Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Only Rock'n'Roll - But I Like It !

This past weekend did not include sewing of any kind but it did include lots of fun!  We headed of to Brooklyn NY to see The Rolling Stones concert.

If you haven't been to the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn NY it's worth the 4-5 hour drive from NH. The arena is very new - just opened this year. The seats are padded and big enough so you didn't feel like you were crammed in even for those of us who are the large and lovely size ;-) There are plenty of concession stands with lost of variety of food from burgers to sushi and a full bar not just beer.  Before the show they even had vendors selling beer in the stands like a baseball game.
We had GREAT seats!  Just past half court and about 20 rows up.  The crowd was filled with old fans and new ones - reminded me of a Grateful Dead show where the whole family shows up including Gramma and Grampa LOL 

That's me standing in front of the stage.  I tried to take pictures during the show but none of them came out very good, most of them are blurry . . .

or dark . . . or both 

and some have big fat heads in the way (that's Keith Richards on the left playing the guitar).

So I'll just have to refer you to other sources like this Rolling Stones site or The New York Times or you can just Google the rolling stones at the Barclay's center and get tons of links and way better pictures! 

The show was excellent!  And this was not my first time at a Stones show so I'm speaking from experience.  The Stones are still rockin' and rollin' even though they are all pushing 70.  It was an inspiration to see them.  But I have to say, the jumbo-tron was not at all flattering to any of them LOL!  They have never had it in the "handsome" category but then I certainly would not want to see myself, with all my imperfections, projected 20 feet in the air!

The sound was great and these guys can still sing and play like they used to.  It's something to see and hear, I danced and sang along the whole time.  Here's some videos from YouTube of a couple of my all time favorites: Paint It Black and Brown Sugar.  They played all the hits and some real oldies like the Beatles "I Want To Be Your Man".  Sorry Betty, no Shattered this time.  This video is the tail end of Jumpin' Jack Flash and all of Satisfaction.  These were the last songs of the show and they were still sounding great.

We had a great time and hated to see it end.  The Big Guy is convinced they will be back next summer!

And for those of you expecting a quilting post, stay tuned.  I got the Christmas Tree quilt back from the quilter last week so I'll be doing the binding this week to get it on the sofa before Christmas.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Quick Christmas Projects

OMG!  I just sat down to see if there was a quick project that I could do this weekend and I found so many I can't believe my luck.  I not only found some fun free patterns but I also found a couple of new sites that I'll be keeping my eye on.

First I stopped by the Moda Bake Shop, which is one of my regular stops.  They have tons of free patterns, most are geared to pre-cuts but you can certainly do your own cutting and achieve the same results.  The first two looked simple enough, 

a herringbone pot holder

 and a patchwork wine gift bag.  Not bad but I kept scrolling.

Next was this mystery quilt.  OK, not a quick project but I want to make an Irish Chain quilt one of these days so it caught my eye and I opened the recipe. 

Well, one thing lead to another - as it always does on the Internet - and I found myself here at Sew We Quilt.  Its a site where you can sign up to do a project, post your finished work, and then "blog hop" around to see what other people have done with the same pattern.  Kind of a combination of a challenge, a show and tell, and a driver to get people to your site.  (Inspiring if you need motivation to stay on task to finish a project.)  Tons of fun stuff here!

Anyway, that site lead me to Jillily Studio and this fun "Holiday Lane Pillow".

I printed out the pillow and these "Very Merry" place mats.

She has other free patterns that look like fun as well.  Isn't the Internet a fascinating place?  Some days I can't find anything of value and then there are days like these where I could have just kept going and going.  You never know what you'll find. 

I don't know about you but I love getting inspired so early in the morning! 

Now - housework or sewing?  Hmmmm . . .  what will you be doing this weekend?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whacked Tree Borders

We had a quiet day on Thanksgiving since I had to work the next day.  I cooked a half a turkey - interesting . . .  I had to get a fresh one so they could cut it in half for me.  Honestly, is not my favorite.  I don't know about you but I was raised on frozen turkeys and I like them better but that's just me.  I'm kind of out of practice on my cooking so maybe I didn't cook it right!?  But the homemade mashed potatoes and gravy were delicious!  (I have to remember to write down the story about how much my family loves gravy.)

