Sunday, December 29, 2013

Random Notions – A Study in Red

Is anyone as happy as me that Christmas is over?  I’m not a complete bah-humbug – I love giving gifts, but if I buy something too far in advance it’s hard for me to hold onto to it until the day – I want to share right away!  (And, I tend to misplace things when hiding them)  Finding just the right gift for someone and giving it immediately – that’s what I like to do.  I prefer giving gifts whenever the mood strikes, often, which is why I suppose I’m not crazy about Christmas.  I have also found over the years that so many of the people that want to decorate don’t want to do the UNdecorating.  I don’t need a tree or other decor to get me in the spirit of giving – there are way many more reasons to give year round.  So I am very happy I can go about my merry way again.

A few weeks ago, I interrupted what I was working on for Christmas to do something in orange-
I decided the complete title of this piece would be A Study in Orange – Having an Orange Life.  I love orange – it’s happy, and that is what life should be.  The more I stared at this piece, the more I decided I have to do one in every color.  So all day yesterday, I worked on A Study in Red.  One objective of these pieces is to use only fabric from what I currently own.  Searching through my reds, I have loads of them, but the ones that are mostly red are dark reds, leaning more towards cranberry and brick red than anything.  All of the others are bright reds with lots of other colors, so it was a challenge to find just reds that would offer a nice contrast.  I considered putting some pinky-pinks in there, but I think I may want to make a pink version in the future, so that wouldn’t work.  Here are the eleven reds I finally decided upon-
The ones on the left look like they are going toward pink, but when they stand alone, they make you think red, so I thought they would work okay.  Then I had to find just the right green for the contrasting strip.  I searched everywhere and even almost used a rayon instead of a cotton, but then I came across a just big enough scrap I thought looked good-
There is a bit of purple in it, but I didn’t think it would be that noticeable.  So I got everything cut into strips, and all ironed and ready to sew, and headed for the machine.  I had a bit of help waiting for me-
(How do they know?)

After chasing Sheme off, I got all the strips together into tubes, ironed, cut, and this was my final result-
It came out to almost the same size as the orange – I’m sure that once I block it out, they will work together just fine.  The colors of the red are almost jewel tone under sunlight.  If you notice where the green leaves off in the red, you can see that I matched it up to the blue in the orange-
I may try to figure out how to muddle the sides together when I am all done, but not sure how to go about that right now.  I rather like them.  Next I will work on A Study in Yellow with a contrast of purple, in what I am now calling The Rainbow Project.  I need a sub-title for the red – any suggestions?

Thanks for stopping by.  If I don’t get back here before Wednesday, I wish everyone a safe, fun, and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Random Notions – Whew!

The day has finally arrived and for me, it is just about over! What's left?  A wonderful dinner Casey is cooking. YAY!  The last few days have been really busy with last minute work – or at least, it is always last minute for me – and I actually got it finished in time.   I can now start to focus on me again!  <LOL>

I finished Harry’s Fishbowl quilt – I can’t believe I did it in two days, but I did.  Like Layla’s sampler quilt, I did not do the greatest job on machine quilting, but I really don’t think a 3 year old is going to mind, and I am happy that I actually finished two good sized quilts entirely by myself.  I washed it and love how it got all crinkly, which hides many of the issues on the back –
(The back is a solid light blue cotton)

I also wanted to make something up for my cousin Frances who collects elephants, so I made her a pillow- 
I had gotten an e-mail from Martingale Publishing that an out-of-print book on paper piecing had just come available again – it’s called A Quilter’s Ark by Margaret Rolfe.  It has over 50 animal blocks and I was instantly in love.  The e-book is not that expensive, and you can print the block patterns out really easily.  You can find the book here – if you buy the print edition, you get the e-book with it.  This is the first time I have actually paper pieced, even though I have been collecting books and patterns for it for a very long time.  I messed up, quite a bit, but I did finally get a finished block I really liked – and Frances liked it, too.

At the last minute – Monday afternoon to be exact – I decided to make stockings for the kids.  I had recently watched an Eleanor Burns video on making them, and decided it was something I could do fairly quickly.  I did Layla’s with a crazy quilt patch-
The crazy quilt patch is something I have always wanted to do, but was a bit intimidated by it.  Now I see how incredibly easy it is, so there may be a bed-size crazy quilt in my future.  I used some trims, sparkly threads, and decorative stitches all over -
This took all of Monday evening so when I went to work on the one for Harry, I kinda cheaped out – not blocks, just a solid piece of fabric with dragons and castles, but I did do some bobbin sewing with sparkly thread in the bobbin-
Kind of hard to tell it is sparkly, but it is a really cool iridescent thread – I have a huge cone of it, and now that I know it will work well in the bobbin, I will probably be using it a lot.

