Monday, March 2, 2015

Move Update & Giveaway

It's been quite a journey so far so thought I'd give you a Move Update.  The packers arrived as scheduled on Monday.... well kinda.  They were actually a little late as they traveled from Austin TX and if you remember the weather in Texas was less than the usual pleasant Texas weather.  We had an ice/snow storm and it was COLD!  There were 5 of them on Monday and 3 on Tuesday that packed and boxed and packed and boxed for 2 days.

Shorty after their arrival I received a call from the moving coordinator stating they had notified a 3rd party to dismantle the quilting machine.... Guess when they want to come.  February 28th.  Guess when the moving truck will be at the house to load.  February 26th.  Hmmmm... that's not going to work.  So I spent the next hour scrambling to find someone qualified to tear it down.  I found someone.  

Then that day another 3rd party was to show up to "crate" the head of the quilting machine and a set of longhorns I had for wall decor.  They did not.  They finally made it Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m. and to quote William.  They were some pretty "rough" characters.  I was seriously scared!  They were nice and polite but that's were it ends.  I'm pretty naive and gullible so when I can tell they were strung out on something, you know it's bad.  

The movers showed up on Wednesday as scheduled and guess what.  They were late too.  Same scenario.... they had to drive through ice and snow.  But they were fabulous movers.  There were 4 guys, all related.... 2 brothers and the other 2 were cousins.  They hustled, had a great sense of humor, and took great care to pack things as if it were their own belongings.  It took them 2 days to load everything up.  We knew it was going to be close as to whether or not everything would fit on one truck.  It did not!

But what was left were things in the storage unit.  The moving company offered to send another truck to pick the things up but we declined.  The value of what was left wasn't worth the expense of another truck, plus someone would have to stay behind to meet them and it was just too much of a hassle.  So, we'll be the next episode of Storage Wars.  There are a few other things not in this picture too.

So we headed out for DeKalb IL on Thursday afternoon.  We had been watching the forecast and really wanted to try to get ahead of the storm.  We did!  That's probably the only thing that's gone right on this whole deal.

We arrived in DeKalb on Saturday evening, got the key to the house, unloaded 2 of the 3 cars that were packed to the gills.  Went to the hotel and crashed.  Sunday was spent buying a few things we knew we'd have to purchase.

Today we packed up the hotel room, headed to the house when we got the call from the driver of the moving truck that he was broke down in Aurora, IL (that's just 45 minutes from the house).  Really!?  The truck just couldn't make it another 40 miles.  Ugh.... And the mechanic wouldn't have the repairs made until 4:00 p.m. today.  Double UGH! Meanwhile I go back to the hotel and check back in.  Spoke to the King who reminded me that we possibly could spend the night at the house if we wanted as we purchased new mattresses and they would be delivered this afternoon.  So back to the hotel to check out again.  Get back to the house and realize we have no sheets or covers for the bed.  We're at the hotel again.  

All this also meant we had to postpone installers for Direct TV - can't hook them up when they're on the truck... now they can't come until Thursday.  Postponed installers for the washer and dryer... I have no idea when they're coming.  Postponed the installers for the quilting machine... they can't come again for 2 WEEKS!  WHAT!!!!

We had to call an electrician to install an outlet for the dryer.  The current connection is for a gas dryer and we have an electric one.  He was scheduled to be here this afternoon.  He came but he can't install the outlet.  It seems the furnace duct work is covering the area where the wall joist is to run the wires up the inside of the wall.  Actually he can do it but it would be cheaper to go buy a gas dryer instead of paying him.  Really!???  We just can't catch a break.    So I'm now the proud owner of a brand spankin new dryer to match my washing machine that's only about a year old.  

I haven't heard from the driver of the moving truck so I'm hoping no news is good news and he'll be in my driveway at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.  

You've stuck with me this long... Now for the giveaway... I have some goodies... a book, a t-shirt, and some other goodies.  All you have to do is leave me a comment on how many boxes you think the packers packed up.  This is boxes only.  It doesn't count the little numbered tags they put on all the things that are not in their "Allied Berger" moving boxes.  The comment closest to the number of boxes will win the prize pack.  Don't forget that I can't give it away if I don't have an email address to contact you.  Make sure you're not a no-reply commenter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday - Quilt Backings

Let's talk about Quilt Backings on today's Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday.  What do you do for your quilt backings?

