Thursday, January 31, 2013

NewFO Projects for January

Oh No!!! 2/28/13: I just posted my link for February to Barbara's 2013 NewFO Linky Party, but mistakenly put the link to last month's new starts (this page by mistake)! Go HERE to find my NewFOs for February. Sorry... 

Now back to last month's post... Oops! Liz

What a busy month it's been! I've got several NewFOs to share and am so excited to join in the fun! I'll be posting this on Cat Patches' January NewFO Linky Party where others will also be sharing NewFOs.

NewFO #1 -- Grocery Cart Cosy for my grandson Jacob

This project is one my daughter and I have been talking about, but I'd never gotten around to it. Well, the little stinker is over 20 pounds and nearing the end of his time in the baby carseat. As he advances to the big-boy seat, he won't go into the grocery store in his seat anymore. So, it was time for Mormor to get busy and make the cosy. I found this delightful monkey fabric on clearance at Charlotte's Sew Natural in Newton, KS. I love it and bought what was left of the bolt! It was just the perfect amount to make the cosy, along with the leaves on black fabric for the lining. Hopefully it will resist showing too much dirt! Ha! There were a few bloopers in assembly (I didn't read the directions fully and put the elastic in before finishing key elements that would have worked better with the whole thing flat), so I dug through my stash and found a couple of yards of Toy Story fabric and used the same lining to make a second one. Ali has the Toy Story cosy (it's much better made!) and I have the monkey one for my shopping trips with Jacob.
I'm afraid neither has been used quite yet. It's been so cold (we're expecting a whopping 5 degrees for tonight's low) that Ali has done her shopping before she picks Jacob up so he doesn't have to be out in the cold too much. It'll be balmy in the 50s by this weekend, so I'm sure it will get it's first trip to the store soon. I can't wait to see pictures of him sitting in them!

NewFO #2--Jacob's Baprons

Since I have Jacob full time during the week, he gets several meals with me. I found that the little teething bibs Ali had sent over were just not sufficient anymore as he was getting more into his food. So, I'd found a cute pattern for a bapron and was determined to try it out. I had enough gold fish fabric from that same clearance table at Charlotte's to make two, so he has one at home and one at Mormor's house. It turned out so cute!

And it does the job just perfectly, except for the moments when he decides to share his food with me and blows a mouthful of greenbeans at Mormor. Guess I need to make one for me to shield myself from those "Yuck! What are you feeding me!" moments. LOL!

NewFO #3--Buffalo Baby Quilt

This one is my favorite so far and an actual quilt project! My friend Lizzie is having her first baby, due the end of February. She's having a boy and wants everything camo. Well, I'm not into hunting and fishing and camo-wear, but compromised and am making a nature quilt for her. After a few stops and starts in design and assembly, it's finally come together.
It's all assembled and ready to be sandwiched and quilted. I have until Feb 23 to complete it as that's when I'm heading to Springfield, MO, to Lizzie's for her baby shower. I'm also taking along our family cradle that my father made for my first child (Jeni is now 35!) and has been shared with many friends and family, as well as all of my children and grandchildren. I look forward to getting pix of her little guy sleeping in the cradle like Jacob did just a few months ago.

NewFO #4--Cookie Bowl Advent Calendar

This project is made from a pre-printed panel kit that I purchased in California on a shop hop several years ago. I've made quilted Advent calendars for my daughters and for my niece and nephews for their children to enjoy each year, but I hadn't made one for myself! So, I found this one and fell in love with it. This month I got it done completely! It was fun to quilt around the cookies and down the strips, as well as along the squiggly lines of frosting printed between the number pockets. It's simple, but very cute and will be fun to have Jacob help me move the cookies from the bowl to the pockets (or pockets to bowl?) when December rolls around again.

NewFO#5--Embrace Your Love FMQ Challenge 2013

The most exciting NewFO for me this month is the Embrace Your Love FMQ Challenge that Leah Day is guiding us through. I have started and am enjoying the challenge.

Currently I'm stalled because I have an idea to applique green and blue silk onto the world, but can't find my silk buried in my stash. Maybe this weekend I'll find it and get busy again on the next part. It's a year-long project, so I don't expect to finish it anytime soon, but hope to maybe finish one version in time to enter it in either the county fair in June or the state fair in September. Time will tell...

