Shower Thoughts Episode #64

What is it about the warmth of a comforting shower that brings up the most ingenious thoughts and plans? And of course it happens when you are all wet and unable to stop to write down all the great ideas you come up with!

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Today’s music is brought to you by Reg (AKA Dad). The song was originally written as a lullaby for Jake and all the future grandbabies. Here’s to Jake, our big 11 year old, and our new little Logan.

We were surprised by a call from my sister announcing that Logan was on his way! He decided to come a little earlier than expected and he’s just perfect! Welcome, little man!

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Papa and his newest little man.

This month we are playing along with the March A Long 2017 hosted by the Scientific Quilter.  The goal is to sew/quilt/stitch/press/organize or anything in the realm of sewing for 15 minutes a day for the month of March.

It’s the beginning of the month so we set some goals. Dori is going to work on her curved log cabin. I’m going to continue with my blocks for the puzzle box quilt.

We share our shower thoughts for our YouTube channel. There is a plan to attempt some Pinterest crafts like this crayon melt art and record whether they are a pass or a fail.

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Another idea is to continue with the box openings but to expand beyond quilting and sewing. I’m looking into some yarn and art boxes to try out along with including my husband in some geeky unboxings. Keep an eye out for our future video ideas.

Dori had a huge success with an instant pot recipe. They tried a Mongolian Beef dinner that was tasty and enjoyable!

Check out the #IGQuiltFest on Instagram. We’re having a blast hopping around and meeting new quilty friends!

Thanks to our listeners and followers for your subscriptions and your friendship. We really appreciate you all.

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The Splendid Sampler: Blocks 9 and 10

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The Splendid Sampler is still going strong with over 30 blocks already posted and over thousands of people participating. I’m in the background now participating when I can. But between our new house and my old job ending while setting up my new job for next year, I’ve had hardly a moment to sit down and sew.

But I do have a few blocks to share .

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We have block 9 The Quilt Shop and block 10 Iowa.

img_9439After a long hiatus from the sampler, I jumped in and knocked out these two blocks fairly quickly. I was worried the shop block would be tough but it came together really quickly. I did cut out some smaller pieces to simplify the process.

These were some pretty tiny pieces.


And because I’m using the little back dress set I named this the Little Black Dress Shop and used some of my embroidery stitches to make the sign. I was pretty pleased with that although I will admit to needing some stabilizer for the back.

For Iowa, I wanted to play with all the same fabrics but in the different color families so I went with my favorite, polka dots, and used that punch of red to make the corners and the center. I think it came out really sharp and a lot of people commented that it looked like a bird with a red beak.

I can’t blame them, it kinda does!

I’m pretty proud of that center point even if my other points don’t match quite perfectly. And I loved how easily this block came together.

If you are still on the fence about joining The Splendid Sampler, check out my beginners tips video on my YouTube channel for some inspiration and some ideas for getting started. I share my favorite tools and process to keep this sampler going!

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 8 Friends Around The Square

Sometimes I’m annoying. I say this with slightly tongue in cheek. Otherwise, I mean it whole heartedly. I can be annoying.

My mom and I talk at length about her perfectionism and how I scoff at patterns and rules. But sometimes, just sometimes, I get roped in by the rules and it really can suck me in!

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Block 8 looked simple enough. A month had gone by for the sampler and I was feeling pretty confident about all my new skills. All my other blocks had their trials but so far I have been super happy with the end results. So I dove right in and decided to knock this block out quickly.

This was the first block that I took the time to organize my fabrics and to label them as I worked through the pattern. Yes, I said while “I worked through the pattern”. I was doing my best to use all the tools offered to me so that I could make a great block. And while it came together rather fast, I got stuck trying to make my points match up in the center.

Yes, my mother’s perfectionism is really started to rub off on me! While I could have just left it as it was, I figured I am in this to improve and learn so I can’t just leave well enough alone. I want it to be as close to perfect a I can!

