Monday, June 27, 2011

The Year of Applique

I've done a lot of pieced quilts, even done several this year, but it has been turning into the year of applique for me.  I'm working on so many appliqued BOMs.  I've got Folk Art Cats, Pumpkin Hill, Henrietta Whiskers, four seasonal quilts with my minigroup, Kokeshi Dolls and now Forest Hollow.  I've been doing way more applique than I've ever done before.

One awesome side effect of all this applique work is that I've become much more comfortable actually doing applique.  All my applique is fused - I'm not a hand-applique person - but I've gotten quite adept at edge stitching.  Now when I say adept I don't mean I'm an expert or perfect at it - I've just gotten used to it and do it a lot faster than I used to.  Practice may not make perfect in this case, but it does produce a familiarity that makes the whole process seem less threatening.  I used to be kind of intimidated by applique. I've learned to actually enjoy it!

I'll post some pictures of the WIP soon - gotta actually get them up on the design wall and take some pictures of the latest work.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blindsided

Today I got a letter from the IRS saying I owe them over $8000 including interest for 2009.  After carefully researching my return, going over it with a fine-toothed comb, I contacted TurboTax.  I went over it all with a TurboTax representative.  Somehow the program invented withholding on form 1099B, which I never got, nor filled out information for in TurboTax... it just magically appeared there.  Needless to say, I got a huge refund in 2009 which I wasn't entitled to, and now I have to pay it back.  Bleah... at least the TurboTax rep agreed that Intuit should pay the interest since it was a calculation error in the program.  I still owe $7830.  I could cry....

Needless to say, I think I'm going to skip the Long Beach Intl. Quilt Show this year... save my money and stay home.  I can't afford the parking, I can't afford to be tempted to buy anything, and I am too depressed to think about doing something fun.  I need to stay home and sew ... get myself out of this overwhelming funk. 

Maybe if I finish (or at least work on) a quilt or two it will help raise my spirits.   Something about working with fabric seems to produce endorphins for me, much like runners get from running...

I do wish quilting were as aerobic and healthy as running or exercising.  I DO keep my ironing board and sewing machine in separate rooms so I have to get up and walk to press, same with my cutting table.  Which isn't to say I won't have them placed closer together when I get my studio done, but for now I get some exercise going from one to another. 

overall mood today:  bleah  ... sums it up perfectly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another win at Quilting Gallery

I won a prize at Quilting Gallery's Miniatures Quilt Contest.  I'd really like to thank EVERYONE who voted for my quilt!   I got a $20 gift certificate and ordered a set of ruler extensions at http://www.guidelines4quilting.com/ .  I will try them out and let you know how they work.  They are supposed to make it math-free to cut squares for HST and QST.  We'll see.  I can always remember the +3/8 for HST, but I never seem to be able to remember what to add for QST.  (is it 7/8 or 1 1/8?... anyway if the extensions work as claimed, I won't have to remember anymore).

The quilt I won for is the one I use as my avatar, which was one of my most favorite quilts to make.  It was hard work doing it in miniature, but I loved the outcome.  Knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't attempt anything like this again in the future, but who knows?

I am almost done with my quilt run (3 more shops to go this coming weekend).  I'm glad the So. Calif. run gives you two weekends to complete the run in... I was dead tired on Sunday and hadn't even finished.  I'm sure there were people who finished the whole thing in two or three days.  I don't think I have that much energy, and I like to actually spend a little time in some of the shops yanno?

I bought way too much on the run, but way less than I used to buy, thanks to Stashbusters.  I (mostly) only bought essentials: fabric for backs, backgrounds and bindings (for existing WIPs only), plus cat fabrics (which will never be on my no-buy list... gotta have cat fabrics!).   It took me until today to unpack what I bought last weekend, but now that's done and I'm ready to start fresh on Thursday to finish the run.

Now it's time to get down to work and piece those backs, and put away the rest til I'm ready to use them.   Backs made, I'll be able to start quilting.  If only I could get to work on my longarm, I'd be a happy camper.  Anyone else out there intimidated by their own sewing machine and afraid to use it?  I keep telling my husband to learn how to use it - after all, that's his new car sitting in our family room (snicker).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another Quilt Run

Do you take a FART* now and then?  or do you avoid it like the plague? 
   (* FART = Fabric Acquisition Road Trip, or Quilt Run)

Me?  I love quilt runs.  I get a kick out of going from shop to shop and seeing what's new.  Each shop puts their best foot forward and it's like visiting little mini quilt shows.  And sometimes you can win nice prizes.  Last year on the So. California Quilt Run, I won a $500 gift certificate that I could use at any of the shops that were on the run.  What a fun surprise at the end of the run!  This year, from one of the shops, I won a little bag of neutral fabrics that will make great backgrounds for small applique projects.  I don't expect to win any of the big prizes at the end again - lightning rarely strikes twice yanno, but I hope one of my friends wins something this time.

I started the run on Thursday with my friend, Marlyn.  We spent all of Thursday, Friday and Saturday going from shop to shop.  Oh my - she's got 22 years on me and has more energy than I do!  I hope I have half her energy and get-up-and-go-go when I get to 80!  We drove, and shopped, and spent too much money on fabric and food, stayed in a Motel 6 for one night (not as bad as I expected, but it was cheap).  Next weekend we will finish the last 6 shops we have left.  We have had SO much fun! 

I bought a back for a quilt I've been putting off finishing for months.  Now I can quilt it and call it done.  Here's the quilt.

The back is a green and purple plaid.  It's a little too purple and not enough violet to go with the quilt, but I'm gonna make it work.  I didn't have the quilt with me when I bought it, so I had to guess if it would go.  But it was discounted, so I took the risk.  I'm not thrilled with it, but I'll live with it.

I also bought Bunny Hill's pattern 'Pumpkin Hill'  because it has squirrels on it.  I just love the little rascals and I'm doing BH's free BOM 'Henrietta Whiskers' online.  I saw this one and fell in love with it.  Just what I need - another project!  sheesh, what was I thinking?  But sometimes it is our UFOs, PIGS, WIPs and WHIMMs that push us into setting goals!  This one is a WHIMM, and I will have to turn it into a WIP soon!

(UFO = UnFinished Object, PIGS= Project In Grocery Sack, WIP = Work In Progress, WHIMM - Work Hidden In My Mind)

Hope you all have enough of these goal-setting gems to keep you sewing along.  (I have enough to last a couple of lifetimes already, and enough fabric to make them all probably too.  I know my husband thinks I have enough fabric, and he's probably right.  But I think fabric contains pheremones that call to quilters 'buy me, buy me, take ME home with you'.  lol.) 

Have a great quilty day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June Gloom

That's what we are beset with here in the LA area - June gloom!  I don't mind it so much - the marine layer keeps the temperature down, but it is kinda gray and depressing out.  Good weather to stay home and quilt!

I put borders on my Flower Garden quilt.  What a difference the borders make!  Sometimes borders are just there to make the quilt bigger, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but I really think the borders should enhance the quilt.  I'm a big fan of pieced borders because of this concept.  But this time, I put in a narrow border (2 1/2") as an "eye-stopper" and then added a floral that brought out the blues, greens and peaches in the quilt.  I had to put a thin piece of color between the two borders, so I added a narrow (1/4") fillet of peach.  Here's the original quilt with only the eye-stopper:

and here it is with the final borders added:

I think it came out ok... Now... to quilt it!

OMG I am overwhelmed with quilt tops that need to be quilted... I really have to get started using my longarm.  I have received several great ideas from the ladies on Stashbusters on getting going with my machine ... and I've joined some longarm support groups.  Maybe by the time summer is over I will actually start using it.  I'm still a little... no.  Who am I kidding...  I'm a LOT scared of the thing.

What I really want is someone to come over and teach me how to use this thing... stay with me during some of the learning curve.  I'm willing to pay someone to come work with me, but there's no such service out there... the teachers all want me to come to them.  It's not the same.  I need to learn how to use MY machine, yanno?

Anyway - enough whining - there are more quilts to be made and more stash to be busted....