Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Schedule

I started my new job yesterday. Back to working full time! I'm pretty happy about it, especially because it gives me a reason to get dressed everyday instead of loafing around in my pjs all day. It may mean shorter and fewer posts here, though, at least for the first couple of weeks!

So, what did I do with my last weekend of freedom? Sewed like a madwoman, of course! Remember that I had all the pieces cut out for my sister's quilt and then I had all the blocks done... Well, here's where I am now:

kitchen window quilt fmq

Yes. I am FMQing the whole quilt! I must be insane. After only ever doing FMQ on 2 real blocks, the next logical step was obviously to go ahead and do a whole quilt, right? Well. Too late. I'm 2/3 of the way done and I just love it. It's so much fun and it looks so cool! No regrets. At least I am doing my first big quilt with a basic meandering pattern. I'm not that crazy (right??).

I am trying to get this finished this week. But I make no promises, considering I am coming off of a 3 month pseudo vacation in which I only worked part time and am now adjusting to full time again. But it is nice to just come home and sit down behind my machine to unwind... Why didn't I start sewing sooner?

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Better Off Thread because, seriously, if you have never made a drawstring bag with Jeni at In Color Order's tutorial, you NEED to. Like, NOW. :D

drawstring bags

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yay Finishes!

finish mosaic
A week of finishes. All drawstring bags were made with this tutorial.
I had an extremely busy sewing week! Above is a little mosaic of everything I completed. From top to bottom, left to right: 1. Sister's Ten BOM February block; 2. Quilted shift boot cover; 3. Drawstring bag; 4. Skill Builder BOM "Mood" block; 5. Quilted Skill Builder BOM "Magnum" block; 6. Quilted Skill Builder BOM "Sound Wave" block; 7. Skill Builder BOM "Em Dash" block; 8. Drawstring bag for my dad; 9. Drawstring bag for my boss's birthday.

WOW. Seeing it all together makes me feel pretty proud. I got so much done this week! And this isn't even everything I did... I also completed all the blocks for my sister's Kitchen Window quilt and started sewing them together! Here's the next in the "to be sewn into rows" pile:

vertical kitchen window block

It's turning out so good! Just like I imagined it. And I was very careful with all the directional animals and cut them so that they would be facing the right direction for both vertical and horizontal windows. It's going to be fabulous! I wish I could stay home and work on this all day, but today is the last day at my part time job. It would be sad to miss it! I think I can at least get the top done this weekend so I'll post a nice picture of it when it's done :) My sister's birthday isn't until mid April, so this is going to be done super early!

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts! What a good week for finishes. Now to go look at all the other eye candy until work time!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A New WiP

Yes. I started something new. A quilt for my sister's birthday! It's the Kitchen Window pattern from Elizabeth Hartman's The Practical Guide to Patchwork. I am using Pat Sloniger's Les Amis line in the warm colorway with some coordinating solids for the frame and background. I just love all the little animals! You can see the foxes on top in the photo.

kitchen window pieces all cut out

I seem to only take pictures on dreary days. And considering I live in southern AZ, this takes talent. We have a "blizzard warning" in Tucson today! This mostly applies to the mountains, but the novelty of having a blizzard warning in the desert is kind of fun. I wonder if it will snow at all? We'll see!

Linking up to WiP Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced! Don't worry, though. I will have all the little things I've finished to show you on Friday :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Such a Productive Weekend!

I got SO MUCH DONE this weekend, sewing-wise. Everything else wise... Well, no. There are still dishes to do and a floor to mop and two giant boxes of stuff from my old room in my mom's house to find a home for... but at least I got a lot of sewing done, right??

I'm not going to show you everything. Yet. Because there's a lot. But here is what I was probably most excited about finishing:

finished shift boot cover

Yes!! I finished the quilted shifter boot cover! :D My first attempt wasn't exactly pretty... For the second attempt, I ditched the idea of a snap on the top to hold it around the shifter and instead added drawstrings, inspired by the drawstring bags I can't seem to stop making. I added a drawstring at the bottom, too, so instead of having to sew the cover onto a plastic ring and then fit the ring over the shifter, I can just put the cover directly on and tighten it as much as I need to. This will also make it easier to wash. And to remove once Mario actually pits a shift KNOB on it ;) It also now has little plastic clips that keep the top and bottom cinched up (I don't know what they're called...), but we were too excited to put them on before picture time. And now the car is with Mario at work, so you'll have to use your imagination!
I have gone drawstring crazy... Since my last post, I have made 2 more drawstring bags and am already planning a third.

in color order drawstring bag 2
Bag for my Dad's birthday
in color order drawstring bag 3
Bag for my friend the Chef
They are just so cute and easy to make! I can now make them in an hour, plus the time it take to braid some yarn since I wasn't smart enough to buy a variety of ribbons while I was at Joann. This last one is going off to my out of state friend and is already chock full of mostly crocheted goodies. It's so nice to have something to hold it all in! I hope he likes it.

