Mar 29, 2012

Long time no post...

I planned to take some time off the internet, about a week, to finish up a quilt I was close to completing. I got a lot of work done on it and then I got sick. I'm not as sick as I was but now I have a headache that is  the worst I've ever had. The light from the monitor is bothering my eyes so I'm just putting this up here quickly and hopefully I'll get back next week.

I had this little quilt me, my daughter and my MIL made together but I knew I still wanted more quilting on it and I finally got it finished. 

The quilting in the border isn't so great but sometimes you just have to call something done and hang it up.

The quilt I'm trying to get finished is this flannel rail fence.

It was previously in 4 sections with only 3 rails unquilted. I've finished the quilting, joined the 4 sections together and added the first border. I was literally in the middle of adding the last border, I already had 2 sides down, when I got suddenly sick, very sick. Oh well, stuff happens. I think my worsening allergies this year are weakening my immune system. I'm still not 100% but I hope to get this going again today.

I hope y'all out there are feeling a lot better than me and getting a lot of quilting done! I still have a ton of emails to get through that will just have to wait.

Mar 17, 2012

The quilt with two names

I've known about this quilt forever. I originally read about it on the Quilting Board way before I'd seen the Jelly Roll Race or the 1600 inch quilt. You can find the original post here:  I recommend you wade through it because there are a lot of nice examples. On page 7 is a picture tutorial and somewhere in there is a discussion of making different sizes and using different widths. She used to have a PDF printout for free but you could just print the first page. 

Anyways, I used my JoAnn's, 20 strip jelly roll to try this out. 

I wanted to also separate the strips by piecing squares in between them. I really like that look for this quilt so I chose a crazy scrap I had laying around and cut twenty 2 1/2 inch squares. The jelly roll had only ten different fabrics, 2 strips of each, so I pieced squares on one end of each strip.

I should clarify, you need to piece strips of the same print together on the 2 1/2 inch side to get the best distribution. They're more likely to land next to each other if they are drawn at random. I don't know why, that's just the directions. You also have to cut about 18-20 inches off the beginning so that it doesn't all line up. Both of these steps help a lot to make it scrappy looking.

I don't have pictures but you can check out this video on YouTube by the Missouri Quilt Co. Basically you keep joining the ends together and sew down the long side.

The first seam took forever and felt so long! It wasn't even the full length. I don't have pictures but you can imagine. Have plenty of bobbins ready before you start. I didn't have time to do it all at once, despite the name.  This picture is at sewing the third seam.

Mine came out nice and even at the end. I just lined up the outer edge and ran my fingernail along it to make a crease while it was still under the needle. Then I cut along the crease.

Since this strip was half the length, I met the ends together to see which side I wanted to sew on to get a bit better color next to each other. I chose the right side on this last seam because I didn't want the aqua next to the fuchsia because its too strong of a combination.

This finished at 33" x 54" after 5 seams. It would make a nice crib size. I love how the squares are randomly distributed.

The sewing was too easy. I kept letting the seam allowance wander but in the end you just press the seams to one side so they all even out. It's not great quality fabric and I don't know anyone with a baby so, I cut it in half and sewed it into a bathmat.

I laid an old big microfiber cloth on the wrong side, folded it right sides together and stitched it up leaving a small opening (too small, I ripped some stitches @_@) I turned it right side out and topstitched all the way around.

I made this one as a trial sample before using my strips from Connecting Threads' Urban Odyssey line to make the real thing. I bought all the fabric for the top on sale for under $20! I can't beat that with a stick!

Looking at my pictures, I see I really need to do something about that unfinished tabletop. It's kind of driving me nuts.

ETA: I've gotten a lot of spam on this post so I'm changing the title to see if that helps. It just helps me since you don't see any of this. The previous title was Super Fast Jelly Roll quilt AKA the Jelly Roll Race quilt.

ETA2: still getting spam here thank goodness for moderated comments. I don't know what else to do.

Mar 16, 2012

Fabric Postcards received group #1

(If you're here from Sew Many Ways FAFF, welcome! If you want to follow me, I'll follow you back.)

I received three postcards from my swap. 

These are so awesome! I used clips to attach them to my design wall next to my machine right away. I think I'm going to hang a ribbon bunting to pin these onto. I've got these cute mini plastic clothespins I bought ages ago to hang them with. The pretty pink and green one with the embroidery came all the way from Australia! I'm really excited about these and about making more for the next swap.

Mar 15, 2012

Fabric postcards #2 & #3 (post #2)

(If you're here from Sew Many Ways FAFF, welcome! If you want to follow me, I'll follow you back.)
So with my top done I decided to use flannel for the batting this time. I basted it on with good old Aquanet hairspray, unscented.

