Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Year In Review


It is time to post the annual recap of the year, and my plans for the new year.


This was the year of small projects. I made an Alzheimer's quilt, two small wall hangings, and finished a UFO.



The first part of the year, I was working two full time jobs. You may think that such a situation would leave no time for quilting, but I did manage to applique some Moondance blocks. I made some ATCs for the birthday swap. Later, I started making the Wildflower Garden quilt, the orange African crazy quilt, the Blushing Bride quilt, and the African Circle quilt. I also attended the National Quilting Association annual quilt show (all three days!), did some genealogy research, helped index some genealogy records, painted my bedroom, scanned two boxes of photos, and made several photo slideshows. I made luggage tags and a bag for Art Everyday Month, before diving into making gifts for my family members. It was a very good year.



As for my plans for the new year, please refer to my post from last year, which remains almost completely unfulfilled. I did manage to applique some Moondance blocks. I changed my goals to finish anything I started and not worry about older projects. Eventually, the plan was to finish an old one or two as time went by. Yeah the finishing part didn't work so well either. I think I'll refrain from making any new promises, although just finishing those quilts sounds pretty good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snow!


The weekend has been busy finishing up the gifts. I made the requested coasters and another potholder. Also finished making all the gift bags. In between finishing up the gifts, I tried to clean a little, take my daughter shopping for a specific shirt, had a great visit from an old friend, and a birthday party, before our holiday gathering. So I didn't get a chance to watch the news or go grocery shopping, or recharge my camera battery. I took my recharger with me, and left it there. There are some pictures on the camera, which I will show you another time.

The weather was warm for winter, and most people were out with sweaters instead of coats. We had our holiday gathering. Most people were happy with their hand made gifts - the fuzzy blanket (I did manage to applique a name on it), and the framed name were most appreciated. The person who received the apron gave me and another person an apron kit.

Then, someone said, "look outside." It was a winter wonderland. The snow was coming down hard. The photographs of people who had charged batteries (not me) turned out wonderful. The flash really showed the snow coming down.

Now I can put away all my gift making supplies, and do all the cleaning that has been postponed during Operation 10 Gifts, and have a clean house for the New Year. I've dubbed it International Cleaning Week, since it seems like people all around the world like to start the New Year with clean spaces.

I've added this post, and the others talking about my gifts to Amy Lou's Sew & Tell Secret Gift Edition. Click on the link to see what gifts others have made.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas



Have a Merry Christmas! Hope your entire Holiday Season is wonderful, and that the joy carries through throughout the New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gifts #9 of 10 and #10 of 10


When I went to pick up my daughter from school, I bought the remaining birthday presents. I also bought a shirt for Gift #9. I know it is cheating, but I wanted to be sure that I wouldn't leave anyone gift-less. I still can't think of what to make him. He likes electronic parts - like the innards of the computer, and without specifications, that is something I simply can't make or even buy. I gave him the gift of my time at the hospital, the doctor's office, and at stores, instead of away from him making stuff.

At the beginning of this project, I made written up my list of ideas on an index card. About halfway through the project, I lost said list. Getting ready for Thanksgiving, I had put away the sewing stuff that was in the living room into a suitcase. I sew in my living room, and to transform it from a studio to a living room, all the stuff has to be stored away. Suitcases are great for this! Why store them empty, when you can use the space.



The other day, I was looking in the suitcase, and I noticed the sashiko I had made. It was a kit that Tanya sent me. I had forgotten that I was going to do something with it for gift giving for recipient #10. I decided I didn't want a wall hanging, where it would be up for scrutiny, and the gift recipient doesn't use bags very much, so a pillow was the way to go. A quick run to the closest dollar store to get some "stuffing". I thought they might have some cheap ugly pillow I could use as a pillow form. They didn't have small pillows or pillow forms, but this was a great substitute. I like to watch the holiday rush from afar, and steer clear from shopping this close to Christmas. I have reminders of Tanya all throughout my house, and now another family member will have one too!


Did you notice the mitered corners? Four of them, and they went together easily. I have practiced so many different techniques this project - mitered corners, french seams, sashiko, bag making, apron making, stuffing pillows, etc.

I'm still not done. I want to see if I can finish making the gift bags, and there are ideas for additional gifts - the pie potholder, a notebook cover for recipient #1, and some coasters that were specifically requested at the last minute.

I hope your Christmas festivities are, well, festive. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Poor Gingerbread Man


My nephew came over yesterday to finish the second owl that he had started. He finished it, and wanted to make something for his cousins. He decided to make a gingerbread man. It took a while to make, and he was tickled with the results, so I think he is going to keep it. As you can tell, the gingerbread man has gone through a lot of abuse. I thought turning him inside out would be good since we used fabric instead of felt, but then we didn't leave much room for the seam allowance, so we abandoned that idea. Since he has been taking up so much of my sewing machine time, and since he wants to practice sewing on the machine, I had him make some gift bags for me. I've been meaning to make gift bags for a while - save money on wrapping paper, save the environment, convenience of bags vs. paper, and not have to worry about running out. He made three for me before he started talking about child labor. Fortunately for me, his parents have no problems with utilizing his labor.

