Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thanks Mem!

My mother just made the twins these cute monkey hats and two sizes of mittens too. Don't they just look precious? I had told my mom we wanted to take the twins up the mountain to play in the snow, but I haven't been able to find mittens their size. She took care of that for us. The blue mittens Mr. L is wearing are the larger of the mittens, the other size fits much better, but he thought the big ones were funny.

Plans are changing rapidly around here. I talked to DS the Elder last night, and he booked me on a flight to Houston for this afternoon, so I can help with the new baby. I am more than happy to go love on a newborn, and the new mommy!

I talked to my mom this morning and I found out she may be having heart surgery the end of next week, so I packed a few extra things just in case I need to fly from Texas to Massachusetts. She needs to have a heart valve replaced, and it is quite urgent. Any prayers on her behalf are much appreciated.

I have been running around trying to get things settled here before I left, so I've been to the grocery store and done laundry today. I didn't have much time to pack, but I just took a trip the beginning of December, so I mostly just grabbed the same stuff. My Kindle is mostly charged, my phone is charged, and I have both chargers. If I forgot something, I'm sure I can get it there. I even stopped at the bank so I'd have more than the three dollars that were in my wallet!

I have to leave for the airport in about 90 minutes, and I think that will give me enough time to rip the rest of my 300 mistakes. I only have about 20 or 30 left to rip. DD#2 has been helping me every evening. I started working on step 7 yesterday, and I have one wing one each of the flying geese units. I won't be sewing until I get back, whenever that is, but I'm hoping to borrow DS the Elder's laptop long enough to check the layout of the mystery quilt tomorrow. I decided not to take my laptop this trip. I used to think laptops were so convenient, but when traveling, they can get pretty heavy. I'm starting to wish I had a tablet. Maybe someday.

If I don't post for a while I am just traveling where needed. I hope all of you have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I should have listened to Lewis Carroll; "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get." I was trying to get caught up on the Orca Bay Mystery quilt, and instead I just fell further behind. I was happily stitching the first wing onto the HST's, and I had chain-stitched about 300 of them, when I realized my wings were flying in the wrong direction!

Here is a pic of one of my mistakes. Sewing one wrong would have been irritating, but look at all of these.

Good thing my girls put a new seam ripper in my stocking for Christmas, because I have lots of frogging to do, rippit, rippit.

I decided to start sewing the few I hadn't messed up this morning, before I faced all of that ripping. Miss S was super clingy to her Nana today, so I decided she could get her first quilting lesson. A few times I let her choose which triangle we would add on, but at 11 months her attention span only allowed for a few of those. She did love watching the sewing machine go, and was good about not putting her fingers near the needle. She was playing with my cell phone, and that helped keep her hands busy too. I actually managed to sew about three dozen with her on my lap, and I thought that was a great first time at the sewing machine.

I sewed up the non messed up ones, unsewed some mistakes, then sewed those up too. I have 150 keepers now, so I am progressing.

I just had to see what the next step was going to look like, so I pieced a couple from step 6. I can't wait until tomorrow when step 7 comes out.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A New Granddaughter!

Some families happen by birth, either you are born into it, or they are born into yours. Some families happen by legal means, adoption or marriage. Other families are created by a special blessing from God, not blood ties or legal ties, but tied as family none the less.

Here is my extra blessing this Christmas season, a new granddaughter, Evangeline. She was born December 26th, weighed 6 pounds 1 oz, and was 19 inches long. She was born at 36 weeks, so she was actually a pretty good size. Mama and baby are doing well, wish I lived closer so I could give them both hugs. Evangeline already has her quilt from Nana, ready to give her the hugs I can't yet.

On a quilty note, I haven't sewn on the mystery quilt at all, though that is the plan for today. I did, however, quilt the last quilt from my last pin-basting spree! I think that quilt has been pin-basted for four months now, and has been moved all over during the house rearrange. I feel better having it quilted, even if it's not bound. I have a stack a baby quilts ready to be pin-basted, with their backings and everything. When I am caught up with the mystery quilt, I think another big pin-basting spree is called for, and I will then go on a quilting spree, followed by a binding spree. Starting 2012 with a bunch of finishes has to be a good thing, right?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Miss S had a fun first Christmas. She likes her shopping cart OK, and her first doll a LOT! She started saying doll within just a few minutes of receiving it.

Mr. L got a pirate ship he can ride, and has already figured out how to push it along with his feet.

I must admit, Christmas is my favorite holiday. It's a day to celebrate the birth of my Savior, spend time with family and friends, and eat all kinds of goodies. When my kids were little, we made gingerbread houses, and I decorated the house a lot more than I usually do now. Maybe next year the twins will be big enough to decorate some little gingerbread houses!

