Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Finish Mostly

I was so close to finishing off my May UFO. I used a straight line grid with cream thread and a walking foot for the middle. When I got to the border I decided to do some swirly circles in pink to play off the polka dots in the outer section. I was down to the last little section of quilting when I ran out of bobbin thread. As I watched the last of the pink thread wind onto the bobbin, I thought there was enough there to finish off the quilt if I used that on the top and switched the bobbin thread to something else. The tensioning looked a little off, I could tell it was too loose. Instead of stopping to fix it, I just kept turning up the tension dial and powered through. How many times have I kept pounding away at something that didn't look or feel right to have to undo it all at the end? You would think I would learn my lesson by now, but apparently I'm a slow study. By now the fabric store is closed, so it's too late to run out for more of the dark pink thread. I'll still get the binding put on, and save that last little section until I can get out again. So, not quite an on time finish, but pretty darn close I think. It's not my favorite quilt of all time, but it was fun to think about and it's not sitting in a tub waiting to be finished. I'll pat myself on the back for that.
Ryan has cub scout camp this week. He is packing his little bag now with all the things on his list. It is all day at a nearby park, he went last year and had a good time. The girls and I are going to head over to Orlando for a little shopping. Tomorrow night is our last Girl Scout meeting of the year and I need to pick up some badges for our awards ceremony. I thought we'd check out Ikea while we were over there. I've never been, but people tell me it is lots of fun.
I'm still trying to switch into summer vacation mode. So far I've had school work to do everyday, so It doesn't seem much different so far. I'm sure it will hit me by the middle of next week that I have hours and days of freedom to savor. I am enjoying the fact that this is Sunday evening and I'm not feeling the dread of thinking about what needs to be done to get ready for Monday morning.

OK -- Serious sidetrack rant here -- I'm noticing that all of my quilt pictures look like little quilt mug shots. I love the decoratively draped shots people post of their quilts in lovely setting with perfect light. I even love the little quilts with feet photos that people post while their loved ones are holding up the quilts for them. Why do my pictures all look so clinical and sterile? Maybe I should find a quilt photography class. Maybe I should worry less and quilt more.

Indecision Leads to Action

I couldn't decide on what color to make the border for Things Quilters Think, and so added several borders instead. I think the excess of color on the outside somewhat detracts from the hodge podge of pattern on the inside. I just need to put together a backing and I can begin to cross this one off the list. I've been listing to a podcast of Pride and Prejudice which is just about to finish. I have the movie recorded on the DVR, and I think I'll watch that when I am done. Maybe I can be sewing down the binding by then. After that I think I'll check and see if the number of the June UFO has been posted yet. I've been following along with the monthly UFO challenge at Patchwork Penguin and it has done wonders for encouraging me to finish things off.

Friday, May 29, 2009

In Need of Opinions

I finally sat down and put the Things Quilters Think Blocks together. It is apparent that this was an evolutionary quilt. I can think of several points along the way when a cohesive plan might have made it seem a little less jumbled. I don't mind jumbled, but it does have me stuck on what to do with the borders. My fabric stash is not as extensive as others, so finding the right shade of a certain color never seems to work out for me. So although I do like to use what I have, I'm not opposed to buying something new. I see a lot of red in the quilt, but wanted to try to tie together all the different fabrics. I pulled out several multi color prints on black, because those are supposed to work as neutrals you know. I read it in Gwen Marston's last book, so it must be true. I tried those out with both red and pink. I also tried some mottled solids, thinking that might calm down the variety of blocks a bit. I really had a darker color in mind, like the purple from the center square, but the closest thing I found was a fat quarter of the purple on the left side. Maybe I should just find out what that purple is and order some of it. It came from a sewing themed charm pack, I'm sure I have the label somewhere or other. So, votes, opinions, options? Help me out please. This is my May UFO, so I have only two more days before I'm supposed to cross it off the list.


Kurt and I went out last night to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary. 15 years, yikes -- I won't even talk about which birthday it is! We got a sitter and made reservations at a restaurant that sits on the river. We sat out on the patio and it hardly rained at all. The rest of the faint hearted diners bailed out and we had the whole place to ourselves. It was very relaxing. Today is the first official day of summer vacation, I made the kids come in and hang out in my classroom for a bit because I had a student coming in to serve penance for excessive tardiness. After that is was home and into full summer vacation mode. Ryan and Sydney are both off on play dates, Anna is hanging out in the toy room and I've been puttering with some cleaning and organization in the laundry room.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


