Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Greener Grocery Shopping is in the Bag!

For a while I've been seeing pictures of fabric grocery bags on various blogs and websites, and I've wanted to make some for myself. I seem to have a good size pile of those 99 cent green bags (and some various other color ones) that the grocery store sells, but it seems like every time I bring one home, someone sticks stuff in it and it gets another use: for carrying clothes to grama's house, shoes to dance class, yarn or quilty projects, library books, etc. I never seem to have any to use when I get to the grocery store! Besides that, the solid colors are kind of boring. Yes, I do like the Bart Simpson one I got a few weeks ago, but I want unique fun bags!

On another blog yesterday, I saw a picture of a colorful bag shaped like the plastic t-shirt bags from the grocery store. On that blog, she mentioned that the British Quilt List Yahoo Group is running a Bag Challenge for the year, with a new pattern each month. The bag was so cute and I felt instant motivation! So I joined the group, and today I made this:

I think I messed up about 4 times, but I did figure it out and though it isn't perfect, it is functional, cute and finished! I will definitely be making more of these (I have another cut out already).

While I was in the studio, I also gathered up enough strips for the Scrappy Bargello Quiltathon on Sunday. I didn't have to cut a single strip for it...the box of 2 1/2" strips was ready and waiting for me. I do need to press them and maybe it would be a good idea for me to trim some of those strings that seem to be everywhere

Monday, January 28, 2008

Machine all set & Superbowl sewing

Well gals, my machine is all set, and I am calmed down, finally!
I went and saw the dealer on Friday morning and he got me all straightened out.
First let me say that when I saw that message about the 'circuit' I panicked big time because as you all know, my previous machine flaked out in a major way when the circuit board blew. So I probably overreacted. Okay, I'm a woman, it's allowed! :-)

Anyway, he told me that the thread probably jumped out of the take up lever and jammed down in the bobbin case (a horizontal one, I've never dealt with a horizontal bobbin before). He showed me a couple of tricks to make sure the thread is in there firmly and won't pop back out. Then he adjusted the tension, which was a little bit off. Then he sent me on my way and I've been happy ever since.

Over the weekend, I made a table runner to test everything out. This pattern is from Little Charmers II by Anka's Treasures I did something I don't normally do, and I used a charm pack, Red, White and Bold by Moda. You might see a few more things from Charm packs in the near future as I bought about 5 of them from the Fat Quarter Shop last week!

Last week I also forgot to mention the my guild had our annual Christmas Party (well, we no longer have it in December or call it a Christmas Party, but still...) A couple of years ago we all decided that we were so busy in December, we should have hour Holiday Party in January instead. So now that's just what we do! We call it the beginnings and endings party (out with the old, in with the new!), and so we just eat appetizers and deserts! This year the committee decorated in a multi-holiday theme, so we had a table decorated for Valentines Day, one for Easter, one of Fourth of July, one for Halloween, one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. Very clever! We also had a pincushion swap. This is the one I made, it has the pincushion in the center and spots for spools of thread around the outside.

You'll notice on my sidebar the graphic for !Bonnie's BargelloBowl this coming Sunday!
I've decided that though I don't need a new project, I am going to play along and make my own Scrappy Bargello Quilt in a lap size. I've wanted to make this pattern for a long time, but just haven't done it, so now is the time.

If you want to play, simply ct 128 2 1/2" wide X 16" long strips of whatever kind of fabric you have in your piles of scraps, fat quarters or yardage. Remember to throw in the junk, the uglies and some pretties then run over to Bonnie's website and download the pattern and play along.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I am NOT a happy camper

Today I picked up my new 6600. I got home, set it up and started
sewing. I decided to just wind a couple bobbins, thread it and sew
some lines of stitches to play with it. I sewed straight, zig zag
and a few decorative stitches, I started figuring out how to use the
thread cutter, the modes to select stitches etc.

After about 20 minutes, all of a sudden the needle started bump-bump-
bump sounds and the LCD screen said "STOP FOR SAFETY REASONS". I
stopped, waited a bit, turned the machine off, waited, turned it back
on and the same thing happened. Hmm...the manual made me think there
was thread caught in the hook and race, so I took the plate off,
bobbin out, etc. to clean it. No thread.

