Saturday, February 6, 2016

progress, but not much

I had good intentions of sewing every day this week.  I also had good intentions of cooking meals at home every night this week.  I think I sewed more than I cooked...

I only made it into the sewing room three days...

Day 1 progress on the Retro quilt:

Four rows done.  There are 16 rows of 15 triangles each.  So progress!

Day 2:

Two more rows done.

Day 3:

Eight rows done of 16.  Not too bad, I guess.  

I'm hoping this weekend will be more productive.  The superbowl will give me a few hours of time when the hubby wants me to leave him alone at least.

Last night we went to dinner with family and I got my niece's approval for the more colorful option of the quilt for her boyfriend:

I'm working on finding out how big his bed is (she wants a bed quilt) and then I'll have to see what my stash holds for the colors - or go shopping!

But first I am going to try to at least get the Retro quilt into a top.  His graduation isn't until May, so I've got time.  (I say that knowing very well that I'll be sewing a label on as we drive down to drop the gift off...)

I also bought yet another piece of fabric for the Bonnie Hunter quilt.  This time it's pink.  I'll try to remember to get a photo of my final fabric choices, but this quilt is on the waiting list, too.  For now.

This week I also tried out another recipe from Pinterest.  This time it was pumpkin nutella cookie bars.  The hubby wouldn't touch them.  I thought they were delicious (and a great way to use up that extra can of pumpkin in my cupboard from Thanksgiving).  I took them to work and they were a hit.  So just in case you, too, have an extra can of pumpkin in your cupboard, the link to the recipe is above.  (Sorry no photos...but the recipe link has about 300, so my amateur efforts probably aren't needed anyways.)

Happy quilting!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

too many projects?

I think maybe my problem is that I have too many projects and can't decide which to work on, so I don't work on any of them?  (That's not a good excuse...)

Last weekend I sewed with some friends and worked on getting the pom-poms on the elephants.  I don't have any progress photos, but I did get quite a few done between trips to the kitchen for snacks and admiring what others were working on.

But that's about all I got accomplished, quilt-wise.  It probably doesn't help that my sewing room's horizontal surfaces look like a quilt factory exploded half-finished projects in there...

I did make a pan of amazing brownies last weekend...Buckeye Brownies, to be exact.  No, not the Ohio State kind, the peanut butter balls covered in chocolate that you usually only get at Christmas kind.

This is the last one - I should have taken a photo sooner, but, well, you know...  After eating about 4 of them in one day, I had to take the rest of the pan to work because I can't eat a whole pan of brownies myself!  They were a hit!  (Thank you Pinterest!)

One warning if you make these: Put milk on the shopping list, as these scream for a glass of milk!  (way more than any other brownie I've ever eaten)

But today I'm up early (thanks Emma-No) and drafted a few color options for the quilt I'm making for my niece's boyfriend.  I'm going to present the ideas to her soon, but I'm going to share with you, my quilting friends, and get opinions from you too, since you understand the process better than she does.  Keep in mind this quilt is going to an 18-year-old autistic boy.

Option 1.
This is my preference, but we'll see what my niece says.  The cross-hatched sections will be the superhero fabric.

And then there's Option 2:

Very simple, this #2, but my niece says his favorite color is black.  (So is my hubby's.  What is wrong with these boys?  There are literally hundreds of OTHER colors!  Black is great and all, but really...a favorite?)

And Love suggested that I use the grays purchased and discarded for the Bonnie Hunter mystery project in this quilt.  What a great idea!  I think at least the black will be used for the black in the layout.  Perfect!

By the way, the quilt pattern is called "BQ2" and is by Maple Island Quilts.

Now maybe with this sitting in front of me, drawn out and ready to be started, I'll be motivated to do something?  (Of course, having to clean up the sewing room first is not helping my motivation...)

Happy quilting,

Monday, January 18, 2016

...not quite as productive...

This past week has not been nearly as productive as the previous two.  Heading back to work after a long, fun weekend proved to be harder on me than I expected.  Not only did I have some work to catch up on (my coworkers did a good job with what they could, but there's always those little things), but it was a really busy, crazy week as well.  By 2:00 Friday, I was exhausted and very glad my work week was nearly over.

I did manage to get a little sewing done.  The elephant pieces that need trim hand-sewn down (remember the silly string?) are on the end table next to the couch, waiting for me.  It's eye-straining work (never mind that it's dark by 5pm here), but I've gotten two done.

