Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hearts and borders

That's what I am handquilting on my girlie quilt. I have traced a heart shaped cookie cutter with a soft, graphite marker (which smears on my hands, sigh) and I am outlining each block. It is starting to look kind of cute on the back now that a few blocks are done. The front is smudged with graphite, so it's not as nice looking, although it is picking up lots of texture and dimension with my stitches.

So, I am happy with it. It is imperfect and I am okay with that. It's all part of the learning curve and I am kind of proud that I have managed to slow down with it. Thanks, Mom!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Enjoying the process

Last night, after a series of mishaps (including my cat feeling the need to pee on my unwrapped quilt batting), my mom and I basted my Strawberry Pie quilt on her ping-pong table. Ping-pong tables are priceless for quilt basting without crawling on the floor!

It's really going to be cute when I get it finished, but I was totally flustered that I had to un-baste the sections after the machine quilting fiasco with my machine and then put the top together traditionally.

Now, I will be hand quilting it. So, my deadline of taking a finished quilt to Silver Thimble is totally not going to happen. That really bummed me out.

Then my mom said something very insightful. She casually mentioned that I used to be totally "into" the process with my quilts. That it was fun to make them, even if I did work fairly fast to be finished. Now I was working as if it was a job and not for pleasure at all. I loved the finished quilts, but not making them. She had a point and it stung a bit.

As I am not one to sit a UFO aside for an unlimited amount of time, it's not like I am going to totally fail to finish one. But, as mom said, "however long it takes to finish it is how long it's going to take. No point in rushing it, just keep working on it."

It's true. I know it is. I guess I put my quilting aside for years while I went to work and therapy with my aspie. I missed having a creative outlet more than I knew. Now, I am afraid that what little time I have to work on things may be taken away from me again and I have become a bit obsessive about that. That doesn't make for a relaxing hobby.

I didn't realize how much I was allowing quilting to add stress to my life instead of allowing it to reduce my stress, as it had always done for me in the past. So, I am hand quilting this one and it will take however long it wants to take, I guess. And that is going to be okay. I am even adding a bit to the design I had planned so it will add a bit more durability to the blocks over time. I figure if I am putting the time into it, I am not going to do the minimum job; I will do it right.

As for the future, I know that I will have to replace my sewing machine at some point. When I do, I will buy the most quality that I can and I will invest in taking machine quilting classes again so that I can be certain that my machine and I will mesh. Then, I may try it again.

Or, I might not. We will see.


Last Wednesday, I mentioned that I took DS13 to the doctor's office and that the doctor was truly not helpful at all. He said to call back in a few days if it wasn't better.

Well, it's not better and I did call in, expecting for a prescription to be called in so that we could quickly be on the mend. The on-call doctor didn't want to be bothered with it, so I have to take the day off of work tomorrow (again!) for something that should have been handled and over with last week. My kid is hurting and sufferring from this and it makes me so mad I could just scream!!!

I guess I will have to contact the insurance company and find out who else we could see. This group has cared for my kids since birth and 3 out of the 5 physicians are top notch. I hate to lose the opportunity to see them because of the two incompetent goobs that we have had to deal with this week.

I am really frustrated. Pray for me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's time!!!

I have begun marking and basting my quilt sections. I am getting really excited now! I used a highly technical method for marking my top. I used my quilter's graphite (washable) marker and traced around a Valentine's Day cookie cutter. I plan on putting some sort of swirly or squiggly line between the heart motifs so I don't have to break my thread any more than necessary. If I can survive this final part in the process, I will be so pleased with myself!!!
My enthusiasm is actually Leah Day's fault. Leah's blog is fantastic and, besides looking like a dead ringer for one of my lovely and talented high school students, her videos and tutorials are inspiring and make, even me, feel potentially capable. Love that!
I am even going to attempt free motion with the hearts instead of relying totally on my fall back walking foot and straight lines. The only real deviation that I am making with Leah's method is that I am still working in sections that I will join together later as I don't have room (or haven't figured out where to put it) for a larger sewing station yet.
The quilting will likely begin tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sick Kiddos and a Piece of Strawberry Pie

Maybe I should say Strawberry Pie is pieced! Yahoo! All of my sections are together and the next stage is the basting and quilting. I am hoping that by this weekend that will be underway.

I had ordered a Super Slider, Machingers, and Bobbin Washers from Leah Day's online store. You can check out her blog (and link to her shop) at She was having a sale with no shipping charges, so I decided to try and do something to help out my old beast of a sewing machine until I can afford to purchase the machine of my dreams. The store was easy to navigate and the items I ordered shipped out immediately. I received everything today! I would definitely order from Leah again. I love that I can even email Leah with questions. You simply must check out her quilting work--it is phenomenal!

