Monday, June 30, 2008

Girl Scout Quilts Guinea Pig Session

I invited over part of the Girl Scouts tonight to practice making quilts. I had a procedure ready to go, but needed to figure out how it would work with 8 and 9 year old girls. We worked from 4 to 8 with a dinner break and almost finished three out of the four quilts. I've got some ideas about how to make it work better for next time, but I think they enjoyed the process and came out with a quilt at the end of the evening. I just need to attach the binding and make-up a label. Then it will be 4 down and 26 to go!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Done Done

When is done really done? Some people don't give themselves credit for a quilt until the binding is sewn down on both sides and the label is on. I figure the whole quilt is there and in one piece as soon as the binding is put on. So according to my own criteria, I'm calling OC done. All that remains is the hand work on the binding. FINALLY. I feel like the end of this quilt just went on and on. It is so good to be able to cross it off the list. I think it will look great in Sydney's room. The colors really fit her to a "T".
I spent the morning working my way through the scrap bin. It was overflowing with extras from recent finishes and bits too small to go in the Girl Scout quilts. I've got about half of the mess tamed into strips and squares ready to go into whatever comes next.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

So Close

It's amazing what actually having a few uninterrupted minutes in front of the machine will do for getting things done. I've been puttering around on my OC quilt all week, a few stitches here, out of thread, a few more stitches, someone needs a drink of water, and so if goes. Kurt got back in town today, and brought Anna with him. She needed lots of long hugs after her week with Nana and Pops, but once she had those, she was off to do her own thing. I spent a few minutes discussing the week with Kurt, but as soon as all was calm, I escaped to my sewing room.
I had the entire middle section done, and had just started on the border when Sydney decided that she needed me. She's made a list of the things that she needs to do with Mom. She's checking each one off as we do it together. So far we've had a pretend sleepover, taken a shower and had me and mom makeup time. She's trying to sucker me into a trip to the mall and Panera Bread for dinner. We'll have to see about that. I should be able to finish the OC border tonight after bed time and maybe even get the binding put on if all is calm. Yesterday I was able to get some hand sewing in and finished up some bindings and labels. It is good to have things all the way done.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pulled Away from my Roll

I was on a roll, but I've had to shift gears this week to do work for my teacher class. For the past two days I've been working on a lesson plan. It's for my new Forensic Science class next year and it is on fingerprints. I figured as long as I had to do it for the class, I might as well take it to the next level and make sure I had the things I would need to actually teach the topic next year. So I now have projects, activities, labs, rubrics and even a pre-test. It's been fun, but I miss my quilting. I was in such a good flow that I hated to shift gears. I was able to get some more orange thread today, so maybe tomorrow I'll have a few minutes to stitch a few rows. I got some remnants of solid fabrics while I was there, I've been seeing lots of Amish-type quilts lately and thought I might experiment with some small pieces I could use to practice machine quilting. I got the Fast & Free DVD in the mail today, and I might take a little peek at it before I turn into a pumpkin.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Out of Thread

I was ready to fall asleep on the couch at 8 o'clock, so I decided I needed to get up and do something. I could have cleaned or organized or put away laundry. Those would have been smart things to do after being in class all day. The OC quilt was calling my name, and I just had to get a few more rows of quilting put in. Just one or two more bobbins at most. Boy, 250 yards of thread doesn't go very far. Does dayglow orange thread come on a bigger spool? I'll have to make another trip to the fabric store tomorrow. I hate having to make a trip out for just one thing, but they are having a sale right now.....and it's not as if I can switch thread in the middle of a quilt, right?
So, unable to do machine quilting, I got out some handquilting. I got just this much done on the Elm Creek Quilt. Hand quilting has such a nice dimpled look to it, so subtle compared to machine quilting. I think I'll finish up this block and call it a night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Something a Little Different

I wanted to try a new quilting design, and found this site, with lots of new patterns. I thought it was the same as the pajama quilter site, but it's called Fast and Free. I like the way they organize the patterns into families. It seems like a nice way to think about how the design is supposed to work. So I picked one listed as easy and filled up a stack of scratch paper with some practice. The repeat itself is pretty easy, then I had to figure out how to transition from row to row. I had a little trouble reversing the pattern to come back the other way, but I think I've got it down now. I'll have to see how it looks on the whole quilt, but it is really fun to try something new.

