Monday, November 30, 2009

Guess what I have been up to...

I am happily working on some Christmas gifts and decorations. We didn't have a decent tree skirt anymore and I have always wanted a quilted one. But, the tree went up Friday evening and I didn't think about it until we were going through boxes and didn't have one anymore.

Then my friend Bev mentioned making one and not quilting it until after the New Year, which makes loads of sense (especially since she is primarily a hand quilter and I am not). I liked the idea but didn't know what I could do with it quickly.

I looked for patterns and ideas and finally found a blog with a tutorial with a cute, really wonky, log cabin tree skirt. It was a square. I got to looking at it, and thinking about it, and changing a few things about what I was planning and--lo, and behold.

It's nothing like the tutorial I used :-). Well, it's a square. Other than that, I took the ball and ran with the concept. I am really proud of myself for being able to improvise to that level--I can almost say that I "designed" it, but that might really be pushing it!

I made a roughly 40 inch (finished) quilt as you go log cabin square. Yep, one big, luscious square. The backing is gorgeous and looks nicely quilted in a little grid design. When I wash it, it will pucker up a bit and look soft and loved. Ahhh. Well, it will when I get it finished with the binding. Sigh.

I slashed through a diagonal to put in my opening. The straight grain edges are self-bound (in the process, anyway). I will use scraps to bind up to the center opening. The center will have to be bound with bias binding and I am wondering if I will have a piece of fabric big enough to make bias binding or if I will buy a pack of red and just go around the edge and leave lengths to tie. Hmmm. We will have to figure that out this week!

But, I had a bit of the fabrics left over that I made my skirt from, so I began playing with a mantle quilt for the holidays. I was inspired by one I saw in The Olde Quilt Shoppe in Olde Towne Morrow last weekend. So, now it is pieced (log cabins on point) and half-way machine quilted in a freehand grid (not too perfect, want it to be homey). Tomorrow I will finish that and begin to figure out a binding for it as well.

I am seriously toying with the idea to machine sew the binding to the back and ask my mom to sew down the fronts so that I can move to other projects. She might like a litte cash this time of year, after all. She is a whiz at hand sewing and can go nearly as fast by hand as I can on machine and she doesn't make mistakes like I do. And on a machine, I can make them really fast!

Today, I found some cute coaster patterns that look durable, cute, and easy. I can use up spare stash to make them and I would like to get them started for gifts. There is so much that I want to do now that I have given myself permission to get started again! Will try and get pics up as soon as things are finished!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Day to everyone who reads this.

What are you most thankful for?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have a funny feeling that this is the quilt project that will slowly get the best of me.

My sewing machine (that I bought specifically for the quilting features) does not free motion well. I have done some free motion in the past and I am well aware of how to move my hands in a gentle, consistent motion. However, my machine is sewing a little "jerky" or something and I am getting bizarre results.

I am really frustrated. Now, my bobbin tension seems to be out of whack, so I will have to remedy that before I can proceed.

This project is feeling more and more like a UFO in the making. 20 placemats anyone?

Quilting with materials you have on hand is only frugal if you can make it all come together, right? Otherwise, it is an extravagant waste of materials and time. My time.

I could cry.

Decoratively quilted blocks

Here are my quilt blocks sitting pretty on my ironing board. They haven't been trimmed yet, but they have all of the decorative stitching on them at this point.

and here is a close up of one of the blocks which shows colors and stitching so far. Today is the day when I have to start adding the additional stitching. So far, after hubby and I have talked (he has a great eye for color and balance), I think I will add a tan meander in each triangular piece on the blocks. That is 4 loose meanders per block. I will have to break out the free-motion foot and do a bit of practice. I get a knot in my stomach every time I think that I could actually mess this thing up after I have gotten so close to it being completed.
I will have to take lots of deep breaths to get through this part!

Monday, November 23, 2009


I picked up glue sticks today. So, I am ready to baste the last 3 blocks and finish the quilting. If I hadn't messed up by using the wrong batting, I would be just about ready to finish this puppy off.


