Sunday, January 29, 2012

January Free Motion Challenge

One of the cool challenges I have joined is the Sew Cal Gal's Free Motion Quilt Challenge.  I really want to improve my skills in this area as I am always admiring the wonderful work of others and want to be able to do more than just in-the-ditch quilting.  Each month a new expert gives a tutorial which members of the challenge are encouraged to try and practice.  January's tutorial from Frances Moore was how to do a leaf motif. 

At some point during the month, you have to make a sample and post it on the Sew Cal Gal's blog.  Many of the participants have made quilt tops with special blocks for each month's challenge.  I chose to make a placemat for each month's challenge.  Here is my January project, made from leftovers from my stripe Batik quilt:

"top" of placemat

detail (stitches are still a little uneven)

"back" of placemat

I had a lot of fun doing this month's challenge and am really looking forward to next month's, which I hear may be a feather!

You can still join the challenge at the link above!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yes, yes, but what have you been DOING?

What have I been doing?  This week has been pretty busy!  Art with the kindergartners on Wednesday, baby home sick on Thursday, baby well on Friday so Art with 3rd graders on Friday, our usual craziness today (Saturday).  Every chance I've had to string 20 minutes together has been spent on the peacock quilt.  It is nearly done at this point; final completion should be Monday if all kids are healthy and if I can manage to quilt despite breaking the open toe free motion foot that I have only had ONE WEEK!!!  I am a little upset about this, but am trying to think of other things at the moment....

As a rule, I try not to let the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing, stop me from trying new things.  In the process of finishing this quilt I have tried several new things, with moderate success.  In fact, I have learned so much making this quilt that it has inspired me to make a new page with "lessons learned"  AKA "airing my dirty laundry (with regard to quilt making only!)".  The problem is that I learned so much that I wonder if I should post a little at a time, then summarize on a page???  Decisions, decisions.  Look for posts next week after the quilt is done.

Here are some pictures of the progress.

You can see that I have marked the last little bits that I want to quilt.  I used a white sewline pencil.  Since I've made a few "dark" colored quilts thus far, I have tried a few white pencils, and I must say I like this one the best.  The ease with which the marking goes onto the fabric is what really strikes me.  And it comes off cleanly too.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Between staying up til midnight last night working on my peacock quilt and having a sick baby home all day, I am tired and ready to go to bed.  Of course, my 3 year old has other plans.

I have been making progress on the peacock quilt, but it is never as fast as I would like it to go.  Take for instance last night.  I decided to sew on the binding because the borders were essentially done and I doubted the quilt was going to shift any further.  I figured if I got the binding on, I could hand close it while watching my baby at home today.  Well, I got about 1/4 the way around the quilt and thought to myself, "DUH!  If there was ever a time to try machine binding, it was on this quilt!  I mean the border is a nice dark color and the back is so busy, if I made a mistake somewhere, no one would find it.  So I got the seam ripper out and took of the binding and reapplied it to the back side.  But, I wasted a good 45 minutes or so.  Today I managed to finish putting it to the top side.  While I don't mind the way it turned out on this quilt (I'll have pictures later), I'm not sure I will do every quilt this way.  There is something to be said about how neat and trim a hand applied binding looks.

I have a few more things left to do on the quilt before it is finished.  There are a couple of spots in the border that I need to redo, I need to add the label, and I wanted to add a couple of things to top in some of the squares between the blocks.  Since I have already done all the in-the-ditch quilting, I'm not worried about shifting, so I saved those sections for last in case I didn't have time.

Hopefully, tomorrow I can accomplish those items before I go teach art to 3rd graders.  I taught the stick project to the Kindergartners on Wednesday and they really seemed to enjoy it.  It was rather messy, no doubt adding to their pleasure.  I think it took me and the 2 volunteers about as long to clean up as it took to teach the class.

I can hear that our evening TV show is coming to an end, so it's time to put the girls to bed and get there myself.  Zzzzzzzz.... I am ready!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Name Game Swap Mosaic

One of the swaps I've signed up for is the "Name Game Swap" at Samelia's Mum.  It is a blind swap, so in addition to giving my partner my blog address, I had to create a mosaic of inspiration for my partner.  Well, I must admit I did mine in a bit of a rush, and not having enough quilts of my own to add to the photos, I snapped pictures of all kinds of things - some of my favorite fabrics, notebook covers, even some adorable gift bags I have hanging on my "inspiration" wall.  I only hope it is enough for my partner to come up with something.