I made the backing on both Christmas fabrics, just so they still had a Christmas theme.
And then, in a fashion typical for me, at the last minute, I remembered that I had all kinds of buttons, and I should look for something that would work with them –
I love the buttons!  I was sewing them on while they were filled with stuff!  (Not easy to do, by the way.)

So how did all this stuff go over?  The kids loved their quilts, but I didn’t get any pictures of them with them. (Alexis, how’s about helping me out here?)  Santa got the kids each one really cool present (because Santa has an HSN card) and they loved them-

Layla was thrilled to get a tablet all her own, and its pink-
(Of course, she had to turn her head just as I took the picture)

And Harry got a motorcycle which he was tickled pink over- 
It’s motorized and he got the hang of it pretty darn quick!  The pajamas were his Christmas present from his Mom and Dad that he got to open last night and didn’t want to take off before they came over today.

The kids gave me a beautiful cat figurine, which I love-
And to GG went a really nice Buddha figure, and Casey the Farmer got a set of starter pots with seeds.  Penny (Casey’s dog) got a bag of treats, and my girls got new mouses, which they went nuts over -

Just a few minutes later, the girls were zonked out, sound asleep – catnip must really pack a punch!

All in all, I have to say that it was the nicest Christmas I have ever had, and I am so glad it is over.  I have less than two weeks before classes start again, so I am going to really try to get busy sewing some stuff for me! J 

Wishing you the best Christmas ever – thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Random Notions – A trip and another finished quilt!

Last Thursday I had to take a short trip to Detroit for a meeting at Wayne University.  Never been to Detroit before, so even though it was a short trip – home Saturday – it was exciting for me.  I had booked a room at a place called The Inn on Ferry Street because it was the closest to where I had to go.  I really didn’t know anything about the place until Wednesday, when I thought I would look at the website at the last minute.  Turns out that it consists of 4 historic Victorian homes and 2 carriage houses that were refurbished into a bed and breakfast.  It was very dark when I arrived, and I couldn’t really see the buildings very well, except for ominous silhouettes that made me feel like I was walking into a gothic novel.  But in the morning, when I got to see them in the light and saw how beautiful they were, I was really glad I stayed there.

I stayed in the grey one behind the red one- it was called Pung’s House-
I was on the third floor, which I was perfectly okay with, but then I realized there was no elevator!  At least the stairs weren’t too bad.  The room was beautiful and I was really impressed with the continental breakfast they serve in the main house (the one with the sign out front.)  Most comfortable bed I have ever slept in anywhere.  I highly recommend this place if you ever have to go to Detroit.  It was a fun quick trip.

Got the call the other day that Janet from Quilting by Janet had finished a wall hanging for me.  This was the yellow and black quick quarter quilt I had made several months ago and finally took to Janet.  I’m so glad it’s done – it’s one of my favorites-
(It really is pretty much squared, I just had it hung high and had to take the picture from an angle.)

I love the whirly things Janet quilted on it-
I had told her that the colors made me think of declining bee populations, so I thought it should just be wiggly paths, like a bee would make from flower to flower.  I’m really happy with what she did.  I added a sleeve to the top to hang it, and it is now hanging above my purple couch in the living room.

My pile of quilt tops needing to be finished is getting smaller!  After the first of the year, I will be taking the African Dreams wall hanging to Janet.

When I was last here, I mentioned that I was starting the quilting on the FishbowlsQuilt for Harry for Christmas.  Well, I still haven’t started.  I found some nice solid blue cotton in my stash for the back – I had just exactly enough of it – and I have it ready, but the batting I bought is kind of making me crazy.  When I did the Sampler Quilt for Layla, I had used a fusible batting I had bought a long time ago.  It wasn’t easy ironing it all together, but it did work out okay in the end.  A few weeks ago, I got another fusible batting to use on Harry’s quilt, and I only opened it yesterday.  It was all stuck together and didn’t want to open flat.  I don’t know, maybe it got hot at some point.  I finally got it all opened out and hung it on the wall to try to get it to relax a bit.  I think it’s going to have to hang for a couple more days.  Then I have no idea where I am going to put this one all together, because Harry’s quilt is longer than Layla’s. I do know I won’t be buying that kind of batting ever again.

