Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Must Be Crazy

Things make me crazy.  I'm not even joking.  For years I could free motion quilt on my sewing machine.  Then, one day, I couldn't.  It's been to the machine doctor 5 or 6 times and every time it comes back not working the way it used to.  I'm good for maybe 5 minutes, which is probably how long the doctor samples it, and then it starts skipping stitches.  I don't get it.  Crazy.I can, however quilt using my machine's stitches without ANY problem.  This leads me to believe the problem is user error.  Adapt and overcome is what we always say.   I decided I could use my fancy machine stitches that I've never used  before to quilt Rabbits Prefer Chocolate.  I've got a LOT of clean up to do.  It's hard to know where to start & stop to avoid sewing over your applique because the stitches all go forward and backward at unpredictble rates.

I guess  I don't hate it.  I don't love it yet, but I don't hate it.  I'm convincing myself that it has a lacy feel to it.  Yes, I'm aware Easter is this Sunday.  And, yes, the President's Challange deadline is the May meeting.  Yes, yes, I know.   I'm working on it.  Get off my back:)

I've been working a lot on my Quilty Stitches project.  There's a lot of white filler happening here.  We watched Gone With The Wind last night & I got a lot of progress done while listening to Rich's Mammie impression.  Yeah, the kids had their very own Mammie for an evening.  Lucky them.  He's a special kind of crazy that I won't claim is my fault.

 Most of the last month was working on the Round Robin.  This little old lady (the one on the quilt) told me she wanted roses for her applique, almost as soon as we met.  And, who am I to deny a little old lady?  So, I ordered a super amazing, awesome and wonderful, Japanese applique book.  That took a week & half to get here.  Then, I stitched my little heart out for 2 & half weeks to meet the deadline.  Now, why in God's name would I choose something SO ambitious with such a tight time frame when I'm working 55 hours a week?  My own decisions make me crazy, too.

 Then, there's this picture that I couldn't make go up with it's friends.  Makes me crazy.

Now  if you're not familiar with hand applique, let me explain.  Each rose took roughly 1 - 2 hours.  That's about 4 -5 hours per corner on the quilt.  I was stitching every free moment.  I was even in dark theatres watching Bethany's dance competitions on both Sundays (my only day offf) in a row stitching those roses.  I've bled for these roses.  My finger's were, indeed, raw.  All because the little old lady said she wanted roses.  And, let's not dwell on how the green shadows though the pink in spots.  That would make me crazy, if I let it.  I don't think it was that obvious in real life anyway.

Rich always says, "If all you meet, all day long, are assholes.  Maybe, you're the asshole."  So, with that logic, I must be the crazy.  Hmmmm.

Monday, March 31, 2014

What Do You Mean, It's Not For Me?

Okay, so I'm totally ready to admit paper piecing is not my thing.  And, I've go a WHOLE quilt to go still!This little bugger took almost 2 hours to do.  Those glasses were intense!  I kept putting the fabric down on the paper backwards or not making sure the fabric is long enough.  And, now that I see the picture, forgetting pieces all together!  Yeah, that left botttom frame isn't supposed to be that long.  Jeez, now that's got to be fixed.

It's been a long couple of weeks.  My hours are long and my family doesn't seem to stop needing me just because I'm busy.  Rich's mother died this week and that's a whole other thing.  He was estranged  from her up until about a month ago when she found out she was dying and wanted to make amends. The kids have never met her.  He isn't taking it well.  He's been a Crab-asaurus Rex from the planet Crab-atron.  I think mourning would be easier on him (and the rest of us) but he's just really angry right now.  It really makes you reflect on what's important in life.  What do you want people to feel when you're gone.  Do you want them to be sad to see you go or just pissed at who you chose to be.  God willing, my kids will just be sad.  All four of that woman's kids are pissed off.  And, I guess that is one of the stages of mourning.  It's pretty terrible.

