Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MaryAnna's Curtains

Wow, it's been a BUSY weekend... Wait, It's Wednesday and I am just now commenting on the weekend!??  OK, so it WAS a busy weekend, and now it's been a busy start to the first week of the Christmas Season.  My full time "pays for the groceries" job is in Retail, so I am hopping busy all the time from September through Christmas.

So, I did get a few things finished over the weekend, one of them I'm going to share with you today...

MaryAnna's Curtains.  Lots of Photos...

The Fabric she chose for her curtains.  I decided to make reversible, two sided curtains.  So I told her to choose two fabrics.  She chose the prints on the left and right, but the leopard print is practically see through, and the brown print, while a nice dark color, was also fairly thin.  Together they blocked the light of a 60W bulb, but that big burning orb in the sky puts out a little more light than a 60W bulb, so I added a black material to the mix that blocks out the light very well.

The Primary Print.  This is a very soft material, almost like a blanket soft, but it is to light to make a blanket from.  It is VERY soft, and a nice print, but it would provide very little warmth.

The black was used as a "batting" between the two prints.  Here the leopard print lies face up with the brown print facing it, and the black laying on top.  I layed them all out, and spray basted the black to the brown.  Sewed all around the top and side edges, leaving the bottom open to turn the whole mess right side out.

After turning it right side out, and pressing it, I started quilting MaryAnna's Curtains.  I started with a 1/4" stitch line all around the whole thing to keep the edges clean.  I didn't want "Edge Creep", and this step secures the edges very well.
Then I needed to strengthen the top of the curtain where I would be securing the hanging hoops, so I sewed three rows of stitches, 1.5" apart straight across the top.  I LOVE the guide on my new machine!  I set it to the width I want, and as long as I keep the previous row of stitches directly under the guide, I get parallel rows of stitches every time without tape!!
The parallel lines on the backside.  I was using a new type of thread, so the first few rows of stitching I did, I layed it out and looked a the bottom side to insure that the stitching was acceptable both top and bottom.

Quick digression... This is Leah, MaryAnna's cat.  She has ventured between MaryAnna's room and our room upstairs, but she has been afraid to interact with the other cats.  She has been in our home now for three months, and she chose to make an appearance near the bottom of the steps while I was working on MaryAnna's curtains.  I heard her "Meowing", and grabbed my camera to capture the moment.  She layed there relaxing three steps from the bottom, until Espresso rounded the corner, then she bolted back to the safety of MaryAnna's room...

While photographing Leah, Mocha (who NEVER takes interest in my quilting) jumped right up on the table and started cuddling in the curtains, while they were still on the machine!  I couldn't believe it.  She KNOWS she is not to get up on the kitchen table, but there she was refusing to move.  You can see my hand there preparing to lift her off and forcibly remove her!  Stubborn Cat!!

After completing the rows of stitching at the top to strengthen the part from which it would be hanging, I needed to put in some vertical stitching.  So I marked where I wanted stitching with some pins...
And THEN I had to resort to tape.  The stitch guide is good for stitches closer than three inches, but I needed stitching further apart than that.  BUT I did put the tape 1" away from where I wanted the seam and then used the guide at the edge of the tape instead of trying to sew right next to the tape which ALWAYS ends with a gunky needle, because I inevitably stitch on the tape at some point instead of NEXT to it.
After I had all the vertical stitching done, I took a break and left the room for 5 minutes, when I returned, look who was back on the table!  And notice, she is refusing to look at me.  She KNOWS she is guilty, but maybe if she avoids my gaze I won't see her... Maybe.
I removed her and went to the garage to get the hanging hardware for the next step.  I was not gone 1 minute and there she was again!  This is the GOOD cat, that NEVER gets on things she is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ON!!  Right there on the kitchen table, looking at me as if to say, "I know I am not supposed to be here, but I simply can't resist this material!"
The mounting hardware.  This is the backside of the front and back pieces.  I had to cut holes in the curtains and then secure the front and back through the holes...
So I marked the hole size with a sharpie, and sewed all around the hole with a zig zag pattern, and then I stitched a straight line on the inside and outside of the zig zag to strengthen the portion of the curtains that would be bearing the weight as they hung on the rod.
Selecting Zig Zag on my new machine is SO EASY... One button to push.  No plastic dials, no opening up the machine, no manually turning the machine to line up the lines on the dials with the gauge in the machine, just push a button!

And after sewing the reinforcements, the center hole gets cut out.
Then the front side is pushed through the hole to the backside...

And the backside is then secured to the front side, completing the process.  Repeat 7 more times...

