Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kathi's Quilt - Just Finished

I took a hiatus from this quilt while working full / overtime at my previous job(s). Now that I am unemployed and up north where it is freezing, I have had more time to work on projects. I sat down over the past couple weeks and knocked this one out. It's amazing how much sewing you get done when you have no husband around, you cannot drive, and you have no job. It's the silver lining to the situation!

Well, here it is:

I'd say that it turned out absolutely lovely! I am very happy with it. No handmade project is perfect, and this is no exception. There are a few spots where say the machine stitching shows on the front, and my hand quilting stitches are definitely not perfectly spaced. I did get much better at that though, along with huge improvements on the binding. 

Here are details of the quilting. Above is a close up of some of the stitches on the front. The photo to the right shows how the pinwheels look on the back. The photo below shows that my hand-stitching on the binding is getting more even. I didn't take a photo, but my corners look much better on this quilt too (compared to the last). 

I'm especially happy with how the quilt wrinkled up all cozy in the wash. It also got rid of the cat hair...since the cat thought I was making the quilt for her.

All that's left is getting the quilt to Kathi! I will be starting on some Christmas presents for my sisters-in law and my mother-in-law tomorrow. I'll be working on something new, so I'll be taking advantage of my mom's help while I'm staying with her! They are each one or two day projects, so I should have them all done before I leave to visit TJ. After that, I'll be starting on Jessica's baby quilt. I have the pattern picked out along with all of the fabric. Hopefully I'll finish it significantly faster. Maybe even in time for the baby's first birthday.

I won't be posting any photos of Christmas presents until the recipients receive them, but I'll make sure to share them each on here after! For learning to sew less than two years ago, I'd say that I'm improving greatly. I'm excited to share the next few projects. Hopefully sometime this next year I'll figure out how to sew some clothes. That's my longterm goal. Sewing clothes is more complicated. I have made two attempts so far. The pajama pants turned out alright (a little short-like capris, but otherwise good). The shirt was a disaster. I'm going to wait until I have a cutting table and am settled in Florida before the next clothing attempt. I also have been doing some digital scrap-booking -- but those are also gifts that I can't share until after the holidays. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gardening 2014

I decided to go ahead with gardening now that we've found out well be here for at least most of the year. We will be moving in either November or February. We need to get some things sorted out to figure out when we can move for sure. The one thing that is certain is that I am extremely excited to move to Fort Walton Beach, Florida! I've already been browsing houses just to figure out what options are out there. We will probably be buying our first house when we move. For a few reasons: on base housing will only give us a two bedroom. It will cost over $1000 a month for that two bedroom. If we buy a three bedroom off base that is $100,000, it will cost us less monthly even with utilities factored in. We will be there for at least four to six years, as well. The housing that we've been looking at off base in that area seems to range from about $89,000 to $115,000. It is really affordable! Unfortunately, that's because the housing market there was hurt badly in the housing crisis. The one major downside of buying a house there is dealing with the hurricane insurance and hurricane prepping. We've specifically been looking at houses that are already prepped for a hurricanes (special windows, wind breaks, etc.).

Anyways, back to gardening! I'm not going to be spending much on flowers this year. I'll mostly just be doing seeds. They are more affordable. Plus, the area where I can plant flowers is not very conducive to gardening success. Poor drainage, low lighting, all that fun stuff. I'm not willing to put the money in to fix those problems. I am attempting a container garden in the back, though! This is my first attempt, so we'll see where my successes and failures will be! The back of the house is the only area that gets a decent amount of sunlight, so that's where all the containers will be. My biggest worry is the deer from the forest our house backs to. Luckily, we have found a used fence that somebody is getting rid of. We need to wait for them to come out and mark all of our lines before we can install it, but we'll at least have a fence this year. That'll help keep the deer out (hopefully), and also will allow us to let the dogs outside without holding the leashes every time. We also plan on getting a little baby pool for them. The only downside is this means we'll have to mow our own lawn. Bummer! It was bound to happen one day.

Here is what I have so far: 
The Front Garden "Before"
The Front Garden "After" -
I have since also tilled the soil/raked in the old mulch and planted some seeds. 
My container garden in the back - all herbs and veggies that I've started from seeds.

