Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday, monday

Happy Monday everyone! Ok so I realize its back to the grind today for many of you, but no reason it can't be a happy day anyway, right? :cD I had quite the fun weekend. First off the fabric that I won from amandajean came on Saturday. I just love seeing something in my mailbox other than bills and junk!!

Oh so pretty. I love blues and greens! Thank you so much amanadajean!! She is starting another quilt-a-long on her blog today. Its stars with alternate setting blocks, and I know just what fabrics I'm gonna use ;cD I am really looking forward to starting something new and different, and besides, star quilts are my favorites!

Next, I want to thank all of you that commented on my label making tutorial, and let you know the winner of my itty-bitty drawing is niki! If you could please send me your info I will get your set of quilt labels in the mail for you. I also went ahead and entered the tutorial contest at sew mama sew. I'm so excited that they decided to post my tutorial, especially considering it was my first try at one. So I want to say a warm welcome to anyone who is visiting my blog via theirs :cD

Now for some quilty stuff. I actually sat down and got a little sewing done. I have been working on a string quilt for a while. No rush to get it done really. Its going to be for my bed, and I already have one. I just want to make one with more of an overhang, then the one that is there now will go to one of the mouselings. Well, as I was sewing along trying to add strips to my 6.5 inch foundation squares I realized I have been acquiring more and more pieces of fabric at are just not big enough. So I started thinking, I can't bear to just throw fabric away. I just can't. So what do you do? Here's what I did...

I call them crazy cabin blocks. I'm sure its not a new idea, but I just took any old fabric scrap and built around it log cabin style. Once they were big enough, I squared them up to 5.5 inches. The only "rule" was to have good contrast between light and dark. I think they will make a fun scrap quilt, and I've used even more of the 'unusable' fabric. Gotta love that!!

Final picture to share is what I've been playing around with as far as my other hobby is concerned. I haven't been playing with my beading and jewelry making much lately, but I got stuff out to play around and made a couple fun cell phone dangles. Just some fun small projects :cD

Well, the weather here in Ohio has taken a dramatic turn. After several days of sunshine and 70+ degree weather, we are sitting here with seriously dreary skies and temps in the 40s! What a change!! I am still going to go out and run, but the rest of the day will be devoted to the sewing I haven't been accomplishing lately, and making some homemade chicken pot pie, mmmmm...... Hope you all are having a wonderful day, and get time to do the things you love with the ones you love. Warm country wishes all!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Up and down, ebb and flow, wax and wane...

Want to see the quilting I've gotten done this week? Really? Here ya go!

Not too impressive, huh? Actually here is a much more common scene from my sewing area this week...

This is our cat Xerxes looking at me saying "What? Not going to sew today? That's OK, I like sitting by this window best anyway!" I felt kind of bad that I haven't been sewing, but then I got to thinking, you know, I think all quilters (or anyone with any kind of hobby) goes through these times. You know, "down times". Times when for whatever reason you just don't 'feel it'. I know I go through these every once in a while. Right now I am just at a motivational low. I think its just a natural thing. I think maybe it has to do with the change of seasons too. Spring has finally burst out all over here in Ohio, and I am just aching to get out and enjoy as much of it as I can right now. So while my sewing has slowed down, my running has picked up. I actually went running on one of the trails that runs next to a river here with one of my friends from work. And while there were no wildflowers just yet, everything was so green and beautiful. The beauty made our 4 miler just fly by. I really have to learn to carry my camera more often because I really wish I had a picture to share with you. I'll have to remember one next time. I'm sure we'll go back because my friend said he really liked running there.

