Friday, December 7, 2018

A Year In Review

Every year around this time I like to re-assess my life.  My artistic life, that is...

Artistically, I took a few sideroads this year.  I worked a little on watercolor painting.  I'm not a natural, in case you were wondering... I worked on Hunter & Carmen's wedding.  That was a pure joy.  I do love butter and sugar.  And, just lately I've been crazy for sugar cookies.  The title of Business Owner is currently boring/stressing me out.  We'll have to see where that leads.  I've been signed up to teach classes at Jackman's Fabrics and do some of their displays.  No idea where I'll find time to do that but I'll give it a shot.

Looking through my UFOs from last year, I see I've made more than I finished.  Maybe this year will be different, maybe it won't.  I'm not feeling very comital, am I?

No Progress
Beloved Baltimore 
En Provence

Ready For Quilting
Pink Flamingos
Splendid Sampler
'Heather' Wedding Ring
John Deere T-shirt quilt

Still In Progress
Harry Potter Bookcase
Quilt Show BOM
Strawberry Shortcake
Baltimore of Roses

Valentine Quilt
Simple Folk
Baltimore Garden

I did just get a new bolt of batting.  So, if I concentrate, I could get the 'Ready For Quilting' list knocked out.  It would be nice to get the t-shirt quilt done by Christmas.  One a month doesn't seem unrealistic. Today, anyway.  'Still In Progress' are all going strong, except for Strawberry Shortcake.  In the mean time, here are pictures of some of my cookies and a baby quilt for Henry.  Incidentally, I've been commissioned to make 2 dozen Christmas bears for a children's choir next week.  Looking forward to that!

Clearly, I let the machine drag the fabric while I was quilting.  Hopefully the fabric will tighten up after quilting.  It still looks cozy.  And, honestly, he's gonna puke on it at some point, right?
Oh yeah, and a Santa pillow I made!

I'll check in next week, hopefully show that I have finished the top for Harry Potter!  But, I should be telling you that the T-shirt quilt is quilted...  I'll figure it out.  Something will get done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas Village Completish

Our Crazy Quilt group decided to do a group challenge for the next quilt show.  We all chose to do something you'd find in a village.  I chose a candy store.  Not something easy, like a park or garden.  A candy store...  Then, that morphed in to a Gingerbread House because I don't know how to make a candy store.
  I have a love/hate relationship with every crazy quilt project I've ever done.  I love the embellishing but I hate the construction.  I forgot to leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance while embellishing a few of the blocks and ended up having a terrible time putting them together.  Again..

I ordered that Santa and Sleigh pin from England.  I wove the gum drops.  The tree lace is cut off of a bigger piece.  the background is hand dyed by me and the wool was a generous donation by Dana D.  Speaking of donations, most of the fabrics were collected from my super generous friends in the CQ group.
 The button snowman is one of my favorite elements and then I cut off his hat with my seam allowance!  Dang it.
 I used my books by Kathy Shaw to inspire my seam treatments.
 Lots of Etsy purchases for candy beads and nutcracker button.  I don't want to contemplate the cost of the embellishments I purchased.
 A final shopping spree at Hobby Lobby last weekend garnered more bits and bobs.  I wove the poinsettia as well.  I still need to tack everything to the back, "quilt it".  So the puffy seams should flatten a bit after that.  And hopefully, help with the wonky shape but I think my expectations on that are err on the side of realistic...
 My snowman sequin is from a few years ago.  I like to think he's shrugging, "Well, it's not perfect, but it's done."
 I really like the rhinestone tree.  the clear snowflake button is from about ten years ago.
With that, I bid you adieu.  In the coming weeks I hope to go through my UFOs and hammer out a few of them.  I've been itching for new projects but haven't allowed myself because I already felt buried in projects.  I'm not on lay off but I do have an extra day off or two every week and hope to not waste them!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Tryin' To Make a Dolla!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I've been eager to try something new in baking lately.  Seems like I've done what I can do with a cupcake and wedding cakes without weddings is weird.  So, I've decided to improve my Sugar Cookie game.  I tried out 2 dairy free recipes so that Bethany can have some.  One recipe was shortening, the other was actually Vegan and used coconut oil.  Shortening was the clear favorite, although there's no true replacement for butter, as long as it won't kill you...

