Monday, December 26, 2011

Almost done...

Still plugging away on the Winter Wonderland blocks.  I've finally finished the last 4 star blocks...

6" Blocks 14 & E - Double X
9" Block C - Star of Hope
6" Block 8 - Maple Star
This means I'm now done with all of the star blocks!  Woohoo!  There are 34 blocks  - a combination of 6", 9" & 12" blocks made using 6 different fabric combinations.  Fortunately I've labeled each one with a sticker so I already know where each one goes in the quilt...

All of the Winter Wonderland pieced blocks
Now I need to make several dozen HST's and then I can assemble the borders.  I'm still hopeful that I can finish the top before the new year.  That's my goal anyway.  (I work better when I set goals.)

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas day.  I spent the last few days visiting with family and so enjoyed myself.

Until later...

[T]he Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life.” 
1 John 5:20 (MSG)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A little bit of handwork...

Probably like most couples, Mr. Quilting Bug and I enjoy watching some TV at night.  And with the invention of the DVR/Tivo, it's so much more enjoyable!  We've become so used to the convenience that it's hard to remember back when we had to sit through commercials or plan our evening around the start time of a show.  Our current favorites right now are Parks and Recreation, Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest and Once Upon a Time.  We're really enjoying each of these shows.  I'll also admit that we watch Survivor almost every season too.  How awesome is it that over the last 3 or 4 seasons God is mentioned more and more often!  I think the contestants prayed to Jesus in every episode this past season.

However, I'm one of those people who can't just sit and watch TV.  I have to be doing something else at the same time.  Usually, I work on my hand applique then.  I've been working on the next couple Ladies of the Sea blocks (#11 & #12).  (You can see the other blocks I've stitched so far here.)  So far, I've managed to finish the outer wreaths on both blocks and have started appliqueing the ships that go in the center...

We've ordered seasons 3 and 4 of the Big Bang Theory and they should come in tomorrow.  I've already seen them, but Mr. Quilting Bug hasn't.  I expect we'll do a marathon session of the series tomorrow night and I hope to make some good progress on the ships then.  I'd love to finish both of these blocks by the end of the year, but will have to spend a lot of time appliqueing for that to happen.  Each of these 16" blocks usually takes me about a month to complete.

I'm sure everyone out there is busy with last minute preparations for Christmas, but I hope you're also finding time to laugh and relax and enjoy those people around you!

Until later...

Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.” 
Proverbs 4:26 (HCSB)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Story of Sam

Once upon a time, there was a cat named Sam.  She was a sweet kitty with a good disposition and she was the apple of her mother's eye.  She loved to run, jump and play with the other kitties in the household.  She also loved to eat.  Over the years, she went from being slightly chubby to overweight and finally obese.  As she put on the weight, it became difficult for her to do the things she used to do.  She stopped jumping up on furniture and playing with her sisters.  Her mother had tried putting her on diets before without much success, but when it became hard for Sam to even walk, her mom decided something had to be done.

So Sam went on a strict diet.  Her mom was determined that Sam would lose the extra weight. Unfortunately, Sam didn't agree with this plan and fought every step of the way.  She went from being a happy kitty to a mean, grumpy and cantankerous one.  She kept her mom up all night begging for food and even biting her when she didn't get any.  Her mom fought for every single ounce of weight that Sam lost and it was a difficult and frustrating battle.  In desperation, Sam's mom finally resorted to putting her on medicine.  This made a tremendous difference in Sam's mood.  She became the sweet, lovable and adorable kitty she used to be.  Best of all, the weight started to melt off her.  Sam could now run and jump and play like she used to and all her sisters were happy to wrestle with her again.  And they all lived happily ever after (hopefully)...

It was an arduous and difficult journey, but you've finally reached your goal!  After 14 months of dieting, you've gone from a record high of 18.1 pounds to a svelte and healthy 13.7 pounds.  

Before and after pictures of Sam
We're praying you can keep the weight off for good!

Until later...
So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. 
Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Almost there...

I've been continuing to plug away on my Winter Wonderland blocks and now have several more to share.  The first is a 6" Cut the Corners block.

