Monday, September 24, 2007

A Productive Weekend!

I feel really charged up after this weekend. My husband and middle son went to a Hunter's Safety Course from 8-3 on both Saturday and Sunday, plus my husband had to work Saturday evening. Our older children had varying activities and were mostly out of the house. I got a LOT done!

Thursday night I started one of the red dishcloths, I finished it Friday morning. I'm loving doing these dishcloths, so I took knitting with me to my friend's house. By Friday night, I had four! These are SO much fun to do. I used every scrap of the red yarn. The first ball made two dishcloths, with about 4 feet of yarn left, with the second ball, I needed that 4 feet to finish the second cloth. Yikes. I know to watch my tension when making these! I found cones of this cotton at Walmart in some nice colors, I'll be buying it from the cone from now on!

Thursday, I spent all day machine quilting the already cut fabrics for Humbug bags, now all I have to do is make the small handle and put them together. That will be done another day.

I spent a fair amount of time hand quilting and was able to finish the hoop quilt. I pulled out my machine to put the binding on and hand sewed it to the front while watching baseball. Since my machine was out anyway, I also sewed the next piece on the geese blocks. Here is the quilt I finished last night.

I have a few things that need to be done today, but should have a fair amount of time to spend quilting. I wouldn't let myself quilt on the new frame quilt until the hoop quilt was finished, so I'm very excited about quilting today.

Time to get to it!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Sewing Day?

I hope so!

I did my usual Thursday errands yesterday as I needed a few things early, so today I'll be home nearly the entire day. I find when I don't have deadlines to meet, it's easy to fritter away time...and I don't really think there is anything wrong with it, though I find it frustrating because I know I can be so much more productive.

At the quilting bee Tuesday night, I handquilted non-stop for 3 hours (plus had quilted some during the day as well), so my fingers needed a break. I finished up the first dishcloth and am excited about doing more. I've gone through my patterns and picked another to try. I have other things in mind for today, though if I get bored with them or run into trouble I may just put them aside and start a new dishcloth.

My kitchen is red, with pink accents. What did I find at Walmart? Red cotton with pink and white in it...perfect for dishcloths for my kitchen. I bought two balls and will be getting more as I can so my dishcloths will match my kitchen. I also found large cones of it in pretty variegated colors, I'll be buying cones of it to make them for gifts as well.

I'm enjoying the fact that I'm having time to pick up some of the crafts that I used to do. I've been almost exclusively quilting for 15 years, and it would be easy for me to continue this as quilting is by far my favorite, but I do like having other options for gifts or to do during those times I just need a break from quilting. Sometimes after finishing a large project (especially if I spent a lot of concentrated time on it at the end) I need a day or so before starting on the next project.

What I plan to do today (best laid plans and all that) is work on humbug bags. Last week, I took the zippers I had and picked fabric for the outer part of the bag and the lining to go with each zipper and put them in a box. Yesterday I cut them to size along with batting for each. I have an oversize and an undersize zipper, I made up my own size for those bags and had bought two more zippers, so picked and cut fabric for those as well.
I'm a good assembly line worker. Once I know how to execute a pattern, I do the steps on many at once, which not only saves time, it's really fun to do. (I did 17 quilts one Christmas for my nieces and nephews this way and it was a hoot!) Last night, I started to mark the quilting on them, I have several marked now. Today I will set up my machine and quilt the ones that are finished, then perhaps mark the rest (or mark a few at a time, then sew. As marking is tedious to me, that is sometimes better done a few at a time.)
I doubt that I'll get farther than the quilting. Attaching the zipper is still awkward for me and I can only do that when I'm in the right frame of mind. If I get there later, I may assemble a few, too, but if not, I'll begin a new dishcloth or hand quilt some.
Tomorrow I'm spending the afternoon with a friend and the dishcloth or the quilting will come along. It may or may not get worked on, but it will be with me just in case.
And now, I'll set up my machine and get her humming. My house is in good shape, so theoretically this day can be spent sewing. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Unknown Busy Day

I know I'll be busy today, but I couldn't tell you yet what exactly I'll be busy doing.

