a quarter over...

As I was browsing around blogland today, I came across this post over at Don't Call Me Betsy, talking about how 2011 is a quarter of the way finished.


Where does the time go? No.... really... where???

So, after a few short minutes of lamenting over lost hours, I decided it was time to do just as Elizabeth did - count my finished projects.  Three months in and I've got five projects complete.  Not bad, even though four of them are, um... small.  :)

Exhibits One, Two and Three are my newest, quickest projects... my mug rugs.  You've seen the Central Park Mug Rug already (and a tutorial will be up soon!) but not the other two.


Late last week, a dear friend asked me if I could donate to the local Relay for Life auction that she was heading up.  She asked for a quilt, but we only had a week.  So, I offered two mug rugs instead.  Next year I will be putting in a quilt.  :)



Exhibit Four is a fun little fabric basket that I pulled together.  I can't wait to make more of these, including one for my friend Julia.  (I haven't forgotten you, Julia!!).

office worker... lol!

Exhibit Five is my grandma's Postage Stamp Quilt.  I still can't believe I have another twin-size quilt under my belt, and that I quilted it on my own machine.  Something I swore I would never do!


So what's next??

I'm currently piecing the back of my husband's Coffee Quilt.  I will have another post on that adventure, as I didn't buy enough fabric and had to piece my way through it.  Also, my youngest son's Guitar Quilt is officially on hold.  The little goober told me he wanted his quilt for his birthday, because that's when his brother got his quilt.  That's right...three-fourths of the way through and my deadline gets extended - until August!!

Other UFO's include my Odysea Quilt and a new Mexican Star wall hanging that I started at a class a couple of weeks ago.  The top is almost done on both of those.  I also have a half-finished Christmas Tree Skirt.  Finally, in-the-works but not started yet are quilts for my niece and my friend Jane.  Fabric is purchased for both, just gotta get started.  I also have fabrics purchased for two Christmas quilts - one for me and one for my sister.

When I'm away from my machine, I'm finishing (by hand) a pin quilt and table runner.  I also crank out a few hexagons when I can.

Oh, and there's the Quilt Along with Above All Fabric that starts next month...eek!!  I will be doing that with a Happy Daisy charm pack I just found in my stash.  Need to purchase border, sashing, binding and backing, though.

I know, I know... you're thinking I'm crazy.  Well, ummmm, I'm thinking you're right.  :)

So - how are you doing??  Don't forget to blog about it and link up to Elizabeth's post.  I'd love to see what you're up to!  



chiming in on dumbing down

Earlier today, I saw a post from Cara about dumbing down in quilting and it really has had me thinking this morning.  You see, I'm one of those who has benefited from this so-called "dumbing down" and, quite frankly if it wasn't for this "dumbing down", I wouldn't be here.

As you've probably guessed from my profile, I'm a working mom - and a busy one at that.  I could spit out a list of responsibilities right now that would make you swoon...but it's not about that.  It's about balance and being content.  Notice, I didn't say "happy"... I said content.

I've had hobbies before that have not made me content.  I enjoyed them, yes.  In fact, I relished in them and dove in to the point of burnout.  They made me happy, but they did not make me content.  There was always something missing.  Mostly, it bothered me because the items I was creating weren't useful. 

In quilting, I find contentment, balance, and happiness.  I'm able to do something I love and it's useful.  Unless specifically made for a wall, I don't want my work to be showcased, I want it to be used.  I am not the type to want to spend time making pretty things for the sake of making pretty things.  There is nothing wrong with doing that, but it is not my desire.

Now that I've found this hobby that I adore - it pains me to see people nit-pick it.  My best friend and I were at a quilt show in Buxton, NC, last summer and a snot of a man walked by and said, "but they're all machine quilted".  I wanted to punch him.  There were some gorgeous quilts there...


And he snubbed them because of a machine?  Get real, Mister.