I alternated the three sided shape so every other one is pointing up and every other one is pointing down.
After I finished, I went to get MaryAnna so we could take them up and hang them... When I returned, Frappacino had assumed her usual role of "Quilting Supervisor".  Frappy is ALWAYS climbing on things she is not supposed to and she LOVES it when I quilt.  She is always nearby.  But it's the look I'm getting here that cracks me up... "Mocha told me this was comfortable, and I JUST got here, don't you DARE move me..."
So, I am almost embarrassed to say, but for the past two months, this has been MaryAnna's window...

And THIS is her window NOW.  I was a little skeptical about her fabric choice, but I think it works well.

Close up of the curtain and rod.

MaryAnna is happy with her new curtains, and that makes me happy.  She is still a little "weirded out" by having a Dad who sews, but she is beginning to like the idea of having things made for her.  She recently picked out a shawl type thing that I am going to try to make for her.  I've never done clothing before.  Costumes, curtains, table runners, quilts, no problem... Clothes for some reason scare the heck out of me!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bonnie's New Mystery...

Bonnie Hunter is at it again, and for some reason, I can't resist.  Orca Bay, here I come!!

I don't know what it is about Bonnie at Quiltville that draws me so, but I must admit, she does.  I follow what she is doing, what she is working on, where she is teaching next, etc.

I sound like a stalker or something, don't I?!  Oh, well, So be it.  I'm not a stalker, but I AM a huge fan.

There are several reasons this might be true:
  1. Bonnie's blog was the first quilting blog I ever read.  A Google search landed me on her blog somewhat randomly due to her "Scraps and Shirt Tails" book.  (I was searching for how to make a quilt out of old t-shirts.)
  2. The first "Blogging Give Away" I ever won was a book from Bonnie's blog.
  3. Bonnie's tutorials are extremely well written.
  4. Bonnie writes from her heart.  She shares who she is.  Her blog is part of her business but it is also part of her life.  And she is not ashamed to share her life with the thousands of people who read her blog.
What is really ironic, is that my quilting style and Bonnie's quilting style really don't match.  I tend to be very anal about things like fabric choice, and colors matching exactly.  In my "Stars and Stripes" quilt, I had 19 different fabrics, I literally spent a month of lunch hours traveling to different shops until I found all of the fabrics that I wanted to use.

Bonnie's approach is quite different.  She is a scrappy quilter.  "Don't Worry about the print, if it's BLUE, it's BLUE, just USE IT!!" would be something you could find in one of her tutorials.  Someday I will have bins of scraps and I will be able to more easily embrace that sentiment.  Maybe.

Until then, I'll do her mystery quilts by purchasing fabric needed to do the quilt.  I was going to use old shirts this year, as I did last year, but I couldn't find enough black shirts at the Thrift Shop... So, I purchased a bunch of FQs and I am now ready to begin "catching up".  I'm already a week behind!

If you are doing Bonnie's Orca Bay, please leave a comment with a link to your photos or blog if you can.  I would love to see what you all are working on.

Give Away Notice...  Lily Pad Quilting is holding a giveaway of a Go! Baby... Click on the link below to go to Lily Pad Quilting and enter the giveaway...

Until Next Time,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Thanksgiving Day

On this day, I am Thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the debt he paid on my behalf though I did nothing to earn that gift.

May your day be filled with Thanksgiving for whatever it is you have to be Thankful for.  May you enjoy your favorite Holiday meal and desert... I know I am looking forward to Pumpkin Pie... It really is the only traditional Thanksgiving food I really like!

See you all soon... I'll be doing some sewing this weekend!  Will You??

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Wednesday

Each day this week I am giving thanks as we approach Thanksgiving Day here in the USA...

Today, I am Thankful for my Family.

My Beautiful Wife, Trish, is a gift from God Almighty that I simply don't deserve.  She is the light of my life and I don't know what I would do without her.  It's funny that our first date together was literally supposed to be a "rotten night".  You see our co-workers insisted that we would be the perfect couple.  I wasn't interested, as she "wasn't my type", and she thought I was the most arrogant, self absorbed person she had ever met and we had NO interest in dating one another.  But our co-workers would not let up, everyone from the hotel GM to the maintenance guy insisted we were perfect for eachother.

What's funny is we both sought advice, I from my mother, and she from her best friend, on how to get everyone to back off and leave us alone.  My mother said, "Take her out.  One date.  If you don't have a good time, it's your last date, and you can at least claim you tried."  When I took my mother's advice and asked her out, she consulted with her best friend who said basically the same thing... "Say 'Yes', go out with him and when you have a rotten time because he's such a jerk you can at least claim you tried..."

So, that was our first date. We both approached the evening with the sole intention of having a rotten time and getting our co-workers to bug off.  We ate dinner and somewhere between "What would you like to order tonight?" and paying for the check, we found that we had a lot to talk about.  So much in fact, that we wound up sitting in a park talking after we finished dinner.  We lost track of time and the next thing we knew the sun was coming up.  We had sat and talked in that park all night long.

That was 24 years ago.  We married a year and half after that first date, and to this day, I am also thankful for those nosy, needling coworkers of yesteryear...

Joshua, our first born child.  Joshua's name means "Son of God" or "Leader".  He is now almost 20 years old, a sophomore at the University of Akron, studying Polymer Mechanical Engineering.  Joshua is a fine young man who would make any parent proud.  He is successful at almost everything he tries because he gives 100% to be successful.  He is not willing to settle for good enough.

Jonathon.  Jonathon's name actually means "gift from God", and that he has been.  Jonathon is now almost 15 years old.  Jonathon brought laughter into our home.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like we weren't happy, we were very happy, we were just serious.  All the time, serious.  Jonathon's personality and outlook on life is anything but always serious.  Once again, God delivering exactly what I needed, when I needed it.

Chyenne.  Cheyenne came to live with us in June of 2010, and her adoption was finalized two days before Christmas, 2010.  Chyenne just turned 11 years old.  Chyenne has a bubbly personality, and is almost always in a good mood.  She quickly and readily embraces new and different things.

MaryAnna.  MaryAnna came to live with us just a few months ago.  She is almost 17 years old and is Chyenne's biological sister.  Her adoption will be complete sometime in March.  MaryAnna is a beautiful young lady who is a voracious reader and she LOVES to go to museums.

After having raised two boys, having two young daughters has been an interesting transition.  I now understand that t-shirt that says, "I'm her Dad.  I have a Gun.  Any Questions???"

I am so Thankful for all of my children.  God is good, and I am thankful that He has entrusted them to my care.  I am also grateful that He allows me to be the conduit through which He loves them.  It is a blessing I can not describe.

And I am Thankful for my extended family as well.  I don't want to leave them out of the Thanksgiving, for it was my Mom and Dad who raised me and who gave me the foundation needed to be the Father of a Family.  It was my brothers and sister who taught me to be a brother and gave me the experiences needed so that I could relate to my own kids' sibling rivalries, jealousies, etc.  It was my Grandparents who raised my Mom and Dad to be who they were, etc.  I have been blessed to have known Great Grandparents, and still have a living Grandfather who I talk to regularly.

If you've gotten this far, Thank You for letting me share my family with you.  I love each and every one of them more than I could ever put into words.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Tuesday

It's Thanksgiving Week here in the USA, and I am posting each day about something for which I am

Today, I am Thankful for the wonderful country in which I live.  Over the years I have traveled to over two dozen countries and I am so glad I am priviledged to be a citizen of the United States of America.

I don't want a political debate to ensue, so I'll just leave it at that, I am Thankful for my Country.

Until Next Time,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!

OK, so this isn't Vegas, and we're not playing Black Jack... 

Mr Random Number Generator says Number:

is our Winner...

Quilter in the Gap said...
Well for me, I keep coming back because of how genuine you appear. I enjoy reading about your projects and your family. thanks for sharing your excitement.


I have sent an email requesting your Shipping information.
I will have your fabric shipped as soon as I hear back from you...

Until Next Time,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Week - Monday

I am going to take this week, Thanksgiving Week, to post each day something for which I am Thankful.

Being that this IS blogville, I will start here.  I am Thankful for all of my "On Line Friends".  I can honestly say that prior to blogging about my quilting, I never understood how people could get "attached" to folks they met online.  It seemed odd to me that there were actually people who considered other people whom they have never actually met "friends".

Then earlier this year, I started blogging.  And people I didn't know started "following" me.  And then I didn't post for two weeks because some stuff came up at home and work, and I just didn't have the time.  The "stuff" that came up wasn't bad "stuff", just "stuff".  You know.  LIFE.  Work got a little crazy, we got tied up with getting MaryAnna (our 16 year old soon to be fully and legally adopted daughter) settled into our home, and blogging just took a back seat.  I didn't even think people would notice, or care, but low and behold, I was wrong.  People DID care.  I got emails from three different people, just checking to see if everything was "OK"...

"Noticed you haven't posted recently... Just shooting a note to make sure you're OK".  WOW.  That touched me.  It really did.  In just a few short words, someone reached out like a friend would.  And in that first email, I had an epiphany... NOW I understand how people develop "online" relationships, because I have.