My daughter moved out of her school this week. She's going to a different school next semester. Lots of trips up and down steps and through various hallways. I do believe a psychology professor must have designed the building to resemble a rat maze.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eileen's Owls



On Friday, I invited my mother to go to a charity sew-in with me. They meet monthly to make quilts for cancer patients, and since I just received the newsletter, I was freshly reminded. She, my nephew and I went there. I thought the nephew would bring his homework, but he had been instructed to learn about the project. What a great idea, interview people, write a report. Actually I don't know if the interviewing and writing a report was part of the plan, but it sounds good to me! He was very excited about being able to use a sewing machine for the first time. It turns out that they had decided to take December off for the holidays. We went home dejected.

Yesterday, he came over while his parents went to a birthday party. I gave him a choice between several different options, making paper German stars, fabric owls, baking cookies, or watching a movie. He wanted whatever it is that requires sewing. I had found this cute owl tutorial on Eileen's blog and wanted to make it someday, but I thought I should focus on my gifts first. This was my perfect opportunity to work on it. He was really excited. This requires machine sewing as well as hand sewing, so he got practice doing both. He said, "sewing isn't just for girls." I told him there were many famous male quilters. The machine kept moving the fabric in a circle - which is good because the template is kinda circular - so he got a lot of practice with 1. put the needle down, 2. lift the presser foot, 3. move the fabric, 4. put the presser foot down, 5. sew. It is hard to remember those steps in order.



We used batting scraps for stuffing. Being a son of photographer(s), he is really good about freezing his pose when I was ready to photograph him. My daughter would have told me not to take pictures. He was surprised that I was taking a photo of batting scraps though, but seemed to understand when I told him it was for the blog. The eyes are made from batting scraps too.


Then while we ate dinner, we watched an Indian movie, "Chakde", which is about a has-been male field hockey player who coaches a bunch of women athletes from all over the country with dreams of winning the World Cup. I thought it would be a good tie-in for being willing to break the boundaries society puts on you. We were only going to watch it while we are eating dinner, and then go back and make another owl, but he really got into the movie. And I learned a lot about field hockey from him, since he plays soccer. And he learned more about Indian values: "First you play for your country, then you play for your team, and then if there is any time left, you play for yourself." I know a lot of sports teams in other countries have those values also, but it rarely translates outside to real life as well.

We started on the second owl, but he didn't get a chance to finish it. He's going to give the first one to his mother, because of the purple and green colors. Next time he comes over, maybe I'll ask him to make me one as well. He wants to make a pillow next, or something that lets him do machine sewing longer.

Quilt Ideas

Remember in my last post, the one that was published just a few hours ago, I said that I should just make some of the things I see, right then and there, instead of waiting until I was finished with something else.

I figured out why I don't do that. Here on just one post of Rayela's Fiber Focus, there are three quilts I want to make - African Sawtooth, Fiber of Slavery, and LaQuita Tummings. Well, not those exact quilts - don't have the pattern, but something inspired by each of those. And none of them are ones I can make quickly.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gift #8 of 10 - grocery bag




I decided to make something practical for this gift recipient. It isn't what she wants or what she would ask for, but you can always use bags, right? She really likes shopping, and does attempt to be green. It doesn't have to be pretty, just useful, so some of the pressure is off. I used pretty fabric that she would like, and even the inside is pretty fabric. If I thought cutting two of the same shape for the aprons was hard, I got a chance to practice cutting four of the same shape, using a flimsy plastic bag as a template. At least I cut all four layers at the same time. I'm so glad I have the sharp scissors my mother gave me. I did my best with the sewing, although some of the top stitching isn't pretty (the part that goes over all four layers), but it's probably as good a quality as a store bought thing would be. We hardly ever look for flaws in store-bought things, even though we easily look for them in hand-made things. It took two years for me to notice a flaw in my bathroom rug.

I made a reusable grocery bag following the instructions at this website. It's a great bag, works just like the plastic ones you get at the store. The instructions are really good. The only advice I can give is to follow the instructions exactly, without thinking ahead. When it said, "sew the sides" I wasn't sure whether that meant just the straight sides, or the curved part of the handle on that side as well. The picture is closeup, and you can't see what has been done and what hasn't. And although I tried to read ahead to see when we were told to sew the curved part, I missed it and had to do some unsewing. Nothing major though. The bottom seam is the only one that is not hidden, but it is inside the bag where you wouldn't see it unless you looked really hard.



Overall, I don't think I would be excited to get a grocery bag as a gift, but I would certainly be able to use it. I'm happy with it. It may seem wonderful that I only have two gifts left, but I apparently left the hardest people for last. I generally have trouble figuring out what to get them every gift giving season. I am also short some birthday gifts - I have 2 out of the four purchased.

Even though I keep thinking about all my unfinished projects, and the ones I haven't even started, I am really enjoying this little break from normal sewing, and doing these things and learning stuff. I think in the future, instead of saying "I want to make that someday," maybe once in a while, I should just go ahead and do it right then and there. I think after I am finished with all these, I am going to try to keep up the momentum and make some ornaments / banners, something to make next year's decorating more festive. Of course, I should probably bring up the stuff I already have to see what I need.