It's been a very productive month! I had no idea I'd get this many projects started and am delighted that several are also finished! Looking forward to some fresh NewFO's for February. This weekend I'm heading out with Sharon to a big Super Bowl sale at a quilt shop in Alden, KS. Then, on Sunday, I'll be camped out in front of my TV for the Super Bowl, cheering on my San Francisco 49ers!!!!!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIP Wednesday--Buffalo Baby Quilt

Today it was cold with a light dusting of snow outside. After yesterday's t-storms, temps dropped all day as predicted and overnight the white stuff came to visit again. I guess winter isn't through with us yet. There's not enough around here to play in, but enough to be slick and a bother for driving. Sounds like a great day to play in the sewing room--when Jacob will allow, that is. The management company shovels the walks for us, but not the steps or front porch. I went out this morning before my son-in-law arrived with Jacob to sweep them clean of the little bit of snow and then tossed a few handfuls of rock salt on the steps to melt the ice that had formed from the rain under the snow. I don't need the kids slipping on the steps coming in out with the baby! It was nice that Ross noticed and thanked me for taking care of that. Good kid!

I linked back to my post earlier this week on the Buffalo Baby Quilt for WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced as that's my current project that now has a firm deadline. The other things I'm working on are for upcoming blog-hops, so no peaking for now! Let's just say I've put a new meaning into scrappy in my sewing room. Now, what do I do with the scraps left over from the scrappy project? At least I put to use a whole baggie full of wings clipped off of some flying geese in a project I made several years ago. I knew I'd use them someday... Wow! I love when the scraps I saved actually get used!

Now it's time for my other college team's game. I'm a huge Kansas Univ Jayhawk fan, but I'm getting my master's at Kansas State, so tonight I'm cheering on the K-State Wildcats.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spring-like day and a completed NewFO!

Oh the wonders of living in the midwest. Monday we had temps in the 70s and breezy that made for a great day for Jacob's first trip to the park! Today I woke up to lightening flashes and thunder, with morning rain and a cloudy, dreary day with dropping temps in the 30s. I guess Winter is back and our spring-preview is over for now.
While it was nice, Jacob and I walked over to the park and he got to swing for the first time. After some initial "What's this!?!", he relaxed and enjoyed it. With the breeze in his face he was smiling, but kept his eyes closed much of the time. When other kids came running by he would laugh. Success! And the much needed nap finally came about half a block from the house. Ahhh... 
Throughout Monday I stayed at my Sunday UFO--my cookie bowl advent calendar. I finished the FMQ, trimmed it and attached the binding, and by evening had completed hand slip-stitching the binding to the back. I've done many quilt bindings now, but I think this one has the best miters that I've done so far! I guess practice does make perfect, or at least vast improvement!

After making the extra bowl pocket yesterday, I changed my mind and ended up trimming it down to just the bowl and attaching it to the back with a close zig-zag satin stitch. I like it much better with just the bowl appliqued on instead of the whole pocket that included some of the background stripes. Perseverance paid off because before I shut down the sewing room Monday night at 8pm (just in time for the Kansas Jayhawk basketball game) it was complete! This finished pic shows it with several of the cookies in the bowl and the rest in the numbered pockets. Now it's off to the closet to wait for December 1 when it will be hung with my Christmas decorations.

The rest of today has been spent with Jacob. The first tooth we thought was coming for Christmas still hasn't appeared. So, we think it's close again--he's much more irritable, not sleeping well, and he's dripping drool like never before! The only way to get him to nap this morning was with me in the rocker. I'm not complaining! Nothing better than a nap together in Mormor's glider. Hopefully he's going down for his regular nap this afternoon, but from the noises coming from the other room, I doubt it.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

When a quilt speaks to you...

I've been working on what now is being referred to as "the buffalo baby quilt" all week. I had the trials & tribulations of the machine embroidered strip shrinking excessively after wetting down to remove the guides I'd marked and then prewashing the rest of the quilt only to find that some pieces shrank more than others. Well, once I looked at it again, I really didn't like the way it looked with that gold border between the focus strips and decided to experiment with the brown I'd purchased to border it with. I liked it! So, I let the quilt keep talking and found it had more to say. With the help of my friend Sharon (we are frequent weekend quilting buddies), we decided the gold did want to be included, just in a different way. I followed that lead and am very pleased to tell you that the quilt top is finished and ready to be sandwiched. This is the final result of reworking the borders.
The focus strips really pop with the brown used throughout and the gold as a 1" accent border makes the gold in the buffalo strip pop. So, now to take it downstairs to the big tables to layer and pin for quilting. I've found having a deadline really helps! I'd purchased the fabric a few weeks ago, but hadn't decided what to do with it. Then I got the invitation last week to the baby shower scheduled for Feb 23 and decided it was time to kick-start this project! For such a simple quilt with minimal piecing, it sure has been a challenge to put together. But I'm happy with the results and I'm sure Lizzie and her baby boy will LOVE it!