I can't wait to try my goodies out and practice a bit to see if I can get this top completely machine quilted. How exciting!!! I will try and begin working on some practice blocks tomorrow evening and Friday. If all goes well, I am off to the races!!! How exciting!

My mom called this evening to tell me that she was able to get the last of the ill-fated quilting stitches finally picked out of Murphy's Quilt. We had both worked on that one. Yuck! But, now, we can tie it, bind it, and move on with life! I'll be very glad to put that monster behind me.

I had sick, feverish kiddos today and I kept them home from school and stayed up with them. Went to the pediatrician (got the one I didn't like) and was told that my oldest was sick and would likely have a sinus infection, so to call back in a few days if he got worse. I explained that he had already had to have sinus surgery and asked for a strong decongestant. I was told to call back in a few days. I guess they want more of my money? With a strong decongestant, there would be nothing left in his sinuses in a few days! What about his fever? I don't run to the doctor for every little thing and I truly think that with a better decongestant, there would be no reason to take antibiotics (which are best avoided if not needed) in a few days.

But, on the best note of all, hubby is home from his business trip to Virginia. Life is always better when he is home. I miss him (and don't sleep terribly well) lots when he is away.

Some days are like that! Up and down, all over the place.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yeah, baby!

Four more rows pieced together. They aren't assembled yet, but they are complete. I have to piece one more horizontal row and then I can assemble into two sections, one with two rows and another with three rows. Then it will be time to, gulp, quilt~!

Here is the sunny yellow backing that I am using up against one of the rows. The actual fabric is a bit brighter than the picture. The blue thread is what I will quilt with. I am actually excited to see how it will all come together in the end. It's just a matter of seeing if I can pull off the quilting this time.

I will keep you posted!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A little mojo?

Well, I have completed piecing the first six horizontal rows of my Strawberry Pie quilt. I am piecing them in pairs so that they will be a manageable size to machine quilt.

I have 5 more rows to piece. Okay, the last one will be a set of 3, but at least there is only one that will be that wide.

I still have apprehensions about quilting it, but I guess I will just have to deny myself the opportunity to panic over it! Wow! Look at all of that bright, sunshine-y goodness!!!
It makes me smile to see the fabrics. It's definitely a wild, girly thing! But, alas, it is almost midnight and I must go to bed. It's term paper season and I definitely need to get some sleep before I resume that!

Lost my quilting mojo

At least it was starting to feel that way. I just couldn't make myself keep working on my quilt, so I took a break.

The longer I was on my break, the more I thought about quilting. I honestly think that I knew that I would be closer to the moment when I begin machine quilting again and I am apprehensive about that part. I am STILL picking stitches out of Murphy's quilt and I physically cringe whenever I see minkee fabric.

But, I think it's time to just jump back into the saddle and ride, ride, RIDE!!!

So, I am going to continue piecing tonight and we'll see how far I can get.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Out of sorts....

Maybe it was returning back to work in a freezing cold building, but I figured that I was totally out of sorts when I didn't even want to look at my quilt project on Friday (my off day). That is so totally NOT like me!

I may work on it a bit tonight, but we will just have to see. I have had a headache and some muscle aches. I am truly hoping that it won't progress into anything major, but it can't have been good being cold all week.

Today, the plan is to get DS13's new bed and mattress. We are moving him up to a double bed since he is pushing 6 feet tall and outgrowing his twin bed. After that we need some fluorescent tubes for the closet light and some cabinet hinges where someone's horrid children pulled a cabinet door off the hinges. This was months ago and we still haven't found the right hinges to fix it--Ugh! It's like shades of my mother saying (with humor), "This is why we can't have nice things!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Few Lessons Learned....

It's official. I have spent more time trying to figure out what is wrong with my free motion machine quilting than I spent at the class learning the various techniques years ago. I am extremely out of practice, but I do know the basics. I have been working on muslin practice squares to get "the feel of it" back, but I am finding out a few things. The machine that I originally learned to machine quilt on bit the dust many moons ago and I replaced with with one from Wally World.

My machine is pretty jerky, so my stitching can't be terribly smooth, no matter what I attempt. Hubby discovered that the surface of the extension table is smoother and has less friction when you move fabric across it than the surface under the arm of my machine. So, the right side catches while the left side glides smoothly. No matter how smooth my hand motions are, I can't overcome the friction issue.

Hubby suggested getting some smooth plastic to put over both surfaces so that the friction would be the same on either side. I know that there is a teflon coated piece of plastic made for that purpose. I don't know if I can lay my hands on either very quickly.

If I can try one of these solutions in the near future, I will. Otherwise, I may just do the straight line stuff with my walking foot (in sections) and quilt the hearts and swirls by hand. Boy, if that is the case, I really need to get cracking!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Finished my blocks

Here are my completed quilt blocks, freshly pressed and looking lovely. The center stack is the focus fabric squares. The blocks on the left are 16-patch units and the ones on the right are 4-rail units.
Sorry about the shadows, I was trying to get a better view of the fabrics. Now, all that is left is the backing and quilting.
I got muslin today to make up some practice blocks before I risk working on my new fabrics. As an added bonus, I can take the muslin that is left over and put it to use as setting squares for another project that I have in mind. Love that!
Well, I am off to bed. I have been feeling kind of icky and sinus-y today and I have to report back to work tomorrow morning. I am thinking that a really good night's sleep may help bunches! Nite!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I managed to finish cutting out all of my fabric and I have gotten almost half of the 16-patch blocks sewn. I will work on the rest tomorrow. With chain piecing, it really does go pretty fast.

But all that brings me closer with my dilemma. How to finish up this quilt? Hiring it out is simply not in the budget right now. My $$$ would be better saved up for a better sewing machine. I am capable of hand quilting it, but during the school year, that takes a LONG time.

It might be silly, but I would be thrilled if I could take it back to Silver Thimble next month with it ready to put the binding on. I'd like to learn more about the proper way to do that. But, that could be absolutely not realistic. We'll see.

Theoretically, I could machine quilt this one. I have taken classes on doing that and have done a few. However, Murphy's Quilt with minkee is haunting me and I am afraid of doing anything very large. I am not sure if the minkee was the total problem or if my machine just couldn't handle the weight of the project in addition to the problems with the minkee. That project stole a lot of my confidence.

So, I have the option of breaking it up into smaller units so that I can quilt without dealing with the bulk or the weight. It's a thought. I would have to be terribly careful about leaving room for joining the sections together.

Ideally, I would like to do a heart pattern in each of the focus fabric blocks with just stitch in the ditch on the 4-rail and 16-patch blocks. The heart pattern is very simple, a heart with two small swirlies on the sides of the bottom. Very cute. But, I haven't successfully done any free motion quilting in years.

Maybe I can pick up some inexpensive muslin and practice a bit with scrap batting to see if I can get the feel of it back. Machine quilting in sections seems like the safest bet to getting this thing finished in a reasonable amount of time.

If you are lurking here, tell me what you think. I am open to suggestions!

Piecing along

On my new quilt project. I have finished the strip piecing (and I have never done that much chain piecing in one sitting before) and am cutting the resulting 4-rail strips into smaller counterparts. I can only cut so many out before I have to stop because my back gets irritated. So, I cut a bit, sit a bit. Oh well. I think that the dining room table is a bit low for cutting.

With any luck, I can piece my 16 patch units tonight before bed. Then all that will be left is putting the top together and making all of the finishing decisions. That is likely where I will bog down.

We'll see.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Silver Thimble Club in McDonough!

Today, despite the questionable road conditions, was the first official meeting of the Silver Thimble Club at the ever fabulous A Scarlet Thread Quilt Shop in McDonough, GA. It's always a treat to go into the shop and today was no different!

We had a great time and enjoyed our teacher, Pat Wys, immensely! I learned quite a bit. It wasn't all terribly new material to me, but often a better way to accomplish something, either to increase precison or efficiency. Good stuff! I pretty much learned to quilts from books and from gleaning information from my mom that my granny had taught her, so it was great to learn new ways to do things and why these ways may be preferable to the way I usually do them.

This is a photo (that I borrowed from Pat's blog--hope that is okay) of the quilt that I am currently working on. It is made from Pat Wys' pattern "Strawberry Pie." The quilt shop made us kits of these wonderful fabrics. I can't wait to complete mine.

At first, I thought it was a bit too girly and I wanted to make it up with more aqua colors and less pink. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make something girly just for me. Trust me, I don't think my boys will care much about this one! I didn't purchase the backing that is on the sample, instead I chose a simple butter yellow that will look lovely and soft. Even I can only be so girly!

