Monday, April 29, 2013

Making star progress and some Spring garden pictures

After the iron setback this weekend I decided to take action. Went down to Target again and bought a $24.99 iron I thought would be perfect for a temporary replacement until my new one arrives. When I got it out of the box I couldn't believe my eyes. It was the plate I was looking for!

Voila! The plate without grooves or indentations:

I have no idea why the manufacturers don't put pictures of the plate on the box, but it was a nice surprise. I'd opened several irons at the store last time I was there just to be disappointed. This was one that I didn't open. I sould've. Guess it's too late now. Or not. I'm in love with this iron :) It has an extra long cord and the iron stays on for a relatively long time before it shuts off automatically.
I happily sat down to finish the block I started a week ago. I found an easier way to "pin" the blocks together without using actual pins. I don't know about you, but the paper or fabric often moves as the pins go through all the layers. I figured I'll try to hold them together with yes, paper clips!

It worked fine and I didn't have to fiddle with bending pins and such.
As I was sewing the segments together before pressing I was checking if everything was alright and had an Oh, CRAP! moment. The blue flower fabric didn't quiet go down to the corner the meet the others. In 2 of the units.

Yes, that's about a half an inch too short!

I called my BFF and started to rip the stitches out.
After the tedious process I used Carol Doak's tip to put the opaque scotch tape on the sewing line of the paper on the blocks I was going to reuse again to save the paper that was ripped already. It worked like a charm! Didn't melt under the iron and held my paper together like it was new. Had no problem stitching over it after I re-made the 2 parts I needed.

The end result of the Ninja Star for March:

Yesterday we were at the flea market and picked up some lettuce plants that I planted after we got home.

The petunias I planted on the street front(last week's picture):

We bought these 3 colors:

She thinks this is her new bathroom... Zucchinis and cucumbers:

Strawberries full of fruits already:

Tomatoes, hot banana peppers, and more strawberries:

Tomatoes, sweet banana peppers, and rosemary:


Green beans:

And now the lettuce addition next to the strawberries:

And the front yard turned into a violet field in the past week:

That's all for now, I keep working on my Lucky Stars block, and probably by the time I finish it the new one will come out on May 1st. So much for catching up... :)

'Til we blog again! :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The day the iron died...

Lately I've been trying to catch up on things I neglected in the last 2 months. One of them is the Lucky Stars Block of the month with Don't call me Betsy blog.
I was having a hard time making February's block because the colors are far from my palette. I mean I like blue, yellow, and even gray, it's just they are not my first choice to be in a block together with no other color added. I finally bit the bullet and made the block about 2 weeks ago (was too lazy to photograph it until now).

I got into a routine and started to make the block for March and got this far.

With this much of scraps:

I was on pressing the last 4 sections of the block before assembling it together, when my iron just gave up on me. We were together for about 6 years and I have to admit I dropped it a few times in the past few months. I guess in the result of falling hard the sensor for shut off gave up and my iron instead of turning off when it reached the right temperature it kept heating and when it got so hot it started to beep. I unplugged it right away since it didn't react to the turning lower command :) I let it cool a little bit, then plugged it in and now it gets a little warm, but doesn't even heat up enough to press on the lowest setting. I was devastated since I was on a high as you could see in my post a few weeks ago! 
I wanted to buy a new iron, so I went to the local Target. I found one I particularly liked, but when I took it out of the box I noticed a design change. I've been wanting to buy an iron that has no indentations for the steam holes, but rather just a simple plate with holes on it. So the holes were fine, but for some reason whoever designed this new type put grooves outlining the shape of the iron. UGH! I wanted to get the specific type of plate because when I press the regular irons leave indentations on the fabric and I noticed a slight stretching. I press with up and down motion and don't move my iron so my fabric needs to stay flat, not bumpy after pressing. Frustrating, isn't it? Am I too specific? I have no idea what's the purpose of the stupid grooves.
So after many suggestions from my twitter friends I went to the Vermont Country Store website and ordered a dry iron which haven't arrived yet. I'm really eager to get it.

