Sunday, May 31, 2009

what a catch!

one of the funnest things about blogs are the giveaways. this prize is rather esoteric but much desired--a fabric fish autographed by fabric designers at the Spring Quilt Market! definitely not what most people would want--but highly desired by all sewers alike. i would keep it next to my sewing machine as inspiration. check Confessions of a Craft Addict to see more pictures of the fish!

Grandma's Pop Garden

well, as i said, my beloved Bernina is in the shop for at least a week so i decided to cut for a hand-sewing project. which really wasn't that smart since i have 2 queen-size quilts to bind--and an irish chain/grandmother's flower garden that has been a WIP for at least a year now, and i need to cut strips for the chain part. but you gotta strike while the iron is hot and i was super-motivated to cut out HUNDREDS of hexagons.
first, cardboard ones to use for the English paper-piecing. i splurged on scrapbooking cardstock 'cos i didn't want to use boring colors--and the cost was all of $3 (vs free with cereal boxes)

a frontal view since it took me so long to cut these out. oh, and i didn't take pictures of all the holes i had to punch in each hexagon as well!
then a few hundred fabric hexagons. first though, some eye candy...
isn't this pretty?! it's Heather Bailey's Pop Garden and i love the vibrant colors. i think this is a perfect choice for a looooong handwork project 'cos there'll always be something interesting to look at. i think it's kinda cool how FQS folds their FQ bundles above, but here's another more traditional shot.

everything has to be cut out individually but it was fun because the fabrics are so pretty. first, i ironed each FQ and then cut a clean edge. i almost prefer FQs because it fits under my 24" ruler without folding (for the uninitiated, a FQ is a fat quarter, or 18x22") --i have such problems cutting fabric--it's almost impossible for me to cut a perfect strip, sigh...

then cut 5-1/2" strips

i got the hexagon ruler at Joann's (40% coupon of course!) --i used the biggest size which makes it extra easy to cut.

and here are 324 hexagons!

now, i'm a little confused as to how many hexes i actually need. using this picture (which is also the inspiration for the quilt), i'm approximating 325 hexes, but the guide sheet on the ruler says i need over 400 hexes! not sure why there's such a discrepancy. oh well, i don't have enuf for 400 anyway so i'll just adjust my size as i get closer to the end.
if you're interested in english paper piecing (tedious but good for long car trips), there's lots of tutorials out there but i learned the most from this one. i've done a couple of other ones--much smaller projects--and while i can't imagine sitting down and churning them out day after day, it's a good vacation project.
now i have a handwork box all prepped and ready to go. first gotta finish the binding on the 2 quilts! (and when the machine comes back--3 t-shirt quilts to finish, and VJL's long-promised birthday quilt)


i found this on the camera recently but it's an old quilt--BK--before kids. back in the day, i would actually go into fabric shops and browse around and buy fabrics that look interesting. nowadays, i almost only buy fabrics at on-line stores, and since i can't really see and touch them, i usually end up buying a whole line of fabric from a trusted designer. as VJL says, my quilts are much more tasteful now (since a designer actually put them together) but i say, they've lost a little of its character :-)

this was easy to sew--but took longer to cut since i basically cut a piece from every one of my conversation prints (any fabric that has objects on them, rather than a design) and then fussy-cut them again. i never did count how many different fabrics are on this quilt but i think 100 at least. i'll get one of the kids to count them one day!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meandering Stitch

this is the easiest quilting stitch and pretty much the only one i know. i think if you make the lines tighter together, then you could call this stippling. this is PH's t-shirt quilt so there's actually quite a bit of white (the t-shirts) in it which is why i used a white thread against a dark background. i really like how much it stands out against the dark background.
after i finished quilting this, the needle-through-the-safety-pin incident happened why binding it (see previous post :-(


this has been an expensive 2 weeks. i lost my little camera last week, i think at alex's school, but really have no idea where, and it still hasn't shown up yet. of course that camera is now "old" and the new models cost a lot more.

and then, yesterday, i'm sewing on the binding to PH's quilt when the machine jumps and starts a horrible grinding noise.
yup, i sewed over a safety pin! i have to say--the Bernina is a pretty powerful machine--the needle tip didn't even break off--and if you enlarge the photo, the needle didn't go through the hole in the safety pin, it went right through the metal. i was crossing my fingers that the machine was ok--now that would be blogworthy!--but no, something is off and the machine is in the shop right now. sigh...that's another $100ish bucks.
so i'll be machine-less for a week or so. the repair shop said they could arrange for a loaner sewing machine--but i'm not sure if it's worthwhile to make another trip down and then to learn a new machine. on the other hand, it might be fun to try another machine and see how that one sews. but i could get a lot of other stuff done in the meantime. perhaps even play with my kids more often. nah--probably won't happen...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Charming Threads Spring Quilt Show

this is the first time i've entered a quilt show, albeit an online one. it's probably the easiest quilt show to enter and there are even prizes! check out the Charming Chatter blog for the other entries--such beautiful quilts.

