Friday, May 22, 2015

Update on May goals - Tooth woes

I set out to write this post earlier in the week, but it's been a challenging week for me.  I finally was able to get the tooth that has been bothering me checked out and it seems that this one is cracked as well.  If it is not all the way into the pulp it can be saved, but that entails a root canal, build up and crown ($2300)!  If not, then it needs to be extracted and close to double that for an implant.  So, I was feeling very discouraged for a bit.  I don't like dental work much, and I like the bills even less, but what can you do?  It needs to be done, so I will just settle in and let it roll over me as it comes.  I go in on Tuesday to see the endodontist, so good thoughts for saving this tooth, please!

Actually this tooth has an interesting history - it's been 25 years since the original large filling that replaces one of the cusps was done.  I will never forget the day that I broke it!  Back then we did not have direct deposit, so on payday I would meet my husband out on his mail route, pick up his check and take it to the bank.  Being young and with 4 daughters we definitely were living paycheck to paycheck so the gas tank in the van I drove was on the E, but the bank and the gas station were both close by, so I thought I could make it.  Unfortunately after I got the check from my husband the van would not start.  Since we weren't far from the post office, he told me to just go get his car and take it to cash the check.  So Tracy (#4 who was four at the time) and I walked over to the Post office to get the car.  We drove about half a mile when it sputtered to a stop - also out of gas!

I walked over to the bank (just a few blocks away), deposited the check, then called AAA to take care of our cars.  After the tow truck came and gassed up the car, I drove it to where the van was and waited for him to come get it taken care of.  While I was waiting I popped a stick of gum in my mouth and after a couple of chews, my tooth breaks!  When I spit out the fragment in disbelief I started laughing.  The tow truck driver pulled up right then, and I'm sure he thought I was a little insane because I could not stop laughing at the absurdity of this entire day.  I drove right over to the dentists office which was just down the street, and he put a temporary filling on it.

The rest of the story happened on the day he put the permanent filling on.  At that point he said I was on the border of needing a root canal and we would see how the filling held up. (Obviously it did well since it lasted this long) My sister was coming in for a visit with her two daughters that day so I was excited about that and ended up totally forgetting that I was supposed to pick up my nephew at the bus barn for my SIL.  (He was around 10 at the time)  I didn't even realize it until she came by to pick him up.  Poor kid, he was stranded there for two hours - though I can't figure out why no one called to check on me.  I still feel horrible about that!  Hopefully there won't be as much drama with the next chapter in this tooth's tale!

Anyway - about that list for this month...

1)  Finish Quiltsy Block of the Month 2012 top - not touched
2)  Finish Star Shuffle - just need to finish quilting the borders and bind!
3)  Finish Quilting Blue and White Stars  Done!
4)  Baste and Quilt the top I finished in March.  Thread arrived yesterday and this is looking like a finish!
5)  Complete Shop Sample  I ran into some problems with the pattern, but this should be done as well.
6)  Finish piecing Joy Quilt - Added the skinny rainbow border.  Lots more to do, but I am making progress.

This was a very ambitious list for the month and I am pleased with my progress.  I don't know that I'll make it all the way through, but it will keep me motiviated through the next week, whatever happens with my dental appointment.  Quilting is good therapy for whatever ails you, right?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

New Shades for my Sewing Room!

I've been complaining forever about the curtains in my sewing room, especially since I moved my cutting table in front of the window.  It was such a pain to get them closed at night and when I have an alteration customer change I need to close them as well.  I decided that a roman shade would be the best solution since I can easily close it and can lower it halfway to keep the sun from shining in full blast when I like.

That was the easy decision - then I had to decide on fabric, purchase all the odds and ends needed and actually take the time to sew it together.  When I went shopping for fabric I was really overwhelmed by all the choices.  I knew I wanted something pretty, but didn't want it to be crazy busy.  I saw some large flowers that were gorgeous, but decided to go with something a little more on the simple side.  A nice aqua and white pattern caught my eye and I decided to go with it.

