Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bear With Me!

As you can see, I'm experiencing technical difficulties. I can't for the life of me figure out what in the world I could have done to cause this mess, but my sidebar elements are GONE and everything else is wonky!

In the next few days I'll either figure it out or redo as much as possible, update on my quilting and also post Ruthie's story, so stay tuned!

My new (to me) camera has some distinct advantages from my old one. Aside from the zoom lens, wonderfully clear pictures, extra memory cards and short videos it takes, Ruthie does NOT blink when I take her picture, affording me images of her with her beautiful, expressive eyes open!

Until next time, happy quilting!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Kindness of Friends and Strangers

I had a couple of wonderful surprises last week. While attempting to take pictures of my latest bag I kept getting an error on my camera (this is NOT the wonderful part!) This has been happening off and on for a while now, usually turning it off and on again solved the problem but slowly the memory card was getting filled with garbage files that couldn't be removed. Still, there was room for more pictures and it would work, but I knew it was on it's last legs.

While attempting to send pictures to Tyanne, even turning the camera off and on did not solve the problem. I sent the picture I had and told her that if I could get the camera to work I'd send some more. My mind was reeling. I'd been depending on the digital camera exclusively for some time now. I could buy some disposable cameras for pictures of the kids, though I knew that I would rarely fill them and then they would sit forever before I'd actually get them developed. What would I do about my blog! I knew it would just not be the same without pictures. I received an email back from Tyanne, who offered me a camera she was no longer using. Two days later, I received this box in the mail. Not only does it keep my picture taking going, this is a much nicer camera than the one I've been using. A big bonus is that Ruthie's eyes are no longer closed in every picture! I think it's something in the way the flash works, it's not causing her to blink.

Another kindness bestowed on me was by my wonderful friend, Bren. I don't have a scanner and have had so many people expressing an interest in Ruthie that I've been really wanting to tell her story. All the early pictures were photographs, though, so I mailed some of them to Bren and she scanned them and emailed them to me. As soon as I have the time I will tell her story, with pictures, thanks to Bren!

Ruthie's mama is a wallflower. I'm very shy when I don't know people (but if I'm comfortable, I'll talk your ear off!) It's been a little disconcerting that we get SO much attention whenever we are out. Ruthie draws people like a magnet and slowly I'm getting used to that. It seems many of the comments I get have to do with her and through her I'm getting to know some wonderful people. Once such person emailed me (I just realized I hadn't asked her if I could use her name so I don't want to violate her privacy.) She had been following my blog and wanted to send me a few things. I received this in the mail two days later. Nine wonderful quilting patterns. And a day or two later, a package with these. I've already gotten so much pleasure from both the patterns and the magazines, dreaming of projects to be started as I finish some current ones. Knowing I have some fun things waiting in the wings is really helping to keep me focused on table toppers and other started projects.

Speaking of table toppers, two are finished now and the third should be ready to mark and baste later today. I have pieces already cut for a 4th and hope to make a serious dent in the 16 needed before I burn out on them and need to take a break.

Today or tomorrow I plan to take another look through my stash to see if I can find something for the album quilt and if I don't have anything I can keep an eye out for sales and ideas. This morning I walked to the bank and stopped at a small market on the way back. Lucas walked along and picked up rocks for an AWANA project. I'm home for the day now and aside from a few chores there is nothing else sheduled for the day.

I want to say a big thank you again to the friends and strangers who have blessed me over the last months, with tangible things in my mailbox and with intangible prayers and good thoughts. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes to know that there are others holding us up.
Happy Quilting and may God richly bless you all!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just Call Me the Bag Lady!

I made another, LOL. The directions for the smaller bag were a little more confusing than the bigger one, but I managed to get through it. I really like this one, too, it's smaller and has just one inner pocket, but just the right size if I have just a few things to bring along.

This one took considerably less time as the piece to be quilted was less than a third of the size of the bigger one.

At the moment, I'm not even looking at bag patterns because I know it will make we want to do another! I do have one pattern that I want to try, it's a liner for a 5 gallon bucket with tons of pockets that hang on the outside, but I'm not sure where it is at the moment...I think that's a good thing!

Looking at the inside, you can see the one pocket, it was supposed to have the lining side out, but I like the floral so much I had that side show. The floral piece on the bottom is a pocket to slide in a piece of cardboard for stablility.

Now today I MUST get the next topper going. I'll be getting the pieces ready as soon as I'm finished here and hopefully will get a good start on the applique before I switch to hand quilting tonight.

So that's it for now, it's time to run. I'm hoping for a fair amount of quilting time in the next few days even though we have a lot going on. Time will tell! Until then, happy quilting!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Bag

Because we all know I don't have enough to do....nor do I have enough bags! This was sent to me by someone on one of my email lists and I just had to do it. I made the big version of the bag over the weekend, I'm making the smaller version today.

