Monday, September 27, 2010

An Update on my Plans...

At the risk of speaking too soon, I think I might actually finish this quilt on time. Here's some Glam Garden progress from the weekend...

A week ago, a very large part of me was unsure I'd ever make it this far in a week. After all the tedious time it took to cut and make all those blasted dresden spokes, I was having visions of many sleepless nights spent hunched over my sewing machine, trying to finish the quilt. But once I started piecing all the spokes together to form plates, the pace of work picked up considerably.

I had big big plans to try all the machine applique methods out there on small sample shapes, just to see what I liked the best.

Am I an insane would-be overachiever with the best of intentions? Um, yes.

Luckily, the first 2 methods I tried suited my needs just fine. For the blue circles in the middle of the plates, I'm using starch to stabilize the pieces, then a tight satin stitch all the way around the circles, like you see here. The plates themselves are already folded under, due to the way the spokes are constructed with Darlene Zimmerman's EZ ruler, so I'll starch the bejeebus out of them too, and a blanket stitch should work out nicely to attach them to their backgrounds, kind of like what you see here.

Unfortunately, there was a camera card mix-up with the entrance of a new camera into the household. All those Glam Garden photos I took when the sunlight was streaming through my sewing room window that I thought were on my camera card are actually on my camera. And I don't think I've seen the connector cord for my camera since I took it out of the box 3 years ago. Sorry y'all, but Glam Garden progress photos will just have to wait for another day.

[Insert big sigh of relief here.] My zen has returned.

I also managed to crank out my Bee Splendid blocks. Carrie posted a few inspiration photos to get the creative juices churning, then pretty much gave us free reign, as long as 1) the blocks were 12.5" square and 2) we included a little blue square in our block somewhere. Guess what I forgot to do.

That's right. As I picked up the envelope to place my squared-up, photographed, nicely folded blocks in there to mail back out to Carrie, a couple of small blue squares fell out of the envelope and on to my cutting table. Gah, typical.

Seeing as how I had just squared up these blocks and had precious few scraps of fabric left, I was disinclined to cut them up and do the math on how to integrate these blue squares into the blocks. So I decided to take my freshly-developed machine applique skillz for a test-drive. I simply machine-appliqued the blue squares on top of the pseudo-finished blocks. Then I thanked my lucky lone stars that Bee Splendid has a modern bent/focus. Here are the final results:

I'm a flake part I

I'm a flake, part II

For anyone who happens to be here for the food, here's what's on tap this week:

Anniversary Dinner @ Dos Perros
Pizza, Salad
Double Decker Tacos, Avocado Slices
Twice-Baked Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, and Fish for me
Football night - The Hubz is at the game, I eat what I want

Be sure to check out OrgJunkie for more weekly menu plans!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Best of My World since Forever, Part II


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Best of My World since Forever

It's been a reaaaaallly long time since I've written one of these posts, so there are lots and lots of links to share. So that it's not too overwhelming, I'm breaking it up over two days. Look for Part II tomorrow.


  • Modern Fall 3-D Wreath - I didn't discover Tatertots and Jelly until yesterday. When I checked her g-reader stats, there are over 9300+ subscribers. Apparently, I'm kind of out of the loop. Check out this wreath. It's awesome. Then check out this wreath, too. It's equally awesome. Excuse me while I go to Michael's to buy all these supplies.
  • Missy's Fall Garden Quilt - Everything about this pattern makes me happy.
  • Designer Shower Curtain - I think I might try to make a shower curtain for the master bath, that is if we ever finish it.
  • Machine Quilting Swirls - Natalia's quilting is pretty much amazing. I could watch these videos all. day. long.
  • Lawn Chair Quilts - Monica's style is so fresh and creative, and true to their name, these quilts remind me of those scratchy lawn chairs my parents used to have in the backyard growing up.
  • Year of Schnibbles Re-set - Sinta and Sherry are re-booting the Year of Schnibbles and re-naming it Le Petite. (because everything sounds fancier in French) Our first project: to re-cover our ironing boards - deeeeesperately needs to be done in my case. Project #2: Paganini - I'm over the moon about this one!
  • A Versatile Block - Ever since I fell in love with the Stashbuster blocks (I and II), when Little Miss Shabby recommends a block, I sit up and listen.
  • An Inexpensive Way to House Your Stash - I really really want to make this work for a number of reasons. 1) it looks pretty on the shelves and 2) it seems pretty green, re-using something instead of just recycling it. But I don't think I'm organized enough.
  • A Zig-Zag Throw Pillow - Get the Anthropologie look without the Anthropologie price tag.
  • Flower Swirl - Free Motion Quilting - Again, I cannot tell y'all how helpful it is for me to watch other people machine-quilt. Judi's in a class by herself. Go see for yourself.
  • Crispy Baked Taco Bowls - Mmmmm, mini taco salads. Everything's more fun in miniature.
  • Cheap French Bread - I'VE DONE IT! I had to modify this recipe slightly - added more water and less mixing time - but this recipe led to my most successful loaves of bread EVER.

