Saturday, June 29, 2013

Jumping onto the Bloglovin Bandwagon

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In order to have your blog on Bloglovin, you have to "claim" your blog. I guess this is sort of like in the early days of the U.S. when squatters would move onto a piece of land to claim it. So I'm now claiming my little part of blog land!

Secret Tote Bag Swap

Laura and I (and Dad who joined us yesterday) just got back from a busy week of camping with a couple of Laura's sisters and some nieces and nephews. Laura has discovered a new love--fishing! She learned how to cast and reel in and spent HOURS doing it! She was only slightly disappointed she didn't catch anything (we actually didn't even bait her hook!), but just as with sewing, it was the PROCESS that she was enjoying!

And as usual, Laura made several new friends at the pool--it seems there are always some girls around who are just fascinated by learning to communicate with someone in sign language. And with swimming and playing in the pool, you really don't have to communicate much to have fun together!
That's Laura in the middle
Before we left, I finished the tote bag I had made for someone who wanted "anything pink or cute." Charles mailed it for me while we were gone, so I hope my swap partner has gotten it by now.

For some reason, it had never occurred to me to involve Laura in the swap too. She would have loved making a tote to send to someone and then getting one herself in the mail. The lady who made a tote for me had her daughters make and swap totes and I thought that was such a great idea. So the next time there's an opportunity to participate in something like that online that Laura can do too, I'll have her do it. I know she'll be thrilled!

Before we left, I made myself a new stitchery case. It wasn't difficult to make, although it was rather time-consuming with the piecing and quilting on the front and then having to hand-sew the lining in it.

But I love how it turned out and how deep it is--that way I can cram lots of stuff in it and nothing will fall out!

The top folds back and you can see that it's deep enough that those spools of thread can stand up inside it. It was very handy for taking to the pool and doing some applique work while watching Laura and the grandkids from the sidelines.

I'm working on my June Small Quilt group's project for this month. I'm almost done with all the leaves and stems and then I'll add the flowers. It doesn't look like much here, but I think it will be just lovely when it's done.

We had a WONDERFUL time this week while camping, but we're worn out and happy to be home again. I'm looking forward to being back in my quilting studio next week to....Get More Done!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bags and other Fun Stuff

Why is that most of the bag/purse/pouch patterns out there all seem to be named after girls? This week I made the Tammy bag and the Susie pouch and a couple of weeks ago I made the Belle bag for my granddaughter...and there's so many others There's nothing wrong with naming bags after girls--after all, it's usually girls who carry bags and who obsess over bags and even who make bags! Just a curious trend right now, I guess.

On that note, I thought I would present my bags of the week:

Here's my version of the Tammy bag. When I saw the one that Madame Samm made, I just fell in love! I thought it was so cute! So I bought the pattern, ordered a couple of purse frames and chose my fabrics and cut them out. Then this week I finally sewed them together. It really was a very easy to bag to make. I added ruffles below the pocket binding and cut the binding on the bias. Sewing the bag to the frame was a bit challenging, but mostly because my thread kept wanting to break!

Here's the inside of the Tammy bag. The interior pockets actually go all the way to the bottom center--see those gingham triangles at the bottom? Those are the pockets! This bag is incredibly roomy--the sides expand so it can really hold a LOT of stuff. Because of that, it's more of a challenge to keep things organized inside it. I'm not sure what I'll use it for, maybe just to store some things. But I still think it's just adorable and looks absolutely lovely just sitting on a shelf being pretty. Hey...maybe that's why bags are being given girls' names--they look so beautiful that they don't even have to be useful!

Today I spent a few hours working on this bag--the Susie pouch. What's unique about this bag are the pleats in the front and back that give you a little peek at a contrasting fabric. I used a green and yellow stripe inside my pleats. The challenge with this bag is that you have to watch a video with English subtitles to know how to make it, since the original instructions are all in German. I didn't mind that, the problem was that my internet kept quitting on me! I really wanted to have the instructions written down so I could refer to them at any time, so once the internet began functioning, I would sew along with the video and take notes on each step. That made the whole process take much longer than it normally would.

