Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

Happy New Year everyone! It was so neat to see all the Australian blogs celebrating last night.

As the new year approaches, one can't help but think of New Year's Resolutions. I was no different earlier this week.

2011:  I usually make 10 resolutions, and if I keep more than 3 during the whole year, I feel like I've accomplished something.  There were a few resolutions from 2011 that quilting has helped me keep, and one that I failed miserably.  I resolved to make new friends - I have made a few new friends with quilting this year, and this blog is helping me make more.  I also resolved to "find time for me".  As the mom of 3 kids under 6, my life is more about them right now than me, and that's ok, but...I still need some time for myself.  Under the premise of getting my money's worth out of my new sewing machine, I have managed to sneak off after bedtime and put in some sewing time here and there.  Unfortunately, my resolution to reduce clutter has failed miserably.  Not only have I managed to add to my fabric stash, but I've also managed to collect a few books, and notions, etc.  While I try to keep them all in "my studio" area (aka, the garage), these things are taking up space that would otherwise store other items.  I am sure I am not alone.

2012: This year I am determined to challenge myself. I hope to find more time to sew, run, and golf. I would also like to break a bad habit of mine - getting partially done with something, then putting it aside for who knows how long. I'm sure I am not alone in this "finish what I start" wish. I also want to challenge myself by doing an art quilt of some sort. And, then there's that lingering clutter to tackle...

I usually finalize my list sometime on New Year's Day.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A day off from sewing, but not from thinking about it

Yesterday, I took the girls down to visit their great grandmother.  We stopped to have lunch with grandma in San Clemente, CA.  It was a beautiful day.

An extra bonus was the pattern I saw on the oven of all places!  I think it might make a good background quilting pattern at some point.  What do you think?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why did I think a Quilter's Run was a 5K for charity?

This was actually the case.  The quilt shop where I had just taken my first quilting class, was advertising a quilt run like crazy that week.  Hmm, I thought, I've always wanted to start running.  I only needed the right motivation, and I was sure the charity it was for was deserving.

"When is it?", I asked.  Only 2 weeks from the day.  Well, not enough time to train, but really some of these ladies that seemed so excited about it surely couldn't do a 5K either.  "How far is it?", I asked.  How far you wanted to go was entirely up to you.  Now we were talking!  "What charity is it for?".  Blank stare from the lady I was asking.  "Is it for a charity?", I could tell she was stuggling to figure out how to respond.  Finally she told me, "well, I guess it is for the charity of the stores that are participating."  Now I was the one with the blank stare.  The quilt shop owner that had caught the last bit of the conversation finally came over and explained that it was more of a shop hop around the area.  "Oh", I replied.  I like shopping as much as anyone else, but travelling between 5 of the quilt shops spread across Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernadino counties seemed like a daunting task.  I mean, it takes me 20 minutes to go 3 miles in the morning.  I mean this thing must have taken all weekend.

I still haven't participated in a true quilter's run.  And, in case anyone was wondering, it took me till this year to start running.  And, it hasn't been going very well.....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let sleeping babies sleep

I didn't have too much time today, but during my daughter's nap I managed to quilt a few more rows on my mom's quilt. It is the biggest quilt I have made so far (full sized) and I am really struggling with it. Perhaps, my machine isn't big enough. I feel like no matter where I am on the quilt, the fabric is fighting me. Appropriate, I suppose, since it is a quilt for my mother. Now all I need is tension issues and it will really resemble our relationship!

I probably won't have any time to quilt tomorrow. The girls and I are headed down to see my mother-in-law and visit her 92 year old mother who is now in a home. Nonna didn't get to escape for Christmas, so we are going to bring her some belated holiday cheer.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Still much work to be done

Today, I pulled out the quilt with the peacock fabric that I am making for my mother. I figured with the 2012 UFO Challenge right around the corner, I should start with the quilt that is the closest to being complete. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to see just how much I still need to do.  Working while my baby took a nap today, I managed to figure out where I was going with the quilting, made a plan, and I made the binding (the nap didn't last too long).  Perhaps tomorrow while she naps, I can resume the quilting process.  Nothing too fancy this time. While my mom wouldn't mind if her quilt wasn't soft, and she would probably actually appreciate the extra effort, I don't know if I want to belabor this project any more than I have too.  It would be nice to finish it and send it out the door!