Those are the non-quilt things I did this weekend. I also finished several blocks and did my first "real" FMQ! But that will come in a later post so I don't totally bore you.

Linking up to Let's Get Acquainted Monday, hosted over at Weekend Doings today!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another Little Finish!

So yesterday I posted about this:

newbee quilters block- february

My first ever bee block! It was very exciting, of course. I thought it was going to be the only thing I got done this week, too, so I went ahead and prematurely linked to Finish it Up Friday.

But then I decided at the absolute last minute that I NEEDED a drawstring bag to put Mario's little gifts in. See, we agreed not to buy each other anything because we're both pretty broke until our new jobs start. But I did go out and buy a bit of candy and wrote a little note... I may or may not have cut out hearts from some pink paper. It was fun. I needed to put them in something, right? So I made this:

in color order drawstring pouch

A cute little drawstring pouch using the tutorial from Jeni at In Color Order. It was such a great, easy tutorial! I only had an hour and a half to get it done before Mario came home from work and I was able to choose fabric, iron it, cut it out, and finish the bag with a few minutes to spare! The only problem was that I didn't have any ribbon and I definitely didn't have time to make the ribbon out of fabric... So I used yarn. It's pretty ugly so I hid it for the picture ;) But I plan on getting some red ribbon to replace it. I am rather fond of the fabric I used. Two moose for the sort of focal point! How perfect is that? Moose are kind of a thing with us so I just HAD to fussy cut the fabric to put them in the center. I like it because it's Valentine's-y without being pink and girly. PERFECT. And he loved it, so even more perfect!

I actually got a lot more sewing done yesterday than I thought I would. After dinner and dessert (a delicious chocolate stout cake- from where else but Smitten Kitchen?) and a movie, Mario had a lot of paperwork to get started on. So I practiced some FMQ:

fmq practice
Found a use for the "irregular" squares from my Hounds Tooth quilt!
I know it's hard to see the white thread in the off-white fabric, but the upper left is swirls and the lower right is pebbles. I actually did a lot better on the pebbles on the white than the purple.

fmq pebbles close up

Still needs work, but I feel much better about actually quilting my Skill Builder blocks! I hope to get them both done this weekend so I can start on this month's blocks!

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day! (And a little finish!)

What a week! I had hands down the longest interview I've ever had on Tuesday. It was 3 hours of interview plus an hour tour! Is this normal?? I mean, the position I'm applying for isn't even faculty... But no matter. It went really well, I think, and I think it's pretty great that they took so much time to make sure I understood the organization I would be getting myself into instead of just focusing on me. So keep your fingers crossed for me!

In other news... I finished my first ever Bee Block!! I really hope she likes it. We're using all fabrics from our stash and mine isn't terribly large, but I had a little bit in each of the colors she asked for. And I even had one solid pink for the "stepping stones," which kind of amazed me. I have no idea when I got that pink, but it must have been in a scrap pack because I don't have enough for another block now...

I just love it, though! This bee thing is pretty fun. I don't think I would have ever done this block or these colors on my own (it's mostly the pink- I'm not a big pink fan), but they all play so nice together! I'll get it sent off soon :)

So that's my big finish for the week. Sad, isn't it? Well, it has been super busy with interview stuff and other job stuff and my dad's birthday.. And now Valentine's day! We don't have huge plans. Just staying in with some chocolate cake I am going to make this afternoon, lasagna, and a bottle of champagne. But I don't particularly like going out for Valentine's day, anyway. Every restaurant is always so jam packed with people, it's just no fun. I would much rather stay home and spend time alone without all the noise and distraction :)

One more thing... I haven't been sewing this week, but I have been able to sneak in some crochet time! It is much easier for me to sneak in ten minutes here and there of crochet than sewing. I like to devote big chunks of time to sewing. But I started a granny stripe blanket for myself! I'm using the pattern from Attic24, but I'm only switching colors after every 6 rows instead of every 2. I wanted thicker stripes. And fewer ends to weave in ;) I know it won't have quite the same effect, but I really like it so far anyway:

There is one more shade of green as well. My idea is to have the lighter colors touching and the darker colors touching so the light/dark contrast creates stripes as well as just the colors... We'll see how it works out.

