Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Winner!

Hi everyone!

After a busy and hot weekend watching softball, I'm back with a giveaway winner and an update of my latest projects.

I let Random.org pick the winner for the Etsy gift card and it turned out to be Helen!!  Congrats to you, my friend, and I've sent you an email.

As for what I'm up to this week...I've got all of Oren's star blocks done and ready to sash. I'm going with a 2.5" black sashing to spread the blocks out, and I haven't decided for sure on final layout.

Why does blogger like to turn my photos sideways??  Oh well, I guess these aren't really directional blocks so it works...

And I've got the clothing itch again and as we're coming near our summer vacation (to the Bahamas!!), I want to whip up a few dresses to take with me.  I've asked Em if she wants anything new as well but she politely declined.  That's fine with me--more time to sew for myself.  ;)

So, I'm thinking of adding another Staple Dress and a sheath at least, but am up for suggestions.  I've got any number of great patterns and tutorials pinned to my clothing board and saved to my computer.  It's almost like I've got so many choices I don't know where to start...

Suggestions?

I've got some linens, rayons and cottons put to the side and ready to sew up.  I think I've actually got a dress or two in my WIP basket to get working on as well...


So what do you like to sew in the summertime?  Dresses?  Skirts?  Bags?  Handstitching?  Honestly, at this point I think I'd just be happy to get any sewing done.  But before I get to it, I'm off to the pool for a bit.  :)

Happy July 1!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Time flies...

Wow, time really does fly whether you want it to or not.

Hello to everyone still hanging on and I see I've even gained a few new followers in my long absence.  I never had any intention to stop blogging, but with surgery recovery became a new focus and blogging got less and less important.  Then, of course, sewing did too, and with no progress, there's not much to blog about.  :)

And then I just got out of the habit of coming to this space to talk with you all...

But I'm back.  I took the time today to sit down and write.  To say hello.  To assure everyone that doesn't follow me on instagram that I am alright.  I am mostly healed from my surgery and have been given the "ok" to resume normal life.  Exercise is still SLOW GOING and it's frustrating, but I do not wake up with back pain every morning.  I can stand for hours without my back aching and in turn my legs and feet.  I feel like a new woman--an out of shape woman, but still.  :)

We've been busy since I last posted.  There's been LOTS of softball and lots of karate.  There's been many hours spent driving back and forth between the two.  There's been hours of PTO stuff--book fair, coffee bars, testing fun days...  There's been proud Mama moments of field days, awards ceremonies, district softball wins, karate accomplishments.  There's been summer schedule adjustments with more swimming and less packing of lunches.

Like I said, we've been busy.

But I want to be busy here as well, with y'all.  So to thank you for sticking around, I want to give something away.  How's an etsy gift card sound?  That way, whatever it is that strikes your fancy can be yours and we're not limited to fabric or yarn or whatever else...

Just leave a comment here telling me what you're up to this summer and I'll randomly draw a winner this weekend.  Em's in the state tournament this weekend, so it'll probably be Sunday before I draw and Monday before I announce.  That's almost a week to get entered.  :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm alive!

Hi everyone!
  So, so sorry to take such a long blogging break.  It was unintentional but couldn't be helped.  As you know if you follow me on instagram, I found out that my back pain and numbness in my leg was more than just a herniated disc.  That particular disc was completely shot and practically nonexistant.  What little of the disc was left had broken and a piece of it was pushing my nerves all the way back on my spinal column.  So, the only real answer for me was spinal fusion surgery.

I had it done on March 13 and am at the 3-week recovery point today.  I am feeling much better and while I still can't do everything I want to do, I am up, moving, driving and walking almost like normal.  I can't bend, lift or twist yet, but it will come with time.  I am improving every day and I go back to my doctor tomorrow to check my progress and see where I go next.

It seems perfect that today is a Totally Random Thursday because I've got so much to show off to you from the month and a half since I last blogged.

**Before the surgery I sewed like a madwoman to get projects done and out of here before I couldn't.  :)  So, I finished up 3 quilts and 2 sets of bee blocks.  Along with completely failing on a star block for Oren's quilt.  I ended up throwing away 2 attempts and just picking a different block altogether!

**First I made a baby quilt for Chris' cousin who is expecting her first.  Her shower was the weekend of my half marathon that I couldn't run so Thursday night I decided to whip her up a quilt for the Saturday morning shower.  And I did it.  I ended up loving the quilt and hating the quilting, but they can't all be winners, so I gifted it and called it done.