Besides, I realized why I put the project away in the first place -- the fabric is so busy, I can barely look at it for too long.  You know how they say, "one mans trash is another man's treasure", well, once I am done with this quilt, I plan on gifting the remaining fabric to some lucky follower.  And there will be plenty......

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The day is over, sigh. I gave my niece's quilt to my sister-in-law, and she seemed to really like it. She even noticed some of my stitching and commented on how it must be difficult to sew in circles instead of straight lines. Gives me hope that it was appreciated.

And my husband even showed his pride a little when later in the evening he called out his cousin for not having sent a thank you for the quilt we sent her baby. I was a little mortified, but was happy to learn that they did indeed receive it and use it regularly. The thank you must have gotten lost in the mail. No worries here though, as long as they are using it, I am truly happy.

It was a wonderful day here, and I hope yours was too!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Midnight Oil

A couple of nights burning the midnight oil, and a highly qualified team of babysitters one day, and I have finally finished the quilt for my niece.  

For such a small quilt, it sure did take FOREVER.  And thankfully, once I washed and dried it, it did soften up quite a bit.  Lesson learned though, when it comes to quilting, less is more sometimes.

Now for the holiday......

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Newbie mistake

I've been working furiously on my nieces quilt so it will be done by Sunday. I seem to be going in slow motion. Part of the problem I have mentioned before - I undertook more than I should when it came to the quilting design. Last week when I started the quilting, I thought how nice it was that I was getting all this free motion practice (especially with the free motion project challenge coming up next month). Now I have 8 of the 12 blocks done, and some of the border. It wasn't until now that it dawned on me that here is this cute pattern of machine applique, heavily quilted with fancy designs (well, attempted fancy designs), and because of all that quilting and thread from the appliqué, the darn thing is not cozy. A newbie mistake. I had hoped that the one year old would take comfort in the blanket during her stay at the hospital.

Well, it's too late to turn back now. So she probably won't cuddle with it. It will end up being the cutest diaper changing pad ever, I guess.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 UFO Challenge

One of the best things about the blogging community is all the support groups you can join.  No kidding!  Today's glance at the blogs revealed this jewel from, a 2012 UFO Challenge.  Well, I have a lot of those, so I'm joining up!

Considering I only finished 3 quilts last year, I'd say my list is definitely challenging.  Here it is:

1) My stripe batik weave - top is done, need to back, quilt, bind, etc.
2) My blue & white one block wonder throw - top is done, need to back, quilt, bind, etc.
3) My mother's peacock fabric quilt - the darn thing is partially quilted.  I just couldn't look at it anymore and had to take a break.
4) Small quilt Swap project hosted by
5) Name quilt swap project hosted by
6) Star Circles - a paper piecing project
7) Tile Batik - I have all the fabric needed, plus some!
8) Lincoln quilt - browns and blues
9) Fusible rose - rose is done, needs to be put on background, thread painted and quilted, etc.
10) t-shirt quilts for my girls
11) Asian surprise - I've had these fabrics FOREVER
12) a Christmas something for next year

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Are you the type that makes things difficult for yourself?

Well, I definitely am! I've been struggling to finish my niece's quilt, baby sized mind you, for a couple of weeks. I finally got it sandwiched and all the in the ditch quilting done, but felt that the background of the appliqué blocks needed something.....did I choose an all over quilting design as the pattern suggested? Of course not! Each block needed its own special something. The upside is that I'm getting some much needed practice with free motion quilting. The downside is that I only have 3 blocks done (they do look nice, if I do say so myself). Only 9 more to go, plus the borders.

My kids are out of school this week, but it is really my 3 year old that is making sure that I get absolutely nothing done! And unfortunately, she wears me out so much that I am so tired tonight that my eyes are crossing from fatigue just typing this. I should be at my sewing machine, burning the midnight oil to make some progress, but alas I am going to bed.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Inspiration can find you anywhere

Tonight I took our two oldest girls to their first Nutcracker ballet. It was wonderful! I love the music, and the dancers were lovely. What really got me this time was the costumes. The ones for the "spring" fairies were just beautiful. I loved the color combination of two different pinks with an almost olive green. It might sound terrible, but that's just my words ruining what was truly a lovely sight. I hope I can find time to make a quilt that, at the very least, captures the color combos I witnessed tonight.

