Friday, July 24, 2009

Zipping along...

Well, I've been to see the acupuncturist twice now and I do admit I'm feeling much better after the second treatment. I've been able to get some more sewing done this past week and I'm in a better mood. I finished putting together the Sew Unique Pieced and Appliqued block of the months from last year. I like the bird one better than the pieced one. I like all of the flying geese in the borders of it. There are 12 birds in it - all of them are supposed to be native to NC. I don't know enough about birds to verify it though. I did machine applique on this quilt because I didn't know how to do hand applique when I started it.

You probably can't tell from the picture but it's a little wrinkled in the center. That's because I soaked it after sewing the center together and it shrank quite a bit. I had some recalculating to do in order to get my border math to work out. I need to think carefully about my quilting design in order to hide those spots.

This is the pieced top. Earlier I mentioned I was going to try a different layout. But the fabrics are so different, I just though it looked too busy. So I went back to a simple layout. I think I'm going to quickly quilt this one and donate it to a wounded soldier. The colors are darker which I think of as more masculine and the size is right. My quilting bee is traveling to Ft Bragg in September to deliver a bunch of quilts to the soldiers. I have 2 ready and I need to get this one quilted and bound by then as well.

Last weekend we pet sit my mother-in-law's golden retriever. He's a pretty old guy and very mellow. His name is Winston. I just love his sweet disposition. My husband wasn't quite so enamored when he peed on the floor twice. He's potty trained; I just think he was suffering from a little separation anxiety. After the first day, he didn't have any more accidents and Dennis was able to see how sweet he really is.

You can see he's pretty big too. Surprisingly our youngest dog, Gabriel, became very clingy while he was here. She didn't like us sharing our attention with him. Of course, she's an attention hog anyway (but loveable). Whenever we would give all the dogs a bone, she would wait until he was distracted and then steal his from him. I'd give it back to him and within another 5 minutes she had managed to steal it again. She's quick that way.

Well, this weekend I want to continue to work on my Scraps to Challenge quilt top and make a purse for my SS's August package. It looks like she's going to remain in the hospital for another 12-16 weeks, so please add her to your prayers.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What a deal!

Or should I say deals? I used to mention to my husband how much I saved when I found a really great deal on something. His reply was to note how much more I would have saved if I didn't buy it to begin with. So now I just don't mention these great buys to him. However I'd be glad to share with you! (Now I'm hoping my husband doesn't stop by and read this post...) I'm guessing if you're a quilter you've heard of Hancocks of Paducah. I was fortunate enough to visit them in person earlier this year. The store is pretty overwhelming in person. I think I'd rather shop them online instead.

Every so often they add new items to their sale categories. I'm particularly fond of their pre-cut web sales and boy did they have a doozy of one recently. I managed to pick up some fat quarter bundles for more than half off. And they were ones I'd been tempted to buy when they were full price - so how could I possibly pass them up now. I just know you agree with me.

I bought the Robert Kaufman Imperial Fat Quarter Bundles in both the Antique and Spring colorstories. I also bought the Night & Day: Black & White collection by them as well. These fabrics are so beautiful and they feel just like silk.

You can also see a roll of the Bali Wraps in the front. They're the blue-green color family. Not too long ago I bought a set in the red family and paid more than twice as much. Ughhh!

Well after I ordered these fabrics for myself, I got to thinking how great the black & white bundle would be for my secret sister. And at such a great price, I couldn't afford to pass it up... So I went back and ordered one for her, as well as a few yards of juvenile prints that were on clearance. I know she likes these types of fabrics and I hope she likes what I picked. The FQ bundle will be for her August package and I'll save the rest for later.

And finally I went back and made a purchase to make into a Christmas present (I think). The Gypsy Rose bundle by Fig Tree was also greatly discounted. Won't this make a very soft and pretty quilt? (The fabric underneath it is for binding on another quilt.)

On another note, I had my first acupuncture appointment yesterday. It was very interesting. Did you know that they leave the needles in for a while? He used about a dozen needles and left them in for half an hour. They didn't really hurt going in and I was very relaxed during the whole thing. So much so that I almost fell asleep a couple of times. Unfortunately when I would jerk awake, that's when I would feel my muscles trying to contract around a couple of the needles in my neck. That was a little painful but not too bad. The worst part was when he took them out. I don't understand why that would hurt, just that it did. In any case, I go back next week and then a couple weeks later. I'm optimistic that I'll see some improvement in my symptoms. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In the grind...

