Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do you have an opinion?

I have been working on the little piece I started during my last art group meeting. I'm almost finished but I can't decide which side is the top. When I was designing this I envisioned it in the horizontal orientation. The only reason I can think of that I did this is because this is what I usually do. I took it with me to work on at my guild's quilt show last weekend and several people thought it should be oriented vertically. If you have an opinion, would you please vote by leaving a comment.

Choice #1: Horizontal Orientation

Choice #2: Vertical Orientation

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gone Batty update

No bat tonight but I'm still sleeping down in the guest room. I got a tip, the name of a person I know (well, the father of a friend of Parker whom I have met), who works at the local Division of Wildlife. I will be giving him a call real soon.

Gone Batty

Have you ever been to Carlsbad Caverns or a similar spot at dusk to see the bats leave for the evening? Well, we don't have to go any where to see this sight. It happens every evening for a few weeks each summer right here at our house. We have a colony of bats that has moved in. They used to live underneath the flashing on our chimney until 2 years ago when my husband plugged up the gaps. So they moved into the ridge line of our house! Ever since I have been asking my husband to do something about the problem. The situation came to a head about dusk last night.

My son and husband were reading bedtime stories while the cat and I were watching TV. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something fly into the kitchen and then down the hallway. I turned toward the hallway just as it was coming back. IT WAS A BAT!! I jumped up, screamed and ran out the front door. My husband came running out to the living room. He said he thought that men with guns must have broken into the house by the way I screamed. I yelled at him through the screen door that there was a bat in the house. I didn't really need to tell him that because the bat was flying around the living room and dining room looking for a way out.

I stood outside while my husband shut doors trying to trap the bat. I'll spare you the details. Actually I don't know many of the details because I was outside. It took him about 15 minutes to trap it with our sons bug catching net and a magazine over the opening. He let it go outside and we tried to resume our normal routine. I slept downstairs in the guest room last night though because I just couldn't relax enough to go to sleep upstairs.

So how did the bat get inside? We aren't sure, but we have a theory. Our house is technically classified as a 1.5 story house. Which means that because of the steep pitch of the roof, only half of the upstairs is usable space. On either side of the house there is about 6 feet of space by the length of the house that is just storage space. To access this area the previous owners finished the upstairs using pine walls. At various places there are knot holes that you can put your finger through and pull to reveal a hidden door that accesses the storage area. We are guessing that it came through one of these holes. They have all been sealed now.

I am trying to find someone who can safely remove the bats, clean up the mess I'm sure they have created and then seal the openings so they can't get back in. The closest company I have found so far is located in Colorado Springs (about 120 miles away). I have contacted them but have not gotten a response yet. I don't know if they are willing to come this far. We called our local Division of Wildlife last week about the problem but you have to leave a message and they have not called back either! At this point I don't know what more we can do.

My son and husband are planning to go camping Wednesday and Thursday night. Normally, I would be eagerly anticipating their departure. In light of recent events, I'm not sure I want to left home alone! I will probably be completely stressed out at dusk tonight. I'm not sure I can handle a bat in the house two nights in a row.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Quilting Dilemma

So I bought a bunch of thread, all colors matching the large solid rectangles, and I started quilting the rectangles.

I decided to alternate the direction of the lines to go along with the orientation of the appliqued smaller rectangle using a thread color that matches the background rectangle, but I don't think I like this ... sigh.

I'm not sure exactly why I'm not liking this but here are some theories: (1) It's too predictable. (2) I have to mark the lines so that they will be straight. (3) Sewing straight lines shows off every little place where the applique or block is not straight or square.

At this point I've only quilted one and a half rectangles, in addition to quilting in the ditch around all the sashing and borders which I do like. Well, actually it doesn't really show. It is just the "keep things as square and straight as possible" type quilting that is more related to good construction than aesthetics.  It wouldn't take very long to remove the stitching on one and a half rectangles at this point. But maybe if I just persevere it will get better. I don't know. I'm going to have lunch and think about it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quilt Show this weekend

For any of you who will be in the San Luis Valley this weekend, my guild is having our annual show Friday (6/25) evening, all day Saturday (6/26) and Sunday (6/27) until 2pm at the Inn of the Rio Grande in Alamosa. The Inn of the Rio Grande is located on the east side of the bridge on Hwy 160, just east of the intersection of Hwy 160 and Hwy 17. The show will be in the atrium of the hotel, which is on the right hand side of the main desk in the lobby. There is no admission charge but we do welcome any donation you can afford. We will also have raffle tickets for sale at the show for chances to win this years raffle quilt. If I can get permission from the members, I will take pictures of the show to post here next week.

