Friday, November 25, 2011

Churn Dash Quilt/Seeing Red

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  I'm very thankful for all of you who read my blog!  It's so fun to share a hobby that you love, and I'm afraid not everyone in my day to day life shares this enthusiasm LOL!  So this is a really fun outlet for me!  Thanks!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, spent with old and new friends, and our immediate family.  I feel very lucky!  Today I have my post-Thanksgiving stretchy pants on, did a few extra laps walking our dog this morning, and I'm trying to finish up this churn dash quilt.  I'm hoping to get it done in time for Christmas (wish me luck).  Red is one of my least favorite colors, but the recipient likes it.  I don't know if it's because of this, or because I just don't have the experience working with this color, but I'm not as excited about the almost finished product as I was in the beginning.  But I'm not going to change it now.  I made the quilt pattern up myself (lots of delicious mind crunching math!), so ended up short a few blocks.  I have plenty of extra fabric though, so that's no problem.  I already have the rows wen together... just need to make the missing blocks.

I'm not a big shopper, but I really need more batting (I'm all out).  I've been waiting for it to go on sale at Jo-anns, and it is today and tomorrow, so I'll be doing a wee bit of holiday acquisition...  I hope all of you are having a great holiday week-end!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP: Optical Illusion Quilt

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Lee again at "Freshly Pieced" to tell you what I'm working on.

I've had this quilt in my "idea notebook" for a while now.  My kids were looking at optical illusions one day last Spring, and I saw this "Cafe Walls" illusion, and immediately though "I should make a quilt like that!".  So here it is, coming to fruition!!  I've got it about half way done, and I love it!  It's super easy too, and with the $5, 2 yard fabric bundles at Wal-Mart, I've only invested $15 so far (and some time).

One thing that's NOT an optical illusion, is my oldest son's height.  Last week, when I took him to the doctor, the "illusion" that my husband had been telling me about, became real... he's indeed TALLER THAN ME!!!  :-O  I must admit, that this has really thrown me for a loop!  It's probably what led to my last post.  I guess I'm beginning to realize that my whole world is shifting now, just like these lines appear to do.  My oldest child is no longer a child.  I hate to admit it, but there ARE some things that he now knows more about than me!  He's still that little baby to me, yet he's now officially taller than me, wears bigger shoes, and has a voice that keeps getting deeper and deeper.  Oh my!  Some of my parenting "strategies" suddenly seem ineffective.  I can also tell that he's eager to do things that he can't yet, like driving and earning money.  So, yes, welcome to the world of parenting-a-teenager!  As challenging as it can be some days, I give thanks that he's healthy, smart, strong and has a really good heart.  I hope you all have just as much as we do to be thankful for tomorrow and every day!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Panel Quilt and Thoughts About Condescension

Quite the title, huh?  I'll explain below, but first, here's my finished panel quilt:

I was really tempted to call it a "cheater quilt", but as I thought more and more about that, I realized that term may be cute, but it also may be a bit condescending to some.  Sorry.  I hate it when people are condescending to me, and I try really hard to not be to others, but you know what?  It happens.

A really good example from my life is about being a boy-girl twin.  Growing up, I don't remember a time where I didn't know that I was a "fraternal twin"... the result of 2 eggs, 2 sperm, versus an identical twin, split from one egg and sperm after fertilization.  The fact that my brother has a Y chromosome and I don't is even further "proof".  Yet I can't count how many times I've been asked if I was an identical twin, after telling people that I have a twin brother.

When I was much younger, I'd roll my eyes, and reply in a condescending, know-it-all manner.  I'd watch as the innocent person got embarrassed, or defensive, or both.  As I got older I learned that just a simple friendly explanation in a very non-condescending manner would give me a much better, nicer response.  I could see the light bulb go off in their head, a smile would come across their face, and best of all, no hard feelings.

I think it's super easy to come across as condescending as a blogger.  I'm sure I have in the past.  It's really something I'm working on, here and most importantly with my teen-ager, who can also be a wee bit condescending at times.  I don't need a New Year's holiday to make a resolution.  I'm going to try hard to be less condescending towards him, around him, here and everywhere.