Unfortunately, my window is a few inches wider than the fabric was!  So I decided a little decorative trim would work, plus it will coordinate with the valance that I am planning.  The valance uses some of Moda's Honeycombs along the bottom and I had enough pieces left to use on the sides of my shade as well.  And they go great with the color of the shade, so it's like it was meant to be all along (wink, wink).

It's been a few weeks since I bought the fabric, so I've been moving it around my sewing room - I've found that if I want to get something done I need to keep it in plain sight so it doesn't get buried!  I had a couple days with no projects looming, so decided to get this one off my list.  I decided to machine sew the trim on since there will be a bit of wear with raising and lowering the shade and I want to make sure it holds up.

Working with the Honeycombs as a trim is really kind of fun.  I sew them together in a line, making sure not sew past the 1/4 inch seam allowance at the corners.  I press the seams open and press the edges down 1/4 inch.  (A shot of Best Press helps them stay put!)  Since these needed to finish as a straight line, I trimmed off the far edge, then pressed that under 1/4 inch as well.

Then I had to attach the trim to the shade.

This took a little juggling because I had to sew some lining fabric to the edges first to make the shade wide enough and add enough to wrap around the back.  I pressed this so I could see what the finished width of the shade would be.   I then had to attach the trim at the inner edge.  I pinned it down reall well, making sure that the straight edge lined up with the edge of the shade.  Then I topstitched on my sewig machine using white thread.  After I did that I had to fold the trim out of the way in order to add the blackout lining to the back and sew the back seam down where it wraps around the edge of the shade.  Then I had to sew the outer edge of the trim on the edge of the shade!

And now for my rant.  Why are fabrics printed so badly these days?  I could square up the fabric so the shade hangs straight, but then the print is slanted.  Or I could square up the print and then the shade hangs skewed?  Of course it is more important for the shade to hang straight, so the print slopes down.  UGH!  I guess it's not that bad, but it does kind of bug me.  I have encountered this almost every time I make drapes.  Frustrating.  I think it will look better once I get the valance finished.  I don't have much to do on it, so I should try to finish it today, but I do have a few more things on my list to get done!

Back to the shades.  Once I got the body of the shade sewn I had to add the casing at the bottom for the weight rod, add the rings (using a zigzag on my machine it was easy and fast), staple the mounting board on the top and thread the lines.  I use the instructions in the Singer sewing book - Sewing For the Home.  I don't use glue on my knots though, I take a needle and thread and stitch through those things.  Less messy and I know they will not ever pull out!

Three screws and my handy drill and I had a nifty new shade installed!  Of course it made my sewing room look so nice that I had to do some cleaning and straightening - much needed.  Of course, that reminded me of how many projects I have that need to be done.  But hopefully a tidy sewing room will help encourage me to get those projects done so they can be put away.  At any rate, I can now enjoy the view out of my window when I want and close the shades easily when I need to - so I count it well done for the day!

Now back to quilting...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blue and White Stars - Bloggers Quilt Festival Spring 2015 Home Machine Quilted Quilts

I always look forward to the Bloggers Quilt Festival!  Such a fun way to be able to participate and see some wonderful quilts - my poor husband will really wonder how many quilting blogs can one woman look at this week!  I am entering this in the Home Machine Quilted category since that is one of my favorite things about this quilt.

This quilt began last year as a Project Quilting challenge in 2013 - the challenge was to make a quit in your favorite color with only white added.  I knew right away that I wanted to make a blue and white quilt, and after making the blocks decided that I would rather make this a nice quilt than do a rush job on the quilting to finish by the challenge deadline.  So it took me a little over two years to actually get it finished...I think the wait was worth it!

Each star has a dark blue center made from one of my favorite stash fabrics!  It is a blue celestial print with gold highlights.  So pretty!  Then I added a deep blue for the star points, light blue for the corner squares and a medium blue for the triangles on the setting squares.  The points all came out great, thanks to the use of the Tri-Recs rulers (one of my favorite ruler sets!).  I added the white border, then the quilt waited for a while.  I needed some yardage for blue borders and it took a while to find the right ones that would frame the quilt just the way I wanted it to look.

