Monday, April 29, 2013

Random Notions – A Baby Quilt to Make!

Last night, I just could not go to sleep thinking about the borders for the yellow and black wall hanging, so I put a narrow black one on.  It made it look so much more dramatic with the black border-
Then, I thought I would really like a wider border, probably around 2 ½” of yellow around the outside.  I auditioned all the yellow fabrics I used that I still have enough of, but I didn’t like any of them.  Today I wound up using that funky black and yellow stuff and I think it looks pretty good-
So this is another one for the “Needs Quilting” pile.  I sat staring at it up on the wall for a long time, and it started to remind me of bees, so I think I will call it, Plight of the Bumblebee.  Why Plight you may ask?  Well, I keep reading about the bee population dwindling around the world- the gray made me think of them fading away. 

I have to say again, I love this method of making a quilt – you can make it any size with any number of fabrics and the best part is if you are careful to always make sure you iron all your seam allowances to the same side, when you sew the final strips together, all the seams are going in the same direction and you don’t get one rucking up on you- here is a small part of the back-
I think this is awesome because I am forever taking out a small section where a seam allowance has flipped up!  This was the fifth quilt top I have made like this- here are pictures of the others-

This one was made for my daughter’s niece, so I named it Chrissy- it was actually completely finished because I tied it- it’s nice and fluffy!
This was made from batik fabrics I bought on a trip to Alaska, hence the name, Alaska Adventure.  I just put a black strip between each row and lined them up straight across – rather than cutting each color block to stagger them.
This was the second one I did, just something to do for fun – I call it Down on the Farm because I was trying to get the idea of a landscape.  I was just using stuff from the stash, so I was a little limited in how I could build the ground up to the sky-
Not exactly what I was thinking of, but it was a lot of fun to put together.  Also- that narrow border between the white and the blue is actually a folded border and sticks up slightly– I had never done that before, so I wanted to give it a try- I like how it looks.

Finally, my favorite is the first Quick Quarter Quilt I made- it’s my favorite because the colors are just so incredible – I call it Ecstasy because it just gives me such a great all over feeling-
I put the prairie points on it at the border just because I had never done that before either, and I love the way it came out!

The Alaska Adventure, Down on the Farm, and Ecstasy are still waiting to be quilted so you can probably understand why I need to learn how to machine quilt!  LOL

If you haven’t tried this kind of quilt, try it!  There is no going wrong and you will love what you get!

Okay – I mentioned Baby Quilt up there at the top.  I am so excited because I am going to make a baby quilt for a dear friend’s granddaughter who was born last month!  She had a first granddaughter born in September of 2011 that I made a quilt for, which took me forever, but I am bound and determined that this one will be done quickly!  This is the first one, called Harley’s Butterflies-
And there is a matching pillow, where you can see the block better-
These were finished, because I tied them as well.  These also have fleece on the back, which makes them really snuggly.  So whatever I make for the new baby will also be tied with fleece on the back.  I have to do some looking around to figure out what it’s going to be.  This one will definitely go much quicker than the first.

Better run off to write a history paper. <sigh>  Only one week left in this class, and then four more classes, and I will be a kol-edge grat-che-ate!  October cannot get here fast enough for me!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Random Notions – My 100th Post!

Who would have believed that I could write 100 posts?!  Not me, that’s for sure!  I have never even been able to pull off 100 days on a daily calendar before.  This is a huge accomplishment for me and I will have to think of another giveaway to celebrate!

