Sunday, 24 February 2013

A blip and a binding

Not one to be defeated by sewing mishaps (or my own subsequent temper tantrums for that matter), I got back on the FMQ-horse today.  You know, after I consoled myself with maple flavoured coffee and a e-book this morning.  I started by changing my needle and figured I'd give myself a real fresh start.  I felt good. Then this:
I had one last option - the top thread on my machine was running low and the spool was gettting empty.  I switched to a brand new one and then I was ready to go like gangbusters!

And look!!!  Mission accomplished!  I got the bindings sewed on and now I'm ready to watch the Oscars while I start to hand sew them down.  

My aim is to get it done by Thursday so I can take it to my local guild meeting for show and tell.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Insert multiple swear words here!

There is absolutely nothing worse than getting mad when you are sewing!  Its a freakin' hobby and its supposed to be fun.  Period.  However, some nights, the universe just conspires against you.  Tonight is one of those nights for me.

You know that FMQ project I'm avoiding finishing?  Well I got it in my head this evening to get one bobbin of FMQing in so that tomorrow I could get it finished.  I was actually proud of myself.  Smug even.  Set up my darning foot, set up my ironing board beside my sewing table to bear some of the weight, threaded all my bobbins and got down to it......thread snaps.  Adjust my thread tension and start again.....thread snaps. *sigh*  Make sure there isn't too much crud in my bobbin case, check my bobbin out to make sure its threaded correctly and start again.....thread snaps.  Consider throwing my machine against the wall, note the incredible cost and hassle of replacing said machine, vow to take up drinking more instead and give it one....last....shot.  I bet you think the thread snapped.  Nope.  GIANT ball of tangled thread on the back of the quilt which I don't notice till I've gone for a bit.   Stomp around in the hallway for a minute like a crazed four-year-old and then set down to pick it all out.  Multiple swear words.  Squared.  Times two.

In the middle of picking out all the threads.  Eff!
Some - not all - of the mess I made
I think the universe wants me to read tonight.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


I've decided that I need to find a couple of small things to do to keep myself occupied for a bit.  I don't want to start anything huge since I have two quilts that I need to FMQ and one that is 80% finished which I need to simply finish!  Also, I'm going away to a place called Quilter's Miss Bee Haven for a five day quilting retreat at the end of March so I wanna save some big projects for the extended amount of time I will have to focus then.  But, during the week, when I don't have a ton of time, I'd like something to work on that can get accomplished.  Hence, the heffalumps.

I LOVE elephants.  Specifically, African Elephants.  Item number one on my bucket list is to hug an African Elephant.  They are so cute to me, I could die.  I have an elephant tattoo, I have made my grandmother embroider elephants along the cuffs of my clothes before, and I have loads of elephant stuff.  So my mini-project is to make some of these:
Tiny elephants!!! Could anything be better!
I cut out my body parts -- I know it seems kinda gross but when they are all layed out, they actually look like body parts:

I even chose the fabric:
This is the last four fat quarters I have from Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt.  Its the first fabric bundle I bought after I started sewing.
Tomorrow I am hoping I can start on my elephant challenge.  If all goes well and I can actually make these things without pulling my hair out I am going to use this idea for my guild challenge.  The theme is "Happiness is....." and happiness to me is a large herd of elephants made out of the most delicious fabrics!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Sewing School

Hey Peeps,

No pictures today. Too lazy to add them last night so I finally got to it now.  I just walked in from sewing school.  I bought a new machine last April and the place that sold it to me offers all new purchasers a series of free classes to teach them all the cool things their machine can do.  Since I got the machine last April, I should have done this last spring...but I got really busy. Then I had an opportunity to do it in the fall - I can't remember why I didn't do it then.  Probably softball playoffs.  Anyhoo, I had to wait for the sewing-machine-as-Christmas-present crowd.  I'm a little behind.  Ha.

Tonight was the last of my four sessions.  If you bought a SUPER fancy machine, you get a fifth session.  Mine is only medium fancy although after doing this, I can't imagine what the heck else a machine could do that mine can't!  If it cooks - I'm getting one!

Tonight we played with applique.  I'm not gonna lie, the thought of applique terrifies me.  Like for realz.  Nightmare and panic sweat inducing fear over here.  I have to admit though, I'm feeling better about if after this session tonight.  We did a satin stitch example, and one that looks hand stitched.  I think I like the hand-stitched looking one better.  Satin stitch is a tad too much like the thread is standing on a street corner in a mini-skirt screaming your name.  You know how it is.

Hand-look applique
Satin stitch applique
And look!  One that even ends up looking like hand-quilting!  
I think I might actually try a project that involves an appliqued something or other.  I'll start small.  Maybe a mug rug or something.  It can be one of my many piling up summer plans.

Time to walk the Moosh though - there is a head in my lap and I think he's trying to give me a hint.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Theory confirmed!

