Thursday, July 30, 2009

Headache-inducing machine woes

So, I called the shop that I brought my sewing machine to for service umpteen weeks ago to see if it's come in yet. Initially, they'd said a week. Then it was two. Today makes three weeks.

I called just as the repair guy came in. No, he didn't bring it. Apparently the Singer Merritt I have was a very limited run, with a number of unique parts. He's done the service, but it needs a new presser foot, and is having trouble tracking one down. I told them that I have a walking foot for it--I really don't "need" a new presser foot for it, because I don't use it for anything (now that I've found the walking foot). So the upshot is that if that's the case, I may have my machine back sooner than next year, just, you know, not today. *big sigh*

Ultimately, if the machine is going to be this hard to get parts for, I may work to save up for a new one, and have the Singer be my backup machine. In any case, I'm off to look up sewing machines in Consumer Reports.

But let me ask you, dear readers. What machine do you use? What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? What would you have done differently when buying, if anything? Any words of advice?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guilty pleasures...

If there is anything better than finding something absolutely delicious that thrills you to your very core, I'm not sure I know what that is. Except, perhaps, getting those things for an insanely good price.

This past week, I was browsing through some sales from some of my favorite vendors. I'm not sure how many people keep on top of fabric trends and news (I'll admit, I'm a great big noob on this, but I'm learning), but there has been a lot of hype lately in the quilt blog-o-sphere about the new Kaufman solids. I found them at a great price, so went ahead and bought a few of the ones which had caught my eye...


From left to right these are Everglade (which in reality is a bit brighter than this photo), Lemon, Green Tea and Cloud. I also snagged a half-yard of Pepper, which is darker than charcoal gray, but the tiniest bit grayer than black. It just photographs as plain black.

And as I continued browsing, I came across the Reflections collection by Hoffman, also on sale. The line has such a vintage-sheet feel, I was immediately a kid in the late 70s again, when my favorite sheets were yellow and covered in orange butterflies.


I threw in an extra couple of vintage feeling fabrics from other lines. I feel a summer quilt brewing from these. Not coincidentally, the solids I'd picked out go REALLY well with this selection.

Also, you'll recall me talking a little while ago of seeing a coworker's shirt and immediately being inspired to make a quilt. Well, that, of course, turned into shopping, which resulted in these:


I get a distinctly cool tile impression from a lot of these, and think that's likely the way I'll go when designing the quilt with these.

And of course, in all of this shopping, a few odds and ends slipped through...


Took this one three times and it's still blurry. You can see I'm slowly pushing myself out of my comfort zone--more brights and geometrics, which would SO not have been anything I'd touch, oh, a year ago? I'm mellowing in my old age, I suppose. :)

And to top off my gluttony this week, I snagged a new purse at Target for $10.


It's very bohemian, and should be a nice bag to transition into fall with.

Now, to begin the daunting task of washing and ironing my new haul. (Yes, I pre-wash, yes, I am insane.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Surprises abound...

I knew when we moved in *mumbledy* years ago that it might be awhile before I unearthed all of my stash. And a few months ago, with my husband's help, we went through my boxes of craft stuff (I also embroider and crochet, and knit a little) and I thought I'd found, sorted and stored the last of it.

I was wrong.

In my cleaning today, I found a box innocently labeled "Office, Fabric". Oh, really?

Really.

Another whole big box of stash that I had utterly forgotten about. Well, scratch that. I remembered some of the fabrics, and wondered whatever happened to them. I didn't realize that my husband had simply stacked a bunch of stuff on this box while I was laid up this past winter, as he went through things in the office. (Long story short--we redid our kitchen ourselves last summer. The end of it, the new counter, was put in the day after I ruptured a lumbar disc and promptly lost feeling and much of the use of my left leg. Therefore, I didn't have a whole lot to do with the filling of cabinets from storage boxes--nearly a year later, I am STILL reorganizing things in there... BUT, some of the kitchen stuff had been stashed in my office while we were renovating.)

I sorted through the first layer or so, and was so immediately overwhelmed, I just closed it right back up. It was either shift the box and keep cleaning, or spend the rest of the day re-sorting stash, which will be done soon enough, once the office/sewing room is cleaned and organized.