You see, to me, comparing a quickly-made, pre-cut using, machine-quilted work to a not-so-quick, no pre-cuts, hand-quilted work is like comparing hand-washed dishes to those done in a dishwasher.  Are the dishes more beautiful because of the cleaning method?  Hardly.  Likewise, the creativity, thought, and love that goes into a machine quilted quilt is no different than those that are hand quilted.  They are each crafted and created with care and thoughtful attention, and often fussed over because they are going to someone very special.  One is not more beautiful than the other simply because of the manner in which it was created.

My son doesn't care that his quilt was not done by hand or whether or not I used pre-cuts.  He cares that his mamma made him a quilt.

Hand piecing and quilting is beautiful, gorgeous, and wonderful.  The men and women who invest the time to do that are quite amazing to me.  But my admiration will continue to be from afar until we somehow figure out how to add more hours in a day.  If it weren't for my machine, I would get none of this done.  I can't do it by hand and expect to be finished in this lifetime. 
So what about this "dumbing down"?  Are we really dumbing it down when we make it more user-friendly?  Anything that makes creating a quilt quickly is fine with me.  I'm all for pre-cuts - I don't have the time to spend hours in quilt stores matching fabrics.  I wasn't born with an innate sense of color matching; I'm still learning.  They also save me time at the cutting table.

I'm also all for short-cuts in piecing and patterns - like the postage stamp quilt I did thanks to Rachel's tutorial.  The look on my grandma's face was priceless...and I would have never seen it otherwise.  Would her love for the quilt increased if I had individually pieced each two-inch square?  No.  In fact, knowing my grandma, she would have thought I was crazy for doing it...LOL!

It's not about perfection, or doing it the "right" way.  It's about doing what you love for people you love and being content.  If that means quilting by hand for you, super.  If it means using a machine, great.  If you choose to use pre-cuts, awesome.  If you hand pick your own fabrics, superb. 

There's really no need to fuss, because the rest...well...just doesn't matter.



scrap bags

Have you ever purchased a scrap bag? You know...the "blind luck" collections where the store or designer picks what you get? Basically it is a pile of leftovers that they can't sell, usually because it is smaller than a quarter-yard.  Remnants, if you will. 

I've seen many scrap bags before, but never quite got up the nerve to buy one.  I mean, what if I hate the fabrics??  Then I'm stuck with ugly stuff that I will never use.  Wasted money, right?  Well...maybe not.
A while back, Melanie from Above All Fabric posted that she had some new scrap bags up.  I've ordered from Melanie many times and been very pleased.  I'm not sure I've ever seen an ugly fabric on her site...ever.  So, I jumped.  She had two to chose from:  a bag with various sizes and a bag with sizes guaranteed to be over 5 inches.  I chose the latter and it was at my door in just a couple of days.  Wanna see what I got?

All of this for $9.00 - and I personally think I hit the jackpot.  There are 17 fabrics in the bag and as you can see the colors, prints, and sizes are quite varied. By weight, they add up to two yards of fabric.  That's $4.50 a yard.  Not bad given that most Moda yardage I see is twice that price.

I see many uses for these, and I'm so glad I bought them.  In fact, I ended up using five of them in my TwitterB block, which I just happened to be working on the night I received these...and I still have leftovers!  So once again, I find myself stretching outside my comfort zone.  And I like it.  :)

I highly recommend scrap bags now and will be buying more.  They are a great way to build my stash and a great way to try fabrics that I probably wouldn't have otherwise purchased.  Because I tend to think in  terms of projects, I tend to lose sight of the fact that there are some great stand-alone fabrics out there.   I also recommend purchasing scrap bags from stores that you normally shop at anyway, especially the smaller ones.  That way you know what fabric they carry and whether or not there is a good chance that you'll like most of it.  If you purchase a scrap bag from a store with five-bazillion fabric lines, you'll be more likely to get something you don't like, in my opinion. 

So what about you?  Have you purchased scrap bags?  What did you think?  Like it or hate it?  Would you do it again?  I'd love to know your opinion.  :)



the job I could never have...


Seriously.  I think I'd die of hunger first.

Don't forget - I'm 21 floors up, and this just across the street, from my office window.

