Friday, October 31, 2008

It Just Wasn't My Day

Yesterday I headed into the sewing room with plans to make several table runners. I've been going over my lists, and while I think I'm making lots of progress on the Christmas gifts, I thought it wouldn't hurt to make a few more runners--just in case. I imagined easily being able to make three or four, and started thinking of post titles like: "Table-runner mania" and "A table runner a day keeps the doctor away" and "A girl can never have too many table runners." I started with this runner made from the "Winter" line. I used a Heather Mulder Peterson pattern, Double Takes 3. The pattern is designed for charm packs and layer cakes with several options to make lap-size and even bigger quilts. I actually used some scraps from a jelly roll to piece these blocks. It went together quickly and easily, but then something started to go wrong...
My next project was to make a runner out of the "Fig and Plum" line. Since everything was going so quickly I thought I'd just make two while I was at it. I imagined these going together quickly with the possibility of maybe even a fourth runner pieced before the day was over. I decided to use the "Boardwalk" pattern from Heather's Little Charmers 5. I should have paid closer attention to the color scheme in her quilt--with this pattern it's really important to not have blocks made from similar colors too close to each other. As you can see in the picture below, one of my blocks is a green so close in color to the outer triangles, that they just blend together. Not only that, but for some reason I cut some pieces 2 1/2" wide that were only supposed to be 2" wide--I don't usually make cutting errors! So as I went to put the rows together, not only did they not match up, but the colors were blending together. I was not happy; in fact I was really frustrated, having to use the old seam ripper for far longer than I have in the longest time! But I'm not a quitter...rarely do I ever not finish a project...so I kept going!
I got this one done then went out to read some blogs...of course blog reading cheered me up as usual! This morning I put the other one together; I re-made a few of the blocks so I wouldn't have to use any of the green ones. I'm a little happier with the result...but it still doesn't have the level of contrast it needs. I'll probably make another one of these one day, just so I can get it totally right.

But for now, I'm done with tablerunners!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Playing With Fabric and Give-aways Won!

The other day I gathered some of my Christmas stash and started to play! I've been wanting to start on a Christmas wall-hanging called "A Christmas Story" by Anni Downs. You can see part of the "Christmas Story" quilt on the header of her blog. It's always fun to have a Christmas project to work on during the Christmas season (even if it won't be on the wall until the next year).
This is what I have so far--the quilt is actually in five different sections now. I won't put them together until I have finished the applique' and stitchery. I'm changing up the border from what is pictured in the pattern--I'm still kind of designing that in my head. Now I'm ready to play with the fabric again and gather all the pieces for the applique. I'm debating whether to do machine or hand applique'. I've been doing mostly machine applique' lately...but I think I'm feeling brave!

I've won a few give-aways recently as well. The one above is from Sandi who participated in the Fall into Fall Bloggers Give-Away. I knew about the basket of felted wool...but I had no idea there would be so many other goodies in the package. There were yummy treats, Moda fabrics, fat quarters, notebooks, photo books, patterns, and an adorable pumpkin votive with candle. I'm especially looking forward to doing the pattern Sandi designed!

I also won this lovely pillow from IvorySpring. IvorySpring is a quilter extraordinaire who designs quilts and patterns for Benartex and "The Quilter" magazine. Her handiwork is precise, and she has some amazing examples of her quilting on her blog! I also love her tableware (gorgeous china and other decor) posts and the history she weaves in and out of her writings. Another fun fall give-away I won was from the Drucilla's Stitches blog! She sent the cutest stuffed pumpkin (the photo doesn't do it justice), a candle, some fabric, and some fall gift bags and darling fall cards! I also won a fun pattern, "All the Year Through" from Australian designer Amanda Brooke. I've been wanting to play with hexagons, so this pattern will be perfect, and there are the cutest partridge and pear patterns included as well!
Well, I'm off to play with fabric again...I've got more to-do's on the list!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unfinished Projects No More!

