Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sew Excited

Today I completed block 20 of the Pile 'O Fabric Skillbuilder 2013 series.  It was actually quite easy when compared to the hassle I had on block 19.  I really love how it turned out and am super stoked to have made it this far.  I did not keep up with the schedule for free motion quilting these but am hoping to make time for that in January 2014.  I also have to make the border for the quilt and can already tell this quilt will not only be a large one but a real beauty.

I love how they all look together and it seems to have a pretty even distribution of colors which for me is definitely a coincidence and a pleasant first.
Since I am wrapping up my 2013 BOM projects ( at least for the most part ) I think I can start planning my goals for 2014!!!  I am one of those that definitely likes to set goals and even a few resolutions for the upcoming year.  Road maps and game plans help me keep on the path I choose---at least for a while...

Keep Stitchin'

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Three very different Castles

I have finally assembled the three castles that I have been working on all year long and hope they don't join my ever growing UFO pile.  When I joined so many BOM's this last year I really didn't think the part out about them all becoming UFO's at the same time.  It only makes matters worse that all the new BOM's for the New Year are starting to reel me in hook, line, and sinker...YIKES!!!
Right about now I am seriously feeling the need to join the 2014 Lovely Year of Finishes and actually would be a fool not to.  I wish I wasn't such a chicken sh...It's not like the po po will arrest me if I don't complete my to do list.  I seriously need to read up on the consequences and consider the risks of failure vs the benefit factor. They don't even know where I live so my knee caps should be safe right???

In the meantime...I have made progress on my current year's BOM goals.  Here are the Three castles I have been doing from Ula Lenz's website this year.  She has yet to announce what 2014 will bring and I suppose that is good but I am so curious!!!

I love all three and they will make great wall hangings in 2014

I am currently working on the last of my 20 blocks in the Pile 'O Fabric Skillbuilder 2013 BOM.  Block 19 kicked my bootie and I am hoping number 20 will take it easy on me... It took me three attempts to get number 19 right.  I am surprised I stuck it out although I did give it a long rest between each try which is why I am still struggling to get this one done.  Block 19 was a paper pieced triangle and it had a very nasty Y seam in it.  The first block I picked apart so many times it got a hole in the center :(  In the second attempt the triangles never matched up and I refused to pick it apart.  For the third attempt, I decided to follow the directions ( I know, I know) but she had us use glue on the seams and I HATE unpicking the seams and paper off the glue. Nasty business...but in this case SEW necessary.  I forget what Alyssa called this block but I nick named mine Stargate because the fabrics I used look like space junk floating around the center triangle (Stargate).  Wish me luck on the last least send happy thoughts my way...Thanks!!!

Keep Stitchin'

Friday, December 20, 2013

A few ticks off the to-do list

I am busy prepping for Christmas and making progress slowly.  Hoping to get to baking all kinds of yummy delicious things once I can pull myself away from my sewing machine.  But I am getting some progress made in the sewing studio.

I made my first zipper pouches this week.  The first one I will have to show you after Christmas as I don't want the recipient to get a sneak peek of it but the second one I will show off now.  I must say I had to watch a you tube video to see how to use my zipper foot.  I have never used it before and couldn't figure out how the needle could possibly get to be on both sides of the foot.  I had no idea it had a sliding bar on the back that lets you slide the foot to the other side of the needle.  My zipper pouch is a little bigger than some but I wanted it large enough to stow some smash book supplies.  It even has a medium size smash book in it and some washi tape amongst other stickers and note cards.  The recipient is a teen on my Xmas list and I hope she loves it as much as I do.

I made another tote bag for an elderly lady at an assisted living facility nearby and filled it with yarn and crochet supplies, socks and candies.  I bought this panel this summer on sale and it was perfect for this tote.

and I remembered that pockets on the inside would come in handy...something I learned by forgetting to add them to mine.

I also am trying to finish up some block of the month projects.  I finished up my December block for the Quilt Doodle Doodle BOM. 
 After buying some more fabric to sash it together, I completed the top yesterday.  I didn't realize how big this would be finishing out at. 12 blocks laying loose all year didn't look like much but after sashing it is now 54 by 72 inches.  I am contemplating adding a wide white border to it but am not sure.  I think I  prefer the lap quilt size rather than a twin size quilt.
For now it is time to put on some Christmas carols and get to some of that baking I was talking about.  I hope your Christmas preparations are coming together, too.  Christmas is quickly approaching and the festivities will soon be here.
Keep Stitchin'

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back in the saddle again

It seems like forever since I have had the opportunity to get some sewing done.  Thanksgiving was filled with family and cooking and cleaning.  I took the week off of work but it was filled to the brim with the holiday festivities and our youngest daughter was home from college so it was a pretty busy week here with no sewing.

