Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Project Review #1

As promised, here is one of the secret Christmas projects I've been working on for the past couple of months.
I made a teepee for each of the grandkids this year.  What a hit!  What child wouldn't love to have their own tent to play in?  We played with tents and forts when we were kids, and this generation is no different.  They loved them!

I followed the instructions in this tutorial, and it was really easy to make.  The sewing is minimal, because you use a twin-size bed sheet, so you don't end up with any exposed raw edges.

And of course, I made a quilt as a Christmas gift.  I'll show you that in my next post, so until then...
Happy New Year!!!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Greetings!

Only one more week until Christmas!  Yikes!
I wasn't going to let myself be rushed this Christmas, but I hadn't planned on getting sick after Thanksgiving, so I've fallen a little behind with my projects once again.  I'm into my 3rd week of this mega-cold, but at least I'm feeling more like myself now.  So it's time to put the pedal to the metal and get some work done - fast!!!
Can't share pictures of my projects just yet, since they're all Christmas gifts - no peeking!
Check back after Christmas and I'll share lots of pictures then.
In the meantime...... from our house to yours...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday, chalkboard fabric

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving Holiday!  We traveled on Thursday to have dinner with my husband's family, but had our kids, their spouses, and the grandchildren all here at one time or another for the rest of the weekend.  It was so great!  I've been so excited, waiting to see the two little ones play together, and it was even better when it snowed.  They spent an afternoon sledding in our backyard and had the best time.

Have you heard of the new Chalkboard Fabric?  A dear friend of mine thought I should have some for the grandkids, so she gave me a yard of it to play with.  I cut it in half, and used wide blue painters tape to secure it to the IKEA work table in my office.  No sewing involved!  I pulled a chair up to each side of the table and gave them a box of chalk.  It kept them busy for hours!
After they all went home, I just removed the tape, wiped it down with a damp sponge, and rolled it up to store in the closet till next time.  So easy!  Lots of shops sell it, but this came from Nancy's Notions.
Now I just need to get over the cold the kids left me with...  But it was worth it - I wouldn't have traded the weekend for anything - cold or no cold...


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday Tip

Can't post sewing pictures this week because I'm working on Christmas projects right now and don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone...  So I'll share a tip this week instead.

It's a storage/disposal jar for all those used rotary cutter blades and bend or dull pins and needles.
I won't throw those items loose in the trash, for fear of someone getting injured (mainly my husband, since he takes care of the trash every week).
I used to keep an old Altoids Mint tin in my drawer to throw them in, but I found this solution works even better.
 It's an empty Kraft Parmesan Cheese shaker container.  I just leave it sitting next to my machine, so as I come across a bent or dull pin, I can just drop it into the container thru the shaker holes.  And the half-round opening on the other side is just right for used blades.
Once the container is full, I can just snap the lid shut and throw the entire thing in the trash and start a new jar.  Safety note:  make sure to always keep the lid shut if you have young children or pets around...


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday - Family Ties #2

Family Ties #2 is all pieced and ready to take to the longarm quilter.  But first I have to find a suitable backing fabric.  Then it will be on it's way to be quilted.
And I just realized how close we're getting to Christmas!  Only a few weeks left, so I'd better get started on my shopping and sewing!  So please forgive me if I don't have a lot to share in the next month or so, because I don't want to give away any surprises...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Juki Update

Out with the old...
And in with the new...
I know - you don't see much difference.  In fact, if I hadn't told my husband what I was doing, I bet he wouldn't even notice that I have a new machine!  But don't let the similarity fool you - I'm so very impressed with this new model.  I love that fact that it's just like my old one, so there's no learning curve to go through, but it's just "better"...  They have really made a noticeable improvement to the speed control of this machine, and after several hours of "playing" in the last couple of days, I've not had any thread breaks, or tension issues (knock on wood!).

Then I tore myself away from my new toy and made some really good progress on the next Family Ties quilt.  My client picked out a rich burgundy for the background on this one.  It's from P&B's Suede collection.
I've got all the pieced strips done and hope to cut the solid alternate strips tomorrow.  We'll see how far I get with the assembly...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday - New Machine!

The Pennsylvania Mountains Baby Quilt is now completely finished and will be traveling to it's new home in the next few days.
Then I took a day and quilted this one as a favor for a friend.  She pieced the top and asked me to quilt it in an all-over meander, so that's now finished as well.
As I quilted these two quilts, I reminisced about the last 5 years I've had with this machine...
and made the decision to upgrade to this...

My old one was the Juki TL-98Q, and now I'm upgrading to the new, improved Juki TL-2010Q.  It's basically the same machine, but they've added some new features that I'm really excited about, including:
  • a built-in speed control (replaces the black box you see in the picture of my old machine, which is a home-made speed controller my husband made from Radio Shack components).
  • a secondary tension device, which I'm hoping will really help with the thread breaks I deal with from time to time.
  • new improved LED lighting (my over-50 eyes love this one!  yippee!!!)
  • easier access to the bobbin area.

This new machine is due to arrive today sometime, and I can't wait to get some time on it to see how it runs.
And I already have someone in line to buy my old one, so it's a win-win situation for us both!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday - Mountain Quilt Progress

This Pennsylvania Mountains Baby Quilt is almost done.  I finished piecing the top earlier in the week...
It was WAY too windy to take it outside for pictures that day, so I laid it on the floor in a sunbeam instead.  Not the best shot, but the best I could do at the time...  but at least you get the idea...
And I just love how the colors pop when I hung it in the window with the sun shining through the fabric!  Looks like a stained glass window, with the seam allowances looking like the lead strips on the glass.
Yesterday I finished quilting the center section.  I don't like to quilt baby quilts too densely, so they stay nice and soft and cuddly, so I just went with a simple loop design.  Then I marked an interlocking heart design for the borders and hope to get that part quilted today.  Then it's on to the binding and this one will be done!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday - iPad Stand Review

I don't have any new exciting pictures to share of my projects today (not to say I haven't been working hard, but you're probably tired of seeing pictures of cut-up neckties by now) so I've decided to write a product review instead.