Turn the machine back on, and the same thing happened. Then the LCD
screen said E5 ERRROR. According to the manual, "The machine is out
of order due to a problem in the control Circuit" " Contact the
service center or the store from whom the machine was purchased".

Lovely. 20 minutes of sewing and I need to start taking advantage of
my free service.

I am NOT happy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Just Playing!

I'll probably be MIA for a the next several days...but don't worry, I'm just off playing with my new toy! My Quarter inch foot didn't come in with the machine, so I'll have to wait a few days for that, but missing the extra foot isn't going to keep me from experimenting!

But first, I have to go play Bob the Builder. My new machine doesn' fit in my sewing machine cabinet, and there is no way to trim it down a bit to make it fit. So DH sent me on a mission to IKEA tonight. Since the machine comes with a big extension table and I'm only going to piece not quilt with it, having the machine recessed in the cabinet isn't a requirement for me. I did find a suitable table at IKEA for a decent price. The table top is something like 47"X24" so it is a good size, and the leg are adjustable so I can make it low enough that the machine will be at a comfortable height for sewing. I have no idea how long it will take to assemble the table, but I'm sure it will be time well spent.

Unfortunately before I can do that assembly, I need to clean my sewing area. Sigh. So you know where I'll be tommorrow...digging out from under the pile, organizing myself, assembling the table and then PLAYING! I have a table runner cut out, so hopefully early next week I'll have something interesting for you to see.

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Machine

Well I did it. Today I went out and bought my new machine! Now I just have to wait until Wed. to pick it up...the dealer sold his last one on Saturday and needs to order it. Because today is a holiday, the overnight delivery won't come until Wednesday. Bahh...I want it yesterday! LOL.
After looking at a few things and visiting a couple of dealers, I decided to buy the Janome 6600. Of course Janome is one of the few brands that 'my' sewing machine dealer doesn't sell, but a bunch of my friends have bought their machines from Warren so I feel conident that he will be a good go-to guy for my new machine.
I got a good price, and he threw in a rolling tote case for the machine and five years of free service. I can bring the machine in for cleaning, adjustment and repair as many times as I want for five whole years (and we all know how much a regular cleaning and tune up costs!), for no charge, and I even get free parts. He also says I can get as many one-on-one lessons as I want or need.
Now I am on cloud nine, and I am looking forward to a lot of sewing later this week!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lady of the Lake

I made this back around 2000 or so. My guild was holding a challenge to go with Fons and Porter Magazines "cutting bee" series. We swapped strips of different fabrics and we were supposed to use them in a scrappy quilt using one of the patterns they publishd in their magazine over several months or using a pattern of our own choice. I decided to make a scrappy Lady of the Lake, and I set it on point. This is one of my 3 favorite quilts that I've ever done. I guess other people liked it, too, since they picked mine as the winner of that challenge!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

And She Sews!

Yay! I actually spent a few hours sewing today!!

The new guild that I have joined does a lot of community service quilts, and they have sewing get together once a month in the evening, and once a month during the day. Today was the meeting day, and my Mom normally deals with Thing One and Thing Two on Thursdays so that I can get some peace, so I went to the get together to see what they are doing.
There were about 10 ladies there sewing for 4 hours...it was so great...they have space provided to them by a local church and they are able to store a huge amount of stuff there for this project...they have about 7 or 8 sewing machines, cutting boards, rulers, thread, and tons and tons of fabric. So you can go and sew without bringing anything of your own. (All my other groups rely on member donations and 'bring your own' for this type of project).
I spent the day sewing a bunch of scrappy squares together into four patches, which I'll somehow make into a top, hopefully before next month.
I also took home a beautiful top to quilt.
It was a good day!

I Spy a Four Patch

I snapped these pictures the other day of two quilts that I made about two years ago, but never blogged about. These are the I Spy a Four Patch quilt from Bonnie's website.
These both belong to Thing Two.

This one is known around here as "The people quilt"
He sleeps with this almost every night.

