Monday, April 14, 2014

Back From Retreat

My four day retreat at the beach is over...

I'm bummed that it's over but so refreshed and happy that it happened.  I worked hard, played hard, napped hard and got all five things on my 'to do' list accomplished.  I watched a movie, chatted with friends... a lot... slept.. a lot.. read... enjoyed the sounds of the ocean, the sights of dolphins swimming by, the seagulls tapping on the windowpanes.. it was all heavenly.

No, that's not me... I don't know who it is... someone else at retreat brought back this photo, so I thought I'd post it...  It looks so fun and playful - just like I felt on retreat.

Anyway... Now I have a tough task ahead of me for tonight.  I have a bunch of navy blue strips for binding, and I have to sew them together.   It's really hard to see a diagonal line drawn on navy blue, which will make the job tough... but never impossible.. I WILL get this done.

If I finish that binding, I can send the quilt off to the lady who is going to quilt it for me.  She will be doing what we call 'heirloom quilting', which is custom quilting, very dense... I can't wait to see it all done.  I won't mention her name here, just in case she is sensitive about such things, until I can clear it with her that it is okay to do so.  But her gallery is amazing and I am so thrilled to have her doing my quilt.

She will be attaching the binding for me as well as doing the quilting because we decided on a wool batting and I am allergic to wool.  Hence the binding must be done as well as the actual quilt.

I will be taking a picture of the quilt top tonight so I can post it here later...

I also discovered a wonderful chair for quilting and bought one for myself.  One of the ladies at retreat had one, and it was much lighter and more portable than the one I brought to retreat.  She let us all try out her chair.  I highly recommend it.   It is from The Container Store of all places...
They call it a bungee office chair, and it comes in black, blue, lime green, berry pink and chocolate.  I bought the black one.  It is SO comfortable.   Supports everything, gives good lumbar support, and nothing really for the cats to shred.  Looking forward to mine arriving.

You can see the chair and read more about it at The Container Store.

Here is the quilt I finished on retreat:
It's called Woodland Creatures and if you've been following my blog at all, you've seen bits and pieces as I have completed them... This is what it's all been leading up to.  The top is finished!!!  A 13-month BOM done in 13 months... When does THAT ever happen???  I guess I was inspired.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Getting Ready for Retreat

I am busy packing and making 'to do' and 'to take' lists for my guild's retreat this coming weekend.  There's so much to do and so many things to bring along.  I've got a growing pile of project boxes and bags stacked by the door, waiting to go into the car on Thursday night.  Somehow I've got to get all my own stuff, another person's stuff, and two other people, in my car on Friday morning. 

That's where the DH comes in.  Joe is a whiz at packing efficiently and getting the most bang for his buck where space is concerned.  I guess it's an engineer thing.  My dad was the same way.  Different kind of engineer (civil vs manufacturing), but the mindset must be the same.

Anyway, through it all Maggie has been great... though everytime I go even NEAR the door, she's right there, waiting to go out with me.  Poor girl... it's so HOT outside though.  I put her out in the backyard for a little while and she chased around after the neighbor dogs' barks.  She finally tired of the game and found a shady spot to lay down, so I brought her back into the air conditioning.  Now she's laying on the cool laminate floor and panting heavily. 

I think she's a little bored today.  Between bouts of activity packing and emptying out old bins of fabric, I'm lounging in front of the computer... the cats won't play with her and 'mom' isn't playing either... no fun for the Maggie.  I'm sure soon she'll be asleep and snoring in the corner while she enjoys the comforts of modern life (ie the AC).

Tonight I have my McKenna Ryan class at the LQS, and tomorrow is open sew day at another LQS.  Thursday will be the day for final packing.  Friday is retreat day! 

I'm so excited!   Four days of quilting bliss... I will miss my DH, and my kitties and my Maggie.  I hope she doesn't forget me!  Or think I've abandoned her...  poor girl has been abandoned enough.  We've barely had time to bond so far. 

And there she goes... snoring now in the corner...  It's making me want to go to sleep too.  Maybe just a short nap...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Growing Family

Our family grew this week by one.   We adopted Maggie, our new 'baby'.  She is of course, no baby, being 4 1/2 years old already.  But she has already made her way into our hearts and she is such a goofy gal.  Here's a pic of Maggie:

Here's a pic of her doing her favorite activity:
Yup, she loves sleeping - especially right in front of the television.