When I last left you, I had decided that I was going learn how to machine quilt on my home sewing machine.  I did a lot of googling and found a terrific website about it at Day Style Designs, more specifically, the section called The Free Motion Quilting Project.  Lots of awesome information!  I took notes – yes, I really did – and then I sat down to give it a go.  Here are my first two samples-
I thought at first if I had a piece of material with a design on it, it would be easy to try to quilt around the design.  Well, turns out, not really.  So I got the scrap of gray out and sandwiched it to give it another go.  I started with circles in the middle, just to get the hang of moving about.  Then I tried the squiggling about stuff.  I don’t think I was doing too bad, but I realized that a big part of my problem is the machine I was using does not have a very large flat space and I keep falling off the edge, causing me to grip the edges of the sandwich, which is not good-
I immediately thought about putting it into my small sewing table that has a well to put the machine down into, but then I realized, the profile of this machine is really wide on one side and won’t fit into the well.
I had really wanted to use this machine because it has the needle down feature, where my Athena does not, but the Athena has an extension table, and it fits in the sewing table, just with a gap at the back.  So I am trying to figure out what I can do to make this easier.

In the meantime, I was a little bored this afternoon and wanted to make something- anything.  I looked around the room and saw this piece of fabric sitting on top of everything-
Weird, isn’t it?  It was a remnant I picked up somewhere a few months ago.  I have no idea why it appealed to me, because actually, I wouldn’t call it pretty.  But I figured, heck, try to do something with it!  So I found seven other fabrics to put with it-
I love the Quick Quarter Quilts by Eleanor Burns – they are so easy and fast, so I thought that would be fun to make a small wall hanging out of all this – I didn’t want to make anything huge, just wanted to spend time making something fun.  So I cut one 3” strip selvage to selvage of each fabric, cut them in half and sewed one of each together long-wise-
I sewed this into a tube-

And you have to be very careful when you make a tube – you have to lay it out flat and pin it- you can’t just match up edges or it won’t sit flat.  I wound up with two tubes like this.  Then I cut them in strips the other way, and got many strips that looked like this when alternated how I cut them open and sewed them together again-
When I sewed them together, they went together in a horizontal rectangle, but I liked them hanging vertically much better.  I’m trying to decide what to make the border out of – I will probably make a narrow black border and then a wider yellow one, unless I use that funky black and yellow stuff for the wide border- I have enough of it.

I got just what I was trying to get- something small and fun.  It only measures about 20” X 30” right now.  And I got that much done in under two hours – it went very quick!  Tomorrow I will work on the borders.

Please remember to check back for a giveaway announcement soon!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Random Notions – The Good News & the Bad News

The good news – the Kaleidoscope piecing is finished- yay!  Here they are-
This is probably the straightest top I have ever made, even though it doesn’t look it.  When it’s folded, all the corners actually line up with nice straight folds in the middle.  I tried to get it hang straight for the picture, but the portable design wall is hanging in front of the closet, so it never seems to look right. 

Here is the pillow top draped over the pillow form-

I am extremely happy with the results, and yes, Alexis, they are yours – you don’t even have to wait for me to die first. 

However – the bad news- they need to be quilted, and that is the part at which I suck.  Sitting here in the sewing/computer room, I have SIX finished quilt tops that need to be quilted, plus I have two other projects I didn’t even finish piecing because it seemed like as I got closer to needing some quilting done, I just started to lose interest.  One is a king size quilt that I would love to see finished someday!

So last night, I did some searching on machine quilting on regular home sewing machines and I am going to learn how to do it properly.  Today, I cut the first of my little sample-sized quilt sandwiches from scraps for this weekend.  I am feeling determined right now, and I know I may have to go through many, many tries to figure it out, but I am going to do it.  I hope I have something to show for my efforts soon!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Random Notions – The Kaleidoscope Quilt

For the past couple of days I’ve been working with the kaleidoscope blocks I had made out of the Springs Creative fabric I won.  To start putting the blocks together, I just started going through the fabrics I have to see what I thought might look nice.  I found these two that I kind of liked with what was already going on, but I wondered if it was really going to work-
I loved the brown vines because it matches the brown and green in the kaleidoscope blocks exactly, and when I realized it had little red flowers in it, I pulled out this red.  Funny thing about the red- I have had it for a long time, but it wasn’t until I started working on it with my glasses on that I realized it had the little lines running through it! 

