Monday, March 26, 2012

If You Want a Clean House, Invite Someone Over

My home stays in a fairly decent state of cleanliness, thanks more to my husband than to me. However, when it's time for more of a deep cleaning, you know, like blinds cleaned and cushions vacuumed and all those extras that make for an over the top clean house, invite someone over. We did just that this weekend. The sheriff in our town is up for election this year and we hosted a meet and greet for one of the candidates, Trey Downs. It was great fun and I hope got the word out in our neighborhood that there would be more than one choice on the ballot.

My youngest son was excited about meeting Trey. At supper later in the evening, he told us "Trey Downs shook my hand TWICE." Gotta love his enthusiasm.

Here I am with my daughter Erica, Trey's mom Holley, and Trey's wife, Gaby. It was a beautiful day so we enjoyed being inside and outside. If you're a local, you can learn more about Trey by visiting his web site,

The busy weekend does not mean that my sewing machine sat idle. Here's a pillow I made to go with the cedar chest I covered a while back.

The Tilly scraps I had weren't long enough to extend the curved piecing along the entire length of the pillow. I added a piece of the focus fabric with a contrasting strip to finish out the length. It was fun to play with some curved piecing for this project.

There's still a quilt to go for this room and I got it layered up and ready to quilt this week. The other project that received a little bit of attention is the New York Beauty quilt along. I finished one block and almost another.

The new week went up today so that means I need to make nine blocks this week to catch up. And catching up isn't my biggest priority. Participating is my goal so as long as I get something done each week, I'm happy. The encouragement of this quilt along will see this project through.

This week should be much more relaxed as there are no major commitments on the horizon. That should mean lots of good sewing time. I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Paper Piecing Kind of Week

I was trying to be frustrated at myself for not getting enough done this week. But then I decided that "enough" is a relative term and in the scheme of things, some sewing is far better than none at all, and there are several works in progress to show.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be teaching our quilt guild about basic paper piecing so practicing that skill has been a priority for me. For most folks paper piecing is a love/hate sort of thing and I hope to tip the scales for a few of the students to the love side of the world.

This paper pieced star is the final star for my mom's seasonal wall hanging which I first wrote about last fall. The first three seasons were finished just before Christmas and this last one will get to her very soon.

Here's the second block for the New York Beauty quilt along. My goal is to make four of each pattern. Fabric is selected for all four but only one was completed. A little bit of catch up is in order this week.

Here's a sneak peek at a paper piecing mystery I just finished from Paper Panache. She hasn't posted the solution yet so this little hint is all I can show for now. This is the first time I've done any of her mystery blocks. I'll definitely do another one.

The weather here is absolutely beautiful this week. The challenge will be balancing the sewing time with the sunshine time. Hope your week is full of sunshine and sewing, too!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New York Beauty Quilt Along Week One

I have wanted to make a quilt with lots of sharp points forever. It seems to be my husband's favorite style of quilt and I have never made a quilt for him. 

When I saw the New York Beauty Paper Piecing Quilt Along a few weeks ago, I knew this was my chance. Every Sunday, for ten weeks, starting last week, a different blog will post a tutorial for a new block.

I have also been looking for a good project to use up the batik scraps that have accumulated in my stash. To get started on the project, they found a temporary home on the sewing room floor. It is going to look like this for at least the next ten weeks. The first week is supposed to be the easiest week so that participants can get comfortable with paper piecing and decide on fabrics and colors.

Other than limiting the amount of pink in this quilt, I decided not to decide about color. Anything goes with the hopes that an awesome scrappy New York Beauty will emerge.
Since I already knew how to paper piece, I thought that the weekly tutorials would show things that I already knew. Wrong! Already, I've picked up a great tip about when to trim each piece as it is added. Love it. No matter how much I think I know, there's always something new to learn.

The blocks get more complex as we go but really, with paper piecing, it's not more difficult, it's just more pieces. Since this quilt along is EVERY week, it is going to be a challenge to keep up. My goal is to make four of each block, then mix and match them after they are all made.

I can't wait to get going on the second block when it is posted tomorrow!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nearing the end of cuddle time

My plan for the day was to sew, sew, sew, and I did get a good bit accomplished. Then my 11-year-old son said, "Mom, can you come downstairs?".

"Why? What do you want?"

"Can you come down and cuddle with me?" How can I resist that. How many  more times in this child's life will he utter those words to me. He's eleven. He's on the verge of puberty. He'll be taller than me within a year. Each time he says them, I fear it will be the last.

"Sure. I'll be right down." And off I went. Instead of sewing, I snuggled up with my boy and read a book. Oh, how I will miss these days when they are gone.

As for the quilt I'm working on, it's been in the works for a few weeks, so there are still some things to show in spite of the delicious cuddle time that occupied part of my afternoon. My newest project is a sampler quilt with blocks from Craftsy's Block of the Month program. I am really enjoying this class. The format is perfect for my schedule. New lessons are posted each month that feature a new technique and two blocks using the technique. I love that I can practice different techniques throughout the year without the pressure of a fixed schedule or deadline. After registering for the class, I can access the lessons anytime, as many times as I like. And another great reason is that the class is free.

This project is taking me a bit out of my element, which is great fun. First, I selected fabric for the project. Here is the fabric that is the color inspiration for the quilt. It is a Brandon Mably print.

My goal is to use up some of my Kaffe Fassett scraps and to have a quilt that does not read pink. So many of Kaffe's prints have gorgeous shades of pink which I love, but just didn't want to have as the dominant color for this project.

 I think I succeeded. We'll see how many other fabrics sneak into this project along the way. The solid fabric is a Kona in Ash which will be the background fabric for each block. This is another part of the project that is not the norm for me. A solid and a gray. I'm hoping for a fun, contemporary result.

The first month taught slash skills. There is an Asterisk block and  a Wonky Pound Sign block using this technique. Punctuation marks in a quilt. I just love it!

In February, we learned about half-square triangles and made a Balkan Puzzle block and a Chunky Chevron block. I'm having fun playing with the hot and cool colors in each block. Some blocks get a mix while others stay on one side or the other. It will be interesting to see how it comes together for the quilt top.

This month we're learning about foundation piecing. There are two great blocks this month, the String block and the Broken Spider Web block. The String block is finished but the Broken Spider Web block is a work in progress.

In April, we'll be taking on English Paper Piecing, which I have never tried so I'm looking forward to that. Here's how the blocks are looking as a group:

You can see the beginnings of the Broken Spider Web block. I'm thinking it's going to be my favorite block so far. This project is intended to be one I keep for myself, which is another unusual aspect of the project. Look for updates as I finish a new pair of blocks each month, unless I find myself occupied by cuddle time, which is way more important than sewing!
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