School is officially over. I've been wandering in and out during post planning and puttering around. My new classroom hasn't been vacated yet, so I am limited as to what I can accomplish. So this afternoon I came home and made some little storage cubes to put in my classroom when I do get it. I used a tutorial from crazy mom quilts. After making the first one according to the pattern, I decided to add some little handles, but other than that, it worked out very well. I really enjoy all of the ideas and tutorials that are out there, free for the taking. I have so many ideas floating around in my head that I don't feel like I ever need to search for a new project. On the down side though, there will never be enough time to try out all the terrific patterns I see.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I hope everyone is having a happy Memorial Day. Our weekend has been busy celebrating Sydney's birthday. We were a bit worried about the idea of a swimming party in the middle of a weeks worth of nonstop rain. I spent hours planning back-up activities and games in case the weather was too stormy to be in the pool. Miraculously, the rain stopped just in time for the party and everyone swam the afternoon away happily.

Sydney has been busy since then playing with all of her new toys. I think she likes having a birthday party. When she was younger we would just double up on Anna's party and have a cake for Sydney as well. Now that she is a big 6 year old, she wants to have her own party with her own friends.

We spent Saturday morning out getting a haircut and doing the last minute shopping. We went to Snip-its, a kid themed haircut salon. They did a great job on her hair and finished her up with ribbons and glitter. What could be more fun than that?

Today Kurt took the girls ice skating so that Anna could try out the new outfit she got for her birthday two weeks ago. Her lessons were off for a couple of weeks and she was anxious to show off her new ensemble.

I have managed to get a little time in on the sewing machine, but mostly I've been ironing and organizing. I'm just about ready to get the blocks for Things Quilters Say sewn together so I'll be sure to get a picture of that as soon as it is ready.
We have burgers on the grill now, and I think we'll be able to get them in before the rain starts again. It's been beautiful all day, I'm sure all the parade and picnic goers are thankful for that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Noah, Send the Ark!

It's been raining hard all week and we seem to have reached saturation level. We really did need the rain, but golly, I think we could call it good enough already. Monsoon season marks the end of wildfire season and we have several months before hurricane season, so all is well.
I've been very productive at school recently, which seems to leave me incapable of doing anything by the time I get home again. I'm steadily crossing things off the list, which is a good feeling when there are only 2 days of school left. I even figured out how sync the list on outlook. Making to-do lists is some sort of strange coping mechanism to counteract frenzied running around in circles that I sometimes get caught up in. I will sometimes even start a new to-do list with whatever the last thing was that I just finished so that I can cross something off the list and feel a sense of accomplishment. That's not weird is it?
We have another birthday party to host on Saturday. If I ever start my life from scratch again, I'll try to remember not to have all my children in May. It's like a birthday party assembly line around here. Anyway, Sydney is 6 and is having a swimming party for all the other 6 year old girls in the neighborhood. I am so hopeful that the rain will end before then, but just in case I'm going to start googling indoor party games. I seem to have enough energy left to google, so I guess I'm not totally spent yet.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Little Projects

I was wiped out after the sleepover this weekend and didn't feel like working on a project. Instead I decided to putter with some small ideas that I had been turning over in my mind. The first was a water bottle holder.

It's not often that I get to start a conversation with the question, "What is the formula for the circumference of a circle?" After figuring that part out the rest went together likety split. I need to seriously work on my finishing touches. I could not figure out the buttonhole feature on my Bernina so I ended up really messing that part up royally. I guess I could get out the manual or something, but that seemed like too much work. Anyway, it is reversible with a little strap to hook onto a bag or whatnot.

Next came a case for my I-phone. I did a google image search and ended up with an idea based on this tutorial. I made one out of flannel and a scrap of fabric for practice and then tried one out of a bit of silky fabric that was hanging out in a drawer. It's basically just a long piece of fabric folded into thirds and seemed along the bottom two edges. The top just flaps over to hold the phone in. I thought about coming up with some sort of latch but didn't want to wreck what I had already done. The first one was just a smidge bigger than the second and it holds the digital camera nicely.
Today was the last "regular" day of school. Exams start tomorrow, but I don't have any until Wednesday so I'll go in and finish up my end of the year stuff.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Not a lot of sewing has gone on at my house lately. Last weekend was Anna's sleepover party, this weekend was the Girl Scout sleepover party. It feels a bit as if we have opened a hotel for 9 and 10 year old girls.

