Friday, January 23, 2015

New valance for my studio

After painting my studio a pale shade of Yellow right before I brought Penelope my longarm home I needed to put up some curtains so I used the old white sheers with embroidered edge detail that used to hang in our master bedroom at our old house. They worked because the studio window is double wide and couldn't be used in our current master bedroom since we have 4 windows there now.
 Here you can see the pretty edge detail a little bit better (sort of) along with my flying frog made of Jackfruit wood that is a good luck symbol in Bali and the other bits of fun I have hanging in the window.
But lately seeing them I've been itching for a change up plus the long panel in the center keeps getting in my way when stitching together big pieces. I didn't want to spend a lot of money so I considered what I already had in my stash and came upon the Bonjour Mon Ami by Amanda Murphy FQ bundle that I had purchased from The Intrepid Thread.
The pale Yellow goes well with the wall color and the rest of the pallet works well with the other colors in the room without being too wild.  I hunted on the internet for ideas and finally came across one that was not just a bunch of squares sewn together and that suited my style a better.  Luckily I was able to hunt down the tad bit more that I needed to make my plan work (at $3.99 a yard too) and as soon as it arrived, I set to work.

I cut each of the fat quarters into 3" x 21" strips.
Then I put them together in a pleasing layout.  The belly bar of my longarm frame really is great for this.
Then it was just a bit of really quick stitching together of the strips to do.
Pairs of two became sets of eight and before long they were all sewn together.
All told, it took me 1 1/4 hours last Saturday evening to get to this point. It was late and I was tired so I called it a day.
Now when I walk into the room, this is what I see. Sooooo much prettier!
The 2nd additional fabric that I ordered didn't arrive so I had to make due with the 1 yard of the red print that I received.  I added a 3" strip across the top and the bottom, hemmed both sides and the bottom and then sewed a curtain rod pocket at the top.
I'm really happy with the way this turned out though if that other fabric had come home too, I would have had more of the red available and would have made the top border wider.  Oh well, I still like it as is.
It adds just the right amount of color and is sheer enough to still let the brilliant sunshine still come through.
I've been contemplating what curtains I want to put up in our dining room.  After making this one, I just might make some for there too instead of purchasing premade ones.  The hunt for just the right fabric just commenced!

Oh, and I think I'll link up to a few parties today. Check them out.  There is bound to be lots of great quilt eye candy to see.

Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Social Club Pillows

Part of my plan for this year in turning our abode's spaces into more eye pleasing rooms is to make some colorful items that will add some much needed pizazz.  That will include some pillows, table runners and a few wall hangings.

As I wanted a quick and easy project, I elected to follow someone else's pattern for my first pillow making endeavour.  I ended up choosing this Mini Charm Pillow tutorial by Sam Hunter on Janome's website.  I really like the small amounts of solid fabric around each square to break up the prints a bit.
 Photo from Janome's site.

Right before the holidays I stitched up my first pair of pillows.  Our playroom/library needed some oomph and I found the Social Club line by Eric and Julie Comstock for Moda the perfect choice and the blue color a great match for the room's curtains and the back of the new bookcases. Here is my result.
I chose not to make the frames mini blocks that Sam did and instead just sashed each mini charm in a layout that I liked.  I used Kona Snow for the sashing as it is what I had on hand and I was able to find some of the Blue/Teal alphabet print for the border.
I didn't copy the layout of the 1st pillow exactly for the 2nd one and that ended up being the right decision.  I like the way they compliment each other instead of being identical.
The envelope back was easy and I used the same alphabet print fabric. Like Sam, I like puffy pillows so these finished at 19" square and I stuffed a 20" pillow form inside.
Here they are on the older couch in the playroom/library.  I'm not going to show you the fabric on the couch underneath the slipcover but let me just say that it really isn't my style anymore.  But this couch was major expensive when we bought it, it still is really comfy and lots of years of use left in it plus it has an honest and truly awesome queen sleeper inside that comes in handy the occasional times we have house guests.
Now that the holiday decor is packed up and put away until next year., this couch turned out to the the best new home for my Castles on the Horizon quilt.  The great colors really liven up this space a ton.
So where did the Social Club pillows end up?  On the new couch in our great room of course.  I've never put any pillow on this couch before and as it turns out, my crew really like them there.  The kidlets both had one snuggled on their laps Saturday night as they were watching a bit of tv.
The funny part of this story is that when hubs first saw them on this couch, he asked me where I bought them.  They really were on the playroom/library couch for a few weeks before they were put away for the holidays and I know he saw them there.  I guess he didn't recognize them as the same pillows since they moved. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stunning Stitchin Sunday

Whew! For the last 2 weeks I've been knee deep in Girl Scout cookie selling season prep (you would not believe all that is involved) and Friday my scouts and parents got their order cards and information so we are now under way.  Boy am I glad that part is over.  I still have 3 months of cookie business to manage and I'm sure it is going to be chaos when all those cases of deliciousness arrive, but seeing the excitement on the girls' faces is just impossible to forget.  