Oh, and my kids had a great time too. Although, I did get a lot of questions as to why their story was different from the Barbie version.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Ditz

I have a major case of what I call, "the Holiday Ditz". I am sure I am not alone. You may also be afflicted if you :

1) wonder why your razor isn't shaving, only to discover (at least a leg through) that the plastic cover is still on the blade.
2) have accidentally made coffee with yesterday's grounds
3) have left the house with a plan, but upon entering your store of destination, you can't remember what you are there for.
4) forget your child's name as you are trying to discipline them
5) can't remember your phone number (hey, I never call myself)
6) don't get me started on where I parked the car
7) after making 45 felt mice, you actually forget to take some to one of your kids classes.
8) you still think there is at least 2 weeks till Christmas
9) what's your example?

I have actually done all of those things in the last few days. Goodness knows what will happen this coming week.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Just a quickie

Well, I've been talking about them for days.  Finally, here are the pics of the gift card holders I made this week.  The instructions came right out of the holiday gift edition of Quilting Arts magazine.  They promised to be quick and easy and they were!  Plus, since I am giving something as boring as gift cards to our teachers and babysitters this year, I thought it only right that they be in a cute package....

Now I can get quilting......

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I think I have a mouse problem

What a crazy day! Managed to get a few things done is my army of felt mice waiting for their tails (candy canes)

They sure did take longer than I planned, but alas, everything seems to. Here's the link to the directions if anyone is interested: Martha's Mice instructions

Tomorrow I volunteer at my daughter's school, but I hope to finish up those gift card holders and possibly sandwich my niece's blanket together and baste it. I may only be dreaming.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Up a creek without a paddle...

Well, like many of you, I am behind in my preparations for the holiday. I spent most of the day out and about, trying to start my Christmas shopping. Yes, I said start. Luckily, I put a dent in my list. Unluckily, my travels left me very little time to sew today.

I did manage to finish a cute gift card holder. I have at least 3 more to make, and now that I know how, they should be quick. But, since I did not get further down my "to do" list, I am already considering plan B for some things. Do I really have time to make 24 felt mice candy cane holders? Can my dughter's classmates live with just the candy canes? Oh darn it, I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet...I'll give myself to 10:15 tomorrow morning to get at least half done, otherwise plan B it is. After all, I still have quilts to quilt and bind!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Have you been Naught or Nice?

Or more appropriately named, "Confessions of a Naughty Quilter"

As I was sewing along today, I started daydreaming about Santa's Naughty and Nice list. With 3 kids in the house, there has been much talk about it lately. But, what if Santa was strictly looking at my quilting for a basis of his list? Would I be on the naughty or nice list?

Let's see...

I go thru periods of quilt frenzy, then draught = probably naughty
I am always searching for new techniques on the web or classes I can take to better my skills = nice.
I try to work in practice time for skills I haven't quite got the hang of = nice
I have a long list of "want to do" projects, that I want to complete for people I love = nice
But, I am easily distracted and don't always follow thru or complete them = naughty
I find inspiration everywhere = nice
I try to use colors that are outside my comfort zone, especially if the recipient likes them = nice
I often dream about quilting (my next project, what design I will quilt to finish, etc.) = nice
I hand appliqué labels in shapes to coordinate my quilt and/or recipients tastes = nice
I buy all kinds of fabric "for rainy days" (it rarely rains here), and hide it from my husband = definitely naughty
Sometimes, heck most of the time, I "iron" rather than "press" my seams = gasps heard around the world mean its naughty
I don't always change my needle with each new project = naughty (but hey, not all projects are the same size, detail, etc..
If I've ripped out a seam more than 3 times and can't get it to fit right, I either leave it alone, or throw it away all together = naughty
I often tell my husabnd I've spent more time doing errands when I've actually been at my sewing machine all day = naughty

I think my naughties out-weigh my nices. Perhaps Santa will give me a fat quarter bundle of greys and black tones instead of coal???

Well? What about you? Can you top me? Are you naughty or nice?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Too Much Help

As the mom of three young kids, I am often faced with the problem of "too much help".  I know they just want to help, but their version of it is much different than mine.  Like the time my eldest wanted to help clean up the floor....while I turned my back to get some paper towels and come cleanser, she got a bucket of water and pulled down a towel and started sloshing the water around with it, "just like Cinderella cleans the floor, mama!".  Nice.  "Too much help".