You can't really see it in these pictures, but her tongue hangs out of the side of her mouth because she is missing some teeth on the left side... it's very comical but does her no harm...

Here's a pic of Maggie when she was first rescued about 5 months ago... poor thing was starving and infested, badly in need of medical care:

The rescue org's description of her read:  Baby Maggie is estimated to be around 4 years old and required extensive medical care when she became a Sunny Saint, which included the removal of 11 broken and abscessed teeth.  The lack of teeth now causes her tongue to flop out of her mouth, but doesn't seem to be an issue, just gives her a comical look that makes her even easier to love.  She is a fun-loving, sweet girl that loves to play with toys, is friendly with all people, but is a little reserved until she gets to know you and has lived peacefully with rabbits, chickens and cats in foster care. She would do best as an only dog, or with a very submissive dog after slow introductions, which are essential for her. She loves to go for walks, and rides well in the car. She is housebroken and crate trained, but is fully trustworthy in the house free roaming as well. She is learning her basic obedience commands as well.  
A pic of her now, healthy and filled out some:

She could still stand a few pounds on her frame, but doesn't she look great?  And she's so loving and sweet.  She even 'purrs' when she's happy.  She makes a grumbly noise, which we call her 'purr'. 

Anyway, she's intrigued by the cats, but the interest isn't really mutual, so she has no playmates other than me and Joe. It's a shame she's aggressive with other dogs, as we are surrounded on all sides by houses with dogs, and it would be awesome if she could play with them.  Perhaps with some training and aggression therapy, she might become more social with dogs.

She loves people though and has been friendly with everyone who's come over since we got her, even friends who smell of other dogs, like my friend Kathy who has 2 dogs of her own.

We start her training on Weds. afternoon this week with a trainer.  Hopefully she will learn her basic commands as well as how to get along with other dogs.

Despite the new 'tasks' to be done like feeding, walking, playing and so forth, I have managed to get a little sewing done... but the operative word here is 'little.'  Perhaps when I go on retreat next weekend, I will get more done.

My goals for next weekend:
  • Finish the Woodland Creatures borders
  • Put the borders on Woodland Creatures quilt
  • Do the edge stitching on Marlyn's applique (friend finished making a top and realized she hadn't sewn down her appliques... asked me to do it for her... I'm such a sucker, lol)
  • Sew my Saturday Sampler Block for LQS #1
  • Applique and sew my Bertie's Year BOM block for April
I know that doesn't seem like much, but Woodland Creatures borders require a lot of embroidery as well as the applique.  The quilt itself is a BIG quilt, and the borders are mitered, so it will not be as easy as it sounds. And Bertie's Year requires a lot of embroidery on each block, so it's not just applique and piecing.  I think I will have a full enough weekend with these tasks... if not, I'll find something else to do... I can help other people with their work or something... There's always SOMEThing to do at retreat.

Busy times coming up, with quilt runs in June and July and the Sisters show in Oregon in July too.  I better take advantage of whatever sewing time I can get in April and May because my early summer months are pretty much shot for sewing time.  How'd that happen so fast??? and it's not even half-way through spring yet... sigh

Anyway - today is my DH's birthday and I'm taking him to dinner... time to get off the computer and head out...  Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Quilter's "Roll'n'go" Tutorial

I made this cute little roll up carrier for my applique work so I can take it with me when I go to classes and such.  It could work for any kind of handwork, of course.

Here's how I made it:

Materials used:
5/8 yard cover fabric
5/8 yard fusible fleece
1/3 yard binding fabric (to make 110" of bias binding)
2/3 yard narrow twill binding, ribbon or other type of tie.

1 2" x 18" mailing tube with removable end caps
small bottle tacky glue

From the cover fabric, I cut a rectangle 21" x 39"
From the fusible fleece, I cut a rectangle 21" x 39"
From the binding fabric, make 110" of 2 1/4" bias binding using your favorite method.
    (I actually made mine 2" wide, but it was a little too narrow, so next time I'd do 2 1/4")


1. Fuse fleece rectangle to cover fabric rectangle using directions on the fusible fleece.  Trim fused rectangle to 19" x 37".  Using an old CD or DVD as a template, round two corners on one end of the prepared rectangle.