Any who, enough of the depressing stuff.  I did manage to get a couple of my Christmas blocks done.  I think it's turning out cute.  However, I do keep forgetting that I wanted it to be blues and greens.  Pink seems to be creeping in on a regular basis.  I love how the pear fabric photographed!  It doesn't seem that intense in real life.

I told Rich, "Look honey, I get the present!"  He gave me the dead pan stare and said, "You get ALL the presents."  Ha!  At least we've got that established!  If you're keeping track, March's gift was tickets to Celtic Woman.  It was so good!  I took Sierra because Rich said he would just make fun of it and ruin my night.  Another thing we agree on.

Here's a funny story about me and presents!  Rich had a seriously beautiful book shelf hand crafted by his former co-worker.  Seriously.  Beautiful.  Artistry.  So, he sends me a picture of  it while I'm at work and I love it.  So, I thought, this must be an early April present... I have it mentally filled and decorated before I get home.  I'm showing my co-workers how beautiful it is and they're telling me how spoiled I am.  You get the picture.  So, I get home and the darn thing is full already of war books!  I'm, like, what?!  It wasn't for me at all!!!  He had it made to house his war/ science/ philosophy book collection!  What the heck?  He wanted it for books??  He did leave me part of one shelf to put the family photo albums.  Reason # 4,567,396 that the world does not revolve around Heather Mantz.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Eleanor Is Back In Action

Well,  my machine was at the doctor's for the last 2 weeks and it was killing me!  Apparently the feed dog module was toast.  Eleanor's got plenty of pep in her step now!  It's like an episode of I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, how did I not know there was that big of a problem?  We're good now.  I haven't tried free motion yet but I'm hopeful!  

I put together the blocks for my baby quilt and got the first border on but then had to quit when I realized that I needed more fabric.  Ugh.  It'd be fun if I could plan ahead once in awhile.  I bought more of the yellow than I needed but I figure that can be the back.  I will NOT be doing the prairie points.  One more white border and I'll be done.  The baby will be here before I know it , I was hoping I'd finish it today.

So, I decided to start another project for myself.  I'm a super huge Harry Potter fan.  I saw this project a few years ago when the designer was doing it as a Block of the Week.  I wasn't really excited at first because it was just books.  Not really exciting but then I saw it at the end of the year!  So, great!   I just loved it!  It's paper pieced, which is weird for me.  

I kept thinking that as I went along it would get easier to do but that was not the case today.  I ripped out more than I sewed, or so it seemed.  It's so hard to make sure you've got a big enough piece of fabric, pointing in the right direction.  It seems simple but it's not.  Then, I kept ripping the paper off before I had the whole piece together.  Bleh.  Lots more to do.  By the time I'm done, I'm going to be an expert, I'm sure.

While the machine was in the shop, I worked on my cross stitch project.  I sucked at this, too.  The last block with the Flying Geese, kicked my butt!  I wrote in the pattern wrong twice.  Then, I was half way done stitching and realized I still had the pattern wrong.  I was 2 rows off.  I couldn't leave it like that because the block beneath it wouldn't line up.  So, I ripped out the stitches.  And, shredded the Aida cloth in the process.  2 weeks and much swearing later, I fixed it.  Only to realize that I now had it misaligned in a different direction.  Ugh.  Why do I bother?!  At least it will still line up with the one beneath it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Is That A Tulip In Your Pants, or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

I'm back to work but I'm trying to stay a little creative.  Fred and Dorothy's quilt got finished.  It's more than she asked or paid for but she's really happy with it and that's cool.  When she mentioned she was going to want one for herself (this was a gift) I said it would cost double.  She voluntarily paid me extra for the extra work.  So, that was cool too.

I used Mountain Mist quilt batting for the first time and it was horrible!  You know that cotton that pulls apart in the medicine bottle and won't come out.  It's just like that.  When I was making the quilt sandwich my fingers would rip right through.  That is NOT the place to same money.