I'm having a really hard time lately getting pictures that are true to color. On this bag, the upper and lower pieces are a beautiful, bright yellow and the colors in the floral are comparably rich. This bag is quite large and will make a perfect bag when we are out for the day as it will hold the things Ruthie needs, and even a small sewing project should I want to bring one along (let's face it, I nearly always bring one along!)

It has a pocket both front and back on the outside, between the handles. It's hard to see because it's made of the same fabric. The pattern calls for a pocket only on the back, but I loved it so much (and had enough quilted fabric left) to put one on each side. These will be perfect for keys, phone, glasses, etc, those little things that I need easy access to. I decided I needed 2 of these since I never put my keys with my glasses or phone to prevent them getting scratched.

This is an inside view of the bag. You can see that attached to each side is a separate piece that is subdivided by sewn lines into 3 pockets. So in addition to the large inner space, there are 6 inside and 2 outside pockets to keep track of smaller items and the smaller inside pocket will even hold a water bottle so it doesn't tip over.

I put a separate quilted piece in the bottom with a cardboard insert so that it gave the bottom some stability. This is removable so that the bag can be washed.

The most time consuming part of making this (by far) was quilting the main pieces together. This was done in one large piece, 54 x 44, it took a long time to mark and a long time to quilt as it's 3/4 inch cross-hatched.

The piece for the smaller bag is considerably smaller, only 18 by 44, so I'm nearly done marking that and should have no trouble finishing this bag today unless some unexpected things come up. I'll also be cutting pieces for (and hopefully starting) the next table topper. I have a quilt in the hoop that I'm hand quilting and it's coming along nicely. I'm getting anxious to get this one done. I'm also keeping an eye out for fabric for the signature quilt for the party.

And just for fun, here is Ruthie, ready for a "nerf war." This is the activity of late that is driving me crazy, LOL. Each of my boys takes up residence on one floor of the house. We have a tri-level with a very open floorplan, from the stairway all levels can be seen. They hide behind things and try to hit each other with the nerf darts, last one "standing" wins. In spite of our small house, they love this game and will play for quite some time, of course that leaves the rest of us walking through a battle field! I'm looking forward to when they can take this game outside, but for now am glad they have a way to use up some energy. Ruthie loves to get in on the action, she carries a nerf gun and runs around saying "psshew, psshew"... her version of "pow pow."

Tonight we'll be watching Idol, so I doubt I'll have to sew through a war today, but that will be a perfect time for handwork so I'd better get going and get my machine work done for the day. Happy Quilting!

Sue and Ruthie

Friday, March 7, 2008

One Down Fifteen to Go!

Here is the topper marked and ready for basting

Here it is quilted. The centers are yo-yos with a little yellow bead in the middle. It's hard to see the posies as they are so dark, they are 3 different purple fabrics that are fairly close in color.

And here is the finished product. I was very pleased with the results and the amount of time it took, so I think this will be the one.

Tonight I'll probably hand quilt on the next hoop quilt. I've pulled fabrics for a new bag and for another project I'm testing for my friend, I'll probably work on both of those tomorrow.

I'll need to get applique pieces ready for the next topper, too, I'm really hoping to have these done well before the party date so I'm not quilting frantically at the end!

So just a quick post today, I hope to have some good updates in the next couple of days. My family will be in and out all weekend, which should leave me some good sewing time. Until then, happy quilting!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

UFO Finished!

Here is the black and red quilt that I finished yesterday. I'm quite happy with the results. This top was made as part of a challenge I did a couple of years ago with Bren. We both received the same quilting calendar for Christmas and decided to do some challenges. We would pick a pattern and both do it, but not talk about our fabrics, etc, then get together and show our tops that had the same pattern but our own fabric choices. We sometimes did a second top that we didn't speak about at all. During the course of that year, I made 20 quilt tops, 7 table runner tops and 4 placemat tops. That was 2006 and since then many of them have been quilted. Part of the challenge for me was to make them without buying fabric and, other than having to buy muslin for background, I was able to meet that challenge.

I'm only a few leaves away from finishing the first topper so that's first up today. I also hope to mark, baste and begin the quilting on this one. I'm also anxious to continue the quilting on the quilt I just moved to my hoop. It had been started on the frame, but I was finding it hard to sit there and work this time. With the weather being cold, I was enjoying moving to a more comfortable place to sit and having a nice warm quilt in my lap, so the frame came down for now and will probably come back out in the summer time, when it's uncomfortable to have a big quilt in my lap.

I'm going to try piecing at least a few bowties each day in an effort to get those finished as well. Some days I might get on a roll and do more, but if I commit to 5 a day eventually those will be done, too. Along the same vein, I think I'll also commit to basting to freezer paper 10 leaves for the Bay Leaf Quilt as I'd like to get the applique going on that one, too, but the leaves are scrappy and I need to have quite a few done before I can start to applique to get good distribution of the colors.

