Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Furry Friends

Lots of quilters tell stories about their furry friends who share their sewing space. I thought I would introduce you to a few of the characters that live in my house......

First there are Frisky (orange) and Brownie (black)......and how a black cat got named Brownie is a story for another time! These two boys are siblings and LOVE to sleep on any piece of fabric they can find. There can be a 8 foot table with a 4 inch square block sitting on it.....and where do you think they decide to take their nap. On the tiny 4 inch square of course!!

I have two other cats that like to hang out while I sew too. Their names are Quint (yes, from the movie JAWS) and Oliver. No pictures of them though.

Then there are the dogs......I have three of them. First there is Hobis, she is a basset hound and very old. She just wanted to be petted and have her tummy rubbed. Wish my life could be that simple sometimes!

Then there is my dog. I got her for my 40th birthday and her name is Raven. She is the best present I have ever gotten in my life. At 2 years old, she is full of energy! She was tired out from playing when I took this picture though.

She's hugging a stuffed moose.....maybe she's dreaming of her Artic heritage. Now wait...... I think she might wake up!

See those pretty blue eyes! Let me tell you, it is hard to be mad at a dog who looks at you with those eyes. Even when she just ate yet ANOTHER pillow. sigh.
Finally there is Pepper......she's 11 years old and worries. She worries about Raven eating the pillows, she worries when someone takes out a suitcase, she worries about the beep the smoke alarm makes, but she is a good dog.

Who shares your sewing space??
Have a fantastic day!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Storm in Maryland

This morning I woke up to the raining coming down, high winds, and freakishly warm weather. I got the kids off to school and headed off to work. Eight hours later I left the building to find the sun shining! And yes, there are pretty much no windows in my building so I never know what the weather will be until I head outside. The storm has passed AND I finished my Storm at Sea UFO too! Since the weather was cooperating, I headed outside to take some pixs.

I used three different batiks for the quilt. I really love the sunflower fabric even though it's not quite my usual colors.

When I was stitching the rows together, things were looking kinda boring to me. Once I got the quilt done and hung it up, it all came together.

Then I decided to get artsy and play around with my camera. I've only had it a few months......I really liked the different effects I got when I changed the angle of how I took the photos.

I like the wavy effect in this one.

Here's a few more......I had so much fun taking the photos!

Two UFO's done this month!! Horray! It feels great to finish up long delayed projects! Have a great day!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Storm at Sea

Well, it's been exciting morning already and it's only 8:45am! When I was checking the blogs I follow this morning, there I was! On Brown Paper Packages, I was featured as contestant number two for the "So You Think You Can Quilt" contest. I'm so excited!! It's going to be so much fun!! I feel like I have been stuck in a rut lately. I have been doing so many store samples, commissioned quilts, and quilting for others that I really have not had the time to just play around with fabric and see where it leads. So I signed up for the contest to get my brain cells perking away.

Every month there is a theme and you have to create a quilt around that theme. Then all the quilts are posted and you can vote on your favorite. Each month one person is eliminated and thrown off the SS Fabricholic ship. Just kidding about being thrown off a ship though won't that be cool if we could all be stitching away on a cruise ship. Hmmmm....maybe some TV execs can pick up on that idea for the fall lineup. Anyway, each month someone is eliminated until one person remains. You can play along too and stitch your own quilt around the theme. Fun huh!

In other news, I finished stitching together my Storm at Sea blocks and I'm putting it all together now. I made the quilt using a Square in a Square ruler. Here's how it works and the example features a square within a square within a square block. That's a mouthful!

Here's what the ruler looks like. Each side features a particular angle. I'm using the 90 degree angle for this block.

Here's the block before I get started with the ruler. I made the first square within a square and now I am adding the second framing square.

Time to get cutting with the ruler. You line up your 90 degree angle with the seam lines. Note how the ruler has a built in 1/4 inch seam allowance. Then you slice off the extra fabric.

Then you turn the block and do the next side, again lining up the seam allowance with the 90 degree lines.

Keep turning your block and cutting off the extra fabric until all four sides are done.

