Saturday, June 30, 2007

Can I call myself a quilter?

This is my first "real" quilt. I don't think my previous denim quilt is really considered a real quilt. It is a lap sized quilt that I made over the past 4 days. It is full of "design features" (flaws) but I love it just the same. I used the "quilt-as-you-go" method and it was really easy. I will use this technique again. It is actually made of 6 rows of 5 blocks each. Each row is added to the previous one and then quilted. You can do much larger quilts this way on just a regular home sewing machine. I learned about this technique through various sites online but originally remember seeing Kaye Woods demonstrating her 6 hour baby quilt on TV a few years ago and she used this kind of quilt-as-you-go technique. I want to make my next quilt somewhat like her baby quilt. I have already plotted out the design for it. Being a new quilter with absolutely no experience gives me freedom to try different things because I don't know that it can't be done. Oh, and disregard the date stamp. I took this picture yesterday.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Crazy quilt pillow and applique

My son has a pair of favorite jeans. One day when getting the jeans load ready to wash, I noticed a few spots that needed mending. Until recently, I would have just chucked these into the trash. Knowing how much he loved them, I tried my best to mend the holes. The mending lasted a few months until this week when again, I noticed the holes re-appeared when I was about to wash them. Since I had a small stack of jeans squares left over from the quilt, I thought I'd try to patch them again. It's not pretty, but I'm hoping he'll get a few more months wear from these. You know, he never said a word to me about the holes. I don't think he really cared that they were holey. In turn, I never said a word about the repair job. Let's see if he notices. To be honest though, my heart skipped a beat when I saw that the holes re-appeared. I thought, "Yippee! Another pair of jeans to turn into a quilt!" Sick, huh?

Speaking of quilt, remember that crazy quilt experiment? I had enough to make a pillow to go with the jeans quilt. I'm pretty tired of this fabric right now. I'm ready to try something new. In fact, I bought a few fat quarters yesterday. They're coordinating prints in red and golden yellow with a little bit of green. I was also able to get a new cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler at 50% from Joann's. I like the crazy quilting but not sure I want to do another one yet.

I did want to try machine appliqued blanket stitch. They aren't perfect yet, but I'll keep trying. Not bad for my first time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Test drive

After a depressing start to my day, I had to get in touch with my creativity to uplift my spirits. I decided to test drive my new sewing machine to see whether to keep it or not.

Last night I read 'Stack the Deck: Crazy Quilts in 4 Easy Steps' by Karla Alexander. This type of quilting has intrigued me more than the technically perfect quilts with all the precise points. Perhaps it's because I'm so new to the craft that points scare me, or, well...nope, I just like those types of quilts. So anyway, I had a few squares of flannel left from my jeans quilt so I thought I'd try my hand at the 'stack and whack' type of technique. I think I like it. I want to make another lap sized quilt like this. I don't know if I'll continue with these fabrics or not. If so, I'll have to buy more. I'd like to do one of the batik fabric ones that are found in the book. There's one with greens and purples with appliqued hearts on it. I might leave the hearts off.

Since I had the machine handy, I also tried to crazy quilt a fabric postcard. I like it except for the sloppy satin stitch border. I should have used coordinating thread instead of contrasting, perhaps. It's not beautiful but for my 'first' I'm pretty happy with it. I found this type of foundation crazy quilting to be more fiddly than the 'stack & whack' type, which I now like very much. I also like my new machine, a Brother HS100. It is computerized with 100+ stitch functions. I practiced some of the stitches on the postcard and they're cool. I can't wait to do more sewing on this machine.

Heavy, heavy heart

This morning I awoke early because Anthony requested fried rice for breakfast before going to summer school. As usual, I turned on the TV and listened to the news while I cooked. I was stopped in my tracks by the story of the nine firefighters who lost their lives last night in Charleston, South Carolina while fighting a furniture warehouse fire. I know that many people die every day and we hear of our soldiers losing their lives daily in Iraq and Afghanistan but this hits too close to home for me. I know I've mentioned before that my husband is a fire captain for the City of Las Vegas. When I kiss my husband goodbye every other morning, my thoughts are of how much laundry I have yet to wash, what other chores I need done before the kids get out of school, etc. I cannot think that this might be the last time I see him alive. I cannot think about the dangers he faces every day he's on the job...I'd be paralyzed. We've lost 2 men from his department in the last 3 years to job related cancers. Young men in their 40's with families. People don't normally think about the other causes of death to firefighters other than fire. I try not to. I'm really good at this avoidance. I have developed this coping mechanism so strongly being married to a fireman. I say, "If I don't think about it, it won't happen. If I don't think about it, it will go away".

Today's event prompted me to have a chat with the boys on the way to summer school because they had seen the news and how it affected me. I told them that if their father were to die like this, I wouldn't want to stay in Las Vegas. I would want to move back home to Hawaii because that's where my family is. Anthony, the teenager, said that he would want to stay here because this is where all of his friends are. Chris, the youngest, didn't care. I told them that there is nothing keeping me here. I have no ties to this community. I'd need my support system back home, but I understand how Anthony feels. I hope I don't ever have to make this decision. There I go, avoiding again.

My heart breaks for the families of the firefighters who perished yesterday. They will be in my prayers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Look at what I made today!

I have been planning this denim rag quilt for the past 3 days. When Anthony left for football camp on Sunday, I went through his closet and found several pairs of jeans that no longer fit him with plans to make this quilt out of them. I asked him first and he gave me his blessing. Chris wanted to join in the fun so he pulled out some of his outgrown jeans for me. I had no idea how many jeans I'd need for this project. I think in all I used 3 or 4 pairs of Anthony's jeans and two pairs of Chris' jeans shorts. By the end, I was getting really good at getting the most squares as possible out of them. I also bought 4 yards of flannel for the back of the quilt. I found the fabric at Wal-Mart at $2/yard. I thought of using more masculine flannel plaids from JoAnns Fabrics but those were $5/yard and I wanted this one to be for me, so they had to be bright, cheerful colors.
I used a total of 88-6.5 inch square units (denim on top/flannel on bottom) for a finished size of 44" x 60.5". I even had a few squares of all the fabrics left over but really wanted to stop where I was. I was too anxious to get the sewing part over with. This is by far the most challenging sewing project I've ever done. I knew this quilt would be messy with all the snipping to be done. It was! Also, the Fiskars raq quilt snippers made the job so much easier than using scissors. I was worried about washing and drying it in my machines because of all the lint this thing would create. I spoke to my friend, Pat, who made several of these and she said that if I took it to a laundromat and an attendant saw me bring one of these things in, they wouldn't let me wash and dry it there. She assured me that it would be fine in my machine and I was excited to see it finished so I went ahead and did it here. I checked my dryer's lint filter every 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes it was jam packed with lint. I am just so tickled that it turned out exactly like I had planned. I'm happy, happy! I can definitely see more of these in my future.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

School's out for summer!

Today was Anthony's last day as a freshman. Boy, is he glad it's over. Still has to get through summer school though.

This reminded me that I needed to get a thank you gift done for Chris' first grade teacher, Mrs. Whinery. She has put up with a lot of his "kolohe" (mischievous in Hawaiian) behavior all year and has been really nice about it. I didn't want to do the usual apple theme so when I came across a really cute school themed print, I knew a tote bag was in order. Who can have too many tote bags anyway? It was so easy (sew easy?). I started with a premade canvas tote bag from Wal-Mart (less than $3.00) and 1/2 yard of this fabric (about $2.00) plus one magnetic closure (pack of 6 for $3.00 at Joann's).

Also, since I had the sewing machine out (no, I don't have a craft room) I decided to make that placemat purse I've been thinking about after seeing them on Craftster. I found this really cute ladybug placemat for $2.99 at Ross' and it told me it wanted to be a purse. Add in some black fabric that I bought as a remnant and 1/2 of a shoulder strap set from Joann's, et Voila! C'est facile! Je suis heureuse.

Here are the fruits of my labors:

Speaking of craft rooms, we know that knitting and crocheting can be done anywhere and anytime, but since I've been doing more sewing lately, I have been looking around my house for a spot to set up a permanent sewing station. Our upstairs loft has a little space near my computer desk that I can snag. Right now it is home to Chris' dome tent. Ha! I really want one of those armoires that open out to a sewing table, as right now, I'm using our dining room table and have to put everything away as soon as I'm done. Nothing wrong with cleaning up after myself, but sometimes I want to sew but am too lazy to take out all my stuff. Also, I've been looking at new sewing machines but I'm really confused about what kind and which features. I would eventually like to learn to quilt so that is a consideration as well. My friend, Michele, who is an avid quilter, told me that I'd probably never use most of the fancy stitches on this computerized 100+ stitch Brother sewing machine I've had my eye on. When I told Bernie he was going to buy me a new machine soon he just said, "oh shit!" and left the room. The Singer that we currently have is a very basic one with only 6 stitches but it does everything I need it to right now. It probably needs to be serviced as it sounds like it's complaining when I use it. I bought it for Bernie 17 years ago for Christmas, our first Christmas together. He showed his crafty gene way back then! I should have seen it coming!

Gotta run. We have a party to go to tonight and then I have to make that Amish Friendship Bread, for which I've had the starter fermenting for the past 10 days! It's really delicious when it's all done but what a pain in the ass to wait for.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Books I'm reading/listening to

Just finished listening to Second Sight and enjoyed it. Really enjoy Amanda Quick! Just finished reading Dreaming of You this morning and thought it was very touching. I cried. I know, I'm a sucker! Almost done listening to The Heir and am liking it so far, but then again, I've loved Johanna Lindsey since I was a teenager and my high school boyfriend's mom used to pass on her books to me. Liked her even more when I found out she lived in my hometown! Speaking of my ex-boyfriend's mom, she is no longer with us, due to a battle with breast cancer, but she really helped to foster my love of reading. She was an avid, voracious reader of trashy romance novels, which today are still my favorite kind. Can you imagine passing on Bertrice Small and Virginia Henley to your teenaged son's girlfriend? She was a very loving and open minded mom, but as a mom of a teenaged son myself, I couldn't see myself passing along anything more stimulating than Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Another round ripple finished


The black and blue/green one is the original one I started when joining the ripple along. It is now done and I immediately started the black, green and purple one to fill that void. These were colors left over from the multicolored ripple that I just finished. I'm more comfortable with this choice of colors rather than the wacky colored one. These colors remind me of pansies.

The last afghan is one that Bernie has just completed. I'm so proud of his work! The edges are really straight but I didn't pull them out fully when I took the picture. He's working on the red/black one for Anthony again since we got the red yarn from a few days ago. Sophie just can't help herself! No matter what kind of blanket or afghan you put on the floor, she has to lie on top of it.