Sunday, December 29, 2013

December Finish

Wow! 2013 flew by!

After reviewing and re-prioritizing my goals, I guess I got more done than I thought.

1--Yes! I got that Swoon pillow done tonight! Not in time for S.'s birthday, but close enough.

Nice hidden lapped zipper, huh?

2--yes! I definitely got those Cars pillowcases done. S. loved those for his Christmas gift.

3--Yes! I finished copying and printing all the templates, foundations, and cutting instructions for the baby's star quilt.
I just had to give up hopes of getting anything else done on that. The condition of my hands is just not going to let me. That will need to wait until after the baby arrives, and the swelling hopefully subsides to the point where it no longer affects the nerves and tendons in my wrists.

4--Yes, I did manage to finish stabilizing the Swoon quilt. I did find some thread that matched. And I did manage to start quilting a few block spaces around the edge of the quilt.
I work with a nurse in the ER who happens to live about two miles from me, and who offered that I could come over and use her Handiquilter Sweet Sixteen. I gave her a call, and she said we could figure out a time after the holidays. (Hopefully, I'll get some quilting in before the baby comes!)

I got more done in December than I thought, with something on each of my goals.
I'm now linking up with Melissa of Sew Bittersweet Designs.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Birthday Cake

So my little guy S. turned 7 today. Time sure flies. He is such a smart, sweet, handsome little guy with an Irish sense of humor. He gets that same mischievous grin that his dad does. And the Autism just makes him even more amazing.

Who can resist that smile????

I'm trying to keep everything simple because I just can't handle a lot. I think I've got an ear infection, so I feel like crap. I can't lift or hold onto anything very long because of my hands. So no monumental cake decorating this time.

In fact, our conversation went like this:
"S., do you want a circle cake or a rectangle cake?"
"A rectangle cake"
"Do you want a chocolate or a white cake?"
"Chocolate cake"
"Do you want chocolate frosting or white frosting?"
"White frosting"
And J. pops in with "no, chocolate frosting" (J. is my little partner in chocoholics anonymous in our household.)
So homemade cake from scratch, with Betty Crocker vanilla frosting. I had a bit of leftover chocolate frosting in the fridge, so I used it to write on the cake. S. decided how to line up the candles and count them, but it still looked plain.

Tah-Dah! Who said you couldn't practice a little FMQ on a cake? I used my favorite continuous swirl border around the writing and candles!

He was so excited to have a cake and blow out the candles. Although, he was every adamant about not eating any, but made sure everyone else got shared with. He doesn't eat chocolate, candy, suckers, ice cream, not a lot of sweet stuff. He sure loves participating in class and Halloween and Christmas, but won't eat the treats. Layely he even says "I will being this home for J.") He eats Goldfish, vanilla wafers, frosted Circus animal cookies, graham crackers, for treats. The only meat he eats is chicken nuggets, and eats only textures like applesauce and baby food veggies. Lots of chocolate milk and plain apple juice and water. Mac n cheese and chicken-flavored Lipton easy noodles. Nutrigrain bars and Sun Chips.

Little J eating Christmas Hershey's Kisses.

And their favorite new toy that they received for Christmas. everyone needs a place to hide and de-stress and cuddle, right?

I want to make everything as typical as possible for him, and his birthday special. That means we take the Christmas tree and decorations down on Dec 27.
So most of our celebrations are small, with my hubby's brothers and mom coming over to our house. I'm grateful to not need to cook today, because they brought pizza with them. I think S. likes playing with his uncles more than the presents he received, but he is sure a sweetheart when it comes to receiving and saying "Thank You".

Anyway, it was a great ending to a great week, despite me and him being a bit sick.

Merry Christmas; winnings

(Update: This was written 12/26/2013, but somehow got posted on my family blog and not my quilting blog. Here ya go.)

Merry Christmas!

Sorry I'm late. I was Santa by myself this year while my hubby was on shift, so I wrapped and set out presents myself. He arrived home Christmas morning and we had a great time helping the boys unwrap their presents. We (I mean Santa), had some great successes with choosing gifts this year.

For me, I was happy to get a bread maker machine. I love kneading homemade bread, but I just can't do it anymore with my wrists. And store-bought bread just doesn't last very long without spoiling anymore.

And I also bought myself a Super Slider for my sewing machine. I'm very excited, because it seems to be helping manage the weight of a quilt by sliding it while I FMQ. But there's still nothing I can do about having only 5-7" of free arm space to quilt with.

Then for me, it was a nap and off to work at the ER for the rest of Christmas night. It sure was busy with lots of sick people!

We took the boys to see Disney's Frozen on Monday. On the way home, we picked up the mail. He handed me an envelope and remarked "It sure seems you're getting lots of envelopes with sewing stuff lately!"
I looked at it and said, "Yup, I've been a bit lucky lately with a few giveaways."