All the non-sewers loved that the quilt was "reversible."  I'm just glad they loved it at all.  ;)
**Next up, that secret project I mentioned in February--it was a quilt for the wonderful Michonne and her precious baby girl Greta.  Our Empower Circle of do. Good stitches made a quilt for them and I put it together and quilted it.  Meesh is famous in our group for loving flying geese blocks so I asked the girls to make anything using them in a soft palette of pastels.  I love how it turned out.  I just got some plates and pot lids and drew random circles on the quilt and quilted them using different pastel-colored threads.  Before sweet Greta was born, Meesh called her cupcake, so I found this great cupcake fabric for the backing.  :)

I wish I had gotten a better picture where you could really see the blocks better but I did this in a hurry and then never thought to look at the pics before mailing...



I've been trying out a new zigzag machine-stitched binding on quilts I think will be washed a bunch.  On this one I went around twice--once in pink and once in yellow.

**  I also mentioned that Kim was working on an orphan block project to get quilts finished and donated to a charity and that I had most of a quilt sitting here at the house already.  So I beefed it up with some extra blocks and got it done too.  I hated the blocks individually and once I got it sewn, I kinda want to keep it!  ;)



You can see the quilting better on the back--I just did a simple cross-hatch design following the blocks.  I started a quarter-inch from the block seams in gray, then 3/8 inch from those lines in yellow and then about half-inch from the yellow lines in blue.

** When mailing Meesh the quilt, I also included our February d.Gs blocks.  It was her turn in a great coincidence and she asked for Wheel blocks in a great and bright color palette.  I hope mine looks okay with the rest.  I liked all the colors I chose till I got the block put together and then saw others from the group.  Oh well...



**  And for March in our d.Gs circle, Kim asked for blocks that she'd designed herself.  She's calling them braided star blocks and once put together they'll make stars...duh!  ;)  These were really easy and fun to put together.  Kim wrote a great tutorial on her blog for these simple but stunning blocks.



**And last, in That Stash Bee, Whitney asked for Darting Bird blocks.  I'd never seen this block before, but they were quick to make and I think she picked a stellar palette. She's giving this quilt to a friend in need, and I can't wait to see it altogether.




** But also since last blogging, my favorite boy in the whole world turned 8.  He wanted to just take a few friends to see The Lego Movie, so we did.  I got these great lego candies from the candy store in the mall to put on some cupcakes.  They were a big hit and so was the movie!  It was a simple and great day to celebrate a great kid!






**The surgery went well and I came home from the hospital two days early.  It hasn't been exactly fun to lay in bed a lot and depend on others in the last 3 weeks, but I'm working on my patience and God is blessing me every day.  I'm up and mobile

**I'm sewing again and have already finished a couple of blocks and have some bee blocks to try and work on this weekend.

**Plus we've got softball...Chris' middle school team is winding down and Emma's team is finally getting started.  I'll soon have a picture of my sweet girl pitching to show y'all.  She's worked so hard and it's fun to see her sling it out there.

Sorry for the picture overload.  I've missed y'all and this wonderful community so much.  So glad to be getting back.  :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Rising Sun Challenge

Nat and Lucy are so good about giving out interesting topics for Le Challenge each month.  If you've never heard of this, it's a blog that two friends started with the sole purpose being to challenge themselves and friends to think of and make something new each month based on a theme.  There's no competition, it's open to anyone who wants to participate, and one lucky participant is awarded a gift each month based on a random drawing.

Le Challenge

This month, the girls chose "The Rising Sun" which I thought it was an interesting starting point because there were so many places to go with that topic.  I searched rising sun quilt patterns and there were plenty of really neat blocks that would make awesome quilts.  But I didn't leave myself enough time for that.

So I thought about the suggestions they and their guest bloggers had given--Japanese-influenced designs for garment sewing or quilting; Japanese fabric designers from traditional designs to Lecien and kawaii cuteness; Sashiko or even just sunny projects.

My ever growing "to-do before I die" list grew leaps and bounds.

But in the end, I googled Rising Sun images and I knew what I was going to make.

I found this image on zazzle's web site and loved the combination of the rising sun and the clamshells, a traditional quilting design.
But I didn't love the red.  It was WAYYY a little too Japanese for my style and wouldn't fit into my decor. So I changed it.