The Monarch Quilt Guild is also having a show this weekend in Salida, CO at the Salida Middle School. I am not a member of this guild so I don't have any further information. I have been told that they always put on a nice show, so it would be worth the effort to go see it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Good Day

Look what arrived in my mailbox today from Sandy at Quilting for the Rest of Us! A charm pack of Gypsy Rose as my prize/gift for participating in her creativity challenge. She has another challenge posted that isn't due until the end of the summer. Here is a link to the second challenge.

It is always a good day when I receive fabric in the mail - especially surprise fabric I didn't order or pay for! Thanks Sandy!!

I opened up the pack and fanned out the fabric a bit.

I'm trying to decide how I will use these. I have a few ideas ... but which one? Decisions, decisions.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pentagon Ball

A quilting friend is moving away. Her husband is in poor health and the doctor has told them that he needs to live below 5000 ft. Alamosa is at about 7500 ft. She had a yard sale and called me to come look early because she had some things she thought Parker would like. Boy did she! I spent $60 on some science activity books, some magnet sets and activity books, a set of oil paints and a couple of quilt books.

One of the books had instructions for making a pentagon ball. Well ... it had a pentagon pattern and a few pictures with very basic instructions for making the ball. I found this website much more helpful with the construction of the ball. 

So I made 12 copies of the pentagon on freezer paper. I drew the pentagon shape also onto the fabric with a wash-away marker - I won't do this next time though. I roughly cut out the pentagons and embellished each. Then washed out the marker and put the freezer paper on the back. I used English paper piecing to construct the ball.

Here is half of the ball with just one seam sewn on each pentagon.


Here is the other half of the ball already sewn up.

And here is the finished ball.

I didn't embellish all 12 of the pentagons because I got worried that they wouldn't go together right and I didn't want to spend any more time on this before making sure I knew what I was doing. Everything went together fine thanks to the online tutorial I linked to above. The instructions in the book were total crap!

I'm thinking that these might be the ornaments I make for my nieces and nephews and Parker this year for Christmas. I would use Christmas fabric and better appliques for the real thing. However, Parker was really impressed with this one. I finished it after he went to bed one night last week. The next morning he saw it laying on my ironing table and said, "Wow! Did you make this mom?" Made me feel pretty good since it was an unsolicited comment.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Waves of Blue and Green

On Tuesday I made this at art group.

In stead of working on my rectangle piece this weekend, I was inspired to continue this piece and have ended up with this, so far.

I have begun quilting it and have done some in-the-ditch machine quilting to stabilize it. Now I am doing some hand quilting.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekend Sew-a-thon

My boys left about 2 hours ago for a weekend camping trip. I purchased this selection of threads on Tuesday in anticipation of having time to work on my rectangles piece this weekend. Here's another photo of it.

This morning I made myself a salad. I'm going to start the bread machine soon so I can have some Italian bread to go with my salad. Then I'm going to sew, sew, sew.

Oh! And I had some exciting news in my email inbox. My art group entered a quilt in the Colorado Quilting Council Show and we won first place in our category!!! I'm searching for a photo of the quilt but haven't found one yet and I'm wasting valuable sewing time looking. If you click on "photo quilt" underneath the list of categories on the right hand side of my blog, it will take you to the entry where I posted a photo of my section of our quilt. We blew up the photo below and cut it into seven sections. Each person in the group made a section using a main color (mine was green) and its complement.

I know I have a photograph of our finished quilt somewhere on my computer, I just have to find it. When I do, I'll show you the finished, award winning, quilt.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Library Program

Our local library does a Children's Program every Wednesday during the summer months. Yesterday the program was given by Colorado Gators. There are several strange and unusual things to see and do in the San Luis Valley and the alligator farm is certainly one of them.

I forgot my camera yesterday but we went to the alligator farm 2 years ago so I will share pictures from that visit.

The first thing you can do when you go is get your picture taken with an alligator.

Parker (in yellow) was not too sure he wanted to even touch an alligator, let alone hold one! He did put his hand on the tail briefly for the picture.

After you get your picture taken, you get a certificate that says you held an alligator. The certificate is stamped by an alligator.

The gator farm also rescues unwanted pets. This is a tortoise named Precious.

She will live about 200 years and when full grown will be about 3 feet high, 3 feet wide and weigh a lot (I can't remember how much they said). The moral of her story is - research your potential pet before purchasing. These tortoises are widely available in pet stores and when purchased usually fit in the palm of your hand.