It snowed last night - the first time this season that it stuck to the ground. It is a perfect snow, as you can see. Covers the ugly grass, and leaves the street and sidewalk free for use.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gifts #7 of 10 - potholders



These things are addictive! I have to stop at two and work on gifts for the rest, but I saved a pie pattern in case I have time to do it later. I thought it would be nice to hang them up in the kitchen for the photo shoot. I see I need to clean the kitchen cabinets. These are high up cabinets above the stove that I don't use (or apparently look at) very often.



To see other Sew and Tell participants, click on the link to go to Amy Lou Who's blog.

Gift #7 of 10 in progress


It's so nice to be able to see so much progress. I'm on #7. Although, it does make me worry about getting the rest of the projects done on time - considering that I still have to think of most of the ideas.

I talked to the nephew about his parents, and he said that his father liked the color blue, and liked to bake. I was thinking potholders for him, so that worked out perfectly. But no, my teeny tiny four inch potholders are not good enough. They use potholders everyday, to bring the food to the coffee table or wherever they are eating, and the same potholder gets used as a placemat under the food. Their potholders are eight inches square. No problem, I have some blue and white kits left over from the BOM I bought a couple of years back, and they are 12 inches. A couple of nice Ohio Star or similar HST blocks would be nice and quick.

No, the nephew insisted that a geometric pattern would not do. His father likes to bake, and bakery items have to go on the potholder. I searched around for some clip art, and found a few. I was thinking of more than one potholder, but goodness, one of these is like making a whole quilt! I got a couple of pancake clip art, and put them together. He really liked the red topping instead of the butter and syrup. Then I wasn't sure it really looks like pancakes, so it sat for the day. But today, I came downstairs without my glasses on, and it does kinda look like pancakes. So today, I guess I will stitch it down. Maybe I'll write "Pancakes" with a Sharpie, to give people a clue about what it is. I'll also make a cupcake one, but I think I'll stop at two potholders.

I had to reverse the light and dark beige colors, because I didn't have very much of the light, so these look like whole wheat pancakes. See, I'm promoting a healthy lifestyle. Fruit and wheat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gift #6 of 10


My sister went to work yesterday, and our mother had a dentist's appointment, so I was in charge of homeschooling my nephew. I wasn't given any instructions on how to do this, probably because he is pretty independent, and he was finishing up a chapter. He has a tendency to do the math in his head and not show his work, and when he figures it out on paper, he erases his work. I explained to him that not showing your work will make you lose points, but it didn't take.

While he was here, I decided to use his brain, and save some wear and tear on mine. I asked him about gift ideas for his parents. "Would your mother like a Christmas ornament?" "How about a vase?" "Is this the shade of blue your Dad likes?" "Does this purple go with this purple?" I think I did a pretty good job of teaching him how to multi-task.

I don't know why he didn't get all his homework done. Maybe because the day went really fast.

Gift #6 is the blanket I bought on Black Friday. My original plan was to do something, maybe applique a name, or add a pocket to make a quillow, (a quilt that turns into a pillow) or would that be a blallow since it isn't a quilt? Anyway, I don't really have the right shade(s) of purple I need to do this. After some deliberation, I have decided that I am going to give this to her, as is. It seems stupid to spend precious time and money simply to give the blanket a dorky handmade look. It's warm and soft, and what she asked for. She will be happy to get it. It's the other gift recipients I am worried about - whether they will wish I had taken that store bought route with them as well.



In my last post, I talked about hiring out my nephew for tasks. I bought this alphabet stamp kit when I returned the Cricut. It was only $2.50, mainly because the labor wasn't done. There weren't directions in the box either, but maybe they figured that if I thought hard enough, I would be able to figure it out. The stamp holders needed the stamps stuck to the bottom, and a sticker at the top to show what stamp it is. If you notice, the stickers and the stamps aren't on the same location on the circles. And with the fancy font, and being reversed and all, it wasn't as easy to match them up as you would expect. I had them about halfway done, and when the nephew saw what I had done, he finished the job without my asking him to do it. Free labor!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gift 5 of 10 - Apron


I finished the apron I showed in my last post. I am really happy that I found the directions for the reversible apron, because I think that helped a lot. I am really tickled that it looks like an apron. I am using a panel, so of course it should look right, but the size seemed short, which it isn't. The panel seems to have forgotten about seam allowances, since you are supposed to cut on the line, then some of the design gets hidden. And if you try to leave a seam allowance outside the line, there isn't enough space near the armhole. But it worked out all right in the end. The hardest part was cutting two shapes that were the same. Too bad the Cricut can't cut that big! The back is cotton fabric that is printed to look like burlap. I put a pocket on each side.



Of course, while I was making it, I thought of a couple of other gifts to make for this gift recipient. She really likes books, and this book wreath, or a pillow or box that looks like a book would have been great choices. I would have much preferred ideas for the remaining gift recipients.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gift #5 of 10 in Process


It feels so good to be typing Gift #5 of 10, because it makes me feel like I am at the halfway point, but it is really cheating, because Gift #3 isn't finished. I was wondering if Gift #3 needs to be renamed, but that's too much thought and effort, and I've got ten gifts to make!

