Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday Finishes: Moustaches Quilt

Someday, I will start and finish a quilt in a timely manner but this one is not that :)  My sister requested this quilt way back in early November.  And I though, no problem, I can even finish it for her birthday in mid December.  Yeah, not so much.  But now its done!

I do enjoy making these (this is my second) and I love this line of fabric (PB&J by Basic Grey for Moda) but I will definitely be taking a break from both the pattern and the fabric!

I quilted it with a medium grey thread in meandering loops around the moustaches.  After washing the moustaches have a nice puffiness to them.

My sister is a little bit tomboy and a little bit fancy girl so I backed it in the Daisy Mae print from PB&J and bound it in Navy Bag of Chips.  Finished quilt measure just under 60" square and can now head to it's final home!  It's also my first monthly finish for ALYOF.

Linking up with Amanda Jean and ALYOF!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Fabric Fast 2014: January Update

We are now one month into my year long fabric fast and I thought it would be nice to update monthly.  So how did I do this month?  Well, I spent 3 hours in my LQS for an open house where all fabric was 25% off and bought nothing.  Mildly impressive but I generally don't buy a lot there anyway.  I watched as the skinny bolt sale at Pink Castle fabrics came and went.  I went to my big box fabric store a half dozen times looking for thread and bought nothing but thread.  And, most impressively, I watched three very tempting instagram destashes roll through my feed without buying a single thread. That, my friends was a super human feat!

I did make a few purchases this month.  Thread, as previously mentioned.  Some batting.  And a handful of fat quarters for a class sample.  My class samples must be made from fabric available at my LQS and I had none in my stash.  But the day I bought them, I turned them into zipper pouches!

And most of what was left has already been making it's way into my projects.  Overall, it wasn't tough to buy nothing this month.  Except for the destashes.  That was very very hard! And as I gaze upon my stash/scraps, I feel like I could sew for two years without buying very much.  We'll see if that sentiment remains come July :)

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday and Fabricaholics.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

Last week, while I was sick, my sole accomplishment was watching Season 8 of Bones in it's entirety!  So it definitely feels good to be back at my sewing machine, even if it does feel like playing catch up.  Here's what I'm working on this week.

I finished quilting my sister's moustache quilt and am getting ready to bind it.  This is top priority as it is my January goal for ALYOF.

Making a quick patchwork blanket for my youngest.  In an effort to cut back on our oil bill we have been turning the heat down at night.  Alexis prefers to sleep just covered by her blankie but it doesn't cover her toes! So this one is longer and will keep her warmer at night.

Cutting a pretty stack of pink and grey honeycombs for my best friend's baby.

Working on my Once Upon a Time Sampler from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Tuesday Tidy - Hot Spots

Today is my second day stuck on the couch sick.  It probably should be my third but I'm a little stubborn when it comes to admitting illness. Fortunately, I got some cleaning done before I was knocked flat.

This is our breakfast bar.  We don't use it on a regular basis which means that it becomes a catchall.  It needs to be tidied every few weeks.  I've decided to make it my Project Life headquarters.  I'm hoping that seeing it daily will encourage me to work on it regularly.

I cleaned out the basement room!  The toys remaining here are going to be sold.  I'm giving myself a week to get them listed/sold or else they will be donated.  The wood was a pallet that we thought we could use for some other projects.  But now we are just pitching it.

As a bonus, I even got the 7 year old to clean her room on the weekend!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Move it Monday-The Challenge

UGH!  I feel like I am becoming a weight loss blogger who only blogs about how crappy the last week was and makes grand proclamations about how tomorrow will be better.  And, to be perfectly honest, I generally unsubscribe from those blogs :(  So I took some time to think about what has been holding me back and what will ensure my success going forward.

A big challenge for me is processed foods.  It's almost like an addiction for me.  Once I start, I don't seem to have an off switch.  When I eat a clean diet, I feel good and light and have energy.  My moods stabilize, my hunger is minimal and weight loss just happens.  So I joined a clean eating challenge on Facebook starting today and lasting 5 days.  From past experience 5 days is a good groundwork to keep going.  Part of that challenge is drinking half our body weight in oz of water each day.  So I got a proper water bottle and it has already made a difference.

