Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Call me crazy! Happy Leap Day!

Crazy for postcards!

The mail person is going to either love or hate me today when I drop off all of these fabric postcards to get postmarked today, Leap Day!!  I'll be getting all of the addresses on them after posting here!

The first group is going to a swap group that Beth of "Notes..." put together.  She's an American living in South Africa right now, so I'm really excited to see what comes back!  The theme is "Where you are".  I made a few extras too.

These are all going to mostly nieces and nephews, and my Postcard Cottage swapper!  One of my nieces turns 2/8 today!!  I forgot to take a picture of the postcard and wallet that I made for her, but needless to say, with 2 boys, I really enjoy any sewing project that involves flowers and girly things!

I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieces WIP Wed.  Come see what others are working on!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I just finished up my swap postcards for February.  My theme this month is "I'm still sleeping".  Being a former wildlife biologist, I knew I had to do a hibernating animal.  Originally I was going to do a cute curled up little mouse or squirrel, and even made an attempt, but didn't really like it, so I went to the "dark side".   I used to work a lot at night with owls and bats in my old job, so I love bats, but I hope the recipient likes it!

I thought I'd share all of January's postcards with you too.  I joined 2, something I rarely do, but they were so much fun.  The themes were "Embellished Owls", and "Year of the Dragon".

I'm also doing a postcard swap with some other on-line friends, but the deadline is a few weeks away.  I have those started, but don't have much to show right now.

I thought I'd also show you the new home of our "barn quilt".  I love it!!

It's Tuesday, so I'm joining up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story's blog.  Come see what other folks are up to!

On a final note, yesterday was a dark day for me (maybe it influenced my design?), as I got a robo-call in the morning from the school that both my kids attend informing us of a threat that had locked down the school, and sent police to their campus.  I can't remember the last time I've felt that kind of panic, and knowing of the morning's school shooting in Ohio made things worse.  Everything was fine, but I was incredibly happy to see my kids after school.  I actually helped out at their school this morning, and everything seems back to normal.  Once again, though, it's a reminder of what I take for granted each and every day.  My heart aches for those who had a different outcome yesterday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Finish: Firefly Mini-Quilt

It's hard to believe that I was able to finish up my "Project Quilting" quilt this week WAY ahead of schedule!  As mentioned in the last post, the theme for this week (round 4) is "Barn Quilt".  These are the colorful painted quilt blocks that you see decorating barns mostly in the Midwest.  They are typically very "traditional", and primarily use solid (paint) colors. For the challenge, I tried to envision what we'd have on a barn, if we owned one, and almost immediately a firefly came to mind.  We've had "firefly" in some form or another in our family email address since our very first AOL dial-up account, back in the 90's.  I started searching for "firefly quilt blocks", and came up with nothing really, so I decided to make my own.

I used a traditional 6 by 6 grid (a 9 patch variation) and played around with it until I came up with a design I liked, and sewed up the block.  It's 24 inches by 24 inches.

Since It's a simple design, I decided to use some fun quilting to make it a bit more interesting.  My machine has been cooperating lately, and I'm pretty happy at how it all came out.

It's a bit late in the day, but I'll be linking up with Crazy Mom Quilt's Finish it up Friday.  Come see what others have finished this week!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Project Quilting 4 Progress

The theme for this week (round 4) of "Project Quilting" is "Barn Quilt".  These are the colorful painted quilt blocks that you see decorating barns mostly in the Midwest.  Growing up in the deep South, and living most of my adult life in the West, I don't have a whole lot of experience with these, but did see a few when we lived in Michigan.  I Google'd many images and got an idea of what they are.  The ones I saw are very "traditional", and primarily use solid (paint) colors.  They're almost always square.

There are many traditional quilt blocks that I love, and many that mean something to me for various reasons (the "Louisiana" quilt block, "Oregon Trail", "Greek Cross").  Making a simple quilt block just didn't really seem "creative", so I looked at it from another angle.  I tried to envision what we'd have on a barn, if we owned one, and almost immediately a firefly came to mind.  We've had "firefly" in some form or another in our family email address since our very first AOL dial-up account, back in the 90's.  I started searching for "firefly quilt blocks", and came up with nothing really, so I decided to make my own.

