Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Funny Story... Sort of

Friday evening I was able to put together the remaining blocks for our quilt. So I started thinking about the sashings and all of a sudden I got nervous because I couldn't remember how I had designed the sashings. So I dug out all my pattern info and realized that somehow I got the number 48 stuck in my head for the number of blocks I needed. Somewhere I had written down 8 x 4 was 48 (yeah for the 5th grade math going wrong). But thankfully, I did make 48 instead of 32 because I had changed the design a little bit and I really needed 35 blocks! At least I was off in the right direction!

Anyway - I got a few of the sashing strips cut and sewed one set onto a block last night just to see how it would turn out. I thought it came out really well. The picture doesn't show the green border very well, but in real life it does stand out and you can notice it. Once I have the creamy white between the blocks, it will really pop!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Day of Quilting...Mostly

Sometimes it seems like getting quilting done takes a while, but then at the end of the day I say... "Look at that... I got it all done." That's what it was like today. The day started off with the usual Sunday antics: run to Wal-mart before everyone else gets there so it only takes 30 minutes to do the shopping instead of an hour, trimming plants and starting the laundry. The plants took a while and we realized we were a week late in fertilizing the roses. No wonder they didn't seem to be growing a whole lot!

We opted out of fertilizing our other perennials. They're pretty big and we've been fertilizing them almost every week. If we fertilize them next week, it will be a 3-week intermission, but I think they'll be fine.

I finally got to quilting later this afternoon and I was able to get the remaining 24 blocks completely sewn and pressed. They look really good with most of the star points exactly where they should be. I did realize though, that I made many more blocks than I needed to. Somewhere along the line, I thought I needed 48 total blocks for the quilt top. But Friday night I started trying to remember how I had planned the sashings, so I pulled out all my original design information and realized I really only need 35 blocks! At least I was off in a good way (too many versus too few). I hadn't sewn all the bocks together yet when I realized this, but I figured I might as well put it together since I had the stuff already cut.

So I have 48 blocks completely sewn at this point. I figure I'll make a runner for my dresser and some "mats" to put on the bedside tables with the extra blocks. I could also probably make some pillow shams, but I don't think I will need them.

Anyway - its getting late (10pm) so its time for bed because I have work tomorrow. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Weekend is Here!!

I'm SO glad the weekend is finally here. It seems like the work weeks have been dragging by, but somehow it always ends up being Friday and I can look forward to a whole evening of quilting. Rich likes to go rock climbing (indoors thankfully) on Friday evenings. Before I got hurt, I also went, but I haven't been back to it in over a year now. So while he's out climbing, I get the whole evening to quilting! :-)

While tomorrow will be spent with Rich's family (Grandma is up to see the new baby), I get to stop at the sewing store on the way there! :-) There's only one item that I NEED to get, but we all know that I will enjoy browsing around a bit and oogling over the bolts of fabric. The Gloversville sewing store doesn't have a lot of our plain, run-of-the-mill fabrics that you would find at a Joann's, but they have the most amazing assortment of patterned fabrics. Somehow they all look good! Plus, they have an old wooden library card catalog piece that they keep all their fat quarters in. Its fun to open up the drawers and see the various little squares of color.

During the winter months, they also carry woolen fabric for quilting. I'm a little surprised as a lot of people won't quilt with it because its such a heavy-weight fabric. Its expensive, too! But I'm a little curious to see how a quilt would look, or maybe just a table-runner.

Anyway - since the store opens at 9 tomorrow, its off to bed for me so I can get up and go shopping. ;-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Triangles Triangles Triangles

Last night I spent most of the evening pressing my triangle units. Who would think that it would take so long to press 96 triangles?? Then I had to start trimming off the "dog-ears" from the triangle units, but I only got about half of them done last night.

Two years ago when I first started quilting, I got hooked on the Fifty-Four Forty or Fight pattern. At the time, I didn't have any templates (just two acrylic rulers for cutting against), so I made my own out of the template material you can buy at the store (its very thin plastic). It took me a few tries to get the templates right, but I got them measured and cut so that I could take all the "dog-ears" off right when I cut the blocks. Because they were made of think plastic, I couldn't actually cut against them. I had to trace each one with a fabric marker and then line up my acrylic rulers and cut. However, everything went together really easily and I didn't have to do any more cutting after the pieces were assembled.

When I started this quilt, there was no way I was going to trace 192 triangles on the fabric! So I went out and bought pre-made templates for the triangle-in-the-square. While they are really nice and work for various different sized finished squares, there's a lot of work involved in cutting the "magic angle" and then having to trim all the corners in the end. I think if I do this again, I'll end up making my own templates. While at Lowe's a few weeks ago, Rich and I walked by an area where they cut large pieces of Lexan for you. They also had smaller pieces that you could cut yourself. So I'm tempted the next time I need templates to make my own with the thin plastic, make sure they're right, and then buy a piece of Lexan and cut that to make my custom templates. I wonder if anyone else has tried making their own templates....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"New" Quilting Technique

I've started to get into the habit of recording some of the sewing TV shows on the local PBS station. Usually I just delete most of them because they're about sewing clothes and I'm not interested in making my own clothes... I just want to quilt at this point. But earlier this week, Sewing with Nancy had a designer on that had created a way to quilt individual quilt blocks prior to assembling the quilt and then connect the quilted blocks with quilted connectors. It seems like a good idea for people who don't have a long-arm machine, but still want to be able to completely quilt their own quilt.

I think I may have to try it at some point....but of course, that's after I completely all the other umpteen quilt designs that I have planned at this point. Unfortunately, my planning process seems to go a lot faster than my actual quilting!

Quilting And Gardening

Rich was traveling yesterday, so I actually got a bit of sewing done during the week. ;-) I finished pressing and sewing all remaining 96 pairs of red/white triangles. It only took me about 2.5 hours to do it! Sheesh!

Yesterday afternoon we had a pretty good thunderstorm roll through around rush-hour. After I had gotten home and had a chance to eat something for dinner, the sun came out and I decided it was time for some fresh pictures of the garden. We have more flowers in bloom now and its starting to look really nice. If only I could capture the smell for you and post it! Anyway, here's some pictures of the full garden at the front of the house. The diasies are little spent at this point and we're experimenting to see if they will flower again, but everything else is going crazy.

This is the really bushy (and mostly green) plants in the front-middle of the planter. Its some blue-ish asters:

This is a close-up of one of the coneflowers on the right side of the planter:

Next to the big white phlox, we have two smaller phloxes that we just put in this year. They just started blooming yesterday and the colors is spectacular!

Here's some pictures of our roses, too. I was able to capture them with water still on the flowers:

This last one is actually a rose that my mother-in-law gave us. We haven't really done much with it this year, but the flowers are still gorgeous!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No Quilting Progress :-(

I haven't been able to make much progress on my quilt over the past weekend. Friday evening I got the first of two red triangles sewn to the white triangle for 96 units, but I haven't even had a chance to press them yet so that I can sew the other triangle onto the units. Saturday we had my parents up and one of my aunts, my uncle and their daughter. We had a good time and it was the first time they were able to come up and see the house. Thankfully the gardens were in full bloom so they could enjoy the flowers.

Sunday was fairly busy, too so I didn't get any quilting done. I have gotten about 3 hours of needlepoint in over the past few days, but my poor quilt is just sitting there looking lonely. Rich is off traveling tonight and won't be back until late tomorrow, so I think I will get lots of sewing done. :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Quilting Finished

Yay! I now have 24 of the 48 blocks needed for our quilt. I have all of the blue/white checkered squares made, all the white center blocks and big triangles cut, and I just need to finish cutting the red triangles (which a major pain in the butt!). It feels good to see the quilt starting to come together after the fabric has been sitting in the closet for the past few months.

I bought the fabric late last year and I've FINALLY finished all the baby quilts so that I can start making our quilt. Although, I did find out yesterday that one of our neighbors is expecting a child, so I'll be making another baby quilt for them, but they don't know that yet. :-)

I even got a ton of stuff done today when I got done with work. I dropped off my husband's shirts to the dry cleaners (even though its a shorter drive for him to go there after work, I still do it), mowed about 1/3 of the lawn (I can only do the flat part for now), trimmed all our flowers, made broiled chicken for dinner, squeezed in 1/2 hour of needlepoint AND finished sewing the remaining 8 blocks I needed to get to 24 finished blocks. Whew! Now I just have to get ready for another exciting day of ANSYS training tomorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More Pictures

Since Lane was posting some pictures of his sewing room and others posted pictures of theirs, here's a picture of my "sewing room". Its really just our upstairs bedroom that we use as a tv room. That's my new sewing cabinet and machine next to the windows. At least I can watch/listen to the tv or just look outside while I sew.

Here's a finished block from our quilt. I think its starting to look really nice and I love the colors.

Here's some updated pictures of our garden. I tried to take them last night when the sun was going down, so most of them didn't come out very well. I was also trying not to get eaten alive by mosquitos!

Quilt Pictures!

I've finally taken and uploaded pictures of the last baby quilt I finished. I think it turned out pretty well and I love the quilting from the back. The pink thread I used was just a little bit darker than the pink fabric, so you can really see the quilting in person.

Close-up of the front. I used monofilament for the quilting on the front.

And the back...

Close-up of the center on the back.

Here's a close up of a corner.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Family Stuff

So I don't have any pictures from my vacation last week and I've been EXTREMELY lazy and have no quilting pictures, but here's a picture of part of my Mom's garden from a few years ago. Just in front of all the flowers is a pond that we dug many years ago and has some gold fish in it. My Mom says that its good for fattening up the gold fish for the winter when they go back home to the tank. :-)

Here's one of my husband, Rich, doing what he does best. He loves being in the hammock there.

Here's one of my Grandmother from 5 years ago when she was 88! She's still kicking at 92 now although her eyesight and hearing are very poor now. She still enjoys seeing and visiting with everyone and she definitely still has her wits about her. I can only hope to live as long as she does!

And here she is.... My Mom! This picture was taken right after I took a picture of her bending over and my Dad was teasing her about a family trait. :-)

Don't worry Mom, I'll post a better picture of you next time and not the one where you're bending over! ;-)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back to Reality

After being on vacation for a little more than a week, its been tough trying to get back into the swing of things. We had a great time visiting my parents at the lake and I was able to show my Mom how to use her "new" Bernina (at least it was new to her). We had a good time sewing together and we even got her garden cleaned up a bit.

While on vacation, I was able to completely finish hand sewing the binding on quilt #6 (I'll hopefully post a picture soon) and I've gotten 9 of 48 blocks completed for our queen sized quilt. They look really good and I only had to rip out a few seams to make everything line up just right.

We also put up a garage door opener while on vacation. We've been in our house for almost 3 years and we FINALLY put in the automatic opener. Now I won't have to get out of the car in the rain and snow to open the door. It took two tries to get the thing working as we found out (after everything was put together) that the circuit board on the first motor was shot. Back to the store it went and thankfully they gave us a partial return so we didn't have to unbolt everything that was attached to our garage already. The second machine worked fine and its definitely nice to not have to lift the door anymore.

We did find out, unfortunately, that the deer have finally decided that our neighborhood is safe again. Our neighborhood used to be just woods and when the construction started, the deer took off. However, Tuesday night I had MANY roses on my rose bushes, but Wednesday morning about half of them were gone. Deer LOVE to eat roses. Thankfully my mother-in-law used to have a huge deer problem in their last house and after many years of trying different things, she found an easy mix that you can spray around your property and it keeps the deer away. Since we started spraying, we haven't lost any more roses. Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup milk (preferrably spoiled)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon lemon scented dish soap

1 gallon of water

You simply mix everything together (get the cheapest milk, eggs, oil, soap and sprayer you can find) in the sprayer and start spraying around your property. We essentially drew a line around our entire yard with the mix and used the remaining amount to really douse the wood chips beneath the roses and around other plants we didn't want eaten. When you spray, its best to spray on things that are going to stick around for a while (bushes instead of grass, wood chips instead of the actual plants). You do have to re-spray after it rains and if it doesn't rain, about once a week.

Anyway, the quilting has been progressing, somewhat slowly, but at least its still moving forward. I'm still somewhat annoyed at my triangles within a square, but its just because the cutting is taking a really long time to make sure I get everything "just right". I still end up having to fudge the end blocks a little bit, but its pretty close. Maybe by the time I get the 48th block made I may have it right. ;-)

As far as my other projects, I haven't made much progress on the needlepoint as all I have been doing is quilting. I think I'm going to have to devote at least a few hours a week to doing needlepoint so that keeps going forward, too.

Oooh - I also got turned onto some quilting books this weekend. My sister-in-law lent me the first five books in a series by Jennifer Chiaverini. The books are all based around a group of women who quilt. They actually pretty good and if anyone is interested, you can find information about them here: http://elmcreek.net/index.php/main/books/. The first book is The Quilter's Apprentice and its really a good story. I definitely recommend them.
Time to get back to work now that lunchtime is done.
Happy Quilting! Sarah