I can't wait to see what my partner makes of this hodgepodge!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pics from Road to California

First, let me get the formalities out of the way.  These quilts were photographed at the 2012 Road to California Quilt Show last week.  They are not mine, and I have also photographed the description cards that accompanied the quilts so as to give credit where due.  Here we go....

I didn't take as many pictures this year as in the past.  I realized somewhere along the way that while I found the quilts inspirational at the show, I rarely looked at the pictures later.

Here are just a few that I found interesting:

First, there is this amazing quilt made by Sherry Reynolds.  I didn't take a picture of this one on my first pass through the show, but every time I passed by it during the next few days, it always had a crowd around it, even though it was directly opposite the best in show quilt.  It interests me because a good portion of it was paper pieced (and I was taking a class on paper piecing), but most of all, that she quilted it on her home sewing machine!  I didn't get any pictures of the details close up, but trust me, the quilting was amazing!!!

Next is this quilt by Cheryl See.  The color caught my attention first, but then I realized that the whole quilt was made of tiny hexagons. 12256 evidently!

This one by Suzanne Waldrop caught my eye, because it really gives a feeling of light and warmth.  The use of color is brilliant.

This one by Pat Durbin incorporated thread painting (another class I took at the show).  It also interested me because of all the tiny squares she pieced for the foreground.

Lastly, this cathedral window quilt  by Julia Gardner was amazing.  The color balance was lovely, and I was amazed to see one so large.  I have always wanted to make a cathedral window quilt, but anytime I consult a book or person, they always recommend making a pillow or some other small item because the pattern is time consuming and the resulting quilt is heavy.  I'm not sure how the maker of this quilt made it so lightweight, but it took her 8 years to make, so I guess it was time consuming after all.  Let's see, if I get started now, it will be done in 2020!

That's it for now.  These were my favorites, but I have a few more pictures for another time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Here Kitty, Kitty....

As usual, I didn't get as much done today as I hoped.  But, I did make some progress.  I made a few more blocks for my Batik tile quilt.  At this point it would take a miracle to get it done and quilted by the end of the month.  Especially since I am determined to ship my mom's peacock quilt by the 1st to make it there for a special occasion.  So I split my time today between piecing Batik and measuring/figuring/marking the border pattern for the quilting of the peacocks.  Funny, it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be!  I also need to submit my project for the free motion challenge, so I sandwiched something together.  I just need to quilt it!  Gee, tomorrow is really looking busy!

I also want to share one of the funny things that came out of this year's trip to Road to California. I decided to name my sewing machine.  For two of my classes, I sat next to a charming lady from Iowa, who had recently upgraded her long arm machine with the computerized gizmo that quilts for you.  She explained that once she did that, she felt she needed to name her machine so she could say things like, "Hannah is quilting for me today".  Well, that story inspired me to name my machine also, and I decided to name her, "Kitty".  Why? Well, I had been carting my machine around in a pet carrier for the show.  Hey, it works!  My machine fits nicely in it's padded interior, and it only cost about $30 versus????  Plus, I can take Tookie to the vet when we need  to = dual purpose!  Anyhow, as I would leave the room or building dragging my pet carrier behind me, I would say, "Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty".  Those who knew my machine was in the bag following me out, would laugh.  Everyone else, just thought I was nuts.  And maybe I am....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming, well almost

I drove down to Orange County today to pick up a new foot pedal for my machine, so I should be able to resume sewing on Monday. Yeah!

Until then I thought I would just post a few pics of some of the fabric I picked up at the show.  Since both of my local quilt shops have closed, I am pretty much limited to Joann's or online purchases.  The quilt show gave me a shopping opportunity I couldn't resist. And resist, I did not!

Here's one group of fabrics, and no, I don't have specific plans for them yet, I just like them...

And I can't wait to create something with this..I absolutely love it!

And I can't remember which blog it was that must have put this into my head.  I think it was one of my Australian reads, but she was writing about how gray has come back into fashion, and I found myself gray-happy....

My friend that was with me probably thought I was nuts!  All I would look at was gray.  I think I will be pairing it with aqua or pink or maybe even a light blue.  And I think it is about time I try to make a more modern looking something-or-other.  So once I get a few projects off my table this week, I might just dive into these!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Home Sweet Home

My "Mom-cation" to the quilt show is over.  I am both happy and sad.  Happy to be home, but sad to be leaving such a great environment for learning and inspiration.

