Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weekly Square #31

Here is last week’s 6x6” journal square. I won’t go into details, but this square was influenced by needing to keep a diary of my days, and the constant self-surveillance that requires:


I used scraps from the Tattoo quilt I posted about the other day (btw: someone asked why I called it a “Tattoo” quilt, and I realized that I hadn’t bothered to explain that. Some of the fabric is actually based on tattoo designs [see the “mother” above?], and some of it even has things like “Rose’s tattoo shop” printed on it. Since my sweetie loves tattoos, I made that quilt for her).

I FMQed the writing on it; it’s not great work, but it was fun “writing” with thread!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tattoo Quilt

I just finished this quilt top from a kit I bought at the Honey Bee Quilt Store a few weeks ago. I justified the purchase when I realized I’m probably going to have to miss the Houston quilt show this year :-(



I saw a completed “tattoo” quilt in the store, and thought it was really cute. When I realized there was a kit, I had to snatch it up. This quilt is made from a pattern called “Perfect Ten” by Swirly Girls Design, because it uses 10 fqs. It went together much more quickly than I thought it would.

I need to buy backing fabric for this one, and it may be a while until I have time to FMQ it, but I think it will be adorable!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weekly Square #30

Here is last week’s (9/13-9/19) 6X6” weekly journal square:


And, the bare bones of a new quilt I’ve started:


This one is from a quilt kit I bought at the Honey Bee Quilt Store a few weeks ago. I justified the purchase when I realized I’m probably going to have to miss the Houston quilt show this year :-(

I saw a completed “tattoo” quilt in the store, and thought it was really cute. When I realized there was a kit, I had to snatch it up. This quilt is made from a pattern called “Perfect Ten” by Swirly Girls Design, because it uses 10 fqs. It’s been fairly easy to put together, and I should have the top finished in the next couple of days (depending on how much I energy I have!).

Stay tuned to see the finished quilt!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oh Baby!

I finished the crib-size scrap quilt I’ve been working on. Here’s the finished quilt:


No one in the family is expecting a little one right now (pretty unusual for my HUGE family), so I’ll put this one up and save it or else check into donating it to Project Linus.
I used a REALLY cool tip to sew the binding onto this quilt. I saw this on “Sewing with Nancy.” I sewed the folded binding onto the front as usual for a double-fold french binding. Instead of hand-stitching the binding to the back (something I really enjoy doing, but just don’t have time for right now) though, I flipped the binding to the back and machine-stitched it from the FRONT:

Using invisible thread, you sew right in the ditch next to the binding (again, on the front). You’ll get a seam on the back that looks like this:


And, because this is invisible thread, you can barely see the seam. This is the best solution I’ve found so far for sewing a nice-looking binding by machine.

Friday, September 18, 2009

DOH! Tension Problems

I bought my current sewing machine about 2-1/2 years ago. My old Singer functioned just fine for plain sewing (which I never did, so I hauled it out about once a year to make a repair), but I wanted to be able to FMQ, so after looking at a Husqvarna Viking (and its price tag) and protesting that I didn’t NEED a new machine, my sweetie insisted I buy it.

Ever since, I’ve been really unhappy with the machine, solely because I could never get the tension right. Sometimes it was fine, and other times it was a mess. I’ve spent hours adjusting the upper tension wheel, rethreading the machine, changing out needles, and turning the thread spool in every conceivable direction, all in an effort to get even thread tension. On the best of days, I was able to get stitching that looked like the bottom tension was slightly tight (or the top tension slightly loose).

I had finally decided it was time to take the machine in to have a pro assess the problem. In the meantime, I was going through my usual routine this morning in an effort to get something at least resembling good tension, but all I could manage was this:


Then, as I sat looking at the machine, I had a thought. When I thread it, I’ve always run the thread behind the tension disk or the tension plate or whatever it’s called:

tension_machine copy

But, I thought, what if I ran the thread in front of the disk? I gave it a shot, and here are the results:


Wow! Finally, decent tension! I’m a little annoyed that it took me this long to figure this out. I could blame the saleswoman at the sewing machine store, who had me thread the machine to make sure I could do it, but who obviously didn’t realize I wasn’t doing it correctly. I could blame myself for not carefully reading the manual and/or taking it in so someone could figure out that I was threading it wrong. On the bright side, I’m almost as happy as if I had a new machine!

I’m off to FMQ with my “new” machine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Odds and Ends

This is one of those “clean-up” posts; bits and pieces of things I’ve been doing, cool stuff, and WIPs.

A few weeks ago I won a blog giveaway from Lori of Laughing Girl Quilts. This was one awesome giveaway: fqs of Radiance fabric hand-dyed by Lori. And wow, are they gorgeous!


I don’t know a lot about this fabric, but it’s apparently a combination of silk and cotton. One side has a lovely sheen (the silk, I assume), the other a beautiful soft hand. Thanks again, Lori!