Most days I go to bed with a pretty clear idea what I'd like to do the following day. A cleaning chore I want to be sure to finish, time on a certain project, or an errand or outing on my calendar.

Today is not such a day. I went to bed last night without a plan for today. I woke up groggy and somewhat uninspired.

As I dressed and ventured out into the main part of my house, I started feeling a little more inspiration. I'm still slowly working on cleaning out our bedroom cupboards and closet, a little time will be spent at that today. We tend to let things go some on the weekends, but I realized even when let go things don't actually look too bad I'm inspired to pick up and clean up. It won't take long and I can sit later to sew without guilt.

I made a list yesterday of craft projects I hoped to spend time on. Some will be Christmas presents, others for my own pleasure. It was quite a list! I have one bin that is full of fabric to be cut for scrap quilts and another bin that has the bags of cut shapes and the templates. I keep it all together so I don't have to search if I feel like cutting. The small squares will be used to make 9 patches, which can be used as alternating blocks with another block or with blank blocks for an Irish Chain. The hearts are for applique, I made Ruthie's quilt by raiding my heart stash. Also there is an oblong hexagon, apple core, diamond, dresden blade and equilateral triangle.

Other things on my list are knitting dishcloths, (thanks Bren, LOL), making Humbug bags, making fabric teacups, my applique projects, my paper piecing projects (flying geese and strip blocks), and penny bags. Oh, and yo yos. I'm sure there must be more, but they haven't made their way to the list yet.

I wake up every morning to a day that seems wide open, but it rapidly fills with tasks small and large, time for the children and my husband and odds and ends that come up throughout the day. I sometimes wish for a day where everyone left me home alone, but on those rare occasions when I'm here for a few hours alone, I have so many things I'd like to do in peace that I end up doing very little for lack of deciding.

This is Ruthie's first experience with a discman, maybe I need to use it and block out some of the distractions around me. The truth is, I don't really want or need to block them out, though on occasion the thought is appealing!

Last night I was able to sit with my feet up and knit and quilt (not at the same time!) because my younger ones were occupied. Ruthie has decided Lucas is her buddy and when she's not needing a snuggle from someone bigger, she can usually be found with him. She loves the camera, can you tell?

Today, I'm hoping for more than my usual amount of time for sewing. I usually hover somewhere around the 3 hour mark as I've set that as a daily goal. Many days I'm hardpressed to get that. With what's left of this morning I'm going to run a very quick errand, pick up, get laundry started, and clean up my kitchen. I had a few things left from last night and now breakfast dishes and I've found I feel so much better if my kitchen is clean. I hope to be completely done with chores by noon or so (except for laundry) and then I'll finish the dishcloth I started yesterday and work on the border of the quilt in the hoop. If I need a break from these, I'll choose from my list. I'm sure other things will make their way into that time, and that's ok. It's why I'm home and why I love being home. Days full of promise and people I love.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

That's It, I Have To Stop

declaring sewing days! LOL. Despite my best intentions, days that I feel like were set aside to mostly sew get cluttered up with other things.

I did finally finish the blocks on the frame quilt, though and one side of the inner (2 inch) border is done, also. I'm hoping to get that border finished today, it will then come off the frame and the outer border (6 inch) will be done in a hoop.

I'm also hoping to poke through my stash and see if I have enough backing and batting to get another basted and on the frame. I know that I have it for one smallish quilt but was really hoping to get one of the Christmas quilts on the frame. I may hold out for a week or so until I can pick up the supplies that I need rather than put one on that will delay my Christmas work.

