Friday, December 14, 2012

"Chaos" is a finished

I started this quilt last year about this time. I wanted to do an improv slash and sew quilt.  Similar to my Crazy Girly quilt which was my first and only half of an improv quilt, this one really was all improv. I made a few blocks or sew some pieces. Then I'd lay them out and see what I needed to add.

Then the top was complete. I thought it not half bad.
I took a minkee blanket that I bought at JoAnns on sale and used it as the backing. No batting and just a large meander with a few flowers for the quilt motif.

I folded the minkee over the top of the quilt to create the binding and done.

Not so bad, but certainly not my favorite. I think I just am not meant to play with improv. It sets my teeth on edge not to work with order in my piecing.  I think that's why I ended up calling this one, "Chaos."

I wonder what to do with this thing!   Linking up to Richard & Tanya's Link a Finish just for fun.

Edited to add that the name seems to fit this quilt but also the state of emotions I feel now upon hearing about the shooting at the elementary school in CT.  God bless all of those affected by it. I pray for stregth and healing as I weep for the impossible despicableness of it.
God Bless,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weigh In Weds. - Insanity

Did you know I stopped exercising and paying attention to my eating somewhere a few months ago? Probably, since I haven't posted a weigh in wednesday since about that same time.

It's one thing to acknowledge you have all these excuses for not eating right or exercising. It's another tohot acknowledge and realize why. It's even more to make a real decision to change and move forward.  To get motivated and to figure out what you need to stay motivated.

I spent a number of weeks (yes, weeks) thinking about starting to exercise but I did manage to start eating healthier during this time.  I started using an app called "My Fitness Pal" to start tracking calories. This was helpful.

Eventually, my friend came and told me she bought the Insanity workout program and when I confessed I had been thinking about doing that program, a plan was hatched to do it together so we had someone to be accountable to.

About the same time, I found a new friend on Instagram (btw, I'm all over posting on Instagram... it's crazy) who turned out to be a coach with Beach Body.  She's been a treasure and good as gold, she's now my coach and I've joined her facebook page where there is also a virtual group of new friends to be accountable to.  It's been extremely helpful.

So, I started. I finished week 1 of the Insanity and I'm staying good about keeping in the right calorie range as well as eating foods that will fuel me instead of helping me.  I also joined a December challenge on Instagram to plank once per day to improve my core strength. Let me tell you, planking is not easy.

So, for your enjoyment, a pic of me when I'm done with an Insanity workout.  I feel good, even through the first week's soreness, I'm at a good place with energy level and hunger (meaning I'm not all that hungry outside of normal range so I know I'm doing right with my eating).

So, weigh in when I started?  172.5  A reminder of my height? 5'2"   Insanity program length? 60 days.

Wish me luck!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Goodies in the mail!

As I sent swap items, I'm so excited to say I received my items, too!

From the Secret Santa Swap hosted by Kara, I received the best scarf. It's soft and comfy and pretty. My favorite colors.

I'm posting the card that came with it and the photo of its emergency room visit. The maker has assured me she is well but I can't help but be amazed she and my scarf went through such an ordeal together.  Yikes, talk about commitment to a swap! :)

I also received this awesome mini from Rebecca at Rebecca's Rags as part of the Sewing Summit Swap.  It's just so much fun and I'm in the midst of searching out a great location to hang this lovely.

Lastly, I've been doing just a little bit of sewing. I've started blocks for a quilt for my niece.  I'm going to work really hard to have this done in time to mail to FL for Christmas. This is the Hearts Abloom pattern from the March 2012 issue of QuickQuilts magazine.

What are you making for Christmas gifts this year?


Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Crazy Journey - Part 2

I had waited to write this post to hear from the folks I sent my swap goodies to but as of today, I haven't heard from anyone except the person I sent the block to.

Block received and liked. Yay!

I sent the aprons and bag along with a little cookbook for the Secret Santa party.

I sent the little dresden plate mini from my last post but it was going to Ontario, Canada. I'm hoping it's just a little slow in the mail system instead of lost. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed she likes it.

I also sent out the tote.  This tote.

I promised to share the story with you and while, like the mini, I don't know if the tote was received yet, I miss blogging and decided to share anyway.

