Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happpy St. Patrick's Day!!

Hello!  I hope you are having a very Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I made a new mini quilt to use for the month of March:

This mini is bigger than I typically make - it measures at 18 1/2 X 18 1/2.  Generally, my minis range anywhere from 12 - 16 inches.  For this mini, I started with the checkerboard border.  I used these units that were initially intended to be used in Grand Illusion, the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt this year:

Obviously, I ripped out the black fabric and replaced it with white.  Then I added a few additional blocks to make the units line up correctly as they went around the corners.  The borders dictated the size of the center.

For the shamrock, I traced three heart shapes and a stem shape onto green fabric, added fusible web to the back side and fused them to the center background fabric.  Then I used a machine blanket stitch to secure the shamrock to the background.  

I did outline quilting around the shamrock and diagonal lines in the border.  I'm very pleased with the way this mini turned out.  It's hanging on my cubicle wall at work.  

Normally, it's only the ladies that notice/comment on my minis but a few of the men have commented on this one!  

How are you doing with your resolutions this year?  Is anyone still keeping them?  So far, I am still hanging in there on my fabric diet.  The only fabric purchased in February was the backing for this mini (a very pretty green fabric with Celtic knot shamrocks), so I've still only purchased backings/borders/bindings and my total fabric expenditures this year are less than $20.  Woo hoo!

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Quilt for Amelia

My niece Amelia made her entrance into this world on March 2.  She's the first child for my brother Noah and his wife Jennifer.  Jennifer has two sons from an earlier marriage.

Noah is going to be an awesome father!

I knew they were going to have a girl, so the Grand Illusion mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter was the quilt I made for Amelia.  I finished it the week before she was born and got it in the mail to Noah and Jennifer just in time!

It's hard to see the individual fabrics in this picture, but I've used some "meaningful" fabrics in this quilt.

I used fabric with music symbols to remind her of her father, who loves music.

I used fabric with cakes and cupcakes to remind her of her mother, who loves to bake and decorate cakes.

I used fabric with snowflakes to remind her of her aunts, uncles and cousins in New York.

And I used fabric with scissors to remind her of the aunt who made the quilt for her.

Over the three months I worked on this quilt, I thought of my little niece-to-be and stitched a lot of love into this quilt.  I told Noah that I hope in 10 years there will be nothing but a few strings left of this quilt.  I want her to play with the dogs on the floor with it and take it outside for picnics with her dolls.  I hope she snuggles under it when she needs to be comforted and I hope it keeps her warm.

I can't wait to meet her, but until I do, she has a piece of my heart nearby in this quilt.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

World's Biggest Pincushion?

My friend and co-worker, Diana, celebrated her birthday in February.  She recently caught the quilting bug so I wanted to make her something sewing-related for her birthday.

I knew I wanted to make a pincushion and I knew I wanted it to have hexagons on it.  I found this pattern on the Moda site and thought it looked similar to what I had in mind.

I modified the pattern by not using the petals and by using a solid fabric for the side and bottom, but I did use hexagons for the top and I used the overall same size as the pattern called for.

Here's the finished product:

This pincushion is HUGE!!! It's 6 inches across and 3 inches high.  Diana can probably get 1000 pins in this pincushion!

Here's the pincushion from the top:

I added a package of  "button" topped pins from JoAnn's and one special "cupcake" pin made from polymer clay that I ordered online, but that arrived too late to photo before I had to give Diana the pincushion.

She loves it, so even though it's gigantic, I know it will get used.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Grand Illusion - an almost completed top

I'm nearing the finish on completing the piecing of the top for "Grand Illusion" the Quiltville Mystery quilt for 2014-2015.

When Bonnie posted the assembly instructions, I auditioned the blocks on the design wall and wasn't thrilled with what I saw.

When I look at Bonnie's finished quilt and some of the others I've seen in Blogland, they look softer, more like a watercolor painting.  Mine seems "in your face" bold.  I guess I'm just not that adventurous.  If I look at this picture in a very small size, or from a distance, I kind of get that watercolor feeling.

But up close and personal, I'm wasn't feeling it.  Since it's my quilt, and I felt free to change it up.

I omitted the green checkered sashing and substituted a variety of white tone-on-tone fabrics:

 It's a little more soothing for me.  Don't get me wrong - I love Bonnie's finished version and many of the others I've seen.  For me, I needed something a little more calm.  You may notice there's a mistake in the lower-left block - I've got one of the corner units twisted.  I didn't notice that until I was posting the pictures so I'll have to go back and fix it.