I'll try to post more pictures as things start growing!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Progress on Kathi's Quilt

I have finished the next step in Kathi's quilt and it is ready for me to begin quilting! I will be hand quilting this one, but I did purchase a book recently as well as some clearance stencils on machine quilting. I enjoy hand quilting, but it is incredibly time consuming and I like to get more projects done. I also haven't tried machine quilting, so I don't even know if I'd enjoy it just as much. The advantage to hand quilting is that I can do it while watching movies and such, whereas if I were quilting on the machine I'd be staring at the quilting and machine the whole time. It is too loud to even listen to music at the same time, but it definitely seems like it would be faster. I also would like to just explore my options. I am planning on attempting some machine quilting based on the book using the practice quilt my mom made for me to practice with before Bree's quilt. It is a teeny-tiny miniature quilt. The cat likes it. It's already covered in fur and not even finished. So, I guess she has claimed it as her own already.

Last week I managed to put together the "quilt sandwich" for Kathi's quilt in order to prep it for quilting. This was my first time doing this myself, so I had to be extra careful. I picked out some really pretty fabric for the back of the quilt and picked up some pre-packaged/pre-cut baby quilt batting so I wouldn't have to do much cutting myself. In order to make the sandwich I had to have a large, flat, well-lit area to lay the back fabric down, center the batting on it, then center the quilt top on. This involved barricading my kitchen from the dogs, since they wanted to 'help.' I didn't realize how much of a pain the quilt sandwich is, since every time you realize something isn't lined up or centered you have to move it. Not easy, since all the layers want to stick together. In the end I was successful, and filled it with safety pins so that it all stays in place for quilting. 

Quilt Sandwich
Pinwheels of Safety Pins
The pretty fabric I found for the back of the quilt.
The beautiful pink thread I found for quilting the quilt. I didn't want a
'bright' pink or yellow, but something more subtle. I also didn't
want purple since I found a dark purple fabric I love
for the binding of the quilt and the back is mostly purple.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Over the past week and a half I have been sick. At first I thought it was a common cold--and at first it might have been. It evolved into possibly the worst sinus infection I've ever had. Both sides of my face are affected (eyes, ears, nose, throat, and general discomfort). Last Saturday I went to urgent care because I was feeling so cruddy and they gave me a steroid shot, antibiotic, nasal spray, and decongestant. I took the antibiotic/nasal spray/decongestant combination for a total of two days before my body just couldn't take it. I was vomiting, couldn't stay awake, exhausted, and couldn't function. Even my fingers weren't working properly. So, I have been just taking the antibiotic since and half a dose of nyquil at night to help me breathe through my nose and sleep. My body hates medications. I'm still on the antibiotic and I can't tell if my infection is getting better. I still feel really cruddy and generally out of it. I also had to call into work sick on a Saturday--possibly the worst day ever to do that. 

Monday was Amos' second birthday, so we had to spoil him and give the animals wet food and new toys. Amos loves annoying toys. So, we gave him one, he celebrated by being as obnoxious as possible with it:

Then on Tuesday we got that nasty ice storm. So, I had to cancel all of my classes for Tuesday night and we closed the store early. I didn't realize how chaotic closing early would be. Grooming had to call owners to come get their dogs, pet care had to take care of all the small animals early, etc. It was nuts. I am not looking forward to all the paperwork and rescheduling I am going to have to deal with today at work in addition to my classes. 

Here are some pics from the ice storm. That is what my car looked like when I got home. A thin coating of ice over the entire thing and my windshield looked like somebody spilled a snow cone on it.

 The house and yard didn't look much different. Everything was coated in white, so just looking at it you might think it is snow. There was no snow. It was all crunchy ice. TJ didn't have to go into work, luckily the base closed the roads to mission essential personnel only. It's a good thing, too. The roads were horrible. They do not have salt trucks down here, so it was slick and the only thing to do was wait for it to melt.

Before I got sick I was really ambitious with stuff I wanted to get done. I was hoping to get this house cleaned and give the dogs a bath. Neither has happened. Since I've been ill I've done the dishes only once and it was so exhausting I decided vacuuming wasn't an option. It's also been too cold for dog baths, so the dogs will just have to remain stinky until next week. I was also planning on getting quite a few sewing projects done (when I'm not sick I can get a couple done in a day--it turns out when sick I can get a couple done in a week) and some scrap-booking projects done. No scrap-booking has happened at all while I've been sick. 