Using a traditional quilt grid, I played around until I came up with something that I liked.  I also like another version, which I'll maybe make someday.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a big variety of solid colors in local shops, and had to "settle" on some solids from a nearby Jo-Anns fabric store.  I really wanted a dark red/orange head, and a lime-yellow/green tail.  I just finished sewing it up, and hope to get it quilted today or tomorrow.  I decided to enlarge it to a 24" x 24" block too.  I'd love to order some solids on-line and redo the block, and even found some glow-in-the-dark fabric paint that I may try out soon, but it requires a significant dry time, and I just got it, so I don't think I'll have time to use it... we'll see...

I'm already thinking about all of the fun variations I could do with this block... lady bug, bee, you name it.  I think it'd make a really fun quilt!!

Better get busy quilting!!  I can't wait to see what the other quilters come up with this week!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WIP Wed: Children's Delight Quilt

Now that I have finally finished my Summer Sampler Quilt, i have all of my basting pins available again, so I've been busy getting yet another UFO (2+ years old) ready to quilt.

I made this from the first of 2 charm packs that I ever bought.  I had my boys each pick one out several years ago, so that I could teach them how to sew.  One of my sons did make, and even finish a quilt.  My other son never did, so I decided I'd use it in a quilt, using the "Children's Delight" pattern. 

When I unfolded this quilt for the first time in a year or so, I couldn't believe that it took me so long to finish it.  This week I added borders, and sewed up the back.  I'm hoping to get it done this week!

As usual, I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced WIP Wed.  Come join us!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Star and Bow Ties

Last night, I finished up the last of the Solstice Star Series that Faith at Fresh Lemons Quilts has been hosting.  Her challenge now is to come up with a quilt that only uses these 5 blocks!  These kind of creative challenges are irresistible to me, so I'm already trying to figure something out...  Stay tuned...

Also over the week-end, I had the wonderful opportunity to sew with fellow blogger, "H2O Girl", of Fiber of All Sorts".  We "met" through Gen X's Kona Color Swap, and realized that we both lived in the same area of the state.  As we emailed back and forth, we realized that we actually lived in the same city, and in the same neighborhood!  So when she invited me to spend a few hours sewing with another friend, I gladly accepted!  I had such a good time!!

Since Saturday was Project Linus' annual "Make a Blanket Day", I brought my bow ties to sew up for the current Project Linus Quilt that I'm working on.  It's serendipitous that part of the fabric I was using was fabric that H2O Girl sent me in the Kona Swap!  The "I spy" fabric is all scraps from quilts that I've made for my boys.  I'm hoping this quilt will someday give another boy just a bit of comfort in a time of need.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Finish: Summer Sampler Series Quilt

Crazy Mom Quilts' "Finish It Up Friday" link up has really become a big motivator for me to finish up some of my UFO's!  I got another one done this week, and here it is!  Be sure to hop over to her blog and see what others have finished!

This week, I finally finished the Summer Sampler Series Quilt that I started more than a few months ago.  I am so excited at how it turned out!  I also got to try out some Isacord thread for the first time, and I must admit that it's pretty fantastic!  After many broken and skipped cotton threads, I put in some Isacord thread that I just got a few days ago, and was able to sew non-stop, full speed for over an hour!  This made me very happy!  I'm afraid my machine's still giving me issues on the pieced bulky blocks, but the thread really helped a lot, and I got 'er done!  It sure feels good, as I LOVE this quilt!  It's also my first quilt with paper pieced blocks.  I've rapidly become very fond of paper piecing, and am already making more! 

I used "sharp stippling" throughout the quilt, partly because the neurotic part of me likes that it not only starts with "s"'s, like Summer Sampler Series (sharp stippling), but it also looks like S's!  I bet that's a first for choosing a stitch to use on a quilt LOL! 

As I get more and more quilts under my belt, I've noticed a distinct preference for certain themes and designs.  I once again used "suns" a lot, as well as spirals.  I can't seem to get enough of these.  Maybe it's because of the solar panels on our roof, maybe it's just because it's fun, and they work well with so many quilt blocks.  I also like the way the "rays", and the sharp stippling looks like fire, which is also a common theme in our household, as my husband is a wild land fire fighter.  Anyway, enough blabber.  Here's a few more details!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WIP Wed: Block and Cover ;-)

It's Wednesday, so once again, I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced WIP Wed.  Come see what others are working on!

