Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bloglovin or Feedly - my final decision

I've been using both Feedly and Bloglovin for the past month and a half, thoroughly testing each of them out  and now it is time to announce my final decision. The winner for me is:
Bloglovin just doesn't cut it for me. There are too many features lacking that Feedly offers. I prefer the way I can choose how much of the feed I want to see and the organizational tools in Feedly. It is great to be able to either read the oldest posts first or the newest posts, whichever I choose.

My biggest beef with Bloglovin has been the fact that over the weeks that I tested it, every time I clicked on the blog post title to go directly to the blog itself so that I could post a comment, the actual blog would only load partially, mostly just the header plus a little more. It would take multiple tries of clicking through to the blog before it would fully open. Very aggravating in my opinion. I had enough problems with Google Reader and I certainly don't want to use another reader that gives me constant indigestion. I never had any of these types of problems with Feedly. In fact I haven't had any problems with Feedly at all.

Feedly seems to be continuously working around the clock to improve their features and services and I'll be interested to see what new things become available in the coming months. 

If you use Bloglovin, don't worry, you can still follow me through that reader. I just won't be using it to read blogs myself. You can choose to use any reader you wish. If you haven't already moved your Google Reader feeds to another reader, now is the time. The deadline is fast looming and on Monday Google Reader will be no more. The import into either Feedly or Bloglovin is really easy so before you seriously regret waiting any longer, sign up with one of them today and be able to continue reading all your favorite quilting blogs with no interruptions.

This is also a Quilter's Public Service Announcement.

Last call for the It's A Sister Thing Swap

You don't want to miss out on all the fun, do you?
Today is the final day to sign up for the It's A Sister Thing Swap!
It promises to be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to "meeting" my own new quilty sister. 

What's involved, you ask?

You have the entire summer to stalk follow your secret pal's blog and learn her likes and dislikes. You make her one handmade item, anything you wish, and send it to her at the end of August. You certainly can send more than one thing or other fun little goodies that you find along the way but it isn't required. 

The rest of the details can be found in my original post here.

We have a great group of Sisters already playing and I'm sure you'll be happy if you add your name to the list. One can never, ever have too many quilting friends!
Send me your info speedy quick so you don't miss out.

I'll be checking out everyone's blogs tonight and tomorrow, working on making the matches and then I'll let you know who you will be a Secret Pal to for this It's A Sister Thing Swap.

Grab the button, spread the word everywhere...on your own blog, on Facebook and Twitter and anywhere else you can think of. The more Sisters the better!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Modern Mini Mystery Round Robin 2013 Reveal Date Annoucement

The final additions to all the mini quilts are being completed this month so it is time to schedule the Big Reveal Day for the Modern Mini Mystery Round Robin 2013.
The excitement will commence and the linky party will start bright and early at 6am EST on Wednesday, July 24th. I wanted to make sure that I gave everyone time to complete their quilts if they want to before they are revealed.
Knowing how great the last Big Reveal Day was, how much fun it was seeing all the finished quilts, I know that this reveal day will be terrific too. So put the date on your calendar and make sure you come to the party. This year's Modern Mini Mystery Round Robin participants will make it a wonderful celebration of this fantastic quilty event.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I've been doing a little shopping lately for things I need to start using Penelope, my long arm machine. As soon as Joey's 100 Good Wishes quilt is completed, I get to start playing and practicing with my new toy. I thought that I'd show you some of the goodies that have arrived recently.

This iron rest, available at Keepsake Quilting, is something that I've wanted for a long time. I actually had it on my wish list for Christmas but hubby didn't pay attention to the notation that said where to buy it and he bought something else instead that was definitely not this.
Since I make a lot of bigger quilts, I want to be able to use all the space on my ironing board so having the ability to rest my iron off the back edge would be great.  Here it is attached to my board. Much, much better...wouldn't you agree?
Though the above iron rest wasn't a must have for long arm quilting, when I got an email from Keepsake Quilting for 20% off my order, I didn't hesitate any longer. Plus my sister Tina wanted a few things too, including one of these iron rests for herself, so we were able to split the shipping cost.

Back to the topic at hand.....I have a list of needs and wants for my long arm quilting. One of them is a new surge protector power strip. I certainly don't want anything to happen to my machine and with all the crazy thunderstorms we've been having lately, I'd rather be safe than sorry.
My long arm machine came with a few bobbins but not many so a decent supply was definitely required. Knowing that a typical quilt could take 5-10 bobbins to complete, having a measly few just wouldn't do. I got these for a good price from Finishing Touches Quilting Studio. I also ordered from FT a stash of laser light batteries so that I'll be able to use the laser for pantos. The amount I received should last me a really long time.
I also ordered a Towa bobbin gauge. This is one of those tools that is highly recommended since a great deal of the problems long arm quilters have with thread tension stems from the bobbin tension. Being able to have good bobbin tension right from the start no matter what thread I am using will make quilting so much easier and more enjoyable.

The other item in the picture, the 3/4" circle labels...well they are for labeling the bobbins. For my piecing thread spools, I use pipe cleaners to keep the bobbin with the correct spool but I don't want to do that with the bigger cones of thread since they will be in a drawer. I don't want to have to struggle to figure out if the thread on the bobbin matches a specific cone so I came up with this idea. The stickers fit on the top of the bobbin perfectly, can be easily removed before using and I can note the brand, weight and color number and then store them in my bobbin cases neatly.

Penelope doesn't come with a built in bobbin winder, since she was a stretched industrial Singer machine originally, so a stand alone bobbin winder was on my list. I bought this one off of Ebay from Sharp Sewing Supplies.
Besides getting a lot more thread, I'm pretty well set up now for my long arm quilting adventures.  The previous owner included a great deal of the items on my Wants and Needs list so I didn't have to purchase them separately. I do need supplemental lighting over the frame since all I have is the room's center light fixture now but hubs is designing and making something for me that will work perfectly. There are a few other items on my list that I'll let hubs and Santa get me for birthdays and Christmas...micro handles, Bowers lifts, an extension table for ruler work plus I'm sure there will be a few different sets of groovy boards and specialty rulers that I will add to the list over time.

Keep tuned for my first quilting adventures. I'm so looking forward to it. Finally flipping that On switch will make this dream become reality.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

So what's next?

It is a huge sigh of relief that this year's teacher quilts are done and gifted. Now my brain is able to relax a bit and think about what is next on my To Make/To Do list.
First and foremost, the next project will be the completion of Joey's 100 Good Wishes Quilt.
The blocks are all cut and with the help of my local quilting friend Alana, the layout has been determined. All that needs to be done is the sashings added, the rows sewn together and the borders attached. I hope to have it completed before this month is over.
Once that project is completed, I have a huge list of options of what to do next. I have a couple of bags that I'm dying to try to make, lots of full size and smaller quilt projects waiting for heir turn and some pattern design ideas that I want to work on.
I also want to spend some time this summer working on Jammer and Sunshine's Life Books, the scrapbooks of our trips to Vietnam and China to bring them home and their baby books. To say that I have thousands of pictures to sort through isn't a joke. I think the photo sorting will be a good thing to tackle a little at a time while watching TV at night after the kidlets go to sleep.
Of course it goes without saying that Penelope, my longarm machine, will be getting lots of use in the coming months. While she has been waiting for me to finish the teacher quilts, my mind has been practicing the movements of the quilting and I can't wait to see it become reality.
Whatever your quilty plans are for the summer, I hope that you are able to enjoy the process and have a great sense of accomplishment by the time summer comes to an end.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It's a Sister Thing Swap sign ups are still open

The list for this fun summer swap is steadily growing but there is still room for more to join in. There is no limit to the number of players for this swap.

All of the details can be found in the original post here. Sign ups will continue to be taken through June 29th.

You only need to make one homemade item for your swap sister, though you certainly can do more if you want. If you'd love to "meet" a new quilting Sister, if you'd love stalking someone else's blog to learn all you can about what they like, if you love being a Secret Pal and surprising her with goodies chosen just for her, don't wait...sign up today. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mission accomplished!

The back story: In the Fall of 2011, a few months after Jammer started school, I was thinking about how very grateful I was for the teacher he had. Barely into the school year I already knew that she was beyond terrific and that he would really excel under her guidance. At that time I was working on my Christmas list, wondering what to get the teachers as gifts and also started wondering what sort of gift would be appropriate for the end of the school year gift. I figured that a they received a lot of gift cards to restaurants and Starbucks and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to give them something that was much more long lasting, a gift that would continue to remind them of my child and their year together and that would truly demonstrate my deepest appreciation for all that she does. It was then that the Teacher Quilt Project was born.

I can say without hesitation that the memories of gifting the quilts last year will stay with me forever. The look on his head teacher's face when she saw what I made is etched in my mind and it is what kept me going through the hours of making this year's quilts. All 3 teachers from last year have mentioned to me many times over just how much they love their quilts. That was definitely Mission Accomplished...they continue to remember that school year and the kids they taught which was the whole point in the 1st place.

 This year's 4 teacher quilts have been gifted and I can say that they are a complete and huge success just as they were last year. Each one of them was totally surprised and ecstatic with their quilt. Here are a few pictures from the "giving". Unfortunately we were inside and the lighting isn't the greatest but at least we were able to capture the moment.

These are Sunshine's teachers receiving their quilts. We gathered all the parents and kids from the class and everyone celebrated the wonderful teachers together.

Sunshine's head teacher. She was totally blown away with the quilt and absolutely loves it.
Sunshine's assistant teacher. She was shocked that anyone would give her such a great gift.
This was the giving of the quilts to Jammer's teachers.
The room was chaotic, with all the kids waiting for the graduation ceremony to start, but we were still able to snap a few photos.

This is Jammer's head teacher. She was beyond thrilled. Unbeknown to me before, it matches the colors in her bedroom.
Jammer's assistant teacher. I think she is a happy with her quilt.
Making these quilts is a lot of work and I'm not sure yet if I will do it again next year. Both kids are changing schools so they certainly won't be expected but if I don't make quilts I'll definitely make their teachers something extra special.
This project is such a work of love for me and I truly enjoyed the process. Using patterns and fabrics of my choosing was much easier than last year's plan and they all turned out great.
Teachers are so important! They hold such young lives in their hands and the lessons they teach our children go beyond the basics of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. They teach lessons for life and for that they should be celebrated. I know that these quilts do just that.

I'd say that is definitely Mission Accomplished!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guiding Creative Thinkers - 2013 Teacher Quilt Project finish #4

This is the 4th and final teacher quilt for this school year. This one is for Jammer's assistant teacher who will actually be teaching Art next year to all the school's students. The name I came up with is:

Guiding Creative Thinkers
Again I used a very simple tutorial from Moda bakeshop called Jungle Path and I love the way it turned out. This is another pattern that I will definitely be keeping in my file for those quick gift idea needs.
I used one Charm Pack and one Jelly Roll of Moda's Grand Finale line along with one coordinating solid, in this case a light Yellow.
The Plum and Turquoise prints in this line are an unexpected addition to the other prints and colors but they add a great fun element to the quilt. Swirls of course was my choice for the quilting pattern.
This quilt is actually double sides since the 2nd half of the jelly roll strips are pieced together for he backing.
Pieces of leftover jelly roll strips were even used for the pieced binding. You can see how the quilting softened up the straight vertical lines of the backing. Finished size 43" x 53".
It will be hard to give this quilt away too but I know that the teacher who will receive it will love and appreciate it for many years to come.
Since this teacher is another one who is new to the profession, in fact she's still working on finishing her Masters Degree, I'm betting that she won't expect a gift such as this but I can't think of a better way to start her off on her career....finding out just how much the parents treasure the work she does with our kids and the love that she puts into teaching.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Inspiring Grand Ideas - 2013 Teacher Quilt Project finish #3

Do you wonder as you are sewing a quilt if you are actually going to like it or not when it is done? I certainly did with this one. I just wasn't sure of how it all worked together but once I added the border it felt just right and I'm very happy with it.

In deciding on a name for this quilt, the colors and prints of some of the fabrics reminded me of a basic school composition notebook and after a ton of thought, that image led me to think about what goes into that composition notebook. One thing led to another and so this quilt is appropriately named
Inspiring Grand Ideas
I used a Moda Little Black Dress layer cake and another pattern from the Moda Bakeshop, Easy as Pie. The finished size is 61" x 68".
During the construction of this quilt I was worried that it would look too dark in the end, all Black and Gray  but as soon as I added the border in one of the tan prints, it took on a lighter feel.
It is a directional print that really worked well to finish off the design.
You'd be surprised I bet if I didn't choose another swirly pattern for the quilting for this one. Just like the other teacher quilts, the quilting design softened the sharp lines of the blocks.
I just love the backing print and it is why I was drawn to this fabric line in the 1st place. It was another challenging pattern to match up for the pieces but even my long arm quilter had a hard time finding the seam.
The binding I chose was a Taupe solid fabric and I think it was the perfect choice. It works well with the backing fabric and it enhances all the colors and prints on the quilt top.
The overall feel of this quilt lends itself to a bit of sophistication I think and knowing this teacher as I do, I think it is the perfect choice for her.
Being happily surprised by how much I like this finished quilt gave me a new insight into the colors I might want to use more in the future.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tending Young Gardens - 2013 Teacher Quilt Project finish #2

Here is the 2nd completed eacher quilt for this year. This one is for Sunshine's assistant teacher. She is a young teacher and I've actually known her for a long time. Her parents are members of our fire company so I've watched her grow up.

I decided to title it
Tending Young Gardens
The fabric line is Flora from Moda and the pattern is called I Spy Ten Little Things from the Moda Bakeshop. All the floral elements in the prints had me thinking that it is similar to the Pre-K teachers' job...they tended little seedlings all year long...hence the quilt's name.
The fabrics are full of great prints and bright, fun colors. This was the simplest pattern of all to do and I am most definitely going to keep it in my binder to use again when I need to whip up a super fast gift.
Another fun swirly quilting pattern was the choice for this one. The quilter used a rainbow variegated thread and it looks great.
One of the fabrics in this line, my favorite print of them all, was my choice for the backing.  I love that you can't see the seam line at all. I've gotten quite good at matching up patterned fabric to join pieces together for borders or backings and I'll have a tutorial with my method to share with you soon.
The Orange/Red lattice print from the line made the perfect binding fabric.
It looks great with both the solid sashings on the front and the print fabric on the back. The colors in this quilt are so bright and cheery that it will be tough to give this one away. It's finished size is 45" x 48".
I'm sure she won't expect to receive a quilt as an end of year gift but I'm hoping that this quilt will always remind her of all the great the memories she has of her 1st year as a teacher.