Friday, September 30, 2011

Name game

The name game, or rather free-pieced letter game, continued several nights this week.  I lined them up to see what they would look like once surrounded by background.

The capital R in Rafilda bothered me--seeming too clunky.

So I did a little surgery and added a narrow background strip for refinement of the letter.  As with any new technique, it takes a bit of time to get your mind wrapped around it, but by the third name I was comfortable "thinking in strips" as I added them and branched out by exploring fonts.  It is the deadline for the UFO challenge and obviously I will not get a quilt finished today, but I am four steps closer!  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday's Orts--Sept 27, 2011

Another bunch of Orts, in this case flotsam and jetsam of my week that land here each week.
  • When you've had a blister on your toe for 10 days, can you pop it?  I'm afraid to!
  • Computer problems at work have resulted in far too many stressful hours for months now.  Our database crashed totally on Thursday and luckily our tech guy was able to get it back after about 3 hours of work on Friday.  A new server has been ordered but until it gets here it is "fingers crossed" every day.  Not fun.
  • No matter which practice management program Dr. P and I look at and how many different ways they work the numbers, it all adds up to about $6000 a year for a medical office billing and scheduling program.  And of course that does not include the price of new computers/routers, installation of same, or any future software upgrades.  Sheesh. 
  • Traffic rant:  Drivers who realize they need to turn, but just maddeningly drift from the far right lane across two lanes to the left turn lane in half a block, without signaling and in no apparent hurry, making the rest of us have to hit our brakes.  Why can't they just go up to the next block and turn? 
  • In the interest of moving more (i.e., getting up from sitting), this weekend I made about 30 trips in and out of the garage to the box of fall decor items instead of bringing the box in the house.  Wish I'd worn a pedometer to keep track of my mileage.
  • Our volunteer corn plant has grown a lot.

  • I wouldn't describe it as lush, and I don't believe it will produce fruit, but it is pretty with its tassels.  Another is about to burst forth.  Grant thinks we should cut it down but I'm not ready to--I like it! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Design Wall Monday--Sept 26, 2011

On my Design Surface today is more of the same--still working on my September UFO, Any Witch Way (Quiltmaker, Sept/Oct 2009).  I'm now constructing all the witches' names.

Kachan is spelled out, joining Jerryl.  Playing with letters is fun but requires concentration to make sure the background and letter fabrics are going in their correct spots.  I've made a start on the next witch's name, which will be Rafilda, and have branched out a bit from the block style.  More on that later!  See more Design Walls on Judy's Patchwork Times

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do you do this?

I went shopping for pants to wear to work and came home with a jacket.  It's a new color for me, green (ha ha).  The fit was good and the fabric a nice brushed twill, with lots of the dressmaker details I like.

However, I pictured unwinding my long hair from the epaulet buttons multiple times per wearing.

They weren't even sewn into a seam so I knew my seam ripper would quickly be in use once I got the jacket home. 

A few stitches tacking the facing to the seam allowance to secure it...

...and the jacket is ready to launder and wear.  Removing that detail was quick and easy.  I often deconstruct new clothing--and sometimes old--with my seam ripper, especially flaps on pockets and labels in itchy spots. 

I still need pants, though!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Word Play

Strips cut and Word Play Quilts book at the ready, I started playing with letters this morning.  The E was first, followed by J, L, the Rs, and finally Y.  My letters got bigger--the Y is outsized because I mistakenly used a wider strip than called for.

Not bad for a first attempt, but the letters seemed too blocky and crude for these elegant witches.

Lowercase letters are easier to make, too. 

This combo fits the space well but I may mix upper and lower case for fun.  That decision doesn't have to be made until all the names are ready to be assembled.  Then I'll add spacers and finally trim to a consistent height.  So far I have not had to discard any whole letters, but some pieces definitely hit the trash bin.  I barely had enough leftover fabric to make all these letters, so I better be more careful as I go--there isn't much left of any of these fabrics!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Witching Hours

Borders have been completed for the second of the two Any Witch Way (Quiltmaker Sept/Oct 2009) quilts.  Construction of the piano key border in strip sets took some time and by complete serendipity--not planning--fit perfectly.  I've mentioned before how I am not a MATH girl...