In the previous photo of the elephant, it looked put together, but to get those pieces of trim caught in the seams, I couldn't sew them together yet.  I'm hoping the pieces go together better than my attempt at sewing the trim into the seams...

The pattern doesn't show all of the elephants with trim, but I have a yard each of five colors, so I'm going to add it until I run out.  If they all get trim, they all get trim.  If not, no worries.

And I did go purchase fabric for another quilt.  Because 3 or 4 (or more?) unfinished quilts is reason enough to buy more fabric, right?  I saw the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt reveal on the 1st and loved it.  Her fabric choices just make it seem to glow.  And I'm not really a red or gold person.  (Yes, yes, I've made a few quilts in that colorway, but I think I wore myself out on it...)  But I've been watching the posts of other finishes and have not yet seen a colorway I like better.  So off to the store it was...

I love the red.  And the gold.  But the others...well, I like the color of the grey and the black, but they seem too modern for her quilt.  I got caught up in the moment at the store and couldn't find what I really wanted, so I bought something else.  I shouldn't have, but I do like the fabrics and they WILL get used in something.

So I bought more...

I'll eventually lay them out and decide what I'll use, but I think I'm going to force myself to wait to start this one for a while.  Maybe...

And when I found the grey, black and "neutral" alternates, I also found some Marvel superhero fabric.

I have a niece who graduated high school last year and her boyfriend is graduating this year.  I offered to make a quilt with her for him.  When I found this fabric, knowing they both love superhero movies, I texted her a photo and she said "YES!", so I bought 3 yards.  Now what to do with something so busy?  I have a few ideas...we'll see where this goes...

This week at work is looking to be better than last, so maybe I'll have a little more energy in the evenings.  Though today, with a high of 15F, all I want is to go snuggle back under a quilt with my kitties and stay warm!

Happy quilting,

Monday, January 11, 2016

what a week!

After finishing the first top of 2016 so early, I feel like the momentum is still going.  Of course, going on a quilt retreat this past weekend definitely helped keep up the pace.

Before I share about the retreat, I'm so excited about what my brother and his wife, via gift card, got me for Christmas.  I went to Hobby Lobby looking for fabrics to maybe start the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt (once I saw the reveal, I went and got the instructions because it's amazing!), but was disappointed (they have good basics and some great funky prints, but nothing screamed to be bought for that project...) so I wandered around and picked up a few things I might need for retreat...more pins, sewing machine needles, etc...and then wandered over to yarn.  I'd bought my niece a knitting loom for Christmas and a book with lots of projects and saw that socks ARE possible.  Socks that don't just look like tubes tied at the ends.  So I decided I'd get myself a sock loom and some yarn.

I wandered around the aisles a while before figuring out the yarn selection (I've never knitted or crocheted before!), but I think this is very pretty.  And the loom comes with a DVD of instructions, plus there's a lot out there on YouTube (I've watched quite a few videos already).  I haven't started yet, but I had to get ready for retreat!

What to pack?!

I spent a Saturday with guild friends sewing in November and got my Vintage Farm Girl blocks sewn into rows before heading out into the only snow we'd have for a month (and it was a fairly big storm).  And then did nothing.  I mean nothing.  Everything was still packed a month later when the December sew day came around.  So that went into the suitcase.  Yes, suitcase.  I have a big one that my sewing machine fits into the bottom and then I can pack my iron and projects around it so nothing moves and everything (cutting mat, ironing board, projects...) all roll with me!  Yes, it weighs a ton, but it has wheels!

It was the first project out of the suitcase, too.

I'm going to hang this (I think) on the landing of my stairs, so I don't think it's going to need borders.  I need to finish unpacking the suitcase to measure.  But it's a top, and we can call this #2 for 2016!

Next out was one of two kits I purchased at the AQS show in Grand Rapids this past August.  I can't find any photos of what I bought, so I'm guessing I didn't take any.  (This would not surprise me.)  There was a booth with a lot of modern quilts and kits to go with them and I liked a lot of them.  I bought a's the cover quilt from Modern Quilts Illustrated #7.  Same fabrics and everything and I LOVE every one of them, though many are not fabrics I would buy simply because I wouldn't know what to do with them...

The pattern calls for templates, but I have a 60 degree ruler, so I measured and made notes (on my hand, thankyouverymuch, until a friend unearthed a pad of sticky notes) and cut using the ruler.  MUCH faster I'm sure.  By bedtime, which was far later than normal, I had this:

You can see there the name of the pattern is "Retro".  We did some quick math and found there are 600 pieces in this quilt.  For my quilting friend Bill, this is not very many, but he will be happy I know the count.