I finally got the chance to do a little this weekend due to the fact it is too cold here to do much outside activities.  We had our first dusting of snow last week and this week may bring more as we slowly climb out of these low temperatures in the high teens. Unfortunately for us that may mean a period of freezing rain and that is the worse.  Let's hope that doesn't happen as our daughter is traveling home for the extended winter school break this week.  I am a terrible worry wart and don't need the added stress :)

I made my first ever Scrappy Trip Blocks this weekend.  I am taking part in the Scrappy Trip Bee hosted by Julie at 627HandWorks . She hosts them quarterly and sign ups for Round 4 are Feb 1st to the 6th.  You can sign up for as many or few rounds as you like depending on your needs and time.  They really go together pretty fast so I will be taking part for a while depending on how big a top I will be making out of them.  Each time you make six blocks ( one to keep for yourself  and five to send to hive members).  Everyone requests what colors they would like to see in their blocks.  So fun pulling fabrics to fit each one's style and preferences!

First up was for our beekeeper --- Sheila
Sheila requested fun and bright with a dark strip down the middle
I recently got the Tula Pink Raccoon and the lavender circles in a scrap pack from Hawthorne Threads and thought they filled the bill for fun.  Those raccoons are just too cute!!!  These scrap packs are on sale right now for $6.99 and contain close to two yards of fabric.  I was very pleased with the assortment I received and plan on buying more if the sale lasts long enough to make it to my next payday :) I think I have an addiction that needs professional help...please don't tell a sole though.. I kind of am enjoying this habit of adding to my stash every chance I can lately!!!

Next up was Emilee
Emilee requested low volume.  
A year ago I am not even sure I could have explained low volume...yet alone find it in my stash.  But thanks to my addiction (lol) I am now the proud owner of an ever growing stash of low volume.  I like to add for quite a while before I start to use it though---so I wasn't sure what to start out with.  I have yet to really make a low volume block of any sort.  I hope it isn't too obvious.  I have had these little mice for quite a while---long before low volume was a catch phrase and they were too cute not to include in this block...They did make it challenging to pull additional fabrics in though.  These scrappy bee blocks seem to have a bit of a learning curve on balancing a person's color wishes with the scrappy look.  I found that if I didn't watch it they can easily get too color coordinated and then look out of place when additional blocks are put next to them.  In Sheila's block above the overwhelming desire was to add another teal or lime color to the block but when looking at her other blocks---yellow seemed like the right choice.  I also found that I rather like the longest diagonal to kind of be the darker value---kind of hard to determine with low volume!!! Here is what I came up with.  I hope Emilee likes it.
Here the blue in the little mikes print seemed the darker value.  That's the funny thing about low volume---you would think all those brown mice would make it the darker block but to me it certainly looks like a white print---even with all those mice.  The red flowers don't even seem as dark as the blue down the center it went.

I then went for the block for Tracy
Tracy requested white and bright, happy fabrics

I have a lot of brights and had fun with this one. I bought the purple print with the white chairs a year ago and haven't found the right project for it yet.  This block was ideal for it.  White, bright and aren't those birds on the chair fun.  The tree of life print and the yellow chevron were also in the scrap packs I got from Hawthorne threads and I thought they added a fun element to this scrappy block. 

Then I have been putting off appliqueing a little something on these bibs I picked up at Ikea this Summer when my daughter was expecting a baby.  I thought I could finish them up and add them to a Xmas present for the little one.  Before long he will be eating and making messes and these will come in handy.  I wasn't sure what to put on them but am sure the deer will be a big hit with my grandson's mommy.

Feels good to finally tick a couple of to do's off the ever growing list!!!

Keep Stitchin'

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks Blog Hop Winner

The Blog Hop has come to a close and as always was so much fun!
Welcome new followers and thanks to everyone who visited over the past week.
I hope you found a lot of great new blogs and inspiration from participating!

I always enjoy reading your comments and it was a great reminder that we all have so much to be thankful for this week and always!!!  By far, family and friends ranked topped in our blessing comments followed closely by good health.  May each of you continue to be blessed in so many wonderful ways!!!

