Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's Title Is .... Slice of Reality

I participate in a group called "Today's Title Is". This week we are doing "slice of reality" so my submission is ...... "My Lunch :)"
What can I say. Our lives are dominated by food and I am supposed to be watching what I eat because of hypoglycemia. (My doctor would have a kiniption (sp?) if he saw my lunch!!!!).
So John made the bread and sliced it up very carefully with his electric slicer. Our peach tree had fruit for the first time last summer so we made some freezer jam. We came home from Ohio recently with a lot of strawberries and made the bulk of that into freezer jam last week-end.
We like to buy things as cheaply as possible so John found the strawberry candle on sale for $1 and I found the plant in a basket at a yard sale for $1.
We are showing Kris how to garden this year and one of the gardening books I enjoy is "Lasagna Gardening". We have heavy clay soil so raised beds are a good option to go with.
So there you go part of our "slice of reality."
Oh and the flower in my header was for another group I'm with called Doodle Days. We had to do a daisy doodle and I just so happened to have a picture partly done sitting in my sewing room. It's sketched in ink on wrapping paper.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cross Stitch Corner - Exchange Heaven

I'm participating in a swap at Exchange Heaven. This is my first one and the theme is "Colour" (British group spelling). Each participant had to give some color options so I am going to have some fun stitching up this one :) I've picked out a design from one of my books and gridded up my fabric.

I won't start stitching it up till next week because I am helping my kids house sit till Sunday and plan on doing another of my snowmen. It should sew up fairly quickly given that I won't be bouncing around in a vehicle for hours (as per the last one) trying to coordinate eye and hand too needle, floss and fabric :)

Textile Corner - "4 Seasons" Challenge - an update

I'm thread painting the tree ....... finally. It's proving to be a whole lot more fun than I thought it would. I'm currently putting on color one and am planning on doing a couple more colors before adding the snow. By the time it is done there will be a lot more twiggy bits.
When I turned the piece over I got a nice surprise. A white on white thread tree. It doesn't photograph well but I may develop the look further in another project :)

Textile Corner - "How Many Times Round the Block" - completed

I've added the rick-rack and am calling it done :)
I tried different buttons for doggie eyes and did not like any of them. The "googly" eye ones looked too silly for my genteel dog.
Now to finish up the 4 seasons Scottie Dog wall hanging. I'll tackle that one next week. I have a number of swaps to finish up first.
I've also finished a mystery 8"x10" fabric piece for a fundraiser but I am not ready to reveal that one yet. (I'll explain why in due time.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cross-stitch Corner - "I Love Snowmen"

Two more completed with 3 left to go. The end is almost in sight :)

I was originally thinking about turning the 10 of them into a wall hanging for Christmas but now

I'm contemplating making individual Christmas ornaments about the size of fabric postcards.

Textile Corner - Landscape quilting

I've mentioned in previous postings that I am taking some landscape quilting classes taught by Shirley Paterson at LearningFA. I absolutely love this generous and very talented lady's work. Having said that I want to find my own "style" so to speak.

I've been trawling around the internet for months now looking at what is out there and today had an AHA moment.

Heather Lair does some fabulous landscapes. She combines fairly simple layouts with some gorgeous abstract quilting borders. I am definitely feeling inspired by what I saw.


It always goes back to some form of hand applique.

You would think that with all the sewing I've done over the years that machine quilting would not be a problem. Not so :) 

To help me overcome my machine quilting neurosis I ordered "60 Machine Quilting Patterns" by Pat Holly and Sue Nickels. It arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I am in hog heaven. For a dunderhead like myself the layouts show you where to place the needle, what direction to go, where to start and end, and what it looks like when it's done. I'll be cutting up a lot of muslin fairly soon to start practicing. I also had John retrieve my other sewing machine from the back of the closet because I want to try using it for this project. I think this will also work well with the blocks I plan on putting together from "Grandma's Best Full Size Quilt Blocks."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lunchtime tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - gathering supplies

I promised Nik last week I would do a little tutorial about the toy he made. After a number of interruptions during the course of today hopefully this is it.
So off we go and greetings from the Dancing Caterpillars :)
2 fleece fabric squares - mine are 51/2" left over from another project.
Circle template

Lunchtime Tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - making circles

There's any number of ways to make the circle template.
I had Nik cut out graph paper the same size as the fabric block and head off to the kitchen. We all know how many circles can be found in that part of the house :) He came back with one of Lucy's doggie bowls, drew round it then cut out the paper template (we will be using it again.) Draw your circle onto the BACK of both pieces of fabric and cut them out INSIDE the pencil line.