Anyway, it's coming up to the finish line for the Whacked Christmas Tree quilt.  I've been making the borders.  I did the piano keys the same way I did them on the pumpkin quilt.  Since most of the fabrics were fat quarters, and the pattern was placed along the top and left edges of the stacks, the strips ended up being about the same length.

I cut all the left over pieces into strips.  I didn't pick any one size, just randomly cut them so they are different widths.

Of course you know I couldn't stand that mixed up pile of strips!  I had to straighten them all out and lay them out flat - I was laughing at myself as I did this because I'm so anal about it!!!  Or as one of my quilting friends put it "you really are a linear thinker"  ;o)

I had hoped I could just put them all in this bucket and pull them out one at a time but I just couldn't do it LOL!

So I lined them up according to color and a little bit by size (wide vs narrow) then worked from there.  First I sewed three strips together being sure to mix up the widths and patterns.

Next I sewed these strip sets to each other to get larger strip sets and so on . . .

Then I trimmed up one end.
And finally cut the large strip sets to the 6 inch wide "bricks" I needed.
Then I sewed these bricks end to end to get the piano key borders.  This is about a scrappy as my poor little brain can handle.
Tonight I'll be putting the top and bottom borders on with corner stones shown below.  Then the whole thing will be ready to take to the quilter on Friday.  She promised to have it back to me before Christmas (she usually only takes a week) so if I'm really quick I'll get the binding on before Christmas too.
In other news (in case you were wondering), I finally finished the second apron for Aunt Doris and got them in the mail today.  The floral print on this one is a bit more exciting.  I'm not sure if she'll like it but I think it came nice.  I'd love to do one more for her, with Christmas fabric.  I'll see how it goes.

I had some fun playing with the piping. I think I need to get a piping foot that has a little groove in it. I saw one on a quilting show and it was really cool. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about getting a new machine.  I know I've talked about it but I haven't actually ventured out to shop yet.  I'm thinking I'd like more attachments/feet.  I'd also like to try quilting smaller projects on my own so I'll need more space between the needle and the machine. 

I'm not interested in lots of embroidery but I'd like to be able to do simple labels and a few decorative stitches.  I saw a table runner that had the makers name embroidered in the binding.  Since I'm not a fan of "big honking white" labels (LOL) plastered on the back I thought embroidery in the binding might be a nice alternative.  For now I'm still thinking it over.

Sewing may take a back seat for a while as the big kitchen project on the rental is starting in January.  I'll probably post some construction pictures as things go along.  Until then I hope to get a few hand work projects cut out and prepped for take-along.

Stay tuned!

PS - How do you like my new profile picture?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Apron for Aunt Doris

I recently attended a bridal shower for my Great Niece Heather.  You may have see the post I did that showed the aprons I made for the brides maids.  They were such a hit with my Aunt Doris that she asked me to make her one.  Not exactly like those, just a half apron.  And a little bit longer if possible.

Aunt Doris with my brother Roddy
Who can resist a request from their Aunt who is also their Godmother?  Certainly not me!  So I promised to make her an apron and bring it to the wedding a few weeks later.  Well, when the wedding day came I didn't have it made. Sure enough she asked me about it and I felt really bad.  I had it in the back of my mind for the whole time but kept thinking how long did she want it exactly? And I wasn't sure what colors she has in her kitchen.  (Now I'm feeling even more guilt because why don't I go visit her; she only lives an hour away!)
Before the wedding got started I got the specifics:  blue and purple but don't make purple, and just above the knee, but don't go to any trouble.  I had her stand next to me and since our waist and knees were at the same height I now knew how long to make it.
Naturally I asked my sister Dutchy if she had any blue floral in her stash and she came up with these three and one other which I coordinated with small prints from my own stash.  These didn't make the first cut but I'll be doing a couple more in a few weeks.  Love the one on the left with the blue and purple!

These are the fabrics that made the cut, a pretty blue and yellow floral with green accents.

I already had a pattern that I had bought ages ago but never used.  It was kind of fun working with pattern pieces again.  It's been so long I had to actually read the directions LOL!