I just got back from my Wednesday quilting bee. I always have a great time chatting and sewing and today was no different. And Tamah made a wonderful blueberry pound cake. Yummm! I didn't get much stitching done, but I'm trying to take it easy so that's ok. I did learn about a book from Carol Armstrong called Butterflies and Blooms that I think I'll need to order. It has great applique frogs, turtles, butterflies and insects.

I've been busy grinding away on little things. I made some 9-patch blocks for a charity quilt. I'm also going to applique 4 flower blocks but I'm waiting on the background for those.

Sometimes it's nice doing some semi-mindless sewing. I also cut out and sewed together about 200 flying geese units. I need 62 for one border and 92 for another. The extras I'll just save for some other project. I still need to press them all. I used the one-seam flying geese method for making them. I also finished assembling the center of the same quilt. It will have 3 borders - 2 of which are the flying geese.

There are 12 birds in this quilt, all of them native to North Carolina I believe. This was the block of the month for 2008 by Sew Unique. I also found some time to 'put up' my temporary design wall again. ( It's really just 4 c-clamps, 4 1x2 boards and some batting.) However, I wanted to lay out the blocks for another BOM so I could see if my design and placement will work. I'm not sure about it though. There are so many very different colors in this quilt. It might just be one I put together to say it's done and not because I love it.

To me, it's not very cohesive. I know there will be black sashing in between the rows as well, but I don't think that will make too much difference. What do you think?

I'm going to leave you with a picture of our cat Moses. She mostly keeps to herself until she wants attention and then she demands it. My parents refer to her as our fake cat because she hides whenever anyone visits.

I'm expecting a package in the mail and I'll have to share the contents with you next time. Until later, have a blessed day!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Anyone for some Sudoku?

Actually I'm finding myself more interested in the new puzzle craze, KenKen, lately. It's a lot like Sudoku but involves basic math functions. However, that has nothing to do with this post. I've been working on a black and white Sudoku quilt for my Secret Sister. I've seen the pattern done before and thought I should be able to figure it out for myself. So I tore off an old puzzle I had solved and went to work. It's a bit more challenging sewing the 9-patches because each patch is a different fabric and each 9 patch is a different configuration. I showed the finished quilt to my husband who said he loves it. Then I told him it was for someone else... However, one day I'd like to make us one too. In the picture, I hadn't sewn the binding down yet, but I've since finished it.

The quilt is 27" x 27" and each block is 6" finished. It only took nine 2.5" strips to make the blocks, with enough left over for the binding. All in all it was a pretty quick project.

Yesterday, myself and several ladies from the Threads of Friendship quilt bee took a trip to Thimble Pleasures in Carrboro, NC. (Actually the quilt store is moving soon to Chapel Hill - a tiny bit closer.) This was another quilt store I had never been to. They actually have a large variety of fabrics, no repro's though, and a little bit of everything in the way of notions. I didn't even try to delude myself into thinking I wouldn't purchase something this time. Good thing too! But I didn't go overboard. I found a couple of new Fairy Frost fabrics that I don't have and a couple of other 1/2 yard pieces that fit well into my stash. All of the 1/2 yard pieces were on sale too. I also bought a tube of Bali Wraps in the color red. I've signed up to make some applique flower blocks for a charity quilt and these will be just perfect for them. And the deadline to make them is Sept. 1st, so I need to start soon.

I also found an oriental fabric that I already have but in a different colorway. It's actually a gradated fabric. I tried to fold it open in such a way that you can see the color changes. I just need to find the perfect pattern to take advantage of those color changes.

And finally, I bought the remainder of the bolt of this one. I almost missed it because the bolt was on the floor waiting to be put up. I just fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. It has some metallic accents in it (which is SO me) and beautiful shades of blues and greens. I have enough to use this as the border and coordinating colors in the center of the quilt. It will be a fairly simple pattern so as not to take attention away from this gorgeous fabric. There's a lot of fabric I can pass by, but this one I would have regretted not buying!

I was so glad to get back to some sewing today and I hope to be able to continue tomorrow. I'd like to make my SS a purse to match her quilt. I figure I'll go with a black & white theme for her next package. I'll have to see what else I can come up with by the end of the month. My SS has had to go back into the hospital again - this time for shingles. She could sure use some spoiling right now!