Of my now 120 followers, only one is family, and I have only met a handful of you in person, but I am Thankful for all of you.  Your encouragement, criticism, and ideas are all welcome and appreciated.

120!  Just a week ago it was 100... And I am celebrating 100 followers with a give away.  Go HERE to participate, TODAY (until 10 PM EST) is the last day to get your name in the virtual hat for this beautiful fabric... 20 inches of each, for a total of 100 inches of fabric!!

Until Next Time,

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Craft and Gift Fair" in my Office

I recently had my 100th follower and I am celebrating with a Give Away.
If you haven't already, go HERE and leave a comment to have a chance at winning 
100 Inches of Fabric!!

The company I work for decided to have a "Craft & Gift Fair" and allowed any employee to set up a booth and sell their wares.

Several of my co-workers petitioned me to get a table and sell some "Quilts & Quilty Stuff".  I agreed and with only 10 days notice, I managed to get two table runners (a Thanksgiving, "Fall" Colored runner, and a Christmas colored runner), some Christmas Stockings, Christmas Placemats, some Coffee Cozzies and Crayon Caddies done and ready for Fair Day.

Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking about posting and I didn't have my camera handy, so all I got were a few shots of the Crayon Caddies from my phone (which takes horrible photos late at night...)

One Crayon Caddie unrolled and one Rolled up Caddie.

Detail side shot of Rolled up Caddie

My "Booth".  I didn't think to take a photo at the beginning.  Everything
looks rather disheveled here, but at least there are still a few items there.

I sold the Coffee Cozzies (none are even in this photo) and the Crayon Caddies (still a few when I took this photo), and I also got orders for more stuff (4 more Crayola Caddies & a Set of Placemats).  I had Jonathon's quilt with me (Right side of photo above) as well as a baby quilt that isn't even quilted yet (far left side of photo)...

I will be getting an order from a pregnant coworker who wants to wait until she knows if she should order a pink or blue baby quilt, but promised to call me next month after her ultra-sound reveals the sex of her baby.

While I do not want this to become a business, I certainly don't mind doing a few projects that I'll get paid for.  Especially since I just bought a new sewing machine!!  What better way to "pay for it" than to get paid to USE it!!

I also realized that the small less than $20 items (Crayon Caddies, Coffee Cozies, Journal Covers, etc) sell quick and often.  I can pump out a dozen or more in no time using scraps from other projects and if I plan properly, I can do them while I am working on other projects.  An extra 30 minutes at the machine whenever I have it out could produce a nice little chunk of change.  Can someone say "ETSY"?

As always, Thanks for Reading...

Until Next Time,

Monday, November 14, 2011

100 Follower Celebration Give Away!!

I promised earlier this week that I would do my first Give Away in Celebration of reaching 100 Followers.

SO, here it is... My FIRST Give Away...

100 Inches of Beautiful Fabric to Celebrate 100 Followers!!

Randi over at Fresh Squeezed Fabrics has put together TWO very special, beautiful, and unique bundles of fabric.  Each Bundle contains 20 inches of 5 different prints for a total of 100 Inches in each bundle of Fabric to Celebrate 100 Followers!! (For those of you who think in Yards... 2.78 Yards).

And YES, I said TWO beautiful bundles of fabric.

Bundle #1 is from Ruby, Cherry Fizz, Pam Kitty Morning and MM Dumb Dots.

Bundle #2 is Outfoxed and Bryant Park.

Life In A Pink Bunny Suit was my 100th follower, and she won her choice of Bundle #1 or Bundle #2 and Mr. Random Number Generator will choose another winner!

Since I'm new to the blog world, and I am seriously dumbfounded by how many of you actually view my page and read my blog, I would LOVE to know what keeps you coming back, or what you'd like to see in the future... So, leave a comment and if you don't mind, let me know what you like, or what you'd like to see more of on my blog.  I'll let Mr Random Number Generator do his thing on Monday, November 21st.

Comments Away!!  And THANKS again for Reading.  You folks are awesome.

Until Next Time,

Woo Hoo!! 100 Followers!!

I just opened my Blogger Dashboard and found that I now have 100 Followers...

You guys (ok, you're mostly GALS) are awesome!!  I am still amazed that people follow my humble little corner of blogville.  I'm still new to the whole thing, but you all keep me writing, exploring and most of all Learning NEW things.

We have a very unique community that spans the globe.  According to my stats page, four of the six inhabited continents are represented in my followers list.  That AMAZES me.

So, I think it's time for my first GIVEAWAY!!  Stay tuned, we'll celebrate later this week...

THANKS Again for Reading!

Until Next Time,

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christmas Sewing has Begun...