Here’s a piece of fabric I dyed a while back. I wasn’t crazy about this piece, and was going to use it for backing an art quilt. I went to iron it, and suddenly I saw a landscape in it, complete with trees and a stream. Can you see it? I think I’m going to experiment thread-painting this piece to enhance the landscape elements:


Here’s a piece I’m working on that involves paint, sheers, and FMQ with metallic thread:


Here’s a small patchwork quilt I’m making from the “leftovers” of the gem quilt:


In the centers of the blocks, you can really see the havoc wreaked by my 1/4” quilting foot being so far off. Anyway, it’s nice to use up those leftover blocks and scrap pieces.

And finally, more 6x6” weekly journal squares. The first one is from quite a while back; I wasn’t having much success preparing my own printable fabric, so I had to wait until I could buy some. This square is week 21, July 12-18. Influences: feeling tired, sick, and in pain. Too much heat and loneliness. On the positive side, I did start writing my morning pages again:


Week #28 was influenced by a new technique—learning to make yo-yos, and by wanting to attract a little more “color” (that is, good things) into my life. The blue braid around the edge represents my blue feelings that week:


Week #29 (last week) was influenced by my need for orderliness (and the clean craft room that brought about), along with relief that we finally got some heavy rains to cool things off and ease the drought (minutely) in Central Texas:


That’s all for now, folks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another Pieced Quilt

I finished the pieced patchwork quilt I’ve been working on; this one is a queen size, so I’m pretty sure I won’t be quilting it myself, at least not in the near future.

For this quilt I used a jelly roll, a layer cake, 4 fat quarters, and 2 yds. of fabric for the borders. I bought the precut fabric from the Fat Quarter Shop, and I was amazed at how quickly they shipped it to me—they really do send it out the same day! Of course, it probably helps that they’re right down the road from me in Manchaca, TX.

At any rate, here’s a pic of the fabric; this is Moda’s Objects of Desire. I’m not a shoe fan (some of the jelly roll strips and layer cake pieces have prints of high heels—presumably the “objects of desire”), so I left those out of the finished product:


I have to say that I LOVE using precut fabric. It makes creating a quilt top like this so incredibly easy. So far, I’ve only bought precut fabric (and coordinating yardage) on sale, so I don’t feel guilty about spending a little extra for the precut stuff.

I intended to use a pattern from the Jelly Roll Quilts book for this quilt, but I couldn’t find one that didn’t involve cutting up the layer cakes. What’s the use of buying precut fabric if you have to cut it again? Instead, I made up my own pattern using 10” blocks alternating with the 10” layer cakes. For each block I used 3 jelly roll strips, then cut the 4th strip larger from a fat quarter (I can’t remember how large—whatever comes out to 10” when added to 3 2-1/2” strips). Here’s a completed block:


And here’s a pic of the completed quilt top—well, sort of. This one doesn’t show the 5” inch border I added all the way around, but the top was so huge I couldn’t find any place to hang it to take another pic (this pic only shows the first 6 rows; there are 9 altogether):


Once I quilt it—or have it quilted, more likely—I’ll post additional pics of the whole thing. In the meantime, I’m off to catch up on the things that I’ve let slide—my weekly journal squares, foremost—and to straighten up the quilting room before I start another project.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who Knew?

They say your tastes change every 7 years. Not just the things you like, but the things you like to EAT. Either this is true, or something strange happened after I got sick, which may well be the case, since I don’t love coffee the way I used to.

Anyway, it seems that I now like coconut, after a life-long and major dislike of it. Not only do I like it, but I’ve actually been craving it, and, for the first time in my life, I bought some the last time I was grocery shopping. It’s probably hard to imagine that someone could reach their late 40s and not know the first thing about buying coconut (sweetened? natural?), but there it is.

Today I made really tasty coconut cookies from a recipe I found on I love this site both because it has wonderful recipes as well as reviews about them. I typically only try a recipe if several people say it’s good, and this one got well-deserved good reviews. These cookies taste very much like chocolate chip cookies, except with coconut instead of the chips.


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire racks.

I love to bake, which isn’t good for either my waistline or my sweetie’s, so my next step will be to play with this recipe and start substituting for the butter and the sugar. In the meantime, I’m off to enjoy a couple of these with a cold glass of milk.

Craft Spaces Tour, Part Two

Yesterday I said I would post pics of my quilting space, so here they are. My quilting room is our former dining room. The front entry door opens onto a large combination living and dining room, so when I decided to take over the dining half, we put bookshelves up to divide the room and hide “the mess.” Our guests still have to walk past the quilting room, but it’s not the first thing they see when they walk in the door.

I’m really happy to have a whole room for my quilting endeavors, but I miss our pretty living and dining room combination. It’s a classic case of beauty v. practicality, and it really is silly to have a formal dining room that we never used. Otoh, I really dislike the bookshelves that divide the living room from the quilting room; they’re big and dark and make the living part of the room seem even smaller and cut off, so I’m still working on a more aesthetic solution to the problem.

At any rate, here’s the view of quilting room after entering the front door and passing the bookshelves (note the entire bookcase filled with quilting and craft books and magazines; I TOLD you I had too much stuff):


The sewing table is made from four inexpensive dressers from IKEA, covered with a 4’x8’ piece of painted and sanded plywood. The dressers each have 3 drawers, so I have tons of storage space for fabric, thread, etc. In fact, most of my fabric is in these drawers, divided by type (commercial/printed, batiks, hand-dyes, sheers, painted, etc.) and sorted by color.