You see, I promised to help coordinate the swap and took half the list and assigned partners.  I inadvertently assigned a mom to make something for her daughter with the added benefit they live in the same household. She notified me and I so I simply swapped her daughter with my partner.  A couple weeks went by and we proceeded to make our swap partners gifts based on what we read for likes and dislikes that they sent us as part of the swap.

My tote came together.

The day I was ready to send it, I happened to go to my partner's Flickr page and her profile. I read through what she liked on her profile, which was pretty similar to what she said in her note except one thing.  There was an added sentence which stated she didn't like browns.

WHAT?!  Why oh why didn't I see this in all my stalking research before? Clearly I'm a crappy stalker.

UGH, what to do, what to do?  Ah!

I emailed my partner's mom. I asked her if she thought her daughter would like it given all the brown and she gave me the reply I feared. Probably not. She said her daughter had been asking for the same item her swap partner and she proposed we switch back. I agreed but not without feeling bad about it.

I went back to my original partner's likes and dislikes but decided not to give her the tote and that's why I made the dresden mini.  I did, however, send the tote off to my original swap partner's mom.  She raved about it and claimed she'd love to have it if the person I was sending it to didn't like it.

I figured, she dealt with all the mishaps, it should be her tote. I hope she likes it as much in real life as she did from the pictures and I just have to say, thank you, again to her for bearing with me through it all.

What have your last couple weeks been like?


Monday, November 19, 2012

A crazy journey - part 1

Part 1 of this journey begins in the middle of the story.  Swap partners were assigned for those of us who signed up to the Attendees' Post-Sewing Summit Swap party.  Since the idea is to use something you learned at SS, I thought I'd make a tote for my partner.

Jumping to the middle of the story now, the tote wouldn't work and I needed a new plan.  (I will give you the tote story another day, promise.) I decided, instead, to make a mini quilt.  I hatched a new plan and a mini was designed and executed.  I think the execution is better shown in photos so here you have it's progression.

My swap partner produces some fantastic work so I hope she likes the quirky item I wanted to send her way.  Personally, I love it and have a hard time sending it away. :)

I want to update you on two other items, also. First, I decided to scrap the entry for QuiltCon this year. It was a pipe dream, starting it so late, anyway. The timing just wasn't with me and I don't want to stress myself so much that I create a poor looking quilt. I decided next year, the idea will still be a good one.

Second, I did make a second block for my monthly star bee. The recipient likes it and that makes me happy.

What have you been up to?


Saturday, November 10, 2012

A couple fun projects are finished

The second half of October was a sprint to use my new sewing inspiration and renewed desire to finish projects and managed to start and complete my Monster Mash quilt. 

November seems to be the month for little but important projects: swaps, a bee beginning and, if I can manage it, an entry to the QuiltCon quilt show. The teaser for that is to show you only this fabric.

Now let's talk about the bee. I joined my first bee ever, hosted by Melissa over at Tension Issues, there are 12 of us and it is a star bee. We provided our colors and the bee members choose the star patterns and even the size of the stars. I can tell you I'm so freaking excited to participate in this!  This was the star I made for the first months' recipient but I can't send it.  I know I'm being hyper-critical, but it's a little crooked and there is just one corner point that will be lost when it's sewn into the top.  However, I do like it enough to keep it so that may be part of the reason I can't let it go. Can't you just see a rainbow quilt with stars of different colors like this?

I'm also in two swaps that need to be sent out in the next week. The first is a secret Santa swap hosted by Kara at Me and Elna.  The deal was, make and send something crafty, anything, of an approximate dollar value.  I struggled a lot with this one because the person I am partnered with did not have a lot of an online presence that I could discreetly stalk. Of all the areas I'm most critical and require the most of myself, it's to find the "just right" personal gift. Anyway, I tried making place mats. Fun on one side and maybe more practical and neutral on the other.  I designed, cut and sewed without a quilting plan in mind.  I was reminded about how important that is.  

I thought to just quilt 3 SID lines using the fun side as a guide but I did not like the look on the opposite diagonal side because I had a neutral cream cutting through the black stripe. So I tried SID on the stripe side but the reality is, I just stink at quilting on my domestic machine. Too many crinkles on the fun side.  

I decided enough was enough. I took one of the new panels, added a border and made it an apron.  