Then there's the yard work. Today I got to get out and trim down the shrubs between our house and our neighbors, trim up the rose bushes, and trim some stray branches from one of the smaller trees on our property. I have to admit I can tend to put off working out there, but once I get going, I love it. Not to mention that I love the way a nice, neat, freshly groomed yard looks. Hopefully we will get out to get some flowers this weekend or next :cD

The final baby quilt went to mom-to-be on Monday afternoon. She really liked it. I'm so glad! As funny as it sounds there is always a little part of my that is afraid of a reaction like "Oh, that's nice" then it just gets set aside. I'm sure many of you can identify. We put so much effort into our creations, and nothing can hurt more than an indifferent reaction. Well, for me anyway. I think I am going to try to work on something this weekend. I have that swap top to work on, and I'd really like to get some more blocks done so I can get a feeling of what my idea on paper will look like translated into fabric. I want to give myself enough time that if I don't like how its turning out I can go with plan B and still have it done in time.

Well, another weekend approaches. I have lots to do to get ready for it, so I will just finish up by wishing you all a great weekend and warm country wishes!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

More quilt labels

Kris at quilted simple had asked me if I would do a tutorial for my quilt labels. Well I've never done one before, but thought what the heck, I'll give it a go. Most of the labels I do are paper pieced so that is what I chose to show, so it will be a try at doing a paper piecing tutorial as well. So without further we go!
How many of us have bins overflowing with scraps? Or leftover fabric from a quilt you would like to do something special with? Well, here is your chance to make a little something extra for your quilts. Use those scraps to make pieced quilt labels!

I like to use paper pieced patterns to make most of my labels. This is a simple flying geese pattern that I drew up myself, but you can also use modified traditionally pieced patterns. I'll show an example of that later.

First, choose your scraps. For this one I am using mostly blues and cream. Make sure your scraps will be big enough to cover the shape you are using them for as well as leaving you enough fabric for a seam allowance. In this example I need to make sure the blue is big enough to cover the larger 'geese' and the cream covers the 'background'.

Choose the fabrics you will be using to be covering numbers one and two. Place them right sides together then place your fabrics on the wrong side of your paper (the side that is not marked.)

Flip everything over, and stitch ON the line between numbers one and two. You will want to shorten your stitch length so you will perforate the paper so when you take the paper off it will be easier and your stitches won't be pulled out. I have a computerized machine, and I set my stitch length to 1.5.

Next, fold the paper on the line you just stitched and cut away the excess fabric to leave your 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Now flip and press with a dry iron.

Next, choose what fabric you will use for piece number three, and put it right sides together with the one/two unit. Flip your label over and sew on the line between (in this case) numbers one and three.

Again, flip and press with a dry iron. Here is your first geese unit. At this point you can eliminate some waste by doing the following.

Flip your label over to the drawn side and fold the paper back on the next line you will sew on.

(This is a picture of the paper folded back)

Now trim away the excess to about 1/4 inch.

Now you will be able to line up the next piece you will sew with the finished unit and you will already have your quarter inch seam.

Line up your next piece of fabric, flip your label back over and sew on line number four.

Keep sewing adding pieces in numerical order until you have a completed piece. Now its time to trim.

Using your ruler and rotary cutter, line up the 1/4 inch line on the outside line of your label pattern. Trim off the excess so you have a 1/4 inch seam the entire way around your label. Then remove the paper from the back.

And here we are! You can call it finished at this point, but I like to take it a step further so I will have finished edges to work with when I go to sew it on my quilts.

Place your label right side down on a piece of lightweight fabric. I usually use muslin, but I have used used dryer sheets. You could also use fusible interfacing.

Sew a quarter inch seam on all four sides.

Trim your edges even. I also trim my corners on a diagonal to make turning them a little easier.

Cut a slit in the back and turn right side out.

Give it a good pressing (unless you used the fusible interfacing) and ta-da! One finished quilt label ready for signing and attaching to your next creation! They may take a little time, but once you start making them they are kind of like potato can't make just one. Well, its like that for me anyway ;cD

Now for those of you that don't like paper piecing here is my favorite modified traditionally pieced label. It is a modified churn dash. Start with a 3 1/2 inch square for the center (this is where you will sign the label) then four 1"x 3 1/2" rectangles of both your churn dash fabric and background fabric as well as two 1 7/8 inch squares of both your churn dash fabric and background fabric. Then just piece your block.