My end result for that center point is as close to perfect as I could get after I literally ripped out the center seam 8 times to get my points to match! In the end, I love this block for it’s simplicity and it’s color combo. These fabrics together really sing to me and I’m happy to see my hard work pay off!

What did I learn this block:

  • Making my points match up is oddly satisfying. Seriously.
  • Prints that translate closely as a solid (that ouster black fabric) need to be broken up with more color or smaller prints. I like my choices, but it reads very solid and dark.
  • Measuring once and cutting twice isn’t effective when it comes to quilting (or anything really). So double check your measurements before cutting.

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 6 Focal Point

 

I am distractible. I can get easily pulled way from the task at hand and while it’s not always a bad thing, sometimes it can really cause problems.
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After wrapping up blocks 7 and 4 with all the hand embroidery, I was high on these small accomplishments and decided to ride that wave. I started up block 6, Focal Point.

Things were going so well at the beginning. My fabric choices were looking beautiful and really singing to me.

And then, my luck ran out.  I changed out my bobbins and noticed a lot of fuzz stuck beneath so I figured it was time to give it a good dusting with my compressed air canister I keep close at hand. After I whisked away all the mini dust bunnies in my bobbin area, I put things back together. But something funky started happening. Rosy began making loud noises and my feed dogs would not grab my fabric.

Something was wrong. After hours of working to fix the problem, I gave up and left my block 3/4 the way done and broke hearted that my block was SO CLOSE to being finished but it would just not be that night. I needed to walk away, sleep, and come back the next day.

In the process of fiddling with my machine and TRYING to get her to work, I broke my favorite seam ripper, too. Time for a new one!

But the next morning I woke up with the same resolve and discovered that in my need to clean, I had placed my bobbin casing back in wrong and my machine was fighting with each stitch.

Another reason why cleaning is no good! (I kid….kinda).

Here is my finished block. Look how beautiful it came out! I’m so happy with the end result and the simplicity of this pattern yet the complex look I ended up with. The black polka dots really frame the perfectly matched up center points and the light/dark corners really pull my eyes out.

So, what did I learn this block?

  • Don’t break your machine just trying to clean it up.
  • Make sure your needle is in the correct position before reinserting your bobbin case.
  • Clean in between projects, not in the midst of one.
  • Making the points meet perfectly has a satisfaction like nothing else!
  • Don’t use your favorite seam ripper to repair the much stronger innards of the machine. The seam ripper will lose. Every. Time.

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 4 Happy Happy

After my success with my first time hand embroidering on my block 7 for the splendid sampler, I decided to go for it and work on block 4, Happy Happy.

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When this block first came out, I wasn’t sure about the vase. It’s supposed to be a bit wonky but for me it wasn’t a cute wonky, just wonky. Between that element and that I hadn’t embroidered before, I had put this block aside for another time. Then it was time to take it on.

I played a little with the design and cut different sizes and shapes of flowers while altering the vase into a more hour glass figure. I guess being that I’m shaped this way it really called to me!

I used a little Elmer’s glue and heat to get my pieces to stick down. Not my favorite way to go about that but it was what I had on hand for the moment. I seriously need some fusible webbing of my own at home.

I broke out some mouline DMC thread to add some sparkle to my vase and I have to say, I disliked it very much. It was very difficult to use and maybe it’s not meant for this but in the end I like how it looks but I don’t like working with it.

All of my appliqué was done by hand. I’m still not turning the edges around but I’m loving the process of appliqué. It’s great to have a handy project I can do while I sit next to my husband at the end of the day.

Almost there! By this point all I needed was to embroider the leaves and stems. I loved the way the vase looked and the teeny tiny stitches on the flowers/circles really tied the whole thing together. (literally)

I thought I would add some small black stitches around the border on the vase and didn’t like the way it looked. To me it looked like tiny black ants were marching across my block so I ripped them out and left it alone.

And ta-da! My favorite block (so far). Now I couldn’t leave things are they were and had to continue stitching some words onto the vase. This block really makes me happy to see it. It’s beautiful and shows how far I’ve come.

