Thursday, February 25, 2010

S'mores and More

I love S'mores ornamentIt's a Christmas ornament I purchased at Cracker Barrel a year or two ago. I don't really remember when. I have it on a shelf in my Sewing Studio just because I think it's cute. Plus it reminds me of being a kid . . . being easy on myself . . . and a simpler time. I can remember when I first heard the work "S'mores" one day. Okay, so most of you 'young' folks think "S'mores" have been around forever. They haven't! At some point someone thought this up. Maybe it was a dessert or snack that people had been making for awhile, but someone thought up the name "S'mores" (guess why!!) and it stuck. It became a household word. Now when someone mentions the word "S'mores" EVERYBODY knows exactly what they're talking about.

Well, I can remember the first time I heard the word "S'mores" and I had to ask what that was. I thought it was strange that anyone would think up a dessert with marshmallows and chocolate between two graham cracker crusts. Why would anyone want to put something like that together? But it's a great treat. Kind of an awakening to other possibilities. Hey, if someone could think up "S'mores", why not make up other great stuff, too?

You don't have to wait for someone to tell you it's okay to make up stuff . . . you can just start to MAKE UP STUFF!! You can create whatever you want! Experiment and try stuff. One day you might have the next big idea. One day someone else might be looking at something you came up with and have the light bulb go off, triggering their creative spark of ingenuity. Make! Create! Invent!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Visit my Website

Working on my Sew-N-Bee websiteI have been spending time working on some websites. This weekend the challenges of working on my Sew-N-Bee website have been interesting. It still needs more work, but I've got a fairly good start on it. Right now it is pretty basic - some prep work of the general overall look and navigation around the site took place. If you would like to take a peek then let me know what you think I would certainly appreciate it.

I have a couple other websites I want to develop, but have been slowly putzing around with them. You can link over to those from the Sew-N-Bee site as well if you want to wander around for awhile. They're not completed either. Aaah, more web work in the works! It's late now so I'm heading off to sleep.

Earlier in the day on Sunday I made lasagna. Then we stopped to browse the Sports Show at the Civic Center this afternoon. Later at night my hubby and I watched a bit of tv movies. A relaxing day while computing. More tomorrow!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Prepping Background Fabrics and The Next Quilt

What's on my desk? The Rattlesnake Quilt! Prepping background fabrics today.Here's a view of what is on my desk . . . er, cutting table . . . the Rattlesnake Quilt. I spent a generous part of my day yesterday and today ironing the background fabrics that I pre-washed the other day. Yeah! Now they're prepped and ready to go. I need to gather together the freezer paper and trace the pattern onto it. The plan this weekend is to get the background red and golden yellow fabric corner pieces cut out and ready to sew. I want to sew all the background corners in place by the end of the day on Monday. This weekend I will work to pace myself on task. There are forty-two football shapes that need two corners each. From the photo it looks like just red fabrics here. The viewpoint here is a bit deceptive looking down from the top. All the golden yellow fabrics are underneath the red ones. From the side this fabric stack looks thicker. It looks like I will have to cut these corner pieces individually, by hand. I don't trust myself to cut that curve with the rotary cutter. Okay . . . warming up my grip on my scissors hand now. that's a lot of cutting.


My take on Amy Butler's Lotus Brick Path Quilt pattern, but using different fabric.I have another quilt started. Most of the pieces are cut for it anyway. I love Amy Butler's fabrics. I used her Lotus Brick Path Quilt pattern found on-line here to cut the blocks for this quilt. I used the fabric from her Midwest Modern 2 line of fabrics for my version though. I love the combination of colors and large visual graphics of her designs.

When I started my version I did not originally start with the use of as many different prints from her collection as indicated on the pattern. As I was cutting my fabric I thought I could get along with more pieces composed of fewer prints for a more simplified look. But upon laying them out and thinking about it I found that with so few fabric choices that would mean more like prints would be touching or close to other like prints. I was getting a completely different look than what I was going for. So I went out and purchased a few more prints . . . several times . . . and . . . now as I have so many blocks cut out I can see I will be able to sew two of these quilts. So I'm willing to go with the flow of it. I'm make an extra quilt. One to keep and one to gift away, give away or sell away. Hmmm. Funny how not planning well and veering off from the instructions gets me into a whole other situation. What to do with the extra quilt? What would you do? I'll keep you posted on my progress. I know they will be pretty! Just two more chunks of fabric to cut out and I can start stitching these quilts together. At least the cutting on this goes faster since I can use the rotary cutter. All straight cuts!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Will It Blend?

Several years ago someone told me about the "Will It Blend?" website. At that time I spent a bit of time watching some of their inventive 'blends'. It was pretty humorous. Well, I ran across this clip about blending credit cards. Have fun watching.



