21 September 2017

Hi, I Have A Long-Arm Quilting Machine

I'm struggling to get the time to make
a great post about my super big surprise
so I'm just going to put it out there.

The short story is:
I just happened to see one at a price that I
absolutely could not refuse.
I'm not sure I ever thought I'd really get one,
and certainly not before we were empty-nesters!

So, for at least a couple years it will sit in our
sunroom.  Taken down to half-size, it's not too bad!
When I woke up the next morning,
I texted my sister (who also quilts):
"Hi, my name is Cheree and I
have a long-arm quilting machine."
(Would it be too weird to greet complete strangers this way?)
It was all just so unexpected!  So out of the blue!
Two weeks later, I'm not sure the realization
has even hit me but I guess I have my whole
life for that.

Some features:
18", up to king-size, stitch regulation,
pantograph laser, Phoenix frame, etc.
It has only been used for 4 quilts
so it is practically brand new.

Now, before you ask,
it did not come with a computer attachment--
I'm not convinced I want one.  I've been burned
by technology becoming outdated before.
(which is why I have a pricey little embroidery machine just sitting in my closet)
 I also don't feel like pushing a button to
let the machine go on its own
is going to feed my creativity very well.
(If I were doing it as a business,
things might be different!)

It's a little humbling to have learn a whole new way
of quilting--almost like starting over.
And maybe the biggest struggle is that I just
haven't had much time for it.
Fortunately it's quilt season for me
(even if football is taking most of my time!)
and I hope to learn very quickly!
I want to put an order in for some pantographs
soon, and maybe make some of my own--an
idea that I'm very excited about.

* * * * * * * * * * *
I do have a question for any long-arm owners
out there:
I have two quilts basted already
that I was planning on doing with my regular
sewing machine.  Is it possible to put these on the
frame somehow?  What if I attached each with the
basting in them and stitched all around the very edges
and then pulled the basting pins?  I didn't leave
enough excess around the quilt on the batting
or backing that everything says I need for a long-arm
but maybe I could at least quilt the main part there
and then move back to my other
machine for the borders?  Hopefully stitching
those layers together will avoid any layer/space
issues?  Help!

18 September 2017

Time to Catch Back Up

Well look at that...
another 6 months slipped by.
Catch-up posts are getting to be a thing with me.

I only made 2 quilts over this time
but one of them was probably the most
challenging quilt I've ever made.

Our son-in-law was graduating with a
degree in architecture so I went out
of my comfort zone to find an appropriate
pattern--and then made it in a week.  Insane.
As it often happens when I work with a pattern
I think isn't really my taste,
I ended up really liking this one.
This is why we need to step out of that zone!

We also had a daughter's college graduation
and our 2 boys' great track post-season
(one took 5th in the state in shot put, the other took 3rd in the state in
pole vault; as an entire team, they all took 2nd in the state)
so I just didn't get started on time.

Even months later, I still love to look at this pic.
I think there are probably better ways to position
the blocks, especially along the sides, but I was
out of fabric and certainly out of time.
Anyway, I kind of like the way it suspends
there among the black.

I also completed another baby quilt
from the same pattern as in my previous post...

but in this I used the more feminine fabrics
of that same layer cake.

This was given to my niece and her baby girl.

Now this next one I made last year so I didn't
really count it, but it does qualify as a "finish".

I purposely waited till spring to do the quilting
so it would be nice and new when I
gifted it to a high school graduate.

We had all new flooring installed
throughout the two main levels of our home.
Thirty years is more than enough for carpet and old
vinyl, and we wanted to switch to wood floors
wherever possible.
In preparation, I pulled the last bit of wall paper
in the house (yay!), repainted a lot of rooms,
(because who wants to paint over a new floor?)
generally cleaned everything and thinned out
any items we weren't using,
including some large furniture items.
For the actual installation, we had to move
almost everything to the basement.
Over two weeks (weekend, too), strangers,
noise, chaos and more dirt than I thought
possible hung out in "my space."
If only the dirt had gone away with them!
So, I got to clean everything all over again,
including windows--which is a two-day chore in
itself.  Some walls still need touched up with
paint.  A few areas still need new trim.
But we couldn't be happier with our floors.