On Saturday I made the February block for the Lucky Stars BOM.  The difference between my strategy for February and January was not to cut out the pieces for the small blocks in advance for this second month.  I had SOO many giant scraps from making the January block that this time, I wanted to see if I could make the small block out of the scraps I generated from making the big one.  Well, I was able to do it!
See my Mini-Me block for Feb - cute!
At the end of the process, these were still the scraps I had left - this is after making both large and small blocks from the same fabric pieces required from the instructions:
Not bad.  Still some giant pieces but way better than after I finished the large.

So I went back to make a mini version of the January block from the scraps I had generated from making the full-sized one:
Mission accomplished!
Unfortunately, because I followed all of the instructions, this is what is leftover from what was cut from January.  A bit of a waste in my eyes:

The silver lining though, is that now I know I can save fabric over the next ten months by only cutting whats required for the big block and using the leftovers to make the mini's.  Good thing I caught on early!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Exploding Star block

Today I worked on catching up on the second block from the Lucky Stars BOM.  All blocks will be paper pieced stars.  This month, the block is called the Exploding Star.  Cool.  I started it this morning by perforating my templates and cutting out the fabric according to the instructions - here, I must digress...and rant.  A digression is always better with a rant.

When I made my January Lucky Star block, I cut out pieces to make both the large and the small block.  However, take a look at the GIANT scraps created by the insanely over-large pieces the instructions said were required:
I used my rotary cutter so you can get a good picture of how much extra there was.
Here are the same scraps lined up next to the pieces I cut to make the smaller version of the January block:
Do you see this!?!  I would have had enough to make both without cutting pieces for the small version!
So this time around I am getting wiser.  I only cut the fabric required for the large block with the intent of seeing if I can make the smaller version with the leftover pieces.  I figure, this way, I can save TONS of fabric.  Now here's my rant part -- not ALL of us have fabric sponsors.  Some of us even pay large amounts of money for shipping fabrics we can't get locally.  All I'm asking - and let me know if I'm out of line - but could pattern makers PLEASE not be so laissez-faire with what they are asking us to buy and cut!  

K, end of rant.  Anyhoo, this afternoon I went out to hang with my mom and niece.  Its her 6th birthday party tomorrow and she is OBSESSED with rainbows.  She even knows the proper scientific order of the colours and gets incredibly irate if you put the colours in the wrong order.  So, we made her a 6-tiered, R-O-Y-G-B-V rainbow cake with a rainbow on top.  I hope she hits rainbow heaven tomorrow.  Here is the cake monstrosity - its HUGE!

When I finally got home this evening, I was able to finish piecing my February Luck Star.  I'm not 100% satisfied with the points but given the massive amount of bulk in the centre, I'm pretty sure I couldn't do much better.  So I'll live with least for now....or until I figure out a better way to fix it.  *sigh*

And finally, the two blocks together:

Pretty happy so far!  Perhaps I should go back and make the practice block now.  Ha!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Lucky Star Block for January

I'm beginning to believe that working full time is REALLY cramping my style.  I thought about getting this block done all darn day!

When I got home, I scarfed down some leftovers and went for it.  I have learned, through the Sugar Block Club block for February that pre-perforating your paper templates makes it HELLA easier to get the paper off after you're done sewing.  I'm beginning to realize its why I think I hated paper-piecing to start with.  So that's where I started.

Then I needed to audition my fabrics.  I had the benefit of using my late start to this B.O.M. to peruse through the flicker group to see what others were doing.  Then, because I am SUPER anal, I sketched out what I thought I wanted and used coloured pencils to see what it might look like.  Then, because I should be medicated, I folded the fabrics I wanted to use into shapes akin to what one of the templates looked like and was finally convinced of my colour scheme (even my own family makes fun of me for stuff like this so feel free).
Wait till you see the quarter block shape and you'll see what a lunatic I am
Finally, I got the four pieces of the template put together after I fried my brain and had to rip stitches three separate times!
Every time I got to that snot and blue coloured fabric I couldn't get it to go on right
And finally, the finished block:

Looks not too shabby if I do say so myself!  Now, if I can get the February one done during the upcoming long weekend, I'll be right on track with this club!  If I won the lottery though, I could work on it tomorrow.  See what I mean about this work junk!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


This might only speak to the massive degree of my lameness but a friend told me about a work-related movement and it has me feeling a little empowered.  Its called Inbox Zero (check it out).  The idea is that you claim control over a small part of your life - in this case, your email inbox - and it makes you feel like you accomplish something every day and that you are in charge.  I LOVE being in charge!  Holla!

