Saturday, December 11, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas and a Double Rainbow in December

Pin It Phew!  Christmas orders are all done for the year (Celebrate!  Celebrate!  It's that time of yeeeeaaar!) and I finally have a chance to relax a little bit.  But I'm not relaxing at all.  I quilted five quilts in the last two days!

The final Christmas quilt I had for this year was a doozy at 115x110 (yes, it is wider than it is long).  Is anyone familiar with Nancy Halvorsen's Christmas panels?  The quilt shop down the street did a Block of the Month program with fussy cut blocks from one of her panels.  I have to say, I adore the customer that brought this top to me, and I absolutely love the way she set it together.  It was the first time she ever came up with her own setting and I think she did a fantastic job!  She always leaves the quilting up to me, but she did say she'd like some feathers in her sashing.  And I know from experience she loves stitch in the ditch.  So, I decided to not just do your regular run-of-the-mill feathers, but to do a small feather sash motif framing each block. 

I really had to fight the urge to stitch in the ditch in all of the blocks, since I'm the stitch in the ditch queen and all, but I think they turned out pretty nice.  I also did pebbles through the sashing around all of the little feather sash motifs, and stitch in the ditch in her pieced border (or sashing?  Whatever you want to call it!). 

I suggest clicking the pictures to get a full-sized view.  So!  I'm in love with this quilt, and really don't want to give it back to her!  But since she wants it on her bed for Christmas, I suppose she's going to be ripping it out of my hands (today, in fact).

Three of the five quilts I've done in the last couple of days were for Anna Maria Horner's Rainbow Around the Block project, for a total of four completed (I did one before Thanksgiving!).  It's really neat to look at these tops and think about the people that made the blocks that went into them.  It's obvious that they were made by people of all ages, skill levels and tastes.  This is an awful picture of one of the quilts hanging over a cabinet that holds some of our yarn.  : |

Now this next one is probably my most favoritest charity quilt I've ever quilted EVAR (so far!).  The pictures really do these puppies no justice.  The colors are so awesome, the fabrics are adorable, I just love it.


In other news, I've been up since 2:00 this morning (about to get ready for work!) working on binding one of those customer Christmas quilts.  For those of you that don't know, my cat is just as crazy about sewing as I am.  Whenever I'm sewing, she's trying to lay in my lap, play in the quilt, etc.  When I lay blocks out on the floor to decide how I want to set them together, it takes longer than for most people because my cat is always diving into them, making them fly all over the place.  While machine stitching the binding onto this particular customer quilt, she got into pretty big trouble for trying to lay on it and play in it.  Now that I've got it folded up and back in the sack, I suppose she figures the coast is clear and decided it was time to nap on it.

Silly kitty.  But I love her anyway (and the hearts on her butt!).

I may not like Christmas (not because I'm a Scrooge, I promise I have a good reason!), but since I have a chance to breathe this year, I'm feeling a little more of the holiday cheer than normal.  I hope you all are prepared for Christmas and your stockings are hung!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NQR: San Diego and one big "OOOHRAH!"

Pin It Ahhhhhh.  I'm back from San Diego and have had the last few days to settle back into the swing of things.  I look back on the fact that it was four days ago that I returned home and am still wishing that I was in beautiful California.

The weather was wonderful when the plane landed, around 8:30 Wednesday night.  Thursday morning, I woke up to this.

Such a beautiful California sunrise!  There wasn't a lot of time, as festivities at MCRD San Diego started pretty early in the morning.  We didn't realize what a day we were in for. 
The first thing I did upon arriving on base was visit the museum's gift shop and stand in line to purchase two t-shirts, one of which I am currently wearing.  Both stating that I'm the proud aunt of a US Marine.  (enter heart swelling here)

After a bit of exploring, the guy running the show (I don't remember if he is actually a drill instructor or not) gave a speech and told us what to do, what to expect, what was allowed and what was not.  STAY OFF THE GRASS!!!

