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Monday, December 16, 2013

As Seen On YouTube

I'm having a great time with this Herringbone/Friendship Braid project.  The fabric is beautiful, the pattern is all mathy, and the results are just as I imagined (phew)!

It does, however, require pressing and trimming after each piece is attached.  No chain anything on this one.  I was pretty tired and Sparki the wonder dog was camped out between my chair and the ironing board.  I could have overcome my inertia but add in geriatric dog inertia and I knew that up & down and up & down wasn't happening.

I've never had a large, cleared, surface to do pressing and cutting and sewing all from one spot, but I thought it was worth a try.  I felt so efficient!  My little portable pressing pad (with a towel under for condensation), a small cutting mat and ruler, & I was good to go!  Being tall was a big help, and working on a long, narrow piece made the cutting possible.  Check it out!  A work station worthy of Jenny or the Gourmet Quilter !!

Rendered in Black & White because it IS the week before Christmas!
I also discovered one more important tool to have on hand.  A decoy project - in case someone shows up or walks in unexpectedly.  This photo is also in black & white.  Any WIP that's within reach right now is also headed for a December delivery.
Hastily deployed decoy quilt
Even with a visit from my sweetie to install hooks, a wall heater (yay), & some artwork, I got a lot of sewing done & Sparki had a nice, long nap by my side.  See how rested she looks?

The sweetest dog on the planet & such a pretty girl!
- sash

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fabric Haul...Halted

Tree of Life (that insists on appearing sideways)
After 3 false starts including a long, frustrating digression as I tried to create a clever Venn diagram, I'm officially abandoning this post.  Here's why:
Horse border

  • My phone has become arbitrary about photos.  Some work.  Some don't.  So crazy making.
  • Not a lot of folks read this thing.  And it's really likely that those who do were either with me when I bought the fabric, have been subjected to fabric show-and-tell already, or both (you know who you are).  The other 1-2 of you probably couldn't care less (Or I would have dragged you to the show with me)
  • Writing about the quilt show (where I also failed to take pictures) was dull as a spoon.  I can only imagine what reading that would have been like.
And of course, once that post died, its rotting carcass was just sitting there keeping me from posting anything else. 

So - in a nutshell - the Quilt Guru and I went to a show/sale at Expo center.  I found some treasures including a kit (I've never bought a kit before) that we dove into back at her place.
The Amazing kit that I bought.  This is one almost-finished block.  Gorgeous!
It was a great day and I was SO glad to be sewing with her again.

(And I did decide to throw in the fabric pictures that did work,  Even reruns are fun, right?)
Some nice blenders

Amazing African Prints


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

That one's done!

This one's done!

I remember my gramma telling me that there is a little angel at the end of the baby assembly line in heaven who checks over each one, pokes them in the tummy, & says

"That one's done... That one's done" 
That explains where belly buttons come from.
And where questionable biology comes from.
And some dubious theology

But when I'm baking or crafting or canning, I hear her voice (and my little girl voice echo) saying "THAT one's done".

So consider the Candy Square Quilt poked in the tummy!  Since I was following a pattern on that one, I ended up with binding that was wider than I normally use.  That definitely changed the look, but I like it.  It's a clean, fun little quilt and I'm hoping that Ms. P enjoys it.

Now I just need to quilt the rest of its partner - the green/yellow gems.  I'm considering a wide binding for that as well, since the minky cut I received was a little skimpy.  Rather than trim down the outer border (I worked so HARD to get that balance right!) I think that a wider binding, flipped mostly to the back, would work pretty well.  Wouldn't have thought of it except for the binding from the pattern - so a new trick for my arsenal.

Whatcha doin'?

This weekend I also played with some Christmas fabric working on a table runner and some little ornaments.  I found some fabric to make pillowcases, so that will be a Christmas gift option. Those should come together quickly.

Guardian Angel?

And it occurs to me that I must finish my Iron Quilter II entry by the end of this month.

That little angel in my sewing room better get a move on.  We're starting to get a back-log!


(If that's my sewing room angel balancing on the handle of that candlestick, that would explain the meltdown, shattered glass, flaming pool of coffee situation that happened.  Pay attention little cutie!  That cotton stash would have burned for hours!!!)

Monday, November 11, 2013


I try not to be a whiner.  Well, most of the time.  But (and you knew that word was coming) I am right fed up with this whole shingles situation.  It hurts.  It's lasted too long.  It's getting in the way of things.

I might be a little bit cranky.

Borders DID happen though.  The green & yellow quilt is completely pieced and I'm really pleased with the result.  The borders made it more modern and classy.  And I finally got the proportions all sorted.

My sweetie helped me sandwich the candy squares top.  We ALMOST got the green & yellow sandwiched but my basting gun stopped working.  Upon inspection, the needle was totally bent at the end.  Wouldn't even pierce the fabric.  My sweetie gave a try to straightening it out but even though it made the gun work again, the needle was too rough and tugging at the fabric.  I decided I could safety pin the rest (ugh) and I set about looking for a replacement needle online.

I'll never understand why basting guns aren't more popular.  I love mine and find it SO much easier than pins, sprays, or hand basting.  It goes quickly, they don't come apart, & I have to go over the whole quilt anyway to trim little threads and check everything, so I do that while hunting for tacks.  It's kinda relaxing.

Fortunately, basting guns are still popular in the UK, so I found the tack removers from a vendor there.  Tonight I found replacement needles from a US source.  They are spendy but the same place has the micro fastener refills for less than I can buy them here.  Getting the needles (they come in a 5 pack) is a good investment and I know that my quilting guru can use a replacement too.

So the weekend was not as successful or enjoyable as I'd hoped, but it wasn't a total washout.  I made some progress.  I can start quilting the candy squares tomorrow night.

I guess I don't really have that much to whine about...


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


There is something magical about pre-ordering a book.  I get all excited HEARING about the book.  And then I get to ORDER the book.  And then, sometimes months later, I get an email from Amazon saying "The book is a real thing!"

Then the package arrives.

Oh JOY!!
This was actually from 3 different packages - the chocolate from a get well card & the fabric from an only vaguely remembered online shopping moment.  But the point here is that WONDERFUL BOOK!!!

This book (and the blog from whence it came) is just...brilliant.  Comedic timing, deep thoughts, & brilliantly simple drawings come together to really TELL the stories.

I recommend this book for anyone who has EVER wrestled with depression.  Or reality.  Or life.

Or for anyone who just loves their pets, their boyfriends, & the absurdity of it all.

(And I'm thinking that fabric might be just the thing for this quilt or maybe for this one?)

What do you think??

- sash

Public Safety

My extended lapse has been the direct result of safety precautions implemented by my sweetie & the MC.  It was decided that, while narcotics and shingles go together well, narcotics and sewing machines do not.  Ditto for irons.

It's also an odd mix with internet fabric shopping, but I do love the fabric I received even if I don't, exactly, remember ordering it.

Moving on....

With adult supervision, I did make a bit of progress in the last 3 weeks:

1) I modified the Iron Quilt design to make it a little more interesting (to me anyway).  Then I set it all aside because even improvisational piecing was WAY beyond my drug addled skill set.

2) The Carpenter's Star was pieced in time for the birthday celebration, but stalled at that point due to fabric issues.  The MC wanted a BIG quilt.  When my gentle giant says BIG, he means BIG.  I had to order out the minky for the backing.  I have yet to track down the correct shade of Northcott Stonehenge that I want for the borders.  I also think it's time to negotiate long arm services with the quilt fairies to the north.  Did I mention this thing is huge?  Even with my new sewing area, this would be a TOTAL nuisance to quilt myself.

3) The anniversary quilts are pieced - Mostly.  
Border Audition (And WHY is this sideways??)
I finished piecing the candy squares & stitched together the pieced binding.

This weekend - while weening myself off pain meds - I made about 8,000 more blocks for the yellow/green.