I'm not gonna lie, my inboxes for my email repulse me.  Some days, I open it up, look at the total number of messages and run screaming to bury my face in a pot of coffee or a glass of wine (depending on the day of the week).  In January, I had 484 emails in my work inbox.  My personal email?  Yikes!  That account made it to the thousands when I spent a month in Australia a couple years ago.  I've NEVER been able to get a handle on it., I cleaned up my work email.  Alicia Keys was singin' my song cuz this girl was on fire!  I'm pretty sure that by the end of the day my boss thought I was on speed but I managed to leave work with five emails in my inbox.  FIVE!  And all of them are action items I kickin' ass on tomorrow.

So no quilty progress today, but I did reward myself for my excellent email accomplishments with one of these:

Monday, 11 February 2013

Uh...what the?!?

Today my mission was to start on the Lucky Stars BOM.  Understanding that its Monday - AND I had trouble falling asleep last night - I knew I wasn't going to bite off a huge chunk today.  I thought to myself: "Self? Do you think we can manage just to cut out the templates today?"  Seems like a good Monday job.  And then I printed the monthly packages....

13 pages for the intro, 14 for January and 13 for February!  What the ?!?!

I had to get out my trusty looks-like-we're-gonna-spend-forever-cutting necessities: chocolate and Suisse Mocha.  Yum!

What felt like a MILLION years later.
I thought I would cut out the pieces for both the 12.5 and 6.5 blocks at the same time.  I mean, as long as I had the scissors out, right?

And finally, I have these visions of picking all this up to take it upstairs and then falling up the stairs and dropping it all. Then I'd have to figure out what went with what.  Soooo....OCD time - I labelled all the pieces.  
So, mission accomplished - all cut out!  Yay!  

Saturday, 9 February 2013

I finished!!!

One of my closest friends is Chinese and her mom is very superstitious.  So, in order to ring in the Year of the Snake with the best chances for a good year, today I was supposed to clean.  I cleaned my house, did all my laundry and even washed my bed sheets!  Then, I was ready to get back to work.  I wanted to finish the newly renamed 'Keystone Lodge.'  Mostly because I'm kind of excited to get started on the Lucky Stars BOM!

So I got to work.  By about 6 I had all the circles raw-edge appliqued onto the blocks and after taking a laundry break, I had the main part of the top together by about 9.  Here she is:

Its not AS bad once its together - it has more cohesiveness than the separate random blocks
 After I got the top together, I figured, if I gave it a little more effort, I could probably get the borders on by 10:30ish.  So I persevered and got them on before calling it a day:

That's it!  The top is finished.  I'm very glad to be done.  Still not something I would pick out for myself but I can see the bigger picture now and its not horrible.
It was a bit of a struggle towards the end.  You see, I have a very spoiled old dog who is blind.  In his world, if I'm not touching him, then clearly I am right out of existence and if he isn't included, then he thinks I don't love him.  So, instead of parking it on the couch like a good boy, he gets underfoot.  He laid down in front of the ironing board and then under the desk right where my peddle is - there was a small stitch ripping episode before I banished him to the hallway.

This is Moosh
Anyhoo - now that Keystone Lodge is out of the way and I had a break to peek out to my LQS, I'm ready to start my Lucky Stars BOM!  Yay!  Check out my fabric selections:

Mostly Tula Pink's Prince Charming fabric with some other blenders thrown in for good measure.
Woohoo!  Lets see what kind of trouble I can get in tomorrow!!!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Ugly Quilt Reborn - Keystone Lodge

Today, after I finished my community project (thank you K - I know I'm not alone!) I decided to get back to the "Ugly Quilt."  As I put my blocks together I started to think that I should probably stop calling it that.  How nice would it be for me to get this thing together and gift it, only for that person to know that I've publicly and repeatedly called it ugly.  Yikes!

This is the giant pile of blocks I had once I got to the last seam.
As I struggled with the "partial seam" required to get this block together -- remind me for all future projects that partial seams SUCK -- I started to notice that this whole damn block depended upon a 2 x 3 inch piece of fabric.  This little piece of fabric was like a keystone for the whole shebang.

See that tiny piece of fabric that is the crux of the whole block!?!
Additionally, in trying to mentally re-brand this quilt, I started to try to imagine a place where I wouldn't hate it so much.  I thought it might actually fit in at a cottage or hunting lodge.  Somewhere with men in flannel and roaring fires.  Henceforth the Ugly Quilt will be called Keystone Lodge!  It almost makes me hate it less.  Almost.

Snow Day!!!

Its like a bonus long weekend - except better - because you had a full day planned but now you have nothing to do but stay cozy in your house working on stuff you otherwise might not have had time to get to.  Epic!

So I initially thought that I wanted to get cracking on that new Lucky Stars BOM but then I realized I need a few more colours (hopefully solids) to finish my planned colour-scheme and there was no way I was going outside in all this snow.  Then, I thought about starting something new but realized if I get one more project out without getting some crud outta me sewing space I won't have room to breathe.  Sigh.  Time to dive into those works-in-progress.