Here is a picture of my finished churn dash label :cD

Well, there you go!! I hope I didn't confuse anyone too much. I know there are some great paper piecing tutorials out there if mine didn't quite make sense. There are lots of paper pieced patterns to be found that can be used as part of a label. I also have a book called Foundation Pieced Quilt Labels 30 designs by Linda Causee that has awesome patterns in it. If you modify a traditional pattern, just make sure to leave enough room to sign it. (Like in the above example I enlarged the center square of a traditional chrun dash so there would be plenty of room to sign it.) Like I've said, I've been making lots of these lately and while I was stitching these I started thinking that maybe for those of you who don't have time to make some yourself or for those of you looking to jump start your collection, I would like to give away a set of 6 labels. Just leave me a comment and you will be entered into a random drawing. I will take names until April 27, then I will draw and post the winner next Monday. If you make some labels, make sure to post a picture. I would love to see them.
Well, I'm off to try to squeeze some more into my day. I hope you all find some time to do the things you love. Warm country wishes all!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another finish, another 'addiction', another weekend

First I want to welcome all of you that have visited my blog, and for all the compliments on my last post! I have a neo-counter on my page and when I checked it about this time yesterday I had about 650 visitors, now I'm up to 770! Wow!! So a big welcome and thank you to all who have visited and to those who were kind enough to comment. Its so much fun to see that counter go up, and to meet new bloggers!! :cD

Now then, the quilt you see on the left here is my latest finish. I know its not the greatest picture, but...well...I don't think its the greatest quilt either. It's not a 'bad' quilt. I like the pattern, but I would definitely make sure all my lights read LIGHT and all my darks read DARK next time. Then I used a high loft bat... a really high loft bat. Ugh, never gonna do that again. I just tied it so its very fluffy and warm, but wrestling with that bat was not so fun. Then to put the binding on. My hands have never gotten so tired putting on a binding. So all in all this quilt was a bit of a learning experience (see you never stop learning, I've been quilting about 6 years and still learning), but it will make a nice warm quilt for someone. I think I may just donate this one. I feel good about getting another quilt finished, but I have to be honest. I am about ready to start on a new project. Its not that I don't want to finish what I've already started, but I think we all know the fun and excitement of starting something new. Maybe I'll try to finish one more UFO before really starting a new project, but I don't know if I can resist the temptation ;cD

I have made a few more quilt labels. Boy are these little guys addicting!! The one with the basket still needs more button 'flowers', but I think its my favorite so far. Before long I'm probably going to have as many quilt labels as I will need for all the quilts I will ever make :cD lol!

Maybe I'll find something else fun to do with them ;cD

So many other fun things going on here too. First I won a guessing game on crazy mom quilts. I couldn't believe I won! Thank you so much amandajean!! Someone had asked her how many quilts she has in her home so she made a game out of it. You'll have to go over and check out the beautiful, HUGE stack of quilts she has in her home. Also been running consistently. That feels sooooo good!! And I may have actually found someone to go running with! I can't tell you the number of times I have had a friend of co-worker say to me "Boy I should start ________. (fill in the blank: running, walking, swimming, biking, etc.)". I love to get out and do those things, and love to get others involved when I can. I used to be a personal trainer too, so I like to try to motivate others. Whenever someone tells me that they would like to be more active I warn them that they better be serious because I will do my darnedest to get them out the door!! Well, a friend of mine from work said he wanted to start running so I told him where I would be yesterday, and that he was welcome to join me. Well, he showed up! I was so excited that someone was finally serious. So now I have a running partner for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yippee!! We started some spring cleaning today too. OK, I know thats not necessarily fun, but it is nice to get the house cleaned and aired out. The weather has been absolutely beautiful. I will try to get out and get some 'springy' pictures to share. Finally I've decided that I will try to post something that I am thankful for at the end of each post. Like I've said before, I have been blessed, and I need to try to remember that always.
What am I thankful for today...
1. the beautiful sunshine we have had for the last several days.
2. my children, who despite being the occasional pains in the you-know-what, bring me such joy
3. my health and being able to enjoy running outside in the warmer weather
Well, I'm off again, hope you all have a wonderful weekend!! Warm country wishes all!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Don't worry, be happy Tuesday