I have always loved the song You are my Sunshine and often sang it to my children when they were younger.  I thought the lyrics would fit well here, so I used my favorite colors, a great, fun font and here you go:


I created an aqua background and then put a somewhat-transparent layer of gray canvas over it to soften the aqua and bring the gray theme into play.


Then I added the lyrics to the song in yellow and worked on the graphic.  I deleted all of the white background and then changed the entire graphic to be yellow.  After duplicating the image, I changed it to gray and then erased the top layer (the gray) away from the "rising sun" portion of the image.

Do the pics look a little fuzzy to you?  They don't at all in my editing software but do a little in blogger...weird!
Then I printed it in a 5x7 size and popped it in this frame.  I will DEFINITELY be painting the frame, but it's what I had handy.  I'm working on building a gallery wall in my living room of pictures, inspirational quotes, and images that are important to our family or just make me smile.  The photos are all framed in black, but I'm hoping to bring color in through the other items.

I think this will be a perfect addition.  What do you think?

Thanks girls for the challenge!  It was fun.  :) Head over and see what everyone else created this time.  :)



Friday, February 14, 2014

A Random Holiday

Happy Valentines Day!  It's not a big deal at our house, and Chris is coaching a basketball game tonight so that's where we'll all be, but it's never a bad thing to celebrate love is it?

I'm feeling like a random post today.  Got too much swimming around in my brain I guess.  So I'm gonna unload some on y'all.  :)
  • I finished another star.  It's not may favorite.  In fact, it may be my least favorite.  It was so much better on EQ5 than before I spent a half-hour on it.  BUT, they can't all be favorites and I've only got 2 left.

  • I am going to go with the 20 stars on the front.  Chris liked it better, Oren liked it better and a few of y'all did too.  And, it saves me from having so much border to wrestle with getting straight.  Win.
  • I am participating in Le Challenge this month.  I took a few months off because of schedule restraints and a bad memory, but was happy to remember in time to play this month.  Lucy and Nat challenged us with "Rising Sun."  I'll post about it tomorrow.  This is a fun, non-competitive challenge for anyone who wants to participate.  You can use any medium, it doesn't have to be sewn.  I actually did a digital print this time.  :)
  • Dana posted about pretzel bites the other day and I just read it today.  So I made them today.  Chocolate is over-rated, right?  said me never.  BUT we've had sweets all week so I decided pretzel bites would be a nice snack.  And they are GOOD!!  Definitely try them.  They're easy, just a little time-intensive.  I wish I had a warm cheese sauce to eat with them.  hmm....
via Old Red Barn co. 
Dana's picture is so much better than my phone version and I really want y'all to go make these
  • Emma learned yesterday that her class was going to do a valentine exchange after all.  She goes to an enrichment class in the morning and so wasn't sure what, if anything, her class was going to do.  So I ran to the grocery store last night to pick up some Rolos.  We made these fun valentines that were free from How Does She?  I ended up having to use small goodie bags (like reallysmall) so I shrunk the graphic down in my photo-editing software to 3 x 2 inches.  They were cute!
It obviously didn't have the watermark, but you have to give them your email address to get the file and I didn't want to give their stuff away for free...
  • I made this soup the other night.  It's a clean recipe, meaning all the ingredients are not processed I think...or something like that.  Anyway, it was really good.  Like Emma doesn't like tomatoes and she ate 3 bowls and really wanted a 4th.  Like it was cold in her thermos by the time she got to lunch the next day and she ate it anyway.  It's a keeper around here.  It has coconut milk in it instead of cream and I was worried it would taste coconutty, but not at all.  I did add some spice since my family likes that.  Really good.
  • I never got my Valentines decorations out this year with me being hurt.  I'm feeling mostly good now, but just moving a lot slower and I get tired more easily.  It's very frustrating to this independent, impatient girl.  But I did find some very cute decorations I wish I'd made and put out.  Check out this pillow and this embroidery pattern.
  • Chris' basketball team is playing in the semi-regionals tonight at home.  If they win, we'll head to Lakeland, FL next week for the Final 4.  He started helping with the team partway through the season this year when the head coach (a good friend) had some family issues and so that's how he ended up coaching two sports at the same time.  He's also a middle school softball coach.  Yes, he sleeps good every night when he finally gets home.  
  • I grew up a coach's daughter and Chris has coached something since we met, so it's a life I'm used to and enjoy, but always thank your kids' coaches (little league and up) because they really sacrifice a lot of their personal time and sometimes spend more time with your kid than their own.
  • We're about to head up there now to eat with the team and then root them on.  I've got company coming in to town tomorrow and Em's got a birthday party tomorrow afternoon to attend.  I'm hoping to sew some this weekend but we'll see.
What are you up to on this holiday?  What are you doing this weekend?  We're supposed to start warming up I think, so maybe I'll go for a walk and see how that goes as well.  :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday--The Starry Edition

