Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy Street Mystery Step 1

I have my Step 1 for the Easy Street Mystery finished! I love how Bonnie always lures us in by making the first step an easy one! The solid red is my background fabric, so my background is constant, and the cheddar is my substitute for gray/grey and will not be constant.  Since my background is constant where hers is not, I feel completely comfortable making the cheddars scrappy. I don't have a lot of cheddars, even though I did buy some cheddar FQ's for this, so I think I only have about a dozen different cheddar prints. I only had that many because I found a few 2" strips in my strip drawers of cheddars I no longer have in stash.

I was sewing together my four patches yesterday, and just looking at all that red and cheddar was just making me happy. The colors I chose are to please myself, and so far so good. I really do like Bonnie's colors, and the rest of my colors stick close to hers, but on these two colors I went far off into left field. I have used well over 25 yards of white fabric this year, and I am sick of sewing white right now. I am doing this mystery quilt because I desperately need some stress relief and play time, so sewing just the colors I wanted is making me smile a bit more. I NEEDED this, maybe especially so during the hectic holiday season. I don't know if I'll like the colors I chose in the end, but the process is making me happy, and that is a very good thing!

I love Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts, and this is at least my fifth time to join in on one. With the exception of Double Delight, all of my Bonnie mystery quilts are actually quilts too, not ufo's somewhere. I did get Double Delight to top stage this year, and I plan on quilting it myself in 2013. If I had opted to use a longarmer, it would have been finished already, but the horrible quilting job on my Orca Bay quilt has me really hesitant to let someone else do my quilting again. I changed the layout of Double Delight, and made it much bigger, so it will be a challenge to quilt it myself, but I think I can do it. In case you are curious about how my Double Delight looks, you can see it here

If you'd like to see where other people are on the Easy Street Mystery, check out the linky on Bonnie's Blog

Friday, November 23, 2012

Twin Finishes

Well, it was indeed a virus we were dealing with, which completely changed our Thanksgiving plans. Miss S started vomiting during Wednesday night, and continued to be sick all of Thursday. My preliminary plans were to finish the twins quilts on Thanksgiving if we didn't go up to Phoenix, but I ended up being sick too, but my symptoms were more flu like, and I was so sore I could barely move. I did get a little bit of quilting done, but it was akin to swimming in molasses, and it completely drained me moving the quilt around, so I didn't get much done.

It must have been a 24 hour thing though, because I feel much better today, and I zipped through the rest of the quilting on Miss S's quilt, and sewed the bindings on both quilts.

^Here is Miss S's quilt in all it's purple glory. This pic has a blueish cast to it, but the nine patches and borders are all purples. I am still undecided about the scrappy nine patches on an I Spy quilt. Maybe all the random novelty fabrics are enough variety, and I'm better off sticking with constants for the nine patches.

^Here is Mr. L's quilt. I just couldn't find a blue fabric I was happy with for the border, so he got a black border. I was really trying to do their quilts all from stash, so I was determined not to go buy a border fabric.

The funniest thing about these border fabrics? I bought them at the same time, because I knew they'd make good borders for kids quilts. I make a lot of kids quilts, both for kids in my life, and Project Linus, so I when I find a really good piece of fabric that's just begging to be a border on a kids quilt, I get three yards of it if the price is right. I like to cut my borders lengthwise, and I can usually border 2 quilts with a 3 yard piece. I'll either cut eight lengthwise strips for two 5 inch borders, or four strips each for a 4 and 6 inch border. Any leftovers get cut into narrower strips and go into the strip drawers.

I had enough of one fabric I liked for the backing of Miss S's quilt, but I really wanted to use the motorcycle fabric (top left) on the back of Mr. L's quilt. I didn't have much of it left, so I gathered three other fabrics I had about the same amount remaining, and made a backing out of four fabrics. Two of these fabrics only have bits in my scrap bins now, and the other two have less than 1/2 yard left.

Today the Easy Street Mystery started, and I've printed out the first clue. I'm hoping to get the strips cut for it tomorrow, and maybe get the first step sewed on Sunday. I'm babysitting most of tomorrow, but I might have enough time to get the cutting done. I already looked through my pre-cut strips, but only had three the right color. I did keep those strips out, but now I need to cut the rest.