On Saturday I had a plan: DH was going to be at work, younger daughter was taking the ACT, younger son was on a twenty-five mile bike ride through the Valley of Fire...I was going to start some new projects and sew, sew, sew! One look at my sewing room, though, and I knew I had to clean first. What I thought might take an hour ended up taking nearly six, and with the amount of unfinished projects I found, I told myself that I couldn't start anything new until I finished up some of the things I found while cleaning. First up was this darling table-runner. I had purchased the fabrics which came with a free pattern at a shop hop three or four years ago. I usually don't buy panels, but this fabric had a panel with three reproduction vintage Christmas handkerchiefs that I fell in love with (oops, I should have ironed them before the picture)! I especially love the little Santa near the chimney. With the coordinating fabrics I only needed to piece four snowflake star blocks, and then I was ready to put it together.
This went together especially easy because I used my "Angler." My quilting friends either love or hate this little tool. I happen to love it...it eliminates the need to draw diagonal lines on the back of fabrics when making "flying geese" or "snowflake" blocks. I keep my angler and some painter's tape right next to my machine and then attach it whenever needed.
While cleaning I also realized that when I made all of those table runners a while back I hadn't made the bindings nor gathered backs for them. I took some time to catch up on my bindings...and now the bindings jar is full, not another one will fit; I'd better get busy sewing some on!
Oh, and I also found this reversible apron that I started at the Ruby's Inn retreat nearly two years ago. It was finished except for the top-stitching, so I sat right down and finished it! It's reversible, and you can see that I messed up on the blue/green side and ended up with my blues on one side and the greens on the other. I like the version on the left better. It was a great way to use some of these fun Amy Butler prints. You should have seen the variety at the retreat...there were Christmas versions, Halloween versions, and reproduction versions. It takes 4 coordinating fat quarters for each side and makes up in just a couple of hours.
This week I'll start the new projects...my sewing room is clean, and I'm feeling great since I've put a few more unfinished projects onto the finished pile!
Happy sewing!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Own Place

I finished the little bag I was working on the other day...and I absolutely love it! It is the perfect size--not too big, but big enough for all the essentials. Best of all, I made this bag with scraps from my stash...some of them were pretty small, too! I even had the cute buttons in my button box; the zipper was my only purchase. The annual shop hop is coming up, and I'll be sporting this bag!
Now I'd like to document some things about the space I create in. Consider these "before" pictures...because one of these days I'm really going to get organized. Part of the problem is that I've been sewing since I was ten (and now I'm forty something); I'm neat and organized in most all areas of my life (and home)--but I just never have been able to give fabric away (unless it is in the form of a quilt or other gift). Someday I plan on making lots of quilts to give away with the fabrics that I've "out-grown." Some of this stash is in plastic bins and drawers, semi-sorted by color.
A lot of my newer fabrics I keep sorted by line until I use them in a project--then I'm likely to sort by color. This is probably my biggest problem with fabric organization--I procrastinate sorting my scraps by color after I've made a project or two. Also, I wonder if I should keep all the larger pieces together and keep smaller pieces in a separate area, thus having two places for each color...what do you do? I also have several plastic boxes where I keep works-in-progress and block of the month quilts.
Some fabrics are out in the open in an oak bookcase. I fold pieces that are 1/2 yard and larger around a 6 1/2" ruler, then fold in half. Matching charm packs or jelly rolls go on top. You can see how eclectic my tastes run, as I have my "Cotton Blossoms" stash right next to my "Dolly Dresses" fabrics (oh, and there's some "Swell" fabrics underneath the "Dolly Dresses").
In another corner of the room I have a built in bookshelf and cupboard. The top three shelves hold my Nancy Drew books and some of my older daughter's favorite books. On the lower three shelves I have the majority of my quilting books and patterns. I also have quite a few quilting magazines. Some magazines I keep indefinitely, but the others I sort periodically, removing patterns I want to make and filing them in binders with plastic sheet protectors. I have some fabrics in the lower cupboard...but this is one area I need to organize better.
Here is my back-up machine which is also super lightweight and great for traveling. My little collection of thread has grown by leaps and bounds since I began doing some machine applique about a year ago...I use Aurifil in very basic colors for most all of my piecing and use the colored threads for top-stitching and machine applique'.

