Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

I was excited about it being leap day ... but I didn't feel that excitement anywhere today!!  I started my day off by doing a little meditating.  I have a couple books that I like to look at that have daily thoughts ... I flipped to February ... no 29th!??  What??????  I looked again ... then I laughed and panicked ... do I read the 28th (which I forgot to read yesterday), or do I jump to March 1?  Ahhhh ... I read the 28th!  How silly that I couldn't figure out which day to read ... that is me in a nutshell!!!  Ha, ha

Didn't get much accomplished today, but I sure had a blast doing it!  We're closing the month of February, and welcoming March ... whenever I think of March, I always think of spring ...
I think this daisy look a little lonely on my gate ... I was trying for a spring theme, but I think my shamrock for St. Patty's day needs to go up, and this adorable daisy needs to find a place in my house!  See the little escape artist on the left side of the gate?  As soon as I turn my back on her and walk up the driveway she sneaks under the chicken wire and quietly appears right behind me ... she is a brat ... but a cute one!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday To Do Progress

Do you ever have one of those days where you actually get stuff done?  It feels so good and can totally turn your week around!  Yesterday I posted my to do list for the week -- let's see what I can cross off of it ...

--call and make two doctor appts
--next quilt goes on frame tomorrow

I also ran a couple of errands and helped a friend rewrite her resume (that was on my gym/walk time - oh well ... helping her was much more important!).  Got a load of laundry folded and put away and another one all done.  Whew!  Love making progress!!

Here's the next quilt that's on the frame ... it will get quilted tomorrow ... that's the plan at least ...
Tomorrow is leap day ... happy almost leap day!  What would you do if you had a birthday on Feb. 29?  Would you only celebrate every four years, or would you pick Feb. 28 to celebrate or March 1????

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rainy Monday

The funny thing about San Diego is how difficult it is to predict the weather.  At least that's what the weather people say around here ... I think to myself ... how hard is it?  Most of the year you could say "sunny with a chance of morning and evening clouds."  But ... when we really get weather, that's the true test of a weatherperson's salt ... most of them fail ... last night the news I was watching said rain starting in the morning and the heaviest period being between morning and about 1 p.m.  Then rain continuing through the rush hour in the evening.  So I woke up to sunny skies ... it was cloudy, and I think it had rained a tad somewhere in the county, but it didn't start pouring here until about 2:30.  When you live with about 360 days of sun a year, you do welcome a change in weather ... I sure do!  I love a rainy day ... great excuse to hang out at home, sew, read, cook, be cozy!

I had to teach the third part of my beginner quilt class this morning.  We covered sandwiching your quilt, trimming after the quilting, making your binding and sewing your binding onto your quilt.  It was great fun and I hope I didn't bore my two outstanding students too much.  They were both so impressive ... they both finished their tops (one still had to do the borders, but still!) ... amazing ... I have never had that happen in a class.  They were serious about learning how to do everything!  Would someone remind me to write up a binding tutorial for you all?  I mentioned it months ago, and I have the pictures ... it just takes a lot of time to write out the explanations and I keep forgetting!  I will add that to my goals this week, promise!

Came home and watched the rain, curled up on the couch and read some more of my latest book.  I have always loved to read; I go in spurts.  I think I've said this before that I have a hard time reading and quilting ... they are both hobbies that take a good deal of time.  If I'm heavy into one, it's hard to do the other.  But this year is working on balance, right ... so I'm trying to do both.  Since I got both of the quilts done for the store that I needed to do this last week, I thought some reading time this afternoon while it was quiet and before everyone got home this evening was definitely in order!  I borrowed from the library last week "The Litigators" by John Grisham.  It's due back tomorrow and I'm almost done.  Our library system has what they used to call a Reader's Express program ... for the new books that everyone is trying to read, they loan the books for one week instead of three weeks.  They changed the system and they now call it " Hot Right Now" books ... this just seems like a wrong name for a library to use ... but they don't ask my opinion!!  Ha, ha ... so my HRN book is due back tomorrow and I'm almost done.  It's been a fun read and it grabs you quickly like most of his books do.   In my book group we just finished reading "The Hunger Games" a series for teens.  It was really good, and I am looking forward to reading the next two in the series. 