This quilt was the first quilt I made from Bonnie's patterns. I had the whole thing pieced when I took a class fromKaren McTavish at the Lancaster PA quilt show, so I tried to do her McTavishing technique for quilting it. Well, lets just say that I wasn't entirely successfull at that! The quilt is much stiffer than I would prefer because of the amount of quilting. The quilting was somewhat of a nightmare because at the time, my machine was out of whack (and I thought it was my lack of skill) and the thread kept breaking every 5-8 inches. However, I kept quilting, because there was NO WAY I was ripping all that stitching! LOL. I love the quilt anyway...

Need sewing machine model advice

Last weekend, I was playing with my camera and trying to take some pictures of the ice on the trees because it looked so nice. I was playing wih my camera, trying different settings and I never really noticed the sunset until I uploaded the pictures to my camera. I didn't tweak the color at all in these, the sky really was that color.

Today I went and picked up my sewing machine from the dealer. After a lot of thinking and debating about it's fate, I have decided NOT to send Bernie on a trip to the Swiss Alps for refurbishment. Instead of spending a huge amount of money to repair him, I will use that money towards a new machine. Now I just have to figure out what I want.

Here are the things that I want:
excellent quality straight stitch
ability to drop the feed dogs
s stitch (it is a wavy line of straight stitches, I use it for straight quilting so my wobbly-ness doesn't show).
ability to easily sew thru layers of denim when I do the denim raggy quilts
that stitch that does three straights then a zig-zag
ability to use a straight stitch throat plate
button hole stitch (and the ability to mirror-image it)
overedge stitch (that looks like fake-serger stitching)
knee lift
needle up-down
low bobbin indicator
easy to find 1/4" seam position (I'd prefer to be able to move the needle position)

That's most of it, I think. I'm not overly worried about price, I'm not picky about what brand it is. I have an excellent dealer that sells most all the major brands, I just wnat to have some ideas of which direction I want to go in before I go looking and picking her brain.

Can anyone suggest a make/model for me???????????

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

(somewhat) Unproductive

Sigh. I guess I'm just in a slump or something. I'm not motivated to do anything at all the last few days. Blah.

Before the weekend I had posted my goals for the next few things I planned to work on, and I haven't touched any of them yet. I did quilt something different though, so that is a good thing.

This top is now quilted and waiting for binding. Back in about 1998/99/2000 I was in a group that did lots of swapping and for a while we swapped a lot of bowtie blocks, which happen to be a block that I adore. I made about 4 quilts out of the blocks back then, but for some reason this top has still been hanging around unfinished. I think that I kind of intended to keep this one for myself since it contains a lot of the fabrics that I really loved at that point. I'm on the fence about keeping it for myself vs. giving it away right now, but we'll see when it is finished. I quilted it with a large meander. The backing is a fabric that I tie-dyed last summer. It will have a binding that matches the borders.

This picture is before I quilted it.

This one is in progress. You can get a little peek of the tie die on the roller.

This past weekend, I also made some more of the cute little preemie hats. They are so addictive, and it gives me something mindless to do while I sit and watch movies with hubby on the weeknd. This past weekend we watched the rest of Jonathan Creek Season 2 (I highly reccomend this series!), the first disk of Season 1 of Blue Murder (I liked this a lot, too), and one episode of Miss Marple (I won't bother watching the rest of that, it just didn't interest me at all).

The weather predicted for today was for a "HUGE WINTER STORM, 7-15 inches of snow".
Bah. The reality was that we got about 2 inches of snow. The bonus was that it was easy to shovel the steps and front path! The children were thrilled that finally we got snow that was wet and sticky enough to make a snowman. Once the snowman was built, we joined our neighbors and went to the golf course up the street to spend a couple of hours sledding on the hill there. A wonderful time was had by all.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Next Up

Here are the next few WISPs that I will be working on. Hopefully I can get somewhere with them this weekend...but I'm not so sure that I am going to have time. We'll see.

This little top was designed by my DH back in 1995, and I pieced the top back then. You would think I could have gotten around to quilting this little thing before now, wouldn't you? He just asked me about it yesterday, so I dug it out and will finish it now. It needs to be quilted, bound and labeled.

This little charm quilt only needs a binding and a label

The purple crumb quilt simply needs a binding and a label.

Random Acts of Kindenss

I've had a couple of really lousy days this week, but something happened this morning that seems to have brought me out from under the dark cloud.....