Mr Random chose number 71 as the winner who will enjoy a little Kate Spain "In from the Cold" love from me.   Making the winner Alida!!! I have emailed Alida letting her know she is the lucky winner and will get her package off to her as soon as I hear back from her with her 411.

In Alida's winning comment she said:
I am thankful for all the inspiration I am getting from this bloghop! Thanks for the chance to win!

What a huge coincidence that Alida's blog was one of the site's that I felt hugely lucky to have stumbled across on this blog hop! She has a wonderful blog worthy of checking out if you didn't catch it on the hop.  She blogs at Quilting, Paper Piecing and Crafts and offers lots of free wonderful paper piecing patterns like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Alice in Wonderland and Snoopy to name a few.  I have a grand-daughter who loves Mickey and Minnie so I was thrilled to find her patterns for them.  If you love paper piecing like I do you will surely fall in love with her creations!  Congratulations Alida!!!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  May your blessings be many and your gratitude shine brightly!!!

Thanksgiving photo: Thanksgiving kid prays thanksgivingpilgrimboypraying-1.jpg

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving Thanks Blog Hop Giveaway

 Welcome fellow Blog Hoppers!!!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

I am so happy for this opportunity to Give Thanks for all the wonderful things happening in my life and in blog land!  A big Thank You to Mishka from the Quilting Gallery for putting together this blog hop so we can let our gratitude shine! I appreciate her reminding me and offering a platform to  Thank everyone for their support and friendship that I get from all my visitors and followers of my humble little blog!!!
It couldn't have come at a better time when here in the USA we are getting prepared to share our thanks with family and friends around the Thanksgiving table next week.  On top of that, yesterday was my birthday  and tonight I am attending my first ever Modern Quilt Guild meeting in Portland --- meeting up with a fellow blogger ---for the first time, that I have been following for over a year now and am so excited to meet her.  It's been an awesome week for me with lots to be thankful for.  So I am eager to spread some love with this giveaway!   If this is your first time here feel free to look around and check out my blog and wander back here anytime!  If you are a regular reader...You Rock My World!!!  Thank You, Thank You!

With the holidays quickly approaching I thought it might be nice to offer something that would be handy for a last minute Christmas project so I picked up this wonderful Kate Spain pattern for "Hot Cocoa" featuring her In from the Cold fabric collection.  I am also throwing in a mini charm pack and four fat quarters from the line to get you started.

All you need to do to seize the opportunity to win this is leave a comment telling me something you feel thankful for this year and I will let Mr Random choose a winner from all the entries on the morning of November 27th.  I am especially thankful for all who stop by and love hearing all your comments...I will do my best to answer each one but I do have family visiting this week so forgive me if I am not the promptest.  I will be shipping this prize package to anyone in the US or International that Mr Random chooses from the comments I receive.  All you have to do is be sure I can contact you should you win so I can get your mailing info...which means if you are a no reply blogger please leave your email address in your comment.  One comment per person is all it takes...Easy Peasy!!!

Wishing you all the best of luck!!! 

Thank you photo: Thank you Thank-you.gif

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall Mug Rug Swap

I love taking part in the swaps that Mishka at the Quilting Gallery puts together during the year and mug rugs are one of my favorites.  They are just the right size to commit to in a short time frame and I love having them fill my home and be a reminder of the person who lovingly created them for me.  This one was especially nice to do because unlike ones she has had us do in the past we were free to create what we wanted for our partners instead of using a common pattern.

I love a good challenge and making a new friend in the process is always so much fun!!!
My partner was from down under and it was fun because her part of the world was coming into Spring as mine was coming into Fall.  It was fun to compare the differences.  Nanette was a delight to get to know and both of us hope to keep in touch in the future which makes it all the better!

I love my mug rugs she sent :)

How did she know I love this maple leaf pattern and have always wanted to make one but have never taken the time to do it???  Love the Batik leaf fabric she included to.  She quilted in the perfect spot to set my coffee cup on the side of both of them so I can view her block without covering up how adorable they are! I love that she signed the second one, it warms my heart when I use them just knowing I have a new friend from down under.  
Thank you so much, Nanette!!!