Saturday, Sharon and I juggled projects as we sewed side-by-side in my sewing room. By afternoon I had set my projects aside to help her finish some things. We both went downstairs with my Brother Quattro 6000D set up on the dining room table to start embroidering select blocks in a Wizard of Oz Turning Twenty she had started last August. The designs she chose to include and the colors used are really making them pop! We didn't get any good pix of it this weekend, but will take one after the embroidery is done to share here.

The other project Sharon brought with her to finish was a birth sampler she had made for her grandson. She found some ABC fabric she liked that coordinated with the cross-stitch design and serged the edge with a wooly nylon in variegated primary colors. Together we managed to get it measured and cut, stitched mitered corners to make a fabric frame, and then stitched in the ditch along the inside edge of the serge line with a zipper foot to get close enough to applique it to the piece. Now she'll take it to be matted and framed under glass before taking it to her daughter and grandson. Here's Sharon showing off the nearly finished project. It turned out so cute!
Now it's time to take a break for some supper and get ready to watch Downton Abbey. After a productive weekend, I feel I deserve a night off. Ha! Back to normal with Jacob here in the morning. It will be interesting to see how much sewing I can get in this week.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

UFO Sunday

It's a jammies-and-slippers kind of day at my house. My sewing buddy left this morning early and instead of going back to bed (my first choice), I decided to just go into the sewing room and spend some quality time working on projects. With the iTunes cranked up on my Eric Clapton playlist and the window open, I was ready to go to work. It's not really raining here in Emporia, but it's damp and breezy, so a good day to stay in.

After reading Leah Day's UFO Sunday post about finishing a sweater for her son, I looked at the piles of projects in the corner and decided to pull out the baggy with the Advent Calendar panel I had purchased at least three years ago. A month or so ago I used Heat-n-Bond to fuse the cookies to the stiff craft felt I had purchased with the kit and got them cut out. There are 24 cookies that tuck into a bowl and each day you move one a numbered pocket until all are gone, and then, like magic, it's Christmas! I just love the variety of cookie shapes and all decorated with frosting designs.

When I looked at the main panel, it was totally skewed from being folded up for so long. It took a lot of steam, spray sizing, and pins on the ironing board to get it squared up. Finally, I think it's ready to put together!
The bottom was the most stretched section, so I worked on it first. Each row had to be folded up to a fold line marked in the margin so that the frosting squiggles match up between each numbered block. I got them all folded, pinned and steamed, and then basted the pocket rows closed with a long stitch that I can easily remove later. This way they will stay in the right shape until I get it assembled and quilted, making the individual pockets permanent.

There is another bowl that gets turned into the pocket and appliqued onto the bowl on the top of the printed panel. I went ahead and backed it with muslin and a piece of batting to give it body, and sewed it together, turned it, and hand stitched it closed. Then I decided I wanted to free-motion quilt the ribs on the bowl to give it more definition. It's now ready to applique on after I get the main body backed and quilted.

And it's ready to quilt. It's small enough to fit on my sewing table, so I taped the backing down, layered it with the batting and top, and it's all pinned and ready to go. I'm not sure I'll get much farther with it today, but at least it's ready to go.

It's going to look so cute next December hanging in my home! And by then Jacob will be 1-1/2, so he'll be big enough to help me move the cookies and count the days to Christmas.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ditching is so boring!

Last night I worked on the baby quilt with the nature scenes that I mentioned a few days ago. All was going well until... Let's just say, I can tell you what I WON'T do again! I tend to be a "quilt and wash later" quilter as I love that antique look of the shrinkage after quilting. I've heard pros and cons for both pre-wash and don't pre-wash from many people for years, whether in regards to sewing or quilting. In this particular case I taught myself a valuable lesson in why I should pre-wash my fabrics, at least when I'm going to include machine embroidery in any project.
My lessons learned are: IF I plan to use machine embroidery in a quilt top,
  • pre-wash all fabrics
  • starch or Best Press the piece(s) to be embroidered before marking to help keep it from shrinking up from the embroidery process, good stabilization or not
  • make appropriate markings on the fabric with water-soluble pens 
  • complete the embroidery
  • wet down with water to remove the markings. 
Because I didn't do these things--or at least not in this order, when I got up this morning and went to my sewing room to see how the sky strip looked dry, the piece had shrunk up nearly an inch! Yikes! Add a few other colorful words here!!! And it all looked so good on the design board as I got the strips cut and sewn together.