so this quilt is my Charming & Frugal Empress Woo. the fabric line is designed by Robyn Pandolph and it's a few years old. i bought a pack of charm squares and cut those up to be the 16-patch blocks--that's the "charming" part. i used a green from stash to be the cornerstones (the 16-patch block is constructed like a snowball) . i also bought some yardage of the figures and since i didn't have quite enough of the people--i would carefully piece scraps together to get a whole figure in the block--hence the "frugal" part. this was my own "design" (as designs go, this is pretty simple) and i'm very proud of that!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever

it's a tradition that we go strawberry picking on Memorial Day. well, maybe "tradition" is a little strong a word, but this is our 3rd year in a row. we go to Gizdich Ranch with friends from our different worlds--church, school, work & family.

we picked 13lbs of strawberries and ate lots more--see the juice dripping off alex's chin!
i made freezer jam with the strawberries--one batch is low sugar so i wonder how that will turn out. freezer jam is the easiest thing to make and the strawberry flavor really shines through.


i also cut up a few cups of strawberries and froze them--they'll be good for smoothies--yum. a few pints went to our neighbors and there's a bowl of too-ripe strawberries in the fridge. i'm done for the year! until next Memorial Day...

Sunday, May 24, 2009


my kids are the lucky recipient of hand-me-down clothes from my nephew & nieces AND 4 of my girlfriends & their kids. it's amazing how much money we've saved by being one of the last of our family & friends to have children! (though on the other hand, if i had to buy clothes for our kids, they sure wouldn't get all the name-brand stuff they've inherited).

anyways, this little wallhanging was made for my friend CNP. the fabric is from a dress that she wore when she was a little girl (she's my age so that was a loooong time ago :-) she didn't really think sophie would wear the dress (it was kinda worn out) but didn't want to throw it away either. so i cut it up to make this little quilt for her b-day. i saw a similar quilt at a quilt show awhiles ago and i eyeballed the pattern for this one.

one day--probably far off in the future, i'll make similar quilts for all my lovely sister/sis-in-law/girlfriends who have so generously (and tastefully) clothed my kids!

busy Sunday afternoon

whew! i washed (well really, the machine washed) 3 loads of laundry; baked two loaves of banana bread and 3 loaves of chocolate buttermilk pound cake and baked ribs for dinner--the oven was on for probably 4 hours!

here's sophie anticipating the pound cake...

this is the pound cake but paul thought the banana bread (with chocolate chips of course) was better.

A Little Romance

i made this quilt for paul's aunt who has been in the hospital and is now in a rehab facility (no, not for drugs) getting physical therapy. she should be going home soon but i wanted something to brighten up her hospital room. in typical chinese fashion, she said it was too pretty to use and will save it for when she gets home. oh well, as long as she uses it.

it's hard for me to use my stash--i always feel like i need to save it for "one day" (as in one day i'll make a green quilt)--well that day is far off so i'm trying to use stash especially for backing. i liked how this green back turned out.

the pattern was a quilt kit by April Cornell for Moda; the fabric line is called A Little Romance. i don't love the fabrics per se (too much purple--quite ironic since i spent my teen years loving purple--because of Donny Osmond but that's another story) but it was 50% off at the Fat Quarter Shop during their awesome Christmas sales (2 years ago). i also bought a FQ bundle 'cos it was too cheap to resist. so the irony is that i've used this fabric a lot lately, whereas i'm hoarding all the other fabrics that i really love.

this is a t-shirt quilt that i'm making for PH's daughter. i'll share photos and the story behind it when it's quilted up. but PH chose this line of fabric for the sashing.

and last christmas, i made a bunch of these fabric baskets as gifts (pattern courtesy of the Pink Penguin) using some striped and dotted fabric from a friend's destashing, and of course lots of A Little Romance fabrics.

i still have lots of scraps & FQs of this line--no more purple though!--and will save for a baby quilt in the future. (oh, not for me! but for other babies that come around :-)

Barefoot Diamonds

i LOVE this line of fabric called Barefoot Roses. it's by Grand Revival Design and Tanya Whelan, the designer, has designed many more beautiful lines--including Ava Rose and Darla. i automatically buy a FQ bundle when her fabric comes out and then wait and hunt for sales as the season progresses. her newest line is called French Hatbox (available in june) and if you look around Tanya's blog, you'll see swatches. so beautiful....

the pattern is a freebie from Moda the quilt consists only of diamonds which means that the sides are triangles

but the pattern calls for you to make the diamonds and then cut them in half!!! which is so incredibly wasteful, it took my breath away. it probably looks better but my frugal (i.e. cheap) side couldn't take it. so i ended up making all the diamonds required, decided to cut out the side triangles from yardage instead, and instead, make another quilt with the extra diamonds. that quilt was a little smaller, and looks pretty much the same as this one (so no picture). i gave it to my friend JH who helped us out a lot when the twins were younger.

here are a couple more detailed shots. note how i pieced together the center of the above block. i probably had enuf fabric but loved it too much to waste any piece of it.

i'm still making things from all the tiny scraps from this quilt because it is just too beautiful to throw away. i'll show pictures of those when i'm done with them.