Soon it will be time to make the Christmas list, making sure I didn't forget anyone. We actually don't buy many gifts for extended family, we exchange names with my husband's siblings and my family doesn't exchange, but I have several friends that I need to have gifts ready for. I'm going to be as organized as possible this year and try to finish everything early so I can really enjoy the holiday week. Usually I work like a fiend right up until Christmas and feel like the week between Christmas and New Years is spent recuperating rather than enjoying the easier week.

I'm also in the process of "Fall Cleaning." With the addition of the items from my Grandma's and the changes we made to incorporate them, I also went through a lot of things and am still not done. The main part of the house is finished, I still have to finish our bedroom and closet and our younger children's bedroom to purge and straighten.

I've decided I'm much better at Fall Cleaning than Spring Cleaning. Something about being "in hibernation mode" makes me want the house as clean and organized as possible and I'm getting there...though it's quite a distraction from my quilting! I'm looking forward to it being finished so I can settle into a new routine that includes keeping the house in good shape so a last minute visit from a friend doesn't mean a whirlwhind of cleaning first or embarrassment if they show up at my door unannounced.

So there it is, I guess. I don't have much to say today, I don't want to show pics of my quilt since it's nearly done and I'd prefer to show it in all it's glory. Here is a picture of Ruthie, though, who can (and does) fall asleep anywhere. In this one she found the pillow I made for my swing (we bring it in so it doesn't blow away or get rained on) and took it to the stairs.

We actually let her nap where we find her, usually, as I don't like for her to nap for too long and staying on the couch or chair keeps the nap from being too long because of household noises (waking her early from her nap if she's in a nice quiet room produces a very crabby girl!) We draw the line at sleeping on the stairs, though, LOL, it rather reminds me of a bird sleeping on a perch!

So off I go, to mostly quilt, I hope, and to finish some of my organizing. Tomorrow is garbage day so maybe that's incentive enough to get the unneeded things out once and for all. Happy Day to everyone!

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Day For Quilting...I Hope!

I had a really busy weekend, trying to find room for the new (to me) things that came from my Grandma's house. In the process, I've gone through most of the kids' toys and a bunch of clothing in our bedroom and purging things that aren't needed or wanted any more. I couldn't find a way to get the picture any lighter, but you can sort of see the big screen TV in the center of the picture.

We had to move the TV stand that was in it's place out of the room (it's currently in the garage, being stored) and the TV that was on it moved into my sewing room. I'm loving this as it's often much easier for me to make myself sit down and work if there is also a show I'm interested far the Food Network has been on most of the time as I also love to cook and glean many ideas from watching these they are entertaining. Somehow the pictures just aren't doing anything justice today, but adding the dresser and the TV to the corner actually opened up the room and makes it seem bigger now, not smaller as I thought it would. We also got some wooden chairs, which have replaced the ones that were at my sewing table, they push in nicer and look more like they belong.

The machine at left was my grandma's, I don't know how long she had it. When my Aunt asked if I wanted it or knew someone who could use it, I pictured one of those green or off-white machines in a sewing table not as sturdy as this one. I didn't expect this very old machine. I turned the flywheel and it turned easily, I have high hopes of it running with a bit of cleaning and oiling. For now, it belongs to my daughter, who doesn't yet have her own machine. Should she ever decide she doesn't want it anymore, I have the perfect place for it.
Another thing that made it's way to my house is Grandma's pots and pans. They are all in wonderful condition, two dutch ovens, two small saucepans, two frying pans, and a really nice 3 quart pot. The couple of pots that I had left that aren't cast iron were in really bad shape, they have already been tossed and the new pots and pans put to use.
As I use these things, it makes me a little sad, yet I know that my Grandma would be so happy to know that I cherished and was using these things of hers. That it meant enough to my Aunt to try to get as many of her things distributed to family members to use rather than to just get a dumpster and clear out her house. I'm sure she's struggling with having to clean out her mother's house, bless her heart.
So after my weekend of cleaning, organizing and moving furniture, I'm happy to take this day to mostly quilt. There is nothing that should get in my way today and I realized I have only four blocks left to quilt on the frame quilt. Then a 2 inch border and it will have to come out of the frame for the outer border. I guess it's time to make sure I have batting and backing for the next quilt to go in!
It's chilly here and perfect quilting weather, I've been quilting through heat and humidity for weeks and am reveling in the cool air coming through the doors. My quilt is calling me, it's time to answer!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Busy Days

