Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Progress/Finish

Happy Thanksgiving and end of November ! I cooked my Thanksgiving meal today. With me working in the Emergency Room, and my husband and both his brothers working public safety jobs on Thanksgiving, we get together whenever we can for dinner. And I cook.

I'm exhausted, but I need to report my November finish with SewBittersweetDesigns.

I'm not sure I really had a completion for November.

I finished two quilt tops (Swoon and fire station quilt).

I finished the backing and layering and basting the Swoon quilt. I have started quilting it....starting with stabilization by stitching in the ditch. It's the biggest quilt I have nearly finished...ever! My hubby insisted that I use a double layer of batting. So this quilt is big and heavy, and with less than 7" of machine arm space on my little Bernina, it's extremely difficult to fit and maneuver, even with a lot of table space.

These are my attempts to scrunch and roll the big quilt. It take more time to keep adjusting and wiggling the quilt than it does to actually stitch the seam!

If you're wondering what those little blue blobs are on top of the quilt, those are my Fons and Porter machine quilting gloves. They are great!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Charms and basting

The mailbox yielded a yummy treat yesterday--the Kate Spain Charm Swap package came! Thanks so much to my friend Michele @ for organizing the swap and organizing all those charm squares!

These are just a taste of all that fabric goodness from my favorite designer. I love how most of the colors and prints throughout all of the collections go so well together.

Sunday, after starting an antibiotic on Saturday, I still wasn't feeling well enough to attend church meetings. Hubby had just gotten home from his fire shift, so he relaxed with Star Wars on the computer while I organized some of my stash. We bought some drawers last week (along with plastic bins and storage ottomans for toys and storage items--all part of cleaning and getting ready for the new baby).
I should have taken a before and after, but after is definitely better!

There are some PIGs (Projects In Grocery Sacks), tote bags, and boxes.

And I wrestled mightily and layered the Swoon quilt sandwich. I got a start on pin-basting. This is the largest quilt I have done myself to date!

Here's a sneak peak at underneath!
I use clamps and painter's tape from the hardware store to stretch and put tension on the backing, then layer the batting and quilt top, matching centers.

Then I smooth it all out, working from centers outward as each layer is placed. Then I start pin-basting with curved safety pins and using my Quik Klip, working from the center and radiating outward in rows. When the section is finished, I carefully lift the top layers and unclamp the backing, carefully shift the whole sandwich for a new section on top of the table, then start clamping the backing to the table again.

I got a good start, but I couldn't work for long. With the tendinitis and pregnancy swelling, I can't grip the pins well, and can't feel them well with my fingertips tingly and numb.  I called my neighbor, who is a nurse, and firefighter's wife like me, and who also loves to sew and quilt like me, and hopefully she will be able to help me tomorrow.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Swoon top and backing; autism

I've had a busy week organizing the Swoon blocks, sewing the top together, and sewing the backing together. I just finished the backing!

I had an amazing evening when I decided to organize the blocks. Since the quilt is for my son S., I asked him to help mommy with his quilt and "put the quilt puzzle together." he giggled and came running. He has Autism, like this quilt is celebrating, so the first amazing thing about the situation is that he came over to be involved. And that he stayed engaged and paid attention!

Actually J. came running too and wanted to help. Not bad help to have both of them, considering it's already difficult for me to get up and down with this growing baby belly.

They helped me lay the blocks in the 3x3 grid on the living room floor. S. had to count each one. It was so amazing, because both boys looked on, and moved blocks when I asked them to. When I asked S. if he liked a combination, he nodded yes or no. He followed directions. The first time he moved a block, I asked him to smooth it out so we could see the whole block...the next time he moved one, he automatically smoothed it out and lined it up on the grid. When I thought we were done, I asked him if he thought we were done, and he said yes. I asked him if he liked his quilt. "yes!"