I had less than ¾ yard of the brown vines, and about 2 yards of the red.  I figured I would have to be a bit miserly with the brown, so I made 2” sashing between the blocks with it and made cornerstones out of the red to put all the blocks together-
By the time I had just a couple of rows together, I was loving the combination.  Here it is with all the sashing-
This is so different from everything I have done so far- it’s got a more traditional look than I usually go for, which I didn’t think was my style, but I am really liking it.  At this point, I knew I wanted a little more of that blue on there, but I didn’t have very much- just barely 10” selvage to selvage, but I sat down and figured out what size border I could do with it and came up with a ¾” finished size-
All that’s left is a wider border, which, since I have so much red, will be red.  I am going to try to figure out how to put a little of the original green and brown fabric of the kaleidoscopes into the corners, but all I have left are some small wedge shaped pieces, so that should be interesting.

Oh – and I had one extra kaleidoscope block left that I can make a pillow out of - good thing I was miserly with all the other fabrics so I can still do that! 

Alexis has told me she really likes this quilt top so she thinks I should give it to her since I have never made a quilt for her. <bad momma!>  I’m thinking about it... we’ll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Random Notions – Sometimes you just have to dig in

Do you ever stop to think about how much time you waste when you could be doing something productive?  I am all too aware of what depression can do to you- all you want to do is sleep or watch TV.  This past week has been exceptionally depressing with the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer factory explosion in Texas- I have been glued all week to CNN thinking what a horrid world for my grandkids to have to grow up in. 

I finally came into the sewing/computer room this morning, after not having been in here for a couple of days and looked around.  Once again, the room was a mess and all kinds of stuff needed to be put away.  I have been sitting or sleeping all week, trying to shake off a funk.  Sitting at the computer and wondering how I was going to get it taken care of, I realized the only way I was going to get out of that funk was to get busy.

My organizational skills are crap.  Or maybe the problem is I just have too much crap.  Either way, I know there has to be a better way to do things.  On top of the shelf where I keep most of my stash, there is a pile of crap.  Well, it is good crap, it’s just a crappy way to pile.  The first thing that caught my eye was the way I had tried to organize ribbon a few years ago.  I had a plastic grocery bag filled with ribbon and I wanted to make it more accessible.  I never used it, because I didn’t know what I had in it, or where it even was, so if I ever needed a piece of ribbon, off to the store I would run.  So I had cut up a cardboard box into 4 inch wide strips and started winding and pinning the ribbon around it like this-
Each one was about 24” long and had a minimum of 25 different ribbons in varying lengths pinned on it, and I had four of these strips.  Looks like a pretty cool idea, huh?  Well, in theory it was.  The problem was I didn’t have anywhere to stand them up, so they were laying down all the time, taking up precious real estate.  And the worst part was- even though I could see what I had, I still wasn’t using ribbon, because it kept getting pushed behind other stuff!  I started unpinning them, being very careful with the pins because I am always afraid of dropping them where Sheme might try to swallow one again, and I put them into a box-
This is one of the photo boxes you can buy at most craft stores, regular price about $3.  I love these boxes and every time they go on sale, most recently at Michaels for only $1.40 apiece, I buy as many as I can afford.  I probably have about a dozen empty ones, but I am constantly finding something to put into them to help with the organization issues.  Not to mention that I have about 20 of them stacked in the closet actually containing photos that I sorted out last summer.  And they are coming in such pretty designs now- the first ones I got a long time ago were all solid colors, usually with a different solid color top.  I really love every time I find a new one with a travel theme.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking what good will that do since you can’t see them again?  Well, I think that since they are all in one place, and the box will be stacked on top of the shelf and clearly marked, maybe I will occasionally think to pull it out to find something.  Fingers crossed on that one- but at least there is some crap taken care of!

