Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

I'm bringing back Thrifty Thursday! I know hardly anyone will remember, but about a year or so ago I did a few Thrifty Thursdays and I think it's time to do some more.

I have been wanting an inspiration board for my quilt room - you know, a cork board where you can pin up pictures you see in magazines etc that inspire you. My friend Shannon blogged about hers here.

I have been looking around but I didn't want to pay office supply store prices for one. Next I thought of making one. I saw where someone bought squares of cork at the craft store but I didn't like the idea of having multiple pieces of cork. Just one big flat piece was what I wanted.

Then the other day in Savers (one of our local thrift stores) I saw it! It was just sitting there right by the cash register like it had been waiting for me all week to come find it. It was one piece of cork like I wanted, it was large, and best of all it had a frame. So for the sum of $4.99 I got my inspiration board!

Only problem was the grey frame wasn't very inspirational to me.

So today out came my $1 can of oops paint...

...and my ugly grey frame is now a happy hot pink.
I was hoping to have it all done and hanging with pictures on it to show you tonight but the coats of paint are taking forever to dry. I am rather excited though - I already have a little stash of pics to tack up on it. If only the weather was warm instead of snowing (yes seriously folks - it is snowing as I speak) then this paint might dry a little faster.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Today I sewed together the four circle flower blocks that I made back in this post.

That was the easy part. Now I need to decide where to go from here. My original plan was to connect the flowers from block to block with more leaves once the blocks were sewn together, but now I think that might be too busy and take away from the simple shapes.

My thoughts now are do I leave it as is, quilt, bind, and call it done, or do I add a border? And if I add a border should I add applique to the border or should I do some kind of pieced border? Decisions decisions! At the moment I am leaning towards a pieced border. I do love applique and piecing together in the same quilt. I definitely need to sleep on it. Ideas are welcome. Actually, I'm not beneath begging...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

High on Fumes

Tonight my blog post comes from my kitchen. I am sitting at the kitchen table typing as I look around at my lovely new white bricks. And breathing in the nasty remnants of spray cans. What on earth is she talking about you may ask - well when we bought this house almost 4 years ago, it came with some - um - interesting brownish/pinkish tinged faux bricks in the kitchen. The previous owner was so enamored with them that she thought they were a selling point and proudly showed them off as she explained how her husband had installed them in the early 80's. We politely nodded but secretly thought they were the ugliest things we'd ever seen! They don't look too bad in these 'before' pics, but trust me, they were bad. When you touched them they felt like a bumpy solid polystyrene and if you knocked on them they sounded hollow. And I can't forget to tell you about the thick, fake, uneven, black mortar. Uugh I'm shuddering just thinking about it all!

But you know how things go - you live with something long enough and you tend to not notice it as much, as was the case with the bricks. Then today I 'noticed' those ugly faux bricks again. I immediately pulled out the painter's tape and went to work. A paintbrush was useless with these things - it was impossible to get in all the nooks and crannies, so spray paint it was! And it worked great. First I did a coat of spray primer followed by a couple coats of a semi-gloss white spray.

I am SO much happier! The room looks bigger, and if I squint hard enough I can almost pretend that there are actually beautiful white subway tiles on my backsplash!

Next up will be the 'lovely' cupboards. I'm still deciding on a color. I was planning on painting them white as well, but now I think there might be too much white, plus it's not really that practical with 3 kids running around. I already have some nice silver drawer pulls and handles. The bricks had a pink hue while the cupboards have a definitely orange hue. I may love pink and orange in my quilts but not in faux bricks and cupboards! I've started filling in the dings and holes in them as the photos show. Slowly this house is getting whipped into shape. Roll on Spring!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Done DONE!

Finally the sampler quilt is finished. The binding is on, and it has been washed and fluffed up in the dryer to give it that cosy wrinkly look! I am sitting with it here on my lap right now as I type and can still feel the warmth from the dryer.
Aaah pure bliss!

I have photos of it before and after the washing/drying.
Before...(with help from my Sofia holding it!)

And after...(with help from the hubster!)

And yes that's right, I didn't even pick up the remains of the day's mess before I took the photos. I'm keeping it real here folks!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Binding Bliss

As much as I hate basting quilts, I equally love the binding stage. Firstly it's something that can leisurely be done while watching TV, and secondly it means that you are almost finished the quilt!

If you pick a busy fabric like I did for this binding, you don't even see the stitches as they are hidden amongst all that busyness.