That's it for me! I am hoping to get some more sewing time in today before Mario gets off work. I really need to do some FMQ practice for my Skill Builder blocks! The new blocks have already been posted so I am officially behind!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Did It!!

I finished my Hounds Tooth top!!! :D

hounds tooth quilt top- finished

It is SO hard to get a picture of a top this big! I wanted to take it outside, but it was wet and windy and I didn't want anything horrible to happen to it... I don't have stairs or anything in my house or a big floor space to lay it out (there will have to bee some furniture rearranging when I get to basting it), so I am standing on a chair. Fortunately, it was still relatively bright. Arizona is weird.

This quilt was a lot of work, but I LOVE how it turned out. Just like I imagined it in my head. I actually finished it Saturday night so I was even ahead of schedule! Which was a really good thing because Sunday ended up being super busy and I had no time to sew at all. That was okay, actually, because after my quilt top finishing marathon Saturday, I was tired and my shoulders were protesting a bit from sitting behind my sewing machine all day. But! Don't care! It was worth it!

Here are the cell phone pictures I snapped Saturday night when I finished. You can see the difference in color with the lack of natural light.

I dragged it into my bedroom to see how it would look on my bed. Please excuse the mess! It is more than big enough for my bed, though, which makes me so happy! I am definitely going to have to change the teal curtains. They match my current bedspread really well, but I don't think they're going to work with these colors.

Now I just have to quilt it... Yes, I am going to *try* to quilt it at home. If I find this is too difficult, I might take it somewhere else to be quilted. But I really would like to do it myself! So fingers crossed :)

That's all for today! I have some other important things to do the next couple of days, so the sewing will likely be halted til Wednesday or so. And then I am going to do my bee blocks for my Newbee Quilters bee and finish up the Skill Builder blocks with some FMQ practice. My Sister's Ten blocks are lowest on the list of priorities right now, but I really want to get started on them, too! It is nice to have this beast out of the way so I can start thinking about other piecing projects now :)

Linking up to Let's Get Acquainted, which is being hosted by Bold Goods today! Hope your weekend was as productive as mine!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A (Missing!) Finish- UPDATE: Found it!

Yes, you read that right.

I finished something. I was SO excited to show it to you! But... I lost it *hides face in shame*

It was just a little quilted cell phone case that I whipped up during my Tuesday craft night with my girlfriends. I had a few sips of rum (ahem) and decided that pressing seams was just too boring for a craft night. So we made cute covers for our phones. And, tragedy of tragedies, I can't find mine anywhere! It is sooo cute. I used these fabrics (please excuse the horrible dark picture- it is another gloomy day in the desert):

les amis turtle fabric

The adorable little turtles from Les Amis! The flowery print was the lining. And you can see in the background- the first two strips of Hounds Tooth all sewn together! (YAY!) I absolutely adore this collection and plan on turning my fat quarters into a throw quilt for my house after Hounds Tooth is finished. But these little turtles are my favorite. I have always loved turtles and thought there was no better place for them but on a cell phone case I would get to look at every day. Except that plan is now ruined -.- It is possible that it is in my boyfriend's car. But since he's at work I won't know for sure until later. Just trust me. It was really cute. It even had a (poorly placed- let's blame the rum) snap closure so it wouldn't fall out!


I FOUND IT. In Mario's car :D YAAAY! Here are some (poor) pictures. You can see that I only had sew on snaps... and they were black. And I had no black thread. So they're a little ugly. But it didn't bother me at all at the time. Must have been the rum. But whatever. It still keeps my phone from getting scratched in my purse!

quilted cell phone casequilted cell phone case

Oh well. It was still a good week. I made this bread:

honey oat bread

Which I discovered through Pinterest! I was super proud of myself for actually making something I found on Pinterest instead of just pinning it and forgetting it :D It is honey oat bread from this recipe. I altered it just a little because I only had 9x4 loaf pans instead of 9x5. I did 1.5 times the recipe and it made two perfect 9x4 loaves :) It's really good. Nice and soft and sweet. It was FANTASTIC straight out of the oven with a little butter and it made delicious French toast yesterday!

I also made homemade pizza, which was fantastic. I bought a pizza stone for my oven. Best $10 I've spent on kitchen supplies in a long while. My pizza now comes out perfect and crisp and even every time :D

One last thing before I go- GOOD NEWS. I got a job offer yesterday! :D I'm so excited! I still have one more interview for another job, but it is good to know that either way I will be employed! AHHH! It was such happy news. We have been waiting for me to get a job so Mario can quit his. The place he works got bought out by a guy who knows very little about the manufacturing industry and it has just been a super negative and stressful environment for Mario ever since. It breaks my heart to see him come home from work every day feeling totally frustrated and defeated. But he couldn't quit because of me- imagine how awful that feels! But now he can quit :) so YAY! And even better news! Two hours after I got a call about a job offer, HE DID, TOO. How awesome is that?? And this is a job he really, really wanted at a company that offers awesome benefits and will even pay for him to go back to school! That all happened yesterday! It was such a great afternoon for news, we decided to celebrate with sushi and gyoza. This derailed my plans to work on Hounds Tooth all night, but how could I possibly complain?? My corner of the world just became a much, much happier place :D

That's all for now! It is going to be cold and rainy tomorrow, which sounds like an excellent excuse to stay inside and sew all day. I think I really can have my Hounds Tooth top done by Sunday! Eeee! Then I just have to buy batting and backing of some sort...

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts! Because I did finish something, darn it! I WILL find it and photograph it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hounds Toothing...

I know I have been very terribly quiet. But I have been single mindedly working on my hounds tooth quilt. Well, when I have time to actually sit down and sew. The weekend was busier than I expected and I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I thought I would. But board games were played and shopping was done and taxes filed, so it was still a successful weekend. It feels so good to have my taxes out of the way! :D And I did them all by myself- no desperate calls to my mother (who works for a company that makes tax preparing software) for explanations of this option and that box. It was a proud moment.

Let me show you my progress...

messed up hounds tooth block

I don't know how well you can see, but this is the first block I put together... and it was all wrong! Both the purple and light block were cut wrong and I just happened to select those two to use for my first block. UGH. So in one direction they were perfect 11 3/4" and the other they were 11 1/4". BIG difference. It was pretty bad. But, amazingly, there were only maybe 3 other squares cut wrong. Which makes me thing that maybe these were at the end of the strip and weren't meant to be included in the stacks in the first place.. But I found them all and set them aside so no more mistakes would be made.

hounds tooth progress

Once I figured that out and had a sample block that was actually right, I started chain piecing. One light block and one stripey block then one dark block and one stripey block... 2 episodes of Torchwood later and I was done! As you can see, they haven't all been pressed yet. Because I get really sick of it. So I figure I'll go til I run out of rectangle sets and then press some more.

Which brings me to the next problem I had (which I didn't take pictures of..). I had starched all of the stripey blocks because of the bias edges, so thought it might be a good idea to starch the solid half so the whole thing would match in the stiffness department... Well. This was apparently a bad idea because some of my purple squares started SHRINKING. Yeah. It was terrible. And so annoying! Because it was ONLY purple squares, but not ALL of the purple squares. What?? How does that happen? My only guess is that because I didn't buy it all in continuous yardage (I bought a bit of purple when it was on sale because I loved it... then decided it would be great hounds tooth... then decided I wanted it Queen sized. So 3 cuts total) there were differences in the shrinkage? Maybe? I don't know... They only shrunk by about 1/8" but that was enough to throw everything off. I don't really have a solution to this. I stopped starching, but now I'm afraid of what will happen when the top is all sewn together. But I'm pressing on anyway because I MUST.

So now I have a little stack of blocks sewn together.

hounds tooth blocks

And I am so proud of how well all my little points are matching up in the center so far :D I am just trying not to worry about it all being ruined by the shrinky problem... I had enough left over purple yardage so that I still have enough squares. So that's good I suppose.

So that's what I've been doing. And that's what I'm going to keep doing so it is all DONE and off of my table. Honestly, I haven't taken a break from it because I'm afraid that if I clear it all away I will lose all motivation and not want to come back to it. And I really, really want this on my bed! So I am soldiering on...

Hopefully the top will be done by the end of the week (and by that I mean SUNDAY) and I can move on to other things and have more exciting pictures to show you. Like this mug.

owl coffee mug

This is what I drink coffee from every day. Isn't it cute? My sister bought it for me for Christmas because she's awesome and knows me :D The only problem with it is that as I drink, a little bit of coffee collects between the eyes... Maybe not the best design for a mug (I think the handle should have been on the other side... but maybe this is a left hand mug?) but it's so cute, I am letting it slide. Please excuse the mess in the background. My computer desk is usually quite a disaster.

So I will leave you now. I know I still have another award to talk about... but Hounds Tooth is calling my name. I must respond!

Linking up with WiP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Award Week, Part One

Good morning and happy Friday to all!

