Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Jacks Progress

Well, I think I am almost completely out of green... so I've started to add brown. I have 8 blocks cut out of a dark red/maroon (not yet sewn). I want 1 more row, so another 12 of those 9" blocks (I am using 4 blocks to make a square) for that row need to be made, plus that 1 missing block. It looks like I will need some more bricks too for that outer border, so I will have a look through what fabric is remaining to see what I can do. I am hoping that within the next week or two I can have the remaining blocks sewn. My progress has been slow, but steady, so I am pleased.

Today there was wonderful sledding snow... so you know where we were... I know this photo looks like no one else ever goes sledding - but believe me, there were other kids and parents out! Proof - look at the snowmen they built before we got there- that tall one is bigger than me!!! I haven't seen a snowman taller than me in a long while!
The only bad thing - sheer ice under all that fluffy snow... the other night we had snow then freezing rain on top of that, then a sunny day when everything just melted into glass, now snow on top of that. Talk about slippery.
I went to a Valentine's Day luncheon today (before sledding). Amazingly, there were almost 100 tickets sold for the event. We had quiche, salad, ham roll-ups, rolls, coffee/tea/cold drink and chocolate pie. There was live entertainment provided by some of the men (gosh, I wish I had remembered to bring my camera, especially for the frilly apron bit!) and door prizes. At the end, it was announced that all the proceeds were going to help pay for someone's funeral, so that was nice. We have a small community here, but people are always willing to lend a helping hand, whether it be to help someone stack a pile of wood or rebuilding a house that burned down. Even the other night I went to a pot-luck down a ways (maybe 15 miles?) - it was snowing pretty hard by the end and several people offered for me to sleep at their house - people I've only met 1-2 times before. It is nice to know that people care. Let us all remember - be nice.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Simple Squares

I loved making this quilt! I even liked each segment as it came together and almost was tempted to stop right there - the segments by themselves were that pretty. Ah well, this photo is just to remind myself to make some sort 0f color controlled postage stamp style quilt... some day. With a great little burst of contrasting color here and there.
I like all the little squares of my blues, blues and more blues! This quilt used up most of my blues - left over from making other blue quilts...

I did my version using just blues, but the pattern showed lots of colors (Robert Callahan)! I am actually thinking of making it again in a different color set. If I know a pattern goes together perfectly and gives me no trouble - I enjoy making it again. And again. Sometimes even again. Which would explain why I have multiples of certain quilts!

Here is another of my blue quilts made with squares (16 patch with zig zag setting). Don't let the simplicity of a design fool you... quilting adds a whole 'nother dimension! Gosh, just think about the 100's and 1000's of 9 patch quilts made - all made with just simple squares, but still a favorite pattern of quilters for years.

I've made other quilts using just squares too. I like them all!
But now look at the quilt I am considering... see any similarities? VERY similar!!! Except even smaller pieces - I think the strips are cut 1 3/4" for this baby. I think it will be the perfect pattern to use a stack of very ugly-ish red fat quarters for starters. I have lots of odds and ends of fabrics that I think would work very nicely in this quilt! A great quilt to cut my yuck fabrics down and re-create them into something beautiful. I am very determined to use up some of those fabrics that I keep passing over, again and again.

PERHAPS this pattern is the "poor mans version" of the quilt below... I would like to make this quilt someday too - but really, I never seem to have that much yardage of any 1 fabric on hand! That would explain why I like the scrappy quilts! But look closely - it appears like the same (very similar) pattern, again!
I love how the change of fabric can make a pattern look so different!

Just to keep myself on track here.... This weeks current quilt projects progress (no, I am NOT cutting out this quilt right now - I have a few things to finish up first!!!): 1. I made 4 more Happy Jacks blocks. 2. I cut out another 5 Happy Jacks blocks but haven't had a chance to sew them yet. 3. I turned the 3 crazy patch squares into stars and got them attached to the bottom of the Crazy Patch Stars top that I wanted to "grow". 4. I've been pulling the newspaper foundations off the back of the strippy border blocks for Crazy Patch Stars and have sewn some of them together. The border doesn't fit/line-up the way I thought it would, so maybe this week I will get a chance to play around with that.
Slow progress, but progress is progress! And just think - when I get these 2 quilts done, then maybe I can start cutting out some... simple squares.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Quilt's Story

I was looking through my photos tonight and came across these 2 of my Octagon Flowers. If you just saw these 2 photos, that would be the end of the story.

But you know... there is a story behind every quilt. And this quilt has a heart-warming story.