That envelope contained a new Kwik Klip that I won from Christa Quilts! Weekly Giveaways. I'm glad to have a second one, because I can baste with a friend now! And, my first one has been used by little J as a drumstick too many times, and once he stuck it in the handle of his trike. (The wood cracked and the brass tip on the Kwik Klip fell out into the trike handle. My hubby had to saw off the plastic trike handle to get out the brass tip!)

About a month or so ago, I won a copy of Pam and Nicky Lintott's book "More Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts". This one was won from Quilts from My Crayon Box. Pam and Nicky's patterns are fun and creative but easy, and not just straight squares sewn together. It's been fun looking through the projects and thinking of how to use some of the precuts in my small stash.

And then I won a copy of the new "Supernova" pattern by Fabric Seeds. I love that she used Cuzco charms for the cover examples. I just wish I had Cuzco charms to make my own!

And I told you that I was excited to use my Sister Swap gifts for Christmas! Here I am, wearing my cute Loony Tunes Christmas apron, making Christmas cookies with little J on Christmas Eve.

Look at my big 34-week pregnant belly!

I'm grateful for my KitchenAid mixer and the Wilton cookie press I have, because otherwise, it would have been too difficult to make cookies this year. My hubby loves butter cookies, and I like the gingerbread flavors. It's so easy to load up the cookie press and pull the trigger to make cookies.

Goodnight! I'm off to work again!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Swoon pillow quilting


I've finished the quilting on the Swoon pillow. It was great practice, and good testing material for designs.
I have really enjoyed Angela Walter's Dot-to-Dot Quilting class on Craftsy. This is a great resource for anyone. She's a great teacher, and is really great with support, encouragement, and answering questions.

I guess it's a little difficult to tell from these pictures. The iPad always gets better pictures than my iPhone.
But the back is really great reference for the rest of the quilt.

1--Love the corner backgrounds, and background in the flying geese that make the center star points, as well as the background between the outer star points.

2-I plan on doing a different motif in the center of each star.

3--I think it's important for me to find paler thread to match the colors in the blocks. And use white in the white background prints.

4--ditch the curved outlines in the diamonds. It looks messy. I will stick with straight diamond shapes echoing the diamonds, like in the corner below.

5--Also, I will not do the curves in the background triangles around the center star and in the center-star points. I will do straight diamond halves to emphasize the triangles. Or do echoing straight triangles.

7--so happy I found the designs for the pentagon-shaped star points! Thanks to Angela Walters for pointing me to her blog posts about personally quilting Swoon quilts, where I found the inspiration for the pentagons. (They are combined variations of the Starburst and Lattice designs she teaches.)  I love it when the teacher has worked on the same block and quilt that you have!

Now I'm ready to make the pillow cover and buy a gigantic 24" pillow form. 

Anyone know a good tutorial for removable, washable throw pillow slipcovers?


Hi !

By the time I finished my catch-up post last time, it was too long to include what I accomplished that night: pillowcases!

I took time out of FMQ  to make a pair of pillowcases for S. Since he loves red and Disney Cars, I purchased some flannel a while back with the purpose for pillowcases. It's only fair, since I made a pair of pillowcases with Thomas and Friends for J.

The funny thing about flannel is: it's not as wide as regular cotton fabric, and it shrinks notoriously! I always pre-wash and pre-shrink flannel, otherwise, the object I'm making will be too small.

And after pre shrinking, I discovered that I didn't have enough of each fabric to make identical pillowcases. So I improvised!
I'm particularly proud of the red flange that I inserted in the all-Cars print pillowcase. It helped with some contrast between the main body and the band. But wow, sewing was difficult through all the layers where the flange is. Wow.

I used the free "Roll It Up!" PDF tutorial from All People Quilt's 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge.

  There are no raw edges anywhere in the case with this method, as it shows you also how to sew French Seams. French Seams seem to have a bad rap as difficult and time-consuming, but the ultimate in couture sewing. I actually enjoy sewing them, and I love having no raw edges! The perfectionist in me doesn't like messy raw seams. I guess I got really good at them while making my wedding dress, with the slippery chiffon and satin charmeuse.

Look at those pretty, enclosed, narrow seams!

Now I just need to decide whether to gift these pillowcases to S. for Christmas or his birthday (which is right after Christmas).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More Swoon practice

Hi to all !
Christmas is getting closer, and so is my baby's due date! I'm 33 weeks along!

I've been trying to take it easy, stay off my feet, and do little things. 
1--I've been cutting some new stencils for quilting designs in the centers of the Swoon stars (mostly from Quiltmaker's "501 Quilting Motifs" book). I enjoy cutting my own stencils, but I have a single blade Fiskars craft knife, so a double-bladed stencil cutter from is definitely on my wish list.