I told them, "let's put numbers on the blocks so I know where they will go later and sew them together." and S. ran around the quilt, putting the notes in order on the blocks in the grid, starting where I told him to start, and doing the order by himself.
The picture is little J. holding up my chart of the colors, and placements, sitting on the blocks.

S. wandered away while I took pictures, hence little brother J. is in the pictures!

I called him back, saying we had one more decision to make. I laid out two lengths of the reds under the blocks, to try sashing. One was the solid red background, and the other was the red puzzle pieces print.

I asked S. which one, and he pointed to the puzzles. Then I decided to try just the puzzles:

(Here's little J being the picture hound again.)

And asked him one more time "do you like it?"
 "yes!" he said.

So to recap, it's a miracle in a way with what we accomplished together, with his Autism.
1-- he helped make decisions.
2--he pointed to his choices
3--he helped move things around, following directions
4--he stayed on task. He was engaged and interacting nearly the entire time.
5--he answered questions with words and gestures.
6--he demonstrated his knowledge and skills when asked to, and also voluntarily.
7--he gave me fist bumps and high fives, and even a hug when we were done. His smile is beautiful!

It makes me smile and I am really thankful, for all the progress he has made in the last few years. There was a time when we despaired if he would ever be able to do any of those numbers up above. He was almost completely nonverbal until nearly four years old. He gave me his first real kiss, knowing what it meant, sometime after his fourth birthday. He was five when I first heard "I love you" from him.  He is such a blessing and a sweetheart.

 (This morning, He climbed in top of the bed while I was trying to wake up, and cuddled right next to me, saying "I love you" clearly, looking right at me. I hadn't said it first! Then he kissed my cheek and cuddled in for a hug.) These times are so precious.

So I haven't taken a picture of the completed top yet. Oops!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Swoon #9 and #10

And I'm finished making Swoon blocks! Yippeeee!!

Here are blocks #9 and #10 :

As much as I love all the other blocks, I think the red, white and blue blocks are my favorite. They just sparkle !
(although it's hard to tell from the lighting.  It's midnight and in the basement!)

I'm excited and amazed !
I pre-shrunk all the backing fabric today, in between sewing. Now I get to decide where each block will go in the top, and cut and add sashing.

I even asked S. what he wanted me to do with the extra block (#10) : whether he wanted it on the back of his quilt, or a pillow. He said he wanted a pillow!

Are there 24" pillow forms?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Swoon 7 & 8, 100 Blocks Blog Tour fun

This week has felt really productive for me. There hasn't been many hours at work to pick up (boo for my budget), but that means lots of time to sew.

I had my 28 week doctor's appointment this week...the baby sounds good and my blood pressure is great. Last Saturday, my best friend hosted a fun baby shower for me. Not as many people showed up as I had hoped for, but it was still wonderful and fun.
I think I'm suffering from a nasty head cold or a sinus infection. Hard to tell, but I'm miserable.

I've been working on more Swoon blocks.

# 7 and #8

Number 8 had two directional prints--in one block that was hard to piece!

I thought I had all the directionals figured out in the piecing of the flying geese and HST.

I guess you just do the best you can do, with a limited amount of fabric (fat quarters). Sometimes the print directions just don't work out the way you want, even after careful planning and marking and sewing.

Then I spent a lot of time this week, with my feet propped up, following Quiltmajer Magazine's 100 Blocks Volume 8 Blog Tour. Once again, it was a lot of blogs each day, but sew much fun! I really enjoy meeting the blog designers, hearing their inspiration behind their blocks and the design process, and seeing lots of color options and quilt options. And answering questions as part if giveaway comments helps me to learn more about myself as a person and quilter.

There's still time to comment and enter some giveaways ! and go to "blog" Quilty Pleasures 

Have fun and good luck!
I can't wait to see if I win any giveaways!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Swoon #6


I just finished my Pieces of Hope Swoon block #6. Only four more to go!

The pattern calls for 9 blocks, in a 3x3 layout with narrow sashes. I'm trying to decide what to do with block #10.

