Sunday, June 27, 2010

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can... Charity Challenge Progress Report: Second Edition

Pin It I've had a busy couple of weeks!  In the last two weeks I have pieced six quilt tops and one table runner!  Wowza!  Last night after work, I got home and decided to make another charity top out of leftovers from my Riley Blake Cutting Corners College tutorial.  I decided on something similar to the actual tutorial, yet a little different.  Definitely simple!

I like it.  I think it's cute.  And it makes me so happy to make these things knowing they're going to a good cause.  Another top I pieced yesterday was a little number I decided to make (with an excellent suggestion from Melissa) from Mark Lipinski's Winter's Grace line.  The idea came from a cover of American Patchwork & Quilting.  I didn't actually look at the pattern in the magazine, I looked at the picture on the cover and did it my own way.  Here's what I came up with:

Again, simple...  yet totally striking.  The black really sets it off.  I ♥ it!

Two Sundays ago, when I pieced these quilt tops, I also pieced this guy:

It is made from Blank Quilting's Inspiration fabric for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.  It is very simple, basic and very plain.  I planned it that way.  I wanted plenty of open space to incorporate some awesome, spectacular quilting.  When it is finished there will be trapunto, color trapunto (assuming I can find the right color) and lots of fancy and fun quilting on it.

I also, one day or another (I really can't remember anymore) pieced this cute little quilt out of Moda's Fruit Cake and a little Figgy Pudding leftover from last year.  I don't have any pictures of the table runner.  :(

Don't ask me when I'll get all of this crap quilted.  I'd love to do it all...  yesterday...  but the fact remains that there are just too many other things to do that are more "important".  Like, you know...  the stuff I get paid for and am on deadlines for.  Yeah, that stuff!  I reeeeaaaally want to plow through my waiting list to get to the six quilts I have for one person.  They're all SO stinkin' cute and I can't wait to quilt them (among others).  But at least I can have a little fun of my own every now and then.  =]

"Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible."  -The Dalai Lama

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This is entirely too funny NOT to post

Pin It One of my friends on Facebook posted this video after I confided in her that one of the quilts I have to do secretly makes me wish that a tornado would hit the shop and do no damage except to suck up this quilt top into its vortex never to be seen again.  It cheered me up, because this is my daily life and I know I'm not alone!  If you're not a longarm quilter, you probably won't get some of the references but it's funny nonetheless.  =]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shine a little light on everything around you... Charity Challenge Progress Report - First Edition

Pin It

I've been meaning to write this for a couple of days now.  I just haven't felt like it.  Honestly, I haven't felt like doing much of anything lately.  I'm getting into a rut and am trying to "sew it out" (haha! seriously...).  I finished quilting three baby sized quilts for my Charity Challenge on Sunday, and got the binding completed on one of them today.  They're not the cutest quilts in the world, but I'm trying to use up some of the fabric I already have cut into yardages, so I ended up with these:

The strip sets that made up these three quilts were actually intended to make one large quilt.  One that had no purpose other than me having something to do.  I pieced the strip sets together when I was home recovering from surgery.  I pulled them out of their project box and thought, why not make them into smaller quilts?  I had to do a little ripping and re-sewing on them to size them out, but they turned out pretty cute.  For whatever reason, my camera isn't taking the best pictures lately but I suppose the photo is pretty representative of how they look.

I'm trying to decide if I'll mail them to their respective destinations as I make them, or if I'll save them all up and ship them at one time.  Maybe if I mail them as I make them it won't seem like I'm spending so much on shipping.  But on the other hand, I rarely get a chance to go to the post office, so I'm leaning toward sending them all at once.  What do you think?  How would you do it?

I will be having my bi-monthly sew-in in mid-July (that there was a whole lot of hyphenating!) and I will be working almost exclusively on projects for this charity challenge during the course of that weekend.  I'm so excited!  Between quilting an insane number of quilts (65 so far this year), making shop samples and trying to get a little sleep every now and then, it seems like my time is so limited.  So having about 48 hours to do nothing but sew will be a very welcomed change.

I've got a couple of more pieces of news on this whole charity thingy mabobber that I'd like to share, but I'm not ready to just yet.  We'll talk more about that later!

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait
a single moment before starting to improve the world."
Anne Frank

Monday, June 7, 2010

Are you hot for teacher??

Pin It
I'm not.  Hot for teacher, that is.  Why am I not hot for teacher?  Because I am teacher.  And if I was hot for myself, that'd just be weird.  And creepy.
What the crap am I talking about?  I'm talking about my first posting as a course instructor for Cutting Corners College over at Riley Blake Designs.  So go on over and check out the tutorial I wrote up for a super easy quilt!

PS - This is the quilt that was in the RBD booth at Market that I was so excited about! =]

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My personal charity challenge, 2010-11. What's your cause?