We do all of our celebrating on Christmas Eve, and last night was a lot of fun. I ended up needing 12 stockings, so we ended up purchasing one, but I think I'll make more for next year, since we are always picking up extra people for holidays. I hate to see anyone not have someplace to go for any holiday.

Today is a quiet day. DH is working, hoping no one will need to come to the emergency room today, but glad to be there to help if they do. I am thinking I will watch a couple movies, eat some yummy leftovers, and maybe play a little in my sewing room. I got some new fabric in my stocking, and a nice comfy chair for my second sewing cabinet.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas too!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's No Mystery

I have been working frantically in my sewing room since Monday. Working on the mystery quilt maybe? No, not a stitch on that all week. Christmas presents? No. I have been working on this...

The little guy I babysit, Seth, just got a new baby sister, Autumn. I have been debating what to do about a quilt for Autumn since I found out it was a girl. I considered just quilting a top I have done, because it would be quick. I went through my completed baby quilt tops, and none of them seemed right. I thought about making a quilt from scratch, but I never seemed to have enough time, and I couldn't decide on a pattern.

When Autumn was born last week, and they texted me some photos of her, this quilt design popped into my head. I was so excited and I wanted to start on it right away, but I knew if I started this quilt before I finished the Christmas stockings, that the stockings would get put aside yet again, and probably not be finished on time.

I made myself finish the stockings, which I did on Sunday I believe. Monday I cut the 700 triangles for the mystery quilt step 5, and I also cut out the four Happy Hour blocks from Bonnie Hunter's Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker magazine. I also traced all the applique shapes I needed onto the paper side of fusible webbing. I love to use my cookie cutters for quilting stencils and applique shapes!

On Tuesday I sewed up the four Happy Hour blocks, chose the fabrics for the appliques, ironed on the fusible and cut out all the shapes. Right before bed I cut the white squares (which is a white tone on tone with leaves on it) and fused the leaves and letters where I wanted them.

Wednesday- machine satin stitched all 28 appliques onto the main fabrics, which required lots and lots of rethreading for all of the different colors.

Today is Thursday, and I got the quilt assembled with borders by noon. I pieced the batting and backing, pin-basted it, quilted it, bound it, washed it, and it's in the dryer now. I am TIRED!

Tomorrow I will not be sewing. Not at all. None. We will be celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, and I will spend tomorrow cooking a few things ahead of time, playing with the twins, and likely doing laundry since I do laundry every day. If I have any time in the sewing room in the next two days, I will likely cut out the pieces I need for step 6 of the mystery quilt, since I've already seen it because Bonnie put it up early. On Christmas Day I will probably get some sewing time, since DH is working and all of our celebrating will be over. I think I can probably get caught up on the mystery quilt next week, even if I take the whole weekend off. I loved all the time in my sewing room, and I feel so happy to have finished the stockings, and made Autumn a quilt in record time!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Step 5 Progress

I must admit, I haven't sewn a stitch on Step 5, but I am happy with my progress anyway. Getting all of those stockings finished yesterday still has me happy!

I was trimming the step 4 string blocks, and I couldn't resist playing around with them. I don't know what Bonnie has planned, but a block like this may need to be played with later on, lots of movement in it!

I had to switch to a bigger pan to hold all of my mystery quilt parts. I have all the Step 4 blocks trimmed now :-)

I did get all 700 of the triangles we need for step 5 cut today. Brown is my neutral, and the yellow/gold is my black, so I needed gold triangles. I should have some time to start sewing these tomorrow. I was using several fat quarters to add some variety in my golds, and this is the last bits of several of my fat quarters. If we need any more of this color, I'm either going to have to dig deeper in my stash, go buy a few more fat quarters, or do the next step that calls for this color with a limited variety. If we need gold strips, I may be able to come up with enough in my strips drawers, depending on which size we need.

I have a baby quilt I am going to try to make in just a few days. I'm just making a big nine patch with five appliqued squares and for my four squares I decided to use a block from Bonnie's Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker magazine. I'm using the Happy Hour block, which someday I would like to use to make a whole quilt. I cut out the four Happy Hour blocks when I was finished cutting all those triangles.

To check how other quilters are progressing on their Orca Bay Mystery Quilts, go here

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care

I couldn't resist hanging some of the stockings I made at the fireplace for this photo, even though I had to take them down right after I took the photo so the twins wouldn't grab them. The twins are using anything and everything to stand up these days, whether or not it's steady.

