Sunday, March 31, 2013

Our Dance Has Ended

It has been tons of fun, but alas, our dance to the Final Four ended last night in an extremely aggravating game against Wichita. It was madness, so I guess March Madness is aptly named.

Now I have a long, long wait for football season!

(Heavy sigh.) Moving on, our kids are grown, but I still put out Easter baskets. Emma, at 20, still likes to have an Easter basket. So I give her one of her own, and pile all the candy in another basket for the rest of us.

About 15 years ago, I stopped using that awful plastic grass in the baskets. It gets everywhere, and even after all the Easter stuff was put away, I still found bits of that grass here and there. So I started using green fabric. It makes perfect sense and less mess, for sure.

And I don't hide the baskets anymore. That was for when they were little. I just put the baskets out on the kitchen table. Everyone gets a tube of toothpaste to go with all the chocolate.

In the sewing room, I am continuing to stitch diamonds. I have 19 diagonal rows done. Of those, 15 are all stitched together. The remaining 4 rows are getting connected next. Here are rows 18 and 19, and the horizontal row of blue peacock-feather diamonds is complete. From here the rows get shorter. Yeah! Intersections are still behaving and meeting nicely, for the most part.

We are off to my sister's today for Easter dinner, and then later this evening we have to take Emma and her boyfriend back to OU. Busy day. Hope you have a great day!

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Happy Easter!

Celebrate! He is risen!

I hope you all have a blessed Easter!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gettin' Ready

Yessir - I am getting ready for the big Elite Eight game tonight that pits our Buckeyes against Wichita State. Go Bucks!!

My project for the game is to stitch the binding on my little doll quilt, Abundance.

I have a little box of bindings - leftovers, mistakes, whatever - I was hoping I'd find a suitable binding for the little quilt. And I did - just check this out.

It will be a perfect game-watching project.

I sure hope the Buckeyes play well tonight. I think they will; and once again, I predict a win!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Diamonds Update

Talk about eating my words! This quilt is not at all the difficult and challenging project that I anticipated! I spent a month or more worrying about how hard this quilt would be, and it is turning out to be one of the most fun quilts I have ever made.

In fact, I am loving how easily it's going together. Working with all these gorgeous Kaffe Fassett fabrics is pretty fantastic, too.

I just about have enough diagonal rows made to cover the double bed in the guest room. With a finished quilt size of 108 by 93 (or thereabouts) inches, I will soon be doubling this over on itself.

Outside our bay window at our kitchen table, we have a bird feeder. We get some very pretty guests. How cool is this??

And how about those Buckeyes?? Can we win the close ones or what?!?! Elite Eight! I love March Madness when my team is winning! Go Bucks!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Big Game Coming Up

It's time to get my game face on; we are just minutes away from tip off. The big Sweet Sixteen game between our Buckeyes and Arizona will be a great match-up, and I predict a win!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Erin's Diamonds

I am undertaking a real challenge, so be prepared for an in-depth dissecting of the project. I am starting DD Erin's Hot Diamonds, which she picked out earlier this year. You can read about our fun Kaffe-stash dig by clicking here.

I have been mentally working on this quilt ever since. After working with diamonds on the Lone Star quilt last year, I know to be respectful of the biases. I will be pressing every seam - not ironing, but carefully pressing - and taking extra-special effort to avoid stretching anything.

The two stars there by the title indicate its level of difficulty. I looked at all the other quilts in the book, and the only one with 3 stars is Broken Dishes, which I made in 2011. ( Click here to see it; go to quilt #4.) Initially, I would have argued that Hot Diamonds is trickier and therefore deserving of 3 stars. Now that I have done about half of it, I think 2 stars is a fair designation. Regardless, it is definitely not for a beginner. I mean really, the entire quilt construction is explained in just 1 (one) paragraph. One paragraph with 2 sentences, no less. Here is said paragraph, verbatim.

"Using a 1/4in (6mm) seam allowance throughout, join the template OO diamond patches into the diagonal rows, filling in along the top edge of the quilt with template PP triangles, the sides of the quilt with template QQ triangles and the extreme corners with templates RR and reverse RR, as shown in the quilt assembly diagram. Refer to the quilt assembly diagram for fabric sequence, laying each row out in turn will help to keep the fabric sequence correct." (complete with poor sentence structure!)
Isn't that something? No directions for pressing, or stitching carefully, or matching points or anything!

One part that I spent so much time mentally wrangling is the cutting. The quilter is supposed to cut each individual piece with templates and sew the entire quilt together, piece by piece.  Here is the diagram for the side, top and corner triangles. Does this look like fun to you??

The main diamonds measure 5" wide. My thinking was that I would cut 5-inch strips for the main diamonds, sew several strips together and then cut them on the 60-degree line, eliminating having to cut each diamond individually. Basically, I would use quick-piecing methods. I did that with my Lone Star, so I figured it would work with this.

On second thought, though, I realized that this quilt has a major difference from the Lone Star. That quilt had several manageable units, whereas this quilt is one gigantic unit. I mean, it measures out at 108" x 93.5" - a huge quilt! How would I ever cut through all the strips, or how would I break the big quilt into smaller, more manageable units??