The machine embroidery part, itself, took hours of meticulous marking and hooping. I first worked in CustomWorks, part of the Designer's Gallery embroidery software suite, to lay out the lettering and split the long lines into double hoopings and saved all of the files onto my flash drive to plug into my Brother Quattro 6000D. I had all three lines marked across with cross-hatch vertical lines marked where each piece would center to assure proper placement and alignment.

I think I started about 6pm on the whole project and didn't complete the embroidery part until about 1:30 am. It looked great once it was done and put up on the design board with the other pieces. Because I had pressing to do for seams and I didn't want the heat to make those guides permanent, I had to remove the lines before proceeding to add the strip to the others. After checking it on the design board, I took it down to spritz it to remove the guides I'd drawn on. They all came off okay, but the end result of the strip was too narrow now. Well crud!

To rectify the situation, today I decided to remedy things by washing all of the remaining fabric (borders & backing) and the pieces already assembled so that everything would be preshrunk. Wrong! Well crud again! This time the gold abstract pheasant wing fabric I had used as narrow borders between the nature strips shrank significantly more than the other pieces. And they were all from the same line and purchased together. So now I'm rethinking the whole thing. Rather than rip out all those lines of stitching and recut the pieces down to match the smallest piece, I decided to play and like the dark fabric I was going to border it with better between the blocks. So, I'm just going to cut the strips apart and save those gold strips for some future project and insert the brown instead. That's tomorrow's project.  

Today I set the baby quilt aside while the fabric got washed and instead took on doing all of the ditch work on a friend's quilt. She brought it to me before Christmas knowing I wouldn't get to it until after the first of the year. Well, it's past time to dive in. It's queen size and quite beautiful; however, not being as meticulous as I am about her piecing, what direction seams are pressed and whether they're consistent across the quilt, it gave me a few headaches, but I just rolled with it. I put the walking foot on my little Brother Runway Innovis 80 with a nice cream Aurifil 50 in the bottom and YLI nylon Wonder Invisible Thread in the top, I kept stitching for what felt like forever!
So, 6 hours later (about 5 actual stitching with an hour of regular stretch breaks while switching laundry) all of the sashings are stabilized edge-to-edge and it is now ready for the fun part--the free motion quilting! I've selected an 11" stencil that will nicely fill the 12" blocks without overflowing into the sashings, while securing all of the piecing without having to ditch every seam in the individual blocks. I'll be using the creamy Aurifil 50 on top as well for the FMQ when I get started. I spread the quilt out on my bed to see how it looks and it's good to go to the next stage. This is the first quilt I've done for someone else, so I'm a little nervous.

For tonight I'm calling it a great day! Helped my daughter this morning (still recovering from her wisdom teeth extractions), played with my grandson, and still got in a bunch of quilting! Tomorrow a couple of quilting buddies are coming over for the day to have another mini sew-in. We'll see what I can accomplish after some good sleep tonight.

More snippets from the sewing room soon...


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kids' Projects

Where has the week gone already! I guess having my grandkids here for 3 days followed by two days of helping my daughter will eat up a week lickety-split! I must admit I didn't get much quilting done; however, my granddaughter Jordyn and I did have fun making her creative project for school.

Jordyn's teacher assigned each child to decorate a t-shirt with 100 things to wear on the 100th day of school. The children will be wearing their t-shirts tomorrow, Friday, January 25 in celebration. The teacher told them to be creative, so Jordyn and I put our heads together. She wanted fabric on her t-shirt, naturally, being my granddaughter and a budding quilter herself. Rather than sew them on by machine, we cut ten 5" squares of her favorites out of my stash, did some nifty folding, and safety pinned them onto the shirt around the hem. Ten pieces of fabric, ten safety pins--check.