Hope you are enjoying this holiday season!  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Random Notions – One down, one to go

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  As I was enjoying a wonderfully prepared meal, I realized how grateful I am that my brother, Casey, is the most awesome cook I know.  Especially since I don’t cook.  I ate more that day than I do in a normal week, and I could barely move for a couple of days.  Life is good.

Since this is the start of my second year, I decided to change my background – I loved the orange, but thought this was pretty awesome, too.  What do you think?

For the last couple of weeks, I have been working on quilting the sampler quilt I made from the Block of the Month class on Craftsy.  I am happy to report it is all finished in time to give away at Christmas-
The back is just a solid pink cotton. I did not do a good job on the machine quilting, but this is the first time I have completely finished a quilt on my machine.  I just stitched about a quarter inch around the colored parts of the blocks and some of them look really lousy.  My machine has a really small harp, so shoving the quilt through it over and over really took a toll – on me and the machine!  I feel a bit stronger after all that, and I managed to push the walking foot out of alignment a couple of times. 

I had decided long ago that I would be giving this quilt to my granddaughter Layla for Christmas – every time she saw the blocks, she would ask if it was for her.  When I said that I was making it for me, she asked, “Can you make another exactly like it for me?” so at least I know she is going to like it.  I do not believe I will be making another just like this – at last count there were over 30 different fabrics in it and some I completely ran out of – and I do not think I have the patience for putting together so many odd sized blocks again!

So now, I have to get the fishbowl quilt finished in time to give to Harry for Christmas.  I believe for that one, I am going to bite the bullet – I will put the embroidery foot on the machine and just go to town with the squiggles so I don’t have to try to follow any lines.  I am hoping that by the time I am almost finished with it I will have learned how to control the fabric and machine together pretty well!

Last time I was here, I mentioned I was thinking about making another Quick Quarter Quilt out of the orange fabrics I have.  I pulled them all out and found I had 26 of them.  I narrowed my selection down to 11, which was very difficult to do.  This was what I had after cutting 2 ½” strips and deciding how to lay them out-

It needed something to break up all that orange, and I had this really great blue and orange fabric I have always wanted to put into something, so I inserted it and really liked it – 
It really added the something I wanted.  I sewed them into tubes-
 Which I then cut varying widths with a shape cutting ruler
 For another pile of circular strips-
Then I had to pay attention very close to where I opened the strips to place them for cutting, and this is what I got-
This is as far as I have gotten so far – I really love how vibrant it is and how the blue really pops.  It’s not big – only 24 ½” X 29” and I probably won’t add too wide of borders to it once it is straightened out.  I think it will look lovely hanging on a wall someday.  This Study in Orange is inspiring me to do the same thing in red, yellow, green, blue, and purple – make an entire rainbow!  We have a really big wall by the front door where they could all hang – I don’t think anyone would object. <like they would have a choice, hehehe>

So, plan for tonight is basting the fishbowls.  Hope you have something fun to do as well – thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Notions – Has it really been a year?!?

The other day I got an email that I needed to renew my LauraSewsStuff domain name and I realized that sure enough, it has been a year since I started sharing my life here on blogger.  I had actually started on Wordpress a couple of days before, but I really did not find it to be as user friendly as blogger, so I moved over one year ago today.

When I look back at what I have actually accomplished in the past year, I am amazed – there have been more finished projects in a year than I have probably done in my entire life combined.  I even graduated from college with a Bachelor's Degree last month at age 55!  There is something about sharing your successes and failures that keeps you going – before I had mostly failures I was embarrassed by, but now, I hope that my failures help someone realize that everyone makes mistakes and they can learn how to do something right.  At the same time, I hope my successes inspire others to make or learn how to make something – maybe like a quilt!  Hey, if I can do it, anyone can!