Yesterday I got quite a bit of hand quilting done and more is on the agenda for today. My plan is to spend all my sewing time quilting today, the frame quilt is getting close to that 'focus on it' point for me and I want to see how far I can get today, though I have some things that need to be done.

Also yesterday, I made another Humbug bag.

It didn't take long at all, they are just SO simple to make. I bought a couple of zippers for the medium sized bag at the store yesterday so now I have at least one zipper to try every size. I'm even experimenting with an extra large to see if they would work well for small backpacks or overnight bags for kids.

I also pulled fabric yesterday... for more bags! I picked an outer fabric and a lining fabric and folded them around the appropriate whenever I feel like sewing one I can pick a packet and go. I might even do the cutting for them all one day so they are even more ready to go...or just do that part one at a time as I'm ready to work on them, I haven't decided yet.

I also spent a lot of time hand quilting and am now to the point I really want to get the frame quilt done and be able to move onto the next one. I still have a ways to go, but some concentrated time will get it done quickly, I hope to have this one done in the next couple of weeks.

My grandma passed away a couple of weeks ago and she has left us her big screen (older model) TV. We have to make room for it in our family room, which is my job today. My husband picks it up tomorrow along with some wooden kitchen chairs and my grandma's sewing machine, which will be cleaned and adjusted and then given to our 18 year old who likes to sew but doesn't have her own machine yet. My Aunt called me yesterday to give me dimensions on the TV (so we know what vehicle to bring) and told me she also has some other household items she hopes I will take, as it turns out most of them are things I've been needing to replace. Receiving them will be such a blessing and a wonderful reminder of my Grandma's generosity right up until she passed.

Our downstairs TV will be going into my sewing room, I made the adjustments in there earlier in the week. Somehow, even though I added a dresser for storage, my sewing room looks bigger...I can't figure it out. I do feel like I have more space, though, making it even more enjoyable to be in there...add the Food Channel for entertainment while I'm sewing and my family will have trouble getting me out of there! LOL.

So today, I plan to spend a fair amount of time hand quilting, it will make a nice break during the organizing downstairs. Of course, my older children are downstairs at the moment playing Playstation games, so the TV will remain where it is for the time later this afternoon, though, I hope to have it moved up to my sewing area (and the necessary organizing finished downstairs) so that I can park myself and quilt for the evening. I'm afraid some of this might take longer that I think it will....wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Come See!

I had in mind yesterday to try out both of my new patterns and that's what I did. I also managed to squeeze in some hand quilting time.

This is the finished pair of slippers, they were quite easy to make. I didn't have Jiffy Grip here so I used corduroy for the bottoms. The first pair took an hour and a half and the binding around the edge gets hand sewn to one side, so that was the longest step.

I put them on Ruthie only to discover they barely fit her, so decided to make a second pair that was a size bigger. The second pair took only an hour, so I was really pleased with that. Of course, she decided she doesn't want to wear them so I'm not going to make any more right away. I had in mind to make her a little basket full of slippers, she's such a shoe hound.

When she shows more interest in them or when I'm looking for a diversion one day, I'll make some more.

Last year my daughter made pajama pants for all her friends for Christmas, this year she might use this pattern and made matching slippers for them, she still has some of all the fabrics left. That is if she has time with full time school and a part time job!

Also on my agenda was trying out the Humbug bag. This was quite easy as well. I made it harder on myself by using tapestry fabric with corduroy inside (it matches the bag I made for Mall of America) so it was a little difficult when working on the zipper, but all in all it was extremely easy.