OK maybe only 50 more but I also squared them up (I HATE squaring up blocks), did the layout, & stitched it all together! 

I like the results.

The borders I selected are Black swirls, Cheddar solid, Dark Green solid, Black Swirl binding.  That will tone the quilt down a bit, make it a bit more modern, and keep it masculine. Maybe.  

I'm hoping to slap the borders on tonight & get some sandwiching help from my sister Thursday night before Project Runway

And really?  Bugs?  I know it was Halloween, but I don't want to look at big old spiders - or dresses inspired by them - while tucking into my kit-kat bars. 
And tell me the center outfit doesn't look like the lamp from A Christmas Story.

3(cont) I'd hoped to have these two quilts done by this week but I think I can quilt them simply & quickly this weekend.  Considering the last month, being just a week late isn't too bad.

Alright then.  All caught up and now, for new projects.  In the interest of turning a fabric-purchaser into an actual fabric-sewer, I'm doing a buddy quilt.  She's in charge of thematic novelty prints.  I'm in charge of coordinating solids.  We're doing split rails, cut on diagonal.  Should be fun.

I'm also eager to make some smaller, instant gratification gifts.  Bags, Pillows, Table runners, Etc.  And I've found out nephew #1 is bringing his bride out for Christmas, so I may need to turn thoughts to a Texas Star quilt??

Who has time for shingles or pain meds??  I have sewing to do!!!

- sash

Monday, October 7, 2013

Doing the Numbers

Progress on the Carpenter's Square for Friday (yeah.  THIS Friday):

(Not the real colors - just place holders)
The center of the quilt will have 64 blocks (8 x 8).

I cut 32 squares of the background fabric and 32 squares of the miscellaneous colors.

1/2 of the background squares just stay as they are.  So YAY!  16 blocks finished!

The other 16 neutral blocks will become 32 triangles, which will blend with 32 colored triangles.  That's 32 blocks paired, pinned, numbered, & ready to sew.

The other 32 colored triangles will be joined together to make two-color blocks.  Sadly, those
16 blocks are in limbo until the others are sewn.  I want to do as much sewing as possible with squares instead of triangles, because the bias is going to be stretchy.  If I need a matching pair, I'll sew two squares using Tiger Tape as a guide.  If it's a singleton - I only need one square with that particular color combo - then I'm trying to keep one of the fabrics whole to minimize stretching.  It's a little bit more confusing to not have everything in triangles, but my organizational skills are way ahead of my sewing skills, so it's worth the trade off to have all my seams flat and even.

So here's my plan:
  • Monday - stitch up ALL the blocks already pinned and maybe cut, press, and use the "extra" triangles from those blocks to line out the rest of the blocks.
  • Tuesday - finish blocks and assemble the center panel.  And buy backing fabric.
  • Wednesday - add border, piece the backing, and make the quilt sandwich
  • Thursday - prep the binding & use it to tie the sandwich into a birthday bundle (since there's no WAY I'm getting this thing quilted before Friday - we're talking a king size quilt here!  The quilting alone is gonna take some time!)
Totally doable - right?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Progress without Sewing?

I know I'm on a crazy deadline.  MC's quilt (at least the top) by 10/11.  Two other quilts (completely done) by beginning of November.  The raffle quilt somewhere in between there.  Sometimes it's hard to go step by step when I feel like I should be SPRINTING AHEAD.

Last night was Project Runway with my sister.  She's still nursing a broken foot so we both needed some chilling-with-my-sister time.  Roaring fire, tons of candles, and a couple sleepy cats - it was just the ticket.

But that whole deadline thing.....

I have most of the squares cut for the MC's carpenter's star but I'm seriously dithering over background, borders, and color placement.  Since every half square triangle is unique, I can't just sew then position.  I had to get it all sorted before I could stitch anything.

I loaded up all my scraps, a print out of the design (Thanks EQ7!) and some scissors.  For every 9" square, I created a 1" stand-in.  Armed with a glue stick, I cut all the little squares into tiny triangles and glued them on the pattern.

