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!