Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Might I be too old for camp? Could be .....

I've been mulling over my experience at quilt camp and haven't yet reached a definitive conclusion.  Overall, I had a great time.  The best part was being with 3 friends from our Oasis Quilt Guild.  We got along famously even in a small mountain cabin with a kitchen big enough for one and a single bathroom.  Four women using a single bathroom?  Yup - we made it work.

I have never been to a quilting retreat before, so I did not know what to expect.  I'm a died-in-the-wool Type-A personality as well as a compulsive organizer.  This makes me extremely critical of how others organize or fail to organize.  I have to say that this event rated fairly low on my personal organizational scale.

We arrived in June Lake about 3 p.m. after a 350 mile drive and checked into the cabin then made a beeline for the community center to set up our machines for the 2-day quilting retreat.  I was expecting some kind of introduction to our projects and an overview of how the next two days would play out.  To be fair, the four of us were among the minority - the majority of those attending the retreat were repeats and were familiar with the routine (or lack of routine).  We set up our machines, looked at the project samples, perused the fabric for sale.  Our retreat leader told us to take our fat quarters, cut a 2" strip, then cut a 5" strip, which would leave us with an 11" strip, then we would be good for all the projects!

Say, what?  I was totally lost.  How many fat quarters should we have?  What if we didn't want to make all the projects?  She repeated:  cut a 2" strip, cut a 5" strip, you'll be left with 11" for the second quilt which wasn't going to arrive until the following day so we didn't even know if we wanted to make it!

I was still totally lost.  Amazingly lost.  I kept looking at the sample quilts, none of which actually appealed to me.  Then I looked at the project directions.  Disaster loomed!  I need step-by-step directions.  None of this made sense to me .... What were all these little drawings?  HELP!!!  I felt just like the 8-year-old at overnight camp for the first time.  I want to go home!  I don't belong here!  Everyone else knows what is going on.  I should not have come.  I'm the worst quilter here.  Can I get through the next 2 days without crying?

To be continued ....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back from camp ...

I am slowly recuperating from my quilter's camp experience.  The bottom line is that we had a FANTASTIC time.  However, it does take some moments to recoup from being away for 4 days.  So, I am busy getting the wash done, paying bills, making sure there is food in the house, ironing, watering the plants, catching up on family news, etc., etc.

700+ miles up and down the 395.  Whew!  I love to drive, but it was a long haul ..... scenes like this helped make it worthwhile.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'm going to camp!

Three quilting friends and I are off to Quilt Camp in the Sierras's tomorrow - fun, fun, fun!  I haven't been to camp in many years (decades?) and I also haven't been away with just the girls in a long, long, time.  I'm looking forward to it.

The four of us have rented a mountain cabin, and we'll be working on quilt projects Monday night, all day Tuesday and Wednesday.  Non-stop sewing .... isn't this heaven on earth?  I don't even know the projects; I just know I'm looking forward to it.

I am not, however, looking forward to the 6+ hour drive.  I offered to drive, and I'm okay with that.  I love my little Honda!

Doug has a long to-do list while I'm away.  Hmmm ... let's see what really gets done!

Friday, June 18, 2010

More projects down .... hip, hip, hooray!

Another successful day finishing up projects that have been on my mind.  Now, if I can just STOP creating more projects for myself .... hmmm.  Not likely, you say?  I'd have to agree with you.

I've had a delightfully pretty summery piece of fabric in my stash since combing through the 42 boxes of projects my MIL left when she died 3 years ago.  She's been on my mind lately as we struggle to get repairs completed on her house in Carlsbad.  Maybe remembering how many hours it took to go through those endless boxes is the impetus to get some of my own UFOs finished!  I don't want my kids (or grandkids) going through stacks and stacks of projects wondering if I was nuts ...

I digress.  This particular fabric really caught my eye and is one of the few pieces that I kept from my MIL's stash.  Granted, it would have made a great little dress for one of the girls with the cute butterflies, but I've been in a "sew-something-for-me" mode the last few weeks.  So, this adorable fabric became a pair of pj bottoms just for me - me - me!  I didn't have quite enough to handle the length I wanted, so I added the border from another small piece in my stash.  Aren't stashes wonderful?  Projects like this help justify keeping all those fabric pieces.

