Sunday, July 30, 2006

Machine Quilting and House Hunting

Well, starting two projects yesterday wasn’t enough for me. I started a 3rd one today. I got a pattern called Seattle Streets from another group I’m on and I’m working on one. It’s really more a method of making a stained glass quilt than a pattern. So far I've used almost 10 FQs. Not as much as I had hoped, but I may be able to make 2 quilts rather than one from the fabrics I pulled to use for the quilt.

I spent some time this morning reading Harriet Hargraves Heirloom Machine Quilting book. Given my little attempt at machine quilting yesterday I decided it was time to seriously consider teaching myself how to machine quilt. I ordered some monofilament thread and the book Needles & Threads & Bobbins, Oh, My! From Connecting Threads. I can't wait for the thread to arrive so I can practice some more. I have quite a few quilt tops ready for finishing and I don't want to tie all of them.

Bruce and I went to an Open House today on a condo near here. One of the best features of the condo is tons and tons of storage space. Every nook has some type of storage. The first picture is the room that would be my quilting studio The closet in this room is on the right and is about 4 ft deep. It has wire shelving in the back plus hanging space in the front.

The second picture is the living room. Notice the built-ins under the stairs. There is also a closet that goes under the stairs too. There is a built in across from the stairs that holds at least a 42 inch TV with a shelf above it for other electronics. The dining room is off the living room and has a skylight. The kitchen is just beyond the dining room.

The master bedroom suite is on the 3rd floor. There is a 1.5 bath and a large walk-in closet too. There is also a storage space along one wall.

When we were reading the listing package I noticed that the first owner had bought the condo from a man we rented our first condo from 5 years ago. His business is buying older homes and converting them into condos. This is actually the 2nd property in the last few months we have looked at the he has done. We are thinking of calling him to see what he has under renovation right now and seeing if we can work with him on a new condo. We know his work is good. We know we could save money. So why not?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Finally a Day in My Quilt Studio

Today was the first day I've been able to really spend time in my quilt studio quilting since I finished it in May. I started at 8 AM this morning working on a tote bag. The pattern is from the Better Homes and Garden Quilts and More magazine. I shopped my stash for the fabric. I'm using sewing notion fabric for nearly all of the bag.

This is also the first project I have machine quilted. I didn't mark the fabric. I just did a free hand grid. The results are OK. Not spectacular. But not too bad for the first time. Once I had the pieces quilted I didn't know how to proceed - should I use the quilting needle to put the pieces together or use a regular needle. I posted the question to a couple of quilt groups I belong to and got some answers. So perhaps I'll finish the tote bag tomorrow.

I also started and completed a table runner top. This is from a kit (one of the very few I have). I purchased the kit while on vacation in Oregon last summer. The colors will go great in my dining room. Tomorrow I will find some backing fabric. I have batting so I should be able to work on the runner tomorrow too.

In all I spent close to 10 hours in my quilt studio today. It was a heavenly day. I've been home alone most of the day. Bruce had offered to pick up Geoffrey and Tasha upon their return from their honeymoon so he was gone all afternoon. There was a Boston Red Sox game on TV to keep my company. Geoffrey and Tasha stopped by for a few minutes and shared some of their honeymoon memories. I took their pictures off their camera for them. Tasha's favorite character is Winnie-the-Pooh and she was so excited to have her picture taken with him. And yes, she wore the Minnie Bridal ears all week. She was still wearing it when they came to visit this afternoon.

I can't believe how much I enjoy having my own quilt studio. Being able to create and work in my own space is absolutely delicious. I didn't get stressed because I didn't have to worry about cleaning up at the end of the day. I can leave my projects out if I want to or put them away if I want to. I experienced a big sense of freedom being in my own space. I can't imagine ever having to work in the dining room again. I even have a temporary design wall. The mattresses we borrowed from my MIL for my parents are still here. Bruce propped them up against the wall in my studio. Tonight I have my projects pinned up on them. Has anyone ever used an old mattress or piece of foam for a design wall? How did it work?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Wedding Is Over . . .

I think I’m almost recovered from The Wedding! Friday night it rained so we ended up having 35 people over to our house for the rehearsal dinner! Wow! I never thought we could have so many people in our place, but we did and it was fun! We set up the bar in the hallway, used my sewing table as a serving table and let people roam. Then the young adults and Bruce sat up and played poker and talked until about 3 AM.

Yesterday morning I treated my mom and DS #3’s girlfriend to the salon and we had our hair done. Then it was back to the apt to get ready for the afternoon wedding. The wedding was beautiful and the rain held off until we got to the reception hall. We had lots of fun eating, drinking and dancing. Then it was back to our house to wait for the limo to take Geoffrey and Tasha to their hotel. They opened their presents and we all started to relax.

This morning they flew to Orlando and are now in their room at the Beach Club at Disney World. I have told them not to call me again unless it is an emergency! They are on their honeymoon!

