Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recent Happenings

Hello everyone. I know I haven't posted in about a week, so I feel like I'm neglecting you. I don't have too many updates on crafting news.

My dad came by and took me out for ice cream yesterday - sweet guy! I'll never turn down Cold Stone! :) But, he picked up his tie wreath and really liked it. He called me when he got home and said he was hanging it up in his bedroom because he doesn't want it to get faded in the sun on the front door. When I told my husband that my dad had picked up the wreath, his reaction was - "Not the one that was hanging on our door, right? That one stays with us?" He thought I had made 2, one for us and one for my dad. I do have ties picked out from my husband's collection, but I haven't gotten around to making it yet. I'm out of wreath forms. :( But, I really liked it too, so I'll need to make another of those for our door soon since we both really liked it.

I'm still working to square up all of those little half-square triangles for my dots-on-dots quilt. I have the pieces for 12 blocks all ready to be sewn together and just need to square up 8 more. I'm hoping I have all of those squared up by the end of Thursday night before I go to bed. So - 2-3 each night I should be able to handle.

Friday night I'm heading over to my sister's apartment and I'm going to try to teach her to sew. I know she'll be able to pick everything up very quickly, but I've never taught someone how to sew before. I'm not really sure how I'll go about it, especially since she wants to do some clothes sewing and all I really do are 1/4 inch seams with quilting. I think what she really wants to know is how to put the sewing machine together, where the thread goes, how to wind the bobbin, what the heck do you do with tension knobs, etc. :) That I can help with. So, I'm pretty excited. I got some awesome retro looking fabric in the remnants bin the other week that I'm going to make into a tote bag, and there's enough fabric for two! So, I think I'll bring that and we can make matching totes together. So, I'm spending the night there and then heading back home on Saturday to see my husband after another work trip for him and then hopefully working on those dots squares.

For tonight though... I have some pesky chores that I really, really, really need to do. #1: Dishes. I think the Bowls with Borders (last day today...) blog hop has lulled me into thinking that it's OK to let your dishes pile up. Unfortunately, the vibe in my apartment is starting to look like messy eclectic instead of Tuscan eclectic, so I'd better get on those dishes.

Chore #2: Laundry. My husband and I are notorious for having all of our laundry clean, but never folded or put away. We did some laundry this weekend and it went straight from the dryer to the laundry basket without any attempt to keep it from getting wrinkled or full of cat hair. I still have a couple loads to do to get everything all washed and ready to go, so I think I'll tackle that tonight as well. The strange thing though, is that I don't have that problem with fabric. Once I pre-wash things, it comes out of the dryer and I either iron and fold it right away or I fold it to be ironed right before I'm going to cut it up. I washed some of that this weekend too and it's all folded into a nice little stack and put away.

One last thing regarding that neat, folded fabric and then I'll stop rambling so you can get on to bloggers who've actually done something! But - I got my husband to come with me to JoAnn's to pick that fabric out! He doesn't like going there, never has and probably never will. He especially doesn't like going when he knows it's going to take at least an hour. We went on Sunday which was a rainy afternoon so the place was packed. It took us about 2 hours to pick out the fabric, get it all cut and get through the check out line. But, he was awesome. He helped me pick out all the colors for a fall quilt for the Leafs Me Happy blog hop - even helped me design everything for it. So, I was really happy he came with me and just wanted to share. What a great husband I have. :) Now I'll just need to get him behind the sewing machine!

Until next time - happy crafting!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Squaring Up

I really need to find a project that doesn't involve a million HSTs! I've realized with working on this Dots on Dots project that I really don't like squaring up. HSTs mean lots of extra squaring up before you even sew the pieces into a block. Here's a nice picture of some squared off bits for your enjoyment...

This project has 28 of these little 2.5 inch (unfinished) HST squares in each block (plus another 8 regular 2.5 inch squares). So far I've sewn one block together and squared up the pieces for 2 more. There are 20 blocks total, so I've got a long way to go. I hope I can finish them before I go nuts! :)

Anyone have a trick for squaring up so many pieces? Any time saving tips would be much appreciated...

Happy crafting!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fall Table Runner

I've got another August crafty goal finished. :) I thought this would take me longer than it did, but just a couple hours of sewing and it's all done. Finished the runner is about 27 inches long and 9 inches wide.