Rabbits Prefer Chocolate got the borders put on.  I did end up hand appliquing the scalloped border and I love the stripe fabric I found for it!  If you don't look too closely, it appears that my corners match up just fine.  And, if you do look too close, go away.  Nobody needs your negativity.  I'll have to wait until my machine comes back from getting a tune-up before I quilt it.  Hopefully in time for the guild's May meeting.

I finally got around to repainting my buttons.  Okay, so I bought the paint and asked Rich to do it for me... that should count for something.  They're so much cuter now!  Don't look too closely, or you'll see all the paint layers underneath and Rich's finger prints from when he brought them back in the house.  And, if you do look too closely, go away.  Nobody needs your negativity.

Just last night I finished another tulip block.  I was telling Rich that I didn't like it.  The spheres at the base of the large tulip really bothered me.  We looked at each other and said "They look like testicles."  Then he says, it wouldn't have been so bad if the center wasn't that shade of pink.  Yep.  I have a penis on my tulip.  You totally see it, right?!  Can you see the light shadowing?  So, he suggests I embroider some fuzz on the spheres to make the look complete.

During the Oscars I embroidered along the "tip" to disguise it a little.  Nope.  Now it looks diseased.  This one time I had a pair of sandals that had flowers on top that I decided looked like vaginas.  I never wore the shoes again.  So, as I see it, I have 2 options here.  One, get rid of the block and do something less phalic.  Or, two, put it in the quilt where it will always lay across Rich's crotch.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thus Endeth The Time Off


I tell you, if I were intelligent, I'd be dangerous!  I forgot how to load photos to the blog with my iPad again.  Jees!  I suppose once I do it enough times, It'll be like, Bam!, done.  Not today my dears, not today.

Early in the week I made a thread catcher for my secret pal at quilt guild.  The secret pal program is really fun.  I love getting presents.  I also love giving them.  Hopefully, she'll like this.  When I started the cross-stitch quilt blocks, I started on a piece of cloth that was too small.  So, I decided to cut it out and make a pin cushion from it.  I'm considering selling this type of thing in my Etsy shop.  I've got to tweak it so that it's my own pattern first.  And, find the time.

The block is called Swoon by Camille R., she designs for Cotton Way with her mom.  Very talented and uses all my favorite colors.  She's Mormon, as are MANY of the designers that I follow.  Interesting.  I never would have guessed I'd have so much in common with Mormons.  They like to stitch, have great recipes, quilt.  It's weird.  That makes me sound prejudiced but to tell the truth, I tend to be very disbelieving of the Mormon religion.  And, I'm fairly open minded about those things.  

 My supervisor asked me to make a quilt out of her grandparent-in-law's clothes.  She is NOT paying me enough for what I made, but I didn't want to just sew a bunch of squares together.  I know that's what she's expecting but hopefully she'll like this better.  I loved the way it turned out!  Now I want to make one in patriotics as a Quilt of Valor.  I found the pattern when I was organizing all my patterns a few weeks ago.  See, it's already paying off to be more organized.

I had SO MANY plans to finish several projects while I was on layoff.  None of them got done!  I progressed a little on a few but never got the finish in.  I only finished the new projects that I started.  Projects I told myself I couldn't start until I finished the others.  I've always been really bad at doing what I'm told.  Rabbits Prefer Chocolate have borders prepped and ready to sew.  This was going to be done.  Nope.  I'm super happy with the fabrics I chose for the borders.  That was one of the problems, finding just the right border.  I also had to convince myself to applique the borders.  It's going to bore me to tears but I think in the end, it's the right thing to do.

We started the Round Robin from guild this month.  What fun!  I loved running around to see what everyone brought in.  It's going to be really exciting to see what everyone does.  My horrible math skills struck again.  I only needed 4 four patch hourglass thingys.  I ended up with 32...

So, I made lemonade out of my lemons.  Not sure what's going to happen to it from here, but it'll be cute.  I love these colors.  I may applique some sea creatures on it.  The block below reminded me that I have some Ryan McKenna patterns that need to be used.