Yes, this quilt was very easy to make, but I love it, and that's all that matters!!  Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's cheating.  Some of the most beautiful quilts are made from "whole cloth", almost no piecing involved.  This will be a perfect quilt to try out some more intricate quilting (we'll see).  I'll for sure be making more of these in the future!!  I try to learn something new with each quilt I make, and who knew that such a simple quilt would teach me something so important!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Non-traditional vs Traditional

I'm working on 2 quilts right now... 1 is a gift, 1 is for fun.  1 is very traditional, 1 is very non-traditional.  I'm excited about both of them!


Friday, November 18, 2011


As you may know, I just love making and receiving fabric postcards!  I think I'm even getting the local post office folks on my side too ;-).

This week, I received not 1, but 2 postcards, and one, (the beautiful "African animal"... LOVE her cute mane and tail), was a complete surprise!  It's from Beth, one of my oldest on-line quilting friends.  She currently is living in South Africa, and shares some of the most beautiful exotic wildlife and botanical pictures on her blog, "Notes...".  She's also an accomplished quilter, and has been gracious enough to help me out time and time again with all sorts of quilting questions and concerns.  Thanks Beth!!

I was also lucky enough to sign up for a postcard swap with Monika of "My Sweet Prairie", through the Yahoo postcard cottage swap group.  She's also helped me out in many ways!  Her fiber art is so creative and beautiful!  The October swap was "My favorite pumpkin recipe.  The middle card is the one I made for everyone, and hers is the pumpkin pancakes.  Sheila made the very clever pumpkin shaped card!

Yesterday, I got a card from Colleen, who's in our group for November's swap, "Favorite winter activity".  I haven't even started mine yet, but still have until the end of the month.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

World Prematurity Awareness Day

The March of Dimes is trying to raise awareness for the serious problems of premature births, and has asked people to blog about it on today, November 17th, "World Prematurity Awareness Day".  A friend of mine, Robin Weiss, made me aware of this day.  She's a true expert.  I'm not.  But I do have a story to share...

I have a twin brother, and we were both born 2 months early.  So this is very personal for me.  I'm afraid Hurricane Katrina wiped out almost our entire family photo history (including pictures of us in our incubators), but I did manage to find the above picture (one of only a rare few) of my mom with the 2 of us, fresh from the hospital, where we lived our first few weeks of life.  I can only imagine how those first few weeks were for my parents, who weren't even aware that they were having twins until my mom's labor continued.  Back then, she was even given DES to stop her early labor, a drug which has since been shown to cause horrible problems in the baby who is exposed to it (that would be me and my brother).  My mom wasn't given the option to nurse us, and neither my mom or dad were allowed to touch or hold us.  My dad wasn't even allowed in the delivery room.  These such practices have thankfully changed.  Our birth happened before the discovery of light therapy to treat high bilirubin, and I was also subjected to a "blood exchange transfusion".

None of this is news to parents of premature babies.  I was fortunate that my 2 boys were born full term and were, for the most part, healthy.  We've come a long ways, but the effects of premature birth not only effect a tiny baby and his of her parents, but can be permanent and persist throughout a life time.  For me, that's personal!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wed: New Projects!

It's Wednesday, and as usual, I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced's linky party!  Come join us! 

I'm afraid we've had some nasty respiratory bugs here in our house, which has kept me close to home, but luckily I've managed to stay healthy!  One good thing (I guess) about working in a hospital is that I think it really exposed me to so many viruses and such that I've built up quite an immunity to them.  Same is true for school teachers, I hear... It also taught me the importance of hand washing and surface cleaning...  I still have one home from school, but at their age, they don't need nearly as much "care", (but just as much TLC).  So, I've been able to get some sewing done.

My only "old" project in the works this week is my Summer Sampler Series Quilt.  I found some really cool clearance fabric to use for the back.  It's a map, and some of the town and city names are where I have relatives, which is pretty neat!  I bought all that they had left, which was about 2 2/3 yard, ALMOST what I need for the quilt back.  I hope to get the back sewn up, and then pin baste the whole thing this week.