This table runner is for my mom (so mom if you're reading I hope you like it!). I bought some coordinating fat quarters at JoAnn's a little while ago and had originally planned to make napkins out of them. When I showed my mom she asked if I could make her a little table runner instead. I figured sure, why not.

So, I made three 9 inch finished blocks. The two on the outer edges are a 9 patch block with some green fabric I had in my stash. The middle block is just one big 9 inch piece of fabric. The fabric already looked really scrappy with different pictures on it, so I kept it as one big swatch instead of cutting it up for a 9 patch block too. I think it works. I just had to fussy cut things a little bit to get it to look right and not be too off center.

For the quilting, I just echoed the seams of the 9 patch and carried that through the large center block. Then I finished it off with more of the green fabric for the binding. I had thought about putting a border on it, but I thought that would make it too large. My mom has a smaller table, so this should fit well on it without being awkwardly large.

For the back, I pieced the remainder of the flower fat quarter with some side strips of the scrappy fat quarter. So, all in all I think it took me about 3.5 hours to go from start (ironing the fat quarters and cutting) to finish (tying off the binding). So, one more goal finished and a nice fall project to give to my mom. :)

Happy crafting!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Think Christmas Table Runner Finished

Well, I've finally got the Think Christmas table runner all finished. I had some issues with it turning out a little pink in the wash - but after a couple cycles through it's getting back to its normal coloring. I think I'll need to wash it one more time before it goes off to its final home, but I have time to take care of that later.

I ended up hand quilting this, and I'm really glad that I did. I like the way it turned out and each section is different, yet tied together with the coordinating fabrics. I ended up using a cream colored sashing to match the blocks and a deep red binding. The back is a white holly print that my mother gifted me with the rest of my Christmas fabric stash. :) So - one more crafty goal for August down with this project finished!

I actually have another goal finished. I wanted to try some basic paper piecing. I'm going to say this counts - my first string block ever! I have a lot of thin strips from the projects I've finished lately, so I figured I'd put them to good use.

So far I've just made one block - and I made it into a pot holder that I'll give to my sister. I have plans to make some more. I'm not sure what I'll do with them all. Maybe I'll have a lot of pot holders to give away.

I used parchment paper since I don't have real foundation paper. I think it worked just fine and tore off at the end fairly well. I don't know what to compare it to though, but I was happy with the results.
The last thing I did today was put together the first of 20 blocks for the quilt I'm making for the Dots on Dots hop. So - my block design has come to life. Now I just need to put together the rest of the quilt! I think that will be on the list for my September crafty goals. I've got 2 things left for August - putting together a fall table runner for my mom and a Christmas quilt. I originally posted that I had matching blocks from the Think Christmas blog hop that I would put together into a quilt. Those blocks never got made, and I think I actually want to keep the Christmas quilt a little simpler than that. So, I'll be redesigning something for that and probably won't get the whole quilt top put together by the end of the month. We'll see though. So, for now - 2 more goals checked off the list. Woohoo!

Happy crafting!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lots of Dots and Other Things

The Dots on Dots blog hop schedule just went up the other day, and I'm really excited for this hop. Maybe the most excited I've been for a hop, which I think is hard to beat since I've been in some great ones already - Red, White & Blue and Think Christmas! You can see the full schedule for Dots on Dots here.

I went a little dot crazy for this hop. I signed up thinking, "Oh yeah, I have a lot of polka dot fabric I can use for this!" Then, I went to my stash, and found that the pieces I had were much smaller than I thought, and I had plans to make a full dots quilt top! That just wasn't going to do it! So, alas, I had to go fabric shopping. I know - you all feel so sorry for me! :)

This is where I went a little overboard. Here's all of the dots fabric that I have now. I've managed to cut everything that I'll need for my quilt top. I'll be making 20 12 inch finished blocks and the quilt will be 4x5 blocks with borders. That's a comfortable couch lap quilt. (My husband told me the other day that he'd like a quilt to wrap up with on the couch that isn't the Super Mario quilt. He doesn't want to accidentally get something on my masterpiece. Bless his heart, but this means I need to make another quilt! - Darn!)

So, I've got the whole quilt planned out, now I just need to actually make all of the blocks and sew it all together. Designing the blocks was one of my August 2012 crafty goals, so I've got another one down - that makes 3! Woo hoo I finished more than I did in July now!