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies


Monday, September 20, 2010

Making Plans

I think I'm a lot better at making plans on a weekly basis, rather than a daily basis. While I'm naively optimistic about what I can do in a single day, I'm much more realistic at forecasting what I can get done in a week. So here's what I'm thinking.

Glam Garden Collection by Josephine Kimberling
Glam Garden collection by Josephine Kimberling
photography by natalie g. | photography

The Glam Garden Gala - It's seriously time to push the pedal to the medal. This quilt is "due" by our next TMQG meeting on October 10. Uh, I'm not really sure what I was thinking when I decided to make 20 or so dresden plates in a somewhat short amount of time for this challenge when I've never made them before. I'm especially not sure what I was thinking when I picked out a pattern that requires applique. It's time to 'fess up. I have NEVER done machine applique. Just from looking at tutorials online, it looks like it can take some time.

With all this anxiety broiling in the back of my mind, I've been doing what I usually do at the thought of a large task that seems slightly intimidating. I've avoided it. Yes, I know what you're thinking, and my inner responsible voice is saying the same thing. Procrastination isn't a very constructive way to deal with anxiety and uncertainty, but it's an instinctive reaction. I've always always fallen on the "flight" side of the "fight or flight" reaction to perceived threats. Yes, I just called my hobby a "perceived threat." It's time to put my big girl knickers back on and get to work.

In my defense, following this pattern, so far I've:
  1. cut out all the little spokes from the 10" squares
  2. made the top seam, trimmed the point, and turned under to form the point of the spokes
  3. ironed and seamed *most* of the spokes

By the end of this week, I would like to:
  1. have all the spokes of the plates pieced together into actual plates and
  2. have the inner circles and background squares cut out and starched. I'll tackle machine applique next week.
  3. have formulated a plan for my machine applique adventures.

In the meantime, help a homegirl out. Does anyone have any machine applique words of wisdom or favorite no-fail tutorials? Is turning under the raw edges on 18-20 inner circles pure madness at this point?

Bee Blocks - I'd reaallly like to have these blocks in the mail by Friday. Both of the patterns are pretty open-ended this month, so I have some flexibility in creating the blocks. I just need to sit down, formulate a plan, then work it.


bee splendid button 150

For anyone who's here for the food, here's what we're eating this week...

  • Scavenge in the fridge for leftovers - we got back from visiting family late last night, and I was too lazy to go to the grocery store.
  • Butternut Squash Soup, Rolls (holdover from last week)
  • Pasta, Homemade Pasta Sauce, Brown-Butter + Sage Roasted Cauliflower
  • Tortilla Black Bean Casserole, Avocados
  • Sloppy Joes (I'm trying it with the fake beef crumbles. We'll see how it goes.), Steamed Broccoli
  • Calzones (The Hubz cooks, while I catch up on my Google Reader and yell words of support and encouragement from the family room!!)
  • Anniversary Dinner @ Dos Perros
For more of this week's plans, be sure to check out today's Menu Plan Monday post on OrgJunkie!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Final Schnibbles Exhibit and Finding More Time

Finally, my last finished Schnibbles... This one's called State Fair, and since it's basically a pinwheel pattern, I, of course, LOVE it. Not only are the printed squares essentially big chunky windmill/pinwheels, if you look for them, you see the smaller white pinwheels nestled between the printed windmills.


For the quilting, I simply quilted wavy vertical lines up and down the quilt. I thought about quilting wavy lines horizontally as well, to make little wavy boxes, but I decided not to. Maybe I'll do that for one of my next spurts of machine quilting.


As far as the process of constructing this pattern goes, I pretty much ignored Carrie's directions. I'm hoping she'll forgive me somehow. See Nicole's post for a quick recap on how to construct the windmills. Instead of making them the prescribed way, I trimmed each charm square to 4.5x5", then made each "square" into 2 logs, measuring 2.5x4.5." From there, I attached each printed log to a white/cream background log (also 2.5x4.5"). At that point, each of the logs were 4.5x4.5, and I cut each square diagonally and matched up some coordinating prints. Clear as mud? I thought so. Keep in mind: If you choose to follow my garbled lead, know that the windmills will turn out chunkier than if you actually follow Carrie's instructions.

