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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flinging, Folding, and Finding

I know I haven't posted much lately, but honestly, I just haven't been sewing. The house rearrange is almost complete, just the last "what do we do with this?" items to figure out. My sewing room is functional but not completed. I still have a pile of stuff to go through in the small room next to the sewing room. The fact is, I probably won't be done with that pile for a long time. Some of that pile can be put away as soon as I get the fabric folded on mini-bolts. Some of that pile may end up tossed, and some of it will just sit for a while so I can figure out what I want to do with it.

As I've been moving things, I have been trying to go through as much as possible. We have donated several loads of stuff to thrift stores, and thrown out things that cannot be used by us or anyone else. I came across two boxes of things that belonged to DH's great-aunt. She passed away earlier this year at 104. I have been given things from her several times over the years, and I use what I can and pass on what I can't. Sometimes going though things from someone so much older that I am is really fun. I have had some great vintage fabrics in excellent condition in a few boxes I've gotten from her, and some other things that sadly had dry-rotted. I found a few fun things in these last two boxes, and I thought I would show you.

Here is an eyelet setting punch still in the original box. This thing is HEAVY! I have a new eyelet punch and it is about the same size, but maybe half the weight. Of course, this old one was actually made in the USA :-)

Here are some paper fasteners in the original box, also made in the USA. I had never seen paper fasteners like this before. The box is almost full. I think the paper box is very cool looking.

I found some string blocks in the boxes too. Some are assembled, but I may end up taking them apart. I have no idea when these blocks were made, almost every kind of fabric is in these, double knits, polyesters of every kind, satins, and silks. The only cotton I saw was the muslin foundations. The blocks that are sewn together have HUGE seam allowances, I'm talking like 1" seams. As I was looking at the blocks, I noticed several places the fabrics don't cover the foundation piece. I think I might take the assembled blocks apart, and cut all the blocks down to a size where the foundations will be completely covered, then reassemble them, trying to use all the blocks. I might not do that, but that is my plan right now. I'd like to keep as much as the original work as possible, but I don't want it to just fall apart if I keep areas that are not sewn well.

These string blocks are so different than mine. The most obvious difference is the fabric choice, I use 100% cotton. I never use muslin for foundations for string blocks, I use paper and tear it away. I don't like the added thickness of fabric foundations. The biggest difference visually is that my strings are much narrower. If I can cut a 1 1/2" strip, I do, so all of my strings are narrower than that, or possibly wider at one end, and just too wonky to cut a strip.

I love these old string blocks for a completely different reason. DH's great-aunt was using what she had, and trying to make something pretty from her scraps. She didn't do it the way I do, but that is fine. I'd like to finish this project that she never had a chance to finish.

This pile here? This is what I'll be working on tomorrow. I need to be folding more scrub fabrics onto mini-bolts so I can get them put away. DH is gone to a scooter rally this weekend, and aside from helping with the twins and doing normal housework, I have the weekend fairly free.

My daughter and her family will be here from South Africa on November 1st, so I am trying to get a few things done before they come. Their visit is one of the reasons my sewing room is not a priority right now. I have gotten a couple meals in the freezer, to use on days where we will busy all day. I'd like to make a couple more meals to put in the freezer, and maybe some cookies and such too. I'm trying to be pretty organized about meals, because I will be feeding a lot of people, and we'll be busy sight-seeing, visiting, and shopping while they are here. People from all over will be in town to see them. I actually wrote a menu for the whole time they are here, so I won't be stuck every day at dinnertime, wondering what to make. I am flexible if something else comes up, but I feel better having taken the time to make a plan. I can make all of my shopping lists before they get here too, which will really be great and save us time. I want to get all the visiting in while I can, and I figure pre-planning will help to that end.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Advice from a Teabag

I never knew it was so hard to get a decent photo of something so small! At any rate, if you can't read the teabag tag, it says

"When God made time, He made enough of it." ~Celtic Saying

If I had a dollar for every time I said I didn't have enough time, I would be a wealthy woman. I have learned that a lot can be accomplished in 15-30 minutes per day every day, but no matter how I try, six hours of work cannot be done in an hour.

Life has been changing so fast in the last couple of years, I can barely keep up. The number of people living in our house is constantly changing, the things that take up my time are changing, and I am constantly having to adjust my thinking. Another quote I like is this one-

"The only thing constant in life is change."
~Francois de la Rochefoucauld

I don't completely agree with that quote, I believe God is a constant as well, but it is true that things on this earth are constantly changing.

In my quest to adjust, I am making myself smaller goals in sewing, changing what time of day I sew (after the twins go to bed works better), meal planning a bit more, and making myself take time to just chill out, watch a movie with the kids or something.