Now isn't that a good way to cut your credit card habit. If you want to see more fun, go to the "Will It Blend" website.

Today I am spending time pre-washing more fabric. That means more ironing! I am making some tab curtains for someone. I think it is best to pre-wash these fabrics to alleviate any shrinking. The curtain fabric is black with a pink swirl pattern. I will be making a lining from a bolt of black fabric I purchased a long time ago. It has resided on a shelf for years. I haven't used much fabric from this bolt since it is not as tightly woven as I like. It wasn't appropriate for quilting or doll making. But it should work just fine for curtain lining. Okay, off to sew!

- - - - LATER IN THE AFTERNOON - - - -

Oh, I went to watch more of those "Will It Blend" clips. You have to take a peak at a few at least . . . I burst out laughing at this one after watching several others. Too funny!



Okay, now I'm really going to my sewing studio. (chuckle, chuckle!)

A Brief Studio Tour

I spent some time this evening taking photos of my sewing studio. It is located in the basement of our home. When I go down there to sew, I can easily relax and lose all track of time. I have revamped this area several times and never quite been happy with the way everything is positioned. But now, with this floorplan, I enjoy the space very much. I would still like to tweak my studio a bit further - to try to make it less cluttered looking - and to beautify it a bit more. Everything is fairly easy access and is basically organized. As I work my way through more of my stash I will be able to shift some things around for even better utilization of the space and materials.

I pre-washed fabric. Now it needs to be ironed!Just the other day I threw these pieces of fabric into the wash to get them ready for quilting. Now that they are pre-washed I need to iron them. If you'll remember, these are the background selections for the Rattlesnake Quilt that I selected last week. Quite a pile, wouldn't you say? What a jumbled mess! I didn't take the time to serge the edges of the fabric with my serger. Because of that, I ended up with lots of long strings and threads that unraveled. Thus, the washing and drying made the fabric even more twisted and tied up than it looks here. This will be ironed flat in no time; then on with the quilting.

Here's a view of cotton quilting fabric on my shelf.Here's a little bit wider view of the shelf that holds most of my quilting fabric. I have a bit more fabric than this cut as fat quarters that is stored in another location. I like mixing and matching colors of fabric. That's half the fun of quilting. These pieces are cut to a variety of lengths. The mini bolts of fabric on the upper shelf are some of the longer lengths.

I have been working on wrapping any longer chunks of fabric on boards so I can access them better. I cut up foam core boards into four smaller 10"x14" boards. This makes a great size for fabric storage. I fold the fabric in half (selvage and folded edges together) along the length of the fabric, then wrap the fabric around the board. I use quilter's pins to secure the end.

Hey, did you know selvage could also be spelled selvedge? Learn something new every day! I had to look it up as I was writing since it looked funny to me.

I usually sit in this office chair with access to my sewing machines with an easy spin of the chair.And here's a bit of a bird's eye view showing where I sit when I sew. I held the camera up high to try to get as much into the picture as possible. I like to sit in this swivel office chair so I can turn to any one of my machines when I am sewing. Sometimes I get both of the larger embroidery machines going at the same time. Depending upon how many stitches each color sequence has, I may be bouncing from one machine to another fairly quickly. Often I try to run one of them with a single color job like a redwork or lace pattern that takes a while to stitch out. Then things are not so hectic. Other times I just get an embroidery design going and sew or quilt on another machine.

Across from my seating area is another spot for a sewing visitor to sit. When a sewing friend and I get together at my house, my friend sits across from me so we can see each other while we sew and chat. It makes for an enjoyable afternoon. I've got so many machines right now because I never traded any in when I purchased a new one. I think it would be great to get my small business going to a point where I can hire employees who could use some of these machines. That will be awhile.

My cutting table and shelves with garment fabric.The view of my fabric cutting table is obscured a bit by all the stuff I've got sitting on it. I will be making curtains from the black and pink swirl fabric over the next couple days. It's a project for someone's scrapbook room that I am helping to arrange and decorate. The shelf on the left is mostly garment fabric with a few other flannels and other odds and ends thrown in. There is a lot going on in my studio - lots for the eye to take in - but it is organized with like things grouped together.

Want to come over and sew? This is usually where my visitors sit.Shifting to another viewpoint here, you can see the extra sewing machine set up on the right for any sewing visitors to use. Also featured here are my serger and a punching (felting) machine. I like to sew garments occassionally on the serger. Unfortunately I have not used my felting machine for some time. But I have it set out, instead of in the box, and plugged in for easy access if I do choose to use it. I'll have to make a point of using it more often - at least once or twice a month! How about that for a challenge? I downloaded some of the free patterns from the Pfaff website, but haven't made those yet. There are also great felting patterns at Husqvarn Viking's site, too.