On a Roll Now

I'm just starting to get into my summer groove. I finished the Dresden plates quilt today -- even the binding! I went ahead and washed it, because I used washable marker to sketch in the border. I don't know why I've spent so much time and money trying out fancy quilting markers when Crayola comes in an eight pack for only $2! Here is Sydney with her new quilt -- I've already got it on her bed and it fits great.
Anna took off on an airplane today to go and visit her grandparents in North Carolina. I tried not to be nervous about sending her on an airplane all alone. Kurt took her to the airport and checked her in, by the time he was home again, she had already landed on the other end. Ryan is in Chess camp all week and I'm taking a teacher certification class on giftedness. That leaves Sydney in preschool again. The camp is only a half day, so I've lined up a babysitter for the afternoon. Sydney wants to come home to play with the sitter, but I don't know if I'll have time to pick her up during our lunch break. I guess I'll have to play it by ear and see how everything works out tomorrow.
I'm itching to jump in to quilting the OC, but I don't know if I should start, knowing I'll be busy all week. I saw a quilting pattern on the pajama quilter web site that has straight lines and little triangles. I don't know if I should try that out our wait for the DVD I've ordered to come in. Something to think about I guess.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Marching On

I spent bits of the day sporadically stitching down the binding on the "echino thingy" quilt. I was ALMOST done when naptime hit. I decided I'd rather save the binding for sitting next to the pool and watching the kids swim, so I sat down to get started on the quilting for Dresden Plates. I had orriginally planned to outline each wedge and then fill in the background with a grid or a stipple. I got halfway around one plate and decided stitch in the ditch is way too tedious. Instead I decided for overall unmarked free motion. I was going for a double loop kind of thing that is supposed to look sort of like an olive. I don't know how much it looks like an olive, but it was kind of fun to do. I've ordered the pajama quilter DVD that I keep reading about, so maybe that will lead to some new ideas in free motion quilting. I'd better get back at it,or nap time will be over and the kids will need me for something. Kurt has gone in to work again, so it's just women and children again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cross That One Off the List

Peg at Happy in Quilting has issued a challenge to finish 5 projects before the end of July. I've got one done today. With my recent basting frenzy, I should be on track to finish that many by the deadline. After today's finish, I still have three quilts basted and waiting patiently for quilting.
I quilted the starfish quilt today! Small quilts get finished so much faster than big ones. Do you think I could convince the kids to sleep in really tiny beds? I used a free form wave shape that is supposed to suggest water. Then in the sea urchin squares, I outlined each of the little shapes. I tried quilting some words in the two extra borders, it was harder than I thought. Detail work like that is when a stitch regulator would come in handy. I'm in envy of Amy's new machine which is one step up from mine, and came with the works. Still, how often do I need to write out holuthuroidea in quilting stitches? (I know I'm a total nerd -- no need to comment on that :). The only part I couldn't figure out was how to dot the i's and cross the t's (literally). So I picked up some little glass beads that should do the trick. I usually avoid anything dimensional in quilting and scrap booking, but this is definitely a wall quilt, so I'll go out on a limb.
I had plenty of time this evening that I could have sewed down the binding and finished the handwork, but I was going a little stir crazy and escaped from the house for a while. The kids do fairly well for a while with nothing structured going on, but by the end of the week we were all a little grumpy. We had already done most of our regular summer outings earlier in the week, so today was a home day. There aren't many weeks when we don't have SOMETHING scheduled, this just happened to be one of them. So I took a field trip to Joan's fabric and checked out their new line of Legacy quilt fabric. I didn't buy much, because I'm trying to finish projects right now, not start new ones. I did get a yard of fabric called "running eighths" It has 8 different coordinated patterns all printed on the same piece of fabric. It seems like a nice way to get a variety of prints without having to buy a ton of fabric. I also used my coupon to get a ruler holder which then motivated me to spend some time tidying up. I have everything ironed and put away now, except the current works in progress. I'm in a class next week, Anna is flying to visit her grandmother, Ryan is in Chess camp and Sydney will be in school all day. I'm guessing I won't have as much time for quilting, so getting things picked up a little bit seemed like a good idea.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Basting Bash

