Catching Up

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been working on several things over the last few weeks, and time just got away from me. But it’s been a busy month, even though I don’t have a lot of “progress” to share. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve been up to lately …

  1. had a promotion for the month of October where you could sign up for a set price and have access to all their classes. Of course, I had to sign up and I’ve been watching classes on cooking, sewing, machine embroidery, baking, and other great subjects. I heard about this on, and I understood that it was a test environment to see if a subscription service would be viable. I also heard that the people who were invited got an email with one of three price points – $9.99, $14.99 and $19.99. I signed up for the $9.99 price point, but I would have no problem paying $14.99 a month for unlimited access to Craftsy courses. At the $19.99 price, I’d have to give it some thought, but overall, that’s still a great value. With the subscription, you don’t retain access to the courses you take after your subscription lapses, but overall, I think it’s a great way to explore new skills.
  2. I really am getting desperate for some new clothes. Last month, I went through my closet and made a list of the basics that I really need – some blouses (not pull over tops, but real blouses with buttons), a lightweight jacket, a pair of slacks or two, and a few other things. I started pulling together fabrics and patterns to make these items, and the first one is underway – a fleece jacket made from Simplicity 2208, view A. I’ve never worked with fleece, or plaid, and I’ve never made a jacket, but I’ve been told this particular pattern is fairly easy, so I’m hoping to have it done before the cooler weather hits Houston next week (according to Eric Berger at the Houston Chronicle). I finished tracing off the pattern last night and I’m hoping to start laying it out on the fabric tonight.
  3. I’ve been doing some research on sewing cabinets for my Viking Opal 690Q. I know a lot of people really like the Ikea tables for their sewing machines, but I am not one of those people. In fact, I really have an intense dislike for it. My Opal doesn’t get used nearly as often as I want to use it because to me, it’s just an awkward set up. I guess I’m just too used to the Horn of America cabinet I have for the Brother DreamCreator VM5100. Right now, I really like the Kangaroo K8605. I would totally go back to Horn, but they seem to have moved primarily to electric motors for their cabinets instead of hydraulic lift, and the prices have skyrocketed as a result. I don’t NEED an electric motor and it’s just unnecessary cost.
  4. I’ve been doing a little free motion quilting (FMQ) practice, trying to decide between the Brother and the Viking. I think both do a really good job with the FMQ, but the Brother has a much better set up, and the throat is wider, so it makes sense to use it over the Viking. I really want to spend more time doing this, because I would like to finish the Cat in the Hat quilt that’s just sitting here. You may remember, if you’ve been reading for a while, that I started to do FMQ on this quilt back when I still had the Janome. Yes, the Janome that’s been gone for more than a year now … /blush

So, you can see that I’ve not been sitting around eating spoonfuls of whipped cream or peanut butter, watching tv and neglecting the sewing room. There HAS been activity, but nothing that I deemed exciting enough to share. I’m just not one of those people who turns out a new garment every night, or who makes massive leaps in quilting on a daily basis. I am trying to make an effort to get into the studio every day for at least half an hour, and I’ve been surprised by how much actually gets done when you spend thirty minutes in there every day.

Hopefully, I’ll have some photos to share on the jacket construction by the weekend. And I’ve thought about a series that documents my progress by spending at least thirty minutes in the studio each day. Maybe I’ll start that this weekend … hmmm. Watch this space for the beginning of that series!

It’s Time …

I’ve been gone for a couple of months, and for that I apologize. I have this habit of taking time off from sewing – it seems to happen in the summer months, almost every year – and it allows me to regenerate. Unlike others who seem to have a never-ending, unswerving focus on sewing, I tend to drift between several interests. Sometimes, I can co-mingle my interests and maintain my focus in several or all of them at the same time. Other times, I need to focus on one or the other, or just let one languish. The last couple of months, sewing has languished. For the last couple of years, it’s been photography (with the exception of our vacation earlier this year, that is).

But I think it’s time to pick up both of those things again. So watch this space in the coming days for posts about either and/or both of these interests. I’ve had a lot of inspiration lately for both of them, so I’m hoping to translate that into some real, live action and blog posts. Stayed tuned!