I am so glad I finished all my deadline quilts before the mystery really got going.  As far as I know, the next quilt with a deadline I need to have finished the end of March, and it's actually already started! I have several other quilts I am working on, but they are more lax on when I get them finished. I'm hoping to get at least one quilt together as leaders/enders during the Easy Street Mystery. We'll see how far I get!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's not quite Thanksgiving here, but close, less than two hours to go. I hope everyone has a wonderful day, and that everyone can think of something they are thankful for. I know when times have been hard for us, that is when I make a point to count my blessings. I can usually list a lot of them! I definitely have a lot to be thankful for now: a growing family, an amazing husband, a roof over my head, and all the things I need to quilt with!

Our Thanksgiving plans are a bit up in the air. We had a big Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, and had about 20 people here for dinner. We are supposed to be driving up to Phoenix tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving at my sister's house, but I'm I'm not sure that's going to happen. DD#2 has been sick all day, she even called off of work. She thought she had food poisoning, but this evening Mr. L vomited, and he hadn't eaten the same food she had, so we may be dealing with a stomach bug instead. I'm playing it by ear in the morning, if DD#2 is still feeling poorly or the twins are acting like they aren't feeling well, we'll stay home. I have all the makings for some fine turkey soup, and that is likely what we'll have if we stay home.

The parts I ordered on ebay for the Rocketeer are here. I am really excited to get the straight stitch plate, and having some original feet and the cams is great! A manual is another great thing to have. I'd like to order a good 1/4" foot for it, but that will be a modern product.

Have I actually used the Rocketeer yet? Nope. Any sewing time I've had has been spent quilting on the twins quilts. Today I finished quilting Mr. L's quilt, and I quilted about 2/3 of Miss S's quilt. I am just doing a quick meander to get them finished fast. I think I emptied 12 bobbins today, so I was really a quilting fiend. If we end up staying home tomorrow, I will try to finish both quilts, and then I will be ready for the Easy Street mystery to start on Friday. If we do go to Phoenix tomorrow, I will still try to finish the twins quilts this weekend. The mystery may be a slow start for me, but that's OK.

I am using a cone of white Signature thread to quilt the twins quilts. I've quilted a couple other quilts with that cone of thread too, and I can't wait to have it completely gone. It's getting close. When I first started free motion quilting, I bought a cone or two from each of the bigger name thread companies. I wasn't sure which threads I would like, and which ones would work best in my sewing machines. Signature is not one I'll buy again. The cone I have should be all white, but there are a bunch of places that are discolored on it, not all the same other color either. I have terrible lint in my machine when I use it too, so for me, Signature is not a winner. I've heard other people who love it, but it doesn't make my cut.

I do have some threads that work better in some machines than other, but all my machines love Aurifil, so that is my hands down favorite. Anytime I need to purchase quilting thread now, I only buy Aurifil. I am glad I tried them all, and a couple of the threads a lot of people don't like I've had no problems with. Coats and Clark Star thread does just fine in my Juki, and has less lint for me than Signature. From what I've read on forums, Signature has the better reputation, but for me in my particular machines, that hasn't been my experience. Sometimes I think trying things out for yourself is much better than just taking someone else's word for what works. Your experiences may be different than others with notions and such.

I got some exiting news from my mom this week. She finished a quilt she started 40 years ago! Now that was a UFO! The quilt had fabrics from my grandmother's and great grandmother's stashes. My mom had made nine patches, sashed it and started hand quilting it. It's been on a quilting frame most of my lifetime. My mother recently took it off the quilt frame and gave the quilt frame away. She realized the quilt did not lay flat at all, so she took out all the handquilting, and took all the blocks apart. The blocks varied in size by an inch or so. I suggested she cut them all to the same size, and try again. I gave her some tips on sashing, but she did everything on her own, I live in the Southwest and she is in the Northeast, so popping over to help her wasn't going to happen. She even designed a striped backing for it by piecing fabrics to make the stripes. She tied it to finish it up, and now has a reversible quilt she made herself! I am so proud of her tackling such an old project. That was a LOT of ripping to do to get it fixed, and I think a lot of women would have just pitched it. I hope she gets a lot of satisfaction seeing it on her bed. Go, MOM!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Enablers, Every One!