Of course, be careful not to miss the binding and stab your cuticle instead, or you too could have a nice line of blood around your nail...

Saturday, March 26, 2011


At 9.30 tonight I thought I'd go start quilting my sampler sandwich, hoping to make some decent progress, maybe even half way done within a couple of hours. I started the actual quilting at 9.45. I decided to do a simple stipple as I want to wash and dry the quilt and make it all wrinkly, and stippling helps achieve that result rather nicely!

At 10.35 I was finished. I could not believe it and had to double check the time. Wow I forgot how fast stippling is compared to my usual concentric circles! I even had time to cut, sew together, and iron in half my binding. So now I am all ready to get the binding on tomorrow and get this thing done done DONE! In the meantime, here's a photo of part of the quilt, with the miles of binding thrown in a heap on top. 'Cause I'm fancy like that...
And then 5 seconds after I took that photo, the cat walked in and plopped himself on top. Cats and quilts - gotta love 'em!

Little update - it's now 10 minutes later and I glance over at the quilt and see the black cat (Mittens) hiding under that bit sticking up. I thought what a silly cat...then our white cat (Scotchie) walks by and Mittens jumps out and attacks him! Poor Scotchie was scared to death! I guess Mittens wasn't so silly after all. He knows what quilts are good for! They play fight like this every night at this time. It's rather entertaining. I'm just glad I had my camera next to me!

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Hour Friday

Placemat number 4 is done :) This time I went with another one of my favorite color combinations - orange and purple...
The hubster and I have a hot date tonight hence my early posting! Hope your Friday (or Saturday for my down under friends) is going great!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Michelle's Tree Mini Quilt

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how a reader, Michelle, had made a tree block from my tree tutorial.
Well look what she has done with that block - isn't it fabulous?!! In fact, I am a tad jealous and wish it was going on my wall of quilts!I am definitely a fan of all the Kaffe fabrics she used :)

Thanks for sending me the photo Michelle - it made my day! If anyone else makes something from one of my tutorials, you can also make my day by sending me a pic! I'll put it up on my blog, which trust me, is wonderful for me, because this whole blogging every day thing is HARD! I need new things to blog about. Yes I am pretty much begging for someone to make something and send me a pic!

*Basting update - the quilt is all basted and it only took me one hour, and was quite painless. Why did I put it off so long?!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Basting Never Stops!

Like a lot, if not most quilters, basting is my least favorite part of quilting. So it was with a heavy heart I decided for the second time this week to - gasp - baste!

I pulled out the sampler quilt I made last year for teaching a class and bit the bullet. I should make it clear that I DO know how to baste, I just don't like it!

Thankfully I already had the backing made and ready to go - everything just needed a good iron and to be layered.

Then I brought it all upstairs to the kitchen table, layered it up and it's still there waiting to be finished. Hey, it's late and I want to go to bed! The kids can eat breakfast on a blanket on the floor - I'll call it a picnic breakfast and they'll think that's way cooler than eating on the boring old table!

So quickly, (remember, I'm going to bed...) this is one way you can prep your layers. Just tape one side to the table using painter's tape. Then you can pull it from the other side to make sure it's nice and flat. You do this because there's nothing worse than basting an entire quilt, turning it over and having big wrinkles in the backing.

This should just take a couple of hours tomorrow to baste and then I can start the fun bit - the quilting!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

4 Squares

As of about a half hour ago I have 4 squares of my circle flowers done...

And here's a pic of a block in progress...

I always think it's interesting to see how much the applique pieces overlap and it can be hard to imagine how it will look, but then you sew those edges under and it all starts to make more sense!

Now the plan is to trim up the blocks (they are about an inch bigger than needed on each side), join them together, then applique on some more leaves to connect the flowers on each block. I love it when I see a project coming together!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Basting Day

I had a friend, Kerri come over today and we worked on a project of hers. She is making a Christmas tree skirt and has never basted, quilted or bound a quilt and needed some help. We got on the floor and basted the tree skirt.
I told her that I prefer hand basting over safety pin basting. I don't like to stop mid-quilting to remove the pins, especially when I'm in my quilting groove! It takes a little longer to hand baste, but for me the extra time spend pays off when quilting.

We have another date next week to work on the quilting and binding. I think we can take our time with this project - after all, Christmas is a few months away!