2.  Prepare binding and sew it to the BACK (fleece side) of 3 sides of the rectangle, starting at one right angle corner, sew the binding along the edge, around curved corners and back to the opposite right angle corner.  Bring the binding around to the front (fabric side) and machine stitch down to the front.


3. Glue one end cap of the mailing tube in place.  Mark this end with a permanent marker so you know it is the glued end.

4. Cover the whole cardboard mailing tube with glue (not the end caps, just the cardboard part).  Place the tube on the binding-free end of the rectangle with the fleece side up.  Make sure that you align the tube with the straight edge.  Then press the tube to the fabric as you roll the tube over the fleece.  When you have covered the entire tube with rolled fleece/fabric, continue to roll the tube so it overlaps the raw edge by 1 1/2".  Glue the fleece to the overlapped cover fabric and allow it to dry completely.

5.  Using a curved upholstery needle, hand stitch the fleece side to the cover fabric along the overlapped edge to secure it.

6.  Place your ties on the outer edge of the rectangle, in the center, one facing outward, one inward, and attach them with tight zigzag stitching to secure them.

The mailing tube itself, since one end opens, can be used to store your tools for handwork.

You are ready to Roll 'n Go.

I modified this pattern from one originally published by Moda.  The concept is the same, but some of the dimensions and instructions are different (and easier in my opinion).

The whole thing took me maybe 2 hours to make (plus glue drying time)... the most time consuming part of the whole thing was the hand stitching with the curved upholstery needle, but still a necessary step.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Paddy's Day

A little entertainment - an amazing mashup for St. Patrick's Day - enjoy:

I also finished another quilt, so I thought I'd share that as well.  It's called Henrietta Whiskers and was a Block of the Month from Bunny Hill Designs:

I just had to make this one because I LOVE squirrels (and crows).  The back is made up of pieces left from the fat quarters that I used to make the quilt.  The binding was made from the strips left of the back when I trimmed the excess batting and backing off the finished quilt, so the binding is very 'scrappy'.  Just have to do the hand sewing for the label, sleeve and binding to call this one 'done'.

Hope you had a lovely St. Paddy's Day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Done beats perfect

I finished two quilts a little earlier this month, got labels on them and binding done.

One was a Saturday Sampler from a LQS called Cotton and Chocolate (yes, they sell both!).  It was made with Asian prints on a gold background.  I didn't care for their borders (which were just gold strips 5" wide) so I designed my own.   I call the quilt "Kanji Corners" because I put paper-pieced kanji in the four corners of the borders.  The different kanji mean 'mother', 'home', 'love' and 'kitty', all of which are meaningful to me, but they just make pretty designs too.

Kanji Corners
I love the way Stovers quilted it, with the fans and butterflies.  So glad they found a motif that would work with the quilt.  I asked for something with an Asian feel to it and they sounded doubtful that they actually had something that would work... but they did!

My second finish is called 'Ryokan'.  Ryokan are Japanese inns.  The quilt was designed by Joe Wood of Thimblecreek Quilts.  I thought the quilt was amazing, so I arranged for my minigroup to make this quilt as a block exchange.  Six of us each made 6 copies of two of the blocks, then we traded so everyone had one of each.  I was so thrilled to find good sashing and border fabrics for this languishing in my stash.

My virtual retreat is almost over.  I have been participating all week, since last Friday.  Today, which also happens to be, coincidentally, National Quilting Day, I have done very little quilting.  This morning, I did a little embroidery on the borders of my Woodland Creatures quilt.  I put antennae on all the insects, but didn't get to putting eyes on them, or on the snakes, nor stamen on the flowers.  That will come in time - hopefully before the fabrics arrive for the horizontal borders.  I hope to have those ready to take to my real retreat at the beach in early April. 

I spent the rest of today playing Dungeons and Dragons with my DH, and some friends.  We culminated a campaign that has been running for several years with a 'wedding', a celebration over the defeat of a major dragon opponent and a powerful foe, and the breaking of a siege.  It was a good day of gaming. 