Maybe some of the quilting brainiacs out there could think this through, but I knew I wasn't up to it. I accept this reality.

So, I decided that I would, in fact, cut out all the diamonds, but I would not do it with templates! I was able to do that with my rotary cutter and ruler.

I marked the ruler with a line of sticky notes on the 60-degree line for the first cut.

Then I added  more sticky notes on the 5-inch line to avoid cutting mistakes. All the diamonds are cut and lined up in sequence. Additionally, all the side, top, and corner triangles are cut and set aside. I decided that I would sew complete diagonal rows, like the directions suggest. I just gave in to it; I was not up to the task of figuring out anything better as far as chain-piecing goes.

This is my assembly line of diamonds. It would be so easy to get them mixed up if I didn't do this!

Here's what I had done as of Sunday evening. I love how it looks, and I am fascinated to see how the colors work. While the quilt is called Hot Diamonds, there is another version called Cool Diamonds, and I'm thinking Erin's will fall somewhere in between the two. It shall henceforth be called Erin's Diamonds.

This is what I have done at present. I've moved it off the wall to the bed. The weight of the growing quilt would surely have stretched those upper diamonds. To give you an idea of how big it will be, note that top row of blue - the one that looks like peacock feathers. The finished quilt will have 18 of those! Gi-normous! It will be massive - and heavy!

With this much done, I've learned the importance of placing each diamond just so to get a straight edge. There needs to be a quarter-inch dogear - the quarter-inch seam will start in that little valley - that's a way of knowing you have the two diamonds placed correctly.

When the row is pressed, there will be straight edges on each side. Joining the diagonal rows will be foolproof, theoretically. And for the most part, it has been working very well. I will occasionally get a block that doesn't cooperate, but I am NOT pulling or tugging to get it to fit! The biases will not beat me! I will live with a bit of an uneven edge because when the rows are joined together, I can compensate, and the offending edge will forever be hidden in the seam allowance.
That takes care of my individual piecing tips. For the construction of each long diagonal row, I go to my assembly line of diamonds arranged, as I said, in sequence. I stack every diamond for the row in order, and take the stack to the sewing machine.
To avoid all the stopping and starting of adding a piece at a time, I am using a speedier method. Keeping the stack of diamonds in order is essential, and it works like a dream. I sew the top triangle to the first diamond, and chain-piece the rest of the diamonds in the row. Diamond 2 to diamond 3; diamond 4 to diamond 5, and so on until I reach the side triangle. I cut the units apart, restack them in the correct sequence (to use Kaffe's terminology), and continue to chain piece these larger units until I get the entire row stitched. It definitely has helped me pick up the pace. I like that.

One other thing I am doing is making units of rows. If I continue to add row after row after row, it will just become too big and cumbersome to manage at the sewing machine. So I am going to divide it up into segments of 4 or 5 diagonal rows. Then I will only have the big massive quilt to deal with 2 or 3 times, instead of every time.

Even with all this thinking and figuring, I will just say, though, that I am loving putting this together. I can't believe I am making much faster progress on it than I expected.

Sorry for all talky-talk. This has been a l - o - n - g post with a lot of detail - hope it made reasonably good sense.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Turning Blah Into Wow!

Back in February, Sheryll showed us a grocery bag full of men's shirts. Rather dull men's shirts, at that. They belonged to a relative of a relative of hers who had recently lost their father. And even though Sheryll did not really know this man, because she was known to the relative as a quilter, she was asked if she would make a quilt of the deceased's shirts. (Whew! Is that clear? Or not?)

Here is the post to explain it all a bit more, and to show the rather uninspiring pile of shirts. Hopefully that recap will bring you up to speed on the history of the endeavor.

Now take a look at the miracle Sheryll worked on those shirts! Is this not a masterpiece?? It is a lovely way to keep something of a loved one's belongings. How dear this quilt will be to the family, you know?

Sheryll even mitered the corners of those lovely borders, making even more special. Inspires a person, doesn't it? It just goes to show that clever color placement and simple designs can work wonders with dull fabrics.

I'm taking all this inspiration upstairs, and I'm getting busy on something!!
Happy Quilting, Friends!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Mixed Messages

We saw the Baltimore orioles back at our birdfeeder this weekend. They have been regulars in the spring for 3 or 4 years now! It is a true sign of spring when the orioles appear. We have at least one pair - the female with her more subtle coloration, and the male with his brighter orangey-red vest. They rarely fly up to the feeder, but prefer to stay on the ground and eat the seeds that have been scattered about by other birds.

This looks like a male; the vest is red and the belly is white.
The contrast is not as pronounced in the female.
So that is a sign of spring, but Mother Nature is sending out mixed messages here in south-central Ohio! The snow came yesterday (above) and increased overnight! Take a look!

I'm confident Mother Nature will get it all figured out soon.

Let me take a moment to have you go check out Little Bit Funky. I mentioned this blog in my previous post - the origin of the Chapstick Cozy. Well, you have got to read her Palm Sunday post about Resurrection Eggs. It is wonderful. Even though my kids are all grown, it helped remind me of the significance of Holy Week. God Bless!

