Friday, August 27, 2010

Got My Sewjo Back

I came home from work tonight and went on a sewing tear.  I finished putting together the second slide show quilt top and the two quilt backs.  I had to piece the backs in order to have enough excess fabric for the long arm.  Fortunately, I had plenty of pieced strips and blocks left over to use.  Isn't it great when left over blocks can be incorporated into the quilt backing, so you don't wind up with a bunch of orphans?  I never know what to do with them.  What do you do with yours?


I might drop these quilts off to be quilted this weekend :) 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Southern S.A.D.

Yes, it's mid-August in FL and I'm in a funk.  Everyday the weather forecast is exactly the same - hot and sticky.  Ever since May my clothes have been damp, my eyeglasses fogged, and sweat has been running down my neck every time I think about going outside.  So all you folks in the great white North at the end of February get a great deal of press regarding Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I'm here to tell you that despite living in the "Sunshine State" we too suffer from S.A.D. only it hits us around mid-August when we realize that we've still got at least two months of h*llishly hot weather still to come.  It's depressing.  We leave the air conditioning only to go out when absolutely necessary, our drapes are closed and we sit in our darkened homes pining for the first cool front.  The weather people down here are the worst - they talk about a cool front coming through when the temps will only be in the upper 80's.  Most of us 50-something year old women are dreaming of a real cool front which, with any luck, may arrive sometime in October.  I dream of being outside and my eyeglasses not steaming up and my hairline actually staying dry - I don't remember that feeling *sigh*

Well...this is a quilting blog so this is what I've been working on in my dark, air conditioned home :)

One night last week, I needed to sew and decided to try my hand at a selvage lanyard for my work badge.  It was a prototype of sorts.


My next one will be 1" wide rather than 1/2" because the slide buckles that are sold at Wal-Mart are 1" wide and since you might be able to hang a car from this and it wouldn't break, for safety reasons it really should have a quick release mechanism.  I opted for one of those things with the retractable string for this one.  I'll definitely make more of these.

The other thing I have been working on is two baby girl quilts.  I got all the pieced strips assembled


So I've been playing with the layout



Of course, that led to sewing rows together for one of the tops



I'd like to get both tops assembled and backings made before the end of this weekend.  I'd also like to win Power Ball - chances of me finishing all this before the weekend is over are about the same as winning Power Ball.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - seriously

*gulp*

The start of something new (and girly)

This was going to be a wordless Wednesday post, but you all know how that goes...

This is the beginning of two quilts being made using a half yard fabric bundle I picked up from Fabricworm a couple months ago.  I decided to start cutting the fabric up last night.  Now let me tell you something important here.  I should be banned from ever even thinking about picking up a rotary cutter at night - especially after a very busy day spent with a three year old sweetie pie who never stops moving.

See the cute red fabric on the left?  It is called Christmas Cheery Circles by Riley Blake - you'll understand in a minute how ironic this name is.  Well, I cut a couple of 2-inch strips and an 8-inch strip following the pattern instructions, and then noticed that it stated that I would need to cut an extra 2-inch strip from a couple of the fabrics.  Since I really liked the red, I decided that I'd cut one of the extra strips from this fabric.  I grabbed the ruler and sliced off the 2-inch strip (smiling to myself because I'm just so clever), put it down with the other strips and turned around.  My heart sank.  I had cut the 2-inch strip off of the 8-inch strip I needed, not the extra remaining fabric. 

Do the math with me and see why I wanted to kick my own butt into tomorrow.  2" + 2" + 2" + 6" (the 8" strip minus the 2" I sliced off) = 12" which left me with a remaining strip of fabric about 6" wide.  Guess what I ordered today?  Another half yard of Christmas Cheery Circles, so I can get my 8" strip.  Guess who's not feeling all that "cheery" about this development *sigh*.

To make matters worse, do you seriously think I could just order a half yard of fabric for $4.25 and pay $5.50 in shipping?  I didn't think so.  I also ordered a yard of Monaluna Organic Monaco Scooters and a half yard of the coordinating stripe.  Don't you think these two fabrics will make a really cute pillowcase dress for Em for next summer?


Just my little attempt to make lemonade out of lemons...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Snapshots


Finally!  This baby sized snapshots quilt is done.  It is a fairly large baby quilt at 48" x 56" - a good size though for some tummy time.  Notice that I also finally figured out how to use the timer on my camera so I am actually able to hold a quilt up myself for a picture instead of clipping it to the fence. I used my Gorillapod to secure the camera to a foldable dryer rack, set the timer, and voila'!  I can't say enough about how much I love the Gorillapod - it is more than a tripod - you can attach it to just about anything and snap a nice stable shot.


The first post about this quilt was June 9th.  The Snapshots pattern is from Atkinson Designs Happy Hour book which is full of really fabulous and easy patterns.  This one was so much fun.  I'm already dreaming of making one in batiks. 


I got sidetracked from this project because of the surgery on my finger and the other various sewing projects associated with Em's 3rd birthday, but the baby this quilt was made for is due any time now, so I knew I had to get going on it.  The quilting was done using mostly straight lines following the outlines of the large blocks.  Two-inch masking tape helped to keep the quilting as straight and even as possible.  The expecting couple chose not to know the baby's gender before he or she arrives.  I'm afraid that this quilt is very "boyish" with all the blues and browns.  Luckily babies don't think about whether something is girlish or boyish, but I hope if they have a little girl that the parents will still like this.



