Friday, October 30, 2015

Destination Fall

Here in Southern Arizona, we are a little short on fall color. We can go up Mt. Lemmon and see fall colors, but down here in the valley, we just don't get much. On the upside to that, there is almost always something blooming here, so we get flowers all year long.

DH and I were pretty done in from all the activities we've had around here, so we planned a four day-three night getaway to Flagstaff, Arizona.

Flagstaff has mostly pines, and some of the Aspens were already bare, but we did find some color.

We found some reds here and there, but no oranges. I grew up in New England which has amazing fall color, and the trees here just can't compete, but it was still pretty, especially with snow capped mountains in the mix.

Arizona has some things that New England doesn't, like volcanoes. Can you see the crater where the top of the mountain blew off at some point? Most people don't think of Arizona as a volcano area, but we actually have a bunch, not all of which are extinct, but just dormant.

We stopped at this little chapel, and there is a bunch of graffiti inside, but surprisingly, it is all respectful. Notes to God, memorials of loved ones passed on, praise and thanks, but nothing negative. It was a sweet, peaceful spot. The back wall is all windows facing the forest.

One of the things we did on our trip was hit a bunch of thrift stores and antique stores. I didn't buy anything at the antique stores, but I had a shopping spree at the thrift stores. All tolled, I spent just under $100. For some, a $100 shopping spree is nothing, for others, out of their range. Let's go over what I got for the $100, and you tell me how I did.

I found a Levi's denim jacket, that looked like it had been worn no more than twice, not even the inside labels had any wear at all. Those go for at least $70, and this one works for DD#3, which is who I bought it for. I also bought her a long skirt worth about $50, so right there, in value, I'm over my $100 spent. 

I bought the twins 11 items of clothing, including a couple jackets. I also found a Spiderman hooded towel for them.

I bought myself a blouse and skirt.

I bought four 100% cotton sheets to use as quilt backings.  I also found some fabric scraps, some fat quarters, and six 1+ yard pieces of fabric.

I also bought 46 men's shirts, one pair of pajama pants, and a dress, all 100% cotton, that I plan on using for quilting.

I found a couple quilting books, and...

a buttonholer that will work with my Rocketeer!

So, how is that for under $100? I'm pretty happy with it, and DH didn't complain once. He knows how much I love to quilt, and knows I try hard to keep my costs down, even though quilting isn't an inexpensive hobby. We found a couple vintage machines, a couple of which DH wanted to buy for me, but I passed. At this point, I have a wishlist of machines, and if it's not on the list, I'm not really tempted. Even if it's on the list, I'm pretty frugal most of the time, and I don't want to spend too much on them. We saw vintage machines everywhere from $10 to WAY overpriced, mislabeled as rare, machines for over $300. Any $10 machine is tempting in a way, just to rescue it and save it from a landfill, but I refrained, even on those. I can't bring them all home, even the $10 ones.

The weather here at home changed while we were gone, so I FINALLY got to shut off the air conditioner! I'm not fond of summer at any time, but really, high 80's at the end of October seem a little much. I'm so glad it's finally cooled down, just in time for November.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Gifting Another Wedding Quilt

Yesterday was the bridal shower, so I got to give the bride her wedding quilt. The groom-to-be came over to help pick up gifts, so I made them wrap up in the quilt so I could get a photo.

Here is a photo of the quilt all spread out.

The bride is a fun combination of sports jock, outdoorswoman, hot pink and bling. The groom is definitely the outdoorsy type, loves fishing and camping. I tried to make a quilt that represented both of them, and this is what I came up with.

The quilt caught quite a bit of attention on one of my quilting groups, so let me break it down for anyone interested in making one. I didn't have a pattern, this was just the results of me playing around with EQ7.

It is a two block quilt, which I make a lot of, because you get a lot of secondary designs with two blocks. I had a bunch of leftover 1.5" cut strips from another project, so the pink and white nine patches were my starting point.I didn't have near enough leftover strips to make all these nine patches, it was just my starting point.