This beauty is what the kits for next month will be. The pattern is another of Pat Wys'. Did I mention that this lady is really talented and a great teacher? It is called "White Chocolate" and doesn't it just make your mouth water? I love it. Again, I can't take credit for the photo as I borrowed it from Pat's blog to be able to show what we are doing.

If you are in the area, you should really, REALLY check out A Scarlet Thread and maybe you will become a Silver Thimble, too!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Murphy's Quilt

Okay, I have officially named my first quilt. The horrendous undertaking of the minkee backed monster is now officially called, "Murphy's Quilt." It seemed apt considering that everything that could possibly go wrong with it has certainly happened.

Today, we found a hole where it got bogged in the feed dogs and tore. We STILL haven't picked all of the old stitches out and will have to resume that tomorrow. We can't bring the minkee up to the top of the quilt as planned since it moves around so much.

So, tonight, I am going through scraps and putting anything even remotely blending together to make binding strips. I can't wait until this one is in the past!

The Gardener's Quilts

One of my favorite quilt stores and the one closest to my home is The Gardener's Quilts in Jackson, GA. I recently learned that they had moved and I just had to find out where. Turns out they are about 4 blocks closer to home now.

Today, Mom, Bev, and I went to check it out. I have always liked Mrs. Jan's shop, but it is so quaint and just gorgeous in this new setting. Even though it is approximately the same size as the former location, it seems far larger with the room arrangement.

I really like the new set up!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's Almost Silver Thimble Time...

I am so excited about my first Silver Thimble Club Meeting! I can't wait to get my new kit and get to sewing. The pattern is Strawberry Pie by the Silver Thimble Quilt Company/Pat Wys. The fabrics are so cute and I will likely be preparing to do this as a quilt as you go project. Right now, I don't think that anyone could talk me into attempting another bed size quilt with my sewing machine!

But, it should be really easy to divide it into sections. I will need to get a batting and some backing fabrics. I love that I can use different fabrics on the back. That will definitely make it more interesting. I really enjoy getting a surprise when I look at the back of a quilt and find something different and fun!

Anyway, since I haven't gone to one of these before and I have only taken one or two classes where I had to take my sewing machine anywhere, I am anxious to see how it will go. Can't wait to get "The Behemoth" behind me and start on a new and (hopefully) lower stress project!

Insomnia ain't pretty

And neither are headaches and quilts with minkee backing. Sigh.

I went to bed early and woke up about 4 hours later, very thirsty. So, I got up for some water and couldn't fall back asleep, so I pulled all of the tape off of the behemoth quilt.

I have spent some serious quality time with it and the seam ripper. Yuck. No matter what I try, the backing keeps shifting, so this puppy will end up being tied tomorrow. That way it will get on the bed and I won't waste any more time wanting to cry over it.

I seldom get this emotional about a project. I am not terribly perfectionistic with my quilting, so I tend to like my results and enjoy the process most of the time. This time, I had such high hopes for this quilt and the backing that I feel like my plans have been thwarted at every turn. So, I figure it's better to let the expectations go and have a practical blanket for my bed. My mom suggested the tying idea to me when I was looking for ideas for making the backing stay put. Generally, tying is my last choice. For this quilt, it is looking like my only choice. It's definitely better than it laying on a UFO pile forever, with my resentment growing. This will give me a clean start on the next project.

But, better finished than perfect, right?

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Behemoth...

This quilt is teaching me the joy of the quilt as you go method--as in, I really should have done this as a quilt as you go....

Minkee is not nice to work with. It is not like fleece. Even when basted well and pulled taught, and pinned to Toledo, Spain and back, it will shift. It doesn't play nice.

Especially when it is making up the back of a full sized quilt that I am trying to quilt with my (crappy) little sewing machine.

I've done this before. It takes a bit of finagling, but it is do-able. I am not sure that this project is do-able anymore. Tomorrow, I will spend a few hours with my trusty seam ripper and I will endeavor to make at least a durable utility quilt out of this, erg, thing that has taken over my time. I don't want to even think about hand quilting through the thick minkee or I might do that.

I won't even consider paying for long arm services for it. It would be like $200.oo to get it done at all. Yikes!

We'll see if this gets thrown away tomorrow.

Some Ol' South yummy goodness!

Here is a recipe that hubby got from a co-worker about a year ago, I guess. He brought a huge amount of it in to feed everyone at work (around 100 or so, I would reckon) and sent hubby home with enough left overs to feed the 4 of us with some left over. It was simple. It was delicious.

It was Chicken Bog (an old, down South traditional recipe that I, having been raised by Yankees, had never even heard of). It was also accompanied by a pickled cole slaw that was perfect.

Hubby, who is a real food snob, loved it and asked for cut down recipes. I am simmering "The Bog" as we speak. Here are the recipes with great thanks to hubby's former co-worker for sharing it with us.

Chicken Bog
1 cut up chicken
1 pound of Hillshire Farms smoked sausage (your choice of hot or mild)
1 palmful of salt
heavy sprinkle of pepper
1 can of cream of chicken soup
6 cups of water

Put in large pot, bring to rolling boil. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Debone chicken and return to pot.

Taste with plastic spoon (don't ask me, it's just written down here)
Add salt and/or pepper to taste.

Add 3 cups of long grain rice. Stir once and bring to boil.
Cover and turn heat to as low as possible for 30 minutes.

Mama's Cabbage Slaw
2 medium cabbage chopped
1/2 lb. carrots chopped
1 1/2 cup onions chopped
1 cup bell pepper chopped

Boil together:
3 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar (I use cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt

Boil for one minute.
Pour over chopped veggies and mix thoroughly. Will keep 3 or 4 weeks if refrigerated.

Warning: this makes a huge amount of slaw. I used only 1 cabbage and have over a gallon of it!

Please let me know if you try and enjoy these!


Well, I have basted a bed sized quilt that I started last year. It began as a quick quilt that I kept adding borders to until it was large enough to cover our double bed. I am using minkee for the backing and can't wait to see how it stitches up. I am likely to wrap the minkee around to the top. At least that is the plan.

When I was a kid, I slept under my Granny's old polyester quilt(rough, unbreathable, double-knit stuff) that had a soft, flannel backing that wrapped onto the front of the quilt. It was tied, made totally for durability and quickness to get it on the bed. But, I have memories of rolling down that edge to make sure that only flannel touched my chin and neck. Special stuff, memories.

I have never basted a whole quilt out flat before. I usually use my Mom's ping pong table and spray baste the fool out of them. But, today, my parents were gone taking my brother to get his stitches and staples out from his accident. I have a key, but it was too cold to get out if there was any other alternative.

So, down came the Christmas decorations (I know, Southerners usually take them down earlier--so sue me) to make room. I vacuumed and laid out my backing, batting, and quilt top. I pinned to the carpet. I can't get on my knees for long, so I crouched, leaning over, giving myself one heckuva case of heart burn. I continued this until I had to put heat on my back and Tums in my tummy.

So, I took a risk. I got down on the floor and laid across the quilt while I worked. I was afraid it would wrinkle things, but I could smooth as I went and it seemed to go okay. My knees didn't hurt and my back didn't get sore (which is miraculous since it has been rather hinky lately). I got it pinned and trimmed. There doesn't appear to be any wrinkles in the backing, so I feel pretty good about it.

Now, I am thinking about how I will quilt it. Since it is more modern looking fabrics than I usually use, I am thinking of getting various widths of painters tape (rather than my ol' 1 inch standby) and randomly doing diagonal lines in both directions, a contrast to the blockiness and consistency of the "Take 5" pattern.

I will likely start stitching tonight. Can't wait to see how this one turns out. I am kind of scared to mess it up, but excited nonetheless.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Mom! That's creepy!"

That's what the boys said to me after I told them that after I cut their hair (they were looking a lot like sheepdogs) that I wasn't throwing the hair outside for animals to use in their dens, like I usually do.

This time, I was saving their hair to use in pincushions.

You had thought that I was going to personally make voodoo dolls of each of them.

I explained that the hair would keep the pins lubricated and clean. They are not buying into this.

I can't wait until I am using one of these pincushions and seeing what their response is when I stick them with pins! Muhahahaha!

I'm only sedate on the outside...

I have got to admit. I love Penny Sturgis' purse patterns. The Mini Bow Tucks bag was fun to make, but a little small. This is the full sized bag and I love, love, love it! Vera Bradley ain't got nothin' on me--hehehehe. I love Vera's bags, but I certainly ain't paying for one. I have purchased knock offs in the past, but the patterns weren't the most dynamic, so... I decided to try and do some bags of my own. My friend, Laine got me off on this path, by sharing a pattern idea. But, I digress. Here is the calm, sophisticated bag.

And then, bam! Open the bag and get a technicolor jolt...

Yep. It's true. I can fake it every day, but the truth is, on the inside, I am a wild woman! Ha!
Really, I wanted something fun that would make me smile whenever I opened the purse and also something that my items would contrast against, so I would lose things in the bottom of a dark, shadowy bag. I think this fits the bill, don't you?