I've only had a sewing room for a little over a year (since my older daughter went to college). I've always sewn on the dining room table or in a corner of my bedroom, so it's quite a treat for me to finally have a room just for sewing. My daughter had this quote on the wall, and I've left it up; I love the quote as well--it helps me remember to focus on the important things. My cutting table--this is about as clean as it gets--becomes pretty loaded with projects in various stages of completion!
And finally, my sewing machine; this one is also a Janome. I purchased it back in 1997 and have never had a single problem with it! I love having my machine right in front of the window because the lighting is so terrific during the day. For night sewing I have an Ott light and another lamp I use. The quilt table doesn't really go with the machine, but it works well enough...one of these days I'd like a nice custom sewing table. Some quilts that need their bindings sewn on are stacked on the baskets below the sewing table (and of course there is fabric in both baskets).
I hope this post didn't bore you--I just thought I'd like to take some pictures of my little space; someday when I really get organized, I'll have the "before" and "after" pictures!
Happy sewing!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today was my older daughter's birthday! She was nearly 5 weeks pre-mature and had to stay in the neo-natal unit for ten days (I had to go home without her). Thankfully, she was able to completely recover from the pneumonia she had at birth...and now she is a talented, bright amazing young adult. She is away at college, so I didn't get to bake her a cake this year, but I did send her a fun package. It didn't get there today...hopefully tomorrow--it has some of her favorite things in it! I hope it's okay that I put her picture here...she reads my blog, so I'll get a phone call about this!
Do you ever do Block of the Month quilts? I did my first one in 2004. The pattern came from this fun book, At Piece with Time, A Woman's Journey Stitched in Cloth. I'm so glad I got the courage to do this quilt...it was my first experience with more intermediate level piecing and really helped me to grow as a quilter. One of these days I'll try to get a good picture of my finished quilt and share it here. But lately I've gone a little overboard with Block of the Month quilts; I'm doing so many that I start to resent them! At the beginning of this year I was doing seven...now a couple have finished, and I'm down to four. I do like the fact that I definitely get some quilts done that I might not do otherwise, but sometimes I just want to work on my own stuff!

I finished two more blocks of my "Golden Memories" Block of the Month...that meant I could add another row to the quilt. Three rows to go (and I have the filler blocks all completed, so actually there are just 11 more blocks to make). I have another Block of the Month quilt that I will get caught up on this weekend, and then I'll be free to get back to Christmas gifts!
Younger daughter wanted a new bag--I pulled out the fabric for her to choose from. I brought out the Amy Butler, the Farmer's Market, the Cotton Blossoms, but none of them were right for her. She said, "Mom I just want something simple." She finally settled on this woven from Chocolat'. We sort of made it up as I went, and she is happy with it. This was the first time I put a magnetic closure on a bag--it wasn't too hard!
And speaking of bags, I've been making a couple of fun ones...I'm not sure why I've been making so many bags lately, but I've always wanted to try some.
I completed the Abby's Treasure Box bag using some Amy Butler "Daisy Chain" charm squares; it is a great little bag that would be perfect for make-up or even sewing supplies. I got close to finishing the Scrappy Sack bag but didn't have the right color zipper to finish. I used scraps from the Chocolat' line for this one.

Well, thanks for stopping by--every so often I just want to say "thank you" to all of the amazing bloggers out there. I'm grateful for your comments and creative inspiration!

Happy Sewing!

Monday, October 20, 2008

There's Always More to Do!