Sorry for the blurry pic, but I just enlarged a section of another photo to show the block. I'm sure this block has a name, but I don't know what it is. It is like a 54/40 or fight block, but with nine patches instead of four patches. In the wedding quilt, there are 61 of these blocks. Each nine patch unit finishes at 3", so the nine patches can be either sewn out of 1.5" cut squares, or 1.5" strips sewn into stripsets then subcut into 1.5" units. The triangle in a square units also finish at 3", so if you are using a tri-recs ruler, use 3.5" strips. I have the 3" triangle in a square die for my Go cutter, so I just used that. You'll need five nine patches and four triangle in a square units for each of these blocks. 

This is block two, it's just a variation of a churn dash block. I used a nine patch for the center square, and for the corner HST's I matched the outer triangle to the star points in the other block. If you are using an Easy Angle ruler, cut your HST's from 3.5" strips. I used the 3" HST die for my Go cutter. The rail subunits are made with 2" cut strips by either making brown/khaki stripsets and subcutting to 3.5" so they'll finish at 3", or just cutting 2" x 3.5" rectangles and sewing two together, whatever is your preference. There are 60 of these blocks in the wedding quilt. 

Since my blocks finish at nine inches, and I set them 11x11, the center of this quilt is 99x99 inches. The pink inner border finishes at 1", so it's cut at 1.5", and I cut the camo outer border at 6.5". Before quilting the quilt was 113" square, but it lost a few inches after quilting. I quilted it on my Bernina 440, so no, I didn't send it out for quilting, and no, I don't have a longarm. 

The finished quilt has almost exactly 5,000 pieces. The first block has five nine patches 5x9=45, plus four triangle in a square units 4x3=12, 45+12=57 pieces in each block x 61 blocks = 3,477 pieces in block A

Block B has one nine patch=9, four rail units 4x2=8, and four HST's 4x2=8. 9+8+8=25 x 60 blocks =1,500 pieces in block B. 3,477+1,500=4,977 pieces plus borders and backing which were both pieced in this case, so right about 5,000 pieces. 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and if I get a lot of questions, I will try to make a tutorial in a couple weeks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reclaiming Bobbins

I hear lots of people who say they only have three bobbins for a machine, or maybe five. My hats off to you, because I can't function like that. My vintage machines I use almost exclusively for piecing, and for piecing, I usually use one of one of five colors; white, cream, tan, light gray, dark gray. I always like to have at least one extra bobbin wound of each color, so if I have ten bobbins for each vintage machine, it is sufficient for the way I work. I prefer more than ten bobbins, but I can make it work.

Where things get interesting, is when I am talking about the machine I use for garments or quilting, then I need lots of colors, thus, lots of bobbins. It gets even more absurd when you start talking different thread fibers.

I used to have a Juki 98 I used for quilting, and I had 100 bobbins for it. It may sound like a lot, but I make a lot of queen/king quilts, and I start by winding at least ten bobbins when I'm quilting something that large. I sold the Juki, so now I both quilt and make garments on my Bernina 440. I only have about 50 Bernina bobbins, and those are divided between cotton and poly threads. I'm a big fan of bobbin savers, and I use the different colored ones to my advantage. I always put cotton threads in the purple bobbin savers, poly in the red. I use the blue ones for my vintage bobbins. I was getting to the point where I was thinking about buying more Bernina bobbins, but they are pricy, and I've been Christmas shopping, so it is lousy timing. I would really love more Bernina bobbins, maybe I'll put those on my Christmas list, but for now, I needed to reclaim some of the ones I had.

One of my Christmas projects is making placemats for the grandkids. Nothing fancy, just novelty fabrics cut 12x18 inches, with one layer of batting between. I made the twins some a few months ago, and them eating on placemats really helps contain the mess. I decided to use only bobbins when sewing these placemats, bobbins top and bottom, matching colors best I could, buy mixing poly and cotton threads, just to empty some bobbins.

I made 18 placemats in two LONG days. There are only 17 in this pic, because Miss S claimed the one made with Frozen fabrics. I quilted these with bobbins, put the binding on with bobbins, and guess what? I've got some empty bobbins now! Twenty empty bobbins to be exact.

My next Christmas project is pillowcases, and since I'm using the Magic Pillowcase Tutorial, the seams are all enclosed, and therefore I can empty more bobbins on those!