I have been wavering about the Cricut that I bought on Black Friday. The daughter thought I should return it. I kept thinking that it would be really good to cut lots of leaves for applique. But I was thinking that it would take at least eight hours of cutting leaves to make that thing worthwhile, assuming $10 an hour. That's a lot of leaves! Plus, I have a nephew who would probably do it, especially at that price. Besides, I'm too cheap to pay anyone to cut up leaves for me anyway! Since I was pretty certain yesterday, I went off to Joann and returned it.

I thought I would look around for ideas - yes always a dangerous thing - but I really need the right fabric for the rest of the gifts. One of my ideas was to make an apron with some old fashioned looking fabric I got from a yard sale for the thrift store gal. I don't have a pattern, so I thought a simple waist apron would be fine, with my newly learned skill of french folding. I prefer an apron that covers the shirt as well, but compromises need to be made. But I couldn't find the fabric I was thinking of, and every time I looked, I kept encountering more projects that I want to be working on for me.



Joann had apron kits for $10 each - sorry couldn't find an internet photo, and I thought that would be good for one of the gifts - an apron, not the kit. I found a Debbie Mum panel that was much cheaper, $1.50 a panel, and I liked the design better, so I bought the panel. I bought the kit anyway, because I liked the hanger. The kit involves more sewing, with ruffles, etc., so I'm going to stick with the simple panel. Then today I stumbled upon this Michael Miller pattern for an reversible apron, so now I am thinking I should find a fabric for the back. It would be much easier than trying to hem neatly since I don't have a rolled hem foot. I'll have to make the other one for me. I need one for when I am eating.

The people at the store were very friendly - the customers as well as the employees. So it was a pleasant trip.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift #4 of 10



Gift #3 is pending, waiting until I borrow a staple gun from my sister. Here I present to you Gift #4. It is a wall hanging for someone who already has and appreciates the two other warm wall hangings I made for him. He showed a fondness for batiks, so this one is the first one that is completely batiks. The strips were already cut, because it is a Bali Pop, so it was quick and easy to grab the warm colors from the kit, and sew them together. It came together easily. I was not able to free motion quilt, so I squiggled some lines using the walking foot. Quick and Easy. He had asked for patchwork and applique, but I think I'm going to call it done now. I've got other things to make.



The backing fabric is brushed cotton. So soft and comfy. The fish batik is a gift from a fellow quilter, and I thought it would be a good addition to put a little surprise on the back. I added a couple of darker Bali Pop strips for the binding. I put the hanging corners on all four corners, so he could decide which way was up.

I'm still trying to think of ideas for the other gift recipients. I know there are lots of things I can make, decorations, bags, etc., but trying to pull from that list something they might want is hard.

Even though it isn't Friday, I am posting this for Amy Lou's Sew and Tell Friday. You can click on the link to see what other bloggers are Sewing and Telling.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gift #3 and #4 in Progress


Oh goodness, it is already Wednesday and I still just have an in progress post. I was busily working on Gift #4, and avoiding the pressing of Gift #3. I thought that if I tried to press the applique and it didn't stick, then I would need another crying day, and I have too many gifts to make to take another crying day. Turns out that procrastination days take as much time as crying days, and I have now run out of crying days. I guess I should have read the rule book before I started.

So here I am, still working on Gifts #3 and #4 and have no crying days left over for the rest of the gifts. I also have run out of ideas for what to make the other gift recipients. The first four ideas came easily, but the others are harder. There is one more gift idea in my head, but I don't think I have the proper fabric colors available in my stash. I'll have to think harder on that one.

The good news is that Gift #3 is progressing quite nicely. I pressed the applique, and it did stick very well. I mounted it on the frame, and everything looks good. I got stuck when my staple gun didn't work. I think some old staples have rusted inside it, and all the shaking and shooting and banging isn't restoring it back to it's glory. My sister has one that I can borrow, so that gift is almost done. It does look like is missing something. I would appreciate it if you would please let me know what it's missing. I don't like the bird's eye, but I figure I can get my Sharpies out to fix that.

Gift #4 is progressing very nicely without any setbacks. Well, I still wasn't able to free motion quilt it, but the end result looks good. It is pieced and quilted. Just have to bind it, and I'll show you the grand finish.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gift #3 and #4 of 10 in Progress


I didn't feel like doing any sewing on Friday. My brother hurt his back at work, so I needed to spend some serious quality time at the hospital with him on Saturday. At least it is a muscle sprain and not a broken bone. Apparently it is a family trait. Or maybe it's an old people trait. Don't know, don't like it. I called my sister to let her know, and she was in a talkative mood, so Saturday was a sewless day as well.

Notice how I am moving on to Gift #4 even though I haven't shown you finished Gift #3? That's because it isn't done yet. Since I decided to make the project bigger, I had to think of something to add to all that empty space. First, I decided to switch backgrounds - from white to purple. That meant that I needed to change the purple on the applique to something else that wouldn't blend in with the background. Since I was using Heat and Bond instead of Steam A Seam (I ran out), I thought I would test out all those rules about using the reverse side of the pattern, etc. for you all over again. Yep. They still apply.

Then I decided to add a bird. After tracing and playing around with different bird shapes, I managed to get a feel for how to draw a bird, and cut a pattern piece bigger, since I could always trim. It looked great the size it was, so I'm leaving it the way it is. The Heat and Bond glued just fine to the applique pieces, but it is having trouble sticking to the background fabric. I tried sewing, but it does gum up the needle, and that messes up the tension, so sewing is out of the question. Right now, I am washing the background fabric, in case it hadn't been done before, and tomorrow I'll apply extra heat, if necessary. I don't want to burn the fusible, but this thing has to stick. Hopefully it will be kinder to me tomorrow.


Okay, for Gift #4 I decided to make another warm wall hanging. I bet my family members are afraid to tell me what they want, because they will get the same thing several times in a row. This will be Warm Wallhanging #3. I have a batik Bali Pop, which is like a jelly roll, which means the strips are already cut. I was thinking simple squares would be good, but then decided on bricks. Rectangles would be even faster than squares. Not staggered bricks, which would require lots of sewing, but rectangles sewn in rows, which could be strip pieced.

Then I got the bright idea that I could make a bargello. I've never made one before, and it's been on my to-do list for a while. The rectangles are smaller instead of bigger, but I don't think it will be too much added work. I wish I could imagine quilts in my head better, so I could see what would have been better, random rectangles, or a bargello, but all the strips are sewn together now, so randomness is out. I think a bargello would look better with both vertical and horizontal symmetry, but I'm not sure if I have enough fabric in one strip to do that, plus I already sewed the strips together. I think it will look fine though, just squares and rectangles in a pattern. I need to sew the rows together, and hopefully things will go smoothly on that quilt.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gift #3 of 10 in process


Just kidding. Just seeing if you were paying attention. Since handmade things can't be returned, I thought a personalized gift would be appreciated, like the door hanger in Gift #1, but tailored for the recipient's tastes. I was thinking it could be used on a door, but also on a wall. In case the Gift Recipient ever forgot her name. I ran out of Steam A Seam so I used Heat and Bond. The directions say "Do Not Sew". Sounds good to me. I've heard that it gums up the needle. I was thinking of just quilting the background, but then I saw on another blog that someone had framed their quilt instead of quilting it. I thought that would work really well for this thing. I happened to have a canvas frame that I had attempted to paint years ago. It is supposed to be a beach scene, and I was going to glue fun stuff on the sand. It doesn't look anything like I had imagined. I obviously didn't get my brother's painting / drawing talent that my daughter and my nieces also managed to pick up since I painted this.



If you look at it sideways, it looks like a silhouette of a face. Maybe it is art, with some deep hidden meaning and I just didn't know it. Anyway, this frame is bigger than the original thing I envisioned, so I have to make some more applique pieces before I can show the finished product.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gift #2 of 10 - pillowcase



I present to you Gift #2. This was also a special request. It is a pillow case for a body pillow. I had planned to use the blanket that I bought on Black Friday, but the Gift Recipient took it with her to school. While I was tempted to steal another blanket from the bed, I decided to save myself a potential family feud and use backing fabric instead. I don't have a lot of yardage, since I generally buy fat quarters. Backing I generally buy after the quilt is done, so the pickings were slim.

It does have an Asian flavor - that muted orange is the color I think of when I think of Asian fabrics, don't really know why. It looks more pink on my computer and more orange in real life. I've seen plenty of Asian fabrics in other colors. If you don't think it is Asian-ish, don't worry about it. I once bought a Southwestern fabric when I needed something African-ish. This is the only available fabric and it has to work even if it isn't Asian-ish. I grabbed the other fabrics quickly, without giving myself time to debate whether they properly coordinate, but I think it looks pretty good overall.



This is the first time I've made a pillowcase, and I did it properly, with french fold to eliminate ugly seams. You should be especially proud of me, because I made the mistake, yelled at the fabric, and fixed it all in one day. I don't have the body pillow to make sure the size is right, so I hope it fits!

Edited to add: This post is a part of Sew and Tell Friday that Amy is sponsoring. Please click on her name to see more Sew and Tell blog posts by bloggers around the world. And if you are here from her post, please feel free to look around my blog. I'm making 10 gifts, and the pillowcase is the most simple one so far.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gift #1 of 10


This is a door hanger designed by the Gift Recipient. He drew out the pattern for me and my mother a few months back. I can't find the original drawing, so hopefully he wasn't particular about which colors went where.

It is made to hang on the door so people will know which room belongs to him. I'm glad he chose the only solid colors I remembered having. I did find a couple other colors in a scrap box sent by a fellow quilter when I was looking for binding fabric.

Here's how I made it:

I played around with different fonts to find an S that I liked. I traced it on paper, using my monitor as the light source, and cut it a little thicker so it would fit better on the background. I used fusible applique. Did you know you needed to reverse the shape when you fusible applique. Yeah, so did I. Did you know there is a particular side you need to put your shape template on your fusible applique? Yep, knew that too. Did you know that you need to make sure that the color of the shape isn't the same color as the color of the background? Yeah, me too. I knew all of that. I was just testing it all to make sure it was really true.

