Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five tops quilted in four days!

I finally got busy on the quilting frame, and now I'm on a roll. The Mardi Gras quilt is quilted and bound, so it is finished! I haven't taken another picture of it now that it's done. I now know where MY limit for quilt size is on my frame. The frame company says my frame can handle a 90" quilt. Maybe for some people it can, but I can't do one that large on it. The Mardi Gras quilt was 81" wide before I quilted and washed it. I managed just fine with that width, and I could probably go another 4" without too much trouble. There is NO way I would attempt a 90" quilt on this frame. Even at the width of the Mardi Gras quilt I was having to shove the batting aside to change the bobbin. My Juki has the bobbin compartment on the end, no front access, so I need to get to the entire side of my machine and that takes up a few more inches.

I was impressed that I could quilt a quilt this large on my Juki (9" harp) without turning the quilt around. I chose a small pantograph- 4" because I was concerned about having enough room. I used Warm and Natural batting, which probably helped me out. If I had gone with a high loft polyester I wouldn't have been able to do it. The quilt roll would have taken up too much space.

Here is a pic of the other four tops I quilted, now patiently awaiting binding. I folded them backing side out, but all of the tops have been on the blog already anyway. Three of these are men's shirt quilts, and the other is my Stashbuster Mystery quilt. I have another men's shirt quilt loaded on the frame for tomorrow, and I pieced the backing for the last top I have completed. I want to get the quilt that is loaded quilted, and get the last top loaded, but I am not going to quilt it right away. I have a bunch of company coming in October for DD#3's wedding reception, and I know people are going to be wondering what the huge contraption in my living room is. If I have a quilt on there, I can give a quick demonstration. I keep the tension very loose if I have a quilt on there for a while, then just tighten it when I'm working on it. I haven't had any problems doing that.

Tomorrow's plan? Get up early and get the loaded quilt quilted. Take DD#2 out to lunch for her birthday, and start cleaning the house. DH has a big scooter event planned for Sunday, and we're having a BBQ for 50 people or so after the ride. Preparations for that will take up most of my time for the next few days. I'm not sure how much sewing I'll get done over the next few days, but one sewing machine has partially assembled scrubs on it, the other has the beginnings of two different quilt tops (I love leaders and enders a la Bonnie K Hunter of, and I have four quilts to pin binding on, so if I should find any time, I have plenty to do!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mardi Gras top done!

I just finished putting the last border on the Mardi Gras quilt. You can't tell very well in this photo, but the outside border is a Mardi Gras mask fabric. I am so relieved to have this top done, now if I can just get it quilted! I promised it would be done by next Saturday, which I think is doable as long as I don't lose momentum. I have three quilts I want to get quilted before this one, so I'll be spending lots of time with my quilting frame. The three quilts I am doing first are all lap size, so they'll be quick. I want to practice the pattern I am going to use on the Mardi Gras quilt on the lap quilts.

Counting this quilt top I have 7 quilt tops ready for quilting. Maybe I'll get the quilting frame mojo going and get them all quilted! Wouldn't that be great? The Mardi Gras quilt gets binding first though. It's the only one of these with a deadline.

I just realized the quilt border looks crooked in the photo. It's not, it's just bunched up on the floor right there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Starting Place

It should be obvious to anyone who reads my blog, that I tend to have several projects going at any one time. It can sometimes be confusing to do that, but overall, I think I get more done that way. I always hear people saying, that they will sew, or do whatever, until they get to a good stopping place. I've been thinking about that this week, and I've developed my own little philosophy about that. There are lots of good places to stop, but not all good stopping places are good places to start the next time you start doing the activity again. For example, I would love to stop at the point I make a mistake, and need to rip out my stitches. A good place to stop, but a lousy starting place, who wants to start their day by ripping? I've been so busy lately, that I have really been concentrating on finding good starting places, and that is when I take a break.