We had all sorts of badge activities planned, but the girls just wanted to swim. We definitely got the swimming badge well under control! Dinner was Tacos in a bag with ice cream in a bag for dessert. Breakfast was pancakes and muffins in a bag. (I guess you could say we had it all in the bag:). We did do some badge work after swimming and before the movie, so I guess we were somewhat productive. Three girls were fast asleep before the movie was over and the rest spent the wee hours of the morning chattering away in the toy room. This morning brought more swimming and they were all out the front door by 10. Now I'm in need of a nap and a visit from a cleaning lady. She was just here on Thursday, so I guess I'll be the cleaning lady today, right after my nap that is.

I've had an occasional odd moment to putter in the sewing room. I worked on a pattern for a water bottle cozy before graduation yesterday, and on Friday I snuck in and did some cutting and organizing of happy block kits. Nothing photo worthy unfortunately. I did get my Things Quilters Say fabric panel in the mail, so I should be able to get that quilt moving along soon enough.

Monday is the last full day of school for me. Tuesday starts finals and those days are early release for everyone. I've been in massive cleaning and organization mode at school, getting prepared for moving into my new classroom! I don't want to seem too anxious, so I am waiting patiently for the current resident to pack up her belongings before I settle myself in and find a home for my stapler and my tape dispenser. I get so much joy out of the little things in life.

I hope everyone is doing well, I've had time to read all my usual blogs, but not much time to comment. Just one more week and I'll have time oozing out of my ears -- comparatively anyway.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Home Stretch

Graduation is Saturday. After that it is only one more day until finals start for everyone else. I've taken my quilts and posters down and started to clear out my desk. I'm officially done teaching anything new, it's just a bit more review and then all the loose ends to tie up. So close to the end -- like the last couple of miles of the marathon when the worst is past because you know how soon it will all end.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gifts in the Post

I went to the mailbox today and was so excited to find a package via Royal Mail. It was full of goodies from Amanda. I was the winner of her recent giveaway for her 200th post. Look at all the gun quilting goodies! There are some fat quarters, a lovely needlework bag, an appliqued towel, a fringed bookmark, a little bear pin and a tiny quilters charm with a spool of thread on it. Oh, I almost forgot the packages of shrinkles. Anna nabbed those as soon as the package was open and was ready to start crafting. Thank you so much Amanda for the goodies, I will enjoy them all. Congratulations of 200 posts.
I went online this week and ordered another panel of quilters sayings so that I can finish off my May UFO. I had one panel that I had ordered from Keepsake Quilting a little bit ago. I putzed around with it and ended up making some little 3.5 inch (3 inches finished!) squares to alternate with the printed blocks. I'm not sure how many came on the panel, but this is all that turned up when I pulled it out again. Getting something to fill out the quilt top seemed like a plan. I couldn't find anymore panels at KQ, but did a google search and found some at a place called Clotilde. I had never heard of it, but I thought it was worth a try. Each nine patch is a different pattern. I already had the Log Cabins, Flying Geese and Spikey Stars ready to go. Today I added the Nine Patches, the Amish Strings, the Jacobs Ladder and the Broken Dishes.

In searching for some squares to use, I stumbled across my baggie of bonus triangles. Does anyone else sew behind the corners on sew and flip patterns and save the little HSTs? I am a compulsive saver. Occasionally I'll get the bag out and iron or square up some little squares. I had started putting this batch together already, I think the pattern is called Depression Blocks. The little squares are 1.75 inches unfinished, so it is rather an odd size. I seem to have a lot of them though, so as long as they play nicely with each other It shouldn't matter if it is an even size. I had another bag that finished at 2 inches, and I started turning them into broken dishes blocks.
It was a nice day of putting around the house trying to put back together after the slumber party and finish off a few weekend chores. The kids were all fairly tired and were content to spend a big chunk of the day relaxing. Kurt is either getting sick or fighting off allergies, I'm not sure which. There are several more swine flu cases that have shown up, but the consensus seems to be that it is not any more dangerous than a regular flu.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Slumbering? Not So Much

These are the doll quilts for our slumber party. Anna chose the colors and laid out the blocks. She requested that they be sewn into sleeping bags and come with coordinating pillows. Two of the quilts use a pinwheel pattern that I like to call whirly fences, because it was insired by the whirlygig quilts that I am seeing everywhere these days. I'll definitely have to put that one on my list. The two light quilts are a woven ribbon kind of pattern. The pictures were taken before I did the quilting last night. I should have taken pictures of the finished product before it was rolled up, but I always think of those things too late. The binding is a little frightening. I fininished both sides by machine and then zigzaged two sides to make it into a sleeping bag. I thought that way they could be unzigged later if someone would rather have just a quilt. (So much prettier spread on a little doll bed).
Here are the finished sleeping bags all rolled up and waiting to hop into gift bags to become party favors. I had to promise both Anna and Sydney to make more for them, but I ran out of time so it will have to wait until after the party.

