Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that

Wheeeeee!!! I've almost made it to a three-day weekend. I'm excited!

Okay, so here's what is up in my studio these days.

Completed: Kansas. Started: Montana.

Not a big fan of the purply-pink here. I'm glad to be using it up.

I have a full weekend planned for the holiday and so this will probably be it for sewing until Monday (although I'm going to try to sneak in the rest of Montana if I can.)

And I started sorting my pantry, so I can easily see what items I have in stock and which I need to buy for a particular meal.

It may not look like much but once I started sorting, I was surprised at what I had. For example, I had no idea I had 7 cans each of beef broth and chicken broth. Oops.

And then there is this (like I need a new project)

It is a large panel that I am going to border in simple blocks - I am considering pinwheels - and then turn into a quilt.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nana's Flower Garden

I finally finished this today!

The permanent fabric marker I used on the label seemed to hold up just fine in the washer. No bleeding or running. I guess we'll see how it holds up long term, but in the meantime I am very happy with the results.

Nana fell last night and hit her head. She seems to be okay but they are holding her in the hospital overnight for observation.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Okay, just a short note today. I finished Maine! Here it is, on my wall and up close and personal.

Four more stars to go before this little lap quilt is completed. I've got a big day tomorrow, so I'm off to get some shut eye. TTFN!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

DIY: Menu Board

I've been meaning to get serious about menu planning for a while. My house has been in total chaos since well before Ragnarok, and with that comes a complete lack of desire to cook dinners. But a recent assessment of our food spending habits have lit a fire under me and well, I have to settle down and get busy planning and cooking.

This is actually really hard for me to do, since when I'm not working I don't want to do anything at home. And it seems like an insurmountable task. In order to save money, you have to be consistent, well planned, and figure out ways to use up everything. Plus it takes time, which seems to be a scarcity these days.

Well, first things first. Let's tackle problem numero uno, which is: I never know what to cook for dinner. Which leaves me standing at the grocery store impulse buying meals and spending $30 for one meal, or giving up and ordering pizza.

Solution: A menu board. Found one over at The Creative Mama and I really liked it, so I decided to make my own.

 Each meal or dish is printed onto an index card. Every week you flip through the index cards and attach them to the menu board. Dish is printed on the front and ingredients & recipe location printed on the back. It will hopefully be the perfect solution for someone like me who has dozens of cookbooks. I really do; I collect them! That makes it hard to remember what recipes I want to try.

Anyway, since money is obviously an issue, I raided my house to make this menu board.

First up: A Wilton cookie sheet. Please don't gasp in shock before I explain. This was my favorite cookie sheet EVER until a roommate back in my college days decided to slow cook barbeque ribs on it. (This is where you can gasp in shock. It was a tragedy. I'm giving this cookie sheet new life with this project.)

 See, look.. isn't it sad? I haven't used it for much since it was ruined, the poor thing.

Next to pick out some fabric.

 This stuff is really pretty and matches the floor tile in my kitchen (when we moved, we had to paint over the salmon color on the walls. Once that was gone, the brick red floor looked really cool!)

 Iron the fabric and cut it to size - it should be 3-4 inches larger than your cookie sheet on all sides. I used pinking shears to help prevent fraying.
 Carefully glue the fabric to the sheet. For glue, I used some Elmer's craft bond spray glue I had, which I really liked because it didn't clump and build up. I got nice, even coverage. First I glued the "bottom" of the cookie sheet and smoothed that out, and then each side, being sure to press the fabric into every nook and cranny.
Flip over, trim, and glue the fabric to the "top" side of cookie sheet.
 This is where I goofed up. You can see I didn't trim the right side quite enough and the fabric is bunching up in the top right corner. Now this side will be against the wall, but I couldn't leave it all ugly, so I found some fabric I didn't have plans for and covered up the rest of the ugly.

Yay! Magnetic menu board. Flip it over right side up and add decorations.

