Saturday, March 31, 2007

Another ufo bites the dust

This was a baby quilt I whipped up a couple years ago and it's been waiting to be quilted ever since. So, now it's quilted and the binding has been stitched down. This will be donated to a charity -- haven't quite decided what one yet -- my guild this year is doing Project Linus and another charity that doesn't want quilts (? what's up with that?). I'm thinking I'm going to contact our Fire/Police Depts. and donate to them in the name of Heartstrings.

I need to sit down and count up the ufo's I've finished so far this year and update my lists!

I also finished quilting a tablerunner -- need to put the binding on yet, so I'll take a picture when it's completely finished. And I got an applique block ready to applique for one of my quilt lists. And then, managed to pin the next quilt on the machine and partially marked it and have it ready to quilt.

Today was a great quilting day! It's been cloudy/rainy/high 50's, low 60's this week. Today we had some thunderstorms and a whole bunch of rain at once -- just plain a great quilting day!

Spring green grass
Budding trees
My fabric stash -- it's so nice to pull out fabrics and start another project without having to run to the quilt store!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The First Daffodil

This was the first bloom this morning and by the time I got out to take the picture later in the morning, there were 4 more! I love daffodils.

This quilt I finished binding today. It was a quick scrappy project I designed to use up the border fabric (seems I design a lot to use up border fabric!). All fabrics were from stash and the border fabric is probably 5 - 8 years old. It's a nice table cover size.

This is a closeup of what I did in the black squares. I had some small cardboard leaf shapes that I traced around and then freehanded echo around those. It was fun and another learning experience. It really is fun to experiment with different techniques on the longarm.


Another beautiful spring day - 80° today.


Getting my chores done so I can bind quilts or just sew.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring has Sprung again!

The day dawned bright and sunny and it was 70° by noon. So, of course, Bill suggested we open the windows in the bedroom because the grout sealer smell is still lingering. (His idea was just to open the windows -- no screens because "the bugs aren't out yet anyway"!) We compromised -- he took down 3 bedroom window screens, 4 kitchen window screens and one for the clutter room -- the screens are stored in the open attic part of the garage. So, I washed screens and then washed windows on the outside, because most of the screens go on the outside of the windows. The two over the sink are crank out windows, so the screens are installed inside, so I had to wash those windows in and out! vbg It wore me out, but it was nice to be outside in the 70° weather, even with a hefty breeze.

I came in and loaded a quilt (it was downright cold in the basement after being outside!).

This was a kid's quilt/baby quilt I threw together some time ago -- just wanted to use up the border fabric which was given to me. I used the Popcorn pantograph by Jodi Beamish of Willowleaf Studios, which I just bought last week -- I like it's simplicity and lots of curves. After changing thread and getting this one ready to go, the tension was absolutely great -- moral to the story, go back to the beginning and go step by step -- it's a lot faster than spending hours trying to tighten/loosen the top/bobbin! I'll probably be sewing bindings tomorrow. This quilt will go to charity.


The sun and warm weather.

Bill planted radishes today.

Getting the tension right finally.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth

Honestly, I haven't! Wednesday I went up and babysat this adorable little monster! He's eating his lunch of Mac & Cheese and smiling for grandma. I just noticed he has that same trait from my side of the family that our eyes very nearly close when we smile!

I've also been working on my spring cleaning -- an hour at a time, 5 days a week and starting with the master bathroom. This morning I sealed the grout in the guarry tile floor -- so the bath is finished and sparkly! Next week I start on the closets in the master bedroom - an hour at a time - don't want to wear myself out! vbg

Quilting wise: I've been having a problem getting the tension just right on the longarm, and today had a problem with thread breaking, so after adjusting, readjusting, tightening top, loosening bobbin, etc, etc. Finally, I got the Maintenance 101 dvd out and put it in the dvd player upstairs. At first, I'd put it on pause, run downstairs, do what they said, run upstairs, etc. - a real pita. Finally got the laptop and put the dvd in it -- problem is the sound wouldn't work. Long story shorter -- I finally got the sound to work on the laptop (yay, me!), and was able to adjust the tension so it looks a lot better (will have to test on the next project to make sure). Changed the needle twice and finally stopped the thread breakage by slowing down -- I always seem to be in a race. All in all, the wallhanging below took two days to do and I need to bind it now. This was a pattern I designed and the fabrics are all from stash as this was the first sample I made up. I'd had the border fabric for probably 8 or 10 years -- loved it, just couldn't figure out what to do with it!