Isn't this fabric cute? I saw it in a new quilting book, French Braid Obsession by Jane Hardy Miller. I searched for it online, and couldn't figure out what to search for to find it. I actually contacted the author, and asked if she remembered anything about this fabric. She said it was older and she doubted I would be able to find any, but she was pretty sure it was an Alexander Henry fabric. With that information in hand, I found it and ordered five yards. In case anyone is wondering, it is called Warm Wishes and it is indeed an Alexander Henry fabric. I was very impressed that Jane was so helpful.

DD#3's wedding quilt is off to the long armer. I pieced the backing and it took a whole bolt of fabric! I have one 7 x 11 inch piece left.

I just finished assembling the center of the Mardi Gras quilt. This quilt has a mind of its own. If you looked at my original drawing, you would laugh. I have redesigned the borders multiple times, added sashing, used extra blocks to make it larger, and basically ignored my original plan. This quilt has it's own idea about what it wants to be when it grows up. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the borders on.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wedding quilt top done

After sewing all day, I just finished assembling DD#3's wedding quilt top. This is too large to quilt on my quilting frame, so I am going to do a first for me and send it out for quilting. As soon as I finish this post I am going to decide who I'm sending it to. I've got it narrowed down to a couple of people.

I am very glad decided to do the pieced border. It is not a fancy border, but this quilt needed more color.

For anyone wondering about the pattern, it is called Rose Window and it is in Karen Combs' book, Celtic Pieced Illusions.

Here is a close up of the borders. I LOVE the outside border print. I had originally bought that fabric two years ago, as a possible border for DD#1's wedding quilt. I chose something else for that, that matched her quilt better, and then I considered making a skirt for myself out of this fabric. I'm so glad I never got around to making it, because it is perfect with this quilt.

This is one of those quilts that surprised me. I let DD#3 chose her own fabrics for this quilt, and I was afraid it was going to be dull. Since I love scrap quilts I like pretty busy quilts with lots going on, so to have her choose all these blender fabrics had me a bit worried. As it turns out, I think it's lovely, and it really grew on me as I was making it. I knew it was going to be OK when I started getting the borders together.

I did get the I Spy baby quilt bound, so it is finished. Tomorrow's goal is to piece the back for the wedding quilt, and start assembling the Mardi Gras quilt. I cut the sashing for it today, and got it up on my design wall. Talk about color differences! Switching from darks to brights will definitely let me know I'm working on a different quilt.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hard at work

It's been a few days since I've posted, not because I haven't done anything, but because I've been so busy. I have been working on quilting the past couple of days. I'm taking a little break from garments.

I have the first two quarters of DD#3's wedding quilt assembled. The border fabric we chose has a black background, but the same burgundy and gold in it. It looks a little blah next to the black background of the Celtic knot so I decided it needs another border in between. DD#3 and I could not decide whether to use the burgundy or gold, and then I got this idea to do a pieced border with both colors. I think it will look fantastic, and it is not a complicated border, but when I started to cut out the pieces, I realized it is a LOT of pieces. I need 436 pieces for the border! Being that I am in a time crunch, this may not have been my wisest option, but once I thought of it, I knew I wouldn't settle for anything else. I have a pretty good start on the border.

Since I had multiple projects going at once, I wasn't excited to add another into the mix. That said, the baby quilt I didn't think I needed until November, I found out I needed for the beginning of October. DH and I had talked about it before I went to South Africa, but I had put it out of my mind, thinking it could wait. Thankfully DH had picked an easy pattern for this quilt, so I pieced it as leaders and enders while assembling DD#3's quilt.

Here is the I Spy quilt I made. I like the way the quilt went together, and I'm sure I'll be doing this pattern again. I'll have to save all my notes so I don't have to figure it all out again. I got it quilted this evening, so now this one only needs a binding. I just stitched-in-the-ditch because I didn't want to quilt over the I Spy pictures. I think I might use this layout with a large print instead of an I Spy too. I have some citrus fruit fabric, and I could make this pattern with yellow, orange, and green rail blocks. I think that would make a nice quilt. At least I'm close to one finish!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Online shopping

I am a die hard online shopper. I don't drive, and I usually do not enjoy shopping, so point and click works for me. I do occasionally looks for items in town, but I've had mixed results with that. The quilt shop closest to me I have had a lot of problems with. They have beautiful fabrics, and it is arranged very nicely, but I can never get any help there. There is another quilt shop not too far that has excellent customer service, I've never had better, but they carry very few fabrics that are my style. I do buy gadgets and such there if they have what I'm looking for.