I've been basting myself bloody this evening. I still have the OC left to go, but I ran out of safety pins and decided to call it a night. It's so frustrating, because I remember buying three extra packages the last time I was grocery shopping. I don't think I could have used that many, but I turned the laundry room upside down and couldn't find any more pins. I was planning on getting some serious quilting done tomorrow while my husband hung out with the kids, but now it looks like he's not going to take his day off. He is usually off every other Friday, but they have a deadline coming up, and have all been working a lot of late nights this week. I hope he is able to at least take Saturday off. I'm enjoying spending time at home with the kids, but It's nice to have some adult company as well.
We worked on cleaning the toy room today and then filled up the rest of the day with play dates. Anna had two friends over this morning, and then Ryan had someone over this afternoon. It's great that there are so many kids in the neighborhood. It's so nice to have people knocking on the door to see if someone can play.

Dad's Plaids

After putting together all of the partially sewn bits and pieces in the Dad's Plaids tub, I have about 36 blocks done. They are 8 inches finished, so if I want this to be big enough to fit on our bed, I'm about 1/4 done. I'm thinking that a flying geese border would be really cute. The colors are much more muted than what I've been working on recently, but I'm liking the way one block sort of runs into another. I think the more subdued color palate would be soothing in the master bedroom. And the recylced men's shirts are so soft and comfortable. The blocks do end up being a little wonky from the differences in all of the fabrics, but I think I'm OK with that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Here we go Again

I was in the process of cleaning and organizing in preparation for switching into quilting mode, and stumbled across my Dad's Plaids quilt tub. I think I ran out of shirts when I was working on it and got more, because there were 5 or 6 shirts on top that had been cut apart, but not cut into strips. The bits that are already in blocks are leftover from my Shirt off my Back quilt.
So I spent the odd moments today cutting them all into strips. There is something so relaxing about mindless cutting. All those odd sized pieces turned into nice tidy strips, ready to be sewn into a project. I collected all the "strings" that were too small to turn into strips thinking I might try a string quilt. Tonya showed one on her blog yesterday that she was planning on making out of recycled fabric strips that you can buy on a roll. Imagine that!
As always, when I go back to a project I've left along the way, I have trouble figuring out exactly what I was doing. I try to leave myself notes, but sometimes I forget. I think this quilt was based on one of Bonnie's patterns, but I can't recall which one. I paired up everything that was already cut, and when those are pieced, I'll see what I still need to make a quilt. Once I figure all that out, I'll remember to write it down just in case this quilt gets put away again. Of course, having gone to the trouble to write a note, I'll probably be less likely to put it away, because I'll already have a plan. Nice circle of logic, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

29, 30, 31, ...32!

We had a good afternoon, the kids helped clean the kitchen and then swam while I power washed the pool deck. We even ran a few errands, including a trip to the post office to send off the giveaway from my 100th post. Then they played a phonics game while I cooked dinner. Sydney is helping . I know I should tell her not to lay on the table, but she looked so sweet there I took a picture first.

After they were in bed I started working on putting together more Girl Scout quilt kits. I now have 32 kits ready to go! I have two dates scheduled for quilt making workshops with my troop, and then I have another troop lined up after we have the process perfected. The Alzheimer's unit in the nursing home where we are going to carol has about 30 residents, so we should be in pretty good shape. Then, I organized and folded the remaining fabric and collected everything together so that I can put it away until we are ready to use it. My goal is to empty off the dining room table. We never eat on it, but I thought it might be fun to do a jigsaw puzzle with the kids.