And I did take a few before pics this morning, so that on the other side of this, you can see the progress, much to my shame and chagrin. I suppose the best news of all of this is that I'm now worn out from cleaning, and wouldn't be able to accomplish much in front of the sewing machine today even if I did have it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Frustrated!

So, the one week turnaround on sewing machine maintenance? Is now going to be a minimum of three weeks. So instead of getting caught up on my 9-patch block-a-day quilt-along, and perhaps finishing a flimsy this weekend, I will be handpiecing, and cutting stash. Because it will be NEXT Thursday at the earliest before I get my machine.

Seriously? Any longer and I'll be looking to purchase a new machine, and keep the old Singer for backup. I'm going through horrible withdrawal. Also, yes, I have looked into sewing machine rental, and there isn't anyplace nearby that does rentals. The good news is that I found out that one of the quilt shops that was near where I work, and had been flooded out in the Nor'Easter of 2007, re-opened about 6 months ago in a new location, under a new name. How cool! Now I actually can do a bit of fabric-shopping in person without having to drive through 2 counties to get there!

Which, of course, is neither here nor there if I have no machine. *headdesk*

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Christmas in July continues!

Y'all quilting bloggers are crazy! How many give-aways are there? A LOT!

Go check out Elaine's Quilters Stimulus package... What an awesome idea!

And a sweet Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids color chart give-away at True Up. (Seriously took me a second to decide whether I'd share this one, it is that cool. :) )

AND check out Jodi's give-away for a chance to win her table runner, table topper and pillow recently featured at the Moda Bake Shop! I saw them over there before I found out about the give-away, and oogled them, and drooled. So cute!!

ETA: GO and check out Julie's give-away!! I saw her giant pincushion tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop site this morning, and immediately went: I HAVE TO MAKE THOSE! Well, she's giving a few away! Woohoo!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time for some lovely, um, photos...

Ok, so a day late, but y'all should be used to that from me by now...

First, I have to show off the present that Jay got for me at Target this week...




It's a turquoise, black and white argyle mug, with lime green lines...and a skull and crossbones on it! I literally squealed and hopped around the kitchen like a moron for a full minute after he gave it to me. It is officially my new favorite coffee mug! *grins dopily*

And of course, drinking a whole mess of coffee to test-drive my new mug, I managed to get a smidge of fabric cutting done...



I'm doing double-duty as I cut. The squares are 2.5" for AmandaJean's 9-patch quilt-along. (It's not too late to join, sign up over here.) I've noticed a new trend of 9-patches being done with a light or dark square in the center, different from the other fabrics in the block. I decided to do light squares in the center of my blocks for this go-around, and we'll see if I like it. Those have all been cut now, for all 70 blocks. I'm about a third of the way through the other, darker fabrics for this project.



I love this particular fabric. It's about 8 years old, and I honestly have no idea who made it. It came as a part of a FQ bundle of oriental fabrics, several of which are showing up in this quilt. I just love the tesselating pattern.

So, as I cut the squares, I'm also cutting triangles...


For my eventual flying geese quilt. Since I've long-planned to do this in oriental-themed fabrics, I figured I might as well kill two, ahem, birds with one stone... Don't know just why this decided to turn on it's side, but I'm too lazy to change it. :)

In other news, I have gotten "official" confirmation that my machine "should" be back on Thursday, meaning I "should" be able to go and pick it up on Friday. We'll see, at any rate. I'm anxious, but trying not to be hopeful. Nothing worse than a crestfallen quilter with three days off and no machine, am I right?

Also, has this ever happened to you? A coworker came into my office the other day, wearing the most striking blouse. Navy, aqua and white in this vaguely floral, large-scale swirling pattern. I was instantly smitten with the colors and the design. I have a quilt based on the color combo brewing in my little brain, and I'm not sure it's one I can ignore. We'll see what unfolds.

For now, however... Sleep.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Steamy Saturday

I got home last night to find that we had no power. It was warm and very humid, and no fans made it even more uncomfortable. My husband came home and took a nap, and I chilled out on the couch and read while it was still light. We finally got power back a little after 7pm. We went around and turned on fans, Jay disappeared down into the Man Cave, and I made some dinner--sandwiches, cuz there was no way I was turning the stove on in that heat.