As I was going through my stash, figuring what to make next, I came across a few fabric block panels that I bought in Michigan, and had thumb tacked up on my wall there.  We don't have nearly as much wall space here, so I decided to make a quilt quilt from them.  It's the first time I've used a panel, although I own a growing collection of them.  The quilt came together so FAST!  I ran out of the green fabric though, so I just need to buy a bit more to finish the borders.  I literally made this in one afternoon!  I love crows and ravens, and this will make a good Christmas quilt, but won't be so "festive" that I have to put it away in January!

I've also been working on Kindle Covers, but all of the wide black Velcro in town is sold out.  I'm guessing someone else bought it all to make things for our big craft fair.  I was hoping to drive to the nearest Jo-anns to get more (an hour away), but with a sick kid, I haven't been able to.

So I started cutting out a few more quilts instead.  I'm planning this one for my MIL.

But I'm really excited about this one!  Yes, that's the only fabric that will be in it!  If all goes well, I may have a super-easy nerdy quilt to blog about really soon!  Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thrift Store Challenge Done!

I was able to finished the local thrift store / art center challenge Friday night.  It will be displayed in the store window, along with the other challenge projects.  I got a sneak peak of some of them, and was really impressed!  My total cost was about $8, but it did take a bit more time to sew up than I had expected.  It's done though!

I've been sewing up some more Kindle covers though, and wanted to quilt these.  Before I took the Pfaff in for service, it had a nasty habit of breaking needles.  I'm happy to say that this habit is now GONE!  YEA!!  I realized Friday that I had long ago run out of top stitch needles, so I bought another pack in a last ditch effort to get it working again.  I also discovered a setting that I hadn't tried yet... the "balance" setting.  My old machine didn't have such a setting.  It's on the 2nd "page" of settings, so you have to scroll through the whole first page to get to it.  I changed this setting, put in a new top stitch needle, and now it's working wonderfully!!!  I am SO happy!  I got a lot done this week-end, but ran out of Velcro, so will be running out for more supplies today!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Give away at "Kissed Quilts", and a bit of this and that...

First of all, thank you SOOO much for all who left wonderful comments on my blog Wednesday!  I set a record for sure!  Please forgive me if I don't get to respond to so many comments!

Next, one thing I love about quilt blogs, is meeting other people, who share my love for sewing and quilting.  Some of these people are literally across the globe, but every now and then, one is much closer.

Marlene Oddie, at Kissed Quilts is one "next-door neighbor" (she lives an hour away)!  I "met" her at Lee's (Freshly Pieced) Supernova Quilt a long.  Since then, we've had lunch together a few times, and met a few more!  I've seen her studio, and even got a few sneak peaks at her current projects!  She's a great quilter and friend who just happens to be celebrating her 2nd anniversary with her business.

If she gets 100 followers by Sunday night, she's giving away a whole bunch of things!!  Check out her blog and help her reach 100 followers!  You may even win something!!

On a personal note, we've had our first round of seasonal yuck in the house.  I can't complain, as my kids are getting older and older, and have gradually brought less and less of these unwelcome guests into our house over the years, but it's slowed us all down a bit.  I did finish my thrift store challenge last night, and hope to blog about it soon!

I can't post without a picture, so here's an old one from last year.  I've been making quite a few more of these gift bags to sell locally.  Hopefully I can make a few bucks to support my hobby!  Here's the post where I wrote about how to make these.  They're quick and easy, are reusable, and environmentally friendly!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WIP Wed: Thrift Store Art Project

It's Wednesday, and once again, like I have for the last year, I'm linking up with Lee, at "Freshly Pieced" Blog for her linky party!  She's celebrating her one year WIP Wed anniversary today, and was kind enough to share the love and include me in her blog post today!!  How sweet!  Thanks!  Be sure to visit today, as she's also giving away some fun gifts! 