It all came back to me and I spend most of the time remembering all the sewing I had done with my mother. She would always say "now do it like this" and then show me.  As I worked I could hear her telling me which way to put the pins in and where to place the pattern pieces. 

"Fold the fabric this way"
"Match up the dots"
"See how the points are on both pieces?"
"Yes you have to iron ALL the pieces as you go"
"Pay attention!"
"No! No! don't sew over the pins"
"Slow down, they're not giving out any prizes for finishing first"

If I did it wrong she made me do it again and again until I got it right.  I wasn't a quick study but apparently I learned. Funny how now it seems to me that she was patient but at the time it didn't feel that way!

I had forgotten how easy it is to do a gathered skirt on a waist band.  That brought back a whole other set of memories - Home Economics!  The very first project for the class was a drindle skirt. All gathers at the waist, a zipper, a button hole, and a 4" hem. Does anyone wear a 4" hem besides children? I hated it! I thought was just hideous and made my hips look huge. LOL! But it was a great teaching tool.

The teacher was always giving us hints and tips about how to dress and keep up our appearance.  Not only did we hear this stuff at home but now we had to hear it at school.

"Never wear anything that has a safety pin in it." (I took this one to heart until I got to a point where every blouse gaped at the chest.)
"Don't wear nylons with runs." (this was before panty hose :o)
"Young ladies should not wear girdles, it makes you have weak stomach muscles." (Now we call them Spanks and I wouldn't be caught dead without one under a pretty dress!)
She even gave us a demonstration of how to put on a bra (over her clothes of course) - first, hook it in the front, turn it around so the hooks are in the back, pull the straps up, grab the straps, bend over and shake everything into place. I still crack up when I think of it! 

See what the kids are missing with no Home Ec in school?  On second thought she'd probably be arrested

So finally, here's the apron I made for Aunt Doris and it was certainly no trouble!  In fact it was a day of fun and fond memories.  I'll be mailing it off in a day or two. I hope she likes it!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whacked Trees: Row by Row

Slowly but surely I've been nibbling away at the Whacked Christmas Trees.  After all 30 blocks were constructed I laid them out on the design wall.  I took a step back and all I could see was one HOT MESS!  

You all know I'm not a fan of scrappy quilts yet when I did the wacky pumpkin quilt it turned out beautifully.  In fact it's one of my favorites!  I keep telling myself this one's going to be great too and I do love each and every fabric in it but boy I'm not in love with it yet.

The blocks by themselves are really cute.  Even side by side on these blue trays I use for organizing they seem to be fine together.  Hopefully, once I get the final border on I'll like it more.

In an attempt to give myself some order in the scrap heap on the wall I decided to add in some sashing.  I found this great fabric that I had used as a backing for Betty's quilt and as one of the blocks for Kim's quilt.  (The only one of The Girls quilts that's not been delivered yet!)

This fabric is a favorite of mine, from Joann's, because it's so versatile.  I mean really, what other fabric goes with cookies, camping, cats, birds, beer, and now Christmas trees!

Here's a peek at some of the Whacked Christmas tree blocks with their sashing.  I used a 1" sashing to go along with the skinny tree trunks.  It's kinda "growing" on me!

By the way, several of you have asked me about my story for Mary's quilt.  All I can say is I cried when I delivered it and I keep getting choked up when I try to write the story!   Here's Alice helping me put the binding on Mary's quilt.

Hang in there, I'll get it written soon I promise.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Whacked Trees; the White Blocks

Work continues on the Whacked Christmas trees.  I've been calling them "Whacked" because the cutting method is similar to Stack and Whack but with a twist.  They also are wacky looking!

The blocks with the green backgrounds and the ones with the red backgrounds are all done.  The white backgrounds are next and I really love the prints and colors!  This has been a fun and interesting quilt to make.

For each block it was easy to do the tree trunks, there weren't that many pieces and I could see how they needed to be aligned to account for the 1/4" seams. The top of the trunk section in the picture below was trimmed to give a straight edge but it wasn't straight when I first pieced it.

Piecing the tree body was where the challenges started and continued! There's lots of angles which makes for lots of funky alignments. Before you can add on the next pieces you need to straighten up the edge your going to sew it on to. Can you see the uneven edge between the red tree top and the polka dot piece in the picture below? Once that was trimmed I sewed on the last triangle to finish the block.

