Peacock quilt update

Friday, July 31, 2009
Well I am on the fence as to whether to send this quilt of to my partner or not. After stalking browsing through my partner's blog I have come to the conclusion that this certain person prefers more traditional pieced blocks over artsy blocks and quilts. In my mind trapunto is very traditional... but I can't decide if my chosen subject is too artsy for my partner's taste.

I think that who ever receives this little quilt will appreciate it (hopefully) and all the hard work that went into it. But if it's not your taste, it's not your taste and there is nothing you can do about it. If you are like me you won't display it (at least not anywhere prominent) but might keep it tucked away because you still like it and appreciate it... or you might let your kids claim it.

Soooo.... I have decided to finish it up and hope to get some feedback from my unsuspecting partner. Once it is finished I will decide what to do with it. Besides there is plenty of time to whip up another quiltie if needed.

front before washing the blue ink away

reverse of quilt
Tips about using water soluble blue marker:
  • spray ink with a spray bottle until saturated
  • let it air dry - do not use iron or blow dryer to dry - heat will set the ink
  • allow to dry completely - it may look like the ink is gone but it may reappear!
  • once dry look it over to see if the ink has reappeared anywhere on the quilt - if so, wet again. If not, you are done and can know use an iron on your quilt.

Etsy Love Wednesday

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The cutest clothes for little girls can be found at Pretty Me. Isn't this "Happy Camper" dress adorable and fresh?

I am so in love with this trailer print from vol25. It will make the perfect gift for my husband whenever he gets around to finishing the tear drop trailer he is building (I'll have to hunt down some pictures.)

Finishing up our round up (pun intended) is this cute little cowboy t-shirt by ChewChewsCloset. I know a cute little boy who has a matching blanket that this would be perfect for! I love the simplicity of adding buttons to the applique and the zig zag stitch around the image.

Trapunto fun: DQS7 progress

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I have always wanted to try trapunto, but have been deathly afraid to try it. First of all it sounded way to complicated and second of all I felt like my free motion skills weren't up to the challenge of trapunto.

Well I grabbed the bull by the horns and just went for it yesterday! I had so much fun I think I have found a new passion!

My free motion skills have improved by leaps and bounds since my first free motion project a couple of months ago. I owe it all to a secret tool that I discovered and I will be showing you how to make your very own sometime soon. I promise! I also owe a lot of the credit to my new love...

Say hello to my Brother PQ1300!!
I scored this baby off of eBay for about $350. It is the predecessor to the PQ1500 (which you can find for about $800 new) and is rather hard to find and no longer made. It is identical to the PQ1500 but instead of sewing 1500 stitches per minute it only (insert sarcasm) sews at a mere 1300 stitches per minute! I love the 9" throat space and the super responsive foot control. Oh and I'm 100% positively in love with the knee lift!

I got this baby a couple of weeks before moving from TN and it only made it out of it's box to make sure it was in working order then it went right back in. I only now pulled it out and have been using it for the nine patch quilt along and for working on the peacock. There is no better way to learn how to use a machine than by working on a project with it.

The only bad thing about my machine is that the lady I bought it from had lost the large extension table that came with it. I called my brother dealer from back in TN to check on the price for replacing it and he said Brother quoted him $180-ish!!! HA! Apparently the reason it is so high is because they don't sell it separate and they no longer make it. Well there is now way in the world I would ever pay that much! So I'll be ordering a custom made table for well under $180!

So how did I accomplish this great feat of trapunto? I actually did it all by machine and it went rather quickly. The hardest part was cutting away the fabric and that was only because it took so long!

1) Trace your design with water soluble marker onto your quilt top
2) Decide which areas you want to be "fluffy." I just colored on my design template in red crayon those areas I wanted "fluffy" so I could have something to reference as I quilted
3) Lay your quilt top on to a piece of batting (I used quilters dream poly in white) using Basting Spray to secure it.
4) Using water soluble thread (I used YLI Wash-a-way thread $3.95/spool) stitch around all the areas you want "fluffy
5) Cut away all of the batting from the back of the quilt except in the areas that you wan to be "fluffy." Be very careful not to cut a hole in your quilt top! I found a pair of cuticle scissors handy for really small spaces
6) Now layer your quilt as you normally do: quilt top, batting, backing. Thread your machine with regular thread and quilt around your motif as you normally would!

When you are done you will dissolve the wash a way thread and the blue marker leaving you with a beautiful finish piece. I know it sounds complicated but don't shy away from it! Give a try with something simple like a single flower or something, just to practice.