I then quilted each hexagon in a different motif. I just made some up while others were inspired by free motion quilt-a-longs online.

Then came the hard part, cutting it in half to get two postcards.

 This was pretty tough. I realized I should have made it longer in the middle than the ends. I cut it fairly close.

I first drew on a 4" x 6" rectangle to get the best parts in then I trimmed them up. Since I'm new to this, I experimented on the finishing by doing binding on one. I made it with my 1/2 inch single fold bias tape maker. I pinned it around the edge and stitched it on by machine through all the layers. The other one was finished with a zigzag stitch around the edges. I liked both finishes but the stitching was way easier!

Here's the backs.

I like the lack of stitch in the ditch with these. I made envelopes to send them out in but I can't find the pictures of them. I learned a lot with these little experiments. I'm actually thinking of doing a large hexagon quilt with the larger template from my set. I enjoyed doing them and I hope to participate in another. I think I'll probably make more just to try new techniques out and not just for swaps.

Mar 14, 2012

Fabric postcards #2 & #3 (post #1)

I sent out my fabric postcards last week for the swap. I made two more for a total of three so I should get three back.

I used these postcards to try out a no mark method of sewing hexagons together that Jacquie over at Tallgrass Prairie Studio posted.

It made sewing hexagons super simple and fast. I started with my Bits & Bobbins scraps and cut some hexagons with the small hex template from Marti Michell. I used set H template 52a which makes a 1.5 inch finished hexagon. 

First I sewed a strip of them straight across. This actually already has two strips pieced together and I'm in the middle of the third but the idea is the same.

The previous stitching lines make the 1/4 inch from the end marks, as long as they are accurate.

You're basically stitching the seams in order starting on the side touching the previous piecing on the top or left then to the next counter-clockwise until it's attached. Above, the light blue one is stitched across the top from the stitch line on the inside to the end on the outside.

The very light hexagon is folded in half so the seam with the light blue and salmon hexagon can be pinned together and stitched. I stitched it with the salmon one on top so I could use the stitched lines as a guide to see where I need to start and stop.

Second seam done and onto the light blue & dark blue seam.

This time the salmon one is folded back to make the seams line up. It can also be stitched to the end.

One more hexagon to add to finish the patchwork. I pinned this one on really well to make sure it lined up right.

This is my practice pieced top. Even though my 1/4 inch SA wasn't the best at first, it still came out really good and quicker than having to mark those points. Check out the link, she might explain it better but I really had fun with this. 

I think this is enough pictures so I'll finish up the process of completing the postcards in the next post.

Mar 13, 2012

A QR code for my blog

I  saw a mini QR code quilt at the quilt show last weekend and I just saw another on the web. The first went to a page with a message for her husband, we didn't test it however. The second was supposed to have a message concealed but not a URL address. I got curious and googled "can I get a QR code?". After looking at the first few choices, I saw an article from the NY Times. Since that seems more reliable than a service trying to sell you something, I clicked there. It turns out that the Google URL shortener will make one for your site.

I copy and pasted in my web address to get my short URL ( ) then clicked details. On the details page is a QR code for your shortened URL

Since I have a mobile template for my blog in addition to a web template, this should bring up my site on a smartphone in a mobile format. I'll have to test it tonight when my husband gets home. It's funny but when I upgraded my phone, I didn't want a smartphone because my husband's didn't react well to my touch. Now, I've got my own QR code and can't use it.

Some of the other sites in the article will make QR codes from your typed message. You could make a whole series of quilts, scarves, bags, note cards, t-shirts, mugs, etc. with secret messages. I might have to make a postcard quilt with a QR code message on printed fabric.

sew many ways

BOM blocks finished!

Last year I was participating in a BOM over at Live Journal. Of course, this is hard to keep up with when you're taking a quilting hiatus. Taking the time cutting out all the pieces at once and kitting them helped finish them much faster since I could just sew up a couple of seams when I had a chance. Last weekend I finished sewing the last two blocks!

The other one I forgot to get an individual picture of but it's the upper right Mardi Gras colored block in the group.

These are big 16.5 inch blocks. I've finally taken them down off my design wall after being up there for about a year. This isn't their final setting. I think I'm going to add a 2 inch white border around each block and them finish them as a quilt-as-you-go project during the summer. It should finish about 60" X 80".

