Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Okay! I've got just a little time left to wish you all a Happy New Year before 2008 turns into 2009!

That's it . . . not much to add to my blog tonight but that. Here's to a good and Happy New Year to all of you.

I'm looking forward to another new year with lots of ideas for moving forward.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting in the Groove

We had an opportunity to see our older son and his girlfriend yesterday. Being able to visit with both sons was a nice addition to our Christmas holiday this year. It's fun to talk over the phone, but even better to see one another. It was a long day trip to drive the distance, but the visit was much appreciated - and enjoyed.

Now I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of a new year. I haven't made a new year's resolution for awhile. I have a few things I want to accomplish this year so am considering writing up my list of goals as new year's resolutions. I'm looking to make some changes in my life over the next year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

We enjoyed a fairly quiet Christmas with one of the boys and his fiance home for a visit. Since it was a small gathering we used the phone to "reach out and touch someone." It was fun to visit by phone. We made phone calls to some other family members to do some catching up and to see how everyone has been doing. It's good to learn everyone seems to be doing well.

This batch of blocks are made from some of my scraps.I'm progressing slowly with some scrap quilts. Whenever I get an opportunity I try to sew a few seams here and there. It's a little easier to do that with my sewing machine set up on a full-time basis so I don't have to set it up and take it down each time I want to sew.

These photos show some of the scrap blocks I've been working on. The blocks aren't typical with their bright colors, but I've been having fun sewing them together. It's something different for a change from my usual color palette. The centers of each of these blocks is a black tone-on-tone print. I have some additional fabric left of this black print to use on an outside border of the quilt. That should help to tie it all together.

Two of the brightly colored blocks - eye popping big daisies.Once I get the rest of these blocks sewn together I'll lay them out on the floor to see how they look together. That way I'll be able to see if they work well together. Some of the prints are so different from what I normally choose that I'm feeling a little uneasy with some of the fabric combinations. I am undecided at this point as to their compatibility. The brights obviously go together, but I don't have enough to complete a lap quilt. I threw in some others that are color related, but not real good matches. I'm hoping they will work. In the meantime I can enjoy the sewing process of putting them together. That's half the fun - the other half it being surprised by the outcome. Scrap quilts are a good surprise kind of quilt.

All the blocks are developing from this pile of scraps.I selected the scraps from a variety of fabrics I had on hand. Some were given as left overs from friends; some were sitting in my scrap pile for quite some time. I've got lots of newer fabric, but it seems it's the scrap quilts that keep drawing my attention. Once I get caught up with the scraps I can then move on to some of the newer prints I've accumulated.

I want to keep working away on my scraps to use them up. It may take awhile since it seems I have collected so much over the years. I feel I need to use up some of what I have on hand before I purchase more. It is one of my goals/resolutions this year to whittle down that collection of fabric before I bring home more. By making an effort to get more sewing done this year and use up my fabric I'll have more room to do other things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preparations for Holidays

We've been busy the last couple days doing some final preparations for the holidays. Only one of our sons are able to come home for a visit. We're looking forward to the visit though it would be extra fun to have them both home. Today my dh and I re-arranged the furniture in the living room. In the process I finally got a chance to get some of that deep cleaning done that doesn't happen often enough. I have to say this furniture arrangement looks a lot better than what we previously had. I'm glad we took the time to do it. There's still some details I will take care of tomorrow. Stuff like hanging pictures and getting books and small stuff positioned and in place on shelves and various places. The change is really encouraging. This particular arrangement makes the room seem so much larger even though the same amount of furniture is in place. There's much better flow.

I've had my heart set on getting some more sewing done again. It seems to have been a long, long time since I just sat and sewed. It's been more than a week and a half at least. I also have some patterns and instructions I want to type up. Perhaps I'll have an opportunity to do some of that later tomorrow.

This week is Christmas week. Yeah!! Christmas is such a fun holiday. We get off early on Wednesday at 2:00 pm so I'll have a little extra time to do some last minute baking and prep work the day before the holiday. There's still some tidying up to do before our company arrives. Tomorrow will have to be laundry day also as that has been piling up and needs to be dealt with. It is adding up to be a busy week.

This afternoon my dh and I watched a few shows on the History channel about Christmas. It was interesting to hear so many different perspectives and theories of the origins of some Christmas beliefs and traditions as well as the historical and religious perspectives of the nativity and Christ's birth. All in all it's been a good afternoon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Day Like a Snow Day

We were getting snow and wind all day. I was outdoors for awhile earlier today to help shovel and make sure the dogs could get through to do their business. At first they objected to going out. I guess I would too if I was a little dog and the drifts were taller than I was.