Well, I had quite an unproductive week sewing-wise. The early part of the week was consumed by interviews and interview prep. But the interview on Tuesday went really well and I already got called back for a second! So that was good news. I really can't complain about that eating into my craft time. If I don't get a job soon, I will just run out of supplies and then there will be NO craft time. And that would be tragic, wouldn't it? So cross your fingers and toes and legs and arms and braid your hair for good measure :)

Then the rest of the week I was sick. I don't know about you, but when I'm sick I can't bring myself to do much of anything. I loafed around on the couch and watched Torchwood (because my Doctor Who withdrawals are getting pretty severe and, let's face it, Captain Jack is adorable), I played the Sims (any other simmers out there??), I read Harry Potter (it's in Spanish, though, so really it's a learning tool and not completely self indulgent...). I did manage to get a little crafty work done- I finished pressing and squaring up all my blocks for my hounds tooth quilt. It really shouldn't have taken a week to square up the blocks. But I would only do a few at a time and then sit down or take a nap or any of those other sick day activities. Oh well. I feel better now and at least now I have all the pieces ready to go into my lovely hounds tooth top!

So. I have nothing very exciting to show you, for which I apologize. But! Today I finally checked my e-mail to find that I have been nominated for two little blogging awards :D Yeah! So me feeling all down in the dumps about not getting much done this week was pretty much completely erased by the kindness of my fellow quilters and crafters :)

The first award is the Versatile Blogger award, for which I was nominated by the lovely and talented Pat over at Life in the Scrap Patch.

The Versatile Blogger Award
Pat was my first ever follower and always offers me encouragement and great advice :) It has made a world of difference to have someone making suggestions and giving me tips and just cheering me on as I explore the world of sewing and quilting. Over on her blog, which I have no idea how or when I found but I feel I was attracted to it because of the cute and clever name, there are regular quilty posts and tutorials and wonderful inspiration. I have enjoyed reading her blog and reading all of her lovely comments on mine. And for that I say to Pat: THANK YOU :) Keep being wonderful!

Now. On to my responsibilities for this award (that I haven't already covered):

Nominate up to 15 blogs for this award
Share 7 things about yourself

Let's do some sharing first, shall we? Here are seven random things about me.

1. I don't like hot weather, even though I live in southern Arizona. I was moved here by my mother when I was 10 from western Washington and have longed for the Pacific Northwest ever since. My goal is to move back north someday, preferably before I have kids.

2. I love crazy socks. Like, a lot. The only "plain" socks I have are black dress socks that I only wear when I absolutely have to. To avoid this, I tend to wear boots to work so they hide my bright, silly socks and still look professional. 

3. If I lived by myself I would rarely ever cook a "real" meal. I am perfectly happy grazing on fruit and veg from the fridge, eating a sandwich here and there, and having cheese, crackers, and summer sausage for dinner. My boyfriend hates eating this way (because he's weird), so we eat a lot more "real" meals than grazing meals...

4. I drink a lot of coffee. I have a huge mug (not really sure how huge- at least 16 ounces, maybe more) that I use every morning. Some days I drink two of these. My love of coffee runs in the family. My mom and aunt are also both coffee-obsessed and when we get together for family gathering there is always a pot of coffee brewing. And a bottle of whiskey around to mix in ;)

5. I'm a huge nerd. Well, you probably already knew that. But I grew up playing video games with the boys, reading sci-fi novels, and generally enjoying a lot of nerdy things. Like playing epic board games. And playing Pokemon. Yes, I am 24 and still buy every new Pokemon game that comes out (well, the "core" games. I don't buy all the spin offs- I barely have time for the core games).

6. I have always had more guy friends than girl friends. I don't know why, exactly, I just always seemed to have more in common with the guys. I am trying to achieve more balance in this area.

7. I love reading. I have a Bachelor's degree in English and my favorite part of earning that degree was hands down all the books I got to read that I probably wouldn't have found if they weren't required for class. I really miss being an English major some days. It's so much harder to find good books to read on my own... And it is a little sad not always having someone to discuss them with!

Whew! Okay. We made it! I know, this is getting pretty long! So how about we break it up with a cute picture?

Sleepy puppies worn out from a bout of destruction, no doubt ;)
Finally, here is my list of nominees:

Deborah at Simply Miss Luella
Couch at Life of Couch
Audrey at Hot Pink Quilts
Adrianne at On the Windy Side
Heidi at Fabric Mutt

My motivation for these nominations? These are some of my favorite smaller and not so small blogs and I think they are all wonderful, talented ladies. SO TAG YOU'RE IT. Let's hear some random facts about you Versatile Bloggers, huh? ;) 

I will save the second award for another post- this has gotten long enough!