.  I haven't done that, using the excuse that I'm not going to buy tons of thread just to have it match if it shows.  I plan (with practice) to be able to use any color but sewn so well it doesn't show.  Good goal huh?  But for kicks this morning I thought I'd try to round up all the thread that I own.  I like to think that I'm an organized person.  Not so much!  I found thread in a flower pot that holds pens.  In a junk basket.  In a footstool.  In 3 drawers of various crafting items.  In a tupperware 'sewing box' I purchased a lifetime ago.  You'll notice in the picture below that I have a variety of thread colors and plenty of needles to sew with.  And if you look closely, some of the thread has a needle attached (in case I need to sew something).  Think of all the time I save!  You'll also notice that some of the thread has never been opened.  Some I bought recently but there's a blue and a black cone that I bought eons ago and never opened. These are mostly left over from outfits I've sewn over the years.  How much thread do you have?


Got thread?

Speaking of sewing, I worked all yesterday on my latest applique project.  I still have some leaves to stitch down but here's what I have so far.  There are a few fabric color choices I don't like but I'll know next time.  The pattern is from the book I bought last week but the pattern is supposed to be enlarged to 250% so it fits a 20 inch square.  This is an 8 1/2 square.  Needless to say some of the leaves are pretty small to stitch.  The vine I wasn't able to turn at all but I topstitched it in place for effect.  All-in-all I think it looks pretty cool but it is time consuming.  I have a choice to finish it today or take a break.  I haven't decided yet.



Have a great day!  Happy quilting!




Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WIP Wednesday?

I've been reading a LOT of quilter blogs.  I love to see the projects that people are working on, color combinations, artistry.  I've noticed on some of the blogs that they have titles for the days of the week. (WIP Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Rednesday).  I wondered if I should come up with some cute titles for my blog days too but for me it's so limiting.  I just want to do what I want when I want and talk about whatever, whenever.  So there will be no set titles here.

I worked on the 4 inch blocks yesterday.  Finished the one I had cut out and another 5 more.  You'd think that it would take less time to make 4 inch blocks than 12 inch but that isn't true.  I found that it takes about the same amount of time.  I did find that you have to be a lot more careful with cutting, piecing and sewing the 4 inch blocks because there's not much leeway to compensate for the errors.  I've always loved working with fabric because it's so forgiving.  Below are the blocks I finished:

top left:  Alamanizer    top right:  Cheyenne    middle left and right:  Cake Stand    bottom left:  Castles in Spain    bottom right:  Chisholm Trail

You'll notice that there are 2 Cake Stands.  That's because the cutting instructions were for 2 blocks.  I wasn't paying attention.  That just made cutting easier but the piecing took the same amount of time.  Piecing?  What does piecing mean?  Just laying out the pieces or actually sewing them?  I don't know.  Whatever.

I did do a little applique practice. (curves, points, round, straight)  The pattern was kind of a bust.  I took a piece of paper, folded and cut it like we used to do years ago to make snowflakes.  I decided I could somehow make it into an applique.  So...

Applique practice
I have a different idea for the next one.  Stay tuned.

Have a great day!  Happy quilting!