I made 1/4 of the required units that Bonnie suggested, so mine will end up a crib-sized quilt.  I still need to add borders at this point.   I think I will substitute pink for the narrow yellow border that Bonnie used.  I want to bring out more of the pink color since this will be for my soon-to-arrive niece.  I'm omitting the pieced outer border that Bonnie used (see below). I don't really want to make this quilt any longer - just wider, so I'm puzzling over what to do for the outermost border.  Do you have any suggestions?

 Most of those outer border pieces went into a small quilt for the little one to use with the teddy bears and dollies I'm sure she will have as she gets older.

I also plan to use those checkerboard units.  I think I might take out the black squares and use the remaining green and white units in some kind of March/Saint Patrick's Day quilt.

I read another blog where the quilter changed Bonnie's design (again with the sashing) and someone criticized her for doing so and discussing it on her blog.  That person thought it was disrespectful to Bonnie.
I don't think Bonnie would see it that way.  I believe she wants us to take the patterns she provides us and to make them our own.  I'm grateful that Bonnie did this mystery quilt - I am using all the units she designed, just not all in the same quilt! 

On another Bonnie related note - I was watching "Buying Alaska" on the Destination America cable channel last night and noticed a Celtic Solstice quilt on the bed in the master bedroom!  Bonnie's quilt design was on TV!!  I yelled out "That's Celtic Solstice! I have that quilt too" and I'm pretty sure my husband and son thought I was a nut job!

Don't forget to hop over to Quiltville and check out all the other Grand Illusion quilts.

It's February Already!

 How did it get to be February already?

January was a blur of activity - we had two different weekends of family gatherings and a third weekend  with friends. I did make a little progress on my 2015 goal list:

I spent a little time on the Adelphi Hotel cross-stitch - I'm a little further ahead than this picture shows:

That's only one-third of the hotel - will it ever be done?  Yes - someday!!!

I pieced a few more hexie-flowers but forgot to take a picture.

I finished two more monthly mini quilts.

"Let it Snow" for January:

and "Candy Hearts" for February, inspired by this picture:

I used the pre-programmed letter stitches on my sewing machine to simulate the stamped words on the candy hearts.

I also "fixed" my very first monthly mini quilt - the red hearts are from a pack of die cut hearts I bought from Keepsake Quilting back in the early 1990's!  I think I started assembling this in 2009 or 2010 and finished it in 2011.  Here's the way it looked originally:

 You'll notice the "blanket stitch" is backwards - it was my first time doing it in about 20 years and I forgot how!  I ripped out all the hand stitching and re-did it using the blanket stitch on my sewing machine:

Ah - now that's better!  I brought this one to hang up in my cubicle at work but I haven't gotten it put up yet since I'm home with bronchitis at the moment.  Hopefully, it will go up tomorrow.

As for the fabric diet - well that's going pretty well.  I only bought a total of one yard in January.  A half yard was for the backing of "Candy Hearts", so that doesn't count.  I also bought two fat quarters - peach and light green for "Candy Hearts" since I did not have solids in those colors.  So really, only a half yard of non-diet fabric!  Sew far, sew good! 

With one month in, how are you doing at your 2015 goals?

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Goals

I have a few less goals for this year than I did last year:

  • Go on a fabric "diet" - I plan to only buy "new" fabric if it's for one of the 4 B's:  Backgrounds, Borders, Bindings or Backings
  • Work on UFO's:
  1.     Grand Illusion
  2.      Anne's Log Cabin (if I get nothing else done this year, I vow to complete this quilt!)
  3.      Ohio Stars
  4.      Quilt un-quilted tops

  • Make a quilt for my husband
  • Make a Quilt of Valor for my Dad
  • Make more monthly mini quilts
  • Work on my hexie flowers
  • Work on the Adelphi Hotel cross stitch
  • Delete my Bloglovin account
 I want to spend less of my free time surfing the Internet and reading about quilting and sewing and more time actually quilting and sewing!

Along with deleting the Bloglovin account, I will probably blog even less in 2015 than I did in 2014.  I originally envisioned that I'd be a fabulous blogger - taking amazing photos and having that kind of blog that folks flock to with lots of followers and sponsors.  Well, that never materialized.  In the first place, I never even figured out how to add a photo to my banner or how to have links to blogs I follow in the sidebars. 