My class today on thread painting almost didn't happen.  Last night, I managed to break the pedal of my sewing machine and of course my machine doesn't have a "manual" mode other than just turning the knob on the side.  That probably would have made thread painting very slow indeed!  Somehow I sneaked into the show early to look for the Viking representative.  He said he has never seen someone break that particular part of their machine!  Well, if nothing else, I live to entertain others!  It wasn't something they could fix, and they didn't really stock that part for the show.  He was kind enough to open the pedal up so I could jam something in there to make the machine go.  So throughout my class today I actually sewed with one finger pushing a piece of plastic into the upturned pedal, and the other hand sliding my hoop of thread painting around under the needle.  It wasn't easy, but it sure beat missing out on the entire class!  And just think of how easy the technique will seem next time I try it and can use two hands!!!

I haven't taken any pictures of my finished work from today's class yet, but I will when I get the whole thing put together.

Here is a picture of my paper pieced star from Day 1's class with Carol Doak.  She is a great teacher and this is the California block from her 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars book

Not too bad, right?

I also took some pictures of the quilts in the exhibit that I would like to share.  I will post them when I have time to properly annotate them for this blog.  All of the quilts in the exhibit were marvelous!

I had a great time at the Road to California Quilt Show, and I can't wait to go back next year!  Who wants to meet me there?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Delighted and delusional

Day 2 of Road to California is under my belt, and it has been a fabulous experience!

Day 1's class with Carol Doak on paper piecing was fun and informative. I can really see that the paper piecing method is a good one to have in my arsenal. I will post pictures of my stunning star block when I return home. I am so happy I took this class.

Today's class was a beginner long arm class with Dawn Cavanaugh. Another fun class with tons of useful information, even for me who doesn't have a long arm! Probably the best part, or at least the most economical, is that I think it has given me a greater appreciation for my domestic sewing machine. I realized that I get quite a bit done with that thing! And, the stuff I struggle with at home now, I would struggle with on a long arm too.

I returned to my hotel room tonight and set up my little sewing machine, planning on finishing up my block from day 1, playing with a new foot I bought for tomorrow's class, and possibly piecing some more blocks for my Batik UFO. Before I got to the piecing, I managed to break my foot pedal and it is no longer operational. The bad news is that I need it for my thread painting class tomorrow!!!! The good news is that we are at a quilt show and there is a Viking dealer here. Say prayers that they are able to sell me a new pedal that I can use tomorrow! Otherwise, I may be learning the theory of thread painting.

So I sign off tonight delighted by all I have experienced in the last two days, a bit exhausted, and perhaps delusional in thinking it will all work out tomorrow. Time will tell....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Road to California Tomorrow!!! and a journal cover for a friend

I am spending the evening packing for my trip to the Road to California Quilt Show.  I leave tomorrow on this "Mom-cation", and can barely keep myself from jumping in the car now and driving over!  I am so excited to be attending!!!  Not to mention, being kid-free for a couple of days.

Remember this tidbit?

Well, it is part of a notebook cover I made for my friend that is attending Road to California with me.  It is her first time taking classes at a quilt show, and I thought a notebook might come in handy.  I actually made two, one for me, one for her.  But, I'm giving her the better looking one!  Here's the finished product:

The engineer of this product needs a little more practice figuring out how to make it work AND look nice, but it will do.

Now, on to Road!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gray Winter Days

While it's true that we don't really have "winter" here in this part of Southern California, we do have our share of gray days.  But, I feel like these gray days are just as pretty as the sunny ones, especially down at the beach.

We were busy all weekend with the kids, so I didn't get much sewing done.  Of the few moments of "me time" I was allowed, I went for a run down at the beach where I shot the above pictures with my phone.  The phone doesn't really do any shot justice; it was much prettier in person.

Not to say I haven't been sewing at all.  I realized around last Wednesday that I only had a week before Road to California, and there was a little project I wanted to have finished to take with me.  Here is a little preview.....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Art Training for the Kids

Ah, the power of prayer.  Thank you all who prayed with me last night, it worked!  I will now try to refrain from talking of such things again.