Finally, another step closer to being done but it's going on the back burner for now.
sew many ways

Mar 12, 2012

Fun weekend (Quilt show visit #2)

I had a fun and busy weekend. Saturday, me and the husband went to the Dallas Quilt Show. There were many amazing quilts. The artistry and craftsmanship was a big step up from the last one I went to. Unfortunately, I can't post photos but there are a couple at the link. I came away with a lot of inspiration and motivation. We also saw a quilt my husband would like me to make for the bed. It was a lovely french braid quilt with Poppy fabric and black and white prints. So I'm scrapping all my other ideas and I'm going to focus on that one. We were both completely quilted out by the end. 

I did find and buy this Our Lady of Guadalupe fabric panel. It's folded in half, the other half is the same. Sorry for the blurry picture. I'm sure I'll post clearer ones some other time.

I'm not sure if I want to make one quilt or 8 individual wall quilts for my friends and family. I had a pattern for a rose that would go great with it but I couldn't find it. I know there are several free online that I might have to substitute.

Then on Sunday all four of us went to an Indie craft fair. It was OK. The jewelry is what caught our eye most and there was an amazing felt artist but we didn't really get anything. We didn't even really see anything we would really want to make. 

The one thing I did buy was some wonderful smelling handmade soap from Sylett Soap. This is not your average melt and pour. The lady uses oils she buys from a woman's collective in Togo to make it. She trained as a chef and it comes through in her soap because they smell good enough to eat! I bought 4 bars including her face soap with lemongrass that was exactly what I need for my oily skin. It's amazing to use such a product created with care, thoughtfulness and quality. I facebooked her so we'll be at the next craft fair she'll be at. Soap is something I would like to make but the quantity you have to make makes it kind of unpractical unless you take 5 showers a day.

Next door to the craft fair was an antique flea market type thing where I got

This vintage singer button hole maker in a nice pink box. The box and manual are perfect but after reading the manual I found that a part was missing. Maybe I'll find one searching somewhere else. It was a cover for the feed dogs but mine drop really nicely on my 503A anyways. At $15 it isn't a bad buy since I bet the box in nice condition is what matters. 

I also bought for $1
I'm a Muppet/Henson fan. I have a Ms. Piggy in my sewing space as my companion and she has a picture of Kermit on the wall next to her. This was sitting on top of a stack of Life magazines and I just couldn't help but pick it up. I haven't even read the article yet but the pictures are awesome!

After, we went out for an early dinner and we took our bag of goodies into the restaurant to look them over. I pulled out what I thought was my bag of soap and instead found this:

A stack of fat eighths that I saw at the quilt shop booth at the craft fair. I mentioned to my husband, in passing, that I loved this line. He went back and got it while we were separated. I was so surprised. I really feel lucky I've got him sometimes. I just have to remember this the next time he drives me crazy! 

It's Spring Break this week so I'm off work for a while. I'll try to post everyday because I'm sure I have enough to already and I haven't gotten much done yet!

Mar 9, 2012

I think I'm in love!

My new washing machine came in yesterday morning. 

(picture from Google)

It's pretty freaking amazing to watch but I had stuff to do for the first part of the day so I couldn't really get cozy with it until the afternoon. I did the trial load with exactly 6 lbs. of laundry like the manual suggested. It was just a rinse and spin so after it finished I loaded it with more towels and set it to go.

It was amazing to watch it work. It is a modern marvel of robotic engineering. It weighed the load, checked the balance and redistributed it before it began. I accidentally set it to heavy soil and it beat the snot out of it! OK, not really, but it did agitate better than any washer I had seen before and I thought my old one did a really good job of agitating the laundry. It spun it fairly dry also.

The downside was that it first estimated it would take 72 minutes but actually took more like 80 minutes. The long load times will take a bit to get used to. My husband thinks the times might get closer as it breaks in.

I also washed a load of mixed lights. When I went to add my homemade detergent I noticed it had left some in the cup from the last load so I just dumped that in the basin instead of adding more. I might have to go back to the powder version or start making the liquid one. I don't know how well this load washed. It had socks, light khaki pants and t-shirts in it. The t-shirts came out so dry in spots that they only looked half wet but the socks were still fairly moist. But the beautiful thing is that I could wash just socks or t-shirts or pants and it won't use too much water because it senses the load size.

I'm really excited to wash laundry and figure the ins and outs of this new machine but this weekend is the Dallas quilt show so it's going to have to wait a bit longer.

Mar 7, 2012

My prize came in!

I went to my mailbox and found my prize waiting for me, to my surprise. I never got an email or anything but I'm not complaining. Connecting Threads sent me the Fauna collection of thread.

This collection and several spools from it were on my wishlist. How can you pass up thread with names like Milk Chocolate and Latte. They are scrumptious in person and I'm thinking up coffee or cocoa ideas for a mini quilt to try them out. The light colored ones are needed for piecing. They're the perfect shade to blend in to many colors. I do have a small wallhanging that I wanted to put more quilting on that these colors would go perfectly with so that's probably going to be the first thing I do with these threads. I also need to go pick up a new tackle box to keep them in since the last one I bought was filled immediately from my last order of thread from Connecting Threads.

I've also joined their site and Perfect Points Quilt a Long.  The first official QAL post was earlier this week but the introductory posts were about piecing using a positioning pin. I tried it out on some blocks I made and wow was I impressed! My points came out so much nicer and crisp and right where I wanted them. Now I just have to gather fabric to participate. I'm not really going to make the actual quilt but just some blocks to get the feel for it. These blocks were for a BOM that ended the middle of last year.

Right now though, I'm super excited about getting a new washing machine! They are delivering it tomorrow and I can't wait! I feel all super domestic dorky getting so excited over a washing machine but I can't help it. I researched for weeks on what I wanted online. Yesterday, I went around to look at the stores and found exactly what I want at a better price. I got a new top loading high efficiency machine from LG. The top of the line was what I was looking at first but then I saw they carried a slightly smaller model for a lot less. This "smaller" model will still wash a king size comforter so I think that's plenty of machine.

I may not post again till next week. I'll be busy doing laundry and watching it through the glass top and then there's the Dallas Quilt Show on Saturday and Funky Finds Spring Fling on Sunday! Then it's Spring Break! I'm going to be so busy!

Mar 3, 2012

A look back: First stuffie and catching up (long post)

I started sewing about 11 years ago before the birth of my son in 2000. I don't remember why except that I wanted to make him clothes. One of the first things I made was this mouse for my then 7 year old daughter. I don't even know where I got the pattern from. Very likely, it was from a book in the library.

It's so funny now looking back at it. She still had it in her closet among all her other stuffed animals that I suggested we finally clear out. It looks more like a rat than a mouse and it always gives us a chuckle to see it. It's amazing to consider a few years later I made this dog for my son when he was in his "Clifford the Big Red Dog" phase.

He took me like 21 total hours to make. I was curious so I kept track of the time. After that one, I never made another and I've rarely made a stuffed animal since then.

I reorganized my sewing space last weekend. I didn't really clean it, there was nothing to throw out. I tried to make room for another machine but it's in a table and there's just not enough room. My other machine, that I gave to my daughter, was a free-arm/freestanding one so I would just move it from the floor to the work table whenever I needed it. Maybe a box could be built for this one or the table leaf/cover taken off. 

While cleaning I found this top I had totally forgotten was there.

I just need to trim it up, layer, quilt it and bind it. It was made from the left over pieces of this project I gave to my MIL. I even found 2 more diamonds that I'll piece into the backing. So that's going on my to do list.

On my list, I have a BOM I want to finish in a QAYG quilt. I have 4 more blocks to piece. I figured out what colors I needed more of and how much of each. Then I drew up a cutting plan and cut out the pieces to kit up. I re-calibrated the tension on my machine for piecing so I can get that baby finished. Here's what I did most of last week during my spare down time.

It doesn't look like much but it was a busy week and I've started piecing a block already. It's actually almost finished.

 Sorry for the long update but it was a busy week last week. Time to hit that that machine!

Feb 29, 2012

Heartbroken and a bit sad...

I'm shocked and my heart aches. I'm not so old that I saw the shows when they were originally on.That was before I was even a possibility in my parent's thoughts!  I watched them when they had a comeback in the late 80's and I was a teenager. I was instantly in love with Davy and his sweet British accent. I even went with my best friend to see him, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork on tour and we were screaming "WE LOVE YOU!" right next to the older women! It's like a part of some of the best times of my life is now gone. I don't even know why it's hit me so hard. Maybe it's because it's been a long week and I'm tired. 

Rest in Peace Davy. You'll always be a white knight in my daydreams.

Feb 28, 2012

I WON!!!

Sorry for the yelling but I'm doing the happy dance right now! I won the Connecting Threads giveaway over at It's Sew Kiki's blog. I won the grand prize of a new set of threads. I love their threads and I can't wait to get it! I might have to make one of those quilts where the thread is quilted in a design to look like piecing. 

I've never won a giveaway before and still can't believe I've won now! I know I'm just gonna squeal when they come in :oD

Feb 24, 2012

I want to get back to quilting!