The pains Steph was having on Wednesday seemed to be the stretching of the ligaments, as her doctor's office suggested -- they went away and Wills is still kicking up a storm.

Patience (sometimes have a hard time finding it).


Warm spring weather.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Hour A Day

First let me say that I love this quilt pattern and the colors I chose for it. (Thanks, Judy!)

This longarm quilting is very much a learning process for me. I never learned what enhances a quilt and what detracts from a quilt, because I didn't have the capability to do too much either way before. I made this quilt with the QOV in mind and even bought a wide white backing for it, but I'm not going to donate it.

I was going to do an allover loops and stars meander (go with your instincts), but I had a loops and stars pantograph that came with the Gammill and I liked the stars better (they were open, whereas in a meander they would have been filled with lines). What I failed to realize was this pantograph is a straight line rather than an interlocking, which means there's a space between each line and even though it is only 1/2" - 3/4" or so, it is still noticeable and I don't like the looks of it. I should go back and meander a line in between that would not be noticeable and in the future, if I use a straight line pantograph again, I will do that.

Second thing I don't like is the thread I used. I ordered a variegated red/white/blue thread especially for this quilt -- thinking I was pretty clever ;-). The thread not only does not enhance the quilt, but it definitely detracts from it. I will definitely audition every thread in my case for each quilt now. Also, I used a white in the bobbin, which was fine, but because the top thread was dark in some areas, there were a few pokies on the back -- not a lot, and I had the tension right -- but I prefer the looks of using the same color thread front and back -- looks more professional I think. However, that is not always possible, so as long as I get the tension right, there's not much I can do about a few pokies.

Third thing is that doing a pantograph from the backside of the machine limits your ability to ease in any fullness or waviness. There were two spots in my borders that were a little wavy and I had to keep stopping and starting and running around to the front of the machine to work them in -- whereas if you are free-handing from the front, you can easily work the fabric (if it isn't waaaaayyyy to wavy!).

Anyway -- that's why I won't donate this quilt, but it was a great quilt to practice on. Probably one of my kids will get it.

Yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon working on the tension on the machine. Finally realized I had it threaded wrong (because the manual tells you one thing and the instructor tells you how it should be). So, I got no quilting done yesterday, but I do have one loaded to work on today.


I'm learning a lot about my machine and enhancing and detracting from the quilt itself.

Free time (quilt time)

Making mistakes -- make them early and they are a learning experience (make the same mistake again and you didn't learn a thing!).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"I Spy" quilt panel

I tried to post this yesterday, but I guess blogger thought the picture files were too big -- so I resized and here we are. This was a panel I bought 3 or 4 years ago at Walmart and never got around to quilting it. So I practiced my straight line quilting on it -- horizontal and vertical are easy -- can you say "channel locks"? But diagonal is another story ;-).

It was fun to play with -- it's bound and I'm going to give it to Briana and AJ to play with.

Talked to Steph yesterday -- they're doing a room switch at their house. Briana's room is bigger than AJ's, so now that they know they're having another boy, the kids are switching rooms and the boys will be rooming together. They're going to paint it blue and Aaron wants to stencil football icons all over the walls (well, I suppose probably baseball and soccer and basketball, too). Both Aaron and AJ are sports nuts - and AJ's only 3. Briana's new room was just painted last year -- yellow and she doesn't mind, plus she gets to stencil butterflies and flowers and such all over her walls. She also got a much needed new bedroom set, so I imagine she's pretty happy right now! I'm going up to babysit next Thursday, so I'll scope out what new quilts they'll need!


Lunch with my best friend yesterday -- it lasted 2 hours! LOL Boy did we need to catch up. The Olive Garden was probably wondering if we were going to stay for dinner.

It was 74° here yesterday -- a new record. Except for some stubborn piles, the snow is gone.

Spirit renewed

Monday, March 12, 2007

I had a Great Weekend!