I've been frantic because Nanette hadn't gotten mine yet... but she just let me know they finally arrived and it seemed appropriate because today is my birthday and it was such a relief that they arrived safely that the news of their arrival feels like a perfectly timed present.
Nanette shared that she worked for years fighting fires although now she works just in the shed (fire station).  I thought she needed a fire truck fighting a burning bush ( I know my bush is the size of a whooping huge tree) and then decided a quilt shop filled with fall fabrics would be a great choice also.  I had a great time with this swap and it has definitely rekindled my love of swaps so I think I will have to do more of them in the coming New Year. Nanette was ecstatic with them and wants to hang them in her sewing room.  I am very glad she fell in love with the pair of them :) 

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways
The Quilting Gallery is hosting a Giving Thanks Blog Hop party starting tomorrow and running through
Nov 26th and I am participating because I am so thankful for so many things in my life that I couldn't resist sharing some quilty fabric love!!!  Be sure to hop on over here to check out the details tomorrow.

Keep Stitchin'

Monday, November 18, 2013

Crafsty 2013 Quilt Top

This has been a lot of fun to put together this year.  It contained a lot of firsts for me, also.  It had the first tumbling block  I've made and certainly the first Lemoyne Star.   Best thing was I really love how the Lemoyne Star turned out!  Not sure I had ever done partial seams before either.  Applique is still not my favorite but I survived and grow more confident each time I do it :)

But one of the favorite things about this top is the HST border.  I have always hated HST's.  Yuck and worst is what I have to say to all those disgusting bias cuts.  Never have found a great way to mass produce them...before now.  Laura Nownes had a great little video each month but in her written instructions this last month said to use your favorite HST method.  Great...I didn't have a favorite.  Before this top, I would choose to use a Thangle paper and paper piece them just to try to avoid the bias problem but hated pulling all the paper off the triangles.  I do it all the time for complicated paper piece patterns and think nothing of it.  After all it is necessary to create the beautiful blocks that paper piecing can give you.  But with triangles it just seemed such a waste of time.  When I went into my file to find a Thangle the size I would need I found a piece of paper I had saved for years probably with never having tried it before.

Have you ever seen this method???  It is amazing???

 You take the size you want your HST to this case I needed it to be 3 1/2 inches
 divide that number by 0.64
so my math problem would be 3.5/0.64 = 5.46875
so I rounded this up to 5 1/2 inches and added a 1/8" to be safe...better to round up and then you can trim your block down to the correct size if need be. You can always add a 1/8 to a 1/4 inch just to be safe like I did and then trim it down after the block is done.
Better safe then sorry :)

You cut two squares of 5 1/2 inch blocks and put right sides together like so:
( In my example I am doing two pairs at once so 4 blocks):
placed right sides together like so

Then you sew a 1/4 inch seam around the entire perimeter
 I should have used a different thread color so it would be easier to see

 then you are going to cut it on the two diagonals like so:
and then the opposite direction

when you are done ... you will press open to get these units

you will then trim them to the desired size
making sure to use the 45 degree line on your ruler and the dimensions you need
and before you know it they are ready to use and perfect!!!
Love when that happens!!!

After sewing for years on both sides of the diagonal and thus on the bias,
I don't know why this had never occurred to me, to sew around the perimeter and then still cut on the diagonal.  Makes it easy peasy :)
Here is the math as I found it on the website I found this on. You can see the original post on Whipup
and a video from the Missouri Star Quilt Company
These are starting block sizes and the resulting HST size

12 1/2"------------>  8"
8 1/2"------------->  5 1/2"
6 1/2" ------------>  4"
7" ---------------> 4 1/2"
7 1/2" ---------------> 5"
5 1/2" -------------> 3 1/4"
4 1/2"-------------> 2 3/4"
4 1/4" --------------> 2 1/2"
4" --------------> 2 1/4"

If you try this method I think you will agree it is brilliant!!!
Keep Stitchin'