The finished block comes out really good with perfect 1/4 inch seam allowances. You won't be sewing your points into the seam allowance when you use this ruler! BUT, the downside is the technique generates alot of waste. Here's what's left after cutting one block.
Now I know what you are saying....I could save the triangles for something else. And you're right! But then I have more scraps and I already have a whole shelf full of scraps. So I am not going to use the ruler again. I'm going to stitch up the rest of the quilt today and post the compeleted top tommorrow. Have a great day everyone!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Liguine with Clam Sauce

For Christmas I got "The Pioneer Women Cooks" cookbook and it is FABULOUS! I've already made the Penne ala Betsy, Breakfast Potatoes, and the Calzones. So tonight I decided I would try the Liguine with Clam Sauce. Tasty looking huh! But a word of warning, you are not going to lose weight eating any of the recipes in this book. You might actually gain weight unless you take extreme measures like I am going to do. Which basically means I'm going to take the dog for a long walk in the freezing cold at 9pm at night. But it was worth it.....

If no one was looking, I might have even licked my plate clean.....that's how good the clam sauce was. Now run out to store or your library and get the book. And while you're at it, you better pick a new dog leash too. You're going to need it!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blue Christmas- part two

I finished up my Elvis's Blue Christmas quilt over the weekend. My friend Lisa made the original tree quilt that inspired this one. Hers was in green and it was gorgeous!

So I love the song "Blue Christmas" by Elvis....and he's the KING! It was only logical to dig through my scraps, find this leftover cream colored Elvis fabric, whip out the blue fabric paint, and viola' blue Elvis fabric! I cranked up the King singing all his Christmas favorites and stitched away!

I decided to quilt some swirling snow with shiny white poly thread.....note Elvis's guitar.

I got to use lots of blue scraps to make up the trees and it was fun to use some fabrics I bought years ago. Notice the bear on the moon from when my kids were babies, the youngest is 6 now so you get an idea of how far back my scrap box goes.

Have a great day!!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Forest Fairies

It's done.......after 6 years, I finally finished cutting out the reverse embroidery appliques.

And when I was done, I sat there and thought about all the things that have happened in the last 6 years of my life. When I started this quilt, my youngest son was not even a year old yet.....now he's in 1st grade. When I started snipping away at these appliques, I was just getting used to being a stay at home mom of three sons under the age of 8. This past month, I just reentered the work force full time and my oldest is taking entrance exams for high school.

Over the past 6 years, I've buried friends and family.....some of them way before their time should have come. I had surgery for the cochlear implant and learned to hear all these amazing sounds that most people take for granted on any given day. I joined a mini quilt group and made friends with a fantastic group of women. My husband continues to support my interests, listen to what I say, and be my best friend.

I've had all the usual ups and downs one experiences in the course of living life. Tonight when I cut out that last applique shape I realized something. I realized that sometimes, it's good for a project to move along slowly because you can mark the passage of time as you stitch away and reflect on all that has been while looking forward to all that is to come.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

UFO's Part Two

Time for me to reveal the rest of my UFO's. And I am happy to report I am working on making my UFO Storm at Sea. Hope to have a photo of the completed quilt top to show off later on this week.

A few years ago my guild did a 4 1/2 block swap for a whole year. Now I have a whole box full of blocks and they are all really neat. I thought about setting them with a triple sashings but they have languished in a box. I am going to have to FINISH these up!! No way can I give these cuties away!
Now I am the world's slowest knitter. Now I mean S......L......O......W! So why I ever thought I could make one of these cool knit bags is beyond me. I must have been under the influence of too much dark chocolate.....so this is being DISCARDED! Gosh I feel liberated now!!

Next up is more blocks from a block swap. I did this with my small group, the Wild Threads. I love these baskets and guess what?? I have all these black and white four patch squares left over from my chicken blocks!! So I am going to play around with putting them all together! Time to FINISH it up!

Finally, its the most special UFO of all.......my Karen Stone UFO. It was a BOM I did for a year. I started it.....hmmm.....had to be over 4 years ago. AND my friend Janine was doing it along with me. We both got uhhhhh, got stalled, delayed, took a detour.....insert whatever word you want here. But now we are both determined to get this done!!! AND I told Janine, if I don't get it done by the end of March, I am going to give mine to her!!!!! Oh my, I'm really motivated to FINISH it up now!!!!

Wish me luck with the Karen Stone.......I'm going to be burning some midnight oil come this March for sure!!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I love sunflowers. I mean love them!!!! Every winter I look through all the seed catalogs and order the ones that sound exciting. Just listen to the names:

Earthwalker, Sole D' Oro, Giant Gray Stripe, Velvet Queen, Bashful, Moulin Rouge, and Apricot Twist......

My biggest problem is finding room to plant them all as I have a shady backyard so they all have to go in the front of my house. So when I tell people where I live, they go "oh, your the house with all the sunflowers!".

Some years they grow better than others. I often thought about making a quilt filled with sunflowers. Maybe this will be the summer for that. In the meantime, here's some sunflowers for you to enjoy.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

UFO's Part One

Since one of my goals this year is to purge my UFO's, I got busy between Christmas and New Year's and went through the sewing room. And I discovered even more UFO's than I thought possible of one person!

First, let's define the term UFO......first time I heard that term used, I thought someone was talking about making a space themed quilt! But then I got wise and learned it stands for "Unidentifed Fabric Object". Whoever came up with that one is pretty clever!!! Since my goal for the year is to either finish, get rid of, or disassemble all my UFO's by the end of March, I need to set up some guidelines.

First, a UFO is any project I have not worked on in over a year. Now I quilt ALOT and tend to finish stuff up. If I have not done anything in a year, it's a UFO. If it's been under a year, then its a WIP (work in progress).

Second, I don't count completed quilt tops as UFO's because if I don't like how something turned out, I sometimes use the top for the back of another quilt. Sometimes I combine two quilt tops I don't like into a brand new quilt top. Sometimes I use the quilt top for a whole brand new project. And sometimes I'm still debating how I want to quilt it.

Now with these things in mind, and only three months until my deadline. I started putting stuff in one of the three piles:

Discard- these are going to my Wild Threads group UFO swap
Disassemble- finished blocks go into the orphan block box and fabric goes back on the shelf
Finish up- pedal to the metal!! Rev up the machine!

Here I go! First up is the Storm at Sea......I was originally going to make this for my bachelor brother. But then I thought, he's is not going to appreciate it. So I bought some black, yellow, and Pittsburg Steelers fabric. Then I stitched it up into columns. He was overjoyed and sleeps with it every night. Now I love this fabric.....I love imagining how it would look.....so let's put this in the FINISH IT UP pile. Did I mention this has been sitting around for 2 years?
Then there are the Pigs of Life. I thought the appliques were so cute and I wanted to put them inside the setting squares of an Irish Chain. I started cutting the strips, found a piggy book, found some cute celebration fabric....and that's it. This has been lingering in my life for about 3 years.....the verdict??? DISASSEMBLE PILE!
Then there's the result of a challenge with my small group called the Wild Threads. The challenge was to research some fruit or vegtable and make quilt. I chose olives for my theme due to some questions raised at my guild's retreat....questions such as "olives, fruit or vegtable?" and "what exactly is a pimento?". These are the kinds of things we talk about at 3am after sewing for 24 hours non stop. Scary huh? Anyway, this is probably two years ago and I make a couple of blocks and then stopped. What's the verdict?? DISASSEMBLE!

Next up are the cats!!!! Yes, more cats!!! I made this pattern three times and this was the fourth time. I love these cats. I wanted Ghost Cats so I went with a white on white combo. I finished up the cats but then decided I did not want to do the flowers that were in the pattern. I wanted to be creative and make tombstomes, lilies of the valley etc. And here it sits, three years later.....what should I do??? The verdict......FINISH IT UP! But what should I do? Follow the pattern and get it done with or go back to the graveyard theme?? Time and deadlines will tell...

This next one......its embarrassing......I started this when my youngest son was not even a year old. He's 6 now......and that's not the embarrassing part. The top is done! It only took about a year to do that....but I did all these reverse cut out embrodery flowers on the top. And once I started cutting the top layer of fabric away to reveal the pretty fabric underneath, I realized how much I HATE doing that! So for five years I have procrasinated....started and stopped....and now I only have this tiny section left to do!! Then I can quilt it! So you know the goal here! FINISH IT UP!!

See the small section left to do???? I am so ashamed.....

Here's what the whole thing looks likes.....I already how I want to quilt it....I already have the threads.....and the backing and the binding. I bought them years ago BEFORE I started cutting out the little flowers. Sad huh.

Finally there's the chickens which were a group project with the Wild Threads last year. Time for another secret......I don't like birds. So I have no idea why I agreed to do a chicken sew along. It was option but there's recipes in the book and that kinda won me over. I managed to fuse down four out of the twelve blocks and that's it. What to do????? DISCARD!

Guess what? This is only part one of my UFO's!!! I have more!!!! Scary huh? And I know there's no way I get all my keepers done in time.....so when March gets closer there will have to be another purge. Stay tuned for my progress and Part Two of How the UFO Flies.