So to celebrate my first anniversary, I have my favorite wall hanging all finished – I had made it prior to starting the blog, and I actually finished off the binding a month or so ago, but I have been washing it to get a nice texture appearance to it – I think I have washed it 6 times now!  I still don’t have it blocked out perfect, but I love it just as it is-
This was the first Quick Quarter Quilt I made, about two years ago.  Janet did the long arm quilting on it about two months ago.  I used the border fabric to bind it.  The really funny thing about this wall hanging, and this is a perfect example of one of my silly boo-boos, is that when I made it, I had intended the side with the four prairie points to be at the top, and when I was binding it, I wasn’t paying much attention!  But it’s okay – I still love it, even hanging upside down, and it is above my bed.  It is hanging from a thin piece of bamboo, which came out of the garden department of a major hardware store.  I may add a couple of pieces of bamboo just for some interest.

The colors of this quilt just sing to me – I absolutely love orange.  I really don’t understand why some people don’t even like it a little bit.  It’s so happy.  In fact, while I working on the binding, I kept looking over at my fabrics and I kept noticing how many oranges I have in there and then I started pulling them out.  I also love the Quick Quarter Quilts, so even though I keep saying I really need to finish all of the tops waiting to be quilted, I just may have to throw together another wall hanging just so to showcase all these beautiful orange fabrics! 

Thanks for helping me complete a great year!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Random Notions – The Green/Brown Kaleidoscope is finished

On Friday, I got the call that Janet was finished with the green and brown kaleidoscope quilt.  Yesterday I started putting the binding on.  I used the machine to attach it to the front, but then I sewed it by hand to the back.  It has been a very long time since I did so much hand sewing and I really enjoyed it – even if I did have a headache afterwards.  I would love to start cross stitching again – I know I would enjoy it immensely.  I just have to get some new glasses!

Anyway, here is the finished quilt- 
And I love the material I found for the back –
The funny thing is that when I bought this, I was just drawn to the green – it was only after hanging it up I realized that it has the same teal as I used on the front –
I’ve had a few serendipitous things happening lately – this is one more I can add to the list!  You can kind of see the quilting that Janet did –
Well, maybe you can’t see it that well, but take my word for it, it looks great!  I think Alexis is going to like it.

I also started quilting the BOM quilt for Layla.  I just wanted to do some simple echo quilting around the colored shapes.  The first couple I did looked horrid – the back was all screwy.  And I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t feeding through very well, and I was using a walking foot.  Then I realized that the front of the foot wasn’t moving very well – somehow, I managed to twist it out of place and I don’t know if it is a permanent problem.  Thankfully I have another walking foot that as soon as I started using it, everything looked much better.  So I am off to work on that some more, and after that one, I will attempt to quilt the fishbowl quilt for Harry.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Random Notions – The Fishbowl top is finished

I managed to get the entire fishbowl top done yesterday.  I was thinking about a one inch border of blue, but not finding something that talked to me, I just decided to use the background fabric-
I really like it, and because of the fabric I was going to use as the final border, I even mitered the corners, something I hardly ever do.  Then it was time for the final border.  Of course, there was a glitch.  See this incredibly cute fabric-

When I found this in Hancock’s, it was on the clearance table and there wasn’t much of it.  I bought a yard and a half.  I had planned all along to use it on the borders of the fish quilt.  Well, time to put on the borders, and I didn’t have enough.  So, my brain had to shift into creative mode.  I decided to use this on the top and bottom and had to look for something different for the sides.  This is the final product-
Kinda strange, huh?  That blue and green is supposed to be water and has frogs on it-
Seventeen different fabrics later, it’s together.  I don’t think Harry is going to mind the different borders – I think he is just going to focus on the fishbowls.  So now, I can concentrate on something else- like quilting the block of the month quilt that will be for Layla for Christmas.  I cut the backing fabric – solid pink – and I think I will just self-bind it because I think the pink will look cute wrapped around the front.  After that, I will quilt the fishbowls.  Not too confident about my quilting skills, but I think I can do it.  You’ll know for sure soon! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Random Notions – The chair is done… for now

Remember the chair I showed you the last time I was here?
It’s done!  Well, at least for the time being.  I really wanted to get it done, so I took it downstairs to my brother Casey to ask him to help me- I have no upper body strength having been a button pusher for most of my life, so I knew I would have trouble with the pulling of the fabric around to staple it down.