I struggle with icing consistency, so I wanted to start out fairly simply.  I did get lazy at the end and used my flood frosting for the vines and leaves.  Big mistake.  Next time, I need to remember to set aside stiffer frosting before I add water to make the flood frosting.

Just a cute pic of Mr. True protecting his ball from Rich.
So, I was going to name the post "It's Tough Out Here For a Ho" but decided I should be classier than that... Vicki R convinced me to approach Jackman's Fabrics about teaching classes.  I had mixed feelings.  First, because I have my little shop and felt like it would be a conflict of interests.  They apparently are not feeling the least bit intimidated by my business and have accepted all of my ideas for classes.  LOL.  One of them will be Crazy Quilt Block Design, we will explore designing the block itself in  and a second class will focus on embellishments, both machine and hand.

A second idea was Stupendous Stitching.  We'll be exploring what our sewing machines can do with a little hand beading and embellishing added to it.
I'll be teaching my Spool Bunting pattern, also available in my Etsy shop.
Finally, I'll be offering this Machine Applique Tulip pillow.  I'll keep you updated with dates when they release the schedule.
Barb N. and I finally got together to work on her first quilt!  She finished the top and it turned out fantastic!  Now to get it sandwiched, quilted and bound!  Hopefully before Christmas, fingers crossed.

Last Saturday at The Applique Society meeting, we made felt trees.  So cute!  Thank you Dana D.!  She hand dyed the wool and gathered everything we needed.  So much fun!  I finished mine up while nursing Bethany after her Wisdom Teeth surgery (the pill bottles).
In other news, I got my Art Nouveau quilt back from Jane H.  She did an amazing job!  I don't know if the quilting is very visible in the photos.  I hope you can see all her hard work.
She outlined all the applique, did swirls in the background and matched the fabrics on the larger applique pieces.

My only request was to do what I considered to be a "cathedral window" style border.  Not sure why I keep calling it that, but there you have it.  She had NO idea what I meant by that and then had a different name for it that I still can't remember.
I'm absolutely in love with the quilt!  I'm even considering applying to Paducah with it... The designer, Morning Glory Designs has already granted permission.  I have to get it bound and properly photographed by 12/6, I think...  Seemed like that was awhile from now, but actually only 2 weeks.  Ugh.

Any who, my day job won't be offering my favorite schedule this year (seasonal layoff) but they did offer extra days off in December to soften the blow a bit.  So, hopefully, I'll get my act together and get some sewing done this winter.  I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

You're A Wizard, Heather!

Man, I wish that were true!  Imagine the possibilities!  There's been some talk of going to Scotland next year with Hunter and Carmen!!!!  Which led to talk of taking a ride on The Jacobite Train, which of course is the Hogwart's Express.  Yes!  I know!  I've barely slept since they told me!  Any who, I was inspired to get my Harry Potter Bookcase done at our latest Mascoutah retreat.  
The Sorting Hat is the size of 2 blocks.  For some reason, I forgot to print 2 pages of this pattern and couldn't finish it at our retreat.  His eyes are a little freaky, if I'm honest.
Naturally, I chose the Hufflepuff's flag.  When the Sorting Hat says you're a Hufflepuff, then that's how it is.  You feel me?  I love the bottom book in this one.  Little eye balls.
The Monster Book of Monsters was a real beast to work on.  See what I did there?  I really struggle with what color should go where when I'm using PP.  I made several mistakes and barely had enough of the hairy fabric to finish!  A mere 3 hours on one block.  Almost as bad as Hedwig!!  I did think it was clever to use butterfly fabric for his mouth.  Now it looks like he's eating bugs.