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 7 Snug As a Bug

I tend to like to work in order. But for this sampler, I’ve decided not to force myself to work sequentially and instead work on blocks that call to me. Sometimes I skip a block because I’m not ready to take on the skill that’s being asked of me or a different block looks really cool and I can’t wait to jump in! So without further ado, here is my block 7.

You can check out my other blocks here.

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Now I’ve never done any embroidery. So when block 7 came out, I was honestly not excited. My first thought, “I thought I was in a quilting sampler.” Away went this project into my binder and I moved on to other blocks.

Once I finished block 5, I started to look at block 7 again and realized it was either this block or block 4 which was a lot of little pieces and I wasn’t feeling like working with small bits.

So I traced the cute little picture onto the back of my fabric (yes, the back which made my whole thing harder and flipped but, oh well, it worked out) and collected a handful of floss from my old cross stitch kits. Yes, cross stitch.

Long long ago, in a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth…sorta… I cross stitched. I don’t know that I’ve ever finished a project but I knew how to read a pattern, pull the floss, start and stop, and I could also do a few fancy stitches.

Since that time in the ancient days, I’ve stopped cross stitching and forgotten all about my past hobby. Until now.

My history with counted cross stitch really came in handy for this block and I didn’t even realize that it would be so similar. And I laugh at myself because, yes, it’s pretty close to what I used to do. Using two strands of floss, I stitched a simple back stitch and followed my drawing.

Super cute! Now my eyes were not done very well. I had forgotten how to do a French knot. Even with step by step instructions I struggled to get them to stay knotted and to look even. I ended up ripping them out and starting over.

MUCH better!!! At the end of the post is the video that ended up clarifying for me how to make a French knot. I was holding the tension thread too high up and my knot was unraveling before it had a chance to wrap around.

While the pattern called for a bunny and a bear alongside the little boy, once I finished I instantly saw my son all of 5 years old again with his buddy, Georgie. So I personalized this for him with only the one buddy and his name along with the date. While this project will be mine, it’s something I’d like him to have someday. Something to pass on to him and to his children someday.

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And I what find amazing is that something that wasn’t interesting to me at all has now become something I really enjoy! After this block was finished and came out so adorably, I jumped into block 4 and really enjoyed the whole process. Embroidery is quickly becoming a new and favorite hobby of mine!

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 5 Simple Simon (Not!)

It’s time again to share with all of you, our readers and friends, my recently finished block from The Splendid Sampler quilt along. If you’d like to see my past blocks, check out block 1, block 2, and block 3. I have jumped out of order and skipped block 4 but I intend to get it done soon as I can get the appliqué parts drawn up!

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Block 5 arrived and I instantly knew I could blow through it in a flash. Maybe it was all my past success or maybe it was because I recognized the 9 patch in the background and felt confident that this block wouldn’t cause too much difficulty.

Boy was I wrong!!

To start, this block is the first in my series without the red focus color. And, still, it looks wonderful. I’m adoring this fabric set and really love the combinations, no matter which I choose to use.

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My rows came together quickly and I made sure to starch them like crazy because I’m finding the starch really keeps the fabric flat and easy to sew with once I start combining multiple rows with thicker seams.

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My 9 patch alone was gorgeous and I could have stopped right there and I would have been completely satisfied. It’s the same pattern but with different colors and the way the fabrics play together is really beautiful.

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I mean look at those points!!

And then came the Great Chopping. I had to cut the block into four squares so that I could add the borders in the middle. Now, had I been thinking outside the box (pun completely intended) I would have just measured to the center, marked it, then sliced right down and then flipped it around to do the same across the middle.

But no, for some reason I decided to measure in and cut to the measurement in the pattern and not the true size of my block at that point. I didn’t take into consideration that the measurements in pattern would not match up exactly to my very own block in reality. There are too many variables that can come into play and a small crooked cut on one small piece can cause the block to measure differently.

