Well, I moved.

December 11, 2009

The entire moving process has been a lot more draining than I thought it would be.  I finally have gotten most things put away and the house is pretty much done, except for hanging pictures/art on the walls.  Right now they are just leaning up against the walls where I want them to hang.  I love my new place, it’s very cute.

So Christmas time is here.  I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I really have been working on things!  Just not sewing.  Which is bad, since I still need to do last month’s quilting bee block, and this month’s block as well!  I also need to finish a reversible tote.  I started this tote at a class I took…after 6 hours the most anyone in the class got done was about half.  Which wouldn’t be a problem except that the project wasn’t in the book they made us buy, and they didn’t give us a handout.  So I had to get this other book but I just haven’t had the motivation to finish it.  I need to get it done because I am intending on giving it as a gift!  Unfortunately I have had zero desire to sew since I have moved.

I have done some things since I have moved.  I made a few terrariums and now I am addicted! I will do a post on them soon.  They are so beautiful and vintage-y.  I really love them.  I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my parents.  I bought a 1TB hard drive and enclosure.  I am in the process of downloading as many HD movies as I can fit on the drive and converting them for playback on a PS3.  That way, they can just plug the external harddrive into the PS3 and watch them.  It is much easier than burning 100 DVDs.  Besides, I don’t have a blu ray burner, and the blank bluray disks are like 10 bucks a piece anyway. Ridiculous!  And using a DVD would degrade the quality and it wouldn’t be HD any longer.  In case you didn’t know, in addition to my love of sewing and crafts, I am a huge tech geek.  I especially love networking all the devices in my house so I can stream back and forth.  TV to computer, Computer to TV.  I didn’t even unpack my DVD player when I moved because I never use it.  I have all the movies I want on hard drives and when I want to watch them I just send it to the TV via the Tivo, or watch them on my HD monitor.  I use a Slingbox to play TV on the computer or laptop. That way, I don’t need to have a TV in every room I want to watch TV in!  Saves space, and TVs are expensive!  I still dont have an HDTV.  I am waiting on one particular TV to come down in price.  Its almost low enough where I can afford it!  Its a really cool Samsung tv.  It has onboard networking so the TV can connect itself directly to my wireless network, and I’ll be able to stream movies straight to the tv without having to download them first to the Tivo.  Awesome!

Sorry about my nerdy ranting!

I’m also on a Christmas treat baking frenzy.  It was a huge fiasco in the beginning so I am way behind.  We had a cookie exchange yesterday at work and I was making biscotti.  I decided to do a test batch last weekend to make sure the recipe worked.   The recipe was fine.  The oven in my new place was not.  The biscotti were in there like 7 minutes and I smell burning.  They were ruined!  Long story short, I tried everything I could to fix the burning problem.  Moving the racks as high as they would go, lowering the temperature, cleaning out the oven.  3.5 batches still burned.  So I ended up making 6 batches of biscotti to get 9 dozen cookies.  I was so angry.  My landlord thankfully replaced the oven on Tuesday so hopefully I won’t have these problems with the other cookies I want to make.  I want to pack boxes of cookies to send to some friends.  I need to get them all done this weekend so I can send out the boxes on Monday.  Hopefully I won’t have any more oven problems.

In the meantime, I have started on other things.  I made homemade marshmallows.  They are waiting to be dipped in chocolate.  I also made my brother’s favorite “cookie” – those cornflake wreaths!  I find it hilarious that is his favorite Christmas cookie.

Here’s my list of Christmas treats:

Chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate dipped homemade marshmallows, potato candy (dad’s request), butter cookies, Chocolate Cherry Mice, lemon-poppy seed biscotti, old fashioned sugar cookies, cornflake wreaths.

I can do this!

I have been taking pictures, I just haven’t uploaded them yet.  I love making candy, even though I am not much of a chocolate lover and don’t really have a sweet tooth.  I just like how cute everything is, and it makes me happy to give it to people who love to eat sweets! I’ll update with photos soon!

What are your favorite Christmas treats?  What are you making for Christmas this year?  Gifts, cookies, candy, I’d love to see them!  Post your links in the comments!

The advent calendar

November 18, 2009

The finished calendar

I decided to start doing this while I was packing up my things to move, because you know the best time to start a new project using techniques you’ve never tried before is while you are preparing for a major life event.  I probably started it just to give myself a reason to not pack…I justified it by telling myself “well, you are doing something productive instead of packing so it’s OK!” I actually finished it the Sunday before I moved.