Yesterday they also brought several lizards and snakes along with the skin of a 20 foot python that died in their care. Parker asked why it died. The reason is that it's native habitat is a jungle (hot and humid) and it got too cold in our climate for it to survive. The gator farm tries very hard to provide the proper habitat for the reptiles but that's not easy when our climate is essentially opposite of what they need.

I don't know the story of this ostrich but they had several exotic birds on the premises when we visited.

This is one of the many alligators on the premises. They originally purchased alligators to eat the waste left over from the fish farm they were operating. People found out they had alligators and started showing up asking to see the alligators. Eventually they opened up to tourists and began advertising. I'm not sure why people started bringing them unwanted pets.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today's Art Group Project

We did curved piecing in my art group today. I used fabrics from my rectangles quilt. I needed to take the fabrics with me so I could pick out thread for the quilting. So I just used these fabrics for today's project as well. I may add a little to this piece or just quilt it as is. Only time will tell.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Enjoying the Quiet

My boys (son and husband) did go camping and left this morning. The weather has been "iffy" all day with a little rain, lots of wind, random sunshine and cooler temperatures (low 70s). I have no idea what the weather is like where they are camping, but it is probably cooler there than here. I hope they are having a good time because I sure am. Here is what I have been up to today.

I'm at that stage in the process where I'm not sure how I want to proceed. So far the quilt is shaping up pretty much like the one in my head. However, when it comes to the quilting, I can't see that detail on the version in my head. So what to do?

My usual response to this dilemma is to do nothing. I just leave the quilt up on my design wall and work on something else while I ponder how to proceed next. I will do that in this case too.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Playing with Blog Templates

Blogger has some new templates available to use. It's probably obvious that I am playing with the look of the blog - just for something different.

Nothing exciting happening here today - cleaning, laundry, gardening. But tomorrow is another day! This morning Parker was yelling to the neighborhood as he was riding his bike, "I'm going camping tomorrow!" I feel like yelling too because I am NOT going camping tomorrow. I'll have the whole house to myself with no one, except the cat, to bother me or ask me for anything. Ahhhh! I can't wait. I have several sewing projects ready to work on. My mood in the morning will determine which one I pick up.

I've started the last side of binding on the king size mystery quilt. I'll post a photo of it on my bed soon!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Binding, binding and more binding

What have I been up to lately? Sewing the binding on my king size mystery quilt. I haven't posted in three days because this has been pretty much all I have done on the sewing front. While sewing on binding, I have listened to quite a few episodes of Radiolab  and I'm now totally addicted to the show. I've got 2 sides done plus a little on the third so I have several more days to go before I'm done. On the plus side, there are lots of Radiolab episodes to listen to in addition to all the great quilting podcasts. What I listen to just depends on my mood.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thread Catchers from Old Jeans

I made these today. I saw this idea on Bonnie Hunter's blog. You cut the bottom part of the leg of a pair of jeans off and make a little bag out of it. I cut about 7" or 8" off. The one on the left was cut 7" and the one on the right was cut 8". For the lighter one I added a little stitching embellishment.

On Bonnie's blog one of the ladies in a workshop she was giving was using this as a little trash bag next to her sewing machine. She just had it sitting on the table next to her machine. I'm trying to decide if I want to try to hang these like my other thread catchers do.

My guild is hosting the Colorado Quilt Council in a year and we need to come up with little gifts to make. Last time we did pin cushions. I am going to propose we make these this time. They are super simple to make and cost next to nothing to make.

In case you want to make one:

1. Cut off the bottom 7" or 8" from a leg of a pair of old jeans.
2. Turn it wrong side out and align the side seam in the middle. It helps the bag stand up and you won't have so much bulk to sew through if you put the seam in the middle of each side.
3. Sew the cut edge closed using about 1/2" seam allowance.
4. Box the corners and you are done.

You could line these I suppose, but for me the point is that it's easy and fast. It's a trash bag after all so I don't really care what it looks like on the inside.

Here's a sneak peak at what is currently on my design wall.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bunny and Bear Charity Quilt

I like using panels for charity quilts. There are lots of really cute ones out there. Just put a border on the panel (or not depending on the size), find a backing, baste your three layers together and quilt it. I like to use charity quilts as practice for my machine quilting. I get some good practice on something I don't have a lot of time or money invested in and it is useful too. Many people I know have trouble just "wasting" fabric practicing machine quilting or some other skill. I am slowly getting to the point where I don't see this practice as wasteful, but rather an investment in myself to improve my craft. However, I still get more enjoyment out of making something I know will be truly used.