Either way, I went by the pattern and when I measured for the cut, it wasn’t right. It was a little off. So when I applied the middle borders, some of the corner pieces didn’t line up as was as I would have liked them to.

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But looking at it here you can’t even tell and that’s all that matters to me. I know what I did wrong and now I know how I’d fix it. As for this block, I’m leaving it just as it is! It’s a good looking block with well balanced colors and fabrics. Other than some trimming that will happen when I want to fit a border to it, it’s still very beautiful and I’m happy with the outcome!

And now I’ve learned, don’t take a “simple” block of granted. All blocks have their difficulties and need to be respected thusly!

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 3 Lots of Love

Block 3 for the Splendid Sampler went live while I was in Pasadena at QuiltCon. So I came home and instantly printed it so I wouldn’t fall too far behind. I was already finished with block 1 but I had yet to start block 2. While this whole process isn’t a race I definitely wanted to stay on track so I didn’t get frustrated.

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This blocked looked fairly easy from the directions except that I’m having a difficult time seeing the true size of these blocks. They seem easy because in my mind I’m seeing a huge block, not a 6 in finished product. Yikes…

This would make most of the pieces used to create these hearts miniscule. But never fear, I’m on it and I plan to take on every block no matter how difficult!

Luckily for me I have a good friend Sherry who sent me a link to a great blog posted at Bits From The Scrap Basket: Piecing Lots Of Love. This post saved my sanity! I really found it easy to follow.

Especially when the blocks are THIS little. I mean, really, these things are tiny! I’m not used to sewing anything this size but I made it through and felt pretty good about the whole process!

Luckily for me we had no plans Saturday and I had a head cold so I wasn’t going anywhere even if I was asked nicely. Instead I rested all morning and sewed all afternoon, get block 3 done in one day!

It’s so cute!!! And I love my color choices. Having that red to add a little pop to my Little Black Dress 2 set really makes the whole thing pull together nicely.

After making this block and posting a Periscope broadcast to show my progress, I realized there were a few things I had learned along the way that helped me make these teeny tiny blocks. So I sat down in my sewing room and put together a list of great items that I find necessary to get through this sampler project. Feel free to check out my Youtube video here or read the list below.

For me, I find these things have really helped me along.

  1. Starch. And lots of it!
  2. My purple thang. This tool really comes in handy to measure this seams.
  3. Sticky notes to write down anything thoughts on the patterns or to organize your cut pieces before sewing together.
  4. A fabric marker/pencil to help mark the diagonal stitching lines
  5. My Omnigrid 2.5 in ruler is a rock star!
  6. Using a fat quarter bundle with coordinating fabrics helps lessen the distractions of other fabrics and streamlines my color choices.
  7. The big one: Create a pattern binder. It keeps all the patterns together and you can store scrap fabrics in the pockets and your finished blocks in the sleeves with their corresponding patterns.

On to the next block!!!

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 1 Hearts Aflutter

I had a crazy thought for 2016: I would seek out ways to improve my quilting/sewing skills. I mean, I have already job, a home to run, a 10 year old to get to and from football/soccer/theater/music lessons on any given day, not to mention my own visits to the gym and other social engagements we have as a family. So, my dance card is pretty full.

Like I said…crazy, I say. CRAZY!

I’ve never claimed to be super smart but it should come as no shock that I went ahead and joined a HUGE sew-along that promises 2 block patterns a week, 100 blocks total, and for a whole year.

Did I mention I am a bit crazy?!

Well you heard me right. I’ve joined up with many, many quilters from beginners to seasoned veterans to follow along with Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson’s Splendid Sampler sew along.

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Every Sunday and Thursday a new block is posted as you are allowed to do as you please. Use something from your stash to build the block or buy fabric as you see fit. Do the whole project in one night or spread it out over days. Collect them all and finish at your leisure. It’s up to you!

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The first block was posted Sunday, Valentine’s day, and it was appropriately a heart shaped appliqué on a simple four square background block with different corner fabrics. I was thrilled to see a fairly simple block was I was worried that I would not be able to keep up if the blocks were way outside my comfort zone.

