Sunday, May 24, 2009

Beach Photos

We watched surfers, we sat in the sun, we played in the cold surf, we demolished one cheap frisbee, we got sand in every crevice. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No Crafting Today--Gone to the Shore!

Memorial Day Weekend, 2009

Got up at 5:15 this morning to pack the car, get ice and cooler drinks and head to Stacey's to pick up her and Merle. We hit the road around 6:45 and we were parking at First Landing State Park at noon. This after taking the scenic route through Petersburg instead of going through Colonial Heights as planned. Need to get that GPS soon!

After 3.5 hours at the beach, we headed to our room at the Red Roof Inn, a dog friendly establishment. We are in the dog wing at the back of the hotel and have so far seen another schnauzer, a cocker spaniel, and several other breeds. We have heard some barking from adjacent rooms, but not loud enough to disturb. The main thing that is bothersome is when Merle and Conner sound the alarm that someone is walking by on the side walk.

They were good enough to let us run out for a take out dinner from a restaurant we discovered last July when we came to the beach for 4th of July. The Dockside has a bar and restaurant, fishing boat charters, sightseeing tours, a fish cleaning and bait center and some souvenirs. We went on their Fireworks cruise last year and it was fabulous.

Going to bed earlier than 11:00 tonight!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Redbirds in the Bower Wall Art

This wall hanging is a quilted cheater panel called Redbird in the Bowers by Kathy Schmidt. It is too dark to decorate with this time of year, but I love the primitive folk art illustrations in each section. I machine quilted it and then embellished with some buttons.
For a backing fabric I used a soft cream colored sheet with roses which I obtained from the Goodwill. Other bloggers have mentioned that they use sheets to sew some of their projects. Last time I went to Goodwill I found some great sheets in good condition to cut up and use for backing fabric. There is no longer anywhere in the town in which I work to buy fabric, and I was feeling desperate one day for some backing fabric to use on some panels that had come in the mail the day before. That is what drove me to buying the sheets from the Goodwill. Normally that is not a source I would use for cotton quilting fabric. You cannot beat the price--$2 per sheet for several yards of fabric.

Fresh Tulip Wall Hanging

I love this cheater panel so much I had to buy another one. Which may indeed lead to a third purchase because my sister wants one too. It has all the things I love about the coming of warmer weather-- flowers, butterflies, birds, vibrant colors. This panel has lots of "blocks" of different color and design. It was fun to stitch around all these "blocks" to make them look pieced.
I sandwiched the layers, stitched around three sides and turned it right sides out. Doing this allows me to do without a binding strip.After machine quilting most of the top I stitched the remaining side and finished the quilting. Once I run this through the washing machine, the wrinkles will disappear and it will be ready to go to its lucky recipient.
This fabric is from the Fresh line by Deb Strain for Moda. I have enjoyed surfing the 'net and finding these wonderful cheater panels. The best thing about them is the quick completion time--almost instant gratification. I have several more waiting to be sewn and a list of others to buy when they are available.

Disappearing 9 Patch

Here is a small quilt made from a charm pack of Charisma by Chez Moi for Moda. The pattern I found on this blog is called the Disappearing 9 Patch. Basically, you sew 9 patch blocks (some of the easiest to sew blocks of all) and then chop them up, rearrange them and sew them back together. The result is decidedly not your typical boring 9 patch quilt. I used 36 of the 5 inch charms to make this 4 block lap/doll quilt. It is roughly 45 inches per side, minus seam allowances.
I pieced the four blocks and then put together the quilt by making a "sandwich." The bottom layer was the quilt batting and then I placed the top right sides up. The top layer was the backing fabric face down on the quilt top. I trimmed the batting and the backing fabric to be very close in size to the top and pinned it all together. I sewed around 3 sides making sure to catch all three layers in the seam. (I did have to repair one area where the batting was showing through after I turned it.) I turned the quilt right sides out and repinned it to make it smooth enough to quilt. Then I machine quilted down the seams to make it look more dimensional. I left the bottom open until almost all the top was quilted. Then I trimmed more of the batting away, turned under the last unfinished side and pinned it securely. I topstitched the last side closed and finished the machine quilting.

What I find very interesting about this pattern is that depending on what your 9 patch squares look like, you can vary the look of the pattern. Since the charm pack has all different squares of fabric, my quilt is very "scrappy" looking. If you use traditional color choices for a 9 patch, you get a distinctive pattern after you quarter the blocks and resew them. Here are some examples from Google Images.

I will definitely try this pattern again with a larger end result. I only had one charm pack of this particular fabric. Don't know who is getting this one yet.

What I Have Been Making

I got a new sewing machine at Easter and have switched over from working with wool to working with cotton. I have made several projects since my last crafting post.

The fruit ladies fabric has been made into a beach bag. I have enough fabric for 2 bags, but have only made one so far. In the photo it looks pretty floppy and it is true that I did not use any interfacing or batting to give it stiffness. I figure that once it is filled with beach towels, books, sunscreen and dog treats the shape will be okay.
I used these directions to help me create this bag. The denim straps and bottom came from a pair of $1 jeans from the Goodwill. I broke a needle making the straps because I thought I had put in a heavy weight needle and it was not. Breaking a needle while sewing is pretty scary. Luckily there was no bleeding. Once I got the correct needle in the machine, the denim was not a problem at all.
More finished projects after I let Conner outside. He is "ooffing" at me to get off the computer.

The School Year is Ending--Finally!

Whew! I have four more school days if I count the teacher workday at the end. This time of year is so tiring and stressful. Most of the last 2 weeks I have been assisting with Standards of Learning Tests for 3rd and 4th graders. Everyone's nerves are frayed and ragged. The bright spot is that I have a three day weekend coming up.

My sister and I are going to VA Beach with two of our dogs--my Schnauzer and her Australian Cattle Dog. Conner has been to the beach many times and he could really care less. I take him because I do not want to be away from him. Merle has never been to the beach, but if the way he enjoys his fish pond and trips to the river is any indication, he is in for the time of his life.
The weather is going to be pretty warm for this time of year--80 degrees. Stacey would prefer it to be hotter if she is going in the water. I am sure we are in for a good time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cheater Quilt Panels

I am not a skilled seamstress. I sometimes have trouble sewing a straight line. The fact that many fabric design lines include cheater panels is a bonus for me. Cheater panels are blocks of designs printed all ready to sew into a quick and easy project. Some quilters use the panel as the center block and add pieced blocks to make it large enough for a bed.

Here is a cheater panel door hanging (or wallhanging) I made from a springy panel with a garden theme. I am giving it to a special gardener I love.

I am especially proud of the hanging loops I stitched to the top of this piece. I pinned them between the layers and stitched around the outside. When I flipped the layers right side out, the hanging loops were perfect! Yay- another sewing skill accomplished.

Last weekend at the quilt store I purchased a set of panels to make beach bags with Fruity Ladies on them. Several more are on their way to me from ebay. It will be interesting to see how these projects end up--I cannot predict yet.

Birthday Wishes for Stacey!!

Today is my only (younger) sister's birthday-- best wishes to her for a happy year!

My new sewing machine is getting a workout. I have made a raggedy quilt on it using some Tula Pink Charm Packs. I have not measured it exactly, but it is a generous lap quilt size. The front (raggedy) side is pieced with 2 packs of Nest fabrics. The opposite side is sewn with 2 packs of the Flutterby fabric line. I am in love with these fabrics and with the designer. I have a Neptune Charm Pack and some matching yardage that is going to be made into something fabulous--I just don't know what yet.
I added some border bands using some tonal fabrics in complementary colors. The quilt store did not have any yardage from either of these lines. I am finding out that fabrics tend to sell out pretty quickly when a new line is introduced.
Here is a cool thing about the Internet-- you can find images of fabric you love and use them as your desktop background. Now I have lots of favorite fabrics to choose from--but currently my background is this bird hidden in flowers fabric from Tula Pink. It comes in more vibrant colorways, but this one still allows me to see my desktop icons.