Border Details

I was planning on plain borders for the OC quilt, but I was inspired by Amy's finished OC, and decided to go ahead and make the pieced border that Bonnie designed. The sides took a little finagling, but I've got it done, the back pieced, and the binding rolled and ready to go.
I'm glad I went to the extra trouble, I think the border adds a lot to the quilt, even it it did take a little extra time. I need to do a little cleaning and reorganization so that I can switch gears for a while and get some quilting done. I now have FOUR completed tops ready and waiting for quilting. Even if I save one for hand quilting (shocking thought -- isn't it?), I still have quite a bit to keep my busy.
Today is a home day. I've been trying to get the kids to clean the toy room. I even tried bribing them with lunchables, but no luck so far. I had a nice run this morning, and I think we'll swim this afternoon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Borders Borders Borders

I haven't gotten much done in the past few days, but I have been plugging away on the borders, trying to get my last two quilts finished up. I went with piano keys on the Elm Creek Sampler quilt. I've never done them before, but I'm happy with the way they turned out. I think they add a lot of color the the quilt. Now I just need to get the layering and basting done. I started recycling the scraps from this quilt for a pineapple quilt I've been thinking about starting.
I've pieced the outer border for the OC quilt, but I haven't got my head around what size to make the inner border yet. I know the math isn't complicated, but I haven't sat down to think it through yet. I wanted the inner border to be pink, but I'm low on that particular fabric, so it might end up yellow or orange instead.
Yesterday was fathers day, so I mowed the yard and did some pruning and edging and other fun stuff. We don't usually fall into sexually stereotyped jobs around here, but the yard had fallen to Kurt for the last few years, and I always feel a little guilty about him being out there in the heat of the day. He got some more work done on the bathroom, if we can decide on faucets we may have a working bathtub again soon! We went out for dinner to Cici's Pizza (the kids favorite) and then all went to see the Incredible Hulk movie. Sydney slept through most of it, all curled up on my lap like a little angel, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

Pay it Forward

I just got these adorable tissue holders in the mail from Julie. They are part of a "Pay it Forward". Thanks so much Julie, they are so cute! So according to the rules, I'm now supposed to send something handmade along to the next three people who want to play. If I send you something, you agree to send something to three new people, and so on. So, if you would like to play along, just leave me a comment and I'll contact you for your info. I don't know what I'll make yet, I'm thinking about some of those cool screen bags I've been seeing. Or maybe it will be something else....

Friday, June 13, 2008

And the Lucky Winner is...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-06-13 12:07:46 UTC

I went to and used the random integer generator to come up with the number 17. Comment 17 was left by.....(drumroll please). Deb at Quilter in the Woods. She didn't leave me any hints as to her favorite colors, so I got to choose. I'll make the bag today and get it out in the mail tomorrow. Thanks to all who played along, and for those who didn't win, I'll have another on my 200th post!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Giveaway is Ending

22 people have left comments in order to be entered in my giveaway. I was explaining the giveaway process to my husband who looked stunned and asked how I was going to make 22 bags! Rest assured, I'm not making 22 bags. However, I am making at least one, in custom colors, and including mystery goodies to ONE lucky winner. I'll draw tomorrow, so be sure to get in on the fun. Just leave me a comment and give me a little hint about your favorite colors, styles or whatever. Good luck.

Border Decisions

I was all set to do a plain border on the OC quilt. I had it all justified in my mind: the quilt is already big enough for Sydney's bed, it's already very busy, I'd rather have it done. Then I saw Amy's finished OC quilt and started to have regrets. So now I am rethinking and have several options open to me based on the "leftover" squares.
Option 1: Plain pink and orange.
Option 2: "Flying Geese" units from squares, shown here with pink inner border.
Option 3: alternating up and down triangle units which ends up looking like hourglass half square alternating units. Shown here with an inner yellow border.
Option 4: leftover triangle units alternating with solid triangles. Shown here with inner pink border.
Help! It's too many choices.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One Little Bit of the Universe at a Time