I have caught my husband looking at vintage sewing machines with me in mind, and the vintage machine bug is spreading. DD#3 texted me a photo yesterday of a vintage Singer. She was at a resale shop that specializes in books and media, but has one room full of miscellaneous everything. She sent me the photo and said, "You want this, right, Mom?" I showed the photo to DH, and laughed at the fact even my youngest daughter is machine shopping for me. He looked at the photo and said, "THAT is a really cool machine, you should get it!" I asked how much it was, not really planning on getting, more of a way to say it was too expensive as a lot of sewing machines that end up there are. The thing was, it wasn't a bad price. It was a really cool machine. I was still leaning towards saying no, when DD#3 asked me if I had ordered the boots she wanted for her. I told her I had, and she told me that instead of paying me back for the boots, she would buy me the sewing machine, which was $30 more than the boots. She said we'd call it even, and that I should get this machine because it looked so cool. I had already looked up reviews on it, and it had good reviews, so I told her to go ahead and get it. When she came home I saw this

and inside that


A Singer 503A, commonly referred to as The Rocketeer with it's futuristic lines. From what I can see from a quick online search, it looks like these were only made for three years 1959-1962, even though the serial numbers may have been issued earlier.

The top raises to expose the spool pins, the bobbin winder, and the place to put cams for decorative stitches. This machine only came with one cam, the one that does a zig zag.

The machine has three needle positions which is nice, and I can adjust the width of my stitches.

I love this stylistic atomic symbol over the stitch length adjustment knob.

When I first saw this lever, I thought it would drop the feed dogs, but I was wrong.

It lifts the stitch plate above the feed dogs so you can free motion sew.

Here is the stitch plate in the normal position.

This machine looks like it was barely used. The case has dings and paint loss, but the paint on the machine is close to mint condition. I looked around on ebay today, and bought a package deal from a seller who had all the cams for this machine, the manual, a straight stitch plate, and a couple feet. My Singer 99 bobbins will fit this machine, but none of the presser feet I have will, since this is a slant shank machine.

I have a friend who thinks everything should have a name, so this is Cliff, the name of the main character in the movie The Rocketeer, which I happen to really enjoy.

Lest you think I am the only spoiled one around here, let me show you DH's new toy


A Ural motorcycle and sidecar. He's been wanting a sidecar rig for a while, and he found a deal too good to pass up. It, however, did cost more than the price of a pair of boots ;-)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Leaders and Enders Revolt!

I didn't do much sewing this week, and when I did sew, I was not really working on what I was supposed to be working on. I was supposed to be assembling the twins bed quilts. They've been sleeping their new beds since Sunday, but their quilts still aren't finished. They are sleeping under the first two bed quilts I ever made, one for their Mama and one for their aunt when they were young. They are falling apart in a few places, but still functional. I do need to get their new quilts finished though. I finally made some progress on that tonight.

I got the center of Mr. L's quilt together. This is just the top part of it, I couldn't get a picture of it all. I picked out a black border with a kind of plaid and spotted design on it. I debated a narrow inner border but decided against that.

Here is the top center of Miss S's quilt. I chose a purple border with spots on it for her border. I am hoping to get the borders cut and sewn on both quilts tomorrow.

I have done a nine patch and snowball pattern for I Spy quilts before, but this is the first time I've done scrappy nine patches. I did stick with a color scheme, but I still haven't decided if I like the scrappy nine patches with the random colors of the I Spy pieces. It does give the kids more to look at, which is a good thing. I will probably figure out of I like it it while I am quilting the quilts.

This was what I was working on that was only supposed to be my leader/ender project. I am making 3" white/black nine patches, for a quilt I designed in EQ. I need over 500 of them, and I am using up some 1" squares from previous projects. When I run out of pre-cut squares, I will strip piece the rest. I just love 3" nine patches, they are so cute! Instead of just running one leader through at the end of the seam, I was running a bunch through. I have almost 60 nine patches finished already, so it's pretty obvious the leaders/enders were trying to become the primary project.