By the time I got to the white blocks I had finally figured out that moving that top red tree piece over so that the center of the red triangle lined up with the point of the tree piece below it the tree looked "right". It's supposed to look like it's about to topple off.  As I made the adjustment to each of the white blocks I congratulated myself on how clever I was being!

Now to square them up. I measured the first one on the pile. It was just a liiiittle smaller than the green ones! Oh no not again! You guessed it, they were ALL just a little bit too small.  By shifting the pieces over I had moved the out edges making the width smaller.  I didn't catch on that it was happening when I did the green ones. When I made the additional adjustment to the white ones were all off even more then the green ones.

So I trimmed all the white ones to the smaller size, then I trimmed all the red ones (again), then I trimmed all the green ones (again)!  Finally, the blocks are all the same size. PHEW!

What would Dolly say?   Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back, you're going to need it to fix your mistakes!

Off to the sewing room to sew all 30 of those Whacky Christmas Trees together.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Whacked Tree Pieces

The Christmas Tree quilt is coming along nicely! 

Once all the cutting and swapping was done I started the piecing.  One of the hard parts about these types of blocks is that the cutting does not take into consideration the seam allowances so you have to watch out for alignments. The finished blocks look pretty rough when they are done but they get trimmed to square them up.

I started with the blocks that had the red background pieces. I was pretty proud of myself when I got all 10 of them all done and trimmed to size. It took two or three evenings but I was happy with my progress.  I put the blocks up on my design wall to keep them safe from Guppy and Alice.

The following night I went back to the sewing room to start the green blocks. As I admired my work from the night before I noticed that the piece of the tree at the very top looked a bit "off". 

Maybe it was the colors, not enough contrast I thought. Or maybe it's the angle. That sharp point doesn't show up very well. OK, I'll adjust that top piece when I do the green ones.  Move it over to the left a little and that should take care of it. 

Here's what the red ones looked like.

Here's what the green ones look like.  Still a not well defined but I didn't want to take them all out so on to trimming.  I checked the finished size of the red blocks and wrote the measurements down so I could remember them. 

I grabbed the first finished green block to square it up. It was just a liiiittle smaller than the red ones, about 1/4" in the width. I checked several more and they were all the same, off by just a bit. Since I need the blocks to all be the same size I trimmed all the green ones to the smaller size and then trimmed all the red ones to the smaller size too.  

Ahh, 20 blocks completed.  On to the white blocks. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stacked Christmas Trees

Here's a project I've been wanting to do for a very long time.  The pattern is "Tree's Up! Lights On!" from Pieces from my HeartI bought it in 2010 just after I finished my pumpkin quilt, which is done in the same stack and swap style.  

This is one of our favorite quilts for fall.  It's big and soft and warm!
I'm hoping the "Trees" will become our next favorite so I can give the pumpkins a rest!
This quilt takes 30 fat quarters so it's great for fat quarter bundles if you don't want to pick the individual fabrics.  I had lots of Christmas fat quarters that I had bought specifically for this quilt.  I also needed to pick though my stash for some additional pieces that I cut into fat quarters.  

I love that I'm working on a Christmas project and it's only October!

The last time I did this technique I was in a class with about 8 other ladies so it was hard to really understand what I was doing.  This time I made sure to read the directions a couple of times before I started.  I know most of you would just wing it but I LIKE reading the directions!  For those of you that don't like to read the directions here's how it goes.

Start by tracing the pattern onto the paper side of a piece of freezer paper.

Be sure to include all the letters and numbers - you're going to need them!  You have to cut in the exact order listed of the piece won't go together to make the trees.

Make 3 piles of 10 fat quarters each; greens, reds, and whites.  Press one of the freezer paper patterns onto each pile.  Now cut being certain to follow the numbers!

Keep the paper in place even after the pieces are cut.  Like most quilts keeping all the pieces organized is half the battle (or fun depending on how you look at it)!  Here are all the piles cut up.  The next few steps involves swapping out the colors.

