Monday, December 16, 2013

Blue Boy Blocks Update

I had a very productive weekend and was able to make a lot of headway on the Blue Boy Blocks quilt I am making for Kevin. After squaring up the last of the blocks I was able to start arranging the quilt top.

Then it was time to start sewing it all together after grouping and stacking the rows. I was really pleased with how easily and quickly the top went together once all the blocks were assembled.

And I am just so happy with how it has turned out! 

The question now is how I'm going to quilt it. Hmm, that's going to require some thought. I spied some beautiful blue variegated Aurifil thread at my LQS last week when I was there buying the backing for my Mum's quilt, and was thinking that maybe that would cool echoed on either side of all inner and outer squares. My other question is whether or not I should add a border all around the edge. It's plenty long enough but I'm wondering if it could do with a bit more width. Thoughts anyone?

And speaking of Mum's quilt... I still haven't gotten my hands on some more white fabric to add that one last piece of border at the bottom. Grr. So I figured I'd just take a picture and share it with you all even though it's unfinished. I think my favorite fabric in this one is the "Hope, Peace, Joy" text print. I do wish I'd had some snowman fabric to throw in the mix too seeing as my Mum absolutely loves snowmen. Oh well, I guess that just means I'll have to make her a snowman quilt next year ;o)

I also got a lot of work done on a table runner I'm making for Kevin's Dad and his wife, but I didn't take any pictures of it. Duh. Oh well, I'll try and have something up by Wednesday.

Friday, December 13, 2013

So sad...

It's heartbreaking whenever their is any kind of tragedy, but even more so when it involves children. For anyone who doesn't know already there has been a school shooting here in Colorado today at Arapahoe High School. There isn't a whole lot of information available right now other than two students were injured and are in the hospital, and the shooter took his own life.

I was a junior in high school when the Columbine shooting took place in April of 2009 and I remember how it rocked the nation, and especially the schools here in Colorado. To hear that this horror has been visited upon another school in our state seems somehow especially cruel.

My years in high school were by no means easy - I was a recent transplant from the UK and the only "goth" kid in my school for a couple years so to say I didn't fit in would be an understatement. I was teased often, and sometimes mercilessly. The memory of having food thrown at me during lunch still makes me cringe and feel sad for the lonely and insecure kid I was back then. But despite all that, I could never have imagined retaliating against my tormentors in a way such as so many of our youth now do. I can't imagine what they must be feeling or experiencing to feel like that is their only way out. It's just so sad, and at the same time so frustrating.

All of my thoughts are with the students and families of AHS. I hope that everyone holds their loved ones just a little tighter tonight.

Building Blue Boy Blocks

It's been rather quiet around here lately as I've been slogging through a lack of sewing mojo, trying to finish up my Mum's Christmas quilt and working on blocks for Kevin's quilt. Mum's quilt is so.damn.close to being done that it's almost painful. In fact, if I hadn't somehow miscounted / miscalculated how many white strips I had cut, it would be cut, basted and in the process of being quilted. I am one strip short. It's so frustrating I could scream. Grr. Argh.

Yup, that's how I feel.

But, besides that slight slip up I'm really pleased with how it is turning out. I stopped by my LQS over the weekend and picked up 3 yards of some gorgeous white minky with a scroll work pattern on it. It is so cuddly and soft, and I know that my Mum will love snuggling up on the sofa with it. I'm not really looking forward to dealing with all the fluff and fuzz that will be all over the house while I'm working with it. Oh well. I've put in a request for some more of the Bella Solid Bleached White at my LQS as it's on back order, and just ordered a yard of it today on Etsy so hopefully I'll be able to finish it up by the end of next week.

In addition to working on Mum's quilt I spent a big chunk of the weekend working on the blocks for Kevin's quilt. As I mentioned in this post I'm using the Orange Quilt Dimensions tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew. I love the simplicity of this one - it looks so crisp and clean, and I'm absolutely loving the combination of blue on white. Over the weekend I got all of the blocks put together, and now I am working on squaring them up and hopefully will be able to start assembling the top this weekend.

I think I have finally mastered the art of chain piecing. It is such a time saver, and cuts down on thread waste so much. So glad I learnt this tip!

These little Gingher scissors have to be my favorite gift to myself.

I love the cute little leather sheath they came in.

I'm waiting to get all of the blocks trimmed before I take any pictures of them so hopefully you'll get to see them all next week.