Oh how I wish this were the view out my window, but alas it isn't. It does, however, reflect the same kind of beautiful, clear day we are having today. This was actually taken at one of our state parks last fall. Anyway, to my post title. I woke up this morning did the usual...took the kids to school, had some coffee, surfed around blog land a little...and am kind of taken aback about the whole copyright issue. I tend to take on everyone else's problems. Its in my nature. I get more upset over someone else's trials than they do. So glancing out the window and seeing the crystal blue sky and dazzling sunshine I decided to get myself out there and enjoy a little of it, and try to clear my head before I had to pick up the mouselings.

I drove over to one of my favorite running tracks and started running. Not fast necessarily, but at a comfortable pace where I could enjoy the run. The 'bad' stuff started melting away. I started to realize how petty some things can be and how we should really take stock of what we have and be grateful for every day we are given. I have been truly blessed. I started thinking of what I have to be thankful for...

1. A healthy body that lets me get outside to walk, run, skip and jump.

2. My hearing and eyesight to be able to take in all the wonderful sights and sounds our world has to offer us. While running I saw geese, ducks, robins, cardinals, orioles, the buds on the trees, the grass getting greener and greener. I heard the birds calling from the trees, the water running from small streams into the lake the track runs around, the crunching of the gravel under my feet.

3. I have a great family. Yes, we have our disagreements and rough patches, but everyone does. But we all know that when push comes to shove we will be there for each other.

4. I have the ability to create and share my quilts with those I hold dear in my life. So what if someone else creates the same thing. When it comes down to it every work is an original creation by the quilter's own hands. I am not doing this to win awards or pay the bills. I do this as a labor of love, and my biggest hope for my quilts is that the recipient will cherish them.

When I got done running I felt so much better. It really does help me to clear my thinking. I know everyone's life can get clouded by problems in their own lives as well as the problems in their family's and friend's lives. There really is no way to avoid them. You can't run away (well, maybe you could, but that may not be the wisest choice *grin*), you can't wish them away, and dwelling on them doesn't really help either. I just have to remember that even when things look bleak, or things get you angry or upset to remember that it isn't ALL bad. I know there are so many of you going through things right now. Many of you are probably like me and take on other's problems as well. For all of you that are I hope that you are able to find a little time for yourself, to get away and count your blessings. I'm feeling so much better since I did. Here's hoping you all have a wonderful day!! Warm country wishes all!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm on a roll!!

Bruce's quilt was delivered to mom to be yesterday, and she was thrilled with it! I just love to see people's reaction when I deliver a quilt to them. There were a couple other people there when we opened it up and one commented that it looked like she was so happy she was going to cry. I even got a compliment on it from one of the male cooks! Now there's a compliment for ya!! And just in case you were all curious...yes after looking at the front she flipped it over to look for the special label :cD

Now then, someone do the happy dance with me! Here's number three just before I put it in the washer. I'm excited to have it done before the baby shower...I had visions of pulling an all-nighter to get it done the night before the shower. I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially the border. I've always wanted to try feathers, but have been a big chicken about it. I was looking at Lisa Boyer's blog when I found this entry where she shows you how she does a vine and leaf border. It's got the same kind of fancy look of feathers which I really like. Now I am no free motion expert, but after looking at her entry I thought, hey, what the heck? I'll give it a try. Here's a close up of the border. I think it turned out really nicely, I was so pleased with myself, I didn't think I could do something like this :cD

I also found something cool (well, I think so anyway) while surfing around the other day. A while back I had made a Random Ohio Stars quilt from the pattern on Quiltville. Not too long ago I hostessed a swap where we were going to make stars based on her pattern so I e-mailed her for her OK to use the pattern on her site as well as the picture of my quilt. Well, when I was on her site looking for another pattern I happened to pull up the Random Ohio Stars page and she has a link to a picture of my quilt on the page. I was excited anyway :cD If you want to check it out mine is the one quilted with diagonals. I also have to rant just a little, I was visiting Bonnie's blog and it has happened again that someone has used one of her patterns to sell as their own. I have read her blog for a while and I know this is not the first time this has happened. My heart sinks every time something like this happens. Bonnie is so generous to post so many free patterns for us to use. I really feel that she embodies the true, generous spirit of quilting. It saddens me when someone uses one of her patterns (or anyone uses anyone else's patterns for that matter) without permission or tries to pass it on as their own. Now I know that there are lots of quilters out there that come up with the same ideas at the same time. Its inevitable, and I don't know all the circumstances around patterns and publishing and all that stuff, but you would think someone would put a little effort into researching weather a pattern is an original or not. Then all the issues with copyright. Part of me would love to get into quilt designing, but honestly all the copyright stuff scares me off. I would hate to 'take' someone else's design unintentionally and have them come after me with copyright infringement. So for now I will just stick to designing for myself. Ok that's enough on that.
Well, its another day off for me, and with another finish under my belt I am contemplating what I want to do next. I am ready for something new, so I think I am going to go dig through my BIG pile of swap blocks and start working on something I haven't seen for a while. Or maybe I'll get working on that block-block swap top. I have finally decided on what I am going to do with the blocks...I think ;cD so I may give that a go. I may try to get some more labels made up. They are just too much fun!! Maybe a little more work on the Cathedral Windows. I found some inspiration to keep at it here. You have to go check out Kim's, absolutely stunning! I'm going to get a run in for sure for sure. I have finally be able to get some sort of regularity with my running and such again. We also joined the local community center so I have been trying to get over there and use the Nautilus equipment a couple times a week. Oh, so much I would love to do and the clock moves way too fast!! I'm off to try to squeeze in as much as I can :cD Warm country wishes all!!

Edit: I was just at Quitville, and Bonnie has explained some of the whole copyright thing. I guess the published book was considered an original so there was no copyright issues. All too confusing for me. Like I said, that's why I guess I'll just design for myself.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

a finish, finishing touches, and fun stuff

Yea!! Two down, one to go!! I finally finished the log cabin baby quilt, and the label is on, just not signed. I hope mom and dad to be will like it. I just have to tell you a story about the baby on the way. The mom to be is a co-worker of mine, and when she found out she was pregnant with their second son she and dad to be started tossing around names for the little one that was on the way. Now to give you an idea of mom's sense of humor she said she wanted to name him Isaac. Their first son is named Michael....she thought it would be cute to be able to call them 'Mike and Ike'. :cD (I have to admit I thought it was pretty cute too.) Well, dad said no and they decided on the name Bruce. So I asked her what his middle name was going to be, she just looked at me and smiled and said 'Wayne'. I just couldn't help myself, I chuckled and said 'really?'. She giggled a bit but she said that yes, she was serious. Now I don't know if they are doing a Batman themed nursery, but I can just picture those two in a couple years taking their little boys trick or treating and dressing Bruce up as Batman. He starts to wander away and one of them says, "Bruce, Bruce Wayne you get back here!!" and the other going "'ll give away his secret identity!!!" lolol :cD Now I also have to tell you that I thought that it would be odd to name a child like that, but then it did occur to me that my dad, and my brother (who was named after my dad) have the first and middle names Thomas Edison. And yes somewhere back the family tree my dad's side of the family DID know Thomas Alva Edison. Just an interesting little factoid ;cD

So today is my day off and I did get a finish in for the day so I thought I would take a break from the quilting of quilts, but not sewing. I really try to put a label on all my quilts, and I really like to use scraps from the top if possible. I've given several co-workers baby quilts as gifts and after admiring the top they look for the label, and the special note I write for each baby. It makes me feel good that they appreciate the work that goes into it and they appreciate the finishing touch of the label. So today I took some time and made some labels from the book I received from a swap for some future quilts. The two on the right are ones my swap mate made for me, and the three on the left are ones I made today. The angel in the center is going to be the label for baby quilt number three. I just love pieced labels, they are quick and fun to make and make a great addition to the back of the quilt.

