Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Review

I've quite enjoyed other blogger's overview of their year.  I decided to do my own and was pleased to see that I accomplished quite a lot.  I find it so easy to be so overwhelmed by the "to do" list that I don't appreciate the "done" list.  My thanks to all of you who inspired me, challenged me, left kind messages, encouraged me to try new things, and made me feel accountable so that I actually got things done.
I had 4 HUGE finishes that included a lot of hand-work.  The Big Ass Cat was hand appliqued and hand quilted with machine quilted leaves and branches.  The Joseph's Coat was hand appliqued and hand quilted. The Shop Hop quilt included hand applique as well as machine piecing and machine quilting.  The Lime & Blue Crazy was machine pieced but all the embroidery is by hand.
Also on the finished list was the "Blue Lemonade" machine pieced & quilted pinwheel.  My very first improv pieced quilt is known as either Broken Glass or Melting Ice, depending upon my mood and the lighting.  Nadine was hand pieced (yea, crazy right?) then each block quilted using a variety of techniques including hand quilting, big stitch quilting, walking foot & free motion quilting (FMQ).  The purple star baby quilt was the first full size (not block at a time) that I completed using FMQ on my home machine.
There are several tops still awaiting quilting that are noteworthy even though they aren't finished.  The Mayan Heron is reverse appliqued using a "top basting" technique and needle turn applique.  The Ojibwe Beadwork  Inspiration quilt is one of my oldest UFO's.  I'm practicing my FMQ so I have the confidence to do this one myself with highly contrasting red, yellow & green thread.  The QR code is for this blog's address and I'd like to finish in time for this summer's quilt show season.  The Double Wedding Ring is in the process of being quilted.  I keep changing my mind on how I'm quilting  (geometric or swirly) the Groom's quilt that goes with it, but it will be machine quilted.
I made the Oingo Boingo Bowling Shirt from fabric I won from a quilt blog.  I felt so badly that I was not progressing with the hexi quilt for Rita that I made her a matching pillow from the scraps and sent it as a down payment on the quilt.  I made a diaper bag with extra zipper pouches to go with the purple star baby quilt.
I supported other quilters by buying hand dyed fabrics, commissioning a series of  drawings on fabric,  and a custom design purse.

I learned to free motion quilt on my machine.

I supported 31 fabric shops in Idaho, Oregon & Utah.  Yes - fabric is a line item in the budget.

I took a batik class.

I attended Quilt Market.

2011 has been a very good quilt year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Creating New WIPs

I had 5 days off in which I thought I would get a lot of quilting done.  Silly things like grocery shopping, cooking, and Christmas kept slowing my progress.  Not to mention that darn jigsaw puzzle that we started Christmas afternoon (as we always do) but turned out to be twice as hard as we expected.

I did finish piecing "$2.25 + Tax".  It was made from 2 thrift-store men's shirts that cost $1, a slightly worn, tan, King -sized fitted sheet that cost $1.25 plus some cream and a strange blue-on-cream that I bought for some other project but never used b/c it looks green rather than blue or tan.

My original plan was to make a whole quilt of half-square triangles (HST).  I complained about the new technique that I tried in February because it left all the edges on the bias.  I finished 2 strips the length of the quilt then stuffed it in a box where it remained ignored until last Friday.  Since I had already cut out all the blocks from the shirts to make the HST, I decided to put them together as 9-patch blocks just to hurry and get this quit done.  With the center panel and outer 2 panels done, I still had some room to fill, but only random bits and pieces of the shirts.  I stripped them all together thinking that they'd come across as a relatively solid blue stripe.  But I had a few more HST blocks put together and decided to use them as anchors for the blue stripes.  The HST blocks needed some stabilizing b/c of that bias edge which I accomplished with the rest of the cream sheet and some scraps from the cream fabric bin.

This quilt is for my brother Dan, who will greatly appreciate the thrift store bargain, and needs a good utilitarian quilt.  I found some poly batting in a bin in the garage, which I was able to piece together a chunk big enough for this quilt which will be about 72 inches square.

I probably could have gotten it quilted, but I got distracted trying to use up the remaining scraps by making a pillow case so I could practice my free motion quilting.  After it's quilted, it will be folded in half so the right and left sides in this photo will be the front and back.  I saved the collars from the shirts to use as the finished edge of the case opening.

I might have gotten the quilting done, but I started working on a couple reversible aprons for my daughter the cosmetologist.

Sew Liberated Patterns Emmeline Apron SEW-N103

I also made 2 coordinating capes.  I've ordered some Nikwax for Cotton fabric which I hope will make these impressively water resistant.

I still have yards and yards of bias binding to make plus a couple hours of sewing to finish this project.

I try to stitch a little each day on the double wedding ring.  I'm back to counting "melons" to monitor my progress.  I'm at 29 of the 97 melons.  I should be finished in time for the August wedding.

Fortunately, thing there are 72 episodes of Cake Boss (my newest viewing addiction) available to watch on Netflix while I quilt.