I did manage to get a few things done, though. Not nearly as much as I planned, but some is better than none. I found a use for some of my fleece remnants: a cat sack. I found the pattern here. Hancockfabics.com has quite a few free projects/patterns on it. Here is the finished cat sack, and the cat happily hiding inside it: 

I have also made a shirt! I know it doesn't seem that exciting, but I am trying to learn how to read patterns and sew my own clothing. I realized quickly that patterns are confusing, I messed up not once but twice while sewing it. I then messed it up further when ripping out seams by ripping some small holes in it. As a result, I have a new appreciation for YouTube videos, since I am definitely a visual learner. In addition to the small holes from the seam ripper, I sewed the neck too tight and the sleeves a little snug. I am not particularly happy with the shirt, but I am cutting myself some slack since it is my first time sewing with such a stretchy fabric, my first time sewing an article of clothing without my mom's help, and my first time attempting to use one of those thin, confusing patterns. As a result, I have a shirt I can wear as a pajama top or to workout in. It definitely has too many issues for me to feel comfortable wearing it in public, though. Too many uneven seams holes, and minor problems. But, I sewed a shirt!  I likely need to sew a lot more clothing patterns as practice before I make anything I'm particularly proud of, but everybody's got to start somewhere. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jeanna's Pillowcases

After a long delay, mostly due to procrastination and no real excuses, I have completed Jeanna's pillowcases! Yippee! I am holding them hostage until she visits me though. So, she can't have them. Yet. Sorry, Chris.

When my mom visited me she brought me the fabric for the pillowcases. Earlier this week I found a pattern I wanted to use to make them, and realized I hadn't washed the fabric for them yet. I washed and ironed all the fabric and finally got to cutting and sewing today! These pillowcases definitely took more time than my previous pillowcases. The pattern required significantly more cutting, ironing, and sewing. I am really happy with how they turned out. There are a few minor mistakes with lining things up, etc. I have learned that striped fabric is probably not the best for beginners to sew with. The 'oopsies' are much more noticeable when stripes don't line up. Honestly, I do believe these pillowcases turned out better than my last set even with the minor mistakes. I am definitely improving at cutting pieces and lining them up. Yay! 

Jeanna provided me with one main fabric and three other fabrics. I wanted to incorporate all four fabrics into both pillowcases, but wasn't quite sure how since I had only made the one pillowcase style before. I found this pattern online and decided it was perfect. If you are looking for easy sewing patterns, I highly recommend allpeoplequilt.com, the patterns are really easy to follow. At first this pattern seemed a little intimidating since I am so new to sewing, but it ended up being pretty easy!

Prep work! Lots of little squares!
Pillowcase One
Pillowcase one

I took a break after pillowcase one, which seemed to take all day due to the cutting of both at the same time and the fact I was unfamiliar with the pattern. I made some delicious chicken-bean soup and baked cookies for TJ for National Weatherperson's Day since he is a weather forecaster. I always forget to cut down recipes that I made back home (where family would eat them all). I made five dozen cookies. Oops. No regrets! I am sad about my lack of a cookie jar, though.


The cat reminded me why I take the place mats off the table after dinner.

After dinner I finished the second pillowcase. Sorry about all the photo lighting (or lack thereof). I have a really strange sleep schedule since I work late and TJ works overnight and we like to actually see each other. So, I was sewing up until about 11:30 at night. The lighting isn't so great this time of night. 
Pillowcase two

Pillowcase two

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Baby Quilt "Preview"

So, yesterday I was feeling motivated and it was my "Sunday," so I had time to actually do things. I had gotten all of my weekly chores done the day before, so I had time to do what I wanted to do yesterday! How exciting! Unfortunately, I quickly realized my first idea wasn't going to work. 

Initially, I was going to finally get to sewing Jeanna's pillowcases. But, I realized I hadn't even washed the fabric yet. So, I was looking through my projects and decided to get started on Kathi's baby quilt! For the record, I did get the fabric for the pillowcases washed yesterday and plan on working on them tomorrow (don't have time today for sewing since I am going into work early). 

We (my mom and I) already had the front cut out and ironed since we did that when we cut Bree's baby quilt. That made my life a lot easier yesterday. I did get more done than expected in one day as a result. The assembly process started very similarly, although the end product is much different.

First, I lined up all the blocks so that no two pieces of the same fabric were touching. Keep in mind, they are all squares it is just that my table is not big enough to lay it all out and when I lay anything down on the floor the pets seem to think I am making a bed for them. 

