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Monday, May 31, 2010

Clematis, At Last

Seems every year my clematis suffered one disaster or another.  It's taken a decade of effort, but I finally got a clematis vine to survive and bloom.  Victory is sweet!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Despite my commitment to the Wednesday Weigh-In, I attended Bratfest and ate my share.  Bratfest is the only place I know where you can help local charities AND set a new world record! :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rose Bud Blocks Complete!

Hooray!  44 rose bud blocks are done; 42 for the quilt and 2 for pillow cases or shams.  Even on the last batch of rose buds, only two of four came together without some small error.  I am SOOOOO happy to have them all done. 

24 chains are complete (I made these when the rose buds were driving me bats).  16 to go.  Then I REALLY need to make some decisions about how to quilt and assemble this project. 

Suggestions anyone?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thank You Mother Nature

There's been far less activity at the bird feeder now that food sources are abundant.  But patience and persistence pay off.  Looked outside and noticed something blue on the ground.  I did a double take because ONE is a dog toy...but I saw TWO!  Lo and behold a male Eastern bluebird was below the feeder.  I've lived here for 20 years and NEVER saw a single blue bird in this neighborhood.  What a thrill!  I sat quietly with my binoculars while Mrs. Bluebird approached. The two of them sat still long enough for me to identify them.  Know why they have a red breast?  Cuz they're cousins to the Robin.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a yellow blur.  Mrs. Cardinal was collecting nest material, but had trouble convincing the chosen twig to come with her. She fluttered there for several minutes.

At the same time Mama Chipmunk came out from under the deck, and stuffed at least a dozen maple seeds in her pouches.  While she was busy, one baby chipmunk came onto the deck to explore.  It was soooo cute!

Thank you Mother Nature, thank you so much!

Wednesday Weigh In - Resources

This is a non-quilt-related post, and its one day early, BUT...

Here are some awesome resources for determining a healthy weight range, and knowing how much food and activity is needed to gain, maintain or lose weight.

And check this out!  What an easy way to know if your meals are balanced:

If weight loss doesn't occur as quickly as you'd like, don't despair.  Even modest weight loss (10% of your weight) can result in positive health outcomes, such as better blood sugar control, lowered blood pressure and less wear and tear on your joints.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Think Pink

After an unsuccessful audition of a pastel pink, I still wanted to deviate from red for at least a few blocks.  HOT pink will do the trick. (What can I say? I'm a product of the 1960s.)

I've completed 31 rose buds, with 5 more cut out.  Then I'll need just 6 more!  The remaining purple chains will go quickly.  Still gotta figure out how to assemble and quilt this queen size quilt.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Prewash or Not?

Picked up a couple fat quarters and was SOOOO tempted to just cut them up and start sewing.  I've heard  there's no need to prewash with today's modern dyes.  But old habits die hard; I was trained to prewash no matter what.  It often  proves to been an unnecessary step - but not today!  

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not So Pretty in Pink

Pinned some pink rose buds to my current layout, and promptly decided they'll look different quilt!  Instead, will move toward lighter, brighter reds and brighter background fabrics.  I have a range of dark purple to fuschia in the chains.  Decided to stay with that successful color combination after watching DWTS.  Did you see Nicole and Dereck's dance to a Prince tune?  I LOVED her costume!

Wellness Expo

Today was the Wellness Expo at my workplace.  Here is my booth, complete with samples of 3 oz. protein portions, nutrition handouts, and fruits and veggies galore in the form of a poster, food models and... THE Picnic Quilt - made by yours truly!  This proved to be a great way to get conversation going.

Speaking of nutrition and wellness, I've decided to join my friend Stephany's weight loss challenge
( Here are a few thoughts to anyone wanting to make changes (dietary or otherwise)....

1.  It takes about 21 days to establish a new habit. Expect to make mistakes.
2.  Keep a log.  You can count calories, carbs, fat grams or glycemic index...find what works for YOU.
3.  If you have not been active, talk to your doctor first, then begin exercise gradually to reduce risk of injury.
4.  NO guilt.  If you cheat at one meal, don't skimp on the next. Start fresh with each meal or snack.
5.  All foods can fit.  Work in modest, reasonable amounts of your favorite foods (chocolate, for me). 