Each stack starts as single color.
Swap the trees so that each background has a different color tree.
Now swap the trunks of the tress so that each tree has a different colored trunk.
That wasn't so bad now was it?  The next step is a bit more tricky but it's the one that gives you that scrappy look.  
Working with the background pieces only, start in one corner of the block
and take the top piece and move it to the bottom.
Move to the next piece on the same block and take the top
2 pieces and move them to the bottom.
Continue working your way around the tree and the trunk swapping out one additional top fabric and moving them to the bottom.  I have to say the directions were VERY clear, much better than what I'm writing here but I thought I'd give it a try so you can get a feel for the process.
Here's a close up of the red pile.  You can see that each of the background pieces is a different fabric.  The tree pieces are all the same but you could mix them up in the same way if you wanted.  I haven't decided if I want to do that or not.
This is the easiest technique I've found for doing "scrappy" blocks.
I think it has to do with the fact that once everything is cut up you can't move it to a different location only a different level.  And the limited number of pieces allows me to stay focused on the look of a single block with the object of having no two background pieces of the same fabric.
The weather's supposed to be getting chilly this weekend so I'm looking forward to spending time sewing. 
Hope you have a great weekend doing something fun!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marian's UFO's

Have you ever tried to work on a UFO (Un-Finished Objects) that someone else has started?  It's tough enough trying to finish up my own unfinished projects but to take something that someone else has started and try to finish it is really a challenge.  It's not something I've done much of and I can tell you after this experience I won't be doing any more any time soon! 

A while ago my sister and several of the girls in her Monday quilt group lost one of their regular members.  When Marian's family got around to cleaning out her house they had no idea what to do with all her crafting/sewing stuff.  I had never been to Marian's craft room but had heard stories of how lovely it was and how much stuff was in it.  She was involved in quilting, knitting, rubber stamping, and other crafts/hobbies.  So much so that her husband had a craft room built to hold all her stuff.  I often heard the girls talking about going to Marian's to enjoy group sewing or other projects.

After the family had taken the items they were interested in, Marion's husband invited the "Monday night group" to come over to the house and help themselves to whatever they wanted.  Each of the girls had received so much stuff that I understand it took them several visits to clean the whole room out.  While I didn't participate in the clean up I was lucky enough to receive several kits and a selection of fabrics from the stuff my sister Dutchy had received.  In fact it was a whole storage tub full of stuff!
The fabrics are beautiful!  And there were lots of kits of all different types and sizes of projects.  I selected several of the smaller table runners and place mats thinking they would work up quickly.  I hadn't touched anything in the that tub until last winter and what a surprise!

Occasionally one of the girls in my Friday group will mention that they had picked up one of Marion's projects to finish.  The comments were always the same;  poor Marian, she must have used some of the fabric from the kit on another project; or isn't this one of the patterns we did in class, it seems to be missing some pieces; or I tried to finish this project but the pieces are cut wrong. 

You see, Marian was in it for the fun not the finesse!  She had enough money to buy whatever she wanted, and her husband indulged her, so she often had two or three (or more!) of the same kit or piece of fabric.  She's buy several yards of fabric at the quilt shop then come in the following week and buy more of the same!  We all chuckled because we all wish we could do that!

So when I finally got around to tackling some of those UFOs from Marian I saw for myself that all the comments from the girls were true.  The first project was the Pumpkin Patch table runner - it was missing some of the beige background fabric so I substituted with one from my stash.

Next I tried the Bunny table runner.  This one wasn't missing anything.  In fact it had enough fabric to make SIX table runners!  LOL  I guess she was planning on giving these away.  She had completed four of the bunny faces and cut some of the other pieces but not all of them.  I decided to finish just two of them and put the rest of the fabric in my stash for another project.

And lastly I tackled the Christmas place mats. These were a puzzle.  She had the triangles cut but I'm not sure what pattern she was following!  And since they were cut on the bias, well, lets just say they were a bit "wonky"!  Again I substituted the red for some fabric I had in my stash and I think they came out pretty good.

I spent about two weekends working on these projects and when all was said and done I enjoyed the challenge and spent some time fondly remembering a quilting friend!  I have to admit I only completed the piecing on the 3 table runners and 2 place mats.  I decided that the next steps, quilting and binding, would have to be done by someone else so I returned them to my sister.  I'm not sure if she's done anything with them but now she can have some fun and fond memories of Marian too.