Another obstacle for me  is lack of incentive.  I don't really care if it takes me another two years to lose the weight and sometimes that can lead to complacency. But I've put on 10 pounds and that is more than complacency!  So I've decided to add in some positive and negative reinforcement.

I've set my goal at 15 pounds in 10 weeks.  This is challenging but totally achievable goal if I eat clean and stick to my workouts.  So where is the reinforcement, you ask?  Well, should I not meet my goal I will send 4 fat quarters to everyone who comments on both this post and my final weight in post!  If I do meet my goal, I will allow myself to buy a fat quarter for every pound lost when I got to California in the spring.    I will be within daytrip distance of The Intrepid Thread!!  Since I'm on a fabricfast, this is a huge incentive :)

I will be weighing in here every other Monday.  The loss must be safe, meaning I can't do nothing until the final two week.  If I love all the weight early on and then do nothing else, challenge lost. So leave a comment  but I hope I won't have to send anybody anything :)

Not happy with that number!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday Finish and TLP

Last year for Christmas I made this quilt for my youngest and I don't believe I ever blogged it.

It's a simple toddler bed sized quilt made with Fig Trees California Girl for Moda.  I mostly chose that line because it had the colors I was decorating her room with.  And I'm fairly certain it was my first quilt made using only one line of fabric.

Sometime during the summer I gathered up a couple of leftover blocks and my scraps to make this mini.   I set it aside with vague thoughts to sell it as a mini or a doll quilt.  But when Alexis was making her Christmas wish list and full of accessories for her baby, I pulled it back out to use as a gift for her.

And then I remembered this post by Maureen  and decided that they must also have matching pillowcases!  These came together so quickly and easily and they were a big hit.  I thought that they would work well for the baby doll bunkbeds she already owned but she insists that baby sleep in her bed with her each night.

Who am I to argue :)  Linking up with Amanda Jean!

Do you know what else is going on today?  Today is the launch of TLP (The Library Project) over at Chezzecook Modern Quilts.  This fits in really nicely with my Project Inspiration so you know I'm playing along!  Here are the book projects I've chosen for the year.

1. Indian Summer from Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe
2. Neigbourhood from Modern Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman
3. Scrappers Delight from Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean and Cheryl Arkinson
4. Adorn from Simply Retro by Camille Roskelley
and of course
5. City Sampler by Tula Pink

Thursday, 16 January 2014

My Scrappy Process

When I posted the photo of my scrappy patchwork quilt, someone asked me how I put together a scrappy quilt.  If I planned it out or went completely random.  And so I thought about that for the first time ever LOL.  I decided that my method would best be described as organized random. FYI: Amanda Jean also posted about this after I started writing this and she called her process "controlled random".

I don't have any photos from the construction of that top but I thought I would document and describe my process through a scrappy baby blanket I am making for my cousin's baby boy.

1.  I do math.  I know, yuck, right?!  I would much rather just start cutting but my experience tells me that math makes it come together quicker and more smoothly in the long run.  Since this is a baby blanket I am sizing it to 36" x 42" with 6" finished squares.

I am following a patten which uses 3 different types of blocks: a large block, a four patch and a 3 string.

36"/6" = 6 blocks across
42"/6" = 7 blocks down

6 x 7 = 42 total blocks

42 blocks/3 types of blocks = 14 blocks of each type SO

14 x 6 1/2" squares
14 x 4 = 56 x 3 1/2 " squares
14 x 3 = 42 x (2 1/2" x 6 1/2" strings)

2.  I almost always start my scrappy quilts with an inspiration fabric or color scheme in mind.  This quilt is being built around a stripe fabric, I believe from Riley blake.

Now I head to my scrap buckets to pull out all the fabrics that work with this color story and start cutting!

Ooops!  I forget that we have to do some more math first :)  There are 6 colors I am working with in this blanket: Yellow, Green, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Red and MultiColor.

14/6 = 2.33333 x 6 1/2" squares of each color
56/6 = 9.3333 x 3 1/2" squares of each color
42/6 = 7 strips of each color

These numbers are obviously guidelines.  I already know that my multicolor will probably be on the lower side of these and my blues will be on the higher side (I want this blanket to be heavy on the blue) but it gives me some guidelines and keeps from having a super unbalanced color layout.