Then, it was time to stand and wait.  Wait for what?  I already have tears in my eyes just thinking about it.  They call it a "Motivational Run".  You'll see why in a moment.  USMC 2nd Battalion Golf Company recruit count started at 500.  It ended with 480.  I was surprised there were only 20 that didn't make it.  The following video is 480 graduating Marines, and their loved ones getting to see them for the first time in 3 months, as a completely different person.  

I cannot watch these videos without crying like a baby with colic.  No joke.  I don't think anyone realizes or understands what a HUGE deal this is until they go and see it for themselves.  This second video is the second pass after they've made their way around the circle.  The video is a little shaky because by this time I was, well, shaky.  And jumping up and down!

After the motivational run, there was still another 2 hours or so to wait before we got to see our Marines, once Liberty Formation was done.

FINALLY I got to hug him.  And I wouldn't let go.  I really wouldn't.  Words cannot express the amount of pride you feel when hugging them for the first time.  This is USMC 2nd Battalion Golf Company Platoon 2147 (my nephew is right behind the drill instructor).

(My hair is pink again now!)

After Liberty Formation, we got to spend the day together, from 1pm until around 4:30.  We ate, talked, walked around and shopped.  Then he went back to his Marine bootcamp life and we went back to our tourist lives.

The next morning we were tired, but couldn't wait to see the ceremony.  There was a full parade, complete with the Marine Corps band, and even the little "Devil Dog" herself, a bull dog with a higher rank than my nephew!
The ceremony itself didn't last very long.  I have this last video.  It was SUPPOSED to be the recruits officially graduating by receiving their final orders from their drill instructors.  Unfortunately I pushed the button on my phone a little late.  So all you hear is the graduates' response, and then see me running up to him.  But I'm still posting it anyway.  :o)  *insert more tears here*

After graduation we had tentative plans to go to Sea World but that got canceled really quickly when we all realized how tired we were.  Instead, we decided to take a walk to Old Town, which was adorable.

After seeing a few sights of Old Town, we decided to take a hike up a cluster of hills in a residential neighborhood just behind the park.  This was our reward.

A beautiful San Diego sunset!

Unfortunately, I didn't see the ocean except from the plane, but I'm okay with that.

All in all, it was an excellent trip.  I'm so amazed and so proud for what Marcus has accomplished.  If you don't know, Marine Corps has the most difficult bootcamp training of any of the US military.  Just hearing about "The Crucible" is enough to make you cry.  Much less to go through it.

There's my trip in a nutshell.  If nothing else you got to see some pretty California sun.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Slacky McSlackster is (mostly) present and accounted for

Pin It I have a friend that is all but threatening my life if I don't update my blog.  So here I am!  It's no secret that I haven't been writing lately.  Anyone can see that by looking at the date of my last posting.  This isn't for lack of things to write about by any means, just a lack of motivation to put my thoughts into words.  But I'll try.  This will probably be one of those mod podge of postings that doesn't really have a point, but will clue you in to what's been going on in my little crazy corner of the world.  I just don't know where to start!

I still haven't gotten my stinking BeDazzled quilt done.  It would certainly be done by now if I didn't have to keep re-doing Month 9's border.  Entirely my own fault, I know.  When you make mistakes on this project, there is no ripping out and re-doing.  There is only re-doing by starting over from the beginning.  Does something look amiss to you?  This is the third of these borders I've done.  Backwards feathers just won't work.  I'm losing motivation to try again.

I've been trying my best to keep up with my quilting list and am starting to get last minute Christmas things.  That always happens right at Thanksgiving time.  But a couple of my favorite finishes from the last few months are these guys:
First up is DeAnn's massive block of the month that she set together with Log Cabin blocks.  Pictures really do it no justice.  It is a gorgeous quilt!

Next is an embroidered Halloween wall hanging.  It was really hard to quilt with the amount of stitching already in it.  But it turned out famously.