Until next time, enjoy yourself! -Dee

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ho hummm...

I'm still having a hard time doing things right now. I don't know how long this flare up of my fibromyalgia will last, but I pray it won't be long. I'm hurting too much to do anything except a little hand sewing. I've finished the wreath on the Ladies of the Sea block 3 but haven't started the ship in the center yet.

There are a lot of grapes and grape leaves in this block. The wreath on block 4 is also pretty involved. I have some of it stitched down and the rest is just basted. I replaced the fabric I got in the kit for the bluebonnets for some hand-dyed gradated fabric I've been saving. I really like the effect.

Usually I just work on one block at a time until it's finished, but I'm trying a couple now so that I can spend more time basting or appliqueing and less time switching between the two. So far, it's working out better. Both these blocks are in serious need of an iron!

I haven't done much other sewing so I thought I'd share some cute pictures with you. Here's a picture of my cat Moses by our back door. Can you see the creature on the glass?

Unless you have exceptional eyes, it's difficult to tell it's a tiny orange frog. Don't worry, Moses didn't notice it at first either.

Finally it catches her attention. Unfortunately for her, it's on the outside of the glass and as hard as she tries, she can't catch it. Here's a close up of the little bugger. Cute isn't he?

And finally I'll leave you with this picture of Gabriel in my chair. This is the chair I do my hand-sewing in. She's seemed a little down lately and has been sleeping a lot. I hope she perks up soon. I hate to think she's not feeling well.

Until next time, may God bless you and yours! Dee

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!!

I wish all of you a happy 4th of July! It's getting a little late and the festivities are winding down, but there are probably a few more still fireworks going on. We stayed home and had a nice evening with my brother as company. I'm always a little nervous on occasions when fireworks will go off. Those of you with neurotic dogs can understand. They sound like thunder to them and generally scare them. With Michael's hearing loss, she did very well. She barely noticed them. Gabriel on the other hand was a little anxious, but has calmed down now.

I woke up this morning feeling kind of rough and hurting all over. I tried to take things a bit on the easy side. I wanted to work on quilting a quilt I had started several years ago. It's a hexagon quilt that's 1/2 quilted and is another on my ufo list. I managed to stitch in the ditch on one row before deciding that was just too tough to do in my current state. So I switched gears and started working on my Scraps to Treasures challenge quilt. For this challenge, each participant had to send in a light/dark pair of 6" squares for each challenger. We ended up with 62 participants I think and so have 124 6" squares to work with. We have to use at least a 2" square from every fabric we received and the deadline is September 11th. I've cut out Part 1 of my plan and started sewing the rows together. All I'll add about my plan right now is that is combines piecing and applique.

Yesterday I managed to finish the pillows for our living room. No trim on them, so they didn't take that long to make. Dennis is pleased with them, so I think I'm done with this project. The sofa they're on in the picture is not the sofa they've ended up on...

I stopped at my LQS, Quilts Like Crazy, yesterday. They're transitioning their punch cards to a new one and have a deal this month where all of your purchases are worth double punches so as to fill them up more quickly. Also yesterday they would punch an additional $10 for coming in. I actually did need an older fabric I thought they still carried to use as the binding on my hexagon quilt. Luckily it was indeed there. Adding the binding to this quilt will be the first time I've added binding to an inside corner, so we'll see how that ends up.

I also found a great fabric to use for the Vance Quilts 'R Us Crayon Challenge that is also due in September. The challenge was to pick an envelope that contains 3 crayons. Then you must make a quilt (of any size) using only those 3 colors. You can use any value of that color, but you can't add another color. My colors are Gray, Sky Blue, and Atomic Tangerine. The colors are just like their names suggest. I have the pattern I want to use in my head. I just need to get started on it. However, I found this great gray fabric at the store with a wide range of values and thought it would be a perfect addition. It reminds me a bit of a marble countertop.

And finally, I found a new book called Folded Fabric Elegance by Rami Kim. I was blown away by the techniques in this book. I have another book with a similar theme that I used to make the following quilt that now hangs in my bathroom.

It looks a bit wonky because I took the picture at an angle. Here's a close up of the blocks.