Recently, I helped my daughter throw
a baby shower for our other daughter.
Though I didn't get these done in time
for the shower, I did make 10 burp cloths out of
the fabrics that were left over from the baby quilt
I am currently working on and will post more
about later along with my big surprise.

I'm also working on the Fall '17 Quilts tab
that should be up shortly.

Till then, happy quilting!

05 April 2017

"Heart of My Heart" Baby Quilt

As promised yesterday,
I'm revealing my latest finish.
"Heart of My Heart" is made from the
"Darling Little Dickens" fabric line.
(Lydia Nelson for Moda)

I love the soft colors in these fabrics,
especially for a baby boy.

The other fabrics from this collection are going
into baby quilt #2 (greens and pinks) and so
with these, I'll have used up most of
yet another layer cake.
Movin' 'em out.

Yes, another poor-lighting pic!

We are finally getting some sun today but
somehow the north wind (and just now a short
random rain shower) has kept me chilled
and unmotivated even after my 2-mile walk.
Summer is definitely my least favorite season
but, right now?  I'd take it.
For now, I'm huddled under a quilt.

04 April 2017

A Rainy Day Catch-Up

I have a personal rule to never complain about rain.
In my mind, drought is infinitely worse so when it begins
to feel more like Seattle or England around here, I stay
optimistic and just count our growing, green blessings.
Years ago, I would look upon my soggy--and thus weedy--garden 
in a panic but these rainy days, I tend to other indoor things.
Like a hot drink!
The weeds will come out in due time and order will be restored.

In between rains, I've continued to push myself physically.
I had a goal to jog a non-stop mile by the one-year "anniversary"
of my surgery.  I long for the days when five miles felt great and fun,
but there has been a lot to overcome.  And I also have pain that I still
fight daily (and nightly) so I'm kinda proud of meeting my little goal--early.
I see the neurosurgeon in a couple weeks.  I'd like to say I was as
optimistic about that as I am the rain but, I just don't know.

I've been working mentally and spiritually, too, by watching a series
of Scott Hahn videos for Lent and listening to podcasts when I walk.
My husband and I will be teaching our last Confirmation
class of the year this coming weekend.  And, I'm reading
My Battle Against Hitler by the philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand
and prepping to do a review on it for a blogger-friend.
I also have two other books going on the side.
All this sound like a lot?  Read on...

In the kitchen, well--a bit of a long story
but my husband and I ended up doing a dinner for over a dozen
 wonderful priests and I wanted it to be perfect. So, fanatic that I am,
I did what I always do, and that's start 2 weeks in advance.
I fed the chickens carefully to get the richest eggs.  I watched
you-tube videos on torching techniques and I tried different sugars.
(for the record, turbinado sugar won out)
And I actually got sick of creme brûlée--who does that?!?
All this just for one of the two desserts.
By the way, I beg you to try out this
lemon butter sauce on asparagus some time--oh my!  

(My preference was to cut back on that little teaspoon of sugar--almost by half.)

We really like to treat guests when we cook:
garnishes, sauces, presentation--the works.
I take my hat off to caterers--that was a whirlwind of five hours!
Though the perfectionist in me knows of those few little flaws,
every plate came back empty and with compliments so I'm doing
my best to fight my inner self and just call it a success.
More than anything, we were extremely grateful for the opportunity
to show these men our thanks for all that they do.

With the boys, we've been doing some road trip college visits.
Track season is also in full swing and, because both boys compete,
I find myself watching a lot of field events at least once a week.
(shot put, discus, triple jump, pole vault, etc)

Now, for the sewing room.

Not as much time spent there these days but yes I did get
started on two baby quilts.  I completed one just today; the top
of the second is just a few rows from being complete.  Both are
using the above pattern from Fons & Porter.

And I just realized this is getting long so I think I'm going to
stop with the above "teaser" and follow-up with the
finished quilt tomorrow hopefully, after I gift it away
to the "new" mom.  Well, it's her eighth baby but new
life is always a big celebration, right?