Then there's an awesome batik throw/wall quilt.   I just adore it.  This one was REALLY HARD to quilt!  But totally worth it!

And just for good measure, I have to throw in this adorable fishy baby quilt:

Last minute Christmas quilting is going to be a little bit more difficult this year than years past.  I'm leaving for San Diego a week from Wednesday to watch my nephew graduate from bootcamp and officially become a Marine.  For his graduation gift, he wanted the "most badass Marines quilt EVER".  Considering he shipped out to bootcamp a whole seven months earlier than he was supposed to, his badass Marines quilt is going to have to wait a while.  But I think an XBox Connect will help to soften the blow.

I received in the mail a 32 pound box of quilt tops and backings from Anna Maria Horner last week.  Twenty tops that I'm honored to quilt for her Rainbow Around the Block project.  I was also wrangled into quilting a 135x135 Double Wedding Ring quilt for Relay for Life.  These things combined are going to obviously put a damper on my personal Charity Challenge, but I figure if I'm doing *something* for charity, it's really not a loss, right?  The first quilt for the Rainbow group is still on the frame, but I just finished it!

 I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!  My sister and her family are coming to visit.  I will be spending Wednesday making a yummy pumpkin cheesecake with a homemade caramel drizzle and freshly whipped cream.  But that's not even the best part.  The best part is the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!  I'm making a BILLION dozen so that I can send a bunch to friends all over the country.  But shhhhh.   It's a surprise!  (I was going to add a photo of the cookies so your mouths could water along with mine, but Blogger is being silly).

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels!

PS - I've been working on a new (confident) beginner quilt pattern.  Would anyone like a free tutorial?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A milestone, a (sorta) finish, a couple of funnies and an important message...

Pin It I'm thinking that I've had a productive year.  I've talked numbers before, which I'm trying not to do anymore, but I just feel waaaaay deep down that this deserves some recognition.

Yesterday was a big day for me.  Why?  Well, it was Tuesday, of course.  Hello?!?!

No but really, it was a big day.  As I was reading along my "list", trying to make a plan for the next week or so, I realized that I was working on my 100th quilt of the year.  This is the first year that I've kept tabs on just how many quilts I've done (which isn't that spectacular since it's... ya know... only my second year and all) but I was just a little excited.  I didn't take pictures of it because it was "just" an all-over quilt design and I'd already had it folded up and ready to go by the time I realized that it was meaningful, other than the fact that it was an awesome quilt in general.

Regardless of my time off from March through April, I think 100 quilts by the end of September is awesome!  It's also extremely telling...  my back hurts.  :)

Aside from that 100-quilt-mark, yesterday was just so ridiculously productive, I couldn't help but be in a good mood and work, work work.  Truth be told, I was running back and forth from my embroidery machine to the Gammill, trying to make the best of my time.  It was worth it.  I finished border number two for BeDazzled!

I'm so close now, that I can taste the vindication for the relentless hours of work that went into this.  That outside flower?  Yeah...  again...  supposed to be pink, so that it all flows (pink, yellow, pink, yellow), but I was too tired to fix it and just changed my thread colors.  I really hope it looks cool when it's all done.  I may or may not make some more changes to make it blend better.  :)

After I finished the border piece, I decided to start working on the label for my ovarian cancer quilt.  I already had my embroidery unit ready to go, right?

It was because of my ovarian cancer quilt that Ms. Karen McAwesome gave me my "McLisa" nickname to begin with.  So.  This particular label?  Well...  you'll see...

Yes!  Yessssss!

I keep thinking about this quilt in the future...  people trying to find facts on it and wondering, "who is McLisa Sipes?"  It makes me laugh.  Don't take that away from me!  This label will be on this quilt no matter what happens or where it goes.  True dat, yo.

Speaking of Ms. McTavish... Check this out:  Karen is part of a project that is nothing short of spectacular.