I've never done a whole quilt just out of polka dot fabric and I think this is going to be really bright and festive. I've got some dark dots and some light dots and some bright dots - all kinds of dots going into this one. So, stay tuned for that. My day is September 11th. :) 

On another topic, I decided how I was going to put together the Think Christmas table runner. Layout #1 wins with the same cream-colored sashing I used inside the blocks for fabric. The back is a red and green holly print. Once I got it all sewed together then I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt it. So I asked the most un-biased quilty person I know - my husband - what I should do. I asked "machine or hand quilt?" And he responded, "Do whatever you didn't do last time." Spoken like a true non-quilter, haha. So, I'm hand quilting this runner, and it's actually going very well and is a lot of fun. The only thing I've ever hand quilted before was my door hanger quilt for the Red, White & Blue blog hop. For that I only hand stitched part of the 12 inch block. So, this is taking me a little longer to finish, but I still hope to have it done by the end of August to help out with my August 2012 crafty goal count. I'll be giving this one to my Aunt Nancy in October when we go for a little visit to Michigan. So, even if it's not done by the end of August, it will be done before Christmas this year. :)

Happy crafting!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Birthday Weekend

I know my birthday was a month ago, but I figured I could post on August 13th about it and it would be close enough. I'm 26 years and 1 month old today! :)

Really, I'm not huge into celebrating birthdays. I never know what to tell people to get me (seriously, a gift card to JoAnn's is just as thoughtful as a huge, involved gift!) and I'm not that interested in being the center of attention. But, I had to post about my birthday this year. I was so spoiled!

On my actual birthday, July 13th, my husband took me out to one of our favorite restaurants - Captain Bills in Middleton, Wisconsin - for some crab legs. They were delicious and messy which is all the fun in getting them! I've also been dying to go to the Melting Pot for chocolate fondue for years now, but somehow other restaurants always win out whenever we want to eat out. But... not this time! He took me there for dessert and it was amazing! (And not that expensive at about $15 total!) We shared a plate of dippers and ordered a turtle fondue. It was melted milk chocolate with added caramel and candied nuts. So delicious!

The next day I celebrated with some of my family. My dad and brother grilled out and my sister and her boyfriend came by as well. She made me this great wreath! My sister and her boyfriend have started going to estate sales and estate auctions, etc to pick up things to resell or fix up and resell. So, I guess all of these little pears were in the bottom of a box that she got, so she took out her glue gun and made me this wreath. So awesome! It's been on my door ever since.

Later that night (Saturday), my husband took me to a bed and breakfast in Lodi, Wisconsin. It was called Victorian Dreams and was fantastic! Our room even had a Jacuzzi tub!

My husband had requested that we have some wine and cheese in our room when we arrived - very tasty. They also had a little birthday cake and card for me. :)
But, the real surprise was when there was a knock on the door about an hour later. Apparently my husband had scheduled massages for both of us! I was so spoiled and the masseuse was very nice. I was so relaxed by the end of the nigh! We really enjoyed our stay, and I bet we'll be back someday.
If that all wasn't enough, I got another surprise when I went down for breakfast in the morning. The inn keepers serve their guests instead of having things family style or buffet style. So, when they brought out Eggs Benedict for breakfast I just about died. That is my favorite breakfast meal of all time! That part of the weekend wasn't planned, but it was just perfect! 

So, thank you honey for a wonderful birthday weekend. I love you so much and can't wait to celebrate many, many more with you. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tie Wreath Tutorial

I've finished another of my crafty August 2012 goals. I've put together the tie wreath for my father. This is a no sew project too! So, this was such a quick and easy project I might as well do a tutorial for it, right? There are several versions of this floating around on the web, so I don't know how many I looked at before I gave this a try. I thought it would be a lot harder than it actually turned out to be, so I'm very happy I gave it a shot. I know my husband has quite a few ugly ties that I might make into another one for our door, but we'll see. Here's what you'll need to do to put one of these together for yourself...

15 ties in the colors of your choosing
About 50 straight pins
One 12 inch Styrofoam wreath form
3-4 inches ribbon for hanging the wreath

1) Lay out the ties in the order you want to add them to the wreath. This will allow you to check the color transitions before you start putting them on the wreath. Once they're on the wreath it is a bit of a pain to change them around. Set aside one special tie to make a bow for the wreath.

I added a couple ties to my wreath layout after taking this picture. I used 14 ties to wrap around the wreath and set aside one of my grandfather's old silk ties for the ribbon.