For the second time in about a month, I was the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness. Both of them happened in the same place, my beloved Dunkin Donuts, as I was getting our morning coffee. When I pulled up to the drive thru, money in hand, the clerk told me that the person in the car in front of me had paid for my order! Thank you very much, nice lady in the green car! So I paid for the person behind me.

I heard on the news one day last week that the same thing happened somewhere in a Starbucks, and that it resulted in a chain of a few dozen people paying for the person behind them! Isn't that cool???

This really made my day today, and had helped me put my lousy week behind me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

...And we have a winner!!!!

Wow...I think I need to do a giveaway more often, I got more comments than I ever have before!! I guess the lure of fabric brings out the lurkers! Thank you all for your nice comments this past week...

Now who wants to hear the winner? Drumroll, Please...

Leah S

Leah, please email your address to me and I'll send your goodies out early next week!

Thanks to everyone for playing...I did find a few new blogs that I've never visited before as a result of your comments.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Look what the Things made!

When I came home from my guild meeting the other night, I found that DH had gone into the basement and pulled out his old box of computer punch cards from back in the dark ages for the Things to play with. Every now and then the punch cards come out and the house of cards building begins. Here is the castle they made that night:

It didn't take long before they decided to knock it down. Over the next few days, they do this over and over, until I get tired of it and put the punch cards away!

WISP's #1,2 and 3

MayBritt has challenged us to work on projects from prior to 2008 this month. Well, that is one of my main goals for the whole year, so it shouldn't be hard to work on a few of them in January.

On Friday, I grabbed a couple of almost finished projects to work on over the weekend. I knew that finishing them up would take hardly any time, I just needed to motivate myself to do them. I snapped pictures of them and set to work, and I was finished with all three in just about an hour and half.

First up: A crumb quilt in a star setting. As you can see, I had to hand sew the binding on about 3/4 of one side. That was a simple finish! Almost a cheat to count it. In this picture you can see the unfinished part on the bottom right.

The cat charms quilt is next. These charm squares were given out by a guild member for use in community service project quilts, and this is the second quilt I made with them. Again, only a small amount of hand sewing on the binding to finish this one, the top side and the top left are the only unfinished parts. Again, almost cheating to call it a completion.

My Square Dance top is next. I've got about 4 of these little tops in the works, this one is already quilted and just waiting to have the binding sewn down on the back, all the way around needs to be done. And it needs a label. Again, just a small amount of work, but it has been siting around for months waiting to be completed. The colors are hideously bad on this shot for some reason: everything that looks lavendar is actually a yellowy green.

So here they are completed:
The color is much more true to life in this picture. I think that taking it outside on the snow was the problem in the other picture. This quilt is so cute, but tiny, its only like 20X30 or something.

Just a quick peek at the label. These labels are from a panel that is just totally adorable!

I just wanted to show the backing fabric from the cat charms quilt. I think it is so sweet...it has the design on both sides, near the selvedge. I also love the fact that this fabric cost me like $1.20 per yard in Nov. 2006 when a local fabric store was going out of business...I liked it so much I bought the whole bolt!! I've used it on lots of backs for my community service quilts.

These quilts are going to be donated to the NICU at UCONN Health Center, along with the big pile of hats I've been working on.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I forgot about this

Oops. I forgot to include this in the post about the quilty things I found under the Christmas tree. I didn't mention to DH, but I've had this quilt calendar before, probably about 2 years ago. I wonder if the patterns are the same? Doesn't matter anyway, it was a long time ago, and I won't remember them!

Thing One's crafty gifts

Thing One also got her share of crafty gifts this Christmas. She's excited to machine quilt this top that Daddy bought for her from Ebay. It is about 54X70 or so, a nice size for her to use, but not so big that it will be an overwhelming project for her to finish. She is thrilled with the colors and that some of the squares have Moose (mooses?) on the fabric squares.

The Cute BookThe Cute Book is filled with adorable tiny felt creatures to make. Most of them are about 3 or 4 inches tall. We may need to enlarge them to minimize frustration for her, we'll see. Today I went and bought her some embroidery floss and felt in the colors she wanted. So many other books with adorable things popped up when I looked at this on Amazon...I may be playing with this more than she does!! LOL. I am fascinated by all these cutsie Japanese things, as is Thing One.