State Fair leftovers

The good thing about following my garbled instructions? You'll end up with a whole set of quilt blocks in reverse, with white windmills and printed pinwheels nestled in between. As you can see, I still haven't done anything with these blocks.

Vital stats:
Started: June 2010
Finished: August 2010
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted
Collection: Hunky Dory by Chez Moi


Getting More Done...

At the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild meeting yesterday, someone asked me how I get so much done. Um, I dunno about y'all, but I always feel like I'm at least 3 steps behind where I want to be, when it comes to my craftiness. About 24 hours after someone asked me this question, I stumbled across this link. The post is more directly related to folks interested in developing their writing skills, but I've adapted them slightly to apply to getting more sewing done (preachin' to myself here too, y'all)...

  1. Cut back on television - Since sewing/quilting is one of those things that doesn't always require absolute focus on the task at hand, this isn't completely necessary. I would amend it to say "Cut back on unproductive television." When I watch tv, I always try to have SOME kind of craftiness to work on - binding, cutting out small pieces for another quilt, squaring up blocks, basting a quilt sandwich, etc.
  2. Be highly selective with time spent online - I should probably take this one under better advisement. Quilting is one of those hobbies that has benefited HUGELY from the explosion of online image sites, along with the rise of self-published content on the Interwebz. Consequently, I have a ton of quilt blogs in my Google Reader, a lot of group memberships in flickr, a load of tutorials tagged as "todo" in my delicious account, not to mention all those online fabric shops that make oh so easy to acquire new fabric. It boggles my mind (in a good way) that all this inspirational content is freely available out there, but a lot of the time, I have to make myself close the laptop, then climb the steps to actually sit down in my sewing room and SEW.
  3. Be more selective with what you read - Hmm, for this one I might edit it to say "be more selective with what you sew." Just like there's lots of online content to be consumed, there are lots of different patterns and fabrics you can invest your time and energy in. Invest your valuable time and brain cells working with patterns and fabrics that you LOVE.
  4. Get up earlier and write first thing in the morning - I kind of have a problem getting out of bed in the morning. I always thought this problem would get better as I got older. So far, it hasn't happened yet. Maybe the idea of quilting would be more likely to get me out of bed than exercise, even it's just 15-20 minutes.
  5. Secure enough alone time away from your family for your writing - I'm extremely lucky in this regard in that 1) I have no children and 2) The Hubz is uber-understanding that I'm a much happier person on the days I get to sew, even if it's just for a few minutes. If I go for days that I don't get to sew, he knows that I'm going to have a serious sewing binge at the first opportunity. And he's okay with that.
  6. Eliminate distractions from chat and email - I usually don't sew with my computer open right beside me, so this isn't such a big deal. I do make a point to leave my cell phone in another room or across the room, so I'm not tempted to jump up every time my Facebook app chimes.
  7. Leave work early - Um, so I dunno about your job, but it's pretty tough to pretend to be working and actually be sewing. Unless you work for Hanes or something. But if you find yourself putting in lots of late hours during a workweek, it might be worth it to ask the boss if you can take off a bit early on Friday, then go home and get in a bit of extra sewing time.
  8. Write during your commute - Do you have a long bus or train ride? I have a split commute - half of the time on the local transit, and other half in my car. I usually read, but I have thought about developing a hand applique project to work on instead.
  9. Write at work - Um, again, I don't recommend busting out the quilting frame in the middle of a boring meeting or webinar. However, you might be able to discretely doodle some free motion quilting designs while you're on hold with customer service. Or bring some handwork to keep you busy during your lunch break.
  10. Keep your notebook and pen with you all the time - I've actually found that this helps with craftiness. Ideas strike at the strangest of times, and if I can at least jot down a few keywords associated with a quilt idea, I'll add it to my Google Docs spreadsheet of potential projects the next time I sit down in front of a computer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Schnibbles and Menu Plan Monday

Today, I'm soooo excited to show y'all my finished Joy Luck Schnibbles. This one's my favorite. I know, I say that every time, but seriously, this one is my favorite.


I used a couple of charm packs of Whimsy by Fig Tree Quilts. Sidenote: I was so sad to discover that none of my usual local shops even carried pre-cuts for this cute collection. Luckily, I was able to find a good deal online at Fat Quarter Shop. If y'all don't follow them on Twitter or Facebook, there's no time like the present to start. Every Wednesday, they usually discount an entire collection 40%. But you have to be a fan on fb or twitter to get the coupon code. They don't pay me or send me free loot to wax poetic about them. It just spills over naturally.