Not really sure what they are doing, as they took the fronts off the letters over two weeks ago and only got the "&" back up today.

Wonder if they get weekends off?



twitter B

A month or so ago, I stumbled across a darling blog called "All Things Fabulous" by Jenni20 Designs. The post that caught my eye?   She was starting a Twitter Quilting Bee. Twitter?..and quilting?? I admit, I was curious.

Her reasoning was simple - our quilty ancestors would get together from time to time and quilt. One part  helping each other out, the other part pure social. She had a great point. I had a twitter account long ago but quickly abandoned it. This got me thinking, though, and I jumped in.

The requirements were almost effortless: Make a block a month and tweet. I mean, does it get any easier?  Basically, each month one person will send out a fat quarter to the other 11 ladies. The 11 receiving the FQ make a block from it and our stash fabrics, then send it back. And we tweet. I've met some fabulous ladies from all over - including Germany - and it's been fun chatting with them.

And, bonus...we get to keep the leftovers from the fat quarters.  Great stash building and stash using, all at once.  I think I'll term it a stash makeover.  :)

As the organizer, Jenni took the first month. She started us out with a bang, sending out this beautiful piece of fabric:


I immediately loved it and my mind started racing as soon as I saw it.  After trying out several color and fabric combinations, I ended up with this block:

Jenni had told us she favored the blues and greens, so I tried to stay with those, and the orange just sort-of flowed with the rest.  The block pattern is the Scrappy Hedgerow Block from Oh, Fransson.  This was a real comfort-zone stretcher for me as I hardly ever put my own fabrics together.  I'd venture to say that 95% of my projects are from pre-cut bundles and/or bundles that someone else put together for me.  I've never been comfortable picking out fabrics.  But, I'm learning.

I'll be posting my blocks here as I go, but if you'd like to follow the group, check out our Flickr pool.  There are some very talented ladies here.

I hope Jenni likes her block.  I mailed it out last week and I'm looking forward to the April Fat Quarter.  Of course, I'm already trying to figure out what I want to do for my month, though I have plenty of time.  If I remember right, I'm February 2012.  I guess I get to work on patience, too... LOL!



mug rug #1

I was so excited about the new Mug Rug madness over at Two More Seconds - and about finally getting my machine back last night - that I went straight home and got to work on the first mug rug challenge.  The tutorial was from Miss Nova at A Cuppa and a Catch Up and was quite darling.

But... me being me... I had to change it up a bit.  LOL!

First, I'm not a big tea drinker, unless it's iced and syrupy sweet, so that had to go.  But, I like the stripes and the letters... so I substituted my own word... Java!!  Here is my little creation.

And she's reversible!!

I used the Central Park jelly roll strips I had leftover after I cut my fabric for the FlipSide quilt I'm doing.  The letters are from Pea Alexis, one of Amanda's Font's for Peas that I simply printed out, fused, cut and ironed on.  I may go back and applique them, but not sure about that just yet.  We'll see how they hold up.

Oh, I love it.  I have it sitting on my desk, holding my java, of course. It's such a bright little addition to my otherwise boring desk.  :)

It was so easy to make...probably under two hours, and that includes hand-stitching the binding to the back.  I'm seriously in love with these little creations and see many more in my future!



mug rug madness...

Have you ever wound up on a blog and wondered how in the heck you got there, but you're so glad you got there? That happened to me today, and I'm so glad I found "two more seconds" because today is the kickoff of her Mug Rug Madness week.

If you're scratching your head and wondering what the heck a mug rug is, then take a look at some of her posts featuring mug rugs.  I'm currently in love with them, and actually just finished my first last week.  (Sorry, no pic.)  I'm far from satisfied with it, though, and want to try again.  Not sure it will ever see the light of day, really... LOL.

I think these little rugs are just dang cute, and will make sweet little gifts for some friends.  They're perfect for the office, or as snack-sized place mats or even large coasters.

By the way - if you want one, let me know and tell me the colors you prefer (if you prefer any).   I think I'm going to make one out of my Central Park leftovers tonight.  :-)



postage stamp quilt - done!

Today was simply a wonderful day. 

It started off with a beyond-words awesome morning at church and then a trip to grandma's to deliver her quilt.

At church, today was "Change for Change" day.  To make a long story short, about six weeks ago our leaders challenged us to collect our change and bring it to a special service today.  The change collected will be used to help build an exercise room for one of our teenagers with Muscular Dystrophy.  Collection time started with preschoolers ("...and a little child shall lead them...") and finished with the adults.  Holy-smokes, Batman.  I really think I got a little taste of heaven today.

After lunch, my mom picked me up and we headed up to Grandma's.  As you may remember from this post, shortly after I finished the top of my postage-stamp quilt, I decided that she was going to be the recipient.  She has been really struggling lately with vertebral fractures and in a lot of pain.  Simple, daily activities were becoming very difficult for her,  including just getting out of bed.

The immediate solution that my mom and aunts had was to set her up with a hospital bed.  She's been in it for a few weeks now and it seems to be helping; her pain is much more under control now.  But, with that said, let's face it - a hospital bed is far from pretty.  So, bring in the quilt!!

For the past several weeks, I've been sewing like mad on this thing...trying to get it finished by spring.  My mom and I got to deliver it today, the first day of Spring.  How wonderful is that?!

Here is how it looks all finished, bound, washed, and crinkly....

And here's the label I made - inspired by Rachel's tutorial, except I printed mine out on fabric paper instead of writing the whole thing.  (Of course, I'm starting to worry that Rachel may think I'm a stalker at this point.) 


Mom did not tell Grandma that I was coming with her today, or that I had been making the quilt.  So, in a way it was a double surprise for her.  Mom told her she found a blanket for her bed, so it took a bit to sink in that I had made the quilt.  She loved it.  It fits her bed perfectly and makes the room feel so "springy".

Of course, I couldn't get away without a picture with her.  Isn't she beautiful?


Would you even believe me if I told you she's pushing 90?  That's right.  She'll be 87 this fall.  She's quite amazing - and I hope I look like that when I'm her age!



fabric basket

I've had my eye on fabric baskets for a while. They are so cute (and useful) but I've always been a bit shy because I don't trust my actual sewing skills - which can be much different than quilting skills.

I decided to finally dive in last night, using this tutorial from Pink Penguin.  (Incidentally, her whole site is fabulous - lots of great tutorials.)  The fabric I used part of a Moda Dark Chocolate Bar kit I bought a couple of months ago; specifically, Luna Notte by 3 Sisters.  I used all shades except the black...just couldn't get that one to work to my taste.

squares for the fabric basket

It's a very simple basket - a 6 x 2 square patch and some linen.  Here is the outside piece, pinned to the batting.  It felt weird to not use basting pins, but I pushed through.  Literally - right though the fingertip a time or two.  *sigh*
all pinned up!

I was able to use some scrap batting from my grandma's quilt (which is still being bound, btw).  I used some scrap muslin for the lining, even though the tutorial calls for fabric.  I tried different fabrics from my stash, but none were really screaming at me, so I stuck with the muslin.  So, I got it all pieced and attached, then came the hard part... 

the hard part...

I hate pushing projects out through tiny holes.  I even busted some stitches during this.  I think I'm just not patient enough.  But...as with most projects...the final piece is quite worth it.  Here she is making her debut as a K-cup holder for my coffee machine.

And here she is making her debut as an office worker.  :)
office worker... lol!

Still not sure where her final home will be, but I can see so many uses that I'm going to make more.  On the future ones, though, I think I'll be adding some interfacing for a bit of stiffness.  Anything with any weight to it will collapse the basket.  Right now, I'm thinking she'll make a great candy dish for my desk...full of lots of dark chocolate.  Appropriate, don't you think?




Ok, I admit up front...no pics.

BUT....I finished attaching the binding on grandma's quilt last night!