 I was greeted this morning by an email from Stitch and Snip in Crouch announcing their $5/yard clearance sale starting today.  OK, so I spent more than I saved on gas and dinner, but I did get to spend the afternoon on a pleasant drive with Harley Dude. And I found one of the oddly colored lime batiks there I've been using in the hexi quilt.  I bought several yards to be sure I have enough for a good sized border to make up for my smaller-than-anticipated center.  

Hopefully I can finish up the sewing project and get the quilting started on $2.25 this weekend.  Fingers Crossed!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hexi Return

I'm all done with my hexi rant from the weekend, and am back to making progress.  I connected 2 rows of pink and 2 of green to the left of this section (total of 20 hexies) as well as combining them with their 37 neighbors and the strip of 13 that included the blue.

That connects with the section I finished last year like this.

This may also give perspective of why a quick whip stitch is more important to me that invisible stitches.

The inspiration quilt is an antique from the Michigan Quilt Index.  Unfortunately, I discovered much too late, that the original must have had bigger hexis as this is turning out to be much smaller than was my original plan.   Such is life.

That's it for my Wed WIP update.

But I have a couple days off...Perhaps I'll make progress.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prep your Puns

I spent my morning giggling over the "Hey Girl..." posts on Quilt Dad.  They are short statements intended to make women swoon.    My faves from his site are:

Hey girl. I think I'll call you Ric-Rac. 'Cuz you're cute & I like your curves.

Hey girl, I just love our bedroom this time of year. It's when we can switch from our mermaid quilt to our unicorn quilt.

Hey girl, I'm so glad you signed up for another round of that pillow swap. I think 14 is the perfect number of pillows to have on our bed.

Hey girl, I know they look alike, but you totally posted a picture of that quilt before she did. She's obviously a poser. And fat.

If you haven't already, head over and read John's post, but please go to the bathroom first and avoid drinking beverages b/c I don't want to be responsible for water damage from spit-takes and,  well...laughing.

So, meanwhile, I've been planning a big January give-away for a while.  I was sending out emails, begging some of my friends with quilting businesses to participate.  I had arbitrarily picked my husband's birthday for the give away date, because I won't forget it.  It's January 25th.  This year is one of "those" years.  The big landmark type that ends in a "0".   When suddenly it occurred to me that the perfect melding of my hobby and his birthday, was to make the give-away a PUN CONTEST.  Harley Dude loves puns.  He's known to use them much like mere mortals use Tazers to render the people around him incapable of moving (due to uncontrolable laughter and fear of peeing themselves).

So prep your puns for January and let me know if you would like to donate some prizes in exchange for being able to dictate some of the rules of the pun challenge.

According to Webster: 
Pun:  the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound. 

Examples from Pun of the Day 
I work in a sweater factory. It's a very clothes-knit community.
I used to like Russian dolls until I realised they were full of themselves!
The man's igneous puns were eventually written in stone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quilting & Paper Piecing

I am making excellent progress hand-quilting the Double Wedding Ring.  I've been outlining the rings and am starting with a simple echo in the connecting squares.

I'm using a bamboo/cotton batting.  I've used it once before for a machine quilted project, but this is my first hand quilting.  Love it.  I've heard complaints about bearding, but with a #11 needle and coated hand-quilting thread I've had no problems.

We'll just pretend that my stitches on the back are as even as the ones on the front.

Unfortunately, I can't manage a thimble (or any other tool) on the bottom side and still get my stitches tiny, so my left pointer and middle fingers are full of holes.

Subsequently, I needed a different type of project while those fingers are on "injured reserve" so I pulled out the UFO bin with Rita's Hexi quilt.

It was last summer's hand-work project that got de-railed when I read some hexi-snob's post making nasty comments about being able to see the connecting thread on these kinds of quilts.  (As accurately illustrated on the left.)  Fortunately, I don't remember where I read it, but it moved this project from something I found quick and fun, to some weird ideal I should aspire to.

I had been doing a traditional whip stitch.

But the expert told me I should do it like this.  I tried that for a day and became so discouraged that I threw everything into the box.

Until today.

Today, I am back to the whip stitch, but using a very thin needle, silk thread, little stitches and being oh-so-careful to catch only a couple threads.

:-p  (*pfffstthhh*)

Take that snobby expert!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The random number generator has spoken.  The winners are:
#156 - Kristen will be getting the bluey-pinks.
#84  Marilyn is looking forward to the pastels.
#177 Java Diva is so excited about the purples that she's already sent her mailing address!
#16 Janet needs to be thinking of what to do with those blues.
#45 Nann, what will YOU do with those greens?
#31 Cherry Red will be giving the orangy-pink a new home.

In case any of these winners don't reply to the email I sent, I did generate several more numbers to take their places.

A huge thanks to those of you who became followers because of the blog hop!  I'm still settling into my new job, which is really cutting into my quilting time so I'm feeling lucky to blog once a week.   But I do have some time off for the holidays, so maybe I'll make more progress on projects.  And I need to do some spring cleaning, which means some give-aways of patterns and fabrics I bought or was given and will never have the time to finish in this lifetime.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hand quilting again

For the past month, I've been planning to take this quilt with me to work and stay late one night to baste it using a conference room table instead of my living room floor.