First layer quilted with water soluble thread

Water soluble thread detail

Here I have quilted through all layers in regular thread after I cut away my excess batting. You can start to see how certain areas are raised. This will be accented further once I do the background quilting.

and to give you an idea of what the quilt will look like, the reverse of the quilt

I still need to quilt the background before I take the quilt to water to wash away the thread and the ink. I still haven't decided if I will proceed with my plan of adding color to the quilt.

PS I need some help naming my Brother. Give me some suggestions and if I choose yours I'll send you a little something. I haven't decided if it's a guy or a gal so I'm open to all suggestions!

Blueberry Clafoutis

Monday, July 27, 2009
I found myself with a little bit of time yesterday before church and decided to experiment with my blueberries. So I made a Blueberry Clafoutis. I followed this recipe by the "Barefoot Contessa." I thought it might be complicated but in reality it was super simple!

Obviously some changes are in order! I used 2 cups blueberries and left out the pear brandy and the creme fraiche. I actually served it cold and it was good! Right before serving I topped the clafoutis with a handful of berries and sprinkled with confectioners sugar.

I used a 2 qt Corning Ware dish but this would look really pretty in a decorative, deep pie dish. It needs to be deep though because it gets really fluffy as it bakes and then settles as it cools. You can cover it with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes to keep it from over browning.

This was so awesome!! We ate it all yesterday, not a crumb left!
So what is a clafoutis? It's like a custard and is not super sweet. The sweetness comes mostly from the berries so if your berries are tart you may want to sprinkle them with a bit of sugar before adding them to the recipe. Feel free to try other berries as well: blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, and maybe even cherry, YUM!

Doll quilt possibility

Saturday, July 25, 2009
Here is an idea I am playing around with for the DQS7 (Doll Quilt Swap 7).

I think I may be biting off more than I can handle, and I'm not completely sure it fits my partner's taste.

My plan is to quilt the design first and add color later. I've seen quilts done in this manner that are stunning. Of course, the quilting skills are phenomenal! I don't think my quilting skills are quite there yet but I think I can do a decent job. Of course there is always the special "file box" for butchered quilts. (The trash can!!!)

This is what I"m talking about:

Quilt by Irena Bluhm: By the way she is missing this quilt! So if you have seen it anywhere please contact her!
And these from Helen Stubbings:

Irena also has books on the matter

Blocks 2,3,4 and Fiber Art Show

Thursday, July 23, 2009
So I decided to catch up on the quilt-a-long before I get too far behind. I'm really liking this one block a day business. I feel as though I can make each and every block perfect, or as close to it as possible, because each block has my undivided attention. There are no deadlines and no long tedious days of cutting pieces - does anyone else find cutting rather boring? Best of all there is not a giant stack of pieces waiting to be pieced into a quilt making it feel like there is so much left to do.

I have come a long way in quilting and I love how my nine-patch blocks are having perfectly matched corners! It seriously makes me giddy!

Block #2

Block #3

Block #4

I'm feeling a bit ambitious and have decided to enter this quilt into the Calhoun County Community Fiber Art Show. The show will feature featuring quilting, knitting, crochet, needlework and other fiber arts made by past and present residents of Calhoun County and the surrounding counties.
...assuming I stay on track with the block-a-day plan, I should be done with all of my blocks on September 6, giving me a month and a half to finish it up in time for the October 23rd entry deadline.

"I've spoken my piece and counted to three." There I said it, wrote it down, and shared it with you. Now it's official! LOL

I expect you guys to hold me accountable!

Quilting, blueberries, and jam

What can you get for $8? Well in my neck of the woods you can get a gallon of pick-your-own super-plump-n-juicy-fall-off-the-bush blueberries! Yum!
(this is not a ramekin it's a 2 qt dish!)

To me summer goes hand in hand with blueberries. It's not summer with out blueberries, and watermelon - can't forget the watermelon! I was so excited to find a blueberry patch within 15 minutes of our place here in Alabama. We went again this morning for a total of 3 visits so far.
I have not made plans for today's crop, but I better make some plans soon before they are all gone! The season is almost over and my husband thinks I should go back at least 2 more times! Easy for him to say, I'm the one who is out in the unbearably hot, humid, mosquito infested,- not to mention fire ants, blueberry patch for an hour+ per gallon!

Oh blueberries how do I love thee, let me count the ways:
By the handful
Blubbery pancakes
Blueberry cobbler
Blueberry Pie
Melt in your mouth Blueberry cake
Blueberry buckle
Blueberry smoothies
Blueberry jam
Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry Clafouti

hungry yet?

