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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bottle Quilt Update

Ya know what I love about quilting?  Tangible results!

Had big plans for today - some of which encountered set backs.  But it allowed me to do some sewing.  And I DO love quilts that come together quickly!  I just forget about everything else.

This quilt is longer and more narrow than I envisioned.  I should probably have limited it to three rows, but I got carried away.  The instructions say that "bottling" is contagious.  So it would seem! 

The pattern is pinned to the design wall for comparison.  The original design has a better overall shape.  I may make 4 more bottles...or just making the outer black border wider on the sides than on the top and bottom. 

Dang - I WISH I had a 9 x 5 1/2" piece of blueberry fabric!  Now THAT would motivate me to make four more bottles! :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bottles in Rows

I've converted all my 9 x 5 1/2" rectangles to "bottles" by first making 4 snowball corners, then adding a lid.  The instructions say to sew your 1 1/2" square diagonally at each corner, but DO NOT trim the bottle fabric.  The bottle fabric is supposed to help anchor the corner flap.
When pressing the corners down, I can see how the extra fabric helps stabilize the corner piece.  Having never made a snowball block before, I can't tell you if this is standard procedure or if it's something new.  Whatever it is, I like it!
Laid out the blocks against my white design wall and was certain I'd achieved the optimal arrangement.  Then I added the black strips to form rows.
Uggh!  Now my "perfect" layout looked "all wrong." Working on a black background  is a game changer.  I need a black design wall.
Here's another variation.  It'll be a few nights before I do more sewing, so this arrangement will change many times.  I might throw in the yellow bottle I omitted when I took out a row.  Heck - maybe I'll add the whole row back... 

Yeeesh! This might be a good time to step away from this project and think a bit! :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bottle Quilt Auditions

Here's a sneak peak at my next project - a bottle quilt.  I really had my heart set on blueberry fabric, but my scraps are too small, and I can't seem to find any locally.  Also have to decide if I'll make 9, 12 or 16 bottles.

This project is on a short time frame.  I want to donate it to the Silent Auction at the Wisconsin Dietetic Association Conference in mid-April.  Gotta make some decisions and get a stitchin'!  :)

It's a Finish!

My Double Irish Chain with Shamrocks is finally done. 
Complete with sleeve and label, and in plenty of time for St. Pattie's Day.
Here's a close up of the quilting.  I hope it shows up. 
Diagonals in the chain, stippling around the shamrocks to add emphasis.
I sometimes forget to label my quilts.  But not this time.  I experimented with a machine stitched label, but went back to using Word and my laser jet printer - with fabric pressed to an 8 1/2 x 11" piece of freezer paper.  Works every time!  :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Prove You're Not a Robot

So what's up with this hard core word verification that makes me to prove I'm not a robot over and over again, just to comment on my quilty friends' accomplishments?  Is  this really necessary? 

I know I'm being naive - but could a robot really produce the beautiful quilts and things we display on our blogs?  Isn't that proof enough?

I've been living dangerously for some time now without word verification, and haven't had trouble with spam (hopefully I didn't just jinx myself by saying that)! 

I review comments before they're posted, so I have the opportunity to weed out anything questionable.  The software does a great job of relegating inappropriate comments to the spam folder - where they are quickly and easily nixed. 

I hope others will give it (no word verification) a whirl.  Maybe if enough bloggers boycott the current system, somebody somewhere will get the message - this is oVerkIll.  Perhaps then it will be modified to something a little more reasonable?

Let's hope!!! :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Though We've Never Met...

Diane Gaudinski may just be my new BFF.  Her feather tutorial is amazing.
It's important to know I only tried this in the last 24 hours. 
I'd done feathers just once before - and they were disastrous. 
Thanks to Diane, I'm no longer feather-phobic!
Initially, I had great difficulty just drawing them, let alone stitching them.  But her suggestions are great - draw the spine first, and trace coins if you can't draw a good circle.  With practice I was able to just sketch this much and stitch from there.

Even if you have NO interest in the FMQ Challenge, click on my widget to go to Sew Cal Gal's site.  Then click on her link for the Feb. Challenge (on the right hand side).  Read Diane Gaudinski's instructions a few times.  She has many good pointers - that are applicable to ALL FMQ, not just feathers.  Then give it a whirl.  You won't be sorry!

Things I learned with this exercise:

1.  A Supreme Slider is fantastic.  This helped me do FMQ more smoothly.  I had no problems with it lifting up or moving while working on small projects. (Have not yet used it on a large quilt.)

2.  The instructions for the Supreme Slider said to set your stitch speed to 1/2, then begin your FMQ - and put the pedal all the way down.  I never heard this before and it was tremendously helpful. 

3.  When spritzed with water, blue ink pen disappears much faster than purple.

4.  Use the same good quality thread in your bobbin as on top.  On a previous project I just left in a disposable white bobbin.  I'll never do that again.  It created drag and messed up the tension.  Throw aways are fine for chain piecing, but not for FMQ.

