Things might be a bit slow around here for a while…

I found out a couple of weeks ago that I’m pregnant with our second child.  Unfortunately, morning sickness is once again kicking my butt.  I was hoping it would be better than it was with my first baby, but I think it’s worse– either that, or I’ve mercifully forgotten what it was like the first time around!

Anyway, it’s been so bad that I’ve basically been in bed as much as possible, so I don’t have much energy either for sewing or blogging.  My sewing machine is ready to be picked up from the shop, and I’m anxious to try it out to see if it’s been fixed, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to do that.

At least I’m fairly well caught up on my bee blocks.  I have a few to finish by the end of the quarter (March sometime), but hopefully it will let up a little.  All but one quarterly bee are swaps, meaning that however many blocks I make is how many I get back.  Those are easy to bow out if necessary.  Also, March is my hostess month for two of my bees.  For stash bee, I do need to create a tutorial and post it, but I was going to cheat and copy the block pattern from a previous hostess, so if I absolutely have to, I can ask her if I can repost her tutorial.  Hopefully I’ll be able to do my own, though.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know why it will be slower for a while.  Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be back to sewing with a vengeance.  Luckily, my last pregnancy went very smoothly once the morning sickness left around 16 weeks.  So, if I follow the last pattern, I have about two more months to be miserable, and then I’ll feel great until D-day.

If it’s a girl, I’ll have a lot of baby-related sewing to do.  If it’s a boy, not so much.  I’ll be reusing most things, but I will most likely make him his own quilt.

Zig Zag Quilt is finished!

I haven’t yet had time to take a good full picture of the finished product, but the zig-zag quilt is now finished and at home on our bed.  This is a large queen size quilt, so I’m going to have to do some major thinking to figure out how to get a good picture of a quilt this big.

It’s just a bit wider than the normal queen, and I made it that way because we have a deep mattress and because my husband is forever stealing the covers during the night.  This way I still have some left even after he rolls over with them.  I made it extra long to help with another problem:  My husband’s feet tend to untuck the quilt from the mattress, and it gets thrown into a wad by morning.  Because it’s super long, I have at least two feet at the bottom to tuck under the mattress to hold it in place.  It’s working well so far.

Of course, if it weren’t for my husband, I would have neither of these problems!  Since I’ve decided to keep him despite his sleeping issues, I do love the fact that I can make my own quilt to suit our individual needs instead of being stuck with commercial bedding in a set size.

The hand-quilting took quite a long time for this quilt, but in the end, I really think it was worth it.  It adds some character to the quilt, sets off the zig-zags, and it makes for a nice, soft quilt that lacks the stiffness that comes from machine-stippling, which makes hand-quilting a great choice for a cuddly bed quilt.

Once I’m able to get better pictures (I’ll have to recruit my husband again to be my assistant), I’ll do another post, but in the meantime, I had to announce that it is finally complete!

Nubees Blocks for February

I’ve recently joined yet another online bee.  This bee is great for a short-term commitment.  It only lasts a month, which means the sewing of the blocks has to be fast and easy, but I’m not committed for an entire year or even longer as with some bees.

We sew the same block for each member but use their requested colors.  This particular block came from the 99 Modern Blocks book I’ve talked about so much recently.  I chose it because it was fast and easy, and I had to finish these quickly due to my vacation this month as well as my sewing machine repair issues.

Anyhow, I was pleased with the way most of them turned out.  My favorite block of the bunch is the Christmas one with the fussy cut snowflake– so cute if I say so myself.  I’ve mailed these out already, and I can’t wait to start getting my own blocks in the mail soon!

My first quilt on a machine and a whole new outlook on machine quilting

In the past, I’ve always hand-quilted– probably because my grandmother taught me, and that was just the way I have always done it.  It was even a stretch for me to start machine piecing at a certain point.  I felt like a sell-out not doing it my grandma’s way.  To be perfectly honest, I kind of turned up my nose at machine quilting because I viewed it as being so much “easier.”  Well, let me tell you, it’s not!  It’s just a different skill set.  After hours spent drooling over quilts online, I’ve realized that machine quilting is an art in itself. 

Anyhow, after seeing some of the stippling tutorials on pinterest, I was intrigued.  My main problem with quilting in recent years is that it takes too long to complete a whole quilt.  I’m not the kind of girl who just has one hobby and does it all the time.  I tend to flit from one thing to another, and while I always come back to my old projects, I don’t always work on them start-to-finish without interruption.  At this rate, I had been quilting a queen-size quilt for well over ten years, and I was totally sick of it.  I decided that if I was going to make quilting a viable hobby, I needed to figure out a way to quilt faster– enter machine quilting.