Along with earning money for our troop activities, we have decided to donate some of our earnings to purchase books for the children at our local Ronald McDonald House. In addition, Girl Scouts have a way for customers to donate cookies through their Gifts of Caring campaign.  People can either purchase to send a box of cookies to be sent to US Troops or to be delivered to our Ronald McDonald House (our troops chosen local charity).  As someone that has close friends who have stayed at a RMH in the past, I do understand just how important their services are to the families that need them and since it is a place that helps the children, we thought it would be the perfect organization to support.  The girls can't wait to visit and deliver all the cookies and books we will have for them.

Anyhoo now it is time to get back to the sewing part of my life and I actually got back into my studio for a little quick stitching last night.  I'm stitching up a quick project and I hope that I'll have it completed to show in the next day or two.
But many others have also been stitching away so there is plenty of prettiness to oooh and ahhh over today.Just click on the names below to be whisked directly to their blog post so that you can see more of their gorgeous work.

Thankfully the past week has also seen my house completely de-Christmas-ified but now the rooms feel naked. So the coming months will bring working to stitch up some items and hunting for the perfect treasures to turn our abode's spaces into ones more interesting and inviting.  

Today the weather isn't going to be as brutal as it was yesterday so we will be off to the big warehouse store to stock up on know you can't do without tp and tissues, especially this time of year.  Then we'll be back home and I'll be back in my studio working to finish my quick little project.  Where ever you call home, keep warm and enjoy today's showcase.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My 2014 stash additions

One of my biggest goals for last year was to limit my new fabric purchases and only buy what I really, really loved.  I started my plan of resisting fabric that I only Like and instead only buy those that I really Love in 2013 and I'm happy that I've been able to continue that plan again this past year. While lots of people do weekly or monthly stash reports, I don't but I wanted to see how I did for the entire year so I pulled out my receipts (Yes I keep them all, I am an accountant after all) and I made a list....of course.

Here is what I purchased during 2014 that was purely new stash additions.  This does not include any fabric that I bought to complete a specific project such as sashing or border yardage, quilt backings or the basic staples such as white solid yardage.  I consider my stash as those fabrics that I have no set plans for yet.

In looking back, I found that I bought absolutely nothing until March so these were the 1st purchases of the new year.  I got a trio of Color Me Happy by V and Co charm packs and a layer cake of High Street by Lily Ashbury.
In April I went to MQX East (which was fabulous btw) and wanted to bring back something for the kidlets.  Well a quilt show isn't a place where you find many things for kids so I got them these half yard cuts. They may end up being perfect for the backings of their Primary Bee quilts.
In May I had a blast meeting up with my friend Liz at the A World of Quilts show in Somers, NY and I was really good and only bought this Fancy Folded Star grouping, tutorial from Moda Bake Shop. I'll be making my set into a small wall hanging instead of a pot holder or hot plate.
So that is it for the 1st half of the year.  Not bad, not bad at all.  The 2nd half of the year brought more new fabrics into the house starting with these beauties.  In July my friend Alana and I finally checked out a new fabric store nearby and these just had to come home with me.  There are 1 yard cuts of Picadilly Lane by Brenda Pinnick for Henry Glass and a quad of half yard cuts of Stonehenge Starry Night by Northcott.
August found me in the Lancaster area for our annual China Travel Group Reunion and I was able to stop into Old Country Store where these Bobbins and Bits fabrics by Pat Sloan just screamed to me and the price was too fantastic to pass up. I'm really looking forward to a repeat visit to that store. While there I also got a duo of 2 yard cuts of White on White fabrics, which aren't the easiest to find around here, but they were impossible to photograph well enough so that you could see the prints
In September I caved and got a little more Ghastlies to add to my collection.  Since I heard that this was the final year this series would be available, I didn't want to miss out on adding a few of the newer prints to my stash but I was really restrained and only got half yard cuts of each. As you would expect, if Alexander Henry surprises us all and comes out with some new additions to the fun line, I'll just have to get some of those too.
I had also come across an awesome sale on this Simply Color so I bought 2 yard cuts in each of these prints. They will be used for a backing for my Color quilt, so technically these aren't "no specific purpose" fabrics.
My sister Tina and I attended the Q.U.I.L.T. Schenectady show in October and again I was very restrained and only brought home the Halloween panel and spider web yardage.  While nearby we also visited the new location of Quilt Bug where I found many Halloween prints on sale that I hadn't seen before so of course I had to get a few half yard cuts for my collection.
Craft Town fabrics was having a great sale too in October so I shamelessly bought the Sewing Box by Gina Martin jelly roll and charms, The Simply Style by V and Co charms (to add to the Simply Color and Color Me Happy charms that I already had) and the Daydreams by Kate Spain fat eighth bundle.
And lastly, though these really aren't stash fabrics to me since I am designing projects to use these in, during July I bought these Solstice by Kate Spain mini charms, the Moonlight Manor mini charms and the Eerie by Basic Grey charm pack, along with a pair of Social Club by Eric and Julie Comstock that I've already used.
So there you have it.  These are all of the stash fabrics that I bought during the previous 12 months.  I wasn't as restrained as I could have been but at the same time, I didn't go as hog wild as I could have either.  For this new year, I'm going to keep on the same path and only buy new fabrics that I simply can't stop thinking about.  I've learned that I don't need a huge pile of big cuts to satisfy my need to have a specific line.  A small amount in the form of a few charms or other cuts that I actually turn into something suits me just fine.