She also got this book Now, some of these styles are definitely NOT appropriate for an 11 year old, but there are some cute things in here, and I'd love to have her enthusiastic about refashioning and re-using and garment making, so it is probably a good starting point (besides, we have dozens of extra t-shirts here!).

Aw geez...I have to go out in the COLD to do the Mom's Taxi thing. I'd much rather be sitting here in front of the computer than going to to the car to drag children all over town.

My goodies

This is the fabulous gift that I recieved from
CJ in Canada in the Secret Santa Swap. The purse is so clever..it looks like she couched that ribbon all over the fabric. However it was done, it is a nice effect. Thank you so much CJ!

Some of the other quilting related goodies that I found under the Christmas tree were a fabulous quilt top that DH bought from Ebay. Now he expects me to finish it! But before I can do that, he has to expand my quilting frame: this top is queen size and my frame is set up at 5 feet wide at this point. The pattern is called Friendship knot. The big challenge with this project will be the binding because the edges have triangles. I'll have to get a close up of the edges later, I know that I'll definitely need help with that part.

I also got an Ott Lite and two books from Santa Claus:

Hmmm...you can't see that one very good in the image I grabbed from Amazon, it is Sublime Stitchery by Jenny Hart

From my fabulous Aunt Mia who is more like a sister than an Aunt, I got this bunch of fabric strips and this book:

My DH has been attempting to buy me a new sewing macine, but so far he has had no luck. He has bid in several auctions on Ebay for a used Bernina 1630 to replace mine, but so far he has been unable to win one. So I'm waiting, and contemplating my choices.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Holiday wrap-up

I just came back from my holiday vaction today. 12 days in the house with the kids, we were all getting on each others nerves by New Years Eve!! We had all kinds of weather in Vermont...46 degree days, nights in the teens, high winds, torrential downpours, sleet, 9 inches of snow in one day, clear sunny days, yes, we had it all, typical of New England.

The first night I went up there, I managed to put my van sideways into a snowbank 3/4 of the way up the driveway. Lovely. I just trudged the rest of the way up the hill and went to bed, leaving the problem for the morning. In the morning, the plow guy came and found the car there, so he knocked on the door and offered to help. Luckily he was able to hook the van up to the truck via a tow strap and yank it out of the snowbank and get it parked safely for me. I didn't drive again until we were on the way home today. Did I mention that it was snowing today, and no roads were plowed? The normal 2 hour ride took almost 5 hours. Such fun.

Here is a picture of our Christmas tree, with way too many gifts, and a picture of Thing One and Thing Two...why can't I ever get a picture of both of them looking at the camera without a goofy face from at least one of them??

We spent the week mostly lounging around the house and relaxing. We watched way too many movies and DVDs (Christmas gifts)...we watched the Simpsons Movies more times than I want to think about, Harry Potter 5, Thomas the Tank Engine, Season 1 of Jonathan Creek (thanks for the reccomendation Tonya, we both LOVED it!), the first coupe episodes of Waking the Dead, DH watched Season 3 of Lost, and probably a couple of other things I forgot. There were more hours of video games played than I even want to think about...Guitar Hero 3, anyone?

I didn't get ANY quilty stuff done over the whole vacation, major bummer for me. I did knit with my Knifty Knitter. 14 Preemie size hats that will be donated at the end of the month to the NICU at UConn Health Center.

I'll post about the quilty gifts I got for Christmas tomorrow. Tune in to see the wonderful SSCS gift I recieved from CJ in my swap an the stuff DH bought for me.

The giveaway!

So this is supposed to be my 100th post giveaway, but Blogger seems to think this is my 102nd post. Whatever! I've got a small goodie to give away, purchased last week while I was in Vermont: a charm pack of the Allspice Tapestry collection, and three fat quarters, also from the same collection.

Anyone who comments on my blog between now and 8AM Eastern time on Thursday January 10th will be in the drawing for this prize. Now go ahead and comment, because you've got a good chance of winning...I usually only get a handful of comments, so the odds are good! :-)