This photo shows only seven of the stockings, but I actually made 11, and they are all finished! No using ziploc bags as stockings this year because the stockings aren't finished :-)

Since I finished the stockings a little faster than I thought I would, I decided to work on trimming up a few of the green string blocks for the Orca Bay Mystery. I cut all the squares in half this morning, and my hands were very numb when I finished. I started trimming tonight, when I could feel my hands a bit. (numbness is not due to the cutting, but is aggravated by it)

I knew I only had a limited time to cut, since the numbness in my hands is getting so much worse. I tried to come up with a way to make the most of my cutting time, and I came up with this technique. I put my Gypsy Gripper on my Companion Angle ruler, to help me hold onto it. I tilted the string triangle at an angle, and I could cut the two sides in one fairly constant motion. I was standing at my workbench while cutting, if I had been sitting or working on something at a bad height, I don't think I could have trimmed them with the same motion.

Here is a trimmed triangle, and the cut off section, which I threw away guilt free. You have to draw the line somewhere on saving scraps, and for me, anything trimmed off a string block or crumb block is trash. I left the paper on for all of the trimming, and I'll take it off sometime this week, when one of the kids talks me into watching a movie.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Close, But Not Quite

I was hoping to get all my green string blocks sewn before step 5 of the mystery quilt came out. I missed it by just a few hours! The clue came out this morning, and I sewed the last of the string blocks during Mr. S's nap today. I haven't trimmed any of these string blocks, I'll have to catch up on that part later, probably after Christmas.

Here is my pile of string blocks. You can just see a bit of the yellow/gold 2" strips I pulled for step 5. I figured I'd cut up some strips from my strip drawers, then go into the fabrics I pulled. Step 5 is the first clue I started to get confused on colors. When I saw she pulled black strips, I started thinking brown, but I'm glad I caught it before I did anything. Brown is my background color, and the yellow/golds are my black.

I finished sewing strings on the last two stockings tonight. Since I know I won't be doing strings for step 5, I'll put the seam guide back on the sewing machine before I start sewing that step, but I have no idea when that will be. If I get all the triangles cut before step 6 comes out, I'll be happy. It's a busy, busy week coming up.

I thought I was getting a handle on holiday preparations, but a couple of new things got thrown into the mix. I made a bunch of the cookies I usually make at Christmas in November when everyone was here. Well, DS the Younger said I need to make more cookies for Christmas. Since I have no idea if he'll be home next Christmas or not, with him going into the Army, I now have on my list of things to do -make more cookies.

Mr. S got a new baby sister today, and as of yet I have not made her a quilt. Of course, now I've seen pics of her, and a quilt pattern popped in my head as soon as I saw her. I have everything to make it. Well, everything except the time of course. I think I could probably get it done pretty quickly. I wanted to start it this evening, but I made myself work on the stockings instead. I won't be babysitting Mr. S for a while now, since his parents are on leave with the new baby.

Tomorrow I need to make some cookies and a savory something for DH to take to a scooter club party. That is much trickier than it sounds. He'll be leaving the house in the afternoon, and he has to carry everything on his scooter. He is going to be in the Parade of Lights in downtown Tucson tomorrow night, riding the scooter, and the party will be after that. How's that for a challenge? I have to make something that can be packed on a scooter, stay at outside temps for several hours, and still be great for a party without getting crushed or anything?

I have to decide what to work on first as far as sewing goes. I WANT to work on the baby quilt, while it's fresh in my mind. I NEED to work on stockings, and I'd LIKE to get caught up on the Orca Bay Mystery. Right now I'm leaning towards trying to finish up the stockings first, so that is completely off my plate, and not thrown off until next year, again. I started these stockings last year, they need to be DONE!

On the up side, the Christmas cards are all mailed, I am almost done Christmas shopping, most of the gifts are wrapped, and the packages that needed to mailed are on their way! Several things are crossed off on my to do list, and that makes me happy :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Working on Step 4

I am working on Step 4 of the Orca Bay Mystery slowly, but surely. I had hoped to get a lot of sewing done this past weekend, but I mostly helped take care of fussy babies with runny noses, as well as work on some Christmas preparations.

Here are some of each of my four steps together. I like the way the colors are playing together. The greens I pulled to use for the mystery were a dark pine kind of green, but I already had a bunch of green strings. I decided to use both, and I cut some 1 1/2" strips from the pine greens and added them to my green strings. I decided not to use the lime green strings or the lightest greens either. I'm hoping with the addition of the pine green strips to my selection of strings it will help them read darker as a whole. I had considered cutting a bunch of new strips to use for the string blocks, but that doesn't help me use my green strings, and I know the variety will look good in the quilt, even if it reads lighter than my original plan.

I haven't trimmed any of the Step 4 string blocks yet, but 23 are done, and about that many more have at least some strings sewn on them. If I get all the strings blocks done by Friday I will be thrilled, even if I haven't trimmed any of them. I can trim them later, next week should be less busy than this week.