2--I've been tweaking color arrangement and printing cutting charts for the baby's quilt. I love my Quilt-Pro software for this step. It prints a color thumbprint of the block, plus a black-and-white chart next to it that is labeled by patch, then a breakdown of all the patches by color and cut, with how many of each patch and sizes.

Today, I made copies of foundations for the paper-pieced blocks.

3--I've been continuing my fun with Dot-to-Dot quilting all week. I'm getting better, and quicker. I've nearly got the practice block/pillow done. It's great for auditioning designs. Angela Walters is a great teacher, and gives positive encouragement and feedback to questions. I tend to ask a lot of questions!

I ordered the "Rainbow" cotton thread set from Connecting Threads, thinking it would have all the colors I need for this colorful quilt. There are some great colors in the set! The Red is what I've been using to piece the firefighter quilt and the Swoon blocks--it's perfect matching the backgrounds. I think the Orange will be perfect. The Lime green is the perfect color, but still too dark. Above, you can see the green thread stand out in all the star and diamond patches--ooh my stitches are wobbly! I've pointed to the green thread against the white background with dots.

Now I've used pure white in the pentagon shapes between a the diamonds, with the white-background-dots print, and that works much better! I need a paler green, and a pale blue for the pale blue patches. That's the problem with ordering off the Internet and a computer screen, not being able to match colors with your own eyes and fabric in hand.

My local stores don't carry a lot of high-quality machine quilting thread. For example, I live in the home state of Superior Threads, and no shops in my county carry their products!  We all know that we quilters are hands-on, touchy-feely people when it comes to fabric and colors!  I love working with the King Tut cotton line, and really want to try the So Fine polyester.

For goodnight:
Baby Update:

At my last two doctor's appointments, this baby has been measuring 2 and 3 weeks larger than gestational age. Hmmm, no wonder my back is hurting and I'm stiff and sore. My ankles are swollen huge, my poor hands and wrists ache and feel pins and needles constantly. I found some mild compression nylon stockings last weekend, and after wearing them for two 12-hour shifts at work, my ankles sure look better!
In my pictures, you can see I'm wearing my Dritz Creative Comfort compression gloves. I wear them a lot, and I even wear them under my Fons and Porter machine quilting gloves!

I have a feeling my 4-yr-old is not going to be sharing the baby blankets well, so I'll need a bunch of new ones. It's very cold right now...hitting 0 Fahrenheit at night and not reaching 30 during the day. The baby's room is the coolest room in the house because it's north-facing, so extra blankets and quilts are needed. Especially if my body decides it has had enough stress and this baby needs to be delivered prematurely, like both of his big brothers. I need lots of prayers and good wishes to get to 37 weeks and a healthy baby and body.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Swoon Dot-to-Dot

Oh my! I'm excited!

I've finished stabilizing the Swoon quilt!
That was a lot of work!

Then I basted the Swoon block for the pillow and stabilized it. One block is very fast and easy.

I've been taking Angela Walter's "Dot-To-Dot Quilting" class on Craftsy. It's a lot of fun. I'm very happy she's showing all her designs and techniques on a domestic machine, because that's what I'm working on. I'm a little scared to just take off and go, but using dots for guidelines is helpful to reduce my fears of ugliness and wonkiness.

I made a few copies of the quilt layout from the pattern, and I've been doing lots of sketching with that and plain paper. That helps develop muscle memory, and to get a feel of what designs I like and don't like with the quilt.

Tonight I warned up, studied all the screen shots I made from the class to remind myself how to do it, then I took off!

I'm pretty proud of how it turned out for my first attempt.

And now here's the back:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December goals

Hi all!
I can't believe 2013 is coming to an end soon!

And my pregnancy is coming closer to an end, too.

Main Goal:
1--Finish the Swoon pillow.

Secondary Goals:

1--the one thing I might definitely get done is pillowcases for S. I've got some great Disney Cars flannel that he would love, that will go great with the quilt and pillow because of all the red!

2--Keep quilting the Swoon quilt. I don't know how far I'll get.

Its really hard to see, but I'm doing all the stitch-in-the-ditch. I've been working each night and a bit in the morning, all week. It's a big, heavy quilt under my 5-7" of machine arm space, and I spend more time adjusting and moving the quilt than actually stitching.

There's more I want and need to do, but I'm just not feeling well, and the numbness and tingling in my hands have spread to all fingers and thumbs of both hands. I can barely grasp anything and can barely feel what I pick up...I keep dropping lots of things.

3--I need to start printing cutting instructions for the blocks for the baby's quilt. And start cutting the block patches out. I just don't know if I can do it. 

Can anyone help me with the cutting?

(Fabric, and some cutting instructions in the file folder, patiently waiting.)

4--I sure would like to make a few cuddle wraps to swaddle my baby when he gets here. That might not happen.