Hi everyone!!  I hope you are staying warm and dry today.  It is rainy and windy here, but after seeing how much of the US is under snow right now and the UK with rain, I'll take my day of rain, stay inside and call it a win.

I showed a pic yesterday on instagram of how frustrating it is to follow wrong directions.  I'm tired this week.  And I'm a little geometry/math challenged.  And I got 3/4 of the way through this block by following the rotary cutting instructions of my EQ5 (which led to more Y-seams by the way) before I threw the block away in disgust.
I don't know if you can see well, but the cutting directions were off and I was in no frame of mind to figure that math out on my own.  So, I printed the ever-faithful paper piecing templates and quit for the day.
Today I started over with the pp templates and made this beauty:
Strip Star
Sorry for the difference in the filters making these fabrics look so different but I LOVED how the darker filter made the stars in the blue sections really look like they were sparkling.

Wouldn't a quilt made out of just this block be neat?  You could even have colors radiating out across the quilt if you wanted to.  That would be cool.  But I digress...

Anyway, this is block 17/20.  The end is in sight.

After I threw the block away yesterday, I wondered if maybe I should just stick with 16 blocks and do bigger borders.  I'm making this quilt for Oren's bed, so I'm shooting for a quilt top that's roughly 80" x 88" but I'd like it a little bigger to make up for quilting and wash/dry shrinkage.  I designed 2 versions to show Oren last night.

Here's the 16-star quilt.  I added an outer row of sashing in white and blue and then bigger borders.  This quilt top finishes at 86 x 94.


Then here's the 20-star version like I'd originally planned.  It's got smaller borders and no outer sashing.  It finishes at 80" x 90".

Which one do you like?  I can't decide.  Oren of course wants all 20 stars he was originally promised!  I've got all but the last 3 on the bottom row made and while they don't exactly look like this, it's close enough for me to see what I've got and where I'm going.

So help me out...do you side with Oren and think it needs all 20?  Do you think I should convince him 16 is good.  I plan to make all 20 either way and just put 4 on the back to offset the Star Wars fabric I relented to buy a small amount of for the back if I go with 16.

I'm linking up with Lee.  Head over to see what everyone else is up to...
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, February 10, 2014

Star Progress

It's been awhile since I worked on Oren's Star (Wars) quilt.  When each of my children turned 5, I decided to make them a quilt representing their party theme and assumed loves at the time.  Emma had an Under-the Sea party that inspired me to make her a zig-zag (back before chevron was the word for it...) quilt out of Mendocino fabrics.  Oren was and is a Star Wars geek and so his quilt is a star sampler.

Well, he turns 8 next month so it's high time this quilt was done.  And I'm getting there.

I mentioned last week that I put my "design wall" back up and so the stars went back up too.  I had 14 done and want to make 20, so I'm pretty close to making these blocks into a quilt top.

Last week I showed a sneak peek on Instagram of my Star of the East block coming together.


I ended up having no trouble at all with the Y-seams but did struggle with the center point and plan to go back and fix it this week, but it's finished.

Up next was a Rocky Road to Kansas based on Faith's tutorial from the Summer Sampler series.  I loved this block when I made it for that quilt and I love it still.  It used up some of my scraps from this quilt and it's so graphic and clean looking.

Here are those two blocks:

And here is the quilt up to this point.  This is not the final arrangement of the blocks, just a way for me to see them all and see what fabrics I've used.  They're all going to need a good pressing and to be trimmed up before anything gets stitched together.  :)


I've got 4 blocks left and have them designed in my EQ5.  Up next is the Strip Star and I've got the fabrics pulled.  It looks simple enough and I would love to finish it today but that's a maybe...

My goal is to have all of the blocks for this quilt done by this weekend and have the entire top pieced with sashing and borders by the end of the month.  Sounds doable, right?  Just keep sewing, that's what I need to tell myself.  :)

What are you up to this week?