As I cut, I keep my piles separated by colors with little pieces of paper on top showing the current number of blocks in that pile.  And at the end, I have a whole bunch of pretty little piles of squares and strings.

3.  Grab all those piles of  3.5" squares and set them up next to the sewing machine and start chain piecing.  I start by working through the multicolor pile, pairing them with one orange, one blue, one green, one yellow, etc.  When that pile is gone, I pair a green with each of the other colors, a red with each of the other colors, etc until they are all in pairs.  I don't put much thought into this but I will refrain from putting two circles or two stripes together.

Press these seams and start combining them into four patches. I try not to overthink this process as well.  I just open each pair until I find two that work well together.  My criteria are simply to keep two colors from touching and two extremely similar (or identical) patterns from touching.

4.  Grab your piles of strings and do the same, only stopping at 14 pairs and then adding on the third string to each block.

5.  Layout time!  I used to spend hours trying to get a random placement of the blocks. But now I utilize the organized random theory. I start in the top left corner with a 6.5" block.  Then a four square, a string placed vertically, 6.5" block, 4 square, string placed horizontally, etc.  For the second row I start with a four square and continue the order.  I take care to avoid clusters of the same fabric or color but that is it.  When its all laid out, I take a photo or walk away for a few hours.  If nothing jarring jump out at me after that time, I start piecing!


I piece my rows and join rows.  For this blanket I added his name in the lower center using raw edge applique.

A minky backing and topstitched edges make for a quick and easy baby gift.  These take me approximately 5 hours including cutting!  I hope this helps demystify random patchwork a little bit.  If you have any further questions, please let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

WIP Wednesday: Radiating Rainbows

Waaaaay back in October I bought a rainbow charm pack destash from Kati at From the Blue Chair.

Over Christmas holidays I had the urge to do something with them.  I ended up with a rainbow layout.

Orignally I planned on having the red "center" offset but I just wasn't feeling it.  I posted the above photo to IG and after some discussion, I decided to keep it centered.

And now the rows are coming together quickly.  The only color that will have duplicate fabrics is the purples.  I don't think I know anyone who has a robust purple stash.  If more purple fabrics is the only good thing to come out of Radiant Orchid 2014 I will be happy!

Linking up with Lee of Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tuesday Tidy: The Moving Purge

Aside from the home where I lived for most of my childhood, this is only the second house I've lived in longer than two years.  Which means for 12 years I moved an average of once yearly.  Three of those moves were cross country and I could only take what would fit in my car.  Needless to say I got to be pretty ruthless with what belongings were move worthy!

We have lived in this house for nearly two and a half years now.  Four people can accumulate a LOT in 2.5 years, especially with a basement and shed to stash it in.  As a result, I am approaching this purge with a cross country move in mind (just an imaginary one LOL).  There are definitely things that will remain that wouldn't if we were to move (ie hand me downs and some of our less loved furniture pieces) but the mindset is a really helpful one for me to have.

I know I told you I was tackling that room in the basement this week and I did make some progress. but I got distracted.

By my fridge

By my closet

And by my dresser.

The trunk is half full with bags for Goodwill and I'm not running out of steam yet!  This week Minimalist Mom is encouraging us to tackle those spaces that accumulate "stuff".  Flylady would call them "hot spots".  We have a few.  Obviously our bedroom dresser, but also the console in the entrance and the breakfast bar.  Those should only take a half hour tops so I'm sure I will tackle more as well, perhaps that basement space?!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Project Life: December

I was/am a scrapbooker.  Possibly something else you didn't know about me? (This could be the year of full disclosure LOL).  When I was pregnant with my first child I became interested in scrapbooking and that interest quickly snowballed into complete obsession.  I was off work for 14 months after she was born and since she was a long napper, I had time to fill.  I filled it with cutting up paper and gluing it back together (sounds a lot like quilting!).  I took thousands upon thousands of photos and made hundreds of pages documenting her early years (If you are interested in seeing some of them you can here).

