Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life Update

1. Home Improvement

For the second weekend in a row, I took a few days off from almost all technology to get caught on some ToDos around the house. The biggest accomplishment: We painted over the wood paneling in our family room. Here are a few  "before" pictures:

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Here's an after picture:

During photo

Doesn't the white make the room look so much cleaner? Let's face it, I need as much help as I can get in the cleaning department. This was definitely a welcome change. The Husbatron also replaced our ceiling fan/light fixture with something a bit more modern AND replaced all the 1970sesque chocolate brown wall outlets with some plain white ones that blend in with the walls a bit better.

This week, we're hoping to paint the upper walls in this room. But first, we have to find a color that will work. 

2. Works in Progress

While waiting for paint to dry, I did manage to sneak upstairs for a sewing session or two. I've finished quilting vertical squiggly lines on my Gobble Gobble quilt.

halfway quilted

Next I'll quilt horizontal squiggly lines to create a squiggly grid.

3. H2H Update!

Y'all, I would just like to say that my swap partner for the H2H project is what you might call the bomb-diggity! Look at the fabric she sent - all French General prints! I've been eager to bring a little bit of French General into my life, and I'm so glad I have the opportunity.

array of h2h fabrics

I'm throwing in a few other medium-to-light-toned prints from my stash.

with my scraps added in

I might also pick up a dark chocolate brown print to use as a background. I'm still churning around pattern ideas, but here are a few pictures that have inspired me:


4. FOOD!

I've been so remiss in posting our menu plans lately. We've been eating, promise. Here are some highlights from the past couple of weeks:
For Easter dinner, we went to the in-laws, and I made Monica's deviled eggs for an appetizer and Dorie Greenspan's carrot cake for dessert.
We've tried out a few new (to us) Durham restaurants - Bull City Burger and Brewery (this one's actually brand spankin' new), Handy Kitchen for takeout Chinese, and Blue Corn Cafe.
There have also been lots of old standbys in rotation - Bean and Rice Burritos, Risotto, Pizza, Spinach and Ricotta Shells
A few new recipes - Potatoes and Peas in Red Curry with Rice, Enchiladas (modified to use fake beef crumbles)

I hope everyone is staying safe with all this crazy weather and doing their best to enjoy the week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Snowballs and Diamonds Tutorial

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This tutorial is perfect if you have lots of charm squares with large-scale prints, since you don't slice and dice the charm squares too much. I hope you enjoy it!

Supplies:
fandango - get this party started!
  • 1 charm pack or 42 (5”) squares - I used Fandango by Kate Spain for Moda
  • 1.5 yds of a small-scale or solid print for sashing diamonds, inner border, and binding
  • 2 yds of large-scale print for outer border
  • 2.5 yds of background fabric - I used Kona Snow
  • 4 yds of backing
  • batting - 80x90
Cutting Directions


Background:
  • Cut 7 (1.5”) strips; from each strip cut 25 (1.5”) squares, for a total of 175 squares - you’ll have 7 leftover squares.
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  • 2.5”x5” logs - cut 11 (2.5”xWOF) strips; from each strip cut 8 logs, for a total of 88 logs. You'll have 4 leftover logs.
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  • 2.5”x9.5” logs - cut 22 (2.5”xWOF) strips; from each strip cut 4 logs, for a total of 88 logs. You'll have 4 leftovers.
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Sashing diamonds and inner border print:
  • Cut 7 (1.5”) strips; from each strip cut 25 (1.5”) square for a total of 175 squares - you’ll have 7 leftovers.
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  • Cut 6 (2.5”xWOF) strips
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Outer borders:
  • Cut 6 (7.5”xWOF) strips from a large-scale print. (Do as I say, not as I did. I originally thought that I'd go with larger 8.5" borders and changed my mind at the last minute.) 
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Piecing Directions


Making the Snowball Blocks

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  • Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner on the back of every. single. 1.5” background square.
  • Or if you have one of those fancy angler rulers that fits on your machine, skip this step and use that instead.
  • Grab a charm square. Place one of the background squares in the corner of the charm square, with the wrong side facing up.
  • Pin in place, if necessary, and then sew along the marked diagonal line.
  • Repeat in the other 3 corners.
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  • Next, line up a ruler, with the 0.25” line along the marked diagonal seam you just made, and cut along the edge of the ruler.
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  • Repeat in the other 3 corners.
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  • Use the iron to press the background fabric away from the charm print.
  • Now your charm square should look like this.
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Sashing the Snowball Blocks
  • Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner on the back of every. single. 1.5” diamond print square.
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  • Grab 2 logs - 2.5”x5” and a charm square. Attach one log to the top of the snowball block and another to the bottom.
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  • Press and repeat with the 41 other blocks.
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  • Grab 2 logs - 2.5”x9.5” and a semi-sashed snowball block. Attach one log to the right side of the snowball block
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  • and another to the left.
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  • Press and repeat with the 41 other blocks.
  • Grab a sashed charm square. Place one of the diamond print squares in the corner of the block, with the wrong side facing up.
  • Pin in place, if necessary, and then sew along the marked diagonal line.
  • Repeat in the other 3 corners.
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  • Next, line up the ruler, with the 0.25” line along the marked diagonal seam just made, and cut trim away the small triangle of extra fabric.
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  • Repeat in the other 3 corners, and use the iron to press the diamond print away from the larger block.
  • The finished block should look like this and measure roughly 9.5” (9” finished).
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  • Repeat 41 more times.
  • Lay out the blocks in a 6x7 grid.
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  • Label by row.
  • Pin and sew the blocks into rows, then press the seams.
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  • Pin and sew the rows together, pressing the seams as you go along to prevent bowing.
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Adding Borders - Like I mentioned in the last tutorial, I do not attach my borders the "correct" way. If you have a different method of attaching borders, please do follow it!
  • From the 6 (2.5xWOF) inner strips you cut, piece the borders for each side and with right sides together, attach the inner border strips. Trim as needed.
  • Rinse and repeat with the 7.5xWOF strips.

Quilt!

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Bind!
Wash/Dry/Enjoy!

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Update: a PDF of the tutorial can be found here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Start + Finish of the Year - Framed Snowballs

After what seems like months of plodding along, I finally have a finish! So far, this is the only quilt I've started and finished in 2011. I'll get out of the way and let the photos do the talking...

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Vital Stats

  • Started: February 2011
  • Finished: April 2011
  • machine-pieced, machine-quilted
  • Fabric Collection: Fandango by Kate Spain for Moda
  • Backing is from the "Flourish" collection by Studio e fabrics.
Come back tomorrow for the tutorial (finally)!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BACK!

Last week, our house was struck. Struck by a terrible virus that involved all the usual suspects: nausea, migraine-level headaches, fever/chills, etc. We're still keeping the bland white foods handy, but overall, everyone has recuperated, and we're once again fully functioning members of society who go to work, take out our trash, check the mail, and so on. This guy even got a walk last night.

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While I was sprawled out on the couch and indulging in some Desperate Housewives rerun love via Netflix, I was also happily perusing the internet. Here are some fun things I found.

Hands 2 Help Fabric Swap/Charity Quilt Project
Sarah's set up this awesome project. She did a great job explaining how things are going to work here. I'm so excited to get crackin' on this! I don't have any ongoing charity quilt projects in the queue, and I think having REAL-LIFE deadlines will give me the motivation I need to start and finish the quilt. If you can find the time, please sign up!! By signing up, you'll be entered to win an Origins jelly roll, and if we can get to 40 participants, Sarah will throw in a Sherbet Pips jelly roll!


DIYing Around the House: A Tale of Ambivalence
I have a big love for Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Pier 1, etc. But I also have a budget. So I look for DIY solutions. I bookmark a LOT and I mean a LOT of DIY home decor tutorials throughout my daily travels on the web. But I never do them because I already have so many quilting projects started. So I hardly ever buy throw pillows, slipcovers, placemats, etc because I tell myself I can make all that. The problem is that I never actually get around to making them.

So to resolve this dilemma, I'm giving myself next week OFF from quilting because I'd like to take some of the ugly out of my house. The first thing on my agenda:

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(our hand-me-downed couch with an ill-fitting slipcover. not quite pottery barn catalog-worthy but soooo much better than before.)

Slipcovers: We have four of these atrocious 1991-model mauve wingback chairs that Mom and Dad gave me when we bought our house. They're in pretty good shape because growing up, the family M.O. was to lounge around on the floor instead of sitting on furniture, like civilized people. (I come from a line of classy folk. What can I say?) It's just the color. It doesn't match anything in the house, except the ottoman that came with the set of chairs.

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So my mission for next week: make a slipcover for the ottoman. No matter how bad it turns out, there's no way it will be worse than it looks now.

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Here are the links I'm looking at for inspiration/courage:
In the meantime, however, I have some quilting to do. I know I've been showing pictures of this same quilt for the last month. It's not a difficult pattern. I just keep hitting a wall. I have one more row's worth of stippling to do, machine quilting in the borders, and then the binding.

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In the spirit of full disclosure, when I couldn't sleep the other night, I cut out fabric from my stash and scrap bin to make a scrap quilt. I could have sewed on some projects I've already started, but I was afraid the machine would wake up the Husbatron.

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Finally, I'm trying to hold myself back from starting yet another new project. Triangle Modern Quilt Guild received our solid charm packs from Robert Kaufman (THANKS, Robert Kaufman and Co.!), and I know just what to do with mine. Now that I've resolved the dilemma of what to make, I'm itching to actually get started on it.

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If you're curious to see what everyone else is working on, be sure to check out today's WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Few Announcements

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1. I'm very pleased to announce that Lisa Marie is the winner of the 12 Days of Christmas charm pack
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and that Joy is the winner of the Spring Meadow jelly roll!

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Lisa Marie and Joy - I've sent you both an email. Be sure to reply so I can send your goods to you.

A big thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment! I still have lots of comments that need replies, but I'm so glad to see folks coming out of the woodwork, and I've found some great new (to me) blogs to feed my Google Reader addiction. Quilters rock!

2. Bummed you didn't win? Check out Jenny's giveaway. She has a charm pack of the much-coveted Sherbet Pips up for grabs! Generosity at its best, y'all. She's even giving folks who have never ever won a giveaway an extra shot at scoring the goods.

Color matching: Sherber Pips Charm pack GIVEAWAY!

3. Another exciting event that's percolating is a Charity Quilt Challenge that Sarah is organizing to help Judi of Green Fairy Quilts fame amass some quilts for Judi's family's annual trip to an orphanage in Romania. See here for more details and the guidelines. Mull it over. Sign-ups are coming on Sunday!




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I hope everyone has a great, crafty week!