It took me while to decide how I wanted to quilt it as well.  For the inspiration behind much of the quilting I used Angela Walter's book "Free Motion Quilting".  I also drew from Leah Day's website for the sharp stippling I used in the light blue areas.  (See the video here!)  I use a Juki 2001QI for piecing and quilting.  No frame, I just use it on my table - works great for larger quilts, it still gets a little tight in the center, but way better than my old 1979 Kenmore was.

When it was finished being quilted I realized that I didn't have binding for this quilt.  I don't know how many times I have done this, so I am pretty good at improvising!  I had actually thought about using this two colored binding, so was really excited to find just enough of the dark fabric for the strips needed (I had 1 inch to spare after cutting!)  I made it a bit narrower than I had before and it came out perfect.  I love that little pop of the lighter blue, it really frames the quilt nicely.

My favorite thing about this quilt though, is the quilting!  I used Aurifil thread for all of the quilting.  White in the background, a blue/green in the medium areas and a dark blue in the dark sections.  The bubble and swirl design was fun to do and looks great in the diamond shaped center squares.

I was a good girl and buried all my thread tails on this one (I generally just snip them off close to the quilt and don't worry about it)  You can barely see the contrasting threads on the back in this picture, but I love the way they bring out the design on the back of the quilt as well!
It's a nice size for a queen bed - I don't generally make my quilts with a pillow tuck because I prefer pillows on top.  Since I have plenty of quilts for myself (with two new ones in progress!) I am listing this one in my Etsy shop.

Be sure to head on over to the Bloggers Quilt Festival and check out all the other awesome entries!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I Think I Need An Intervention!

Oh, my!  I seriously think I need a quilting intervention.  Someone needs to sit me down and tell me that adding to my already long list of things that I need to finish is not a good way to get my list completed.  At the rate I am going my list will be longer at the end of the month than it was at the beginning!  

It all started by simply going to my job this morning.  I only work one day a week at the quilt shop.  How dangerous could that be?  In my case - way too dangerous!  If you technically want to be totally honest, it started last week when I brought the Star Shuffle quilt to the quilt shop.  At that point my boss fell in love with it and decided to order some table runner patterns.  Now I am making a sample, as well as teaching it as a class.  What?  How did I manage to volunteer to do this?  I truly am my own worst enemy!

The tale gets even better, though...the next thing I knew I was looking through a box of fabric she was cleaning out of her sewing room.  Free fabric?  Well, that's even better than my employee discount!  I came home with some gorgeous floral flannel as well as a mix of beautiful romantic florals.  I didn't realize until I got home that now I have two more projects to work on.  Well, I suppose I can feel good that I only took a couple of skinny packets out of that box of patterns and books.

On the happy side, I finished quilting the Blue and White stars today!  I don't believe that I did have a plan for the binding at this point and will need to buy some fabric to finish it up - I think I am going to put one of those two color bindings on it.  I haveplenty of the accent color and just need some dark blue to go with it.  I am excited to finally get the quilting finished so I can baste the next one - I really am addicted, aren't I?

But, then again, I wouldn't have it any other way!  

Monday, May 04, 2015

Monday Meanderings

I had a lovely weekend - did some sewing, had a good time going to a movie and out to lunch, and generally just enjoying some down time!  Then I had a good productive day today as well.  I have most of the borders done on my blue and white quilt - since the border is dark blue and the quilting will hardly show I decided that I will just quilt a simple swirl on it.  I think I might actually finish the quilting tomorrow...then I need to find the binding for it!  I know I had a plan, but I am not sure what it was right now.

I also pieced the sky for this shop sample I am working on - I cut the pieces yesterday while watching television.  I forgot to get the fabric for the most important part of the scene - the lighthouse!  I am going to go ahead and finish piecing the background since the lighthouse is part of the applique that goes on top. I can also get the pieces traced onto the fusible, so I can keep making progress on this one.

Looking forward to another good day tomorrow - we do have some errands to do, but I am excited to keep working on my projects, so that will motivate me to get it done quickly!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Help in Measuring Sixteenth of an Inch for Quilt Pieces

When you start dealing with small quilt pieces, or making block with 1/4 square triangles you find eventually that you need to go beyond the small eight of an inch measurement and start getting into the sixteenth of an inch measurements.  Often I will try to avoid these by cutting a bit larger and trimming down to the needed size after sewing, but sometimes it really is easier to cut by the smaller measurement.