Once the fabric is quilted, there are four seams and it's finished! I will most definitely be making more of these, in fact, I plan to buy a few zippers for the medium sized bag and maybe a couple for the large one when I go shopping tomorrow. The one I made is the small size as that's the only zippers that I had. I have a few more and now that I'm talking about the cute little bag I may just make another today! To the left is a picture of me holding it, so you can see how small it really is...perfect for notions or clipped onto a belt with keys, license, a bit of cash and a cell phone.

One of the best things about this is I can make them without purchasing anything but the zipper as scraps of fabric and batting are big enough to make all the sizes. I have a 20" zipper here, so I may wing it and make an extra large version, too, which I think will work well as a project bag.

I also got a nice surprise in the mail yesterday. Back in June for my birthday, a friend signed me up for the American Quilter's Society (same friend who took me shopping on Friday.) When she signed me up I got a packet in the mail with an explanation of the membership, a pin, a membership card, a JoAnn's discount card and a listing of their prices on books. It also said their magazine is included in membership and the next issue comes out in August.

The magazine arrived yesterday, with a full color version of their book listings. As I perused the magazine I found two quilts right off that I want to make. One is a tree skirt with oodles of cutting directions. I started putting them in an order that made sense to me by rewriting them on a piece of paper...which also enables me to cross each one off as I complete the step. So now in addition to the other projects I have going on, I have two quilts that I REALLY want to make.

I'm thinking that I will try to get the tree skirt done for this Christmas, and the other I may save as a retreat project if I'm able to go in March next year.

I was so happy with how much I got done yesterday, in addition to laundry, cooking, dishes, etc. I should be able to spend a good amount of time today as the house is in decent to decide what to do!

I'd like to make another Humbug bag, spend some time hand quilting, finish writing those directions and maybe pull fabric for the tree skirt. Mostly I'd like to hand quilt, I'm making enough progress now that I see lots of quilting as I come down the stairs which always gets me fired up to concentrate on and finish a quilt. The other things will be fillers for when my fingers need a break.

I guess I should get a move on! The kids are doing their schoolwork, Ruthie is with Rebekah, who is enjoying her last week of 'vacation' before her busy school/work days start, and I have only a couple of small tasks before I can sit down and get to it.

Happy quilting!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Summer is Over...

and the fun continues! Usually I lament over the end of summer...we homeschool and fall is a return to schooling which usually means much more work for me. This year, though, Lucas is reading pretty well and Ruthie is really good at keeping herself busy so I'm anticipating one of the easiest school years we've had in some time.

To the right are 4 of our kids playing in the yard. It was getting dark and we were squeezing the last bits out of a relaxing (but too hot!) day.

To the left is Ruthie, in her sundress and one winter boot.

Yesterday, in addition to food prep and cleanup, I was able to spend a pretty good amount of time quilting. I hand quilted for a while in the morning, the frame quilt is coming along now, and then I took my applique outside and finished a couple of blocks out there. I finished my day with more hand quilting.

Today will be a mix of things. I need to do some laundry and cleaning, but hope to squeeze in quite a bit of sewing time. I want to at least spend a little time on the frame quilt, but I'm wanting to try out those two new patterns I bought.

First up will be a pair of slippers for Ruthie. I found this cute flannel fabric in my stash. I don't have any jiffy grip at the moment so am making the bottoms with corduroy which I hope will be less slippery than just using regular cotton.

I've made slippers before, I did them for all my nieces and nephews one year, but this pattern is much easier and I should have no problem getting them done in short order.

Also on the agenda for today is one of the Humbug bags. Digging through my stuff, I found a handful of zippers in various colors so there is my jumping off point. I also have a nice piece of fabric left from my carpet bag so will make my first little bag with that. Unfortunately all my zippers are small except one so I can make a bunch of small bags and one large one...but I can get the pattern down and make any adjustments without having to buy anything, which I'm excited about.