Several weeks ago, the local art center here in town asked if I might be willing to participate in a fun art challenge they were doing in conjunction with our local thrift store.  The challenge is to buy 5 dollars or less of "materials" from the thrift store, use that, plus anything from your "stash" to create something to display in their store window, on our Main Street.  Here's what I bought:
I'm afraid if you're not from around here, I'll have to explain what it is.  Each year, during the Pendleton Round-Up Rodeo, a group of people, "The Main Street Cowboys", host a huge music, carnival, shopping extravaganza on our Main Street.  They place these awesome green and purple benches all around town, and at all of the stages.  They even find their way to local soccer fields and along parade routes, and regularly make their appearances at other local events throughout the year.  So as soon as I saw this green suit, I knew what I wanted to do!
I fused some fusible fleece onto the back of some of my own purple fabric, as I'm afraid I couldn't find any purple shirts at the thrift store, except for T-shirts.  Cutting the letters out is a bit tedious, but I hope to have it done soon.  It's going to be a kids' "educational toy" that they can use the felt letters to stick to the bench and make up their own words on the bench!  I'm hoping to finish it up by next week.  Thanks, as always to Lee and everyone else for stopping by!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Shrinking batting (and it's not from water) ___$$$___

Has anyone else noticed that the batting is shrinking, or more specifically, getting thinner?  I recently bought some "Warm and White" from the store to finish one of my Project Linus Quilts.  I've worked with a lot of batting, both making quilts, and with my Kindle covers, and this new roll seemed very thin at the store.  The owner wasn't aware of any change.  Today, I was cutting more batting for my Kindle covers and got out some of the old stuff to compare.  The lower or left batting is the new Warm and White, the top, or right batting is the old stuff.  See the difference?

I finally got out some old scraps and compared the 2, and sure enough, the new batting is MUCH thinner than the old stuff.  I know cotton prices are up, but I'd rather pay more than get less.  Ugh! 

I noticed the same thing with our toilet paper too.  Same price, just less.  I don't know about you, but I really don't like this deception.  I'm not sure I even want to sew with this thinner stuff.  Anyone know of any other options?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Another Friday Finish: "Blue Infinity" (twisted 9-patch)

I finished up my twisted 9-patch quilt yesterday!!  It's been a "UFO" for a few years now.  I actually started in in Michigan, and finished it in Oregon, and we've now officially lived here in Oregon for 2 years!!  Back in January, I finished the top, and blogged about it.  I included how I did it, if you're interested.

Unfortunately, I bought the black fabric also in 2 different places, and boy, is this ever an education about how solid black fabric can be so different (and such a lint trap and magnifier).  As a quilter, the color inconsistency bugs me, but when I recently showed it to some artist friends of mine, they said they loved the 2 different blacks, and even gave me an idea for a new quilt...

I pieced together the back with left over blocks, scraps and some wonderful fabric that I picked up at a yard sale for $1 a yard!  I love the fabric, and wish I had more, but it works great on the back of this quilt!  The red on the carousel horses even inspired my color selection for the binding!

The infinity design doesn't show up as well as I thought it would in the blue blocks, but does show up quite nicely on back LOL!  But best of all, it's DONE!

Speaking of Blue, the mountains that surround us here are called "The Blue Mountains".  Today, we got our first white in the blues!! (Hmmm.... maybe, as a friend suggested, I should call THIS quilt "White in the Blues" instead!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm Featured on Gen X Quilters, First Quilts on the First!

One of the earliest quilt blogs I ran across was Annemarie's blog, "Gen X Quilters".  As a fellow "Gen X Quilter", I was so excited to "meet" other quilters my age through her site.  It really became a gateway for meeting others, and those sites for more, etc...  Thanks Annemarie for creating this place!

Today I'm the featured "First Quilt on the First"!!

Gen X Quilters

Head over there to see my first quilt, as well as one I finished less than a year ago!

Just for fun, here's my quilts number 4 and 5 (for my 2 nieces, who now have 2 more sisters).  I don't think I'd sew with this shiny fabric again, but it was fun!  Those tiny toes are those of my son, who now wears the same size shoes as his dad!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Infinity... And Beyond!

You just never know what will inspire you!  As I was reflecting on my last post, while I was quilting my "Twisted 9-patch quilt", I was trying to figure out how to quilt the blue sections, and it came to me... As Buzz Lightyear says... "To infinity, and beyond!".