She then picked ten different ribbons and we cut them and she helped sew them each on with a button around the neckline. That made for another quick 20 items. The rest of the shirt was her original artwork with ten each of happy faces, peace signs, hearts, flowers, stars, and butterflies drawn on the front of the t-shirt to complete her 100 things. She is so proud of it and anxious to wear it on Friday! You might note behind her the scrappy blocks on the design board. Those are Jordyn's creations and she will be making more on visits so she can make her own first quilt. Our plan is to have at least a small quilt done before the county fair comes around in June so she can enter in the youth division.
A great part of their weekend visit was spent watching football and basketball. Both of Saturday's playoff games were exciting to watch and I'm soooooo happy that the San Francisco 49ers are going to the Super Bowl!!! I'm a California native and my mom was born in SF, so the 49ers and Giants will always be my home teams. Sunday we got to celebrate our Kansas roots and watch our Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas-State Wildcats win their respective games as well. Way to go!!! 

After the kids left on Monday, I spent the remaining hours of the afternoon finishing up a couple of projects for Jacob. I finished the grocery cart cosy that I had started, but wasn't especially happy with it. The second one went much better and I took it to Ali to start using this week. The other project I completed is Jacob's first bapron. I found the pattern online at Craftiness is not Optional. I love the little fish fabric--it reminds me of Goldfish crackers that he will soon be gobbling up! Next up will be to remember to take a picture of him wearing his bapron.
I've spent some time getting caught up with Downton Abbey on Netflix and HuluPlus. I told my daughter Ali I'd catch up so we can start watching it together and sharing food on our girls' night out starting with this new season. I watched the 2012 Christmas special last night and today I'll spend the afternoon with Ali watching the first episodes of the new season that she has saved on her DVR. She's home this week, having had all four wisdom teeth extracted on Tuesday morning. I've split my time between Jacob care and Ali care this week, helping her through the first couple of days with her liquid diet and pain pills. She's much better already and should be starting to eat some soft foods by this afternoon. 

Now to settle back into some sort of routine again to make time for quilting and reading for my Sociology of Aging class that started this week, packed around my hours with Jacob during the week. Never a dull moment around here!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WIP Wednesday--Misc. Projects

I spent the last three days having a sew-in with a local sewing buddy who lives about an hour away and comes to my place to camp out for a few days every month or so. It's been great fun building our friendship! We have more things in common and have become fast friends since we first met at a quilting retreat in August. I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and so is she. We both ended up in Kansas, living just an hour apart. We're both avid SF Giants fans and, while I'm not much of a football person in general, I do cheer for the SF 49ers who she also loves. And the list goes on. Oh, and we both quilt, crochet, have Brother embroidery sewing machines (same model!) and we both do English smocking! Crazy! So, Sharon left yesterday afternoon after a successful visit. She spent time getting borders sewn on two of her quilts, finished two toddler bed sheets for her grandson, and got a pair of fun PJ bottoms nearly finished for her daughter. I managed to get a shopping cart cozy made for my grandson that is turning out real cute! I have a second one to cut out and assemble so my daughter and I each have one so we don't  have to remember to swap one back and forth. It's always going to be in the other car! With Jacob only 2 pounds under the weight limit for the baby car seat, it's time to get it done so he can sit in his cosy when we take him shopping and have to leave the new big-boy car seat in the car.

So this is the pattern I'm using--McCall's Crafts M5721. It's pretty straightforward and other than eliminating some of the pockets, it came together nicely. Silly me, I forgot to read the directions thoroughly and had to go back and sew around the leg holes after I had layered the top fabric on in the sandwich. Getting all of the high-loft batting stuffed into my machine was a little challenging, especially since I didn't do it first before sandwiching all three layers. Did I say I hate directions? And I learned a few things that I will change when I make the second one.

Getting the casing made for the elastic went much easier once I got the steps done in order. Oh, and I should have sewn the bag onto the back before I put the elastic in. Geez... I have to remember to do things in the right order next time.
Anyway, here it is! Hanging over my sewing chair. I added some ribbon loops to hook toys onto or a binky-strap. And I love the bag that attached on the back to hold Mom's stuff while shopping and to stuff the cover into for easy storage/carrying when not in use. Now to add a handle and a velcro patch to hold the bag closed when in storage and it will be done! I LOVE the monkeys in the trees on this fabric. I think I'll keep this one and give the Toy Story version to Ali to use. 