Well Christmas is only a little over 6 weeks away...  And I was talked into participating in our company's Arts, Crafts & Gift Show & Shop next week.  I have never thought of selling my work until someone asked me to participate in the Show & Shop.  So, I agreed and have identified several projects that I could tackle in two weeks to have some merchandise to sell.

The first thing I did was to start a few sets of placemats.  Easy to do and Quick to make.  I completed a full set of 8 in one afternoon (all but the binding that is).  And the second thing I did was to make a few Christmas Stockings.  The stockings are of my own design, and they were super easy to do.

The Stockings were a little intimidating... I have never sewed a curve before, and therefor I had also not tried my hand at Biased Binding.  Why on earth did I think it would be so hard!!???  I have avoided it like the plague because I for some reason thought it would be difficult and "wasteful" to cut on the bias and have left over triangles, etc.  It was SO much easier to work with even on the straight parts that I am a convert.  I need to start trusting myself and my abilities.  Who knew making a few Christmas Stockings would be so enlightening!?

I started by sewing together remainder strips from my Place Mats and then I
free hand cut out the stocking shape and layed them out on my batting.
I also used spray baste for the first time... SO easy!!  A little messy, but I
can definitely learn to work with it!
OH, how I LOVE the throat space on my new machine!! 
Look at all that space and all that LIGHT!!  Quilting is so much
easier when one can actually SEE what he is sewing...
Binding going on... I love the look of Stripes and Polka
Dots for binding, Don't you?

Binding and hanging strap are attached and ready to
be ironed around to the front side for the final step.
First Stocking DONE!!

Second Stocking DONE!!

A close up Detail shot of the binding.  For a first time doing curved edges,
I am very pleased with my results.

The only thing I wonder is this...
"Is there any way to avoid that 'folding' or 'gathering' of fabric at the inside curve?"  The outside curves have no "extra fabric" to gather or fold, but on the inside curves there is due to the nature of the curve.  I just tried to evenly gather it and make it look as nice as possible.  Any tips on that part of curved binding would be MUCH appreciated... 

More Gifts coming soon...

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Winnings...

Over the past few months I have been very lucky BLESSED to have won several contests, give aways, goodies, etc.

I am NOT bragging, I promise.  I just want to share...

My Winnings:

First, I won this embroidery pattern from Meg at Crabapple Hill.  My wife LOVES snowmen (you will see at least two snowmen projects in the near future) so this will be well loved when I get around to trying my hand at yet another new art form.

Second, I entered a give away at Possum Blossum and I won TWO HUNDRED perfectly cut hexagons.  I have always resisted starting a Hexie project primarily because there is no way I was going to cut my own templates accurately.  Now I just need to work up the nerve to try a hand sewing project…

Third, From Jennifer at Incomparable Buttons...  I won some buttons and a small patch of matching fabric... I learned of the giveaway through their blog, but their website has many many buttons to choose from.  They are very good quality from what I can tell...

These adorable little buttons will be shortly added to some Journal covers for boys… I was talked into joining an arts & crafts gift show being put on by my office.  After people saw my bosses quilt (Stars and Stripes) I had several requests that I join in the annual event.  I have never thought about selling my work, but I guess I am going to start!

And the winning wasn’t over!!  Many of you I am sure are aware of Madam Samm’s Awesome three month give away over at Sew We Quilt!  Well, I won some fabric.  10 YARDS of fabric to be exact!  Look at this beautiful collection of fabrics…

And Madam Samm tossed in a few extras… Some cards, Hand Needles and some finger thimbles!  Just the things I need for working on those Hexies I spoke of above!!

And the winning didn’t stop there!  Last week I won tickets to go see “Straight No Chaser” in concert!  I called a friend, made arrangements for the kids, and told Trish she didn’t have a choice, I was taking her out on a date.  She had a blast, as did I.  This was one of the most entertaining concerts I have been to in a LONG time.  If you have not heard of them, Google “Straight No Chaser, Twelve Days of Christmas” and watch the You Tube Video… Or just click below.  You will NOT be disappointed.

I also received the following wonderful package of Japanese Fabric Charms courtesy of Anne Marie’s Japanese Fabric Swap over at Gen X Quilters.  I have participated in several of her swaps.  She is well organized and I highly recommend doing one of her swaps.

And Last but not least, I received this package of Selvedges from Joan Janet O. in Utah.  At first I wasn’t sure who sent them, and I was planning on adding a “Who Sent me these? Note, but I received and email indicating where they had come from.  Thanks Janet O.!

I have a bunch of stuff to share over the next few weeks… Stay Tuned!

Until Next Time,