Lunchtime Tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - cutting

I just threw this picture in so you could see what I meant by cutting it out :)
If a child is doing it use smaller childrens size scissors.

Lunchtime Tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - pinning

Place your two pieces of fabric wrong sides together and pin them in place. I used color headed pins so that Nik could see where to stop and start for the 2" opening that needs to be left for the fiberfill.

Lunchtime Tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - sewing

Take the circles to your sewing machine and sew 1/4" seam almost all the way round. You need to leave at least a 2" opening.
I used two pins with the same color heads to remind myself, and Nik where to start and stop.

Lunchtime Tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - stuffing

Now you stuff your squishy toy. How much you put in is entirely up to yourself. Nik wanted his to be plump. I pushed it all in fairly tight so that the next step could be accomplished more easily.

Lunchtime tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - closing up

Pin the opening shut and sew it closed at the machine. This part is a wee bit tricky.
If you want you can do another row of stitching all the way round.
Once that is done "play" with the toy till the fiberfill is more evenly positioned inside the fabric.

Lunchtime tutorial - Nik's squishy toy - the end ?

Et voila the squishy toy is complete ....... or is it?
The first one we made is now with it's intended recipient and his mommy thinks it's lovely and soft but we have one of our own and ........ we are experimenting. We have a stuffed yoyo head and are contemplating legs :)
What kind of animal or insect do you think you could make?
Phew - I thought I was never going to get this tutorial finished and posted. Spanish lesson, repair man for the phone line, unexpected run to school, phone call from my daughter's lawyer and the resulting running around from that. Kris needed help making a Bundt cake, Nik needed help making layered vanilla pudding, dinner does not get into the oven on it's own etc. etc. etc.
And no I am NOT going to do a tutorial for the fabric doll. Y'all can buy the pattern at the store. Dolly, by the way, thinks she has just been given a new pillow :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why I need a new iron :)

Our kitchen sits in the middle of the house and you have to go through it to get anywhere. It's about 15'x20'.

Last summer our main project was redoing the floor, walls and woodwork.

The cabinets had been put in about 4 years before we bought the house and are still in good condition but the floor was not nice. What we found under the linoleum (not shown) was even worse.

The girls "had at it" and ironed the tiles up. Stinky job but needed doing since we found that some of the sub floor was rotting out. Worked great but my iron has not been quite the same since :) Someone had at some point tried to remove the tiles but did not finish and we found pieces all over the floor under the linoleum. Our system was take off all the wood moldings, iron up the tiles, fill in any holes, let everything dry then lay subfloor. Once that was all done the 2 layer floor system went in and the moldings put back on.

So now we have a floating wood laminate floor which we really like and cream colored walls that change color through the course of the day. When we moved in the walls were very dark brown panelling and I spent two weeks sponge painting them in various shades of cream, white and blue (to go with the colors in the still existing wallpaper above the wall cabinets.) Personally I was not that thrilled with the result (the blue was a bit too blue) and love our new calm center to the house. At some point I would like new kitchen counters but other things need to be done first.

We also painted the sunroom the same cream color and it looks so much better than the dirty white we had been "living" with.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Textile Corner - Catching up

We've been out of town hence the no posting for the past few days. We went to visit grandma in Ohio.

I have some unexpected projects coming up that have the potential to be time consuming.
1. Committee member for a charity/volunteer day in April. I'm helping to organize the quilting event. (If I ever find out who told them I can sew well I'll "smack 'em" :) )
2. My kids are supposed to be going on a 3 day pioneer trek (if they meet all the requirements) and I found out last night it's to be in "period" costume. How am I going to break that piece of "delightful" news to my teenage son. Mmmmmm.
3. Earth Day postcard exchange. I forgot I'd signed up for it and fortunately so had a number of others :)

Some other things I need to get moving along with.
1. Beginner landscape wall hanging - haven't started it yet.
2. 4 seasons challenge - I'm having angst about doing the thread painting but I just need to "bite the bullet" so to speak and get the first one finished some time within the next couple of weeks.
3. "How Many Times Round the Block?" Scottie wall hanging. I bought the rick-rack last week so just need to attach it.
4. "I Love Snowmen" - I finally got back to that over the past few days and have almost completed another snowman. They are not very big individually, approx. 4-5", but because of all the changes in color they take a long time (for me) to sew up. So far I've put in about 12-15 hours since Thursday on the current one. A few more cross stitches and the back stitching and it will be done. That will leave 31/2 to finish.
5. "Rose Splendor" - I'm at the metallic threads stage and they are giving me grief. Aaaargh !!! I have to keep reminding myself - "this is a gift, this is a gift, keep going with it , it will soon be done."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Raised bed, companion gardening

Kris' big project, starting this week is learning how to grow flowers and veggies in a raised bed. We are planning on doing companion gardening. Her brother will probably help with it as well :) The three of us went to Home Depot this afternoon to do some pricing and to decide what to grow. She has her list and we will shop sometime within the next couple of weeks. We have to prepare the bed first since I let it rest last year. Currently she is looking at some of my gardening books. 

