Monday, June 22, 2009


A friend of mine works at a furniture store, and they have tons of upholstery and home-decor weight fabric samples. They are normally thrown away when the store gets new samples, but Valerie let me come by her house and go through the piles. I ended up with 80 samples. They are each about the size of a fat quarter, and some are 100% cotton but most are blends.

I gave her $20 and a promise that I would make a purse for her. Awesome! I've been meaning to practice my purse-making skills, so it's a great excuse. So rather than re-cycling, or re-using, I am UPcycling here--meaning I'm making something of more value than I started with. I'm looking forward to playing around with all my new fabric!

Friday, June 19, 2009

block party in progress

I'm done with all the blocks (20) for a pattern called "Block Party". This is just four of them to give you an idea of the colors and pattern. It's from American Patchwork and Quilting's October 2005 Issue. It's designed by Jason Yenter of In the Beginning Fabrics. Anyway, I figured I was close to done. I just needed to cut up the blocks into fours and add sashing pieces to create a "window" effect. I asked my husband what he thought--should it be bigger? It's for a friend's wedding and I mentioned that it could be a "snuggle on the couch" quilt, or, if it was bigger, it could be a bed quilt. His response: "a bigger quilt does not prevent snuggling on the couch". So sayeth the expert in snuggling! :) So I need to create another ten blocks (it was four blocks by five blocks before). Good thing I have plenty of time for this one, and quite a bit of fabric. I might not post many updates, as I don't want to give away the surprise!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A quilt thank you

One of my requirements for all baby quilts I make is that the recipient must take a picture of the quilt "in action", meaning the baby must be on the quilt. I like to make sure my quilts are being used. So I got this picture today of baby Wes.It was part of a whole bunch of pictures of baby Wes, naked, on the quilt. Which I think is awesome and adorable but maybe not totally appropriate for posting on the internet. Who knows, maybe he'll want to run for office some day.

I also had a wonderful day with my friend and her son at the zoo. He is now 16 months, so he knows the animal sounds. I made a quilt for him when he was born, and she told me today that it is still hanging on the wall! I usually do not approve, as I feel strongly that quilts are meant to be used. But I was heartened when she said that the quilt was on the wall behind the rocking chair, so he was always looking at it. I guess one day he started naming all the objects he saw on the quilt (ball, baby, train, etc). So he seems to enjoy looking at it at least!
Here is the detail:

Here is the overhead:

I made this in Fall of 2007. The pattern is called P.S. I Love You. I guess my friend is afraid of her baby having an "accident" on the quilt. I fully expect babies to do all sorts of things to my quilts--that is why I rarely make them white!!! :) But really, I want them to be loved and if that means that there is some drool, snot, and other stuff that needs to be washed out from time to time, that is ok by me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quilt Block for Mary

I made this quilt block for Mary in the Live Piecefully 2 Virtual Quilting Bee. I hope she likes it. I had fun scanning through books and pictures for inspiration. Her only request was that it wasn't a star. The block name is "Rolling Stone". Usually it's done in just two colors so it looks more round. I had four fabrics so I wanted to use all of them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

hearts in progress

I am currently working on a collaborative quilt. A woman in my choir (a fellow alto!) was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She was super good and always got her mammograms--in January they came back fine. But about two months ago she went in complaining of some pain and they discovered cancer. So I was reading about the group Prayers and Squares, and they talk about making prayer quilts for people who need some prayers. Well this seemed like a really good case! I am not affiliated with them, I just really like the idea that it is not about the quilt, but the prayers that go into making it. So I've been getting everyone in the choir to write a message on a heart, and then I've appliquéd them onto a piece of fabric.

I still haven't decided on a cut off date for them, because I really want everyone to have a chance to be included. So far I've got about 20 squares done. They were my first foray into fusible web and appliqué. If anyone has any tips for how to prevent your iron and ironing board from getting gummed up with that stuff, I'd love to hear them. I put down an old towel, and cleaned off the iron. How do you deal with fusible web goo?

Sewing Machine Interview

SewMamaSew is celebrating Sewing Machine Month. I figured I would join in the reviews. Check out their post here.

What brand and model do you have?

Janome DC3018

How long have you had it?
Six months

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
I think about $500, but I got it for $400

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Mostly quilts, although I'd like to make other items! I am currently working on a duvet cover.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
Since I've gotten it I've been sewing a lot. I'd say 4-6 hours per week? I clean it out at least once a month to make sure the lint doesn't build up too much.

Do you like/love/hate your machine?
I love my machine.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

I love the automatic button hole attachment, I love the needle threader helper doodad. I love the "cruise control" which is great for keeping an even feed when I'm stippling. I also love the "needle down" option which means I can set it so the needle always goes down when I stop (which is great for machine quilting). Oh! And the pop-off feet! I love those--no need for a screwdriver.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

I haven't found a problem yet! Although maybe a larger throat would be nice?

Do you have a great story to share about your machine?
Well, I told my mom that what I really wanted for Christmas was a new sewing machine. I really needed an upgrade (I had a cheap Kenmore that didn't have all the bells and whistles). So we went to the sewing machine store two days before Christmas. They had a sign that said they were closed. I was so bummed. But we knocked on the door and the guy let us in. Super friendly awesome guy (my mom bought her sewing machine from him). The machine I ended up getting was a floor model, so I got a good deal. My mom couldn't buy me the whole machine, so she put $200 towards it and I paid the rest. The only snag in all this is that the sewing machine store was in California, and I live in Chicago. So my brother (eBay seller extraordinaire that he is) got me a good deal on shipping it via FedEx. I could hardly wait for it to arrive!

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Definitely. It has tons of options, it is pretty lightweight (I take mine on the bus with me), it's not too expensive, and you can get generic feet to work with it--you don't have to buy the dealer ones, which I've heard is a problem with Husqvarnas and Berninas (but don't quote me on that!)

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
Make a list of what you NEED a machine to do. Make a list of what you WANT it to do. Don't buy more machine than you need, but also don't limit yourself too much. Will you grown out of this machine quickly? A lot of machine dealers will allow you to upgrade within a year if you find you need a fancier machine--and they give you a credit for what you originally paid for a trade-in.

Do you have a dream machine?

I can't think of anything my machine doesn't do right now that I need it to do, so actually no.

Monday, June 1, 2009

If at first you don't succeed....

try try again, right? That's how I felt about quilting this quilt.

It really shouldn't have taken me so long, but I broke two needles, got a "birds nest" of quilting mess and had to rip out the stitches, and then I did that thing where you sew a flap of fabric to the back accidentally. Sigh. I think it was because I was using "invisible thread" which requires adjusting the tension settings to deal with.

But I managed to put the binding on so I could finish the hand binding while watching So You Think You Can Dance (my friend had it on TiVo).

I know, my spirals are not very good. But they were fun! I need some more practice.

It's done! Another quilt on my finish list. This is for a baby that is due in July. I hope my friend likes it!

The pattern is just blocks using the X-Blocks Tool. You can read more about it here. It's a really easy technique for making interesting quilts. My mom got it for me at a quilt show and I got it for Christmas. Thanks Mom!

And the winner is....

Emily! I used the trusty number generator and her number came up. I am excited to send it to her--it turns out she is 8 yrs old, about the same time I started quilting (I started at 10). You can check out her blog here. Congratulations Emily!