Brave.  An event to celebrate 30 years of The Duluth Model and the safety of women all over the world.  This is an event that hits close to home, and means a lot to a lot of people that I know and love.  If you support charity events, and would like to own a piece of work created by a couple of world-renowned artists, please check it out.  But really, check it out even if you have no intention of donating or purchasing.  The amount of time, work, effort and fabulosity that is going into this is amazing. I've said it before and I'll say it again:  This is a cause you don't want to dismiss.  I cannot express in words the pride I feel in knowing that there are people willing to speak out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Something a little different

Pin It I realize that I probably talk about Karen McTavish entirely too much (by the way, she gave me another nickname today:  "McRockstar!!!").  When people inspire you, it's only to be expected, right?

A few weeks ago, Karen shared a video that she and her sister, Kathy (a cellist, poet and artist) made together.  Now I'd like to share it with you.

I would hope that if you know (and even if you don't know) just a tiny bit about Karen as a person or what she's been through, you'll be able to see the beauty, pain and meaning in this video.  And why it makes me cry.  Every. Single. Time I watch it.  Watch it all the way to the end.  I hope you like it.

The Quilt/ I

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Evolution of a BeDazzled block

Pin It So, there's this thing I've been working on that's been taking up the vast majority of my "free time" lately.  I've mentioned it once or twice and even shared a couple of photos.  It is my BeDazzled quilt, that I'm obsessed with finishing by December.  And by "finished", I mean all of the embroidery stitched out, the entire quilt put together and then quilted, show quality.  And possibly adding Swarovsky crystals.  All by December.

Why December?  Because I start teaching the class in January!  I prefer to have the sample for any class I teach completed before the classes start.  First, because it gives people a much better idea of what they're signing up for, but also because then I know I've got it finished, and it won't sit around collecting dust.  Yeah.  All of that.

Just to jog your memory, I'll show you a couple of pictures of some of the first blocks, which are much smaller than the others.

Crazy cool, right?  The thing is, it has become increasingly apparent to me that even people that are signed up for the class don't really know what's going on, here.

These blocks are embroidered applique.  You start with pieces of plain fabric, place them "just so" on a piece of plain background fabric, and then you stitch the crap out of it in pretty, bright and vibrant threads.  So in short:





Voila!  Four-to-ten (or sometimes 12...  or 14) hours later, you've got a completed block!

Pretty cool, huh?  It's amazing what a difference thread can make.  I've finished all of the blocks for the center of the quilt.  I've also finished one border, and am 3/4 of the way finished with another.  So I have 2.25 borders to complete, and then some embroidery in the cornerstones, then I start construction!

Here's an awful picture of one of the borders:

And since it's such an awful picture, I'll go ahead and show you this one for detail purposes:

And while we're talking about detail, let me just show you this one too...

... and let you know that those hearts on the ends of the feathers?  Yeah.  They were supposed to be pink.  :(  That was a pretty rough weekend, sewing-wise, and I decided *not* to fix it. I could've fixed it.  I didn't want to fix it. Can you believe it?  The so-called-perfectionist that I am?  =]

In other news, yesterday I found out that someone has been taking pictures of my work and claiming it as their own all over the internet.  So while I already have right-clicking disabled on my blog, all of my pictures from here on out may also have some form of copyright or watermark.  Thankyouverymuch! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2Corinthians 8:3

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"For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord."
Let me just say right off the bat that I am not a religious person.  Once upon a time, I was.  Very much so.  That is no longer the case.  However, I'm always happy to help a religious cause.  =]

Many, many, many months ago (I'm talking 10 months ago), I was asked by a friend/customer if I'd be interested in quilting a top for the Methodist church fund raiser auction.  I happily agreed, but after some time went by and I heard nothing more of it, I had completely forgotten about the entire conversation.

Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago, she called me on the phone to ask if I was ready to quilt this top!  I'm sure she could detect a hint of panic in my voice when I said that I was most certainly ready.  Of course I was ready!  I'm always ready.