Large pieces of fabric, along with a bin for scraps, are stored in an old armoire:


The bins on the floor are just temporary and need to be relocated. They used to hold fabric until my sweetie made the nifty sewing table. The bags and boxes under the table are also temporary :-) The wood strips on the floor will eventually be used under the table to form a frame and drop the sewing machine down level with the tabletop.

The tabletop is not usually this cluttered, but when I cleaned the craft room I moved anything sewing related into this room and set it on the table (and, I’m in the middle of several small projects). In fact, here’s a better shot of the table I took a few weeks ago, when I cleaned it off in order to create a quilt sandwich:


My “pressing space” (currently an ironing board) is the next project I want to tackle. I want to buy or build some low shelves or, ideally, metal frames and baskets, if there’s enough room, then lay a pressing board across the top.

We covered the laminate floor with those spongy tiles from Sam’s (they’re colored blue, red, and yellow on the opposite side, but I like the black). These have been great for both protecting the floor and giving me a little cushion to walk and stand on.

Moving to the right, here’s my design wall, which, as you can tell, is too small (is it EVER big enough?):


I just put this pic in to show off the quilt top I’m currently working on :-)

Finally, here’s a view of my sewing space from the center of the house:


I’ve taken advantage of the backs of the bookcases (and lightened up the darkness a little) by covering them with a flannel-backed plastic tablecloth that I cut in two and now use as additional design-wall spaces.

So, that concludes the tour; I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There’s a Floor in My Craft Room!

Whew—I’m beat. I spent the last three days cleaning and reorganizing my craft room. It’s the most energy I’ve expended since before I got sick!

Now, I know that people love “before” and “after” pictures, but I have to tell you: I am SO embarrassed by the (previous) state of my craft room that I decided not to take “before” pics. Let me sum it up in words: I literally could not see the floor or any flat surface. Everything was covered with piles of projects, craft supplies. scraps, paper, brushes, pens, and bags and bags of stuff I had bought and never put up (I would literally open the door, throw the stuff in, and close the door before I had to look at the room).

Clearly, what I had was a mess of a storage room, rather than a creative place to work. One reason I’m so embarrassed about this is because I’m so blessed to have this room all to myself, and to have more craft supplies than I’ll probably ever be able to use in my lifetime. All of that was being wasted and unused because this room was such a mess.

So, with very little money and a whole lot of work, I tackled the mess and, once I got rolling, just kept going until it was done (mostly—I still have some shelves that need to be reorganized and straightened up).

One of the problems I have with organizing is that I need to be able to see my stuff; not only does visibility help with creativity, but I don’t forget that I have things until they go bad (paints, for example) or until I go buy duplicates (tools and pens! most people can’t find one; I’m inundated with them!).

Here’s the view of my craft room from the entry door:


In the foreground is my 4’x4’ worktable that my sweetie built me. It sits in the center of the room. I LOVE it, but it can hold A LOT of junk if I’m not vigilant about cleaning up after myself. One of my favorite storage ideas is on the back wall. We had put pegboard up, so I got some long hooks that stuck straight out, laid little shelves over them, then put all my little stuff (beads, shells, glass gobs, buttons, charms, etc.) into canning jars and set them on the shelves. I love that I can see all that stuff now that it’s not stuck in drawers.

Moving clockwise, here’s the shelving unit that holds acrylic paints, brushes, foam stamps, and, on the bottom two shelves, all my fabric dyeing supplies:


Continuing to the right, there’s a worktable against the wall (also built by my sweetie) with shelves above it:


I bought that bar and the yellow cups that hang from it in the kitchen section at IKEA; the whole thing cost about $12. I also got the magnetic bar and magnetized metal canisters at IKEA (to the right of the clock). I already had the small white shelf units on the wall, but I cleaned those up. I bought the clear plastic “shoeboxes” on the shelf above the worktable at Home Depot for $.99 each. I need to do a little more work on straightening up the pegboard to the right.

Here’s a pic of the room looking back toward the door:


That over-the-door white shelving system has been wonderful for holding all kinds of things were I can see them.

Here’s another new addition (or a combination of old and new):


I needed something for all my paper—scrapbooking paper, painted paper towels, paper I use to make journals, cardstock, etc. This little unit is perfect for that. Those bottom storage units are from IKEA. The frames were very cheap but sturdy, and the metal baskets were $3 each. The plastic drawers were a little more. We bought two units and my sweetie cut boards to go on top to create a flat surface. I already had the top plastic units; before, they sat on the floor, so we just moved them up. If you can’t go out, go up, right?

For some people, the “clean” version of my craft room is probably what they would consider a mess, but I am THRILLED that there’s nothing on the floor (except under the table and the workbench, which is just added storage space, IMHO), that everything has a place, and that I have two work surfaces that are clean and ready for projects.

Now, I know some of you are probably wondering, “where’s the sewing machine and all the fabric???” Fortunately (?), I have a whole OTHER room for my quilting interests. I’ll show pictures of that tomorrow even though (fair warning!) it’s not very clean :-)