I finished up another block for the Solstice Star Series.  I also made another block for my "Scrap Attack" quilt.
Mostly, though, I've been working on some new Kindle covers for my Etsy shop.
Other non-sewing news is that our main computer, with all of my pictures from last week back crashed over the week-end.  Luckily we have another computer.  It's super-slow, but it's better than nothing!  I'm hoping that we can get it back soon, and that the tech will be able to save all of our data!!  It's backed up, but of course it'd be best if all can be fixed.  Wish us luck!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I made up a few of these cards for the sweethearts I share my life with on a daily basis.  I hope you all know how much I love interacting and being inspired by all of you who read this blog!  Thanks!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Tool Time" (Project Quilting challenge 3)

I barely got "Project Quilting"'s 3rd challenge done this week!  The challenge was to create something with "tools" as the theme. We had to incorporate 4 tools into the quilt.

The kids and I have been making "bleach" T-shirts on a regular basis for years now.  It's the perfect thing to do on a hot summer day when the kids are bored to death!  We take dark solid T-shirts, I let the boys arrange objects on their shirts (often making ones for me and my husband too), then use a spray bottle to spray bleach on them (to make the hands, above, I traced the boys' hands onto cereal boxes, and cut them out).  As the bleach reacts, it leaves the silhouette on the shirt.  I remove the objects, and plunge the shirts into a bucket of water once they start reacting, to stop the reaction.  It's a whole lot of fun!

I decided to try this approach on my "tool time" quilt, using black fabric and tools that I use regularly, a knife in the kitchen, scissors in the sewing room, a hand shovel in the garden, and needle-nose pliers, for beading, and various other things.

I had to try a few times to get it right, and the weather wasn't exactly ideal, but I'm pretty happy at how it turned out.  I figured batiks would be the best type of fabric to pair it with, and used up some of my scraps as well.
If you've been following my Pfaff free motion saga, I did get it to free motion quilt quite nicely, after opening up a brand new pack of 90/14 top stitch needles (I was using embroidery), and playing not only with the balance adjustment, but also the tension adjustment.  I am writing EVERYTHING down that I try now, so that I can also go back and look at what worked for each thread type, etc.  I also found and bought some Isocord Thread on-line to try out.  This is what Leah Day of "Free Motion Project" blog uses, and actually Pfaff customer service, whom I now have a dialogue with, suggested, using a high quality polyester thread, as they said sometimes cotton can be "more delicate".  Enjoy, and wish me luck!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Finish it up Friday: New Pants and a Postcard

It's Friday, so I thought I'd share yet another garment finish, and a (late) birthday postcard that I'm putting in the mail today.  I'm joining up with Crazy Mom Quilts' Finish it up Friday's link-up.  Come see what others have finished this week!

Yesterday, I finished up my new pants!  These have got to be the most comfortable pants I've ever had!  They're made of stretch corduroy, a wonderfully comfortable fabric!  They were also super-easy to make (an "easy Simpicity" pattern).  I already had both the fabric and the pattern, so they are also easy on the budget!

I also had a birthday in the family this week.  It kind of crept up on me.  It's for my little nephew.  I had this robot Japanese "Kokka" fabric that I bought in a a big scrap bag of fabric off of Etsy, and knew it'd be perfect.  If you haven't typed in "fabric scraps" into Etys's supply search, give it a try!

I also wanted to figure out a way of "writing" on the postcard that was different than machine embroidery or hand stitching, or writing, and suddenly figured out a way to use up (a very wee little bit of) the fabric selvages that I have been saving to some day make one of those awesome selvage projects I've seen in blog land.
I love it, and hope he does too!

I hope you have a great week-end.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ott light, new jacket, and split personality

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments yesterday.  Most are things I've tried again and again, but there were a few new things.  Pfaff also wrote again, and suggested many of the same things (bigger needle, different thread, etc, etc,), but also suggested that I try a spool net over the spool.  Hmmm  that's a new one too, so I hope to play around with it later today...

After my rant yesterday, I just have to make sure I give the flip side, and tell you about a great customer service experience that I also had this week.  I have been wanting to buy an "Ott" lamp ever since I moved my sewing stuff into our dark bedroom.  I watched Jo-Anns, and pounced when I saw them on sale for 50% off and free shipping.  Upon screwing the bulb in and flipping the switch, the bulb made a loud pop, and started smoking!!  DH quickly unpluged it, and removed the bulb.  YIKES!  He put in another florescent bulb (something that I've since learned SHOULD NOT BE DONE), and that worked fine.  So the lamp works, but the bulb must have had a problem.  I called Jo-anns, who was more than happy to replace it, and even cover the shipping (I also learned that I can't bring things into Jo-anns stores for returns that I bought from the internet), but I had to send in the whole lamp and bulb, since they were sold together.  They also recommend that I call Ott and see if they could help.  So I did.  I talked to a customer service rep, and explained what happened, and they immediately agreed to send me a new light bulb!!  All I had to do is email them a copy of the receipt.  It's in the mail right now!!  They also told me to immediately remove the regular bulb from the lamp, as apparently the Ott bulbs do not produce much heat, and regular bulbs can, even melt the plastic lamp shade :-O.  I must say I'm really impressed with their response.