2) Take a tie and pin the small end of the tie to the back of the wreath form. Wrap the tie around the wreath form until it hangs over the edge by about 2-3 inches. Pin in place through the top of the tie.

3) Take another tie and pin its small end to the back of the wreath form about 1 inch away from the middle of the wrapped tie next to it. This will ensure that all of the areas are covered and that the ties will overlap as they get wrapped. Wrap the tie around the wreath form and pin in place through the top of the tie.

4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 until entire wreath form is covered.

5) Pin inside the tie as shown in the picture. If you want you can secure the tie toward the center of the fat end and toward the sides to keep everything in place. Once the tie is pinned inside, then you can remove the pin from showing on the outside on the top of the tie. Repeat this step until all ties are secured and no pins are showing on the front of the wreath.

 6) Tie the last remaining tie into a bow. Determine where on the wreath you want it to be and secure it with pins behind the knot of the bow.

7) Fold ribbon in half and pin ends together onto the back of the top of the wreath.

8) Hang on a nail or hook on your door and you're all done! :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kindle Cover

Hooray! I've got my first crafty goal finish of August! :) I've been meaning to make a new kindle cover for a long time. When I first got my kindle I just threw together a couple of pre-quilted fabric pieces and formed a very drab looking pot holder to hold the kindle. Recently it's been falling apart more and more, so I desperately needed a new case.

I decided I was going to use just scraps for this. I've been saving scraps ever since I got back from the quilt retreat I went to over Mother's Day weekend. It's taken me a while to get some scraps accumulated. Most of them were little squares left over from my Super Mario quilt. So, I put those to good use along with some pieces from blog hops I've participated in recently or chunks from other projects.

To put together the front and back panels I just started grabbing scraps, not really caring which color I picked up, and started sewing them together. I'd trim/square up as I went. I finger pressed the seams to go the way I wanted them to and then ironed the whole slab at the very end. So, I ended up with some tiny 1 inch squares and some larger chunks as I built the slabs out. They were so much fun to put together!

I didn't want to fuss with turning out a pocket, so I decided I was going to make a double quilt sandwich. I layered the slabs with batting and some left over aqua fabric from a pincushion I made earlier this year. Any shade of teal is my favorite color, and I love the pop of brightness when you open up the case.

I used my walking foot to do an organic grid quilting on each slab. Once they were quilted, I trimmed the extra batting and backing fabric. For the smaller slab (the front side of the cover) I added a binding in the same aqua fabric as the back to the very top. This way I could get a really nice finished edge before I sewed the two main pieces together.

Once that little bit of binding was done, I used left over binding from the Super Mario Quilt (yes, it was the perfect length! I didn't have to add anything and just cut off a 1/2 inch! So perfect...) to put both pieces together. I layered them with the blue backing fabric sides together and sewed the binding on as if it was just a single layer quilt. The batting I used was very low loft, so it was no problem at all for my heavy duty Janome.
I finished it off with hand stitching on the back side of the cover. I still need to add the clasp yet, but I'm debating if I want to use Velcro or if I want a couple large snap buttons. I think I'll just go peruse the fastener section at JoAnn's one of these days and make a decision. Either will be very easy to add to the cover.

I made this case to be 7 inches wide by 10 inches long when it's closed. The back piece was 7 inches wide by 14 inches long. This is bigger than I probably needed to make it, but I wanted to be able to keep the cord in the case along with the kindle. The extra room also gives me the option of putting a pen and small notebook in there if I ever read anything worth taking notes on. (Someday I'll finish that marathon training book!!!)
August Finishes
So, one crafty goal complete, just tons to go! Happy crafting!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Think Christmas Giveaway Winner

Thanks everyone for all of your comments! I guess I have to make a decision about putting the table runner together. I'm hoping to finish it up this coming weekend, so check back in to see what I decided on. I think I'll definitely do sashing, but not sure what color yet. I've just got to figure out which block will be in the center and then I'll be all set.

But now, for the giveaway! I had 97 lovely comments that counted toward the prize. So, thanks to Random.org the winner is #9: Karen M!

Karen, I've sent you an email, so send me your address and I'll get your winnings out in the mail as soon as I can.

Can you believe it's August 6th already? Where has summer gone! I've got too many projects to complete this month and not enough time, so back to the sewing table for me. :) Happy crafting!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Think Christmas! (and a giveaway...)