I babysit quite a bit this week, both for the grandtwins and my little guy. The little guy I watch is getting a baby sister later this week, so I may have him a bit while his Daddy is visiting his Mama is in the hospital. I had him all day today, and I'll have him tomorrow as well. He is getting great big brother practice by interacting with the twins.

If you want to see how other people are progressing on the mystery quilt, go here

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quilting with Phone Books

I don't use phone books for looking up phone numbers. That is what the internet is for! Nevertheless, no matter how many times I say I don't use phone books, four different companies leave one on my front doorstep every year. Four phone books a year! What a waste of trees! A couple of years ago, I started using phone book pages for foundations for string blocks. Bonnie Hunter from quiltville suggested it, and I've been doing it ever since. I don't make enough string blocks to use four phone books a year, so most of them still go straight into recycling. I had four phone books in the house this morning, saved for quilting. Now I have two phone books left, and two of them are cut into foundations, in the sizes I tend to make string blocks.

These are the sizes of string blocks I make most often, 3 1/2", 4 1/2", 6 1/2", and 8 1/2". I happily cut two of the phone books up into these sizes, knowing I would use them. I still had a few of these sizes left from my last phone book cutting spree. I didn't have to cut any 3 1/2" foundations for step 2 of the Orca Bay Mystery quilt, because I had enough already. I use an old style guillotine paper cutter to cut up my phone books. I can cut 10-15 pages at a time, and I finished cutting two huge phone books up in less than two hours. It would have only taken one, but the grandtwins were fussy babies today and needed lots of love.

I'm ready to start on step 4 of the mystery quilt tomorrow. I only cut enough 5 1/2" phone book paper squares for this step, as it is a size I don't normally use. If we end up needing more, I still have two more phone books! I am using green strings for the mystery quilt, but my purple strings are out for the next stocking I need to make. I was hoping I'd be done by now, the last two stockings as far as sewing on the strings were concerned, but I didn't sew near as much as I had hoped this week. I was trying to catch up on Christmas activities this week, and I had a birthday celebration for DS the Younger to do as well. At least I finished step 3 before step 4 came out :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Orca Bay Mystery Step 3 Progress

It's been a busy, busy week! I am so glad Bonnie is breaking the mystery into smaller pieces this year. It is perfect for my hectic life!

Here are the step 3 units I have finished. These are in piles of 20, so 180 are done.

Here is the pile on my ironing board waiting to be pressed. These are in piles of 10, so 90 are ready for pressing.

...and here are the rest of step 3 HST's, either in the chain or just a few waiting to be sewn.

To see where a bunch of other people are at in the mystery, you can look here
I must admit, I didn't follow Bonnie's cutting directions this time. I have lots of 2" strips I could have looked through, but I decided to use my Accuquilt GO! cutter for these units since I have the correct die. I had dug out fabrics for this mystery, so I might as well use those. I cut one 3" strip from every brown and gold fabric I pulled, and I was only one strip short as it turned out, so I cut one extra from the golds. The Go! die cuts 6- 2" HST's (1 1/2" finished) at a time, but you can layer the fabric 6 layers deep. Since I was cutting with the brown and gold right sides together, ready to feed into the sewing machine, I could get three sets of six HST's cut in one pass. I ran the die through 20 times, and I have 360 HST's cut perfectly, with the dog ears already cut off! I only need 350 HST's so I have a few extra, that will end up in something sooner or later.

I'm sure there are people thinking I didn't save any time since I had to cut strips to go into the Go! cutter, but honestly, there is nothing like perfectly cut HST's with no trimming needed. I have a lot of numbness in my hands, and cutting at an angle is hard for me. Cutting strips is easy with my June Tailor Shape Cut, so for me this was perfect.

I got the front and back of DH's stocking done. He wanted burgundy and gray, but I have so few gray strings, he got two burgundy to every one gray. I just have two more stockings to work on before I start assembling them all.

DH and I took a trip to Houston last week. It was just a quick trip, Wednesday-Saturday. We got to spend some quality time with DS the Elder, and got to meet his girlfriend, possible future DIL?, time will tell. We really liked her, and she is interesting in sewing! Score!