Was it really that long ago that "we" made this quilt? I knew he was growing up fast, but gosh, he really IS growing up fast! Just think - if he ever becomes a famous quilter - he will have these photos to document how early he got started at quilting... which is good because no-one would believe that he was pinning borders on when he was 3 if there wasn't a photo, right? And yup, he did that border all by himself - there is a piece of cardboard under the fabric so the pins don't go through the carpet in case you are wondering.
I REALLY need to get labels onto my quilts. Really, really.
It has been a really cold week... I really needed a heart-warming story! Brrr. My brother told me to cheer up - he heard it is supposed to warm up... in April. Always the jokster that brother of mine!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Log Cabin Quilts - a favorite!

Sometimes when I am really busy and don't have much time to sew... well - that is a good time for me to remember past successes. Enjoy the quilts that I have done. So - here is a little history behind some of my log cabin quilts - which is a favorite pattern of mine!
This is a photo of my very first log cabin quilt, my 2nd quilt. I was 16. My Mom bought this extremely heavy sewing machine at a yard sale for about $20 and signed me up for the class. Poor Dad had to lug that machine into class for me every week. The teacher picked out the fabrics for me. And, this is the quilt I made. A very basic, simple quilt that I worked very hard on. It is bound. And tied. Amazingly - finished! BUT - the big thing is - it was my only quilt class and the lesson learned on how to make a successful quilt block stuck. How to cut. To use a 1/4" seam. How to chain sew. How to trim blocks so they are all the same size. Because really, I didn't know all this stuff back then. Which would explain why on my very 1st quilt, which I made for a 3D art class project - I got a D. That's ok - I loved that 1st quilt every bit as much as some of my newer quilts.
Growing up, this is the quilt that was on my bed. Ah-ha! A log cabin, but with bigger red squares. This quilt was made by either my Nana or Great-Aunt long before I was ever even born. I found it in a trunk somewhere and hauled it out and put it on my bed - which was a 3/4 bed . It is actually just a summer throw - there is no batting in there, but each log is quilted to the background. I've always liked it. And it has been my inspiration for sewing scrappy quilts using traditional patterns.
Eventually, I combined the idea of those bigger center squares and those scrappy fabric logs from my antique quilt with the lessons learned so long ago in that quilt class and started to make log cabin quilts. Lots of them! And actually, I am still making them now - but my point here is that it was the log cabin quilt that got me hooked on quilting. OK - so for a long while, it was really the only block I knew how to make, so I just kept making it. It is my favorite block to sew, very simple and relaxing. Once I was cleaning out my closet and came across an entire pile of blocks - enough to make a quilt, and I had (and still have) no recollection what-so-ever of making them.
Here is a photo of some of my log cabins - I've made more, but gave them away before taking photos. 2 of them had the same layout as my antique quilt. At least 6 of them used some of the same fabrics - 1 yard cuts of fabric used to be my favorite (but also took a long time to use) - now I usually buy just 1/3 yard instead. You learn these things as you go along, I guess.

With the left-overs strings - I make more quilts... here are 3 smaller quilts made from left-over log cabin strings.

I think log cabin variations are fun too! Here is SB's quilt before it was quilted. I bound it in SB's favorite color - orange. I would take a photo, but SB is right this very moment happily sleeping under it. HE has loved it since day one! Maybe this love affair with log cabins is a generational thing? I don't think you can go wrong with a log cabin! Maybe it is time for me to make another... or two or... because I don't think I could ever make just one!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bits & Pieces

First up - our group quilt is coming along nicely! My contribution this week were 8 long legged triangle blocks. Sometimes it seems like you are working on boring little pieces, but once things start coming together - you say wow! Take a look at the close-up of the lighthouse center that 2 very talented members have been working on/creating as they go!!! That lighthouse is a piece of paper right now - just to give us an idea. When it comes to quilting - I just don't have this kind of vision so I am very happy to work on the traditional blocks! I think the combination of traditional/modern is very stunning here! I should note that this pattern is from a magazine - and I will get the exact source next time I post about the quilt. The central medallion and the borders will be our groups design.