The first block I got to work on was this little water scene.  I had to add at least 4 four patch blocks.  I think it turned out really cute.  The picture doesn't do the colors justice.  My teal blends better with her blue than the picture would lead you to believe.  I am wondering why I put pink in the diamonds instead of yellow or red to match her fish.  I suppose I just wasn't feeling it at the time.  The next person can highlight those colors.  Hope she likes it.  She's got an art quilt feeling going on with her fuzzy string jelly fish and the seaweed is organza.  I'm dying to know what's happening to my sunflowers!

Alas, I'm officially out of slacker time.  I need to do laundry, cook dinner and get ready for work tomorrow.  Boo hoo, sad face.  It's been awesome.  I'm totally not ready to return to reality but you gotta do what you gotta do.  I repeatedly offered to quit so that I could stay home and take care of my family's needs.  Rich declined my generous offer and assured me that my meager pay check is still needed.  Damn!  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oi, What a Week!

This week has been absolutely exhausting!  I swear, parenting isn't for wussies, that's for sure!  2 kids had major breakups and the other 2 kids had the flu.  I'm not sure what was worse, to be honest.  Add a snow day and some grade and chore drama while Rich is on the night shift and you've got the perfect recipe for me to loose my shit.  It's times like these that I totally understand why my parents were not into parenting.  I'm not a the responsible parent.  I'm the touchy, feely, let's eat sweets kind of artistic hippy, parent.  I'd have thrown in the towel this week if I weren't so determined not to suck at being a mom.  It's been a real drag.

And, let's not dwell on how long it just took me to figure out how to upload a photo onto the blog with my new iPad.  That would just depress me further.

I finally finished my buttons.  I don't like them at all.  But, they're done.  If you can't quite make them out, the blue one is strawberries, the green one is lilacs and the salmon one is roses.  I just have to come to terms with the fact that I can't paint well and be done with it.  I only put them on the wall because it took me 5 weeks to finish them and I'm stubborn.  The colors don't go well with my curtains or wall color.  I'm trying to get up the courage to tell Rich I want him to paint the walls in my sewing "room", it needs a little redecorating.  10 years is a lifetime for me in paint color terms.  I've had the tiny mirrors for years.  Those, I like...

Rich bought an iPad for me for "Valentine's Day".  Everybody wants to know what I did to get that kind of Valentine's gift.  Let me explain.  My laptop was all but dead and Rich only wants Mac products from now on.  At Christmas, I did the 12 Days of Christmas for him and he really appreciated the attention.  So, he's decided I get a gift every month of the year in 2014.  So far, I'm a big fan.  I don't get to request anything.  It's all going to be stuff he thinks I need, not necessarily what I want.  January was a big, fluffy robe.  I haven't used a robe in 15 years, didn't want a robe but I love my new robe.  Valentine's Day and February got combined with the iPad.  I'm thinking March will be a candy bar or a Mt. Dew.  Either way, I'm loving it.  I'm loving him.  I don't exaggerate when I say that man has kept me from coming apart at the seams for 21 years.

I had to make this pretty cover for it.  My next version is going to have hard sides so that I can use it as a prop stand as well.
Then, I decided to open an Etsy shop to sell my stuff.  Then, I had a craptastic week and am totally rethinking the whole Etsy idea.  I haven't posted anything for sale yet but it's called Heather's Fabric Garden.  My big plan was to eventually have my own online fabric store.  I had big plans.  I did the research to start a real business.  I know, it seemed like such a great idea last week.  Now, I feel like there is no possible way I could keep that kind of commitment going.  So, I continue to ponder.
Then, I started that adorable baby quilt that I showed you last week.  Only to realize that I made 80 of the block components the wrong size.  So, I ripped the tiny 1.5" triangles off the ends (all day), trimmed, re-sewed and cried.  Don't ask me how, but my yellow blocks were the right size but I'd ripped them off without knowing.  Yep, tears.  It was the end of my patience.  I'm only human, man.  And, being stubborn I fought through the tears to finish all my blocks.  They are ready to piece together and add 2 small borders.
I'm approaching my last week of layoff and I didn't get much done that I'd planned.  I had images of my knocking projects out left and right.  I got some done but nothing like I envisioned for myself..  With any luck, my last week will be less stressful.  No more flu, no more breakups, just peace and tranquility.  A girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Control Freaks and Slut Shoes

Trying to make  up for lost time, I've been sewing ALL day.