The quilting I did was fairly simple. I did straight lines with my walking foot on either side of the squares sashing and on either side of the yellow inner border. I outlined each bear and bunny. Then I used a variation of one of Leah Day's designs for the border. The border is more densely quilted than the center of the quilt so I may go back an add a little more quilting to the inside, but maybe not.

I still need to put the binding on my king size mystery quilt, which I got back from my long arm quilter, Peg, last week. I also need to quilt Parker's Cub Scout quilt. After these, I think I'll be done with big quilts for a little while.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gift Bag Pattern

I said I would give you the instructions to make this bag a little while ago. I woke up early this morning and decided to type up the pattern. So here it is.

Reusable Fabric Gift Bag

This "pattern" can be resized to make any size bag you need. You can also make these much fancier than these directions describe. I'll give you some ideas I had for that at the end. After you have made a simple one, you will have a better idea how to alter this idea to make different sizes and/or fancier bags. The pictures may be more helpful than the written directions. I've taught people how to make these but never tried to write down the directions before.

For a large bag, you will need 1/2 yard of fabric (that is, 18" by the width of the fabric). Fold this piece in half wrong sides together. This will give you an 18" by half the width of fabric piece. Starting about 3" from the top, sew a 1/4" seam all the way along each side.

Turn the bag wrong side out and press. Fold over the unsewn top-side edges about 1/4" twice and press.

Then sew these pressed edges down.

Just do the best you can with this. Mine aren't perfect. After all, this is just a gift bag! Most people will be more interested in the contents than the bag itself.

After all four little top-side seam edges are pressed and sewn, you need to sew down the length of each side. I use the normal, middle needle position (about  a 3/8" seam) and start from the bottom of the bag. When you get near the already sewn top-side seams, angle off the edge of the bag. This conceals the raw edges inside of seams so you don't have fraying edges inside your bag. I believe this is called a French seam.

To finish the top edges, fold over each top edge about 1/4" twice and press.

Then fold it over again about 1/2" to 1" and press.

Then sew right along the bottom of the fold. (Voice of Experience: Be sure not to accidentally sew your bag shut!) This will make the casing for your ribbon so be sure it is wide enough to thread your ribbon through.

Now turn your bag right side out. Cut two lengths of ribbon twice the width of the bag plus 8" or 10". For this bag I used two 45" lengths of ribbon and I used 3/8" wide grosgrain ribbon.

Thread the ribbon through one side of casing and then the other. Do the same with the second piece of ribbon, but start and end at the other side. I use a safety pin attached to the ribbon for threading. Knot both ends of the ribbon to prevent fraying.

Insert a gift and give it to a loved one!

I make smaller versions of these bags for ornaments. I start with a 7" by 17" piece of fabric and follow the above directions making minor adjustments for the smaller size. I use 1/4" ribbon for these so my casing is much smaller.

To make these fancier: (1) use two coordinating fat quarters instead of 1/2 yard of fabric. You will need to join the fat quarters along the bottom of the bag and then you'll need to do a French seam on the bottom too. (2) You could piece your fabric to create an 18" by about 42" piece then use this to create the bag. You may want to line the bag in this case to conceal the raw edges from piecing or use iron-on interfacing over the pieced raw edges. (3) You could add applique to your bag or other embellishments. (4) Put beads on the ends of the ribbons. And many more things too. These are just a few of the ideas I had.

If you make a bag please send me a picture!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Creativity Challenge

Sandy over at Quilting for the Rest of Us posted a challenge about a month ago. I took her challenge.

The idea was to make something, anything, using a photograph Sandy took as inspiration. Here is her photograph.

It is the side of a boat or barge and the shadow of a person.

Here is what I made using the photograph as inspiration.

I pieced this last month in my art group meeting. We were doing some straight line free piecing. It hung out on my design wall until yesterday when I quilted it and attached some binding.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Herb Garden

My dad built this little garden space for me just outside our playroom (the original garage for the house) patio door. He wedged it into the space between the two concrete parts of the driveway. This space is really just a weed magnet anyway. I've planted basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, chives, rosemary and the bean seeds Parker brought home from school. The bricks are holding down the deer netting that covers the garden. It is stapled to the frame everywhere else but this side is my access to the plants. We've had a few deer come by already and they have left it alone. I wish I could say the same for the marigolds we planted in our pots in the front. The "bad squirrel" is up to his old tricks and digging in one of the pots already. Grrrr!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tote Bag Swap

Here are photos of the tote bag I made for the swap.

The inside with a pocket for ID, cash, chap stick, ...

Here are photos of the tote bag I received. It arrived today!

And the inside ...

The one I received has a pocket on the outside. It was fun to do the swap!