Making Fabric Twine

Fabric TwineIs this not the most stinkin’ cute thing you’ve ever seen? I am totally in love with the idea of making fabric twine from my scrap fabric.

I know I’ve talked about my based on Bonnie Hunter’s idea (her blog -> Quiltville.com) where all your fabric that isn’t loved or for a specific project gets cut into different size strips that you use most when making scrap quilts or small projects.

Side Note: If you have fabric that isn’t loved at your house and you don’t make scrap quilts, just send it to me! :) Love ya!

My most used strips ended up being 2 1/2″, 1 1/2″, 1″, and 3/4″. Well, maybe not most used. More like most appealing to a project I was really looking forward to making. Currently I’m working on a Pineapple quilt using the 1 1/2″ strips mostly, but the center squares are 2 1/2″. I was cutting 2″ strips at first but then didn’t have a good project for them. I managed to convince myself not only that a miniature log cabin was a possibility, but also that while a mini using 1″ strips would be totally doable, a mini using 3/4″ strips would be an interesting challenge.

Somehow I think I’ve been bamboozled. By myself, no less.

So in the spirit of Christmas, when I’m cruising craft blogs looking for stinkin’ cute projects that I can dream about doing one day when I’m as organized as Martha Stewart and with a similar annual budget for crafts, and when I’m thinking about starting about a dozen projects just for Christmas decorating, not to mention all the Christmas presents, how can I resist the one craft that I can start right away (because I have the strips already cut!) AND can be part of a Christmas present for just a hint of homemade goodness! I love the picture in my head of all the presents in a plain white paper and this colorful fabric twine. So cheery and fun.

Anyway, I found the tutorial for this fabric twine over at My Poppet and couldn’t wait to get started. I think I’ll tie up all my Christmas presents in this stuff! Now if I only knew what I was going to get everyone!

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Ready to Sew

Auction quilt for Emily's school

Auction quilt for Emily’s school

I finally have a working sewing area again! YAY! After Maryssa was born, we boxed up all my fabric and sewing paraphernalia (wow, that was a job!) and moved everything out into the loft area so we could use the 3rd bedroom as a nursery.

Now, when I say we moved everything out, I mean we moved out most of the sewing room stuff except the furniture, and moved the IKEA Expedit bookcase, drafting table and anything too heavy/don’t have a place for it anywhere else, into the middle of the room so we could paint. But since I had some shelves up on the wall that needed to come down, we can’t paint til we repair all the drywall damage from the toggle bolts and shelf hardware.

Maryssa has been sleeping in a mini-crib in our bedroom for the last 8 months, which was great in the beginning when she was waking up multiple times a night, but now that she’s sleeping through the night and we’re getting tired of tiptoeing around the room getting ready for bed at night – it’s time to get her room done!

But back to the sewing room — Emily’s school does a fundraiser auction every Spring, and earlier in the school year I’d mentioned we should do a quilt for the class project. I volunteered to quilt it if they decided to go that route. I never heard anything more about it, but right before the Christmas break one of the moms told me the quilt top was complete and could she get it to me over the break so I could quilt it. As the loft area was wall to wall bins of fabric and books, I had to make this a useable area – and FAST!

There was a lot of sorting and throwing away of things I don’t need anymore, as well as stashing several bins in a nearby closet to create some working room, but finally there was a clear table area and the sewing machine was set up and the quilt was quilted. It turned out pretty good, but due to the nature of the project, it was a little finicky. I didn’t think it was my best work, but it was done and that’s all that mattered.

I love how after I deliver a quilt, especially one I’m not entirely satisfied with, the receiver will always rave about how beautiful it is. I always have to fight myself not to point out the places where the corners didn’t match or the quilting wiggled in the wrong way or the stitch that skipped or was longer than it’s companions. My perfectionism rears its ugly head and makes me want to show the person all my little mistakes.

The best part of having a useable area (even if it’s not completely organized and lovely yet) is that I can finally sit down and play with fabrics again. I can also restart working on my projects that have been put away for so long. Since it’s still pretty cluttered with bins I need to sort through, I ended up setting up the ironing board back in Maryssa’s room, in about the same place I had it set up before, and I’m looking at all these drywall anchor holes and thinking how that’s the only thing that’s keeping us from setting up her room and moving her into it. (Oh yeah, and the A/C ductwork that needs to be replaced so the room will get luxuries like heat and air, but Geoff’s planning on tackling that soon, so the rest is up to me).