The Curious Case of the Unfinished Quilt(s)

Today, I’m working on the Wishes Block of the Month. It’s from 2014, so it’s not really what I’d call current – it’s an Unfinished Object, or UFO. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I really should finish it, since I had five of the twelve blocks finished, and it’s just sitting here gathering dust. I’ve now got eight blocks done, so I’m definitely making progress, though maybe not as quickly as I’d like, and definitely not as quickly as others might move. I’m pretty pleased with myself today, though, because I finished one in-progress block that’s been on my table since at least last weekend, and I’ve completely made another one. Maybe I’ll get a third one completed today, if I’m feeling up to it.

While I was working on the Wishes blocks, though, I began to think of all the other projects I have that are in some stage of incompletion, and I have to admit, it’s a little embarrassing. I don’t remember whether I’ve mentioned it here or not, but I have one quilt top that I made for my daughter when she was about 10; she’s 22 now. The cutesy fish theme may no longer be to her liking, but I have determined to get it finished any way, hopefully this year.

I pulled out my old quilting journal and took a look at my list of in-progress projects. In no particular order, here it is …

Cat in the Hat quilt

Wishes Block of the Month quilt

Churn Dash quilt in brights

Brick Road quilt

Under the Sea quilt

Green & Blue Tissue Box quilt

Disappearing Nine Patch quilt

These are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head; there may be more! It’s really humbling, too, because I’ve got other quilts just waiting to be started, like something using the Minions fabric I just purchased, and the wall hanging my mother challenged me to make almost two years ago! I’ve got to do something about this …

So I’ve decided that before I can begin a new project, I have to finish at least one UFO or WIP (Work In Progress). And by finished, I do NOT mean finish a quilt top. It has to be a completed project, whether it’s a wall hanging, or a quilt, or a pair of pants. One old project must be finished in between every new project that I start. And I am going to try to start being more accountable for the things that are on the wall and my sewing table, by posting here more often. Maybe the idea of writing down that I accomplished nothing in a week will motivate me to get off my backside in the evenings and into the studio.

At any rate, that’s what’s going on in my studio right now. I guess it’s time to get back to it, but first, maybe a short little nap …

Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out …

I have a tendency to NOT really follow a pattern or have the whole plan for a new quilt, and most of the time, I think it works out, more or less. Granted, this approach often means that I’m making adjustments throughout the course of construction, and sometimes things aren’t exactly the way I envisioned them, but it’s my process, and I’m comfortable with it. It’s how I work, and it really isn’t all that different from a garment sewist who uses a dress form to pin and/or drape fabric to get their start on a new project that they have imagined.

But sometimes, even the best intentions don’t work out. Case in point, I decided a few weeks ago that I’d really like to have a patriotic quilt to use for the months of June & July (or at least through the 4th of July). I pulled out several red, blue and cream colored fabrics and began planning my layout. I thought that maybe a log cabin would be nice, but when I put together the test blocks, I just didn’t like it much. So then I decided that maybe I would do a rail fence type block. I put together a few small test blocks and decided that it looked good, so I got down to business making more blocks.

I put the blocks on the design wall and played around with them a bit, then decided on a layout and put it together, sashing blocks as I went. Once I got it together and put the whole top on the wall, I saw the problem. It’s a pretty big problem. The entire quilt looks like rows of swastikas … I’m not impressed with it, nor myself at this point. I could take it apart and redo it, but right now, I’m just disgusted and irritated with it, so it’ll go on a shelf or in a basket as a UFO. Maybe I’ll pick it up this winter and fix it but for now, I’m done with it.

So, to soothe my psyche for now, I’ve turned back to the Wishes Block of the Month from last year. I know it was supposed to be done in 2014, but I had other things going on and I never got around to it. I did get five blocks done last year, so that means I have seven more to go. Well, six, actually, because I got one block done earlier this week. I was showing my Mom the five blocks I had finished when she was over on the 4th of July, and she really liked it, so it inspired me to complete it. I told her that my intention was to sash the blocks in white, but she thinks that would be a mistake. She thinks yellow, grey or black would look better. She may have a point, and I am considering using a light grey for sashing. My design wall is light grey, so what do you think? Forgive the angled look of the photo – it’s not the picture, it’s the positioning of the blocks on the wall!

Wishes BOM in progress

Wishes BOM in progress

Obviously, this isn’t the final lay out I’ll use, because there are six more blocks to be made. I’m really hoping to get the quilt top done this month, so that maybe I can finish the quilt and use it as a Christmas present for someone this year.