Should I piece #10 into the backing of the quilt?
Or make a throw pillow to match the quilt?

The beautiful blue-on-blue puzzle piece is the symbol for Autism Speaks, the national organization that promotes research about Autism and Autism Awareness.
The symbol is a puzzle piece, because so much is still unknown about Autism. Autism is a "spectrum", meaning the disability has a wide range of manifestations, yet each person who has Autism displays similar groups of traits and behaviors.

I get more excited as each block takes shape. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Charm Swap

I joined the Kate Spain Charm Swap, hosted by Quilts from My Crayon
I couldn't help it, because Kate Spain is my favorite designer!
Yesterday, I was able to cut my fabric onto charms.

I used the purple and stone-blue damask prints from the Cuzco collection. Two of my favorites!

I even got another Swoon block 80% pieced together last night!

This morning, I started cleaning my house for the baby shower on Saturday. (I know this sounds weird, but this is my third and last child, and I've never received a baby shower before! My sweet best friend suggested it, and  is hosting it.)
By the time I was done for the day at noon, my back and wrists and hands were cramping and weak. I just knew that I wouldn't be in any shape to do some sewing the rest of the day.

After getting cleaned up and eating lunch, little brother and I headed to the post office to mail the charm squares. Yay! A quick stop at the Dollar Tree found a bunch of fun calendars for next year, them we headed home.

We arrived home just in time for big brother to arrive on the bus, so we all took off for a walk to the mailbox and to the park. We were all glad to get out in the sunshine, even though it was a chilly 40 Fahrenheit with a bit of a breeze. My back and hands and wrists were killing me by then. I made dinner, took Tylenol, and settled into the sofa to ice and heat my hands and rest my back--I nearly fell asleep!

What a day in the life of a mom, huh?
I'm spent, so it's off to bed.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November Goals, one finish already!

November blew in with a chill--3 inches of snow yesterday, Daylight Savings is over, and we woke up to a cold, chilly, Monday morning!

And I feel a celebration coming on (ok, my little guy watches a lot of Team Umizoomi on Nick Jr):

I finished a quilt top!
My hubby's fire station quilt top is now finished! Here's a sneak peek:

My main goal for November: Get it quilted!
A--what designs to quilt where
B--how I'm going to quilt it! Am I just going to try and use my Bernina, or try to hunt up a longarm to borrow or use?
This is the largest quilt that I have made so far, at about 73 x 92".
C--what fabric I'm going to use for backing!

Look at all that lovely negative space in the borders! Gotta keep going on my Craftsy classes for Quilting Large Quilts in a Small Machine, and Angela Walter's Dot-to-Dot Quilting. Last night I was watching Dot-to-Dot and sketching:

Other goals for this month:
1-- Today, I need to cut charm squares for the Kate Spain Charm Swap.
2--Piece more Swoon blocks.
3--Gather templates and print foundations for the baby's quilt.
4--find some dark grey for the baby's quilt. Here's why:

Here's my plan on Quilt-Pro software. It's the program I use to plan and design my quilts.
I've decided on the grey/yellow palette. I'm having a hard time finding a good darker-medium grey for accents and sashes.  I ordered some fabrics, but the grey isn't dark enough.
I've wanted to use Michael Miller Fairy Frost for some time, so when I saw it on sale at Kim's Fabric Outlet on Facebook, I jumped at the chance.

Look at the extra goodies I got, too, the Riley Blake Dots, and the blue snowflakes, and that grey swirl.

She sent me the wrong grey--too pale! She sent the one I ordered, below in the middle, but it still wasn't as dark as I'd hoped. Then I got looking at the scrap of fat quarter I had leftover from the firetruck bumpers (on top of the black below) and realized that was about how dark of a grey that I wanted. *sigh* More searching is necessary. Maybe some Kona solid--to break up all the sparkle.

Anyway, a lot to do, but I'm trying to make it manageable. And as long as I can work through all the numbness in my fingers and wrists, I'll be ok.