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. 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, 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....