Here's the inside of the bag. It's really a cute little bag--with the emphasis on "little." I had thought I would use it as a makeup bag, but it's so small that it won't hold much (and I actually use very little makeup!) I started drafting a larger version, when I found that someone else had already done it! And she also gave instructions for adding pockets. I like this bag enough that I want to make another one, just larger.

In our SmallQuilt Group swap, my partner sent me a kit for making these potholders (in addition to the lovely quilt and other goodies she sent!) On Monday I got busy and cut out the pieces and started sewing them together. In less than an hour and a half (and many, MANY interruptions!) later, I had made both potholders (they're both exactly the same). I don't think you can really tell from the photo, but the green peppers in the center are a square of fabric underneath the others. The other 4 fabrics around the sides are actually squares that have been folded on the diagonal and then sort of woven together around the square. Then each folded edge is turned back on itself and stitched down around all sides. I think it turned out really cute and I anticipate making lots of these for Christmas presents this year. So easy and quick too!

Last week I showed the three different quilt options I had made for my granddaughter, Jennifer to choose from for her 12th birthday quilt. Saturday morning we were all at the church for another granddaughter's baptism and I showed Jennifer the quilt samples I had made. After looking them over, Jennifer chose the "Bali Sea Star" which is also my favorite (and I didn't influence her choice because it's also the most time-consuming)! Jennifer's birthday is July 15th, so I have exactly one month to get this quilt finished. I cut out many of the pieces yesterday, but I really need some more pinks and purples to give it a little more variety. I also need some more background fabric. I guess I'll just have to go shopping!

Laura did a LOT of sewing this week. She had previously made 16 blocks of the fabric line that the block on the left is made of. Then this week she made 16 more blocks using a different but coordinating line of fabrics. My plan is to have her make a twin-size quilt to donate for charity. Next week I'm going to have her start adding sashing and putting the blocks together.

We made a quick trip to our LQS where Laura picked out this kit and pattern to make a table topper. She set everything up, hoping I would help her start sewing on it! But I was ready to work on my own projects for a change and wouldn't help her, so she just went and jumped in the pool with all her clothes on! It's just a 4-foot above-ground pool and Laura can swim, so I wasn't too concerned. And fortunately we live in the country because eventually she stripped down to just her underclothing!! There's never a dull day with Laura around!

I've sewn together a couple of quilt blocks this week and planned lots more stuff. I also cut out a sewing kit that I'm really excited to make. It's been a good week and I plan to Get More Done...Next Week!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Projects and Presents

Yesterday Laura and I spent much of the day in the quilt studio, just cutting out project after project. I like doing a lot of cutting at one time because then I can just sit down and sew like a madwoman! Also, I've realized that probably the greatest challenge at starting any new project is deciding which fabrics to use. I'm sure that's why so many people like buying quilt kits--the decision-making is already done for you! And I have to admit that I've gone that route many times myself. It's just easier to do. But yesterday I made decisions, cut fabric and today I was ready to start sewing!

Last week I mentioned my granddaughter, Jennifer who has cerebral palsy. I want to make her a quilt for her upcoming 12th birthday. My son (her dad) said Jennifer would be happy with whatever I made for her. But there are so many things Jenn CAN'T do, that I thought she would enjoy the process of planning and selecting that went into HER quilt. And she has been SO excited about this! When I saw her on Saturday, we went through fabrics and quilt patterns. We looked through the book, "Scrap-Basket Surprises" and the biggest surprise for me was that Jenn liked almost ALL the quilts in it! So I chose three of them and made 4 sample blocks of each and basted them together. This pattern was Scrap-Basket Blues because it was all done in blues in the book. Well, Jennifer likes pinks and purples, so that's what I used.

