Monday, June 29, 2009

Hurrah for the Red, White & Blue

Since I am in a patriotic mood, I thought we'd go with a red, white, and blue theme this week. Red, white and blue is just so classic. Never goes out of style. The shades and tones of red and blue change (example: the current aqua and red craze) but the combo always looks good. And further proof is this 3-generation gallery of doll quilts.I came across this one recently and it brought back SO many memories. My mom will probably laugh to see this on here. (correct me if I get this wrong, mom.) She made this little doll quilt with the left over scraps from making the bedding for my newest sibling born to be born in July 1979. Back in the days before ultrasound, so this is a good gender-neutral choice. (Turned out to be a girl.) There was also a double bed in that tiny little room with a matching quilt made of bigger squares of the same fabric. My other sister and I used to love to jump on that bed.
Don't you just love those fabrics? They would be considered vintage, right? So to my dear sister who is about to turn 30 this month, you are officially 'vintage.' Which makes turning 30 SO much cooler.
In the mean time, I'm glad we still have this baby. And yes, my mom has progressed by leaps and bounds as a quilter since then. When my 10-year old saw this quilt she fell in love and wants to have the big one in her room, if it still exists.
This little rail fence wasn't the first quilt I made, but I made this one in the first official quilting class I ever took. Such a simple little pattern, but I still like how effective it is.
Now, of course, I think it is incredibly boring that I only used three fabrics (I did go out on a limb and use a different one on the back, so I guess there are four). I hand quilted this one too (which I don't do anymore) and I just love how soft it feels.
And this little baby was one of the first things my daughter ever made on the sewing machine with some of my scraps. So I guess this combo is in our blood.
And just because I never post pictures of food (partly because it's rare that I make some thing worth taking a picture of) I will leave you with this lovely image of the grilled Jamaican Jerk chicken salad I made for dinner last night. Along with grilled pineapple. My gourmet friend, Christine gave me the recipe. (She's a Pampered Chef gal so you can probably get one from someone you know too.) Oh wow, talk about good summertime food. I had the leftovers for lunch today. And I think I could eat a whole n'other salad right now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Really Is Quite Nice

Oh goodness, I feel like such a whiner after that last post. Thanks for bearing with me. Sometimes you just need to vent, you know? Really, life is quite good.
I am so excited about Jennifer's Vintage Sheet fat quarter exchange. (I just got my FQ's off by the skin of my teeth.) Before I did I decided to hit a thrift store which I haven't done in a while. I'm becoming more discriminating with my thrifting. I have too much junk as it is, so I'm only buying stuff I really love AND will actually use soon. I found a couple of good vintage sheets and another sheet that is not vintage (the one on the bottom) but has great potential. My 10-year-old was with my and has dibs on it to make a skirt first.
Then I found a couple good pyrex pieces. I'm feeling drawn to yellow and really liked these pieces.
The gold one is an oval baker and this one is a medium-size serving bowl. I used them tonight for serving fruit salad (yummy, yummy) and the baked potatoes in the baker. They looked so cheerful and summery. Don't you just love summer food? Off the grill or lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I do. The best food there is.

We also tried to have a backyard camp out tonight, but the weather had other ideas and when the wind kicked-up so strong that it nearly blew the tent away, we had to give up on that idea. Which we did right before the rain started chucking down.
But the kids were not to be deterred. So we made do. :)
Have a happy summer weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A tender mercy


Yesterday I was feeling like summer vacation was kicking my trash. I was so tired. A combination of many things besides just the craziness that summer vacation brings. My husband has been out of town for all or part of 5 of the last 6 weeks [I don't like broadcasting this fact while he's actually gone in case someone realizes my fabric stash is unprotected, but he's done now. Hooray! And seriously, you single parents are the most amazing people on the planet].