To sum up my experience I wanted to share a few things that can be useful if you wanted to do paper piecing.
After listening to Jackie Kunkel on American Patchwork and Quilting Radio (link on the left sidebar) She said something that stuck in my head. She's a paper piecing teacher and using a method where they print out an extra of the pattern and cut it up to use to cut the fabrics. Genius! So I printed an extra copy of the blocks I wanted to be working on and carefully putting it down printed side up on the WRONG side of the fabrics needed to be cut. I left about a half inch seam allowance and cut the required number of shapes. I labeled them (1A, 1B, etc...) according to the pattern and voila! Piecing went a lot faster!
The second thing I discovered is not necessarily about paper piecing, but about my Singer 201 sewing machine. There's a screw on the left of the stitch length handle which I never needed to use. But with paper piecing I like to take a few back stitches at the starting and finishing of the seam lines. So I discovered if I set the screw to the same level as my stitch length is set it kind of has a block. I tightened the screw and this way when I lift the handle to back stitch, it will make the same length for back stitching as my stitches going forward. Does it make sense? Hope it does! Specially because paper piecing needs such small stitches for making it easier to tear out the paper later on and if I didn't set the screw my back stitches were gigantic :)

That's it for Today, I'll be back later after I got my new iron and will finally be able to iron my fabrics, fuse my fusible for a new tote, and all that jazz!

'Til we blog again! :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

On a high right now :)

As the very warm and nice weather is approaching (75-80 is the forecast for tomorrow) it gave me more energy  to jump into my to-be-finished list and actually get something DONE. I always Ooooh and Aaaaah those quilters who post several new finishes every week and kind of envy them for their skills to stay organized along the way cause that's the way to get things done. I get so many distractions and find excuses all the time, not mentioning the biggest one, Twitter... Not that I mind, but just sayin'.
So after I was done with the N Blu quilt I was kind of clueless what's next. If you can remember I recently made a huge progress on Easy Street just to get set back with numerous missing blocks. And there's the monkey quilt hanging over my head that I want to finish and have it out of my way. It's been 4 years I started that sucker and I'm tired of it! But, on the other hand I had this bag started last spring when I wanted to make 2 of the same, but didn't have enough fabric to make the handle for the second one. So I just had it in a half done stage without lining and handles. I made fabric Easter baskets last year and after the Easter gathering was cancelled I stuffed all the baskets in this bag to have them out  of my way. It was sitting on my shelf and I was looking at it every day. 
Now that I had to decide what to do next I was kind of asking around on Twitter and Carol was suggesting to finish the bag to have a quick satisfactory feeling. So I went with that. I pulled the fabric for the lining and measured how big I need to make it (it's been awhile and I  had no idea of the measurements, plus I changed the size so the pattern would not have been helping). I wanted pockets and sewed that on the lining first, but forgot to do the dividing vertical lines so I had to do that after the whole lining was together. DUH! Topping that I didn't bother putting my hand on the pocket, just eyeballed it and what do you know, my hands don't fit into the pocket all the way. Guess  no chap sticks and small stuff in those 2! :))

With the inside pockets (left and  right pockets are too small even for my child size hands):

Then came the handles. I didn't have enough fabric to make a long enough handle so I looked on Pinterest for options. I found a very good tutorial here which was using duck cloth and another fabric to cover the seams. I realized I had duck cloth bought earlier for making shopping bags so I just took it out, pressed it with a lot of water to get the wrinkles out and cut out the 2.5" strips I needed.  Later I realized I wanted to make the handles a little wider so instead of folding the sides all the way to the middle I only folded about 3/8" in. I'd put the other fabric on top and it looked kind of stupid to have a hole in the middle even though I couldn't see it. I had an the idea to put some batting in the middle to make the hole disappear. Started to sew the layers together and my walking foot just gave me a fit. It only took itty bitty stitches and seemed like it didn't push the fabric through. Ripped out the stitches, tried again. Still didn't work. Okay, I figured  it might be too thick (even though this machine should stitch twice the thickness, but  at that point I was like whatever!) I took the batting out and started again just to realize that  my walking foot couldn't move properly because the handle that's supposed to move on the side was blocked by some parts of the machine (that I moved earlier to get it out of my way). And then it'd hit me! Fixed the problem and stitched the handles in 5 minutes, tops.

By that time it was midnight. I was cursing those people who say they can whip up a bag like this in an hour. :))))) Okay, maybe after I have everything  cut. I had to adjust the size of the lining a little since it was too big, then sewed the lining to the outer fabric leaving a gap and turned it inside out. After pinning I called it a day because I just knew at that stage if I started to stitch the top stitching which should not take more than 5 minutes something would go wrong and I would not be able to sleep :)
I finished it this morning without a hitch and really glad I did, it feels awesome to finally have it done.