Until later, please be safe and have fun quilting!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Back in the groove of things

Well, I have lots more pictures to show of some new fabric I got in yesterday. First of all, I received a package from HOP (Hancocks of Paducah) that contains some more of the Williamsburg Heritage collection from Windham. And it was all on clearance! How great is that? This pretty much rounds out my collection. I realize there are a few more prints that I don't have, but that's ok. I have plenty to make a beautiful quilt. I have yet to pick out the pattern to use this on. I want it to be something that will showcase the beautiful colors.

I also ordered 1.5 yards of a Marcus Bros. Strip It fabric. It contains 18 different 2.5" strips of black and white fabrics. I still need to cut it apart and place it in my 'noodle' drawer. Can't you just imagine it in a B&W quilt with a pop of color (maybe red). That's definitely on my todo list for the future. I tried to fold the fabric so you can get a peak of all the different strips that run the length of the fabric.

Now on to my purchases from Whittle's fabrics. Someone from the HGTV Quilting & Needlework Forum introduced me to this online store and I'm SO glad they did. You can't believe their prices. Most fabrics are $3.50 to $4 per yard and they're the same fabrics you would get in quilt shops. They can sell out quickly though so shop early for best selection. They just added the Mocha Meringue collection from Marcus Brothers. The fabrics are a blend of greys, browns and blacks. They're just beautiful and the feel of the fabric is like silk.

This collection also includes several batiks in these colors. Aren't they wonderful?

Ok, enough about my growing fabric collection... I've managed to complete a few things this morning. I finished the November and December blocks for the BOM from Sew Unique. All 12 of the blocks have a different bird in them and when placed together look like a winter tree full of birds. It's a different looking BOM and I really like it.

I've designed my own borders for this quilt that necessitate my making at least 150 flying geese units in 2 sizes. I use the one-seam flying geese method to make them and it goes pretty fast. However, I have some other projects I need to work on before starting those.

Like new sofa pillows. My husband and I found a curtain panel that we really liked and I'm making some pillows for the living room furniture out of them. Here's the first one I finished.

There's quite a bit of glare to the picture, but you can get the general idea. I going to make a few more in this fabric and a couple in another silk fabric I have. I thought about adding trim to these, but I think that would frou frou up the living room too much. In any case, my husband has just walked in to take me to the bookstore and for a bite to eat, so until later...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Busy little bee... (but not sewing)

I feel like I've been SO busy since I returned home. I went to Selma on Monday. Grocery shopping, cleaning and Drs. appointment on Tuesday and hosted quilting at my house today. But the rest of my week is pretty easy (I hope) and I should be able to catch up on some rest and sewing. I intended to post the pictures of my purchases from Whistle Stop earlier but couldn't find the time. I received 2 packages today with some great fabric, but I'll wait until tomorrow to share those with you.

Whistle Stop Quilt Shop in Selma, NC is having a great sale on all their fabric for the 4th of July. I had never been there before and found it to be a beautiful quaint little quilt shop. She had a pretty good variety of fabrics from batiks to CW to 30's to novelty and so on. She had a nice selection of fabric on clearance too. Usually when I see a fabric on clearance, it's immediately obvious why. Not so here! She also carries Triangle Paper! I thank Jan for introducing me to this paper for making HSTs (half-square triangles). Each package lasts for a very long time. I bought 3 sizes to complement the ones Jan picked up for me a while ago. It turns out I already had the 2.5" ones, but that's the size I usually make so they won't go to waste.

I've been collecting fabrics from the Williamsburg Heritage collection by Windham. I first saw them in Plain and Simple and fell in love with them. I picked up a few more at Whistle Stop.

Here's a picture of the ones I already had. Aren't they beautiful? I was so pleased to see that I didn't buy any ones I already had. Sometimes it's difficult to remember. However, if I buy a fabric twice, I must REALLY like it and so need more of it. Right???

She had a pretty nice selection of batiks including this one that I found on clearance (the bottom one). I don't know what I'll use it for, but I love the color variation in it.

And here are the tan/brown and black batiks that I'll use in a quilt together. Susan bought some first, then I picked them up and finally Jan bought a couple as well. The fabrics are actually much richer than appears in the picture.

Well that's it for my purchases in Selma. I spent a lot less than it probably appears because she had really good prices and I tended to buy 1/2 yards of most things. I'm off to pet them for a little while and hopefully to sew in the morning. Until later...