Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

It's the last day of the year.  A last chance to get the things I wanted to get done this year done.  Fortunately, I can't think of anything that simply must get done this year, so I am going to rest and take it easy.  Always end the year the way you want the new year to be!

My plans for next year are to keep doing what I did this year - working on progressing on my unfinished quilts as much as I can, and only start projects that I can take to completion.

It sounds like the economy is picking up, and I hope to find full time permanent employment.

More immediately though, I am going to take advantage of my time at home by getting as much of the quilting and genealogy accomplished while I can.

Also, I am hoping to get a dog.  This is the first time we will have had a pet in a long time.  We previously had goldfish, so this will be quite a change! I've never had a dog, even as a child.  I will try not to overwhelm the blog with pictures of a new pet, but I am sure I will be needing lots of advice from time to time.

I wanted to share a bit of what I recently learned. I had been buying needle threaders that look like the ones above - only they came in packs of three. I don't know what the brand name is. I hated them, because they kept breaking - the wire wasn't securely attached to the base, so it kept coming off, even when I held the wire to the base to avoid that.

I decided that I wasn't going to buy any needle threader that had more than one in a package.  I only need one at a time, although I will probably be buying more, so one is always available.  I heard good things about a Clover needle threader, but the site didn't have any, even though the website now has it.  I bought the DMC needle threader one shown at the top of the post. Mine is blue so it is a little less easy to lose.  Cue music. It is awesome.  I haven't tried the ones on the sides.   It works really well, and even though I still hold the wire to the base, it is securely attached and doesn't feel like it will come off at any minute. I've been using it for three strands of embroidery floss, and it is almost magical how it goes through the needle. 

It also works well as a good luck charm, because there were several occasions that I was able to thread a needle myself without even needing to try the needle threader.

I hope that 2011 goes well for you - may you be healthy, happy, productive, and surrounded by love.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Recap

Even though I wasn't working two jobs, like I did last year, the first half of the year kept me very busy at work, to a point where my mother was helping me with lunches and cleaning.  In the summer, we hosted a Japanese student. Then things slowed down and I was able to finish some quilts. I also reviewed several books for some companies who were willing to send me complimentary copies of their books in exchange for the review. I also did a great deal of genealogy research.

This year I decided to show not just the finishes, but quilty things I have worked on. It makes the recap look better because there is more stuff on it, and it also gives you a better idea of what I have been doing in 2010. Here they are, in no particular order.

The snowflake coasters were my latest little project. I am keeping these for myself. I also turned a couple into ornaments for the tree.

I made these tissue holders as holiday gifts.

This vase was a project that was abandoned before this year, but finished in October 2010.

Four of five quilts I made for the Quilts for Kids charity. The fifth one looked like the red black and white one, with panda bears on it, and was done in 2009. This charity took a great deal of my time in 2010, but apparently I did have enough time to have other finishes as well.

This is the very first oil painting I made. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to paint with my family. I have it sitting on the book, so you can see the inspiration on the right. The color of the water was actually mostly from the turpentine that we were using to clean our brushes.

The pirate map is an unfinished project for 2010. Our Japanese guest helped with some of the motifs.

The little flag wall hanging was started and finished in 2010. It was simple to make, but I am particularly proud of it because of the quote quilted on it.

This is a sample block I made for a big idea I had. The idea will work, once I get started on it. I tried to finish this block into a project, but it didn't work well. I am hoping that like the vase, I will manage to finish it at a later date.

Since joining Kathleen Tracy's small quilt yahoo group, I have been tempted many times with these little quilts. They are really fun to make. In this one, I limited myself to one small scrap box, to give myself the challenge that people in olden days would have had.  I particularly liked using scraps for this one, and remembering where each one came from.

The African Circles quilt was my first project I started and finished in 2010. It was my goal to finish everything I started this year. It hasn't completely come true, but I have made great strides. And I gave myself permission to simply play - like with the red and white kaleidoscope block and the blue and white blocks below. They were never part of a project, and a great start to an orphan block quilt.

One of these blocks started out as a beginning of Kate's round robin. I still want to do the round robin, but the block, and the additional ones I made are now part of the orphan block collection. I will probably make a small quilt out of these.  I think it is amazing at how the same basic shape can look so completely different based on how it is put together.

The Cheddar Cheese and Crackers was started early in the year, and is a work in progress. It is a pattern by Lori from Humble Quilts. It is being hand quilted. The cheddar fabric isn't playing nicely and isn't laying flat, so it has me worried, but hopefully I will be able to quilt it into submission. It has taught me that I am not capable of hand quilting a big project though!

This is my last finish for 2010. I like this one the best of all the quilts I worked on this year.

The Simply Squares quilt was an impulse quilt made from newly purchased fabric. The top is made.  I was going to try to finish this one for 2010 as well, but I think my quilts look quite impressive for the year, so I won't stress myself out trying to finish it this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


My finished rail fence quilt.  It is made completely from scraps. The rule of the quilt was to add everything. Ugly, bright, pretty, novelty, holiday, everything. Sew together randomly.  the only order I added is that I tried to keep two pieces of the same fabric separate in each rail fence.  When putting the rail fences together, it was okay to put two pieces of the same fabric next to each other. Each block finishes at three inches. I started it more than a year ago as a Leader and Ender project.  As I worked on other projects, I would cut up some fabric for this one as well as the other project. , but decided to work on it more diligently this fall.  I brought out some scrap boxes and added some older scraps.  I added some pink for Barb and green for Tanya. I kept deciding I wanted to make it bigger, and added more and more scraps.  Then it needed more patterned fabrics, and then it needed more brights. I am very happy with the finished size. 54" x 61". It is a large lap quilt.

There is diagonal quilting through the body of the quilt and scallops on the borders.  I didn't use any marking lines, so they aren't perfectly straight.

Even the backing and binding is "scrap" in that the fabrics were used on other quilts. I added the leftover rail fences and other bright fabric to add interest.

It feels like a door has opened for me, since I can now make a new quilt.  So many possibilities!  I have decided I am going to work on Kate's Another Little Quilt Swap next.  I will be making one or two little quilts to swap with others.  I have lots of ideas about what to do for those.  I think I should be able to get the backing pieced for the Simply Squares quilt in between making the little quilts.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


There is a new blog for people who want to share share their stitching story and passion for Leanne Beasley's magazine 'Vignette'. They are having a giveaway of the first issue of the magazine.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season so far, and that the rest of it goes even better.
  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Goodwill to all mankind.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tutorial: Binding Fixes

Way back in September, I presented a tutorial on how to fold over binding. In that post, while showing you how to make a binding by folding over the backing to the front, I made a couple of errors, and I promised that a tutorial on how to fix the errors would be forthcoming "very soon."  I fixed my binding, took pictures, and eventually forgot about my promise.  Since that post is one of my 10 most popular posts, I think maybe it is about time that I make good on my promise. Here's what I said:

10. Now, if you didn't follow my advice in step 4 and have any issues, you have options.  You can decide you want a separate binding after all, or you can wait for the next tutorial (coming up very soon) where I will show you some intermediary steps.

I don't recommend doing this.

I am sorry that I left you wondering how I fixed this problem. When you first encounter this problem, it is important not to panic. You can keep clear headed and decide what to do. There are two ways to fix it.

One way is to give up on the fold over binding, and decide to do it the regular way with a separate binding. To do this, you can trim all of the backing even with the edge of the quilt, and attach a separate binding. But if you are making a casual quilt, one that is meant to provide love and comfort for kids, and not one you are showing to the quilt police, there really isn't any reason you can't add more love by fixing your errors. A little secret spot that got some extra attention might be just the place that the kid will gravitate to when he needs some extra attention himself.

First, trim off the error.  You don't want to look at it any more than you have to.  Then, find a piece of similar or matching fabric that is bigger than the error.  You want to have enough fabric that you can fold over the ends, and still have it big enough to cover the problem area.
Fold down the sides and pin right sides together.  With a machine sew from edge to edge, including the folded over parts.  It is okay if you manage to sew through the batting seam.  That part will be covered up with the binding anyway, and might add some extra security to your layers. 

Fold the fabric up over the seam, and it is almost as good as new.  Trim your little piece to be even with the remaining fabric.  Repeat for as many errors as you made (I made two), and proceed as usual with the steps shown in the first tutorial.  Because the sides aren't sewn, you will have to either hand stitch or machine stitch them when you are done.  I used a machine.

Monday, December 20, 2010


This is an older picture, which does not provide proof, so you will just have to take my word for it, that I am finished with the quilting on the rail fence quilt. Well, the machine part anyway.  I just love the way the diamonds look, and the scallops in the border look pretty good too.

I thought about parallel zig zags, which would make sure that the quilting would be at least three inches apart, but decided to go with the diamond shape instead.  This makes sure there isn't a very long unquilted part through the width of the quilt. Plus it was a lot easier to quilt it this way.

What it does mean though that there is a space where the quilting is six inches apart - in the center of each diamond.  The batting calls for 10 inches so it will be okay, but I am thinking about adding ties through those centers anyway. It will give an old fashioned look to the quilt, and keep me from worrying over the quilt. This center space is where lots of seams meet, so it probably won't be a fun job, but I can go ahead and bind the quilt, and do that part at my leisure.

I've also done some more hand quilting on the Moldy Cheese quilt.  I would love to add it to my finishes for 2010 year end recap, but I doubt that will happen.  But progress is progress, and maybe it will be an early 2011 finish.  I also want to start new things - Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt looks so intriguing, plus her old one - the Double Delight is also on my to do list.  But keeping focused on having a nice recap for you is keeping me focused.  I am allowed to start new things, but finishing what I start brings great satisfaction .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I am really good at procrastinating, and when we had a snow "storm", I sat down and read a couple of books instead of following the to-do list.  It felt so good, and both of these books were wonderful.


The book review of Shaking the Family Tree by Buzzy Jackson has been moved to Millionaire Tips on Hubpages.

Acts of Faith is written by Eboo Patel book review has been moved to Millionaire Tips.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Midnight Ramblings

I was minding my own business when my sister asked me if I wanted to go grocery shopping with her. I went, I put stuff away and sat back down at the computer. I had my family tree up, because I was trying to do some editing - you know, making sure things were explained reasonably, capitalized correctly, there wasn't wasted space, fix typo's, etc. I find this part very difficult, because it is so easy to decide I want to find out something else, and go off searching for new information.

Which is what I did. Wandered off. I don't know why, maybe because it was midnight. I had a person up. She and her first husband are the ancestors. I started searching for the family of her second husband's first wife. It makes absolutely no sense to research them, because they will never show up on any report, and the information will just be sitting useless on the file. It is possible that my person never met the first wife's grandparents. I doubt that they would have family gatherings like that, you know.

But I let myself wander. I do that from time to time, especially around midnight when that "what are you doing?" part of me is sleeping.

Eventually, I found great-grandparents or something, and the names started becoming very familiar. I found Mary White's sister! Apparently I knew her by her middle name, but through this backwards way of finding her, I found both her first and middle names together.

So the person in question - her first husband was a descendant of Mary White, and her second husband's first wife was a descendant of Mary's sister.

I don't think I believe in ghosts, but it does seem like sometimes they help you find them!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

There's some QUILTING going on

If you compare this quilt with the Simply Squares one, I notice a big difference. This one represents me so much more than the other one. These are the fabrics I have used in quilts I have made. Fabric I would choose and have chosen and have processed into other quilts.  Only they are all out to play together.  Mish-mash.  There are wallflower fabrics, and bright bold ones. There are sedate fabrics and crazy novelty ones. The little pieces show that I'm not afraid of repetitious, tedious hard work.

So when it came to choosing a quilting design, I thought that I could maybe quilt my initials into it. The first letter of my first name on the one row, alternated with the first letter of my last name. I practiced the S over and over again on several pieces of junk mail and their envelopes. I didn't like it. Finally I decided to go back to the zig zag I used on the African quilt. I like zig zag. I could zig on one block, and zag on the other block, and in the end, I would have a pretty diamond shape.

I slept on the idea, and decided that I liked it. But I also got smart enough to realize I could quilt straight lines instead of zigging and zagging, and come up with the same design on the fabric, without all the turning. I'm so glad I figured that out before I started sewing!

But the straight lines means that there is a lot more of the quilt to stuff into the throat of the sewing machine, since it is turned diagonally. Luckily I didn't turn this into a queen sized quilt, which is the other brilliant idea I got while I slept!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

End of the Year Panic

Eye Cookie

The countdown to the end of the year is on.  Besides the normal day-to-day of normal life, there are extra things to do.

  • making the list and buying the perfect gifts for loved ones
  • wrapping said gifts
  • filling out refund forms and depositing checks
  • writing annual letter and sending out holiday cards
  • decorating the house
  • buying and putting up the tree
  • doing the final end of the year cleaning, so I can start the new year fresh
  • finishing some quilts so the end of the year quilt report looks good
  • keeping up with the day to day stuff

But what do I do instead? Work on the puzzle I got last year.  Hey, I need to finish it before this year's puzzle comes around, right?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Word Play Quilts is Available!

  Have you seen the countdown that Clare and Lynne and of course Tonya have been showing?  The excitement has been building. And now, drum roll, Tonya's book has been published and it is available on Amazon! Amazon is even showing you some sneak peeks on some of the pages.  My affiliation?  I've been following Tonya's blog from before she was an author, and I've made a word quilt (yes only one quilt and only one word, and it isn't finished yet, but I have cut out the shapes for the border, so progress has been made.) And I got an affiliate ID, so that if you go to amazon by clicking on the picture, I will get a small commission.  No pressure for you, but if you are buying anyway, I might as well benefit a little bit.  I promise I am not going to turn this into a sales blog.

In other news, I have finished piecing the backing for the Rail Fence quilt and finally found backing fabric for the Simply Squares quilt.  I was tempted to go shopping to buy the backing fabric, but I really wanted to be able to find it in the stash, and I found some in the Christmas fabric.  I guess it wanted to be Christmas quilt, and who am I to stop that?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snowflake Coasters

Since I switched to Google Reader, I have had more and more difficulty marking posts as "read".  It seems like there are so many posts I want to save for their ideas. Especially around the holidays, there are so many cute projects.  

One post I didn't mark as read, had a link to this Snowflake Coasters pattern by Patrick Lose.  It's really cute, so I hurried up and finished sewing the rows together for the Simply Squares quilt, and chose fabric, washed it, and started tracing snowflakes.  Then I started reading the directions.

It turns out that he had a different idea than I imagined about how to assemble these.  I was thinking to sew them together, turn them right sides out, and then apply the snowflake and quilt.  He was thinking sandwich, quilt, and "bind" them with the buttonhole stitch.  Both are good ideas.  I decided to make one of each, and decide later how to do the rest.

Here's the pros and cons.

My way:
Finished edge
Use CD as template

Cutting hole after putting together to turn it right side out - have to be careful to only cut what you want
Applique hides the hole
Press the applique to shapes might flatten the batting (it didn't, I used a towel underneath for pressing)
Pressing helps enforce the circle shape
Have to be able to sew circles circularly
Quilt last

His way
use his paper template
add applique before putting layers together - no worry about flattening batting
Raw edge
quilt first
trim after quilting
hand buttonhole stitch

As you can see from the picture, I went with his way for the most part, except that I used a CD for the circle.  It is a bit larger, but I think that will make it easier to aim the cup.  If you do want finished edges, you will want to keep your quilting to the center of the coaster.  You can also zig zag the raw edges instead of buttonhole if you don't want to do the handwork, but I think it adds to the charm of the coasters.

I went to the thrift store for my almost-annual gift purchase, and found this for myself. It is a cookie jar and comes with a pretty lid. I haven't washed the lid yet. I have great plans for it!