Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grandmother Is . . .

Aaron spent much of the weekend with me and enjoyed one of his favorite e-books, an interactive Little Red Riding Hood, repeating again and again his favorite phrase, "Grandmother was sick as a dog."  (What is it with kids, that new phrases tickle their fancy and they repeat them again and again?)

And the next thing I knew, Aaron had croup and then Grandmother was sick as a dog.  And now Steph is sick as a dog.  And surely it's just a matter of time until Nora has croup as well.  And we're supposed to be leaving for Asheville in the morning.

I know that adults don't usually get croup so maybe Steph and I have unrelated viruses.  And Nora is kind of out of the bad croup age, so she may escape and everyone will feel better and my blue car will be going down the highway tomorrow.

I dragged myself over to the dealership yesterday for an oil change but just felt too rough to pick things up inside and dust a little bit.  The all-weather mats, thank goodness for them, are muddy because when it thaws a little there is still mud from the construction last fall.  And there were crumbs all over the back seat, and I had to ask them to check out the back seat belts because after the recall work I could barely buckle Aaron's.  I was afraid they might say, "Of course you can't buckle it, it's filled up with crumbs."

That didn't happen, though, and the dealership washes the car when it's in so at least it's lovely on the outside.  And I've learned that it's kind of futile to clean out the inside BEFORE a car trip with kids.  Maybe the dealership has seen worse, I don't know.  Aren't Subaru's supposed to look a little rugged?   

Monday, March 25, 2013

Daffodils at Church

I was trying to get the snowflakes in the picture with the daffodils but it wasn't to be.  But not because there weren't snowflakes.

This morning I'm taking pass two of the class sample I'm working on.  Yesterday I didn't look closely enough at the directions and completely messed it up.  Oh, well, I always tell my students that I make the mistakes so they won't have to.  And, I can rescue the messed-up piece, it will look just fine, I just can't use it as a sample.

There was also a second mess-up that really worked ok.  I didn't put on the embroidery foot, accidentally left on the free motion foot.  But, I guess that a floating foot is a floating foot because it worked just fine.  Tension was awesome.  Nevertheless, I have on the embroidery foot this morning, I'm going to do everything right today.

I learned awhile ago that Aaron is sick this morning, fever and cough, and Mike will be dropping him off here on his way to work.  Carrye and I were going to play with her Janome this afternoon, but we'll have to do that another day.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Aaron's Quilt

Aaron wanted to quilt this morning (he always does.)  His masterpiece:  A Zebra Behind a Fence.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dragonfly and Micro Stippling

Finally, after a couple of days at work, several getting the kids to school, some early-morning church volunteering, and finishing some sewing jobs, I'm quilting in my pajamas this morning.  I've been wanting to free motion this little dragonfly from my Craftsy Beyond Machine Quilting class. 

He has a few little bobbles, for example the second-to-the-last circle isn't as small as it should be.  One thing I'm learning, though, is that in free motion to just let it go, not try to rip out stithces unless something is REALLY awful, and in fact, from a little distance away, he looks fine.  The little guy is 4" high from antenae tip to bottom, with micro-stippling all around.

And now for a kid story:  Yesterday I picked up the kids after school and Nora was doing her homework in the car.  For math addition and subtraction, she tends to count on her fingers.  Aaron watched her, and when she got to some larger numbers he said, "Nora, do you want me to hold up my fingers so you'll have twenty fingers instead of ten?"  Is that not the sweetest offer from a little guy who sometimes likes to pick on his sister?

He tends to remember the math facts instead of counting, but yesterday she gave him a problem he didn't know and all was quiet in the back seat and I knew he was counting too.  Tonight Aaron is coming to spend the night while Nora and her mom go to a wedding shower.  He gets so happy when he can be a pretend only child for a few hours. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Flat Sewing

I almost never do any flat sewing, but I'm making four pairs of custom curtains for a grandmother's nursery.  They had to be pink, they had to have butterflies, and they had to have lots of lace.  She's pretty excited about her two new grandgirls. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Growing a Baby Quilt

There is a very full tub of scraps in my studio because whenever I have a left-over piece of fabric of anything more than 2" or so it goes into the tub.  And I sew a lot.