I had cut 1.5" strips per the pattern but did not like the diagonal setting it called for, so did a brick border on the first quilt and changed to the piano key for this one.   I really like it.

Also, miraculously, the sections I made turned this corner in color order. 

I'm now ready to start making letters.  I decided to make the names color-match the witches' hats, with the background the same black Dimples fabric for all.  Tonya's basic instructions feature approximately 3.5" tall letters and that will work well for this size project.  The first name I am going to make is JERRYL.  I chose that one because of the simpler letters to construct, like J, E, and L.  Wish me luck!

Two more blocks from the leader-ender project are on the pile--now more than halfway to the 20 blocks needed (Flowers for Nana Girl, from Scrap Basket Sensations). 

This print is so cute--the little bees and flowers are sweet.  No sewing for me tonight though, it's time to play Bunco with the gals!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Orts--Sept 20, 2011

Another edition of orts--the bits of thought and folly that pass through my week and land here.
  • Taking a break from secret wedding sewing on Saturday found me on my hands and knees, weeding the front flower bed.  After an hour of attack, I called in reinforcements from Grant.  We made big progress over the next hour but I told him I was picturing General Crabgrass mustering his troops that night for an assault, so Grant got out the big guns: weedkiller spray. Take that, General!
  • I wish every weekend was a three-day weekend.
  • My boss, Dr. P, after being shown an article I printed out, said that we may need to add another phrase to our guidelines for patients:  Don't make the newspaper.
  • I showed Elaine an old photo of me at about age 21-22, in which I was wearing running-style short shorts and a skinny tank top.  She said, "Well, look at you, Sporty Spice".  I don't think she meant it as a compliment.
  • Traffic rant:  TURN SIGNALS, PEOPLE!  They are there for a reason, truly, Mr. Not-Less-Than-Five-Lane-Changes-in-2-Miles.
  • Cleaning my sewing area took a couple of hours on Sunday.  There were two problems to deal with: what to do with all those scraps, and getting distracted by a quilting book.  I had to slam the book shut after 10 minutes to make myself get focused.  Finally I am able to use the tabletop of the Hoosier cabinet for cutting again.  It's been awhile.
  • I've been clearing too-big clothing out of my closet.  It seems I favor a certain color...can you guess?
All the hanging items.

And the folded ones. Not all of these are too big, they are just in the green family.  Luckily I also like red, purple, brown, orange and tan so my closet isn't bare.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Design Wall Monday--Sept 19, 2011

On my Design Desk today is my September UFO.  I've switched out these witches for this month's selection. Yes, it is already way late in the month but this is as far as I have gotten:
I found the project box, picked out fabric for the background and letters, and read Word Play Quilts to prepare for making names for my witches.  This book is terrific, and I'm not saying that just because I made a word for the quilt that ended up on the cover!  Which, by the way, was the first and last free-pieced word I have ever made (my word is SOAR).  Tonya breaks down the letter-making process to easy steps using strips of different widths.  She has two main guidelines:  If it is too long, cut it off.  If it is too short, add to it.  You can see tutorials on her UnRuly Quilter blog.  Now I just have to choose the names from my long list of favorites gathered over the past year!  See more Design Walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Playing Hooky

It seems I played hooky this week from blogland but it wasn't intentional.  There was nothing fabric-related happening or worth showing until Thursday night, when bride-to-be Elaine came over for some crafting--and secret wedding projects can't be shown, natch.  Design decisions were made, cutting and organizing accomplished, and some painting done.  She worked me until after 10 pm. 