So, when they are around, I don't even attempt to quilt.  They are just too good at helping me push the pedal on the sewing machine just as I am repositioning my quilt.  Or helping me reorganize my spools of threads, so that I can't find a single color I am looking for.  You get the drift.

Tomorrow, being Saturday, I am in full Mommy-mode, so no quilting.  Yesterday, however, I had help of another kind.....

This is Tookie, giving me her opinion of the blocks I am auditioning for the quilt I mentioned yesterday.  More "too much help".  The will be for my niece who is in the hospital for a while.  It is one of the quilts that MUST get done in time for Christmas. It is a cute pattern from the spring 2009 Quilts and More magazine.   I originally started the blocks to be the backing for a playmat I was making, but the blocks turned out so cute that I thought they should go into a quilt of their own (actually two!).

This leads me to my tip of the day for beginner quilters....Piece your backing.  Pick a block you like (I am partial to pinwheels) or repetitive pattern of some sort.  Yes, it takes more time and I know you want to sandwich the thing together and get it done, but it is useful practice, it helps you get a feel for combining colors, and it makes your quilt truly reversible.  Neat!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Slow progress

Well, I'm glad I got to sewing when I did. I was able to finish the last few blocks of machine appliqué. I had 34 blocks in all and have been making very slow progress for the last few weeks. Now they are all done and will be sewn into two different baby sized quilt tops. I will upload pictures as soon as I download them from my phone.

I'm so glad I did this project. It gave me a chance to really get the hang of introductory machine appliqué. I took a class 2 years ago, but was no good at it. Looking back, I was still getting the hang of sewing in general, and my then new, machine. Perhaps now I can go back to the project we were working on in that class and finally complete something that doesn't just look like rats nests on fabric.

Come to think of it, I have heard it said that practice makes perfect....

My first post

Wow, the pressure of a first post!  I really can't think of anything profound to say, so I'll just start typing away....

I took my first quilting class almost 3 years ago.  Since then, I find myself either hot or cold when it comes to finding time to quilt.  I am either fast and furiously working on 5 projects at once (ie. hot), or I go 6 months without even thinking of my sewing machine (ie. cold).  Today, I am in the middle of a hot streak.  Christmas is almost upon us and I still have two quilts that must get done, and one that "should" be done.  The "should" quilt is going to my youngest daughter, so I think she will forgive me if it is not under the tree on time.

While I have only completed 7 quilts to date, I can honestly say that my skills have been improving with each one!  The first three quilts were all a result of the class I took - a sampler class.  I decided to make a quilt for my oldest daughter and somewhere along the way ended up with one for my middle daughter and one for my nephew.  As someone who was just figuring out how to sew straight lines, I found that I really needed practice making each block - thus 3 baby quilts with essentially the same blocks, just different fabrics.  If you are new to quilting, I highly recommend this strategy.  I was getting frustrated ripping out the seams of the same block over and over again to get it right.  By making 3 of the same blocks, I got the extra practice I needed, had fun experimenting with different color combinations, AND was able to progress (even if the block isn't perfect, sometimes you just have to move on).

One of my biggest pet peeves about the sampler class was that it didn't teach you to actually quilt your project.  For some reason, the teacher thought you should be satisfied just having a quilt top completed.  Well, I wasn't.  So the next class I signed up for was machine quilting so I could finish my projects (all according to their plan, I'm sure).  At this point, I can rate myself "average" with a walking foot, and free motion still alludes me.

My second endeavor was a one block wonder quilt for my mom.  I learned a lot, especially about the quilting phase.  The quilt is what I've heard called "a monet", pretty from far away, but all messed up when you look at it closely.  The quilting didn't turn out at all like I expected.  I tried to free motion quilt what looked like bamboo stalks with invisible thread.  I thought it would give the quilt some more texture, and it would fit nicely with the asian fabric I chose.  Well, it was harder than I thought, took longer than I thought, and I figured out that invisible thread isn't the easiest to work with.  Here are pictures, from far away, of the finished project, front and back.

As I said, I learned a lot.

Goodness, I just realized I've been sitting at this computer for over an hour and I still have Christmas presents to finish.  Until next time....