Anyways, back to Joy Luck... I loved the stacked coins look of this quilt, but the flying geese points on all the ends are a great alternative to the traditional stacked coins quilt pattern - see here here and here for some cute examples of the traditional pattern.


For the quilting, I stippled pretty tightly in the cream background, stitched in the ditch around all the pointed coins, then added a decorative loop in all the coins because they needed an extra somethin-somethin. I think my stitching in the ditch skills are ever so gradually improving. Like any quilting design where I'm machine-quilting and following a line, I think my accuracy improves when I keep my eyes about 6-8 stitches ahead of my needle. To be profound about it, it's better if I keep my eyes focused on where I'm going, instead of getting caught up in where I am.

As usual, the pieced border was the bane of my existence while I was making it, but once I actually attached the border, I was glad I took the time and effort to make it. I love a good tiny rail fence border. Check out this blast from my past for another mini-rail fence pattern.

It wouldn't be too difficult to make this quilt from a jelly roll, if you wanted lots more coins or to double the size of the coins and make it from a layer cake. Also, if you have lots of scrappy charm squares (looking around guiltily), this pattern would be an awesome scrap-buster.

Vital Stats:
Started: July 2010
Finished: August 2010
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted
Collection: Whimsy by Fig Tree Quilts

For those of you who came here for the food, here's what we're eating this week:
For more menu plans, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's post for today's Menu Plan Monday!

Finally, jaybird is running a super-cute giveaway this week, until Thursday night! Take a look at the details page to see how to enter to win some daisied and dotted loot, among other things.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Schnibbles Mini-Parade Day 1


As promised, here's the first installment of my Schnibbles mini-parade. Back in May, Sinta and Sherri gave everyone the option to choose a pattern from Carrie's new book - Schnibbles Times Two, which by the way, I highly recommend you buy if you have lots of charm packs or layer cakes sitting around with no plans.

I had my eye on the X-Rated pattern for awhile by that point. It was actually the first Schnibbles pattern to pique my curiosity. I had seen a few instances of it in blogland, and I even went so far as to pick up the pattern at the AQS show in Knoxville last summer, but I neatly tucked it away on my pattern shelf when I got home. I decided this was my big opportunity to finally make the pattern.

It takes about a charm pack and a half to complete the pattern. I saved the bulk of the red and green prints from Cotton Blossoms for the border to give it a bit of a Christmas-y look. I'm using the remaining squares plus another Cotton Blossoms charm pack to make a Wild Thing quilt by Camille. (That's my laid-back quilt. It has no deadline. I'm just making it for fun. No pressure. I don't even have a deadline listed for it on my spreadsheet. Disclaimer: Don't expect to see it on the blog for awhile.)

Like I said when I pieced it, since you piece the quilt rows at a time, instead of blocks at a time, it can get a wee bit tedious to piece all the tiny pieces together. But in the end, I think it's worth it.

For the quilting, I stippled tightly in the background areas and stitched in the ditch around the "X's."


Vital stats:
Started: July 2010
Finished: August 2010
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted
Fabric collection: Cotton Blossoms by Bonnie & Camille

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bee Splendid Month 2 (finally) and Food

Finally (!), I'm blogging about Month 2 from the Bee Splendid bee. Mary asked us to make some Drunk Love-style blocks, inspired by Denyse Schmidt. I put off making these blocks until the last week of the month, mainly because I was nervous about doing something "wrong" and running out of fabric. Luckily, Mary linked to a tutorial as a starting point for people (like me!) who crave the step by step instructions.


I used the tutorial for my first block. Then, I discovered that I needn't have worried about messing up. There's not much you can do to screw up these blocks.


So I free-styled it on the 2nd block.


Finally, I used all the leftover bits to crumb-piece a signature block (center).

Mary, I can't wait to see how your quilt turns out!!

Would I make this pattern again? Yes! I'm thinking about using one of my Moda scrap bags for it, since all the strips are already cut in all different widths. But I don't really have any modern-ish fabrics in a scrap bag. So maybe I could use the Kansas Troubles collection I have and call my quilt Laura Ingalls Gets Toasted or something like that.

I'm planning on a mini-Schnibbles parade this week. I finally finished the bindings on 3 months' worth of Schnibbles. Here's a sneak peek...


Finally, here's what we're eating this week...

Tomato Pie (like this but halve all the cheese and the mayo, then double the tomatoes and make your own crust), Green Beans
Potato Soup, Salad
Pizza, Salad
Spinach Shells, Bread
Roasted Tomato Risotto

For more menus, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday post for this week!