Now that my new sewing room is pretty much functional, I have actually gotten a couple of things FINISHED! I finished making the twins bibs yesterday, and today I made a small drawstring bag for Mr. Z to put his toy animals into. Last night I spent about two hours finishing up the bibs, and today I made the little bag in about 20 minutes, which was the only time I had to sew today. I had gotten used to sewing the whole day away, and facts are that I just don't have many days where that is likely anymore. I'm sure someday that will change yet again, but for now, this is the way things are.

Now that I am changing my thinking to my current circumstances, and I am adjusting to the new sewing room, I have some new problems to tackle. Last night while working on the bibs, I realized the lighting for my Bernina in the new sewing room is not adequate. I have a desktop Ott Lite, but no matter where I positioned it, it wasn't quite doing the job. I thought about getting one of Bendy Bright Lights that stick to the sewing machine, I've never had one, but I've heard good things about them. I can't afford to hire an electrician to put in recessed lighting above the sewing cabinet, but DH could use a swag kit and hang a light above the sewing cabinet. Maybe I will show DH the problem and see what he thinks.

I think the lighting for the Juki is OK, but I haven't tried quilting on it yet. I was planning on quilting a baby quilt this week, but I hurt my arm while lifting something too heavy, so I'm waiting a couple of days to start the quilting. I have so many unquilted quilt tops right now, that if lighting on the Juki is sufficient, I could work on quilting after dark, and piecing during any daylight hours I find to sew. That could keep me busy for months!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Making Progress!

I am finally making some serious progress on the new sewing room! Today I finished getting the last of the stuff out of the old sewing room closet, and I plugged in my sewing machines! I can actually sew now! I had to buy new extension cords for this new room. Since I opted to put storage along the walls and make my sewing area in the center of the room, it necessitated extension cords, but I needed to get flat plugs so they didn't stick out too far since there are shelves in front of all the outlets. It was funny when I was shopping for the new extension cords, because I didn't know what to call the type of plugs I wanted. Come to find out, it depends on which company makes them on what they are called. Some call them flat plugs, some 90 degree plugs and others call them wall hugger plugs. I ordered the extension cords from Amazon, and they got here in two days. I had looked for them at a couple stores in town, but didn't see what wanted.

Here is my wall of fabric. I am incorporating all of my scrub stash into my quilting stash, so even though I've had all this fabric for a while, now I am storing it together. There are open spaces on the shelves, that I left on purpose because not all of my scrub fabric is on mini bolts yet. I am waiting for DH to cut me some more mini bolt forms from corrugated plastic.

DH and I went up to Phoenix to see my sister, so we stopped at Ikea to buy the new shelves. I found out they no longer make the doors to match my older sets of shelves. There was a note on the doors closest in style to my doors that said they were out of stock until further notice. A saleperson came to help us and she checked the computer and said the sign was wrong and they were in stock. Well, we went to get the shelves and the doors, and at first we grabbed the birch doors, when we wanted white, so we put those back, made sure we were getting the doors that were labeled white, and made our purchase. Obviously from the picture, you can see the doors are not white, they are dark brown.

Actually, I found the entire purchase a little disappointing. The first time I bought these shelves, they were made in Italy, this time they were made in China. The dimensions say they are the same size, but the shelves are actually not as deep as my old ones. They changed the door style, which I understand their reasoning for, but it is disappointing none the less. Only the middle shelf is in a fixed position, and my old doors have strips of trim that looks great when the shelves are evenly spaced, which is how I have mine. If someone wanted to adjust their shelves to different spots, the door trim would look odd. The new style doors only have trim across the middle, which should hit it right at the fixed middle shelf. Unfortunately, all of the trim on the new doors are off, and none of the trim on the doors covers the middle shelf. That's not saying much for their quality control. I'm also not thrilled with the fact the brown doors were stocked in the spot for the white doors. DH offered to bring them back, but we really have no time to make another trip up there for at least two weeks, and probably not for over over a month. It is 110 miles from our house to Ikea so mapquest says. It is just not worth it to me to travel 220 miles round trip to switch out the doors, which I am not sure are actually in stock. If it really starts bugging me I can bring one of the shelves to Home Depot right around the corner, have them computer match the paint color, and paint the doors. That would be much cheaper than gas to drive to Ikea and back. I may be mildly annoyed at how things turned out, but I am still happy I have more shelves with doors to keep my fabric in view and dust free. The benefits far outweigh any annoyance I feel at the doors not matching.

Here are my multimedia shelves with the 1 yard and less pieces on them. Those sets of shelves aren't the same color either, they no longer make the color of the first set I bought. I'm sensing a mismatched pattern here ;-) The glass jars I store notions in are mismatched on purpose! Maybe I shouldn't bother ever trying to match anything in this room? You can also see the quilt I am going to quilt next on my Juki cabinet. It doesn't really match either since it is made from orphan blocks! This is getting to be pretty funny :-) I could use some sewing therapy after the weeks of chaos from moving the house all around.