 After that, I needed an easy block.  Not crazy about my boring color palate on this one but next to all the others, you don't notice it.
 Then, an even easier block.  Much more interesting color choices.  I still haven't decided if I'm going to embroider book titles on to them.  I've seen them done on embroidery machines that look amazing but you know, I'll try to do it by hand.  I'm worried that the wild patterns I've used will make the lettering unreadable which would just be a waste of time.
 I struggled and struggled with the velum paper again.  Hated every damn minute of it... I finally took Chris Y's advice and ordered some news print.  Went home and finished the Sorting Hat with the news print and it was wonderful!!  Such a difference.  My stitches weren't uneven, the paper came out really easily.  Night and day!  Maybe I don't hate paper piecing after all!  I have 7 more blocks to go.  Then, I have to decide how to finish it.  Fancy,  old, scrolls on my bookshelf?  Modern with a dragon resting on top?  Maybe a Nibus 2000?

I actually had a day all to myself on Tuesday.  It was magnificent.  Rich was at work and the remaining kids both had classes.  It was just me and my pal True.  We made a t-shirt quilt for Carmen's mom.  An actual quilt in a day!  Don't think I've done that before, maybe a baby quilt.  This is the second tractor t-shirt quilt I'm making for Carmen.  I'm really loving this modern layout.  Hopefully, Jill will like it.  The art work in her home is pretty modern/ mid-century. Lots of fun.
Even with all the excitement over The Jacobite, I think I'm going to choose Ireland.  (yeah, they're letting me choose!)  It's more my pace.  Scotland is pretty rugged and there's lots of heights and bridges involved.  Neither are my favorite things.  So, next up a green fairy quilt?  I did the Irish Triple Chain last year.  Do you think I can find a charity shop with tons of old Irish buttons?  Dang it, now I won't sleep for another week.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Dusting The Powdered Sugar Off

Hello, good people!  We did it!  We all survived the wedding.  Not only survived but had a splendid time.  I thought I'd take a moment to share the few ways in which I contributed to the festivities. 

I did quite a bit of work to provide the groom.  He's one of those long term projects, a real labor of love.  Not to toot my own horn but I'm really pleased with how this one turned out.  He's handsome, funny, intelligent and handy as hell!  Some of my best work, if I'm honest.
 I also made Carmen's veil.  She showed me a veil that was selling for $2000 (gasp) and we replicated it for $65 and some time.  We imported the lace that she liked, and the monogram was her design.  The perfect topper for a GORGEOUS bride!  You know that project was right up my ally...
Now the cakes.  The cakes have been making me crazy for 6 months.  I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to pull it off.  There were A LOT of cake trials.  So many cake trials... Thanks to everyone that taste tested for me!  In the end, everything turned out really well.
Cinnamon Apple with Salted Cream Cheese Frosting
Hand Painted Fondant Leaf

Vanilla Cake with Caramelized Pineapple Filling, Butter Rum Frosting and
Hand Painted Fondant Rose

Mint Chocolate Cake with Minted Cream Cheese Frosting,
Chocolate Fondant Heart and Monogram

Gluten Free Red Velvet with Dairy Free French Vanilla Frosting and Custom Fondant Medallion
Please note how I did not drop the cake!  Luckily my daughter Bethany came with me to help set up.  She was a real life saver!!  The bucket underneath was something they found on Carmen's family's farm.  It turned out to be the ideal size.
Almond Cake with Raspberry Filling and Almond Frosting
I made the ring bearer pillow and flower girl basket.  The adorable girls are Carmen's little sisters.
Last but not least, my people.  My family is all over the country and I don't see them like I'd like to.  But, this group, these people fill my heart.  My brother Luke Officiated the wedding.  He really got to the heart of the kids and did such an amazing job.  Lillian had to report for work the next day in Louisiana.  Gib is my oldest sister's oldest son.  We're only 4 years apart in age and have always had a strong connection.  They have 3 young kids that didn't always appreciate being at the adult events for an entire weekend.  I appreciate the effort everyone made to show up for us so much.
Ruth, Gib, Me, Luke, Lillian, Jay
Now what am I supposed to do with myself?  Well, the Hearts n' Hands Guild auction is right around the corner.  They're looking for donations.  Christmas will be here before we can blink.  Then, the guild's quilt show.  Time to dust the powdered sugar off me and pick up a needle!

