Tuesday, August 24, 2010

it's been ten days

When I decided to take drastic measures and set difficult goals for myself, I should've known that the sewing machine wasn't going to hold out. But even though my machine didn't make it to the end of my personal challenge, I'm happy with my results.

Yesterday, the last day I had to work on it, I got Alex's Janome working and added the borders to my scrappy sawtooth star --

And then, because I was soooo close to what I could manage of my goal, and I'd had scrappy Bento Box sort of blocks dancing around in my head all week, I pieced this little top. Which no longer looks anything like the Bento Box I had in my head, because I got derailed by the possibilities. I'll make the other one later.

Halfway through, I lost my momentum and decided that I was wasting fabric, but I like it better by the light of day. And I always like them better once they're quilted.

That brings my total to six finished quilts and four new tops in ten days. Not quite the ten finishes in ten days I was aiming for, but more than I expected after I lost my good machine on day four and then lost a couple of days sulking about it.

And my real goal was to get back into the quilting habit after two months of not being able to. I've done that!

This is the one with the spirals that was left half quilted and gathering dust in my machine for so long after the accident. Between my sore shoulders and the machine's tantrums, the quilting is sort of a train wreck, but done is better than perfect - or something like that.

When I first started working on the Scrap Savers System from Quiltville, I cut a bunch of novelty prints into six inch squares for I Spy quilts. There was a plan, I just can't remember exactly what it was, and then the squares got lost in a safe place.

Whatever I originally intended, I like the way this came out and have enough squares left for a couple more little I Spies.

I'd been wanting to try this zig zag tutorial, but I don't have a lot of yardage, and I really don't have a lot of yardage in coordinating colors (not that I'm willing to gamble on on experiment at least.)

So when I found yards and yards of this blue floral in an estate sale box, I decided it was time to give it a try. It really needs a design wall to lay it out right, but other than that, it's an easy project.

And this one was a pattern from Quiltville that just needed binding.

The other quilts and tops I've finished over the past ten days are here and here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

that didn't work

I tried piecing with the Featherweight last night. It didn't go entirely well. My tension went from fine to completely off and then back to decent, seemingly at random. And some someone at some point had put a bobbin in with its stuff that looks almost exactly like a featherweight bobbin but definitely isn't. Took me a while to figure out that that was part of my problem and then I couldn't manage to wind a new bobbin and the book is out in the sewing room...

Edith Mae is too small to sit nicely on my sewing machine table, and her cord isn't long enough to stretch over to the kitchen table, and I don't know enough about her quirks to help her do what she should. But I don't have the urge to scream obscenities at her because she's sixty two years old and deserving of some TLC and nice treatment.

Before throwing in the towel for the night, I finished the last few seams on this little top (which wound up being a smaller version of this tutorial) --

And I pieced this, which I've been thinking about all week. I thought I knew how to do what I wanted without measuring and cutting extra triangles, but wasn't sure the seam allowances would work for me to do a quick corner triangle with only three squares in the pieced part. It worked just fine and I'm going to add some borders as soon as I get my hands on a machine that will let me do it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

day six

I really hope I get my sewing machine back in time for this --

Doesn't that look like fun?

I'm on the sixth day of my ten day baby quilt challenge, the third day without my sewing machine. Five of the baby quilts are done, another is ready to be pin basted, and another just needs the binding handstitched into place. I've got a slim hope that I'll manage to finish another top on my Featherweight or one of my daughter's machines (which she can't get to work, so that's a very slim hope), but even if I don't, six quilts isn't bad.

I absolutely could've finished ten quilts if the Janome wasn't at the repair shop. I've written deleted a couple of entries about how unhappy I am that it's there again when I just spent a small fortune having it cleaned and serviced in March, and haven't been able to use it for two of the months since then. And then the woman tried to convince me I needed to have it cleaned again...

Luckily, I've been able to find some ways to distract myself. Yard Sale Treasure Map has got to be one of the neatest websites I've found. You put in your starting point and how many miles you're willing to drive and it spits out a list of yard sales with driving directions. It's great for me, because I still don't know these little towns well enough to plot a route on my own.

AND you can search the ads for things like baby clothes, or tools, or....fabric. Yippee!

I stopped at one sale on the way to the grocery store this afternoon and for $15.40 I got twenty eight new packages of jumbo ric rac, and almost thirty yards of fabric. Most of it is Joann's Snuggle Flannel in prints that'll be perfect for backing the baby quilts. Some was far quarters still with the carboard and stickers. None of it looks very old at all.