I finished this during one of the most stressful weekends of my life.  I was trying to get as much packing done as possible.  Saturday I needed a break from packing.  Foxy has been at my parents house since before Halloween to make it easier to show my apartment and get ready to move.  I decided I would go to the local city animal care and control and pet some kitties to relieve a little stress.  What ended up happening was that I brought home this sad little dog.

little pumpkin at the vet

The poor thing had kennel cough, fleas, and messed up teeth.  I don’t know what I was thinking, it was just an impulsive decision.  Immediately after taking him out of ACC, I took him to the vet.  He has all his shots now, is flea free, and got antibiotics for his cough.  I brought him home.  That night I was a mess.  I felt like I had made a horrible mistake.  My dog Foxy really does not get along with other dogs.  I just couldn’t bring him back to that horrible shelter.  I didn’t know what to do.  I had just compounded my stress level by 1000.

What I ended up doing is working with an adoption group called Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership to try and find him a new home.  They placed an ad on Petfinder.org for me.  I have had at least a dozen people contact me who were interested in Pumpkin, but none of them followed through.  It has been terrible.  And the worst part is, the longer he’s with me, the more I’m getting attached to him, and I don’t think I will be able to adopt him out.  I’m really conflicted and don’t know what to do.  I’ve been so stressed out for the past month – my hair is falling out.  I feel terrible and tired all the time.  I cannot wait for Thanksgiving so I can have the time to just do nothing for a few days and hopefully relax.

close up of the applique and quilting

Anyway, back to this advent calendar.  I used the tutorial that was on the Sew Mama Sew website.  I pretty much used the same fabric too, Michael Miller Funky Christmas.  I just really loved the prints in that collection.  It was the first time doing any real applique, and that was probably what took the longest and was the most challenging.  First I had to trace the numbers backwards on the double sided fusible webbing, and cut them all out.  Then I had to iron on the numbers to the fabric I was using for the numbers and cut them all out.  Then I realized that I had ironed on all the numbers that were on printed fabrics to the wrong side, so I had to redo half of them!  Once I got that all straightened out, I ironed the numbers to the background fabric and began to satin stitch around the outer edge of the numbers on the sewing machine.  It really took a long time to finish all of that.  Once I had that done, and sewed the pockets together, the rest of it came together really quickly.

I forgot to add, they are all little pockets to put treats in!

I messed up the binding though.  I was so tired on Sunday night, but I really wanted to finish.  I didn’t realize until I was sewing the binding to the back (which I do by machine) that there was batting showing in the upper left hand corner…I hadn’t sewed the binding onto the top of the quilt there, I missed the edge.  But instead of ripping the seams out and fixing it, I just sewed the binding so it covered the batting up, folded it over and finished the back.  That’s why it looks crooked there.  I just didn’t care at the time, but now it drives me crazy.  There’s a couple of crooked pockets that bother me too, but I think overall it still looks ok.

I need to dig my sewing machine out from the pile of unpacked boxes and at least put some things away so I have enough room in my “craft loft” to set it up so I can finish the blocks for the quilting bee before the end of the month.  There’s about 4 projects I wanted to make before Christmas as well.  Some will be really quick, like these bookmarks, and some not so much – I wanted to do a quilt as a gift for someone for Christmas…I hope I can get everything done in time!  I have about 6 weeks, I think if I do a little every day, I’ll be able to finish all the stuff I had planned.  Hopefully!

the poky puppy quilt

October 29, 2009

the front

I finished this last week and gave it to my mom on Sunday.  She doesn’t like it.  I don’t really know what to think about that.  It’s not my most favorite thing I’ve made either, but I didn’t really use a pattern, and just tried to do what I thought would work with the print and the subject of the fabric she bought.  She picked out the poky puppy and golden books fabric, I just added in some other things to fill it out.  I asked her what she wanted me to do or how she wanted it to look, and she said to do whatever I wanted to, so that’s what I did.   She said she thought I’d be using smaller pieces…what?  I used a fabric panel in the poky puppy line and cut the 9 blocks from it, I thought the whole point of her wanting to use this fabric was the puppies…the puppies on the green fabric were large too.

I know the the fabric I used for the triangles doesn’t really look right with the other stuff once it was sewn together, even though it looked cute when the uncut fabrics were just laying together.  I know I could have done a better job on the quilting too.  So it’s not like I am in denial about this quilt having problems.

After I got over my initial indignation and hurt feeling, I thought about what she said about the smaller pieces and I think she wanted something along the lines of what I made for my goddaughter’s 1st birthday.  But a coin quilt with this fabric, and on a lap sized quilt just wouldn’t have worked, in my opinion.  The golden book fabric would have been fine, but all the puppy-related stuff – you’d never see a puppy in there.

The other idea I had before going with this more traditional juvenile looking thing I came up with was to use those panels ask the center of some wonky log cabins and then use the other stuff she picked out as  the strips and used the go-to white sashing.  In hindsight, I probably should have just done that and gone with my instincts, but I second guessed myself that she wouldn’t like it because when I showed her the first wonky log cabin block I made – which I loved how it turned out – she didn’t seem all that impressed.