She also showed me some applique she is working on... Now Kerri is completely self-taught with applique - I haven't shown her anything, so I was extremely impressed with her first ever applique project! Her stitches were barely visible, and here comes the bit that really impressed me - not knowing any better, she had used thick hand quilting thread, and doubled it!! I told her she must be a natural, because if she can do that good of a job with that kind of thread, and have it doubled, then when she uses the right thread, and a single strand, it will be so easy for her!

Kerri has a blog where she writes about all kinds of crafty/sewing/cooking things she does. Go check it out!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blade Drama

Today I decided to cut up some of the fabrics I bought last week for my zig zag quilt. I was pushing pretty hard with my cutter and not getting great results. In fact it was just a miserable experience. Then I said to myself, "Joanna, why don't you just change your blade?" So I did and as usually happens when I change it, I wondered why I didn't do it weeks sooner! It cut through 6 layers like butter with hardly any pressure. Could someone just remind me in a few weeks to do it again?! I then cut and sewed more zig zags...This is my rotary cutter of choice...I have tried many different types and brands but this is my favorite. I think it's the handle. I like that the blade gets covered when you let go of the handle, without doing anything else. Of course, it works a whole lot better when you only put one blade on it instead of two. What? You really think that after 18 years of quilting I would do that? I'll never admit to it, but let me just tell you that when you find inexplicable skinny strips of fabric coming off your cuts with every swipe of your cutter, you might want to check that there's only one blade installed on it and that there aren't two stuck together. I'm just sayin'!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Tale of Two Mixers

Did you know today was National Quilting Day? I had grand plans to leisurely quilt all day long, then life happened and the long day of quilting didn't happen! For some unknown reason I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Talk about grumpy, and talk about a patient hubby! I cleaned, I cooked, I cleaned some more, I cooked some more, we went shopping, my grumpiness disappeared, then we went to an activity night (international pot luck dinner) at church. Then it was home to get the kids bathed and into bed and it is only now, at 11 at night that I've had a chance to do any quilting! Just more stitching on my circle flowers. I'll spare you a photo - it's the same thing as yesterday! How boring is that for you all?!

The most exciting thing I have to show you is my newest aquisition, a new Kitchen Aid mixer!
I already had one which I use every single day, but it was over 10 years old and it started to make funny noises and just wasn't running smoothly. It was bumping all over the place and just wasn't the same old mixer that I loved. Plus the coating on one of the beaters started to wear off. I thought it was just from old age, and from the every day use it has suffered. That thing has been a real work horse! My hubby knows how much I use and love it, so he happily bought me a brand new shiny chrome one which arrived yesterday.

I started reading the manual that came with it and it said something about being able to adjust the height of the beater, and that if it was too low, the beater would bang against the bowl and the coating would rub on the bowl and start to wear off. I thought huh? That's what happened to mine. Then it dawned on me that maybe there was nothing wrong with my mixer after all and I just needed to adjust this screw and raise the beater. Shiny new screw...
Grody old one which was there hidden under 10+years of flour...I adjusted the screw and I turned the mixer on. Sure enough, no wobbling, no funny noises, the movement was smooth - it was perfect! Aaargh! I didn't need a new one after all!!! Luckily my hubby has a sense of humor and thought it was hilarious! So I am now the owner of two Kitchen Aids. Isn't that a great problem to have?!!

The shiny new one is staying - it's gorgeous and there is no way it's leaving my house, ever! The old one I think is going to live with my sister in law in Utah, who will pick it up when they visit this Summer. In the meantime, there's going to be a whole lot of bread making going on in this house!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Purple Hair and Circles

Today was so busy for me that I haven't even had time for One Hour Friday! It started off this morning when I had to get the kids ready for Crazy Hair Day at school. Faux hawks and purple spray were the order of the day for the boys, and pigtails and zig zags for my girl...

After the kids went to school I had an electrician come and replace every single outlet in our house. Some were loose, some weren't grounded, and most were only two pronged. Needless to say we will sleep easier at night now knowing the fire hazard is much reduced! While that was going on I cleaned the house, made lunch, picked up the kids, made dinner, went grocery shopping, and spent time with the family which didn't leave much time for One Hour Friday. But I did manage to get started on another block for my circle flowers.
The best thing about applique is I can do it while sitting in bed watching a fun show or movie just like I am now. And here's the proof -
I'm surrounded by my blocks, threads, and fabric! Talk about heaven :)