Nik wants to try and grow moss and a Venus Flytrap again. Last year's efforts did not go well :)

If anyone is interested in reading along about their gardening efforts I'll be writing about that on our family blog, http://jocarhansenfamily.blogspot.com

Nik was watching me do some beading this morning and decided he wanted to make something. After some thought he decided to make a soft, round toy for his friend's youngest brother. He found some spare blocks in my fleece fabric box. I had him measure and make a circle template then cut the fleece out. I sewed the pieces together for him and he stuffed the toy. Looks quite nice. He wants me to post it to my blog so I will make a little "lunchtime tutorial" out of it and post that next week. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Moving on

Technology issues or not I'm moving along with some of my projects and am working out a different way of doing my blog. 

I've completed and sent postcards for swaps, got some ready to send  to a couple of charity events, put together a package for a "secret sister" swap and worked out some ideas for beginner sewing classes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Technology and blogging issues

Our main computer bit the dust ..... again, this morning and my laptop will let me read e-mails but not send or reply. My technological genius of a husband was (eventually) able to retrieve and fix everything last time round so hopefully he can fix everything again ....... at some point in time.

I have two or three issues though. My on-line classes file, contact info and recent information for a genealogy project I am working on AND almost all my recent photographs are in the main computer. I had not finished getting everything copied over to my various blogs or thumb drive. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. I am so annoyed with myself.

The photographs issue may impact my blogging and on-line class efforts for a while so my apologies for that.

I'm off to sulk in my little corner and maybe get some sewing or sketching done :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Textile Corner - A worthwhile fundraiser

If you like to make fabric postcards then go to this link and read about their fundraiser.


It's their annual "Wish Upon a Star" cancer fundraiser and how many of us have not been touched in some way by that. In my case family members.

Thanks to Leah for highlighting it at her blog http://colorfulartgirl.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Textile Corner - My favorite time of year

My favorite time of year is Easter. I get to celebrate the birth, life, atonement, death AND ressurection of our beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I've signed up for a number of Easter/spring swaps and here are two in process. The postcards just have to have the back finished and the 6" quiltie is getting a hanger and an edge finish.
I enjoyed taking the same background fabric and doing different designs on top. What is the background - a batik with resist shapes that reminded me of eggs and colors that reminded my of gorgeous sunrises/sunsets.
There are a number of religious imageries within the pieces but you would have to know my life in detail to know what they are and what they represent :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Textile Corner - "Happy as a Clam"

Some of us have been participating in a mini quilt exchange at Postcard Pizzazz and look what showed up in my mail box yesterday. A lovely bargello. Aren't I the lucky one :)
It came from Mary Lou and it is her first exchange. She expressed concern about her hand stitching but I think she did well. It's called clamshell. On the back she used fabric with sparkly silver fir cones. (I love sparkly fabric.)
So thanks Mary Lou. We did not do direct swaps so my subdued "Dutchman's Breeches" are winging their way to Tasmania. I realised after I sent it that I forgot to put a label on the back. Aaaargh. I'll just have to send another mailing :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lunchtime tutorial - applique heart - supply list

Fabric for block
Fabric for heart
Lightweight fusible interfacing
Rotary mat and cutter
61/2" quilt block template
5" heart template
scissors (yes they are Fiskars kids AND they are VERY sharp), embroidery scissors would also work well.
pencil and/or pen for marking lines
needle and thread (to match the heart fabric)
sewing machine and point turner.

Why am I doing this mini tutorial. Because Barbara at the Lady of Steeles Hand Embroidery Group asked me how to do it and I'm also making an Easter quiltie so I'm "killing two birds with one stone" so to speak :) AND all the spring cleaning I'm doing is starting to bring on my allergies (now you know why I have dust bunnies.) AND I needed a break from revising beginner Spanish. Excuses, excuses I just wanted to sew something !!!!!

Lunchtime tutorial - applique heart - cutting out

Cut a 61/2" fabric square out of your main color and then a 5" heart out of your second color AND the interfacing. I usually draw round my templates on the wrong side of the fabric and the smooth side of the interfacing. You'll notice my template already has the seam allowance included. Never have understood why most applique patterns that I've seen don't do that.

Lunchtime tutorial - applique heart - machine sewing

Mmmm, well that up-load did not work the way I wanted it too.
Place the two hearts together with the dotted side of the interfacing facing the right side of the fabric.
Take them to your trusty sewing machine and sew 1/4" seam ALL the way round.

Lunchtime tutorial - applique heart - the tricky part

Now comes the "tricky" bit.
Trim back the fusible interfacing close to the stitch line then clip all the way round the fabric heart. I cut a notch at the top and bottom of the heart to make it sit better once it is turned. Make a long slit down the middle of the interfacing so that you can turn everything right sides out. Be very careful NOT to cut into the fabric heart. I usually cut a tiny notch into the interfacing then cut the slit on either side of it. I always go from top to bottom since for me it makes it easier to turn the heart.

Lunchtime tutorial - applique heart - turning and ironing

Now that you have turned your heart smooth the seam out, very carefully since the interfacing rips easily, by using your point turner - and yes I forgot to put that in the supplies picture.
Next turn your heart over and put it on the block in whatever position you want, take it to the ironing board and PRESS in place. Your fusible interfacing, if you have sewn everything correctly, should have the "glue" side facing the fabric block.

Lunchtime tutorial - applique heart - the block

The block ironed together, and no you are not getting to see my ironing board. The cover looks waaaay to ratty at the moment :)
That's it for today. Next time how to sew the heart to the block.
P.S. my "quiltie" is going to be on point when it is finished.

Addendum. It is now the next morning and the block is sewn together. Due to some technological failures i.e. VERY fuzzy photos I won't be posting how I sewed the heart to the block :( Basically I doubled my thread with the loop at the end, did a "catch the loop" stitch at the back of the block, pulled the thread through to the front just behind the heart, did lots of little slip stitches round the heart, and secured the thread on the back of the block by doing two small back stitches and a long stitch between the layers. 

Book Corner - Beginning Applique - because enquiring minds have been asking :)

I absolutely love these two books and one of these days I will buy my own copies instead of borrowing them from our local library on a fairly regular basis :)

Hand Applique by Mimi Dietrich and Machine Applique by Sue Nickels.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cross Stitch Corner - "Rose Splendor" update

This is how my project looks as of last night. Hopefully it will be finished by the end of this week and then I'll work on the rest of my snowpeople.

The clocks have been moved forward ......

That means I am spending this week spring cleaning our house in preparation for it getting all messed up again with spring break next week :) The yard will also be getting cleaned up and some spring flowers planted. This means that I won't be getting much sewing done for the next couple of weeks.

I've been making progress with "Rose Splendor" and what sewing time I have will be devoted to finishing that and some postcard exchanges. Sewing group starts back up tomorrow night and I am looking forward to that.

I have a lot of genealogy going on. I am assisting some people with their own genealogy and need to finish up one of the family histories I am writing.

It's a gorgeous day out so a lot of our windows and the back door are wide open letting some fresh air into the house. A goodly amount of the lace drapes are in the washer (the kitchen one felt disgusting). I've cleaned out the fish tank (50 gallons takes a while) which means I've also got to clean the bath tub some time today. Most of the wood furniture has been polished properly and now smells nice and lemony.

Have a great day. I'm off to chase "dust bunnies" :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cross Stitch Corner - "Rose Splendor" - update

My kids are currently house/dog sitting for some friends and I am "supervising". I decided that my "take along" piece would be "Rose Splendor".
I'm really pleased with how it is progressing and I've got a couple of ideas floating around in my brain for finishing/framing.
Hopefully I'll get the roses finished over the next couple of days. I finished up all the main colors for the outside border last night and added a bit more to the big rose head. As I mentioned in a previous post I'm going to leave the gold work in the main border till last.
I've gotten a few people confused as to what this piece is -tapestry or cross-stitch. It's actually a combination of stitches. The flowers and stems are cross-stitch. The main border and faint background stitches are tapestry (or half cross-stitch). The inside border is Satin or Scotch stitch. Between the two borders will be some gold couching. There's also going to be some French knots in the rose buds and all the flowers and stems will have outline stitch.

