Monday, April 25, 2011

Block exchange!

 Last week Katy posted on flickr that she was looking to trade some fat quarters for blocks for a new scrap vomit/technicolor yawn quilt she is making, so I whipped these out this weekend. She made one not too long ago that I love. I realized that I do love simple patchwork blocks, and I may have to make a bunch more of these soon for me.  I have too many scraps and this would be a great scrap buster quilt!  It is the cutting of all the 2.5 inch squares that may put this one on hold until summer.:)

I hope you are all having a good start to your week!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quilting Retreat: an awesome weekend!

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a quilting retreat in Ft. Collins at the Inn at City Park.  It was so awesome!  The workshop was taught by Penny of sewtakeahike, and she is so inspiring, encouraging, and all around great.  She makes the most wonderful paper pieced blocks that just amaze me, so I was so happy to get to soak up some information from her on how to paper piece.  We had three workshops over the course of the weekend on paper piecing, improv piecing, and designing/executing your own paper pieced design.  I met the neatest people, and it was great.
These are all the fabulous people I got to hang out with all weekend:

When we arrived, Tara had put together the greatest gift bags for  each participant.  The bag is in the top picture stuffed to the brim with cool items.

She made us tags to wear so we could all learn each other's names.  I love my name tag! 

She also made a dresden pincushion for us to use on the trip.  Can you believe that I previously did not own a single pincushion?  I don't know how I made it three years of sewing without ever having a pincushion, but somehow I did.  Thankfully, that was quickly resolved by this beautiful pincushion!

There were all kinds of goodies in the bag, including homemade soap, lip balm, and lotion.  I can't wait to use the Saral paper after reading so many good things about it on Penny's blog.  I am just starting to try embroidery, and I think this would be perfect for that.  There was also a bag of scraps, a laminated notebook of graph paper, and an American Patchwork magazine.  So many goodies were inside!

There was also a key chain that Tara made which I love.  I am now using it everyday, and it really helps me find my keys in my huge bag of a purse.
On the last day, there were prizes for all the participants.  I won this lovely stack of fabric.  My favorite colors are blue and green, so this was perfect for me.

Isn't that bird print on the far left perfect?  I can't wait to put these to use in a quilt.

At the end of the retreat, we swapped potholders!  Everybody brought a potholder to swap to the retreat.

These are all of the potholders together from left to right: Penny, Carmen, Tara, me, AmandaJean, and Melinda.

I brought this potholder that I made.  It was really fun to make, but I did not do the best job sewing the binding to the back! 

I received a potholder from Penny, and it is so beautiful!  I love that it has a pocket for your hand, so your hand doesn't get burned.  The patchwork is so cute, and I adore the blue floral print.  It is perfect!

The back has the most perfect fabric for a potholder that I have ever seen.  This is such a great print.

On Saturday morning, we worked on paper piecing.  We worked on a couple different projects to practice with, and I made this pincushion.  Did you notice that I now have two pincushions?  My collection has now doubled!  This was really quite fun to make, and I think it would be fun to have the whole alphabet.  These would be neat for beanbags for little kids, too.

On Sunday morning when I came downstairs, there was a brand new pincushion on my sewing machine that was a gift from Amanda Jean.  Isn't it adorable?  I love that it is reminiscent of her ticker tape quilts.  She is so nice and funny in person, and it made me so happy to have a little pincushion that she made for me.  Thank you again, Amanda!

So I went from having no pincushions to owning three in a period of three days!  I love them all, and it will be so nice to be able to have one next to my sewing machine, one next to my ironing board, and one next to my cutting board.  Now I want to make pincushions!

On Saturday afternoon, Penny taught us about improv piecing.  I want to make my daughter a quilt one day out of the fabric I have used to make all of her dresses, so I made a dress that mimicked one that I had made her.  I drew out the dress and then improv pieced it together with a curved seam at the bottom.  Penny did a great job explaining how to do all kinds of different seams and piecing, and I feel like I learned so much from her.  She is a wonderful teacher, and I encourage everyone who has the chance to take a class from her to do it!  You have to go to her blog and check out all the awesome paper pieced blocks she has put together!

Sunday morning we worked on taking an idea and creating our own pattern for piecing it together.  I created one for a dress based off one of my daughter's dresses.  I am still playing around with it to figure out the best way to sew together the neckline, but I am really inspired to be able to figure out a pattern on my own.

There was also time at the retreat to work on our own projects, so I pulled out my ABC blocks from the Sewconnected Virtual Quilting Bee that I was a part of a while back to work on while I was there.  I thought it was neat to work on this quilt while I was with Amanda Jean who had been part of that virtual bee.  So I actually got to meet and sew with someone from a virtual bee in real life, which was really fun and exciting.  These are the two blocks I finished for that quilt while I was at the retreat.

I couldn't have asked for a better experience.  Tara cooked delicious food, Penny was a fabulous teacher, and Melinda, Carmen, and Amanda Jean were all such funny, nice, and wonderful people that it really made the whole weekend an outstanding experience. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sewconnected wip: Quilt top is finished!

 Amidst all the cleaning we have been doing, I did manage to piece this quilt together over the last week and a half.   I am loving it so far!  It is 94.5 inches long, so it was hard to find a place to hang it for a picture!

 I do love watching a quilt flapping in the breeze though-or a quilt top in this case.  :)  This is from the sewconnected virtual quilting bee that I was a part of a while back. I made seven blocks to go with the 17 I received back from the swap.   I already have the back pieced together and the batting is purchased.  I just need to find a couple of hours while Zerah is asleep when I can lay this out on the floor and baste it together.  It always seems that is the hardest part-getting it basted!  I am really excited about this one coming together.

I added a scrappy type border to make it a little wider as I want for it to fit a twin size bed.  It is appoximately 68x94 inches, so I am hoping that will fit a twin size bed for her in the future when she is ready to move to a big bed, which I hope isn't too soon!:)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fixing Up the House

Last week I was off of work for spring break and my mom came to visit to help us get various projects completed around the house.  We have a huge list of home improvement projects that we need to get accomplished soon, and we were so thankful to have my mom's help. 

One of the things we worked on was painting the kitchen yellow.  We previously had a leak in the ceiling above the breakfast area, and we had to patch it; therefore, we needed to repaint.  In order to make the room cheerful and bright, we chose this pale, buttery yellow which turned out wonderful.
The previous color is in the photo below from Thanksgiving.  We had a small Thanksgiving this past year because all of our family lives 2,000+ miles away.:(

We always liked the green, but it was time for a change.  When we started started painting the yellow over the green, it was obvious how much darker the green really was than the yellow with a lot of gray built in.  We also painted the bench area white to make it pop out more, so it doesn't disappear into the wall as much as it did previously.

This is how the kitchen looked when we did our walk through previous to buying the house 6 years ago now.  I can't believe it has been that long ago.  It wasn't bad, but the appliances were definitely on their last leg, and the cream was really dirty looking.  I like it so much better now.

We also painted our front door!  I was tentative to trying this, but it turned out great.  I love the bold orange red color instead of the white it was previously.

We also accomplished a lot of spring cleaning type items including:
-cleaning eleven sets of blinds
-repainting the bead board on the lower half of the main bathroom walls
-repainting the interior windows in the kitchen, entryway, and the main bathroom
-painting all the baseboards and trim in the laundry room and half-bath
-donated four garbage bag loads of clothing, old sheets, and mix-matched linens to good will.  I kept everything I could or would use in future quilts.

We accomplished all of this four days my mom was here along with a visit to the zoo and daily walks to the playground at our local park.  We also celebrated my birthday with the trip to the zoo and yummy cupcakes!

Look at the beautiful tablerunner my mom brought for us to use for Easter!  It works beautifully in our new sunny kitchen!

Since my mom left, we are still hard at work.  My husband added new mulch to all the garden beds in the front of the house, and he sanded down the windows on the exterior of the front of the house. I have been painting them white.  They were in really bad shape, and I like the contrast of the white more than the green that was there previously.  I have painted two coats of primer and two coats of exterior semigloss on all of these since Saturday.

We are putting in 3/4 round molding in front of the baseboards in the entryway and in the kitchen.  Most of these are cut, some are nailed in, and some are ready for me to paint which will happen later this week.

We fixed the fence in the side yard that has been broken for the past several years, and I have also cleaned out two cabinets in the kitchen of old food and random items.

We celebrated my husband's birthday, too, with a trip to the Children's Museum and lemon cake-yum!

Later this week,  we need to add mulch to the backyard, paint the 3/4 round molding in the entryway and kitchen, clean out my closet, go through Zerah's toys and edit them down.  I need to go through the bathroom again to reorganize the storage area and complete various other projects.

I did find some time to sew late at night while everyone else was sleeping, and I finished the quilt top I was working on.  I need a sunny day to take pictures of it and then I will share!