So I was happy to find a tutorial here for a Crazy Square Baby Quilt from Jennifer at Two Butterflies that looked good for our baby quilt group.  Basically it recommends cutting a 5" square, putting a scrap on a corner, right sides together, sewing, trimming, flipping the scrap back and squaring it off.  Then doing the same thing at the opposite corner.  I loved it because the scraps aren't put together with any kind of measuring so every block ends up just a little different than the others.  It ends up looking like what was on my design wall, below.     

But then I saw Andrea Johnson's tutorial here for what she calls a Modern Scrappy Baby Quilt.  Same blocks, just arranged in a different way, and I like hers even better.  And she's a big part of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, too.  My design wall now looks like what's below. 

Of course if you don't like the appearance of the casual designs, you could easily be more precise and actually measure or use an AccuQuilt like Andrea did.  And if you don't like the scrappy look they would be stunning in just two colors.  As a bonus, the blocks go together really fast.  

But back to that tub.  My quilt top is about 1/4 finished, and I haven't even made a DENT in that tub.  I was looking forward to seeing some fabrics I haven't seen for awhile, but that's not going to happen.  I hope we find some more scrappy designs for our baby quilts. 

Friday, March 15, 2013


The last Saturday I was at work, my supervisor gave me the new Husqvarna Viking Circular Attachment to borrow and play with.  Not a chore for me, because I love tools.  Yesterday I realized that tomorrow is a work day for me and the tool was still in the box.

Of course I had to figure out some quilting applications.  I used it to sew circles for quilting but also for applique.  Very cool, just stitch a circle with the tool, put fabric on top of the circle, and stitch around the circle again.  Trim outside the circle, close to the stitching.  Then choose an applique stitch and stitch around one more time.

Then, because this is my year to learn free motion, I quilted the whole thing, really quilted it, and cut it to 16" x 16."  Maybe, just maybe, it will fit in with one of the CQAFA word challenges and I'll have something already made in the right size. 

Or, maybe, after its time at work, I will put it in the CQAFA Nature Center Show, where we are to display something authentic to our style.  I also need a few new pieces to display at church for three months, starting in July.  For sure, I'm going to put a hanging sleeve on the back when I bind it.

I really like this, and I especially like the Sulky varigated rayon that was in my stash.  (Not a blendable.)  I've learned to be careful and not use it for most embroidery applications because it ends up with stripes - yikes! - but for the little McTavishing free motion the color changes add lots of dimension.     

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Union Quilt

Each month this year, the CQAFA quilt guild has a word for inspiration.  Members can spend as much or as little time as they want or have making something around that word - the idea is to get us thinking and creating.

This month's word was "union."  Ever since an issue of Quilting Arts came out ages ago with a cover quilt with a zipper, I wanted to make my own zipper quilt.  And with this month's word being union, I could make it work.  After all, the zipper comes together.  (OK, maybe if I have to explain it, it's a stretch.)

Above is one of the dimensional flowers, made by twisting a strip of fabric and sewing it down.

I said there would be a picture of Nora and the poodle skirt, and here she is with her dad, ready to go to the sock hop.  Doesn't she look happy?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Poodle Skirt

Tomorrow night is the father-daughter dance at Nora's school, a sock hop.  This is really nice for me because I got to make a requested poodle skirt.  Very twirl-y.  The picture looks royal blue, but it's actually purple, also as requested.

I didn't use felt because, even though Nora's a non-girly girl, she says she'll wear THIS skirt to school.  We'll see about that.  Anyway, I tried to make it at least a little washable, with a flannel poodle and gold rick-rack. 

I'm sure there will be a follow-up picture.


Sunday, March 10, 2013


Due to the combination of a sale on frozen turkeys at Meijer and Aaron's love of turkey, today was March-giving at Steph's house.  Grandma and Pap and Aunt Tina came for the meal.