6" Block D - Cut the Corners
This was also the last block in this combination.  Unfortunately I ran out of the background fabric for it and had to substitute another, but it's really close to the original.  Here are the 5 blocks in this fabric grouping together...

Fabric Group #5
I also made 3 more blocks using the last fabric selection.  There's a 6", 9" and another 9" Cut the Corners blocks.

Cut the Corners Blocks #3, 18 and 23
Here's all 3 of them together...

Winter Wonderland Blocks
I'm hoping to finish the final 4 blocks in the next few days and start putting the top together.  As things look, I may actually have the top done this year!  Yippee!

While I was sewing today, Moses kept me company.  She found a nice cozy spot on top of a quilt and proceeded to give herself a very long and thorough bath...

Moses taking a bath
I know this can be a very busy and stressful time of the year, but I pray that all of you are finding time to rest and relax.  Personally I find myself much more at peace when I stop and think about why I celebrate Christmas.  But if you're struggling for any reason, be it financial, physical or emotional, please know I'd be glad to pray for you.  Just send me an email.

Until later...

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again - rejoice! 
Philippians 4:4 (NLT)

Monday, December 12, 2011

A couple more blocks...

I'm still working on my Winter Wonderland blocks and I have a couple more to share.  (It's pretty much the only sewing I'm doing right now.)  This first one is a 6" Maple Star block...

6" Block #16 - Maple Star
The second block is a 9" Martha Washington Star block.  I really like the look of this one.

9" Block #20 - Martha Washington Star
I only have another 8 blocks and some HST's to make before I'm ready to assemble this top.  I get excited when a project is so close to being completed!  At least the top is close.  The quilting of it will be a completely different matter.

Sam is still doing well.  I'm keeping her away from salt, although it's been difficult.  Whenever I eat potato chips (a guilty pleasure), she practically assaults me trying to get to them!  But mostly she's just laying around - as cats usually do...

Until later...

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it.” 
Romans 12:9a (MSG)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stash Report Week #49...

December 3 - 10, 2011

I've skipped the last couple of Stash Reports, but only because I had absolutely nothing to report.  I didn't buy any fabric or do much sewing.  However, this week saw a nice package from the Fat Quarter Shop come in.  I had a gift certificate from my quilt bee  (love you ladies!) and some Christmas money from my parents (love you too!) that I used to buy some fabric I'd been wanting.  And get this, it was all on sale!

First, I bought 12 yards of this Jovial fabric to use as the backing for 2 quilts.  I already had all the fabric I needed for the quilts except for the backing.  I sure hope I can actually get these made in time for next Christmas, because I obviously missed the boat on this one...

Jovial fabric to use for backings
I also picked up some fabric that I need for my Baltimore Halloween and Over the River and through the Woods quilts.  I only needed 1.5 yards for the Halloween quilt to use in the border.  I knew I'd used a Moda Marble in the rest of the quilt, but didn't know exactly which one.  So I guessed!  And fortunately, I was right (love when that happens).  I also bought 1.25 yards of Primitive Muslin Pie Crust to use for the background for the embroideries on the second quilt.  I love the slightly mottled look to this line.

Moda Marbles Sweet Off White and Primitive Muslin Pie Crust
That's all the fabric I bought, but I have to show this pattern I picked up.  I've been eyeing it for a while, but resisted buying it until I saw it on sale.  This is another Crabapple Hill Pattern.

New Crabapple Hill Pattern
I  know I'm not going to start on it for at least 6 months, but it's definitely one I want to make!

As for what I used, it's not much.  I've been working on my Winter Wonderland blocks, but won't count the fabric until the top is done.  Other than that, I made a few quilt blocks to donate which maybe used a quarter yard...

Donated Kansas Troubles Blocks
Purchased-this-week: 14.75 yards
Used-this-week: .25 yards
Purchased-to-date: 396.25 yards
Used-to-date: 513 yards
Net used: 116.75 yards

In case you didn't know, the Fat Quarter Shop is starting their 12 Days of Christmas sale on Monday.  I have some Christmas money that I've set aside especially for this sale.  There are several fabric lines I have my eye on (American Banner Rose, Panier de Fleurs, Rounneries Deux) and I'm hoping some of them go on sale!

A sleepy Gabriel
Until later....

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 
1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)

Friday, December 9, 2011

More Winter Wonderings...

I'm not spending a lot of time quilting lately, but I did carve out a few hours today to iron some freshly washed fabric (more on that in tomorrow's Stash Report) and to make a few more Winter Wonderland blocks.  This first block finishes at 6" and has 37 pieces.  The HST's are only an inch in size.

6" Block A - Double X
That was the 5th and last block using this fabric combination.  Here are all of them together...

Fabric Combination #4
I'm actually using a total of 6 fabric groupings to make the 34 blocks for this quilt.  (FYI - I know the pattern calls for far fewer blocks, but I've changed it up a bit.)  I need to make 5 blocks out of the 5th fabric combination.  I started with a 9" version of the Double X block.

9" Block #5 - Double X
I am so careful to make sure all my stripes go in the same direction and in this grouping, there are actually 2 prints that I have to watch out for.  Although they're both plaids, they're still directional.

I also made a 9" version of the Cut the Corners block.

9" Block #12 - Cut the Corners
I was able to cut out and sew all of the HST's together on the next block before I ran out of both time and steam.  I'm enjoying working on all of these blocks; however, working with so many homespun fabrics makes me hesitant to use them in another quilt.  They're beautiful, but they're also challenging to sew with because they really love to stretch.  I'm being careful and going slower than usual in an attempt to make them behave.  I know it's going to be worth it in the end though; I love how this quilt is turning out!

Here's a sweet picture of Moses in her favorite napping spot.  In case you can't tell, it's between the pillows on our bed.  With the throw pillow in front, it makes a nice protective hiding spot for her.  Sometimes, she even crawls under the covers there for some additional privacy!

Moses, napping in bed
Until later...

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! 
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) 

Monday, December 5, 2011

More sewing time...

Yippee!  I managed to spend some more time today quilting.  I'm actually having a bit of a rough recovery right now from my recent surgery and really benefited from the distraction that sewing provided.

Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs is collecting blocks to send to Jeaneane after she lost her home in a tornado earlier this year.  (You can read all about it here.)  I've been meaning to make a few blocks for her and the deadline is fast approaching.  Her favorite designer is apparently Kansas Troubles and I just happened to have a Charm Pack of it in my stash.  With it, I was able to make 3 different 8" blocks...

Sawtooth 4 Patch
Hovering Hawks
Your basic 16 Patch
Once I finished with the blocks for Jeaneane, I found I still had enough time to make another Winter Wonderland block.  This one finishes at 6" and is called Cut the Corners...

6" Block #24 - Cut the Corners
Although this block has 33 pieces in it, it went together rather quickly.  This brings my total number of blocks to 21.  I only have 13 more stars to make (and a gazillion HSTs) before I can start assembling this quilt. I'm hopeful that I'll get a chance to make a few more this week.

For those of you who are wondering, I'm actually recovering just fine from my surgery.  (I had a hysterectomy about 2 weeks ago.)  I've just had a minor setback.  Being such an active person, I'm finding the enforced downtime a little challenging.  However, as Christians we are called to patient endurance and I figure this is a necessary refining of my spirit.  Thanks again for all your prayers!

Until later...

"I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things. 
Revelation 2:19 (NLT)

Forward momentum...

I'm having some trouble sleeping tonight and thought this would be a good opportunity to write a post.  I've been having trouble finding the time (and interest) lately, but hopefully that's finally changing.

On Friday, I set aside some time to quilt and made a few more blocks for my Winter Wonderland quilt.  I finished half of the blocks for this quilt back in August, but haven't had a chance to work on it since then.  These first 2 blocks are your basic Pinwheels and finish at 6"...

6" Blocks #6 & 9 - Pinwheel
I planned the cutting of the background fabric to make sure the stripes all go in the same direction.  (For some reason, if they go any which way, it bugs me.)  The background fabric in these blocks is a homespun, which is a bit more challenging to sew with.  It likes to stretch and distort on me, but as long as I'm careful, I can usually make it behave.

I also made another 9" block called Martha Washington's Star.  It's basically another Pinwheel surrounded by Flying Geese.

9" Block #17 - Martha Washington Star
That brings the total number of blocks done to an even 20.  I have another 14 to make using several different fabric combinations.  I already have 2 of them cut out; I just need to find the time to sit down and sew them.  Hopefully soon though!

On a personal note, I was wondering (for those of you who have indoor pets), do you find them napping in your bed all the time?  Especially with the colder weather, mine seem to congregate there for most of the day.  Just curious if this is the norm or if mine are particularly spoiled?  They do love the sunshine that comes in these windows most of the day.

Jack, Sam, Moses and Gabriel napping in bed
Until later...

With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! 
Isaiah 12:3 (NLT)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thank you for your prayers...

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for our cat Sam.

Sam at the scratching post
We got her test results back today and things are looking better.  She's slightly dehydrated and a number of her levels are high - including extremely high salt levels (Sodium and Chloride).  We're to get her to drink more water (not quite sure how to do that) and to cut back on her salt intake.  I'll admit to occasionally giving her potato chip crumbs because she loves salt, so I'm going to stop doing that as of now.  We're also checking into the salt levels in her food and treats, although it's a little difficult to tell.

She also has elevated Triglycerides (fats), so we're to avoid fatty foods.  But considering her diet is made up of prescription diet food, some Crispies treats and the occasional potato chip or toast crumb, I'm not sure why her cholesterol is high?  Bottom line, any of these can cause a water imbalance in the brain and a seizure-like episode. This is a much better diagnosis than the alternative (which was a brain tumor).

And since the one seizure, she's been pretty normal.  I even managed to video her lounging around on the scratching post...

Again, thank you for your prayers.  She's only 11 and we're hoping to have her around for many more years to come.

Until later...

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. 
Psalm 147:3 (NLT)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Prayer Request...

For those of you who pray, would you please add my cat Sam to your prayer list?  She had a seizure the other day and is waiting on some test results.  I'm praying everything comes back fine and she never has another one, but would appreciate your prayers as well.

Until later...

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. 
Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A sewing day...

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to get together with a good friend for a day of sewing and fellowship.  To be honest, we did a lot more of the latter than the former.  I had a bunch of small tasks I was hoping to complete and my friend was trying to finish the smocking on a dress.  She makes a gown whenever someone she knows is expecting a baby.  I've never tried smocking, but she does beautiful work...

Smocking along the top and sleeves
I had hoped to piece the backing for this king-size quilt and to load another one on the frame.  I've never had so much trouble sewing a backing together before.  It's a pretty simple process - cut 3 pieces of fabric and sew them together along the long sides.  It must have taken me 2 hours to finish it, because for some reason, I was all klutzy about it.

Loading another quilt on the frame took just as long too.  First, I thought the backing fabric wasn't large enough, so I add a piece to it.  However, when I finally got it loaded, I discovered it was the right size to begin with - I just couldn't add correctly!  By the end of the day, I did manage to get it to the point where I can start quilting on it.  This one is intended to be a gift for my brother-in-law for Christmas...

Another quilt loaded on the frame
Other than a small amount of handwork at night, I haven't had a chance to do any other quilting for the last 2 weeks.  This is mainly because I had some minor surgery a week ago and the recovery has severely limited my ability to do anything other than rest.

I remember thinking before the surgery how much I would enjoy being able to rest and relax while I was recovering.  However, for someone who is always on the go, I'm finding the enforced downtime to be more difficult than I anticipated.  Hopefully this won't last too long and things can get back to normal!

Some members of the family are really enjoying the downtime and having me home all day...

Jack, Gabriel and Sam (in the background)
Until later...

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me. 
Psalm 13:5-6 (NLT)

Monday, November 21, 2011


I'm finally sitting down to write a post about the quilt I've been working on since October 8th.  Not only do I want to write about it so I can look back years later, but also because there are several tips that might be helpful for anyone else deciding to make this same quilt.  The pattern is 45 and Life to Go by Lisa Bongean and can be found at Primitive Gatherings.  I bought a kit from them that also uses fabrics designed by Lisa Bongean.  (She's multitalented!)