In the second place, I don't take great photos.  I don't have a nice camera and even if I did, I didn't know how to use one properly.  The technology I have available to me and that I know how to use (my iPhone, iPad, and laptop) isn't really conducive to blogging.  I thought it would be super easy to do from my iPad but that turned out to be so not true!  In fact, I can not blog from the iPad.  I do use it to do some photo editing and to upload photos to Picasa but I can't write the blog posts or add photos or links on the iPad.  It's super fiddly and always locks up when I try.

Right now, when I take photos with my iPhone, my PhotoStream will not even sync up with the iPad since I downloaded the latest IOS  update.  I end up having to email photos to myself, open the email on the iPad and save the photo to that device.  AAAGH!

To write my blog posts, I have to use my "laptop" - which is really too heavy to actually use as a laptop.  While it does have a nice large screen, the size just adds to the weight issues.  So I always end up using it at my desk, which is away from the rest of the family.  I wanted to be able to blog quickly and easily anywhere, anytime, but right now, that's just not possible.

I will still keep the blog as a way to document my projects, but I recently joined Instagram and I find that actually is very quick and easy to use from the iPad and still allows me to write a caption.  So look for me over on Instagram under #Adkurban.

Aside from wanting to spend more free time actually sewing than reading about someone else sewing, I have quilts and projects that I really want to make.  There is so much inspiration on the Internet that I find I want to join in this sew-along or make that project I saw on so-and-so's blog.  It's too much of a distraction for me and I never end up working on the projects I want to make.

And if all that weren't reasons enough to limit my time blogging and reading blogs, our family situation is changing.  Both of our adult sons are back living at home at the moment.  They are both working at good jobs, but their career paths brought them back to this area and we're trying to help them save money by having them stay at home.

Also, after many, many years of working different days and/or shifts, my husband and I are now working the same schedule.  That means we finally have weekends off together and we can actually do things together again.  I expect that I will be spending a lot more time with family - something I've wanted for a very long time.  That will make my sewing time even more precious.  So it is even more important that I only work on those projects that are truly dear to me.

I will definitely check in from time to time - just not on any kind of regular basis.  Take care - I wish you all a Happy, Healthy New Year.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Phew! I'm glad a New Year is starting because 2014 was an emotionally and physically challenging year.  In March we lost my 94 year-old grandmother; in April I had both knees replaced and am still recovering; in August we lost our 15 year-old dog, Maggie; and in September we lost my 23 year-old niece, Meghan.  There was also a lot of joy in 2014: in June my niece, Kate, got married and in September we welcomed  my great-nephew, Brennan.  Between the funerals and the wedding, I saw many relatives multiple times and that part is always nice.

Who knows what 2015 will hold, but as Jo mentioned in a recent blog post, I pray to be more happy than sad and to that I'll add that I'd like for my family and myself to be more healthy than sick or injured.

Looking back at the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2014, I accomplished a few:

  • Celtic Solstice - finished
  • Ohio Star - did not finish
  • Pinwheel Panache - abandoned and fabric re-purposed
  • Meadow Lark charm square quilt - from the book Back to Charm School by Country Threads (I changed the pattern name) - in progress as a "leader and ender" project
  • Cindy Lou Who - a Schnibbles charm square quilt - top finished
  • Make a wool candle mat - did not do
  • Additional monthly mini quilts, possibly wool versions - no wool versions, 4 new mini quilts completed
  • Quilt all unquilted projects (including Anne's Log Cabin, all unquilted Schnibbles, and the 2012 bird quilt) - quilted only Celtic Solstice and Gentle Art, which still doesn't have the binding finished
  • Make at least one charity quilt - did not do
  • Learn English paper piecing - Grandmother's Flower Garden in progress as a long-term project (36 hexies flowers completed so far)
  • Complete the Weekender Bag - did not do
  • Make a quilted jacket - did not do
  • Knit a simple shawl - did not do
  • Finish the Adelphi Hotel cross stitch piece for my husband - did not touch
  • Use stash fabric whenever possible - I did try to do this such as in Cindy Lou Who, Meadow Lark, Whit, the monthly mini quilts and Harvey.
I met a little less than 50% of my goals for the year.

Here's a look at everything I did work on: