Thursday, December 30, 2010

January Fun-A-Day

I recently saw an invitation in our local newspaper to participate in our Pendleton Center for the Arts "Fun-A-Day" project.  It's a community art project where you spend a little time each day working on a creative project during the month of January.  Then in early February we all bring our projects to the art center to share, display and view them!  What a neat idea!  It was started by the "Art Clash Collective", a group of artists out of Philadelphia, and has spread West.  I singed up right away, and started thinking about what I'm going to do.

Since it starts on New Year's Day, I decided I want to do something to help me get better at a skill, or do something new.  I've been trying to learn free-motion quilting, and have been getting better and better at it.  So I'm going to do something with free-motion quilting, or "thread painting".  I certainly don't have to create a different project for each day, but I like that idea.  I also hope to try out the "quilt-as-you-go" technique, where you quilt each block, then sew them all together after you finish.  I have an idea of what I want to do, but don't quite want to say what it is yet.  But tune in January 1st and hopefully I'll be able to share each day's creation here as well.

Feel free to join in the fun!  I have no idea how to make a "linky party", but this would be a perfect opportunity for a more technologically-savvy blogger to do one.  If I find any others out there, I'll try to mention them here.
Until then, here's a small table runner quilt that I made just for me this Christmas using scraps of fabric I have.  Another goal of mine in 2011 is to make a bunch of scrappy quilts, as my scrap bins are starting to overflow!!  I tried to do a different free-motion design in each "block" of my table runner quilt.  If anyone hasn't seen Leah Day's blog, "Free Motion Quilting Project", go over there and check her out.  I've been very inspired by her work! 

I hope all of you have a great New Year's celebration!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

(not so) Ugly Snugglie

I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season!  Ours has been very low key, but nice! 

After the Christmas presents for various family members had been made, I started cranking out some last minute gifts for my boys.  I made them pillowcases, and pajamas to match their quilts, but the one item they actually asked for soon became quite the project!  My boys asked for SNUGGIES!  Yes, those blankets with sleeves that are all over the TV comercials around Christmas time.  As a quilter, I really have a hard time cutting out holes in a blanket and sewing sleeves in them, but I had long ago chosen some fleece and this pattern. 
It says "1 hour" on it, and I do have a serger, have a lot of experience sewing with fleece, so I figured it would only take a few hours at most to make 2 snuggies....

When I got out the fleece I let them choose what colors they wanted.  It was then that they suddenly decided that they not only wanted a snuggie, but wanted them "double layered".  My oldest even wanted a hole in the bottom so that it could also double as a sort of sleeping bag.  Oh my goodness!!!  I guess that's what you get when your family knows mom can sew!  I only had 3 big pieces of fleece that were "for boys", and I wasn't about to go out and get more.  But I did have a lot of bigger scraps that my mom had given me after she made several neck pillows for many of the kids one year.  Now you know where I get all of this from!

I told the boys I'd piece the backs for them.  I know... WHAT WAS I THINKING!?  So fleece meets quilting.  I kept it simple, but cutting them all to match, size-wise, then sewing them all together proved to be a much more complicated task than I'd originally set out to do!  I decided that fleece is to cotton, like cats are to dogs...  Fleece can be warm and fuzzy, but it's also very stretchy and has a mind of its own.  Cotton is much easier to tame and with knowledge is much more obedient.

I took the bigger sheets of fleece and sewed them right sides together with the pieced fleece to make one big fleece quilt, after turning them right side out.  I then proceeded to clench my teeth, take a big breath and CUT HOLES OUT of it!  I sewed together the sleeves and attached them to the "snuggie".  I thought the backs looked pretty ugly, but when I asked the kids where they wanted the sleeves, they told me they wanted them on the pieced side!!  Oh my!  When I remarked that they were pretty ugly, they reprimanded me and told me that they were beautiful.  Exactly what they wanted! (I also had let them pick out the fabrics for the pieced side too from my scrap stash.)  They love their new snuggies, and I'm yet again reminded that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  It's what gives each individual person pleasure and satisfaction.  I'm thrilled that they find these beautiful and it gives me so much to reflect upon.  No wonder that we see our own children to be so beautiful.  They give us parents so much pleasure and satisfaction!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finished projects!!

I've been quite busy the last week or two.  I'm finally getting caught up enough to post a few pictures.  It always seems that we either have the time or the money, but rarely both.  This year, I have lots of time, but not as much money, so I've been trying to make presents out of my stash, and have been really good about only buying batting, or fabric that I absolutely need to finish a specific project.
Our youngest niece turned 3 last week, and I made this chalkboard quilt for her.  I love how it turned out!  A friend had given me the pattern and chalkboard fabric (who knew they made that?), after she had bought them, then had her kids grow way too fast to make it for them.  I still have patterns for baby clothes that I never made, so I can totally relate!  I was happy to put this to use!
I also have been busy making this quilt for her older sister.  Her favorite colors are blue and yellow.  She's a big swimmer, and I had this beautiful blue and yellow fabric in my stash, so I made a school of fish for her bed!  It's my first "2 color" quilt.  I love making quilts for other people, because I never would have made this for me, but I LOVE the way it turned out!

I know of a few lucky family members who are getting kindle ebooks for Christmas, so I made these covers for them.  One is for a kindle, one for the larger DX.  These went together so fast, that I want to try to put a few on etsy to see how they sell.  Wish me luck!
That's it for the projects (for now).  I still have binding to do, but hope to finish them soon.
As we put up our tree and decorations, I pulled out my favorite kitchen towels.  Several years ago, I had my 2 boys draw pictures of Christmas trees on pieces of paper.  I then traced these designs onto "wonder under" double fusible interfacing, then ironed them onto green fabric, ironed that onto some cute towels, then stitched them into place.  If you're looking for a quick last minute gift for grandparents, this would be a fantastic one.  In fact I think I made extras and sent these out to family that year too.  Here's my favorite Christmas ornament... a leather puffin we bought in Alaska on a trip we took before kids (lots of money then, but very little time).

I also found a surprise in the mail last week!  It's not from a blogger swap, not something I bought, but a sweet gift from a good friend of mine.  She decided to cut out 2 of the same quilts at the same time, and sent me the 2nd set (along with the pattern)!  Isn't that sweet?  Last time we were together we did a similar thing.  She also just started a blog, "Cooking with Jenny / Jennifer".  Go check it out!
Finally, we've been hit hard again with some winter weather.  It makes for great sewing weather, but also has been giving us a bit of cabin fever!  The kids had a snow day yesterday, but here's the beautiful sunrise I saw this morning right before school!  Today's their last day before break.
I hope all of you have a great holiday season!  With 2 tweens at home and not enough computers to go around, I suspect I may not have much time or access to blog until 2011!  Cheers!

Oh, and it's "Fabric Tuesday".  I'm linking up with Quilt Story's blog.  head over there and check out all of the wonderful fabric projects

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

50th Anniversary Quilt

FINALLY I get to share with you a big project that's kept me busy over the last month or two. It's a quilt that I made for my husband's aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. They celebrated a week ago with their son and daughters, and lots of friends. Unfortunately, they live far away from us, in Arizona, so we weren't able to attend, but we were there in spirit!

One wonderful thing about marriage is that you gain a whole new family. I quickly fell in love with my husband's family soon after we all met. I first met this aunt and uncle a month or 2 after we first started dating, at their youngest daughter's wedding. At the time we were living in Medford, Oregon, and they were in Portland, about 5 hours north. Soon we began spending many week-ends and holidays at their house with their family.

Soon after I married my husband, I made the decision to go back to school to get a medical technology degree (think hospital lab, or "CSI"). The closest school was in Portland, and "our" aunt and uncle graciously offered to let me live with them during the final 12 month "internship" program at Oregon Health Sciences University. I'm really not sure how we could have done it without their help, and am eternally grateful for this gift. It was the road to a great career that I have had for many years, and hope to continue for many more.

When I found out they'd be celebrating their 50th anniversary this December, I knew right away that I wanted to make them a quilt. Our aunt has admired my quilts, and her daughter, my husband's cousin, soon called me to ask if I could make one for her to give as a gift. I fell in love with this pattern, and as soon as I knew I could get it finished by the party, I said "yes". She paid for all of the materials, and I did the sewing. She also helped me with descriptions of their home decor and what colors they liked. The ladies at our local quilt store helped me select the fabrics, and gave me some tips on how to free-motion quilt it. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. I know they are too.

Friday, December 10, 2010


It's funny how things work...

Now that I got these tiny little fabric pieces all cut out and ready to go, I'm ready to put them aside. Now that they're laying around, my sewing world's equilibrium has been restored!

Last night I got this puppy all pin-basted together!

Today, I made a trip over to Walla Walla, WA, to my nearest Jo-Anns' store to take advantage of the 50% off coupon that I can only use this week-end (ugh). I only bought batting and more safety pins (also 50% off today).

The best part about my trip to JoAnns in W2 is that there is a teeny tiny butcher shop literally right across the parking lot, that I finally went into, because I had heard they had natural grass fed meat. It's called "Thundering Hooves", and I immediately fell head over heals for this place! They not only have natural beef, but pork, lamb and other meats as well! Plus you can watch as they cut it all up. I was pleased as punch to buy some ground lamb that'll be part of our Christmas dinner. We make dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves every year.

I also got lunch and went to my favorite grocery store there, Andy's Market. Our family loves sushi, and believe it or not, I have to drive an hour to find a store (Andy's) that carries sushi rice. Strangely enough, the local Safeway carries nori and wasabi, but no sushi rice. I've tried every type of rice and it totally is what makes sushi sushi... I'm not brave enough to make it at home with raw fish, so we use smoked salmon. There's thankfully no shortage of that anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

On the drive over, I was reminded of why I haven't been there in a while. I passed a horrible accident involving a log truck and a small car that was pretty shocking. The weather we get in the winter is icy, icy, icy! I don't stray far from home much, which is great for quilting, not so great for cabin fever!

That top image is just a picture of what's on my bed-side table. I LOVE the way those colors look together! Totally random, but so pretty! Inspiration for my next quilt? Amazing where you get ideas from!