This one is called "Bali Sea Star" because they made it with batiks in the book. This is also on the cover of the book. This is my favorite and I would love to make myself a quilt with this pattern. It's also the most time-consuming of the three patterns I chose.

This last one is called "Summer Breeze." It was the quickest and easiest to make. I made all the samples fairly scrappy, but I'm going to give Jennifer the choice of just how scrappy she wants it to be, or even if she doesn't want it scrappy at all. I'll be seeing her tomorrow and get her decision of which quilt she wants and how she wants it made and then I can begin the business of creating it for her. Which one would YOU choose, if it were up to you??

These are the blocks that Laura has made. She's getting better and better at sewing decent seams. She even catches herself now when her edges aren't lined up--and so she doesn't have to rip nearly as much!

Today she sewed 16 sets of 2.5-inch strips together to add to the blocks above. We're going to put sashing between the blocks and then add borders to make a twin-size quilt. When it's done, we'll probably donate it to someone in Oklahoma. I don't know if Laura really understood what I was telling her, but she seemed very happy at the idea of giving the quilt she made to someone in need.

For the past couple of months I've been working on a small quilt for a swap. My partner and I decided to make each other wall hangings for the 4th of July. I'll unveil mine once she gets it. Today I got my package from my swap partner. Laura usually opens any packages that come in the mail, even knowing they're not for her. She opens them, sees what's inside, then turns them over to me. Well, when the box came today, there were several wrapped packages inside and one of them was labeled, "Laura"! She was SO excited--she squealed and gave me a big hug and a kiss that I'm sure were really meant for my friend! It really didn't matter what was inside, she was just thrilled that something came for HER!

Laura's package had 2 fat quarters--one of hot air balloons and one of chili peppers (my partner is from New Mexico and these are both symbolic of her state.) Laura and I are still discussing what we'll be making with these, but I think one of them may become a pillow for her room.

These are all the goodies that came in the package--in the back is her beautiful 4th of July quilt and in the front is a cute Valentine's doily she made. There's a kit for making 2 hot pads and several note cards with scenes symbolic of New Mexico. And on the side are Laura's fat quarters. Everything is just wonderful and it was so kind of my friend to include Laura!

It's late tonight and we've got a busy weekend of non-sewing activities ahead of us. But come Monday morning, Laura and I will be back in the quilt studio to...Get More week!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Goal Setting

It's so easy to forget the importance of goal setting. For some reason, when we actually set a goal, our motivation to accomplish that goal is increased. Today Laura and I participated in a Walk/Run event. It was actually an event that had been planned and organized by my older son, Stephen. Stephen decided that instead of having participants compete against each other, they should set a goal and compete against themselves. He said it was very interesting to see how that seemed to challenge everyone.

Since Laura and I usually take about 45 minutes or more to complete our 2 mile walk through our neighborhood, I knew that I better set our goal to take the full 90-minute allotment for the 3 mile walk.

And it was a good thing I did, since this ended up being our walking group--I pushed the stroller with the two cousins in it, Rebecca (my daughter) carried 4 year old Gwenna on her back, Noah (age 6) walked his aunt's dog and we all worked together to keep Laura out of the path of bikers. Even with 3 water stops, 2 photographs and 1 skinned knee (Noah), we managed to get our walk done in less than 90 minutes!

Laura loves to give people "rabbit ears" in pictures and she had no idea I was doing it to her, so she's going to be tickled when she sees this photo!

Stephen's daughter, our oldest grandchild, Jennifer will be turning 12 in July. I told her I wanted to make her a quilt for her birthday. So I brought a bag of fabrics and a couple of pattern books to the event for Jennifer to look through and choose what she wants for her quilt. Jennifer has cerebral palsy, so she stayed in the shade at the registration table while the rest of us were out walking (or running). She's so excited for us to work together on this quilt!

Here's Jenn again, when we all went to Bloop for frozen yogurt after the event--it's one of her favorite places to go!

