Thursday, August 29, 2013

The nerves are getting to me

Hello all!  Not a lot of sewing so far this week.  Let's be honest...I won't be sewing until next week.  No sewing this weekend either.  Why am I on pins and needles full of nervous energy?  Because this weekend is a big event.  One that Guy and I have been working towards for several months...

Sunday morning, Guy and I will run the Rock n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.  (I've been keeping a mini-journal of our training progress under the HMT tab at the top).  Wow...I've talked about it a lot to family and friends, but as the day gets closer, I'm really starting to realize that it's about to happen!

Guy and I have been on a little bit of a journey this year.  Since January 1, we have been working on improving our overall health and fitness.  This has resulted in about a 35 lb weight loss for me, and at one time a close to 50 lb weight loss for Guy.  There were no tricks, fad diets, anything like that used.  We worked out, starting very slowly, 20 minutes at a time on the eliptical or stationary bike.  A few weeks in, I added the 30 Day Shred (and plan on doing that again, it was a fantastic butt kicker!).  In February, we decided to try the Couch 2 5K plan.  We also visited the finish line of the Columbia Marathon and Half Marathon where a friend of ours was running.  And we figured maybe in a year that would be us, we would be able to run a half marathon.  One week after the Boston Marathon, we gathered with many like-minded individuals in a Run for Boston.  It was a great feeling.  A month later we ran our first OFFICIAL 5K.  And a few days after that, we registered for the Va Beach Half Marathon.

We found a training plant to take us from our 5K to the Half Marathon distance.  We ran another 5K, we trained, we trained, we lost a few weeks due to lots of other things going on...and the end of July/Beginning of August we realized that if we didn't kick it (us) into gear, we weren't going to finish the Half.  So we drafted our own training plan, with the long runs increasing each week until we hit double digits at least once prior to the Half.  This past Sunday, we ran 11 miles.  Damn it felt good on the inside to do that!  On the outside...yeah some other stuff hurt...but mentally I was feeling on top of the world.

And we are.  Today will be the last "prep" run.  It's not going to be a real run, it's going to be a nice jog on the treadmill to loosen up the legs.  All I can think is did I get here?  I'm very proud of us. 

Back to the nerves...I'm a wreck...I'm convinced my shoes are trashed (no way to replace them this close to race day, and they are actually fine...still have a few more miles left in them), I'm worried we are going to be late and miss the start of the race, I'm worried I'm not sleeping enough (which then makes me not sleep), I'm seriously excited...I just need this to be over!  LOL!

So forgive the lack of stitchy goodness that will be this blog for a few more days.  If you follow me on instagram, you'll see some pics this weekend of the race.  And hopefully of Guy and I finishing the race with our big shiny medals.  And cheezy grins! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Zig and a Zag

I'm still here working away on getting the baby quilts done!  After getting the quilt top for Baby A finished up on Tuesday, I started cutting and sewing fabric strips for the next baby quilt...this one's for a boy.  I got everything cut and trimmed and laid out:

(It's actually a bit brighter than the picture shows...and apparently I need to shampoo the carpet in that room!)

Now I just have to get it all pieced together!  I've been loosely using this tutorial by Amanda Castor that was posted on Moda Bake Shop, except I'm not using charm packs, but 2.5 inch strips and only 2 colors instead of 3.

I have a hard deadline on this particular quilt, so it has to be my focus right now...but in the back of my mind I'm wanting to get Lucky Jam pieced and start a new quilt, plus quilt a whole stack of sewing mojo is in overdrive right now!  I'll check back with you later!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Quilt for Baby A

I have spent a lovely part of my day putting together a baby quilt for a friend who is expecting later this year.  I took this yummy stack of Noteworthy by Sweetwater :

and added some Cabbages and Roses Athill Range and Northcote Range (closest to the Sweetwater pink I could find) and a print from Sunkissed also by Sweetwater, and the pattern Vintage Baby from Amy Hamberlin.  And ended up with this:

My first attempt at ruffles, and I LOVE them!

I don't know what it is...but I really do just plain love this quilt!

Good news...I've already got the backing fabric for this one, so soon I should get this one basted and quilted.  I have a quilt for a different baby to get to work on with a pretty hard deadline, so off I go to work on that!

Monday, August 19, 2013


I love're only a day away!

Tomorrow I am saving a bit of a sew-in.  I plan on doing nothing tomorrow (minus taking Girl to school - First Day of 8th grade!!!) but sew.  A little celebration for me!  I have so much I want to get done!  I have 2 quilts that have been basted and awaiting quilting for at least 2 weeks...I have 2 baby quilts that I have got to get started on...and of course there is always the list of UFOs/WIPs that I could work on!

So I plan on starting tonight...and see how it turns out!  More to come!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ready for Fall

Long time no chat!  As my summer winds down (busiest time at work for me), I'm getting closer to returning to sewing on a more regular basis, which means fall is on the way!  I'm also incredibly excited to see the leaves change colors, the air to be cooler, football, school starting up and

Yesterday I had the opportunity to check out the Quilting and Knitting Expo here in Columbia.  It was not too crowded, and had a nice turnout of vendors; but not to many had anything I really was interested in...until I came across the Some Art Fabric booth.  All of the pics below are fabric I picked up from their booth:

I've seen the Ghastlies out and about on different blogs the past year or two, but finally had a chance to see them in person and pick some up:

Girl is very excited about them and I'm kind of excited to make a fun, Ghastlie fall quilt!

And since I was in an Alexander Henry kind of mood, I also picked up some cuts of Cartas Marcadas and After Dark

and I really want more of the After Dark in the different color ways! (And now I fear I have a new fabric obsession with Alexander Henry).