Additionally the kit I ordered to make my Dad's quilt arrived this week and I can't wait to get started on it, though as always I'm dreading the joy that is the cutting process. Blech.

On top of all that I still need to whip up a table runner for Kevin's dad and his wife, and I really want to make some stuffed cat toys for our horde of fluffy minions fuzzy family using some fat quarters I got from the Hip Holiday collection by Josephine Kimberling. I adore this fabric collection and have been eyeing it enviously on several blogs that I follow. When I spied some fat quarters for sale on Etsy last week I finally broke down and treated myself to some. They're so pretty I'm almost sad to cut into them. Does anyone else have this problem??

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Re-post

I just noticed that for whatever reason my Thanksgiving post didn't show up, so here I am re-posting it now...

I hope you had a happy and safe Thanksgiving! We had quite the busy week this week, but it was so great to spend time with our families.

Kevin and I drove out to Iowa on Saturday morning to visit his Dad's side of the family. We stayed with his Grandma in the cute little farm house where his Dad was born and raised. Although the bed was too short and creaked like nobody's business, and the house was unbearably hot (those old oil fueled heaters sure do get toasty!) it was really nice to spend time with Grandma.

This was my first time meeting that side of Kevin's family so I was a little nervous meeting everyone, especially seeing as we were going into it with none of them knowing that we're engaged (and have been since last Thanksgiving!) but they quickly put me at ease and welcomed me into the family. It was truly heartwarming to be so quickly welcomed into the fold and treated like I'd been a part of the family for ages. I've already asked Kevin if we can go back next summer for Grandma's birthday. He's promised that when we do he'll show me the fireflies :o)

We spent lots of time just hanging out with Grandma and chatting, and I got to hear about just how crafty and talented she is. She used to quilt, and all of the kids have quilts made by her. She also used to be the resident seamstress and made all items of clothes from jackets, to shirts, skirts, and dresses. The only thing she wouldn't make where trousers as "fitting pants on a man is a very personal thing." That kind of sensibility just made me smile. Grandma was also the skilled painter and there were several small paintings around the house that she had done. There was a beautiful picture hanging on the wall in our bedroom and I just had to take a picture of it.

At some point I'd love to recreate it in embroidery, though I think I'll need to brush up on my (very rusty) embroidery skills first.

We made the long (and boring!) drive back to Colorado on Tuesday, giving us just enough time to catch our breaths before Thanksgiving dinner at my Mum's house on Thursday. My Dad unfortunately wasn't able to be home for Thanksgiving this year as he's still working in Amsterdam, and won't be home until Christmas :o( but we were able to get Kevin's Mom and Uncle Tim to join us, so it was still a fun, family-filled day.

In typical mother fashion, my Mum made enough food to feed about 12 people even though there were only 5 of us. Add to that the 24lb turkey that Becky and Tim brought over and as you can guess we had more than enough food.

It was a beautiful spread though, and everyone walked away with very full bellies... and a lot of leftovers :o) We rounded out the day by visiting one of Mum's neighbors, where the girls proceeded to get me more than a wee bit tipsy. Kevin found my drunken stumbling very amusing, the little turd!

The week finished with another delicious, though much smaller, meal at my house, where Kevin and I made dinner for his Dad and his wife, and my Mum. It was wonderful to get everyone together and enjoy good food together. We don't see either sets of parents as often as we should what with busy work schedules and living on opposite sides of town, so when we are able to get together it's a nice treat.

And now that Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is right.around.the.corner I had better get my butt into gear and do some work on the intimidating list of Christmas gifts I want to make.

WIP Thursday?: Boxes, Blocks, and Cats

So I didn't quite make it for WIP Wednesday as I was waiting for some new goodies arrive before tackling the huge amount of cutting I had to do for my Mum's Christmas quilt and the quilt I am making for Kevin.

I treated myself earlier this week to a new rotary cutter as my previous one is about as dull as a spoon. I'd originally planned to just buy some replacement blades for the one I already have but when I went to my local Joann's they were completely out of 45mm blades :o( So instead I bought the uber cute Olfa Splash (love the turquoise!) I also ordered a new Omni non-slip ruler and a box of Clover Wonder Clips on Monday. I needed a bigger ruler to make cutting WOF strips easier and I've been eyeing the Wonder Clips for a while now seeing as my worst pin-related injuries seem to happen during the binding process.

With my new cutter on hand I was able to cut all of the white strips for the Pyramid Dance quilt I'm making for my Mum. They still need to be subcut into rectangles and squares which I'll probably tackle tonight.