Nothing quilty today. I had so many errands to run that I actually made a list and arranged them geographically to minimize mileage. Blockbuster was first, then the bank, after which I needed to get my car registration renewed because it expired on my birthday. A notice usually comes in the mail, and I seem to remember that one did, but I think it disappeared in a fit of organization. I'm not one to throw away anything that might be important, but Kurt is not much for filing and tends to toss instead. I was just about ready to make my first stop when the police car started to tail me. Sure enough, he followed me to Blockbuster and started to question me about the expired registration. I've been expired for 11 days, what are the odds that I would get pulled over on the way to the registration office? I kindly explained to him that I had a list, and offered to show it to him. I got off with a warning. I added some shopping and lunch out to my list of errands and ended up back home right in time to pick up Sydney.
Kurt had a business dinner, and Anna and Ryan were both on play dates, so I fed Sydney macaroni for dinner and worked on some more organization. She did a great job helping with her room, and it looks better than it has in a while. I'm looking forward to getting the two quilts ready for her room. I got some new bins for recycling under the sink and cleared out all the extra stuff that accumulates. Our recycling people are now taking office paper and junk mail, so the volume has increased recently. We'll see if this arrangement works better than taking everything straight to the garage. I did before and after pictures again, even though it still looks like the underside of a sink.
After that I tackled the kids bookshelf. I thought I had taken before pictures yesterday, but I was mistaken. I still have an after picture though. Everything was all neat and tidy for about 15 minutes until Sydney went searching for a bed time story. I know its an uphill fight, but I'm still waging war on the clutter.


I just finished putting the Elm Creek blocks together. I had enough finished to make a 5 x 7 setting. The blocks are only 8 inches with the sashing though, so that still only makes the quilt 40 x 56 so far. I have about 8 more blocks cut out and ready to piece, but to keep a nice rectangular shape, I should make it 8 x 10, and that would be A LOT more blocks. So maybe I'll just add a border and keep it as a small quilt. I don't know why I have it stuck in my head that every quilt has to fit on a bed. We have plenty of quilts hanging on walls and hanging over the backs of couches around here. I'm thinking of trying a piano key border, I always love the way they look, and It would draw all the colors in. I've got two quilts now in need of borders. Why do I always get bogged down on the borders?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This and That

I had a good chunk of the day to myself and decided to do a little sewing. I got all the sashing strips cut on the Elm Creek Sampler and sewed a few of them. I got the movie 27 Dresses from Blockbuster and ironed for two hours. I have a scad of leader and enders ready for the next step, and the OC top is now ready for borders. I think I will have a thin pink border and a fat orange one. Primarily because I have a little bit of pink and a little more orange leftover. I also pieced a back for the sea star quilt and layered and basted the sandwich. It's so nice to be able to spread out all over the house and jump from one project to another.

I did a little organization in the kitchen today. There is a spot on the counter that collects everything. School papers, art supplies, any of the regular rubbish the kids bring home from school, all of it ends up here. I usually try to keep it under control, but the end of the year caught up on me and it exploded. So I went through everything after dinner and restored a tiny corner of orderliness to the house. I'm taking a series of before and after pictures to try to motivate myself. I am so easily entertained.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I was supposed to be gone all week. I had strategically scheduled everyone for camp so that I could go and learn about fish this week. Well the fish stood me up at the last minute, leaving me with all the children scheduled already. All I had to do was get everyone delivered to their various camps and I could have a day for myself. Ryan's camp started first at 8:30. It was at a park several miles south of our house. Anna's camp started at 9:00 and was at a girl scout facility that map quest said was 19 miles to the north. It said I could make the trip in 29 minutes. No problem, that gives me one minute to spare! So I could drop off Sydney at 8, pick up our car pooler at 8:15, deliver Ryan at 8:30 and arrive with my one minute of leisure time. Never believe map quest. It doesn't know about construction and traffic. Thankfully my husband realized the insanity of my plan and stepped in to arrange a cub scout car pool. So I skipped the drop off Ryan part and moved everything else up by 15 minutes. Thankfully that only left me 5 minutes late. Where did my one minute of leisure go?
Having already driven halfway across the county, I thought I should get some use out of all that gas and make a stop by the Hancock's Fabric. I never go north, so I hardly ever go there. Now that I am learning the differences in the quality of different fabric manufacturers, I can appreciate the selection that they have compared to Joann's. I found three nice 1860 shirting reproductions, a batik to use for the back of the sea star quilt, another small print for the back of the OC quilt, and best of all -- manatees and penguins for my marine science series! Still no sea turtles, but not a bad haul at all. Of course, by the time all of that was done it was lunch time and I had only two hours before it was time to start the afternoon pickup routine. Still, two hours is quite a lot when there is no one home, so I pulled out the Elm Creek blocks and started setting them. No pictures yet, but I'm using Bonnie's Happy Houses setting. I think I got 6 done before it was time to make dinner.
I was supposed to be gone all week learning about fish.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Comments Problems

All of the sudden I'm not getting comments to my e-mail address. It has to happen when I have a giveaway going on. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is, or how to go about fixing it. I was just trying to change the picture and now I've broken it. I'm sorry if you are trying to leave a comment and can't. If you are having trouble, you should be able to access my e-mail via my user profile. I'm sorry for the confusion. I'll try to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Hot off the Presser Foot!