First up was that tiny cuddle-quilt I was making for my guild.  My, oh my, is that thing bright!  I finished sewing the rows together...

Then I thought I would just finish it off altogether.  I stacked my layers for the flip-and-turn method suggested and spray basted and then sewed all the edges together.  Then I went to flip and F*&K!!!  Apparently in my euphoric snow-day induced haze, I interpreted right side UP as right side DOWN.  Sheesh.  Soooo, out came the trusty seam ripper (my friend L must be a little giddy over this) and I had to rip out ALL the seams.  Yup.  ALL.  *&T*^*(%*&)(%%#@^%$&%&*!!!!!!

Well, after taking a sanity break, I put it all back together the RIGHT way.  Here she is, ready to be given to the guild...

Hmm...what do do next?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Decisions, decisions

I think I might be crazy.  I do one paper-pieced block and I forget all about my paper-pieced pineapple hell and go and join this:

I've been reading some blogs and seeing the January and February blocks popping up.  They looked pretty sharp so I dug through some posts and links to find Elizabeth over at Don't Call Me Betsy is hosting this BOM.  After thinking about it all day, I joined.  What the heck, right? Right?

Maybe...just maybe this one will be different?  Maybe paper piecing one freaking block a month will be less insanity inducing than squeezing a whole wall hanging out in a weekend?  Ha.  Probably not.  But ya never know unless you dive in and try.

If I manage this, at the end of the year I will have this:

Lucky Stars FPP BOM Club

There may be a lot of four letter words on this blog this year.  Its a good think I like an excuse to use them.  :p

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Daily Covet

Today, I have a headache and rather than sew, I kinda just want to flake out and stare at the t.v. without really paying attention.  So instead of sewing, I surf and plan and covet.  Here is where my mind is taking me today....

I have a sister who left for Germany today to interview for an Astro-Physics Ph. D. program.  Ya, I know.  She is almost SO smart, it makes your brain hurt to think about.  Anyhoo, she is obviously intrigued by all things space and exploration.  Thus, when I happened across the following beautiful fabric at Hawthorne Threads , my brain went bananas!

Then, I went on a blog hunt and happened across this sick pattern by Tula Pink :

Mind blown.  Must. Make. For. Sister.

Times like this seriously make me wish I was independently wealthy enough to do hobbies all day long.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Community Projects

The guild I'm a part of makes a variety of items for various charitable organizations and non-profits in the area.  These range from place-mats  and gift bags to pet mats and cuddle quilts.  Apparently, as I was informed at the last guild meeting, I've been hoarding some kits for a long time (yikes!).

Yesterday, when I re-stacked my stash I found where they were hiding and thought today - pre-football game - would be a good time to work on them.

Here are the finished gift bags - they hold the supplies that are gifted to a local shelter at Christmas:

The next item was a cuddle quilt.  You get a stack of squares from random fabrics and need to find a way to put them together that's coherent.  I'm a pretty visual learner - not to mention, a perfectionist - so I had to sketch it out first.

Then I could lay it all out so I could re-stack the fabrics for some serious chain piecing.

I'm not fully done yet but I have all the rows put together.  I'll probably finish some time this week.  Well, its off to football!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

February Sugar Block

The block this month is called The Northern Star.  Its paper pieced which I'm not quite sure I'm ready to do again.  You see, about 2 years ago I took a paper-pieced, offset pineapple workshop.  You were supposed to make a wall-hanging.  It had over 400 small paper-pieced bits or fabric.  I wanted to burn it by the time I was done.  Had that wall-hanging been a person, I would have punched it in the throat.  Yup.

Anyhoo, I got through it but have avoided paper-piecing ever since.  I have to admit though, this was not as bad as I thought it would be.

The worst part was this middle small sqaure:

This took a while and I had to rip out the seam joining the two halves together because my first go was off centre.
 But, in the end, not bad.  Here is the finished block.  Although its not perfect, I'm not hating it enough to rip it apart and fix it.

Mission accomplished!

The stash

Today, I had a small mission.  I wanted to make the block for this month's Sugar Block Club but first, I needed to find the room in my office/sewing room.  Okay, lets be honest - its WAY more sewing room and is more of a former office at this point - but I digress.

So I needed to clean up some room on the sewing table so I could cut the fabric I needed.  The other table is already covered in the ugly quilt and the ironing board was busy holding the quilt I'm trying to FMQ so clearly some things needed to get put away.

I'm super ashamed to show this, but here is my fabric stash....AFTER I cleaned it up.  Ugh.

And this is shameful enough, but it goes higher....

And deeper.  Theres a hidden drawer-set back there.

I'm brutal.  It would be one thing if I had the time to dedicate my life to sewing but I have a full time job.  There's enough fabric here to keep me in stitches till I'm 50!