Overnight, even with the fan, it was uncomfortably warm and sticky--when I got up at 7am today, it was still over 70. ewwwww! You know, the kind of morning when you try to put makeup on, and it just melts right off your face? Yeah. While I normally am not a huge fan of working on Saturdays (I work them on a one-on, two-off rotation), I actually looked forward to coming into the AC today!

The warmer weather makes everyone irritable. Me, my hubby, our cats, the public in general. Speaking of the cats, there is nothing worse than a warm cat who wants to snuggle at 4am when it's 75 degrees and sticky. Zoe would NOT take no for an answer last night, and kept me up for about an hour, constantly trying to wedge herself between me and my husband. Granted, she was trying to make up for the fact that she freaked out and clawed my foot last night (no one's fault, these things happen in a house with *mumbledy* cats), but snuggle-time was overrated!

So, I have a confession to make... I joined AmandaJean's one-a-day 9-patch quilt along. I missed out on the last one she did, and looked on with envy the whole time. When I read that she was starting another one, I jumped in with both feet, because I knew if I stopped to think about it, I'd find an excuse not to do it. Like, oh, I dunno, my machine is in the shop til next Friday at the earliest, and I'll start out the challenge a week behind? Yeah, like that. The kickoff for her challenge is this Monday, so I suppose I ought to dip into my scrap bag and do a bit of cutting to at least have some blocks ready to sew, then I can catch up next weekend. At least it means I can do some stash-busting at the same time!

Tomorrow, I have the day off, so I'll do the cutting while it's (hopefully) cool in the AM, and you know what that means? Pic post! See you then!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Feedback Friday

This week has been one of my least productive in terms of...well, just about everything. It's consisted of work, sleep, more work... End of the fiscal year reports and statistics take up my days, until I'm dreaming in Excel every night. Ick.

What I have been doing in my off-time, however, is dreaming. Brainstorming. Reading the blogs of other quilters, learning, getting new ideas for techniques, color palettes, designs. (All the while praying that my machine will be ready for pickup...someday! Just checked, it won't be back til next week at the earliest. *headdesk*)

One of the things I realized is that a number of us really work in a vacuum. It's part of the reason so many quilters do blog about what they're doing. So, go find your favorite quilt or craft blogger. See what they're working on right now. Leave them a comment, let them know you're reading, and what you think. You can stop at one, sure, but why not make some rounds? Check out two or three, a half-dozen. If something catches your eye, leave them some feedback! I promise, it makes a difference. :)

Where have my rounds taken me so far today? Go see what AmandaJean, Mushyhed, Wanda and Jackie are up to!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Progress, or something like it

Got quite a bit accomplished in my cutting frenzy yesterday, but not nearly as much as I'd originally planned. I set out my stack of oriental themed fabrics,


but never cut a single one.


However, I am down to just a few last novelty prints to cut squares from.

What I started with yesterday:



And what I have left to cut from today:


Several of these, like the two fish prints, will be fussy-cuts, which takes a bit more time. But the end result of yesterday's "cut it up" was this:

Nice stacks of 4", 5" and 6" squares, perfect for kids charm quilts, simple one-patches, or I-Spy quilts. I figure I have enough here for three or four toddler-size quilts, easily.

ETA: Barbara asked what the squares were for. Basically, it got some of these 10-year-old novelty prints out of my stash, and into a usable format. The one-patches or I-Spy quilts I have earmarked these for will most likely go to Project Linus this fall/winter.

On today's agenda? Not so much. I have my favorite mug, full of coffee...

Yes, it really is that ginormous. 30oz, and heavy. I love it. :) I figure I may dork around on the computer a bit, maybe read a little--it's turning out to be a lovely day, so I might as well enjoy it before heading into a 6-day week at work starting tomorrow. I figure, if I'm lucky and my sewing machine comes back in time, it will still be next Sunday before I have time to drive out to pick it up. *sigh* Such is life. In the meantime... We'll see.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Christmas in July continues!

Hop on over to Kati Cupcake's blog for a cool kit give-away, complete with delicious Amy Butler fabrics. Too cute!

