Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pint-Sized Blessings...

If you're like me, you have a hard time deciding what to work on at a quilting retreat.  Of course, you want to make sure you bring enough projects so you don't run out of things to do (that has never happened to me by the way), but you have limited space and don't want to over pack.  Generally I try to work on multiple things during a week long retreat, in part because it's more fun.  I can spend days beforehand going through my quilt room pulling out books, kit and fabric planning them all out.

This latest retreat was a bit different.  I went knowing there were 2 projects I really needed/wanted to work on - a raffle quilt my mom and I are making for my niece's school (for the next school year of course) and a baby quilt.  I also brought along a couple of wall hangings I could continue machine quilting if I found time.

I have so many quilting books on my shelves that I have yet to make a single quilt out of.  One such book is Sizzlin' Sixties by Heather Mulder Peterson.

I really love most of the quilts in this book and they can all be made with a jelly roll.  I had an Oz by Sanae jelly roll lying around just waiting for the perfect project.  The prints in it are so happy and fun and I thought they would work well in a baby quilt.

I needed a 60 degree ruler to make this quilt so I went digging in my ruler drawer.  OK, can I see a show of hands for anyone else out there who has a drawer full of rulers that they've never used before?  I can't be the only one.  (At least I hope not!)  A number of them still had the shrink wrap on them.  I was sure that I must have a 60 degree ruler.  I pulled out a bunch of them and used the 60 degree line on my Creative Grids ruler to measure them.  I couldn't find one!  I was completely perplexed until I realized I was reading the ruler markings wrong.  Duh!!!  It turns out I have several 60 degree rulers.

When I started on this quilt at retreat I really thought it would be pretty easy (despite the pattern calling it advanced).  I didn't consider how many bias edges and matching points there are.  I'm glad I made a much smaller version of the cover quilt, 'Oh My Stars' or it would take a very long frustrating  time to finish.  I was able to get the center put together during retreat, but had to order fabric for the borders online (which I'm still waiting on). (I'll straighten the sides when I add the borders.)

I've also picked out a soft minkee backing for it as well.

I already know how I want to quilt it so once I get the borders on, I hope to get it done quickly.  The baby is a preemie and still in the hospital so I have a little bit of time, but I'm praying she'll get to go home soon.  She's had a challenging start to her life and I pray for every good blessing to come her way in the future.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."
Jeremiah 29:11-12 NIV

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl...

I've just returned from 5 wonderful days at a quilting retreat on the coast.  How blessed am I?  Just before I left, Gabriel, our smelly sweet black lab celebrated another birthday.  She's 9 now and starting to slow down a bit.  Some of that though is undoubtedly due to the winter weight she has yet to lose!  She's getting a little grey in her muzzle, but she still loves to play with her babies and chase a ball.  Here are a few recent pictures I've captured of her.

Those brown eyes of hers will just melt your heart, and she knows how to use them to her advantage.  It's the main reason she's so fat fluffy right now.

I send my husband pictures like this during the day to remind him why he's working so hard.

FYI - While I've been typing this, my husband has gone for a run without Gabriel.  He takes her with him every other day of the week.  She's so distraught that he left without her, she's been howling at the window.  She sounds absolutely forlorn.  I sure hope he comes home soon!

I think I'll have to go see if a belly rub will cheer her up in the meantime...

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 
1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV) 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

All in Good Time...

I've been meaning to write this post for the past several weeks.  Life is pretty busy, but generally in a good way.  Then I threw my back out yesterday morning (putting on a jacket if you can believe it).  So I'm currently resting and doped up on a new (very strong) muscle relaxant.  This means that I'm getting plenty of sleep and I now have the time to write this post.  (Warning:  If anything I say doesn't make sense, I'm blaming it on the drugs!)

I finished piecing the Cheerio quilt top shortly after my last post - at the end of March.  Truthfully, my husband isn't a big fan of all the bright colors in this one, but I love it!  I'm planning to put it over the back of my big red chair in my sewing room, so he won't see very often anyway.

I already know how I want to quilt it (which can sometimes be the hardest part) so I had hoped to baste it and get started on it right away. But between trips and such, it took me 3 weeks just to baste it.

David was a big help during that process...

He was better behaved than our Siamese Moses who kept trying to crawl underneath the backing fabric after I had it pinned to the floor.  I turned around at one point and there was a huge bubble underneath the middle of it.  I had to unpin it to get her out.

I've gotten started quilting it, but I'll have to wait a few days for my back to heal before I do any more.  Until then I'm going to try to enjoy the rest.  I have  a 'herd' of kitties who have volunteered to keep my company while I do.

He says, "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10 NIV

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring has Sprung...