I used pinking shears, since I was talking about getting my money's worth in the previous post. Had to get my money's worth out of those pinking shears. And to make it special without additional effort. I hope the fancy font and the pinking shears doesn't make this door hanger feminine. Hope it still looks like an S.

I saved some time by not stitching down the applique, except as part of the straight line stitching. I also saved time by not trying to see if free motion quilting would work for me on this project. The lines are randomly straight, as in, I was following a seam line, but I was sewing fast, so no guarantees, and randomly distanced apart. This made it easier to sew some lines closer to make sure the applique was stitched down, and the hanging sleeve is secured with a quilting stitch as well. The thread used is the color that isn't on the background or the applique, so all three sections have all three colors.

Then I tried to do that single fold binding I told you about last post. Ugh. I found some black fabric already cut, folded and sewn together. Some of it was inside out so it was part of some other project. It was just the right size. The stitches were too close together to undo, but I went ahead and put it on this quilt, as is. You can't see the black stitching on black fabric anyway, unless you look real close. But I think that it would make a great design idea for someone who can sew straight lines. And it went on without any tears, which is a plus.

I did have some "What was I thinking, will he really appreciate it?" feeling while I was making it. But now, I think it looks good and he will appreciate a quilt that he designed.

Santa's Workshop



Today, I planned on showing you my first finish of the season. Gift #1 of 10. One of the 10 gifts I plan to make for the holidays. I was going to tell you that my math doesn't seem to be working. I need three days to make a gift - one to make the mistake, one day to cry about it, and one day to fix it. 3 days x 10 gifts = missed deadline. I was thinking that I needed to cry faster, and hopefully try to avoid a mistake or two. Sigh. I forgot about my special talent to make mistakes while I am fixing, so maybe I need five days. Five days x 10 gifts = lots of missing gifts. No worries, whatever I don't finish, I can just go out and buy. I am only going to work on one gift at a time, so there won't be half finished products.

On Sunday I remembered that besides the holiday, there are four birthdays this month. One of the birthday people likes to collect antiques, and thrift store stuff. Last year, I went to several thrift stores, and was unable to find anything. It has to either be antique, and what do I know about antiques, or it has to be something fun that she would want. I didn't find anything. But I decided to stop at the thrift store since I was driving by it. I found these great containers. They are probably not antique, but they are useful, and if she doesn't like them, she can give them back to me. The first time I saw these at a doctor's office, I wanted them. The plaque looks old, and has a nice cheery saying. The bowl I might keep for me.



I'd been feeling for a week or two that I should go. I thought it might be the blogs I read, but it might have been intuition, because there were several quilty and crafty things there. All of this stuff - in both pictures - for less than the price of a retail store bought gift.


I used the single fold bias binding I got at the thrift store to speed things along on Gift #1, but even with glue and pins, it is a messy job, and I am going to have to unsew and redo the binding. Hopefully I can do that and start on Gift #2 today.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Santa's Workshop



Santa has decided that my vacation is over. I was able to take Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, and now, even though it is the weekend, I must work, work, work, in order to make gifts for 10 people.

During my vacation, I did manage to come up with some gift ideas of what these 10 people (well actually 7, still need to figure out the men) would appreciate getting. So, I've set aside the African Circle quilt - not too far away, I want to get back to it right away.



I didn't have a good recent picture to add to the blog, so I looked back for one I hadn't shown you, and it seemed like I kept looking back and back (each upload is in its own folder). So I decided to show you one from late November last year. Since there was a new crane made for Thanksgiving this year, I thought I should photograph that for you as well. It seems to be slightly incomplete. The picture at the top of the page is this year's edition. And already on the camera was a picture of an African circle, so I threw that in the post for you as well.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Black Friday!

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. We had a gathering here at my house, around lunchtime. Everybody else brought all the food. My sister-in-law was not able to attend, because she was getting ready for an evening gathering with her family. We watched the slideshow I made for my daughter, and played Pictionary.

I let them know that I would be making all my gifts, and if anyone had any requests, to let me know. My niece was the only one with a request. She wanted a warm fuzzy blanket. I didn't tell her that her request had to use available supplies, because I didn't want her to know I as being cheap, but I figured I could buy some fuzzy fabric. Or buy a warm fuzzy blanket. They are pretty inexpensive anyway. It's a good thing nobody else had any requests!

Since the gathering was in the afternoon, I had time in the evening to laze around and read some blogs and watch TV and see all the ads. And to look at the free newspaper with all of its ads. How can a bargain shopper resist Black Friday, I ask you? It is impossible. One of the blogs I read, I'm Just a Guy Who Quilts, Ryan has recently purchased a sewing machine table, the kind I've dreamed about for years. I kept seeing all these cabinets, and wishing for a simple table with a hole in it for a sewing machine. I want a flat bed for my sewing machine, but not the expense, and the cabinet space which may or may not fit my needs, and will definitely not fit my limited available space in my house. His table is perfectly simple! And it folds for easy storage! The reviews say it is heavy but since my ironing board is open all the time, I figure I'm not going to be folding it very often, and I can handle the weight for when I have company. And heavy = sturdy, right? I couldn't get it for any cheaper than he did, $110, when you include shipping.