I was able to make my art training class today!  Today's project was a sculpture of sorts based on the works of Charles Arnoldi  I must admit that before today's class, I had no idea who he was or what type of work he did.  And unfortunately, out of all his works, this is the stuff I am least interested in.  But hey, it's for the kids, and I guess this is a project that can be suited for them.  Of course, even as I type that I am already struggling with how to teach a few portions of the project to kindergartners.  Anyway, a few of you expressed an interest in seeing some of the projects, so I snapped a picture of mine before they whisked it away to become "examples" for this kids. Then, I promptly broke my camera (is my art THAT bad?).

Like I said, not really my style, but perhaps I will GROW somehow.  I did enjoy seeing some of Mr. Arnoldi's modern paintings.  I could see an art quilt inspired by them....if I ever had time for that!

I also finally got my previous project back.  It was called "Reflections in Nature", basically a landscape with a reflection aspect.  Here are my two, and my daughter's paintings.  She was in a dark mood evidently...

I don't think I'm very good with a brush, but hey, it was fun!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pray for poop! Yes, you read that right.

Yesterday, I was down with the flu so I didn't get anything done.  I don't get it.  My kids won't share their toys, they won't share their snacks, but they are really good at sharing germs.

I did feel much better today and was able to make a little progress on my Batik tile UFO during the baby's nap.  Just a few more blocks:

I'm hoping that everyone feels better tomorrow and can return to school.  I have a training class for our next art project that I volunteer to teach the kids.  If I miss tomorrow, I'll be in BIG trouble as two classes fo kids are counting on me.  It sounds terrible, but...pray for solid poop!  That's what we are waiting for in order to return to school, and we've been waiting since Monday.  I know some of you other moms can relate!

On another note, I have less than a week to go before the Road to California quilt show.  I can't wait to get there and put the last few days behind me!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sometimes you have to just dive in!

Today, I finally pulled out my alternate fabrics I bought for the Batik tile quilt.  I began to audition each one, and I realized I could literally do it for hours and not be any closer to choosing.  Part of the problem is that so many of the fabrics look nice together, and part of the problem is that my fabrics are obviously a little different than the picture the pattern used (at some point I also realized that the fabrics in the picture varied from how the pattern was written too).  So of course, my quilt isn't going to turn out exactly like the pattern.  It was downright silly of me to think so in the first place!

So after a few pictures, and wavering, I decided that sometimes you just have to dive right in!  I chose, and started to piece.  The end.  Only time will tell how it will turn out, so stay tuned!

Here are the first two blocks:

2 blocks DONE - sorry about the poor picture

Monday, January 9, 2012

Small Quilt Swap

Well, it has been a whole month since I joined blogland!  Honestly, if I knew there were such great things to read, and such encouraging people out there, I would have been here sooner!  Now that I read a few blogs every night, I am inspired!  I have sewn and quilted more in this past month than I think I did all of last year.  It is wonderful!  The hardest part, I think, is wanting to do it all!  Every time I read the blogs, there is a new swap or quilt-a-long that looks so great!  Last month, with the holidays, it was easier to exercise restraint.  But now, with the new year ahead, I am tempted!!

One of the swaps I have signed up for is a Small Quilt Swap at My Needle and Thread by Mary. It appealed to me because it was a SMALL quilt.  I figured a small one was doable.  Plus, the theme of "winter" sounded fun.  We don't really have "winter" here in this part of Southern California, so hopefully it will give me a chance to at least play with fabric.  Mary is still looking for more participants.  If you think this might be fun, check out the link above before the 15th.

On a different note, I didn't get much sewing time today.  The baby decided last night was a good night to have the stomach flu, so she was recovering today.  Thankfully, it seems to be a short-lived illness.  She is already feeling better.  Tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity to have some sewing fun!  I think it might be time to pull out my Batiks for that tile UFO.....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Unexpected time

My husband packed up the kids for a "trip" to the office.  Evidently, he needed something that couldn't wait.  Regardless of the reason, it gave me some alone time on a Sunday!  So, I went straight to work too!

I ripped out the rest of my tension mistake from yesterday.  Man-o-man! That was a tedious task.  I hope I never have to do that again.  I've only been working on the green sections of the blocks of the peacock quilt, but today I finished them (including the one I had to redo).  Determined not rip out the teal sections because I wasn't sure what thread color I wanted, I made a couple little samples to test the colors out.  