As for quilting goals in particular, I keep this white board in my quilt studio. It's a great visual reminder for me of what I need to be working on--it really helps me stay on track. And if I come up with an idea of something I'd like to make in the future, I can write it on there so I don't forget. Before I planned my goals for June, I reviewed what was already on the white board, then I looked through my WIPs and my UFOs so I could make sure nothing important slipped through the cracks. It really does help me to keep focused on what I SHOULD be doing.

So for goals for this month, my number one project is Jenn's quilt. These were the fabrics that she said she liked. This quilt book had MANY quilts that she liked--so many, in fact that my first plan is to make up sample blocks from 3 different quilts (especially since it's often challenging to visualize quilts in other color choices) in the fabrics that she chose and then let her pick her favorite. Then I'll start putting her quilt together, with the goal being to get the top finished this month.

This funny looking stack of fabrics is the beginning of my Tammy bag. I didn't sign up for Madame Samm's blog hop, but I bought her pattern because I loved the bag and wanted one of my own. I've been making so many projects for everyone else that I thought I would make this one for me--and that's another goal this month.

I have several other projects planned for the month of June: I want to finish the Bloom Bloom Pow top and I also have a couple of Swap projects in the works to do.

Even though I've already made a quilt for David and Sabina's baby, I want to make something else for him, for when he's born. This is some minky and fleece and I'm going to make a little elephant blankie toy for baby Linus.

And not to leave Laura out, she's got a couple of projects started that we'll be working on together this month. She bought this set of patriotic strips at our LQS and sewed them all together. In the shop, they had made them into a table runner (I have them folded up here, but they're full-length). Looking at this picture here just gave me some inspiration--I think I'll just make them into placemats! Great idea!

Laura has been working on these pieces and she's really done quite well. They're ready now to be sewn into blocks. I'm not sure what the finished project will be or how big it will be but we'll just work with it and find out!

I'm so much more motivated now that I've established these goals! And I'm ready to Get More the month of June!

Paper Piecing Pleasure

This week I've been trying to catch up with all my monthly quilting projects for May. I hate doing them at the last minute, but they'd been pushed aside while I was busy on other projects. I'm hoping to do better during June--maybe I'll get real ambitious and get June's projects done next week! We'll see how that goes!

This particular block is NOT one that I made this past week; in fact, I made it a couple of months ago. But I just didn't like the contrast between the spool and the background.

So I took out that section and just redid it. Now I think the white is just a bit too bright, so I may go back and change it again!

The May block for the "And Sew On" project was "Keep Calm and Press On." I finished my block yesterday--the last day of the month!

I think I'm getting a bit smarter with these paper piecing projects. This time, before I began sewing, I put my fabric selections up on my design wall and stepped back to look at them. It really seemed to help me avoid the contrast mistakes I've made with previous blocks. I REALLY only want to make each block once!

This was the May block for the Lucky Stars block of the month. I thought that center fabric would go well with the others (and it does), but what I didn't bargain on was having such a big section of it right in the middle of the block. It kind of overwhelms the other fabrics.

What I'm finding with paper piecing is that getting the technique down is the easy part--the challenge is choosing fabrics that go well with the particular pattern and with each other. I really need to utilize my design wall for its intended purpose--putting up designs and previewing them, BEFORE I sew my fabrics together. And I need to do it with EVERY block. I didn't do it with this star and I should have.

Laura and I will be participating in a Walk/Run event today--walking 3 miles! We normally walk 2 miles so it will be interesting to see how we do. But there will be other people there which always provides Laura with plenty of motivation! And the walking course should be relatively flat, whereas here at home we've got lots of ups and downs when we go walking.

I don't know if I'll get more sewing done today, but the day is still quite young (I woke up too early and couldn't get back to sleep), so there's PLENTY of time to Get More Done...Today!

I'm linking with Kristy at Quiet Play for the "And Sew On" Block of the Month.