Although it's rather a cold rainy day today, Spring is officially here and I am so grateful.  My neighbor's Bradford Pear trees are already in bloom and they are gorgeous!  While nature's hard at work, I've been continuing to work on the blocks for my Cheerio quilt.  The pattern calls for 42 blocks set in a 6 x 7 layout.  I cut out all of the pieces for this quilt late last year, so I was a little confused when I finished sewing and discovered I only had 36 blocks.

Boy was there a lot of head scratching going on!  I had started with a fat eighth bundle of Scrumptious and it took me a while to figure out that the bundle only came with 40 pieces of fabric and I couldn't use 4 of them because they didn't have enough contrast.  Hence the 36 blocks.  I could have put it together in 6 rows of 6 blocks, but decided I really didn't want a square quilt.  Although this line of fabric is a little bit older, you can find almost anything on the internet nowadays.  Between Etsy and my local quilt shop I found enough of it to make the remaining 6 blocks I needed.

These are such simple blocks to sew, it didn't take long to finish the rest of them.

Now I need to lay them out and then sew them together.  However, I've had to put it aside for a little bit while I work on costumes for the Easter play at my church.

Some number of years ago, I used to do a weekly stash report because I was still buying a good bit of fabric.  Times have changed and I rarely buy any now.  However, the last couple of weeks has seen a plethora of packages arriving at my house and it reminded me of those days.  I would have dreaded having to add it all up!  The backing and binding for 4 different quilts arrived as well as a FQ bundle of Miss Kate that will be used for an upcoming charity project.

Now I have to find the time to complete all those projects!  Hmm, I think I could use some more snow days...

No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. 
Micah 6:8 (NLT)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Winter Wonderland Pictures...

Here are all of the pictures of the quilting I did on my mom's Winter Wonderland quilt.  I'm posting them here because I had such trouble coming up with ideas for quilting this and I hope they might help someone else.

It's a Winter Wonderland...

It's somehow fitting that as I've finally finished quilting a winter themed quilt, spring looks like it might be making an appearance.  Yeah!  I have never spent as much time quilting a quilt as I did this one.  I started it last August (although I truthfully I didn't get that much quilting done during the holidays).  Please ignore the photo bombing cat in any pictures.  She was being a pest that day.

My mom hand embroidered all of the snowmen blocks and pieced the top.  The pattern is Winter Wonderland by Crabapple Hill Studio.  I offered to quilt it for her a couple of years ago but only just got around to it.  One of the reasons I waited so long was because I wasn't quite sure how to quilt the embroidered blocks.  Kathy from Troublesome Creek Quilts was nice enough to share some links where she had seen the the same quilt quilted, including a great one by the Quilted Pineapple.  I took some inspiration from her in quilting mine.

I started by outlining all of the embroidery with silk thread.  Obviously that took a while.  Then for each embroidered block, I drew my quilting design on Golden Threads quilting paper and quilted it.  I did the same thing for the large snowflakes in the solid blocks in the border.  Everything else, I freehanded.

Deciding how to quilt something can be the hardest part for me.  I look on the internet and in books for inspiration.  And because I had such a difficult time with this one, I'm going to share pictures of all of my quilting for anyone else who makes this quilt.  (Also, I made this exact same quilt for myself and would like to remember how I quilted it when I finally get around to quilting mine!)  However, there are a ton of pictures so I'm going to put it in a separate post.  If you're not interested, you can skip right past it.

I was so happy to finish quilting this and give it to my mom.  I love how it turned out.  And although she put absolutely no pressure on me to get it done, it's nice to have it off my list and be able to move on to something else.

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. 
Psalm 39:7 (NLT)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happily Sewing Again...

I've been meaning to post for several weeks now.  I finally finished a big quilting project and plan on sharing it.  But there are quite a few pictures and it takes a big chunk of time to edit them and write a post.  Rather than wait on it, I thought I'd share what I've been doing since then.

I had every intention of pulling out another quilt top to machine quilt.  I have so many waiting in the wings and several I'm actually excited about quilting.  However, I just really felt the need to sew some pieces of fabric together.  So I went with it.  I pulled out a project that I cut out at my last quilt retreat.  The pattern is Cheerio by Camille Roskelley.  Initially the pattern was only available in the UK magazine Love Patchwork & Quilting (which is how I got it); however, now Camille is selling it as a separate pattern (for much less than the magazine!)

I had a fat eighth bundle of Scrumptious by Bonnie & Camille lying around that is perfect for this quilt.  The quilt on the cover was made using a mix of this fabric and April Showers, so my version will have a similar feel to it.

I've mentioned it before, but I haven't really felt like sewing over the last several months.  But working on this quilt has been SO. MUCH. FUN.  We've been hammered with crazy cold weather lately (just like everyone else), but I've been hiding out in my sewing room happily sewing away with these bright cheerful fabrics.

I'm having such a great time that it almost makes me wish for more days like this so I'm forced to stay at home and can spend the entire day sewing guilt free.

Never stop praying.” 
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)