I then decided to add a few other aprons to the mix for fun. Less detailed but reversible and yummy.

It just seemed like I needed to do something else and with my new found bag making skills from the Sewing Summit, I set about making a bag. I bugged the Instagram folks to help me confirm fabric choices for the bag and then I was off. 

I found the pattern for Pick a Pocket Purse on All People Quilt, designed by  Happy Zombie, but I do believe it's been in a magazine or two, as well.  Let me tell you, it came together so easily and so quickly! If you are looking for a good and quick project, this is it. It would be a fantastic teacher gift with it's pockets and  nice open main pocket.  

Those are my finishes so far. I'll update you with the new bee block and my sewing summit swap item as soon as they are done.  Oh yes, and the mini-quilt. I'm determined to get it done. 


Friday, November 2, 2012

Voting open now until 8am ET Sunday

If you were so inclined to vote for my or anyone else's quilts, voting is now open.

I've already voted and had to say I voted for a couple others I thought were just great.  So much talent out there!

Thank you,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Monster Mash

Welcome new friends, perhaps you are from Amy's Blogger Quilt Festival, and old, reliable friends, who have stuck with me during the lean posting times. I hope you enjoy this finish and one of my favorite quilts!

This quilt is named "The Monster Mash" because, well, that's what I hear in my head every single time I look at it. That's also what makes it one of my favorite quilts, even though it's a new finish.

If you are too young to know what I'm talking about, there is a song out there called "The Original Monster Mash" by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers.  Look it up and listen to it, then come back and take a look at my quilt, I won't seem so crazy.

Then again, maybe nothing will help me from seeming so crazy.

This one went together quickly because it was so fun. The Monsters are from the Amy Bradley Designs, "Happy Halloween" pattern. Instead of needle turn, I used the raw-edge applique method with Steam-a-Seam and blanket stitched around all the edge. With the exception of the sashing and borders, I used scraps or stash fabric.  I kept the quilting very similar to the pattern example because I think it appropriately allows the Monsters to take center stage. I kept my Instagram followers inundated with these blocks as I was finishing them up, I enjoyed it so much.  I'm surprised I didn't lose half of them.

Categories: Wall Hanging, since that is currently where it resides, and Applique.

A little closer look at the faces.

I also decided to submit this quilt to the Quilting Bloggers Weekly Quilt Contest.
Weekly Themed Quilt Contests

Head over there and take a look. If you like my Monster Mash, please vote for it.  If you like one of the others better, well, vote for that one, I'm confident the maker will appreciate it and I'll be glad to have brought your attention to such a fun contest. I keep my crazy, competitive streak come focused on sports participation and cheering only.  Voting is between Nov. 2, 8am-ish (EDT) and Nov. 5, 8am (EDT).


Monday, October 29, 2012

My Recap of Sewing Summit 2012

First thing's first. Check out my haul (swaps, class materials, swag materials, and a little shopping.)
 (Sorry, can't seem to rotate this one)

Last year, when I attended SS, I was a bit reserved and held back from what I think of as the “extra-curricular” activities. I did go to open sew and show a few people how I made cathedral windows but I  wasn’t overly social. I determined that would change this year so I signed up for two swaps and to make a block for someone who wanted to do a Quilt of Valor.  I signed up for a dinner event and openly communicated on the chat boards to pre-meet people.    Well, I did the swaps and made the block but I fell asleep before the dinner and missed that. Oops.  However, that’s okay because I made sure I chatted with people freely during lunches, classes, and open sew.  For me, I am not sure I could have done any more and I feel great about it.

Here are photos of some of us at the mixer on Thursday night.

I know it sounds weird, put that way, but I lost a colleague/friend the Monday before SS and he was such a light in this world, the kind of person you can meet in passing and walk away feeling loved. Given the circumstances of his passing, I had heartbreak on top of grief and by Weds. evening, the night before I left for SS, I started thinking I should stay home. I wasn’t sure I could go and not dwell on this over the weekend but I realized the distraction would be a good thing and gave myself permission to be distracted. Honestly, it worked just as it should. SS was fun, enjoyable and only when I was alone, did I think deeply of my friend. I returned and attended his Service on Monday and between SS, where I fondled fabric, had plenty of sewing therapy and had good friend therapy, as well as the Service itself, I felt more centered. I left the Service feeling healed and uplifted and that's all I can ask.