Finding myself with a plethora of blueberries I have wandered into the world of canning. I made my first, and quite successful I might add, batch of blueberry jam. I just followed the recipe on the "Ball" pectin box. I used my blender's "pulse" button to make quick work of the blueberries. It took me a while to make the jam but only because I followed the directions and took my time so I wouldn't mess up. Next time will be so much quicker. I still need to make labels for my jars, but aren't they pretty? Oh and it tastes amazing to boot!

Yesterday I sewed up my first block for the nine-patch quilt-a-long. I'm already in love with the quilt! I can't wait to see it finished. My quilt will only be 49 blocks instead of 70 blocks.

Etsy love Wednesday

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Sharing the love by sharing my faves.

I love every single pillow made by Joom - no joke!

I love the vintage feel of Gingeroni1's earrings. I can't decide which pair I love more.

Long ago I fell in love with this sweet little dress from leila and ben, they used to sell it ready to wear. Now they offer the pattern so you can make your own! Sweet!

Nine Patch Quilt-a-long

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
As if I didn't already have enough on my to-do list.:
  • Doll Quilt Swap 7
  • Finish unpacking
  • In-laws visiting next month
  • EJ is starting Kindergarten the second week in August
  • Woodstock 5k August 1st
  • Working on a baby quilt for a friend
I've gone and signed my-self up for Crazy Mom Quilts quilt-along. In theory this should be easy; make 1 nine-patch block per day. Unfortunately it's already day 2 and I'm already behind!!

This morning I worked out my design on some graph paper, made sure I had plenty of fabric - I'm digging into my Neptune charm packs for this!!! I also made a not-so-quickie trip to Hobby Lobby - or Hobby Bobby as my kids call it. Is there such a thing as a quick trip to Hobby Lobby?

I noticed Amanda didn't have a button/graphic and I love graphics... hope you don't mind Amanda but I made a button!

You are all free to save it to your computer and post it on your blogs (please don't link directly to it) Just right click over the image and click "save image as" to save it to your computer.

3" version

2" version
1" version

Kitchen: Before & After

I stumbled upon a picture I took minutes before we left our house in TN last month. It made me realize I never did a before and after of our kitchen renovation.

Over the course of 1 year we:
1) took down some ugly wall paper border
2) sanded and painted all cabinets
3) painted the walls
4) painted doors
5) replaced flooring
6) painted counter tops

So here are some pics of the progression into a beautiful kitchen with a minimal budget:

Right Side

Left Side
Painting the cabinets

Painting the Hardware

Replacing the Flooring

Painting the Counter Tops



Thursday, July 16, 2009
It's that time again! Sign-ups for the Doll Quilt Swap 7 (DQS7) are now underway over at the Flickr Group. I joined the last swap for the very first time and it was so much fun. The swap was very well organized and had great swap parents that kept things running smoothly. I met a bunch of creative ladies and men too! So if you are like me and need the motivation of a deadline to finish a project why not join me and sign up? You don't have to be an expert quilter to participate, you'll be matched with a partner of similar abilities and likes. But hurry, sign-ups are only going through this weekend and are being limited to 200 participants!

Here's a look at my quilt from the last round. The one I made and the one I received!

Working on the layout

Friday, July 10, 2009
I'm trying to make my blog more user friendly so bear with me as I try a number of things, some of which may or may not work! So depending on what time of day you happen to stop by, the blog may look different within several minutes of each other! Feel free to leave me comments if something looks wonky on your end.

I finally figured out (after about an hour of trying different things) how to add that elusive 3 column layout! I followed this tutorial here and is the one that worked for me after trying 5 different tutorials. Now I just need to figure out how to add a little spacing/padding between the columns.

So far I am loving the new background and colors I have chosen for the blog, and it is no coincidence that it is inspired by the Neptune fabric line!

The Mom Song

My kids are only 5 and 3, yet I find myself saying and doing many of these things already! Enjoy this awesome video.

Saving up my posts

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Lately it seems like I've been saving up my posts for a number of reasons. First it was the death of my laptop. Now it is the death of my camera! LOL A while ago I cracked the housing but it still worked, but it wouldn't meter the light correctly on occasion. It would still give me decent shots 98% of the time. Lately it won't stay in the setting I choose. In fact it scrolls back and forth between the automatic setting and any number of other settings. It won't let me take a picture while it's scrolling and in order to get it to work (which only my husband can) you have to squeeze the housing just so and in just the right spot all while attempting to push down on the shutter button.