My hubby got to get out the snow blower once again. He and a neighbor across the street took turns with it clearing the walks and some of the driveways up and down the street. The forecast holds the possibility of more wind and snow for the duration of this blizzard through tomorrow.

I made fresh homemade bread today. It sure was tasty and it kept the kitchen a little warmer with the oven on for awhile. To top it off, we've got leftovers for tomorrow, too. Yum!

It's basically been a quiet, restful day off.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Feeling Yucky

I've been taking it easy and sleeping a lot the past few days. I had a sinus infection a few weeks ago. At that time the doc prescribed medication that seemed to have taken care of it. Apparently I'm having a rebound. This time it seemed to hit me quickly with being dizzy, nauseous, pressure in my head and feeling very weak and just plain worn out.

I hate being sick. But staying home from work the last couple days has enabled me to get lots of extra sleep. For that I'm grateful. I'm sure it's better to help get healthy quicker. Back on some medication, I'm starting to feel better already. Still lots of pressure in my sinuses, but not dizzy or nauseous anymore.

I had big plans of doing some deep cleaning and getting the house decorated for the Christmas holiday on Monday. That didn't take place, so now I feel further behind. We've got one more Christmas party to attend for the year. After that it's bound to be a quiet Christmas for the two of us here at home. My dh says not to worry about putting up Christmas decorations since it's just the two of us this year. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I like all the decorations up for the holidays, especially the lights. So I think I'll just go minimal and put up some lights and a small Christmas tree. Going minimal seems to fit well for us this year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tossed Chickens

Tossed Chicken fabricTossed Chickens - that's what this type of fabric is referred to . . . tossed . . . when the images are scattered across the surface. Somehow that strikes me as funny. Okay, to really "toss" chickens isn't funny, but the idea, the cartoon image, of chickens being "tossed" strikes me as funny.

Too many goofy cartoons as a kid? Nah! Just a unique way of looking at the world! Tossed chickens is funny, it's just one reason I like this fabric. Another reason is I've noticed I kind of have a thing for chickens. I've been noticing how many chickens I have around in the house. I've somehow been collecting them for a long time without really noticing or trying. (Maybe I have some farmgirl in me). I'll have to one day do a chicken inventory and see just how many it adds up to. In fact I recently purchased an embroidery design to make accessories for the kitchen with chicken designs. I haven't embroidered them out on my machine yet, but that will come someday soon.

Scissors with hand made hanging ID labelI made this hang tag to label my scissors. It is one of the projects I did for a recent class I taught. These quick, easy little hang tags can be used for labeling items, gifts and packages, organizing labels, even on a tree as a Christmas ornament. They would tuck into a holiday card easily.

Here the little chick is the featured image on the front side of my scissors fob. When it is flipped over the label reveals the owner's name (that's me). It's a great way to identify your items when heading off to attend a class and to keep track of your personal items.

An easy way to identify your items in the classroomI printed info onto card stock with my computer to use on the back side as a label. It is an easy project and really doesn't take that much time to make them.

As demos for the class I taught, I made some hang tags at each class session. One doesn't need a fancy sewing machine to make these. Any old sewing machine will do the job. If you want to sew the basic little hang tag, your simplest machine will work. Those who want to make the embroidered ones would need an embroidery machine. And fussy cut fabric is a great way of making use of printed fabric images. These would also be fun with photographs cut to feature the faces of family members as well.

I used a punch from my scrapbooking supplies to cut the circle shapes from the printed paper labels. It is fast and easy. You can get perfect alignment of the words by turning the punch upside down and viewing the words from the back side as the paper is being punched. The cording that forms the handle and the tassle is a polyester or nylon cord used to string window blinds. I also use a similar thin cording like this to make my Piping Hot Binding for quilts. It's fun to think of other ways to make use of these tools aside from their original designated purposes.

This chicken tag features the fabric fussy cut to highlight the chick. The others shown are actually cast offs of embroidery projects that were goofed up and had flaws in them. I didn't want to just throw them out - I save them thinking I could use the flawed sew-outs some day in another project. This was the day. Cutting circle shapes from parts of the sew-outs yielded these cute little hang tags/ornaments.

A variety of tags/ornamentsI glitzed up the hang tags with heat set crystal embellishments. That is another very easy thing to do. The heating tool (mine is a L'Orna Heat Wand) heats up the glue on the back of the crystals. When applied properly the crystals don't come loose even with machine washing and the heat from a clothes dryer. Once set, the crystals are adhered for good.

The heat set crystals certainly add that extra touch of glitz and sparkle. I like the way these little beauties turned out. I'll make a few more and use them on our Christmas tree.