Next up on the project list is to get a baby quilt done for a sweet young friend of mine. Lizzie, who missed being born on my birthday by only a few hours, has been like a daughter to me since she was about 3 when her dad and I dated. She and I have kept in touch and I'm Momma Liz and on quick-dial on her phone still. She's married now and having a boy real soon. Her husband is an outdoorsy Marine and hunter and she's following suit by registering for everything in camo! Well, I'm not too sure about that, so I asked her if she trusted me when she asked me to make her baby's first quilt. Luckily she said yes and I'm going to have fun with it!
I've gone with nature prints and a small print that looks almost like camo for the backing. Typically I make things more complicated than they need to be and decided this time to keep it simple. So, I'm going to do 9"x36" strips with a 2" sash out of the gold print at the upper right (up close it looks like pheasant wings) and border it with the dark brown vines. There will be a blue strip at the top with part of "Home on the Range" machine embroidered onto it to tie in the buffalo and the deer and hook Lizzie back to her Kansas roots. This is what I came up with in EQ7 as a draft to get myself some dimensions to work with.
Now to find some blue for the sky that I like. I didn't think of this when I was buying the nature prints, so have been scouring my stash. I do have one dark stary night fabric that might work with light embroidered letters. I'm still auditioning and may have to make another trip to the quilt store. Oh darn!

That's it for today's additional WIP. I'm also getting ready to go back to the 2013 FMQ Challenge Embrace Your Love quilt, but am trying to decide if I want to dive into fabric painting or whether I want to do something different for this week's step. Hmmmm... More thinking and considering is in order.

For quilters who may drop by, I have a prayer request to put out there. My sister-in-law Cindy, who just turned 65 in October, has been rediagnosed with cancer. She went through chemo and radiation that ended two years ago when she lost her health insurance. Medicare kicked in and she's now covered and going to the doctor almost daily it seems. She is an incredible quilter, but with her health issues she hasn't been in her sewing room in way too long. There are so many quilts started or waiting to be started for her three kids, seven grandkids and two great-grandsons. She has Stage IV lung cancer and thoracic lymphoma, and this week's tests showed spots on her kidneys. Needless to say she is scared and has asked me to put her on any and all prayer lists. I'm grateful I got her snowflake quilt finished and sent to her at Christmas last month. I've told her she should take it with her to chemo as her comfort quilt when she starts treatments next week. Thank you to any who offer up prayers for her.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Thread Painting on FMQ project

My son Ryan and I had a great time on my visit to his place this week. We spent most of 2 days catching up on Doctor Who season seven as we're both fans and I don't get the channel they're on. I was a fan years ago, but hadn't seen the new releases. Netflix has the first six seasons available on their streaming site, so I got through those at home. Ry saved season seven on his DVR so we could watch when I got to his place. Now we're both all caught up! We also went shopping to get the rest of his Christmas present--a new pair of shoes! He not only found shoes, but also got himself a pair of jeans, several t-shirts, and a new winter hat. For someone who doesn't like to shop, he did extremely well and we had fun to boot!

This morning early I woke up to a weather alert on my cell phone--Winter Storm Advisory with ice & snow expected all along the path from Ryan's house back to mine. I love winter, but I don't relish driving in winter weather events. Well, I packed up and headed home, and made it before anything hit the ground. By the end of the day there was only a dusting of snow and no ice, thank goodness. Other parts of the midwest weren't so lucky, but I'm grateful just the same that I left early and didn't have to drive on icy roads today.

When I got home, I jumped back in on my Express Your Love FMQ project. All of my outline stitching is completed and now I've filled two of the breath wisps and really like the way it's looking! So far I've chosen,
       "Be the change you want to see in the world" and
       "We are all connected in the great circle of life."
I will fill all of the breath wisps with words as there are several other favorite phrases that I want to include. Next is to decide how I want to do the echo quilting on the world in the center--that's the next piece Leah Day demonstrated on her FMQ Project blog on Thursday. I'm thinking about adding applique of green & blue for the land and water pieces and then echo stitching them down. That's a decision that will wait for tomorrow.

To get ready for the upcoming week and to use up the salad making ingredients I bought and hadn't used yet, I put together another round of salads in a jar so they're ready to eat each day without lots of prep time. It's all done in advance and layered in the jars. I bought a flat of pint jars and found they are plenty big for a single serving.
My daughter Ali found the "recipe" on Pinterest and we tried it. So far we've figured out that we can layer tomato (better to use the little grape tomatoes rather than diced--less moisture), diced cucumber, shredded carrots, diced bell pepper, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, sliced olives, corn, and washed & chopped romaine lettuce, put the lids on and refrigerate and they keep for at least a week. I do try to keep them on a middle shelf as the ones on the top shelf that I pulled out last, the lettuce had froze and spoiled. While I'm babysitting little Jacob, Ali comes over for lunch during the week, so I made enough for both of us. When we're ready to eat, we just put them on a plate, add dressing and crunchies--Ali likes croutons and I prefer french fried onions, and we're ready to eat. If we want to take a little extra time, we also add sliced avocado, mushrooms, hard cooked eggs,  or other favorite ingredients that are more likely to spoil and so get added at serving time. It's nice to have something easy to take out of the fridge and eat without having to spend lots of time preparing, especially when Ali is here on her limited lunch hour. Before when I bought a head of lettuce, it would often spoil before I got to it. This way I can wash and chop the whole thing and put it in the jars with my favorite extras and there's a lot less waste.