I had already decided to play hooky from work on Friday and that freed up my morning to attend Elaine's dress alteration appointment.  I was very impressed with the owner, Elizabeth, who was so comfortable with all the ins and outs of bridal dresses, bustling the back, layers, netting, lace etc, whereas I would be lost in that department.  She spent an entire hour working with Elaine in the dress and making it just perfect for her special day.  I showed Elizabeth the veil I made and was happy to accept her compliments on my sewing.

After picking up some interfacing for the secret wedding project, I went home to work on my half-finished skirt, on which I'd already edge-finished all the seams.  All it needed were the waistband and hem. 

I always secure my overlapped elastic with the above stitching design to enforce that it lies flat.  After closing the waistband opening, I also stitch in the ditch on at least the side seams to keep it from twisting.

Here's the great clearance-rack linen jacket that inspired me to pull out the rayon fabric from my stash for the skirt.  You can see the flounces that run down the front of the skirt--the pics with flash showed the colors better but the flounces disappeared.  I can't wait to wear the outfit to work.

Grant had a birthday yesterday and we celebrated at a very nice dinner restaurant, Prime, which is one of his accounts.  He enjoyed a Patron margarita with a Grand Marnier shot.  Happy Birthday, darling!

To start his four courses he chose this blackened chile relleno with sauce.  I had crab-stuffed mushrooms, Chris had shrimp wontons, and Nick had spicy shrimp.  We received excellent service and attention all through the rest of our delicious dinner courses and listened to some live music.  They even sang a personal Happy Birthday to Grant, making him turn red!   It was a lovely meal.

Future son-in-law Chris provided some after dinner exercises in balance.  We missed Erica but she will be home soon enough--the big day grows ever closer!  Now I'm off to more secret wedding project work...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday's Orts--Sept 13, 2011

Ort: a scrap, a bit; in this case, gathered random bits of thoughts and observations on my week.
  • I got a call early Friday that our outbuilding had been broken into at work overnight.  The doorframe was splintered on the latch side and both were lying on the floor.  I instructed the staff not to touch anything and to call the police.  I will say that nothing perks up a tired receptionist like a cute cop.
  • It appeared the thief only took food from the refrigerator, which is kind of sad.  He rummaged through the break room area and overturned the bathroom trash--I think to take the liner of the can for the sandwiches he carried off, because that was missing.  Ew.
  • Saturday I went to the garden center.  This is a old-fashioned hardware, home and garden center and walking around, it was hard to imagine there was something they didn't carry.  I heard popping sounds as I was looking around and as I got to the checkout, one worker was handing out bubble wrap to several cashiers, who immediately began popping with glee.  My cashier did manage to restrain herself until after she rang up my items.
  • Traffic rant:  Of the pedestrian type this time.  While I was walking across the parking lot of a local restaurant for lunch, a worker was pushing a wheeled garbage can.  He saw me and sped up so he could enter the door before me.  And then didn't hold the door open even though I was a foot behind him.  Huh?
  • Occasionally I read the Want Ads in our local paper.  Under "Special Notices" yesterday was an intriguing one:  "Wanted:  Middle-aged woman to go sailing on my 30 foot yatch".  You know, I might have taken him up on that if he had a YACHT and not a YATCH. 
  • It is less than six weeks to the wedding of DD Elaine and Chris.  This is a bigger deal than our own wedding--which was planned in less than two months and very simple.  The logistics are getting a bit nerve-wracking for the big day but the RSVPs are coming in and the excitement is building.
  • This time two years ago I was getting ready for another wedding, that of my Aussie girlfriend Susie and her mate, Jon.  I was furiously working on this quilt:
And when I actually got to Port Douglas, got to go on their amazing boat.

Now THAT'S a yacht!  58 feet of luxury.  That cruise on the Coral Sea was a 10, all day, and I presented the couple with the quilt I had made:
It was a long-time dream come true to travel to Australia, and I will treasure my memories of my amazing time there forever.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Design Wall Monday--Sept 12, 2011

On my Design Surface today is a partly finished object of another kind--actual clothing!
I'm making the skirt that is orange in the illustration.  The pattern claims it is a 2-hour skirt.  I say, yeah--not so much.  I'm not sure what step they start on but obviously they skip fabric prep, finding the pattern pieces in the tissue packet, then laying out and cutting the pieces for the skirt--all before sewing even begins.

