Friday, December 11, 2009

After a long absence

Sorry for my absence. I admit I've been lax in writing lately. I guess I've found what falls to the wayside when I'm feeling down: this blog. I keep up fairly well with facebook (if you read this regularly and you're not my facebook friend, do it!) but not with this. I guess it's because I'm limited in words on facebook status updates.So anyway, in cancer news, I've had my first surgery, this past Wednesday. I got the pathology report today and found that it is only intraductal, which means it's not gone to my lymph nodes and I won't need chemo. So that's good. The bad news is, even though they took out a chunk the size of my fist, they were only 1 mm away from the cancerous cells on the edge closest to my feet. So they'll have go back in again, probably this coming week, and do more surgery. This hit me fairly hard. I've been pretty good about putting up a happy face about all of this. Tonight, not so much.

I have gotten a few projects done, though, for Christmas. Molly's flannel quilt won't be done because the shop machines are off to their mechanics for a good cleaning and overhaul. The shop machines (especially the BabyLock Quilter's Choice I've been using) have a good inch and a half more space to the right of the needle than my rinky dink Kenmore machine has. When quilting a twin size flannel quilt, this is a very important inch and a half!

However, I did make Molly a pillow.
And I made a gardening apron for my father in law. He's from Wisconsin, don'tcha know. My husband made me take three photos before he decided his gut was sucked in enough for posting. Sorry, honey!
And I made my in-laws a log carrier. Both of the last projects are from the Sew & Stow book (this link is to Amazon, but you can also buy it from our shop).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No photos today

No photos today. I'm starting to pack for a three day quilting retreat. I've never been on one and I'm very excited! I hope to have lots of photos to share with you when I get back Sunday night.

In cancer news, I'm going to the surgeon this morning for a consultation. I hope to have an idea of what my treatment will be after the appointment. However, I go straight from there to school (for Molly's ballet) and then to work, so I won't have much time to think about it. Tomorrow morning, I will take Molly to school, then pick up Amy to go to the retreat.

In dog news, I never did get around to telling you about Snickers's escape. She managed to get out one morning (a Monday). She was picked up by someone who lives in our neighborhood, and was kept in their yard for the day. She didn't have her tags on because she was wearing her Bite Not collar because she's had a lot of itching due to allergies. Anyway, she managed to escape their yard, too, and was found wandering Hungary Road the next morning by some other people in our neighborhood. They took her to a vet's office and then found my listing on Craig's List. So we got our 14 year old friend back. She had some gastrointestinal issues for a couple of weeks (which required two steam cleaner rentals). Recently, we discovered fleas on her and the cat. We must have fallen behind on applying FrontLine to the dog. So, we've FrontLined the dog and put something similar on the cat. They don't seem to be horribly bad, but I noticed bites on Molly's legs. I sure hope we can get rid of them. I've felt itchy ever since this discovery. Any ideas?

Oh, and Brittany loved her quilt!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New pattern

Molly has a birthday party to go to on Sunday so I decided to try making something. I started on Friday. Did I mention my deadline problem? Anyway, here's an image of it in its compact form:
Here it is opened up.
Still not sure what it is? Here's a hint:
Yes, it's a fold-up tic-tac-toe board using the chalkboard fabric. I didn't like the way the roll-up chalkboard actually rolled. The chalkboard vinyl has no give, so it gets ripply when you roll it. This has fabric sewn in between the pieces of vinyl, so it can fold. The white stuff is elastic to hold the chalk.If I made another one, I'd do some changes. The way it folds, you can't have a full sized piece of chalk in the leftmost holder as pictured or the chalk would break when you fold the board. And I would make a way to make it look more finished. I'm not happy with my topstitching. But it's a prototype. Do you think this would sell at craft fairs? The million dollar question: how much would one pay for such a thing? It's for a girl who's turning six.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joy in the New Year

I'm joining in the Joy in the New Year challenge at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. I love Jacquie's work. The idea is that you count your UFOs and then, however many you finish by January 1, you get that number of entries for a prize. Join in! If you're like me, you need a deadline!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Addicted to deadlines

I have a problem. I can't seem to get things done (quilting-wise, anyway) unless I have a deadline. Case in point, Brittany's quilt. I missed her graduation because I knew she didn't need the quilt until she went to college. Then, before September, I had a bunch of deadlines at work -- samples for a gift fair, class samples, etc. "Oh well," I thought, "it won't get cold in Texas for a while anyway." I worked on her quilt and had it 99% finished, and I found a flaw that I wasn't sure how to fix (I discovered a seam that had not been sewn together properly, but the quilt was all quilted). So I put it off. Then Halloween (and the associated costume) was looming. And then we lost the dog and I got cancer and things went all to hell.Front and back

I'm ready to mail it. I haven't trimmed all the threads and I haven't washed it (because I don't have a front-loader), but I'm sending it anyway. I'm so sorry, Brittany, that you had to wait this long.
How it looks on a bed.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you get through it? I feel pretty shitty about it.
Obligatory Molly pose.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween and bad news

Molly's costume came out great! She was Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. I took a few liberties with the costume to make it more wearable for her. Monica from the shop helped me a LOT with the dress and cape.
I've been gone again because it's been busy. I mentioned in my last post something about doctor appointments. I found out Wednesday that I have breast cancer. It's early -- stage zero, actually -- so that's good. I'll know more after I meet with the surgeon next week, but I will probably only have to go through surgery and radiation. I'm hoping for no chemo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finally back!

I am so sorry it's been so long since I've posted. My days lately have been so full, leaving before 8 am and getting home close to 9 pm. I've been sewing at the shop nearly every morning (and this week I have been teaching a class each morning). The afternoons have had anything from Molly's gymnastics or ballet, to meetings with her teacher (I'm the room mom this year), grocery shopping, dealing with dog issues, doctor appointments (for me or others), you name it. More on the dog issues and doctor appointments in a later post. I have too much show and tell!

First I have the Molly quilt. It's from the Fat Quarter Fonts book by Atkinson Designs. It's a smaller version of the name quilt. I know I've mentioned how much I love Terry Atkinson books and patterns before. This is great because the letters are machine appliqued on but have no fusible.Next are some Christmas pins I made for the gift fair at the shop a few weeks back. They're all quite small, maybe 2.5 by 3.5 inches or so. There are pin-backs sewn to each one. They could be ornaments or pins to wear.
And closeups. First is the reindeer. One of the antlers has gotten broken off.
Next is the holly.
Last is the tree. I don't like the green outlining, but I felt it needed something to make it stand out. Oh well, live and learn. At least it's small!
Last, my favorite project, Rudy. It's a pattern from Melly and Me, out of Australia. (Speaking of Australia, I recently had a dream that Simon Baker, who is the guy on The Mentalist, was asking me to help him pick out quilt fabric. Rowrrrr!) This little guy is the cutest ever. His feet are wool. I think the pattern wants wool scraps for the eyes, but I used buttons.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween costume and a surprise

I just got started making Molly's Halloween costume. She's going to be Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Monica is helping me, since I know nothing about making clothes. We're changing her costume a little, to be more kid-friendly.
I also got the cutest thank you gift in the mail from Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. If you haven't seen her site, go see it! She gives me lots of inspiration.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two for two!

Well, we went to the Virginia state Fair today. Both of the quilts I entered won ribbons! The safari quilt got Honorable Mention in the Crib/Small Bed Quilt category.
And the auction quilt got First Place in the Art Quilt/Wall hanging category!
We're tired and happy here at our house!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brittany's quilt

I'm making some real progress on my niece Brittany's graduation quilt. What? Yeah, so graduation was a few months ago. I know. But in quilting time, I'm doing fine. Early, even!