Have to have a little decorative spot with some favorite sewing accent pieces.Let's Sew! I got this flag type banner at a Husqvarna Viking Convention one year. That was a fun convention. I like the bright color highlighting one of my favorite activities. The mermaid is a cloth doll/cloth book I told you about here. I had hoped to make over my studio with a bit more decorative bling. Once I got all the absolute, must-have things placed into their positions I wasn't left with much room to decorate. This room is really packed - thus it looks so cluttered. As I work on using up some of my stuff I want to tweak things to be a bit more decorative and stylish. Over the years I have sewn lots of items that would be fun to have on display, but one can only show off a limited amount of stuff at a time. Maybe I'll have to rotate stuff from time-to-time to refresh it occassionally.

They're piling up! Quilt tops waiting to be quilted.I am getting a small pile of quilt tops finished. They are ready to be quilted any time I decide to get going on that. Plus there are at least six to eight more quilts in progress in my studio right now. I'm real good at starting projects, but more slow to finish them. That's what has been on my mind a lot lately - getting more of my quilt tops and projects finished. At some point I'll have to go into a frenzy and put them on my quilting frame, one right after another, to complete the whole lot of them. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the process. And I always find more projects that look interesting. There's always another great project do sew. Ideas seem endless!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Testing Out Some Quilt Fabric Selections

Fabric choices for the borders have been made for the Leaf Quilt.The blocks of this Leaf Quilt are all sewn together now. I finished sewing and pressing seams tonight. I think the final choice for border fabrics will be as shown. My sewing friend and I sampled a few fabric choices by laying them along side the quilt top. These two pieces of gold and green fabrics seemed to strike the right balance for the quilt borders. I am glad this quilt is in its final stages. I cut the border for the inner gold fabric tonight.

Then I got distracted with tidying up my studio, re-rolling some fabric pieces onto boards so they could be lined up nicely on my shelves. It is always good to stay up on keeping things organized and in order. I am trying to stay current with that task so things don't get so out of hand like they have in the past. For my way of thinking, I believe staying on top of the chaos will help me get more accomplished in the long run.

Perhaps this autumn looking fabric would make a good choice for the back of this quilt. Still thinking about this one.This photo shows a bolt of fabric I am considering for the back of the Leaf Quilt. It is a printed fabric, but I like that it reminds me a bit of a batik. At this point I am not entirely sure this is the way I want to go with the back. I'm going to leave it sit out for awhile and see if it still seems okay in a day or so. I'm concerned it might be too bright for the quilt. There are a lot of colors going on with the front of the quilt. Perhaps the back should be more subdued. I didn't really want to go out and purchase more fabric for the back since I have such a large stash of fabric now. I will have to take another look through my fabric to see if there is anything else that appeals to me for this quilt. What do you think? Is the orange color too much? Does that bother anyone else? Maybe the bolder color choice is fine?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tumbler Quilt Top Done

It's already getting pretty late. It's that time of day when today turns into tomorrow. I'm about ready to head off to bed, but thought I'd share with you what I worked on today.

The blocks for this Tumbler quilt were cut on my 'Go' fabric cutter.Ta-Da! It's the first tumbler quilt top I've completed - made with blocks cut on my 'Go' fabric cutter. These were all scraps of fabric from my stash - actually a huge box of scraps I wrote about last fall. It feels good to have another top completed and ready to quilt. This quilt is small - just a tish over four foot - not quite square, but close. When I randomly cut all those tumbler blocks I was just cutting with no pre-conceived notion of what the quilts would look like in the end. The idea was to just try to work my way through some of the odd-ball scraps and reduce the size of my fabric collection. These fabrics were the odds and ends from an eclectic group of left-overs.

I wanted the quilt to look very random and scrappy. I didn't pre-arrange the blocks ahead of time, but just randomly pulled them from piles to sew them together. The fact that some prints link up with others of the same color is part of the unplanned effect I was going for. I'm considering the idea of doing some sort of applique design on it. Not sure what, yet. I thought the scrappy look would make a good background for some vining leaves. The colors along with the duck and deer prints seem to denote this as a guy's quilt. I don't really want to applique flowers or anything too feminine. What do you think about a leafy-vine sort of thing running near the perimeter. Would that enhance it? Or detract from it?

At this point I'm not sure what I'll do with this quilt. It's a bit small for a lap quilt. Maybe a table topper or just to hang on the wall? I could add a few more borders to enlarge it a bit for a lap quilt. Hmmm - decisions, decisions. Oh well, as Scarlet O'Hara is known to say, "Fiddle dee dee. I can't think about it now. If I do I'll go crazy. I'll think about it tomorrow."