So I asked my brother (professional photographer) to recommend a camera for me (have you seen his site? it is amazing!) So while he found me a great deal on a Canon Rebel XTi for only $350 (wow) I just couldn't justify spending that much right now. Maybe in a couple of months when we are debt free! Plus I just couldn't see myself lugging the SLR around for everything. I figured I would still need a point and shoot as well.

So he recommended an older model camera (gasp - it's not the newest kid on the block): a Canon Powershot A570 IS which has pretty good reviews and has full manual mode. That was pretty much my only requirement full manual mode. Most entry level cameras don't have that option anymore. He even found me a great deal on a refurbished model for only $75 plus a 1 year warranty plus free shipping! That's cheaper than anything at Walmart, Target, or Best Buy (believe me I looked) for more camera! This little camera will definitely tie me over until I am ready for an SLR. It will also give me a chance to refresh myself on working with manual mode.

The only pitfall is I have to wait a whole week to get it - oh the agony! There have been so many cool things I have wanted to show you but they will have to wait until I can photograph them. Starting with some thrift store finds, a couple of how to's, and an awesome antique store.

So I apologize for the lack of pictures but I promise I'll make it up to you - scouts honor.

Living in a rental: Part One

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
There really is only one question when it comes to decorating a rental: "What will my landlord let me get away with?"

This is our 3rd week living in our rental home. Already the transformation has been incredible. I'll share with you a couple of simple things we have done to change transform our rental from shabby to chic. You may or may not be able to implement all of these ideas but hopefully you may be able to use some of it.

1) Befriend your landlord!
OK, so you don't need to become BFF with your landlord but it sure helps if, in those few minutes/hours that you have contact with your landlord, you become friends or are at least friendly to each other. This is easier with a rental home where you are renting directly from an owner (not a property management company) than in an apartment complex. Apartment managers don't own the property and have certain rules they have to follow.

Chat it up with your landlord every time you have contact with them and hint at changes improvements you would like to have them do or do yourself. A lot of the time they will agree to let you change something (paint, light fixtures, etc.) if you do it yourself and often will deduct it from the rent dollar for dollar (keep your receipts.)

That being said, be honest with your land lord. Don't tell them that you are a master plumber and want to change out the bathroom sink when you haven't the slightest clue about plumbing. It will come back to bite you in the rear and will harm the relationship with your landlord and could possibly lead to eviction (if you really mess up and damage the house.)

2) Clean your windows.
...And let the light in! Nothing spruces up a room like sparkly clean windows and unobstructed views of the outside. I like to use whatever window cleaner I have lying around, or you could use a vinegar/water combo, and a nice large pile of black and white newspapers. Yes Newspapers! The bums really do know what they're doing!

I've been cleaning my windows like this for years and you will get crystal clear streak free windows this way! Just spritz your cleaning solution and then wipe down with a crumpled up sheet of newspaper. Trust me it works.

You could do the same thing for the outside of the windows, that is if you can reach them all. Usually I use outdoor Windex that attaches to your regular garden hose. It works ok as directed but for the windows I can reach I like to scrub them down with one of those sponge mops before rinsing.

Technical Dificulties

Sorry to all those who have not been able to see my blog today through the url. I forgot to renew my domain (it expired yesterday) but it has now been taken care of. The url should be working within the next 24 hours.

Fabric Focus: Darla by Tanya Wheelan

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I don't normally go for the soft romantic girly fabrics, but this line just jumped out at me. I'm currently using fabrics form this line to design a quilt around my "Love Birds" embroidery pattern. The fabrics are of a great quality and feel so wonderful. The colors are just gorgeous and blend so well together. I love the aquas in this line. The "reds" in this line are not true reds but more of a darker deeper shade of pink. I know it's hard to show fabrics on a computer and I wish I had known this when I bought my fabrics. Nonetheless, the colors are beautiful together.

I bought my fabrics from Quilt Taffy's eBay store. They had a fat quarter package that I ordered, giving me a good assortment of the fabric line. They also shipped very quickly and had great customer service.

On to the inspirational projects:

First up is a baby quilt form the Quilt Taffy Blog

A pinwheel baby quilt by Georgia McDonald
Does this pattern ever get old?

What little girl wouldn't love this beautiful patchwork twirly skirt by Ladinka

Check out this diaper bag by sewfunbymonique

And last but not least a lovely fabric bowl by i have to say...

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