While we were in Houston, we had quite a bit of texting going back and forth with DS the Younger. On Thursday, he joined the US Army! He won't ship out until May, but boy, is that a serious "Mom moment" when the youngest joins the military. DH was in the Army for 10 years, my dad was Army, my brother Navy, DH's dad retired from the Air Force and I have a nephew currently in the Air Force, and there are several other military people in the family. Obviously, we are a pro-military family. This is the first time I've had one of my kids join though, and I'm sure I'll cry when he leaves.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Step 2 Orca Bay Mystery

I just love making string blocks! I like everything about it. I get to use something that might otherwise be thrown away and I find sewing them very relaxing. I normally don't like trimming, but on string blocks I do because that's when you get to see what the block really looks like. I even like pulling off the paper on the back. I use phone book pages to piece my string blocks on and the paper comes off easily, and I find it really fun to do while watching a movie or something. I don't watch a lot of TV so it is like a guilty pleasure to watch a movie or TV show while pulling off the paper on string blocks.

Here are some of my string blocks from step 2. They are all finished and in that pile to the right in the photo. I didn't have enough rust strings, so I ended up using all kinds of oranges except for the light peaches. I'm hoping they still read as a dark orange-rust.Link
You can see several other quilter's progress on the mystery quilt here

I found some time to work on my string Christmas stockings. I started out just having everyone pick a color, but there are too many of us to be able to get away with that. These are the red, orange, and Kansas City Chiefs red and gold stockings. I am working on DH's stocking now, he picked a burgundy/gray combo which is his favorite color combination. After I get DH's done, I still have to make a purple stocking and mine which will be selvages. I am sewing the strings directly to Warm and Natural batting. When I have all the stockings done as far as the strings go, I will layer them with some muslin, use the "Magic Stocking" method and instead of adding a cuff on the top, I am just planning on using double fold bias tape along the top edges. I have several stockings I worked on last year ready to go, and I am hoping I can get the whole stack finished in a couple long sewing days. I'd like to make a few extra stockings, because the way our family keeps growing, I know I'll end up needing more ;-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Feeling a Little Green...

I have a nasty cold that is making me feel a bit green.

I do not look near as good in green as Mr. L does. (look at that tongue, isn't this a great pic?)

Hopefully I will be feeling better soon.

But I still won't bee as cute as Miss S.

Now that I have shamelessly shown off my grandtwins, I will go back to quilty things.

Here are all of step one hour glass units for the Orca Bay Mystery. Well, I actually haven't counted them, but I cut a few extra pairs so I seriously doubt I am short. I should have a couple units extra. I trimmed all the dog ears off while watching A Christmas Carol with DD#2 last night.

Clue number two came out today, and I got a three of these units done, but I am almost done several more. I think Bonnie said to make 72 of them, so now just 69 to go.

Since I was working with orange strings, and I needed to make an orange stocking for Mr. L, I mostly worked on the stocking front and back, and made a couple string blocks as leaders/enders for the stocking.

I am hoping to get most of the step 2 string blocks pieced this weekend. I'm not going to worry about trimming them, I just want them pieced. I babysit Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday DH and I are supposed to fly to Houston to see DS the Elder. If I can get all of the string blocks pieced, I could bring a small cutting mat, a rotary cutter, my 3 1/2" square ruler, and the blocks to Houston with me and trim the blocks in our hotel room. We are supposed to come home Saturday, so I won't be starting on clue 3 right away. I am really going to try to have steps one and two finished by then. These little string blocks work up really fast, so I think I should be able to finish them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Baker's Dozen

I am done with my shirt cutting spree! All my new containers are neatly put away with freshly cut strips just waiting patiently for their turn to play.

Here is what I've gotten done on step one of the Orca Bay Mystery- a baker's dozen of hourglass blocks. I am basically doing a photo negative of Bonnie's quilt, much like I did with RRCB. I am putting darks where she has lights and lighter (none of my colors are very light this time) colors where she has dark, so the brown is my neutral, and the yellow-golds are my black.

Here are my pairs just waiting to be made into whole units. I have all of the triangles sewn into pairs, so I am really not too far from being done step one. Each of these piles are the same within the pile, and I am mixing them up as I sew them into units. I like to have lots of variety in my units. I will trim all the dog ears while watching a movie or something when I am finished all of the units.

As I was going through pics from DD#1's visit, I saw this one and I think it's my favorite. Mr. Z was pretending to drive Gramps (my DH) around. They were having a blast together! DH had to bring the Red Rocket back to it's owner today, so no more playing with that. He'll have to play with his own scooters now, but I think this has given him the itch to get a sidecar.

Today I didn't do anything in the sewing room besides take the photos in this post. Today was an errand day, and I'm just not feeling that great, so no energy to do anything besides the minimum.

Tomorrow is another day with some errands, we're going to buy the twins their first shoes! They are crawling now and pulling up on things. It is too cool for them to be barefoot, but they slide too much in their socks, even the gripper socks don't grip enough since our floors are tile. I guess it's time for shoes to help them stop sliding and hopefully, eliminate some of the falls, though some are inevitable at this stage. Maybe I will get some sewing done tomorrow.