Plus we were coming off a busy weekend with the Shop Hop, Father's Day, and sick kids. And the three-year-old was the cherry on top. On top of being particularly ornery because he was sick, my sweet little cherub boy has morphed into Dennis the Menace. For example: spilling red punch Crystal Light powder all over himself and the kitchen floor [right before we were supposed to leave for the zoo], which required lots of laundry, floor scrubbing and two baths because the first bath turned into Crystal Light fruit punch, so we had to drain that and rinse again; purposely crashing into the back of my leg while he was on his scooter and taking all the skin off my ankle; hysterically laughing while he sits on the horn for 10-straight seconds if he beats me to the car- you get the idea. But the real kicker is the fact that he likes to wake up at 6:45! AM!

So yesterday in my state of emotional and physical exhaustion I decided that since I needed to go to Costco anyway, we would just eat a lazy dinner of pizza slices while we were there. We're dragging through Costco when we come around a corner and there he is: the man we affectionately call "The Smoothie Man." The guy who occasionally magically appears to demo the super-duper Vita-Mix blender. All 5 of us (me + four kids) lovingly watched him blend those raw fruits and vegetables into his wonderful creations. We stayed for all three: the tortilla soup, the fruit smoothie AND the ice cream.

I don't know why, but this just totally made my day. I think it partly had something to do with the fact that it meant my kids would actually get servings of fruits and vegetables for our pathetic dinner that night, but I think that for some reason I just needed that lovely, happy little (free) surprise at the end of a long day/week/month. Thank you Smoothie Man. (I promise you that one day I will actually buy one of your products too.)

Okay, tomorrow back to more quilty-stuff.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mr Roboto - or off-set square - block tutorial

We made it! And here we are finally, a week later. When you see how easy this block is you are probably going to feel like this is the most anti-climactic tutorial ever. It's that easy. This block was used for the Robot quilt here.
For this particular quilt I started with a 13" square of fabric per finished block. So in this case, 16 squares because I wanted 16 blocks at the end. (I will say at this time that this method is really quick and easy, but it does use/waste more fabric as a result.)
Start by making one cut 2 1/2" from the left end of the square. Then make a second cut 4 1/2" from the first cut.
Take the middle section and cut 2 1/2" from the top and then 4 1/2" from the first cut. This will create a 4 1/2" square in the 'middle'. You can easily do this part with 3-4 squares of fabric stacked on top of each other. I always do and the cutting for the whole quilt gets done REALLY fast.
Take the center 4 1/2" square and replace it with a contrasting square. (Always save those squares because you're going to use them as the contrast in other blocks.) Sew center section together first by sewing top to contrast square and then bottom. Press seams out.
Sew sides back on center section. Don't worry about matching-up ends, you're just going to square them off. Press seams again.
I start squaring-off the block using the top of the middle section as my guide.
Now square-off opposite end.
I wanted my finished blocks 11" square, so I use my cutting mat to measure 11" from the top and square-off the opposite end.
Then I square-off other opposing sides to get an 11" square block.
Ta-dah! Can you believe it? Easy-peasy-chunky-cheesy.

Now, you can use this method to make any old size of off-set blocks you want. For this baby quilt I wanted my finished blocks to be 10 1/2" blocks to make a 4 x 4 block quilt measuring 42" x 42". You could probably start with a smaller 12 1/2" square if your are careful. If you want smaller finished blocks you could start with a smaller square of fabric, but make sure it's at least 1 1/2" bigger than what you want to square-up to.

Don't worry if each of your blocks are a little different or imperfect. Remember, wonky is cool and this quilt is all about not being perfectly centered.

As I explained above, this method does create more waste as you square-up but it's a much faster method because you don't have to measure and pre-cut all the individual pieces. So you may have to weigh the waste/ease ratio and decide if it's for you.

In the mean time, have fun! It's so quick and a great stash-buster. I'm excited to try it on other projects and in different sizes. I'd love to see what you do with it too.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My loot

I only had the chance to visit one other store during the Shop Hop and while I was there I showed great restraint, but I did come home with this charming little bundle. Including more American Jane, of course. I didn't have any of those dark blues other than what was in my charm pack. Plus a few other cute pieces that I have in mind for specific projects. I was so excited this week to start some new projects. Always some loose ends to be tied, but now I can move down my list of other things I want to work on.