It didn't happen.

I spent my Sunday crawling around on the floor basting the double wedding ring.

I decided on traditional thread basting rather than pins or spray baste since I'm doing this on a hoop as a lap quilt.

My big challenge is to keep from over-quilting.  I'm starting with outlining the rings while I decide what modern looking quilting I'll do in the centers.  Any ideas?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Hop Party

It really is better to give than receive, so I jumped at a chance to join the Blog Hop Party Give Away!  If you haven't heard, there are 240 bloggers signed up so you can see what others are doing and maybe win something as well.
If you're here for the first time because of the hop, I hope you'll take the time to check out my older posts on my applique projects...

as well as some of the crazy piecing things I've been doing lately.

I'm also learning how to free motion quilt on my home machine.

If any of those things interest you, I hope you'll stick around and become a follower.

If you're just here with the hopes to win something that's OK too.  I put together some 5" charms from my (embarrassingly large) stash of batiks.

Can I interest you in some green?



No one who really knows me will be able to believe that I bought pastels.

And there's the orangy-pinks...

and the bluey-pinks.

I'll be sending out these sets of charms to 6 different people.   For a chance to win, just leave a comment and include which of these would be your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice.  No-reply bloggers who don't leave an email with the comment will not qualify to win.

On Dec 17th  I'll use a random number generator to pick the winners.
The winners have been chosen!  See the Dec 17th Post. 

Meanwhile, back at Mid-Century-Suburban Ranch [house], we've pulled out the Christmas decorations.  I'm sure none of you will be surprised to learn that I have a delightfully tacky fuchsia metalic tree as well as a green one with lots of hot pink and lime green decorations.  Anna made the tree skirt on the right.  I had given Mitzi a bunch of stack & whack hexies to finish into donation quilts.  Turns out so did someone else.  She thought these were the ones I gave her and she made a little table topper.  I like them better than the ones I gave her, so I gracefully accepted and use it as the tree skirt on the left.  The rectangle was a round robin that I did when I was in a quilt guild in Idaho Falls.  Everyone else's center grew to a bed size quilt.  Mine came back a mere 6" larger than it started.  It sat in the UFO bin until I bought the tree, then decided it  coordinated.  I think of it as one of those really useless sizes for a project, much the same way I think of Mug Rugs.  Because of that, when we saw the cat claiming it as hers it earned the title "The Butt Rug".

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Applique

What a relaxing day.  Watched TV and appliqued 23 flower petals.  I've started basting some of the leaves.  Out of the picture is the first of 12 hearts on this left panel.  If I can stitch a little each evening this week, perhaps I'll be ready to put the panels together and figure out the vines that will pull it all together.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


A comment that Julie left, helped me to appreciate the process of a big project rather than just the finale.  Can I just point out how much I love the lower, right 2 leaves?

I did actually finish the lower panel of these flowers and started a 3 flower panel that will grow from the motif on the left, upwards.

I am still madly in love with the crazy orange flowers I bought last night at the grocery store.  This morning I snipped some cotoneaster seeds from the back yard and actually arranged these flowers.  It could use some fill still, but the orange just makes me smile.  I forgot how much I love the color orange.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Simply Irresistible Flowers

When I was a starving college student, I always promised myself that when I had a real job, I'd buy myself flowers on a regular basis.  23 years later, I finally did it.  The screaming orange gerbera daisies and mini roses at the grocery store were, as Robert Palmer stated,  Simply Irresistible.  I bought some hot pink mini roses too...which is really funny because I remembered the black dresses but didn't realize until I re-watched the video that there were dresses were hot pink, orange and purple. (Hey, isn't that Katherine Zeta Jones?)

OH NO!!! YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS????  I may have to make a Simply Irresistible quilt that will only make sense to people who have watched the video.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November Overview

Fresh Sewing Day
The problem with big projects is that finishes are few and far between.

I continue to work on Esther's Hearts Desire applique.

 As beautiful as her original design is, I'm afraid I lost momentum after month 2 of the mystery quilt.  And what drew me in originally was the sneak peak of this flower.

So I took the original bits and rearranged stuff, using all her design elements but in different ways.  The plan is more vines up the left side, more hearts on the top and right, and a sawtooth border outside.

I made an AMAZING turkey for a small Thanksgiving gathering.

Then spent the rest of the week making the QR code quilt. The code takes you to this blog.  I thought I was being so clever, particularly since I don't have a smart phone and have never used the app that works with it.

After I finished, I found out that a bunch of other people have made these.  Poppyprint has a fantastic tutorial if you want to make one for yourself.

What I learned from my version is a) it works with colors and batik prints as well as solids b) the scan seems to be pretty forgiving of less than perfect points and wrinkles where it's hung.  That gives me hope that whatever I do to quilt it won't keep it from working.

My goals for December?  Keep working on the HD applique.  Get the Double Wedding ring basted and start the hand quilting.  Keep practicing my free motion quilting on the pink & green baby quilt.