Pin It

As a lot of you know, I never really keep any of the quilts that I make.  I never really have a "purpose" for my quilts when I make them, other than the satisfaction of having made them!  The only quilts that have had a real purpose were my Masterpiece, for my sister and my CLC, which is the only quilt I made planning to keep it for myself.
I have no reason to keep all of the quilts that I make.  Why would I need all of those quilts?  Sometimes they go to family and friends as gifts.  Most often they get donated.  I have donated to Project Linus, Newborns In Need, Quilts of Valor and local churches.  The people that receive those quilts need them much more than I ever could.  It makes me happy enough just to make them.
Not only does quilting make me happy, but making other people happy and helping people also makes me happy.  So really, this is a win/win situation.  I was going to wait until July to write this entry, but there's no time like the present, right?
So here is my personal charity challenge for the next year (I was going to do it all before Christmas but without the use of my sewing room anymore, that could be pretty bad!):
I am going to donate at least one quilt and care package, or my quilting services to each of these charities.

Warm Hearts, Warm Babies

Quilts For Kids

Wrap Them In Love

Newborns In Need

Demostic Violence Services

Project Linus

For Every Child

American Hero Quilts

Now, there are other donations to be made, of handmade items that are *not* quilts that I will be donating to.  These sites are:

Dress A Girl Around The World

ConKerr Cancer

A couple of days ago I was scrolling through my blog feed and Anna Maria Horner's latest blog had a pretty colorful image next to it.  Then I read the title and couldn't help but clicky wicky on over to see what it was all about.  I read her blog and was left scratching my head...  wondering how those quilt tops would get finished.  I emailed the contact address and almost immediately (seriously, I'm talking like, 5 minutes here!) I got an email back from Anna Maria herself saying that she was going to add a mention of longarm quilting services.  Usually when you donate your services to a cause like this, you also donate your supplies.  As in batting.  And I'm completely okay with that (otherwise I wouldn't volunteer right?).  However, Anna Maria informed me that Hobbs Bonded Fibers will be donating as much batting as will be needed to finish each and every quilt.  AMAZING!!!

Do you have a charity that you like to donate quilts to?  If so, send me an email or leave a link in the comments section and I just may add your favorite charity to my list of donations.  I'm working on hand sewing the backside of the binding to another of my donation quilts... NOW!

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world is immortal.

-Albert Pike

Friday, June 4, 2010

The best tips every serial sewist needs to read. Brought to you by... YOU! And me. But whatever.

Pin It Okay.  So for the SMS giveaway I decided that rather just having you all leave some random comment to count for an entry, I wanted to know what you thought was the best sewing/crafting/quilting tip ever.  I have to tell you, having 514 comments (woah!) was amazing, and there were some pretty spectacular tips in those 514 comments.  I did get emails from some of you that for whatever reason, you weren't allowed to view the comments (I still don't know what was up with that).  Soooooo I've decided to do a compilation of the tips, throwing my two cents in here and there as well!  This could be really handy (and also get pretty long so I hope you've got a cold drink and a snack).

I want to start off with my favorite tip that always, always ALWAYS help me in my piecing, so here we go.

1.  Whenever you're putting your settings together for your quilts, lay it out on the floor where you have plenty of room.  Then take a picture.  The picture will help you see inconsistencies in color distribution, and will help you see blocks or pieces of blocks that may be turned the wrong way.  It will also help you to have a reference when you're sewing it all together so you don't inadvertently turn a block in the wrong direction.

2.  If you ever come across a pattern that has instructions for you to do something you've never  done before, use Google, YouTube, EHow and of course, craft blogs for articles, photos and videos.  It's a really easy teach-yourself tool.

3.  Use fork pins to align your seams.  {I've read about this, know people that do it, and have thought about trying it many times but have never actually done it}

4.  Have a magnet around to gather up dropped random pins!

5.  Use a Gypsy Gripper when rotary cutting to help keep your ruler from slipping.  {I've sold many of these in the shop, but I prefer to use the OmniGRIP rulers that are textured on the under side to help keep from slipping.  Either way is excellent!}

6.  When you start making a lot of mistakes, it's probably because you're tired and/or frustrated.  Take a break, walk away and come back to your project refreshed.  There really are days when you just weren't meant to sew.  Trust me!

7.  Keep a tub underneath the sewing table for save-worthy scraps to sort by color or size later, a trash bin next to the chair within arm's reach, and a little bowl next to the sewing machine to put threads and fabric bits.{I actually do this, and save all of my non-worthy scraps too, to make animal cushions for the animal shelter}

8.  Sew the opening shut, backstitch the ends, and then rip out the middle before turning. {Why didn't I think of that?????}

9.  Hang all of your sewing notions and tools on a peg-board, in a pocket hanger, etc. so they're all stored in the same place and you know where to find them at all times.

10.  As daunting as it seems, if you know you'll be working on a project for a while that will require a lot of stitching, go ahead and wind 4 or 5 bobbins before you start.  It's much better than having to stop what you're doing to re-wind!

11.  Thrift shops, antique stores and garage sales are all great places to find vintage remnant fabrics, sheets or clothing that can be ripped apart and made into something new.  Great way to build your stash!