Something I should explain about my brothers and how I learned to handle them over the years.  Whenever I just asked either one of them to do something for me when they had time, I found out it would take weeks, months, sometimes years to get done.  One day, I discovered a nifty little trick – I found that if I asked them to “help” me, it would be done very quickly.  For example, I hate to cook and when my older brother Kelly was alive, all I had to do was say to him something like, “I have to go check on my laundry- will you watch this (whatever was in the pan on the stove) for me?”  I could disappear and come back half an hour later and he would have finished it.  It works with everything!  I know, it’s sneaky, but I finally starting getting some things done that wouldn’t have otherwise!  LOL

So I knew if I went down to Casey with the chair and asked his help, it would get done.  In fact, I have to give him credit for most of the project!  He got the seat done immediately-
I was very impressed with how he got the flower centered.  He also got the piece on the back of the back done quickly (sorry no photo of that).  However, then it was my turn.  I had to recreate the front piece of the back.  I measured the one I took off very carefully, but of course, I should have added a lot more to the measurements because it was really tight putting it on.  I had to make a run to Joann’s to get piping – that stuff sure is expensive!  I should have re-padded it- the padding on both the back and the seat was made up of layers of some sort of batting-
You can see how flat it is on the sides so it came out that way.  It was so tight, getting it on was really hard (again, many thanks to Casey!), but as I was running out of materials, neither one of us wanted to start over. And since it was my first time with piping, I didn’t do that great of a job on it-
And here is the entire chair-
Oh, geez, really, Lhasa?  Every time?
But we got it done.  I learned a lot about making that boxy shape for the top, which is good because I know I will want to change it in a year or so. (I found some gorgeous crinkled purple velvet that would look awesome!)  THAT is why I could never get a tattoo – I like to change stuff around too often. Mix it up, you know?  Keep life fresh! 

The chair is pretty old - here is the label that was on it-
You will notice that the address does not have a zip code, so that means it has be to pre-1963, as the post office started using them that year.  I don’t think the chair will ever be worth a lot except to me so I think I will refinish it next time.  But I did save all of the stuff that was taken off, just in case.

Okay – off to clean and sew (work on the Fishbowl quilt) and enjoy my small-child-free weekend!  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Random Notions – The Fishbowl Project

Harry went home early today, so I got to work on his quilt.  He hasn’t really seen it yet – he did see a couple of the pictures I took of the blocks from the other day on the computer and he told me he loved the chameleon block- I was so happy to hear that because that is also my favorite block. 

Last night I sat down and tried to figure out what I was going to do with the blocks and how much of what I would need, and what the finally size would be.  I tend to be one of those people who design as I go along – nothing is really planned out in advance.  This is how artistic I get-

(I freely admit I am no Picasso)

So today, I started going through the stash to find the fabric to put the blocks together.  Since Harry loves orange, I went through my substantially large pile of oranges (it is also one of my favorite colors) and found two I really liked with the background fabric I used with the fishbowls.  Of course, I had to go with the brighter orange.  I also needed something to fill in the corners, and I wanted something in a blue-green color.  I found the perfect thing and this is what I now have together-
Here is a closer look at the orange and blue-green-
The blue-green looks a bit washed out here – it is darker than this.

So now, I want to put a one inch border all around before I use the really cool fish border fabric I have for the outside.  I think I want that one inch border to be blue, because blue and orange look so great together.  If I get a chance tomorrow, I will look for that.  I am loving how bright and happy this is turning out!

I have another new project I hope to do in the next few days- my mom gave me an old sewing chair, which I really love- the seat comes off to store stuff in it.  Of course, as soon as I wanted to take pictures, Lhasa had to get into it-

I don’t want to refinish the wood, but I do want to replace the fabric.  While going through some of the old storage tubs, I found this fabulous piece of upholstery material – it was a remnant I was thinking of making a tote bag out of-
This was something that had to be originally very expensive but I picked up the remnant very cheap- and I have enough to recover the chair!  That is something I am really looking forward to!

Got something very cool in the mail today – my college buddy, Chrystal, sent me a proof copy of the book she wrote-
I love the cover – her very talented daughter did that!  To my surprise, Chrystal included me in here dedication- at least, I hope I am the Laura she referenced.  If I’m not, I would prefer she doesn’t tell me – no one has ever done something so nice for me and I would like to continue thinking it was for me!  LOL  If you enjoy authors like Dean Koontz or Stephen King, you should check out this book!  You can find it here.

Okay, I hope to be back soon with a finished fishbowl quilt top!

Have a great and SAFE Halloween!  Thanks for stopping by!