Anyway, short story long, I hope everyone has a fun week-end! I'm already carving out a space on the kitchen counter to get this quilt finished, hopefully tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Not another project!

I'm linking up with "Freshly Pieced" blog today for her "Work in Progress Wednesday". As usual, I have far too many to list. What I SHOULD be doing is getting my quilt along quilts ready to quilt together and finish up!
But what I'm actually doing is CUTTING OUT A NEW QUILT! I know, it's crazy! I really SHOULD be finishing up quilts, but my sewing world just doesn't feel complete without a whole lot of tiny fabric pieces sitting around somewhere! My favorite part of quilting is the planning and cutting and piecing! The big stack of quilt tops on top of my dresser is a testament to that! So here's my sewing table today!!

I also have to add that you don't have to have a lot of money to quilt! The blue fabric used to be a curtain. I ripped out the top casing and bottom hem. The yellow I got on sale. The solid pink in the QAL quilt I got for $1 a yard at a garage sale, and the backing of this quilt will have more fabric I found at the same garage sale. I've used sheets, clothes, and always head to the clearance table of a fabric store first when I visit. I've also been lucky enough to have been given fabric by people who never quite got into the hobby. Thrift stores frequently have fabric as well. eBay, and on-line clearance sales are another source. And there's always those Jo-anns coupons and sales, although the nearest Jo-anns is an hour away from me.

Please let me know if I left any great thrifty fabric sources out, and tell me I'm not crazy for starting yet another project!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to make a fabric gift bag

I'm linking up with "Quilt Story" blog's "Fabric Tuesday" today, and with the holiday season already here, I thought I'd share how I make gift bags for my family and friends. I just finished up a bunch to try to sell at a local gift shop, and took a few pictures along the way. They're super-easy to make (if you have a sewing machine), and can be used over and over again. Plus they'd be great for plane flights, as you can tuck it into a suitcase and keep the gift accessible for security searches. It's only a matter of putting the gift inside of the bag, and pulling the drawstring when you're ready to "wrap".

First, I start by cutting out the amount of fabric I need for the bag (big rectangle), turning it right sides together, and sewing 3 of the 4 sides together, leaving the top open. I leave 1 1/2 inch of one of the seams open at the top. You'll see why as I continue.

Next, I fold back the seam above the opening, and sew it like this:

Now, all I need to do is fold back about 3/4 inches at the top and sew 1/4 inch from the raw edge, to form a casing for the draw string. The last step makes a nice finished edge for the casing opening.

Now I use ribbon (that I bought on clearance Dec.26th, along with the Christmas fabric) to thread through the casing.

Secure them with a knot or bead, add a gift tag, then you're ready to go! I've been using my bags for many years, and can't remember the last time I bought gift wrap. They fold and store easily with all of the Christmas decorations.
I'll be the first to tell you that my kids go to public school, because I wouldn't have a clue as to how to teach them. It's not my strong point, so feel free to ask questions if you need further explanation :-).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Good news

Just wanted to let you know we got our truck fixed, (love our mechanic) and the damage wasn't nearly as bad as we'd feared. Oh, and my husband is not only handsome, but smart too. The last thing we did before our computer crashed is an AVG (anti-virus) update. He looked on their web page, and found out that this update caused massive computer crashes everywhere. So he tried the fix they suggested, which didn't work, and hasn't been able to get through to tech support yet, but at least we (hopefully) don't have to take it somewhere and pay someone else to fix it, or worse yet, replace it. We got a few inches of snow here, withing a matter of hours, but then it started to rain, melting most of it. So all turned out well, but I'm still going to try to get some things put together to try to sell.

I hope everyone else has a nice, warm week-end!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

When it rains, it pours!

I'm afraid to say that last night our main computer crashed, and this morning my husband's truck broke down on the way to work. Combine that with the studded tires we (thankfully) bought for me to be able to get around in our car, it's going to be one crazy holiday for us. As in crazy-broke. The adversity finally spurred me into talking with the local art center that has a gift shop, and a Christmas gift exhibit going on right now. I hope to make up some gift bags to take in to see if they'd be interested in selling them. I also hope to get my Etsy shop up and running again. I'm trying to decide if I should start a new one (I only had 4 sales at the old one), or keep and change the old one. I was in Michigan at the time, so all the data is wrong.

Anyway, it's just a patch we got to get through... one of many, past, and I'm sure present. The thought of having to go back to work in the 24/7/365 medical field with 2 kids not quite old enough to take care of themselves motivates me to do what we got to do to keep afloat, and try to keep me home with them.

But I may not be able to blog as much, as the old lap-top I'm now using is flaky, and I'll now be sharing it with 2 tween boys and my husband when they're home.

Oh, and did I mention that it's snowing heavily right now, and the roads are a total mess?! Yee haw!!! Hey, wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WIP Wednessday, and wordless....

OK just a few words... Linking up with Freshly pieced WIP Wed. This is my project this week, as mentioned in this post. The first picture was taken back in April when I finally had all the fabric I needed. All the rest were taken this week.... Enjoy!