Then I got pregnant again and I found sewing.  There wasn't time for both and scrapbooking was pushed aside.  But I've missed it.  The act of scrapbooking and the way I took photos of our family when I was scrapbooking.  Sure, I've got photos of all the major life events that occurred in those years but my favorite moments to scrapbook were the day to day ones.  Bedtime stories, funny quotes, unique personality traits.

Watching Elise work on Project Life for the past several years had me intrigued.  But I didn't want to order the entire system without knowing if I could stick to it.  This past fall, I saw the kits in Michaels, and just before Christmas, my good friend mentioned she was giving it a try.  So I started buying the parts (with coupons, of course) and I started taking pictures.  Their quality is mediocre and many are iPhone photos but they are photos of our family.  By Christmas, I hadn't ordered any photos or even opened the kit.  I needed some accountability.

Hopefully you guys won't mind me sharing these layouts here once or twice a month.  I know if this post wasn't "scheduled" for today, I wouldn't have spent an hour last night working on December's photos.  And I enjoyed that hour.  Right now, I am keeping it pretty basic.  I'm ordering 4x6 photos from WalMart and cutting them down when necessary.  I'm not spending a lot of time digging through my copious paper crafting stash (it rivals my fabric!!) for the perfect paper or embellishment.  There's a pretty good chance, I might start doing this down the road.  And I'm hopeful that as the year goes on I begin to take more care in my photos, taking more with my good camera and less with my phone.  But for now, our memories are being preserved and that makes me happy.

Thanks for listening!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Sunday Stash: My SMS Winnings!

I'm sure you are wondering why I'm posting a Sunday Stash when I'm on a fabric fast in 2014.  But I love the Sunday Stash posts!  And Molli was kind enough to talk about all of the ways we can participate even in we aren't buying fabric this year.  Plus, I may have done more than my fair share of purchasing during Black Friday/Holiday sales!!

But today's Sunday Stash showcases the fabric I won via SMS Giveaway Day.  I was at home with a sick little girl on the actual day. She spent most of the day sound asleep but I didn't want to be too far away so I spent the day entering giveaways.  A lot of them!  And won this adorable bundle from Kristel at WIPgirl.  I don't normally buy novelty fabrics but look at those adorable buses!  Selvedge says Toy Poodle by Kinkame.

These little girls are just screaming out to be showcased.  Maybe via #economyblockalong ?  I will not start a new project, I will not start a new project, I will not start a new project!  Selvedge:Paper Dolls by CPdesigns for StudioE

 There is a good chance those owls (Moda #19356) will make their way into something for my best friend's baby girl due to arrive any minute.  And how appropriate are the ladybugs for me!

Linking up with Molli for Sunday Stash!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Friday Finish: Simply Sweet Chevrons

I've mentioned that I am teaching my first quilting class this winter but didn't show my finished class sample!  It is a no experience required class so I chose a chevron baby quilt using Amanda Jean's method.  The quilt comes together fairly quickly giving us lots of time to learn about choosing and cutting fabrics.  Plus, since it's strip pieced there is lots of 1/4" seam practicing LOL

The print fabrics are all from Riley Blake's Simply Sweet line.  The background is Kona Snow and it's quilted in white thread 1/4" on either side of the chevron seams.

Finished size is 40" by 46".  If you are interested in taking the class you can sign up through Quilting B and More!

Linking up with Friday Finishes!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Tula Pink's City Sampler

How many of you have completed Tula Pink's 100 Blocks quilt?  How many of you have the book?  How many of you started and then stopped? LOL.  I received the book as a birthday gift.  In July.  I already had a color scheme and fabrics pulled so I started piecing blocks right away.  I figured if I did a block a day, it would get finished without me even realizing it.  I made 5 blocks and then fell off the proverbial horse.  I have done nothing but look guiltily at the book for the last 5 months.

After a few conversations with Adrienne at Chezzetcook Quilts about both of our abandoned projects we have decided to challenge each other to "Get 'er done!".  The plan is one section per month.  The book is divided into 6 sections.  With a month for assembly and quilting, this means a finished quilt by next fall.  And no scrambling to finish in order to meet my Project Inspiration deadline!