Okay ... so next week is shop hop and not a lot will get done since I'm going to be working a lot of extra hours.  Here are my goals for this week (perhaps if I write them to all of you, I'll really focus in on what I need to do this week):
--make blocks for March block of the month class
--put blocks together for March beginning quilting class
--call and make two doctor appts
--write valentine cards (more on that later!)
--next quilt goes on frame tomorrow
--next quilt after that on friday
--quilt binding tutorial (almost forgot to put it on the least -- sheesh!!!)

Think that's enough on my to do list!

No, we did not forget to take them for a walk!  This is what happens every evening when darling hubby walks them.  He asks us to put the leashes on them, then they sit and wait for him to get ready ... I can't stand looking at them waiting .. they're so pathetic looking!  As if they're saying "pleeeeeeeeaaassseee, walk us!"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ugly quilts and CORDS!!!! - Saturday night's post

[I tried to post this last night ... either my computer, me or Blogger was not allowing it!]
Happy Saturday ... I started the day off knowing that I was going to address the hundred cords that plug into our computer, modem, link sys, and solar doo dad thingy. I was on the phone with the solar company yesterday for about a half an hour trying to troubleshoot why they can't get a good reading from their grey box (can't remember what it's called). You know how these projects go ... you start off doing one little thing ... trying to figure out how to put the little grey box where it can get a good reading. Well it has to go up higher on the shelves behind the computer which means a longer cord ... all these dang cords are tangled together. So I took it all apart, and untangled all the cords. What a mess ... then of course it was horribly dusty and so that meant the vacuum came out to vacuum everything out ... while I'm at it, why don't I move the sofa away from the wall (it's next to the computer desk), and vacuum all the dust out of there! Ha, ha ... it's 8 something at night. Everything is now dust free, but the room is still taken apart. It's going to have to wait until tomorrow to get finished putting everything back! The good news is that I did successfully untangle all those darn cords, and try to corral them with some ties. I think I got everything plugged back in properly, now I'll just have to make sure that the grey box is working too!

My other goal for today was to quilt this ugly quilt for our store.  The San Diego area quilt stores are having a shop hop from March 3 through 11.  Each store was to do a block and send their blocks to all the other stores.  Those blocks are all supposed to be put into a quilt that each store hangs.  The idea is that each store will sell a kit for their "block", and the customers can visit each store purchasing all the kits and create their own quilt.  The stores were supposed to use as an example Eleanor Burns' barn quilt ... as an idea for pattern and I believe content.  Well, imagine each store has it's own flair ... combine those different "flairs" into a quilt.  Here's what you get:

Hmm ... of course we believe The Country Loft block is the most beautiful (as I'm sure every store likes their block the best!) ... the trick was to then find a way to tone down the blocks.  We are a primitive store so we like muted colors ... we decided to do a black sashing, and in order to give it a little pizzazz, JoAnn picked a red border . . . I said I thought that helped!  I agreed to take it home and quilt and bind it.  Then it's going back to the store, and JoAnn will probably tea dye it ... it needs a little C.L. flavor! 
I was kind of struggling a little with what color to quilt it.  Although the quilt is dark, there are quite a few spaces that are light, and I didn't want to have black over the really light ... too much contrast.  I decided to go with the one in the middle ... it's kind of a gold/brown color.
I'm using a 40 wt. cotton thread in the top, but I don't like to use that in the bobbin because you go through bobbins so quickly.  I have been using So Fine, a poly thread, which means your bobbin goes a very long way. However, lately I haven't really been happy with the way the tension is working running the cotton on top and the So Fine on the bottom. The Glide thread works great in the bobbin, and I found this color "leather" in my stash that blends very nicely with the top color.  Glide also goes forever in the bobbin.

I think the quilting really helped.  It looks a lot better ...
I just did a free motion stipple over the whole thing, pretty close together.  Most of the blocks have the store's name in the centers; I quilted right over them ... except our store's block ... I left the store name without quilting on it so it would stand out a little more.
Come visit San Diego quilt stores during our shop hop!  I will be anxious to hear the verdict on all the store's quilts.  Looking forward to a fun and exciting shop hop!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Traveling Thursday

Happy Thursday!  I may have sent you to this blog before, but earlier in the week I finally got a chance to do some blog hopping, and saw these BEAUTIFUL photos posted on Kathy's blog.  They are not quilt pictures, but pictures of the Northern Lights from Manitoba, Canada... go check out the lovely pictures Kathy and her husband took.

Happy almost-Friday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quilts, quilts, quilts

I tried to write last night, but the internet wouldn't let me get on.  So I gave up and went to bed!  I finally got to the frame and machine yesterday to finish the quilt that had been pinned on there. 

Before I pin the quilt top on the frame, I always pick the thread color ... I went through that process with you the other day, and decided on the rose/pink color.  When I go to put the top on I find the center at both the top and bottom; mark it with a pin, and then pin the bottom edge of the top to the top roller.
Then I position the top edge on top of the batting matching the centers.  I find a seam line on the top and using my measuring tape, measure the distance from the leader to that seam line.  That's how I ensure that the top is sewn on straight.
The top is rolled onto the top roller from the bottom edge.
Top edge is in position and ready to be measured and pinned
Then I sew a line across the top edge of the top and remove the pins. 

Every time I roll the quilt as well as before I start the quilting, I sew down the edges of the quilt; both on the right side, and the left.

Before I can start the actual quilting (and every time I replace the bobbin), I put a scrap of fabric on the side of the quilt, and test a little bit to make sure the tension is good.  I do it right on the edge of the quilt so I can look at the underside ... bobbin tension is usually the place that if there's a problem it will be there.

Finally the quilt is done ... hurray!

I used the rose/pink on top, but I used a green in the bobbin.  The backing was the same color as this outside border, and I was trying to match the bobbin color to the back.  It is really tricky to do a dark thread on one side, and a lighter thread on the other.  I was having a bit of trouble with the color on top pulling through to the back before I started, but I got it worked out.  I used King Tut in the top and So Fine in the bobbin. 

I brought home a couple of quilts from the store on Monday that need to be quilted.  One of them is our store quilt for the shop hop, and the other quilt is one that we are making as a sample for the store to sell a line of fabric we just got in.  Fabric/patterns always sell better when people can actually see the pattern made up, or the fabric put to use in a quilt. 
King Tut on top; So Fine in the bobbin

That's it!  I didn't get to the other quilt, but that one is next up!  Glad I'm working my way through the pile!  I just love it when I get one on the frame and can actually start quilting away on it.  I really get tense when I start because I always want to make sure I do my best.  When you're quilting for other people, there's always the chance that they won't love it.  That is in the back of my mind, and I treat each quilt like it is my own.  If I wouldn't do it on my own quilt, I'm not going to do it on your's.  When I am at my Innova quilting, I just kind of get lost ... once I actually start the quilting, it's so relaxing!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thread and class

Happy Monday ... Thanks to Amy and Darby for commenting about the thread choices ... when I showed the colors to my client this morning, she right off said "pink."  So pink it is!  Can't wait to see what it's going to look like on the quilt, but that's as far as I got today.  You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the quilting!  How does a day just disappear??

I taught until about 1 ... the class was Apron Strings ... here is what my quilt sample looked like:
There are two wonderful ladies taking the class ... here are their blocks
 Aren't these going to make a beautiful quilt?  They haven't been trimmed yet, but the batiks are just beautiful.  Her house is hawaiian themed ... can't wait to see what this quilt looks like!
These blocks are lovely and are going to make such a happy, fun quilt!  It reminds me so much of the lady that's making it!  One of the things I love most about teaching is getting to see the different fabric choices and looks that each person has.  Just a difference in color can give a quilt a totally different feel.  When I first started taking classes, I was so nervous about picking color ... what colors went with what colors?  What patterns could you mix with other patterns?  I would just copy the teacher's choices ... pick a similar color scheme and try to match my fabrics to whatever she had picked ... small print, large print, check, etc.  Now that is the part I love the most about quilting ... picking colors and fabrics.  I have said this before ... I am not an artist, and I always wished that I knew how to draw.  That's why I love quilting so much ... I feel like I'm drawing with fabric!

Sunday quilting

First of all, I must apologize and make a correction to my post from yesterday ... when I was talking about rolling the quilt back from roller to roller, I should have said the "back" roller to the "take up" roller ... I erroneously said "top" roller ... that's what happens when you post late at night and you're not really aware of what you're saying ... ha, ha!

I started out in my sewing room today pressing the back on the latest quilt that was headed to my frame.  My sewing room is upstairs in my house; the "quilting studio" (hey, I like that phrase and the images it conjurs up!) is in the granny flat next door.  Charlie is usually outside of my sewing room when I'm upstairs ... today was no exception ... I tripped over him coming out of the room and heading downstairs with the back in my hand to pin onto the frame ...
Hey, where are you headed now?
Is he not the cutest dog in the world?  Well, the cutest big dog in the world!  So it was over to my studio to pin the back onto the frame.  With all my talk yesterday about that, I decided to take you through the process.  If you don't have a longarm, I think it's useful to know what the process is because before I owned one, I thought it was just so simple to put it on the machine -- hey, you just loaded it and quilted it, fast as can be, right?  No ... no matter what I do, loading a quilt takes about an hour.

The first step is to find the center of the back; I fold the quilt in half and pin the halfway point at both ends.  Then I pin the back of one end to the "back" roller.
Then I walk around to the other side of the machine and pin the other end of the back to the "take up" roller.

Wondering about those pins?  They have to be pretty close together so you get a taut hold on the fabric.

Now here's what I was talking about yesterday ... I load most of the fabric onto the "back" roller.

Notice the little bit of slack at either end of the back?  I'm looking for it to be a little tighter.  Next I roll the back onto the "take up" roller.

Those ends are looking a little bit better, but now I have to roll one more time to get the fabric back onto the "back" roller.

Now look at the ends ... much better.  That is why I roll back and forth a couple times instead of just rolling once.  Now I measure the batting and cut it 8 to 10 inches wider than the top.  Remember I said I love the Innova because I can lift the batting bar?

Hard to see in this picture, but the batting bar is raised (at the left side of this picture), and it gives more access for the batting to fall down the front of the machine.  The batting has to have the center point found and marked just like I do on the quilt back; I match the centers together.

Back is loaded; batting is ready, now just need the quilt top.  I'm not sure what color to use, so I usually audition a couple of colors ... it helps me to see the colors against the quilt, and laid out in the studio where the light is good.  I know my client likes brighter colors as opposed to muted colors ...

A King Tut variegated rose/pink

A DMC variegated neutral

A Glide light/med gold
A Glide green ... hmm ... usually I would pick, but I have a class tomorrow and my client is taking this class, so I'm going to bring the colors and the quilt top and ask her which she prefers.  I am leaning towards the rose/pink ... I think it reflects her personality best and I like the way it shows against the quilt.  What would you pick?  More tomorrow on the rest of loading the quilt.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Some quilting and stuff

Welll you know that when I'm too busy to blog, it's because I've been really busy quilting!  Trying to get myself caught up . . . getting a little closer!  I got this quilt finished yesterday.  It was really fun to quilt ... my favorite little motion now is a free motion swirl with a loop here and there.  It makes for really dense quilting, but I think it looks wonderful on quilts with a lot going on.  It just gives some nice texture.