Then when I saw that Joann had what looks like the same exact table for $80, well I just had to wake up early and go. I know that it is expensive, especially when you know I'm going to be a cheapskate with the gift giving, but it is an investment, and I'll definitely get my moneys worth of use out of it. They had already made, fuzzy blankets for $2.99. How could I not go? What else do I have to do at dark o'thirty?

I didn't try to get there when the store opened, so no waiting in line in the rain. I went early, when it was still dark. It was easy. There were lots of people there, but I didn't buy anything that needed to be cut. Temptation was great though, and other things were purchased. I bought an organizer for stuff. Also bought a Cricut. I'm not sure about that one, it was a great price, but I'm not sure I'll get my money's worth out of it. I know people who use it rave about it, but the lady standing next to me in line said she hadn't bothered to figure out how to use hers yet, and I'm not sure how often I would be cutting the same shape, especially since you have to buy new cartridges for different shapes. What do you think? Would you get your money's worth with a Cricut? I might be returning it.

There were lots of people in the store, but there was plenty of supply, so there was no pushing or shoving. The cashier's line was very very long, but it went incredibly fast, about 10 minutes. And they gave us Hershey's Kisses to give us energy while we waited.

Then I went home, woke up the daughter, and took her to Kohls to buy luggage for her upcoming trip. Also at an amazing price. Of course she threw a couple of pairs of jeans in the cart, and I added gloves. The line was also long there, but also very fast. I think people are friendlier on Black Friday than later in the shopping season. They haven't gotten tired of it yet. Or maybe they are still half asleep!

Now we are going to attempt to stay away from stores for the rest of the holiday season.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Circle time, continued


I'm still working on the circle quilt. At this pace, I should stick to much faster projects! The circles have all been applied, and I am working on the last of the border. I decided to do a simple border, and let the fabric tell me what to do. That is, I sewed the leftover fabrics together in the same size they happened to be. So they aren't blocks or improvisional, just strips of fabric strung together. It'll be okay though.

When I first laid out the circles, I imagined that I let everyone in the family decide which craft project they wanted, and this one was the one that most people wanted, and not just because their other option was a luggage tag. Looking at it yesterday though, I had a "What was I thinking" moment. It is really busier than most things I make, and since I have been looking at modern quilts, with simple lines, and lots of white background, this one seems outlandish by comparison.

I really do hope I get it done today, because I have many more gifts to make!

The picture is of the first layout, when I really liked the quilt.. I pinned some circles down, but was afraid those pins would poke me, and cause problems with movement on the sewing machine, so I didn't do them all. I went back and did the rest, and then some of them fell off in process, and I threw those back on without careful measurement, so they don't look like this layout anymore, but it's a good approximation. I did press all the fabric before starting, but this must have been after some of the circles were sewn on. I'll have to be sure to press the whole thing again before quilting.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Circle Time!


I finished my sashiko. I will show it to you after I wash it. You know what this means, right? This means I can move on to another project. I didn't want to spend a lot of time thinking and debating, so I moved to the first one that crossed my mind. It is Circle Time quilt that Amanda Jean showed on her blog. She used old CDs as a template.

Remember when America Online and Prodigy and CompuServe were sending CDs in the mail, to get you to use them as their internet provider? I thought I would be clever and use the CD as a template for a quilt, but I never got around to it. I find it hard to do nice circles. And when I was cleaning out my basement, I found said old CDs that I was saving. You know, because CDs are so hard to find.

Then I saw the quilt, and it is so beautiful, and she uses the word "casual". Such a beautiful word. I can make a casual quilt. And then I can throw away my old CDs!

I think the key to making this quilt is to use beautiful fabric. Yes, I have cut into my African fabric stack. I cut out all the circles yesterday, and did the layout and a some of the zig zag stitching today. This is going to be a quick quilt, except maybe for the borders. My border idea may take some time, if I follow through with it. I am hoping to make lots of maverick blocks. I've read that the Africans like complex patterns so the evil spirits get confused and can't get into the quilt.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fixed

The expensive part on the furnace that I needed to replace turned out to be two expensive parts that I needed to replace. But they have been replaced, and my furnace is brand new all over again.


picture from the internet

Then there was a pipe that was leaking, and it too has been fixed. The furnace guy said he couldn't do the pipe because it was complicated, but the plumber just replaced the saddle valve, which is a very easy thing to install, although you couldn't tell that by the bill.

The good news in all this, is that I just received my charge card bill, and these repairs were not on it. So I have some time to gather up some money, ahem, just in time for the holiday season.

Santa's workshop will be in full swing this year. I think it would be best for me to make all of my gifts this year, using existing supplies.

I need some ideas - I know I can make bags and table runners, and tree decorations. What would the men want?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cold!


I guess it is a good thing that I've been spending time in the basement, working on cleaning it up. Everything is now organized in the boxes again - the ones that have fallen apart have been replaced, and most of the empty boxes and bags (they can be useful!) have all been taken away. I'm still going through the full boxes in an effort to reduce. There are still some boxes on the floor, and I'd like to have no more than can fit on the shelves.

I say I guess it is a good thing, because Friday night, yes it has to be at the start of the weekend, I smelled gas. Wasn't sure, with my allergies, but decided that it is better to be safe than sorry, and called the gas company on an emergency run. Yes, he did ask "what is your emergency?" I thought I had been transferred to 911 for a minute!

He came and after checking - he started and checked everywhere except where I said I had smelled the smell, he finally got around to the furnace, and decided that it was leaking. He said he had to shut it off. Lovely.

I figured I could manage the night without heat - I might have a blanket or two to keep me warm - and deal with it in the morning. The furnace guy said I needed an expensive part, and they charge $200 extra to open up the shop on the weekend! I guess I should have called someone who trusts their employees into the storeroom on the weekend. I decided that I was poor enough that I could manage a weekend without heat. I have sweaters and space heaters, maybe a lap quilt or two, and the temperature outside is not too cold.

Saturday was fine, but the sun decided not to come out on Sunday. I realized that I move around the whole house a lot more than I thought. Every time I decided to go to another room, I had to think about whether it was worth moving the space heater. I baked a cake instead! It worked great.

If you come to visit before it is all fixed, sorry. You might have to keep your coat on, but I'd be happy to fix you some tea or coffee to help keep you warm. And cake. I have cake.

Photo is from the internet. My heater is actually smaller!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Upcoming Project

I'm still working on the sashiko, and my mind has still been floating around to the millions of other small projects I want to make now that I don't have to have a purpose for them.

One day, I went to Joann's. I think it was after the Stitching Post went away, and a new very similar establishment took it's place. I was just walking by to see if there would be any good going out of business sale, which there wasn't, but the lady asked me if I wanted to look at her new sewing machine. I explained to her that I wasn't in the market for a sewing machine, but she talked me into looking at it anyway. I can dream, can't I? Be ready for when that spend a million dollar in a minute shopping spree comes along, I'll know exactly what I want.

Anyway, she gave me this sample as a gift to take home. I'm not sure what kind of flower it is, or even if I have it facing the right way. I got to push the button to get this to start! I think I was supposed to be impressed by that. Anyway, this will be the start of my next project. See how honorable I am, using up an orphan block. Not starting any NEW projects. Many great ideas for this one, including using up some more purple HSTs, or making one of those stitchery / patchwork quilts like the Australians have been making. Love those! But I've decided on making a delectable mountains quilt, like the one I made for a swap quilt once. A bonus is I won't have to know which way is up! It will be a scrappy one, since I don't have big pieces of the fabrics I want to use. I am cutting now, and hopefully I will have the stitchery done, and I can rush into stitching this one.

Sorry, the picture is blurry, but hopefully you'll be even more impressed when the finished product doesn't look as blurry.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Continuing Sashiko



The basement cleaning is going well. I donated two big boxes of things, and have a stack ready to take to recycling. There is plenty more I can do down there - the basement is solely for storage and laundry.

I didn't do any artwork of my own yesterday. I read Earlene Fowler's Tumbling Blocks. I haven't kept up with this series, but I do like the books. Benni Harper got a lot more help from her friends and family doing her work than I would feel comfortable getting.

I've been trying to catch up on blog reading, but it is a never ending battle. Not just because bloggers keep writing new posts, but also because sometimes they introduce you to new bloggers, and if you go visit the new bloggers, they will introduce you to a whole host of friends, and well, the list of bloggers keeps increasing, and all of their new posts. I love it, though. Great inspiration.



I have been working on the sashiko, and I would like to finish it before I pick up another project. It is going really fast - there are no color changes, no stitches to count, and you can do several stitches at a time, so it is good practice for quilting. I guess I should have read the tutorial before I started. I am working on a section at a time instead of all the way across the lines. Either way, it shouldn't take more than a week, but the temptation to start yet another project is strong. Every time I come across a project on a blog, I want to start it NOW. Unfortunately, the next blog also has a project I want to do NOW, and so on and so forth.

I generally get more projects finished in the fall than any other season. I am afraid that if I keep being this fickle, this year won't have many finished projects to show.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Day of Art?


I generally have some loose plans for the day, as a guide for what I will be doing. Nothing too strict, because things don't always work out. Well, yesterday, I didn't follow my plans. I wore some dress clothes, because my jeans were in the dryer. That might have started it. I started hand washing my hand washing clothes. Then, when I went to the basement to get the clean laundry, I started cleaning the basement. Yes, I want to do that, but that wasn't on the list of things to do yesterday. I decided to leave myself on auto pilot, because I was getting more things accomplished just doing things as I went along instead of following a list.

Is the cleaner basement art? Yes it is. It looks much less ugly than it did. And beautification is one purpose of art, isn't it? Making it look pretty would involve a capital investment, but I am going to head on back downstairs, see if I can make it look even less ugly. I am pretending that I have a camera crew from Hoarders with me. I think it will make it easier to get rid of the junk.

And yes, I did work on my stitching project too.