Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho!

P.S. I Quilt is holding an awesome giveaway where everyone gets to be creative for a chance to win gift certificates! Sounds just like the thing for those presents Santa least presents of the fabric variety. Check out my entry below and a whole bunch more on Rachel's blog.

Twas the night before Christmas,and snow was adrift.
My family set off to scratch the last from my list.

They arrived at a quilt shop owned by a Grinch,
To whom sales meant more money, fewer pennies to pinch.

The bell on the door made a huge clatter.
The Quilt Shop Grinch sprang up to see who she had captured.

She watched my family fumble around,
But their faces fell when my gift wasn't found.

"Do you have a layer cake?" they asked, as a last resort.
"Oh, Moda?" the Quilt Shop Grinch said with a snort!
"We wouldn't carry anything of that sort!"

Sensing a sale was about to fall through,
The Quilt Shop Grinch lied, it's what all Grinches do.

"This here," she said, "Will be all that she needs.
These fat quarters will make plenty, just wait, you will see."

My family headed out with their package wrapped tight,
Wanting to see my face filled with delight.

"Enough for your quilt!" they sang in a song,
And as much as I hoped, I knew they were wrong.

It was all up to Santa to fulfill my wish,
He whipped up a layer cake, lickety-split.

He was about to put it in the back of the sleigh,
When the sound of a crash lured him away.

Elves came in, yelling, "Emergency!"
And Santa tossed my layer cake under the tree.

So as Mrs. Claus sits with sewing on her lap,
I stare at this small stack of quarters cut fat.

Visions of quilt patterns dance in my head,
But my fabric was gifted to Santa's wife instead...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday Moments: Tuesday Edition

We took the kids to have their Christmas celebration with their grandma this weekend. It's a long trip that we were only supposed to make for one overnight, but my husband surprised us all by getting an extra day off of work to spend at the cabin up north.

This led to a lot of extras that we either weren't planning on at all, or that we didn't think we'd have the time to do. One of them was a little side trip to Traverse City to see the Train Festival (a total trip down memory lane for me as it was housed in the old library that I haven't been in since I was a kid). It wasn't very big or impressive to the adults, but the kids enjoyed it enough for it to be worth the price of admission.

Then we took them to lunch at Don's Drive-In. We neglected to get any of their famous milkshakes though. We regretted that decision later when we told friends where we had been and got all kinds of, "You have to have their shakes!" comments. Oh well, I'm sure we'll have plenty more chances.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Little Bibs

The title of this post also happens to be the name of the pattern I used to make these. For a limited time last week Leigh Ann was giving this pattern away and I eagerly e-mailed her for my own copy. I knew they would make a great gift for my new niece.

She suggested backing these bibs in chenille, terry or minky. Digging through my stash I discovered I had WAY more minky than I ever remember purchasing. I might have to make up a ton more of these.

As it was, the bibs were so cute and easy I couldn't resist making a couple boy versions. These are for my mother who still hasn't purchased any bibs that don't say "Little Sweetie" and have giant pink cupcakes on them. She's on grandson number two and I am tired of seeing the pretty pink cupcakes in photos of my nephew and son.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I showed you all a double oven mitt I made last week, but I thought that maybe a single mitt was still in order. I used a pattern from the 2010 Sewing Calendar (there is a 2011 calendar available too) with a bit of alteration to whip this one up.

I made it more complicated than it had to be, but unfortunately I realized how tedious quilting around the zebra stripes would be after I had already started doing it. Longest time spent making an oven mitt in history, folks.

I didn't have enough purple bias tape to seal off the ends, so I used some black and lined it with a purple cotton that was almost the same color to try to make them match. It didn't feel like enough though, and I had to extinguish the urge to bust out the seam ripper (and spend another $3 on this project) by wrapping them as quickly as possible in pretty Christmas paper.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Moments

Christmas is almost here! And in the true spirit of things, my son could care less about the presents, what he is most excited about is seeing his sister again. The biggest Daddy's boy has taken to being disappointed when his daddy walks through the door because, "I thought you were sister."

Not that he wouldn't like, "A couple toys and some candy"...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Still one to go

This is the backing for one of my log cabin stars throw quilts. The star is almost exactly centered and the strips continue in one piece all the way to the binding. Normally when I show my husband something he takes a quick look and tells me it's nice. With this he actually did a double take and said to me, "That's a nice back. I think it's nicer than the front." Apparently I did all of the piecing for nothing. Ha!

I bound it in the same yellow print that I used in a couple of the corner blocks. I like it. The lighting in here was too bad to take a picture of the full thing today, but if you need a refresher on what the complete top looks like you can find it here.

I'll be spending the next few days working on turning the second top from that post into a full fledged quilt.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cardstock boxes

I bought some jewelry for Christmas, just little necklaces for a couple people. I was planning on spending a few dollars on jewelry boxes to put them in, but then I saw a sidebar in Scrapbook Etc. magazine with templates to make cute little boxes out of scrapbook paper. Something I have a TON of since I used to have that hobby before I discovered sewing, when I had time for hobbies other than sewing. They're pretty cute, but very tiny. I wouldn't put much more than a necklace in them as is, but the site says they enlarge beautifully. Maybe I'll try that next year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Double oven mitt

My sister asked me to make her oven mitts for Christmas awhile ago. I was going to just buy them because of my extensive sewing list, but then she told me why. She was finally ready to throw out the pair our grandmother had got her for Christmas in the last few years before she died. Store bought oven mitts just cannot replace something so near and dear to her, so I started keeping my eye out for any cute ideas.

When this tutorial from Smashed Peas and Carrots showed up in my daily Craft Gossip e-mail I bookmarked it and started plotting. Such a cool and unique oven mitt! I have seen these in silicone before, but never in fabrics. I absolutely love it!

I'm still going to make one single mitt, for those pans that you don't need two hands to take out of the oven. I'm not sure how that one is going to look yet, since I have pretty small scraps of the zebra and gingham prints left, and only about six inches of purple bias tape, but I would like to try to figure out a way for them to match without driving across town to Jo-Ann again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Moments

Searching through the Sunday paper sale ads, way back in the beginning of December my husband and I saw these gingerbread train kits and decided we had to have one. With two kids who love cookies, icing and are always begging to make something whenever I am, and one kid who especially loves trains, it was an easy choice.

You probably can't read the box in the background but it says, "Create a Treat". Don't let that box fool you. It is not a treat. So gross! I thought it was going to be amazing because my whole kitchen smelled like I had just baked gingerbread...but to get that smell out of a pre-packaged cookie they had to really overload it with cinnamon and cloves. My husband nearly gagged over his bit. I laughed at him and said, "You haven't even got to the aftertaste yet!"

The kids had fun though, putting their own spin on things, and filling the train up with extra candy cargo. Of course in this Sunday's paper there was an add for a five house mini gingerbread village at Target for $2 cheaper. I think that would have been the way to go, everyone getting their own house to decorate instead of trying to crowd four people around one little train. Maybe I'll still pick one up, even though we've already decorated gingerbread this holiday season.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I decided awhile ago to order a kit for a craft I have never tried before. A kit to make a Christmas gift for someone else. Why? I mean, I know why I did it, but I am always doing this sort of thing to myself. Now I have to finish this and two quilts and hopefully some baby bibs and maybe a pair of baby shoes, and maybe a pair of oven mitts, all before Christmas Eve, which is two weeks away.

I have been staring at this project so much that when I closed my eyes this morning, I saw my whole room in little stitches. I think I'm going to put it away for a little bit and hopefully finish up one of those quilts I mentioned. It won't be a long break, but it will be a much needed one.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm late

I said last week that I was hoping to have this bound by Wednesday and I briefly thought on Wednesday, "I should really start binding that blanket." Thursday I finally sat down and sewed the binding on. Then I threw the quilt into the wash to get out the washable marker I had used to draw the motifs on it...and the marker didn't wash out. I don't know if it's because I switched both stain remover and laundry detergent since the last quilt I made, but I was in panic mode. I threw it in the wash again, this time on a more aggressive cycle. It worked for getting the marker out, but it also ripped out some of my stitching.

I finally sat down today and repaired it by hand so that I had something to show here. It doesn't help that I got all of the stuff for a new project in the mail on Thursday and have been kind of obsessed with it. I think I'll post a little peek at that one tomorrow.

Until then, here is a closer photo of the quilting. The fabric and matching thread kind of washes out the design in the top picture. Don't get too close though! Or if you do, please remember that this was the first time I have ever quilted a curve in anything. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday Moments: Tuesday Edition

We went out on Monday and cut down our Christmas tree. It was tough finding a family farm that will let you drive through their field to pick out the perfect tree. Oh we found plenty that would let you park your car outside the lot, walk the lot, cut down your tree and then drag it back to your vehicle over acres. No thanks! Not with a toddler.

We eventually found the farm perfect for us, and I think this was at least our third tree from this place, whose name and exact location we bicker about every year in the car on the way there. We love them though. All of the trees have some issues, as natural trees tend to do, so it's always my husband and I getting out of the car, circling the potential tree trying to decide if we can turn the bald spot to the wall before we unbuckle the kids to check out THE ONE.

Sure it's a little lopsided, but as far as the kids are concerned it's six feet of pretty.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Challenge results

If you recall, one week ago I entered the One Thing, One Week Challenge over at Amy's Creative Side. Except I dubbed my challenge "Three Things, One Week" because I wanted to finish the backing of my quilt, finish painting some name ornaments and finish one coffee mug cozy.

Did I do all of that? No. Am I saying I completed the challenge? Yes.

First things first, I scratched FIVE things off of my list, but I definitely have some explaining to do. I'll start with the incredibly, awesomely good accomplishment that makes me think I can call this complete. Not only did I finish the backing on my quilt, I basted it. And although I listed one of my secondary goals as "start quilting" I actually sat down and finished quilting the entire thing this weekend. I am hoping to have it bound and washed by Wednesday to throw up a big finish picture, but for now I offer a tiny bit of photographic evidence.

Now, the other two things I scratched off of my list aren't as good. See, I wanted the coffee cup cozies to go around those reusable coffee mugs that look just like the generic white cups you get from the coffee shops. I thought it would make them look extra real and more like a complete gift. I went out on Black Friday to my store of choice and they had two left...and one was broken. Since this was going to be a gift for a couple, I wanted their cups to match. I had this moment, standing in the middle of a crowd where I imagined walking up to a sales associate, asking if there were more mugs anywhere, waiting for this person to find more mugs if there were any, purchasing these mugs, taking them home, and sewing two more things before Christmas...or just grabbing the insulated travel mugs that were also on sale for a dollar less. I came home with the travel mugs, scratching the coffee cup cozies and shopping for extra manly fabric off of my list, and probably most importantly the extra stress of being in any store, any amount longer than necessary on Black Friday.

I did paint quite a bit on the name ornaments too, but they are not finished yet. Still, very productive weekend where I "finished" at least three things. I'm calling it good. Hop on over to Amy's and see what everyone else has accomplished.

Amy's Creative Side

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some updates

I spent all day yesterday scouring the web for articles on adjusting my tension and photos of what bad tension looked like trying to figure out exactly what was wrong. I threw in a scrap of the poinsettia print that I am using to back the monkey wrench quilt and finally, amazingly, got my tension worked out to perfectly even stitches on both sides of my fabric. I was thrilled.

Then I put in the fabric for the coffee cup cozies and when I took them over to the ironing board saw that my tension had somehow unadjusted itself to the same raggedy mess it was before the four web pages and hour's worth of work. Sigh.

At that point I searched for what to do when your tension won't stay adjusted, and pretty much concluded that the inside of my machine is a dirty, lint-covered mess, so the tension knobs can't even work properly because they keep slipping. I hope this is the problem as a new sewing machine is not in my budget this time of year.

My mother-in-law has agreed to loan me her baby for awhile until I can get mine in to be professionally cleaned. A really spiffy Brother machine that you don't even have to use a foot pedal for and that threads itself...and all sorts of fancy stuff that I don't know how to work. Hopefully the learning curve will be small because I still plan to try and complete my challenge list by Monday even though I am cooking a large Thanksgiving meal tomorrow and hitting the dreaded mall for Black Friday.

And one last note...remember how I wondered at the end of my gift card holder post if the couple would even get the joke? I got my official thank you in the mail earlier this week. "Thank you for the bear and the gift card." The bear. Yep...they had no chance of getting the joke if they didn't even think it looked like a dog. I am definitely the crazy lady who gives adults stuffed animals as wedding gifts. Spread the word.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Goal oriented

My husband ordered this car part from a local auto shop a long time ago. See, he wanted a new bumper, and this place told him, "Don't pay that outrageous price, we can build you one." Well, we had a pretty good relationship with these people, so my husband said, "Great!" and handed over the money for supplies. At the beginning of last week he went into the shop and discovered that absolutely no progress had been made.

So my husband said, "Every year I take my kids into a field to pick out the Christmas tree and we get tons of family photos with my truck. Either my old bumper needs to be put back on for free, or my new bumper needs to be done next week." And suddenly, work started on the bumper. My husband came home triumphantly saying, "Our mechanic is just like you. He needs a deadline."

I laughed, but I couldn't disagree with him. I always, always have some tiny bit of hand sewing to do in the car on the way to exchange Christmas gifts. I always end up deciding the second week in December that someone doesn't really need some gift I was going to make for them. I just don't have enough motivation in the earlier months of the year to get it all done on time.

Thank heavens that Amy is holding another One Thing, One Week Challenge. A charm pack is excellent motivation.

Amy's Creative Side

My goals for the week (goals with an S! There are only 34 days until Christmas!)

-finish the backing for that quilt I mentioned four days ago and still haven't touched.

-finish painting on two name ornaments

-finish one coffee cup sleeve

Secondary goals that I would love to meet, but am not deeming necessary right now:

-get the fabric for another coffee cup sleeve (something manly, don't have much of that in my stash)

-baste the monkey wrench quilt

-start quilting on the monkey wrench quilt

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We've got trouble

Right here in River City...and then something about a pool table. Sorry, it's been a long time since I've seen The Music Man.

I'm currently working on the back of what will eventually become my monkey wrench quilt. I have the piecing part done and have once again written "Merry Christmas" along with the name of the recipient and the date to be sewn into it.

I just have two really long seams sew on each side of this in that same poinsettia and holly fabric, then I can baste and start quilting it. I have scary quilting plans for this quilt. It includes curves...I'm not a fan of sewing curves, but if I can pull it off it will look lovely.

That isn't the "trouble" part though. My tension is messed up. Seemingly randomly, without me making any adjustments, my tension just went out of whack. I've been trying to get it back in order. It needs to be perfect before I start the quilting where every stitch shows. Ugh! Cross your fingers for me that I can solve this one!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Moments

We had my son's third birthday party this weekend. It was a good time with a ton of food and little children running all over my house. I loved it.

However, I invited two families to the party (totaling five people), who did not show. And I trimmed a couple of the usual folks off of the guest list to make room for these people to come. I feel really terrible about that, because I know that the people I didn't invite would have shown up and celebrated with us and had a great time. I guess I know for next time.

And I guess I'm eating leftovers all week, because I cooked for all five of those folks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More tops

I finished the tops from the sneak preview last week. Well, maybe not finished, but they're as complete as they're going to get for awhile.

I'm putting this photo first because the colors in the quilts kind of distract from the overall look I was going for. I actually colored a diagram in on graph paper and decided I wanted this band of dark diagonally across the center because the typical half dark and half light log cabin block didn't work when there were only 3 of them. There was always one block that faced the wrong way, or some weird, random pattern would emerge, and while it was pretty, I thought this was prettier. My husband looked at all of my colored pencil sketches and picked this layout as his favorite too.

So here it is in the Christmas fabrics. Mistakes galore! I am glad this one is for my mother, who doesn't sew at all. She will be so much less likely to pick out all of the flaws than my quilter mother-in-law.

And the batiks. I nearly went with a white instead of the purple on this one, but I liked the idea of no real break from the colors. I'm glad I didn't go with the safe choice now, because I think it would have turned out nowhere near as striking.

My husband thinks these are too small as is, so I am toying with the idea of a border or two and thicker binding like on my disappearing nine patch. I already purchased the binding material for the Christmas fabric one and only have enough to do a half inch binding (still twice as wide as what I normally do, but a 1/4" smaller than my disappearing nine patch binding). I'm thinking maybe a small 1 to 1 1/2 inch border, but am not sure how that would work as these were made entirely from 2 1/2" cuts of fabric. All of the sudden throwing a different measurement in there scares me. Though I guess I could rip it all out if I didn't like it.

I have awhile to think about it, as I plan on quilting the other top I finished back in September before I haul these two back out of the closet. In the meantime though, I'm open to suggestions!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday Moments: Retro Edition

I was busy yesterday, and "Retro Tuesday Edition" seemed like a crummy title. But I am here, and preparing to celebrate my son's third birthday. How did that happen? How did I bring him home from the hospital in his little Winnie the Pooh hat and matching overalls three years ago?

It alternately seems like it can't have been that long and like he has to have been around longer. How can there be so many funny stories and so much love for a person I have only known three years? Was I really only 27 when he was born?

In a way, he is the reason for this blog. When I was pregnant and nesting so bad I couldn't stand it I begged for a sewing machine. I didn't want to clean my house, I wanted to create things. And I got it for my birthday, so hugely pregnant I couldn't even fit my belly under the table. Eventually, I got on it and cobbled together what I could remember from junior high sewing class and the instructions from the book I started making things. Now I couldn't imagine my life without either one.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The cutest!

I made the cutest gift card holder you will ever see. Or at least I think it is.

There is a couple in my family who I have mentioned a few times on this blog, they're the ones who gave me my dog. Well, it was more, "I got this dog and now I can't have her at my place. She is going to die if you don't take her." Because I was in the market for a miniature pinscher or a Welsh corgi and a black lab is totally the same thing.

Anyway, I wrote awhile ago that they were getting married in the fall. This couple truly is a fan of those gifts that keep on giving because they thought it would be an amazing and cute surprise to up their wedding date by nine months. We got an invitation in the mail approximately one week before the big day and had to do some serious scrambling for clothes to wear to the event and a gift.

Which is where the adorable gift card holder comes in. He may look cute, but he has sinister motives. See, I didn't just tell my husband and write on the blog that I was getting these folks a puppy, I told them. To their faces. Panicked faces, that hurriedly informed me that their newest place still doesn't allow pets (obviously they don't want my pain-in-the-rear dog either, even though they promised when we took her over a year ago that they were looking for a new place and would take her back in a "couple months, max"). I just wanted to package up a little reminder that I haven't forgotten my promise.

Or it's possible that they won't get the joke at all and will think that I'm just a nut job who gives stuffed animals to adults as wedding gifts.

Yeah, probably that last one...