Then I had the issue of these falling out of the original bag all over the place-
These are those tiny pony tail holders you can get just about anywhere. I use them on my bobbins to keep the thread from unwinding while they are being stored. You get a lot for little money – I think I got 50 for $2 at a grocery store a while back.  (I saw some sewing site online where they were selling them for a lot more- like $5 for 20 of them!  Trust me- go to Walmart or the grocery store or even the dollar store to get them!)  Luckily, I have a supply of plastic baby food containers from when Layla was little that I could put them into-
And to further my cause, I stuck this little container into the box where I store bobbins-
Another type of box I love – these come in sets of 3 from IKEA, in 2 color combinations.  We don’t have an IKEA in Las Vegas, because apparently the people in charge are not very smart.  Every time I get to go to California I stop at the one in West Covina.  I don’t have many empties of these left and that makes me sad.  They are like the blue shopping bags they sell – big and roomy and excellent to use in place of a laundry basket on laundry day!  In order to be able to go to IKEA I have to save a LOT of money first because it is so easy to spend a LOT of money there.  I haven’t been for a really long time.

In my moving things around, I found that I have 14 empty photo boxes.  Guess I should skip the next couple of sales.  I also looked through a couple of old boxes at some photos – found this one comparing Layla and Harry on the days they were born-
I thought this was such a cool thing to do- you can really tell they are related.  I also found some pictures of my girls from when I first brought them home- I will post those on my Cats page.  Since my external hard drive died and all the digital pictures I have taken since 2004 are on there, I have been trying to find time to locate some prints to scan.  In the batch I looked at, I also found pictures of Tiger and Bailey, 2 beautiful little friends we got at the pound back in 1989- those will also go up on the Cats page soon with their stories. 

Okay, so I got a bit distracted in my picture scanning – typical.  When I took all the empty photo boxes out of the closet and stacked them on the shelf, I realized I had quite a bit of room in the closet to put some other crap.  I have this very under-utilized shelf in the corner behind the computer that I thought I should maximize.
The crap on this shelf has not moved in quite a long time- the cardboard boxes on the top are a couple of Star Trek mugs I got a very long time ago that just seem to follow me everywhere and I found out on ebay that they are not worth even as much as I paid for them all those years ago.  There is also a SpongeBob SquarePants shower radio and a Marvin the Martian alarm clock up there, new in the boxes- I know, I am hopeless- I am afraid the show Hoarders is going to come looking for me soon!  (Did I mention how much crap I have?)  So I put that stuff into the closet and the photo boxes on top of the black shelf, because I know I will use those up eventually.  I was looking at the rest of the shelves, when suddenly I thought-

“Enough of this, I want to sew!”

I know I am feeling much better when I decide that!  So I pushed some things back in place, and got out my kaleidoscope blocks with the additional fabrics and I am going to sew.  Not for long, because I also have some catching up to do on my school work- just enough to feel satisfied after a crappy week! 

Hope I wasn’t too boring for you today!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Random Notions – Linda's Tote Bag is Finished!

I was beginning to think I would never get to say that!  I have so much respect for people that design bags now – and this was just really very simple!  From the beginning, I knew I was going to have a few issues in making my own pattern- that is why I didn’t chronicle it as a project.  I wound up taking out so much stuff, but I did learn quite a few things along the way that I would do differently next time – and there will be a next time, I’m just not sure when I will be ready for it.

So this is how it came out-
 

That little loop on the inside is for hanging it up-
Okay, as I looked at it, it was missing something.  I wasn’t really happy with the Xs of stitching on the outside where I attached the straps because my stitching is not always that straight, so I knew if I put something there, I would be a lot happier with it.  I hit upon the idea of buttons, and after searching through my button stash, I came upon these felt flower buttons I had bought to use on the shower curtain rings in my bathroom a couple of years ago, along with some tiny star buttons-
I sewed them together first and then attached them- if Linda doesn’t like them, she could always snip them off and maybe hot glue something else in their place.  They didn’t exactly totally cover the Xs, but I think they are cute and kind of give the bag a little something extra-
Linda says she just wants to carry the towels she uses at work in it – I would have to say that since this is the first time I have tried to make a larger tote bag without a pattern, towels would probably be fine, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to haul books around in it! LOL

Linda, Mom wants another trim, so I will contact you to set up another appointment in the next week or so and I will deliver not only her, but your bag!