Here is what I did with my Amy Butler "Daisy Chain" charm pack. I wanted to use a simple setting so as to be able to see every individual print... I love this fabric! It's retro and modern at the same time...the cool colors remind me of the ocean and sea glass...and I also love daisies. The white fabric I used for the sashing has little tiny daisies in it. Did I mention that I love this quilt!!! Some of that ultra soft chenille fabric would make a fun back--I'll have to look for some.
So...I've made a few more baskets...nine more with fun Christmas prints. I think the Mary Englebreit "Isn't Christmas Jolly" has turned out to be one of my favorite Christmas lines this year. I might still be making more baskets...I've got to sit down and really go over my list one of these days. I have a home in mind for each and every basket...I've just got to figure out what I'm going to fill them with!
I also made two more table runners the other day. These two are both from the Heather Mulder Peterson pattern, "Little Charmers 3." I think I'm really going to like them both after they are quilted and bound; the top one is made with an old Thimbleberries charm pack I had in my stash, and thebottom one from the Minnick & Simpson "Winter" line will look especially good after it gets a fun polka dot binding! These runners took a bit longer than the runners I showed in an earlier post...these are still simple and fun...but there is quite a bit of cutting of the individual charm squares before you can start sewing! And...I just found out that Heather has some new charm pack patterns...check out today's post on her blog!

Block 5 of the Fat Quarter Shop's Mystery Designer Block of the Month. I'm glad I did this quilt; I love each month's block design...this is going to be a gorgeous quilt when finished. I should probably start cutting my sashing and setting the blocks together.
Friday I mailed my package of gifts to my Stitcher's Angel in...Sweden! I've never sent any of my handwork so far away--I will be anxiously awaiting word that she has received the package, and then I'll be able to share her identity (she has a very nice blog and is very talented)!
Well, I'm off to really review my list...I'm trying to accomplish the goal of all Christmas made and wrapped before Thanksgiving this year! There are so many projects out there; there is so much wonderful creative inspiration out there in blogland--I guess there's always more to do!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hello, My Name Is Sherri...

Hello, my name is Sherri. You already know that I make a lot of these baskets and these cottages. But today I realized that I truly have an addiction--I am addicted to making Heather Mulder Peterson's "Crossroads Table Runners" from the book Charmed and Dangerous. Above is one made from the line "A Yuletide Blessing."
And here are two from "Cotton Blossoms." The top one reminds me of fall, the bottom one seems wintery.

And I also had to have a Halloween one from "Chic or Treat," and then of course I realized it would be so cute in "Isn't Christmas Jolly?" by Mary Englebreit! To tell you the truth, I've made eight in all--two others were pictured in earlier posts, and one I can't show because it is a Christmas gift for someone who will immediately recognize that it is for them! I had plans to make at least three more because this is a truly great pattern...but I have been rescued! A good friend dropped by today and brought me some new table runner patterns (and some of them happen to be designed by Heather Mulder Peterson as well). Soon I will have new table runners to share! This addiction has had its benefits...I'm further ahead on Christmas gifts than I've ever been!
Happy sewing!


Football? And a few quilts, of course!

This post had an interesting beginning...my younger daughter has had fun good-naturedly teasing me about my blogging since July. I started to realize, though, that she secretly wanted to appear on my blog! It's her senior year, and she was very much looking forward to the annual powder puff football game (her usual sports are basketball and track). I sort of jokingly told her that if she made a touchdown I would put her on my blog--she readily agreed! Well the big game came, and early in the game she took a hit (it's supposed to be flag football...they don't wear helmets or pads), so I supposed she might not make any big plays. But she was back out there before I knew it and almost immediately made a 66-yard run down the field for the first touchdown of the game--no one could catch her! She gained a lot more yardage throughout the game (including several first downs) and finished by bringing in a 2-point conversion!
Well, my son in middle school also plays football...and in his game Saturday he ended up scoring the exact amount of points as his big sister had...a touchdown and a two point conversion! So I put him on the blog as well!