And on that note, I suppose I should move on for now. I do know I need to get better at blogging, so I’m setting myself some reminders to write more often.

See ya soon!

This and that

I’ve noticed that after I finish a project, I usually want to take some time away from the studio. Sometimes, it’s only a few days; other times, it can be months. This time, it’s been about a month.

I finished the motorcycle quilt that I was working on for Chris. Overall, I”m pretty happy with the way it turned out, though if I had it to do over again, I would of course, do it somewhat differently. For instance, I wouldn’t cut the motorcycle fabric squares half an inch too small, then have to sash them! But for the most part, I’m satisfied with it.

Motorcycle quilt

Motorcycle quilt

I really enjoyed working on this one. I really enjoyed doing the motorcycle embroidery along the borders …

Vroom vroom!

Vroom vroom!

So after it was done, I decided to take a little break. Like I said, that’s my process. I think about sewing, but I don’t actually sew much during a break.

Then my grandmother passed away on the 9th of June. She hasn’t been well since January, when she had to have some heart surgery, and she just really never recovered. She meant a lot to me – I spent most of my summers as a teen with her.

Betty Reaid, 1923 - 2015

Betty Reaid, 1923 – 2015

She was 91 years old last December. Even though she wasn’t doing well when this photo was taken in April, she looked fabulous didn’t she? It’s like a piece of my heart has been stolen away from me.

But her passing awakened my need to be busy, and so I started a new quilt. I’ve been wanting to make a patriotic log cabin for a long time now. I once made a very small one and gave it to my former mother-in-law many years ago, but I wanted a big one for myself. This is the prototype square.

Prototype square for patriotic log cabin quilt

Prototype square for patriotic log cabin quilt

At first, I wasn’t too pleased with it, but it’s growing on me. I think it’s going to look really nice once I’ve got a few of these done. Of course, there will also be some blue in there as well. I’m hoping to have this quilt finished by July 4th, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

After this, who knows? Maybe I’ll actually tackle that applique quilt I want to do, or make myself some new clothing or something. That reminds me, I have been working on making myself a bra, but that is a post for another time.

In closing, just let me say – if you don’t spend much time with the older generations of your family, do it now. Ask them to tell you about their lives, and what things were like growing up. Because trust me, you don’t get a second chance.

A little of this, a little of that …

Well, another month went by and I didn’t post. But this time, I think I have a pretty good excuse … well, I guess you’d say it’s multiple excuses, but here goes. First off, Chris and I set off on a whirlwind adventure in the middle of April. We took a road trip vacation to New Mexico and Arizona. Then we went east to see my grandmother in Alabama. When I returned to work after a two week absence, I found that a deadline that was supposed to be the middle of May had been moved up to the end of April! So I spent the rest of the month (and the first week of this month) working on that. And finally, this weekend we had our grandson, as my daughter and her husband pack up their home in Killeen and move back to Houston. So see, I haven’t just been slacking off – I’ve been legitimately busy! Every time I’ve thought about sitting down and writing a blog post over the last month, I either haven’t been near a computer, or I spent hours in front of one for work. It just wasn’t in me to get a new blog post out. But I’m back, and I have a lot to share over the coming days!

First off, a quick run down of our vacation. We were gone for a week, but we could have easily spent a month out west checking things out. We had a blast, and we ate a lot of good food while we were making our rounds. Our first stop was in Amarillo, Texas. People who aren’t from Texas don’t seem to understand that it takes me a full day to drive out of this state going any direction but due East, or South (and right now, Mexico isn’t where I want to be). So it took us about 10.5 hours to get to Amarillo from home. Of course, we stopped a few times for bathroom breaks and meals, but the majority of that time was driving. While in Amarillo, I really wanted to see the Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon. Can you believe we FORGOT Cadillac Ranch?! We didn’t even realize it until we’d made it across the state line into New Mexico! So we’ll have to go back and see that sometime soon. But Palo Duro Canyon! Oh, it is amazing! The second largest canyon in the United States, I can say it doesn’t really rival the Grand Canyon, but you can drive down in to it and it’s amazing.

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the US, behind the Grand Canyon

Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the US, behind the Grand Canyon

We really want to go back and spend more time there, because we really only scratched the surface. It’s just beautiful; the pictures really don’t do it justice!

From there, we headed to New Mexico. We were following the old Route 66 as much as we could, and we went through several small towns. Unfortunately, we did this on a Sunday, so it looked like a lot of things were closed. We learned that it’s probably best to do that on a weekday. And that works well for us, the next time we want to go that direction, because when we got to Albuquerque, we found that the trolley tour doesn’t run on Monday! I believe that if it did run on Monday, we  would have had a much different vacation, but as it was, we stayed in Albuquerque on Sunday night and then checked out Old Town Monday morning.

The San Felipe de Neri Church is now several shops.

The San Felipe de Neri Church is now several shops.

We made a decision on the fly, since the trolley tour didn’t run on Monday, to head out to Arizona and go check out the Grand Canyon. Confession time: I didn’t think I would like the Grand Canyon that much. I thought I’d walk up, look at it and go, “Yep, that’s a really big hole.”

I should have known better.

On the way to the Grand Canyon, we made a stop at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Oh. My. Gosh! I was under impressed with most of the Painted Desert, but there were parts that were awe inspiring.

The Painted Desert wasn't really what I expected, but it was still beautiful.

The Painted Desert wasn’t really what I expected, but it was still beautiful.

Then we learned about the Village on the Rio Puerco.

The Village on the Rio Puerco

The Village on the Rio Puerco

Base of walls for the rooms of the Native Americans who lived here.

Base of walls for the rooms of the Native Americans who lived here.

Hieroglyphics everywhere!

Hieroglyphics everywhere!

But then we got to the Blue Mesas …

Our first glimpse of the Blue Mesas

Our first glimpse of the Blue Mesas

Beautiful, aren't they?

Beautiful, aren’t they?

I could have stayed here for hours, but we didn't really have hours ...

I could have stayed here for hours, but we didn’t really have hours …

Then there was a lot of petrified wood. I mean a LOT …

Petrified wood

Petrified wood

More petrified wood

More petrified wood

One more ...

One more …

Next time, I’ll share some photos of the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad and Roswell, New Mexico!

WIP Wednesday

Well, it’s been quite a while since I did a work in progress (WIP) post, but I really want to start posting more often, so here goes …

Today’s WIP is the quilt I mentioned in my last post that I’m working on for my husband. Unlike most of my projects, this one does have a deadline – I’d like to take it on vacation with us next week! I know it probably seems crazy to take a quilt on vacation, but that’s only because you’ve never spent any time in a vehicle with Chris, who is always warm. Since I’m always cold, and I don’t feel like wearing a parka on a spring vacation in the South, I decided we needed a quilt for the trip. Also, the quilt I made for Chris a while back is way too big to be used in the den as a throw, so this very manly quilt will fill that need, too. ;-)

I found this motorcycle fabric online a couple of years ago. It’s part of the “Man Cave” series by Bernartex, and it is really beautiful. If you’re looking for some masculine fabric, I would suggest this series. I believe it’s ongoing, as there are images on the website now of cigars and such. Anyway, I combined that with some fabrics I had in my stash, and some Kona Solids to come up with the quilt top …

Motorcycle quilt top completed

Motorcycle quilt top completed

I guess I wasn’t really paying attention, because I didn’t notice that I had quite the pattern going here. LOL If I were to make this quilt again, I would probably replace the grey fabric with black, but Chris says he likes it just this way, so if he’s happy, I’m thrilled.

By the time you read this post, I will probably have the backing put together and the quilt sandwiched. And with a little luck, I’ll be well along in the quilting process. I mean, I only have a week and a half before I need it to be done. Here is the backing fabric …

Motorcycle quilt backing

Motorcycle quilt backing

Chris is a HUGE Texans fan, so I found this fabric a while back at Hobby Lobby and decided it would make a great backing for the motorcycle quilt – two of his favorite things in one quilt! The black and red will be borders around the Texans fabric, because it’s neither wide nor long enough without it. I haven’t decided if I’ll do two red borders and two black borders, or if I’ll do it like the front and run one and then the other all the way around. At first, I thought I’d do two red and two black, but I’ve been thinking it might look cooler to do the red and black together like the front of the quilt.

I have some ideas on how I’m going to quilt it, but I’ll save that to share once the quilt is completed.

Until next time, happy sewing!