January's blocks are Crosses.  I started out a little ahead of the game since I made 5 blocks this summer, but I didn't want to leave it until the end of the month.  I blocked out some time on Tuesday and finished the section.  Overall, I really enjoy piecing the blocks.  initially I was quite surprised at how small some of the pieces are, quite a few 1/2" finished!!  But I simply press all of my seams open and they are coming together quickly and painlessly.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

Part of the reason that my WIP list is longer than my arm is that I spent 2013 working willy nilly.  I floated from project to project depending on my mood that day.  Or how much time I had to sew.  Or which projects I had the materials for.  My strategy for 2014 is to focus my sewing time in order to turn the majority of those WIPs into finishes.  I bumped two projects to the top of the list for January.

I'm not sure what the weather is like in your part of the world, but here it's cooooold!  We need our warm quilt ASAP.  I started working on this over Christmas and really hoped to finish but it turns out quilting a queen sized quilt on a domestic machine takes some time LOL.  I have made a ton of progress, finished about 75% of the quilting and made the binding.  I'm committed to finishing it within the next 2 weeks.

The second project is my sister's birthday quilt (her birthday was December 18th!).  The pile on the right is completed applique, the pile on the left is incomplete.  The layout is done and these are stacked in order.  So once I finish stitching on the moustaches, construction should go pretty quickly.  although I still have zero ideas for quilting.  How would you quilt it?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Tuesday Tidy

There are some things you might not know about me.  First, I am a closet minimalist.  One reason I am in the closet is that I have a husband and three children that are far from minimalist.  The other reason is that I love stuff.  I just hate the clutter it creates.  I dream of perfectly organized rooms filled only with things we love and use.  About three years ago, I dove into the concept.  I devoured blogs and articles about minimalism and we purged our house by a third.  And we were perfectly content doing that.  We even made a little cash along the way selling things.  Now we have been in our new house for just over two years and it is out of control again.

I don't follow any of the minimalism blogs I read 3 years ago except for one.  The Minimalist Mom is a Canadian living abroad and I love her down to earth approach to the subject.  She talks about finding a definition of minimalism that fits your lifestyle, not minimalism defined by deprivation or living out of a backpack.  And she acknowledges that maintaining a minimalist lifestyle takes constant work.  She is running a Clutter Cleanse through the first six weeks of this year and I am going to play along.  I might not follow her categories exactly but there will lots of stuff leaving my home over the next month (with my husband's approval but the kids might not know about all of it LOL)

 Load 1 was dropped to Value Village this morning.  My two body trunk was full and there was a TV/VCR in the backseat.  I was ruthless with the girls clothes after we opened gifts on Christmas morning.  Only the clothes that they love and wear often stayed and we can finally close all of their drawers!  There is also Christmas decorations that were handed down when we first started out, some kitchen appliance, a full bag of clothes from our closets and some toys/books.  The girls have noticed none of it missing.  The 7 year old even offered up two things that she doesn't use anymore :0

Yikes, sorry about the crappy iPhone photo!  Before Christmas, I really wanted to do some reorganizing in Alexis' (age 3) bedroom.  We had been keeping her books in a big basket on the floor but they were getting banged up.  So I pulled a bookshelf up from the basement thinking it could be 50% toys and 50% books.  She was so excited to start filling it and before long it was 75% books LOL.  That's something else you might not  know about me.  I LOVE books!  I have no problem storing a ton of good quality books for my girls.  I want them to be surrounded with them so it becomes natural and normal to grab a book and read as part of their daily routine.  But you will notice in the previous picture I did cull a few that were not favorites and/or of poor literary quality.

This weekend Jeremy and I got back to working on the basement.  Over the summer, the girls wanted to be down near me when I was working and began pulling toys out that I had boxed up.  It quickly escalated.  The most embarrassing part of this photo?  It's taken after an hour of work already completed.  The goal for this week is to sort through it and move it out of this space to make room for construction.  I plan on only keeping things that they play with regularly and are in good shape.  I predict at least half a trunk full will leave!

How about you guys?  Anyone decluttering in the New Year?  Any tips/tricks for keeping the toy monster at bay when you have overindulgent grandparents?