Zoom in close to see the crystal embellishments.This project is also a good way to make use of those practice sew-outs when doing machine embroidery. There's always times something doesn't turn out right - a mis-alignment of the black outline from not stabilizing properly, a mis-threading with the wrong color thread sequencing or something along those lines. I have quite a few un-used embroidery sew-outs I can make use of on small projects like this. Using them up with another project makes it so much better so I don't feel so bad (and wasteful) about embroidering something out that I don't end up using right away.

The idea that's very popular right now - to reduce, reuse, recycle - is manifested perfectly in this project. It goes right along with the current "hand-made" craze that is all the rage and getting so much press of late. I picked up a book a month or so ago called Handmade Nation. To read the book one would think this current generation is the leader and inventor of all things crafts. They've certainly got their spin on things in the current craft world today, but a lot of it is certainly not new. Some of the "new" crafty ideas seem very nostalgic to me. They're not re-inventing the crafts of yester-year, but updating some of the techniques that have been around for awhile for a re-vamped look.

I love it though. To see some of the "new ideas" is pretty cool. It takes me back to younger days in many ways. And I always like to see a new twist on ideas.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Charming Quilts

The beginning of my Benartex Sweethearts Charm QuiltThis past week I started sewing on a Sweetheart Charm quilt. I purchased 2 packs of 5" squares (a charm pack) of Benartex Sweethearts sampler fabric squares a short time ago. The blue and green companion fabric is from a line called Clara by P&B Textiles. I thought it made a good match with the color combination.

I absolutely love the colors in these fabrics. They seem so refreshing to me with the blues, greens, and browns. Plus the addition of spots of color with pinks, yellows, deep berry reds and other colors makes it seem so lively.

Benartex Sweethearts Charm PackI cut 2 1/2" strips of the companion fabric to create sashing between the sweetheart fabric blocks. I am just starting to combine them together so have a ways to go on creating this quilt.

I want to use my Husqvarna Viking endless embroidery hoop to create some lengths of embroidered fabric for some sections of the quilt. I think I'll be adding some strips of embroidery within the quilt. I'm thinking of having some pieced rows of blocks alternating with the embroidered rows of fabric.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Metallic Threads and Fancy Stitches

A closer look at the runner with its metallic thread detail.My friend, Patty, shared with me the beauty of her new table runner. It is a superb sample of using a good basic technique for a big "WOW!" effect.

The runner is made up of a series of decorative stitches carefully placed and sewn. It is absolutely stunning with the use of all those metallic threads in golds and silver. She tells me the piece is sewn with Kreinik threads.

With the proper needle (metallic or topstitch) metallic threads provide such a lustrous result with ease of stitching.

Patty's beautiful table runner.
From a distance it looks almost as if there are braids or trims sewn into place. But upon closer inspection you will notice it is really just row after row of decorative stitches. Fabulous!

The beauty of the piece is the combination of decorative stitches. This stitch stacking method is really a simple method with wonderful results sure to impress your friends and family. If you have always wondered what to do with all those stitches on your machine, this is a perfect example of the potential for using them.

Details of Patty's runner features metallic thread and gorgeous machine stitches.Patty has created some visual variety in the pieced background for the stitching. It consists of a black shimmery type of decorative fashion fabric alternating with another black with a more matte finish and plain weave. This matte fabric serves as a fine choice to support and show off the metallic decorative stitches. What a great combination of fabrics and stitches. The long tassels hung from either end of the table runner were also hand-made.

Great job, Patty! I love, Love, LOVE it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sewing Day

I spent the day sewing with a friend. It was a good day. I didn't do anything extra special or different, just a regular sewing day. I enjoyed the day. My husband came home and commented that I had a smile on my face when he came home. Knowing I spent my Mondays (day off work) sewing he commented that I must have had a good day of Sewing Therapy.

Yep, It was a good day.

I'm working on another scrappy quilt. It's based loosely on a quilt in McCall's Quick Quilts, the January 2009 issue. It's a quilt called "cozy cabins" using the log cabin pattern - courthouse steps. One change though, my strips are 2 1/2" rather than the 1 1/2" strips shown in the magazine. So my quilt will be a bit larger than what is shown.

I took a photo of my progress. It's scrappy, with a lot of black, gold, orange, purple and green. So far I'm liking this color combination. There is one print focal fabric I'm pulling the colors for my fabric from. I still need to add some other fabric colors. There's lots of room for more color since it's a scrappy quilt. I just love Scrappy Quilts. I'll keep you updated with photos as time goes on.

The previous quilt I was sewing on is awaiting the blocks to be squared up and sewn together. Then it goes on my quilting frame. The frame was cleared off a few weeks ago. I need to get that quilt framed up and start the actual quilting process. That should be interesting . . . afterall, it will be my first try at quilting on my own quilt frame.

Yep, there will be photos taken all along the way. Hopefully I catch on to the quilting process quickly with that first quilt.

More to come on that . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday

Make a wish, then blow out the birthday candles.We had the pleasure of seeing one of the boys this weekend. We celebrated out son's birthday while he was home. This photo is the best. Look at all the smoke from all those candles! Guess that's what happens as one gets older, more and more smoke with all the candles.

Cut the cake.Taking the honors to cut the cake . . . there was plenty to go around. It was a yummy lemon cake with low sugar vanilla frosting. There is lots of cake left over.

Yummy birthday cake.I haven't had lemon cake for a long time. It sure was tasty. We enjoyed the visit with our son and his fiance. It was fun to have the opportunity to get together over the last couple days. We had lots of catching up with the two of them. We got out of the house to see the new James Bond movie last night.

All in all it turned out to be a great weekend. They headed back home this evening in order to be at work tomorrow. Now it's back to just the two of us in the house (and our three dogs) again.

I ended up going through some of my stuff in the red room and the studio this weekend. Turns out I found I can "donate" some of my extra stuff to my son's fiance. She's nearly done with her teaching degree. She's starting to collect things she would find useful for teaching classes. I have lots of extra "stuff" so we went through some of that. I managed to send several boxes of "stuff" out the door with them when they left. I have so much though. It's hard to tell anything of it is gone. Now that I know there are things she might be interested in using with her future kid's classes I can put some more things aside as I continue to sort and purge while I organize my studio and all my "stuff".

I still want to go further in sorting, purging and organizing my stuff. Just this weekend, looking in boxes I haven't opened in so long, I find I'm in need of being more critical and ruthless in disposing of things. I am liking the idea of getting rid of more stuff to open up the feel of the room. There are just too many boxes and containers of stuff that it feels crowded and closed in. When I see photos of some sewing rooms and studios I find I like the ones that are open, well lighted and airy. I like the idea of more space. That's what I'm aiming for. It'll come one day, I just need to pace myself and keep working in that direction.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pin Wheels and Couching

I bought the Pfaff Yarn Couching foot - I've been playing lately.I recently purchased the Yarn Couching foot to use on my Pfaff sewing machine. I think this foot is really cool. The project I'm working on right now uses this foot to help couch down yarns. I'm embellishing a sweatshirt to make into a jacket. This project is being used at work to teach sewing techniques and tips. I'm planning on doing a different step of the process each week to feature a different sewing techniques for this class.

I've been sewing on this project.Each of us at work sewed up aprons for the sewing sessions mentioned in the previous paragraph. These Thursday classes we're offering at work are being held each week during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I followed the purchased pattern, but with a few minor changes.

My new apron - made for use in a class - will come in handy for my holiday cooking.This apron will come in handy over the Thanksgiving holiday. There is a tablerunner and a couple of potholders with this pattern as well as the apron. I plan on making those also if I can fit in the time to do so within the next couple weeks. I like the look of these items. The pattern for the apron is ideal for embroidering an endless hoop design. I may make another apron with a strip of embroidery inserted in place of the pin wheels.

a close up of some of the pinwheelsHere's a close-up shot of some of the pin wheels on my apron. I goofed up by making one too many pin wheels, but left the extra pin wheel in place rather than ripping it out. I just added a bit more fabric than the pattern called for to accommodate the extra width of the extra pin wheel. It's a minor change, and makes my apron a little wider. I'm okay with that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yay! We got snow!

We got our first snowfall of the year yesterday, officially nine inches where we are, and it's great! I just love the first big snow of the year. My dh took the day off, got up as usual and started clearing snow. He got to use the snowblower we purchased a couple years ago. With so little snow over the last couple years, this ended up being its first day of real use. He got our driveway and walks cleared and went on to help the neighbors get theirs done. A big job this morning, and he's pretty relaxed and worn out tonight.

I went to work. It was quiet. We were working on clearing up and organizing around the store along with some other things. Fewer customers because of the weather meant we had more time to get some of the mundane but necessary stuff taken care of.

Green CV pillows in the red roomI thought I'd share a photo taken in the red room. This room in our house is set up with most of my scrap booking supplies, my computer books and study materials, a drawing table and a place set up for the computer and printer when I wanted some extra quiet to study for my on-line classes. I decided I wanted a red room one year to spice things up a bit. I got a bit tired of the same old dreary neutral room colors.

So here's a photo of some pillows I made for work a couple years ago when the Pfaff Creative Vision was first released. The pillows were samples for a promotion we did at the time to show off the new machine. I love the bright, neon green, the ribbon accents on the lower pillow and the gold trim on the top one. I'm thinking these might end up in my Etsy shop one day soon. I'm not really using them, and need to make room. I've clearly got more stuff in this house than I need and think it's better to release some of it out into the world.

Painting supplies ready to goA friend at work invited me to oil paint with her. I managed to get my paints out of storage and gathered together. I haven't decided yet what I will paint. I'll look through some photos over the next few days and decide. We go to painting class on Tueday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Plushy New Bed

Ginger enjoys her new plushy bed.Ginger seems to really enjoy her plushy new bed. My dh just finished repainting this kitchen wall. We were talking about getting a new bed or building something to keep the dog from leaning up against the wall when she sleeps so it stays fresher looking and not quite so grungy after time of rubbing up against it. I found this bed at Pet Smart today. It was pretty pricey, but decided to get it anyway. Now Ginger relaxes in style and isn't rubbing up against the wall like she used to.

Aahh! The luxury of a new bed!She was in and out of her bed several times today and seems to have accepted it as no big deal. We had moved her other big pillow bed to the living room to allow her to lay in front of the entertainment unit. Since she seems to do well with sleeping in the kitchen better at night (must be warmer in there) we put the new bed there.

As evidenced by all the white dust on the leg of the kitchen pedestal table, there's still alot to get done, and clean up. It's a work in progress. I REALLY want to pull the old carpeting up out of there. It's so dingy from years of use. But we're not quite ready to replace the cupboards yet and replacing the flooring needs to wait till then. There is currently sheet rock dust on most every surface from the recent mudding/taping/sanding of the walls prepping to paint. But it looks 100 times better with the new paint on this wall. I can't wait till it is all completely done. One day at a time though since it's an after work, on the weekend type project.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Doing the "Happy Roll"

Computer game = Intense concentrationGinger was beside herself tonight when one of my sons came home for a visit this weekend. She was so overjoyed and excited she couldn't sit still for very long. Here she is wagging her tail, rolling over and making herself the object of attention while we were visiting in the living room. My son and husband will be taking her out for a long walk in the country on a hunting trip tomorrow. That's bound to wear off some of that excitement. All the walking they do usually wears her out.

Ginger doing the A quick log onto his dad's computer had our son finding a free downloadable game to play for a short while. Notice the concentration required to master this computer game.

My son and I have had an opportunity for a short visit, but I'll be putting some time in to work tomorrow. I think I'll probably miss the send-off since my son has to get back on the road and head home while I'll still be at work. It's always fun to see one of the boys, even if it is a short visit.

A friend at work mentioned she was thinking of taking an oil painting class. I commented that it has been so long since I did any oil painting. That got us onto a conversation about painting. It's fun to find out she and I have so much in common when it comes to favorite activities. We're discussing the possibility of taking a painting class together. That would be a lot of fun and give me a great reason to get my oil paints out of the closet. How fun that would be!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Crumb Quilt Scrappiness

Sewing with a friend, here she's in a classI have been working on my crumb quilt lately. Now all the blocks are done and I need to decide the orientation of the blocks in the quilt, the size and number of blocks I want to use, and get them sewn together. I cannot wait to get this on my quilt frame and get in some practice on using my quilting frame.

A close up of one of the crumb quilt scrap blocksI caught a candid photo of my friend in a class at the store. We've been having fun sewing at her home when I have some time off. I have really been enjoying these times of sewing, chatting and getting to know each other. It would be fun to develop a group of us who get together weekly for our own sewing/quilting time. The scrappy crumb quilt I've been working on these past few weeks is complete up to the point of sewing all the blocks together to form the quilt top. We laid the blocks out on the floor at her house today to get a feel for the final product. It looks pretty good all laid out like we did. It'll be nice to get it all sewn together and on my quilting frame. I want to use this as an opportunity to practice my stippling, meandering, and maybe a few other kinds of free motion sewing with my Pfaff Grand Quilter and frame.

This week has been cold and windy here on the upper plains. I went to Walmart the other day. Since it's at the edge of town (urban sprawl and all with the way they position their stores) the wind was whipping across the open fields. I was seeing tumbleweeds trapped under half the cars parked in their parking lot. The tumbleweeds have been blowing around quite a bit lately. While I was at my friend's house today we were looking out over her back yard to see quite a few tumble weeds had collected along her fence line. That's just another everyday thing this time of year where we live. I can't help but smile though.