Here are several overly excited girls ready to open presents. I am thankful it is a small group. One of our guests is having a sleepover soon with over 20 girls. Yikes!

Anna chose an American Girl Tea Party theme. Everyone brought their dolls and then set them at a table decoratively and ignored them the rest of the evening. I am posting lots of photos because my mom reads this blog (Hi Mom). She can never get enough of kid pictures.

Now they are all doing origami and I am trying to stay out of it. Soon there will be more running and screaming. Eventually I hope to quarantine them all to the toy room and let them destroy that instead of the rest of the house. I hope you all have wonderful plans for the weekend. I'm going to be picking confetti out of the rug and proofreading finals. Makes you want to have my life, doesn't it?
Happy Friday everyone.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday -- Well on the Way to the Weekend Day

It's nose to the grindstone around here. Friday is the last day for seniors, and exams are due. Grading needs to be done so that said seniors might know if they need to take finals and if they might attend graduation. They are all way past "done", but we are in the home stretch now. Tempers are short, but our days together are not. I was up until the wee hours last night finishing up the forensics exam for seniors and I've just now polished off the chemistry and non senior version. I think my grades are up to date and I've already scheduled out the last few days. I might be almost as anxious as them for the blessed respite ahead. I haven't had a chance to work on the quilts yet, but I'd better get to it if they are to be done on Friday before the slumber party. I hope others are out there sewing away. It will be my turn soon enough.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday -- Gotta Get it Done Day

I wanted to putter the day away, and I managed to do a good bit of that, but I had to fit in all of the usual weekend things as well. Laundry, grocery shopping, children, you all know the routine. Girl Scouts are tomorrow so I had to reassemble the dining room. Rather than grabbing everything up and dumping it back into the study, I organized, folded, sorted, and sewed a little along the way. I downloaded a podcast of Pride and Prejudice and listed while I worked.

I had a moda bake shop box that I picked up while my mother-in-law was here for the cruise. I always have trouble cutting into jelly rolls and charm pack and such. They just look so cute all tied up in their ribbons that I don't want to wreck them. I think this one was called a honeybun and was made up of 1.5 inch strips. How cute is that?

I carefully divided the strips in half and organized them into darks and lights for nine patches. I do love the way the colors all go together and blend so perfectly. I think I'll get some of the pink polkadots to go in between and turn it into an adorable little doll quilt. I don't know if I'll be able to let the girls play with this one, I may have to hang it up instead.

When Anna wasn't busy with play dates, she helped me with the rail fence quilts for her slumber party next weekend. She had some definite ideas about how she wanted them to look, so the patterns continue to evolve. I'll post pictures after we decide on the final designs. Each one will be a little different, but they will still be similar. She and Sydney both helped me stuff the pillows, which they thought were highly adorable. I'll make the cases after Anna picks the border colors for the quilts.
I'm having that familiar Sunday evening dread as I start to think about the work I should be getting done to be ready for school tomorrow. Finals are due on Wednesday for approval and I'm giving a test on Tuesday. I think there is a lab tomorrow, but several of my student will be gone for AP testing, so if I spread it over two days they can catch up again. I think my grading is up to date, although I need to enter some stuff into the gradebook. Just three weeks to go until I can stay up until all hours and sew and sew.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday -- That's My Fun Day

My I don't have to run day.

In digging out my UFO for May, I managed to completely tear apart most of my sewing stuff. I must have started randomly stuffing things in bins the last time company came, because I was finding all sorts of goodies in strange places. I did manage to find my UFO, but it doesn't seem to have as many pieces as I remember. I'll have to ponder that one a while longer.
I also found the bag of extra nine patches that I made while I was working on Double Delight. I searched high and low for them when I made doll quilt for scalloped border practice last week. Sydney has requested her own doll quilt, so those will come in handy. I also have some more extra partial Irish chain blocks and assorted other extra random bits and bobs. I couldn't resist putting some more 9 patches together, they are just do darned cute.

While sorting through it all, I decided to make a few extra doll quilts for the slumber party next weekend. Anna helped me match 5 sets of rail fence blocks. All the doll quilt planning made me remember the doll pillow that CrazyMomQuilts had on her blog a while ago. I dug some pillow looking fabric out of the scrap bin and cut out some adorable little pillow forms. The formal living room looks like a quilt shop exploded, and I actually accomplished very little, but I had quite a bit of fun. That should count for something, right? And look at how much Kit likes her new pillow.