Here I am working away at the quilting, at the shop with Amy. I had to buy new gloves because I left mine at home.
Here is the back. I love the back, maybe even more than the front! I know, it's a lot of white, but I've really been drawn to this look lately. And Brittany's a responsible kid. She'll take good care of it. You can see my loopy quilting on the right side. This is the biggest quilt I've quilted so far, so I wanted to use my most comfortable fill pattern. The label is near the top right, at the end of one of the strips of blocks. These were the leftovers from the front squares.
And here is the label. I embroidered it myself. I've decided I love embroidering labels. This is the wave of the future for me, I think. The metal you see in the "with" is from a safety pin on the front. It will be gone when I'm done quilting it.Today it was over 90 degrees so I contend that it's still summer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Safari quilt

This is one of the quilts I'm entering into the state fair. The other is the auction quilt, which you've probably seen before. Tomorrow morning, Amy and I will drive up to deliver them (she's entering a couple quilts as well). This quilt, which I call the Safari Quilt, was made for a friend who was having a baby. We fell out of touch (but have reconnected thanks to Facebook). Anyway, I had it nearly done except for one missing line of quilting and the binding. So it still fits the rules of being finished in the past year. I actually only finished the binding a few days ago! The design is mine. I took the safari pictures and cropped them. The giraffe's head sticks out of the frame because if I had cut a rectangle, a predatory animal would have been in the bottom right corner, looking at its lunch. So I took another giraffe image and appliqued it onto the brown border and green fabric. It was needle turn applique, and those horns are small! That's why there is blue fuzz showing a little. I may need to break out the brown Sharpie before tomorrow morning.
I was really anal about the layout. If you look carefully, you'll see that no predator is looking toward prey. I'm such a softie!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pretty little wallet

I made a quick shop sample this morning; this pretty little wallet. It isn't fancy, but I like the way the fabric worked out. I centered the motifs. It is the same fabric line as my Birdie Sling. It's a little hard to tell from the angle of this photo, but the sides do curve in. The pattern is a Valori Wells Sewing Card (available, of course, at the shop and featured in the upcoming gift fair). The only downside is that the fusible Velcro isn't sticking as well as I'd like it to. It's very humid here, and I wonder if that's not affecting it. Any ideas?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another blast from the past

This is the quilt I refer to as "Molly's quilt." I made it in a class that I took while I was pregnant with her. I finished it while we lived here in Virginia. I didn't really intend it to go to her, but I haven't made her a quilt just for her yet. I know, bad mom. Now that she's in school, maybe for Christmas. Or perhaps I should say Winter Solstice. I'm starting to get a little more sensitive about the religion thing. I don't want her to be confused. We're Humanists, you see (which in Virginia is a Big Deal). I'm not anti-Christmas, but I think she's going to start hearing more and more about the religious aspects, and I just want her to understand. We still do the tree and Santa and all of that.Closeup! There are hearts, flowers, wavy lines, loops and straight lines. It's not a twin, but it's the biggest thing I've made.
I have gotten something done in the past few days, but it's just the top and I want to wait until it's quilted to show it off. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Roll-Up Chalkboard

We have this new chalkboard fabric at the shop. It's great! It works just like a chalkboard, but it's vinyl (I think) so it's flexible. It doesn't have give like fabric, but otherwise you can sew right through it. We also have iron-on vinyl that you can adhere to fabric to make it waterproof. In this case, it's making the fabric chalkproof so it won't get stained. I tested a pattern that we'll have available during our gift fair which is the weekend of September 19th. It has a little pocket on the side for chalk and a cloth to erase.
Eventually it will go to Molly. The good news is that I made it on her first day of school, so it will be a surprise if I give it to her during the holidays. Here's a photo of her when I dropped her off at school. It's her first day of kindergarten, though it's still at the same school (with the same teacher and classroom) that she had last year.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Baby quilt from before

I feel like I haven't been posting as regularly as I should. Partly this is because it's summer and I just don't have that much time to sew. This will end next week, but for now, I thought I'd do a little show and tell from my pre-blog days.

Today I'm showing you my favorite baby quilt. This was for my friend Sandy's baby, Cassidy. She was born in January of 2008. The quilt uses something like 58 fabrics and came entirely from my stash (except the borders and backing). I had shown Sandy some quilt magazines and she kept saying things like, "I like this one, but with a little more red and yellow." It's a pretty big quilt for a baby quilt. Those are my husband's feet and he's slightly over 6 feet tall.It was really quite a challenge to lay out. I separated blocks into ones with red, yellow, both and neither. I don't have a big design wall so this was done on the family room floor.

When I decided to just do straight lines for the interior quilting, I thought it would be a piece of cake. It ends up that I was able to quilt just two lines for the entire inside (they bounce off the borders). The difficultly was in that at some corners, I ended up having to shove the entire quilt through the space in the sewing machine. If I had meandered or done some other kind of free-motion quilting, the most I'd have to deal with would be half the quilt under the machine at once. But I am happy with the way the quilting came out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Round robin

Have you ever been in a round robin? I highly recommend doing one if you haven't. They're a great way to flex your creative muscle. Since you never know what you're going to get, you end up have to come up with a way to make it work, even if the piece you have has unusual colors or measurements that seem to be from another planet.

The round robin I'm in now is the fifth one I've been in. Two others were with my Monday night quilt group (as is this one), one was with a group at the shop and the other was with the guild. That last one didn't go very well, but that's another story.

Anyway, my Monday night group is doing another one. There are twelve of us participating, and my sister who lives in Oklahoma is one of them. There are enough that we have split into two groups. In this case, we're doing row quilts. So, you make your row, then pass it on and receive a row from someone else. In the end, you get your row back, with other rows, made by other people, as part of the quilt. Amy is in this round robin, too, but she's in the other group.

So, here's my sister's row before I added anything to it. It's huge!
I can't show you all of my row, partly because it's supposed to be a secret (though my sister doesn't actually read my blog anyway, so it's not like it matters that much), and partly because I don't have it all done yet. It's not due until Monday night, so I have tons of time! This is a very small part of it, maybe 3 inches wide.
If you haven't tried paper piecing before, you should. It greatly expands the choices you have in blocks. You can do some amazing things with paper piecing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nervousness and underwear

I can't sleep. I'm on medication that seems to make me very sensitive to caffeine. That, and I'm nervous about the Minnesota Road Show. Are you sick of hearing about it yet? I think I'm nervous because these classes, short as they are, come with outlines which are close to scripts. So I'm anxious because I feel like I may miss something. I'm much better when I get to talk off the top of my head (I try my best not to talk in the other direction, if you know what I mean). Anyway, I have quilted the step-out piece for the tote bag section I'm doing.
Complete with little flowers. I used a shop machine and took my chances with the needle. I figured, it wasn't a big piece and I wasn't using especially thick thread. However, the thread broke a couple of times and I ended up borrowing a topstitch needle from someone else who was there. It turns out I was using a jeans needle. So, if you ever feel like trying to quilt with a jeans needle, don't bother. It's not worth the hassle.
Also, I had to go to the dreaded WalMart (I hate shopping there but we had a gift card) and bought some underwear for Amy. Can you blame me? I think they'll be way too big for her, though.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Demo sample making and yummy food

I haven't been sewing much lately. My back has been sore and I was worried about hurting it again. But, deadlines loom, so here we go again! Tonight I worked on a demo piece for the Minnesota Road Show. It's the body of the Farmer's Market Tote. I will essentially stop this one about halfway through, just before assembling the bag, so people can see what the piecing looks like. The fabrics for this one are very different from the last one I made. This one has big, bold prints.
Also, RT made some fantastic shish kabobs last week on the grill. They were marinated sirloin and they looked so yummy I had to take a photo (sorry to any vegetarians out there):