Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Welcome Spring!!!

Although I spent most of my afternoon, working at the gate for our high school softball game, I did manage to get home just shy of dark.  

Imagine my surprise when I let the puppies out just a few moments later and discovered this little darling glowing in blue.  It was a birthday gift from two sister friends, and I'd not seen it lit up until tonight.   
I have plans to put some sort of greenery in her bucket--maybe moss would work.  Definitely it needs to be something that the grandchildren can't harm.  While they are sweet little darlings, they can be a bit destructive in the yard.

She's very pretty on the right of my new settee.  She's also a helpful little gal--it's easier to find my way to the back porch in the dark.  Not that I'm very brave after dark, mind you, but it's nice to see her soft blue glow.
And while photographing the settee, I thought I'd snap a pic of the matching chairs and table.  We will enjoy these in the evenings, don't you think?  Maybe I'll take the plastic off the cushions then.  I've been worried that the "barn" cats will destroy them.  They are much more destructive than the grandkids!  Any suggestions for convincing the cats to stay at the barn or at least off the furniture?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: Heaven is for Real

I've been telling friends that I'd like to read Heaven is for Real after reading how successful it has become and then reading Marley's child version of the book.  

The story of Colton's experience in heaven had me intrigued.  How innocent and simple would his description and story be?  

I figured it would be interesting to read a child's point of view of heaven.  Remember Christ's admonition to the disciples when they tried to stop a child from "bothering" Jesus?  It had me thinking that a child's heavenly experience would be even more fascinating than an adult's.  

Colton and dad, Todd, signing books.
Now, before you wonder if I believe the story: I believed the story was possible before picking up the book.  I assume that if God is all-powerful and capable of anything, then He is certainly capable of this.  He made the universe.  He made the child.  He determined what realms the universe consists of....moving a four year old through those realms would be a small matter for God.  

I drove our school golf team to a tournament on Thursday.  Knowing my gift for getting into trouble when I'm bored, I considered grabbing a book of the shelves before leaving the library but just didn't get it done.  As I was racing out the door (late as usual) the counselor thrust a book into my hands and said someone (I missed the name) wanted me to read it.  That's my kind of divine intervention.
Recent photo of Colton, 11
I guess that reviewing a book means I should try to remain somewhat unbiased, but that would be impossible, so the heck with biases.  I loved it!  In fact, I now have Richard reading it.  I plan to add it to the library collection and will hand it to a couple of students as soon as I do.

Rather than tell you the story, I'll allow you the pleasure of this easy read.  (I read the entire book in less than three hours.)   But because you may want more information about the Burpos and their story, I'll leave you with the web address which includes their NBC interview.  I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Please note: all photographs on this post were taken from various websites.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Done and Begun

One project done; another begun!  Meggan's quilt is finished--all done, including the binding and label.....yea!  
I was hoping to have it finished in time to give to her while they were visiting, but I had to choose between sewing and visiting, and the grandbabies are saying, "Grandmay" way too cute.
So, instead of sewing for hours as planned, I played with "the grandbebes."  It was certainly as much fun playing.  Meggan's quilt is actually fairly simple, strips of neutral fabric with an occasional, random red pieces to break up the quiet.  The red strips are sewn in perpendicular to the neutrals.  The two sides have a wide border with appliqued tulips, Meggan's favorite flower.  To stick with the red theme and to give the quilt a frame, I used the same red for the binding.   Overall, not a bad job, don't you agree? 

Because I finished Meggan's quilt early this morning, I decided to make a few NICU gowns with the fabric that Jan-Maree sent from her recent giveaway.  You can find her blog here.    Her Aussie Hero Quilts blog is here.
I added a few pieces of themed fabrics and cut out 18 gowns, eight of them from some of Jan-Maree's precious fabric.  For every outer piece, I need a lining, so I cut lots of muslin linings.

I didn't get all 18 sewn up today but didn't expect to. I use an assembly line system: there aren't many seams, so I stitch all of the seams on a gown and set it aside.  
When they're all sewn, I'll turn and press the gowns then make the final closing seam before adding the Velcro closures.  They'll all get washed, dried and pressed again before going to the NICU at Women's and Children's Hospital in Lafayette, where Caki was born.  My tutorial for making the gowns is here.
I feel blessed to be able to do this for the preemies and their families.  Having felt the joy of seeing a grand-baby in a tiny gown for the first time, I know what it means to parents and grandparents.  Share something you do to make the world a better place or to help others.  All you have to do is leave a comment!
Happy Quilting,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

CRQ Surprise!