Wow, so glad to have that done – now I can work on my history essays for school tonight without thinking about the bag the entire time!  Linda, I hope you like it!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Random Notions – Not a totally wasted day

I have had several lazy days this week and I hate it.  I am still aching from the fall down the stairs last week so I have been taking a lot of Tylenol and Motrin to dull the pain, and all I have wanted to do it lay down.  I have been going crazy- there are too many things I need to get done, so today, no matter how much it would hurt to sit on my severely bruised tailbone, I resolved to getting something- anything- done!

So what did I do?  Probably one of the most important things I needed to get done- I got the sides onto Linda’s tote bag!  All it needs is some binding around the edge and it is finished!  Oh- I may embellish it a little, it will depend on if it looks like it needs something for a finishing touch.  Any way about it, my next post WILL include a picture of the finished product!

I also put some corners onto my kaleidoscope blocks.  Here is what a couple of them look like-
Now I have to decide if I am going to put them together like this or put some sashing in between them- I have a brown fabric I want to use with them, and just a bit of the teal fabric left.  I guess I will have to try a couple of things with them on the wall to decide.

You may ask, “Is that all you got done all day?”  Well, yeah, it is - this was a good day!  I’m not kidding when I say my tailbone hurts, so I had several breaks where I laid down for a few minutes to take the pressure off.  So now, even though it is only 7:30 on a Saturday night – I am off to take some more Tylenol and go to bed.  Might try to watch an episode or two of Ancient Aliens, but I’m sure I will be out very quickly! 

Later!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Random Notions – Happy Birthday to Alexis!

Today was my baby’s birthday.  She is now 34 – sorry, Lex, if you were trying to keep that a secret.  How could my baby get so old so fast?  On her 21st birthday, I took the day off from work and dragged her all over town to play bingo- I think we hit at least five bingo halls.  Her very first game at Sunset Station, she won $100, and then later in the day at Texas Station, she won again- I think a couple more hundred.  That was a great day.  We have since kind of made it a tradition to play bingo on her birthday, which every year makes me sad to think it is pretty much the only day of the year I get to play, when I love to play!  Today we went to Arizona Charlie’s to play the 9 am session – I had not been there since I worked at the Aladdin and we used to get off at midnight and go over there to catch the 1 am game – and I left the Aladdin in November of ’97!  It is so much nicer than it used to be- I remember it as a very small room filled to the brim with smokers, which made it pretty miserable.  We went there because it was the closest 1 am game for us when we got off work – closer bingo halls ran on the even hours and we didn’t want to wait around for a 2 am game.

Taking Alexis out gambling on her 21st birthday was something I had had to do because of my grandmother- when I turned 21, Grandma told me to pick her up at 7 pm, and off we went to the Showboat that used to be located on Boulder Highway – gosh I miss that place!  I have many fond memories of hanging out in the bowling alley while my folks were playing on the leagues, and I loved the coffee shop – best club sandwich ever!  Grandma loved playing live keno, and she was really good at it- she won a lot.  She played about a dozen way tickets every game and they came up for her all the time.  I remember that day on my birthday, when she handed me a twenty and told me to play whatever I wanted- back then, we didn’t have penny machines and the poker machines were all quarters and dollars, so I would play one quarter a hand.  A twenty could last me about 45 minutes to an hour.  Then I would go back to keno, where Grandma had hit more money, and she would hand me another twenty.  She did not want to leave until about 4 am.  I was beat- considering how far I had to drive after I finally took her home, it’s a wonder I stayed awake long enough to get myself home safely! 