The above quilt is not mine, it is W's from quilt group - on the frame. Both sides roll so eventually both sides will be sitting very close together as we keep rolling the quilt. I didn't really feel like working on much today for quilt group so just planned to sit at the frame and quilt. Sometimes it is nice to just quilt and visit. In the background you can see a 2nd set of frame legs - the guys around here are good at making frames! It is very rare for a quilt to be machine quilted in this community.
For quilt group I like to pack my little pencil case - I think I got it at Staple's. It is perfect for small sewing supplies and rotary cutter. Next time I go to Michael's I am going to get some letter beads and make myself some little name tags. I like to keep my sharp pointed scissors and rotary cutter in the case so they don't accidentally cut something in my sewing tote. I have my own quilting needles - I like those EZ gold eyes... and my thimbles I've had forever. I really recommend a little case like this for the small sewing supplies that tend to get lost in bigger bags/totes. Oh, and that white thing is my spool holder on my machine - it always falls off when I move my machine and I don't want to lose it - so I just pop it in this little case.

My own sewing projects were few this week, but slow progress is steady progress anyway. I made 3 crazy patch blocks which I need to lengthen my Crazy Patch Stars quilt. The center of the top is done and seems a bit short, so another row is in the works - just waiting on these 3 blocks to turn into stars. I also made 3 more blocks to add to my collection of Happy Jacks blocks I've been working on. I've had some help in finding the name of these blocks... Mary calls them Double X and others have said Jacks over 9. Bonnie & Tonya were having a Fungly challenge and this block was used for that too. I like the name Happy Jacks, so will go with that. In anycase, I got 3 more blocks made so that brings me up to 24 blocks total at 9" each.

Not too much sewing this week because in "my" extra time - I've been having lots of fun with SB. Sometimes at the library I will pick up a magazine and it will be full of articles about "making time for Mom". While I do believe in balance, I don't really like the "me, me, me" attitude so many of these articles have. Let me just take a moment here to remind you - if you have a small child at home - it goes by all too fast. Fast. Fast, fast, fast. Right now I am SB's hero and if I take just 15 minutes out of my schedule here and there to play - it makes his day. Really. OK, so sometimes it is much longer than 15 minutes, but gosh, I have fun too. And all too soon he will be a teenager and things will change. OK, so he is still only 5 1/2, but I know the day will come. For now, I will take the time to be his hero! And in return I am rewarded with an endless supply of cuddles.
We were having so much fun on Tuesday night playing cars that I totally forgot to go to the exercise class I was planning on going to. Oops! Good thing I got lots and lots of exercise on Saturday hoofing up and down the sliding hill!
I've spent hours this week reading SB library books. The beginning of the year at kindergarten they really focused on letters and their sounds. Since Christmas break was over - they have been concentrating on connecting it all up together - and reading. Every day he comes home with a very simple mini book to read. Today I could see it start to really click as he excitedly sounded out some words and realized - yes, he can read!!! Thursday is kind-ov our down night as he really likes to turn his homework in on Thursday even though it isn't due until Friday. Fine by me! He had to work a bit extra this week to accomplish that since he had an ice day on Monday. But it is done and tonight he is playing in the other room with DH - with trains, which is where I am headed as soon as I hit Publish Post.
And a special treat for my boy today - last night I mixed up a batch of gingerbread men dough and baked the cookies while he was in school today. He just loves these cookies (and so do I)! They are already 1/2 gone and I didn't even get around to frosting them yet! Cookies aren't just for Christmas you know!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland?

Last week it was pretty constantly below 0 - which means no recess for the kids at school. Well, Saturday it finally warmed up to be tolerable to be outside - and the kids had a great time sliding. Believe me, it was good for everyone to get outside and have a bit of fresh air! The snow is hard and icy though - SB is hoping for much better snow for sliding before the winter is over.

After sliding SB and I stopped by to check out the new community skating rink (still under construction, but it was open on Saturday for a free skate anyway). There seems to be a big question as to whether or not they will be able to make ice when it is warmer - but with cold weather, open doors and fans blowing - the ice was there this past weekend anyway.
We have had plenty of our own "natural" skating rinks in the parking lots, etc. around here too. School was closed yesterday due to ice.

Last week was a busy travel week for me, I was away 2 days. One day I ate at this cute Mexican restaurant - doesn't it look festive and cheery in our cold weather?
One day that I was home it was so cold that the ocean was steaming and everything was frozen. Really cold, but beautiful too - so I grabbed my camera, made sure the battery was well charged (the cold quickly diminishes battery life) and headed out to take some shots. I was pretty disappointed when I got home to realize that I didn't have my chip in the camera - so no photos. Ah well, next time then.