5.  To make a feather in one continuous line, stitch up the left side of the spine, make your Q-tip at the top, and stitch down the right side.  Make the bottom of the spine and then branch left to make your feathers, working up to the top.  Echo back down the left side, echo the stem and start up the right side.  Touch the stem and stitch the feathers on the right.  Work your way to the top and echo back down, ending when you touch the stem for the last time.  Amazing, huh?

6.  I can actually enjoy doing FMQ without having heart palpitations - Hooray!

Fray Check to the Rescue

I made a mistake as I was hurrying to complete my quilted Valentine on schedule. 
Yeah, this one.  Front looks fine, but...
I managed to put the full sleeve at the TOP of the quilt, and the partial sleeves at the BOTTOM - making it a little difficult to hang.
So I made a notch at the center. 
To make sure it didn't fray at the point, I used Fray Check.

Just like Breel Cream, a little dab'll do ya!  :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Supreme Slider - Think It'll Help?

A quilter friend recommended this product for doing FMQ.  I've resisted buying it for over a year, as I'm somewhat opposed to using teflon.  Between the stain guarding in rugs (and even clothes) and non-stick cookware, every single American now has these chemicals in their bloodstream.  Kinda scary, huh?

Another reason NOT to try this product is the price - $34.00!

But I've been struggling with my FMQ.  I've never felt at ease doing it.  I stippled around 2 of 12 shamrocks, but felt like the quilt kept getting hung up on something.  This product is supposed to prevent those hang ups.  We'll soon find out!  I hope to get good results, considering that I've compromised my principles and all....

I want to finish up this shamrock wall quilt, and get rolling on my Feb. FMQ Challenge - feathers!  Quite frankly, feathers strike fear and trepidation in my heart.  Past attempts have been pitiful! 

Perhaps with the handy dandy Super Slider at my side, my feathers take flight!  :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Welcome Back!!!

As always, I keep my eyes peeled for new avian friends.  Today I was much surprised to see an old and unexpected friend - earlier than in I ever recall.

Forget the dang groundhog  - the ROBINS are back! :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scrappy Valentine Basket Finish

Whew!  I finished the Valentine basket quilt just in time for our celebration on Wednesday.  Here it is empty.
 And here it is chock full of Valentine goodies.

Ya know what's funny?  When I took my pieced heart to work and showed it to other women they knew immediately what it was supposed to be.  When I showed it to men they scratched their heads and drew a blank.  Once I explained it was a Valentine mailbox - like we used to make out of construction paper as children, they got the idea.  My Sweetie was no exception.  Never-the-less, I think he really liked it. (I KNOW he liked the treats!)

Talking about Valentine's day in grade school prompted him to tell me about making a Valentine mailbox and working really hard on it.  He was so proud of it.  Then everyone put theirs up on the wall.  When he saw the fancier ones he was really upset and embarassed by his own.  He worried he wouldn't get ANY Valentines, poor kid.  But happily, he got just as many Valentines as always - so all was well.  My gosh, the trials and tribulations of growing up!!!  :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine Progress

I read this morning that chocolate cake at breakfast can help you lose weight.  For real, this is a valid study (and yes, there is a catch).  I'll share it later this week for Wednesday Wellness.  Needless to say no one at work believed me - so I decided to make GF Valentine chocolate cupcakes and will put a printed copy of the story alongside the treats.  We'll see how long they last!
I dug through my pink scraps one more time and found some that are nearly identical to what I used for the heart.  That allowed me to extend my checkered border all the way around - which looks much better than the solid red I was considering.  Was beginning to panic as time got away from me, but fusible web came to the rescue.  I had used it for a class, and though it doesn't give a nice loft, I don't really need loft for this project.  What a fantastic time saver!  I can begin quilting as soon as I get home from work tomorrow.
The heart is not yet applied.  Here is what the back looks like.  It should serve nicely as a Valentine in-basket.  My Sweetie and I aren't celebrating until Wednesday, so I'll still have tomorrow night to quilt, bind, and apply the heart and handle.  Then I have to tuck a Valentine and some "stocking stuffers" in the pocket. 

I REALLY wish I'd get these bright ideas a week or two ahead of time, but inspiration doesn't seem to come according to schedule! 

Have a Happy Valentine's Day :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Scrappy Valentine's Day!

Remember those nifty little Valentine baskets we used to make in grade school?
Well, in my usual (last-minute) way, I decided to make one for my Sweetie!
 Here's how it looks like so far.  I may use a different background fabric.  Also not sure if I should applique the whole heart, or finish the edge and make it an actual pocket - into which I could place a card and some Valentine-y surprises.  What do you think?
I also haven't decided how to frame it up.  Still waiting for inspiration to strike. 
Why aren't fabric stores open on Sunday nights, anyway? 

Shhhhh....don't tell - its a surprise! :)

Is Blogging a Thing of the Past?

There have a been a number of articles out asking if blogging is passe.  From the business angle, some say yes.  From the self-publishing perspective, no.

Journalism tells us to present the most important information first, with additional information in desending order of significance.  But in the age of information, people (myself included) can't assimilate all the data coming at them every day.