Every time I think about tumble weeds I think of a woman I met once who was traveling through our area. She said she and a friend were crossing through this part of the state (from somewhere on the southeast part of the US) and were just fascinated by the tumble weeds (having heard about them from cowboy folklore of old). The woman she was traveling with was really into making crafts and had a wedding coming up. The theme was a cowboy type wedding and she wanted to collect tumble weeds to use as props for the wedding. She was planning to spray paint them gold and have them be part of the western staging for the theme of the wedding. As they were traveling they stopped along the highway whenever they saw a bunch of tumble weeds and were collecting them in the back seat of their car. They tried to jam as many of them in there as they could without damaging them. She was telling me they had their back seat jam packed with tumble weeds.

I just have to chuckle now every time I see the tumble weeds blowing across the plains. I always picture them spray painted gold as backdrops for scenery! Talk about an active imagination. I can't help it . . . it makes me chuckle. It makes me happy to think of someone finding something good out of tumbleweeds! What is considered here to be a weed and a hinderance is looked upon with delight by others. Go figure!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sewing Therapy

Twin needle pin tuck techniqueMy recent sewing included making some pin tucks on the front panel of my new pillow pattern. I just love making pin tucks. It's such a quick and fun technique. And it is so easy. Just insert a 2.0mm twin needle and thread with two threads for this needle. Change to a pin tuck foot and use the pin tuck blade to help the tuck form neatly and easily. Then just sew the number of pin tuck rows you desire. So easy!

Twin welting techniqueMy latest pillow also includes the use of twin welting as a border for the pin tuck area. This is also an easy technique. The first time I saw the Pfaff twin welting foot being used I knew I wanted to get one. It is another easy foot to use and gives impressive results for home dec projects. The final effect is pretty cool with just sewing two rows of straight stitches. These two sewing feet are my current favorites.

Today I spent some time at work doing a class. Then later when I left I had the opportunity to spend some time sewing away the afternoon with a friend. I really enjoy sewing as an afternoon pastime. Spending this time with a friend makes the afternoon that much better. I'm still working away on my crumb quilts. I'll have the last log of my log cabins stitched on this week. Then I will be able to piece the blocks together. I'm looking forward to getting this scrappy crumb quilt onto my Grand Quilter frame. This will be the first quilt I actually put on the frame to practice and gain some quilting skills..

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Last Gasp Before Winter

Spindly potted plant makes last gasp before winter.This week I found a surprise awaiting me when I stepped outside. I planted two pots outside the door with a variety of flowering plants. This one has been making a slow, pitiful attempt to grow through the summer. It is long and spindly and doesn't have much to recommend it. I almost pulled it up to dispose of it numerous times when entering or leaving the house. But I left it on its own to struggle through just in case it would one day do better.

A single blossom presents itself.Now, in the middle of fall, with half of its leaves brown and shrivelled up, I see a blossom has sprung forth. Surprise, Surprise! Now it makes me smile when I walk by just to see this one last gasp of life from it before the winter hits. I'm really surprised it has made it this far to bloom so late in the season. With the long wet spring, lots of rain and cool weather through the summer, it's been a hard year for this plant.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Home Dec Pillow #2

Home Dec Pillow #2 front view with pin tucks, welting and twin weltingJust a quick post for now, I'm ready to head off to bed. Again, it took a lot longer than I anticipated to get some things done today that I wanted to accomplish. And I've got an earlier than usual day tomorrow. Yikes! this will be really short . . .

Just wanted to post the photos of the second Home Dec Pillow. The pattern is pretty much ready, but will do some tweaking on it when I get home from work. This view shows the pin tucks in the band along the front. This area is framed on two sides by twin welting. Thicker welting is used around the perimeter with a gathered technique.

Home Dec Pillow #2 back view with zipperThe back side, shown in this view, reveals the zipper closure and some of the fun new stitches on my Pfaff Creative Vision.

I like the way this pillow turned out. It's pretty much like I envisioned, so I'm happy with it. It will go on the couch in our living room (along with pillow #1) when store classes are over.

Okay, Off the bed . . .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Home Dec Pillow

My original Home Dec Pillow #1I wrote instructions for my original Home Dec Pillow #1 for a class at work. This is the first of two different pillow classes we are offering this fall. I will be posting the pattern on my Etsy site within the next few days.

This pillow teaches a lot of different techniques. The center curve showcases fabric manipulation with puffing, a gathering technique. Fabric strips cut on the bias are used to cover the raw edges of the central puffing/gathered area. This same bias strip is used around the perimeter to set off the main part of the pillow from the flange area. The reverse side of the pillow teaches an easy closure with two buttonholes and buttons.

Close up of my pillow shows corner treatment.The corners of the bias strips sewn aroung the edge are mitered for a neat appearance. This is actually a relatively easy thing to accomplish. I took step-by-step photos of the pillow construction for the pattern. This makes each technique easily understood.