Now that I’m realizing Maryssa inherited my restless sleep cycle, with the shifting and mumbling around every time there’s the slightest noise or light change, I’m thinking we really need to concentrate on getting her into her own room. I’ll sleep a lot better and I bet she will too. And I’ll be less likely to stub my toes on the laundry basket and have to stifle my pain so I don’t wake her up. That’ll be nice.

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Organizing My Brain

“Your focus needs more focus”

I feel like I’ve been floating along in a haze for the last 3 months. June 1st I made it to my due date, nearly 2 weeks later I had Maryssa, and ever since I’ve been in a fog. People talk to me and remind me to do things, and a few minutes later I can’t remember what they’ve said to me. Returning to work was hard, especially since late summer is our busy season and I was trying to remember what exactly I needed to do, as well as trying to work in pumping sessions.

Partly this is due to having an infant in the house and an interrupted sleep schedule, and I still get overwhelmed and have crying jags whenever I let myself get too tired. Is that Post-Partum Depression? I’m thinking it’s probably not, since it only seems to catch up to me whenever I’ve gotten over-tired and anything will set me off, but when I’m well rested I seem pretty calm and even-tempered. I know it’s driven Geoff crazy, never knowing when he’ll find me hiding in an unused room sobbing.

So things have gotten done around the house – meals get cooked and eaten, and some cleaning happens occasionally (although not as often as needed perhaps), but most of the time I feel like there are things I need to be doing that I just can’t think of, hovering there at the edge of my consciousness. I’ve started keeping lists for myself of things I think of that need to be addressed, things people ask me to do, deadlines for work, but even that’s disorganized, with multiple lists in different places.

I need a centralized place to keep all my notes to myself, and a habit of checking my lists and following up with all the little things that need my attention. Earlier this week, I was reading a blog post about The Staying Organized Survival Guide(affiliate link), which was free on the Kindle for the day (now it’s $2.99, still a bargain!), and it’s about setting aside 15 minutes a day to get organized and stay that way. I’m still reading it, but I thought it had a good point that I could use in getting my brain organized as well.

So for the month of September, I’m going to spend a few minutes a day getting my lists together, sorting and organizing my to-do’s and making sure that nothing important slips through the cracks. I’ll get together a command center for my brain, a centralized place where things get written down, that gets checked often for tasks that need to be accomplished. Work, home, school, and personal tasks all together in one place that can be carried around with me and checked whenever I have time to get something done or wonder if I’ve forgotten anything.

As I work through this brain fog, I’ll post often to hold myself accountable and let you know how it’s going. If you have a tip for me, I’d be glad to hear it! I’m looking for any little tricks or shortcuts to feel more on top of my game.

I feel a lot like Jaden Smith in the new Karate Kid movie, when Jackie Chan said, “Your focus needs more focus.”

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Schlitterbahn!

Last weekend we went to Schlitterbahn (sorry, I didn’t take any pictures!). Can you believe I was actually more comfortable walking around the park in my bathing suit than I would have been last year? Last year, my suit was just a smidge too tight and now it fits so much better. I’ve lost around 20 lbs. more than I gained during my pregnancy, thanks to Maryssa’s voracious appetite. (breastfeeding rocks!)

Last year on vacation, I was constantly tugging at my suit and this year was fairly free of bathing suit mishaps… except one. We took a ride down the Speed Slides – three slides side by side, set up race-style. I’m pretty sure I won the race, but I was a bit distracted at the end when I realized my bathing suit top had unhooked itself. I had to have Geoff hook it back up for me.

There was one moment where I had a little mom-freakout moment. Emily and I were riding Cliffhanger, a tube chute with 2 branches. We had been discussing in the line which way we were going to go and as soon as we got on the ride we got separated. I got stuck in a whirlpool and I couldn’t get out. I watched several groups go right on by while I went around and around. Damn vortex.

So when I got to the end of the ride and she wasn’t waiting for me, I assumed she’d gone on the other branch. No biggie – she’s 10, she can handle going on the ride herself, I just needed to find out where she was. Only none of the lifeguard’s seemed to even know which ride they were standing in, let alone the layout of the park.

Turns out she’d chosen the same direction as me, but somehow thought I had gotten ahead of her, but when I wasn’t at the end she’d gone up to a park employee and told them her mother wasn’t at the end of the ride and could they help her find me. And they had also gone off towards the other end of the ride. We met up about halfway there.

Meanwhile Geoff’s hanging out at the end of the ride where we’d both gotten out, wondering why this ride was taking us so long.

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Getting to the new “Normal”

Maryssa is just over 6 weeks old and today I was back at work. While I want to get my act together and figure out a way to work from home, I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen during my maternity leave. Most of the past 6 weeks I’ve just been trying to get back to “normal”. However, I realized last week that the normal I was used to is gone for good. The normal-that-was included 1 kid, a job, and a bunch of procrastinating and getting the bare minimum done in order to get by. Not exactly the stellar existence I’m shooting for.