Seeing as Kevin opted to just hang out at his house last night I took the rare evening alone as an opportunity to get a start on his Christmas gift. For some reason I've struggled for the past several weeks to settle on a design for his quilt. I knew I wanted to do something in blue and white seeing as blue is his favorite color and I love the crisp and clean look of white and blue together. I also happened to have a butt load of blue fat quarters in my stash. I came across Allison's Orange Quilt Dimensions tutorial over at Cluck Cluck Sew a couple weeks ago and instantly knew that that was what I wanted to do. So last night I cut all 36 blue blocks and 31 white blocks (I didn't have quite enough white fabric for both quilts, damn). So far I'm really liking the look of the blocks :o)

I'm tentatively calling this one 'Blue Boy Blocks', though I hope he won't be feeling blue when he sees it!

And as always the kitties were interested in what I was doing, though at least last night they had an awesome new toy to keep them occupied...

As usual Silas had to be the first one to try out the box. This one at least was actually big enough to accommodate his butt, though I'm sure he'd like me to assure you all that he's not fat, he's just fluffy!

Emboldened by his brother's exploration of the box, Viktor (aka Little Monkey) decided to give it a try too.

Severus hung out nearby waiting for his turn.

And Lucius, always the gentleman, watched over everyone to make sure that they were all queuing properly. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Have I Ever Mentioned...

... that cutting is my least favorite part of any sewing project? Whenever I start a new sewing project, be it a quilt, a costume, or clothing, I have to give myself a little pep talk to muster up the energy and patience to do all of the cutting. I'm not quite sure why it is that I dread cutting so much though I suppose part of it is fear that I'll mess up and ruin the fabric, though in all the years I've been sewing I've never had a cutting catastrophe that would warrant this lingering fear.

So now that Christmas is only 3 short weeks away (eep!) I figured I had better get my butt into gear and get started on the last few quilts I want to do for the holidays. The first one on my list is the quilt for my Mum. I'm doing the Pyramid Dance quilt from the September/October 2013 issue of Quilty. I had a couple of Christmas themed fat quarter bundles in my stash which was just enough for all of the pyramid blocks. I managed to squeeze in some quilting time on Wednesday between making food to take over to my Mum's on Thursday for Thanksgiving dinner and then finished up cutting the rest of the fat quarters last night.

It was a lot of cutting, and I grumbled my way through all of it, though it actually went a lot faster than I thought it would, and left me with enough from each fat quarter to possibly make the same quilt again, and a 6 inch or so strip of each print to maybe piece together a table runner. Maybe if I have enough time I'll whip that up for my Mum as well.

I started off with two stacks of 5 prints cut into 2 1/2" strips

And then cut them into rectangles and squares to piece the pyramids

I just love my little pink mouse pin cushion! The cats love him too and keep thinking he is one of their toys

As always I had a couple of my trusty assistants on hand to help me. Silas is always so interested in what I'm doing on the dining table

Severus decided to stop by and oversee my work too. He didn't seem too impressed

In between all the madness and fun of our trip to Iowa, two Thanksgiving meals, a thorough cleaning of the house, and sewing I was able to get all of our Christmas decorations up. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year :o)

Unlike my Mum, I didn't quite achieve "Christmas threw up all over my house" status, which I think Kevin counts as a win. I guess I'll just have to try harder next year ;o) 

Hope you all had a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Honeydew Jam In The Park

Last night I was able to finish up the quilt for Kevin's Grandma to take back to Iowa with us tomorrow. I'm calling it Honeydew Jam In The Park seeing as I used the Honeydew Jellie from Fabric Central for the top, yardage from the Bluebird Park collection for the backing and the Jelly Roll Ram pattern from Fat Quarter Shop, plus a couple of pink and white fat quarters from a Vintage Summer bundle I picked up on Craftsy.

While I liked the fabric selection when I originally bought it, I didn't fall in love with it until I put this quilt together. I think the colors and prints are just so darn cute together :o) Anyway, enough chatter from me. On to the pictures!

Full view of the top being displayed by my ever patient model, Kevin.

Close up of the top. I love these colors!

Bluebird Park has to be one of my absolute favorite fabric collections, and I thought this aqua flower print was just perfect for the backing.

The backing and top coordinate in such a pretty way.

