Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our weekend project

This is 95% complete. We just need to add the picnic table portion under the slide area.

The tower has 3 levels and the kidlets love it. Sunshine especially loves the "bumpy slide". We are going to put their sandbox just to the left of it to make it "Play Central".

It was 2 days of solid work but it went pretty well overall. It came as a Highlander kit from Sams Club (it was drop shipped for free directly to our house) and though not one of the biggest sets available, it is plenty for our 2 tykes. We know that it will get years and years of use.

I want to add some bright and colorful flags that I'm going to make myself. I just need to find some great vinyl to do that with. Any suggestions as to where to look? If you have other ideas on how to dress it up and make it over the top cool, just let me know.

Do you think I should count this on my Crafting by the Numbers monthly tally? I'm thinking so. I DID create something.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Meet Lucy!

Isn't she absolutely gorgeous?  Doesn't she just make you drool? Would you be simply dying to turn her on and sew with her for hours on end? I know I do.

My new baby girl came home with me on Saturday afternoon. After Sunshine went down for her nap, a friend and I took a little road trip north, back to the Husqvarna dealer. She wanted to better check out those machines, compare the features and prices and see if she could get a better feel for which one she wants to buy. To tell you the truth, I was a bit nervous during the trip because I knew what I was hoping to accomplish myself while there. So once we got there and after I waited a little bit (I wanted my friend to be able to ask her questions first), I asked about and tested out the Brother Laura Ashley NX2000 that was for sale that I posted about here.

While the shop owner wasn't very helpful to me, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to rescue this beauty and bring her to live with me in a home where she'd be enormously happy and loved. Initially I didn't think the shop owner would negotiate on this at all but we were able to come to an agreement (I got a great bargain!) and my Lucy was quickly packed up in her mega huge wonderful travel bag. She is definitely traveling in style.

Putting her in the car and driving her home was immensely satisfying and a bit of a let down all at the same time. I know that she has so many wonderful features that I can't wait to try out. I know that she is going to sew beautifully and hopefully soon I will actually start doing the quilting myself. I know that she came with this awesome circular tool that will allow me to stitch great designs in perfect circles (really cool looking stuff by the way). BUT since I am working feverishly on finishing the teacher quilts and can't try to do that on a machine that I'm not familiar with, she is going to have to wait patiently for me. 

Besides we have another big crafting project that is in the works this weekend. Can you guess what this is going to be?

This is how far we got yesterday and hopefully before today is over, it will be a brand new complete swing set for my kidlets.

A summer filled with happy swinging little ones and a sewing crazy momma sounds absolutely perfect to me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Makeover? Yes and Maybe

I'm not in love with the look of my blog. I haven't really been since the beginning but I was in such a hurry to actually get it up and running, that I winged it. Now I feel the need to finally make some changes.

I want it to be colorful, but also clean and professional looking. I want it to be reader friendly, easy for all of you to find what you are looking for. I've been scanning websites for ideas but have yet to hit upon something that says "Ah Ha! That's it!". I don't have the budget at the moment to pay someone to do a total makeover for me so I have to find a way to do this myself.

Any and all suggestions are very much requested and welcome.

The other thing I'm not sure about is the name of my blog. It seemed like an obvious choice at that moment because of my other blog, the family one, but it doesn't seem catchy to me. I love all those other quilty blogs that have terrific names and I want mine to be memorable too.

I'm not opposed to changing the name if I can come up with one that really sings to me. But maybe I shouldn't? Do you really like my blog name? Be brutally honest here with me people. Does it fit or not?

Help a girl out here please! I feel like my quilting life is growing each and every day and I want my blog to reflect that, not look like an amateur did it. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Bloggers Quilt Festival Entry - Sound the Alarm

Amy's Creative Side
What did one certainly little boy need to finish his new fire truck bedroom in style? A fire truck quilt of course. Introducing:

Sound the Alarm

It came as no surprise that Jammer loves fire trucks. A lot! We probably have more toy fire trucks than the majority of households. We fully expect that he will want to join the local department as a Junior Firefighter as soon as he is old enough.

When this house was under construction, we let him decide the theme for his new room. His choice? Fire trucks of course. One entire wall is fire engine red (he actually wanted a totally red room) and they are covered with removable wall stickers, one that is 4 feet wide. It is the perfect setting for a hero in training.

I used a pattern I had saved from an old magazine though I added the red border because I didn't care for the look of the thin pieced border right next to the large outside border. It needed something between and the red border in the middle was just right.

I already had a number of fire truck/fire department fabrics in my stash at the time but I hunted down and added a few more to give it tons of variety and color.

He specifically requested stars for the "fancy stitching" as he calls it and so stars he got. My long arm quilter used a red, yellow, blue and green variegated thread that worked perfectly.

It is backed with a fun all over fire truck and flag print that he picked out himself.

Jammer is very proud of his special fire truck quilt. He couldn't wait for it to be finished. Each night as I worked on hand sewing the binding, he'd ask if it was done yet. Needless to say that as soon as the final stitch was completed, it went right on his bed and he slept cozy and peaceful the entire night.

I am so proud of my Junior Firefighter in training. He truly loves everything about the fire service. He was introduced at a very young age.The weekend after we arrived home from Vietnam with our tiny baby boy, we went to the state fire chief's convention and he has gone every year since. One day he will become a Fire Chief just like his Daddy.

And because Bea asked, here are a couple of pictures of his room.

The red wall and his giant captain's bed. The rails make it hard for the quilt to drape nicely. His name letters will go above, if I ever get around to painting them. The open underside is the garage for his larger fire trucks and his Hess trucks. I still need to order his matching night stand. 
This is the mega huge ladder truck sticker that he really loves and his custom painted piggy bank. There is a fire truck on the other side as you can see in the 1st picture.

Make sure you visit Amy's Creative Side to see all the terrific quilts in the Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival. So far there are over 400 entries. Nominations for prize winners starts Tuesday. Mine is number 420 418! (I don't know why it changed but I just noticed that it isn't #420 any more).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Maybe, just maybe

This baby may be coming home with me soon!

I wasn't shopping for a new machine. Honest!

I really love my machine. Once I figured out its little quirks it has been great. It has loads of features, many that I haven't had time to play with yet. But this new possibility has even more.

A good friend has become interested in quilting (thanks to me dragging her to a quilt show) and we've been visiting all the local dealers to view available makes and models, check out features and prices over recent weeks. It just so happens that one local dealer, who no longer sells Brother machines, has this Laura Ashley NX 2000 floor model for sale at a great reduced price.

I didn't even notice it in the store until we were getting ready to leave. And I've been dreaming about it ever since. I've researched online extensively about it, read reviews all over the place and found out what a brand new in the box one would cost.

Hubby had no clue, though he did figure out that I was looking at new machines. I told him last weekend and guess what? He didn't freak out. He even suggested how much I should offer the shop owner for this new one (the same amount I was considering). Yes my current machine would be sold, I just can't justify having 2, and it would help with my budget conscious heart.....less overall out of pocket.

I wanted to go to the shop yesterday and put this floor model through its paces to test it out but since I really need to get the teacher quilts done first, I resisted. It was hard! Really hard! But if I can get the last teacher quilt top completed and off to my long arm person before next weekend, I'll be taking a little road trip.

If it performs as I think it will and if I the owner will accept my offer, this beauty will be coming home with me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teacher Quilt No. 2 Done

Well the top is done at least. I handed it off my my long arm quilter this afternoon for her to work her magic. Sorry for the inside photo. It has been raining buckets here for the past 2 days.

At the end of the day, I can say that I am happy with how it turned out. This isn't the original layout I sketched, or even the 2nd or 3rd version...none of those worked in reality....but this one is ok. Everything else I tried just looked so wrong.

The border and the backing are pieced with the leftovers from the blocks. And I know you are going to say it....I should have mitered the corners of the borders. Yup. I totally agree. It never occurred to me until I clipped the last thread and layed it out on the floor to view. Oh well, I wasn't about to change it. The last one has to get done PDQ and to my long arm person as she is heading to Ireland for a quilters excursion on June 3rd.

I think I have a plan for the 3rd and final teacher quilt layout. The individual blocks just need to get made. I'll be working like a mad woman to do just that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

April was a good month!

I'm late on posting my April results (lots going on) but I can tell you that I'm happy with how much I was able to accomplish. A lot of progress was made on the teacher quilts during the month.

So for the math portion of my self challenge I crafted a total of 13 days (43%). Much better than past months.

Year to date figures: 38 days out of a possible 121 = 31%. Not a huge increase overall but I'll take it.

Even if you aren't keeping track yourself, I hope that you are able to find the time to do something you love too.

Friday, May 11, 2012


The quilting blogisphere is chock full of chats and comments about thread, the different brands, the different weights, the different finishes.

I'm sew confused. Are you too?

Aurifil? Floriani? Guterman? Isacord? Mettler? Signature? Presencia? Superior? YLI? Sulky? Wonderfil?

These are just some of the names I've seen floating around the web. I've used Coates and Clark (my pre-quilting days) and I use Guterman now. My LQS only carries Mettler but I haven't tried it.  A gift of a spool of Presencia came my way but I haven't had a project in that colorway to use it on yet. I wanted to try Auriful but no one around here carries it. Luckily I found it during the NJ Shop Hop.

But what are the differences in these brands? This inquiring mind wants to know. Really. I want to use good products in my quilts but I certainly don't need to use the most expensive thread that exists. If one brand is honestly superior to the others, I want to know that. Perhaps a better thread would help my machine perform nicer.

Might you have the knowledge I seek? Or might you know where I can learn about this important quilting topic?

What brand thread do you use and why? What others have you tried and if you don't use them any more, tell me what happened?

And I've always read that quilters should always use cotton thread but I know of a famous quilt blogger who uses poly thread. That confuses me even more.

Help a girl out here. Please!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm on a roll

Or should I say "I'm on a charm pack"? But that doesn't sound right, does it.

Hubby is out of town at a fire truck manufacturer checking on the construction of the new ladder truck so I've been ultra busy in recent days and didn't get a chance to blog about my other recent win.

I got an email from Sharon at Vroomans Quilts that I won in her 1st May for Me giveaway. She was giving away 2 packs of different charm packs and I didn't know which I was getting until it came in the mail. I am now the proud owner of a pair of charm packs of this Love Letters from Moda.

I think I already have a plan for these. I'll just need one coordinating fabric for the top and also the backing and binding. Honestly it is great knowing so soon what this will eventually become. Unfortunately with the other deadline projects on my plate, this one won't get started for a bit.

Thank you so much Sharon. I really appreciate it.

One week into the month of May and I already have racked up 2 wins. Maybe this will be a really lucky month for me and I'll tally up a few more prizes before the calendar turns to June.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Red, White and Black Blocks Galore

My mailbox was stuffed full yesterday. Even more blocks arrived for the Tribute to Danny quilt. They are so gorgeous, I just have to share with you.

Ella in Georgia sent this solid beauty.

Marian in Idaho is the contributor of this cool, wild one.

Miki in Washington created this version.

And lastly for this update, Rachel in California went way above and beyond. She made not one, not two but six blocks for this quilt, each one terrific and unique. Here are the first two.

Next are this pair.

 And finally is this duo. She made the all white one for a signature block. I hadn't thought this far yet and I'm so glad she thought of it for me. It will be perfect for that purpose.

To all you generous ladies who have mailed blocks to me already and those of you that have offered to send one and will be in sending them soon, words can never fully express my sincere gratitude for your assistance with this project. You made an idea a reality fast. The blocks you made and sent my way are filled with your love and caring spirit.

The view on my design wall is awesome! I can't wait to start laying them out and sewing them together into a pair of quilts that will truly dazzle. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A recent finish-Head teacher quilt top

This purple and green quilt top was dropped of to my long arm quilter on Tuesday morning and I got her to take a photo of it first so that I could share it with all of you. It isn't the best picture and I will get nicer ones when I get it back but at least I can give you a peek at how it turned out.

Overall I'm happy with it. Designing the center was tougher than I originally expected...the individual border blocks were done first and then the center was designed after to fit. For the top and bottom borders I originally had the blocks stitched together differently but I didn't like it. I pondered it for a couple of days and it just bothered me so much. So I ripped the blocks apart and changed it up a little. Much better. The center white blocks will later get a piece that I hand stitch on, one with a quote about teachers and the other the names of all the kids in the class.

The back was pieced with all the leftovers from the top and looks pretty cool though we didn't get a picture of that. So sorry. I promise to show it once this one returns.

One down and 2 to go. I hope to have the 2nd top done and delivered to her by this comng Tuesday. She will be going to Ireland in early June and promises to make these quilts a priority for me before she travels. It is wonderful to have a long arm quilter who is willing to put a rush on a job for a customer.

In the mean time, this quilt needs a name and I'm stumped. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Friday, May 4, 2012

More to share for my Tribute to Danny Quilt

I have a bunch more love to share with all of your...courtesy of some very generous quilters who offered to help with this project. First up is this dazzler by Meg who resides in Virginia. The black print.....totally wild!

 Next Ann in neighboring Pennsylvania sent me this one. Love the star within a star pattern.

Fellow New Yorker Lisa mailed this gorgeous pair to me. I do hope at some point to take a day trip her way so we can meet in person. There are some fabulous quilt shops in her area that I went to once, before I really knew, and I want to go back.

This cool one was made and sent by Doris in Iowa. She and I have a unique connection since she has a nephew who was born in China though in a different province than my Sunshine.

And finally for this post, this great block was received yesterday from Janet, who lives all the way out in the Yukon Territory in Canada.

I want to take a picture of the blocks I have received so far (18 in total) on my design wall so you can see how they all look together (absolutely fantastic) but the weather has been dull and rainy lately so the picture wouldn't show the true beauty that these are. Hopefully this weekend the sun will cooperate more.

Yippee Skippee!

Lookie what I won!
It is a charm pack of Costume Clubhouse by Riley Blake. I came across the giveway at Quilt Taffy last night while catching up on blog reading. Resisting anything Halloween related is useless for me. I just had to enter. This was my comment:

"Oh I should have told you to hold mailing my Ghastlies order (which arrived yesterday, thank you) so that you could add this little win to the package. LOL

One (me specifically) can never have too many Halloween fabrics
These fabrics are adorable and I can't wait to have this charm pack in my hands. Now I have to figure out the perfect little project for them. Ideas will be brewing for sure.