Mock-up of ManChild's Carpenter's Star

I have to say, this was loads of fun.  I may have to make some Christmas cards or something this way.  Very satisfying - all those little bits of color & the instant gratification of glue.

It was also a GREAT process for my quilt.  I discovered that
  1. I was totally over-thinking the color placement.  I have to be precise (so the triangles merge into diamonds) but those diamonds looked pretty great in a random arrangement.  OK - not exactly random.  I can't actually do random.  But the evenly-distributed-non-symmetrical arrangement that passes for random in my brain.  And
  2. The scrappy background I planned was too busy for the design.  It made the star just fade away.  Using one neutral made the star really pop.

I'm so glad, in the race to the finish line, that I took time to get that sorted.  Now I can charge ahead with piecing and assemble.  Best part - I figured it out without having to take (or rip out!) a single stitch!

- sash

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Make To-Do list: CHECK!

Seriously - it's been over a week and I don't get to update ANYTHING on my WIP list?  Oh - not true.  I finished the MCGF's quilt.  Phew.

I also started two new projects.  Finished one - start two?  Not what I'd planned.  But first, Missouri Star Quilts announced their Iron Quilter II competition.  I thought "Why not?"  So I've designed a quick, cute quilt.  I just got my "mystery ingredient" charm packs in the mail and I've played with the colors a bit.  I need a good long day of sewing to make progress on it.

The other new project is the result of (finally!) deciding on a pattern for the MC's quilt.  It works with the Northcott Stonehenge fabrics and I think it's simple enough to finish before his birthday.  Which is in 9 days.  So no pressure.

Tonight I got all his fabric ironed and about 1/2 of it cut.  I decided on the background color.  That all feels like progress.  My goal for tomorrow night is to cut the rest of the squares and maybe play with placement while watching Project Runway with my sis.  The belle-soeur is visiting this weekend, so between cleaning the house, visiting with her, a choir retreat, and the usual weekend recovery naps...

Yeah - I better at least get everything cut tomorrow night and final arrangements decided.

I can do this.  Who needs to sleep, right?

- sash

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's so SHINY!

 I'm not a girly girl.  Seriously - I own no makeup, don't understand the shoe obsession, and it's been 30+ years since I've been much into lace. Or pink. Or glittery.

Oh - but this makes my inner princess squeal.  Check out this Anodized Titanium Blade from Kershaw.

Can you believe it?  It's beautiful and imagine how smooth it must feel - all polished and such.

I've heard mixed reviews about titanium blades.  The range of metal quality means they could last and last or could wear quickly in the folding mechanism.  I like Kershaw blades, though, and have had good luck with even their lower priced items.

So a good serious blade with some brilliant color and a reasonable price.

(And it's really, really shiny!)

- Auntie Sash

Such a productive weekend!

My newly designed work station is a dream.  My sweetie did a great job and the queen-of-folding-&-organization made it a warm, cozy, functional space.

This weekend, I finished ALL the quilting on the man-child's girlfriend's quilt top.  I finished the piecing in time for her graduation in June but, as often happens, stalled out on the finish.  But NOW I've got all the quilting done, the basting tacks removed, and the binding cut and pressed.  I just need to square it up, add the binding & tags, and pass it on.  Phew.

Hmmm - I guess I should add "Take Pictures" to that list.

The other big progress was on the Craftsy Candy Squares Quilt. I'd cut most the pieces and started assembling the blocks, but by last night all fifty of the 9-patches were complete, pressed, and attached to an alternate block.  Next step - figure out the arrangement of those sub blocks and stitch it all together!

I also played with making little snap bags.  The sample turned out pretty well (I know, where's the picture?) and I think these will be fun to make for the holiday craft sale as well as for little gifts.

So a great weekend quilting and enough progress to have me itching to hit the sewing room tonight.

Keep your feet on the ground!

- Auntie Sash

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just a place holder.

 A shot across the bow.  To break the ice.  Check the settings.  Mix the metaphors.