What's been going on here? BUSY week at work--most of the time, I've been crashing right after dinner. Not much piecing has been occurring. And with my machine in the shop til next weekend at the soonest, my guess is that not much more will happen--at least, not quickly.

But that's ok!!

I went through and sorted my stash--I've now got what I consider "considerable yardage" separated. Basically anything bigger than a half-yard cut. I've finished ironing the last of my freshly washed stash additions:



Because, you see, I took my Singer to a shop that is also a fabric store, so I got to play! A few of those purchases are in this stack (the bright yellow, the black and white print on the bottom, the lime green stripe), and the rest were sale deals from a couple of shops online. Because the nearest LQS (and I use the "local" loosely--it's nearly in the next state...), I tend to do a lot of my fabric shopping online.

Which reminds me--the July Online Fabric Shop Hop is on--if you've never "chased the bunny", it's a really neat way to find new favorite online vendors, great sales, etc. You can find them here. There's a list of shops who are part of the hop, some vendors do special sales and bonuses for "fabshophoppers", and if you visit a certain number of shops, you're entered into give-away drawings for some pretty intense prizes. Hello, 50 yards of Hoffman batiks or Art Gallery fabrics as a grand prize? Um, yeah, I'll throw my hat in that ring.

Also, in the mail this week, I got my first kit of my strip-project of the month club. So cute!!

ETA: I got a comment asking who I'm doing my "Strip of the Month"
with. I signed up for the club run by EverythingQuilts.com.
They run several different "of the month" type clubs, but I've always wanted to try strippy quilts, so I chose that one. So far, I'm really glad that I did!



I cannot get a clear picture of the pattern to save myself, but it's called "two by four" and it's blocks of squares and rectangles cut from the Jelly roll strips (the one that came with the pattern this month was Simplicity by 3 Sisters for Moda), finished size of each square being 2" and the rectangles 4". Clever, no?

And since my machine is in the shop, and I don't feel like handpiecing just this second, I've cleared my cutting mat...



...so that I can go ahead and cut for a couple of WHiMMs today. I figured I'd suck it up and bust through the novelty prints in my stash, and cut them up (or at least most of them) for I Spy quilts for Project Linus. I also thought I'd do some cutting for my Oriental flying geese quilt. This is my favorite part of the process, if I'm being honest--the selecting and cutting. It's a great, productive excuse to play with my stash!

More photos to come!

Give-Away winner (take 2)

Well, I never heard from the original winner of my RJR charm pack give-away from last weekend, so it's take 2!

Congratulations, Anya! You are the winner! I've emailed you, please do email me back so I don't have to do this again! :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Green Fairy Quilts Give-away!

Judi over at Green Fairy Quilts is celebrating her 99th post with give-away patterns, jelly rolls, bags, quilts--go check it out here!

Crazy days, no machine...

Work has been incredibly hectic. Summer reading, holiday weekend, people on vacation. I feel like I hit the ground running every morning and don't get a chance to breathe til I get home (and sometimes not even then!). And there really aren't any pictures to share at the moment, either, since I'm hand-piecing (slooooowly) while my Singer is in the shop. It needed a new presser-foot lever, and my mother admitted that the machine hasn't been serviced since she bought it nearly 30 years ago. So it's gone for a minimum of a week, and I'm already going a wee bit stir-crazy. For a self-proclaimed hand-piecer, I sure did change my tune once I could accomplish more, faster! :P

So it looks like this weekend will be some hand-piecing, and some cutting for a few WHIMMs that are begging to be WIPs. The Flying Geese with oriental fabrics is at the forefront right now. I'd also like to whittle down that stash! I also need to cut strips for the Fractions quilt I'm working on, but I need to run a round of auditions for that one, and would rather have my machine prepped for that one--once it gets going, it should be very quick.

Finally, Valerie, you have until 6pm EST tomorrow to contact me (my email address is in my blog profile) with your mailing info for the give-away, otherwise, I'll be picking another winner this weekend.

Off to the book club. Hope everyone's having a good week!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

And the winner is...

