Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Appliqué Fears

First, a correction. My DIL made the All About Me quilt. I only did the hand sewing on the binding. DIL did the rest of the quilt.

Now my dilemma. I started prepping two more appliqué blocks, but I can't seem to get motivated to work on them. I'm having second thoughts on how much I like appliqué or how good I can do it. So, I've started considering that maybe I could make some of the appliqué blocks into stitchery blocks. I think I'm chickening out on the appliqué.

Last night I prepped a stitchery block. The border fabric in this block is special. A couple weeks ago I got an email from at Nancy at With Thread in Hand. She asked me for my snail mail address as she had something to send to me. You can imagine my delight when the package arrived and inside was a bag of scraps. Not just any old scraps, but scraps from Leanne herself! Nancy had won the scraps in a drawing Leanne had and she sent them to me! How sweet of Nancy! I'm so excited that I can use some Leanne's scraps in my own Butterfly Garden quilt.

So here's another question. Who would like to give me some appliqué lessons? I'm willing to travel for a weekend to get some lessons. My only constraint is I don't have my passport and traveling to another is probably too far a weekend. But, I'm willing to consider a trip somewhere in the U.S. I can justify a trip to the St. Louis area as DH has a friend who is in need of some male bonding time or just about anywhere else. Talk to me!

Until later!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Retreat Sunday

Yesterday was a great retreat day for me, although it got off to a slow start. I had trouble sleeping Saturday night and woke up at 1:15 am and didn’t get back to sleep before the alarm went off for DH at 2:45 am. I stayed in bed while he finished packing and got ready to leave. I finally went out to the couch to read some emails hoping I would get sleepy.

I looked out the front window and discovered it was snowing. I had no idea it supposed to snow. I checked and the forecast said we would get 1 – 2 inches of snow throughout the morning. No big deal. I decided to take some NyQuil since I had a little bit of congestion and sinus headache and needed some sleep.

Next thing I knew it was 8:15. I had a little over 4 hours of wonderful sleep. I climbed out from under the warm quilts, started the coffee pot and looked out the front window. It was still snowing and there was at least 2 inches of snow! Hooray, I thought. Falling snow, football replays and all day to spend quilting. I was ecstatic!

So what did I spend the day doing? I finished my PIF packages and prepped everything for mail. Then I worked on my football nickel swap packages so I would be ready to swap them out when all of the swap packages arrived. By then the replay of the Patriots/Redskins final season game was on and I hadn’t prepped any Butterfly Garden blocks so I decided to finish the binding on DIL’s All About Me quilt while watching the game.

After a short nap I prepped two Daisy blocks for appliqué. I’m making the first one with the freezer paper on top. I haven’t gotten far enough to make any comments on this method so stay tuned.

As you can tell I didn’t get any packing done, but my sewing table is a little cleaner. I must have a mental on packing by myself. This coming weekend I’ll make sure DH and I pack some on Saturday. We have a little over two weeks before closing and I don’t want be here packing when the movers are here on the 15th.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Wow! It's been a long week. We've been working 60 - 65 hours in the office the last few weeks and I cling to the thought of the weekend tighter than anything else. (OK, maybe I hold on to DH a little tighter). Anyway the weekend is here and I'm happy.

Today we are celebrating DS' 24th birthday. His birthday is the 31st, but he wants to celebrate today. My son does not like to get his haircut. He hasn't had it cut since his wedding in July 2005. So, for his birthday, he asked for a Makeover Day. Since I already had my cut and color appt. set for today I was able to add him to the schedule with my stylist. Then after lunch DH, DDIL and I are taking him clothes shopping for some new work clothes.

Early, early tomorrow morning, like 3:15 am, DH is getting picked up by the car service and will heading to the airport and then to Los Angeles for the week. I have no intention of answering my phone tomorrow unless it's him calling me. I have a long To Do list that I need to spend the day on:
  • I have several packages to prep for the mail including prizes for my Red Sox chair guessers, my PIF packages and a couple of other goodie packages.
  • I want to sew at least one grocery tote bag. I have 4 or 5 of them cut out that I was to make for Christmas and didn't get them done.
  • I want to prep some more Butterfly Garden blocks and then spend some time working on them.
  • I have to clean off my sewing table and straighten up my sewing room (or at least pack more of it)
  • I really should pack a box or two of items we don't need for the next couple weeks. Our moving day is less than three weeks away and we've barely started packing.
This week should be a little less stressful since my FIL and DH will be in LA and one of our sales staff will be in Atlanta. Monday I have dental appt. so I get to leave the office early. Hooray!