The pattern is McCall's 3370 which also includes a robe, a short version of the pj bottoms, and both a long and short-sleeved top.  I've always wanted satin pjs - maybe this is the way to get them!

A couple of months ago, I showed one of the outfits that I made for Talia to a friend from my quilt guild.  She looked inside the dress and said, "Oh, you didn't finish the seam edges."  Well, that got me thinking again about a serger.  I'm still thinking about it and wrestling with (1) the expense and (2) where the heck to put it. While I ponder whether a serger is a good move or not, I've decided to try to finish my garment sewing projects in a more professional manner.  Even though these are only pj pants, I took the time to overcast the seam edges.  It doesn't look all that great; more research on how to do this properly without a serger is in order.  I used Bernina presser foot 2A with an overcast stitch (#3 on the 640).

Then I embroidered a kitchen towel with a design that I won - yes, won! - last week from a great digitizer, Mary Rease of Rease's Realistic Designs at the OPW mall.  I've purchased several of Mary's sets; they never disappoint.  I'm also a member of her yahoo group.  Last week, Mary sent her group members a picture of a design she was working on and asked us to identify the mistake she had made in digitizing it.  I managed to locate the boo-boo (no easy task), so Mary sent me the design for free.  This lovely appliqué teapot is my prize!  I thought it would look great on a white microfiber towel that I've had for ages just waiting to be embellished.  Fabric from my stash again (whatever was I going to do with this fat quarter?).  Adding the border gives the towel a more finished look, IMO.  I'm thinking this design is perfect for gift-giving especially if I take the time to add some words as well.  Time for tea?  The kettle is on?  Lots of possibilities.

Now it's time to get back to the doll quilt.  Received these two fabrics for the month of June.  June?  YIKES!  Must put the pedal to the metal to get these blocks done before the end of the month.  Hope my creative juices haven't stopped flowing.  I think it's time to bite the bullet and try pintucks.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Another UFO completed - whoo hoo!!!!

Here's a project that was supposed to be finished for Jackson's third birthday.  Didn't quite make the deadline, but at least I can check it off the UFO list.  I'm determined to keep the projects under control - finish 'em or toss 'em.

I fused knit interfacing on the back of the t-shirt first.  Since the design had over 11,000 stitches, I also used 2 layers of polymesh cutaway stabilizer.  It's a bit stiffer than I would like.  If I did this design again, I think I'd try it with only one layer of the polymesh.  This is another project that I can see making for Miss T., the elder, or Miss T., the younger.  Can't you see this in shades of pink or purple?

I was happy, though, that the placement came out well.  Practice, practice, practice -- it's worth it!  This was a longer project than I planned.  I really had to fuss with the t-shirt (a size 3) in order to get it on the hoop and keep the extra fabric away from the needle as the Bernina embroidered away.  I slowed the machine speed down almost to minimum and sat by the 640 the whole time the design was stitching out to make sure all went well.

Next on the UFO list is a pair of pj bottoms for me.  I'm glad that I started garment sewing again.  I found a nice piece of blue and yellow butterfly fabric in the stash that I inherited from my MIL.  Perfect for summer pj's.  If I put my mind to it, I might be able to check off another project from the to-do list.

Whoo hoo!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Indeed - a picture is worth a thousand words

As the Gulf Coast oil spill grows ever more menacing, I thought I would share some pictures from our recent trip to the California Coast.  These pictures are unedited and need no captions.  I can't imagine watching oil spill over these precious parts of our world.

I don't know the answer .... I just know we need to find the answer before more of the irreplaceable magic of our earth is destroyed by human hands.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Something Special for Jackson

I ran across a great little tutorial on how to make a bike basket for a preschooler's bike.  Since we gave Jackson a bike for his birthday, I thought I'd give the tutorial a try and add a little zippiness to his bike.  Plus, it's hard for Jackson to go anywhere without his beloved Thomas trains.  Now he can take his trains and his water bottle on a bike ride with room for a snack or two!

The tutorial is from the Noodlehead blog.  She's got some other cute tutorials - check it out!

The rear of the bike basket has a strap with velcro so you can attach it to the crossbar of the bike.  I followed the directions without benefit of having the bike close at hand to measure.  Hope it fits!