Thanksgiving is done at our house. DH is working on Thanksgiving anyway. Aren't you glad Emergency Rooms aren't closed on holidays? I think the girls and I are going to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade then go see the new Muppet movie on Thursday. This will be the first Thanksgiving I haven't cooked in many, many years.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Waylaid By a Completely Different Project!

I was so excited to start the Orca Bay Mystery! I got up Friday morning, put on my comfy clothes and my quilting happy socks, ran downstairs to DH's computer where the printer is and printed out the intro and step one.

Ah the fun I would have, making the first units. I really enjoy making that particular unit, so I was all set to go. I decided to dig through my 1 1/2" strip drawers to see if I had any strips in the correct colors. I did, so I got those out and set them on the cutting table. I also dug out strips in the colors I will be doing string blocks in, since I know I don't have enough string stash in those colors. I knew I had a few more men's shirt in my shirt stash that were the right colors, so I got out that stash and started to go through it looking for fabrics in my colors for the mystery quilt.

THAT'S WHEN IT HAPPENED! I was looking through all my shirts that I've been collecting, and they took over! Petting all that fabric got to me, and I glanced up at the plastic containers I bought a few weeks ago to put strips of my shirt fabrics in after they are cut and sorted by size. The containers were all empty, and looking all forlorn, and the shirts were so soft, temporary insanity was here! It started innocently enough, and I decided to separate out the collar and cuff pieces which I use for strings. One container for light strings, one for dark, this won't take long at all... Since I am going to be cutting for the mystery quilt anyway, maybe I should keep out one piece of each shirt, and I can just cut the shirt pieces into strips little at a time....Yeah, that's a good idea...a few shirt fronts, maybe a sleeve here and there, just one piece from each shirt, it will be so nice to start pre-cutting for some of many Bonnie quilts I'd like to make from shirts...

That was yesterday morning, and I have yet to cut any more strips for the mystery quilt :-(

I have however, cut lots of strips from shirts. 3 1/2", 2 1/2", 2", and 1 1/2" strips, divided by light and dark. When I took this photo this evening, I was almost done with the dark shirt pieces.

Here are the string containers I started with, it all seemed so quick and easy at first, who knew it would take so long?

Lest you think I got no cutting done on the mystery quilt, here are 230 pairs for step one. I only took the time to cut up the strips from my strip drawers, I haven't cut any strips from the fabrics I pulled for the mystery. I haven't sewn a stitch on my mystery quilt yet, but I think that tomorrow, I should be able to finish cutting those shirt pieces I took out, and then I can start the mystery quilt in earnest.

I didn't work on what I planned on working on, but the up side is I have the cutting started for several other projects I want to make. It's all good, right?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Do You Shelve Your Rusts?

I bought a few men's shirts to use in the Orca Bay Mystery quilt by Bonnie K. Hunter at which starts on Friday. I finished cutting those up this evening. I decided I would like a few more fat quarters of gold and rust, so I went to Joanns to look for some. I looked first at the orange fat quarters, and I only found one I thought would work. I then picked up a few gold fat quarters since the yellows were right next to the oranges. I kept looking and found all the rusts in with the browns. I tend to shelve my rusts with the oranges, though I do have a few darker ones with the browns.

This brought up an interesting quandary. If I use rust and brown will there be enough contrast between them? I had decided to use brown as my background color, and green, rust, and gold as my colors. I finally dug out some fabrics tonight, and this is what I have so far.

The top row shows my browns, I eliminated the most of the lighter browns, and any orange-y browns. The middle row shows my golds and "rusts" which after I eliminated the browner ones, are leaning towards burnt orange. I think I will still eliminate the "rust" on the far right, it is blending in with browns too much. On the bottom I have my greens, I'm going for more of an evergreen feel in my greens.

All of these were pulled from my men's shirt stash or my less than one yard pieces. I can certainly come up with some more variety by looking at my yardage.

On the bottom left of the photo, you can see a couple of my bags of strings. The bottom bag has all green strings, the top bag has browns, yellows, and oranges all mixed together. Obviously I am rather short on those colors, so whichever color I choose for the strings will have to be supplemented. I made an autumn colored string quilt the end of last year, and I pretty much used all of my fall-colored strings up on that. I made a green string quilt last year too, but that was the beginning of last year, so I've had more time to replace them. I don't like to cut strings on purpose, I just have them as by-products of squaring up my fabric, so I'm hoping I can just add enough from my 1 1/2" and 2" strip drawers to work. I normally only have strings narrower than 1 1/2", but this time I'll be using what I have on hand. I may cut some 2 1/2" strips in half, and use those for strings too. I'll just have to see.