I finished my first pillowcase today. Here it is.

This one is for my son-in-law in South Africa. They know they are getting pillowcases, so it doesn't matter much if I post it. I was pretty happy with how it came out, and I'm looking forward to making more. 

I'm pretty much out of sewing time for a couple weeks. We are hosting a bridal shower this weekend at our house, and there is lots of cleaning, decorating, and cooking to do for that. Next week DH and I are running away for a few days, something I am completely looking forward to! I can get back to sewing when we get back, but I am really going to enjoy kicking back in the hotel hot tub and relaxing after the last crazy month. 

DD#1 took an awesome pic of her two oldest, playing in the superhero capes I made them. I'll leave you with that pic.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I realized that a lot of what I'm working on these days, can't be shown for a while. The wedding quilt is over 3/4 quilted, and I plan on finishing it this week. If that happens, I will be gifting it at the bridal shower on the 24th, so I can show it after it's been given.

After I finish the wedding quilt, I have some things that need to be altered, and then it's onto making Christmas gifts, which of course can't be shown. Well, actually, I guess I can show the things going to South Africa, because I ran all those by DD#1. I don't want to mail things she doesn't want. International postage is expensive.

I always try to be an early Christmas shopper. I know that annoys some people, but there are 23 people on my Christmas list, and waiting until the last minute just isn't going to cut it. I wanted to spend less on Christmas this year, so I came up with one gift per person to purchase, then I will be making a few things. I am almost done with my shopping list, which really thrills me. I still have DH to buy for, and DS the Elder, but DH is in charge of him. Deciding what I wanted to get everyone first helped a lot, and with presents for five people being sent international, I have to mail in the next couple weeks if they have any chance of getting their Christmas presents on time, so for those five people, I'm not actually shopping early.

I did buy a few things for myself on my shopping spree. I ordered a new outfit for the upcoming wedding, and a couple other clothing items. I also picked up some fun stuff today. My year of no-buy is actually over, since I started mid-year last year. I'm still limiting my fabric purchases, but I decided if I find some fabric at a thrift store that's a great deal and I like it, I'm going to get it. So, today at Savers, here was my haul.

From left to right, there are about 2 yards of green, 2 yards of cream, 1 yard of striped fabric, 1 yard each of two flannels, 2 yards of checked fabric, and 1 yard of blue sunflower fabric. Ten yards of 100% cotton fabric, but that's not all!

I went to the section where they have bags of scraps, and I found one bag of Moda fat quarters. Sixteen fat quarters for $2.99. Altogether I got 14 yards of fabric for $17. Yeah, I am definitely not feeling any guilt about these purchases!

Thrift stores and antique stores are the only shopping I really enjoy doing. I am really excited, because at the end of this month, after the shower, DH and I are going away for a few days to Flagstaff, AZ. One of the reasons I like going to Flagstaff is because they have some great thrift stores and antique stores. I feel no compulsion to buy in any store I enter, but if I can find a few great deals, like 14 yards of fabric for $17, I'm all over that. Last time we went to Flagstaff I bought a vintage sewing machine for $10. I'm anxious to go treasure hunting, spend some quality time with DH, and shed some of the stress that's been piling up with so much going on.

DH and I have taken several trips where I take a sewing machine, and he takes his scooter. He decided it's already cooler in Flagstaff than he'd like to ride in, so I'm not bringing a sewing machine either. He's bringing his Zentangle stuff, and I'm bringing my kindle so I can read, and some squares to draw lines on for flip and sew corners. Our hotel has an indoor pool and hot tub, and we'll do some shopping, but mostly low key relaxing. I have 8 days to wait until we leave, but I'm sure looking forward to it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Third Weekend of Madness

The scooter event on Sunday was a success. We had around 35 people for dinner. When there are people in front of the house looking at the scooters, in the house getting food, and in the backyard eating, it's really hard to get an accurate count. I think there were 23 scooters, but some people just came for dinner.