I also finished my jacket.  I used the above pattern, which is really cute, but I'm not sure I like how it looks on me.  It's very cute, I just don't have the right body for it. I think it'd look good on a taller person, but it's nice and warm.  The fabric is a light-weight sweat-shirt woven kind of fabric... flannel on the "wrong side", so it'll be great to wear at night when I get cold watching TV!
Lastly, see that red button below my face up there to the right?  Yep, I finally signed up for Pinterest, and have spent a LOT of time on their site!  Wow!  I really didn't think I'd like it as much as I do.  It's like a visual bookmark tool!  Combine that with my bog, my almost inactive Twitter account (I hate the brevity of the "tweet"), Facebook, and other various social networking sites, I'm feel almost like my personality is split into many different ways.  It's really a strange feeling.  It almost makes me, at times, want to delete them all and go back to the "way things were", but I also love all of the people I've "met", ideas that are shared, and the tons and tons of information and inspiration.  I must admit that I do like being a small part of it!!  If you're still reading, thanks for that!!

Monday, February 6, 2012


My friend, Amy, of "The Never True Tales" has a wonderful blog post today about those "throw away" pictures we have so many of in this digital age.  It's so easy to make things picture-perfect now.  She's right, you rarely see "bad" pictures on blogs, but some of these pictures are still meant to be shared.  I thought I'd share a "bad" picture I took recently that is so good!  That's my teenaged son on the right, with his uncle and little cousin.  This picture may not be perfect, but it makes my heart sing!  What about you?  Do you have any of these to share?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Postcards and Pictures

This week I received not 1, not 2, but 3 fabric postcards from my "Year of the Dragon", and "Embellished Owl" swap.  The first 2 are from Monika of "My Sweet Prairie".  The last one is from postcard swapper Karen.
I also have some pretty pictures to share from my walk this morning.  One of the best things about having our dog, is that he gets me outside just about every single day, usually in the morning.  This morning we happened to be out just as the freezing fog was lifting and the sun was coming out.  The white frost on the trees and grasses were just beautiful, not yet melted by the sun, and the sky was such an amazing blue!  I'm so glad I had my camera with me!!
Here's a close-up of the frost.  It took me so long to get my camera to focus on it.  One of these days I'm going to get a digital camera with a manual focus...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Finish:Pathway to the Stars

I've only taken 2 quilting/sewing classes, both from my friend Colleen Blackwood.  She's the designer of this pattern, "Pathway to the Stars", as well as many other patterns.  She also teaches free motion quilting locally in NE Oregon and SE Washington. 

I just got it back from another friend, long-arm quilter and pattern designer, Marlene Oddie, of "Kissed Quilts".  I almost forgot how incredibly easy it is to drop off a quilt at a long arm quilter, then pick it up and simply add the binding!  She did a great job!!

Here's a few more details:

Here's the back.  I used up a lot of my batik stash of various fat quarters and a few full yards.  This is one of the biggest quilts I've ever made, and I forgot just how much fabric both the front and back take!
My husband loves this quilt as much as I do, so it's already on our bed :-).

I'm linking up with "Crazy Mom Quilts" Finish it up Friday.  Come check out what others have finished up!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WIP Wed: Another Star and How to Sew a Partial Seam

I've been sewing along with Faith at Fresh Lemons Quilts, Solstice Star Series.  Her star today is "Another Star".  Her instructions are great, but I thought I'd share an alternate way to sew up the middle square, using a partial seam.

I cut all 4 of the center strips the same size, then starting with the first strip, I lined up the "bottom" of the strip with the bottom of the square, leaving the "tail" hanging off at the top.  The most important step is that I start sewing in the MIDDLE of the square/strip seam, making a partial seam, sewing towards the "bottom", or where the edges line up.
 I then pressed this open, and simply lined up the next strip up with the square and strip and sewed.

Sewed the next strip.
Sewed on the entire last strip.
Now all you need to do is finish that first seam by folding the "partial seam", right sides together and finishing it up.
Press, and you're done.
The rest of the tutorial can be found here at Faith's tutorial site!

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced WIP Wed!  Come join us there!