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I originally went with a cream and maroon/wine colored mix and some stripes. I was really draw to this set of fabrics but I actually planned ensuing my Dragonfly Summer set by Holly Taylor. You can check out my Periscope broadcast where I show off my fabric choices that ended up getting ditched…

Not long after I set my mind on my fabrics, I found a fat quarter set in our stash I HAD to use.

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Hello, Little Black Dress 2!!! How beautiful are you!?! I love this French, shabby chic look and decided to ditch my original block and start over.

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But first, lemme show off my beautiful center points. Look how precise those are!!! Amazing, am I right!?

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I kept the original plan for the block (cream and maroon/wine) and left my appliqué heart as it was but decided to do my corners over again, this time using  a complementary fabric from Little Black Dress 2.

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A few things I did differently with the idea that I’m here to learn so to learn I must do things I normally wouldn’t.

  1. I used pins. YES, I pinned!
  2. I pressed my seams open.
  3. I also used a fabric pencil to mark my corners so I could get the most accurate angle possible.
  4. I also trimmed my block once it was done so that it was squared up the moment it was completed.
  5. I also (hold on for it) PRACTICED! Yes, I did a few practice runs with the appliquéing before hitting the official block.

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When it came time to appliqué, I went round and round on how I was going to machine stitch this down. I tried a few decorative stitches and none hit me with a WOW feeling. I also played with colors and while I wanted to use black to frame the heart (my favorite color to appliqué with) I ended up finding a shiny red thread that worked well with my color scheme. I stuck with a stitch I knew and went for it.

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And voila!! My first block is done! Now to wait impatiently for the second block pattern to arrive to my email box!!

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TGIFF: Halloween Table Runner Sew Along

There is nothing like the satisfaction of a finished product!

This week we completed our month long Sew Along project and our table runners couldn’t have come out looking more different and more adorable than they did!

We had a nice chat last night on our podcast about what we enjoyed and what we didn’t, what we would leave as is and what we would change.

Overall, we loved our runners and how they turned out. Only a few small changes would be made.

Katie’s Binding

For me, my binding technique still needs to be refined. I’m not 100% happy with the way it came out so I feel that this is a skill I still need to improve upon even though I’ve bound multiple projects.

Dori experimented with the roll over binding from the backing and even played with a different styled stitch. It really gives the finished look a nice touch!

Dori’s Binding

Dori and both agree that appliqué is the shizz!! While Dori loves her pumpkins, she learned a few other techniques that she wants to incorporate in her next appliqué project. She’s even talking about hand stitching our appliquéd pieces. I’m good with the outcome and just need to continue practicing.

Dori’s Pumpkins

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Katie’s Pumpkin

As for our free motion quilting… WELL… That’s a whole different story. While I like my end result, I know for certain I can use a lot of practice. I need to learn to BREATHE through my free motion quilting as I tend to hold my breath. And Dori also felt that her free motion needs some practice.

We both had the similar thought it wouldn’t be so difficult and yet when we got going, we both realized that it was tougher than we expected. What we both took away from this project is that we want to work on our free motion quilting because it’s definitely a technique that we like but need some major work on!

Katie’s FM Webs

More FM Webs

We both used a fabric pencil to draw in the straight lines and a few of the strains between but found that it was easier to just go with it after awhile instead of spending time drawing in every single line.

Dori’s FM Web

We both had a problem with nesting threads on the back of our runners though we tried different techniques. I know we need to tack down our quilting but my machine didn’t want to corporate with me and make it neat. So I have clusters of thread knots along the edges of my backing.

Katie’s Nests

Katie’s Finished Product

In the end we have a finished product ready to be placed out for everyone to see for Halloween! It’s been a learning experience but we got a lot out of it.

Doris Finished Product

Check out our side bar for all the great sites we link up with weekly. Today this post is linked to Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF at Faith and Fabric, A Quilted Passion, and over at Richard and Tanya Quilts.

 

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