I was so out of touch with machine quilting, that I didnt’ even know that one needs special feet until I’d done a few hours of online research.  I have a Viking, and supposedly you can’t use just any old generic foot; you have to buy from the Viking dealer.  In retrospect, I’m not sure if this is true, but I shelled out the $100 for a darning foot and a walking foot and got down to business.

After I got my walking foot and darning foot, though, I needed a good practice quilt, and becaue everything I had read said that the first free-motion quilted quilt is usually horrendous, I decided I needed something I didn’t care about so much.  These pinwheels came in one of those precut kits that I had bought on clearance for around $10. I’ve had it lying around for well over a decade. The fabric was just “okay,” so I never got excited enough about it to sew it up. 

Since this was a low-risk option, I decided to throw it together.  I used the walking foot to stitch in the ditch on the pinwheels, and then I did a stipple pattern with little flowers added in on the border.  Overall, it came out great, I think.  I was especially proud of the free-motion part since I have never even attempted it before.  My stitches were nice and even, and by the end I even worked up a good speed.  It did help that it was only around the edges, though, so I didn’t have to fight with the drag of the quilt.  At this point, I had a poor quilting setup with little table space.

One thing I found particularly cool about free motion quilting is that one can sign her name right in the quilting.  It’s a little hard to see, but I did that below.  In fact, this is my new favorite thing to do, and I also “write” messages on the quilts if they’re gifts.   I think the messages in the quilting were one of my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s favorite things about the quilts that I gave them each for Christmas this year.

Even though my first machine project was a success, my eyes have been opened wide to the artistry involved in machine quilting.  Yes, I did find stippling-type patterns to be quite easy to master, but most other attempts I’ve made to do different patterns since then have utterly failed.  I need lots more practice, and I have a whole new level of respect for machine quilters.  Hand-quilting may take more time, but it doesn’t require more skill- just a different kind.

Nubees block received

This is the second awesome block I’ve received from the Nubees swap that I’m in.  I love the fabrics– they’re much better in person than in the picture.  The white fabric also has a swirly mod white-on-white design.

To top it all off– she sent me extra little bits of fabric!  Now that’s the way to a quilter’s heart!  I haven’t decided whether to put them in a pieced back or sew them into a new block for the front.

WIP Wednesday

This posting is a little late, but we’ve been car shopping this week, so I’ve been busy.  I was getting ready for bed last night, and this idea just popped into my head, so I went to my sewing room and whipped out a few blocks.

I love the look of wonky 9-patches but have never made them myself.  I’ve had this dog fabric around (around 6 yards of it!) since we got our Old English Sheepdog five years ago.  I had intended to make a crate cover (big dog=big crate, hence all the yardage) but never got it done, and he is just as happy with it uncovered anyway.

I didn’t know what to do with this fabric except for make a baby quilt, but six yards would make a ton of baby quilts.  It’s also hard to find coordinating fabrics for a print like this.  I happened to have the black and white dot print that I had picked up on clearance a while back, so I tested out the wonky 9-patch.  It worked!

As I was sewing the patches together, I kept thinking that I didn’t know how this would turn out to be square, but it definitely did.  They’re sewing up quickly and easily.  For this particular baby quilt, I’ll sew sixteen of these blocks that finish to 8.5″ square.  I’m about halfway through the bunch and plan to finish tonight.

Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll get the top sewn together this week since I’ll have to pack for my vacation to Florida soon and will be away next week.  However, it’s a nice easy project to give me a few minutes of distraction between packing and cleaning.

Ruby Mosaic Quilt

     

I absolutely fell in love with this quilt from Moda Bake Shop.  In fact, this was the first quilt I made after discovering designer quilt fabric.  Yes, until quite recently I lived in the limited world of Joann’s.  Boy have my eyes been opened since then!

Anyhow, I almost always make some sort of change to a pattern when I actually make it, but I loved this one so much that I followed exactly, right down to the borders and fabric.  I made one for myself, and I was so happy with the way it turned out that I took it home at Thanksgiving to show my mom.  She and my mother-in-law couldn’t stop talking about it, so I decided to make them both one for Christmas.  However, by that point, I had trouble ordering more of the backing fabric.  I later found a couple fairly local stores that had Ruby in stock, but i didn’t know it at the time.  So, I gave my mom the one I already had made and made my mother-in-law a new one with a white back instead of a printed one. 

I wound up with some extra scraps from those two, which was enough to make myself a larger bed-sized version.  It’s only a full-size quilt, but that’s great because I plan to use it on our sofa bed in our parlor, and we have some red on our walls, so it picks up the red print fabric really well.  I’m still so in love with this fabric that I’m hoarding my scraps, and I just may break down and buy another layer cake or fat quarter bundle.  It’s the perfect mix of shabby-chic and vintage.  It would look fabulous in a little girl’s room.

     

For the quilting, I used a meandering stipple pattern with little flowers every few inches.  I thought the flowers made it a little more interesting and picked up on the girly patterns and flowers in the fabric.

We Bee Learning: February Log Cabin Block

The hostess for this month requested a simple log cabin block made with girly colors and fabrics and a solid black center square.  This block was very simple and followed the tutorial found here.  They’re all 2.5″ strips, unfinished, and it finishes to a 12.5″ block. 

I also made a block following this design for my mother-in-law’s sampler quilt that I plan to give her at Christmas.  I’m up to three blocks so far.

February 99 Bee Block

This is the block chosen for February.  I LOVE the colors and fabric that were sent to me.  The prints are DS Quilts prints from Joann Fabrics.  She’s using this fabric as well as other DS Quilts prints, and I assume she’ll randomize them in the actual top.   

I also love the light gray background fabric.  Personally, I haven’t yet jumped on the gray bandwagon.  It seems like gray is the new “it” color for home decorating lately.  I honestly think in years to come it will be like the orange and brown combo of the seventies that we all make fun of, but I’m really warming up to grays now that I’m seeing all the beautiful new fabrics and quilts using grays in their color schemes.

I’m really tempted to make a similar quilt to this one because a quilt is a relatively low-cost, low-energy (at least from my perspective) way to get a little trendiness into our home.  I wouldn’t decorate a whole room with a gray color scheme, but this is partly because I don’t think it would fit well in our Victorian home with our furniture (mostly antiques).  Some people are really talented at creating that eclectic look and making modern decor work with antiques, but I’m unfortunately not one of them.

Anyway, this block is called “Pogo Stick,” and was very simple to make.  I love receiving my block fabric in the mail whenever a new month rolls around.  It’s like getting a present, even though I don’t get to keep it.  I love seeing the color combinations/designs that people choose, too.  It helps me get out of color ruts when making my own quilts.

29 Day Organizational Challenge

My best friend, Laura, from confessionsofarecoveringchocoholic.com has joined an organizational challenge at Org Junkie.  Since I, too, have a room (okay, I have more than one room, but we’re only talking about one for right now) in dire need of attention, I’ve decided to join the challenge as well.

The challenge involves clearing one room of the clutter and reorganizing the space so that, in my case, it’s functional again.

Before I post the dreadful pictures, let me explain.  We’ve been doing some major remodeling on our 1890s house, and this room has been the catchall for everything– pictures that we can’t hang up because walls are being drywalled, boxes of baby clothes, curtain rods we can’t put up yet, 3 window unit air conditioners, a stockpile of diapers, and a random assortment of a lot of other things.  Oh, did I mention it’s also our “guest” room??  Hah.  I couldn’t have a guest stay there unless I had three months’ notice!

Anyhow, my plan is to get the clutter cleared out and have a functional guest room by March 1st.  This is one of the last two rooms to be remodeled, so even once it’s cleaned up, it still won’t look like much.  We have a corner where the wallpaper has been stripped to allow for a chimney repair last year, but the rest of the paper needs stripped, the dirty carpet pulled up and the wood floors refinished.  I don’t know how far in the future this will be, but I’ll be lucky if it happens this year.  Still, I know I would feel much better if I could at least walk in the room (being able to shut the door would be great, too!).

Without further ado, here’s the embarrassing proof (and yes, I did manage to climb in the room to get pictures from different angles):

          

Pretty scary, huh?  I definitely have my work cut out for me.  Here are two challenges I foresee:  first, I’ll be on a week long vacation during February, and I won’t be home to work on it.  Second, my husband has rewired most of our house, but the overhead light to this room isn’t hooked up yet.  This means I can only work in this room during the day.  My husband works second shift, and I do most of my housecleaning (what I do of the cleaning, that is) during the evenings while he’s at work.  However, it’s too dark to work in there after about 6 pm. 

So, I’ve asked my husband to hook up the electricity, and that’s planned for this weekend.  As for the vacation, I’ll just have to start ASAP and really put some time in on the room before I leave.  I’ll post progress pictures, so please keep me accountable!