I did say "little" samples
This one was just plain aqua embroidery thread
This one actually has two different variegated threads

Which one did I choose?  Well, I ended up going with the variegated with the lightest shade.  It is a peacock quilt after all, I need some pizazz. It also seemed to go with the thread I choose for the green blocks best.  Here are pics of those:

"green block"

close up of quilting -  I'm still practicing!

"teal block"

close up of final thread selection

I think they look good together

While this isn't the practice pattern for the free motion challenge, it is still practicing free motion quilting!!  Speaking of practice, now I only have 14 more teal blocks to go, then I have to quilt some of the other parts of the blocks (I'm definitely choosing a bigger quilting pattern), then the borders....hmm, this could take a while.

Practice comes in many forms

Yesterday, while playing outside with the kids, I decided there was no better time to practice my free motion design for the free motion challenge SewCalGal Free Motion Challenge.  Did I pull out my machine and set it up outside? No, I just went with the flow...

Ironically, the sidewalk chalk was much more difficult to practice with than my sewing machine.  Something about it being so large, I really had to use a lot of wrist to change direction.

Maybe next time I will put my machine in the driveway....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I don't know who got more action tonight

I don't know who got more action tonight, my sewing machine or my seam ripper. I'm still not sure what happened, other than something went wrong. I try to make it a habit to check my tension whenever I put in a new bobbin, retread my needle, etc. I'm not sure if I forgot or what, but after quilting several blocks on the peacock quilt, I had one where the tension was all messed up. Of course, it was only showing on the bottom, so it wasn't until I was completely done with that block that I discovered it. I did a few more tension tests, which had strange results, so I figured the only solution was to replace the needle and retread everything. Magically, the new tension test showed I should be on my usual number for quilting. But now I have to rip out that entire block, and it's heavily quilted. Nice. I only got 1/4 of it ripped out and I needed to call it a night. My eyes were crossing. Ripping out takes longer than the quilting. Ugh.

The Blind leading the Seeing

Sorry, no post yesterday.  I had quite a busy day!  No sewing, unfortunately.  I spent a solid chunk of time teaching 3rd graders an art project.  Due to budget cuts, etc., many of the local schools have taken formal art classes out of the curriculum.  In our district there is a non-profit group that with the help of parent volunteers teaches each class 6 projects throughout the school year.  Even though I am absolutely not good with any of the mediums they use, I volunteered to teach my daughter's kindergarten class and a 3rd grade class that had no parent volunteer.  Yesterday's project was a watercolor landscape.  My own attempt at least resembled a landscape!  Thus, the blind leading the seeing.  Some of these students are truly exceptional artists. It is a great experience working with them.

I also managed to swing by my local Viking dealer to order an open toed free motion foot for my machine.  I have been getting by just fine with my darning foot, but the open toe was on the supply list for one of the classes I am taking in only 12 short days!!!  I figured it was important to be properly prepared!  I only hope it comes quickly enough for me to get to play with it a little before my class.

I cannot emphasis how excited I am to be going to the quilt show.  My 3 year old has been driving me nuts the last few weeks, and I am ready for a couple days break!!!

I also popped into Joann's just to check their Batik selection to see if any of them would fill my need for the tile quilt.  I bought a couple of fabrics to try, but I haven't had a chance to audition them yet.  Perhaps tonight after the kids go to bed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Uhh-oh, a problem that may require retail therapy

I started cutting fabric for my Batik tile UFO yesterday, but didn't really get a chance to audition these fabrics on my design wall (aka living room carpet) until today.  All the fabrics looked fine together before I cut them, but I was looking at one blending to the other.  The pattern is a mix of blending colors and highly contrasting colors, and mine just didn't seem to want to cooperate, especially the contrasting ones.  When I laid them out in the blocks, it was obvious that there were a couple that just didn't seem right.  I did have a few "backups" that when I was cutting, I thought for sure wouldn't fit in, but I ended up liking them better when laid out in the pattern.  There is one color combination though, that still isn't right, and I can't live with the possibilities in my stash.  I think I am going to have to go shopping.  I think until I have the right mix, I think it might be best to put it aside.  Don't worry!  I won't be idle.  I have loads of other things to work on.

This is what the pattern calls for, though not this orientation.  This is only two blocks of each color combo. That bright green is definitely out

Now the "copper" seams too orange, and that block is supposed to have a light green contrasting fabric in it.

This is how I left it, but I still hate the combo in the lower left, and the orange still seems a little much to me.  What do you think?