I just *love* these cute little tags :oD

All folded and ready to go. Yay!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday: Jelly Roll Jam

There hasn't been much sewing going on here lately, or at least nothing that's far enough along to post about, seeing as I've been sick on and off for the past couple of weeks and haven't been up to doing much of anything besides going to work and vegging on the couch at home. But with Thanksgiving looming next week, and a trip to Iowa planned for the weekend, I decided that it was time I got my butt into gear and whipped up a quilt for Kevin's Grandma to take to Iowa with us.

I was originally planning on using a Honeysweet charm pack by Fig Tree & Co. and a couple other pieces from my stash, but after cutting all the Honeysweet squares into cute little HST I realized that unless I was planning on it being about the size of a postage stamp, the pattern I was using just wasn't going to work. Apparently neither Kevin or I bothered to actually read the part about the final dimensions of the quilt. Oops!

So I went back to my stash and found a Honeydew jellie by Fabric Central that I had been saving with plans to use it to make a little lap quilt for myself for the office. Luckily when I had bought it I had the forethought to buy two, so I didn't mind using one for this project. I've been wanting to try the Jelly Roll Jam pattern from Fat Quarter Shop for a while, and figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a try. I'd already watched the video tutorial for the pattern so I had a pretty good idea of how straight forward the piecing and construction is. I pieced and subcut the three sets of six strips on Monday evening, and then moved on to piecing, basting, and starting to quilt last night.

I really need some better lighting in my house!

Or maybe I just need to quit taking all of my pictures at night.

I love how bright and playful these colors are. It may almost be winter, but these colors make me think of summer :o)

I decided to go with a quilt pattern that would compliment all the vertical and horizontal lines of the quilt top but would still stand out, and settled on going with a simple diagonal straight stitch (sorry, no pictures of that yet).

So, my plans tonight are to finish quilting the top and machine stitch the binding, and maybe (if I'm lucky) start on the hand-stitching portion of the binding so that I can finish it up tomorrow and Friday. Phew, I'm sensing some very sore fingers by the end of the week!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One Quilt Down...

... and a lot more to go!

I finally finished up the quilt for my Nan last night and I am so very pleased with the way it turned out.

The top hanging up on my design wall (aka the wall next to the front door) before sandwiching.

The one flub, what project by me would be complete without one? I was so sure that I had all of the blocks the right way up, but alas it looks like I ended up with some drunk geese and swans.

Showing off the awesome backing which was one big piece of the 12 Days of Christmas Picture Dots in Olive. I felt like it really pulled the whole quilt together.

Of course, one of my trusty assistants had to inspect my handiwork...

Before giving his seal of approval.

One more gratuitous kitty shot. Last one, I promise!

The finished product being modeled by my ever patient fiancĂ©, Kevin.

All that is left now is to run it through the washer as soon as I can get some color catcher sheets, and then tie it up with some ribbon. I'm still debating on whether or not I should ship it over to my Nan, which will likely cost me close to $100 (ouch!) or wait until my Dad comes home from Amsterdam for Christmas and talk him into taking it back to London with him after the holidays.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WIP Wednesday and Halloween Pictures!

Progress on the Christmas quilt for my Nan has been pretty slow going this week as I've been feeling a bit icky lately. I refuse to admit that I am getting sick and so I am valiantly, albeit slowly, pressing on. I was able to finish the quilting on Monday evening and then machine stitched the binding last night. I then switched over the hand-stitching the back of the binding (oh joy!) and got one of the short sides done before Kevin made me pack up and head to bed. He's such a good boy :o)

I didn't get a chance to take any progress pictures yesterday so nothing to show on the quilt just yet. I'm feeling better today so hopefully if I don't start to feel craptastic again this afternoon I'll be able to finish up the hand-stitching and get some pretty pictures this evening.

So, seeing as I don't have any pretty sewing pictures to show I figured I could finally share the pictures from Halloween. Unfortunately I didn't get any full shots of my costume, so you'll just have to believe me when I say that it was awesome ;o)

Ooh sparkly! I swear I must have worn about a pound of glitter that night. I'm sure our gracious hosts, Bryan and Meta, are still finding glitter all over their house!

Striking the obligatory fairy pose. This one was taken at our work party where I went all out and donned my elf ears. They ended up being my favorite part of my costume and I was sad to take them off at the end of the day.

Kevin is so very photogenic. And check out those smoldering eyes!

Clark Kent showing off his stellar six pack.

Stealing a kiss from Superman :o)

My Mum looking absolutely adorable.

All of our pictures at the party and at our work do were taken by my friend Bryan. He's awesome and crazy talented. Check out his photography here!