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Skillbuilder Progress

Pile O' Fabric's Skillbuilder 2013 BOM is down to two more blocks and believe it or not so am I.  Alyssa gave us a little extra time to catch up and it worked out great for me!  For a while I was five blocks down but had been making progress in October.  Unfortunately the last couple of blocks featured applique and I FEAR applique almost as much as the plague. For a great while, I just avoided even attempting them.  But because I am committed to learning new techniques and Alyssa has certainly rocked at teaching more than a few new things this year and boosting my skills, I gave it a go.  I unknowingly did the harder of the two first.  The Liberty Floral block has some major curves at the ends and Alyssa had us glue the fabric to a foundation and use a wooden stiletto to smooth the fabric down around the corners.  She also had us prewash the cut out pieces fabric but not the background because she says when we wash it for the first time the background will shrink and cause the applique to turn under slightly giving it the appearance of turned edge applique.  Since I love the look of turned edge but would never attempt to do it, it sounds like a great alternative for me.  I must say the wooden stilletto ( I think mine is plastic) works wonders.  I bought it at a quilt show a few months back not even sure why I might need it but thinking it could come in handy.  It was amazing and I think this technique would have suffered without it's help.  Each foundation piece was then glued to the block and then zig zagged into place with a very small stitch using sulky monofilament thread. Boy, have I become a huge fan of glue this year.  For the next two blocks, she even suggests using glue to get our paper pieced blocks to come back together perfectly aligned ... better then if we pinned the pieces in place.  She may be on to something here and I will certainly be giving it a try.  I consider myself a pretty savvy paper piecer so if she can teach this ol' dog another neat trick I will be wagging my tail in gratitude.

My Liberty Floral Block


My Modern Beauty Block

This one was much easier as the curves were much gentler.  In fact, the edges could be glued down with no assistance needed from the stiletto.  The end points however, did need the stiletto to turn over the ends and tack down with a bit of liquid stitch.

Here are a few of the other blocks that I think I have neglected to post on the blog before now.

My Geo Swirl Block

My Pixelate Block

My Phoenix Block

My Shattered Chevrons

Overall, I am sure that all of these BOMs have kept me from accomplishing some other goals I have set for myself that I should be focusing on.  I wish I had more time for designing my own patterns.  I bought EQ 7 a couple of months ago and need to focus on learning to use it.  It seems to have a steep learning curve but I will find time soon ( I hope ) to set about learning to get the most from the program.  I also wish I had more time for swaps.  I am starting to make time again for them and will have to focus more of my time in that direction in the new year.  I love making new friends with the same love of quilting and swaps enable you to do just that. Then there is the matter of making Becky's quilt.  I have yet to really find my mojo and get a firm grip on what I want it to turn out like.  I have a vision and just have to keep striving to create it. I just know that what I have done so far is not what I had envisioned for this project.  However, I recently saw Tim Holtz's fabric line Ecletic Elements and it was love at first site.  I am sure it is what I am needing for Becky's quilt, so when I won a $25.00 gift certficate from the Fat Quarter Shop for my entry into the linky party held by Kristy at Quiet Play for her And Sew On BOM I knew just what I needed to buy with it.  A huge thanks to both Kristi for hosting the event and giving us such fab patterns to work with each month and another HUGE thanks to the Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring such a great prize!!!  I am over the top anxious to get my hands on all the fabric I have coming my way. Once ai got to shopping it was hard to stop.  Fat Quarter SHop had such fabulous choices and I am thrilled with what I have coming my way soon.  I was super stoked to see they had the Ecletic Elements line and can't wait to start creating with them.  You can follow the link to see why these fabrics are the bees knees ( at least I think so ).  I think by creating a paper pieced block and combining some applique techniques learned from Alyssa's Skillbuilder BOM,  I will be able to acheive what I am needing to do to be happy with Becky's quilt.  Now to just find the time with the holidays quickly approaching... I will post progress when I can just get that far with the process.  Wish me luck!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Haunted Castle

Well... I had intended to share this much earlier in October...and now it is Halloween so I had better get it together!!!  In my defense I have been having camera tech-NO-calities.  Santa may be needing to get me a new one so I had better be on my best behavior for the rest of the year :)

I have been sharing two castles each month but working on three and it is time to reveal the third castle...where the wild and spooky things have been taking up residence each month.
 Two more months to finish it off but it seemed appropriate to share today.  Lots of spooky critters living inside it and a witch flying past.  Not sure what to call the ogre thing up in the sky, but he looks up to no good!  The whole castle is sitting on a hill of pumpkins, just too cute.  I wanted haunted but fun!  I think where the trees don't look right in the upper left hand side , I will have to do lots of thread play to feather the trees into the upper block when it comes time to quilt it so it looks more normal.

Here is how the Gnome castle is looking:
And here is the Princess castle:
I have to admit to taking a little liberty with the pattern this month.  For some reason Ula made this part of the castle look very Bavarian in style and for me it just didn't fit with the rest of the I eliminated the Bavarian wood beams from the pattern and must admit it sure made the pattern go a lot quicker this month so it was win-win for me as I am very happy with the result.

Hoping your evening was filled with delightful little ghosties and goblins and treats and maybe a little cute trick or two.

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