I still haven't decided what to do yet. I figure it won't matter until I finish the decorative stitch quilting anyway. So, I will have to decide tonight or tomorrow morning if I have any hope for this project.

Usually, when I am at this stage in a project, I am really excited and psyched about it. This one is turning out differently though. I am also usually very decisive about how I will handle the finishing on a project. This time I am not.

But, I am determined to finish it in order to make sure that I can move on to finish a couple of other projects that I have planned. One of them is a table runner that I am excited about. It is very Christmas-y, but also it will be good for the entire winter. Can't wait for that one!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crud Puppies!

It's inevitable, in my world, at least, that Murphy and his Law will wander across my day occasionally. Today, he waited until evening to make his appearance.

I am working on my Arrowheads quilt and quilting away. I quilt a few blocks and then baste a few more. Then I noticed my batting package, sitting empty. I go to throw it away and realize that this particular batting is different than any that I have used in the past. It is a thin cotton, like I prefer, but it is made to be quilted much closer than I have planned on this quilt. Oops!

I know it's a solvable dilemma with the batting, but I am not yet certain of the solution. I suppose it is what I get for using an older batting that I purchased years ago instead of purchasing exactly what I needed for this project. In my own defense, I didn't realize that it wasn't exactly what I needed. Sigh.

So, I am trudging along, trying to decide what I can do to increase the amount of quilting in each block without ruining the very simple, graphic lines that I like. Then, as I return to basting, I realize that I have 3 blocks remaining and no more glue sticks. Aaaagh! Here I am, on a roll, needing some meditative time at the sewing machine and can't baste further. This quilting arrangement is weighing on my mind and I can't find the best solution and now I can't complete the first stage of the quilting (which is all I had originally planned to do) so that I can decide what to do next. It's frustrating!

So, I can leave it alone and have the quilting lines way too far apart for the batting. I am leaning against this option because I want this quilt to be reasonably durable. Extra quilting will also reinforce large expanses of fabric.

I can meander in black and hope it doesn't detract from the decorative stitching lines.

I can do simple lines to echo the graphic lines in black or even in a tan to match the backing and some of the top fabrics.

I could meander in tan and try not to cross the black decorative lines. I have plenty of black and tan threads, but no clear nylon (and I have never used it before, so I don't know much about it's quirks).

I am sure there are myriad other options, but I can't think of any right now. Any thoughts? Bev? Are you out there???

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Block is Quilted!!!

Okay, it's not the best picture of an untrimmed, already quilted block hanging on a door, but it will have to do! This is my first completed block for my "Arrowhead" quilt. I am so pleased with it. It is really hard to see, but the quilting is done with 50wt black cotton in a featherstitch pattern. It is one of the stitches that looks the most like handwork on my machine.

Of course, it's so easy to jump right in when all you need to baste is a glue stick! Love that part!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quilt Therapy

Ahhh. A good Friday evening. I finished sewing the last 5 of the 20 blocks that I will use for my oversized couch quilt. I am considering having this particular quilt be my very first "named quilt." I am thinking of calling it Country Arrowheads, or Arrowheads, or something similar.

Anyway, after that little burst of sewing, the kids put in Star Trek, which was one of our Redbox treats for the weekend. So, I switched over to working on my hand quilting project, which is slowly coming along nicely.

I have truly enjoyed working on this piece of hand work. It is relaxing and gratifying to have a project sitting at the ready whenever I want to sit for awhile.

But, I am also very excited to start the Crazy Shortcut part of my couch quilt. I love the speed and precision of my machine quilting efforts. This is even shorter (and fancier) because it is quilted only in the seam lines with decorative stitching. I am using black thread and possibly an arrowhead stitch throughout (hence the names). Simple, graphic, appealing, quick: I am positively giddy thinking about it! I am almost seriously considering a bit of a pieced backing for interest, but I haven't decided about that yet. We will see.

