Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas...

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Peaceful Days...

Now that the preparations are done and the presents are wrapped (finally), there's nothing left to do but enjoy the next few days.  My husband and I found a funny little spy-comedy series on Hulu called The Wrong Mans that we've been watching while I work on appliqueing my Ladies of the Sea blocks.  (It doesn't look like much yet, but I've actually made a good bit of progress on it.)

I've also started quilting the Christmas table runner.  Not much chance of finishing this in time for Christmas, but hopefully soon after.  I haven't had much experience working with metallic thread and after reading about it online, thought I would have a lot more trouble with it.  It's broken a couple of times, but that's all.  I'm using a 90/14 topstitch needle and have the thread sitting vertically and it seems to be happy.  It's hard to capture in a photo, but it has quite a lot of sparkle to it.

And what would a quilting post be without it's corresponding helper?  Sam assisted me with my stencil work on this quilt.  (Which reminds me, I need to buy a refill for my lint roller...)

Today I'm hoping to find a little more sewing time before heading to a small get together at my mother-in-law's home, where she's making a 21 lb turkey for 4 people.  I can promise you that no one ever leaves her house hungry!

but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
Luke 2:10-11, NLT

Saturday, December 21, 2013

This and That...

More of my time is being taken up with Christmas preparations than sewing, but I've still been puttering along on a few things.  Recently, I showed my quilt bee how to make these Sweet Treat Bags and I just put the finishing touches on my second one.  They're just so easy to make!

I've also been working on turning this stack of fabric...

into this freshly ironed pile ready to be used in future projects.  I love seeing them stacked up like that.  (True confession - I don't iron any of our clothes, but I love to iron fabric!)

The 505 basting spray finally came in and I've basted my Celebrations quilt.  I also set up both my sewing machines so I can quilt this quilt and the matching  Festivities table runner.  I'm going to be using YLI 100# silk thread on the first and metallic thread on the second.  It took a bit to get them set up with the right needles, tension, etc. and to do some samples, but now they're ready to go!

Babylock set up for free motion quilting with silk thread
Husqvarna set up for free motion quilting with metallic thread
I have both of them set up at the same time so I can switch back and forth between the 2 quilts (when I'm tired of working on one).  Initially, I tried to use the metallic thread on my Babylock, but just couldn't get it to work.  However, my other machine is having no issues with it (yet).

I can't imagine why I have any trouble getting sewing done with helpers like these...

As bright and cheerful as this time of year is for most, I know that's not true for everyone.  For some it's hard.  You're not full of Christmas Spirit, singing carols or decorating trees.  For those of you, I pray you find some moments of joy or at least a measure of peace during this season.

Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. 
Psalm 25:5 (NLT)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Side Project...

While I've been waiting for the arrival of some basting spray to start quilting this, I've been working on a few small side projects.  One of them is to make a bunch of HST's for the future monthly swaps in my quilt bee.  I swap 2 groups of 32 each month and after digging through my stash I pulled out enough for the next 4 months.

I marked all of them with the black Pilot Frixion pen whose marks disappear when ironed.  (I use these pens so often, I should buy stock in their company.  Disclaimer - Always test on your fabric first!)

This is pretty simple sewing, but I'll admit it still took me a couple of days to finish (or almost a full season of The Amazing Race on Hulu Plus.)  I received a Roku player for my sewing room last Christmas and I love it, but I do believe it's made me a slower quilter (split attention and all that.)  In any case, I now have 256 HST's ready to swap...

And my basting spray has also finally arrived so I can get started on my quilting.  (I also have another season of the Amazing Race ready and waiting.)  And I've almost finished my Christmas shopping (yeah!).  The wrapping is a whole another issue though.

"Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed." 
Ephesians 4:29a (TEV)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shopping Spree...

This is the season where retailers are bombarding you with sales and special deals trying to entice you to buy, buy, buy!  So far, I've been very good at resisting.  So good in fact, that I'm behind on my Christmas shopping.  But the other day, I finally found a sale that even I couldn't pass up.  Funny thing is, it wasn't even supposed to be on sale.

I'm fortunate to live within an hour of around 10 quilt stores.  I got an email from one of them advertising a clearance table for an additional 75% off.  I knew they carried a number of bolts of Indigo Crossing by Minnick & Simpson that I've been collecting for my Farmer's Wife quilt (which I have yet to actually start by the way).  They had already marked these bolts down once, so I called to see if they had placed any of them on the clearance table.  She told me they hadn't, but if I was willing to drive out there, I could have them for 75% off too.  Even though it was a very cold and rainy day, it was enough to push me out the door (and entice a friend to accompany me), because believe it or not, that made the fabric $1.50/yard.  I ended up buying 37.5 yards and between the two of us, we bought everything she had.

I'm not going to keep it all for myself though.  My mom would like some (blue is her favorite color), so we'll split it up between us.  I'm planning to make a king size version of the Farmer's Wife quilt and I had already collected all of the fabric below.  I'm bound to have enough by now!  (Although to be honest, there is one print I don't have that I would still like to get a yard of...)

My previous collection of Indigo Crossing
I've already washed all of the new fabric and it's just waiting for me to bring it upstairs and iron it.  I wonder how long it will take me to iron almost 40 yards of fabric?  Not that it matters.  I kind of enjoy it.

I'm still being tempted by all the other fabric sales going on around town and on the internet, but hopefully this spree will help me to resist them.  I really do need to buckle down and finish my Christmas shopping though.  Is anyone else still struggling with theirs?