One night I was cutting buttons off a very OLD shirt of DH's. School Boy wanted to know what I was going to make with those buttons, so I made this owl for him. It was from a pattern I found on a Japanese craft site on the internet - and I enlarged it 200% (the original was tiny!). I had to add feet, wings and a tail to get it to SB's liking! The eye background is made out of fleece - I traced a nickle to create the pattern. The owl is still on the small side - just about the size of my palm. He is made with left over corduroy and fleece from making SB's pants.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quilt Blocks

My collection of HST's grew to these blocks over the week. Each block is 9". I like arranging the blocks so you can see a radiating star. So - I will probably join 4 blocks to make 1 bigger star block and then put sashing between each block to make the stars "pop". Then again - I also like the pattern that forms when you put the blocks the other way too! Just to mix things up some - I might make the rest of the blocks reversing the lights/darks. I have no idea - for now I am just enjoying a little bit of mindless sewing - doing a bit here and there. I don't even know the name of this block pattern! For the outside border - I've been cutting "bricks" of the dark greens at the same time. In anycase, I do like it - and it has turned a neat little pile of fat quarters into some pretty blocks!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A group quilt

My quilt group is making a quilt for charity. The top is a photo of some of the pieces on our little design board. Here is a photo of the 9 patches (6.5") I contributed this week - I did 4 the week before and this week I brought home fabric to make 8 blocks - long legged triangle blocks.

I am rather liking triangles these days and have sewn all these HST's together since last week.

On my living room floor - Lego cities are springing up. Here is SB's lighthouse/docking station/helicopter launch pad.

Sewing and Lego's - a perfect combination for cold weather.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Scrap quilt finished!

50.5" X 62". Yet to be named... any suggestions??? I was thinking Saphire Sunbeams or Saphire Sunlight, but am not sure.
I made these blocks last spring(?) with the blue/purple/yellow scraps from my Scrappy Bargello. They are just 9 patches sliced through the middle 2X - you can Google Disappearing Nine-Patch if you haven't seen this type of pattern yet - I just set mine differently than is typical. I only had enough scraps in those colors to make the 12 blocks, but figured I could grow the top a bit with some sashings/borders. So, it is the size that it is.
Here is a photo of my wedding ring on the pieces so you can see how small they are! It has occurred to me in the past that I would use my fabric much faster if I would just settle on a pattern with bigger pieces, but I do so much love those itty bitty pieces.

Although not my favorite, and a funky size to boot - it is nice to have these blocks all sashed together, bordered and ready to be quilted. Of course, once it is quilted I probably will love it - that always happens. In anycase - School Boy certainly loves, loves, loves it - which means I will probably buy either fleece or flannel for the backing - he likes snuggly and soft fabrics! And he has already demonstrated to me - by crawling under it during construction process - that it truly is the perfect size for him!


When I have used fleece for backings in the past, I have not used a batting. Fleece usually comes in 60" width so if you get it on sale it is a good bargain for kids quilts backings. I always pay extra for the anti-pill fleece, it is well worth it because it holds up to repeated washings!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Organizing stuff

I don't really"do" New Year's resolutions, but in January 2008 - I decided that I would like to get my stuff more organized. But guess what? I got to thinking - if I don't have the stuff in the first place, I won't have to spend all that time organizing it all. What you are looking at - in this photo - is my floor to ceiling PILES of empty plastic containers. What you don't see is the 4 good sized and 2 smaller cardboard boxes because I threw out the cardboard boxes - obviously I don't need them if I have all these plastic ones! That is all the "stuff" I got rid of this past year. I did a little bit every month.
All through the year I've been slowly emptying containers. Goodwill, passed on, handed down, some to the dump - all gone. As I emptied a container - I would fit a smaller one into a larger empty one. And put it back from where it came from. This past week I was curious as to exactly how many empty containers I had so after the Christmas tree was put away - I stacked all the empties in the corner. Ta-Da! That is all "stuff" I won't have to organize anymore!
I still have 3 totes of photos - this coming year I hope to do something about that - whether I weed out the excess or scan the favorites, or buy some digital photo frames - I would like to get those 3 totes down to 1. And I have 3-4 totes of random stuff- those odds and ends (like my high school diploma, old coin collection, costume jewelery, childhood dolls, etc.) I never can seem to bear to part with. This coming year I would like to get those totes down to just 1.
For the New Year - I am still thinking about what my "goals" will be. I am thinking along the lines of schedules and structure... things that most people don't really like, but in the long run really make your life so much easier. I'll mull it over for another week or so before I come up with a game plan. Whatever I decide - it won't be an overnight process - just like my slow and steady progress in emptying all those containers wasn't. It probably won't be something easy for me either - getting rid of stuff wasn't easy. But I am happier for it. Change isn't always an overnight process, but something that we must make a conscious decision to do, to try, to sometimes flounder, but then remember our goal - get back on track, and keep going. Keep your eye on the prize!