She did like the back of the quilt.  I used the book cover that was printed on the panel as the label and put her name on it.  I also cut out some puppies from the panel and did my first applique.  It ended up being not as hard as I had thought it was going to be.  I was just intimidated by the satin stitch.

Oh, well; you can’t win ’em all.  Have you ever made something for someone who ended up not liking it?  I’d love to hear your stories.

I do think its looks cuter in the staged photo, the colors in the full view shot make it look worse

The colors in this photo and the one of the back are more accurate, and I think it actually looks cute here.

October Bee Pieceful Blocks

October 23, 2009

Poinsettia Block

Poinsettia Block

Morning Star Block

Morning Star Block

I mailed these out on Monday to this month’s bee, Kim.  She sent us Christmas fabric and asked for “traditional” blocks.  I looked around online and settled on these two patterns, Morning Star and Poinsettia.   I think I have finally gotten over my mental block about this virtual quilting bee – I think you are able to see the  vast improvement I’ve made over August and September’s blocks.  The seams and points all line up (almost) :).  But where they don’t it is not that obvious.  I like how I arranged the fabrics, and for the first time in this bee, I was happy to send these out.  Hopefully I will be able to keep it up.  Next month’s fabric is going to be sent soon, and she wants string piecing, something else I have not tried yet.  I want to get it done as quickly as possible, so I can send it back before I move.

I am moving!  I finally found a new apartment that has almost everything I wanted, and its only about 1/4 mile from where I am living now!  I finally got lucky, I had almost given up because I had been looking since May. It is a duplex in a neat little neighborhood called Cottage Home, and has a really cool loft area that I am going to make my sewing room.  I can’t wait to move in and get settled.  Moving Day is only a few weeks away.  I’m moving on Friday the 13th!

After next month’s quilt block, I only have one more project I need to get done before the move.  It’s the Poky Puppy quilt my mom wanted me to make for her.   I will have to post about that later.

on point

October 16, 2009

I just wanted to share this.  Its one piece of a block I am doing for this month’s bee.  The points match!  I’m glad I am getting better at this.  Lets see if this block will be the one where all the seams line up for once.

Bee Pieceful October Block

October 6, 2009

I also managed to get my block done for my virtual quilting bee.  This month’s bee wanted stars, any way we wanted to do them, as long as they were stars.  I decided to do a maverick star, because after the disaster of trying to do triangles in last months block (which I still feel horrible about), I thought this would be the best way for me to do something that would turn out halfway decent.

my wonky star

my wonky star

As you can see I still messed up matching a seam in the upper left hand corner.  But it is still definitely better than my last one, so I will give myself credit for that.  It’s just so hard when everyone else can do these beautiful and complex blocks, and I’m struggling in the proverbial kiddie pool.  I had been watching the bees before I decided to join ones, and the blocks I saw in the pools made me feel like it was something I could do to improve my skills but within a group of people who were entry level to intermediate ability.  Somehow I ended up in a group of super-quilters.  I feel so bad, because even if this block is an improvement for me, and looks pretty ok, I go to add it in the pool and look at what everyone else has done…I hate being the weakest link.  Maybe next time around, I’ll find a group that makes me feel less inadequate.

woodland mixtape - finally complete

I am so glad I finally finished this quilt!  I will be relieved when it finally makes it to its new home on Sunday, when I attend my cousin’s wedding.  He and his fiance better like it!  I want to thank Joann at  Select Sewing Service for letting me come to the store the past two weekends to finish this thing. She taught me lots of helpful tricks and was so kind and understanding to allow me to come in and use their equipment when I was in a panic when my machine broke.   I am so glad I bought my machine at a brick and mortar store!

I’m happy with the decision to add the border, it was just a little too minimal for me without it.  I decided to name it woodland mixtape.  I even made sure I put a label on it, at my cousin’s request.  For a guy, my cousin had pretty exact specifications!  I always forget to add the label on most of my quilts.  I should make an effort to include them.  Maybe if I got that printable fabric, I wouldn’t be so lazy about making labels.

the whole front view

the whole front view

So now that’s done, I can move on to stuff that I WANT to do…

Oops, I remembered my mom’s Poky Little Puppy Golden books lap quilt request first. 😦 Hopefully it will be easier to make than this one was.  I’m just going to freestyle a design that I can use the fabric panel on.  It has each page of the book printed on it to make a soft book.  They are 8″ each, so I wanted to cut them out and use them in blocks for this quilt.  The rest I still need to figure out.  I’ll work on that now and get everything cut out before I get my machine back, so when I do I can start working on piecing right away.

Hope my sewing machine is fixed soon!  I’d like to get my Christmas project done before December 1!