Friday morning I was back at it and got this far:

It doesn't look much different, but there are little triangles framed by the olive green and large triangles that will alternate.  There are 240 triangles there and though there were design walls around the room, I didn't feel the urge to lay out so many among 17 other quilters.  I think this will be a Saturday sew project, or perhaps take over my living room one day.  But for now, much progress has been made and I can move on.

Next up is the other kit I purchased at the AQS show this past year.  I was naughty and bought two and spent a lot, but this one is super cute and I couldn't pass it up.  It's called "Elephant Walk" and again features modern prints.  And again, some that are beautiful, but I wouldn't have the nerve to buy it and cut it up for this quilt.  But someone else made that choice for me and now I have cut it up and sewn it together!

I forgot to take a photo of in-progress, but this one was a lot of cutting.  22 large elephants, but 8 hat/blanket fabrics, 7 elephant grays and 7 different backgrounds to cut a variety of pieces and mix and match so things aren't too organized.  I had a table and a half of piles - one pile per elephant - to get everything organized.  And then had to keep focused when sewing so pieces stayed together properly. This is where a chair on rollers came in VERY handy!

This is a photo of packing it up because I, again, got to a point where I need to do stuff at home.  This time, there is a pom-pom trim that goes at the bottom of hats and blankets and since my zipper foot is less than ideal, I'm going to have to do it by hand.  Not only did I not have proper thread colors, there was not really a good place to do hand-sewing.  (There were a few couches, but lighting there wasn't great and there was still one more project in the suitcase!)  (And I am glad I found out about my zipper foot so I can try to remedy that situation before I take a class making what my friend calls the "zipper bag"!)

But this is one of the elephants on the design wall as far as all 22 got before being packed up:

The colorful strings are the trim - a friend said it looked like we hit the design wall with silly string from a few feet away and I think she might be right!  (And the way two of my friends and I were behaving, it probably would not have surprised anyone if we had brought and used silly string...we laughed A LOT!)

There are also three smaller elephants in the pattern, but until I have these made and have decided on a layout, I'm not going to cut those - I want to make sure the fabric selections continue the random/scrappy look.

Oh, and the elephants get tails, but they're paper pieced, so I needed to make copies of the pattern first.  Not at camp...

So there was still about a half a day left and one more project in the suitcase.  I really never thought I'd get through more than one project, aside from the Farm Girl rows becoming a top, but I got a lot done.  (Even with all the crazy silliness going on!)

Arcadia Avenue was in there.  I'd worked on block #3 at my guild retreat in July and put the 12 wedges together awkwardly and ended up with a bubble in the center.  I can handle a not-quite matchy center because for this block (and many others in this quilt), the center pieces are all the same fabric - in this case, solid white.  So once it's quilted and you step back, it won't be obvious.  But this bubble bothered me.  So I kinda put it away.  Guess it's time to get it back out!

I worried over the center for a bit, but eventually decided to press on.  I'll think on it more (not sure if tearing it apart will help because this is paper pieced and CRAZY...)  But I found that I'd sewn the 12 wedges for block #4.  I guess at the July retreat?  I don't even remember it, but that meant I had just enough time to get block #4 together and onto the design wall!

Block #3 is on the right, #4 on the left.

Then it was lunchtime and we packed up, scraped 4 inches of snow off the car, and headed home.  (We actually didn't have to scrape much off the cars, as the camp staff did a lot of it for us - what sweet guys!)  There is much less snow at home (a few hours south), and that's okay with me.  It made driving better and better as we got closer to home.

And though it's Monday, I'm still not back at work yet.  I took today off to recover!  And since I was gone Thursday through Sunday, I kinda needed a day to get stuff done at home, too.  But I'm plugging away at chores and should be ready to go back to work tomorrow.  (Though I'd rather stay home and quilt and snuggle kitties and generally avoid that cold white stuff outside my door.)

I think this afternoon, I'll fire up Netflix and sew some trim on my elephants.  Or perhaps work on sewing down appliques for the Merry Merry Snowman quilt?  (At my December Saturday sewing day, I sewed the remaining four backgrounds - they're scrappy and laying all the blocks out to make sure I didn't have too much of any color next to itself was needed - and cut some of the applique pieces.)  Something the kitties can "help" me do because they've missed me.  (The hubby said so and based on their behavior since my return, I think he's right.)

Or maybe I'll take a nap.

Happy quilting,