Today I made a block with one of these, so I though I would share how I deal with cutting at this size.

This block is in honor of the Kentucky Derby and I call it May Roses.  For some of the units in this block you need to cut two squares, one red and one green that measure 5 and 3/16 inches square to cut into four triangle units.

The first thing to realize is that 3/16 of an inch is just slightly smaller than 1/4 of an inch.  My first cut is to remove a square of my fabric from the main piece that is just a bit larger than this:

  I then rotate the square around so the two cut sizes are under the ruler.  The small hash marks on my ruler are 1/8 of an inch apart, so the 3/16 I need to cut is between the 1/8 (2/16) and the 1/4 (4/16 mark).

I make sure that both sides of my square are lined up between the two marks and trim my square to the correct size.  Now it is ready to cut diagonally both directions to give me 4 triangles.  The benefit to cutting this way is that it keeps the bias edges all on the inside of the square so that you have the grain of the fabric on the outside edges, keeping everything nice and square and stable!

 These triangles are sewn together on the short sides to make a triangle:
 The next step is to make sure your pieced triangles are exactly the same size as your large triangle:
 If it is not, you need to check your seam allowance and adjust if necessary.  Now sew the large triange to the pieced triangle along the long side:
 (I didn't notice before I took this picture, but I ran out of bobbin thread before I got to the end of the seam!  Whoops!)  Press the seam toward the larger side.
 Check to make sure your square measures 4 1/2 inches.
 Trim your dog ears (those triangles hanging off the edges!)  Voila!
I hope this helps you deal with those super tiny increments of measuring!  Just remember to count 2 sixteenths for every 1/8 mark and you can do it!  Who knew that fractions could be so useful?  Boy, am I glad I got A's in math when I was in school!

Here is the finished block:

You can download the free pattern for this block all month long from my Craftsy Pattern Shop -


Friday, May 01, 2015

May Goals

Today was a total non quilting day for me.  I had some computer stuff to work on this morning, then had to finish up the curtains this afternoon.   After I delivered them, my husband thought we should take advantage of the nice, but windy, afternoon and do some yard work.  So out we went.  I got my herb garden cleaned up.  The lavender isn't looking so hot, but the rosemary is growing like a tree.  I did a lot of cutting, pulling weeds and trimming plants.  Then I made a stab at my strawberry patch.  The rain ruined the first of the fruit, but there is another bunch coming on that will be great!  Just have to keep the slugs out and I'll have a bunch of berries soon.  After all that work I was too tired for sewing, so decided to think about what I would like to accomplish next month.

For April I wanted to finish the 2012 Craftsy Block of the Month.  Well, between all the procedures my husband had to endure, and working extra days at the quilt shop, I only managed to get two blocks done!  So that is still on my list - I am determined to empty the drawer that this project lives in!  I also need to finish up that Custom quilt, (the Star Shuffle), but I am making good progress on that.  I think I want to push and finish up the Joy quilt I started several years ago.  Here is the picture from the website:

I believe that I have most of the center pieced, so I should be around 1/5 of the way done?  I think the checkerboard border had me a bit stumped, but it's time to get past that roadblock and finish this project up!

I also have a shop sample to get done by memorial day weekend, but it is a fun one, so that should not be a problem.  I'm glad May is not an overly busy month, because it looks like I have some sewing to do.  Not to mention the quilting...

1)  Finish Quiltsy Block of the Month 2012 top
2)  Finish Star Shuffle
3)  Finish Quilting Blue and White Stars
4)  Baste and Quilt the top I finished in March
5)  Complete Shop Sample
6)  Finish piecing Joy Quilt 

That should be plenty of projects for this month.  It's a pretty ambitious list, but I think I should be able to get through it.  Oh, and I do want to work on those Roman Shades for my sewing room.  At the very least that will give me plenty of blogging material this month - wink, wink!

Enjoy your weekend!  We'll be spending part of it watching the Derby - always a fun competition!