And now to some quilts that hold a special place in my heart. As a young girl I made some patchwork pillows, but mostly sewed clothes. Then, as a newlywed, I made a patchwork Christmas tree skirt from a Simplicity pattern (we still use that tree skirt today). That was about all the quilting until I was a young mother and my grandmother convinced me to try an Eleanor Burns Quilt-in-a-Day pattern (The Double Irish Chain) to make quilts for my children. That was all it took...I was hooked! After making at least half a dozen Double Irish Chain quilts I realized I couldn't just keep making those the rest of my life, and so I bought my first quilting book...Little Quilts All Through the House. The book was perfect for me because it included small projects that didn't take long; also, I could hand-quilt the projects--I'd never even heard of a long-arm quilter back then!


These are three of my first little quilts, and I still keep them in my family room today. I've been busy with lots of projects this week (even with two football games)...I'm sort of starting to feel like one of Santa's elves! I'll be back soon with another post to share what I've been working on!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Once More...

I know I posted pictures of this quilt while I was working on it...but I have to post once more about this. Yesterday I got the quilt back from my amazingly talented long-arm quilter. She is a true artist, and she always finds a way to compensate for any of my flaws in workmanship or design to make my projects extra special! I love the fun variegated thread she used...love the spiderweb she quilted behind the broom...and love the squiggles in the background behind the spider! There are little spiders hanging all around the shoes, and the background behind the hat and stars is quilted with beautiful stars. She even quilted "Happy Halloween" in the sashing in between the spider and frog. I wish my photography could really capture the quilting...
Anyway...yesterday was a good day...and I got the binding all sewn on today...this quilt is now hanging on the wall!
Happy sewing!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I "heart" Sewing!

This weekend I got caught up on a lot of works in progress and things I had been wanting to do. For one thing, I made my first pincushion! I used this pattern from Heather Bailey, and since I was using Heather's pattern I also decided to use her fabric (Pop Garden and Bijoux). I had a bit of ribbon to tuft the pincushion with and found a button among some of my great-grandmother's buttons. I love the way it turned out, but when I make my next one I will put more stuffing in. I'm also going to try Stephanie's pin cushion tutorial soon!
Bindings are one of my downfalls as a quilter. Several times I have completed a quilt only to find when the time comes to put the binding on that I have used the fabric for the binding in another project. So now I have a solution. I make the binding when I finish the quilt top and then place the bindings in my binding cannister (my awesome neighbor did the "bindings" lettering for me)! So hopefully I won't have any more problems with lost binding fabrics! I made 5 bindings this weekend to get caught up. I also got two of them machine sewed on and began the handwork on one! Now if I could just think of a way to make myself put the backs of quilts together quicker...
I had to make another one of these bags (from Fall 2008 Quilts and More). This time I used three fabrics I had picked up from Amy Butler's "Daisy Chain" line ( I think I'm going to have to get some more "Daisy Chain"...I love that fabric). This pattern is a lot of fun as well...and a girl can never have too many bags, right?
I also got this humanitarian quilt finished up this weekend. It's such a bright and happy little quilt...hopefully someone somewhere will love it!
And yes, I really do have a problem with these little bags...I just had to have a Halloween one after seeing them on a few blogs (and I'm not even going to tell you how many Christmas ones I have cut out and started waiting to be finished...it's an obsession)! But my new little Halloween basket looks cute next to my pumpkin witch. I've had pumpkin witch for 23 years now...I bought it from someone I worked with all those years ago. I've also pictured a few of my other favorite Halloween decorations--I made the tole-painted witch, bought the tole-painted pumpkin from a friend, and made the trick-or-treat pillow!
And this is a little checkbook cover I made a couple of weeks ago for my older daughter. I used this tutorial--and it was a lot of fun to make. My daughter loves pink and brown, and she was delighted to get this surprise in the mail! I also got a good deal of work done this weekend on Christmas presents...can't show any of those yet because I think some of the people they're for might be able to put two and two together!!!
Happy Sewing!