This rayon challis has been in my stash for a very very long time.  It doesn't look like much here, but the 8 gore skirt is cute on, and comes to just below the knee.  It will be great for work.  I have some adjustments to make to the hip area and then can finish all the seams, turn down the top for the waistband and add the elastic and finally hem the skirt.  That will take more than 2 hours too!  Anyway, I've sewn enough that I knew that was a false estimate :)

The top to a Quilts for Kids kit was also completed over the weekend.  I added the corner triangles for some additional interest.  See more Design Walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

As I stitched airplane fabric into a charity quilt, I could not help but recall the events of that awful day 10 years ago involving hijacked jetliners.  It was not our habit to watch television in the mornings so it was a neighbor who called to tell us what was happening.  We watched as the north tower burned and newscasters relayed what little information was available.  The kids left for school and Grant for work.  I happened to be off work that day on vacation and spent it watching in horror and disbelief, as did the rest of the country and world, as the second tower was hit and then both fell, the Pentagon was struck and burning, and the obliterated wreckage of Flight 93 was shown, followed by the sickening images of extremists in Iraq celebrating.  The safety of our country as we knew it changed forever that day.  But not the American spirit.  People lined up to give blood, money, comfort, any aid they could.  Rescue crews from all over the nation immediately headed to help.  The stories of those lost began to be told, the heroes honored, and survivors cherished.  America received the support from its many friends around the world, and was grateful.  Many non-Americans were killed in these attacks, but we felt they were "us" and not "them" and treated them as our own.  September 11, 2001 will forever be remembered and marked as a dark day for all nations.  People everywhere should fight extremists of every kind, foreign or domestic, for they are the true evil in the world.  We are one race, the human race, and live only on one world, Earth.  Let us never forget that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

X, Y & Z

So many days I head to work expecting I am going to do "X", and then when I get there Y & Z have happened and X goes out the window.  That's true about quilting too.  Last night I intended to get the UFO box of witches out of the Hoosier cabinet,  but when I was moving stuff around in my sewing area to get to it (a la archaeological dig), I unburied a plastic baggie from Quilts For Kids.  I knew a kit I'd ordered had come in a while back, but felt really terrible to see that June 17th was on the packing slip, far beyond the 4-6 week return request.  So a couple of hours of Y & Z later, I had this:

As usual, the kit contained 6.5" print squares, 3.5" strips to construct 4-patches with, plus border fabrics.  I decided to add some scraps of my own to change up the basic kit.

I dug around in my 2.5" scrap bin for black prints and cut squares.  Since the airplane print is directional with a lot of repeats, I thought the addition of the corner triangles would add a nice framing effect.  Want to help bring cheer to cancer patients?  Order a kit from Quilts for Kids!  They come with precut pieces for the top along with  backing and a label.  Just add batting and binding.   They are small with easy patterns.  I enjoyed  putting together one last year and ordered another free kit.  Now to get it finished and sent off!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Orts--Sept 6, 2011