Nitey-nite. More tomorrow.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowbirds

My decorative planter is now fully buried under snow.We have received more snow this week. I went outdoors for awhile to shovel some of it off the sidewalks. I knew the kids would be walking home from school in the afternoon. By the time I stepped outside it was already several inches deep. Hopefully the effort to clear the walks was helpful. When it comes down consistently throughout the day like that it accumulates quickly. You can see my large decorative planter is fully covered now from all our recent snowfall. When he got home, my hubby got the snowblower out and cleared the walks even more. He commented the other day about teaching me how to use the snowblower "in case I needed to do it." Just as quickly as it came out of his mouth he hastily amended that statement to add, "not that you should be going out there to snowblow, but just in case you wanted to - or needed to." Hmmm . . . not quite sure what to think about that. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to know how to start it up and use it, but . . . well . . . it's not likely I'd be the one to do it. I always pretty much think of it as 'his toy' like my sewing machine is 'my toy'. I was just thinking it might be a good idea to share some knowledge though. When he teaches me to use the snowblower I can teach him how to use the sewing machine - just in case he want to, or needed to, sew up a rip or a loose button - or something. Maybe we could even do some bonding over this interchange of lessons. Just a thought. I'll have to bring that up sometime.

Birds ducked under the sidepanel of the truck.Surprising as it seems, I saw robins out in the yard on Saturday when I took these photos. There were quite a number of them flying and chasing one another about. I was pretty surprised and did a double-take when I first saw them come fly around the corner of the house. I usually think of robins as the first harbingers of Spring. It seems interesting to see them out in the yard so early in the year, especially given all the snow we have received lately. Perhaps these birds are some that chose to stay put for the winter here in North Dakota. These were darting back and forth, under and around the back end of the truck, resting on the snowblower handle, on the handrail at the front steps and in and out of the tree limbs overhead. Some of them ducked under the back end of the truck, knocking the dirt and snow from the ledge just under the wheel-well. I would guess they were gathering sand for their gizzards - or making a game out of it.

Robin sitting on handrail of the front steps.I love the look of this image with the robin in silhouette along with the iron rail on the steps. I did not convert this one to black and white. It just naturally looks that way with so much snow offsetting the darker colors of the other objects in the photo. It reminds me of that paper cutting technique - scherenschnitte. Pretty cool! And if you have never seen it before, I found a few websites promoting this craft here and here. Type the word into your search engine to find more. I'm starting to wish for spring again. If these robins are any indication, it is just around the corner. I know . . . it's just February now. We have to wait quite a while longer for Spring here in North Dakota. I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Auditioning Colors

Selecting fabric colors for the background squares of my Rattlesnake quilt.My sewing friend and I finally were able to get together at my house for a little sewing therapy. Again, I have to say how thankful I am to be over that yucky sinus infection. I missed our sewing and quilting get-togethers. I thoroughly enjoyed the days we spent together this week. And I accomplished a lot so that was a bonus as well.

One of the things I accomplished was auditioning some fabric choices to go along with the black and white football shapes of my Rattlesnake quilt. And I think the choices of reds and golden yellows we selected will be wonderful. I've decided to hang this quilt on the wall of my 'Yellow Room'. It's an upstairs bedroom where I have my quilting frame set up waiting to be used. I also do some scrapbooking and various paper art projects here as well. I haven't been using this room for much lately other than as a storage place for lots of photos, memorabilia, boxes of old papers, files and magazines I am slowly (very slowly) sorting through. As I was cleaning out and de-cluttering other areas of the house I ended up hauling 'stuff' into the Yellow Room and in the hallway. De-cluttering is an on-going project I need to keep working on.

A closer look at those background choices - yes to red and golden yellows.Now that the fabric choices have been made I can procede with stitching the background corners for this quilt. I want to pre-wash the background fabrics this weekend . . . especially the reds . . . so they don't end up bleeding into the other fabrics when this quilt eventually gets washed. I think this color combination will work out fabulously and fit my Yellow Scrapbooking Room perfectly. I've already got quite a bit of black and white with some touches of red and yellow happening in that room. After I get the quilt completed and hung on the wall I want to continue to tweak the decor in this room so it looks more appealing. I've got a few decorative elements I want to hang on the walls and add some other touches. This decorating project may take some time. I'm guessing it may be done around late March or early April. I've been moving very slowly at sorting and purging some of the old paperwork. I always seem to find plenty of other more interesting things to do instead. I'm good at avoiding some of the not-so-fun sorting part of it. But I look forward to getting it done so I can make better use of this room to scrapbook and quilt some of the many quilt tops I have waiting.