This quilt measured about 70" x 90".   I was a little worried about the backing because it was a woven, and not very heavy.  It loaded wonderfully and quilted with no problems.  I used Glide thread in the top and Magna-Glide prewounds in the bobbin.  I love the prewounds ... it sure does make it simple to just pop a bobbin in without having to wind them; they do have more on them then I can fit when I wind a bobbin, and I get better tension when using them.
Wovens are notorious for stretching, and I was a little concerned about this.  I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to start pressing the backs that go on the frame.  I know it takes a little bit of my time, but it's worth how easy it makes them to load.  Previously I would just take the back and smooth it out, measure it to make sure there was enough there, pin it on, then load most of it to the take-up pole, rolling it on, then rolling it back onto the top pole, and then again back onto the take-up pole.  I still roll it back and forth a couple of times, the pressing just seems to help work out any unevenness there is. 

One of my favorite features on my Innova is the ability to lift the top pole and get at the batting.  I don't know how many machines have this feature (if any others do), but it is wonderful.  Every time I roll before I stitch the sides down, I lift the rail and smooth and straighten the batting out.

I came up with a great idea the other day and I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!  When I was at quilt market last year with the Country Loft, we got these lanyards that were being passed out from Anthology.  I saw it in my sewing room the other day, and thought it would make a great catch all to wear around my neck when I'm quilting.  In the front pocket I keep a little pair of scissors and a small screwdriver ...

In the back pocket I can keep my cell phone.  Now I don't have to have pockets to keep all this stuff in, or always misplace my scissors because I put them somewhere and can't find them!

Tomorrow my goal is to load and quilt another quilt.  If I can get this other one done tomorrow, I'll be back on track!  I'll leave you with a few more pictures of this beautiful quilt that I had the pleasure of doing for my friend ... have a happy rest of your weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Traveling Thursday

A little different this Thursday, because I'm talking about my travels yesterday!  I live in San Diego county and we have a huge county.  There is the southern part where I live, and then north county ... I usually don't go to any other quilt stores near me ... I get a discount at our store, I love the fabrics, and I spend enough money at The Country Loft!!  But I hadn't been to north county in a while, and there was a new store I was just dying to see.  So here are my travels from yesterday ...

First stop was Amidon in Poway ... unfortunately I arrived right after a large busload of ladies, so it was really difficult to shop.  I do love all the samples they have hanging on the walls.  It is in an industrial center and so the building has really high ceilings.  They have these huge, awesome quilts on display and there are just quite an assortment.  They also have a good collection of fabric, and it's always fun to see other styles.  A great sale section, but I do have a problem shopping when a lot of other people are around ... I find it way too distracting.  This store is really not too far from me, so I'll go back another time. 

The next stop was the new store I was dying to see ... Grand Country Quilters in San Marcos.  One of the gals that teaches classes at the Loft is one of the owners.  It opened a few months ago ... it is an adorable store.  Lots of Diamond Textile fabrics that I love, and really nice displays.  Some cute antiques, and it was fun to visit with Sharon while I was there.  The feel of the store is very intimate and I got a lot of great ideas for hanging quilts while I was there.  Bought a few goodies ... here they are:

The green and white check above is a tea towel
The next stop was Temecula Quilt Shop in Temecula.  I had never been to this store; all civil war fabrics and lots of lovely samples.  She makes so many quilts with tiny pieces!  You have to be so accurate with small pieces ... just amazing how small some of the pieces were ... I swear they were 1/2" finished squares ... how do you do that???  I bought a couple of things there to use as a gift ...

Next stop was lunch ... there is this wonderful italian restaurant in old town Temecula.  It was recommended to me, and I am so glad I went ... it was delicious!  The name is Palumbo's Ristorante on Fifth Street ... yum, yum, yum ... had a little pizza, a little salad, and a little bit of a fried zucchini appetizer.  It all was delicious ... just had a great, fresh taste.

Last stop was Quilter's Coop ... I have been there before.  It's a big store with lots of fabric; they have a huge civil war section.  It was fun to explore all the different areas in the store, and I love to see how different quilt stores display their quilts, and display their merchandise.  They also had a great sale section, and I bought the end of a bolt to use as a backing ... love to get fabric on sale for backings! 

It started pouring rain yesterday and rained for several hours.  It's rained on and off for a couple of days ... we were just supposed to get under an inch of rain ... this is what the container on my patio looked like this morning ...