I also picked up a few half yard cuts of Kokka:

Of the remaining vendors, I hit one more booth and picked up some random half yard pieces that I thought were cute and would be good additions to my stash:

I also picked up a cute quilt pattern that fits a need I have for a new baby quilt; I'll share more on that later!

and that's all she wrote...for now!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Playing with Isacord

I dropped in my LQS on Friday, kind of hoping to find Isacord thread or some reasonable substitute.  Imagine my surprise when they actually had Isacord in stock!  (And in a wide selection of colors!).  I picked up a couple of spools of plain ole' white and yesterday morning pulled them out, made a quickie quilt sandwich and set to playing.

Now...let me start by saying in the past I have FMQd with Gutermann 100% Cotton (tons of breakage, had to rip it all out of the quilt and start all over again with something different; great for straight line...but no good for FMQ); Gutermann Viscose (great on small project, haven't tried on anything larger, no breakage on the small project); and then did a quilt with Mettler Metrosene (I did have a small amount of breakage, but nothing extreme).  I would probably like to try the viscose on something larger, just to see how it does, and would use Mettler Metrosene again.  I have not tried FMQing with Aurifil, and may not (except in a pinch) after trying Isacord.  The thread was very smooth, had zero breakage, and my machine didn't complain!

A closer look (first thing I did was write my name, because it's just fun to be able to quilt my name...or something like that):

This was my first attempt at anything beyond a standard stipple...I'm so excited! I also attempted some arcs at the top of the piece (which you can see in the first pic) because I plan on doing that on a quilt that I have basted and in standby.  The arcs need some work (they are a bit wonky), but I have some plans to fix some of the wonkiness.

And then I turned it over to the back:

and now I know how important travel stitching is and "completing" shapes.  It may look great on the top, but without "finishing" certain movements, when you flip it over to the's not quite so pretty.  But that's something I can work on and practice.

Most rats nests, skipped stitches, or ugly spots where the Isacord thread is concerned.  Now, I have to be 100% clear here, this was a very small piece of testing.  The thread may have been great for a short run, and longer runs may challenge it...we shall see.  So I plan on doing some more practice, and then try it out on a quilt.  Once I've done that I may change my mind.  Again, we shall see.  Until then...time to play!

Friday, August 2, 2013

FMQ...Leah Day...Craftsy

One of my 2013 goals was to improve my Free Motion Quilting skills.  As my skills were pretty lacking, I figured this wouldn't be too hard!  What I didn't realize at the time was that I needed to improve my UNDERSTANDING of FMQ more than any skills.

I had this idea that FMQ was really just me...moving the quilt...and making cool shapes.  It worked for my first FMQ project I ever did, an incredibly small "decorative" piece:

The one thing I did correctly in the above piece was, without realizing it, select the proper thread (more on this later).

I did not do any additional FMQing until late last year...when it became a nightmare!  See this post for details.  I had done a little reading and had seen some YouTube videos, and thought I was good to go.  While I had more knowledge of the HOW, I was still lacking in the UNDERSTANDING.  I had no idea why my thread was breaking so much, no idea why I was getting rats nests and my tension was wonky.  Because I did not UNDERSTAND the relationship between what my machine was doing and the stress it would put on my thread (I also had a bum pack of needles that I didn't realize until way later, but it all contributed to the headache that my FMQ experience was last year).

This year...well, things have changed a little bit...
  1. I started reading and visiting The Free Motion Quilting Project site
  2. I had the opportunity to hear Leah Day speak at Sew South and learned how important it is to accept the fact that FMQ takes practice, and to not rip out something just because it's not "perfect" (I also heard Leah say something that to this day still resonates with me that is completely separate from the FMQ part...but that's a topic for another day).
  3. I FMQd this quilt and it worked!!
  4. I read Beginner's Guide to Free Motion Quilting by Natalia Bonner and learned more about different patterns and the movement through a quilt.
  5. I purchased Leah's Free Motion Quilting A Sampler Craftsy class and learned what is going on with all that thread and the stresses on the thread and all kinds of stuff to improve my UNDERSTANDING of FMQ (I am still working my way through the class...but IMHO, it's probably the best Craftsy resource I've tried yet!).
And now...I'm more confident and ready to try some FMQing beyond the basic stipple.  I'm also fully prepared that there may be some ugly quilting happening...but that I may also be the only person that notices said ugly quilting.  Woohoo!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

QAYG Bags...a Craftsy class Review

I had seen this particular class advertised a few times here and there, so last week I headed over to Craftsy and purchased the Quilt-as-you-go Patchwork Bags class taught by Tara Rebman.

And let me tell's fantastic!  I watched almost all of the videos straight through before I sewed one stitch.  Tara is a very engaging instructor and I kept watching just to see how it all came together.  The instructions were fantastic, easy to follow, and I never felt confused or lost.

I did not make the first project (a QAYG pot holder, however I will be making some in the future), as I felt pretty comfortable with the QAYG technique.  I got all set up last Saturday morning to get to work and the first panel came together very quickly and got the second about 50% complete before we took off for the rest of the day to cook out and have fun with friends.

On Sunday, I got back to work. And before I knew it...I had a finished outer bag!

Today I plan on getting the lining made, the two put together and the binding complete.  This is a good size bag, and I love how you can make it to suit the recipient (colors, particular fabrics, etc).  I pan on making more of these, likely as Christmas presents.  They are a lot of fun to make and use up the scraps! (Plus, I think I need one for me!).

Bottom line...great class, great teacher, fab end result!!