I love when we are on break. My quilting helps me to feel productive in a tangible way that working as an educator seldom can. Not that teaching is not rewarding, but sometimes it's impossible to know how you may or may not have impacted those around you. At the end of the day, I can hold my accomplishments in my hands and admire that it all came together. It feels pretty darn good!

Thanksgiving Break!

Yahoo! We are out of school until November 30th. I can honestly say that as wacky as this week was, I truly need this break. Right now, this is one thing I am truly and honestly grateful for right now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Murphy Strikes Again!

Yep. That's my ironing board. It's a sight to behold, isn't it? DS11 made a mess trying to empty the pencil sharpener while doing his homework. Why, oh why, on my ironing board? I will never know.

Then he tried to clean up his mess. This is what I found!!! But, he did try to clean up his mess; ya gotta give the kid that one!

But, I won't be ironing any gorgeous quilt blocks tonight. Or anything else for that matter! It is in the washing machine for now. I have been looking through other folks' blogs about quilting and I am amazed at the eye candy that I have found. I am seriously inspired and going to bed a bit early.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Plugging right along!

Quilting is the very best therapy. Even if you paid full price for everything, it's cheaper than a psychiatrist--trust me! No matter what happens during my day, a little piecing or quilting time works wonders. It's nice to see some physical progress on a project to make up for crazy days.

I have completed 15 blocks of my Asian Inspiration quilt so far. I have cut out the final 5, but I kind of doubt that I will finish them off tonight as I will need to get to bed.

Here is a block from the next set, all cut out and ready for action! I really like the look. It's bold and is really shows off the individual fabrics because they are not cut up into tiny pieces.

Ahhh! Off to bed!

It ain't always pretty folks...

Some days are like that!

Today was one of those Murphy's Law kind of days. Three steps backward for every two steps forward. Had a parent conference that was a little too adversarial for my taste. Go figure.

Not exactly a fun day.

I am going to finish what absolutely has to be done tonight and then I will take a nice, hot bath and seek solace in quilting. Ahhh. Maybe that will do it!

Tomorrow is another day and I am clinging to that idea right now. Only 3 more school days until Thanksgiving break (a whole week--yay!).

This too shall pass!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Currently working on...

I am continuing to work on the hand quilting project. I just keep plugging along. I haven't sewn on it at all today because I have had a bit of an odd headache, like a visual migraine trying to begin. It never really got started, but I haven't been comfortable doing much reading, much computer work, or much hand sewing because it takes lots of careful visual acuity to help me to guide the needle in (nearly) straight lines.

I did work on the first blocks for the "Asian Inspired" quilt in Crazy Shortcut Quilts by Margarita McManus and Sarrah Raffuse. Of course, I can't just leave well enough alone, so mine is not asian in any respect. I am using some Moda fabric that came out of a kit that I bought probably about 3 years ago. At any rate, it was long enough ago that I lost the directions that came with it! The colors are similar to Thimbleberries colors, dark reds, tans, greens, blacks, and such. Gorgeous, stylized prints that are country inspired but maybe a touch of 19th century folk art inspiration, but not primitive at all.

The block is clean and spare and a little bit modern looking. Love that the pieces are large so that the beauty of some of the prints will really stand out. I will do the quilt as you go part in black to make the colors pop. Dividing strips will be black as well. I am thinking of using one of the prints in the top to make the binding. Can't decide between that and the black. We'll see.

I did purchase a special backing for this quilt. I purchased extra wide "distressed and stained" muslin for the backing. It works well with the tans on the front of the quilt. It's going to be a fun juxtaposition from the spare, modern block and the very old looking prints and backing. This backing would make anything look really old.

I imagine that I will go back and forth between my two projects as time and energy allows, but I am pretty sure that the quilt that I am piecing will go so quickly that it will be done by Thanksgiving or very soon after.

Hopefully, I can recharge my cell phone and take some photos tomorrow.