Thanks for all the great answers to my appliqué questions. I'll be trying the suggestions as I work on my blocks.

I'm way behind on commenting on blogs. I've been reading them and marking many for comments. I will probably spend time tomorrow catching up on those as well.

I'm off for one more cuppa and then it will time to head out the door. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another Try At Appliqué And Questions

I've finished three more Butterfly Garden blocks today. The first two had small stitcheries in them. I used the blue colorway of my focus fabric in the four-patches. There are several four-patches in the quilt and I think I am going to make them all with these same fabrics. I just can't make every block different. I guess I'm not that "scrappy" of a quilter.
I did another appliqué block. This is one of the butterflies. Meet Ms. Boxy Puffy. I used fabric glue to hold down the seams. This made it difficult to keep the wings round. Therefore she is has square and triangle points. She is also puffy because I wasn't holding the fabric correctly and the pieces don't all lie flat. This block may not make the cut into the final quilt.
So now I have some questions for appliquérs. First: is there anything wrong with leaving the freezer paper in place behind the pieces. I may have a quilt that crinkles, but this quilt is going to hang on my wall anyway. As for quilting it I will probably only stitch in the ditch so the appliqué and stitcheries don't get covered. If leaving the freezer paper in isn't a good idea, then what is the best way to prep the pieces before stitching them down so you can keep the curves? I admit I didn't iron these pieces down as I thought gluing would work OK, but I was wrong.

Another question is about thread preferences. I have a spool of off-white YLI silk thread. I like how easily it glides through the fabric. But I have the hardest time tying a knot in it. Is there some secret way to make knots in the thread? Is silk thread the best thread for appliqué? Is it OK to use other threads? Is it possible to buy a sample set of silk thread so I don't have a buy a new spool for every color fabric I want to use?

Libby asked me if I was watching the football game. Of course, I am. I am a laptop user and it's never far away from me. In fact, DH took a photo of me writing this post. This is his view of my quilting/stitchery/appliqué nest during sports events. You can see my thread box, a page of directions, my small tool holder, my drink and a bowl of candy hearts on the sofa table. When I'm stitching my laptop sits in the small table on my left side. In my house if you don't stay sitting during an important game DH and DS will run you down. They are pacers so I stay put and play with fabrics and thread.

Well, the Patriots won their game. Woohoo!!!! Phoenix here we come! Now it's time to watch the Packers beat the Giants.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Splurge For My Sewing Room

Our moving date is getting closer. I'm getting very excited for the long weekend after the move so I can rebuild my sewing room. You may remember this post where I drooled over the baby changing table. I've spent the last couple Saturdays trying to find something similar and didn't have any luck. In last Sunday's paper there was an ad from a chain unfinished furniture store and they had this kitchen island on sale. I fell in love with it. Since I prefer to support local businesses I went to my local unfinished furniture store this morning. I know they carry this line of furniture so I knew I could get the island. They were having a sale today and I was able to get the island and with the money I saved I was able to buy a stool. The sale also included free delivery so when we move in I won't have to worry about going to get it.

The work surface is a generous 60 x 34 inches. Big enough for a large cutting mat and a pressing mat. No more ironing board in the room. I will also be able to get rid of the two small bookcases I currently use as I can use the shelves for books. The drawers will be handy for rulers and small items. The base cupboards will be used to storing batting.

Because this island is going to be my cutting and pressing table I'm going to paint it white so it can take a beating. I think that if I stained it a dark color it would make the room feel too heavy.

I've also learned the Internet router and wireless base station won't have to be in my sewing room as they are now. They will go down in the media room with a booster on the first floor. Yea!

On my way home from the unfinished furniture store I saw that a quilting shop had moved closer to me. Of course, I had to stop. What a great shop. Nana Sue, the owner, welcomed me to the store and gave me a quick tour of the shop. Besides all of the normal quilt store goodies she has baskets and baskets of packaged scraps. I bought a package of batik scraps (see my new header) for my Butterfly Garden quilt. The pieces range in size from 10.5 inches by 9 inches to 10.5 inches by 19 inches. Are they scrumptious?

One of her employees, Steven, gives lessons on a Mega Quilter for $125 and then one can use the machine for quilting your own quilts for an hourly fee. I think I'll be taking the class, but I'm wondering what others think of the Mega Quilter for quilting.

Thanks for all the comments on my Confessions of an Applique Rookie post. I enjoyed doing the applique and will be doing lots more. I'm off to finishing two more Butterfly Garden blocks. These are stitchery blocks. Tomorrow there are two football games and I can't wait to watch the Pats beat the Chargers and the Packers to be beat the Giants.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Confessions of An Appliqué Rookie

  1. Never decide to learn to appliqué when you have already packed your appliqué instruction books.
  2. Remember that with your 2006 Christmas money you bought appliqué pins.
  3. Remember that on your shop hop eight months ago you bought silk thread for appliqué.
  4. How do you tie a knot in silk thread?
  5. Remember to trace the templates backwards.
  6. Freezer paper is fun to use. Remember to remove it before you stitch the pieces down, otherwise your block makes crinkly noises.
  7. Make sure the appliqué piece is cut with a large enough seam allowance so all of it can be stitched under easily.
  8. Use 50% off JoAnn coupon to buy mini iron.
  9. Test mini iron before leaving store to make sure it works.
  10. Try fabric glue on next applique block.
  11. Remember to enjoy the whole process and do it again.
Block shown: Big Daisy block from Butterfly Garden, pattern calls for 15 more of these.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

First Butterfly Garden Blocks

I did go into my sewing room last night before the New England Patriots game. I cut and pieced my first mini block on the Butterfly Garden quilt. I spent the whole game stitching the block and finished it this morning. I am happy with how it turned out. The pinks and greens look great together.The next block I made was one of the focus fabric blocks. Just a simple block with no applique or embroidery. The photo doesn't show the colors well.
Then I bit the bullet and sewed one of the applique hearts. This is only the second time I've made an applique block. I used the freezer paper method. I'm not entirely thrilled with the results, but it's not too bad for only my second try.
After a short nap I decided to tackle another applique block. I've started piecing one of the big daisy blocks. This one has six petals and the center piece. I'm still basting the petals so there's no photo to share yet.

I know some Norwegian bloggers are making Butterfly Garden. How are you coming along in your quilt?

We are expecting a Nor'easter later tonight and all day tomorrow. We could get up to a foot of snow. DH and I will probably work from home tomorrow as the commute is supposed to terrible. Too bad we couldn't sneak a day off, but I don't mind having to work. At least we won't have to worry about the other drivers on the road.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How to Spend $50

Earlier this week I told my BIL I would help him out and process one of our closed databases and create the quarterly reports for him. His department is way behind the production calendar and these reports are ones that I've been doing for 13 years. Since the work was recently passed to his department it would take someone twice as long as it would take me to do them and they simply didn't have the time. To show his appreciation he gave me a $50 gift cheque. How nice of him.

So what's a girl supposed to do except go fabric shopping with extra money? So, that's what I did today. My first stop this morning was at Staples. Last weekend I ordered an A-4 binder from Unikeep for holding my Butterfly Garden patterns. Unikeep binders are great. Unlike binders that close depending on how much paper is inside, these binders act like small boxes. They sit on a shelf like books and aren't awkward at all. I have a whole collection of them in various sizes that I use to store projects, patterns and my class printouts from Quilt University. Anyway, I went to Staples hoping they could 4-hole punch the patterns so I could keep them in the binder. No luck. They don't have a 4-hole punch. Too bad! I'll try one other print shop in town to see if they can punch the patterns for me.
From Staples I went to the fabric store that is close to my office. This store carries batiks, Laurel Burch and Kaffe Kasset fabrics. I seldom find any fabric I like in there, but they were having a sale so I thought I'd check it out. I wasn't finding any fabric and then I remembered why I really don't like to shop there - they tear their fabric. I hate the sound of fabric tearing, sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. However, I did find a 30 x 108 inch remnant of 300 count off-white cotton sateen for $8.50. This fabric will be great for stitcheries. It is super soft and I can't wait to get started on a new project with it.

From there I went to Marden's Surplus. For those who do not know about Marden's they have an absolutely stunning fabric department. They carry quilt shop quality fabric - Thimbleberries, Moda, and batiks. But, the prices start at $2.99 a yard! Yup, you read that right, $2.99 a yard. Plus they generously cut the fabric. If you ask for a yard, you generally get a yard plus 5 - 6 inches extra. If you buy what's on the bolt you get an extra 10% off. It took me 45 minutes, but I chose the five fabrics below for my Butterfly Garden quilt. I will probably add some of the fabrics in my previous post as I go along in making the quilt. The floral prints are the same design, but since no piece in the quilt is larger than 4 inches finished I don't think it will be a problem. The green piece is an example of the generous cuts they do at Marden's. I asked for a yard, but the piece on the bolt was nearly two yards so she gave the piece to me for the price of one yard - $2.99!