Just like at Thanksgiving, there was a selection of desserts.  Cheesecake, peanut butter fudge, and cupcakes.  So, this gives me a chance to post pictures of the cupcake frosters.

At the end of the meal, Steph whisked Aaron across the street to get the top of his head buzzed by the beautician neighbor.  Just so happens that he got a bad haircut on my watch.  I started to get really worried, and rightfully so, when the stylist kept saying that his hair was wild.  We won't be going back there again.     

Friday, March 8, 2013

Journal Page

My quilt guild's past president requested 6" x 6" journal pages for her out-going president gift.  This is one of those things that grew bigger in my head as the days went by, and I knew that by the due-date on Monday it would be gi-normous.  So, I just did it.

The backing is felt, and felted to that are layers of silk, wool roving, and a few bits of Angelina.  I stitched on top, glued it to card stock, zig-zagged it down, and remembered to leave 1/2" of card stock at the top.

Done.  This project is normal size again.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Topstitch for Free Motion

I stopped in at work yesterday to get some topstitch needles, which some folks recommend for free motion.  I put in a 16 and started out on the Union piece.  The first thing I noticed was that my machine ran quieter, which I'll take as a good thing.  The second was that it was suddenly hard to do travel stitching with the larger needle.  I don't think I can blame it on the needle, though, I think it was trying to get into the lines of the fine line piecing, which have more seam allowance on the back and are therefore bulkier. 

About 3/4 of the way through the piece, I noticed that I was looking at the needle as I stitched, so I changed to looking at where I wanted to go.  Somewhere along the line, I'd forgotten about that.  The quilting lines became instantly smoother.  I don't know how that works with curves, but it does.  Same with riding a motorcycle, look where you want to go, not at where you are.

I got both 14 and 16 needles, so next time I'll try out the 14's.  Oh, and I got a reminder about thread too.  I picked up a spool of coats and clark from my stash, thinking it would be ok since it was tri-lobal polyester.  Immediate shredding, so I got a new spool of Sulky too.

It snowed last night, changing from rain while Steph and the kids and I were eating at Applebee's (kids eat free on Tuesday evenings.)  I took off as soon as I finished shoveling in the yummy shrimp.  Traffic on the interstate was moving at about 40 mph and the snow was really coming down.  It looked like Ohio had pretreated the roads, Kentucky had not.  Definite difference.  By the time I got home, it had pretty much stopped, with just a little overnight accumulation, not the anticipated 3 - 6".  Schools are closed for the kids today, they did get the 3".   

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fine Line Piecing

After practicing all that free motion, it's a nice change to do some fine line piecing, following Kathy Loomis' instructions. I'll actually be making something with this, hopefully more than one something since it's fun for me to make a piece like this a little larger than I'll need so there will be some leftovers.  Sort of like cooking.

The theme I'm working toward is "Union," this month's challenge word for my art quilt group.  I guess I could stop here and call it finished, since there's lots of union of lines going on.  I have something else in mind, though.

It's been a little while since I've made something like this, something that's not a baby quilt or alterations or some little practical pretty.  I feel rusty, definitely out of shape.

For my Viking friends, the 1/4" piecing foot that comes with some of the machines is nicer for the 1/8" seams than the 1/4" foot with the guide.  I've only recently added the foot with the guide to my collection, and I wonder why I waited so long.  For this fine line piecing, though, the original works better. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Afternoon at the Library

Not so much a fave of Nora's, but Aaron's favorite library is the one in Newport.  I think it's the pirate ship and the fort and the green gauzy circular tent that hangs from the ceiling.

I had the kids for a sleepover last night and for the day today, and at the end of the afternoon Nora graciously sat and read while Aaron played with the things he loves.  He did take a break to carefully do a dot-to-dot picture, which made my heart proud.  He is also singing these days about the continents and the months and the solar system.

This picture is for Sarah.  For out of town folks, the Flying Pig Marathon is coming up in 63 days.  Sarah won't be coming this year, but maybe one day.  In her race today, she placed first among women in her age group.  I told her to save her trophy to show the kids when we go to visit at the end of the month.