Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Summary

I was down to the wire, but I did get the blue stash quilt stitched together.  I just finished a few minutes ago, in fact.  I'm still not sure what this will become, but I have my thinking cap on.
It's official:  February will be RED month for me.  This month I'm cutting nine inch squares from my red stash, reorganizing the drawer as I go.  Above are some of the squares I've already cut.  I got a head start on red since February is such a short month.  These will be made into nine patch blocks, using some pretty creams to go with them.
Here's the "before" shot of my red drawer.

To sum up the month in terms of my 2009 goals, I've marked three things of my list.
Lost 5 pounds.  CHECK!  (I've actually lost 8 pounds!)
Entered a quilt in a major show.  CHECK!  (Spring Break)
Made a January stash quilt.  CHECK! (Blue quilt above)

I'm hoping to mark off many more at the end of February.

Thanks for all the well wishes for my hubby.  He's doing a bit better and went to work Friday for about half the day.  It will take him a while to get all his strength back, but he is much better.  He spent most of the day in a recliner working on our taxes.  Yay him!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mickey Has Been at it Again....

My sweet little dachshund chewed up another spool fo thread!  This WAS a rather large spool, too, though it was just from Walmart so it wasn't pricey.  Of course I wasn't about to toss it!  I've discovered that thread trash is fantastic for machine needle felting.  But the color was too blah for me. 
I decided to paint it using my Setacolor Transparent Fabric Paints.  I watered down some blue and green paint in a paper plate and voila!
Much better now, I think.
I also painted some lace I found on the "free" table at a guild meeting.
Here's the paper towel I used to wipe up the excess paint.  Isn't it a beauty?  And no, I won't throw it away either.  I make my garbage man very happy, I think.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crop Circles

Above is Crop Circles, made with Judy Cloe's trash, machine needle felting onto a black felt background, hand quilted with embroidery floss.  I really love this piece!  I think I'll have to make a bigger version, maybe using a different technique.
And here is Ziggety Zag.  Sorry for the blurry photo;  I'm much better at quilting than photography.  This quilt is machine pieced and quilted.  It's okay, but I like the other one better.

Hubby is still very sick.  This crud tends to linger for days and days.  Let's hope he's doing better tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Judy Cloe's Trash

Remember the bag of trash given to me by Judy Cloe?  Today I played with it, working on two little art quilts.  Neither is finished yet, but I'm giving you a peak anyway.  The piece above uses machine needle felting.  The one below is pieced.  TINY piecing.  ITTY BITTY piecing.
I'm doing some hand stitching on both pieces tonight, so hopefully they'll be done tomorrow.

Hubby has been very sick for several days.  I think he has the crud I had over Christmas.  He doesn't get sick very often, especially not like this.  I took him to the doctor this morning for a lovely shot.  He'll probably be home with me for at least one more day.  We've watched several movies while he's been home.  The doggies love that fact that he rests on the sofa most of the time; they've been piled up all over him.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Singing the Blues

Here's a shot of my newly organized blue drawer, ready to slide back into its slots in the storage units.
And here are the leftover strips, placed in baggies to be snuggled into the blue drawer.  I'm excited to have precut strips available to grab when I need them.  I think this will help me in the long run since there are so many things you can do with strips.
And here are the blue strippy blocks.  I may play with their placement a bit more before I stitch them together.

I also worked on my tomato piece today.  I added paint to it today, daubing through a piece of rug canvas.  It's busy drying now, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to work more on it.  It should be done by the end of the week.

On the weight front, I lost my first five pounds!  Yay me!  We all know what to do to lose weight - eat less, move more.  But we all also know that's it's not that simple.  So much of the weight battle is mental.  In the past I've never focused on the mental part, which I think is why I've been having so much trouble succeeding.  So this time, I'm keeping a journal (for my eyes only) where I explore the reasons I think I've not been taking care of myself properly.  Will it help?  We'll see.....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Purple Russian

I've been embroidering varieties of tomatoes in a meandering fashion around this little quilt.  Who knew there were so many varieties.  Beefsteak, I've heard of, but Purple Russian?  There is still plenty more work (or play!) to be done on this piece.  I don't plan these funky little pieces, so I'm not sure exactly what will come next.  I'm thinking about a sheer hand coming toward the tomato.  Or maybe some stamping or painting on the yellow background would look good.  Or I could rough up the canvas with some sandpaper.  Or all of the above.  Stay tuned.