 The flowers are from the dollar store. I picked up two bunches, took off the stems, removed the green back, and trimmed the center as flat as possible then glued the petals at the center. When that dried, I glued them to the board. The trim I had from garbing projects (I wish it was yellow) and that was just glued all the way around the edges. To attach the decorations, I used Elmer's glue (not the washable school glue) in liquid form. Just let it dry completely and it holds very well.

One pack of magnets from Office Max and a stack on index cards later, and I'm ready to start printing my meal cards. Now I just need to get Jack to hang this in the kitchen for me, when he is done fighting the forces of evil at the Eryndor event today.

Goal #1 is to cook at home five nights out of seven. Goal #2 is to take leftovers to work for lunches more often. Goal #3 is to slowly filter out processed food and get back to a healthier way of eating.

Wish me luck!

The Right Thread Makes All the Difference

After struggling through FMQ with some cotton quilting thread I had, I was about ready to give up. I tried everything I could think of to keep the thread from breaking. I changed my needle, adjusted tension, re-threaded the bobbin. Cleaned my machine. Nothing helped. A last ditch effort involved purchasing some Isacord thread, recommended by Leah Day. If this didn't work, I was going to give up on free motion quilting all together.

I'm extremely pleased to tell you that it worked like a charm. I've been playing around with FMQ for the last two hours and haven't had my thread break once! WOOOO! YEAH! GO TEAM! And suprisingly, I'm having an easier time with the small concentrated patterns than I am with the large sweeping stippling type patterns.

Pebbles take For-Ev-Er to do
Actually, I solved two problems here - I wanted to practice FMQ before I quilted with it, but I couldn't stomach wasting fabric that could be put to better use. However, I happen to have a box of random 9" - 11" squares that I picked up. I can't use this fabric with other projects, because I don't think the fabric has been washed. Also, some of it is the ugliest fabric I've seen yet. Solution: use it for FMQ practice.

When all was said and done, I started requilting the purple cat quilt. This is the one that I purchased clear thread for, which kept breaking. Of course. But I picked a design and practiced it, and now am quilting!

The colors are a little funny due to the fact that it was located under my sewing machine when I took the picture. I still need practice, but I'm finally getting somewhere.

In other news, I picked out five more star quilt blocks to make with white backgrounds. This way I can make a decent sized baby quilt with the nine blocks. After that, I'll be switching to the black background star blocks.

This one is called Maine.

Now that I have hopefully solved my quilting problems, I may be able to get a couple of those UFOs off my list.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Got something done!

A couple somethings, actually.

Here are the blocks I sent to my swapper this month. He sent me two also, which was pretty cool. I will get those pictures soon, have no fear.

I was actually loathe to part with the black star block and left it on my design wall to look pretty for a while, but it has finally been packaged and stamped for shipping.

And the other thing I finished was on my Project 144 list. Here is Jack looking completely sweet in garb I made him - notably, I finished sewing his brown shirt.

He was all frowny-faced, trying to look serious, but I did catch a smile after I gave him a little grief.

And here is the label I made for the quilt for Nana, which I have decided to name Nana's Flower Garden (you quilty- people out there will get the play on words.) It just needs the binding hand stitched on the back and a good washing, to see if the permanent fabric marker is actually permanent.

My first official attempt at labeling a quilt, so I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stars and Stripes Quilt

I was happy to learn about the NewFO linky. Barb over at Cat Patches doesn't have many UFOs and created a monthly linky party that generates UFOs. You have to start something new every month. And you don't have to finish anything at all. Ever. Wooo!! Like I needed an excuse to start new projects and not finish them.

In that spirit, since I think I finally collected enough fabric for my patriotic quilt, I started it.

This has been burning a hole in my creative pocket for a while.

This may just be the most complicated quilt I've attempted to put together because all the blocks are the same pattern but the coloring and placement is vastly different. I had to get organized about this one, no throwing it together helter-skelter with happy quilt pieces everywhere. (I have this mental image of a ball pit, like at Discovery Zone, only filled with fabric and ecstatic sewers playing).