I bought an iPad recently and I love it and use it all the time.  But I found myself struggling to hold it comfortably so I started looking for some type of easel to put it on.  I found lots of patterns and tutorials to make my own, but who's got the time, right?  And none of the designs were quite what I was looking for.

Then I saw this one...
This is an iPad Pillow and it's from an Etsy shop called ComfyiPad. (picture by ComfyiPad).  The design seemed perfect, so I took a chance and ordered one.
It consists of two parts - a harness that straps around the iPad and a cylindrical pillow.  The two parts stick together with velcro and can be secured at any angle you want and will support the iPad either vertically or horizontally.  What an ingenious design!  (the pictures of the gray one are mine).
 As you can see, it even works with the Smart Cover on my iPad!  You just have to be careful how you position the elastic straps so they don't get caught in the hinge.  But it works!
 Mine is gray, but Brenda makes these in several different colors, and the elastic and velcro comes in white or black.  For more information, visit her Etsy shop here, and to learn more about Brenda and her shop, be sure to check out her About page.  I just love peeking inside peoples shops and seeing how they work - it's so interesting!
I leave mine on the coffee table, or my sewing table most of the time.  Just flip over the Smart cover and it's ready to use.  I can prop it up on my lap, or even on my belly if I'm lying on the couch!  Works in almost any position.  Thanks Brenda, for a great product!  (and it's very reasonably priced too!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday - Another Pennsylvania Mountain Quilt

The first of the Family Ties quilts has arrived safely at it's destination, and my clients couldn't be happier.  It always makes me feel so good to hear back from a happy customer.  They have selected the background fabric for the next three quilts, but for a quick change of scenery, I'm squeezing in a custom baby quilt before I start the next one.

You may remember this post about a series of Pennsylvania Mountain Baby Quilts I've made for a return customer.  She loves to give these baby quilts as gifts.  They are quilts that are reminders of the beautiful mountains in this part of northcentral Pennsylvania, and because they don't exactly look "baby-ish", they will last as these kids grow up.

My client always gives me a color palette for each quilt, and this time she has requested lavender, sage green, light blue, and gray.  Here's what I chose...

It's hard to get the colors to show up correctly, but I've selected some assorted soft, silvery grays for the "sky" of each block, and pastel shades of lavender, blue & green for the mountains.

I make my mountain blocks using my own method of piecing, that starts with 2 squares - a sky fabric and a mountain fabric.  Each pair makes two half-square-triangles that I slice, trim, shuffle, then sew back together to make a mountain.

The border fabric is a gorgeous batik that contains ALL of the colors in this palette.
More on that in a future post.

Now I'm off to lunch with "the girls".


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Family Ties No.1, finished

The sun is out and it's a beautiful day, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the finished Family Ties quilt, as promised.  I'll be saying goodbye to this one tomorrow as I ship it off to it's new owner.  I hope they enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed making this one.  The collection of ties they gave me to use is just fantastic.  The prints and colors really bring this quilt to life.  It's difficult to do it justice with my amateur photo skills, and looks much better in person, but at least you get an idea...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday

Although the Family Ties quilt is officially finished, it poured rain today so I've been unable to take it outside for a photo shoot.  But the weather looks good for the rest of the week so I'll try and post some finished pictures in a couple of days.

But just to tide you over, here's a few shots I took during the binding stage...  First I cut TONS of strips for the scrappy binding (after fusing interfacing to the back of all the ties).  I like to trim the ends to a 45 degree angle and chop off that little "dog ear" before I sew my strips together.  I just find the strips go together so much easier that way.

A roll of finished binding long enough to go around one quilt...

Stitching the binding to the top of the quilt...

Then I machine-stitched-in-the-ditch from the front to finish the binding.  I'm SO glad I decided to go with the scrappy binding on this one.  Wait till you see the finished pictures and see how it completes the quilt!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Fabric De-Stash Sale

My daughter bought these fabrics at our local quilt shop and has now decided not to use them, so I offered to try and sell them for her.  After posting them here for a few days, I'll list them in my Etsy shop, so if you want any of these, please contact me asap...
Free shipping within the USA.

There's a total of 5 1/2 yards plus 2 charm packs (36 five-inch squares per pack) in this first bundle.  All are from the Northern Solitude collection by Holly Taylor for Moda.
Grab the whole bundle for just $48.

Or how about a charm pack of Louisa by Terry Clothier Thompson for Moda.
40 five-inch squares for $5.

And last is a charm square pack of Renewal by Brannock & Patek for Moda.
40 five-inch squares for $5.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tasting Table Tuesday

It's a beautiful fall day here in Pennsylvania.  I've watched this vine on one of our maple trees gradually turn from green to this magnificent red.  I can see these colors becoming the inspiration for a quilt, can't you?  (I once learned of a website that would generate a custom color palette from your photograph, but I don't remember the name of it.  Can anyone refresh my memory???)
Speaking of leaves, the first Family Ties quilt came back from the long arm quilter yesterday, and I really like this leaf design she quilted on it.  It softens up all the straight lines in the design of this quilt.
Now I'm ready to start working on the binding.  I plan on making a scrappy binding out of the tie fabrics.  We'll see how it goes...

I should head into my Cotton Cellar right now and get started, but I've got a pot of soup simmering and leaves that are begging to be raked.  Can't pass up this sunshine, so I'll sew tonight instead.