Monday, December 31, 2012

See you Next Year!

It's really hard for me to get much sewing done with everyone home for the holidays.  I did manage to get a quilt started for my husband, who just celebrated his 50th birthday a few days ago!  It's going to be a bit late, but better late than never.

I also got to enjoy some much needed time in the snow with the family.  Batteries recharged! 

We were originally going to go to ski trails along I-84, East of here in Pendleton, but noticed at about 10:45am that the East side of the interstate had closed due to a crash.  This is unfortunately a way too common occurrence, as this stretch of road is notoriously treacherous.  We headed into the mountains North and East of town, and when we got back (after experiencing the heavy detour traffic on a normally remote empty highway), saw news of a tourist bus that had plunged off the highway and killed 9 people.  The survivors are now being cared for and housed here in town.  We have a small hospital, so many were flown to other towns.  Such a sad, tragic event.  I'm once again reminded of how precious life is.

One last big event to recap is that my oldest son shot his first elk on my husband's 50th birthday (a few days after Christmas).  Best birthday present ever for DH.  We (meaning my husband) decided to butcher it ourselves.  An elk is very similar in size to a beef cow, so we've already been very busy butchering and will be for the next good week.  We've plugged in a 3rd freezer, and between a whole deer and a whole elk, won't have to buy any meat for a good long time!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Few More Goodies

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, or holiday season!  I thought I'd share a few more things I finished up for gifts this year...  These are little hanging pouches that a family member requested :-).  We decided to use them as containers for a small gift too.
I also got a call from the person who received the notebook cover that I last posted about. It is now the cover of a well-worn, cherished, family Bible that gets used every day.  She pronounced it "better than diamonds"!  Wow!  I don't think I can top that!

Not only do I enjoy making these gifts, but the fact that they are passed from hand to hand and often used every day, gives them a beautiful soul, or essence, or energy.  Whatever you call it, it's a great "raison d'ĂȘtra".

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

I hope you all are having a great holiday season!  With the days so short this time of year, no wonder we all light so many trees and candles!

I thought I'd share a few last minute presents I've been working on.  This notebook cover is going to be a gift for a special person.  The tutorial is from Lee of Freshly Pieced, and can be found here.

I'm also making a bunch of these fabric containers meant to hang on walls as some of my presents.  I made up my own pattern so it's taking a bit longer, but I'm hoping to have them finished up soon, all in different colors.

I also saw this lovely book mentioned on a blog, and requested a copy from our library's inter-library loan program!  Oh library, how I love you, let me count the ways...  I'll be digging into it after these last few projects are complete!

How about you?  Do you have all of your shopping and making done?  I hope you all have a wonderful time together with family and friends!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dragonfly Quilt Finished!

Along with many other parents today, it was just a bit harder to drop my kids off at school today.  I've shed more than a few tears over the week-end, along with many people in our country and around the world.  I think we're all trying to find answers.  We're all holding our kids a little closer now.

This dragonfly quilt is all done, and ready to ship off to its new home. It's going to a young woman who is on hospice care right now, as she suffers from systemic scleroderma.  She's lives with her parents whom I've never met, but this will be given as a gift from a relative of mine.  It's an honor to have been able to make this for her.

I found some fabric in my stash, that I had overlooked before, while planning the top, that had, yes, dragonflies on it!  After kicking myself, I decided to use it for the back.  It just happened to match very well.

As tempting as it was to stipple the whole thing, I just had to define the dragonflies a bit more, and am thrilled at how they turned out.  More and more I'm getting just as much satisfaction out of the quilting as I do the piecing!

Working on this quilt as well as reflecting on the events over the week-end reminds me of the most important things in the world... life, the innocence or children, health and well being, both physically and mentally...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WIP Wed: Quilting the Dragonfly

Sorry for the dark picture.  This was taken at 8am, natural light, but this time of year the days get so short here.  It'll be dark again by 4pm.  Our long summer days make up for it, but sometimes I miss the more regular daylight cycles that I grew up with in Louisiana.

I got some quilting done yesterday, hope to do more today, and hope to finish it by Friday!

This is also the first big quilt I've made with my new Janome MC 6600 sewing machine, and all doubts about the decision to sell my Pfaff are now erased.  My new Janome quilts like a dream!  I'm using readily available Coats and Clark thread, and haven't skipped a stitch, broken a thread, or had any problems whatsoever!  It also sails right over all of the thick seams like they aren't even there.  I'm so happy!!! 

I'm not quite as fond of the quilting foot on the Janome as I was with the Pfaff, and I still miss the empty bobbin alarm, but may fish out my old foot from my New Home machine and see if it is better.  The inch less of throat space is barely noticeable. One other feature that I didn't realize would make a difference is that with the manual tension disks on the Janome, I don't have to reset anything when I turn off and on my machine.  With the Pfaff, I had to program in the tension settings when I was quilting each time I turned the machine on.  Ugh!  It's nice to have them set up and stay!  It's also nice to be able to use all of my thread again, and not have to wait for an on-line order of special thread to get delivered to me.

