Monday, December 14, 2009

Trusty sewing machine is BACK!!!

I got mom's sewing machine back from the shop on Friday but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. My brother was in town from Springfield, MO so I was busy with him and, oh yeah, we also both ran in yesterday's Tucson Half Marathon. Mark finished 12th overall. I had a PR (personal record) of 2:22:12 (despite the reappearance of my hip injury) and I was 900-something overall. I'm limping around today since every muscle below my waist is sore and tight.

Time for some sewing this week. Gotta finish those Christmas gifts!!!

My step-grandma Lorraine (a.k.a. Grandma Raine) was admitted to the ICU this weekend with double pneumonia :-( She's a fighter though so everyone is hopeful that she'll pull through this since she's battled cancer and lumpus for the past decade. Still a tough time for the family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Yesterday was "Art in the Garden" and the rough economy was evident. I didn't sell any of my quilts but did sell out of all my smaller items. I also noticed that the other crafters/artists were selling their less expensive items too. Kathleen, who was selling delicious spiced pecans, did the best. I sold 3 crayon rolls and 3 ornaments and could have sold more if I'd had more time to make more. But I gave out my card and have some interest for the future. Now I need to get my Etsy site up & running (at least I have some inventory now).

Mom's machine is in the shop and 2 of her 4 gears are shot. It's not going to be a cheap repair but definitely necessary. Mom wants it fixed. So the $60 I made yeasterday will go towards the repairs and I am hoping mom & dad will pay for part of it since gears wear out voer time so this is not something I did recently. But this puts a serious crimp in my plans to make holiday gifts. I still have Lily's fabric colors book to make plus ornaments for everyone. Mark & Didi might not get their quilt for Christmas either.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Out of commission

Just when I needed it most, mom's sewing machine decided to take a break. I think the timing needs to be adjusted and perhaps a few other things fixed. I tried to see if there was anything I could do it fix it but I couldn't. But I did get to see the "guts" of the machine. I called around to a couple different places today and am going to try to drop it off after work today. One place said the earliest they could get it back is December 14th, nearly 2 weeks away!

I am going to try to finish things I was working on with my sewing machine but it is not as nice as mom's machine, I am not as comfortable with it and I do not have a walking foot for it so I can't finish any quilts until I get mom's back

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I might have really done it now...

I think Mom's sewing machine might be official broken and in need of a trip to the repair shop :-(
A few months ago, I started having trouble with it skipping stitches on zig-zags and then it started skipping stitches on the straight stiches too. I oiled it and it started working better but not 100%. Last night as I was close to finished another quilt top for Art in the Garden this weekend, it stopped working properly :-(
The needle is hitting some part when it goes down. I tried tightening some screws and replaced the needle but no luck. I am going to try a couple more things when I get home tonight but it might be out of commission for a bit. I have my machine as back up but I am not sure how well it will do with machine quilting, espcially since I do not have a walking foot attachment for it.
I know I had put off repairing it when I shouldn't have but we needed to repair my car instead... so it really is my own fault that mom's old Singer has decided to take a nap.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm a winner!!!

I can't believe it, I won "Quiltin' Like Crazy"'s fabric giveaway. I never win! Now I have to figure out what I want to use it for...

In other news, I am working like crazy both at work and at home. Actually, I am quilting like crazy, hehe! I am trying to get a couple more quilts and some gift items (like crayon rolls and ornaments) made in time for "Art in the Garden" on December 5th. It snuck up on me. I have 1 quilt partly quilted and another nearly quilted and I was hoping to knock out one or two more small ones over the holiday weekend.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can I quit work to quilt & craft all the time?

Having a rough day at work and was just thinking it would be so nice to quit work and make stuff all day. But I bet the bank would like me to keep making my mortgage payments so I guess crafting will just be for after work for now :-(

Friday, November 13, 2009

Awww man, I am in T-R-O-U-B-L-E

One of my bee buddies posted a link to this new online fabric store and like an idiot I clicked on it. As if I needed more temptation. They have a gorgeous selection of fabric.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's official!!!