Now for the fun stuff. Ok, fun for me anyway. Like I said it is my day off so I had a true Country Mouse type day. We did a little cleaning, did a little sewing, and a little cooking. We are having crock-pot chicken and dumplings for dinner (one of my absolute favorites!!) and DD and I made a loaf of chocolate chip banana bread to have afterwards...yummy!!

I am hoping to still make it out for a run yet today while the weather is still nice. Its been in the upper 60s for the last few days, but someone informed me that we may get one more snowfall. Remind me again what month this is?!? Hopefully it won't come. I am really enjoying the daffodils that are starting to bloom at the park. If the snow does come, I'm sure it will probably be the last of the season...thank goodness. I'm ready for the warm weather :cD

Well, I'm off again, hope you all have a great day! Warm country wishes all!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

And just where have you been?

I remember hearing that from my family when I had been running behind, and that's all I could think of when I realized it has been more than a week since my last post. Its not that nothing has been going on, in fact the opposite has been, but since a good bit of it is kind of 'downer' type stuff I'm not gonna bore you all with that stuff. This is my upbeat place on the web, and darn it I'm really going to try to keep it that way!! :cD

So let's on-line group's anniversary was a week ago Sunday, and I was a good girl and waited to open my package until the party. I was so proud of myself, self control isn't always one of my strong suits...especially when presents are involved ;D Here are the goodies that my swap mate sent me.

So much great stuff!!! My favorite things were the doodle/mouse pad (a GREAT idea, I can't tell you how many times I want to write down something I've seen on the web and go looking for paper. Now it's right there next to me.), the other is the book of quilt labels she sent me. I love to make special labels for my gift quilts and this book has awesome patterns. The two labels you see are ones she made for me. It was very much worth the wait!! It was also nice to get to chat with some of my on-line friends. I don't get to do that very often so it was a special treat for me.

Now then, on the quilting front I have Jessica's quilt about half way quilted, the baby log cabin all quilted and ready to be bound, and S's baby quilt grid quilted and ready to do free motion. It feels good to be seeing things get done. With all the stress that I've been dealing with here, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the unfinished projects I've got going on. I've also made the decision, as hard as it is for me, that I will not join any more swaps after I've completed the ones I am in right now. At least until I get some other things in my life straightened out. Quilting is supposed to be an escape for me, and the pressure of deadlines is detracting from the fun factor. So I am going to just quilt for quilting's sake for a while. At least I have 6 weeks to complete the last swap I am in. It's actually kind of cool. You send your swap mate a set of blocks and they turn them into a top for you and send you back a completed top. Here are the blocks I have to work with. There are 8 - 12 inch blocks and 8 - 6 inch blocks. She said she is going for scrappy and other than that anything goes so I am going to break out the graph paper and sketch away til I come up with something I like. One nice thing is I can use up some scraps. Hmmmmmm.....I feel some ideas coming on :cD

I've also added a spot on the bottom of my page where I will keep track of the progress I am making on my Cathedral windows quilt. I will update it periodically as the quilt grows. I am totally hooked on this quilt. I love the portability of it!! Feel free to check it out if you feel so inclined.

Well it is 9:30 in my neck of the woods and I still have stuff to get done before I can call it a day. I hope everyone is making lots of progress. I am going to try to surf around blogland a bit before I turn in tonight, and I am going to try my darnedest to make sure I don't have another week pass me by before I post next time. Warm country wishes all!!