Friday, September 21, 2018

It's Fine, We're All Fine, Really I'm Fine.

Our TAS (The Applique Society) group took on the national challenge to design a panel that represents our area.  When I say we, I mean Katie M. said here's a thing, I don't have time to do it.  Any takers?  Well, naturally, I volunteered because I don't have enough things going on.  I thought I'd go home and design something in EQ7 but I couldn't get the program to load on my computer.  Yeah!  So, this is a mishmash of copyright free coloring pages that represent the Metro East area.  There's the city skyline, violets are the IL state flower, the State Seal in the middle, oak leaves for the state tree, couldn't leave out the cardinal which is our state bird and the TAS logo bluebird was the only required element.  Then I tried to take a pano picture... imagine, if you will, that this is a straight piece of paper... no weird ripples or waves.
I was looking for something mindless to do at some point and started some pillow cases.  I was trucking along pretty good but hated the yellow flowers and lost interest.  I'm sure at some point, I'll fix it and move on.
 I've been mourning the loss of a project that I can't wait to get my hands on since I finished my Art Nouveaux project.  So I finally dug out Baltimore Album of Roses by Rita Verroca and picked one of the "easiest" patterns.  Her patterns are SO COMPLICATED!!  I chose Stevie's Quilt.  In the end, it's a large wall hanging.  This center motif is maybe 16-18"?  Some of the projects in that book blow my mind!
 I was afraid I hadn't accomplished the layered petal colorization she does.  Looking at the picture, I'd say they're all pretty good except the yellow.  She really manages to get the light and dark in the right spot to show natural shadowing.  I kind of went with light, dark, light, dark and hoped for the best.  I think quilting will enhance it quite a bit.  I just drew on a bottom motif with a bird.  We'll see if I get any better.
 Our guild did a quick little School House project this month.  I just love this little bit of cuteness.  Oh Sheep.
 Now, I'm afraid, this bit is a little boring but I can't help myself!  I did some more fabric dying.  An area I really need to get better at if I'm going to continue with it.  My Yellow, fabulous.
 Petal Pink, once again splotched all over.  Maybe I need to dissolve the dye for 30 minutes before adding the fabric?
 Raspberry was gorgeous, but then I used the last of my Raspberry dye.  Go figure.
I think this was Scarlet but it's very orange if you ask me.  I forgot to label the containers.  I keep thinking I'll remember what's what and of course I don't.
 Bright Orange, just as expected!
 Lilac or Deep Purple, no one knows.
 Fuchsia, fabulous.
 Deep Purple or Lilac?
 Earth Green?
 This is just Green, I remember that.  Why so pale?
 I guess this is Chocolate.
 Is this my Barn Red?!  Honestly, I thought I'd lost some fabric somewhere.  I couldn't find Scarlet or Barn Red only to realize they aren't anything like I expected.  I was hoping to do a red/green Baltimore Album project now I don't have the reds...
 Straight up Blue.  Kind of cool.  I see everything as rose petals right now.  Those dark blotches would add a lot of life to a petal.
 Black turned out better than expected.  I'd always heard you couldn't get a true black from dye but I think this is pretty good.
 I think this is Deep Forest.
Other than that, I've been baking up a storm getting ready for the wedding next weekend.  Can you believe my oven is jacked up?!  It's a gas oven and it's acting like the heating element is going out.  Only there's no heating element... Any ideas?  Sometimes it gets up to temp and sometimes it doesn't.  My chocolate mint cupcakes were ruined but everything else has just needed a little extra time.  Rich thinks maybe the computer is messed up.  Why is this happening now?!!  He even offered to buy a new oven mid- Panic Attack last night.  Also, the vintage car we were going to use to drive the kids from the ceremony blew it's transmission last weekend at a car show!!  It's a 1965 Crown Imperial, so it's not like we can run to the store and buy a new transmission!!  Can you here the panic in my typing?  No, really, everything is fine!  I'm fine!  It's all fine...