Sorry for whining but I've been hemming jeans. It's a necessary bother. I've hemmed one pair for myself that I've had for literally years. They were a pair I bought on clearance for $4 about 4 years ago. They were regular and I'm a petite and they were very flared at the bottom. I totally messed up the hem on them when I took out most of the flare so they sat for a long time. Then last year I finally pinned up a hem, last  month I basted it in, and yesterday I let out the one side that looked too high and finally hemmed them. So $4 and 4 years later I've got a nice pair of jeans. Sometimes I don't know if it's worth saving the money if you have to do so much work on them or they sit around forever, unable to be worn.

I've got another pair of pants for myself I have to hem. Regular pants are always about 4 inches too long on me. At least they are pants and not jeans so it should be easier (knock on wood). And I've got a pair of jorts (jean shorts) to hem for a friend. He said I could take my time but now my machine is set up for the thicker thread just about right so I'm going to wait to get back to piecing after I reset my tension instead of going back and forth. 

I almost regret giving the machine I usually did clothes on to my daughter. It's a lot easier to keep going with three machines to use. I think it's the ideal set up, one for piecing, one for quilting and one for clothing. I have a couple of extra vintage machines hanging around, they just need to be checked over and moved into my space first. I just might have to do that this weekend.

Feb 20, 2012

Kid's projects #1

My kids finished up a project each right before I caught a cold so I haven't been able to post them until now. 
My son (11) made a collar for his cat Amy. We set up the Kumihimo disk with a simple blue and black yarn setup and he worked on it for quite a while until it was done. Here's Amy modeling it for us.
We left the ends untrimmed so she could play with them, which she did until they came off. 

My daughter (19) took Simplicity pattern #1953 and made it her own. The only animal hat she liked a little was the panda except he looks sad so she decided to make a llama instead. 
She had a vintage machine that was too powerful for her to control so I gave her my easy to use Singer. She likes it a lot better and had no problem sewing this together. She designed the ears, face applique and snout. It's so cute. It was made to fit my son so he's modeling it for us. She wants to make a whole menagerie of hats now.

Feb 19, 2012

Quilt show visit #1

Yesterday I went to the Bear Creek Quilt Guild show. The theme was "Quilts Across America." It was held at a very nice conference center. This is the first show I got to go to without my kids. I got to read every sign and take my time. The quilts were beautiful but I don't know if I should share the pictures, they said personal use only. My pictures were also fairly blurry because of the low lighting. I'll just share my thoughts instead.

This year I found myself looking closely at the quilting itself and how it related to the quilt top. I felt very humbled about how far I thought I've come on my free motion skills, but I noticed that most quilting looked too perfect. They looked stitched on the long arm machines with extremely even stitches. I did read that most quilts had credited a different quilter then piecer. Though, there was a pretty modern 1st place winner that credited Lea Day's Free Motion Quilting site for the filler patterns. I saw a lot of wonderful curved quilting in simple squares that really made the quilt pop. I also saw a lot of pantographs that didn't do anything for a quilt and it might as well have been done in a large stipple. My tastes have definitely changed over the last year that I've been watching Leah Day's site and practicing my own free motion quilting. I just don't find the stenciled patterns as nice on a quilt. I love the more free-form, irregular, organic lines and the stitching that shows off skill rather than just binding the layers together.

I'm also in awe of the skill of the hand applique-ist. There were many amazing and cute pieces that obviously were a labor of love. The best of show was a large applique quilt.

The pieced quilts are generally my favorite. I love looking at the minis and getting inspired at what can be done on such a small scale. The paper pieced New York Beauty type blocks were also great in so many variations. I saw a lot of Bonnie Hunter quilts that were amazing. I want to make one so bad but I don't feel I have the scraps to do it with. I love the curved pieced quilts and saw a really funky one with irregular edges that I want to try. It was made with these templates, check out her gallery. I should have looked into them at the show but didn't because I have enough templates. All the modern quilts got my attention. There weren't very many of them but they got me excited about tackling my own projects. That's what I love about quilt shows the most, all the inspiration on display for you to just soak up. I'm looking forward to going again next year.

I don't know how much I like the shopping at a quilt show. I rarely ever buy anything but this time I did find something on sale at the Cabbage Rose booth I was willing to splurge on. 
I got this Tend the Earth jelly roll and charm pack. I'm not thrilled about the bird print, but the others are divine! I wanted the Good Fortune one but she was all out. I don't know if it's because this line is new but I couldn't find much about it on the web and there are no free patterns. I did search everywhere for a jelly roll pattern and I think I'll make a bento box quilt after I get a nice background fabric which gives me plenty of time to change my mind.. I also bought my first show pin at the raffle table. It's really cute and I might start collecting them.