Big news!  This morning I finished making the blue strip pieced blocks for my January stash quilt.  Plus I finished organizing the blue drawer.  Pictures tomorrow!  Now I can sew the blue blocks together.  And I still need to quilt the round quilt.  There is always something waiting to be done, but that's the fun of it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back to the Vegetables

No, I'm not talking dieting.  I made it up to my studio today!  Yay me!  I layered my little canvas tomato piece on some hand dyed fabric, with batting and backing.  I did a bit of machine quilting around the tomatoes.  Now I'm ready to attack it with LOTS of hand stitching and embroidery.  I've got my shoe box of embroidery floss by my side - hope to get going on it tonight.

I also made more blue strippy blocks.  I'm almost done making the blocks; hopefully I'll get them sewn together next week.

Someone asked me recently about my monthly stash quilts on my 2009 goal list.  So I thought others might be wondering the same things.

How big will they be?
I'm not sure.  I'd like for a couple of them to be twin sized, which is very big for me.  But many will be art quilts, averaging 40" by 40".  But some may be smaller.

Do you have to have them quilted and bound each month?
Most people would probably say 'yes' to this, but since I'm making up my own rules, I'm going to be lenient on myself.  If I can get the top done each month, I'll be satisfied.  Besides, I'm thinking this blue one will make a great background for a portrait, I'm just not sure which one yet.  So I'm not going to put pressure on myself to get the as yet unknown portrait done by the end of the month.  But I'll certainly have finished the blue strippy background by then.

Do you already know which color you'll work on each month?
No, I'll pick each month's color as I go.  And sometimes I'll combine colors.  For instance, when when I work on the orange drawer, I may add some blue into the mix.  So all the quilts will not be monochromatic.  I'm still not even sure which color I'll work on in February.  Red would seen appropriate, but we'll see...

My brother called this afternoon and cancelled their trip.  So our weekend is suddenly free and my house is very clean.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm Still Here...

Sorry for the lack of posts!  I still haven't made it up to the studio.  I MISS IT!  Funny thing is, a year ago I only made it upstairs to quilts a few days per week.  But since I started blogging (and since being an empty nester), it unusual for a day to pass without doing some sewing, fusing, etc.  We have been working hard to finish our household projects before our guests arrive Friday night. But tonight, hubby is getting sick so we took the night off.  I'll do the necessities tomorrow and we'll call it a day.  We're looking forward to a fun weekend, but I do hope hubby starts feeling better.

I do have some news though.  I've been asked to be a guest blogger at in February.  What fun!  I'll have to do some thinking about what that post will be about - definitely no household projects!

I did take time out to get my hair highlighted and cut today.  I feel like a new woman!  I was long overdue.  Hopefully, tomorrow I will take time out to quilt.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Day

Inaugurations always bring out the best in our country.  We all join hands, whether Democrats or Republicans, to share a celebration of hope for the future.  God bless America!

Today I decided to share a special quilt with you.  I made "Visions of Inspiration" about a year and a half ago.  The Alabama Eye Bank requested this piece to help encourage organ donation, particularly eyes.  It's amazing how a simple donation can bring sight to another human being.  I can't imagine life without my sight!

I was diagnosed several years ago with Fuch's Dystrophy, an eye disease that causes the cornea to deteriorate.  It's a hereditary illness that my father also has.  So far, so good for both of us though; it has not affected our vision thus far.  There is no treatment for this, but if one's cornea does deteriorate drastically, a cornea transplant can be performed.  So you can see how important promoting eye donation is to me.

The Alabama Eye Bank gave me list of people they wanted depicted in the quilt.  These are individuals who have been important in these issues or have participated in ad campaigns for the Eye Bank or who might need a cornea transplant.  Helen Keller is in the center of the quilt.  Starting at the top and moving clockwise, others depicted are Bob Hope, Bo Jackson, an anonymous baby (who happens to be one of my babies), Charlie Boswell, Bear Bryant, George Wallace, my father (Dudley Cheape), and Heather Whitestone.  It was a pleasure to make this quilt.

Have you figured out yet that I never made it up to my studio today?  Some of the projects we worked on over the weekend needed to be completed.  So I reorganized my china cabinet, spackled several nail holes around the house, cleaned a bathroom, changed the sheets on a bed, primed a wall, and filled a bookcase with books.  Oh, and yes, I started the day with my exercise video.  I'm pooped!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Use for Christmas Card Displays

Here's a quick tip for you!  I like to use a Christmas Card display rack for displaying my quilted postcards.  I made one of these, but the others were gifts from friends.  I have this rack in my kitchen, so they are easily seen and enjoyed.

Today I hosted the third art bee for our Guild.  It's hard to believe we now have THREE art quilting groups!  I've decided to join the group and we decided to call ourselves Art 3B.  (Like Art Bee 3, but cooler!)  We all seem to mesh well together, spending the morning getting to know one another.  We all agreed we don't want to slave over cooking a meal when we host a meeting - we'll all just bring a sandwich.  Sounds good to me!

As soon as the meeting ending, hubby and I loaded up our car with our living room furniture, taking it to my in-laws who will pass it on to a family in need.  Then we went to a furniture store, previously visited on Saturday, and came home with a new sofa, two new chairs (closeout for only $75 each!), and two new lamps.  I never dreamed Friday night that by this afternoon we would have moved tons of furniture around, painted our foyer (almost, anyway!), and replaced our living room furniture.  I'm ready for a rest!!!

No, I've haven't exercised again....
We just haven't stopped long enough.  But I'll get back to it in the morning after hubby goes to work.  Then, and only then will I get back to work in my studio.

Did I mention we're having out of town company this weekend?  My brother and his three boys.  It will be nice to see them all!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Can Hardly Move

So I've marked one thing off my 2009 Goal List - entering a quilt in a major show.  This week I'll put my list on the sidebar so it will be in front of my face daily, and I can mark things off there.  I'm hoping to accomplish two more items this week.

As for the weight....
I've already lost 3 pounds......twice.  I lost three, gained it back, and now have lost it again.  I'm determined it won't come back this time.  For Christmas, I got (for myself) a few Biggest Loser workout dvd's.  I've really enjoyed them in last month as they sat near the TV.  Collecting dust.  Unwatched.  Until yesterday.

My hubby and I decided it was time to finally take one out of its plastic and give it a go.  So we moved the coffee table in the den out of the way and DID IT!

Was it hard?  Yes, but not impossible.  I could do almost everything.  During the one move I couldn't do, I simple did lunges or marched in place.  I think the workout we did is called CardioMax.  Today we'll do a strength training dvd.  When I woke up this morning, I could hardly move.  I guess that's good?  I mean, I can tell I worked muscles I didn't know I had.  I'm also going on a 1200 calorie per day eating plan this week...more on that later.  Hopefully, by the end of the week I can mark the first 5 pounds off my list!

I never made it up to the studio yesterday.  We spent the entire day working around the house.  We removed two rugs (from den and living room), we moved the den coffee table to the living room so we won't have to move it every time we exercise.  We rearranged the furniture in the living room and decided we need to buy a new sofa for that room.  All in all, we decided to get rid of a sofa, oversized chair, and chest of drawers.  We decided to paint the foyer; we primed it last night and will paint it today.  We even went shopping for sofas and think we've decided on one.  More of all these projects today.

I'm hosting a brand new art bee here tomorrow, so by the end of today we'll have to stop and put things together somewhat for the meeting.  That is, if my body will start cooperating!

Friday, January 16, 2009

From Project to Project

I finished more blue strippy blocks today.  This piece is beginning to look like something.  I also continued to sort my blue fabric, pressing it, cutting more strips, and organizing the blue drawer.
I fussy cut more Flutterby diamonds, bringing my total to 10.  I have 29 left to fussy cut.
I did the applique on the round quilt last night.  This morning, I basted it to batting and backing so it's ready to quilt.  This is the backside.  Many of my fellow guild members read this blog, so I don't want them to see this challenge quilt until the March meeting.

I also did a bit more on my tomato piece.

The temperature here is very cold.  We've had a fairly mild winter so far, but last night it dipped down to about 12 degrees F.  It will be cold all weekend.  Hubby and I will work on some household projects over the next couple of days.  It's nice to take care of little inside projects during this time of year when we're not tempted to get outside. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tomatoes Anyone?

In the dead of winter, fresh tomatoes are what I miss most.  Not those hard, grainy ones you can get at the grocery store all year; no, I'm talking the vine ripened, home grown (or locally grown) that are firm and juicy and red and so good on a sandwich.

I say, if you can't eat them now, why not paint them!  I painted these today on a small piece of canvas.  If you look closely (or click to enlarge), you might be able to see that I added a few pieces of torn telephone book here and there.  I'm absolutely not a painter, and I know this is no masterpiece, but I'm planning to turn it into a little quilt.  It will have lot of hand and machine quilting before I'm done with it, plus additional fabric and maybe even some beads.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.
I also made some strip pieced blue blocks today.  These are not sewn together yet.  I've divided my blue strips into lights, mediums, and darks, and these are obviously from the light group.  Once I've made all the blocks and sewn them together, I'm thinking this might make a great background for a portrait quilt.  I think I already have a photo in mind.  More on this later.

Another project for today was working on my circle quilt challenge.  This has gone so much faster than I expected!  I finished the entire top today!  I'm going to do a bit of applique on it, hopefully tonight.  Tomorrow I'll baste it to the batting and backing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fussy Cut Template

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon in my studio working on a variety of projects.  It's nice to be able to meander from project to project with no big deadlines looming for the moment.  I cut squares from some of my blue strip sets and played with them a bit.

Then I worked on a round quilt for our guild's upcoming challenge.  Since I'm in charge of the challenge, I figured I'd better start working on my own.  This is due in early March, but after only an hour or so, I already have half of the circle pieced.  I won't show it here until after my March guild meeting.

Then I pulled out a quilt kit I bought more than a year ago.  It's been sitting on my shelf, collecting dust.  I'm not usually a "kit quilt" person; I'd rather do my own thing, design my own pattern.  I don't even like to use patterns.  But I saw  this quilt (Flutterby collection from Moda) and fell in love with it.  So I ordered the kit.  As part of my self-imposed "green" challenge, not buying fabric for a year, I'm not only trying to make better use of my stash, but also to get some projects like this done.  I'm planning on doing the piecing for this project at our guild's retreat next month.  The diamond centers must be fussy cut, and I'd like to get that part done before retreat.
To make a template, I traced the pattern on poster board and cut it out.  I also cut out the center, leaving a quarter inch along the sides.  Then I glued the poster board piece to a piece of transparency film and cut away the excess.
I positioned my template on the fabric and outlined some of the key elements on the transparency film.
Then I traced around the template onto the fabric; these lines are the cutting lines.  Easy peasy.  I cut this diamond with scissors, but I'm hoping to use a rotary cutter once I get going on this.  One diamond cut, 38 to go.

By the way, the photograph of this quilt on the link doesn't do the fabric justice!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Trash Talkin'

Some people may look at the above picture and see a pile of trash.  I don't.  I see a pile of treasure.  My friend Judy Cloe brought this baggie full of fun to me this morning at quilt guild.  She literally fished the fabric bits out of her trash to bring to me, along with a piece of selvage and a couple of bottle caps.  The fabric is Kaffe Fasset, one of my favorites!  Yes, the pieces are itty-bitty, but I'm up for the challenge.  Stay tuned - I may play with these later this week.
Here something I started over the weekend.  Emily is a knitter, and she taught Elizabeth over the Christmas break.  With all the knitting going on around here, I caught the bug.  I've always been more of a crocheter than a knitter, but I remember watching my mom knit when I was young, sitting with her on the sofa while her needles flew through the yarn.  This yarn is from Hobby Lobby, nothing expensive, but it creates stripes on its own.  I'm making a simple scarf, knit one row, purl one row.  I'd love to learn how to knit socks by the end of the year, but we'll see.  Quilting will always be my number one art form.

My quilt entry is officially on its way!  I sent it this morning, overnight express.  It should arrive at its destination by 10:30 in the morning.  By the way, it has a name now, so I don't have to call it THE Quilt anymore.  It's called "Spring Break."

Update:  GO FIGURE!  I was just enjoying reading some of my favorite blogs and discovered that the director of the competition to which I sent my entry has been sick, so they will now accept entries until the end of the week; how funny is that!  Not funny that she's sick, but funny that I spent the weekend taking pictures, burning them to a CD, filling out entry forms, etc., etc., and then paying for overnight shipping.  Oh, well.  I'm still glad my entry will arrive tomorrow.  But now it means it will be there EARLY!  

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Final Photo and a Little Bit of LOVE

Now it's REALLY done!  I stitched the shoelace to the quilt, along with the rope cording.  Then I stitched little black strips over the cording to depict the rubber rings on the inner tube.  The contest I'm in which I'm entering it has a due date of Tuesday.  Whoa baby, I'm cutting it close!  I'll get the CD and entry form ready tomorrow, take it to the post office Monday, and send it overnight.

Look what I played with today...
I designed this paper pieced pattern and made a sample block.  I got the idea here.  I love her quilt!  She free pieced hers, meaning no pattern, so each block is a bit different.  But mine is for a bee challenge, and I wanted to make it easy for each person to complete.

Each person in my bee is selecting a block pattern and making a sample block before our February meeting.  Each of us will bring to bee the sample block and 12 copies of the pattern in a bag.  Each month we'll swap bags and make the pattern from that person using our scraps.  This should be a fun way to use up some fabric, and at the end of the year we'll each have 12 blocks of our pattern.

This block seems very appropriate for me this year because my husband and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.  LOVE is a wonderful thing!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I'm Stripping

I spent the afternoon sewing strips, at long last!  I've really had fun making the portrait quilt, but it's always nice to finish a project and move on to another one.  And sewing strips together is so relaxing and mindless.  I'm so ready for something mindless.

My husband is going to help me photograph the portrait quilt over the weekend.  Both girls have left now, so it's just the two of us (plus four dogs).  The dogs spent the day barking outside, as if to remind me they're still around to keep me company.  

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain a good bit.  Sounds like a great day for quilting!  


I can hardly believe it!  It's ready to photograph!  There's still a bit of handwork left to be done, but I can take photographs now for contest entry.  I'll put a black or white piece of fabric over my design wall for a nice background before taking "official" photos.
Below you can see my solution for the rope.  I tried clothesline, but it was too skinny.  I ended up using some very thick cording.  For now it's in it's natural state.  I'm trying to decide whether to cover it with fabric.  It's only pinned in place now; I'll need to hand stitch and couch it in place.
I searched through the girls' closet and found an old shoe from which to steal the dirty shoe lace.  This is also only pinned in place and will need to be hand stitched.
I like the dimension the rope and shoelace provide.

On a more negative note (excuse my minor rant!), the sewing machine shop called yesterday to say my machine was ready.  I drove over immediately.  When they brought my machine to the front, I told them I needed to check to make sure it was fixed.  I threaded the machine to see if the thread was still catching on something inside.  Sure enough, the catch was still there.  I had the shop lady thread it so she could see what I was talking about.  Then we did the same thing on a brand new machine in the shop.  No catch.  

She went to the back to get the repairman to come up front and talk to me.  She came back without him; he told her there was nothing wrong.  After she told me this, she immediately changed the subject, telling me of one unexperienced sewer who brought her machine in with a problem that was caused by said sewer fiddling with things in her machine that she should have left alone.

Was she trying to insinuate I'd fiddled with something?  Not sure.  But I'm frustrated.  I've dealt with this shop for more than 10 years.  This machine is the second I've bought there.  I've even taught a class there.  All that said, they did perform the needed maintenance on the machine, so it is very clean and running smoothly.  But I don't like that the thread is catching on something.  There is something wrong inside the machine I spent $3000 on, the machine I'd hoped would run for many more years.  

What to do...
I'll keep using it until it gives me further problems (and the thread starts breaking again).  But the next time I buy a machine, I'll buy it elsewhere.  I will probably even switch brands.

Thanks for listening.  I feel better now!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Binding Decision

I took a nice picture of the quilt, but Blogger did not cooperate, so I couldn't upload it.  Oh well.  Thanks so much for all the helpful comments!  I ended up using the black and white stripe.  You knew I would, didn't you?  I cut it at 1 3/4 inch as my friend Judy Cloe suggested, so I had plenty.  I stitched it on, so I'm ready to start the hand stitching now.  The sleeve will follow.

I am absolutely itching to get to the blue strips!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Binding Choices

I need some help here.  I LOVE to bind quilts with black and white stripes.  However, I only have a fat quarter of this, so I may be pushing it.  I've done some calculations, and if I play my cards right, I think I can make it work.  Then there's the safe choice, a variegated blue.  I have plenty of this.  Any comments would be appreciated!

I trimmed THE quilt today.  The final size is 50 inches wide by 30 inches down.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Quilting is Done!

I finished the quilting today, as planned.  Excuse me for not being more excited, but I'm a bit tired.  I've already brought my sewing machine down from my studio, ready to pack in the car in the morning for it's much needed vacation (i.e., maintenance).  It's been having a problem for some time now.  Several months ago, I did some machine quilting with clear nylon thread.  Somehow, some of the thread got caught inside the machine.  I took it to the shop then, but it has not run that great since.  I should have immediately taken it back to the shop, but I couldn't stand to be without it.  So now, maybe they'll figure out the problem.  This time, after they've fixed it, I will insist on sewing on it in the store before I leave, just to make sure everything is okay before I take it back home.

Tomorrow, I'll trim THE quilt and pick out the binding fabric.  Emily went back to college today; I miss her already!  But I've still got Elizabeth here for a few more days.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'm Almost Done Quilting!

Today I quilted the rest of the legs, the dog, the pier post, and the bathing suit.  All that is left is the remaining 2/3 of the inner tube.  I'm pretty certain I'll finish this tomorrow.  YAY!!!
Then I'll have to trim it and pick out the binding fabric.  I'm sure I can find something suitable in my stash.  Here's the back side of the dog.
I'm so excited that the end is near!!!

Oh, I almost forgot!  I'll still have to come up with a rope for the inner tube.  And I'm going to stitch an old, dirty shoelace onto the shoe.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Muscular Quilting?

No, I'm not building muscles, but doesn't the quiliting resemble ripped muscles?  I'm showing the back because the quilting really doesn't show well on the front.  If you can't tell, that's the face above, and of course the hand below.
Thank goodness my machine and I are playing well together today.  For the past few days she's been a bit ornery.  Breaking threads.  Caught threads.  You name it, threads.  I've cleaned her out (multiple times), put in new needles (multiple times), and even resorted to sweet talking.  She finally listened, because today she's humming along.  I like it when we play well together.

I think what put her in a good mood was my telling her that she'd get to take a vacation at the sewing machine shop for much needed maintenance and relaxation as soon as she finishes quilting this quilt.

I have another machine I can use while she on holiday.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Quilting Has Begun

Yesterday afternoon I quilted the water areas.  Front shot above; back shot below.
I know, it's more than just quilting; it's almost thread painting.  I used a light weight fusable, plus the strips are very narrow, so I felt it needed lots of stitching to keep everything in place.  I'm matching the thread color to each section on the front of the quilt.  The backing is black Kona cotton (thanks again DB!).

Today I quilted about half of the inner tube, one arm and shoulder, and a third of the face.  Tomorrow I should have a few hours free to quilt, also.  I'm hoping to finish the quilting by Monday or Tuesday.

When I take breaks from quilting, I iron blues, cut them in strips, and fold the rest.  My strip pile is growing:
I'm still not sure how I'll put together the strips.  I figure I have another week to go on the portrait; maybe by then I'll have a blue strip plan.  

Emily had her follow-up with the surgeon a couple of days ago.  She's healed well and will be all set to go back to college this weekend.  We're glad that is behind us.