I was sooooo not ready.

She dropped it off two days after that phone call.  I couldn't help but notice before she even got it out of its bag that she neglected to mention it was a king sized quilt.  She also neglected to mention that it was a Dahlia quilt, which would most certainly require custom quilting!   I have nothing against doing custom quilting on charity quilts.  I just would have rather had time to plan for it.  I was given a week and a half to complete it, so that they would have time to bind it, get the label on (which I still have to embroider for them) and have it on display for a bit before the auction.

I really, really, really wish that I would have known in advance what I was up against.  Not because I minded doing it.  I was actually excited to do it.  But because I could've done it so much BETTER.

A Giant Dahlia would've been the perfect top to do some fun and fancy trapunto feather swags in the corners, maybe even some scroll work, all kinds of cool stuff.  But I just did. not. have. time. to. plan.  Waaaah!

I did the best I could considering the time restraint.  Nevermind the fact that it was a combination of piecing both by machine and by hand, a combined effort of a total of six people digging through their respective stashes and stitching up this beauty.  This massively pretty quilt top!  It was interesting!  Luckily, she just wanted something relatively simple:  Stitch in the ditch and a heavy backfill...  Piece-o-cake!

Anyway, it's late and I'm babbling so here's the quilt already!

Not the best pictures in the world, but they'll do for now.  You know, until I can get a couple of copies from the auction.  Can't wait to see how it does! 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Short and sweet. But important. To me.

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Hello again, everyone!  I know, I know...  I let forever go by again without so much as logging into my Blogger account.  Bad, bad Lisa.  But really, I cannot even tell you all of the crazy things that have been going on around here that have kept me away.  Eventually I will have something ready to show you that will explain a little bit, but that time is not now!
I felt compelled to right a blog post today because I finished something yesterday that has been one of those projects that I just "had to" do.  I don't mean that I was required to do it, I just had to do it.

When I was home recovering from my hysterectomy, I pieced four quilt tops.  Mostly because I was going stir crazy and desperately needed to do something, but it had to be something that I could do.  I made this-and-that, and one day it just hit me that I had all of this Ovarian Cancer Coalition fabric from Blank quilting, and what better time to piece an Ovarian Cancer Awareness quilt than when I was holed up from "that" kind of surgery?

Does anybody remember seeing that quilt?  When I thought up the idea, I immediately knew that of course, I had to use Blank's "Inspiration" line.  I also knew that I wanted it to be extremely simple so that the focus would be on the quiltING, rather than the quilt, itself.  And the above picture is what I came up with.

Early this week, I decided that since September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I should probably get this guy all quilted up and awesome before the month was over.  And that is exactly what I did for the last two days.

I knew right from the beginning that this would be the perfect project to do a little color trapunto, along with some regular trapunto.

That's the back side of the quilt with half of the blocks trimmed for color trapunto.  I decided that with mid-September fast approaching, regular trapunto wasn't going to be an option as it's extremely time-consuming, and that faux trapunto (two layers of batting) would have to do.  I know, I know...  I talk smack on faux trapunto all the time but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Once I got the top loaded for final quilting, I knew I wanted to do tons and tons and tons of McTavishing.  These things always sound like a wonderful idea in the beginning, but once you get started you always wonder, "What the hell was I thinking?!"  The best thing is always the hardest thing right?

I decided that since the majority of quilting was going to be backfill, it would be cool to stitch a few hidden messages into the blocks.
Like, the ovarian cancer logo, Break The Silence.