If I get borders on the twins quilts, I will work on piecing the backings so they are ready to pin-baste whenever I have a chance to do that. I have chosen the backing for Miss S's quilt, but I am still undecided on Mr. L's. Since I have to piece it anyway, I may decide to get rid of a couple smaller pieces of yardage on his and just make a few more seams.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What a Day!

Today was one of those days you need a vacation to recover from. Too bad I'll be busy with four little ones tomorrow with no rest in sight!

I started today by defrosting the freezer. I always try to do that before the holidays hit, as I try to buy a couple extra turkeys and such, and I need all the room I can get in the freezer. I needed to get it done quickly, so I put all the food into coolers and heated up pans of water on the stove, then put those in the freezer to melt the ice faster. I could have bought a frost-free freezer, but food ruins faster in those. 

In between heating pans of water on the stove, emptying the water from melting ice and such, I kept running downstairs and working on the comfort quilt. I quilted the center yesterday, but didn't get the feathers in the border finished. I was basically sewing feathers on one side of the quilt, running upstairs to deal with the freezer, going back downstairs to sew another side, and on and on until finally the border was finished and so was the freezer. Put all the food back in the freezer.

DH was taking down the twins cribs today, and putting together the second twin sized bed. The first one we've had for a while and it was already in their room. He was disassembling cribs while I was running back and forth between sewing and defrosting. The twins were at church with their Mama and Aunt. I was hoping DH would have the bed together before naptime, but that was too optimistic on my part. The room needed to be rearranged, and the bed he was putting together was a platform bed with drawers which all had to be assembled. Hmmmm.... twins were home, Mama had gone out and I needed to put the twins to bed with no beds. I ended up putting Mr. L in the crib in the office that I use for the baby I watch, and put Miss S in my bed, but I had to lay down with her to get her to sleep. Hardest part of that was not falling asleep myself.

OK, twins asleep, hurry and unload dishwasher, load dishwasher, switch loads of laundry, and sew binding on comfort quilt. As I am sewing on the last six inches of binding, Mr. L wakes up from his nap. That's OK, the comfort quilt is done and DH can take it to work tomorrow as planned.

Now bed is together and DH needs to go to the shop to work on the scooter, so it's just the twins and me. No problem. Well, would have been no problem if Mr. L hadn't woke up so fussy. I thought, oh, I'll make their beds while they play in their room. Got one made, but Mr. L was crying so much couldn't make the second one. Tried taking the twins outside, Mr L is playing and crying at the same time. Try to think of possible causes, give Tylenol since he's teething, give a snack in case he's hungry, refill water, put on Elmo in desperation. Crying, crying, crying. Give them crayons for the first time. AHA! a few minutes of silence, until I take away the blue crayon Mr. L is now eating, then more crying. Miss S enjoys the crayons though. In fact, she's in a great mood through all of this. 

DH finally gets home, maybe he can stop the crying. He takes them outside and puts them on the swings. Crying. I start baking the cookie dough I found in the back of the freezer, running upstairs to work on the twins room in between batches of cookies. Cookies baked, time to start dinner. Hear crying. Oops, switch loads of laundry. Make dinner, start moving around some stuff in the living room, because a couple things are moving up to the twins room. Twins need bath, DH is a trooper and takes that for me, more crying. I am moving stuff up to the twins room until first kid is out of the bath, diaper kid, pajamas, OK. Next kid, diaper, pajamas, No More Tangles and crying from Miss S. Frantically try to finish doing what needs to be done in twins room before they go to bed. Mama (DD#3) comes home!

Now I need to deal with the mess in the living room. DD#2 comes in with a crowd. OK, clean up kitchen instead. Unload dishwasher, load dishwasher. Put away dinner leftovers. That crowd leaves, work in living room, not done, but good enough for tonight. More people come in. Look at DH in desperation, whisper in his ear, and we sneak out of house. 

Orange cream slush at Sonic in my bare feet. Ahhhh!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Practical or Art?

My husband is amazing, absolutely amazing! He is so supportive of my quilting, and I am so grateful for that. It is a bit of a long story, but for anyone who wants to hear it, here goes.

I have been babysitting about 50 hours a week, so sewing time is getting hard to find. I have been super busy with a few important projects and getting those to the finishing stages. Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt starts on Black Friday, and she just put up fabric requirements.