I don't expect either of these projects to take too terribly long, so I'm hoping for some hand quilting and/or applique time, too. There is a Cubs game on tonight, so handwork is likely during that time.

So I'm make myself a list of things I'd like to accomplish for the day. This works well for me as it keeps me on task and keeps me from forgetting anything that I wanted to accomplish.

Hopefully tomorrow's blog will bring pictures of the finished product! Happy quilting!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What a Fun Day!

I had one of my rare girls days out yesterday. I have a small quilting bee that meets at my house once a month. It used to have more people in it, but things change. Left are two wonderful women. One is my 'surrogate' mom and I also see her one other day during the month.

Yesterday we met for lunch and to go to a couple of quilt shops. We went to Crumpet's Tea Room for lunch, which was a lovely little place with a lot of antiques and delicious (albeit expensive!) food.

If you're ever near Hampshire, Illinois you must visit Judy's Quilt Shop. It's one of the nicest shops I think I've ever been in. It's in a renovated old house and it's so spacious. They have lots of merchandise but you never feel crowded. They have oodles of samples on the walls and everything is just laid out so nice. The staff is so friendly and on any given day you can find both Judy and her husband in the shop.

These little items caught my eye right away. They are hard to see because of the glare, but they are yo yo makers. One makes smaller ones, one makes larger ones, one makes heart shaped and the other flower shaped. I have all kinds of applique vines in mind with these little gems. Judy said that she has been making loads of them and can't keep the makers in her shop, they are so much fun and easy to use that word of mouth is selling them all out. There is a larger heart and a very small yo yo both available and I have in mind to get both someday if I like it doing it as much as she does! I also bought this cute little stencil. I'm always watching for stencils as I love them and any space 5 inches or over I usually put a motif in rather than just outline. The other items is a magnet closure for a purse. I'd never seen them for sale before and am so glad that I have now as I love making bags, but there are many I'd like to have some kind of closure on...I can't go back and add these, but at least now I know they are available. I have in mind to make a mini bag, like the carpet bag I made, to use as a purse and will be glad to have a closure on it.

I also bought these two patterns. One if for the cutest little bag. You can make 3 sizes and they will be just wonderful to put things in for gifts or keep sewing items separated in a larger bag. I'll quilt my own fabric, you can also use prequilted or heavy enough that it doesn't need quilting, and once that part is done there are four seams to sew and that's it. It looks so easy, I can hardly wait to try one.

The other pattern was actually found by my friend. It was in a basket with some made up ones..of course the ones she picked up to show me would fit my 3 year old daughter....who absolutely LOVES shoes of any kind. She's right now walking around the house in her brother's Spiderman flip flops. This pattern also looks quite easy to make and wouldn't it be cute embellished with yo yo's ?? I have in mind to make Ruthie a basket full of little slippers in different colors so she can change shoes as often as she likes without losing the ones we need to go out!

I got home to a sink full of dishes and a rush to get dinner on the table, but that still wasn't enough to dampen my mood. I also found out when I got home that the financing was complete for my daughter's schooling, she starts cosmetology school next week and is so excited (and nervous!) All in all, a wonderful day!

Today is a work day much as I work in a day anyway. I'm baking cookings and cheesecake and doing some housecleaning so the next two days can be spend just enjoying the beautiful weather. My husband works until dinner time today, but tomorrow and Monday has only one small job in the mornings...which is a close to 'off' for the day as he usually gets. We're going to have fires in the firepit, I'm going to read and hand sew outside and just enjoy...the last month has been horribly hot and humid or raining like crazy, it will be good to spend a couple of days outside!

And, of course, I'll be able to sneak some quilting between everything today. I'll probably work on the frame quilt as I have a chance, and maybe cut some fabrics to try out those yo yo makers when I sit outside later on today.
I hope everyone has a wonderful day!