I stitched a couple of other "secrets" in, including my initials and "2010" but you'd never be able to spot any of it unless you were specifically looking for it.  By the time I was half finished, I was definitely ready to get that puppy off the frame.  When you're McTavishing that much, you swear to yourself that it looks like utter crap.  Here is the finished product:

(You can click the images to see full-size, better detail!)
I have to tell you about the exchange that I had with Karen McTavish herself (she is literally my hero, in case you didn't know and I was so sad to miss spending time with her at MQS this year) when she saw my pictures of this quilt (You'll have to forgive the language if the "eff word" offends you):

Karen:  "holy fuck wow"
Me:  "Omg Karen! I SO needed that! The whole time I was quilting this I kept saying to myself, "well one thing's for sure.. I'm no Karen McTavish..." Haha! =]"
Karen:  "No... You are. McLisa."

Good enough for me!

So, Happy Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to all! (This ended up being not short at all, huh?!)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I ain't got nothin' fo' ya

Pin It Oh, how I have missed blogland!  I have neither read nor written any blogs in over a month.  Insanity!

I've been oh-so-very busy, my lovelies.  It's really pretty fabulous.  I haven't had much time for anything.

Of course I've been quilting like crazy on the longarm.  I have now quilted 82 quilts so far this year and I am officially booked for over a year.  I did say insanity, yes?  Here's a few pictures of some of my recent finishes.  I'm now taking all of my pictures on my phone rather than my camera, so I have more, just need to transfer!
First up is a gorgeous scrappy, antique four-patch quilt, all stitched in the ditch.  I LOVE quilting tops like this!  The granddaughter of the woman that pieced this top brought it to me and wanted to be sure I'd take good care of it.  It was touching.  I had to bind it for her, and she picked it up today and hugged me, saying that it surely made her grandmother smile.  I nearly cried!

Love, love LOVE this hand embroidered quilt.  This is the third of its kind I've done for the same person, with two more to go and they just get more beautiful with each one she brings me.  She is always outdoing herself and I have to say, I'm not sure I will ever have her dedication!

Another antique.  This one was extremely difficult to quilt and took a lot of "quilting that out" but it turned out beautiful.  It made me sad, though.  The woman that made it, appliqued all of the blocks and put them together when she was 15 years old.  She is now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's.  Obviously, it was necessary for me to bind this one as well.

I will always have a special place in my heart for Double Wedding Rings.  They take a RIDICULOUS amount of time to quilt because curved stitching in the ditch is super difficult to do and do right.  So yeah.  This quilt wasn't even very big but it still took me about four days!  But I love it.

Last but not least, the embroidered angel quilt!  I'm not a big fan of these angels.  I think they look kind of creepy.  But this quilt is so stinkin' cute anyway!

I've most recently done a few wall hangings and table runners and next up is a Christmas tree skirt.  But enough of that for now.
Believe it or not, quilt actually isn't what has taken up the majority of my time lately.  This is!

These blocks are what I've been devoting days and days and days to lately.  I'm missing a closeup picture of one of them, but here are the others so you can see all of the pretty stitching and then hopefully understand why they'd be so time intensive!

Who knew that some plain purple, pink and yellow fabric could be so gorgeous?  I'm working on this feverishly because I am teaching it as a 12 month class beginning in January.  Plenty of time between now and January, yes?  Well...  technically.  But I have an even bigger plan for this quilt once it's finished, to be disclosed at a later date.  :P  I have five different blocks done so far, two of each block for a total of 10 finished blocks.  Phew!

I also had a sew-in, where after working for 17 hours straight, sleeping for two hours and then working another nine hours, I ended up passing out on the floor using a King roll of Hobbs batting as a pillow and stretched out under my Riley Blake Cutting Corners quilt.  One of my friends decided to take pictures.  On my phone.  And let me randomly find them.

In two weeks I will be leaving for Nashville and meeting up with Anna Maria Horner!  That, my friends is what I keep reminding myself of... that I have something to look forward to!

I will hopefully in the very near future, be finding some time to redesign the blog (after I got it JUST the way I wanted it?!).  I've been so removed from the blogging world I didn't even know that TheCutestBlogOnTheBlock had crashed.  Go figure!

For now, I hope you can forgive me for not commenting on your blogs or writing anything in so long.  I missed it!  Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!