Monday, December 27, 2010

Give-Away!

I got an awesome opportunity this past week, and I had to choose between giving myself a gift, or passing it along to you, my wonderful readers.  Honestly, it didn't take much thinking, because you all make this whole blogging thing worthwhile.

So without further ado...

You have a chance to win a $30 Gift Code for any CSN Online Store!!


Now, in my searching about while trying to decide if I'd keep this $30 Gift Code for myself or share it, I did some poking around, and I think I know where a good chunk of my tax refund is going ;)  I saw so many great offerings, but I really loved the modern d├ęcor that was available.


Check out my absolute favorite picks from my browsing this evening:



So - the nitty gritty, right?  I mean, who wouldn't want to pick up something so cute?


This one is simple!  Just leave me a comment that you've become a follower, or if you're already a follower, leave a comment to that effect.  However, this drawing is only open to my readers in the United States and Canada.  CSN only ships to the US and Canada.  So sorry to my international readers, but I promise, I won't exclude you next time around!


I'll close the drawing Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 10 a.m CST and have the winner drawn and posted the same day.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

To Fusible or Not To Fusible?

I keep an eye on a number of online quilting communities, and this blog post was referenced today, which is accompanied by a link to an article by by Janet Evenson & Patricia Cox Crews of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Now, I've never actually used any of the products mentioned in the article, but this is something I will definitely reference should I ever choose to make a more ambitious, art-type quilt.  However, there's a lot of good information about textiles in general here, things that we should all probably know if we're into making heirlooms.

Oh, and keep an eye out here...  I've a give-away starting on Monday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ready to Start Quilting

I spent an absurd amount of time pin-basting the Christmas Cactus Quilt top Wednesday night.  My knees are still not happy with me at the moment.

However, I'm super thrilled with myself.

I had stockpiled a couple of queen-sized battings this month while Joann's had their 80/20 batting on sale for 50%.  I used one of them for the CCQ top last night.

This means that 100% of this quilt will have been produced from my stash!!


Ok, so really, like, 99% because Thursday night I had to buy matching thread for quilting it.  I'm hoping to be able to get a start on it this weekend, but we'll see.  I'm off Christmas Day, but I think Zeb will want to spend time with the Momma he hasn't seen much of since the holiday season started in earnest.  Then I work Sunday through Friday.

I'm still debating the name for this quilt, though I am leaning toward Sandi's idea of including 'reflection' in the title somehow.

However, I am reminded ever so slightly, of the image that you see to the left, of that vibrantly colored orchid.

"Mutant Orchid Reflected"?

Too weird?

I think I like it. I'll have to mull over it for a day or two...

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Bit of Reflection

I pushed hard to finish the Christmas Cactus top, mostly because I wanted to have something finished (finally!) for Show and Tell, but also because I needed something to ground me after working so much each day.

Thankfully, in this last week before Christmas, my work schedule eases up a bit, if only in the number of hours worked each day.  This is because the number of orders to ship out start to dwindle, as transit times for packages become less negotiable.

Still, even as I sewed my brain into calming down each day, it was still awake enough to do some thinking...

I realized that I really need to just take my time and enjoy the journey while I'm piecing a top.  I find myself rushing a lot, and rushing causes mistakes.  So, even though I put some marathon sessions in on the top, I made a concentrated effort to drop the stitch speed and pay more attention to what I was doing.  This came hot on the heels of the realization that I wasn't maintaining an accurate 1/4" seam, most likely due to the speeding problem.

It's a marathon, not a race.

So, I slowed down and re-measured.  My seams were better, but not great.

Putting a well-pieced top together is comprised mainly of two things: accurate cutting and accurate piecing.

I took a look at how I cut, and couldn't spot any problems there (though I want to replace my rulers), so I went back to the sewing machine.  My problem: my quarter-inch foot.

Now, I love this foot...  That guide on the far right is great... in theory.  You just run the fabric against the inside of that guide.

It just seams (ha! I'm punny) to me that if you're accurately cutting, you're almost consigning yourself to using a scant quarter inch seam.  Several test blocks, lots of ironing and measuring later, that looked to be my solution.

However this foot isn't intended for scant quarter inch seams.  It's meant for regular ol' quarter inch seams.

I was not going to admit defeat and give up on this foot!  Realizing that I needed to move the guide just a bit in, I hunted for a thin piece of cardboard and cut it to size.  Then I wrapped a couple of layers of invisible tape around it and tested again.

FIXED!  YAY!

So, now, between slowing down and the 'fixed' foot, I'm quite a bit more accurate.  It's kind of funny.  If you look closely at the detail shot of the upper right quadrant of my Christmas Cactus top, you can kind of see where I had my epiphany in how well the seams match up.  Or, maybe not, and I'm just sensitive to my mistakes, honing in on them like a heat-seeking missile.