Hello everyone! Welcome to my stop along the Think Christmas blog hop! I'm very excited to be posting today. I wish I had one more block to share with you. I had several planned, but there's only so many hours in the day! Before I get started I'd like to thank Lesley (you can find the whole schedule at her blog) and Madame Samm for hosting and cheering on the hop. It's been great fun to see what everyone has put together so far, and I'm going to be very sad when it comes to an end. :(

But, for today, I get to share the festivities with these lovely bloggers:

So, have you been thinking Christmas as you've been hopping along? I definitely have been, and I think there are a few more Christmas related projects coming up for me in the next couple months because of this hop. I've already been inspired to put together a Christmas Table Runner for my Aunt-in-Law and I think there's at least one more table runner in my future!

So, without further ramblings, here are the 12.5 inch blocks I've designed for your crafty/Christmas-y inspiration:

Block #1: My version of a sunburst

Block #2: My version of a poinsettia flower

Block #3: My version of a wreath (with a Christmas star in the middle)

I think I'm going to combine all of these into a table runner for someone special that I'll be visiting later on this year. Here's a couple lay outs that I've come up with...

Layout #1

Layout #2

But, I'm curious to know how you would put these 3 blocks together, so I've got a giveaway to help me out. Just leave a comment letting me know how you'd put these blocks into a table runner. You can choose layout #1, layout #2 or tell me something completely different. Would you use sashing? Borders? Just as they are? I want to know! :)

So, what will you be winning? (**giveaway closed**)

These 3 fat quarters (red butterfly, green floral and purple geometric)...

...and this swatch of bright fish fabric (measures roughly 7 inches wide by 28 inches long)!

Please, please, please leave me your email in your comment if you are a no-reply blogger. There are always so many great comments that I can't respond to because folks are no-reply bloggers, but I'd hate for you to miss a prize too! So, if you're not sure if you're a no-reply blogger, give me your email address anyway! :) I'll draw the winner on Monday, August 6th, so your comments will count up until 11:59pm central standard time on Sunday, August 5th.

Thanks for hopping along! Be sure to check out the other bloggers today, and come back to my site in the near future to see how I put the table runner together! Feel free to follow along if you want to be kept in the loop! :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 2012 Crafty Goals

Wow, it's August already! It still feels weird not to be going back to school and getting ready for more classes. I graduated from college 4 years ago! Wow, that just doesn't seem possible! So, I guess instead of homework, I've got some crafty goals for the month of August. But, before we get to the new goals, let's see how I did with my July goals...

Here's my list:
1) Finish the Super Mario Quilt
            DONE! I'm sure most of you have already seen this post. I'm so happy that I got this quilt done. My husband is snuggled under right now in fact. :) So proud of this one!

2) Finish the Jelly Roll Strip Quilt
             DONE! I even sent it off to my friend already. She called me to tell me she received it. Her mom is a quilter and it was funny that her fiance said, "Oh, did your mom send that?" and she got to tell him "no, Karen did!" It's the first quilt I've given to a non-family member and she really liked it. Her birthday is in early August, so I sent it off as an early present. :)

3) Make a tie wreath for my Dad
              Not done... This will be on my August list...
4) Make a new kindle case
              Not done... This one will be on my August list too...

So, I guess 2 out of 4 isn't horrible, but it's definitely not a passing grade! For some extra credit I did complete some other crafty things:

1) Red, White and Blue Blog Hop blocks made into a table topper, pillow and door hanger (so 3 projects completed there!)

2) Christmas Table Runner completed as a birthday present for my husband's Aunt Sue. 

So, maybe that gets me up to a B for a grade? :)

OK, so what's on my list for August? Here goes:

1) Make a tie wreath for my Dad
2) Make a new kindle case
3) Make my separate Think Christmas Blog Hop Blocks into a table runner
4) Make my matching Think Christmas Blog Hop Blocks into a quilt top
5) Design blocks for the Dots on Dots Blog Hop for September
6) Try some basic paper piecing (a little scared about this one...)
7) Make a scrappy fall table runner for my Mom

Uh-oh, 7 goals? I think know I'm over doing it, but I should be able to get at least some of them done, right? Anyway, stop back on August 4th to see my blocks for the Think Christmas Blog Hop. I'm furiously trying to get them done between work, violin practices and the piles and piles of laundry I need to wash this week. :)

So, what are you plannng as projects this month?

Happy crafting!
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