It was so exciting to find the backing fabric on clearance for $3.99/yard, Sew Easy as 1-2-3 by RJR (wish I had bought ten yards)!  I'm always on the lookout for good bargains for backing fabric that has lots of colors and is somewhat generic for children's quilts - polka dots, stripes, geometrics, etc.  This one worked out so well in that the colors in the backing coordinated beautifully with the Kaufman Playday fabrics.   It's so nice when that happens :)


Please excuse the weird color in this picture - darn incandescent lighting!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Home Improvement

This is really about a home improvement project.  They call me Ms. Fix It (usually with a sarcastic laugh).  My friends and family know that I am an energy efficiency militant in my home.  I try to keep my thoughts to myself in the homes of others, sometimes successfully.

It all started twelve years ago, when my home needed a new air conditioning system, I bought a 14 SEER unit which was the most energy efficient one available at the time.  It was installed with a programmable digital thermostat that has four different temperature settings for each of the seven days of the week (weekdays: 76 degrees at 10:00pm, 77 at 5:30 am, 79 at 7:30 am, 77 at 5:30 pm).  It truly is "set it and forget it."  The system came with a big price tag, but this was mainly due to the fact that my A/C went out the Friday of Memorial Day weekend when the heat indices were in the triple digits.  I had to pay OT rates to get them to install it the next day because of the pugs.  Pugs are very susceptible to heat stroke.  My electric bills immediately went from $150/month in the summer to $70, so I have long since recouped the investment through lower electric bills.

After the hurricanes in 2004, I purchased those metal storm shutters.  Let me tell you what...it is scary going through a hurricane with no plywood on your windows.  What is even worse you ask?  After the hurricanes, having no power for a week each time, and realizing that it was a really, really bad idea to have taken every screen off every window and taken them to be rescreened about a week before.  You absolutely cannot have unscreened windows open any time in Florida, but especially when you've had as much rain as we get with a hurricane.  Note to self:  get screens redone in the winter time.  The point of this is that the front of my house faces dead west.  So in the summer, my house looks like there's a hurricane coming.  I put the metal shutters up and it keeps the tremendous afternoon heat out of the house.

The water heater - it is off except for about an hour every other night.  Since the heater is in the garage and in the summer it's about 100 degrees in there, the water stays warm enough to shower with for 2 days. Appliances - all I can say is Energy Star.  Flooring - it's all about thermal mass, so I went with tile everywhere except in the bedrooms. It's a little hard on the back if you stand on it for hours, but it stays nice and cool. Alsley like to lay pancake style on it when he comes in from outside because it cools him off in a jiffy. I'm also a fan of power strips to turn off the stereo, tv, dvd etc. in one fell swoop.  I do use them and flip the strips off when I'm done using whatever is plugged into them.  I unplug coffee makers and anything else that draws even the slightest bit of power when it's not in use.

Some people think it's obsessive and crazy - maybe, but check out my June/July electric bill. 


Now how crazy does it seem?  This is in Florida where the a/c is on 24 x 7.

A couple people have asked if I live in a 1 bedroom condo.  No.  I live in a small 3 bedroom, 2 bath house - not a McMansion by any stretch of the imagination, but not a 1 bedroom condo either.

Now for the latest home improvement project that also will make a difference in keeping the heat out:  a skylight shade.  Skylights are great if you live somewhere like Seattle or Portland and have a lot of gray days - in Florida, they are insane!  The heat that comes through them from the blazing sunshine is incredible and when you have black granite countertops, they act like mirrors and reflect that heat, brightness and glare out into the kitchen, living and dining room.  I have priced skylight shades in the home improvement centers and the shades alone are over $100 and then there's the cost to have them installed.  Well, I found the most amazing product at the local quilt shop


it's called Insul-Bright and it is the most amazing stuff.  It is a heavy batting that has mylar fibers (that reflect heat) embedded in one side.  The whole package was $5.50.  I used about 3/4 yard of Kona cotton - about $2 worth.   Hemmed the sides of the fabric enclosing the batting with the mylar facing out (up toward the glass when it was installed).  I added two strips of fabric to make a rod pocket on each end of the shade. Purchased two of the cheapest spring tension rods I could find at Wal-Mart



Geez - I just noticed in this picture that my ironing board cover is already starting to look gross.  I quilted two horizontal lines in the shade, inserted the tension rods into the rod pockets and stuck it up in the skylight - worked like a charm. It will keep most of the heat and glare out, but still lets in enough light.



Mom - if you are reading this blog post, don't read any further, okay?

It took some acrobatic skills to get the tension rod up into the highest side of the skylight because it's about 14-15 feet up and all I have is a small step ladder.  I'm tall, but not that tall, so here's where the "Home Improvement" skills come in (think *argh argh argh*).  I dragged my big heavy slate coffee table



into the kitchen.  Put a non-slip throw rug pad on the top of it.  Put the step ladder on top of the table and climbed up onto the top step.  I kept thinking that if my kids find me dead on the floor next to this set up that they'll just throw my body out in the woods for the animals to devour so they won't have to bear the humiliation of having everyone know what a dumb@ss I am - lol.  Well, I survived unscathed yet again.  This is as close to "living on the edge" as I get...so, so sad.

I celebrated my feat with a grilled nutella and banana sandwich - mmm!  It's really delicious and was inspired by Bobby Flay's recipe found here.  It's heavenly!