And the Orts go on...
  • I forgot a traffic rant last week!  But I can report that drivers everywhere continued to misbehave.  Yesterday not less than four cars pulled out from side streets and a driveway on a one mile stretch as I drove on a two lane road.  All of them slowed--but didn't stop--at stop signs as they glanced my direction and then pulled out in front of me anyway. Sigh.
  • There are 116 days left in the year.  Of course, the kids that just started school are really only counting to the winter school break.
  • My youngest brother and his family drove out from Arizona for the holiday weekend to escape the heat.  Brother Ted forgot to bring a jacket--and our low on Friday night when they arrived was to be 57 degrees, about half of what the daytime high was at their home.  He had to borrow a jacket from my dad.  It was foggy and cool in the mornings, as usual, with sun in the afternoon.  They all enjoyed the break from heat and actually having to wear long sleeves for warmth instead of for sun protection.
  • Family in town always means lots of get togethers and of course lots of eating.  I was pretty good sticking to my eating plan but when Grant made oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert, I couldn't resist a cookie.  Or two.
  • Someday I will add exercise to this diet. 
  • There have been lots of programs on TV about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York.  It never stops giving me sickening chills when they show the planes hitting the towers, and again when the towers begin to fall.   
  • I drove out to a nearby new home project, of which the sales offices were touted to be "green", since they are retrofitted shipping containers.  The containers are not impressive from the outside but the view is one of my favorites.  (click to biggify)
The foothills lead up to the Topatopa Mountains that range East to West with a peak up to 6700 feet.  I think the views of the mountains change as much as the sea and I never tire of seeing them every morning as I head to the highway onramp to go to work.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Littles

Today has been a day of little things.  I slept in a little, read a little, did paying work for a little, blogsurfed a little, ate a little, did a little housework, and now I might take a little errand run to JoAnn's.  All in all, a very satisfying Labor Day so far!  Later a little sewing is planned.  I got a lot of work done on the wedding quilt yesterday, stitching up many pieces into their rows, while completing blocks on the leader-ender front.

The palest yellow block may not make it into the final quilt--the fabric is very very thin.  It seemed the leader-enders were taking too much time in my piecing work until I got into a rhythm.  I also improved my construction by penciling a diagonal line for the stitch-and-flip corners rather than finger pressing the squares in half and using the fold line as my guide.  Sometimes it is simply better to mark things!

A little decision making took place as well.  The UFO Challenge project for this month is #11, which on my list is a 9-patch quilt.  But I decided the witches deserve to finally be finished this year so will swap out #5 on my list.  I have two of these witch quilts, with the colors swapped of the hair and hatband in each. 

One is going to get a simple final border of black and and the eyelashes sewn on for its finish.  The other is going to have free-pieced letter names a la Tonya's book Word Play Quilts.  I have been gathering names for months--being a transcriptionist for the hospital has the benefit of running across all sorts of unusual names.  On my list are: Zenaida, Jerryl, Sherith, Ferol, Avrum, Taylan, Ralie, Prina, Trinara, Jonick, Kachan, Pagel, Lera, Jestina, Borgny, Una, and Zivana.   I have to choose four from this list.  Anyone want to help me narrow it down?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Crossing off

I do love to make lists, and even better to cross items off lists.  The Sweet Escape tablerunner I've been trying to finish for a month and a half finally did make it off the to-do list.

After stitching the last of the binding down today, I had some concerns about the unquilted print portions since they seemed too puffy, so I added more stitches.
Pretty uncontrolled serpentine quilting there--but it did solve my worry.  The tablerunner then got its first wash and dry.

I love the almost argyle look to the tablerunner (Sweet Escape, by Heather Mulder Peterson, On the Run pattern booklet). 

And the great texture from the all of the quilting.  

There was no bleeding from the charm squares and they didn't shrink more than expected, thankfully.

The plain white backing shows the quilting well.  I hope the recipient likes it too--this is a gift for the caterer for Elaine's wedding.  Elaine sent out all the invitations this week and RSVPs are already showing up in their mailbox.  She likes to cross items off lists too :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bear goes back in time

Bear* took a trip...
...all the way back to the Jurassic era, and there he found some dinosaur tracks.  You can tell he was pretty impressed with the size of those footprints.  Bear found them on Navajo land near Cameron, Arizona.  Bear got admitted for free, but his driver and two other companions were charged $15 apiece to look for dinosaur tracks on the Navajo land.  That was pretty impressive too!

*Bear is my dad's small blue companion who is ever ready for an outing and is always smiling.

Design Wall Monday--Catching Up

 Design Wall Monday --See more design walls on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog.  I disappeared for awhile, due to computer issu...