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Lee's WIP Wed.  Come join us!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dragonfly Quilt Top FInished

Here's my finished Dragonfly quilt top!  I'm hoping to finish quilting it today!  Wish me luck!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowflakes and Dragonflies

Things have begun to slow down in my non-sewing life lately, and I was able to finally get some sewing done, including the snowflake ornament I made as part of the pre-season Project Quilting challenge.  I did this last year, and it was a blast!  The mini challenge was to make something quilty that used 2 techniques, and was holiday relate.  I've been collecting snowflake ornaments for years now, so decided to make one to add to the bunch.  I pieced the background together, and fuse-appliqued the snowflake onto the background, adding some bling with some iron on rhinestones that I had in my stash.  Kim's Crafty Apple has re-branded herself as Persimmon Dreams.  Click on the link to find out more about the upcoming season of Project Quilting!  I had such a fun time with it last year!!
I also finished sewing up all of the dragonflies.  I hope to get them sewn together into a finished top today!  As I played around more with EQ7 I found that this design is really quite versatile.  Here are a few more layouts, and I think the last one is now my favorite!

This post has a few other layouts.  So.  Much.  Fun!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Prizes and a New Machine!!

Check out what just came in the mail!  It's my prize(s) from the Tula Pink Sew Along!!  I've been so eagerly waiting for things to calm down so that I can try out the bias tape maker, and the rulers!  I literally have only a few straight sided rectangular rulers, so this will be so much fun using these! 

I'm also excited, possibly for the first time ever, about making my next batch of bias tape!  I have seen this machine before, but never in action.  I now realize (something that I don't think they market well), that you can get many different sizes and types of bias tip folder things.  I never considered buying one of these, because I always thought it only made one size of bias tape, but you can get tips to make many different sizes!  So neat!!

I also have been waiting for the dust to settle to tell you that I have a new sewing machine, a Janome Memory Craft 6600!!  I took advantage of a very generous Black Friday sale in a big city a few hours away to buy it.  Sadly, they only offered me $400 for a trade in value of my old machine, which I drove all the way over, then all the way back, after deciding to sell it myself.  The price I got for my used machine and the lower sale price was enough to break even, almost to the penny!!!  I'm so glad it all worked out so well, even all before the next credit card statement comes in the mail!!  On a side note, it drives me crazy that there is such a lack of transparency about the prices of these machines.  The closest shop, an hour away, (also the one that serviced my old machine) had these same machines for almost $1000 more than the big city store!!  Crazy.  It pays to make calls and shop around!

I'm already missing a few features of my old machine, mainly the low bobbin sensor, and the auto-pivot, but I love the simplicity of this new machine, and I do believe it's made much more sturdy, if that makes sense.  I still have my 20 year old machine with a free arm that I can sew garments on.  This machine has an arm (platform? / space to the right of the needle) that's only an inch shorter, and best of all, I was able to free motion quilt with it beautifully with all brands of thread within minutes of plugging it in!  We have no sewing machine store or repair service in town, and I can only get a few different brands of thread here, none of which seemed to work well in my old machine.  I hope that this more basic machine will require less maintenance.  It's also going to be nice to be able to buy plain old Coats and Clark thread to sew with, since I can get that easily and locally, in many different colors.  It's been a breeze to learn how to use, since my 20 year old machine is also a New Home/Janome.  All of the attachments are interchangeable, as are the bobbins.  Yea!!  I'll try to keep you posted as I start my new sewing partnership with my new machine!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WIP Wed: Dragonfly and EQ7

It's been a very busy past week here, so I haven't been able to sew or blog that much, but thought I'd share a new quilt that I'm starting to work on.  I've been so driven to finish up my UFO's that new projects have taken the back burner.

I was asked to make this special quilt last week, and was told the recipient's favorite colors, and that they like dragon flies.  They also are more "traditional" in their quilting tastes.  After looking on the web and in local stores for dragon fly fabric with very little success, I found this dragon fly quilt block among some image searches on line, but no instructions or patterns, so I made up a test block using graph paper and fabric scraps.

It's been a goal of mine to learn the EQ7 program that my husband bought me almost a year ago.  I've been trying it out with each project, with only limited success, but for some reason, it all seemed to click this time!!  I was able to draw the quilt block, then put it into a quilt!!  I can not tell you how excited I am about this!!  I think EQ 7 is best suited for these traditional styles, or at least it's best to start out with these designs to learn the program.
It's even pretty easy to export to a blog (whew hew!!) 

I quickly realized that the block makes a beautiful pattern when they are rotated in a certain way!!!  I'm so in love with this design!!
I think I like it best above, but also did a mock up with sashing to separate the blocks a bit more.
Which version do you like the best?  I hope to get it done by Christmas, and thankfully, my "schedule" will be slowing down a bit next week (hopefully).

Finally, I sent these "use your selvages" postcards off into the world for my last postcard swap.

I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced WIP Wed.  Come see what others are working on!