Hope you have a great Monday!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Chapstick Cozy

I showed you all the cute lipbalm carrier I made a few posts back. I had a follower ask about it, and if I would show how it's made.

Since I got the idea from Pinterest, I figured I should direct you to the source. Little Bit Funky is a blog that has several appealing ideas to check out. This is the link to the blog Little Bit Funky's  Chapstick Cozy. Here is the Pinterest link.

My version is made with a different sized D-ring. I did not have any 2-inch D-rings, so I used a round curtain rod ring. It looks a bit less polished, but will still serve its purpose. I checked my local Ben Franklin and they did not have much variety in the D-ring department, so I bought the 1-inch size. It, too, does not look as neat as the one made by Little Bit Funky. I will continue to look for the proper size and stock up when I find them. I can see me making lots of these to have on hand for emergency gifts or whenever a 'little something' would be a boost to someone. Here's a look at mine again. I would say I have made about 10 or 12 now.

So, do you find that when browsing Pinterest you find inspiration? I sure do. If I want an idea for dinner, I go to Pinterest. If I want an idea for a baby quilt, I go to Pinterest. If I want an idea for something fun to send for a holiday, I go to Pinterest.

Here are a few things I have recently done, just to show you how useful I find this incredible website.

We had a serious soap scum problem on our shower doors. Nothing DH used, would bust the crud. So I snooped around Pinterest and found this, called The BEST soap scum remover ever, and we mixed up a batch. It really is wonderful! Our shower doors look like new again! It is amazing. And yes, my DH does the bathrooms. He's pretty amazing, too. *wink and grin*

I needed a quick and easy brunch-type dish for when we have overnight guests. I found a recipe that has been my go-to for about a year now - Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring. So fast and easy, and perfect for when you have guests and don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen. In fact, I made it this morning, and we don't have company!! It's great with a cup of coffee. *mmmm*

Finally, I will show you a quilting-related Pin that inspired me to go straight to the sewing room and make the block. This is called Inverted Star, and whatever the reason, as soon as I saw it I wanted to make it. So I printed off the instructions and headed upstairs. It was loads of fun to make. This is the pic from Pinterest.

And here is the block I made. It became a pillow top, but I apparently did not take a picture of that finish. It was gifted to Sharon P. and it goes with the Great Granny pillow I gave her, also. Same fabrics, different designs, if you know what I mean.

It appears I have drifted in my topic for this blog. I began by simply offering the information on how to find the directions for the Chapstick Cozy, and I morphed into an expose' on how I use Pinterest for inspiration and problem-solving.

How do you use Pinterest? Have you found some "gems" that you really love?

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sweet Sixteen!

I think it is probably a pretty well known fact that we in this house root for our Buckeyes. So we are psyched, pumped, and proud to be in the Sweet Sixteen!!

DH and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when today's game ended with that incredible 3-point shot by Aaron Craft. It was a thing of beauty!

We have the game saved on the dvr, so come on over if you missed it; we will gladly watch it again!!

Go Bucks!!

And Happy Quilting, Friends!


If ever any two quilters could be the epitome of productive, I nominate Sheryll and Terry. These girls went to a guild retreat a week ago, and they had several finishes to share with us on Friday when we met for quilting.

These girls belong to a guild headquartered in Circleville called the Goodtime Quilters. This guild sponsors a retreat every March, and from the looks of things, a lot gets accomplished.

I will begin by saying I want to make every single one of the quilts you are about to see. Everything about them is wonderful. I'm inspired by their work.

This is Sheryll's creation. It is a Jo Morton pattern called Somerset. Isn't the mustard yellow great as a background? and the blocks are so scrappy - it would be wonderful for using up the stash.

Terry wins the prize for accomplishing the most. She had hers folded neatly on her lap, and she waited so patiently to show off her creations! She was eager, you could tell. Unfold this (above) and feast your eyes on some gorgeousness.

This is called Butter Churn. I do not recall the maker of the pattern. I love the scrappiness of it. What fun to play with so many fabrics in the stash! This just looks like the kind of quilt I need to make.

Another finish for Terry is this stash-buster called I Like It Like That by The Good Life. The black HSTs are places strategically to form a wonderful secondary design. The border looks awesome, too.

And to prove my point about productivity, Terry showed us this quilt which has been quilted and is awaiting binding. It is called Best of All. It is another great stash-buster, and I want to make it - really bad! Isn't it fun?

Sharon had a patriotic wall-hanging to show us. She did not go to the retreat, but had a finish, nontheless. This quilt is called Fourth of July by Kim Schaeffer. Sharon is donating this to her church for a fundraiser.

So, do you feel inspired? I sure do. It really helps to keep me focused to have such productive quilting friends. It's sorta' like trying to "keep up with the Joneses," you know?

So I need to stay busy up in the sewing room. I sure have a long wish list of quilts to make, and it has gotten lots longer since knowing these girls!

Happy Quilting, Friends!