**and the crowd goes wild**

Ok, so the crowd went wild in my little world.  It's always a major accomplishment for me to get the binding attached.  Mostly because it's the one thing I probably struggle most with.  And, of course, it always happens late at night when I'm tired and not thinking straight.  (Well, as straight-thinking as I can get, at least.)  Matt has helped me more times than I care to admit...or probably that he cares to admit.  You know you've got a good man when he'll stop to help you figure out the geometry at o-dark-thirty so you can get to bed without killing someone and/or throwing your machine out the window.   

This time only a couple of snafus - first, I misjudged the length needed.  I've never claimed to be good at math, and this just proves it.  I tried to add in my head.   Yeah.... big mistake.  I really need to get a calculator for my sewing space.

Anyway, I had to add on a little extra at the end.  Then, I mis-cut the extra when attaching and ended up cutting too short.  (Insert mild expletive.)   So, I pulled out the last section, replaced it with a longer one, and cut correctly.  A few more minutes and it was connected, attached and ready to go - without further expletives!  (hooray!!!!!).  Goal for the next quilt?  No cussing.  Can I do it, can I do it??  This was the most successful binding process to date, so I'm almost afraid to wish for more.  

Incidentally, if you haven't gone through the binding tutorials over at Jaybird Quilts, you need to take a look.  She recently added a video to the already fabulous posts.  So very wonderful. 

The hand-stitching still looms on the horizon, but I know I can have it done this week.  In fact, I consider it the easy part.  :-)



advice and re-pinning

I simply adore the online quilting community.

Just the other night, I got quilting advice from Australia...yes, Australia.  I'm a big fan and follower of Red Pepper Quilts and love, love, love how she straight-line quilts most of her work.  I'm trying in on my grandma's postage stamp quilt, but was having trouble with it warping.


So, I figure Rita seems nice...why not pop over an e-mail?  I mean, what have I got to lose, right?  I'm trying to mimic her work, so why not go straight to the source?

I sent the e-mail, figured it would be a day or so before she got back to me, and went about my business.  Fast forward about 30-45 minutes and I returned to the computer only to find her reply waiting for me!  She wrote back 5 minutes later... five minutes.  I was stunned.  And a very helpful reply, at that.  She gave me all types of advice and even asked a few questions.  Not some blow-off e-mail.  I'm totally impressed and, if it's possible, am an even bigger fan now. 

We decided (ok, ok, she suggested and I agreed...) that the problem likely stemmed from poor basting.  And it didn't surprise me.  I basted this one on the floor and had constant trouble with the painter's tape sticking - or, should I say, not sticking.  I had decided I should probably re-pin before I sent the e-mail, so hubby had already gone out and bought a set of clamps for me to use to baste at the kitchen table.  (Thanks to my friend Claire for that fabulous idea!!).  

Below, you can see the setup for the re-pinning.  It actually took a lot less time than I thought it would.  I now swear by these clamps...you absolutely should try them if you don't use them already.  Straight from the hardware store, and not very expensive.  And, oh, how much better they were on my back and knees!


Now I'm desperately trying to finish my quilting.  I really wanted to have this done this week, but just not sure that's gonna happen.  I'm about five seams away from having all the vertical lines done.  Then the horizontal.  Though, I'm seriously thinking about stopping with the vertical.  Any opinions on that??  Would love to hear what you think.



the race

Last weekend was wonderful.

My best friend and I headed down to Disney World for the Princess Half Marathon and had an absolute blast. We heard about the race early last summer and decided it would be a lot of fun. And, seeing how I already *am* a princess, I figured it would be very fitting. My original goal at the time of signup was for this race to be the first for me to run all the way through - no walking. Boy, did that change. I find it ironic now, looking back at that goal, because I actually ended up doing just the opposite - walking with almost no running.

Most of our park time on Saturday was spent in Epcot, because that is the one we always want to see, but the boys (and our husbands) don't want to spend time there. We hit a couple of the rides, including Test Track, where I had to stop at the end and drool over this beautiful green Camaro... wow.



I'm slowly beginning to feel my desire for a Mustang fade... just sayin'.