It was easy to get back to “normal” after having Emily… While my housekeeping skills now are nowhere near my mother’s or even where I aspire them to be, back then my skills were minimal or hibernating. Coming back from a pregnancy where my energy levels were below rock bottom and I was on a multiple naps per day schedule, fitting an infant into the mix wasn’t difficult and doing the bare minimum around the house was on par with our expectations. Living in a tiny apartment helped.

Fast forward 10 years and my housekeeping skills have gotten an upgrade (although still not where I’d like them to be), I have a 10 year old who would like to do a few fun things this summer, and a husband who’s used to me cooking dinner most nights. He was home for 4 weeks, and while his designated job was to help with household chores and cook, I would have to direct him in doing them. Easier said than done when I’m used to doing it myself. We had a couple of heated conversations about who was doing what and what I was not supposed to be doing.

The past week or so I’ve been trying to figure out my schedule and the best way to get everything done, but without those external cues like getting up for work, it’s been difficult. Emily’s been a big help but I’m afraid her summer so far has been less than a blast. I feel pretty bad about that. We’re making an effort to cram a few more fun things into the next few weeks before school starts.

Top everything off with Geoff’s big plans to do lots of home repairs and upgrades while we were off (a few got done, but some are still in the planning stages), as well as both of us being determined to ditch the procrastination and general laziness to get more things done. So we’ve made a lot of progress and there’s still so much further to go. And now I’m back at work… This is the new normal – and we’re aiming for the stars.

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Menu Plan Monday – July 2nd

I’m finally getting around to updating my blog after baby Maryssa was born 2 1/2 weeks ago! She was not entirely happy with the being born process…

mad baby

9 lb. 5 oz. of not happy Attila the Hun-let

but she’s much better now.

However, with me on light duty and Geoff handling things like cooking dinners most nights, I’ve really needed to get my menu planning mojo back into high gear. Usually I just sketch out a list of 4-5 dinners and make what I feel like making or what needs to be used up from the fridge first, but telling Geoff there are pork chops in the fridge doesn’t help him. He wants to know how to cook them, with what spices, and side dishes too. So I’m trying to be a little more specific for his benefit.

So here’s what we’re cooking this week:

Monday – Spinach Quiche – I like this recipe from Food.com. I may have Geoff throw in some bratwurst slices that we had left over from last night’s dinner.

Tuesday – Tortilla soup

Wednesday – Something easy – probably pasta with sauce and a side of sauteed squash. We’re going to be shooting fireworks with the neighbors, so we’ll need something quick that we can eat early and then will have snacks during the fireworks.

Thursday – Pork stir fry – Geoff said he wanted to try his hand at concocting his own recipe for a basic stir fry, so I got some pork chops for him to experiment with.

Friday – either Leftovers or quick enchiladas, depending on what we have left in the fridge.

Lunches are usually leftovers or fend for yourself around here. Geoff is going back to work on Thursday so I’ll need to start packing him a lunch again.

Come check out everyone else’s menu for the week on Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.com

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10 weeks to go..,

20120327-133526.jpg

Being pregnant at 38 is a lot different than pregnancy at 27. The usual aches and pains hit you on a whole ‘nother level. Yesterday my right hip decided that walking was completely overrated and it wasn’t going to accommodate my unreasonable demands anymore.

Meanwhile my creative streak has gone into overdrive. I have all sorts of interesting projects clamoring for my attention. I don’t remember being this creative last time, but I also wasn’t awake nearly as much (damn you, full-time job!).

Normally I wouldn’t mind a creative surge – creativity is my drug of choice most days and anything that gets me into my sewing room is a welcome distraction – but there are a few problems.

My sewing room needs to become a nursery sometime in the next 10 weeks. Fabric and supplies are being herded into boxes and relocated to a new home and the room needs to be painted…eventually.

Since we’re planning on painting the nursery, we also decided to paint our daughter’s room as well. She’s been lobbying for a Harry Potter themed room for a while and a faux stone wall look is in the works. We have the base coat done and are ready to begin sponging in the stones. Meaning all her furniture and excess items are taking up room in the spot designated for future sewing space.

My friend that’s throwing us a baby shower would like to use our house instead of hers, which means the living room needs to be freshened up – did I mention the house is kind of trashed due to our half-finished project? Add in a 30 week pregnant woman and a husband who is overly concerned about paint fumes so is trying to do everything by himself and we’re looking at a recipe for disaster!

Color me a little overwhelmed. Times 20. Meanwhile, I really need to gather enough energy to go register. Or something. I have a feeling the next 10 weeks are going to be loads of fun.

I need a nap.

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Starting Orca Bay Again

Last week I was really not in the mood to be at work… Why? Because I had this quilt to finish!

A Pineapple Blossom quilt for Grandpa

This is one of the last projects I needed to finish up for someone else before I got to work on MY project, the one that’s been on hold since December because I had too many other things to do!

I’ve been reading Bonnie Hunter’s blog for a while now. She came to our guild at some point last year and her scrap-user’s system really clicked with me. I started cutting all my stagnating stash into strips and using them in scrap quilts. In December, Bonnie started talking about a mystery quilt she was going to be doing called Orca Bay and I was IN! I love mystery quilts!

Well, with Christmas and everything else, I barely managed to start Clue 1 before I had to put it aside, and even with working on it a few minutes whenever I could, I’m still slogging through Clue 2 (okay, I’ve started cutting for Clue 3 as well). Everyone else got the final clue somewhere around New Year’s, but I’m still plugging away when I have a chance.

Here are the pieces I made for Clue 1 —

My Clue 1 pieces

Black & white hourglass blocks 2 1/2"

I love all the different black and white fabrics I was able to find in my strip drawers – I did buy a couple more black fat quarters since I didn’t have a lot of selection but I’m really enjoying how they all work together.

Clue 2 has been a little harder. Not only do I have limited time to work on this quilt, Clue 2 is string pieced on paper… not my favorite. And I need to make 72 of these blocks:
Blue string-pieced blocks
After about 25 of these pieced on paper, I started to get creative… long strip sets I cut squares from, shorter strings I pieced in diagonal sets. Anything to get away from all those papers! I have almost 60 done now, so just a few more and I’ll be done!

Clue 3 is half-square triangles that I’ve been cutting a few of at a time in between other things. Now that I’ve finished up the Pineapple Blossom quilt and taken it to it’s new home (did I mention it was supposed to be a Christmas present? Whoops!) I can charge headlong into Orca Bay until it’s time to start on the next quilt. I have a t-shirt quilt to make for a graduation present, which isn’t due til early May, but I will need to get busy on it pretty soon.

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Scrap Happy Quilting

Every once in a while, there is a perfect storm of circumstances that makes me really excited to get busy doing something.

  • I couldn’t find my ball winder – I really wanted to knit up some of my stash yarns, but without my ball winder, I was stuck either working from skeins or winding by hand. (the ball winder is now found, but my sewing room is still a big mess.)
  • I need to clear out my sewing room and move my workspace to a smaller area of my house (this does not excite me at all, but we need the room to be a bedroom again… for a new baby! That’s the exciting part)
  • I need to cull my fabric stash so it will fit neatly into the area we’re allotting for my new sewing space.

Every quilter needs a stash of fabrics, but when your stash needs to be smaller, no quilter likes to simply throw fabric away (blasphemy!). Sure, some could go to my guild’s “free table” at the next meeting, but that’s boring! Why not use it?

Mary’s quilts turned out so great, I think I need to make more quilts in simple patterns for all the other babies in my life. Everyone I know seems to be pregnant right now!

Right now I’m sorting through my stash, cutting anything I don’t love into strips for my scrap system (based on Bonnie Hunter’s system). Then when I’m ready to start sewing, I can pull out a drawer-full of strips and zoom along.

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Baby Quilt Conundrum

boy quiltRecently I was having a small problem…
See, my friend Mary is pregnant with twins, and I want to give her a baby quilt… or two.

I found a really cute pattern and started sewing, but the blocks were just taking FOREVER to put together (there were a lot of triangles, and bias edges drive me nuts!). I also realized it was so scrappy that when I was putting blocks together it was starting to look a little, … well… ugly.

Usually I like to give scrappy baby quilts. If it’s not so matchy-matchy and perfect, no one feels bad about throwing it on the floor for baby to roll around on, and it can be tossed in the washer if it gets a little grubby. I like my baby quilts to be USED! Plus, it’s easy to repair if the binding ever wears out or it tears.

So I’m sitting there looking at all these block pieces and I’m absolutely hating working on this quilt — what do I do??

I pulled out my bin of fabric strips, made some strip sets, and cut out some simple rail fence blocks. The quilt tops went together so easy-peasy, even I was surprised at how fast I got these 2 quilt tops together!

girl quilt
Now a quick run through the machine for quilting, and I can hopefully get these quilts to Mary before her little bundles are ready for the world! :)

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