Thank you for your patience--I didn't forget, I fell asleep! Zonked right out on the couch after dinner last night, and only managed to get up long enough to move to the bed two hours later. Eleven hours of sleep later, I guess I needed it!

Ok, ok, without further delay, the winner of my little holiday retreat give away of the RJR Basics charm pack is...


#6, Valerie Boudier! Valerie, you didn't leave me an email, so I need you to contact me by the end of the week, or I will have to choose another winner!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Too good not to share...

Today's word of the day: Serendipity.

1.
an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2.
good fortune; luck.

I fell in love with Tranquility by Moda. Got a charm pack. Fell even more in love. Found a layer cake at one of my favorite online shops. They called this morning to tell me that it was no longer in stock.

Blast!

So I hunted around online. And found it a bit cheaper at Miller's Dry Goods. AND they're having a sale on all precuts through the end of July--20% off, in fact. So go there, and enter PRECUT in the coupon field for your additional savings. I basically got free shipping with what I saved. Woot!!

Also, don't forget to check in tonight, when I announce the winner of the RJR Basics charm pack from my weekend give-away!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Give-aways abound!!

I wanted to share the wealth--hop on over to Ryan's blog for a chance at some gorgeous prizes!

I swear, with quilters, it's always Christmas!

Ah Sunday

I was rather industrious yesterday, finishing all of my 9-patches and getting a start on my next project. I had a bit of a mid-retreat meltdown, because I suddenly just could NOT decide what to do with my 9-patches. I didn't like them any way I sashed them. I think I was just sick of looking at them--total quilter ADD, if you know what I mean. So I cut some of them up to do Disappearing 9-patches.


I must say, I think I like this better than just the straight 9-patches, though I've saved a number of them for future projects. Perhaps I'll like them better if I put them away for a bit? I find that I do that quite a bit these days. I am sort of a fly by the seat of my pants quilter--I never work from an established pattern from start to finish. At most, I use a block pattern and then make up the sashing and borders and layout as I go along. I'm reasonably good at seeing something and being able to reproduce it, but I quilt like I cook--a pattern, like a recipe, is a starting point. I can never just follow it, I have to tweak it to my preferences. For food, the result is usually quite good, or at least edible. :) For quilting, I wind up stopping and starting a bit, unsure of layout, needing to walk away and come back to it at least once before making final decisions and pressing on. (Pun intended, by the way.)

I took last night off to hang out and picnic with the DH. We had grilled mushroom burgers, corn on the cob, and salad on the back deck, then had s'mores once the coals had died down some. As a kid, I grew up on the beach during the summers, so cooking out on a charcoal grill is part of my childhood. My husband? Not so much. I can't believe it, but he'd never toasted marshmallows or made s'mores before last night. NEVER! I can't believe it either! My poor deprived hubby. For me, it was a taste of my childhood, bringing a big sticky grin to my face and a tear to my eye. We sat out til it started to go from cool to chilly (it was cool enough last night that I needed a second blanket--good sleeping weather, as my mom would say), then listened to fireworks for several hours after it got dark.

Today... I have no idea what I'm doing. I think I've changed my mind on the sashing and final border for the HST strip quilt I've been working on for Project Linus--I think I like my new solid red better than the red with the white swirls. I'll have to audition and see. I may go ahead and put together the Disappearing 9s, or the rest of my pseudo-fractions blocks that I made with my Aviary (by Sisters for Moday) charm pack yesterday. They started out as my leaders/enders, but I was so taken with them, I finished that part of the piecing, too!! Who knows? Maybe I'll just go and sort my stash? :D Any excuse to play with fabric, you know?


And don't forget--today is the last day to sign up for my little at-home holiday retreat give-away! I will announce the winner tomorrow.

--Meg

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mid-retreat

Today is day 3 of my little holiday weekend at-home retreat. A bunch of us (30 something?) from the Stashbuster Yahoo Group all had the weekend free with nothing to do (my husband works retail, and is working 10-11 hour days this weekend, whereas I have 4 days off), so we decided to do an online/at-home retreat. I just figured I'd blog about it while I was at it, and do a little give-away for my readers to celebrate! It's not too late--hop over to the post and leave a comment--I'll be announcing the winner at the end of the weekend.

So, I have a confession to make this morning. Yesterday was just too darn chaotic to be productive. Woke up late, realized I really couldn't put off a trip to the grocery store any longer (it was critical--there was no half & half for my coffee!!), and by the time I got through the crush at the store, got home and unloaded everything and put it away, it was 11am, and humid and disgusting out. Showered up, had some lunch (breakfast just never happened) and settled down to piece some pinwheels. Got a few done, but it kept clouding up (I prefer to work by a window to save electricity during the day), so I gave up and watched some TV, napped with a couple of the cats ...


That's Timmy. He is a champion napper. My husband actually woke him from a nap for this picture--see how amused he is? (NOT)


So, yeah. Yesterday was kind of a bust. So I went to bed early last night, got up to a gorgeous, sunny and cool morning (65, not humid...yet), and am now caught up with email, have ironed and stowed my stash wash from yesterday and am armed with my second cup of coffee. The remaining violet and green 9-patches are waiting next to my sewing machine, ready to come together. So there should be more pics later today!

Oh, and happy 4th, all!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

First afternoon of retreating over...

I have a bit of progress made at the end of the first afternoon of my at-home retreat...



Nine 9-patches completed, the rest chain pieced in need of finishing and pressing. If I add one more row, or sash it in white, it's enough for a large crib quilt. If I add sashing and another row in each direction, plus borders, it's enough for a lap quilt, and I'll still have plenty left over for a crib quilt. I'm leaning heavily in the latter direction, meaning I'd be able to gift one and donate the other, and pull me up to 3 tops finished for my retreat... We'll see how I feel about it in the morning.

For this evening, I've got my pinwheels waiting for some attention. Pictures of those in the morning.

And don't forget--in honor of my 4-day at-home retreat, I'm doing a little give-away in this post--leave a comment over there for your chance to win a RJR charm pack!

Kicking off my at-home retreat (and giveaway!!)

I was up bright and early this morning. Well, early anyway. It's a cool, damp morning here, and we'll see whether that changes any as the day progresses. We had several rounds of storms yesterday, some of them pretty brutal. Work was amazingly busy, so when I got home, the DH and I had some supper and I lay down for a quick nap. Imagine my surprise when I woke up at 10pm and realized we had no power! J. said there was no power on the street, so I gave up and went back to bed. Slept until the power came back on near midnight, went around and shut lights out (it did NOT wake J.), reset clocks, and went back to bed. I was done sleeping at 6, so now I'm up with my second cup of coffee. However, since I'm "retreating" at home, I AM still in my PJs!!

I got the last of my mailbox goodies yesterday:


I apologize for the blurry pic--I took about a dozen photos of this, and this was STILL the best one. *sigh* It's a Tranquility charm pack from Moda--it was kind of an impulse, and I am SO glad I snagged it. I totally fell in love with these fabrics, and am already planning how I'm going to use it!




A sweet array of solids for some WHIMMs that have been dancing in my brain. A lot of the quilt bloggers I read have been doing a lot with solids as sashing and backgrounds, and I've honestly fallen head-over-heels with the concept. These are Kona solids, and from left to right are Mirengue (2 yards), Robin's Egg (.5 yard), black (1 yard), natural (1 yard), Nightfall (1 yard) and Rich Red (1 yard). Blows my stashbusting to smithereens in the short-term. In the long-term, I think these will be awesome additions.

(By the way, these are all care of FabricShack.com--I love them more than words can express.)

Oddly enough, some new tone-on-tones (.5 yards each) found their way into my box:

Because there is literally no such thing as enough tone-on-tones, in my humble opinion.

And last but not least, a few dots and prints:


They are so sunny, it makes me smile. And are those dots not to DIE for??



Ok, you've been patient. My giveaway, in celebration of my 4-day at-home holiday retreat, is:




A 36-square RJR Bare Essentials charm pack. I've been snapping up charm packs like it's my job lately, and I thought I'd share the wealth! This is full of neat black, white, tan and cream fabrics. Leave me a comment about what you would do with the prize, and make sure I have a way to contact you by email. Link it on your own blog to spread the word! I'll pick a winner using the RNG at the end of my weekend retreat.

Happy quilting!

--Meg