I cleaned up as best I could after people were eating, and when the last person left, DH and I decided to head up to Phoenix to spend the night. DS the Younger was inducting into the Army early Monday morning, and we'd have had to leave around 5 am and drive through Phoenix rush hour traffic to make it in time if we waited until Monday morning. We got a downtown hotel instead, only a mile from MEPS, so it was pretty easy.

My dad was in the Army, DH's dad was Air Force, DH was Army, my brother was Navy, and numerous uncles were in one branch or another, so we have a lot of military history in the family. DS the Younger's wife was there too, and I know how hard being a military wife is, so we'll be praying hard for both of them. (DH was in the Army for ten years, eight of which we were married.) DS the Younger has already arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he'll be for basic training and AIT.

When we got home, I got to see that DD#3 had put the kitchen to rights, which was awesome! Today I'll be putting leftovers in the freezer, and catching up on laundry. It's a good time to catch my breath after all the activities of the past three weeks.

The next two weekends are easy, then I am hosting a bridal shower the third weekend. Hey, but after that, it's easy until Thanksgiving! Well, I'll be attending a wedding before Thanksgiving, and helping with that, but not hosting, so I'm counting that as easy too.

I might get back to sewing tomorrow, maybe not until Thursday. The wedding quilt is up next in the queue. I'd like to have it done before the shower, and use it for the shower gift, but if it's not done until the wedding, all is not lost. Barring something unforeseen happening, I should be able to get it done before the shower.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Afraid of Using Novelty Prints? Don't Be!

I've read a lot about quilters being afraid to use novelty prints in a quilt. A themed quilt with novelty prints? No problem. A kid's quilt with novelty prints? No problem. But what to do with all those novelty scraps? That's where I think a lot of people get bogged down, including myself at times.

Early this year, I spent almost 2 months cutting up my scraps. I've had a scrap user system going for a while, but what was languishing was my bags upon bags of scraps leftover from a scrub top business. I had some scraps from other quilts thrown in there as well, but the scraps were overwhelmingly novelties.

In January, I offered a Pay it Forward deal on facebook. I would make something for five people, if they then offered to do something for five more people. I decided to try to use my newly cut scraps for some of those things.

I had divided all my scraps by color. Novelties are harder to divide by color than most fabrics, because most novelties have so many colors in them. I was mostly going by background color, unless the main color was the pattern. some were just impossible to divide by color, so those went in a multiple colors stack. After a bunch of sorting, my multiple colors stack just wasn't that big. Most fabrics can be divided by predominant color.

I decided one of my Pay It Forward projects would be Christmas themed. Does that mean I only used Christmas fabrics? Far from it, but I did stick with reds and greens. I cut all the reds and greens from my newly cut scraps, but I did pull one background fabric from stash. I made yet another piano key border to make a bigger dent in the scraps. So, how did it come out? You tell me!

I used Bonnie Hunter's Pineapple Blossom pattern, and I made 48 blocks set with sashing. With any distance, the blossoms are absolutely red and green, but what about close-up? Can you see those novelties coming out to play?

Let's check out this red blossom. I spy a baby carriage, Uhura from Star Trek, Kansas City Chiefs fabric, Santa Claus, a dragon, footballs, and soccer balls.

What about this green blossom? I see dogs, Green Bay Packers, a tractor, knights, and some actual Christmas fabric!

The Pineapple Blossom pattern uses flip and sew corners, which I LOVE! Why do I love them? Because flip and sew corners mean if I double sew, I get bonus HST's to play with. In this case, I used all the bonus HST's for another of my Pay It Forward projects.

Here is one of a set of four placemats I made for my last Pay It Forward project. Each of these placemats used 48 bonus HST's, which was perfect, since each Pineapple Blossom block yielded 4 bonus HST's,  and I had 48 blocks, so it worked exactly right, and I used every bit of fabric. One person gets the quilt, another gets the placemats, and yet I feel like I only did one project!

So now my Pay It Forward Projects are finished, I just have to give these last two away. I should be able to give the quilt away tomorrow, and I hope to get the placemats in the mail this week, I'm waiting on an address.

Tomorrow is the big scooter event, Monday we'll be going to Phoenix to see DS the Younger inducted into the Army, and then sometime this week, I'll have to start quilting the wedding quilt.