Monday, July 28, 2014

Jessica's baby quilt

After a long weekend at an awesome quilt retreat, I'm home again and can FINALLY share with you a baby quilt!

I've shared a few sneak peaks here and there of this quilt...I think...but I can't seem to find any of I guess you'll just have to play along and only get to see the finished product.

My coworker announced quite a while ago that she was pregnant and had no plans to find out the sex of the baby before it was born.  She also said she was doing the nursery in grey and yellow.

That first she stuck to.  The second...well, it's a good thing I took a look at her baby registry before heading out to buy fabrics!  Not that a grey and yellow quilt would have been bad, but when I saw she had chosen a bedroom set that included blue, green and jungle animals, I had second thoughts.

I dug through my stash of patterns and found the perfect pattern.  Well, nearly perfect...

by Row House Creations

So foxes aren't exactly jungle animals, but we'll run with it.

Here's a close-up of the quilting:

This is probably the most densely quilted quilt I've ever made, but this was what I wanted to do, and other than a few oops moments where I quilted myself into a corner, I enjoyed it.  (And the oopses weren't so bad - I know how to stop and start, but try not to do it too often.)

I got it done last Tuesday night and we were having a shower for her at work on Thursday.  And it's a good thing because at her doctor appointment Tuesday, it was decided that they'd induce her on Sunday!  She wasn't due for a few more weeks, but for health reasons, it was time.  I haven't heard yet, but I'm guessing by now she's holding her little boy or girl in her arms, falling even more in love and probably not thinking one bit about this quilt.

The quilt retreat that kept me from posting started Friday and ended today, Monday.  It was so much fun and like last year, I laughed until I cried too many times.  A lot of silly things happened, but in the middle of them, an idea to participate in float-form in a local parade evolved into something that could really happen for our guild!  (It started out that we'd somehow get electricity on the float and take our sewing machines and sew "wonky" blocks down the parade route, eating all the candy we should be throwing to the kids...)

There were many visits from the quilt fairy:

(remember those zippers I dyed?  they went into those lips, which contain lip gloss!  tutorial can be found here, at the A Beautiful Mess blog.)

And I got a lot of sewing done.  First I made 120 4" pinwheels for the Christmas Pickle quilt.  Yes, 120.

I promised to show how I make them, but didn't take many photos (I was too busy sewing!), but I will try to get something together soon to share!

Then on to a NEW project!  Remember way back in August when I shared a quilt kit I purchased at the AQS show in Grand Rapids?

Well, I FINALLY got to cut into it!  There is no one pregnant that I need to make a quilt for.  No one graduating.  No one getting married.  No one I need to make a quilt for!  So I decided instead of sewing those pinwheels onto the arc blocks, I would start something new.  (Those pinwheels and arcs are going to need to be layed out completely, then sewn together, and I didn't want to tackle that in the last half-day of a retreat.)

By the time we headed to lunch today, this is what I have:

ALL of the pieces are cut for the quilt!  I need to go through and rearrange things before I sew (another project that will require a bit of space to lay it out), but I am so excited.  I didn't really think about it at the time, but these are Cherrywood fabrics and apparently they are a big deal among some quilters.  I just thought they were pretty when I bought them, but I guess I did a good thing?  I can't wait to get sewing on these, but first real life has to get rolling again, but maybe this coming weekend I'll get some time.  (First I have to unpack the suitcase of quilting stuff I took and find all the stuff I'll need...)

I have a few more things to share, but I'd better get back to the things I need to be doing...

Happy quilting,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

lots to share!

It's the usual story...I haven't been quilting much lately...but...
Last week, the hubby and I spent the week on Drummond Island.  As we've done the 3 previous years, he packs all his fishing stuff and I pack all my quilting stuff (all being a relative term for both of us) and he fishes with the guys for a week and I sew for a week.

Now we're home.  Laundry is done, suitcases and projects unpacked and the fridge is restocked, so it's time to share my adventures!

First up was a baby quilt that needed a little more work to get the top done.  I can't share yet because the baby shower is Thursday and I know the gal who will get it reads my blog.  I quilted it today and it still needs binding and a label, but I have 3.5 days, so what's the rush?!

Then I moved on to a project for myself...the Christmas Pickle.  This is where things were when I left last Saturday:

There were 3 more pieces to add to each of the arcs at this point.  I used a LOT of pins (at one point I counted 36 that I pulled out of the wider end after sewing a curve) and took my time, but by Thursday afternoon, I was able to snap this photo:

I still have to make 120 4" pinwheel blocks, but I have a grid method of marking and sewing, then cutting, that I believe I can make 20 half-square triangles without stopping sewing, which means I'll only have to make 24 of those grids.  (Only.)  I'll try to remember to get photos to share how I did it.  I've done it before, but it's been a long time.  (In other words, it's not a new technique!)

But having forgotten a rotary ruler, I was stuck here.  That's okay.  I had other projects!