I came home to a package today.  My friend Jan-Maree over at Cherry Red Quilter, who also has another blog called Aussie Hero Quilts, both of which are wonderful blogs filled a package till it was stuffed with goodies, then mailed it to me all the way from Australia.  
Photo from Cherry Red Quilter blog

I won her most recent giveaway of the most darling fabrics.  What a doll, don't you agree?  Her original post about the giveaway can be found here. Do pay her a visit.

Photo from Cherry Red Quilter blog

So, here's what she sent--four half-metric (very close to a half yard) pieces of some of the most darling fabrics. The cutest bunny buttons, some smiley face buttons, a multicolored trim, and TWO patterns: one from Rosalie Quinlan Designs and another from Cindi Edgerton.  What fun these will be.  

I'm seriously thinking that I'll use the fabrics to make more NICU hospital gowns. I haven't made any in a while, and Jan-Maree's work with the Aussie Hero Quilts has me thinking about the good our sewing can do for the world.  
Photo from Cherry Red Quilter blog

What tiny baby wouldn't love a gown made of these happy fabrics?  Unfortunately, the gowns can't have buttons or trim because they would irritate ultra-sensitive nerves.

Photo from Cherry Red Quilter blog

For those of you interested in joining me by making a few of these little gowns, you can find my tutorial here.  I recommend that you use whatever cotton fabric you like for the outside of the gown and an unbleached muslin for the lining.  

Here's a photo of one of the gowns I made.  I've used the adhesive backed Velcro in the past, but now I use the sew in without the adhesive.  I really do not like the gummy mess that builds up on the needle.  Besides, I have to sew the adhesive backed stuff anyway because it pulls out the first time it's unfastened.  

Back to Jan-Maree, though.  She is such a inspiration that I truly hope you go to her blog and get to know her.  She's funny, energetic, and giving.  You'll see, just go!

To Jan-Maree: I can't say thank you enough.  But I can let you know when some NICU gowns are finished up.  I'm confident that I'll wrap up Meggan's quilt in a few more quilting sessions.  (hopefully, anyway)  I promise a few gowns as soon as that's done.

Thank you, Jan-Maree.
Happy Quilting,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How to Attach an Eyelet

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I'd modified a dress by removing the zipper and adding eyelets so that the dress would fit more comfortably and also to change the look a bit.  The young lady to whom it belongs was very happy with the new changes.  

Today I thought I'd write a tutorial on how to add eyelets.  Let's begin with the tools: I've assembled several items: not all are absolutely necessary, but they'll make the process a bit easier.  You'll need a hammer (not shown) scissors, measuring tape or ruler, pencil, small block of wood, hole punch and eyelets.  The needle-nose pliers and eyelet tool are great additions if you have them.  

The eyelet tool that I show here is great because it both cuts and applies the eyelets, but it's rather expensive.   That said, I wouldn't purchase one unless I planned to use it many times.  If you do make the purchase, be careful to purchase the right size for your project.  This one is too small the eyelets that I used on the dress I wrote about.  It does apply two sizes of very small eyelets though.

Another option is to use the smaller tool that often comes with the eyelets packaged as a kit.  The open end cuts the hole and the other end bends the eyelet piece.

Let's begin, shall we?  I recommend that you make your first attempts on some scrap fabric of the same weight and thickness as your real project.  

Eyelets come in pairs.  One piece has a longer shank than the other, this is the one that goes on the right side of the garment.  

Begin by punching a hole in the fabric exactly where you want the eyelet.  When working on a garment, you should first carefully measure and mark the fabric.  Generally, the eyelets are equally spaced just as in marking buttonholes.  

The small tool above has two different ends: a sharp one with a hole, which cuts the hole in the fabric, and a solid end that bends and shapes the eyelet pieces so that will lock in place.  To cut the hole place the fabric on the block of wood, place the tool on top of the fabric so that the mark is in the center of the hole.  Use the hammer to tap the tool into the fabric.  

Slide the long-shank eyelet into the hole.  Turn the fabric over and put the eyelet on the block of wood to protect your work surface.  Add the short-shank eyelet on top of the first eyelet piece.  They will fit one inside the other.  

Now put the tool on top so that the solid end fits into the two eyelet pieces.  Hold level and tap with hammer.  This time you'll have to tap fairly hard. When the eyelet seems to be finished, test by trying to pull the two pieces apart.  The finished eyelet should be tight against the fabric all the way around the edges.  If there is space left around the edges, you will need to add stabilizer or interfacing to the fabric.  

 It definitely takes some practice.

The end result, though, can be stunning!  

Happy sewing,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Favor please

I decided to put the quilt I made for my parents' 50th anniversary in the Quilt Gallery contest. 

For the fun of it and because it would be great to get some applause for a quilt I love.  That said, I need your vote.  

Beginning Friday please go to http://quiltinggallery.com/2012/02/10/commemorative-quilts/.  Just click on the link and vote for THIS quilt.