So I had high hopes for Lex today, but the closest she got was being one number away from a win for about 8 draws when another player on an electronic unit won – those things have totally destroyed the fun of bingo.  These people play zillions of cards so paper players don’t normally stand a chance of winning any more- not one winner today was on paper.  That really sucks.

Tonight, Alexis’ wonderful husband, Mike, took her to dinner and to see George Lopez at the Mirage.  I decided that the kids and I could have a movie night, but Harry asked if we could watch The Brady Bunch instead – or as he calls them, The Brainy Bunch.  Layla was willing, so we watched five classic episodes and then they were off to bed.

I thought I would come in before I went to bed to share the 13 blocks I made out of the Springs Creative material.  From this-
I made these-
(Lucky number 13 - think I will make a pillow from it!)

I love how they all came out so different.  I can’t believe how quickly they went together – and they are probably the best piecing I have ever done in my life.  No idea how that happened!  LOL

Now I just have to make some corners for them all to make them square.  I found a really pretty piece of teal fabric that matches beautifully, just hoping I have enough.  Perhaps tomorrow I will get time to try to do that.

Happy birthday, Lexis Shell!  I love you lots! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Random Notions – Kaleidoscope Blocks

Well, I managed to injure myself yesterday – I fell down the stairs.  The ironic part is that the stairs were just redone two weeks ago to make them safer.  I was wearing slippers and my left foot slipped right out from under me, I fell straight down and scraped my backside on the stair I was stepping off of, onto my butt, then slid down on my butt for three stairs before stopping.  Within a short time, I had the start of a huge bruise on my backside, the calves of my legs ached from scraping them on the stairs as I went down, and my tailbone is killing me.  My arm hurts because even though I was holding onto the rail, I managed to just wrench it something fierce trying to catch myself.  Getting in and out of the car is murder!  I’m just really glad I went down this way instead of headlong, and I’m glad I didn’t break anything, even if it feels like I did.  I am going though the Tylenol quickly right now and need to get some Motrin.  Looking at the bruise this morning, I found it to be almost black and really big.  Good thing it is in a place where no one can see it or someone would think I was being beaten by my family!  LOL  I am happy to say that even though I hurt everywhere really bad, I was laughing about it as I lay in bed last night – it must have been a real sight to see me go bump, bump, bump down the stairs!  Even though, the only one who saw me was poor Harry and he started crying because it scared him!

I have all but one side of Linda’s tote bag done – I just need to find the plastic stuff I am going to insert at the bottom to keep it flat and give it some stability.  I have it around here somewhere, there are just a lot of piles and containers to look through to find it.

In the meantime, I was looking at that lovely green and brown flowered fabric I won from Springs Creative.  I have always wanted to do something with a kaleidoscope block.  I have had a kaleidoscope ruler for the longest time, but was never sure what material to use for it.  I recently watched a video online about it, and I’m sorry I don’t remember whose video it was, but I found that I needed a large print and I needed to be able to get 8 strips out of it, all the same.  Guess what? The material from Springs Creative gave me just 8 strips!  So I started clipping it in the same place for each repeat of the design and started ripping it! 
After ironing all the strips, I stacked them, using pins to try to line them up together exactly the same.  I gotta say, this is not easy!  I must have spent an hour trying to get them lined up, and get the torn edges trimmed away.  But I finally got them to the point where I could cut them into wedges.  I was so happy that I managed to get 13 stacks of wedges out of it- 12 blocks are perfect for a wall hanging, and I have one to spare in case of one of my screw-ups!
I jumped right in and sewed the first stack together and this is how it came out-
I will just need to figure out what size triangle I need to fill out the corners to make it square.  I have a really nice brown fabric with vines on it that the colors look like they match, so that may be the one.  I really like how it looks and I can’t wait to make the others – it will be fun to see how different they all come out.  However, since I just had a class start Tuesday, I need to get some stuff done for that first before I can continue.  Maybe tomorrow I will have a couple more together to share.

Be Happy!