I finally started Bethany's graduation quilt.  It's Angie Padilla's shoe quilt.  Bethany wanted hers to be in pastels.  This first block was super fun!  I changed the yellow shoe's embellishment from some  stacked layers of weirdness to a ruffled organza ribbon to turn it into a princess shoe.  We're calling the purple shoe the slutty shoe.  It's eventually going to have a button of some sort on the ankle.  Or, maybe some studs.  The shelves are ribbon.

This one is my Round Robin contribution.  I need to find a button to add to the basket where the basket and handle hinge together.  I have no idea what kind of button.  I tried 5 different colors of buttons and none of it was great.  The brown flower centers are some weird fabric I was "stretching my comfort zone" with.  There's a reason we have comfort zones.  We make mistakes when we stray from them.  It's hideous but not horrible when cut up.  We've got 3 teams of 8 people that will trade a 12.5" block at this next guild meeting.  The next person will add the first border.  Then, it passes to another person who adds another border.  Everyone gets their turn with it until it comes back to me with 7 borders around my little block.  I get NO say in what happens to it from here on out.  Bethany thought it was funny that I'd allow someone else that much control.  I was like, "Me?  I'm no control freak."  "Mom, you don't trust me to push the cart at the grocery store."  Huh, I guess I need to reconsider how I think about myself.

Here's a random picture of my fabric bins that I finished labeling.  I'm SO happy I did this.  It's so much easier to just grab what I need.  Especially since I've been doing so many scrappy quilts.  The handled bins at the bottom contain my WIPs.  The folded quilt tops next to the WIPs are all my awesome quilt tops that are patiently awaiting quilting.  They may have to wait forever.  I've got the binding fabrics stored with them and in some cases, I've even got the backer.  Oh yeah, I also organized my pattern binders with dividers.  I've got it all arranged by pieced, applique, kids, seasonal... that took a day.                                                                                                  

This Sweet Lil Thing is going to be a baby for Rich's brother.  They're having a little girl in April.  I'm hoping to get it done in the next 2 weeks before I head back to work full-time.  Scrappy quilts take SO MUCH longer to cut.  This thing took an entire day to cut.  Finding the fabrics, cutting the tiny pieces.  Jees.  I think it'll be adorable.  I am NOT doing prairie points.  Just putting that out there.

 I finished Rich's niece's graduation quilt top last week.  I fixed those 2 pesky messed up blocks and added some borders.  I think it turned out pretty cute.  I think I'll be able to do the quilting by myself.  I tried to free motion quilt Hunter's graduation quilt this week.  I was going like gang busters for one row.  The second row skipped tons of stitches.  It sucks.  That was one of the things I really wanted done before I went back to work.  He graduated a year and a half ago.  I think I'm going to have to admit I can't do all that stuff myself with what I've got.  Damn.  I read a quote the other day that said they gave themselves permission to suck.  How freeing that must be.

On Sunday, I had fun with some friends at a Super Bowl Mystery.  We got small clues throughout the day telling us what step to take next.  It started with a jelly roll and a yard of fabric.  I love my fabrics.  It's always difficult to go on faith when you don't know what it's going to look like in the end.  There's that control freak coming out again.  Damn.  Now it's in the quilt someday pile. 

This project has been a lot of fun!  I'm following Little Miss Shabby's blog.  Once a week she is posting a cute little cross stitch pattern of a quilt blog that measure about 2".  I love it!  These are the first 2 weeks.  I was super excited this Monday when she posted the newest one.  It's eventually going to be a square of quilt squares.  Cute, cute, cute.