Some closer views of the applique and the bow tie blocks.

Thanks for voting!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Making It Work

A student at my high school had a bit of a problem and came to me for a solution. Her debutante dress is just a tad too tight.  In fact, it fits one day and then is uncomfortable the next, although she can get into it.  But she wants to dance and has to wear the dress for hours, so uncomfortable is not her best option.  

Today we took a look at the dress and I offered her two options: 1. move the zipper out just a hair by removing it and inching the folded fabric out a bit; 2. remove the zipper on the bodice, add eyelets, and make the dress a lace-up.  She chose the lace-up option, which was my recommendation.  Lace-up dresses are very popular and it will give her even more room for comfort.  The dress has a great foundation, so she doesn't need to worry about the dress doing anything it's not supposed to.  

While putting the eyelets in, I thought some of my readers might be interested in knowing how I did this.  Most importantly, I first made sure that the dress has enough boning and interfacing to support this kind of change.  

I carefully ripped the zipper stitching from each side beginning at the neckline and going down to about one inch from the waistline.  I cut the zipper three-fourths inch above this one inch mark and folded it down on itself so that the raw edge is hidden under the zipper tape.  I hand stitched the zipper fold so that it would stay and also to stop the zipper head from coming off.

I picked all bits of thread out of fabric and pinned the seam fold down then carefully measured the length of the bodice from the new zipper top to the neckline.  I chose to put in five eyelets and marked the places with pins.  

Interestingly, I couldn't find white eyelets, so I bought the silver ones and a bottle of liquid White Out (the office supply stuff) and painted the eyelets before using them and then touched up each one after applying them.  The White Out dries quickly and is pretty durable.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday

First a few photos of two cuties:

Cotton and Candy's puppies are really growing.  They play quite a bit.  The little boy is on the left in this picture and the girl on the right.  

She was the one with the energy at first, but now the boy is definitely the one to keep an eye on.  He loves to chew and has some very sharp, needle-like teeth.

But they sleep more than they play.  Check out these little stinkers. 

They are separated from Candy because we're trying to wean them so they can go to their new homes and so that they'll eat more puppy food. 

Could she be more sweet than this?  Impossible!   

Of course, her brother is just as cute.  They sleep like Cotton does, with paws in the air.  I guess my flash was a wake up call for him.  He didn't move at all except to open his eyes as if to say, "What?"

  While everyone at our house was watching the game and playing with the puppies, I was in  the studio, working on a very late project.  I'm the worst of mothers-in-law: last summer when Rory asked me to make a sofa quilt for Meggan, I agreed.  Then, as I am apt to do, I promptly put it out of my mind.  It occurred to me around the middle of January that I was supposed to make that quilt for Christmas.  
I'm not at all surprised: I tend to do this sort of thing with the kids.  It seems so doable but then I get side-tracked by other projects and life in general.  

What does surprise me is that when Rory said something, albeit something vague, I didn't realize he was referring to the unmade quilt.  I guess he didn't want me to have an emotional breakdown, which is always likely to happen, so he simply let it drop.  In the meantime, poor Meggan did not get a Christmas gift from her hubby.  I surely wish Rory had directly asked about the quilt before Christmas.  

Meggan's sofa quilt is on the design wall.  She likes the size of one of my lap blankets, so that's my goal.  The quilt is not quite there, but I'm getting close!  Once the strips are pieced, I'll add about ten inches of a solid beige to the sides and applique some tulips.  She loves the quilt I gave her for their wedding, and this one is meant to coordinate with it.  She also loves tulips, so the red will be repeated along the sides in the tulip petals.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Libby Lehman is a well-known quilter whose work is absolutely stunning.  As a teacher, she is hilarious and while she enjoys joking on stage, she seems serious about her craft, her Bernina, her teaching--just about everything she jokes about is actually a serious subject.  When asked how many projects she has going at a time, Libby said that she works on one project from start to finish.  On her website, www.libbylehman.us she says basically the same thing:

"I work on one quilt at a time, from start to finish (“finish” means the slides are taken and in the notebook). This discipline helps me to focus in on each quilt as a distinct entity. It also cuts down on the clutter, both literally and figuratively. Part of my creative process involves an ongoing dialogue with my quilts; too many voices trying to talk at once would be distracting. It usually takes from a few days to a month to complete a quilt."

Her quilts, as you can see, are just stunning.  I love the many embellishments she includes, from the shimmer of the sheer fabrics to the sparkle of the metallic threads.  These quilts are meant to shine and grace a wall like a painting from one of the masters!  

I hope you enjoy this quilt show as much I enjoyed snapping the photos.  (I just wish my photo skills could do them justice.)

Do visit her website and check out the quilt gallery where there are even more beautiful quilts to see!