Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sick Day

I've had a stomach bug today, and believe me--you don't want details! Other than a nasty headache, I'm feeling better this evening and I hope to be much recovered after a good night's sleep--and back with you tomorrow night.

Monday, March 30, 2009

This and That

It's been a busy Sunday, but I sure don't know what I have to show for it. Do you ever have those days?

This morning I prepared a backing for the red, white, and blue quilt and cut the batting. I set up my tables out on the patio for pinning and found it was like trying to set up for a picnic in a tornado--in other words, it was extremely windy out there. Since I bought the portable tables, I've had a problem finding a way to hold the layers of the quilt in place for pinning because the tables are too thick for binder clips. This morning Hubby thought he might be able to find something at Home Depot I could use--and he did. My hero! Here's what he came home with--if you've had the same problem, look for some of these. They aren't very expensive--I think he bought eight for under $3.

After the quilt was pinned, I worked in the room we're turning into an office, trying to find places for some of the things being displaced and doing what I could to organize a little. For instance, I have a plastic tub that holds file folders and I had it full of decorating ideas, recipes, gardening ideas, craft ideas, etc.--I probably put that together sometime in the 90s and I haven't looked at it since. This afternoon I sorted through it, looking to see what I might want to keep and what could be tossed so I could use the tub for business files and records. It's always kind of funny looking back at the things you thought were worth keeping 10 or 15 years before. Some of it was still "good" but much of it went in the trash.

Then I ironed and folded wool. Hubby's really been a maniac about taking apart those wool blazers from the thrift stores. It seems like he gets at least one done a day, which means I have to wash it and fold it. Sometimes I think his "helping" makes more work for me! LOL!

Last week when I was thinking about where and how I wanted to store things, I decided bundling the wool and storing it in large baskets was a fine idea, so on Friday night after work, I stopped in at two Goodwill stores and found three nice, large baskets. Two of them need to be spray painted because they're odd colors, but I've been busy filling the third. All three should fit nicely under the office desk, I think.

Would it surprise you to know I found a few other things at Goodwill too? Of course not! So I'll show you a couple of Easter goodies. I liked this mama bunny pushing a wheelbarrow full of carrots and two baby bunnies, so they came home with me.

Then there was this Beatrix Potter print. Last year I printed a couple of Beatrix Potter pictures on the color printer and framed them, and I think this may have been one of them. Of course, this print is much nicer. I haven't decided yet whether it's going to end up on the kitchen wall I always decorate or whether I might prop it up on the mantle in the livingroom.

I'm really anxious to decorate for Easter but I haven't had a chance yet with so many other things that need doing first. Friday night I finished making this little wool bunny "pincushion"--I had prepped it to take to jury duty and then never had a chance to work on it. Lindy (Bearpaws & Hollyhocks) has been putting together little wool kits about once a month and this was the kit for March.

I'm afraid Easter may arrive before I'm ready, and right now, my house is in a terrible state of chaos. If I could, I'd schedule some vacation time but with potential jury duty looming next week, I'll have to wait to see what happens. Weekends are just too darn short, aren't they? Even so, I hope you had a great one!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Busy, Quilty Saturday!

Except for a nice little nap and a bit of time in the kitchen cooking, I've spent the entire day in the Sweat Shop, being rather productive.

First things, first. The ironing board cover I made almost exactly a year ago finally wore out.

So I made a new cover to replace it.

Next up was cutting and piecing borders for the red, white, and blue quilt.

I like the way it's turned out! Minick and Simpson's Flag Day Farm fabric is wonderful, and I used last year's Prairie Paisley for the floral border. And see that red, white, and blue fabric with the stars in the lower left side of the photo? That's bunting from the Flag Day Farm line. I'm not sure how I'll use it, but I couldn't resist the purchase.

Well, since it's nearly 3 a.m., I hope you'll excuse my yawns. I just couldn't go to bed until I finished the quilt top--and chatted with you a bit. Tomorrow I want to get the quilt pinned and start the quilting. This is the quilt I'll be teaching at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks in June, and the shop's open house is only a week away, so I need to get it finished for display.

Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

For Your Entertainment . . .


It was entertainment night at the Senior Center. Claude the hypnotist exclaimed: "I'm here to put you into a trance; I intend to hypnotize each and every member of the audience."

The excitement was almost electric as Claude withdrew a beautiful antique pocket watch from his coat. "I want you each to keep your eyes on this antique watch. It's a very special watch. It's been in my family for six generations."

Claude began to swing the watch gently back and forth while quietly chanting, "Watch the watch, watch the watch, watch the watch . . . ."

The crowd became mesmerized as the watch swayed back and forth, light gleaming off its polished surface. Hundreds of pairs of eyes followed the swaying watch, clearly under the spell of the hypnotist. Suddenly the family heirloom slipped from the hypnotist's fingers and fell to the floor, shattering into a hundred pieces.

"Shit!!!," Claude exclaimed.

It took three days to clean up the Senior Center.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Some Funner Stuff

Enough about crime and criminals--let's get back to fun and creative subjects, shall we?

My little pattern business is humming along nicely. Not huge, mind you, but manageable. I just filled my second order of Bette Bunny patterns for Bearpaws and Hollyhocks--they sold most of the first 12 between last weekend and Wednesday night and wanted 12 more, so I was happy to oblige. Lindy, the shop owner, told me her granddaughter (who's around 11, I think, and is quite the quilter already) HAD to make Bette, and she finished all but the embroidery and embellishments in about two hours. Then there's been the Etsy sales too, which have been going pretty well. I found a bit more of the border fabric and pink wool for Bette Bunny, so I'll be able to put together a couple more kits this weekend--I only have one left! So that's all been good.

On the down side, though, is the fact that my house is a complete disaster with quilting stuff, quilt teaching stuff, and pattern business stuff spread from one room to the next. I think the only places in the house that haven't been taken over are the master bedroom and the two bathrooms! Part of the disorganization has come about as a result of our attempts to turn my son's former bedroom into an office. The "boys" (Hubby and Soccer Son) just finished building a long desk/counter top--I wanted to show you what a nice job they did. Soccer Son's skills as a cabinet refacer are paying off--for us anyway!

This weekend, assuming all goes well, the computer will be moving to the "office," and soon the "boys" will get busy building some shelves and things for storage. I can hardly wait!

About a week ago, I received an email from Nathan at Better Homes and Gardens. Nathan complimented me on the applique tutorial and gave me a link to their website where they have all kinds of crafty holiday ideas. After checking it out, I thought it was worth sharing with you. If you click HERE, you can find a bunch of ideas for Easter.

When I was browsing the site, I came across an idea for an Easter Sweets Tiered Tray. I have a two-tiered serving piece for fall/winter, but nothing for spring, so I was excited to see this project. Well, you know I love thrift store shopping, so on Saturday, Hubby and I visited Goodwill--I was specifically looking for suitable plates and candlesticks I could use to make a tiered serving piece like theirs without taking the time and getting the materials to hand paint the clear dishes. (And THAT, by the way, is why I went to JoAnn's looking for the E-6000 adhesive!) So, starting with the BH&G idea and adding my own spin, I came up with this:

Cute, yes? And SOOOO simple! I'm planning a little tea party/quilt class in May, and I think this will be perfect for serving treats to my ladies!

I also found this Mary Engelbreit tea party clock at the thrift store last week for $1.99--I LUV ME!

Finally, I ordered and received a couple books on the Photoshop Elements program I recently got for the computer, and I was playing around a little tonight with the photo above. (Actually, the photo above had a little playing done to it too--my photography skills still suck, but Photoshop helps!)

What do you think? I still have no idea what I'm doing and I only spent about a half hour flipping through the books so far (which I left at work), but I think this isn't too bad. I took part of the shadow out of the upper right corner and added the lettering. Actually I think that shadow was the pillow, so somehow I managed to continue the pattern of the quilt into that space. No idea, really, how I did it though!

I hope you've made time for some fun stuff in your day! If you haven't lately, make sure you DO soon!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jury Duty

As you might imagine, I had a hard time going to sleep Monday night, both because it was earlier than I normally go to sleep and because of the excitement earlier in the evening. Eventually, though, I did, and a short five hours later, my alarm went off and I opened my eyes to darkness. Yes, just in case you were wondering, it's still quite dark at 5:45 in the morning. No need to get up and check for yourself--I've sacrificed myself so you don't have to.

I managed to get dressed and do all the other things I do in the morning and get out the door around 7:15. A stop at Starbucks helped.

Can you tell from the photo that it's really not a whole lot past dawn? Sheesh!

I was lucky enough to find a parking place in the juror lot across the street from the courthouse--that lot filled up at 7:35 a.m. that day, I'm told, so I must have been one of the last to find a space. Here's a photo of the courthouse from the parking lot.

I promised I'd try to take photos to document my day, but they had signs posted all around the place prohibiting photography. Darn! See that bottom row of windows? That's the second floor--that's where the jury assembly room is. Fascinating stuff, huh?

First, though, before I could get there, I had to pass through security. And that was a problem.

My tote that was filled with goodies to keep me occupied passed with flying colors. My purse, though . . . . Well, the police officer manning the scanner put it through twice and then asked, "Do you have a pocket knife in your purse?" "No," I replied, and thought for a minute. "At least I don't THINK I do, but there's probably stuff in there I haven't seen in 20 years." "Well," said the officer, "I think you do. Please start taking things out."

So there I stood, by the security station, pulling handfuls of stuff out of my purse and piling it on the conveyor belt while other people reached past me for their bags and streamed on by. I'm guessing the officer was simply amusing himself by not giving me anything to put the "stuff" in, but after awhile, he took pity on me and handed me a bowl. And into the bowl went broken pens, paper clips, petrified partial sticks of unwrapped chewing gum, grocery lists from 1993, unidentifiable pills (probably allergy pills, but I'm not really sure), empty breath mint tins, AA batteries . . . . Well, it goes on and on. No pocket knife though. And every now and then, the officer would run my purse back through the scanner before telling me to take more stuff out. Finally he must have decided I wasn't a threat to the court clerks, judges, prisoners waiting to stand trial, and the 2,582 other prospective jurors crowding every nook and cranney of the second floor of the courthouse, so he let me go.

Upstairs, there was a long, long line waiting to check in. I waited and shuffled forward, waited and shuffled forward. Near the front of the line was a bin of clip on badge holders and pens, so I gathered up a few souveniers of the day and moved on by to the check in counter where I was scanned and handed forms to fill out. Back out in the lobby, I found myself a seat, pulled a paper bag out of my Tote O'Joy and spent the first half hour of jury duty cleaning out my purse. That accomplished, I filled out the forms, and listened to the juror orientation speech over the speaker system. We were advised the court had three trials starting that morning and would be calling the first group of jurors in just a moment. No time to delve into my tote full of diversions at that point, so I made my way to the ladies' room to dispose of the unwanted and troublesome contents of my purse.

Settled again back in the lobby, I heard over the speaker that they were about to call the first group. And then I knew. I don't know HOW I knew, but deep down in the pit of my stomach, I knew my name would be called in that first group. The two hours I'd spent the night before putting together a tote full of goodies to wile away the long tedious hours of waiting would be for naught. Sure enough, my name was called in that first panel, along with 75 other names.

Herded like cattle, we all made our way up to the third floor of the courthouse where we stood and waited outside the courtroom. And waited. And waited. Finally the doors opened, and after the bailiff told us what to expect, we filed in and took our seats. Roll was called, and a missing prospective juror was located elsewhere in the courthouse, while the rest of us stood back up and were administered the oath.

The judge came in and introduced the attorneys and the defendant, and we learned the case was a criminal trial in which the defendant was charged with murder. Trial was expected to last three to four weeks and would begin on April 6th. We were all given a rather bulky packet of questions to fill out and drop in a box before we left the courthouse. We were out of there by 11 a.m., so I went into work for the rest of the day.

So, that's where I am as far as jury duty is concerned. I go back for more fun in a couple weeks. I seriously doubt I'll be selected to serve on the jury, particularly in light of the drive-by shooting the night before. (Some of the questions in the form we filled out elicited that type of information.) In the meantime, I'll look on the bright side: At least my purse is clean.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

9-1-1, What's Your Emergency?

Sometimes I feel a little like I'm living in a soap opera. Do you ever feel that way? Recently my office manager and I have joked about me having a little dark rain cloud over my head, following me around. Seriously, though, although some things in my life haven't been all that great lately, other things have gone wonderfully, so all in all, I can't complain.

Some days, nothing much happens and I hardly know what to blog about. Some days, so much happens that it's impossible to write it all in one blog post. This has been one of those more-eventful 24-hour periods. Jury duty. A craft idea to share. And then there's last night's episode of Life in the 'Hood.

Since last night came first, I'll tell you about that now.

Monday night, at around 8:30 p.m., I was in the master bedroom at the back of the house, writing my blog post about having to get up early for a boring day of jury duty, and Hubby was in the front of the house in the living room watching TV (and taking apart a wool blazer, I might add). As I was sitting here writing, I heard what--when I thought about it for a minute--sounded like one of our neighbors pounding on a metal shed with a sledgehammer. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Then silence. "Now why would my neighbors be tearing down a shed in the dark?," I wondered. Again I heard Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!, so I stopped typing, got up from my desk, and headed down the hall toward the living room to see what Hubby thought about the noise.

"Hubby" (or words to that effect), I called, as I was walking down the hall, "What was that?" "Stay back! Don't come out here," he yelled. "Uh, . . . was that gunshots?," I asked. Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it certainly was! As I learned before long, a car had pulled up outside our house and fired nine or ten shots into the house across the street from us. I'll omit the rest of the scintilating conversation between me and Hubby at that point, especially since his part of it was a bit muffled because his face was pressed tight against the carpet. Somewhere in my mind, it also registered that I had heard a car drive away, so I took a chance and darted from the hall into the kitchen to lock the sliding glass door to the back yard. Hubby joined me in the kitchen and suggested I call 9-1-1.

Well, as you may imagine, mine wasn't the first call they'd gotten from our neighborhood. The operator, though, wanted to get as much detail from me as she could. Did anyone see what happened? No, I was in the back of the house and Hubby was laying on the floor. He DID get a pretty good look at the carpet, but that was about it, other than seeing flashes of light from the gun(s). He didn't see the car or any of the people in it.

Then she wanted to know what was the color of the house where the shooting took place? Gray, I think. It's been painted several times and I don't pay much attention, frankly. I turned to ask Hubby, but he was back in the living room, crawling around on the floor again, turning off lights and the television.

This isn't the first time the same house has been involved in a shooting incident. Oh, no. If you've been reading my blog for a long time, perhaps you'll remember the other incident; if not, you can read about it HERE. The first shooting, the one I talked about in the previous post, happened several years ago, and the nice married couple with kids that were living in the house when I wrote that post? They've since moved out and now there are two adult women with teenaged daughters. The adult women have a couple of shady-looking boyfriends, so our best guess right now is that this shooting had something to do with the boyfriends. Same house, different renters. And oddly enough, at the time of last night's shooting, no one was home, but the women pulled up into their driveway about five minutes later.

After I got off the phone with 9-1-1, I joined Hubby in the living room, peering out between the window blinds. Our neighbor next door came out and crossed the street to help turn off the water--one of the bullets had struck a pipe and water was gushing out. We waited and waited for the police to arrive--they finally did about ten minutes later.

This morning (as I was leaving for jury duty), I took a photo of the house.

I don't know how well you can see it, but the front window is boarded up and if you look close, you can see sticky tapes on it--those mark the bullet holes. There's also a hole in the garage door, the porch post, and the water pipe; the general thought is that the shooter (or shooters) fired the first few somewhat wild shots from the car, stopped and got out of the car, and then took aim at the front window.

Our neighborhood is usually quiet. People are friendly, older, and settled. We live in a decent neighborhood, but we don't live far from some questionable areas. Not far enough, anyway.

Last time we had a shooting, I thought I was fine until I went to work the next day and burst into tears and couldn't stop. This time I thought I was fine, and it seems I am--no tears anyway, although I AM tired and when I hear a car drive by? Yeah, I'm a little jumpy. So I think I'll head to bed with a book and call it an early night. The Sweat Shop will have to wait until another night.

Before I go, though, I wanted to mention that Greenmare over at Mare's Nest, is having rotator cuff surgery and will be out of commission for awhile. In an effort to have a little fun with it, though, she has a contest going on. All you have to do to enter is make up a story about how she injured her rotator cuff--one that's more interesting than the TRUE story. Stop by, wish her well, and make up something outrageous!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bright and Early

Who came up with that phrase, "bright and early"? It seems to me it's a bit of an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp." So far as I can tell--and you can bet I don't have a lot of experience--"early" is rarely also "bright." Early is usually dark. "Bright" also fails to describe how I feel when it's early.

Dark, grumpy, and early. That describes what I anticipate for tomorrow morning. Maybe you're wondering why.

Well, the day after my husband got laid off a few weeks back, this came in the mail, addressed to me. When it rains, it pours, doesn't it?

Here in Sacramento, when you're summoned to jury duty, you're basically "on call" for the week of your service. Most trials begin on Mondays and Tuesdays, so those are the days most of the jurors get called in. My group was called for Tuesday morning. Once a juror hauls his or her tired, grumpy self down to the courthouse and sits around for a day without getting picked to serve on a jury, the juror's service is completed--for a year or so. Of course, if a potential juror is selected for a jury, the period of service can go on much longer. But we won't dwell on that.

So, tomorrow morning I have to be down at the courthouse at 8 a.m. Well, more like 7:40 a.m. if I want to get a parking spot in the juror lot. And I'll probably need to stop at Starbucks on the way. Which means leaving my house around the time I usually open one eye, squint at my alarm clock, and calculate whether I can sleep in for another 5 or 10 minutes.

During my lunch hour today, I had to go to JoAnn's to get some of this stuff:

It ended up costing around $50. Because of course, once I got to JoAnn's, I realized I NEEDED more than just adhesive. You know how it is, right? Good thing, though, because now I have these to occupy me during my long day of sitting around the jury room.

And truth to tell, I'm pretty sure I have a couple more quilting magazines around here somewhere that I haven't gotten around to reading yet.

So, tonight I'm going to pack myself a little project bag with my magazines, maybe a book, and maybe a little hand work. I know have a little wool bunny pincushion project I can take. I don't think we can take scissors into the courthouse though. They're probably afraid we'll get so bored down there, we'll want to stab ourselves to death, and with the budget crisis and all, I suspect they don't have a very large janitorial staff to clean up the blood. So, all that considered, I guess I should get off the computer and head into the Sweat Shop and cut anything that may need cutting.

Oh, yeah--I'm going to pack my camera too, so I can document my newest adventure to share with you if we're allowed to take any photos. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that I'm not selected to serve on a jury. Because if I am, I'll be sworn to secrecy and THEN what will I have to talk about with you?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Day to Recharge

I took today to recharge my batteries. In other words, I was downright lazy! I slept in until 10:30 a.m. and, when I got around to wandering into the Sweat Shop, I made a single block for the Home Again BOM class--I think our monthly meeting is this week. (I really need to start writing things on a calendar, because I'm getting too busy to keep it all in my head--either that, or my head just isn't what it used to be!)

A little later, I played around with a border idea for the quilt top I showed yesterday. After a couple hours of that, I decided I didn't like it after all, which means going back to my original plan--and that means waiting for a fabric infusion to arrive on my doorstep in a box.

So, unable to go on, I had to decide what to do next. A nap sounded pretty good, and that, as well as a little reading, consumed another two or three hours of the day. The dinner I planned to cook? Well, I slept too long, so that didn't happen--I ended up microwaving some tamales.

After dinner, I did a little applique and watched a little television. Now it's back to bed again. And a book.

The quilt I showed yesterday? It's much easier than it looks. That's what I love about it! It's so satisfying when simple piecing results in such a striking design. I'll be anxiously awaiting the delivery of the rest of the fabric I need!

I hope you had a lovely weekend. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Third Saturday in March . . .

National Quilting Day. How did you spend it?

I spend a chunk of the day in the Sweat Shop, playing with the new Flag Day Farm fabric by Minick and Simpson. (Borders still need to be pieced and added--probably later in the week.)

Happy quilting!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Personal Shopper

Hubby called me at work today to say he was out and about, checking out the thrift stores, and he had seen a tweedy wool jacket he thought I might want--for the wool; not to wear, of course. After we talked about what it looked like and the price, I said, "Sure, go ahead and buy it."

Several hours later, Hubby called me again to let me know he was home. "I don't think I should go to the thrift stores without you any more," he said. "Why?," I wanted to know. "Because I buy too much stuff."

Now you have to know my Hubby. Hubby NEVER, EVER buys too much stuff. Hubby is very frugal when it comes to buying stuff, so this was kind of weird. So what did he buy?

He thought he might have bought about ten of the wool blazers you see here which, when added to the five I've purchased recently, means I have a whole lot of wool in all kinds of colors to create pretty things with. Cool, huh? No, I think Hubby's just fine going to the thrift stores without me. Maybe not too often though!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Little Eye Candy

I thought you might want to see how the bunny quilt I was working on in the tutorial turned out.

I finished the binding this evening, so it can hop on over to Bearpaws & Hollyhocks tomorrow where it will reside for a bit, along with a stack of the Bette Bunny patterns. Funny story, I think: Last weekend I stopped in at the quilt shop and was wandering around looking at stuff. I came face to face with a display of my Spring! patterns, and it kind of startled me! I don't know why, really, because of course I knew the shop had bought some patterns, but KNOWING was different from actually SEEING them displayed! All I can say is that it was a weird moment.

I thought you might also enjoy seeing a couple versions of the St. Patrick's Day shamrock quilt made up. I meant to post them earlier--right around St. Patrick's Day--but I got side tracked. The quilt top above was made by Julie and when we last talked she wasn't sure if she was going to add an outside border, but she was leaning toward it. The quilt below was made by Phyllis, who had fun turning the shamrocks differently and adding a simpler border.

Remember I mentioned going out to lunch last week with my friend Teri from my office and her mom, Sandy? Sandy was nice enough to bring some of the smaller quilts she'd been working on to show, and one of them was the St. Patrick's Day quilt--I wish I had my camera with me then, but I didn't. Her shamrocks were green and she had added orange in the border--the two traditional colors of Ireland.

I really enjoy seeing what people do with my patterns--if you've purchased the Spring! pattern or Bette Bunny, or made any of the tutorial quilts, by all means give me a link to your blog or send me a photo so I can see what you've done.

I'm hoping Busy Little Amanda will post a photo of her Spring! quilt soon because she told me that instead of messing around with the stem blocks, she just added big green rick rack. What an excellent idea!

Time for my beauty sleep--if I can get these quilt visions out of my head! Thanks for stopping by to chat.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Have you ever heard "WoHeLo"? It stands for "work," "health," "love." It's been years since I've heard it--or thought about it. It's funny what memories a trip to the thrift store will stir up.

Back in the early-ish 1960s, I was a Blue Bird. WoHeLo was the Camp Fire Girls motto. Most of my classmates were Brownies, but I opted for Blue Birds--the uniforms were cooler. Do you remember? If not, here's a photo--

Nope, this isn't me and it was taken a couple years before my time, but this was pretty much what we all looked like back then. Pretty goofy, huh? But at least our "uniforms" were blue and the only part really required, from what I can remember, was the white shirt and blue vest--unlike Brownies who had what I thought were some pretty ugly brown uniforms. And that goofy cap in the newspaper photo? I never owned one, or if I did, I certainly never wore it. Brownies--at least in our local troops--had to wear the whole get up, including the weird brown felt beanie. And they were forever sewing patches on their sashes--or maybe that was once they grew up to be Girl Scouts.

Not us though. Another really cool thing about Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls? Beads! We didn't get those stinking patches for everything we did; we got wooden beads instead. That was the best part. From what I remember, that's really why I joined. I remember organizing my different beads and spending hours looking at the colors. The best bead in my opinion back then was a three-sided baby painted red on one side, white on another, and blue on the third.

So the other evening, I was digging through stuff at the thrift store in the "crafts gone wrong" aisle (not my own name for it--another blogger gets the credit, but I think of it every time!) Hubby likes big wooden beads for some of his crafty things, so when I saw a bag full of wooden beads, I pulled it out. At first, I didn't notice anything very exciting until I saw the small wooden beads at the bottom of the bag. Eureka! Suddenly I was transported back to childhood!

Once I got the bag home, I opened and sorted my find, divying out some to Hubby (the generic round wooden beads) and keeping some for myself. Here's most of what I ended up with:

That big brown bead in the foreground? When we'd get ten smaller beads in any color, we'd earn a BIG bead in the same color. The colors each represented a different category or area of life--and like Girl Scouts, we'd have to complete tasks in each category to earn beads. Here's a little info about the beads and what the colors meant:

Camp Fire Honor Beads - Honor beads are given to symbolize the achievement of an aspect of 1 of 7 Crafts:

Home flame flame of the hearth (Orange)
Health red sunshine (Red)
Camp brown earth & trees (Brown)
Hand green creation & growing things (Green)
Nature blue sky (Blue)
Business yellow harvest (Yellow)
Citizenship red, white & blue patriotism (The really COOL three-sided ones!)

~Large honor beads are granted for every ten honors earned in any craft.

~Purple beads signify completion of a rank.

And besides sewing the beads on your vest--or just playing with them for hours--a Camp Fire Girl could sew them onto her ceremonial robe. No, I never stuck it out long enough to have a ceremonial robe (and I didn't like brown anyway), but here's what one would have looked like:

This, of course, was back before us white folk didn't know it wasn't polite to dress up like Indians. I suspect Camp Fire Girls don't have ceremonial gowns like this anymore since it's not PC. And, by the way, in the ultimate gesture of political correctness, I think they let BOYS join now. Yuck!

But I digress. You know what's even better than finding a bag of Camp Fire Girl beads at Goodwill? Finding a whole ceremonial robe at Goodwill like THIS guy did. How excellent is THAT?!

Well, you'll have to excuse me now. I need to go play with my beads and dream about thrift store treasures. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And a Little More Applique Plus a Winner!

Well, not toooooo much applique tonight--you all deserve a break! But Judy asked about the color of the bobbin thread I use on these projects. What I've found is that it works fine if I use a thread to match the backing fabric throughout. Because I'm sewing through several layers, unless the tension is off somewhere, the bobbin thread doesn't pull up and show on the top. If I have a problem with tension, it's usually with the top thread showing through on the back, but I don't worry much about that--the purpose of these little wallhangings is to make quick, cheerful, and seasonal decorations, and I don't expect them to be heirloom quality creations--if I did, I'd hand applique instead. And, really, no one's likely to see the back if I have it hanging at my desk or a little spot in my home. Good question, Judy! Any others?

Now, you're probably wondering who won the Batik book, right? We had 40 entries. I told my random number generator to shake all the numbers around in his head and pick one. Well, he got a little dizzy doing that, but he finally spit out number 31!

After counting the entries, I figured out number 31 is Scottylover, who posted: "Hi! Would love to win the Batik book! I have some 1/2 yard pieces here I don't know what to do with. Love your blog, you always make me smile!"

Well, hopefully Scottylover is smiling really big as she reads this and will promptly email me her mailing address so I can get this prize in the mail to her! Congrats! And thanks to the rest of you for playing along!

I know some of you think I could probably out energize the Energizer Bunny, but I'm a little pooped tonight. It's been a busy couple of weeks and tonight I taught the third meeting of the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt class. Tomorrow night I'm TAKING a quilt class, Clues in the Calico--here's the class description if you're curious:

"CLUES IN THE CALICO--Become a quilt detective-explore the fabric quilts and social world of American quilting from 1700-1840, research from noted quilt scholar, Barbara Brackman. You will receive with your history lesson, monthly articles, patterns, antique photos and more."

Doesn't that sound kind of cool?! Anyway, I think I'll take the rest of the night off tonight. A nice, hot bath, a cup of tea maybe, my slippers

and a good book sound like just the thing! This is about as close as I'm going to get tonight to the Energizer Bunny! (By the way, do you ever worry that keeping both your left and your right bunny slippers together might lead to all kinds of baby bunny slippers someday? Does anyone know if there's a specific bunny slipper mating season, or does it just go on all the time?)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Applique . . .

Last night, we left off with me having prepared all the pieces for the bunny applique. I don't think I mentioned it, but it probably took me about two hours to do that. One reason I like working with wool is because "prepping" the wool would have taken maybe half an hour because all I would have had to do is trace and cut the freezer paper pieces, iron them on the wool, cut around the shapes, and pull the paper off. Yep, I like it when that part goes quickly! Still, I don't always have wool to work with, or maybe wool isn't the right thing for the quilt I'm working on, and I suspect you may find the same to be true. And, of course, it's always nice to have other options!

From this point in the tutorial, though, the method will be the same whether you're using cotton or wool. I'm going to tell this part of the "story" primarily with photos and short explanations of what I'm doing at each step.

Here I've layered the backing (you can see it there in the right bottom corner, flipped up), the batting, and the background on top. Because this is a small piece, I've simply pinned everything together in the corners of the background piece using quilting or safety pins.

Next, I lay out all of the applique pieces, checking for positioning.

Since I need to work from the bottom up, after partly pinning the two main bottom pieces, I remove the top layers of applique and finish pinning, using straight pins, to secure everything in place for stitching.

Once that's done, using the free motion features on the sewing machine and thread to match the applique, I stitch along the edge of the applique. Where I know other pieces will cover the bottom applique pieces or where the applique meets the edge of the fabric, I don't sew--notice the neck and bottom of the head aren't sewn?

Again I roughly check positioning, and I can see the next pieces to be sewn are the cheeks, so those are pinned and the upper layers are removed. Of course, I need to change my thread to pink. (I don't sew the parts of the cheeks that go under the cheek/chin area.) The next layer to be sewn is the cheek/chin part--same thing: just pin and sew.

Then the mouth.

And the teeth. Don't forget to continue the sewing line up to create two front teeth. And since I have white thread in my machine, I might as well pin and sew the eyebrows at this point too.

Then the part above the mouth and finally the nose is sewn. With this method, while I stitch each applique piece in place, I also quilt the project.

Here I've added the inner borders. They're sewn just as you would any regular seam and then pressed back.

Same thing with the outer borders.

The final step for this part is to add some quilting lines for expression and texture in the ears, the neck under the chin, and near the mouth and nose. Then the edges of the quilt are trimmed.

All that remains to be done now is to add the binding, embroidery, and any other embellishments (like the yo-yo flowers and leaves in Bette Bunny).

These steps I've outlined tonight took about two hours or a little less, which I think isn't too bad for a little applique project. If any of this isn't clear or if you have any questions I didn't touch on, please leave me a comment so I can provide whatever follow-up explanations may help. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Bit of Applique

In yesterday's post, I promised to do a little tutorial on one of the applique methods I occasionally use. It's not quite as nice looking as hand applique but it's much quicker and looks very much the same unless you look close. This is the method I recommend in the Bette Bunny pattern for anyone who wants to use cotton instead of wool because the pieces can be stitched and the quilting done at the same time--just like my directions for using wool. This method could also be used for the applique in the Spring! quilt pattern or any other simple applique design. Are you ready to get started?

The first step is to trace the different applique pieces onto freezer paper. If you haven't used freezer paper before, it's very simple and quite a nice tool. Just trace the pattern onto the dull side of the paper and cut out the pieces.

Next, iron any creases out of the fabric you wish to use. You'll need two layers of fabric for this applique method. The under layer can be muslin, a non-fusible, lightweight interfacing, or a second layer of the same fabric you're using for the top layer. The third option is the one I prefer, because unless you're very careful, whatever you use for the bottom layer may show around the edges; if you use the same fabric for bottom and top, it's less noticeable.

With the two layers of fabric "right" sides together, iron the cut-out freezer paper pattern onto the fabric that will be the under layer.

Next, stitch around the freezer paper pattern. If an edge of your applique piece will be placed under another applique piece, leave that portion unstitched. If, however, all edges of the applique piece will be visible, continue stitching all the way around the freezer paper pattern.

Trim around the applique shape, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance or a little less. With your scissors, snip the seam allowance along any curves or points, cutting to within about two threads of the stitching line. Remove the freezer paper.

If you've left an opening, turn the layers right side out through the opening. If, however, the applique piece is stitched all around, cut a slit in the center of the under layer (being careful not to cut the upper layer!) and turn the fabrics right side out through the slit.

At this point, poke and manipulate the fabric along the seam line to get a smooth seam. My favorite "tool" for this is the blunt tip of a bamboo skewer and sometimes the tip of my seam ripper to just tease out any stubborn seams. Press the seams with an iron as you go.

Repeat the process with all the applique shapes. Once the shapes are made and you've tried them out for positioning (as in the photo below), if you are concerned about having too much bulk in the various layers, you could trim away some of the under layers, but make sure to leave at least 1/4" or more all the way around. Personally, I kind of like the slightly raised, somewhat dimensional look, but it's possible your sewing machine, thread, or needle might not like all those layers.

Once all the pieces are prepared and you've checked them for fit and positioning, it's time to sew.

Except it's too late to get started on that tonight--time for bed! I'll show you the next steps tomorrow. By the way, those eyebrows are tough to make! I left a little bit of the top seam unstitched to turn them right side out and then tucked the seam in and pressed. If you're making this pattern or something else similar, you might consider a different method of applique for such small pieces or, in this case, you could substitute embroidered eyebrows for the applique.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sex Change and a Couple Other Things . . .

I suspect this post will be a bit of a mixed bag of various bits and pieces--but then maybe you've already picked that up from the title of this post!

I wanted to thank those of you who have ordered patterns and kits from my Etsy shop. A couple of readers have asked whether I'm going to publish a pattern for Buckey too. Well, no, not exactly. I can't completely rule it out for the future, but I'm not planning to at this time. HOWEVER--if you want a Buckey to go with your Bette, all you have to do is give Bette a bit of a sex change operation, and it's really not that hard (no pun intended!) Here are my suggestions-- (And if you're not really very interested in making bunnies, skip down a bit, because I'll get past the bunnies shortly.)

If you're going to make a Bette and a Buckey, you might want to reverse the direction of one of them, so they look more like a matching pair--assuming you want to hang them somewhere together. To do that, trace and cut freezer paper for one of them and then turn the pieces over and trace them reversed for the second bunny. Make sure you keep track of which is which. Otherwise, you could end up with a Picasso bunny.

Now, to transform Bette into Buckey. For Buckey, you won't need to trace and cut the mouth, and you'll want to substitute Bette's teeth with two long teeth. When you're laying out your pieces to "test" them before sewing, just play around a little bit and see what looks good to you. I think it also helps to make Buckey a darker color, like the brown I used.

I kind of like Buckey with button eyes better, because he doesn't seem to be laughing as much as Bette. Look through your button stash and audition a couple medium sized black "eyes" or try out a different color. Or smaller buttons for a beady-eyed look.

My own Buckey got a little bit of a makeover today. I kept thinking he looked more like a Mafia thug than a happy bunny, so I decided to see how he'd look with a bow tie.

Yup, I like the way Buckey looks now! If you want to add a bow tie to your Buckey, just cut two "bow" shapes and sew them down before you sew the chin area. I also moved the leaves and yo-yo flower--originally they were in the right bottom corner instead of the top.

And if you want to go a little further on the transformation, before you cut your pieces, give Buckey a little larger jaw and chin. It won't matter too much if you don't, but I thought I'd throw the idea out there for your consideration.

* * * * *

I spent a little time cleaning up the Sweat Shop today and it's a bit better, but I found there were a couple piles of fabric and things I just really couldn't put away. Why? Because they are things I have planned to work on soon and I'm half afraid that if I put them away, I'll either (1) forget what I have planned or (2) forget where I've put the "stuff." Want to see what I have planned?

Flag Day Farm fabric. This is fabric I'll need for the patriotic quilt class I'll be teaching. Well, the two charm packs and the Schnibbles pattern AREN'T for the class, but I figured if I was ordering yardage for a class, I wanted a little something for me too.

And this has absolutely NOTHING to do with a class, a pattern, or anything else but fun! Have you seen this new stack and slice pattern from Pieces From My Heart (Sandy Gervais)? And the fabric to go with it? The pattern calls for a layer cake, but I ended up just buying several fabrics I like. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I'll make the pattern with THESE fabrics---I'm pondering making the shoes to match the Hats quilt I've already made--but these fabrics were calling to me too! It's very difficult to resist polka dots. And fabric with high heeled shoes in yummy sherbet colors? Be still my heart!

And finally--in cleaning out the Sweat Shop, I decided I'd probably never use this book that was part of the goodies sent to me by C & T Publishing.

I don't really have a stash of batiks and I have too many other projects going on to start thinking about collecting a whole new category of fabrics, so I thought I'd give anyone who enjoys batiks a chance to win this book. Just leave me a comment saying you'd like to win it, and I'll put you in the drawing. I'll pick a winner on Tuesday night.

I hope to have a little tutorial to share with you tomorrow night about an applique method I've used occasionally--this is one that can be used with the Bette Bunny pattern if you don't have wool or just don't want to use wool. Also, a couple people have mentioned the pattern would make great placemats, and this is the method I'd recommend using if you'd like to try making bunny placemats, because I think cotton is much more washable than wool. So, see you then?!