(this is a series of blogs about quilts that i made in the last 2-1/2 years (i know that because the twins are 3-1/2 and there was very little sewing done that first year!) that i finally quilted, bound and photographed this year)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

spam musubi

this is probably the kids' favorite meals right now. not particularly nutritious but definitely delicious. and they assemble it themselves which ensures that they'll eat the whole thing. actually alex can eat a lot more than we give him--and is the reason why i bought the musubi mold in the first place. these little suckers cost $2 each at a hawaiian restaurant and alex would happily eat 4 or 5 if we let him.

messy house

ok, our living room isn't usually this messy but one way to have enuf time to quilt, is to not clean up!

quilty mistakes

i make tons. i had a little time this afternoon to baste this quilt (it's only lap-size) and i was half-way done when aaugh!!! the backing was too small. i'm usually pretty good about making them way too big but there it is. i finished pinning up to 10 inches away, and then sewed on another edge. (this quilt is for PH--i'll tell more when i show the finished product)


i just spent the afternoon with my friend JH who's house-sitting for her friends (it's our crafting day) --and what a fun house! first, the bed's headboard is in the shape of a sofa. so imagine a sofabed, but raised up to the height of a real bed--i really wanted to take pictures but figured it's a little intimate especially since i didn't know the couple. it just looks sooooo comfortable! i believe it's custom-made but i want one! probably in the life-after-kids-go-to-college life.

and then they also had one of those really expensive massage chairs. i was prepared to be underwhelmed, thinking how good could a massage chair be--but this one was amazing. it was so powerful that it was almost painful at times! each "session" lasted 20 minutes and i got two sessions--am feeling very relaxed. i would love one of those too--i'd put it in my sewing studio which won't happen until that aforementioned life either.

good times :-) (paul took the kids out to a newly opened bridge--alex scooted, sophie biked (with training wheels) and max triked--what a great dad :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

testing hyperlinks

fat quarter shop

Lecien Tag Sale

this is my Lecien Tag Sale quilt (Lecien fabrics, pattern by Miss Rosie). paul thinks the colors are totally not me 'cos it's so subtle & pale, but i really love this one--it's on our bed right now. (that's my sophie sauntering in front)

in a roundabout way--this quilt started my blogging obsession. i came across the Miss Rosie pattern book at Joann's and really liked the traditional patterns with a twist, and the colors/fabrics that Carrie Nelson, the designer, chose. i googled Miss Rosie , but she didn't have a web presence then (this was around 2 years ago) but i did come across a blog called Sister's Choice and it was like a new world opened up--where people took pictures of their quilts and fabrics and talked about stuff that i was interested in! plus, the twins were still little and i was house-bound a lot so had lots of time to surf the 'net (and no energy to actually sew). btw, Sister's Choice is still one of my favorite blogs--lots of pretty pix and lots of posts. and Miss Carrie Nelson now has a wonderful blog LaVieEnRosie which is also a fave. (i know there must be some way to link to them from the text but i haven't figure it out yet so look on the sidebar and click over to them from there.)

i bought the fabrics from Fat Quarter Shop soon afterwards--again, having found out about FQS (great selection & customer service) from reading the blogs--and spent a ton of money (qualified for free shipping, for those of you in the know) --this Lecien line was on sale --it's a Japanese fabric and pricier than the american fabrics. i think it's called Durham Rose but not quite sure.

this is the back of the quilt. it's not very exciting but had to show my first (and probably last!) attempt at dying fabric. i didn't have enuf fabric for the borders, and when i went shopping online, that line of fabric wasn't on sale anymore. i found a fabric, also by Lecien, that was on sale so i figured it should be somewhat similar. it ended up being too white (the problem with buying fabric online) so i decided to dye it with coffee. not having done it before, and not believing in taking the extra step to test it first, i brewed a really strong pot of coffee and dunked the whole piece (3 yards) --it came out way too dark. so i tried soaking it in bleach which did almost nothing (i didn't want to soak it too long in bleach in case it weakened the fabric too much). so there it is on the back--the dark strip in the middle. sigh.... and it smelled pretty funky for awhile--bleach & coffee don't mix! i ended up buying the blue fabric that is from the original line for full price. sigh again. but oh well, i love how it ended up looking.

i know this is wordy for just one quilt but i figure quilt-geeks would appreciate it :-)

My Favorite Blogs

i actually follow a ton of them--but the ones listed here are my faves. when i first started reading blogs, i added them to the Favorites tool and now that there are hundreds of them, i don't feel like getting a RSS feed (or whatever it is you do to subscribe to blogs)--it was a pain enuf to add them to the blog.

i like these the best 'cos they post often and have lots of pretty pictures--and isn't that the basic requirement for a blog--to have fun things to read and look at.

now how do i add photos?


ok, got it. this is a fq bundle of susan branch fabrics. i love this so much i haven't opened it yet! i've only made one wallhanging with SB fabrics but have a huge box of it--it's so hard to cut into fabrics that i love (which is kinda dumb 'cos i end up making a lot of quilts with fabrics that i only "like")


testing testing testing

First Day

I did it! I finally started a blog. It really stems from thinking Facebook is a little boring (sorry!) and wanting to talk more about quilts & everything quilty. But it's a big learning curve--we'll see where this goes.