12.  IRON, IRON, IRON!!!!  {I have to say that I UH-NEVER "iron", I "press", which makes a huuuuuuuge difference in quilting.  If you don't know what the difference is, please email me!  But yeah, pressing is extremely important}

13.  Even five minutes here and there adds up to a whole lot of sewing time.  You can quickly trim tails, press a couple of seams, do some measuring, etc. while water is boiling for dinner.  =]

14.  Keep a computer in your crafting room.  {This can be good and bad.  While it's convenient to have the computer there to read tutorials, print pattern pieces, and google search the best way to hand-sew a binding, it can also lead to a lot of procrastination!}

15.  Iron-on vinyl.  'Nuff said.

16.  Stick little adhesive sandpaper circles on the backs of your rotary cutting rulers to prevent them from sliding around on the fabric.  {I actually don't like doing this.  If I ever need to move my ruler just a smidge in one direction or another, those little sandpaper stickies stretch my fabric in a wonky way.  But they really work well for some people}

17.  Walking feet can make a world of difference.  They aren't just used for quilting these days, but also for machine attaching binding and sewing on jersey knits!  {Since the walking foot for my machine is in the area of $170...  I don't have one}

18.  Another tip from me, Mary Ellen's Best Press is seriously the best thing since the quarter-inch-foot.

19.  You'd be amazed at the amount of time chain-piecing can save you.

20  Sew everything that you are making for the first time using the longest stitch that you can. so when you have to tear it apart to fix that darn mistake, it is way easier.{Brilliant!}

21.   If your stitching looks like crap, your thread keeps breaking or shredding, etc. try changing your needle.  It can make a world of difference.

22.  Have at least two of everything.  Pin cushions, scissors, marking pencils, measure tapes, rulers.  Seems unecessary but is really a time-saver!

24.  A lot of people mentioned always having a seam-ripper close by.  I would add, have a good seam-ripper close by.  I only use this kind.

25.  Always check your seams when you start out before sewing/piecing an entire project.

26.  Keep peroxide and BandAids in your crafting room!

27.  Don't be cheap by trying to use your rotary blades until they just won't cut anymore.  Dull blades stretch fabric and give your horribly inaccurate cuts.

28.  Wash and press your fabric before you start.  {This is a matter of opinion.  I do not pre-wash.  I like the sizing of new fabric keeping it stiffer for cutting and piecing.  Different strokes!}

29.  Use a lint roller to pull out leftover threads after ripping a seam.  {Scotch tape works too!}

30.  Friends don't let friends drink and quilt!

31.  When pinning and locking seams, pin on the side that will be the last to go under the needle.

32.  Clip your tails as soon as you're finished sewing your seam.  It's a great habit to get into and much easier than clipping them ALL once the top is done {or skipping clipping them all-together}

33.   Finish what your start.  Seems simple enought, right?  {I always finish what I start.  I obsess about it.  I don't sleep.  I eat and breath whatever my project of the moment is.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  But I have no UFOs!}

34.  Annnd another one from me...  If you get gunk on your iron from fusible webbing or other adhesives (or maybe you ironed something you shouldn't have), pour some salt on a piece of paper and iron the gunk off.  Excellent!

35.  Iron seams OPEN! It makes it so much easier to match seams on most blocks.{I typically only do this on certain blocks/quilts because it takes so much longer.  But the absolute best thing for pressing seams open?  The Clover Mini-iron.  It's SO much easier than using a full sized iron!}

36.  Rubber shelf-liner is a super awesome way to keep your foot pedal from ending up all over the place while you're sewing!

37.  Accept that you will make mistakes.  Leave the tiny ones.  Fix the big ones.  Or you will never be happy with your finished produce.

38.  In reference to above, and words I live by, THE BEST THING IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST THING!!!

39.  Fabric at WalMart is $3.00 for a reason.

40.  Always wash your hands  before you sew!

41.  Gross but true:  Your own saliva is the best way to remove blood from something you've bled on.  True story!

42.  Ziplock bags and a Sharpie are very important!  Best way to store all of your cut pieces for projects when you've cut everything out from the start.

43. Always read all of the instructions start to finish before beginning a new project.  {I'm guilty of not... always... doing this...}

44.  Quit talking about all the things you want to make and just make them!  {Easier said than done, huh?  Haha!  Get it?}

45.  Getting a good iron (like an Oliso) can make a world of difference in your results.

46.  Using some form of starch on anything cut on the bias will save you a lot of headaches.

47.  I'm going to end this list now because I'm super tired!

If I didn't include your tip, it's not because it wasn't spectacular, I promise.  I just sort of picked them at random and then started scrolling back through.  Anyway, I think 46 tips is enough to get you all going!  Feel free to include any other fantabulous tips you may come up with in the comments section!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

And the winner is............

Pin It

Iris*hill!  Which is just too funny to me.  You can't make this stuff up!  Nancy is a friend of mine and this is going to save me shipping costs!  Nancy, I'll just let you know what your "surprise" gift with the giveaway is next time you come to visit!
Congrats Nancy and thanks everyone for playing along!