Monday, May 27, 2013

Are you in the mood?

Did your thoughts immediately jump to something a bit naughty? Well just get your mind right out of the gutter! This blog is about quilty things ya know, not about smut.
This year's edition of the Modern Mini Mystery Round Robin is about to end soon and my thoughts have been about what's up next. I really like hosting fun events here on my blog but I'm in the mood for something different this time around and I want to see if there is any interest out there in quilt blog land.

What might I be conjuring up?

Well....I think it is high time for a secret type of swap, just to one person that you would be assigned, something (or a couple of somethings) that you'd make for that person after you stalk their blog for a bit to see what they might love to receive from you. It can be anything from a mini quilt or wallhanging, a table runner, some placemats, a bag/tote, a garment (though good luck guessing their size), some other cute decorative handmade item, a pincushion, a tablet case, a thread catcher or anything else quilty/sewing related that would be the perfect gift for your secret pal. Along with the handmade item (s) you could include a few little goodies too if you wish.

You'd have a few months to plan/sew/shop and mailings would be due by the end of the summer. You do need a blog so that your pal can stalk you.

So are you interested? Let me know and if I get enough responses I'll formalize the details.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The last one is done!

The last Teacher Quilt top went together the fastest of all! I started it Friday afternoon and I finished it right before dinner last night. I started with 2 charm packs of Flora by Lauren & Jessi Jung for Moda and 6 - 1/4 yards of coordinating solids.
The charms were arranged into groups of 6 and the 1st pairs were chain stitched together.
Within about an hour I had the 6 patches finished.
Sashings were then added around each block.
The blocks were arranged into rows, the rows were sewn together and a finished top resulted. Here is your sneak peak.
All I have left to do is to piece the backing together. On Tuesday morning I'll run it over to my LQS to hand off to my long arm quilter Dianne and I'll pick up teacher quilt #3 which is finished. Then I'll spend the rest of the day while the kidlets are at school in another binding/Harry Potter movie marathon.

I have just under 3 weeks to get all 4 quilts bound and labeled. The final push is on. Though I love sewing so much I am looking forward to some down time soon.

Thank you Christa!

I love receiving emails like this one.

"Congratulations Michele! You are one of my weekly winners for the pack of Aurifil Threads."
Christa's Year of Giveaways
That great news came from Christa of Christa Quilts Wednesday afternoon as part of her Year of Weekly Giveaways. My package arrived yesterday afternoon. Look what was inside.
Gorgeous, yummy rainbow colors of Aurifil threads. I love them all, especially the variegated ones.
My long time readers know that I have a THING for all things rainbow hued. This pack of lovelies even looks great next to my rainbow colored pin cushion.
I'm no where near ready to open these beauties yet. I just want to stare at them for a while. But an idea for what to do with them is starting to develop so they probably won't stay wrapped up for too long.

Thank you so very much Christa! I am thrilled with them and I appreciate it very much.

This is absurd!

Can you believe this? It is insane!

It is the end of May, Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer and this is today's high temperature. The rain will return later today and the temps will then drop.

Yesterday was worse. Rain all day, bone chilling cold and a high of only 49 degrees. We even ran the fireplace once we got home to take the chill off.

This should not is just so wrong!

I'm heading out shortly to the local garden centers to pick up my veggie and flower plants while the skies are still clear. The weather is supposed to be much better tomorrow and I hope to get the flower pots planted and the veggies snug into their new home.

I sure hope the weather is nicer where you are. Ok, enough of my mini rant for today. Now we return to our regularily scheduled programing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Teacher quilt top # 3 done!

Amongst all the other things going on here, a special day trip, a recent upheaval for us and 20+ other kindergarten families at my kids' school and the normal life things such as dishes and laundry, it took me just under a week to start and complete the 3rd teacher quilt top.
This one uses one charm pack, one jelly roll (half of it actually) and some solid yardage. I started by pairing up 2 different charms and trimming one of them to 4" for the center of the blocks.
The solid was cut into 4 different sized pieces and the jelly roll strips were cut into 10" segments.
This is another simple block pattern so they went together fast. Step 1 was to frame the center square. I so love chain piecing for this type of quick sewing.
Step 1 done.
The next step was to add a sold strip to each of the remaining 5" charms and then cutting them in half, resulting in 2 - 2 1/2 x 6" pieces.
More fast chain piecing was next up, adding the half charms to the center blocks.
All 20 blocks done and ready for the next phase.
The final step in the block construction consisted of sewing the 2 - 10" jelly roll strips to either side of the block.
Done! Aren't they pretty?
After working on the layout until I was pleased with the overall placement of colors and prints I added the sashing strips between the blocks.

After only a few hours, all the blocks were sashed and the rows were sewn together into a finished top. Here is your sneak peak.
This one went off to my long arm quilter and I know she will do her usual great job with it.
Now there is 3 done, 1 more to go. Hopefully that one will be completed by this time next week and I can spend the next few weeks until the end of the school year sewing the bindings and attaching the labels. I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to having this year's marathon over.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Proof exists!

Do you remember when I was interviewed by the Curator of Exhibits of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska in early March? It was a great interview, we had so much to talk about, and in the end I will get a copy of her research project on the 100 Good Wishes Quilt tradition.

During the interview I was surprised to learn that I was the only person she had interviewed that had actually become a quilter because of the tradition. If you haven't read that story, you can find it here and if you are new here and don't know yet what a 100 Good Wishes Quilt is, you can learn all about it here. I thought that fact, that I was the only one that can attribute my discovery of and love of quilting to this ancient Chinese tradition is pretty cool. The added knowledge that I have made and will be making more of these quilts for other Chinese-American children was also very interesting to Marin.

The curator, while doing her research, had found numerous references to 100 Good Wishes Quilts (Bai Jai Bie) in the adoptive community but she had yet to find definitive proof that the tradition actually existed in the past or does exist today in China. She had found proof of a Bai Ais Pao, a robe which was referred to in the book "Imperial Women" by Pearl S Buck (a big name in the adoption community). The book is about the final Empress of the Qing dynasty. At this point in the book, she is a concubine in the Imperial household, but has birthed the only make child of the Emperor. She has to leave her baby alone for a while and is thinking of ways to protect him, as well as obligate the other powerful Manchu families to back her son's claims to the throne.

The book reads " She must offer the child as an adopted son, by symbol, to other powerful families in her clan. Yet what friends had she? She thought and she pondered and she devised this pan. From the head of each of the highest one hundred families in the Empire, she required a bolt of the finest silk. From the silks she commanded the palace tailors to cut one hundred small pieces and from these make a robe for her child. Thus he belonged, by symbol, to one hundred strong and noble families, and under their shelter the gods would fear harm to him."
 I thought you would enjoy this bit of the back story. Anyway, the curator and a couple of her colleagues are in China now doing the actual research and they are blogging about it. The blog is Pieced in China. Yesterday's post is titled Demos and in the post Marin confirms that Yes the tradition is real, it did exist in the past and still exists today but in a bit of a different form.

Go ahead and pop on over there to read the rest of the post yourself. To say that I am beyond excited about this news is putting it mildly. I truly believe that a 100 Good Wishes Quilt is a wonderful thing to make for any new baby but to find out that our belief that this truly is an ancient Chinese tradition and therefore something my children will treasure even more, makes it all that more special to me.

I look forward to following along on the rest of this groups' travels, to eventually read the research paper that comes from all of this and to visit the International Quilt Study Center and Museum myself one day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Joey's 100 Good Wishes Quilt - Progress Report 1

The box of fabrics collected by Kris from Joey's friends arrive a few days ago and with the ones sent by all my quilty friends, I have 121 squares. As soon as I got the chance I laid them all out on my great room floor to get an overall sense of the colors I have to work with.
Kris originally wanted black sashing and border; she had seen one with that color online, but after seeing this picture we both agreed that while it would look very sharp it would also look a bit dark overall. The one she had seen online was a girl's quilt so the majority of those squares were pastels or brights. Charcoal gray was the next option, Kris was fine with that choice, but for some reason I wasn't in love with it.

On Friday I had gone to my LQS to drop off teacher quilt #2 to my long arm quilter and while there I took a good look around to see if I could come up with another idea. Two other options practically smacked me in the face....Red (a darker shade, not fire engine red) and deep Gold! I don't know why those colors hadn't occurred to me before. Red and Gold are obvious possibilities since both colors are important in the Asian community, they would both look great with these squares and would keep the quilt from looking so dark.

Kris and I emailed back and forth, I made up a sample visual to help her see the effect, she liked them both and in the end she left it up to me to choose. I kept looking at the picture and I couldn't decide either. So the following morning I tried again, opening up the picture on my screen and see which one was the first my eye envisioned. 

Red it will be! I had found a great backing choice, an Chinese calligraphy print in white and gray with back and red characters, but Kris preferred a print without Chinese callighraphy. She did love the Asian backing idea though. After combing through a ton of websites and emailing her a few choices, we narrowed it down and again she left the final decision to me. Let me tell you...finding an appropriate Asian print suitable for a 9 year old boy wasn't easy. The vast majority of Asian prints are very feminine, with lots of flowers, fans, etc or they are Japanese in nature and have things such as Geisha on them, certainly not right for a Chinese person. I really wish they'd come up with some other ideas. Forget about finding fabrics indicative of other Asian countries like Vietnam. Anyway this is the fabric I ultimately chose for the backing.
I think it works very well for this young boy. Dragons are protectors and they will help protect Joey as he battles his disease. I found a good Red tone on tone for the front, ordered them both and as soon as they arrive I can get started on this very special quilt. We've chosen to do it in simple sashed blocks so it will sew together quickly. I want to get the finished quilt off to Joey as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Ta Da! My long arm machine now has a name.
Here and forever more she shall be known as
I just knew that the perfect name would come along for my new-to-me long arm machine and last night it did. While surfing through my blog reading, low and behold on someone's blog she posted about her new puppy Penelope. I tried to go back and find who's blog it was but I couldn't. Anyway the instant I saw that name I knew that my search was over.

According to it means "Weaver". Pretty appropriate I think. I'm using the more modern definition here, not the old one according to Wikipedia. I wanted a name that was a bit older in origin but still works for to today, a girly name that wasn't too weak or wimpy; she is a work horse of a machine after all.

It suits her perfectly. Now I don't think of the color White when I think about the word Penelope and although I'd love to paint her a better color that matches her new name, I'm not going to do that. I'll just know that in my eyes she is a as colorful as any Penelope can ever be.

Yes it makes me happy to finally have found the name for her. I wasn't stressing over it but it was a tad bit annoying that something just right hadn't popped into my head before now. My machines have to have names. They are an important part of my life, my partners in everything quilting related.

If you haven't named your machine(s) yet, you should! If you treasure your babies as much as I treasure mine, you'll want to bestow them with a name...they are a part of your family after all.

Update: I found the blog. It is Maureen Cracknell Homemade. Here is her Penelope.
(picture borrowed from Maureen's blog. I'm sure she won't mind since she wants to show off her new baby). This Penelope is a Morkie (I'm going to look that one up). Some day, when the kids are older and bugging so much for a pet that we can't stand it any more, we'll get one. Until then I'll keep checking out what others have to figure out what breed will be best for us.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Staking my claim and the update

This is just a formality. I haven't decided yet which I'm ultimately going to use.
Follow on Bloglovin

I've spent a lot of time researching the two options and I still haven't decided which way to go. So what's a gal to do? Test them both out of course.

I downloaded Firefox and logged into Feedly a couple of days ago and I'm not sure yet if I like it or not.

Tonight I imported by Google Reader list into Bloglovin and I'll be giving that one a thorough run down too.

Thankfully I have a month and a half until Google Reader disappears totally so that is plenty of time to see who will win my little battle between the two front runners Hopefully it won't take that long to see which reigns supreme. I really want to get this question answered and this issue closed once and for all.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Winners Announcement!

Thank you to everyone that entered my Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day! The number of comments astounded me. I think that is the highest total I've ever gotten on a post. I really enjoyed reading all of your comments and for those of you that are wishing for something specific for Mother's Day, I hope your wish comes true.

And now on to the fun part...announcing the winners of my giveaway x 2. Mr. Random chose these two ladies to receive one each of my packages.

Sunny of Quilting Dreams
Her comment was: "I'm not a mother, but I think there is a new camera in my future, from DH!"


Caroline of Sew.Darn.Quilt 
She commented: "My Mr. asking me, seriously, "Now describe to me your ideal sewing room and I'll build it!" It's nice to have wishes and dreams, isn't it?! :)"

Congratulations ladies! Both have been emailed and as soon as I hear back from them, their goodies will be flying through the postal system on their way to their new homes.

Happy Mother's Day to all! Whether you are a mom or you are celebrating with your mom, I hope your day is a terrific one.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Feedly vs Bloglovin?

The switch from Google Reader to a new reader hasn't happened for me yet. I'm not the type to rush into things like this and when the announcement came out and a ton of people moved in the first couple of weeks, I sat back, watched and listened to what others were saying about their experiences with their choice.

I've done research into the 2 biggest and most popular options

and Bloglovin
It doesn't seem that either option is perfect. While from what I read, both platforms are fairly easy to import your reader list into but they both also have cons that make it hard to choose which way to go.

Feedly sounds like the perfect option for me but with one big doesn't work with Internet Explorer. I've used IE forever and while I do use Safari on my IPhone I've tried Firefox and don't really care for it. And I won't touch Google Chrome for anything.

The biggest issue that I have with Bloglovin is that only the most recent 3 unread posts on a blog show up. That is a real pain in the *&%$. Life with young kids means that I don't always get to check in and reader others' blogs.  And what happens when say we go on vacation? I "lose" all those older unread posts in my reader? Not acceptable.

Most of the options available besides these two sound to be seriously lacking in features from what I've read.

Do I'd love to hear from you....which one did you choose and why? Do you like it so far?

I need to get switched over soon, hopefully by the end of the month at the latest, and hearing what you have to say so far will really help me make up my mind.
Thanks bunches!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

2 Done, 2 To Go

 The top of the 2nd of the 4 teacher quilts for this year's end of school year thank you gifts is done. This one only took me 4 days to sew together, working in the evenings and finishing up today.

Friday evening I started piecing the blocks.  These were really easy and went together fast.
This part only took about 2 hours to do. At 11:30 pm I called it a day but I had completed half of the blocks.
On Saturday evening I picked up where I had left off. Some more quick chain piecing and by 10:30, when I started to yawn heavily, it was time to call it quits and crawl into bed for some much needed sleep.
The other half of the blocks were done and now it was time for the next step. Again this only took about 2 hours to finish.
The frame for my longarm machine turns out to be a really great place for sorting jelly roll strips and then the blocks.
Most of Sunday was spent working in the yard, getting rid of the Spirea that the builder put in and never did well and replacing them with Pink Knockout Roses. The MIL and BIL came over for dinner and one they headed home and the kidlets were in bed, I worked on laying out the blocks. I didn't like this version nor the other 3 that I tried so I eventually gave up that night and waited for a fresh vision on another day.
Yesterday morning I finally come up with a layout that I was happy with and got the blocks and rows sewn together in the afternoon. The top is now done and here is a sneak peak for you.
After work this afternoon I'll run it over to my longarm quilter so she can get it quilted as soon as possible. The end of the school year is only 5 1/2 weeks away and I hope to not be sewing the last stitches in the labels within hours of when they will be gifted.

You're likely wondering why I'm not quilting them myself. Basically it is a time issue. I'll be doing great to get the tops done and then the bindings finished on time. When I calculated the cost to each family in the kids' classes, buying my own longarm set up wasn't even on the radar yet so the amount to have her do them was already included.

Making 8 quilts in 4 months isn't easy so the fun of quilting my own quilts will have to wait until this summer. I'm really looking forward to doing that and you can bet that as soon as these quilts are done and over, I'll be putting some mileage on my new toy.