Finally, thanks to Bren, I'm going to do something I very rarely do and post a picture of me with Ruthie. I hate pictures of myself, I'm not photogenic at all, but with some of the weight off and my little dolly in my lap I'll take the leap. I'm ready to get started on what I hope is a very quilty day!
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Quick Update

The pictures say it all if you've read the prior post! I've finished 17 bow tie blocks and added those to the ones that had been previously finished for a grand total of 32 finished (out of 120 needed for the quilt.)

I'm actually going to piece all the blocks I have cut, I think there are actually more than that, but then I can pick and choose the coloring a bit and maybe use the leftovers for some pillows or a small throw depending on how many there are.

The first anniversary topper is coming along and going together much easier than I anticipated, which is a big relief. With 16 of them to do, time is an issue, the fact that I can fairly easily piece one in a couple of days (and probably one day if I put my mind to it) is a good thing.

Today the goal is to finish quilting the black and red and get the binding on the front. I'll be spending the day at Bren's tomorrow so I can sew it to the back tomorrow. I hope to have it posted on Tuesday!

That's it for today, though, if I don't get to it I won't have time to finish. Happy Quilting!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Wow, What a Night!

My grand total quilting time for yesterday was 11 hours, 5 minutes. My day didn't end until 6 this morning and I restarted my timer when I woke up a few hours later.

My friend came about 5:30 and I had dinner well under way. We ate and visited and then started sewing somewhere around 6:30. My main goal for the night was to finish this top, and by about 11 the middle was all assembled. As I laid out the chosen border fabric, I was disappointed. It wasn't quite what I expected when viewed up against the assembled blocks. After literally going through all my larger pieces of fabric I still wasn't finding just the right thing. I did finally find a piece I liked, it made all the ring blocks pop (I felt like they were getting lost with everything else) but it still wasn't quite right. I took the original floral I picked out and made it a smaller border next to the blocks and did a larger border out of the solid rose color...and I think I really like the result. It still seems a little odd to me, but I like to experiment with color...not every quilt will be a masterpiece! It will be just as warm and cuddly as a beauty.

My friend Tyanne had given me quite a few pieces of fabric while weeding down her stash. Every so often I'm the beneficiary of such kindnesses from various friends and acquaintances. I never turn down quilting fabric and love the challenge of working with pieces I wouldn't have necessarily picked out. Both of these fabrics grabbed me, so I decided to make something that would work with the amounts that I had. This 60 x 60 quilt is the result. The purple is actually more of a reddish purple. The smaller picture gives a better view of the pattern, I can't seem to get the colors to photograph true. The larger picture is closer colorwise. The two fabrics are the same value, which makes the pattern a little hard to see, but I know from experience that it will very likely show up much better once quilted.

With those two quilt tops finished, I'm turning my attention to other things. With the toppers designed and the pieces cut for the first one, I want to get at least some of the pieces on today. I started the day with 2 stem pieces on. I've also had bowtie blocks cut for hand piecing for years. For the first several years I quilted, everything was done by hand, I didn't use a machine for any part of quilting, not even attaching the binding to the front. Mostly because I used to say my machine and I didn't get seemed I struggled through anything I tried to sew by machine. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago and I wanted him to have a quilt while going through chemo, I knew I needed to get it to the quilting stage as soon as I could so I machine pieced my first quilt on a 100 year old treadle. I didn't feel like I could do inset seams by machine so had this "when I feel like working on it" hand piecing project waiting in the wings.

I'm now not so machine challenged and found a pattern in a magazine that uses bowtie blocks and has a beautiful applique border. I pulled out my box of already cut bowtie pieces. The pieces for each block are pinned together. A few of the blocks are already finished and I decided to keep a separate pincushion to watch my progress. As I do each block I place it's pin in the cushion. It will be a fun way to keep track of progress, as the stack of finished blocks grows and the pincushion fills up. Here are some of the finished blocks. I also hope to add some more pins to my cushion today.

Another thing I have in mind is to spend some time hand quilting. The black and red quilt is nearly finished, with only 1/2 of the borders left to do and I would really like to finish that today. Realistically I'm not sure it's possible, with my lack of sleep last night and the day slowly slipping away. I do hope to make a dent in it, though, with finishing tomorrow in mind. My husband and most of the kids are heading out to a mall for a while tomorrow afternoon, leaving me some extra quilting time (gee, darn.)

This morning found all my kids at home so they were playing cards at the table for a while. My oldest and youngest daughters were playing a hand together. Now they are beginning to scatter, one babysitting, one at work and another bumming around with a friend. I'm going to go take advantage of the free moments and hit up these new projects. I'll keep you posted!
Sue and Ruthie