Totally unrelated to crafting but a big moment for me & the Mr. Our horrible neighbors unexpectedly moved out a couple months ago, we kind of assumed they were probably getting foreclosed upon. And today we came home to find the official notice posted on the door & their water turned off. Happy news!
So if anyone is looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath townhouse in Tucson, I know a place you could buy for cheap :-) But only if you'll be nice & respectful neighbors...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Joining the Bee

I've been wanting to join a virtual quilting bee for awhile and I found one I want to join. Now I just need to find a group, hopefully will very soon!

The Block Party blog is hosting a quilt-along and small bees are forming from it. One block a month... let's see if I can keep up!

The Block Party gals are going to be writing a book about virtual bees and will be featuring photos of participants' work from the quilt-along. Pretty cool, right?

There's also a fabric giveaway going on so get on over to the Block Party blog!!!

Halloween costumes - Dean & Triana

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Freezer paper love! <3 <3 <3

So I read a post on the Craft blog about freezer paper a couple months ago and thought it would be cool to pick some up sometime. Then when I decided to start making a 100% by hand Grandmother's Garden quilt for me & Dan - inspired by Craftster member breemonkey (post here) - and started searching for hexagon paper piecing tutorials, I decided I REALLY needed to get myself a roll of freezer paper. Which I found at the grocery store for like $2.99 for a roll of 75 feet. I can only imagine how long it will take me to go through 75 feet. I think I have only used 2-3 feet so far for the 2 projects.

Dan & I are going to be Dean Venture and Triana Orpheus from the Venture Bros cartoon (super late Sunday nights on Cartoon Network, rent/buy the DVD's) and I needed to make parts of our costumes.

Dan's was pretty easy - we borrowed a short-sleeve white dress shirt from Dad & he'll wear jeans & shoes he already has so I just had to make him a maroon with brown trim sweater vest. I am not good with stretchy fabrics nor do I knit so I bought some maroon flannel at Joann's. I used one of Dan's tshirts as a "pattern" and went from there. I bought some brown bias binding and trimmed the neck & arms. And his "sweater" vest was done!

For my costume, I picked up some white & black striped socks at a sock store in SF a couple weeks ago. I didn't have time to make/find a black mini skirt so I am wearing the dark denim one I have. Close enough, right? Dan trekked to 3 stores for me yesterday after work to find a black bob wig and it's more expensive than the rest of the components of our costumes!

So last night I needed to make Triana's tshirt. I picked up a kid's medium black tee at Joann's and found an image of the skull & crossbones from her exact shirt online and blew it up on the printer at work. All I had to do then was trace it onto the freezer paper and cut it out! Then I applied the freezer paper (shiny side DOWN) to the tee and started painting. A couple minute later I was done & just had to wait patiently for it to dry. The freezer paper peeled off easily and there are just a couple tiny places where I applied the paint too thick and it bled the line slightly.

I'll post the full costumes after Halloween :-) Dan says we'll look like Dean & Triana when they grew up and got fat. Speak for yourself!!! I don't look a day over 20 :-P

Monday, October 26, 2009

Venturing out of my comfort zone...

I'm one of those people that am never really 100% happy with the things I make. I know every flaw and thing that went wrong. At least I can kind of let go and let things go to their new owners without being 100% happy with them. So I always am surprised when people say that I make beautiful things and that I am talented.

I went outside of my comfort zone and created the crayon roll tute for the Sew, Mama, Sew! contest. I wasn't 100% happy with my tute but ran out of time to get the pics I really wanted and just posted the tute on my blog as-is. And today I looked and here I am on the SMS blog with my contest entry!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scrap buster/Christmas gifts

A couple weeks ago, I started making Christmas gifts for my niece and young cousins. All three girls are getting cute Crayola crayon rolls for Christmas. I thought I would share a quick little tutorial on how I made their presents. I am entering this in Sew Mama Sew's scrap buster contest. This is my first tutorial so please c & c are appreciated!
Scrap Buster Crayon Roll Tutorial
I made a few crayon rolls recently for my niece & youngest cousins for Christmas. They are 4 ½, 5 and 7 years old. I’ve seen a number of different crayon rolls out there but I never saw one where each pocket was a different color from the crayon box. Maybe it is my slightly anal-retentive tendencies but I thought it would be fun to give the girls a spot for each crayon.

I made my crayon roll using a box of 24 Crayola crayons but you could make your crayon roll with the 8 or 16 boxes or with the fatter crayons as well. The pockets for the fatter crayons would need to be larger since I found the 1” pockets made for the regular crayons to be large enough for little hands but still secure enough.

Materials needed (for 24 crayons):
24 - Scraps (at least 1.5” by 5.5” or pieced together to make a 1.5” x 5.5” scrap) matching the colors in a box of crayons
2 – 5.5” x 25.5” pieces of fabric for the pocket and back (this could also be pieced)
1 – 5.5” x 25.5” piece of batting, old t-shirt or flannel
2 – 15” pieces of ribbon
Rotary cutter and mat
Thread matching the pocket/back fabric
Sewing machine
Optional: contrasting fabric for names or initials on the back of the roll plus appliqué materials

Start by laying our your crayons and coordinating fabric in the order you plan to sew them. Cut each fabric to 1.5” x 5.5” EXCEPT the 2 end pieces. Cut the end pieces to 2” x 5.5”. **Note: since I was making more than 1 crayon roll, I sewed 1.5” strips together and cut them into 5.5” sections after sewing all the strips together. You can do this too if you plan to make more than one at a time. (This is also why my photos look a little different than my directions)

Cut your back and pocket fabric. You need two 5.5” x 25.5” pieces.
Cut 1 piece of batting at 5.5” x 25.5”. You could also use an old t-shirt or old piece of flannel. I used a piece of batting leftover from a quilt since I always buy my batting several inches larger on each side than needed.

Sew your rainbow scraps together using a ¼” seam allowance. I sewed my scraps in pairs, chain stitching them one after the other. Then I sewed the pairs together (in the proper rainbow order, of course) and kept adding groups of scraps together until all 24 rainbow pieces were sewn. Press all seams to one direction or press open.

Square up your rainbow and trim any excess fabric from the edges. Or if you are sewing more than 1 crayon roll, cut your larger rainbow piece into 5.5” sections. Take your back fabric and 1 of your ribbons. Measure about 10 inches from one edge. Center the ribbon on the back with the long tail going towards the longer section of the back fabric and stitch down. I went around each edge 2-3 times since I did not want my niece/cousins’ little hands ripping the ribbon off later. *Add any additional decorations now. I added my cousin’s initials (H for Hayley and L for Lindsey) since their crayon rolls were identical and I didn’t want a fight later.

Take the other ribbon and center it on the edge closest to where you just sewed the other ribbon and pin.

Take your pocket fabric, fold in half (so you have a 2.75” x 25.5” piece) and press the fold. Pin the pocket to the right side of the rainbow scraps.

Now we’ll make the sandwich:
Layer 1 – batting
Layer 2 – back of roll RIGHT SIDE UP (with the ribbon attached to the back). I pinned my ribbon to the center of the back so I wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally sewing it into one of the sides as I sewed the sandwich J
Layer 3 – rainbow scraps with pocket pinned RIGHT SIDE DOWN. You should be looking at your seams. (I fanned out the layers so you can see how they should look but stack with all edges matched up)

Sew the sandwich together with a ¼” seam allowance. Backstitch several times over the ribbon to make it secure. Make sure to leave a 4-5” opening on 1 side to turn the sandwich. (You may want to leave a slightly larger opening than normal. I found I pulled a couple of my rainbow seams out as I turned my layers while tugged the other pieces through.)

Clip the corners at an angle and turn the sandwich right sides out.

Press the edges of the roll and topstitch with a ¼” (or less) seam allowance with a complementary thread. Now you will need to make the individual crayon pockets. I eyeballed each pocket based on the seam between each of my rainbow fabrics. But you could also use a water soluble marker and mark out each of your pockets before sewing.

Backstitch a couple times at the top and bottom of each pocket. I overlapped my stitching with the rainbow fabric by about 1/4 – 1/2" so that little hands shoving crayons wouldn’t pull out the thread and pocket. (You could use a walking foot for this step but I used my regular foot and didn’t have trouble with fabric bunching.) *Note: be sure to mark where your ribbon is attached to the back so that you do not mistakenly stitch it into one of your pockets or seams. I pulled mine up and pinned it to the edge so I could be sure it didn’t get in the way.

And you are done!!! Here are a couple ideas for variations you could do: use a button instead of ribbon, make a taller roll for colored pencils, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

I will have these for sale in my Etsy shop if you prefer to purchase one instead of make it. (Once I get around to setting up my Etsy shop)

****This tutorial is for personal use only. Please link back to this tutorial and do not use this design for commercial/business purposes****

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I've been M.I.A. from my blog most of the month because it is a crazy month! I've been working on a couple things at home but I was also preparing for my marathon and October (for various reasons) is a busy month at work.

I completed my 6th marathon on Sunday and I completed it with a personal best time of 4:59:17! I blogged about it on my Team In Training blog so if you want to read all about it, head over to (Here's a photo of me at the finish, accepting my Tiffany's necklace from a tuxedoed fire fighter)

Gotta get back to catching up on emails, student teaching applications, advising notes and much more at work. I'm out of town again this weekend to go to Northern Arizona University's homecoming with the hubs and the in-laws. Should be a great weekend, although I think I might gain about 10 pounds hitting our favorite restaurants. Mmmmm, Little Thai Kitchen, Burritos Fiesta, La Fonda's, etc...

Hope to post something soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My first attempt at improv

No, not stand up comedy, just improv quilting. As I mentioned in a previous post, I made a quilt for an auction with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with the leftover fabric I have from other quilts. I didn't have enough fabric for the back, so that's where the improv comes in.

This is the front
And the back - I used some leftover strips from the front as well as extra squares from the sashing that I appliqued to the quilt back before quilting.
A shot of the back with a little bit of the front.
Now I just need to find a home for this one :-)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Things I am working on...

Christmas gifts for my niece Alex (4 1/2) and cousins Hayley (7) and Lindsey (5). I just need to flip the pocket, cut batting, sew the layers together and make sew the individual pockets. A box of 24 Crayola crayons plus fabric scraps = a crayon roll! Total cost = 25 cents. Luckily for me they all like princess and mermaids. Plus Ariel is Aunt/cousin Jennifer's favorite Disney princess and hot pink is her favorite color so they get little choice :-)

I won this book Kanzashi in Bloom by Diane Gilland in a Craftzine giveaway! I NEVER win anything. Anyway, I plan on making pins and other accessories for the women in my life for Christmas. Total cost = minimal. I plan to use fabrics I have on hand but need to buy some pin bakcs and maybe a few other notions. The blue/green flower pictured about is my first attempt. This is an AWESOME book and super user friendly.
This weekend I have girl/craft time scheduled with Wendy. I haven't seen her much since the school year started (she teaches 7th grade and I work for Northern Arizona University so fall has been busy for both of us). I found some terra cotta gnomes in the dollar spot at Target a couple months ago so we're going to paint those. Not sure what other crafts we'll do but Ghost of Girlfriends Past is on it's way in the mail from Blockbuster :-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Repairs made - time to resume sewing

I've been using my mom's old Singer 774 for the past 4 years for the majority of my sewing and quilting. From the information I found on the internet, it seems mom's machine is from about 1975, which makes it about 5 years older than me. A few years ago, mom & dad bought me my very own sewing machine at Big Lots and it sews OK but it's a brand I haven't heard of and only came with a few accessories. Plus I learned to sew on mom's machine and it's what I am confortable with. Mom won't give it to me, even though she bought a newer & fancier Singer about 10-15 years ago. So I borrow it for awhile until she says she needs it back. Then I borrow it again the next time I visit :-)

Mom's machine started skipping stiches recently. It started when I was working on Piet & Kate's wedding quilt but I was zigzagging through several layers of fabric at the time. I tried everything I could think of to get the zigzag working so I could finish sewing down the binding for that quilt ( I was about halfway through when it started acting up) but I ended up having to rip out all the work I had done and stich-in-the-ditch since I wasn't happy with my hand stiching.

A couple weeks ago, I was making a quilt for a silent auction for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and it started skipping on the straight stitch too. At times, over an inch of stiches were skipped. I texted mom and she asked if I had oiled it. That was the one thing I hadn't tried yet so I got some sewing machine oil at Joann's and now we seem to be back to normal! It is still making clicking noises on the zigzag but the stitch itself is coming out OK. More time with the oil & Qtips and hopefully all will be well. Otherwise, a trip to the doc might be in order for mom's machine.

So now it's time to start making those Christmas gifts and making things to get my Etsy shop up and running!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Organized (kind of)

Yesterday, I organized my fabric, some notions and books. Gotta love back-to-school at Target, you can pick up a 3-shelf bookcase for only $20!
Dan was surprised by how much fabric I had on hand. Some of it was in a 15 gallon plastic tub by the dining room table and the rest was under our bed in a plastic storage container. I guess he didn't have an opportunity to see what I had since it wasn't in 1 spot until now. Now its in the living/dining room, next to the bookcase with all our movies.
I am almost done with the quilt for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society silent auction tomorrow. I made it with fabric leftover from previous quilts and it turned out pretty well. Hopefully it gets a decent amount at the auction!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nearly done...

I'm ALMOST done with the front of mom's quilt. It is gigantic. Or maybe it just seems that way since the largest quilt I made before this was about 48x60. This one will be about 73x85 when I am done.

The photos look extra awesome because I took them with my cell phone, which has no flash. I also apparently need to clean up the living room. The photo with Rory was taken by standing on my couch. My living/dining room almost isn't big enough to lay this quilt on the floor.

The missing section is currently with my mom. It was all I had done by her birthday last month and so she is mailing it back to me so I can finish up :-)

I wish I had taken some in-progress photos but I didn't. Next time, right?

I also need to figure out how to quilt it. I am still a "stitch in the ditch" quilter. I figure I'll go around each star but I need to figure out what else to do. Suggestions please!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Finishing momma's birthday quilt

I'm nearly done with mom's birthday quilt - just the 2 red borders to sew together and add the section I mailed her for her birthday. Her birthday (also our anniversary) was July 24th so I mailed her what I had done at the time. All 120 blocks were sewn but I only managed to get 3 of the 12 rows sewn together before her bday.

I don't have a copy of the magazine with me but I am making her the "Scrappy Star" quilt from the June 2006 American Pathcwork & Quilting magazine. I did find somene's finished version of the pattern on Flickr so this will give you an idea of what the finished piece will look like:

Here's the cover of the issue of the magazine featuring the quilt:

I don't have any in-progress photos to share but I will share the finished product. I just need mom to mail back the section of the quilt I sent her :-)

This is the largest quilt I've sewn so far. It's a little larger than a standard twin size and is made to go on the bed in Mom's guest/craft room, which until a few years ago was MY room. Mom took a completely different decorating approach than I would have approved. It's a kind of country, red/white/blue star room. Much different than the pseudo-retro 50's vibe Dan & I have going at our house and different than the intended bedding set she showed me before I moved to Oregon for grad school. Oh well, it's not my room and the quilt will be a perfect match.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Super Mario Bros. Quilt for my man Dan

Here is the start of the quilt I am making for Dan. I intended it to be a birthday gift (his b-day was Saturday) but once I got started I quickly realized there was NO WAY I was going to get close to finishing before his actual birthday. So I decided to get a start on it. Oh, and I could only work on it when he wasn't home - which ended up being evenings he went to the gym (also meaning no gym for me) and the Saturday mornings he worked after I got home from my 8, 10 or 12 mile runs.

I had hoped to get the mushroom done too but he ended up leaving work early last Thursday and going to the gym before I got home and then he didn't have to work on Saturday morning. Which was nice for him, since it was his birthday but it meant I didn't get the 1-up mushroom done. I got the 1-up part done & laid out the rest (covered by my cutting mat), so I gave him a photo of the pieces I laid out.

Each piece is 1" before I start and 1/2" once it's sewn. I got the idea here but I wanted more characters from the NES Super Mario Bros. games (1-3) so I made my Mario pieces waaaaay smaller. I plan to have different Marios (fire suit, frog, etc), Luigi, Princess Peach (as a red head, of course), goombas, koopas, etc.

Oh, Mario finished is about 8" x 8.5". I think I will add a border of some sort but I haven't decided the color or thickness.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I LOVE lawn gnomes

I stumbed across a fabric (here) I think I MUST own - it's lawn gnomes!!! Now I have to find this fabric somewhere...If you find this fabric (or something similar) somewhere, I will be your best friend, make you a pie, take care of your kids...

I did a Google search and so far have found this fabric. Super cute too!

Sven, Gustov, Norm (the TV gnome) and Christian (the Christmas gnome) need a friend on fabric. Maybe a whole gnome quilt...

Like a little kid, I WANT, I WANT, I WANT!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another blue & green wedding gift quilt

This is the fourth wedding quilt I have made in the past couple years. For some reason, they have all been shades of green and blue. But this one was made...


I didn't have enough of 1 fabric to make the back so I pieced it together and I really like how it came out since it's almost like 2 quilts in 1 now!

Attempting to be witty and crafty

In my free time, there are a few things I like to do. In general, I used to consider myself pretty crafty. Then I got a look at what the real crafty people on the web can do! I aspire to someday be able to do a portion of the creative crafts and blogs that I have seen.

Yesterday, I found this great "how-to" on converting old t-shirts to yoga pants. The second I get in the house after a day spent in work clothing (a.k.a. business casual), I usually throw on my favorite pair of yoga capris. Of course, once I realized how much I loved my yoga capris I ran back to Old Navy and tried to buy more pairs but they had already changed the design :-( The photo in the how-to looked a lot like the yoga pants I love so I figured I'd give it a try.

Within an hour, I made my "pattern" and sewed 2 pairs of yoga capris. I searched through Dan's XL t-shirts and took a couple old shirts he never wears. Now I have a yellow pair made from his Hattery-Nelson-Orr Reunion t-shirt and a black pair made from his "Mike's 50th" t-shirt. For some reason, his mom's family made t-shirts for events we came to the riverhouse in Iowa a couple of years in a row. And now they are yoag carpis. I didn't even have to sew a hem - the bottom t-shirt hem is the bottom of the legs.

I am also trying to secretly work on Dan's Super Mario Bros. quilt for his birthday - which is Saturday. I hope to have Mario and a 1-up mushroom done by the time he gets home from work around 12:30pm. Mario is probably another 30min-hour away from being complete and I just laid out the pieces for the mushroom this morning. My excuse for being so far behind is I can only work on it when he is not home - meaning about 1.5 hours when he is at the gym or when he works Saturday mornings when I get home from my 8, 10, 12 or 14 mile runs. Oh, I got the idea for the quilt from here but I am making all the different objects & characters from the NES games so I am making them a LOT smaller. I will have different versions of Mario & Luigi, Princess Peach (as a redhead!), and some of the goombas and other "villians"