Step One: Give each block its own designation (A1, A2, B1, etc)

Step Two: Determine what size to cut each piece for paper piecing. I did this, then cut several of each color and sorted them into labelled zippy bags. The bags are labelled with both the paper piecing number for the block and the size of the fabric piece that needs to be cut.

 Step Three: Sew a test block. I started working on block A1, so I counted out the scrappy pieces I needed to complete the block and those went into their own bag along with all 8 printed pattern pieces. I also used colored pencil to color-code my paper pieces pattern, so I know which color goes where without constantly referring to my large pattern.

And here are the completed pieces so far:

I had big plans to finish this block a few days ago, but as I was happily sewing away, I heard my neighbors complaining about the weeds next to my house. This was actually really upsetting, because my first response was WHAT WEEDS? Sure enough, I found out that on that side of the house, the weeds had sprung up. I was embarrassed, because I had no idea they were there - we don't spend any time outside and there is this little privacy fence on the other side of my air-conditioner that completely blocks the view of that side of the house. It seems to take no time at all for weeds to grow. I swear they grow faster than the grass. So I spent a few hours outside this week, took care of the weeds and did some other yard work that needed to be done.

Seriously though, all it would have taken is my neighbor dropping by to say "Hey, can you take care of this for me?" and that would have given me a chance to apologize and say "Dude, sorry, I didn't know they were there, sure, I got this." And the weeds would have been taken care of and everyone would have been happy. Instead, I don't even want to talk to my neighbors.

So the lesson here is, be kind, because you don't know what is going on in your neighbors lives. Don't assume laziness or malicious intent - it usually isn't there.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Arkansas Revisted

My QB block swap partner this month is kind of awesome. His theme is "Any block in your favorite fabric." How cool is that?

This gave me license to experiment with the Arkansas block. Here is my original:

So, in keeping with his theme, I picked out one of my favorite batiks and went to town.

Arkansas revisited

It doesn't even look like the same pattern! Now my head is filled with a bazillion new ideas.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Get It Done & Project 144 August Edition

Time for some updates!

Project 144 - I finished one shirt and some hand work. I still have two more shirts and some more handstitching leftover from July, so those are joining my August list.

Completed P144 for July
August Project 144 List

1. Two long sleeve shirts for myself.
2. Pants for Jack.
3. Handstitch and add buttons to Jack's brown shirt.
4. Repair the red shirt - the underarm seam tore. 

Future projects include Rag 28 survival belt flags for all attendees, a large Kingdom of Akron dragon banner for our camp, finishing Jack's ranger coat (I've been working on this on and off for at least two years), and making myself a ranger coat and some ranger garb. I want this dress:

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

My Get It Done July list was

1. Start paper pieced stars quilt - this was so much fun, I did four blocks even though I originally planned to do only two this month.

2. Quilt & bind Nana's quilt - Quilted, but not bound. Yet. Hopefully the binding won't take too long.

3. Project 144 - I already reported on how well this went. About 50% success rate, so since I doubled the stars I was planning on, I'm going to say I broke even on this one.

4. Disappearing cube trick pattern - didn't even start this. Oh well. Maybe in September, I think my August plate is full.

August Get It Done List

1. Project 144 list
2. Bind Nana's Quilt
3. Two quilt swap blocks
 4. Practice my FMQ - if my thread ever arrives!

If I have time, one of the QB members offered to do a bonus swap this month since my partner last month never responded to my messages. Isn't the quilting community great?

Last but not least, anyone remember this quilt pattern? 

It's been on my to-do list for ages. Well, I think I finally amassed enough red and blue fabric to do this.

I'm going for a controlled scrappy look. The reds are definitely red, not pink as they came out in the picture. Here they are in grayscale:

 So, a pretty decent job overall getting the tones to match. I also have several patterned whites for the quilt. This may soon move from the Inspiration Board to the WIP list.

Have a great weekend all!