DH knows how much I enjoy doing Bonnie's Mystery quilts. Hers are the only mysteries I've ever done. I have all kinds of valid excuses of why I shouldn't do the mystery this year, but he encouraged me to join in. He asked what the colors were, and asked what colors I was planning on doing, since he knows I change up the colors most of the time.

Here is the thing, I REALLY like the colors Bonnie chose. However, I do not want to make a quilt virtually identical to everyone else's. I checked my stash for the black and white prints, and in my huge stash I found five, four fat quarters and one two yard piece. I didn't want to buy a lot to do the mystery, so right there I eliminated the black and white prints. 

I have plenty of black fabrics, so I considered doing the background black. In fact, that was what I was leaning towards doing. I think Bonnie's colors with a black background would look great, maybe a substitute for the gray, I was thinking pink or orange.

I was talking this through with DH, and I told him I didn't want to go buy the black/white prints, I could do the black background and the colors mostly, if not all from stash, and the end result would be a good wedding gift someday. I have given most of the mystery quilts away as wedding gifts. He asked if I had considered any other color combinations, and told me he didn't mind at all if I bought fabric for the mystery. I told him that I had thought a red background would be fun to make, not only red, but a solid red, completely non-scrappy and not my norm. He asked why I didn't go with that. I told him the color combo I had in mind for that was a little odd, it likely would never be able to be given as a wedding gift, and it was far more practical to choose something more mainstream that could be used as a gift someday. His answer to me was priceless.

 "What is practical about art? Do the color scheme you are excited about!"

Just one of the many reasons I love him! So, I dug out a six yard piece of solid red I had for the background. I dug out one piece of each of the colors I plan on using too, to help me when pulling fabrics later. DH even took me shopping today, and I bought several fat quarters in some of the colors of which I don't have a good selection.

So here are my colors for the Easy Street mystery quilt:

My solid red for the background, a cheddary/mac and cheese-ish yellowy orange, apple/lime green, medium blue, and red/plum purples. In case you are wondering, this matches absolutely nothing in my house, I have no idea who would want a quilt in these colors, but you know what, these colors make me happy, and I think it will be fun to work with them. Now I am excited for the mystery to start!

Besides washing up the fat quarters I bought today, I am not pulling any more fabric. Last year for Orca Bay, I pulled a bunch of fabrics, and used virtually none of them, as I had most of what I needed in my strip drawers. I will pull fabrics when I know what sizes I need, and see how many I have already cut into strips and ready to go! Depending on the sizes we need, I may not have to cut any blue or green.

I've seen a lot of discussion on the yahoo group about constant fabrics, Bonnie is using a gray (grey) for her constant. I have been all over on that for Bonnie's mysteries. My first mystery was Double Delight, which I finally got made into a quilt top this year, but it's still not quilted. (It's for my bed, that's why it keeps getting put off) My stash was small back then, so I only went scrappy on two colors, and even had to buy to do that. Everything else was a single fabric, because it was all I had. 

On Carolina Christmas, I changed up the colors, but used a constant fabric in the same place Bonnie did, and honestly wished I hadn't. Carolina Christmas ended up as a wedding gift. 

For RRCB, I changed all the colors, used blue as my neutral, and used no actual neutrals at all in the quilt. Again, it got used as a wedding gift. I used a constant in the same place Bonnie did, and was happy with the results.

For Orca Bay, I again changed all the colors, used no neutrals at all. Mine is brown, gold, rust, and green. I kept Orca Bay.

Looks like I will likely end up keeping Easy Street too, but I am making it mine with the odd color combination. Since I will have such a plain background, I am doing the rest scrappy, and I will be surprised if I am sorry about that, I think it will work just fine.

A bit off topic, but I when I was watching quiltcam the other day, Bonnie talked about burning her finger on her iron, and someone wrote to her saying if she put vinegar on it it would keep it from blistering. A couple days later, I burned THREE of my fingers on my iron (don't ask, just stupidity on my part). They were hurting pretty badly, and I remembered the vinegar thing. We were out of aloe, and I was pretty miserable and tried putting vinegar on the burns. It was like magic! The burning pain eased up immediately, and where it was starting to blister, stopped changing right then, and never got any worse. Whoever gave that tip, THANK YOU!