In other news, the pictures have been taken for the Mr. Roboto tutorial so watch for that tomorrow! (I won't promise the time of day. Another child is sick. Rats.)
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Take Your Blog to Work Day

Well the Wasatch Front Shop Hop is here and in full swing. (The Wasatch mountains are the mountains to the east of Salt Lake City and the I-15 corridor is along the western side - or front - of those mountains. Park City is on the back side of those mountains. There's a nice little Utah geography lesson for you. )Today is the final day. So if you don't live on the Wasatch Front or aren't vising this week I thought I'd give you a little tour of the store where I work.
If you want to see more of the other shops you can visit Kim or Nedra. And speaking of Nedra, we got to meet in person! She caught me right as I was getting ready to leave after cutting and assembling kits for a couple of hours. I have always thoroughly enjoyed reading her blog and she always leaves the kindest, most encouraging comments. So great to meet you in person, Nedra!
Each of the 15 stores in the 'shop hop' create a free block to giveaway and every store has to make a quilt using all the blocks. This year the theme was "All Around the Town." Here is the quilt that our talented store owner, Amy McClellan, put together. I think it took forever, but turned out SO cool.
I love those little tiny quilts hanging on the clothesline.
Here are a few of the quilts hanging in the store. (Can you see the last quilt I made hanging on the far right?)
Amy (the owner) loves Civil War reproductions so we have a big selection of that category. And some cool quilts too.

Amy is also a talented designer of wool patterns. The nativity above is hers and these monthly blocks below. Also the stockings and tree skirt in the last photo. You can see more of her things here.



Do you recognize the hexagons and the Recess quilt?
And check out this adorable vintage-reproduction puppy quilt. Made with American Jane fabrics! It's another Amy McClellan original.
And there's Mr. Roboto to the right. And speaking of Mr. Roboto, the kits are gone! Thanks to everyone who expressed interest. We will get those kits shipped on Monday. It was really fun to talk to some of you in person. A couple of other people came in the shop this week who also read this weird little blog and were so kind. Thank you! It's really fun to put live people's faces and voices in the context of something that feels so annonymous sometimes.
It has been a crazy week here. I am pretty much over-saturated with cutting fabric. (I wasn't sure such a thing could ever happen.) Throw in a husband in Chicago for 3 days and a sick 3-year-old and not a lot of the other stuff I had planned for this week got done. Like the Mr. Roboto tutorial. Sorry, I feel like such a flake. Hopefully a lot of pictures of pretty quilts will placate you until the beginning of next week when the tutorial will appear. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The other Shop Hop quilt

Here is the other quilt made for this Shop Hop. This fabric has been out for about 9 months, but since we haven't made anything, it's just been sitting around the shop. An actual quilt always moves fabric. So here it is.
This quilt was inspired by a quilt in the June issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. Only that quilt had little blue pieced stars forming an Irish Chain. I chose to just use solid blocks instead of making 25! 4" stars. Works for me.
It's really the border fabric that makes this quilt work. I love that scalloped print. It makes the quilt look like an old fashioned handkerchief. And do you like my mitered corner? I'm shocked and amazed that I did it! I used Amy's tutorial. [Thanks, Amy!]

And do you also like the fact that the quilt is not even bound when I took the picture? That is my project right now while I watch the pre-recorded SYTYCD (so you think you can dance) as well as finish assembling the kits. Then I think I can catch my breath. Thanks again for your encouragement and kind comments. Happy Thursday!

Chaos reigns and one more robot quilt announcement

Life is crazy. The Wasatch Front Shop Hop starts today. I was up late assembling kits and writing patterns. I have a few more things to do that just won't get there until tomorrow. Oh well.
Also, since things are so crazy at the store this week, if you are one of the people still interested in a robot quilt kit, go ahead and email me your phone number. I will call you personally when I'm at the store and we'll get your order taken care of. (I'm afraid with the chaos because of the shop hop and all the extra people helping at the store this week, they won't know how to take care of phone orders, etc.) Sorry I keep making this so complicated. I woke-up in the night worrying about it. I know. I'm so weird. Hopefully this is the last Robot quilt announcement.