I used to be a strict, rigid, matchy, matchy quilt backing person.  I would buy matching yardage for the back to match the front.  While that is perfectly okay and I still do that sometimes, there are other options for quilt backings.

My latest favorite is pieced backings.  There are a whole host of options and ways to piece a quilt backing but I'll show you a few that Victoriana Quilt Designs posted on Pinterest.  There is no need to re-invent the wheel and she gave permission to share on blogs as long as its linked back to her.

Backing #1 is just simply leftover fabrics in a 4 patch.  They don't have to be the same size.  If I'm guessing I might say the four patches were the same size but after quilting, the quilt wasn't centered so therefore you get this look.    And speaking of centering a quilt top on a backing... It is almost impossible for a longarm-er to center a quilt top to a backing.  Different patterns "shrink at different rates therefore making it difficult to center a top to a backing.  A good longarm-er can get close though.  I've used this method lots of times.

Backing #2 is a neat way to add just a little bit to the length and width without just adding a strip to the top and side.  I like it.  I haven't used this one yet but no doubt I will one day.

Backing #3 is not a favorite of mine because it requires some centering of the quilt top to the backing.  Remember what I said about that.  It makes it challenging for a longarm-er.

Backing #4 is another one I've used a lot of times.  A width of fabric down the middle and then split the outer fabric needed in half.  Adding the strips just gives it some variety.

Backing #5 is another good one to use up the scraps.  It requires a little more time to piece the strip.  Another variation is to make a few of the quilt blocks that are on the front and piece them together in a strip.

Backing #6 is another variation of using up the scraps.  I've done this a few times also.  I usually just cut 2 1/2" or 3 1/2" strips and piece them end to end.  Sometimes I vary it a little by making a row of 2 1/2" ones and then a row of 3 1/2" ones; alternating back and forth.  

One of my all time favorites is wide back quilt backings.  They are quick and easy!  The hardest thing about a wide back is getting it square since it's wider than your 24" ruler.  You can read about it here on how I square my wide backings.  Another tip about wide backing or pieced ones for that matter is this.  If the backing fabric feels stiff, beware!  Unless you like a hard scratchy quilt.  Buy a small amount and take it home and pre-wash it to see if it softens up.  Sometimes they will and sometimes they won't.  Ask me how I know that!  I bought a piece of wide backing thinking the stiffness would wash out.  It DIDN'T!!!  And no one likes to use the quilt because it's hard and scratchy.  Ugh!  

One last time on backings.  If you're taking it to a longarm quilter, make sure your backing is AT LEAST 6" - 8" wider (more if you have it) and longer than the quilt top.  You cannot expect great results from the longarm quilter if the backing is too short.  It's necessary to clamp on to to stabilize the quilt to quilt it.  It also needs to be square.  If you piece backings together, the edges must be even.  Even if you're just sewing two strips together. When you get to the end and have uneven edges, trim them so they are square.  If it looks like this, it isn't square.

So there you have it.  Get creative and use up your scraps or bust your stash on your backings from Tips, Tricks, and Tuts Tuesday-Quilt Backings.  



Monday, February 23, 2015

Handmaids Postcard Challenge & Tutorial

Janet at Joy Studio and creator of some awesome fabric lines like She Who Sews, and Draw Near, and Angel Band, to name a few, is having a Handmaids Postcard Challenge and Exchange.  I jumped off the deep end and decided to participate.  What was I thinking?  I'm right smack dab in the middle of a move.  I barely know where my sewing machine is let alone some of the She Who Sews fabric.  But it sounded fun and there were prizes involved.  I only needed to make 2.

You might remember from my Facebook posts or Quilt Market posts that I met J. Wecker Fresch at Quilt Market last fall in Houston.  It was so exciting and something I'll not likely forget.  You can read about it here.

 Now I've never made a fabric postcard but how hard could it be?  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was pretty darn easy.  The hardest part was finding my supplies and deciding what I was going to do.  I decided on a crazy quilt theme.

Here's what you'll need to make a fabric postcard.

2 - 5" x 7" fusible web (like Wonder Under or Steam A Seam 2)
1 - 5" x 7" Pellon Peltex (very stiff fusible interfacing)
1 - 5" x 7" light colored fabric for the address side of the postcard
Scraps or 5" x 7" fabric for the front of the postcard

I started by arranging my scraps on top of one of the 5" x 7" pieces of fusible web.  When I was happy with them, I ironed them to the fusible web.