My brothers and nephew left early this morning. Brandon, Ellen and their friend Zak came for breakfast and then headed back to New York. My parents are here until Tuesday and then they will go home to Minnesota. It's been a great weekend but I can't wait to get my quilting studio back! Next weekend I am going to treat myself to a new project - I'm going to work on my Seattle Streets/New Hampshire Summer quilt.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Borders and Backings and Wedding Plans . . . Oh My

Geoffrey and Tasha's wedding is only 7 days away and I am still taking care of the final plans. One of the items on my list is to temporarily convert my quilt studio into a guest room. That means making it ready to accept a queen size bed. UGH! So in order to make that happen I decided to spend some time finishing borders and piecing backings for my growing stack of tops.

Today I accomplished that. I finished the borders on a new wall hanging I started two weeks ago. I finished the borders and pieced the backing for Mom's Kitties and my SIL's baby quilt. I pieced backings for my Pink Finity and Contrary Quarters Gone Awry. I would share pictures, but my quilt holder, AKA my husband, is in Atlanta until Tuesday and my design wall isn't complete yet.

After all that work I decided I could treat myself to a new project (or at least work on the plan). Laurie Biethan generously shared her Seattle Street pattern on Stashbusters and I pulled 11 fabrics to make the quilt. Some of the fabrics needed to be washed and they are just now ready to be ironed. I don't know if I will get any strips cut tonight. But I might get some cutting done before family starts to arrive on Wednesday.

I think I am going to use the dark green fabric for the "leading" instead of the black that Laurie used. I think I am going to call the quilt "Summertime". Is it too early to name the quilt? I don't know. Usually the name will come to me while I'm working on the quilt; but this time the name came to me while I was looking at the fabric laid out for the picture.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Will The Game Ever End????

I am a baseball fan and have been watching the Red Sox/White Sox game today. The game started at 2 PM. It is now 8:15 PM and they are starting the 20th inning! That's over 6 hours of playing time. During that time we were able to watch the World Cup Soccer final on another TV. Cook and eat dinner and relax a little. It's almost my Sunday night bed time (it's a bummer having to get up for work on Monday) and the game is still on . . . well, now it's over. The White Sox won. Not my team. But, hey the Red Sox still won 2 of the 3 games over the White Sox.

I did get some quilting done today. I worked on an orange, green and purple wall hanging. I got all 4 rows put together and 2 of the rows sewn together. I also worked on my hand quilting project for awhile. I'm still not completely consistent with my stitches so I still pull out and redo several stitches along the way. That's fine with me. I'm using this project as a "learn the techinque" project.

So far I've learned the following tips for hand quilting:
1. I thread 6 needles at a time on my spool of thread. That way I spend less time between threads.
2. My cheap needle threader is my new best friend - it's the best 60 cents I've spent in a long time.
3. It's easier to pull out stitches using the needle eye (and it doesn't damage the material)
4. Thimble-Its are better than regular thimbles any day.
5. You should always have a bright light next to you when quilting.

I'm still debating if using variegated thread while hand quilting a mini whole cloth is OK. In some places I like it, in some places I don't. I guess this debate will continue until I finish the project.

Mary wrote about Bloglines in one of her recent posts. I've been looking for a way to keep track of the blogs I read and I'm so glad she mentioned that site. I've entered all the blogs I read. Makes it so much easier to read the blogs. Thanks, Mary.

Well, since the baseball is over and it's getting dark and Bruce is home from the golf course it's time for me to stop playing with fabric for the weekend and think about Monday morning at the office. It will be a long week this week. I have to train a new sales assistant, plus I have to start producing quaterly client reports. Whew! I get tired just thinking about it!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4th Update

I was able to finish the center motif on my mini whole cloth quilt this afternoon. For some reason I can't get the settings quite right on my camera so the picture is not the greatest. I took about 10 pictures and just couldn't get any of them what I wanted them to be. Anyway, I'm using yellow and blue variegated thread. I'm very pleased with how it is coming along. Now it's on to the borders.

Happy 4th of July

Happy July 4th Everyone! Our family is happy today because my Marine Colonel BIL is on his way home from Kabul, Afghanistan. He will be back in the US on Thursday. He has been gone since January and this is is his second tour over there. Hopefully he won't have to go back.

I am having a quiet day today. Bruce has left to visit a friend and I chose to stay home because I've been gone so much lately that a day alone sounds exquisite. Later I will walk to the butcher shop and pick up steak and the ingredients to make brownies for our dinner this evening.

I thought I'd share two pictures of a doll quilt I found while cleaning out my parent's home. My grandmother made this for me. It is a combination of hand quilting, applique and machine piecing. I'm saving it for my first granddaughter.

Last Saturday Tasha and I spent the day sewing while Geoffrey was having his bachelor party. She put together a quick baby quilt for my SIL who is having a baby girl in late August. I had the squares cut and Tasha put the design together. She is going to put one white border and one pink border on it. We bought some adorable pink fabric for the backing.

I started hand quilting the pre-printed mini whole cloth quilt I bought in May. I absolutely love hand quilting now that I have learned how to do it. I'm pleased with my progress so far on this project.

I hope everyone has a great day today wherever you are.