Book Corner - My favorite Quilting Book

"Grandma's Best Full-Size Quilt Blocks. Pieces of the Past for Today's Quilter" by Better Homes and Garden. A very long title for my favorite quilt book.
It splits some of the history of quilting up into 4 chapters 1830-1860, 1860-1890, 1890-1920 and 1920-1950. Chapter 5 is devoted to borders. Each time period looks at what was relevent for then and gives full size blocks (minus seam allowance) to try. The writing is concise and there are loooooots of pictures :)
I've already done a number of the blocks from the book. The pink butterfly I posted about recently is a modified pattern from it.
Once I have finished some of the wall hangings I am working on I plan to re-visit the patterns in the book and sew my way through them :)
My mother-in-law has the same book and she is currently hand sewing a number of the blocks. They look very nice and have a kind of "oldy worldy" feel to them. I prefer to machine my blocks together then hand quilt the tops.
Finding my book again (it was buried in the back of my bedroom closet) has given me the extra incentive I need to finish off a number of wall-hangings that are sitting in a drawer. I'm going to pull them all out, thread baste them, and get all the hand sewing done.
P.S. I think this book works under the assumption that you already have a working knowledge of how to do many of the quilting techniques mentioned.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Textile Corner - How Many Times Round the Block?" - an update

I'm finally moving along with my Scottie Dog wall hanging. It's going to be for Christmas and I used my favorite deep red for the border and collar. To "fun it up" a bit I used one of my Mary Engelbreit fabrics for the back and cut out some of the squares to add to the front. I'm planning on adding a button for the dog's eye and a charm to the collar. I'm contemplating adding some ric-rac on the border and make some ric-rac flowers I saw on-line. The wall hanging is actually darker than the picture indicates. I took the photo beside one of our south facing windows.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Blog Strolling" through the side-bar

One of the things I enjoy is "blog strolling". Kind of like window shopping from your chair :)

I like to investigate the side-bars of the blogs I visit just to see what interests others and to see if there is anything that would help me with my textile adventures. Usually there is and I am one happy camper.

I am also a member of a number of on-line textile groups that post fabulous resources so the side-bar is a great way for me to store ones I am currently interested in.

On my side-bar I have created a "Tutorial Links" section for places I like to visit to learn specific techniques. They range from beginners to fairly advanced stuff. Personally I like the sites with lots of pictures or videos.

So if are you not already doing it try "blog strolling" through the side bar of some of your favorite blogs. Goes without saying I want you to include mine in that list :)

Buena suerte y adios. (I'm learning Spanish.)

Textile Corner - 4 Seasons Challenge. step 4

I've been playing around with shapes and placement. There's a lot of trees in the original picture but I don't have much in the way of "winter tree" type fabrics so went with a mottled brown for the far distant ones. Originally I had the "band of trees" come right down to the covered bridge but it gave a weird foreshortening effect so I cut the treeline back to get some more distance.
I tried to thread paint the snow on the mountains which did not work so I attached some "snow" fabric and will probably paint in the bottom edges and shadows.
I had fun adding details to the wood section of the covered bridge and just have to add the inside shadow that goes across the road.
My tree had an accident so I will have to either add to the branch that shredded off or try to thread paint it. I'm un-decided about how much snow, if any, to add to the tree.
Next - work out the tree placements on the right side of the bridge. That's a lot of snow there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Textile Corner - "Pink Butterfly" wall-hanging - a work in progress

I have a number of quilt blocks sitting in a drawer that I am turning into small wall-hangings - approx. 12"x12". This is the one I am currently working on. I have some more hand embroidery to do to the center block and I am contemplating doing some beading along the bottom edge. Mmmmmmm seems to me I now have a number of small projects waiting for me to get the beading done :)

Cross Stitch Corner - Stitching for a Cure - fund-raiser

My ornament is currently being featured at http://stitchingforacure.blogspot.com/ (Mar 1st.)

This is such a wonderful idea. I hope some of you will take the time to participate.

My sweet mother-in-law is the reason I decided to participate.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

From Kris to her sisters

Hi sisters, look what mom and I made yesterday, PJ bottoms :) She helped me to cut them out and sew them. I love them and might make some more.

My current sewing area

My current sewing area - nightime and daytime lighting. The room itself is about 11'x10'. To the left of the long window is a single bed. To the right of my sewing table are three bookcases and the door into the room. One of the bookcases holds most of my craft, design, quilting and painting books. The others have childrens books and some of my hubbies books. The plastic drawers beside the window are sitting on stair treads that will eventually be made into a shelving unit. The peg board will probably sit on the top shelf and be used for displaying small projects in process. I borrowed my son's lamp to shine light on my sewing machine when the main light is too low to see properly. I keep most of my current quilt and interior design magazines in the large basket under my table.