Well, actually it was Thursday, Friday and Saturday! I quilted 3 tops those days. The first is my Hour A Day and it is in the dryer as we speak. The second was a panel and the third is this one. I stitched the binding down on all 3 today, while doing laundry! The water softener guys came this morning and we now have soft water (most of the laundry was done in hard, though!).
Anyway... this top is a few years old and not a favorite. If I remember correctly, I loved the border print and the coordinating blue print and wanted to use up what I had -- which is what is in this quilt -- all of it! I just picked a yellow and white from stash -- a true stash quilt -- and put the tablecover together. I'm not real fond of the quilt at all, but I had a total blast quilting it! The first quilt I did a pantograph, the second I practiced straight line quilting, but this one -- I did totally freehand. It was so much fun!

This closeup (hopefully)shows the freehand rose and leaf I did in the borders. The star points just have 3 long leafy, pointy shapes in them radiating from the center and the white areas are just meandered. The backing and binding on the quilt is fabric I've had in the stash for at least 13 - 14 years! And the batting I used was Warm & Natural, because I had a piece of it already cut to size and am trying to clean up the cabinet. It works well for this tablecover as it's nice and flat. And this is a done ufo! Don't know what I'll do with it yet, just count it as done for now!

Sunday I spent the afternoon filing papers, getting the taxes ready to take to the accountant and cleaning up the medical/insurance paper mess.
Today, it was gorgeous outside -- high 50's and tomorrow it'll be 70°! I did walk around the house a bit today, but it's too wet to clean out the flowerbeds yet, so came back in and finished the bindings. Meeting a friend for lunch tomorrow, so will definitely enjoy the nice day -- it'll cool back down by the end of the week.


Soft water

My daffodils are peeking through the leaf cover.

Spring is in the air.

The robins have returned.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Sunday and Monday this week I pulled a bunch of tops out and started making backs and bindings and pressing them ready for quilting. I also did laundry and ran errands on Monday, so didn't clean up my mess. Tuesday I had my second longarm quilting class -- all day and came home exhausted and with a migraine beginning. (The class was a blast, but standing all day, driving an hour home and having to stop on the way at the grocery store and stand in line!, did me in). Anyway, so this is my kitchen island -- it's where I have my cutting mat and stuff. And this is what it looked like Wednesday morning!

And Wednesday I had to clean house -- for obvious reasons! Was still fighting the migraine, but sure felt better getting that mess cleaned up! The book on the right is my daily calendar -- has my menus and the rest of my life in it!
The longarm class was so fun -- I learned a ton and it was almost all freehand work. We made the white sampler in the top picture -- lots of different techniques. Stephanie had a blast too. She was pretty proud of her sampler -- and she did a great job -- she's going to be better at this than I am and she doesn't quilt at this time, but I think she's definitely hooked on longarm quilting! She'll be coming home from time to time so she can play on the machine and I can play with AJ! Sounds like a great trade to me!


My headache is gone this morning!

I'll be pinning the hour a day quilt on the machine today and will start quilting it.

Soft water (the water softener man won't be here til Monday -- amazing how much you miss something that you don't even think about when you have it!).

Bill's biopsies all came out negative - thank God.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I rethunk it

I've left Happy Days near the machine for the past week or two waiting for me to frog stitch it. I finally decided I'd count it as a learning experience and bind it. It's bound and washed and I may give it to DD to put on the bed in the basement to cheer up the room. I have way too many other fish to fry to unstitch the whole thing!

Yesterday was our yearly mini-retreat. A friend by the name of Melody organizes this every year -- it's held at our little town of Byron's Prairie Center, which is a museum, two floors of meeting rooms and a little kitchen -- it's rented out for birthday parties and weddings, etc -- and relatively cheaply. We commandeer the main room on the main floor with the little kitchen in it. (There may be another kitchen in the basement -- not sure about that!). Anyway -- the views are spectacular of the surrounding countryside and prairie -- in the summer there are tons of wildflowers flourishing in the area. There's also a walking path which takes you down by the mighty Rock River -- hope to get back to walking there in the spring. There's also an Heritage Farm (an old farm-museum). And the whole thing is adjacent to the very nice golf course. This whole thing is run by the Byron Park District. Anyway -- the room is set up with tables next to all the windows and plenty of outlets for sewing machines. Melody brings barbecue and buns and chips, someone else brought a salad, and someone brought donuts, and cookies and cupcakes, and chocolate, lots of chocolate. Half of the attendees are Byron quilters/crafters and the other half are relatives of Mel's from Wisconsin. She's been organizing this for about 4 years now. I've gone every time -- it's really a wonderful day spent quilting and catching up with everyone. I brought some hand applique this time so I didn't have to haul the machine and because I didn't have anything prepped to piece anyway! I actually got a lot done on my windblown tree applique -- an ongoing project of about 4 or 5 years now! I haven't worked on it in over a year, so at this rate it will be a couple more years of the mini-retreat to finish!