I digress a little but the reason is, I wanted to explain to you what I believe Sewing Summit is and what it I always thought it was intended to be. While there are classes and guest speakers, this is more about connecting with people you don’t normally get to connect with in real life.  Secondary to that, you have the opportunity to hone specific sewing skills or learn new ones.  I ended up in a couple classes where I learned to use a serger sewing machine (which I have now bought, thank you very much) and made a scarf as well as a pillow case.  I think the 1500 stitches per minute blinded me from the moment I pressed the pedal! LOL

Open sew room, some ladies swapping goodies, and me all cheerful bright and in the morning. 

I also learned how to make a tote bag.  Yes, you heard me, I. Made. A. Bag.  And, I didn’t swear once! The bag making truly took a village, however.  First, there was my teacher in class, Alexia Abegg from Green Bee Patterns, taking me step by step. Oh, and my classmates freely answered my questions, too! Then, I took the unfinished bag to open sew that night and asked anyone and everyone with bag experience questions until finally I exclaimed, “YES!” Popped up out of my seat and did a little happy twirl.  I. Made. A. Bag! It has a snap, interfacing, a bottom and handles all where they should be.  I’m so happy about this, I think I might make another one just to remind myself I can do it.

In addition to the items above, I also learned how to sew lounge pants.  The fact I’d been thinking about sewing some clothing a lot lately and succeeded at these lounge pants so easily are part of the serger purchase. I have to talk about the lounge pants for a moment.  The night before the class, I went to the open sewing room to cut out the pattern early at the suggestion of the class teacher, Jana Nielson from Izzy & Ivy Designs. She said she’d be there and would walk me through it all. She promised it would be easy and I couldn’t resist giving her a hard time. “You say that,” I said. “We’ll see,” slipped from my lips. But Jana would not be phased.  She quipped back, “Yes, you will. Trust me. I’m telling you.”  Sure, sure. I went into class the next day and it was a disorganized type of class. Everyone was in a different stage of putting their pants together so Jana walked around instructing us on next steps, almost on an individual by individual basis.  Still, it worked.  Before class ended, I had a pair of lounge pants complete and being the honest and gracious person I am, promptly got Jana’s attention to give her props with what everyone likes to hear.  I said, “You were right.”   It was as easy as she said and I am pretty sure my entire family is going to get lounge pants for Christmas.  Jana, you are awesome and fun and I hope I have a lot of occasion to chat with you in future.  

This is the awesome Ms. Jana

Now, let me also add, the other classes, Creative Journeys, and Lectures (which primarily turned into group discussions) were equally enjoyable and educational.  Check out these ladies’ and what they do, it’s pretty impressive.

Emily Herrick from Crazy Old Lady Quilts - Emily authored, "Geared for Guys" offered great tips and ideas to help us determine just how to make a quilt for a man that is different from the traditional fall back options.

Heather Scrimsher from Fiberosity - Heather showed us how to make an "e" or an "i" case with the serger

Rachel Howard from Family Ever After - Rachel is the creator of "Sew-Vivor" and had some great advice on helping us take our own passions to the level we wanted them to go to.

Amber Carrillo from One Shabby Chick - Amber discussed her experiences with selling at various craft shows and pop-up shows. While she chatted and I became inspired, I have to say, one of the most notable things I remember is that Amber never has issue with getting a picture of her creations in the sun. Hawaii just doesn't allow for it. Good for you, Amber. 

Lastly, Joel Dewberry of Joel Dewberry was our Keynote speaker. So great.

To all the teachers who held the impromptu classes in the evenings or during breakfast, THANK YOU. Your generosity has been wonderful. I am sure it was hard to balance teaching demands and enjoying classes yourselves. 

To the organizers, most of all, Erin, thank you for such a great conference again.

It was so enjoyable and I’m so thankful I was out of my comfort zone and giving me a safe and fun place to learn new skills and to meet the people I’ve been communicating with online.  I hope you all can enjoy the rest of the blurry photos I've managed to grab. :D

My travelling partners on the way home.  Don't we all look like we are glad to be done with the 2 flights back to DC?