Top stitching:

In full glory:

Smoky from the Quality Control department was supervising me as I took the photos:

I like this bag a lot and I was thinking I will try to make one with a zipper top. Now I've never made a lined bag with a zipper top so that should be interesting. But, I got an email from Craftsy today that they still have their Spring sale going on and  I found a free mini class about zippers and I quickly signed up. I'll watch the lessons before my attempt...Oh, have I mentioned it was my second finish in the 2nd Quarter Finish Along? Oh yeah, baby! And it's only April 8th!

she can quilt

Linking up to the Craftastic Monday linky party at Sew Can Do

'Til we blog again!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Second Quarter FAL 2013 goals

she can quilt

As the first quarter finish along is wrapping up I have to post my second quarter goals.

First and foremost is my second blue&white baby quilt which I named N Blu at the almost finished stage. I've been working on the quilting, but pulled a muscle in my forearm and had to take a break for a few days. Otherwise it would've been finished by the end of March. Too bad :( But on a higher note this will be my fastest first finish in a quarter for sure :)

I keep working on the monkey quilt, top is done, back is half pieced.

After that's done I need to keep marching down on Easy Street. When I laid it out at my friend's  house on the floor I realized that it's simply humongous. I deserve it. And will definitely deserve to feel relieved when it'll be done. Can't wait! It's in a more advanced stage than the picture shows, but I'm at home now and don't have a big enough floor space to spread it out and take a photo. Bummer... the missing blocks are  obvious :)

I still have my Christmas quilt to finished to which I saw a really cool technique at the end of Leah Day's Craftsy class so I will be using her method for sure to put the quilt together.

I haven't done anything with these squares:

My bag is still without lining and handle... :) Maybe I should do that first for a quick finish!

I will not list the roses since I know I will not get  to them. I want to start Kimberly Einmo's mystery Craftsy class in the mean time, plus there's the double wedding ring quilt needing to be started... LOL, right? :)

That's all for my goals, hoping to finish even more than I did in the last quarter!

'Til we blog again! :)

N Blu

Hey Everybody,
I'm glad you're back! I have good news! I finished  the second Craftsy BOM baby quilt. Yippeeee!
After having HELL with the previous one  I decided that I had to take action. Originally I had my vintage Singer 201 set up for FMQ-ing only, dropped the feed dogs and installed the darning foot on it as soon as I bought it a year ago. I remembered that dropping the feed dogs involved some kind of screwing, but didn't remember how. I looked it up in the manual and realized it  was quiet easy to do. So I raised the feed dogs back up and installed the second walking foot I bought for this machine and decided to stitch in the  ditch around the blocks. I also changed threads and matched the thread color to the fabrics. With that said I ended up re-threading the machine with every single block, but I didn't mind.  In her Craftsy free motion quilting a sampler class Leah Day suggested to use  Isacord polyester thread so I gave it a try. I only ordered white and blue, the 2 colors I wanted to use in this quilt. Bingo! It quilted beautifully, never broke and didn't have any problem with it whatsoever.
I also tried out the suggested Supreme Slider for the first time. When I begin free motion quilting with it someone asked me on Twitter if it makes a difference and I wasn't sure. But then at the end I  had to change bobbin and I only had a  little bit of quilting left so I didn't put the slider back on the machine and I felt the difference. I'm glad I used it because quilting was a lot easier with it. I taped it down as Leah suggested in her class and it was a breeze to quilt with.
I went pretty much with her suggestion for quilting, except for the wonky log cabin block where She quilted a giganto spiral and I decided to do concentric circles instead. I designed a very cool quilt in EQ7 and want to quilt that one with the concentric circles and wanted to try out how it works. I just got a jar lid and drew the first circle in the middle, than a bigger jar lid and drew a second circle, after that I pretty much had to eyeball it :) It came out fine with  a few corners in the beginning, but it's OK. It's not a show quilt anyways :) Again my Crayola washable markers didn't disappoint. They came out with very little washing with no problem.
Originally I wanted to finish this quilt by March  31 so I could link it  up in the First Quarter FAL 2013, but I had so much help from my kitties that I had to postpone the deadline. This way it became my very first finish for the Second Quarter FAL! I don't think I've ever finished anything this fast in the FAL, haha!

I wanted to take pictures outside, but in the shade there's not enough light and the whole background looks blue instead of white. I was forced to take the photos in our bedroom. Boohoo.



Close-up of  each block:

And the daffodils finally opened outside!