I think I'm most excited about the ric rack. Just to go out and buy that much would cost fifty bucks (yup, I stopped and priced it while we were grocery shopping!) Now I'm trying to remember all of the neat ric rac ideas I've seen and been too cheap to try...

Monday, August 16, 2010

last night

I assembled some I Spy blocks that have been gathering dust into a little top.

I pin basted the new top and a two color zig zag quilt I'd pieced a week or so ago.

I finished quilting the spirals on that baby quilt that got derailed two months ago and machine stitched the binding.

I used (and broke) the walking foot to quilt the zig zag quilt.

I started meandering the new little I Spy, which was coming out absolutely gorgeously...

And, about halfway through that, I finally had to accept that that my machine is definitely having some new issues and needs to seek professional help.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

drastic measures

I did it. I emptied my quilt ladder and took every single baby quilt (except for the cat quilt) up to the gal who does the newborn layettes. Yesterday, I started refilling it.

My somewhat crazed goal is to finish ten quilts in ten days. I've got at least five or six sitting here waiting for bindings or quilting, so it's possible. Or would be if I didn't have the factor in my knee or the Janome's moods.

The quilt at the top of the post had been sitting on my ironing board for a couple of months and just needed binding.

This one was a finished top, but the boys bumped into the table and sloshed diet Coke onto the white blocks. I hand washed it at the time, but never got back to it, and then was my unplanned two month break from quilting....

The backing is a hunk of knit fabric I picked up at the thrift store earlier this week for fifty cents. I really like the way these knits work on baby quilts, and they seem to go for less than cotton -- probably because they don't have value to quilters. I've got enough left for a second quilt.

And I assembled a bunch of those 4 patch units I was working on into a new little top.

Now I'm going to have to see if I can get the Janome to cooperate so I can do some meandering. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

forcing myself to get it done

I've got two baby quilts quilted and waiting for binding. I've got another 3/4 quilted (that one's stalled due to Nellie the Janome's latest hissy fit, but I need to either figure out how to finish it or haul the machine up to town and get it fixed.) I've got at least two more tops done and waiting to be basted. And two more tops that I could get assembled in a normal afternoon of quilting, if I ever have one of those again.

In an effort to motivate myself, I've decided to do something drastic and almost completely emptied the quilt ladder next to the television. I usually hold a few back just in cast I need a baby quilt in a hurry. This time, they're all going, except for the applique cat. I'm not ready to let it go quite yet.

Hopefully, this will motivate me to start making some baby steps towards finishing some new ones.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

instant thread stash

Although I've got a decent thread stash, I've always envied the quilters who show off their hat boxes and thread organizers overflowing with random spools.

So when we were at a yard sale yesterday I jumped at the chance to get my own exciting thread stash for two bucks. It's pretty, a lot of it is on old wooden spools, and I can't tell you how tempted I am to use it for piecing.

I know....I've read the warnings.... and I'm still planning to experiment. (After all, I'm using fabric that's probably just as old!) The only thing that's really holding me back is how pretty the colors look wound around those wooden spools. I know I've got at least one more old jar that matches this one, and a few of the bluish ones with the glass dome tops. So I may just use the newest stuff and keep the pretty ones for decoration until I find a perfect project for the wooden spools. In case you haven't noticed, I'm easily entertained by vintage stuff.

(And while I was writing this, my thirteen year old daughter came in and asked me if I'd like Grandma M's old thread, which she's had in her room since my mom gave it to her. How did she get that?)

It was a good day for yard sale browsing. I got a new-to-me cutting mat (30x36, which is twice the size of the one I've had until now) for four dollars from a lady who made one quilt and didn't like it. And a nice box of cotton scraps and two quilts (which will get their own post later) from the same sale where I found the thread. And some odds and ends of old stuff that were too neat and too inexpensive to leave behind.

Friday, August 06, 2010

post office surprises

A couple of weeks ago, I closed the post office box that I've had for the past twenty years. I've hung onto it for the past five years, even though it's too far from the house and I could only pick up my mail once a week. This time, when the box came up for renewal, we decided to get a box closer to home. Mostly so we could have a Netflix subscription and not wait so long for the DVDs.

I filled out all of the forms to get our mail forwarded, which was a lot more complicated than it should have been and after two weeks, nothing had been forwarded to me. Bill and the kids get mail with yellow stickers, but I don't. I've call, I called again, I went in to the old post office and begged... My mail had been sent to the place that does the forwarding, but hadn't gone on to me.

Maybe it's so many years of sending submissions to publishers and waiting anxiously for replies (even though it's been years since I did either) but not getting my mail stresses me out. The nice lady at the post office, the same one I've talked to six or eight times, assured me that my mail wasn't being thrown away or returned to sender.

I finally almost convinced myself that I wasn't expecting anything but bills and bank statements and that those were easy enough to replace. The one thing I was expecting probably wasn't on its way yet.

So I was surprised to find a squishy envelope when I checked the mail at the new post office. No yellow sticker -- someone had written my new address in black marker. It must've been a long day, because it never occurred to me that the package in my hands could be that one thing I was expecting.

Angela from Country Scrap Quilts had sent my Pay it Forward gift, the sweetest little table topper in 30s prints.

I'm absolutely in love with this sweet little thing. And now it's my turn to Pay it Forward, so I need three people to send gifts to.

Here are the rules, borrowed from Angela's blog --

1. The first 3 people to visit my blog and leave a comment saying they want to participate will receive a handmade gift from me, within the next year... (Probably much sooner than that, but you are suppose give everyone a year, because sometimes life gets in the way!)

2. You MUST have a blog of your own to to participate in the PIF.

3. You must post about the PIF on your blog & offer the PIF challenge on your blog.

By accepting the Pay It Forward challenge, YOU agree to host a Pay It Forward to the first 3 people who sign up on your blog...you will then carry on the PIF by sending them a homemade gift within a year's time, and so it goes :)

Let me know if you could use a baby quilt, or if I need to dream up something different to send! And please make sure there's a way for me to contact you for your address. If I can't find you, I won't be able to send your gift!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


I haven't posted anything about my process lately because there hasn't been any for almost two months. Mostly, it's been me limping around the house whining that my knee hurts, or doing things that have to get done (while whining that my knee hurts) or sitting and looking at other people's neat projects online, because that doesn't make my knee hurt any more than it already does.

Last night I cut some white squares and did some piecing. It made me feel a lot happier. And also made my knee hurt -- a lot. I can start using my left foot to operate the foot pedal, but I really resent having to do that.

I've got a lot of ideas that will use these little four patch units and what usually happens is that I make a bunch, lay them out to see how idea #1 will work, then like it so much I sew them together and have to start all over before I can try idea #2.

This time, I'm going to make enough for patch units for several baby quilts before I start laying them out. I've got the squares cut. If I pace myself and only work on it in short spurts, I can get this done.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I have changed

I come from a family that thinks things like Doritos and pepperoni are spicy. I married a man who has swigged Tabasco from the bottle to see if its lost its kick or not.

Ask anyone in my house if Mommy likes spicy things and the answer will be no. Compared to my husband and my daughter (who is someday going to melt through the bottom of my frying pan with one of her stir fry experiments) I don't.

So why, when Bill told me that the hot sauce he picked up on vacation was a disappointment, did I stick my fingertip onto his chip and try it for myself?! He didn't ask me to try it, I volunteered.

The stuff has a seriously nasty flavor, but it really isn't that hot. Proof that I now live in a household where we use seranos because they're hotter than jalapenos and taste better.

We're just back from a four day road trip. I've figured out that the problem with tent camping isn't really being wedged in so tightly with my children. It's whatever the people in the next site are doing. Night #1, we had the loud drunk laughter. Night #2 was the hundred dollar tent site at a "destination" KOA -- I'm no longer afraid that my kids are making too much noise while we set up the tent. And night #3 we had more drunks, this time playing loud music that I probably would've liked under any other circumstances.

We did have a blast, and at one of the museums we visited, I had to take a picture of this old book.

From the card:

"Bessie Prehn complimented this field guide with watercolor paintings, dried flowers, and concise notes of what she had observed."

Today's inspiration --

I want a chalkboard globe and now I'm afraid that we threw out the one the kids kept disassembling because I was so sick of trying to make the countries line up again. It didn't seem like a big loss at the time because it was so outdated, but now I'm hoping it's somewhere and I can patch it back together because this is just SO neat.

I'm sure my kiddos would love some cereal box notebooks. Although I may just glue the boxes onto the existing cover instead of redoing the wire if they're for the little guys. For myself, I might tackle the wire.

The drafting series has started over at ikatbag. Am I the only one who had to resort to Wikipedia to find out what on earth a sloper is?

I could seriously use a double framed clock for my dining room.

Now I need to get the sleeping bags and tent back up to the attic and make some time to sew!


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