The day is winding down and I'll be shutting down momentarily. The KU Jayhawks men's basketball team won their game against Texas Tech today. The San Francisco 49ers beat Green Bay to advance to the NFC Championship game next Sunday, putting them one game away from going to the Super Bowl. And I got in some great quilting time on my project. All in all, it's been a great day!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Striping Dad's Shirts

I've spent the last several nights working at my dining room table with Torchwood reruns going on Netflix while I start the process of turning all of Dad's shirts into 5" strips to turn into memory/comfort quilts for my family. I think I'm finally getting a routine down. Some of the shirts are so worn I'm having to starch them in order to give them enough body to cut straight. The pile of strips is growing and I'm also making a separate pile of sleeves and shirt pockets to incorporate into unique blocks down the road.I only have 4 pairs of Dad's jeans, so my daughters and son are collecting their used jeans to add to the stash to provide enough family-used denim for the blocks. Eventually everything will be brought down to one huge charm pack of 5" squares.

During the day I keep thinking I'll get more done, but then I get totally distracted...

You see, I spend my days taking care of Jacob, my 7-month-old grandson. He's just started crawling and loves to take the DVDs out of the rack and then chew on them. You'll probably see more of this little monkey since he seems to get in most of my pictures.

While cruising through my FB newsfeed today, I spotted the Quilting Gallery's "Quilter's Show & Tell" event. This week's theme is to post a picture of your favorite quilt of 2012, even if it's not finished. I did finish my favorite in 2012 and, in fact, Enlightened Souls is the favorite quilt I've made so far! I really got into the FMQ and outlined every feather on the cranes in Hemingworth 40wt Old Gold, as well as doing lots of what I think of as artsy FMQ with pebbling, pine needles & knotty branches, and playing with several stencils in the various borders.

I collected the blocks on two subsequent Quilter's Quest shop hops through the San Francisco Bay Area--the first year was the kimono blocks and the next was the lantern blocks. Each shop had made such marvelous quilts each year that provided lots of inspiration. However, they sat in my stash for about 3 years before I decided what to do with them. At Christmas I had found the crane fabric to use in a pillowcase for one of my great nephews who loves Asian stuff. I bought more and started playing on my living room floor (my design wall at that time) with the blocks. The Kimono blocks were my first venture into paper piecing with the collars and sleeves. It was a challenge, but one that I managed to figure out on my own.

A close friend of mine has a life coaching/counseling practice called Youniversoul. The more I worked on this quilt, the more I knew it would someday be Adele's. Once I knew whose it was, then I got more excited about working on it and before I made my move from California back to Kansas in early 2012, I was able to complete it and present it to her at our last visit at her office in Berkeley. She was so overwhelmed by it that she just wrapped herself up in it and cried. Then we put it on the massage table, which I had measured on a previous visit, and as I had hoped it was a perfect fit.

This summer Adele had a seminar in Wichita, KS, and added a day to her trip to come visit me in my new home. She brought the quilt back to me so I can show it in a couple of local quilt shows and enter it in this year's Lyon County Fair this coming June. After it has made the rounds, it will be returned to her. I'm so grateful to Adele for sharing this beautiful quilt with me again so it can be shown and shared with my quilting friends.

I'm off to visit my son for a couple of days, so the UFOs and NewFOs will have to wait for me to return.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Monday, January 7, 2013

NewFO memory quilts

With the NewFO challenge sparking my brain to come up with new quilts to make, my mind has been busy, busy. One series of quilts that I planned to make, but hadn't started on yet, are comfort quilts made up from my father's worn jeans and work shirts. Dad died on April 2, 2012, just a week before his 96th birthday. Here's a pic of me and Dad in 2009 before his final slide. He's wearing one of the shirts that will be included in the quilts.

I had lived with Dad in my childhood home for 7-1/2 years from 2004 to 2012, allowing him to age in place in the home he built himself before I was born. In celebration of his life, I saved his shirts and jeans to make something, but had no idea what that would entail. This week inspiration hit! Late last year I attended a weekend workshop retreat with Pat Speth as our guest teacher. Her Nickel Quilts are amazing! Looking through her newest book, Nickel Quilts & Borders, I found Hickory Hills, a pattern using stripe/check shirting and denim. It's the perfect solution to my quandary.

I've now taken the pile of shirts out of my cedar chest and plan to start stripping them down to the 5" charm size blocks and strips needed to assemble the blocks. I hope to have enough for several throw size quilts and pillows to share with my brothers and their families. The jeans are definitely well worn and I'm thinking about stabilizing the worn spots and including them too. Dad never got rid of a pair of jeans despite the numerous holes, especially where he kept his keys. There is also a pair of his overalls in the closet and several pairs of suspenders, which he always wore, and they will be incorporated in some way into the quilts as well. My daughter suggested adding a pocket to each quilt and putting something of Grampa's into the pocket before gifting the quilts. Great idea, Ali!

This will definitely be a labor of love. Now that I know what I want to make, let the stripping begin!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday UFO Progress

For my UFO Sunday, I worked on putting together the blocks from a Stack-n-Slash top that I started at a quilt retreat several months ago. This whole top was a complete accident in the making. At the guild retreat last October someone asked me about Stack-n-Slash tops. They had heard of them, but never made one. So, my quilting buddies Sharon and Linda and I raided my fat quarter drawer mid-retreat and selected enough pieces to each make a 9-block top. Well, I got back to the retreat with only 8, so chose to do a center block fussy cut/applique for fun to fill it out. The blocks were done at the October retreat and have been sitting in a project bag since then. Sharon came to my place Friday night for a sew-in weekend. By the time she left Sunday afternoon, both of our Stack-n-Slash tops from the retreat were assembled except for final borders. Mine will have a medium green leaf border fabric that I'll also use to back it. Next weekend we're meeting up here for another sew-in visit and plan to have borders already sewn on so we can layer & pin on my big tables and then start quilting. [Please excuse the lighting--it's late afternoon and the sun is shining through the blinds right onto my design board.]

I've also started on the Free Motion Quilting Challenge Express Your Love! whole cloth quilt. I managed to get two full size 30" x 41" tops traced--one muslin and one black--by the end of last week after discovering the challenge on Leah Day's FMQ Project website. Once I started layering my quilt sandwich I realized, from looking closely at the pictures of Leah's sample, that she had stitched all of the main outlines of the quilt, which I had not done. So, yesterday I got about half of the outlines quilted and will go back to it this week to finish that portion so I can start the actual thread painting of the words that I've chosen to thread paint in the breath wisps.

I'll be using the first lines that Leah suggested, "I am Enough", "I Have an Open and Willing Heart", and "My Cup Runneth Over." I'm also adding "Live Laugh Love Dance Breathe", "Give Thanks", "Imagine Living in Peace", "Be The Change You Want To See In The World", and "We Are All Connected In The Great Circle Of Life".  I'm excited to start on that portion of the quilt!

I'm excited to be taking part in this challenge as I love FMQ, but need practice and help coming up with new ideas for my quilts.

When I showed the design for Express Your Love! to my daughter, her response was "WOW! Oh Momma, that's so YOU!" She knows me well and she's right, this is the perfect design for me to work with affirmations and color and creativity in my quilts. Plus, it will be an awesome piece to hang in my sewing room or above my bed when it's completed!

This past week I've been able to take advantage of the year-end clearance sales at several favorite quilt shops. Their mark-down selection has allowed me to add to my batik collection for a future project, plus I was able to get end-of-bolt discounts on quilt backs for several quilts in progress. It's nice to know I have enough to finish projects when I start them or go back to them.

Despite having had one of my sewing machines for several years, it seems there's always something new to learn. Sharon and I both sew on a Brother Quattro 6000D embroidery/sewing machine and when I was grousing about having to stop and lift the presser-foot every time I needed to shift the fabric while stitching down the fused applique, she came around and showed me a setting that leaves the needle down (which I already had set) AND lifts the presser foot every time I stop! SCORE!!! I was so happy to learn a new trick! I'm sure I'll be using that setting a lot from now on!

My afternoon was topped off by about an hour snuggling with my little grandson. My daughter had texted me and asked me to stop by for a visit, which I always gladly do! We had a great talk and getting extra snuggle time with Jacob is always an added bonus. Now to get back to a couple more hours of sewing before relaxing with a movie this evening.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,