A little quilting inspiration

I receive a daily "Quilt Tip of the Day" email from Today's couldn't come at a better time. Ever since I went to the quilt show in Jonesboro, I have been lamenting that I am not more advanced with my hobby. My points could be more precise, my seam allowances more perfect, my hand sewing is the get the drill. But the tip of the day was to remember something important in life. There are heirloom quilts in which you truly challenge yourself to do something utterly stunning. These are the showpieces at large shows and state wide fairs. Then there are the quilts that we make out of love. Love of piecing, love of quilting, love of fabric, love of the recipent and in those quilts, while we want to do our best we must always remember:

Finished is better than perfect!!!

It's so simple, yet really profound. We surround ourselves with quilts that we love and with people that we love. We show love to people, sometimes, through a gift of quilting, a little bit of ourselves. Those quilts are often loved hard, washed often, and abused through use. Imagine how you'd feel if your heirloom was loved literally, to death? Yet, it's wonderful to see a child with a quilt that shows lots of wear through love. But, if we let perfectionism take over, that child might not have received a quilt, or worse yet, would not have been allowed to cuddle with it and to drag it around the house.

Yes, finished is satisfying in its own way. It's wonderful when it turns out perfect and I do want to learn better ways to do things, but it's okay if it's a bit wonky in places and not perfect.

Love isn't perfect and neither am I.

Brooks and Company Dance

Due to hubby's photography business, we occasionally are able to get free tickets to various venues. Last night, we went to a beautiful performance by Brooks and Company Dance in Atlanta. It's always wonderful to watch these talented dancers and to experience their particular brand of expression. I look forward to these little outings.

However, this performance (actually two performances) were so moving, so visually stunning that I have been thinking of them all day. The music was gorgeous and the movement divine. Truly a fabulous evening.

I can't wait to see Shorts 5 in April!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

400th post!

Wow! It's hard to imagine having written 400 posts. Actually, I have put off writing this one for quite some time because I thought that I really "should" write something profound and important to mark the occasion. With that pressure, I soon discovered that it would remain unwritten.

So, I think that the most honest thing I can do is, in honor of Thanksgiving (coming up soon), to mark the occasion with gratitude. I will begin a list of all of the things that I am thankful for this season. It won't be all inclusive as I am certain to leave some things out.