Here's another 'Where's my breakfast?' photo of Sam.  She has the grumpy look down pat.  I actually caught her breaking into one of the cat food bags last night.  I've been convinced my husband wasn't closing it correctly, but now we know she's figured out how to knock the bag over, climb on it and use the air pressure in it to pop open the ziploc seal.  Then she eats as much as she wants.  She's a kitty Einstein!

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Progress Report...

I hope all of you enjoyed the recent holiday and were able to spend it with loved ones.  And for those of you not in locales celebrating Thanksgiving, I still hope you're surrounded by family and friends.  We had a nice get together with family here.  Thanksgiving is my holiday and I'm responsible for the big meal.  This year I brined the turkey for the first time and it turned out great.  I'll definitely do that again.

In between preparations, visiting with family and Black Friday shopping (yes, I go every year), I've been slowly working on my Dresden Plate wall hanging.  I'm using a machine blanket stitch to attach them to my background.  It's been rather slow going, only because I'm trying to end up at each point and valley on my stitching.  It takes a lot of adjustment and even then some of them are still a little off.

Closeup of the blanket stitching
I think it would be a little easier to do if the Dresden Plates were rounded rather than pointy.  In any case, little by little I managed to get this quilt top put together.

Usually I enjoy piecing the tops more than quilting them, but this one might be an exception.  All of that blank space just calls out for some custom quilting and I spent some time doodling ideas (and had a lot of fun doing it!)

I even bought a compass set so I can make big enough circles.  I've already pieced the back and would love to get this basted and start quilting it soon.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Early in the morning, my cats usually join me in my sewing room and keep me company.  For the most part, they behave themselves and simply nap.  That is until it approaches breakfast time.  Then they turn into persistent little pests begging for food.  David follows me around and jumps on whatever it is I'm working on...

And Sam keeps ramming her head into my leg.  (She has arthritis and has trouble jumping on the furniture.)

The others just follow me around and cry.  When I head downstairs to feed them, they all race to their spots.  Each of them eats a different kind of food and in a different room and they all know they're places.  It's really quite a funny sight!

"Don't hang out with angry people; don't keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious—don't get infected." 
Proverbs 22:24-25 (MSG)

Friday, November 22, 2013

New Plan...

Earlier I mentioned I was planning to work on a long time UFO.  But the more I looked at, the more I realized I just wasn't happy with it.  The quilt only has 4 fabrics - 2 blues, a brown and a cream.  Unfortunately, the blues I used just don't have enough contrast between them.

Only the border blocks and the sashing have these two fabrics next to each other, but I don't want to go to all the work of making the quilt and not like it.  So that means I have a lot of ripping out to do.  I have to unsew 160 2-patches, 80 HSTs, 4 blocks and all of the sashing strips.  I'm planning to work on it little by little at night while watching TV.

In the meantime, I've pulled out a couple of other UFO's, just in time for the Christmas season.  Back in 2011, I started a Dresden Plate table runner and a wallhanging using a Layer Cake of Nature's Gift by Deb Strain.  I had already finished piecing the table runner and started quilting it before putting it away.  I'm planning to do most of the quilting using metallic thread (which I don't have much experience with!)

Although I made all of the blades for the wallhanging, I hadn't started to put them together before both projects got put away.  (I really can't remember why I didn't finish them then.)  Since I've pulled it back out, I've made all of the Dresden Plates and I'm working on the centers.

FYI - I'm making this quilt.  It was a free pattern that came inside Moda Candy Bar boxes back in 2010 or so.

I was obviously confident of finishing way back then because I even made labels for the quilts that included the date.  Ha! Ha!  I'm just a little late, aren't I?

Hopefully I can finish them in time for Christmas 2013!

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)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bad Kitties!!!

Recently the machine on my frame, a Janome 1600 DBX, started acting up and had to take a trip to the repair shop.  Unfortunately, it was during the quilting of this quilt...

In the meantime, the temptation proved too great for these two troublemakers...

David and Sam
and they tore a hole in the batting during a wrestling match.

I'm not sure yet what I'll do when I get to this point in the quilting.  Any suggestions?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 
James 1:22 (NIV)

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Lately, I've really been enjoying the quiet mornings in my sewing room before the household starts to stir.  I sew, sit and think and watch the day as it gradually makes it's appearance.  And slowly I'm making progress on some of the items on my to-do list.  One of those items is the quilt X-Rated by Carrie Nelson in the book Schnibbles Times Two.  I've been wanting to make a patriotic version of this quilt for at least a year.

I had 5 charm packs of Independence Trail by Minick & Simpson that I thought would be perfect for this quilt.  I altered the pattern to use Charm Packs instead of a Layer Cake.  I didn't cut my charm squares down but used the full 5", so although my quilt has fewer rows, it still ended up larger than the pattern at 85" square.  I intended for this to be a lap quilt, it's just going to be a very large lap quilt now.

I didn't have enough yardage of any one fabric for the backing so I put on my thinking cap to figure out how to piece one together.  (I always make the backing as soon as I finish the top even if I don't plan to quilt it right away.)   It's also so wide that 2 widths of fabric aren't quite enough, so I needed to add a row in the middle.

I've already pulled out the next project I'm planning to work on.  It's a UFO from when I first started quilting.  Looking at it, it's obvious that I hadn't yet mastered the 1/4" seam allowance.  My seams are all a very generous 1/4".  It's going to make this one a bit of a challenge to finish, but I still like the fabrics and pattern, so I'm going to give it a try.

David has his way of trying to gain my attention while I'm sewing.  I'm grateful these machines are so sturdy!

David on top of my sewing machine
But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength. 
2 Timothy 4:17a (NLT)