I mounted my design "wall" today. I had three foam boards wrapped with black flannel on the door to my old sewing room. I bought a fourth foam board today, wrapped it in black flannel and mounted the four boards on the doors to the wardrobe. This room has no doors to it, so this was my best option. I really like using foam board for this purpose. If I am just putting blocks up, they will stick to the flannel, but long pieces like these borders, I can pin up since the foam board is about 1/4 inch thick. The foam board is lightweight, so I just use removable 3M foam tabs to stick them up. No damage done to whatever I stick them to. The best part, foam board was on sale at Michael's for $1.50 a sheet so it is CHEAP!

I still have quite a few things without a home. The pile of my sewing stuff in the little guest room is bigger than the last time I took a picture of it. Some of that I can take care of as soon as I get the forms for the minibolts cut. Some of it I may need to be creative with. I have two totes with garment fabric in them. Those may stay in that little guest room for a while. You can get to the bed in the guest room now, so if I don't get any more done for a while, it's OK. My sewing room is functional now, and the twins new room is emptied of all my stuff, and ready to made into a cute new room for them. I'm hoping we get some time to work on their room this week, hang their curtains, and put their clothes away in the closet.

I am trying to figure out how to rearrange my living room to make better use of the space, but I'm drawing a blank on that. I think I've used up all my rearranging creativity for a while. Maybe by the time I get the next quilt quilted, I will come up with a good idea for the living room. Sometimes when I'm not trying to think of a solution, the answer comes to me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Advice from a Teabag

I don't drink tea, I am strictly a coffee kind of gal. I do, however, make vast quantities of iced tea for my family. One of their favorite kinds of iced tea is made like this, four black tea tea bags, four Good Earth original tea bags, one gallon of water, and one cup of sugar. I usually put the eight teabags in a big pyrex measuring cup with seven cups of water, heat in the microwave for 7 minutes, 30 seconds, steep for 5 - 10 minutes, pour into a gallon container, removing teabags at the same time, add sugar and fill the rest of the container with water. I love smelling Good Earth tea, it has a great spicy smell. I also like reading the quotes on the paper tags. One of the quotes I find especially relevant to quilting.

'Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.'
Eugene Delacroix (1798 - 1863)

I have people ask me all the time how I get so much done. One of my "secrets" is that I have a pretty low perfection quotient. Now don't get me wrong, I strive for accuracy, and most of the time I am pretty accurate, most of my points match, but I do have mistakes that cause me to use my seam ripper. Here is the thing though, I don't stress if some of my points don't match. I don't toss the project if my border ripples a bit, or get upset if I have to do a little easing when assembling my blocks. I have learned that most of the "mistakes" that are so obvious to me, will never be noticed by anyone else, so really there is no reason to stress about it.

I know for some people, this type of attitude is completely foreign. They think everything must be completely perfect, every seam lining up perfectly, using only the perfect fabrics for that project, never making a substitution or change to the pattern. If you work that way, and it works for you, great! If, however, you are completely overwhelmed by ufo's because things weren't perfect, perhaps you might benefit from trying a new attitude. Grab one of those not perfect, far from perfect, or abysmal failures, and finish it. Don't completely redo it, just finish it. I have had quilts that I didn't like during the process, but when they were finished, they were pretty nice. It's always a bit of a surprise, and I always think, when did that start turning out OK? I've had fabric do weird things while I was assembling, and had weird waves in it, but it quilted out and you couldn't notice it. I have had small puckers while quilting that just light up like a neon sign while I am working on it, but when it's finished, even I can't find it.

Quilting is my hobby. It is my "me" time, my stress relief, my sanity saver. If quilting became a major stress in my life, it would not be fulfilling the need I have for it to fill. I enjoy quilting, but if I took it too seriously, I wouldn't. I am a firm believer in "Finished is better than Perfect". No unfinished quilt is helping anyone out. There are no warm hugs in an unfinished quilt, no snuggling in an unfinished quilt, no comfort for anyone, maker or recipient.

Maybe someone out there will be inspired to go finish something now. I hope so. Right now, I need to finish getting my sewing room together so I can finish a few projects of my own ;-)

Here are a couple pics of the twins from our trip to brighten your day.

The little engineers at Fritz's Union Station in Kansas City, Kansas. This was DS the Younger's favorite restaurant as a young child, your food is brought to you by train, and he loved trains.

Miss S thought that the cherry limeade was pretty sour!

The first wedding we went to was an outdoor wedding, and they had these bubble wands that looked like light sabers for the kids. It looks like a battle between a good twin and an evil twin, but in reality they are both great twins!

Mr. L all spiffied up for the second wedding.

Miss S on her aunt's lap (DD#2)