Another close up of the puffing and use of bias strips along the curved edge.Decorative stitches are sewn following the curves of the center puffing element. I like the candle wick stitches on my Pfaff Creative Vision so that is what is used here on my pillow. There are lots of beautiful decorative stitches on sewing machines today so the options for creating multiple pillows with different stitch combinations are unlimited. I love seeing decorative stitches used to embellish home sewn items.

My friend, Patty, stitched her version of this pillow using my pattern.My friend, Patty, took this pillow class at the store and was happy to share her results. She is a creative person, always coming up with good ideas of her own. Here she used gold metallic thread in some of her decorative stitching and added a few of her own flourishes to the pillow. Rather than forming an "S" curve with the puffing, Patty chose to stitch her gathered area as a straight, diagonal element. She incorporated much more stitching on her pillow than I did for additional interest. Her pillow is stitched with stippling, additional top-stitching, and more rows of decorative stitches than my version.

A close up of Patty's pillow with her stitch variations.This detail of Patty's pillow shows a close up of the stitching. Another variation is the use of a satin stitch to frame the center area of the pillow and set off the flange. This variation is a great alternative to the bias strip border I used. It achieves the need to cover the raw edges of the puffing and also helps to set off the boundary for the flange. You will notice that Patty also did some stitching on her flange as well.

I like your version Patty. Thanks for allowing me to share it here on my blog!

The pattern for Home Dec Pillow #2 will be completed soon. It is a sister to this one, but has a number of other techniques that will be incorporated into it. I'll post more on it once the class has taken place in a couple of weeks.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sewing with a Friend

I had the opportunity to spend the day sewing with a friend today. It was great! I went to her house around 9:40 and we sewed till 12:45. Went to grab a bite of lunch at a local restaurant (yummy burgers!) then returned to her home for more sewing. I got back home shortly after four pm in time for my husband to get home from work. It was a perfect way to spend my day off from work. Approximately 5 hours of sewing time with lots of chatting and catching up on stuff. It's a perfect way to pass the time. I recommend it heartily. Obviously I had a lot of fun.

I'm currently working on a scrap quilt. It's actually a quilt following an idea I found on-line called a "crumb" quilt. It's a means of using up scraps. I'm getting close to having all my blocks finished and ready to sew the blocks together.

From the number of blocks I've got started it looks like I might have enough to do two or three quilts. My whole reason for doing this type of quilt was to have something to put onto my Grand Quilter frame and do some experimenting with a scrap quilt before I put on a quilt I really care about. These quilts will be my first "practice" ones to get accustomed to my quilting machine.

I just counted how many blocks are in my stack. Wow! 54 blocks. They're going to be at least 12 inches across (if not a bit larger) so I really do have quite a few quilts on hand to practice techniques with! That will be more than four quilts if I use 12 blocks (plus border) for lap-sized quilts. This would make great gift projects for the boys and their girlfriends. Or it could be three quilts if I use 20 blocks for each quilt and add in a couple more to even the count for some larger quilts. Time will tell what I finally decide upon.

I can say they won't be particularly "pretty" quilts because no thought went into fabric selection or anything like that. They'll be strictly utilitarian type quilts, make-do type quilts, using scraps that were readily on hand. But now the "Make do, Re-Use, Recycle" attitude is so "in" so that'll probably be alright. It's actually getting back to the "roots" of original old fashioned quilt making it its infancy before the advent of modern day quilt making that has become so "matchy-matchy" professional and processed. So it's a mish-mash of fabrics with the "make-do", old fashioned prairie homesteader outlook of it all. And I wonder if the kids and their girl-friends will go for it. If not, they can hide these quilts under another coverlet and still keep extra warm and toasty this winter. If they don't like them (or don't want them) I'll keep them here at home for when the boys periodically come to visit. We can always use extra quilts in the car for winter survival gear or for watching TV in the winter. And if they're really too ugly, I can cut them up for dog blankets. I'm sure the dogs won't care. The dogs always seems to get excited when I change out their bedding and put fresh clean blankets in their kennels - like they're being pampered.

Regardless of the beauty of these quilts, the time spent with my friend has been great. Chatting and quilting - what a great way to spend the day! I am looking forward to more days like today. We've been getting together once a week for a few weeks now and I really look forward to our time together. It really makes for some great sewing therapy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pillow pattern

Home Dec Pillow #1I designed and wrote instructions for a pillow class we are currently offering at the store. This is an image of that pillow. I plan to offer the pattern on my website one day in the future. In the meantime this first one was used in class today.
Dogs on a walkThe dogs went on a walk with me a few days ago. We ventured out on the walkways at the capital grounds. It looks as though the new sidewalks are finished over there, but there are still signs up saying they are closed. We just kept to the older sidewalks. I am looking forward to taking a different route on our walks once the sidewalks are opened.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cool Outdoor Fun

Here's my big catch for the day.
We took the boat out today for a little fall fishing expedition. It seemed cool and inviting outdoors while we were driving out to the lake. Once we got out on the water it felt pretty cold. We were each bundled in layers, but the overcast, cloudy day, cool temps and wind combined to make it pretty chilly. Later as we were hauling the boat out of the water the sun broke through the clouds and it warmed up considerably. This rainbow trout is what I caught while standing on the dock while the boat was being tied down and readied to head out. You can see by the tape measure it is approx. 18"-19" in length. That's a nice catch!

We kept three fish today; the rest were catch and release.
The other two fish pictured here next to my rainbow trout were caught while we were out on the lake. We had a few other fish that were too small and were thrown back. We might not have kept these two smaller ones, but they didn't look like they would survive if thrown back. These are all good eating fish, but we were really hoping to catch more of the large mouth bass we caught last time we fished this lake. The only bass we caught were tiny ones. They were thrown back to grow bigger for next year.

This may have been our last trip to the lake for this year. We're waiting to see what the weather looks like next weekend. We may make one more fishing trip if it's nice. Hunting season's upon us so the call of the wide open fields means the end of fishing and the start of something different. All that walking when pheasant season opens is good exercise. I may just tag along this year for the benefit of all that walking.

I love this fall weather we are experiencing here on the northern plains. We pulled the window air conditioners out of the windows for winter storage some time ago. There were a few warmer days that required running a fan, but now it feels like cool air conditioning again. Plus, an extra bonus, it's natural air that helps to save on energy costs and better to air out the house. The leaves are turning color more, but most are hanging onto their branches yet. We pulled the last of the vegetables from the garden and need to pull up, till under or cut back the plant growth around the yard. Some of that yardwork has already been done, but still plenty to do before the snow comes. It looks like it's time to winterize now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cool Ride

Approaching the new Liberty Memorial Bridge intersection.
My dh and I took some time out yesterday to get outdoors for another motorcycle ride. It's decidedly crisp outdoors now - fall weather is definitely here. I love this time of year. We are starting to see leaves turn yellow, feeling that cool nip in the air and Papa's Pumpkin Patch is open for business!

Liberty Memorial Bridge is now open to traffic on one side.We decided to take a look at the progress on the new Liberty Memorial Bridge that is now open. The older bridge right along side the new is already being dismantled. There is still lots of work to be done there.

The bridge is a lot wider and smoother travelingThere is a webcam set up to show progress on the bridge. We did not show up in any of the photos from yesterday's date. It's a great bird's eye view of the bridge. If you're interested, there is more info on the bridge.

A view to the north side shows the bridge further upstream for train traffic across the river.Looking north, further up river, the bridge for the train to cross the river is visible in the distance. The girders you see here from the old bridge will be gone soon.

The tall white concrete elements are part of the west plaza.The tall white concrete elements that make up the west side plaza area are visible in this photo. Take a look at the plans on-line that show what these pillars are supposed to look like when everything is finished.

We went on to take a spin around the strip in Mandan and Raging Rivers Waterpark. It was a nice quiet afternoon. I dressed in layers to ward of the chill in the air, especially on the back of a bike. This may very well end up being one of the last rides for the season as it was pretty cool. Being in the direct sun wasn't so bad, but shady areas were a good deal cooler.

We rode along river road and down the lane to Papa's Pumpkin Patch. We'll take another trip out to the pumpkin patch later. One can't really handle a purchase of pumpkins on the back of a bike, after all.

Later in the afternoon we attended a picnic at Sertoma Park put on by fellow employees where I work. There were games to be played, great food and conversation. It ended up being a very pleasant day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Home made pizza - the best!I made home made pizza last weekend. With just the two of us here at home now it lasted several days. Yummy! Home style is always best. This one was just a simple hamburger pizza with tomatoes and green peppers. I used three cheeses to top it off. Excellent.

I haven't written much on my blog lately. This is mainly due to the fact that I went back to work and just have not taken the time to sit down to collect my thoughts on anything blog-worthy. I have been working on re-learning stuff I knew from six months ago. It's surprising how many little things you let slip right out of mind without even thinking about it. Now that I've been there a few weeks it seems to be flowing a bit easier. We'll see how I keep up with the pace since I've taken on more responsibilities than I had before with a slightly different position. It's the same company I've been working at these past six years. I have to say it's been fun getting to see many of the previous customers and all the employees after my summer sabatical.

I need to head off to bed soon, so won't stay up to blog for now. More to come tomorrow night . . . Good Night!