I hope to see lots of us joining the Wednesday Weigh In!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chain Piecing on Janome Horizon

Been getting to know my new machine.  It only took me half a quilt to figure out I wasn't using the right stitch, LOL.  And this baby has more feet than a centipede.  One thing I figured out fast was how NOT to feed the fabric.  The Horizon does not like points.  Gotta lose those points or they get sucked right on down into the machine.  That's probably true for most machines, but I am a bit dissappointed by this.  I'm keeping an open mind though, as the dealer will be holding classes for new users (after the next shipment comes in).  I'm not up-to-speed on the whole accu-quilt feature.  Will have to investigate before I quilt my next (rather large) project.  Happy Quilting.  :)

A New Direction

This quilt was looking far too somber. I'm making it for an event called the Love, Lauren Celebration.  A celebration calls for vibrant, lively hues.  Lauren's favorite colors were red and purple, so that's where I started. Now comes the fun part.  Today I auditioned a lighter double four-patch.  I think I like it.  Here's the next batch of rose buds.  There'll be 8 pink ones - polka dots are about as bright and cheery as you can get.  I can't wait to sprinkle them in. 

I'm rapidly outgrowing my design wall.  Pictured is 7 x 7 (minus one).  The finished quilt center will be 9 x 9.  Haven't got a clue as to how I'll quilt it.  I'd love to do FMQ, but the quilt will be queen size.  That's a lot of quilt to manuever!  Maybe I could do it in quadrants?  Good thing I have some time to mull it over.  :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fabric & Flowers

Two of my favorite things!  Found my focal fabric at last.  Now I can work some color variations into my squares. Below are some of my real flowers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anatomy of a Rose Bud

I'd like to say I finally made ONE rose bud block without ripping.  Alas, the perfect rose bud continues to elude me.  But I AM getting better. Here's how:

1.  Assemble pairs, and stitch. (White background pieces have been cut 1/4" wider than on EQ6 pattern)

2.  Press, admire, trim.

3. Assemble pairs, and stitch.

4.  Press, admire, trim.

5.  Assemble pairs.

6.  Press, admire, trim (are you noticing a pattern here?)

7.  Assemble pairs, and stitch.

8.  Press, admire and trim.

9.  This is where it gets tricky.  Assemble pairs.  Do NOT sew the entire seam.  Baste 1/2 " before and after the joint where the two green leaves are to meet.  There's a lot of fabric coming together at this juncture.  Check that nothing shifted before sewing the full seam. 

10.  Hooray - they match!  (If points do not match, insert naughty words here.)  Stitch the full seam, then press, trim and admire.

11.  Repeat Steps 1-10 ad nauseum (just kidding), until you have 42 squares.

Two more, and I'll be half done with the hardest part.  I hope to track down a totally gorgeous focal fabric this weekend.  That should inspire me to whip up some more rose buds.  :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ripping Rose Buds

  I think I've ripped more than I've stitched.  Here's a successful square, and...
...a  not-so-successful square.    I've made 10 squares, and two practices squares (future Horrible Hot Pads), so you'd think I'd catch on.  Pictured here is the joint that's making me crazy.  I tried cutting the background pieces with rounded points, as depicted in EQ6.  Then tried cutting them and pre-trimming as recommended by Judy Martin.  Got the best results when I added extra width to the outer pieces, which I trimmed down later. Hmmm...Is there a secret to working with 45 degree angles, that I don't know about?   

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weekend Update

While sewing, I heard the buzz of bumble bees outside my window.  Took a look and saw a sea of yellow flowers. The lacey white flowering fern smells like licorice.
Today's progress: 16 squares done, 66 to go.  I like how the purple squares make a chain in one direction, while the green leaves make a partial chain in the other direction. Still need to find a focal fabric.   

Mr. Bear is helping me save for a rainy day.  Instead of pennies, he is collecting small scraps of fabric.  I may try my hand at a postage stamp quilt sometime in the future.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Picnic Table Topper

I needed to take this baby for a spin, and had lots of leftover I whipped up a summer-y table topper.  What a difference a good machine and a 1/4" foot can make!  The nine patches were infinitely easier than on my old machine.  Pinch me, I think I'm in quilting heaven.

I still have enough squares to make a whole other quilt. Will save that for another day (I'm pretty sick of nine patches)!  I hope to get this topper basted quickly so I can try some actual quilting on the new machine.

Picnic Quilt - Finish

It's a finish!  Here's a close up of the backing and binding.  
I was eager to see how a black binding would turned out.

Next Up: Learn how to thread my new-fangled sewing machine! :)