That said, and with my obvious online bias, I thought I'd share some online places from whom I've have had excellent customer service. I ordered my sewing cabinet from but I actually dealt with Arrow cabinets directly. They phoned me to verify my address, let me know about shipping, and gave me their phone number if I had any problems. I got the cabinet in less than a week after ordering, and it was very well packed. I sent off a survey about the product today, and I should get a free craft bag in mail, as well as them extending my warranty for completing the survey.

I also got these free 50 spools of thread for ordering the cabinet.

I just found a new site that gave me excellent service. I was searching for this green and brown fabric specifically, and the place I bought some from originally was out. I did an Internet search looking for this fabric, and stumbled across I ordered this fabric on Labor Day, and I received it yesterday, Thursday. Not bad for crossing the country. I was impressed with this company right after I ordered. I paid via paypal, and I got an email first thing Tuesday morning. Evidently, paypal overcharged my shipping, and they were having a buy four yards - get one yard free sale. I had purchased five yards of this, so they sent me a refund of the overcharge on the shipping, and the fifth yard of fabric. They had me right there, but it gets even better. When I got my package, the fabric was wrapped in tissue paper, along with being tied with a ribbon with a seashell on it. They added a little kit for making a coaster, and a piece of saltwater taffy, which was very yummy by the way. I was very impressed, and plan on shopping with them again.

Why did I buy five yards of this fabric? I think it looks great with my new sewing table, so it will be curtains for the sewing room.

While I am on the subject of online shopping, I thought I'd mention a couple other places I like to shop for fabric, in case anyone is looking for someplace new. is one my new favorite places to shop. They get the orders out quickly, only charge you actual shipping costs, and the best thing? Their fabrics start at $3.50 a yard! Most of the times I have shopped with them they have included a free fat quarter and a hand written note. has some good deals on it. You get free shipping if your order is over $35. One of my favorite buys on there is a scrap bag of remnants (look up remnant in their search box). You get 3 pounds of quilting fabric remnants for $16.98. That equals about 9 yards of fabric. I love scrap quilts best, and buying scrap bags helps give me some variety I wouldn't have chosen on my own. It is fun to see what they send too.

If I am looking for novelty fabrics, I tend to search They have an amazing selection of novelties, and it is nicely divided by topic. They ship quickly, and I can usually find an coupon code if I google search for one.

There are other places I shop online for fabric, but these are a few I don't see mentioned often in my online groups. I have no affiliation with any of them, unless you count being a satisfied customer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sewing Room Improvements

My sewing room, or sewing command center as I jokingly call it, went through a bit of a makeover this weekend.

Here is my new sewing table. I had my choice between green and white, and since the walls in this room are already white, I chose green. The top of the cabinet is still a bit of a mess, as I haven't figured out where I want everything yet. The new-to-me Bernina is in place, all ready to go. So far I've been making four patches with it, just trying to get a feel for the machine.

With some rearranging and a $20 adjustable height table from Big Lots, I am keeping my old sewing machine set up in the corner. I have really been wanting to have two machines up all the time, and now I do! It looks a little cramped, but I finished two scrub tops on this machine in the corner, and it is not bad. My chair has wheels, so I'm just rolling it from one sewing spot to the other as needed.

The down side to this arrangement? I had to break my own rule about storing fabric. I do not want to be a person with fabric in every room of my house, but to fit the second machine in the room, I had to move two tubs of garment fabric out of this room, and into another. Looks like 2010 needs to a a low-buy, high production year, to be able to fit my fabric back into this one room. It's a good reality check for me. I don't feel overwhelmed by the amount of fabric I have, but if my fabric starts to take over the house, I will be. For my fabric to continue to be a joy, it needs to be organized enough to be able to find what I need, and if I am hunting through multiple rooms, it just can't be. Moving the fabric was worth having a second sewing area, and it's a good reminder that I have plenty of fabric.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Christmas in September?

I forgot to show my latest Christmas ornament. We always get a Christmas ornament when we travel, but I got one the last time I was in South Africa, so I hadn't planned on getting one this time. I didn't buy any in SA, but my 7 hour layover in London? Well, this guard just had to come home with me! He is really a keychain, and I picked him even though they had "real" Christmas ornaments available. I just liked him better than the ornaments they had.

Fed Ex stopped at my house today.

They brought me this big box.

What is peaking out from all those packing peanuts?

A Bernina?

The Bernina 1080 I bought on ebay! I am so excited! I've been wanting a Bernina for a long time, and I could not swing the cost of a new one right now. DH said to look for a used one, and here is what I chose. It has several feet with it, the cord and pedal, and the MANUAL! Can you tell I consider getting the manual a huge plus? I haven't sewn on it yet, but I have read most of the manual. I am going to go sew on some scrubs for a while and use sewing on the Bernina as my reward.

Christmas in September is not over yet, though. Fed Ex is supposed to stop at my house again tomorrow, and bring me a sewing cabinet. I have never had a sewing cabinet, so I always end up with back and neck aches from reaching too high. At this point I spend so many hours sewing, it seemed reasonable to get a sewing cabinet. I bought a sewing cabinet from I found a free shipping code, it was on sale for $150 off, and it comes with 50 spools of thread as a special incentive. I am hoping I'll like the cabinet as well as I've liked the customer service so far. The company that makes the cabinet called me, told me when they would ship it, how many boxes it would be in, and gave me a number to call if I had any problems. I'll take some pics when it's all set up.

For anyone who is wondering, the sewing machine was packaged much better than I showed. I eliminated some of the steps of unwrapping bubble wrap and extra cardboard.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Drum roll please......

It's time to pick the winner of the South African fabric!

I know, I said noon....I was a couple minutes late.

But I had all forty names in the hat. Forty people left a comment, but two were deleted. One person left a comment on a different post, but asked to be included, and one person contacted me directly on yahoo. Puts us back up to forty people.

Since DD#2 was over visiting, I asked her to be my lovely assistant, which she graciously agreed to be.

Don't know if you can make out the name, but I took a close up.

Denise is the winner! It must have been all the "I hope I win"s in your comment :c)

Thanks for playing along. Denise, I'll be in contact with you. This was pretty fun, I'll have to plan another giveaway soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lots of stuff going on

Since I never put up any pics of South Africa at all, here are a couple. The first couple are of Kalk Bay.

The fishing boats were lined up, and you can see all the houses going up the hillside. I think this pic would make a good jigsaw puzzle, lots going on.

I've seen that Deadliest Catch TV show a few times, and this reminded me of that.

If you look closely, you can see some of the very famous multi colored beach houses. They are just changing rooms, and they are on several beaches in the Cape Town area. The beach near my daughter has a lot more of them than this. My DSIL#1's parents took me out for the day, and we had a lovely time sight seeing and shopping.

I was looking through my SA pics and decided I liked this one too much to not post it. I was holding Zak and he started started sucking his thumb. I think babies are so cute when they do that. I was a thumb sucker back in the day, and three of my five kids were too. DD#1, Zak's mom, was not a thumb sucker, so we'll see.

See this stack? It is all stuff I am supposed to be working on instead of playing on the computer and blogging or messing around on facebook. I stacked it up hoping that if I saw it all together it might motivate me to get a move on. I think it had the opposite effect. I did get a tiny of bit of sewing done today. All of these are garments; cut out waiting to be sewn. In my defense, I did not take a picture of the two simple baby blankets or the 16 burp cloths I did get finished this weekend. No quilting for me until this pile goes down by at least half.

I found more blue, green, and brown fabrics. Now that I have enough in that color scheme for multiple quilts, I think I'll quilt shopping for that. Well, you know, unless I happen to come along the perfect backing or something ;c)