So what are your fabric buying plans for this new year?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My new address

Did you notice it up there? On the URL line? 
Glance up there.  What do you see?

I finally got made the time to go through the instructions from my domain host to get the blog address changed over to my own domain name.  Whoo hoo!  It really wasn't as hard as it seemed but during the process, I did think my goose was cooked.  Although I did what the instructions told me 3 times, I was still getting an error message.  The 4th time, doing the exact same thing, was the charm. 

From here on out, you can find me at

Luckily my domain host automatically redirected you here if you logged into the old address but for those of you who might be arriving here by other means, please make note of the new web address and change your settings accordingly.

Besides wanted to get this one step in my rebranding completed, there was another good reason for finally sitting down and doing this.  I've signed up for the We Support You blog hop hosted by Madame Samm of Sew We Quilt and Pat of Scrapatches.

I have a good friend who struggles daily and is going through some extra rough times right now so I thought she could use an extra reminder that our group of friends are here for her.  My day to show you what I have been up to will be the last one, February 11th, so come back and see what I've created.

In the meantime, keep warm (it is bitter cold here lately, Yuck) and keep stitching.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Stunning Stitchin Sunday

Welcome to the 1st Stunning Stitchin Sunday post of the new year. I had hoped to have this post done this morning but hubs was out on no less than 5 fire department calls this morning due to all the ice on the roads and the resulting car accidents that always happen and then we lots power here for a bit due to one of those aformentioned car accidents knocking down one of the main electric poles.
Thankfully it wasn't out too long and I was still able to get my hot shower and then rush off to Girl Scout Cookie Manager Training. Yippee Skippee! You would not believe all the work that goes into selling those boxes of deliciousness but the girls' excitement over doing this and the money our troop will earn that will enable us to do more things with the girls will make it all worth the time and effort.  Cookie sales officially begin here on January 16th so please support your local girl scout and/or support our military troops by purchasing a Gift of Caring, which is a box of cookies or a monetary donation that will be pooled to purchase more cookies and then those boxes are shipped to US troops both her in the states and overseas.

Anyway both kiddos are in bed and I finally have the chance to sit down and finish this post.  There is beautiful quilting showcased today so I hope you enjoy it.  Be sure to click through to the quilter's original post and leave them a sweet comment.  I know that they would appreciate that so very much.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

More Primary Bee blocks

I admit it publicly. I was a bad Bee momma in November. We didn't get the blocks done on time for November. The Castles on the Horizon quilt deadline for the Moda Bake Shop was first and foremost in my studio during that time and then once December hit, it was all out shopping, decorating and other prep for the holidays plus the added fun of having both kiddos birthdays to celebrate. Now I know that if I do have a late November or December deadline to meet, that I'll need to complete it super early.  Lesson learned!
Now that life is getting back to normal, the kids and I had the chance to get these blocks done.  This time it was for Tiny who's mom Chiska blogs over at Muddy Spring. Tiny requested a Friendship Star block in Light Blue (to represent the sky) and Yellow (to represent the Sun).

When I asked the kiddos who wanted to sew first they both said "Me" so we used our usual "Pick a Number" game and although Jammer won the game, he decided to let his sister go first.  Here she is concentrating on keeping the pieces lined up on the 1/4 inch foot straight. At least now she has learned to not have a death grip on the fabric.
Each sewing session she gets better and better at doing this herself.
Her favorite part....pushing the buttons to raise the presser foot and then then needed and then cutting the pieces apart.
After some pinning, some more sewing and some ironing by Mom, here is the result.
Jammer was up next and he was really concentrating hard as the fabric passed under the needle.  He had a couple of seams that were either way too fat or too skinny that we had to rip out and do over but little by little he is getting the "accurate seam" thing and seeing what happens when you do and don't get them just right.
Block finished.  Yes he did get frustrated a bit when he had to resew the couple of seams but once he saw the result he was proud of how the points came together better.
They still have to make the blocks for each other so we are going to try and work on some of those this weekend.  Sunshine has all of her other blocks and then we can plan the layout.  Jammer is still waiting for 4 more to come in from his bee mates but hopefully they will arrive soon and then he too can plan how the final layout will be.

Friday, January 2, 2015

R.I.P. Rowenta

While finishing up the last bits of work on my Castles on the Horizon Quilt
for Moda Bake Shop, my Rowenta Pro Master Iron stopped working. Completely.  When I plugged it in, it wouldn't turn on at all. Nada. Zilch. It was finished. Not good!
I tried to figure out just how long I've had this iron but I can't remember.  I do remember that we were still in the old house when my trusty old Black and Decker iron died and we've been in this new house for 3 1/2 years so I've had this iron for at least that long. But considering that I paid about $100 for it, it didn't last nearly as long as it should have for that price.
Thankfully I had a backup all ready and waiting, the Rowenta Effective Comfort iron that I won at MQX East last spring, so I pulled it out of the closet and plugged it in. Here you can see the size difference between the two irons.
I'll admit that I don't love this iron so far.  It doesn't seem to get as hot, although it states that it is 1600 watts (the Pro Master was 1700 watts) and it is definitely a lighter weight. The few times that I have used it, I remembered to empty the water right afterwards but the one time that I didn't it spit all over the place the next time I turned it on.  The Pro Master's water reservoir lid was able to prop up so the chamber was able to dry out between uses but the Effective Comfort's reservoir does not.
When people say that there is a difference between the Rowenta's that are made in Germany and the ones that are made in China, they are right.  The Effective Control is just less impressive, less metal and more plastic. I don't have high hopes for its longevity and am researching options for a better long term solution.  Once I find one, this one will get returned to the closet to be my backup.

So what iron to you use and would you recommend it?  I've considered the Oliso irons but the lowest price one gets mixed reviews plus it has an 8 minute automatic shut off.  I hate that. And it is hard to swallow the much higher price for the other Oliso models.  I really want an automatic shut off that is at least 15-30 minutes and once it does shut itself off, I want it to heat back up lightening fast. I'm willing to deal with using distilled water, but the ability to use just plain tap water would be wonderful (thankfully I don't have hard water here).
Bed, Bath and Beyond does carry this Rowenta Eco Intelligence Iron ($119) and  it got 4.5 stars from 38 reviewers plus it doesn't cost almost $200 so I'm considering it. Better yet I can get it on Amazon for about $87. Good Housekeeping's review gave it a A- but says that the sole plate struggles to maintain heat and I can't seem to find anywhere where it actually states how long the auto shut off kicks in at but I'm betting it is 8 minutes like most other irons. My Pro Master was the same and while that wasn't the horrible, it wasn't great either. Two out of the 3 other irons that GH lists as their best picks aren't available any longer.

Reading the reviews on Amazon gets confusing. Many of the less expensive irons get 4+ stars but I'm really hesitant to try that route again.  The last time I had to replace my iron, I tried quite a few cheaper irons with horrible results and that is when I tired my first Rowenta.  Quilters do use irons differently than the average person so our needs are a bit different so I guess I'll keep searching a bit more before I make my final decision.  I'm willing to spend more money for an iron if it gets me one that is reliable and will do the job but also won't kick the bucket after a couple of years. 

It stinks that I have to do this research again and I really wish that irons weren't just another throw away appliance.  Why can't a company make a good iron that works well and will last but doesn't make us empty our wallets to be able to afford it? I'm sure the iron manufacturers aren't listening but I can't help but wish for that anyway.

Update: I do appreciate everyone's thoughts so far and I'm still researching options.  For every strong contender I seem to find, there are plenty of negative reviews too.  I really would prefer to be able to buy locally in case I have to return it but two of the contenders, including the Rowenta pictured above, aren't even available to me locally.  The search continues!