Friday morning I dug into the Merry, Merry Snowmen project box, hoping I'd find pieces cut and pinned as I expected, but I hadn't opened the box before leaving (again, expecting I'd have a ruler to use my rotary cutter...), so I wasn't sure.  Luck was on my side, so I sewed down ALL the pieces on this baby:

There are some details that need to be embroidered, but the harder part is done.  (And those teacups and scarves are purple, but my camera hates purple, so this is what you get.  Use your imagination, please.)  I don't remember what number block this is, only that I am terribly behind and that, if I had stuck to my original plan, I'd be sewing blocks together into a quilt this month.  But I'm behind.  As it is with all quilts I make for myself.

After lunch it had warmed up enough (highs were in the 70s this week - no complaints, but it was a little chilly at night - a vast improvement over the last 3 years where it was 85 at night and 99 during the day with not a breeze to speak of) to work outside...

Remember this quilt?  I worked on at my guild retreat a year ago.

Well, I sewed all those blocks together.  And I was going to do what a member of the Quiltmaker Scrap Squad had done.  But I didn't have the photo, so I just assumed that she'd sewn the blocks together in straight rows like the original, you know, in the magazine I had in my hand.  And then I wondered what she'd done for borders.  OH CRUD!!!!!  She sewed the blocks on point.  And made fancy setting triangles.  I just sewed 63 blocks together.  So I thought I'd sew on a border and it would be okay.  WRONG.  (Sorry I forgot to take photos of all of this, but I was so mad, it's probably better I don't have proof to look at now.  Or ever.)

So I started ripping it out.  3 rows can stay together and I planned to deconstruct to the row level.  That's a lot of ripping out.

They're in rows now.  Plus one set of three rows.  It worked out nicely that I sat in a lawn chair for about 5 hours on Friday afternoon, in the beautiful shade, sitting by the lake, throwing those bits of thread in the grass for the birds to make nests out of.  Or, being 100% cotton thread, just be compost.

And now they're awaiting further deconstruction, as needed.  Plus construction of setting triangles and, I think, a few more blocks.  But the hardest part is done and I'm glad.  I know I'm going to love the quilt when it's together properly and probably never would have finished it if I hadn't taken it apart.

And guess what?  I'm going to LOOK AT THE PHOTO next time.  Before I start sewing like a fool, getting all excited that I'll have a quilt top together soon.

So that ended my week.  A good note, but my back is still a little sore!

While we were there, the daughter of the friends we go up to visit gave us a gift.

If you can't tell, that is CROSS STITCHED!  She has a program on her computer that will take a photo and turn it into a cross stitch pattern.  This photos was taken just a year ago.  EVERY SINGLE SQUARE is stitched.  She did this in ONE YEAR!  I couldn't do that in one lifetime, but she loves to do it.  I couldn't believe she gave this to us.  That much work is crazy, but I know that, like quilting, you'll never get out of it what it's truly worth, so giving handmade away to those who will appreciate it is satisfying.  And we do appreciate it.  The hubby plans to take it to work and hang it above his desk.

The funny part of this is that while the guys were standing there with their fish, both the friend and I were snapping photos.  The hubby and I had this same photo (taken by me) printed and framed to give to the couple we visit.  The other wife shared her photo (taken by her) with her daughter to make this amazing gift.  Of all the fish photos that have been taken over the years, it's crazy that we both chose the same one.

While I was gone, my quilt guild had their picnic.  I was sad to miss it, but it couldn't be helped.  There was one challenge, issued by a member, that was due and those in attendance voted.  (I never even got started on mine, but after choosing stained glass technique, even getting blue and sports for my other two rules couldn't save it...I am NOT a fan of that technique, no matter how many beautiful quilts you show me that use it.)  But I have seen photos of them - being the newsletter lady, I asked for members to send me photos and they did, so I didn't completely miss the party!

But there were TWO more challenges decided, too!  One was issued by our president and you drew a crayon (for a color), a number and a noun.  With those, you need to make a 20" block that will hang in our local library to both promote our upcoming quilt show (they're due in February - show is in March) and to allow library patrons to vote for their favorite.  Someone drew my crayon and such, but I have yet to find out what I got.  The second was a theme for the 2015 AQS guild challenge - we didn't make it this year, but we're going to try again next year.  The theme chosen was "numbers".  I have no other details on that yet, but I'm already thinking on how to turn this into another science geek quilt...pi?  Avogadro's number?  hmmm....

Coming up this next weekend is our guild retreat.  I can't wait!  I have 4 days of work to get through first, and I need to do a better job of deciding what projects I'll be taking with me than I did for vacation (this time I don't have the back of a pickup at my disposal), but it's only Sunday.  I have started a list of things I don't want to forget and things I want to get done before I leave because some days...  This year I plan to take my camera and do better about getting photos...being the newsletter lady comes with more responsibilities!

Now it's off to figure out what I'd intended for binding that baby quilt and get that made.  You know how when you're standing in the store it's all clear, but 4 months later you can't remember what you were thinking?  Yep, that's where I am.  I do still have a few days, but with the hubby busy playing video games (I think last week he might have gone into withdrawal!), I might as well take advantage of the freedom and keep going!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, July 6, 2014

something new to try

My quilty life hasn't been much lately.


But last weekend I decided it was time to try something new.

I'm working on a project.
It's a secret.
Another one of those.  Sheesh!
But I can share that it requires 7" zippers.

My mom found a bunch at a crafty outlet for 10 cents each.
They were brown and yellow.

I wanted white, or red, or pink.

So I bought some Rit dye remover powder and mixed it up in a bucket in my bathroom tub.

(Sometimes I wonder who writes these instructions and what, exactly, they think we folks at home actually have...)

As you can see, the brown zippers are no longer brown.  The yellow zippers...well, their dye must have been a lot more sticky.

But those brown ones are light enough to re-dye!  And the yellow ones were probably already light enough before the remover step, but if you've got a bucket of dye remover mixed up, why not throw them in?

(Again, scratching my head over what these people at the Rit company think we home crafters possess...stir constantly for 30 minutes?  Right.  I have the patience of a gnat...)

I went with my friend Dale's version of things...just dump some in and see what happens.
I guess those directions aren't really important.
(Thanks Dale!)

The hubby was having a fit, saying that it was all going to go horribly wrong.  I figured the worst that happened was I had to mix up more dye and do it again.  But after about 4,000 rinsings, the water finally ran clear and I threw these guys in the dryer for a final heat set.

(Next time I just won't let the hubby in on the project details.)

They have now been sewn into their project, but I can't share that just yet.


So I HAVE been doing SOMETHING.

(Other than the somethings like scrubbing out cat litterboxes (like dump, scrub with an SOS pad, spray with bleach solution, vacuum under where it sat and scrub walls behind where it sat) and super fun stuff like that...but who wants to hear about that?)

Here's to hoping the next few weeks will be more productive.

Happy quilting,

Monday, June 23, 2014

wisconsin and a pickle

I spent the majority of last week in Wisconsin for work.  Cross-training they said.  I'm a lab tech.  I spent most of one day with a guy who breeds dairy cows.  Though we work for the same company and it's good to see how other business units work, it was so far out of my comfort zone, I had no idea how this trip would go.  Needless to say, I was more than a little nervous.

It was a day drive each way, so I was really only training for two days.  The first I spent in a couple of labs that do similar or the same testing that my coworkers and I do.  So that day wasn't as scary.  (Driving hours across a state I'm unfamiliar with was.)  I learned a few things and shared a few things and met some really nice people.

Day two was in the field.  Most of it was with a guy breeding cows.  I'm not sharing photos because if you know how cows are bred (by humans), you probably don't want to see them.  But photos were taken.  Once the guy I was out with heard this, he made sure to take every opportunity to get photos.  And then sent them on to management.  (I guess the perk here is that they knew I participated, right?)

What I will show photos of is the food!

There's a "belly buster" walleye sandwich, a cheese curd cheeseburger (with the biggest cheese curds I've ever seen) and a mooseburger.  I did not go hungry.

Anyways, the time spent with the breeding guy turned out to be lots of fun.  We visited a LOT of farms and he moves FAST, but I kept up and made it through the day unharmed.  (And did not adopt any more farm cats.  But if it hadn't been such a long drive home...)  And he paid me a huge compliment in saying I caught on to some stuff faster than people who are hired to do his same job!

Late afternoon on day two was spent with a gal who looks at all sorts of information on the farm, from electronic records, and helps the farmer improve what he is doing.  It was not nearly as fun, as we were sitting in a hot, stuffy office, fighting with a computer that didn't want to work well, and I had little understanding of where the numbers and graphs came from.  But I guess that just means I have more learning to do!

Friday was spent driving home and that couldn't go fast enough.  (Why does it always seem to take longer to get home than to get there?)  But I'm home, safe, and glad to have slept in my own bed the past few nights.  And I took today (Monday) off to have a little extra time to relax before heading back to my real job.

And though I didn't think about it before asking for today off, this weekend was my quilt group's sewing Saturday (which is really Friday through Sunday if someone wants to keep the key that long).  So I felt more free to play most of the weekend and have today to catch up.

Saturday I was not very motivated.  I'd taken my Christmas Pickle project, which has not seen the light of day for probably a year.

I want the quilt done, but those arcs were scary and they're hand-cut and I've not really done much curved piecing before.  But first I still had two more paper pieced parts of the arcs to go, so I made those.  And then consulted with the other gals, many of which have done this type of stuff before.  (I so love having Saturday quilt days with other experienced quilters!)  A plan was made and I was off.

That first arc wasn't so bad (in red).  The second one is much harder, but by then I'd done 24 of the larger ones, so had a better handle on pinning and positioning and fussing with things. 

(Yeesh!  Those colors are off - those earlier photos are much truer...)

Anyways, I have red on the outsides of all of them and three with an inner arc sewn on already.  There will be another on the outside and another on the inside to make them square and then I have to make 120 pinwheels that finish 4".  I'm not sure which is worse...all those points to match in pinwheels don't thrill me either.  

But this quilt was so gorgeous when I saw it made up, I want it finished.  And it's been nearly two years since I got this kit, so it's time to finish it.  I think I'll probably put a little more time in today - since I have to cut all the arcs by hand, I can do that while watching some movies, right?

Happy quilting!