I try to use a good "hook," and include include pics so readers can quickly determine if my post interests them.  I put the most pertinent info in the first paragraph, as a courtesy.  Short and sweet!

But blogging isn't as much fun as it was 2 years ago.  My theory is that now people are looking at Facebook, Flicker, Twitter and what-have-you - rather than quilting blogs.  Does a quilter now have to maintain presence on multiple media forms?

And there are less comments.  Have we been spoiled by the "Like" button on FB? 

In the interest of jazzing up my blog's appearance, I played around with the new Blogger designs - some which are quite attractive.  But I came back to the standard format because the new designs either reduce the font and photos OR they lose all the verbiage - even the title of the post.  They also exclude your widgets, profile and followers - as best I can tell.  So changing my design isn't going to be an option for the immediate future.

I find its getting harder to follow OTHER quilters.  I like that Google button that says "Follow."  Nice and easy!  But now there are so many other options - its a bit confusing.

And so, I'm perplexed.  I'd like to know what other bloggers make of all this.   I'd like to expand my readership, and engage in more discussion.  But I'm not quite sure how to get there from here.  Am open to feedback on my own blog, or your assessment of blogging in general. 

Thanks! :)


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Double Irish Chain, Checkerboard Valentines

Not sure what to get your sweetie for Valentine's Day?
It's not too late to make a quilty Valentine.
As I was working on my shamrock quilt it occured to me that a Double Irish Chain with a few applique hearts, embroidery or quilted red roses would make a very pretty Valentine.  Or here's another idea - a combination Valentine & checkerboard.
Maybe if I start it NOW it'll be done in time for NEXT year!  :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Double Irish Chain with Shamrocks

Today's goal was to assemble the center, and lay out some border ideas I've been considering.  This quilt has been a great exercise in adjusting your needle position to get a perfect 1" square.  Even then, it took a bit of "coaxing" to get everything to line up!

I laid out several borders, but none of them had the same impact as a simple dark green frame.   The others seemed to compete with the quilt interior.  I think with a busy quilt, sometimes less is more.  :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday Wellness - Thyroid Cancer Prevention

A coworker shared the following information with me.
Thyroid Cancer
On Wednesday, Dr. Oz had a show on the fastest growing cancer in women, thyroid cancer. It was a very interesting program and he mentioned that the increase could possibly be related to the use of dental x-rays and mammograms. He demonstrated that on the apron the dentist puts on you for your dental x-rays there is a little flap that can be lifted up and wrapped around your neck. Many dentists don't bother to use it. Also, there is something called a "thyroid guard" for use during mammograms. By coincidence, I had my yearly mammogram yesterday. I felt a little silly, but I asked about the guard and sure enough, the technician had one in a drawer. I asked why it wasn't routinely used. Answer: "I don't know. You have to ask for it." Well, if I hadn't seen the show, how would I have known to ask?

We need to pass this on to our daughters, nieces, mothers and all our female friends and husbands tell your wives !! I just did, now you send it on to your list. Someone was nice enough to forward this to me. I hope you pass this on to your friends and family. :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Souper Bowl" Score!

While fat quarters were 10 for $20.00, at the Stitcher's Crossing, I snatched up 10 - plus a Chicken Salad Pack.  I'd hoped to buy a couple yards of the Chicken Salad fabric in the upper left corner.  I'd seen it before and LOVE the colors.  I neglected to buy it right then and there.  When I returned, this lonely fat quarter was all that remained!

Fortunately, I can see from the selvage that it's a Hoffman 2012 print, so I will find more online.  My chicken hot pads were such a hit at the craft fair last year, I'll need to whip up some more for next year.  The Home to Roost fabric at the bottom is pretty cute too. 

All in all, I'm happy with my haul.  I have something specific in mind for each of the fat quarters - but my ideas are too many to list.  What actually comes to fruition remains to be seen!  I scheduled a vacation day for the near future to work on home-related projects (I confess, I still have some Christmas stuff in the living room).  Once some chores are out of the way, I can justify MORE sewing.  Won't that be nice!  :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Dozen Shamrocks

12 shamrocks complete - YES!

"Souper" Bowl

For anyone in or near Madison, WI - don't forget about the "Souper" Bowl at the Stitcher's Crossing from Noon to 4 PM Sunday.  They're collecting cans of soup for a local food pantry.  Bring cans of soup to the store, and enjoy an afternoon of special sales.  Maybe I'll see you there!  :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shamrock Block No. 1

Its been several weeks since I got to sit down and sew. is good!

I decided to do the hardest block first - something I usually do just to get the biggest challenge out of the way.  But since it's a four-leafed clover, I'm hoping it'll bring me some luck!  Perhaps the remaining blocks will come together smoothly, and my sewing time won't be interrupted this weekend.  It could happen!

In past years I've had a snow day or two that allowed me to get some extra quilting done in January.  But not this year!  Instead, it may take the luck o' the Irish to get this little quilt pieced, quilted and bound in time for St. Patty's Day.  :)