I decided to use a slightly different setting for my OC blocks. The quilt was not exactly speaking to me. I saw a very cool alternative to the spinning star blocks at Quilts and Pieces, but the thought of reworking all of those blocks seemed a little daunting. Especially after I had already resewn several of the spinning stars that weren't spinning. Something about the diagonal setting and mix of colors was just too much for me. So I decided to use a straight set with alternating blocks and make a twin quilt. I have enough leftover star blocks for a pillow sham. I think I'll use this one in Sydney's room and call it done. After I get this bordered, I'll have two quilts ready for quilting. I think I'll pick one more to finish up and then switch into quilting mode for a while. I am lucky enough to have already seen Kung Fu Panda twice, and it just opened this weekend! Ryan had a birthday party on Friday, and he wanted me to stay rather than just do the drop off. I thought it was a cute movie, and the kids all enjoyed it, especially the 7 year old boys who all came out doing lots of karate moves. Then this morning, the girls decided they had been cheated out of a movie and wanted to go and see it as well.
I enjoy seeing movies regardless of what they are. Something about sitting in a dark theater munching on popcorn completely cut off from the outside world is just very relaxing to me. Sydney just enjoys everything so much right now. It must be the magic of turning 5. She kept laughing out loud and repeating the lines during the movie. Even when we got back home she was still parroting the quotes and singing the song.
The kids all have day camps next week. I arranged them all at the same time because I was supposed to be away at a teacher workshop all week. I just found out that my workshop has been canceled, but the kids are all booked. That means I have a week of time with no work and no kids. I wonder what I'll do with myself?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Little Dear Jane on the Go

I took the time before our trip to prep some Dear Jane blocks just in case I had time to sew. I didn't have much, but it's better to be ready just in case. I found this photo organizer on clearance at Joan's not too long ago and turned it into a quilt on the go kit. The little pockets hold blocks ready to be sewn, and there is room inside for my little sewing kit in a tin box. It was a free gift at a crop that I went to several years ago, and it is just the right size for all the basic necessities. Pins and needles live on little magnets in the corners; scissors, thimble and thread all fit in the middle. I usually leave the scissors out if I'm going to be on an airplane, but I've got a little thread trimmer that work in a pinch. I've even heard of people using dental floss trimmers. My favorite part is a little coffee stirrer that I got a Westin Hotel last year. It is triangular, and exactly 1/4 of an inch on each side. Perfect for marking seam allowances!
It all fits together nicely and zips up into this handy little package which is easy to carry along in case I get stuck somewhere and have chance to sew a little.
I got two Dear Jane Blocks done on our trip, mostly in the car one the way home. They are J-1 Josepha's Jonquil (6 pieces), and I-11 Coyote Chase (12 pieces). We sat at one toll both for almost 45 minutes, allowing me to get quite a bit done while Kurt tried not to swear in front of the children. I've been following along with the Dear Jane Blog, but I am not up to date with all the blocks. I prepared the ones they are doing in the blog, just in case I get on a roll and get caught up.

Friday, June 6, 2008

100th Post Giveaway

I just realized that this is my 100th post! I have "met" some great people through my blog, and I so much enjoy checking in on their projects and keeping up to date with their lives. I never would have imagined that having a journal online would be such a fun and interactive experience. Not being much of a writer, I've tried to keep diaries and journals in the past, but always fizzled out. It seems so futile to write things you know no one will ever read.
There seems to be a definite trend in offering a giveaway for 100th posts, so I feel I must join in. If you would like to be entered in the drawing, please leave a comment with a hint about your favorite color or theme. I'll make you a fabric shopping bag of your very own, and try to find a few quilty surprises to put in it. I'll draw for names next Friday at this time. Good luck, and thanks for visiting my blog!