Maybe it's the weather?  Maybe it's all the activity but the last
couple weeks have left me feeling tired all. the. time.
so today has just been a re-charge kind of day.
I never regret pushing myself but it was just
time for a little break.  I'd take a full-on retreat or
vacation but as that's not a possibility right now,
I'm settling for another cold and rainy spring day!

19 February 2017

Sewing to a Different Pace

I can think of a few mild winters but this one
has to top them all.  There have been many days
where I've had the windows and doors open.
This weekend I just gave up and started prepping
the garden; I even planted some things.
(For the record, it's at least a month too early for this!)
I love a winter full of blizzards so the fact that we've hardly
seen a flurry has me kinda mopey and not really in
the mood to do much quilting.

the only sewing I've done this year is this "antique" quilt.

It was a huge struggle to find a background that worked
with the late-1800's fabrics, especially the lighter ones.
I noticed the original quilt had some pretty light contrasting
fabrics and they seemed to work so I finally gave up and went
with the best I could find at the closest quilt shop.

The slow pace of this project has felt almost unnatural.
However, as my next "quilt deadlines" aren't for another month or so,
I'm taking this one at a pretty leisurely pace.

I had enough fabric to add an extra row but even with
a border or two, this will be just a lap-sized quilt.
The pattern isn't a super favorite with me but I do feel it
works well with these fabrics and I'm anxious to see how
it goes in our formal living room...
by the fire...
on a snowy day!

I have started putting the blocks into rows so there
should be no trouble getting the top done this week.
And that should free up a project basket for something else.
Besides my cat.

08 February 2017

More Valentines Runners: Because I Can't Say No

The Valentine's table runners seem to be multiplying.

Backing up a little, I seem to be in a little battle with pre-cuts,
and so I've decided to just use them up and be done with them.

I'm currently working on a quilt to use up this layer cake
of these reproduction (late 1800's) fabrics:

And just this last week I finished up this Valentine's runner.

When I purchased a little bit of yardage to finish this up,
I discovered there were still matching mini-charm packs available
and my mind immediately wandered to making little Valentine's gifts.
Nothing reels me in like the idea of making gifts for someone
and out the window went my "I'm never buying pre-cuts again!"

You know how that whole shipping-cost issue can lure you into
buying a few more things, right?
(I did say yesterday you would be rolling your eyes!)

Well, of course I bought two of the little guys
(insert talking-to-your-pet voice here)
because their just so cuuuute.
(now lose the cute-sy voice, toughen back up...)
But ONLY with the firm intention of using them up
immediately.  Which seemed to be a pretty safe intention
seeing as how the holiday is just around the corner.
(eye roll away!)

BUT, here they are.  
My whole collection of Valentine's Day table decor.
So, you see, I did use them up immediately.

Maybe we can even pretend this whole little
mini-charm pack purchase never happened?!

FYI, for the mini-runners, I cut 1.5" white-on-white squares
for the star peaks and then followed this method.
You'll have a few squares left over from the packs, by the way
if you make any of these projects.
I did use charms for the centers of the stars but the
white-on-white had to come from my stash.

I have ciabatta dough calling for attention so off I go.
If you've never made ciabatta bread, I really recommend it.
Nothing quite like a sandwich on freshly-made, lightly-buttered
and lightly-toasted (under the broiler) ciabatta bread!

I'm a little early but I do tend to pop in and out around here so:
Happy Valentine's Day!

07 February 2017

Valentines Table Runner

With the turning of a new year, I made a few changes
to my daily routine that have taken away some
of my sewing and computer time.

This means there hasn't been much done on my new projects
but I have sewn up a little seasonal decor,
knocking off another charm pack in the process.

Using just one pack of Sandy Gervais' "Love" (Moda),
and a little bit of scrap white on white fabric,
I pieced together the four blocks of this table runner.

And, as is the way of fabric and fabric stashes,
I then discovered that I didn't have just the right colors 
(go ahead--feel free to roll your eyes here)
for sashing or binding.
Luckily, I found some of the coordinating fabrics
were still available, and on sale even!

And so I have successfully used up another charm pack.
I haven't counted, but I think I have about 5 more to go.
And maybe that many layer cakes.
I'll get there.

We'll get back to why I said "maybe" in my next post...

Which may or may not require more eye-rolling on your part.

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