Now I need to decide which color to use for which of Bonnie's colors. Who knows, tomorrow I may rethink it all and decide to use cream as my background after all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It Took So Much More Than a Village!

Have you ever heard the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child" ? Well, DD#1 and her family just finished visiting us from South Africa, and I know it took far more than a village for that trip to occur. Three round-trip plane tickets from South Africa to the USA are not cheap, and none of us could afford them. With the help of people on both sides of the ocean chipping in, the plane tickets were purchased.

Since we already have six people in the house, adding three more was going to make things very crowded. Some friends lent us a 30' RV and parked it in our backyard for their stay, so they could have their own space.

Another friend babysat so we could go see a show, yet another friend lent DH her scooter with a sidecar to take Mr. Z for scooter rides. Mr. Z loves his motah bikes and scootahs! Their trip wouldn't have happened at all without help from a bunch of great people, and it was made much better by others willing to lend their time, talents and possessions. Whenever you get discouraged about the way the world is going, remember there are still great people out there, they just don't make the news.

Here are DSIL, Mr. Z, and DD#1 exploring the cave at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.

Mr. Z got to have his first experience with snow up on Mt Lemmon.

Mr Z tried out a model of desert tortoise shell.

Here is their whole family playing in the snow! DSIL said it was his first real snowball fight, though he had seen snow before.

This was Mr. Z's favorite activity by far! He loved going in the scooter for rides!

Sorry the pics are out of order. DH put all of the photos on his computer, and then erased them. His computer doesn't act the same as mine when blogging, and I couldn't switch the order of pics.

After I recover from all the fun and visiting, I'll be anxious to start the mystery quilt on Friday!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


So much is happening right now, lots to looks forward to! I got a few things done in the sewing room today, made some more coasters, sewed on a button, sewed on a patch, made the parts of DD#3's costume that she needed, and ironed a few things as well as put a few things away. I am doing housework in between everything else.

Today some wonderful people dropped off their RV so DD#1 and her family can stay in it while they are visiting. It was so great of them to lend to it to us, and I know DD#1's family will really appreciate a bit of privacy. We could have squeezed them in the house, but not without relocating people, and this will work better for everyone. Two more days until they are here!

Bonnie K Hunter of Quiltville will be starting a new mystery soon. I love Bonnie's mystery quilts, and I'm going to try to do it this year too. The above fabric is my inspiration for color choices. I have a bunch of this fabric, and I love it, it's in colors I love and I have a real thing for bears. She's not posting fabric requirements until November 1st, but I will be choosing colors out of this fabric, and using it for the backing. It is a pretty large scale print, so I don't know that borders would work out of this, but I will definitely have a matching backing if I choose it first.

Bonnie leaked the info that we will need three colors plus a background. I am leaning towards a cream background with brown, green, and rust as my colors. I'd like to find a place for the gold in this fabric to play a part somewhere. If we need a constant fabric, I may buy that one piece, if I can find a rust with a gold design on it. Otherwise this quilt will be completely from stash. I don't have a lot of variety in rusts, but I do have some. I have plenty of browns and greens. I have even fewer golds than rusts, which is one reason I'm not going brown, green, gold. I actually thought of using brown as my background, and gold, green, and rust as my main colors. Since I have no idea how much background there will be, I was thinking the quilt may end up too dark that way. I really like all of these colors, so I may keep changing my mind. The first clue comes out November 18th, so I have time to decide. DD#1 leaves on the 14th, so I have a couple of days to pull fabrics after she leaves, before the first clue.

I have so much to look forward to. All of my kids should be together for the first time in 4 1/2 years. DH will finally get to see our oldest grandson, and lots of other people will be visiting as well. If I don't post again until after DD#1's visit, don't worry, I'll just be busy enjoying my family :-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Actually Sewed Something!

I thought I would spend part of yesterday working on DD#3's costume, but that didn't happen. She was gone most of the day, and I had forgotten to take measurements before she left. Today I babysat for 10 hours, but, during the short one hour nap my little guy took, I sewed!

I have been wanting some coasters for my living room, and I made seven start to finish in that one hour. Usually Mr. S naps longer, but we had a plumber here, and cleaning out the pipes was noisy, so neither Mr. S nor the grandtwins slept very long today. These coasters were so easy, I still got 7 made, and I've never made one before.

Directions for making these can be found here

I've seen these made a couple different ways, with squares and triangles, and I even saw a youtube video where someone used this same method to make potholders, by adding batting to it. I've seen directions using charm packs, and several different sized squares.

I used some 5 inch squares I had cut from scraps. I know some people don't like pre-cutting fabric into certain sizes, but I never would have been able to make seven of these in an hour if I didn't have a bunch of squares already cut. I never buy pre-cut fabrics, I just make my own. Well, actually I do buy fat quarters, so if you consider those pre-cuts, I do buy some.

I'd like to get a few more coasters made tomorrow. We'll see how that goes. I am not a fastidious housekeeper by any stretch of the imagination. You don't have to take your shoes off at the door, you can eat in my living room, my furniture is far from new. One of my only picky things is not leaving water rings on my wood furniture. Hopefully the coasters will keep more damage from being done.

The pile of stuff in the guest room is much smaller now. (Pic was in my last post) It is basically down to scraps and garment fabric. Almost everything else is put away. I didn't sew yesterday, but I did work in the sewing room. I got much more done in the sewing room than I thought I would before DD#1's visit.

I am anxious to see everyone! Only four more days until DD#1, DSIL, and Mr. Z (GS#1) get here, and then other company will be coming and going over the next two weeks to see them. We will be celebrating Thanksgiving early, and DH and I spent some time counting up who is likely to come, and we came up with 38 people. I will rarely have less than 10 people for a meal for the entire two weeks. Needless to say, sewing during that time is highly unlikely :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Done Folding

I am finally done with folding fabric, for now anyway! I've used almost all of the minibolt forms DH cut for me, and when I was almost to the bottom of the stack, look what I found!

He had written me a note on one of the boards after he cut them for me, "I love you!" He is a keeper for sure! He hadn't said a word about the note, he just waited until I found it. It was actually DD#3 who saw it first. It was her saying, "Awwww", that made me look.

Here is what I need to tackle tomorrow. I need to get all of these bolts sitting on top of my sewing cabinets onto the shelves. I think they will all fit, but if they don't I'll just stick whatever won't fit on top of the shelves for now. I folded more than I had originally planned on. I got all of the scrub fabrics folded, and about half of those are already put away. I realized I would have extra room, so I dug out fabrics that were put aside elsewhere, and got everything over 2 yards folded as well, as well as some of the smaller pieces. I have a small stack of 100% cottons still in a cabinet in the living room, but mostly I've emptied it out.

Here is the stack of sewing stuff still in the little guest room. A month ago this whole room was filled to the brim, so I really have made a lot of progress. The gray totes contain garment fabrics, and this is where they will stay for a while. The milk crate on top of the gray totes contains my Christmas stocking project, so hopefully that crate will be empty before Christmas. The fabric to the left of the blue milk crate is also garment fabric. The fabric stacked to the right of the gray totes are my 60" poly/cottons, which I will probably use up in quilt backs for donation quilts. I will probably move it to the cabinet I just emptied in the living room for now.

The white trash bags hold fabrics for specific projects, and a few UFOs. The white bucket has strings in it, mostly blue, but a few other colors got mixed in in the move. There is an EMPTY under-the-bed container on top of that bucket.

The laundry basket, clear trash bag, and green milk crate all have scraps in them that need to be cut up into usable sized pieces. When I said I was way behind in cutting up scraps, I wasn't kidding! Even with my GO! cutter, it's going to take a while to tame all of those scraps, but when I do get going on that, I will have lots of pieces to play with.

Today we took the grandtwins to the zoo for the first time. They noticed the animals if they were moving, but not if they were still. Miss S cried when the giraffe started walking towards her. Both the twins watched the tiger pacing back and forth right in front of them, and I think they just figured it was just a bigger dog than we have at home, because they weren't at all worried about it. We bought a zoo pass, so we can take them regularly, and I'll enjoy seeing how the twins will change their reactions to the animals as they get older. We tried to bring our kids to the zoo often when they were young.

I'm still getting ready for DD#1 and her family to come next week. I've gotten a few meals made and in the freezer, and I've been making loose plans for what will happen when. I'd like to get some cookies baked, and some grocery lists made. A lot of the meals I have planned need last minute items from the store, so if I make the lists now, maybe I won't be forgetting things later.

DD#3 needs me to help her with a costume, not for Halloween but for a Comicon (comic convention) The convention is during the time DD#2 will be here, so I either get that done this week, or I don't get it done at all, and she will have to come up with something else. If I can get all that fabric put away tomorrow, I might be able to get the costume done. I'm babysitting Friday, Monday, and Tuesday, and DD#2 and family get here Tuesday night, so in reality, the only days I have to work on the costume are Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I have other things to get done all of those days, so we'll see. Tomorrow is out, I'll be putting away fabric and cleaning up the kitchen. Always so much to do, and not everything can get done, so I have to pick and choose what I will work on. I'm not stressing about any of it right now, I'll get done what I can, and whatever I can't do, can wait or isn't that vital.