While I was re-thinking Happy Days, I've also been re-thinking my ufo's. Today I pulled out most of them and made some hard and fast choices. Some are tops ready to be quilted and they went back into the drawer. Some were partially started projects that I knew I'd never finish because I no longer like them -- so I salvaged the fabrics I wanted to keep and tossed the rest. Some are partially finished projects that are just plain ugly -- some of the "what was I thinking" fabric. Those are waiting in a pile to be cut up for scraps (like Bonnie says -- if it's still ugly, you haven't cut it small enough!) Some are projects I completely forgot about. I have a stack of smaller tops -- table covers, table runners, and maybe lapsize quilts that I mostly designed myself, but didn't have time to quilt them, so they got added to the piles of ufo's. I have some really ugly ones in that stack, but I'm going to finish them to use as practice on the longarm. I have found that the stuff I really liked in all of these piles were all scrappy projects! The ones that were "planned" fabrics didn't catch my eye as much. Anyway, I have a pile of tops laying across the counter stool in the kitchen and I spent the afternoon adding a border to one top and increasing the size of the pieced backing for it and making a binding -- 1 top, backing and binding pressed and waiting to be quilted. I did backings and bindings for 3 others and I had one already done and waiting, so I have a total of 5 quilts of various sizes pressed and ready to pin on the longarm! Yay, me. I still have a pile of tops in the kitchen, but I'll work at them a bit at a time. And I no longer have a pile of ufo's that don't have a purpose -- I whittled down the list and prepped some to finish soon.

I also decided to buy a wide backing fabric for the Hour a Day/Quilt of Valor. I'm going to do a Stars and Loops pantograph (by Linda V. Taylor that came with the machine) on it, bind it and get it in the mail this month. I ordered some "Stars and Stripes" variegated thread that will be here tomorrow and I hope to get the backing tomorrow, or at least by Wednesday and then get it quilted this week. Tuesday is my second class at the Quilt Center.

Getting rid of some of the ufo's that were bugging me -- clears the slate.
Leftovers for dinner -- easy cooking.
Friends and family.
Catching up with old friends at the mini-retreat.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Latest Block

This was February's block -- finally got it done today. We have two more blocks for this BOM and then a final showing in May. I'll be glad to get it finished. Not too fond of the blocks or the fabric choices -- we get either a red or blue fabric each month (this month was the light blue). Quilt Buddy and I have decided not to do any BOMs for awhile -- at least the local quilt stores'. If I find one online that I really love, I may be tempted, but probably not.

I had an epiphany yesterday. After spending over 2 hours on the computer yesterday morning dealing with Yahoo Groups, who, in their infinite wisdom, decided to turn on a spam filter for every group, moderated or not, I ended up in a very bad mood. On one of my groups, the filter has decided it doesn't like my email address which starts with Porchrocker -- so all my messages to the group goes to a spam file and is dependent upon a moderator to approve the messages -- even though I've been a member for years. On another group I happen to be a moderator on, some messages have gone to the spam file, but not mine! But, I need to approve the messages for that group. We're trying to get the spam filter turned off, but Yahoo does not make it easy.
Anyway, back to the epiphany. I was eating breakfast at 11:30 am and not in a good mood, after which I needed to clean house. And I decided it was way past time to cut the strings on the computer in the morning - it's no wonder I never get any quilting done! So, starting this morning, I'm limiting myself to 15 minutes online in the morning. I exercised this morning, read the paper and drank coffee, and had my breakfast at 9:30. I showered and started my day before 10 -- pinning a quilt on the machine. It is now off the machine, and in the dryer, having the binding stitched down by hand even. Granted, it's not a big quilt, and definitely not my best effort, but it is finished. Amazing what freeing up the computer time in the morning can do. I pieced the bom block this afternoon, too. And now I'm done sewing for the day, so I can catch up on the computer for a bit before I start dinner. I think I'm going to like getting something accomplished every day!

An hour a day (or more) for quilting.
Finishing an ufo -- from a few years ago.
Leftover chili for dinner -- no brainer!