Remove the paper backing and adhere (iron) to the Peltex.  Now go to the sewing machine and play with your decorative stitches.  I don't use my decorative stitches very often so it's fun when I can.

Trim to the size of the Peltex.  Set this aside and begin working on the back of the postcard.

I used a muslin for the back so the address would show up better.  According to the US Postal Service, you will need to write the word "postcard" on the postcard somewhere.  Not sure why that is, afterall, I would think it would be pretty obvious.  But never the less, I went to my embroidery machine and obliged them.  Then I embroidered my "theme"  Sew Crazy to be your friend.   I added a "divider" with some of the fabric by fussy cutting a piece of the tape measure and applique-ing it on.

I was a little disappointed after I ironed the backing to the wonder under.  I later figured out that the stablizer I used "shrank" when I applied steam to it.  Once I figured it out, I was able to fix it on the second postcard.  I could have embroidered my message and signature but I wanted to personalize it with my handwriting.

Now you're ready to fuse the front and the back together.  Trim the postcard to 4 1/2" x 6" (a standard size for post cards).  I used a satin stitch zig-zag around the outer edge to hold the 2 pieces together and ensure the fusing doesn't come apart with all the handling the postcard might go through at the post office. 

Here are both post cards after I signed them and addressed them to the recipients.  I used a pigma pen marker to write my message and addresses.

See that was pretty quick and easy.  I can't wait to get my postcard from the Handmaids Postcard Challenge and Exchange in the mail.  I wonder if I'll get it before I move?  I guess if not, the post office will forward it to me in IL.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Queen and Her Court Crown Jewels

When I saw this Block of the Month almost 6 years ago, I knew I had to do it, if for no other reason than for the name; THE QUEEN AND HER COURT CROWN JEWELS.  After all, I had just become the "Quilting Queen".  I had just purchased my quilting machine and had been jokingly been given the name "The Quilting Queen".  The name stuck and I decided to use it as my business name.  

Ok, back to the block of the month.... I collected the pattern and fabrics each month and never started it.  You see, other than the name and the colors, I wasn't crazy about it.  It was made from batiks.  I don't really like batiks.   Do you?  Some of my friends just absolutely LOVE them but I don't.  They are stiff and they smell...  yes I know I can wash them and that helps with the softness and the smell but they are still stiff.  And as a long arm quilter, I really don't like to quilt them either.  If you have to rip out, it tends to leave needle marks in the batiks.  And when batiks first came out, most of what I was seeing were dull, dark, drab colors.  I don't particularly like dull, dark, or drab.  But this one wasn't.  It was bright and fun and pretty.  So I collected them each month. 

Two years ago I decided I was going to bust my UFO's so I got this one out and made a few blocks.

 But The Queen and Her Court Crown Jewels just wasn't keeping my attention... probably because of the batiks.  I kept finding other UFO's to work on and other projects to start that became UFO's.  Now I have to admit, since then, for whatever reason, batiks have grown on me a just a little.  So in 2015, I've decided I'm busting this UFO into a finished quilt.  

I've finished all 12 of the sampler blocks and I'm working on the middle block for the center of the quilt.  I've purchased my fusible web and I'm ready to trace the applique pieces.   If you're interested in the pattern, you can find it here.  I just might get The Queen and Her Court Crown Jewels finished before this year is up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snowball Block Layouts

I posted yesterday HERE about my new ruler from Ruler Revolutions to make snowball blocks quick and easy.  I am using the snowball block with a quilt I'm making for the Addicted to Scraps column at Quiltmaker Magazine (You can read about it here on their blog).  I can't show you that particular layout yet but I can show you some Snowball Block Layouts that I played with in EQ.

The blocks is so versatile and so easy to make.

Here is a layout with a Card Trick block

A Shoe fly Block

The Flying Dutchman

Friendship Version 1

Look what happens when I change up the colors in Friendship block version 2

Of course it's hard to go wrong with a Nine patch block

Here's a version I found on Pinterest here 

Or this cute Chinese Lantern with the snowball block from Pinterest

Or this favorite from Pinterest  You know I'd love this one for the colors alone.

Be sure to visit this site.  There are several snowball layouts shown there.

Or another favorite with stars found here

So go have a snowball fight in your stash.... or in the snow if you have some.... a lot of us do.