After a couple other rides, we headed out to World Showcase to start our "Dessert around the World" tour...LOL! We made it to Mexico first, not sure why, but we just hung a left at the entrance.

We decided that we were too hungry to just eat dessert, so we ate in the sit-down restaurant inside. I had nearly forgotten how good the food was there. Afterward, we grabbed a small, light dessert - white chocolate mousse with berries - to share.


Turns out we really shot ourselves in the foot by eating such a good lunch. We didn't eat anymore desserts that day, but we did end up buying a couple of things - including a Rocky-Road caramel apple I bought in Germany to take home to the boys. We quartered it on Monday and shared it around the table and oh, it was so good! I wish I had a picture...

Sunday started off stupid early...alarm went off at 3:00 am. (Yeah, I told you it was stupid early.) The buses for race participants were only running from 3 to 4 am, so we had to get our butts in gear early. The organization and logistics were simply amazing - only Disney could pull off a race of over 16,000 runners with this kind of precision. Most of the participants were women - afterall it was the "Princess" Half Marathon - but there were a few men. Nearly everyone had on a tiara of some sort, and a lot of people had dressed up as a Disney princess or fairy. You could tell from the get-go that this race was about having fun, not winning or setting a personal best time.

We headed out across the start line just outside of Epcot, complete with a countdown by Cinderella's Fairy Godmother and fireworks for every corral (groups of runners that go at one time - helps spread out the crowd). Then it was off for the five or so miles toward the Magic Kingdom. Most of my photos of the beginning did not turn out, mostly because it was still dark. Here is a picture of us making our way under the water bridge (oh, and that's Ashley in the pink tank, btw). At this point there were still quite a few runners, but we were starting to come across more and more walkers.


Then it was into the Magic Kingdom itself. We actually went in a back lot, right beside Space Mountain, and came out on the side of Main Street and hung a right - straight towards the castle.


Once down Main Street, we took a right into Tomorrow Land, continued into Fantasy Land, and then looped back around to the castle, where trumpeters were out, announcing our entrance as we ran through.


After the castle, we weaved our way around through Frontierland and out the side gate near Splash Mountain, seeing many characters on the way including Pinnochio, Peter Pan and the Genie from Aladdin.

The race continued on past the golf course, the Grand Floridian and the speedway, again with lots of characters and distractions. Once on the main road, it started to get a little tougher as we were out in the full sun at that point and my knee was starting to flare. Thanks to some Biofreeze and a few Clif Shots at mile 8, though, we were good to go.

Throughout the race, we were constantly fighting the fear of being picked up. According to the guidelines, anyone falling below a 16 minute/mile pace would have to drop out. Our goal was to run a 15 minute-mile and we were right on that, but didn't know how all the stopping for photos would factor in. Plus, the 16 minute/mile pacer started at the end of Corral F, and we were in Corral C. Around the 10 mile mark, we turned off the main road onto the road leading to Epcot...and we were quite relieved when we saw the pack behind us...

We felt pretty confident at that point that we wouldn't have to worry about the pace police...LOL.

Just a while later, we were in Epcot, making one final loop to the finish where we began running just after the 13 mile marker. Even though we walked 98% of the race, something in us just would not let us walk across the finish. Ash dug in her famous (holy-cow!) sprint and I joined in behind. While I may run a race faster than her overall, there is no way I will ever beat that sprint!! Amazing.

Post finish line we were christened with our medals and a smattering of pixie dust, and a good helping of accomplishment and pride. The goal was to finish, and that's what we did!


Now comes the hard part - training.

I'm taking the month of March off from running. Period. I'm going to focus on lifting weights to build strength in my legs and a little overall body work, too. I may do some walking (no more than 2 miles at once) but the majority of my cardio will be either the elliptical or recumbent bike. I must, must, must, must get this knee back in shape!!

If all goes according to plan, running will start in April at a very small pace, only doing a couple of miles at a time and increasing very slowly on a weekly (or longer) basis.

My goal? Run/walk OBX in November without pain. :-)