For what it's worth, here goes: I am grateful for
1. the God of the universe
2. Christ, the son of the living God and the savior of my soul
3. the Church, the body of Christ and the believers there
4. My parents, who have given me a stable, Christian upbringing
5. My parents for adopting my brother late in life
6. My brother for being his goofy self! Love him bunches!
7. For Georgia Agape, the adoption agency from our church.
8. My husband for being my best friend and putting up with me
9. DS13 for being his quirky, autistic self that I love so much
10. DS11 for being his inquisitive self. I love him bunches even when he wheezes with asthma
11. that God has a sense of humor and gave me two boys when I thought I was getting two girls.
12. that the doctors were wrong that I wouldn't get pregnant
13. that hubby is hands-on with the kids and not at all emotionally absent
14. that my parents are wonderful grandparents who spend quantity time with the boys
15. that Nathan survived school and arrived home from Orlando, which he didn't enjoy
16. that God brought hubby to me in his own time and in his own way
17. that God brought the boys to me in his own time and in his own way
18. that I have been able to receive such a good academic education
19. that I have been able to receive sound Biblical teaching throughout my life
20. that I can read my very own Bible
21. that I can write many things and communicate with ease
22. that I have a blog
23. that anyone even reads my blog
24. that we make enough money that even when times are really tight, God makes sure that we are okay
25. that in this horrible economy, hubby's job is secure
26. that we have the photography business on the side for a little extra income
27. that our ladies group at church is doing some wonderful service projects
28. that our ladies group at church started back up in order to do service for others
29. that my job is secure in this economy
30. that even if we are losing our school building, God is opening up new doors for us
31. that God has blessed our school, even when we haven't recognized that we were being blessed!
32. so many good, Christian colleagues and friends that I wouldn't have known except through school.
33. that I can teach and that I realized later in life that God would help me to do it.
34. that I truly love my students
35. that I have students who drive me batty sometimes
36. to know that I have made a positive impact on a student's life, even if I may not personally be aware of it.
37. that I can stop class to pray with or for a student or colleague without fear of retribution.
38. that I can speak the Gospel truth at school, during school, and with my students at any time.
39. that I have friends and family that pray with me.
40. that I have friends and family that pray for me
41. that I am never truly alone
42. that God put together a fabulous team of doctors and therapists to help DS13 with his autism
43. that God helped us to find the right medicines for DS13's autism
44. that God helped us to find the right medicines for DS11's asthma
45. that we live close enough to Atlanta to enjoy the arts and some events
46. that we live far enough out of Atlanta to not deal with crime and noise
47. that we see wildlife every day
48. that my family is conservation minded and wants to be good stewards
49. that we are able to go to a performance by Brooks and Company tonight (see #45)
50. for my friends who are great sounding boards
51. for my colleagues who are great support for me
52. for my son's teachers who are so wonderful, supportive, talented, and Christian!
53. for the administration of our school who deal with the tough stuff so we don't have to
54. for the ability to take care of my family
55. for the ability to make gifts and things that my family needs
56. for the opportunity and ability to quilt
57. for the ability to knit and crochet
58. that our middle and high school chapel are collecting warm winter items to benefit our local homeless shelter
59. that part of that service is providing a hot breakfast and coffee for the shelter residents
60. that the kids will take part in the actual delivery and service of food
61. that our staff and so many students have a heart for service
62. that the Beta Club is holding a canned food drive
63. that I have a reliable vehicle. There was a time when I didn't.
64. that hubby has a reliable vehicle
65. that the boys have joined a Scout troop
66. that we can work with them in scouting
67. that DS13 is actually willing to try to do some out of doors activities, finally.
68. knowing that many of our school's graduates are doing so well with their lives!
69. knowing that my efforts at school are appreciated by the families that we serve (maybe not always, but I am finding out that they support us more than we realize sometimes).
70. that we have an intact family and we don't have to spend time trying to decide "who gets the kids"
71. that we can be a support to the kids of families where their times have to be split.
72. for my coffee maker (sounds silly, but it's really nice in the mornings).
73. for my fanny cushion that makes sitting in church pews bearable
74. for the beautiful, changing leaves of autumn. I enjoy them so much
75. that my favorite quilt store got a shop kitty, Tootsie, and that my kids love her. They play with kitty and I can look around!
76. For Delilah, my delicate little rescued kitty.
77. For Natasha, my newest baby who rode to school under the car and scared her former owner half to death!
78. that the kitties are happy together and like to play and snuggle.
79. that the boys love the kitties
80. that Daisy, the dog, lives with Granny and Grandpa
81. for the computer that makes all of this rambling possible
82. for computer automated gradebooks. Some of us teachers stink at math!
83. for hearing my children giggle
84. for all of the precious memories that I have of my life
85. for photos of everyone, family, friends, children, even those who passed on before I knew them.
86. for the boys making Christmas lists and getting really serious about it.
87. for my sewing machine and all the things it can do
88. that my hubby likes my quilting and fiber obsessions
89. for the new quilt frame hubby made me
90. that hubby puts up with my infinite weirdness!
91. for my telephone which helps me keep up with everyone
92. for snail mail because it's always fun to write a letter
93. it's even better to get an unexpected letter
94. my dishwasher--nuff said
95. for Jekyll Island, the most wonderful place on earth
96. for the vacations we have taken with the Pollard family
97. that we got to take the boys to SeaWorld and had loads of soggy fun
98. for school breaks and the rejuvenation we receive from them
99. for orthopedic shoes so my feet don't hurt nearly as much
100. for you that are reading this right now!!!