*grins*  I love the eight pointed star that emerges at the center of this top when it's completed.  I didn't see it when i was referencing Sandi's images to piece the nine-patches, but I was very focused on the individual blocks.  Of course, that it's in screaming orange helps.

Oh, and hey...  This top needs a name.  Any suggestions?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Cactus Quilt Top... FINISHED


Pardon the general awfulness of the photograph.  I think Zebediah got fingerprints all over the left side of the camera lens.

However, crappy photo or not...

It's DONE!

This project has been such a sanity saver for me.  Sure, I'd been burning the candle at both ends to get this thing finished in time for Stitch N' Bitch, but it's done!  Ok, so I got the entire center pieced in time for Stitch N' Bitch, but didn't have time for the borders before we took a break for lunch and show and tell.

Even better, I'm actually really pleased with how it's turned out so far.  I have to decide on how I want to back this baby, and then I'm going to get started quilting it.

And you all will probably think I'm completely nuts...  I start my fabric selections with my border print, and then build around that.  You'll notice that the border print has no orange...

I put together the light blue polka dot, the chocolate polka dot, the white on white and that magenta, and said, "It's pretty, but boring."

It needed something more...

ORANGE!

I am a big proponent of the 'zinger' fabric in most quilts.  Something to draw the eye and to help harmonize the rest of the top, while making a statement all its own.  That's what that orange print was:  something completely different, yet just what this top needed to be unique.

And yes, that is a design wall!!

Run, don't walk, to your nearest Joann's, and make sure you're armed with a 40% off coupon.  Fons and Porter have released a 68" X 72" design wall that has eight grommets at the top, and is printed with a two-inch grid all over the back.  The design wall is basically table cloth material.. shiny on one side, felted on the other.

It works perfectly!  I've had the Christmas Cactus Quilt Top on the design wall for a week with no drooping at all!

Even better?  The design wall is only $24.99.  It's also light enough to use those 3M Command Strip hooks with!  I'll be moving the design wall soon, preferably into my sewing room, but I'll settle for a wall that isn't around a corner that forces me to take photos of my tops at a weird angle.

However, that's a rearranging project that is going to wait until after the holidays.  I'm working straight through until Christmas, so I pretty much just want to come home, sew a little and then pass out.  I can't do that tonight though :(  Laundry calls, and I really need those clean clothes for work, and I'm already behind on this evening's events thanks to a marathon shopping expedition for the perfect outfit to wear on a date with the hubby.

I kid you not...  It took a full circuit of the depressingly crappy selection of stores in the Janesville mall for me to find a single outfit, and even then I bought the shirt last, from the store that I started shopping in.  *grumble*  At least I have a good pair of dressy pants now...

Anyway, I digress in an effort to avoid laundry, but I need clean socks...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Because It Wouldn't Get Out of My Brain...

I give you:
SATAN CLAUS!!


I was going to draw little cloven hooves, and even include a poor, hapless elf being dragged along in the hand not holding the pitchfork, but I ran out of space in my tiny little sketch pad (5"X7").


I know.  I'm a total whack job.

Merry Christmas, everyone ;)

Like the cartoon?  Oddly, I have several ideas for humorous, quilting oriented cartoons... I'm thinking I might add them to the weekly roster when the holidays are over.  Not now..  Egads, not now.  I headed into work at 7 in the morning, just like I did yesterd...  as I will probably be doing every day until the 25th if things keep up the way they are now (*sob*).  My paychecks are great, but I'm not having much of a life.  In fact, I can kiss days off goodbye the last two weeks before Christmas.  Stitch N' Bitch is sort of my last hurrah for the holiday season.  (So I'm making dessert, dammit!!)

On the upside, this is forcing me to diet...  I estimate that my daily caloric intake has dropped to 1000 calories per day.  I tend to skip breakfast, have a single microwave meal touting itself as 'lean' for lunch, and then one serving of whatever I make for dinner, and that portion is generally split between myself and Zebediah because he likes to steal from my plate eat with me.  I then have a bowl of cereal as a snack between dinner and bedtime.  Too bad I don't have this 'discipline' throughout the rest of the year.

Have I lost any weight?  Not a clue.  I don't own a scale!  However, my pants are significantly bigger and I have a waist again! Okay, let me rephrase that... There is once again a difference between my hips and lovehandles! Heehee \o/

In other news, I have completed Block 20 of the Christmas Cactus Quilt-Along.  I WILL have that top done in time for Show and Tell at Stitch and Bitch.  Between work, the kiddo and the sewing machine, I'm not seeing much of the outside world.

At least I'm sewing.  Thank goodness.  I think it's keeping my sanity together!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Food For Thought...

This is probably just a reflection of my current attitude toward the holiday, but I should probably be worried that every time I type the word 'Santa' when updating inventory for work, it actually comes out 'SATAN'.

LOL.