If I make this again, and I probably will once Miss T., the elder, sees it, I would play with the instructions a bit.  I had a difficult time putting the fusible interfacing between the bag and the lining and then getting an iron in the small space to fuse it all together.  I tried a smaller craft iron, which helped a bit.  I have to remember, though, that it's for a 3-year-old who is (1) not fussy and (2) going to be thrilled to have something his sisters do not have!

If I was a bettin' woman, I'd say there's a pink bike basket somewhere in my future .....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The mind sees what it wants to see

A couple of months ago, some quilting friends and I were on a shop hop when I ran across a really cute purse pattern, the Crazy Patch Purse.  I haven't done any crazy patch quilts, so I thought doing a small project like this would be a good place to learn a few tricks.

Actually, it's more of a tote than a purse since there are no inside pockets.  (The Bow Tucks Tote has forever sold me on the value of lots and lots of inside pockets.)  Anyway, it was one of those "I have to have that" moments.

I took the pattern with me to the Quilt, Craft and Sewing Expo in Del Mar several weeks ago to shop for fabric.  Just as I was about to give up, my eyes focused on a fat quarter loaded with coffee and tea cups.  Voilá!  I had found the theme for this purse - I love coffee!  So, fat quarter in hand, I searched through the vendor's stash and found a coordinating print in brown with the word "coffee" written in various fonts all over it.

Hmmm .... trouble is that the word was not "coffee" - it was chocolate!  Guess my brain just wanted it to say coffee.  Oh, well.  I love chocolate, too.  So I call this purse my mocha purse.  Who will ever know?

The pattern was fun to do.  I enjoyed going through my stash looking for fabrics that would coordinate yet be different enough to make the crazy patch stand out.  I used a variety of my decorative stitches, too.  The stitch reference sheets that I painstakingly worked on paid off (see this post).  I opted not to add the buttons called for in the original pattern.  I'm thinking that this purse needs a big, puffy fabric flower with a button center. 

That's about 3 projects down the road .... pillowcase for the one million pillowcase challenge, a project for Jackson's new bike, pj bottoms for me, then a big, puffy fabric flower!  Never a dull moment around this house.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Art Linkletter would have loved this one

My 4-year-old granddaughter, Talia, has suddenly taken an interest in discussing death.  (My daughter thinks this is prompted by the requisite scary parts of any Disney movie, especially "The Lion King.")  Our daughter is now explaining, at a 4-year-old's comprehension level, various beliefs about death and what happens, or does not happen, afterwards.

Simultaneously, our grandson started potty training.  Our DD's tried and trued method of potty training involves rewards, including M&Ms (for trying) and small prizes (for successes).  Talia announced that potty training was really fun and she wishes she could be potty trained again.

The next day, Talia told her mom that she has decided to believe in reincarnation.  Her reasoning?  She would come back as a baby, grow up to be 3, then get to be potty trained again - and have M&Ms!!!!

Yes, Art, kids really do say the darndest things!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Our trip was wonderful, but it is oh so marvelous to be home.  We actually arrived back at the farm on Sunday, but it has taken me several days to settle in and feel in control again.  As a Virgo, I need to have everything in its place, neat and tidy and organized, to really feel right.  Sigh .... today things are as they should be!

The wedding was lovely - different, but lovely.  It was held on a farm just outside the charming city of Sebastopol, California, in the Sonoma County wine country.  Chickens, horses, birds and bees kept us company as we listened to Amy and Jonny recite their vows.  They seem well suited, and I am supremely happy that they were able to find one another in the midst of this crazy, crazy world.  Apparently, they met through an online dating service  Mazeltov!

Doug and I enjoyed meandering down the coast of California.  We haven't done this in years.  Stopped often to view the miraculous Pacific coastal areas.  Each time we pulled into a parking area to enjoy the vista, my heart skipped a beat.  Imagine this magnificence covered in oil?  Imagine the sea birds and mammals struggling through layers of oil?  Somewhere, somehow, we need to find a balance between nature, business, progress, development, environmental protection.  We are squandering the best gift mankind has ever been given --- the beauty of our earth.

Back to sewing tomorrow - finish a purse started before the trip, try my hand at making a new pair of pants by using a well-loved pair that have seen better days, and embroidering a t-shirt for our grandson that missed the deadline for his 3rd birthday.  And, watch the Lakers beat the >>>>>> out of the Celtics tomorrow night!  Go Lakers!