Pattern and kit from Primitive Gatherings
There were things that I really liked about this pattern, but also a couple I didn't.  Let's start with the positive.  There are 5 steps to this quilt and she explains each of them very clearly and includes plenty of piecing diagrams.

It's a bit different from most of the patterns I've used, because she has you cut the fabric and sew it at each step instead of doing all your cutting up front.  I found it refreshing to do it that way.  For example, Step 1 had you cutting strips out of all your fabrics to make a total of 45 - 25 patches.  To be honest, this was the first time I've made anything bigger than a 16-patch, but it was easy...

Stack of 25-patches
Step 2 had you make a bunch of Flying Geese units.  Although normally I would make mine over-size and then cut them down, I was a little nervous about running out of fabric (more about that later), so I used her directions.  It's a neat way to make them and still fairly accurate, but nothing is as precise as cutting them down (IMO).  Here's a quick little slide show of how to do it. (I believe this is called the No Waste Method of making Flying Geese.)

Place 2 squares on top of a larger square and sew 1/4" on either side of the center line.
Cut apart down the center line.
Press the triangles up.
Add another square to the opposite corner and sew 1/4" on either side of the center line.
Again, cut down the center line.
Press the triangle open and ta da, you have your Flying Goose!
I like that this method results in 4 Flying Geese.  Between Step 2 and 3 in the pattern, I needed to make 180 of them and they went together pretty quickly.  Then by pairing the Flying Geese with the 25-patches and a few squares, I ended up with the star blocks that make up half the quilt.  There are 40 of the dark ones and 5 of the light...

The final 2 steps were to make HST's and QST's.  After all those star blocks, these just flew together lickety split!  And finally, here are all the blocks for the quilt, just waiting to be arranged...

On a side note, all of my star blocks ended up 1/8" smaller than they were supposed to be, so I had to cut down all of my HST's and QST's too.  Fortunately, it didn't take long, but that's why my quilt is 109" square rather then the 110" in the pattern.  (It's also why I always like to make my Flying Geese larger and then cut them down.)

By now you're probably tired of reading and would like to see the finished quilt top, huh?  OK, here it is lying on my bed...

45 and Life to Go Quilt Top
I really do need to think of a new name for this.  Any suggestions?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this incredibly long post, there were a couple of problems with this pattern too.  I loved that she broke the cutting and sewing into steps, but the ordering was a little problematic (and I even tried to plan ahead).  Step 1 has you cutting a bunch of strips (which was no problem).  However, steps 2 & 3 have you cut a bunch of small squares, and steps 4 & 5 have you cut a bunch of large squares.  But with no cutting diagram, by the time you get to the last couple of steps, you might not have enough fabric to get all of your large squares.  In fact, I ran short one 10 & 7/8" square, but fortunately I had a FQ bundle of the same fabric I could steal it from.  If I hadn't been concerned about this happening and readjusted my cutting order, I might have been short even more!  I just don't know.

So for anyone reading this who plans to make this quilt, I suggest you switch up the steps.  Do Step 1 first, followed by Step 5, Step 4, Step 2 and finally Step 3.  You might have enough fabric if you follow this order.

Another note, I had plenty of the light color fabric left, it was just the black ones that were the issue.  You could also make sure you have another quarter yard of each dark fabric and you'll probably be just fine too.  She does say on her pattern that she assumes your fabric has 44" of useable width, but really, how often do you see that?  I even used her fabrics and didn't have that available.

So ultimately, would I make this quilt again?  Absolutely!  I love the pattern and it went together beautifully.  And if I do make it again, I'll just make sure I change my cutting/sewing order and have a little bit of extra fabric on hand.  Also, I'll probably make my Flying Geese larger and cut them down.

And if you made it to the end of this incredibly long post, thank you for sticking around.  I'm very, very impressed with your stick-to-it-iveness!  Your reward is a picture of my cat Jack on top of a pile of fabric...

Until later...

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 
Philippians 4-6 (NLT)