After Marden's I still had $25 left of the gift cheque so I decided to stop at the LQS not far from my house. I didn't find any fabric jumping off the shelves into my arms. However, Eleanor Burns Fussy Cut Trio rulers did find their way into my hands. These will come in handy making this quilt and I'm sure many other quilts someday.

On Thursday I also received my Presencia threads for making this quilt. Aren't the colors yummy? Besides the 5 grams balls I also received a skein of matching floss for each color. I would take the time to wind the floss onto floss cards, but my empty floss cards are currently packed away.
I guess I should stop planning this quilt and start making this quilt, huh? Too bad football play-offs are on now. I doubt I'll find my way back into my sewing room until tomorrow morning.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Why I Don't Crochet Anymore

I started my day digging through what I haven't packed away of my stash and couldn't find any fabric to use for my Butterfly Garden quilt instead of the purples and greens I had chosen (see photo below). I just feel as though these fabrics will make the quilt too dark and the stitching won't show. I came to the realization that I don't have enough light color fabrics and definitely not a floral focus fabric. So that means I'll have to go shopping this week. Too bad!

DH woke up with the flu this morning and spent the day on the couch under two quilts. I know DH is sick when he is using quilts and has only been off the couch to visit the bathroom a few times. I didn't want to disrupt him with the sound of the sewing machine so I spent the afternoon working on my G block from Bobby Socks. I started stitching this block way back in August and haven't touched it in a long time. It felt good to spend a couple hours on it.

Tonight I wanted to do something different so I pulled out a purple ripple afghan I started crocheting about fours years ago. I only lasted 15 minutes before my arms started hurting. Ouch! So I reluctantly put the crocheting away. I guess my crocheting life is over.

Linda asked me why I covet the baby changing table in the new condo. She's wondering if I want the baby to go with the table. Good question, but not the right answer. My baby days are way over and grandbabies are still a few years away. I want the table because it's the perfect height for a cutting/pressing table, plus it is really more of a cabinet as it has several drawers with tons of space for storage. It would make a great quilting studio piece of furniture.

Well, it's getting late and tomorrow is Monday. So I'm off to take a steamy shower and climb under the covers. DH seems to be doing better tonight as he ate dinner and has kept it down. That's the first meal of the day for him. Hooray!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Some Photos of the New Condo

We had our home inspection on Thursday. It went well. There are some minor problems with a little mold and floor damage around the sliders out to the deck. The bedroom doors need are level, but not plumb and can be fixed with sandpaper. Today we learned the Radon level came back a little high and we will ask the seller to pay for a Radon Mitigation System. Our broker is pretty sure we should be able to get them to do that.

Here are some photos of the condo. This is the currently unfinished basement that we will finish and make into our media room. There is a washer and dryer behind me. We will close them off.
This is the open area next to the kitchen. We will be using this area as a sitting area when the basement is finished. We will use the current living room as our dining room. The photo I took of the room didn't turn out or I would show it.
Here is the kitchen. It's not huge, but I like it. This photo was taken in the morning so you can see how much morning light this room gets.
Here is the closet wall in my studio. Each of those closets is 6-feet long. I want to change out the folding doors for sliding doors. Then I will use the doors as design wall space. I will also custom fit the closets with shelves and drawers to hold UFOs, fabrics and supplies. Where you see the baby changing table will be my cutting table. Although I secretly covet the changing table and would love to have it.
This is the window wall in my room. My sewing table will be along this wall. My Red Sox rocking chair will go by one of the windows. I also want one more table/desk in the room for my laptop.

Today I ordered the embroidery floss for my Butterfly Garden quilt. I want to use FincaPresencia floss and no store around here carries it. I spent more time reading the patterns today and I think I may change some of my fabric choices. Some of the fabrics may be too dark so tomorrow I'll poke through my stash again to look for some lighter choices. I add some pinks too.

It's been cold here the last couple days and now is warming up. We were at or near 0 and by Tuesday/Wednesday we could be close to 50! Talk about temperature changes. Wow!