After the game, I played on the computer a little, and mostly sat on the sofa and felt miserable - sore throat and headache.  I hope I'm not coming down with something! 

DH and I had Thai food for dinner, but I mostly had soup... but it was very good wonton soup. 

Stay well...

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Quilter's Worth

If you read my blog, I'd like to call your attention to a couple of blog posts by another blogger.  So often we quilters give away our quilts, because we make them as a labor of love for someone special in our lives, or for charity as a way of giving back to the community. 

But when it comes down to someone wanting to commission a quilt, we are usually in a fog as to how much to charge someone for a quilt.  I know I've been guilty of undercharging for quilts, either because they were commissioned by someone dear to me, or because I thought that if I charged more, I wouldn't get the 'job'.  I had one dear lady who gave me an extra $200 over what I asked for on a quilt because she knew what it was worth even if I didn't at the time!

But those days are pretty much gone.  Now, I either make a quilt as a gift (either individual or as charity), or for myself (either for fun or to stretch my quilting wings).  I rarely take commissions and if I do, I charge what the quilt and my time are worth.

Here are the two blog posts I'd like to share with you.  Whether you are a quilter or not, these are good reading:

What It's Worth

What It's Worth, part 2

Enjoy the read.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

One more week of winter... Spring is around the corner!

So here I am, surrounded by cleaning crew and trying to get things done on my virtual cruise (on a real cruise, the stewards only come in and clean when you are gone, but I don't have that luxury today).

I did spend part of my morning making a fabric post card for an exchange in my Post Card Mail Art group.  The theme was 'silhouettes' this time.  Here is  mine:

Silhouette postcard

Of course in reality, a dragonfly's wings wouldn't make much of a silhouette, as light would just pass right through them, but I took artistic license.  I hope the recipient likes it.

I am still working on today's 1-3-5 lists, and I've got about half my tasks done for the day, with the other half questionable at best... more 'work-ons' than 'finishes' in reality.  Still I will at least try to do some work on each project on the list.

I found the cutest flannel Christmas/winter panel at Quilting by the Bay, and while I don't celebrate the holiday, my mini-group secret pal does, so I bought it for her, along with a few other things for me since I wanted free shipping.  I have a love-hate relationship with shopping online, of course.  I love the ease and simplicity of it, but I hate not supporting my LQS (local quilt shop) by shopping locally.  I also prefer to handle fabric before buying so I can 'feel' it... that tactile sense has a lot to do with fabric I like to buy, it has to have a soft 'hand'.  Also, you can't exactly tell colors online - how they display has a lot to do with the quality of the photograph AND how your individual computer monitor handles colors.  On the other hand, the LQS doesn't always have what I need or want.  Can you say 'ambivalent'?  I can!  Needless to say, I have reservations about buying fabric online, but I do it anyway from time to time.

Here's the panel I bought today... isn't it cute?  I hope my secret pal likes it!

In four days, it will be St. Patrick's Day, so I am working hard to finish my Bertie block for the month.  Since the block is full of shamrocks, it's appropriate for the month of course.  Today I worked on mastering the Cretin stitch (the black stitch embroidered on the gold in the borders).  I never quite got it down well enough that all my stitches were the same size, but at least I got it done.  There's still a gold outline stitch that goes around the block just inside the black and gold border.  Perhaps I'll get that done tomorrow.

Bertie for March

We are now just seven, count 'em... 7... days from the Spring Equinox on March 20th.  Here in southern California we haven't had much of a winter, sadly.  We had one good strong rainstorm a week or so ago, but before that (and since) - nothing, nada, zilch... just a long dry winter.  Hopefully, we will have some rain in the springtime, but so far, it's not looking good.  Other areas of the country have been inundated with precipitation of one sort or another... and we have been getting zippo.  Our reservoirs are down and they are talking about water rationing in re: yard watering and such for the summer if things don't turn around in the spring.  Restaurants have stopped serving water already unless you ask for it specifically.

So here's my fervent wish for a big WET springtime this year - with lots of snow in the Sierra Mountains, where we get most of our water from!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Making Progress via the 1-3-5 method

So I've been using this 'to-do list' at and actually getting things done!  Which is wonderful for me, because I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator.  Did I say a bit?  I am great at understatement too.  Anyway - I've been a lot more productive since I started making a 1-3-5 list every day.

Today, while I am still on my 'virtual retreat cruise', I decided that finishing the borders on 'Autumn Joy' was the primary order of the day.  I got it done!  Now, of course, it needs the back pieced and quilting, but that can be tomorrow's project.

Here is the finished top:

Autumn Joy, with my own design for borders
I did learn by doing why some people applique their borders before attaching them.  Wrestling the entire quilt through the machine while doing the applique was difficult, but in this case required, since the borders had to go on first due to placement of the motifs straddling seams.  I'm kinda pleased too that I made all the leaves and acorns in the borders out of left over fabrics from the interior of the quilt.  Oddly, some months the LQS that ran the BOM program gave too much fabric (and other times, not enough). 

I'm glad I went with a plaid border, and super glad I found a darker plaid that still went with the quilt.  Thanks to all who helped me decide on a border.

I also am working on a Carpenter's Wheel quilt that I started in a class on a REAL cruise through the Caribbean.  I got the first border on and am in a quandary as to what to use for an outer border... or does it even need one?

Stellar, a split carpenter's wheel.

 I considered a matching blue fabric, but can't find one... it's an odd purply blue and I can't find anything that looks good with it that's a close match.  I've considered a turquoise color like the one in the quilt, because it's the only color in the quilt that's not also in the first border, but it might be too clashy with the blue background of the quilt... So ideas are welcome... Please.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Virtual Retreat

I have been on a 'virtual retreat' (see below), sewing steadily since Monday.  Most of that time has been spent sewing the borders for my Woodland Creatures quilt:

Woodland Creatures, side borders

I finished these two border strips this evening.  While I love the process of applique, I do have to say that the sheer amount of sewing to get these borders done was a bit overwhelming.  I'm glad I got caught up on this project!

Now I'm just waiting for the fabrics to arrive for the top and bottom borders - the last leg of this 'voyage'.  I do have a little bit of embroidery to do on this - the butterflies and dragonflies need antennae and the snakes need eyes and mouths.  Some of the flowers need some embellishment too -  perfect handwork for quiet moments! 

I have another week and a half of 'virtual retreating' and I will use that time to put some borders on other UFOs, and get them ready for quilting.  I am loving having all this time to work on nothing but quilting.

What is a virtual retreat, you ask? 

Well a real retreat is cocooning, usually with other quilters, in a place where you can work on quilts without interruption by 'real life'.  Usually it means going to a rental house or facility.  My guild, for example, holds retreats twice a year at a place called 'Saylor's Sandcastle', a huge house right on the seawall near Ventura, CA.  We go for 4 days and do nothing but quilt!

A virtual retreat is one where you stay at home and sew as if you were on retreat with friends.  An internet group that I belong to - Stashbusters - holds a virtual retreat for one weekend every month.  We sew for up to three days (as much as we have time for), and our 'friends' along for the retreat are all online.  Well, this week, Stashbusters is holding a 10 day virtual retreat cruise - we are 'cruising' starting in Alaska, sailing down the coast of Canada and the US.. then out to sea and on to Australia!  During this virtual cruise, we will sew and quilt and stay in touch with our retreat friends via the Stashbusters Yahoo group.  We'll have chances to share our triumphs and frustrations, highs and lows.  And everyone can participate as much or as little as they have time for. 

So that's what it's all about.   Obviously, we are not really on a ship, and people will have real life issues that call them away from their sewing machines and computers, but the idea is to enjoy the virtual facilities as much as we can and work on busting those stashes!!!

I started my retreat a week early - it takes time to get up to Alaska from southern California, so I hopped on a virtual ship leaving from LA Harbor to Alaska and have been retreating the whole week up there.  I've even checked out a few of the sights along the way - the beautiful coastlines of no. Calif and Oregon, the beautiful mountains of Washington and the Canadian coast as well.  The internet is a marvelous tool!

Anyway - the official cruise started this morning, and I am on the way back down south again, this time with my fellow retreaters.  We had dinner at the captain's table tonight - (I had the Thai spring rolls) - and now I am prepping for a class tomorrow.  (In reality, I have a quilting class every Saturday morning, and I will attend for a little while, but then it will back on board after brunch out with friends).