The second step was sewing them all together, then adding the border. I love these fabrics! It is looking so pretty! Normally for babies I would do a more gender neutral (like the baby animals of Bree's quilt), but Kathi already has two boys and this is her first girl. So, she needs some girly stuff in her house (obviously). My mom picked out the fabrics and the combination, although I narrowed down the choices a little. So, I can't take all the credit. Or even most of it. Hehe.

Then, I CHOPPED IT ALL UP!!!! You're thinking NOOOOOOO, right? Well, how else am I going to make it more interesting? My mom gave me this really cool tool called a Twister and at first it was a little intimidating and I was soooo worried I was going to screw this all up at this point because A. she wasn't here to help me out and B. I had never used this contraption before. It turns out that it is super easy to use, I didn't even manage to mess this up and it actually helped me hide a 'mistake' from lining up the blocks initially. My mom originally got the twister from my grandma, and then she bought it in more sizes. After using this thing only once I am planning on getting it in more sizes as well. The one I have only works on fairly large blocks. You can find the info on the Twister here and also buy it there. If you are a quilter, whether novice or expert, these things make pinwheels SO easy. How easy? Just look what I did: 

I hope Kathi is happy with how it is looking so far! I need to go to a fabric store this weekend to pick out a binding and backing fabric, I already have the batting at least. I'll post again when I have the quilt 'sandwich' put together and when I begin quilting it. Hopefully I'll finish this one a little faster than Bree's since I have a tiny bit more experience/sorta know what I am doing at this point. This quilt, as a result of the pinwheel cutting, is a bit smaller than Bree's quilt was. But, it is a little more detailed and they are both baby quilts so the size doesn't really matter much. Tomorrow I plan on working on Jeanna's pillowcases. She provided the fabric, and I am attempting a new pattern. Hopefully I don't mess it up, then I'd have to find more fabric....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It is done!

I have (finally) finished my very first quilt! I used the machine, along with my mom's assistance, to assemble the quilt. I then hand-quilted each block in a different way. I did this because I have never quilted before, so it gave me some experience with difference shapes and stitches, and it helped me to not get bored. I also thought it would be fun since it is for a baby and babies like to touch things. So, there are a bunch of different shapes to touch and feel!

The finished product!

Since I had never quilted before, I learned quite a bit from quilting this baby quilt. First off, thimbles are important but you will still manage to poke yourself with your needle a LOT. I never bled though, so I guess I'm building up callouses on my fingertips. Secondly, quilting can be really relaxing. I liked quilting while watching Netflix and listening to music. I'm almost all the way through re-watching Charmed (a show I watched with my mom when I was younger), I started watching it when I began working on the quilt last fall. Third: it is really, really time consuming. I know it takes my mom month's (or years) to finish quilts. I now have a deeper appreciation for the quilts I have from her and why she takes so long to finish them. I am slower than she is, but I also did not quilt as intricately. She tends to do closer stitches in smaller patterns all over the entire quilt. I'll get there one day, but that is really ambitious for right now. Lastly, I learned that quilting uses muscles you do not use on an everyday basis. In your hands, wrists, and arms. I quilted six blocks in one day, and depending on the quilting pattern each block seemed to average about an hour to do (ranged from 40 minutes to 2 hours per block). It was about a seven hour stretch of quilting. I regretted that decision, because I could not quilt for a week afterward. It hurt to lift my arms, my wrists were sore, and my fingertips were numb. I was in a groove, though! ;) 

Here are all sixteen of the quilt blocks with the different quilting patterns/shapes/designs: 
Traced Animals
Traced Zebra Stripes
Traced Circles
Outer Square
Zig Zags
Traced Shapes
Inner Lines of Zebra Stripes

Traced Circles

Curly Q

Traced Shapes
"Connect the Dots" - This one was fun!
Bubbles - Water Soluble Markers are AWESOME
Traced Shapes--Check out the palm tree!
A maze!

I finished the quilt by hand-stitching the binding onto the back of the quilt. The first corner was a MESS. But I quickly figured out how to 'seal' them down better by examining my mom's quilts and looking through a book she gave me. So the last three corners are much 'neater.' 

First Corner

Better Corner
This quilt is not perfect, there are some quilting stitches that are a bit loose and my stitching definitely needs improving (inconsistent lengths, etc), but I am still ecstatic with how this quilt turned out. I would call my first quilt a success! I hope the wonderful new mother I am giving the baby quilt to to is as happy with it as I am, if not more. 

And here are my mom's grandpuppies enjoying the toys she mailed us this week: