Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Works

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted this quilt top.  It was to be the background for my Ogallala retreat quilt.  I put up some of my elements on the wall and decided that I really didn't like it.  The background, which I was trying to make subtle, was just overwhelming the top completely.  I left it all on my wall and walked away.  I didn't know what else I was going to do.  Tonight, I put up the rest of the orange curly cues and some yellow dots and I think it has come together. 

It definitely needs more yellow dots, but I didn't want to put them up there yet.  All of it is just pinned and I am not sure if I can get it down in one piece to iron everything on there.  I used steam-a-seam 2 and I should be able to just press them on there, but I ironed it to my fabric before I cut it out and I think I took all the sticky away.  I really need to read the package directions before I use a product.   Tell me what you think.  All of the symbols have a different meaning and some of them I can only have a set amount.  I am going to move the third "flower" from the top left up a little bit, I think that's the one that fell off and I just slapped it back up right before I took the picture.  I may need to make one more open leaf for the bottom left, for some balance, maybe.   This is definitely a work in progress. 

What else have I been working on this weekend?  I made 5 more bags using Jenni's tutorial .  If you haven't had a chance to check it out, click on the highlighted words and it will take you to her website.  I also made this pin cushion from Bari J.  Click on her name and it will take you to her blog.  Scroll down and look on the right side for the pin cushion tutorial.  I don't  have it completely finished in this picture as you can tell by the pins sticking out the side, because I want to stuff it a little bit fatter.  I don't have any more stuffing here at the house, so I will have to pick some up tomorrow after school.  This is a large pin cushion.  It measures about 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" X 2 1/2".  I will add a button in the middle when I get it all stuffed.  I copied down how to make this pincushion several months ago and finally got around to making one.  I thought it was going to be harder to make than it was.   It went together rather quickly and easily.  I can't wait to try this one again. 

What else have I gotten into this weekend?  Well, since I am still trying to work through the quilt at the first of this blog, I don't want to start anything new, so I found this partially quilted top and finished quilting it.  Well, I thought I was finished, but I think I want to add some more quilting to the middle of the hearts.  I had previously quilted in a shiny purple metallic thread, the rays coming from the hearts.  I just remember the thread breaking over and over again.  I didn't want to machine quilt anything else it was soooo frustrating.  I will show the rest of this quilt when I have it all finished.  If I remember correctly, these hearts were leftovers from an online block exchange that were just laying around and I made this top with them. 

The rest of the weekend accomplishments will have to wait to be shown until I take down the retreat quilt from the design wall. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rugs and Bags

The last of the mug rugs have been completed for this month.  I re-did the rugs to go with this mug and I am much, much happier with this color combination.  I have two mugs just like this so I made two rugs. 

This last rug and mug combination was a great find!  I found them in the Christmas clearance isle with a bag of stale marshmallows stuck inside.  I just pulled those things out and threw them away and now, I have the perfect mug for a teachers gift or for someone that likes to draw.  This mug is a portable chalkboard and even comes with it's own stick of chalk.  So, of course the perfect rug had to be a larger chalkboard, bordered with a red/black and white plaid and either letters, numbers or both appliqued on the "board".  The picture below is an example of just one of the three rugs I made.   

Not only have I been making mug rugs, but I have also made some of these wonderful bags.  They are a little bit addictive and I have no idea, at this time, what I am going to do with them.  If you get a chance check out Jenni's tutorial and make some bags for yourself or your friends.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mug Rugs Revealed

It has been another crazy, busy week at school and doesn't look like it will let up for a couple more weeks.  However, the good thing is that I get to come home and sew in the evenings.  I have been working on making some mug rugs for the stocking swap

Here are my two tic-tac-toe mugs (they call them hugs and kisses) and the two mug rugs I made to go with them.  they also come with a marker so you can actually play the game on the mug!  When I saw them at Tuesday Morning I fell in love with them and knew that I wanted to make mug rugs for them.  I pieced the grid and then appliqued the x's and o and the words.  These are machine bound in the same black and are about 5 1/2" X 9".  

A closer look at the mug rug.  I know I could have made it easier if I had just appliqued the grid, also, but I didn't want to do that.  (actually, I didn't think about it until I had already made the entire two rugs)

My Maxwell House coffee mugs get a solids rug with a pocket on the right hand side.  This one is a little more narrow - measuring about 4" X 8 1/2" - but this is a slightly smaller mug so it fits it.  The colors are pulled from the pictures on the mug.  I didn't want this one to be too complicated, even though the right side is a bit too plain.  I don't know the exact purpose of a pocket on a mug rug other than to put this packet of coffee in to give it as a gift -which is my intention.  However, I had seen someone else on the blogs - can't find exactly where, but I did see it more than once - make a pocket on their rugs and thought it would be a great idea to try it. 

 Here is the mug using the rug with the coffee snug in it's pocket.  Okay, too much rhyming for today.  I have a few more rugs to get to today, but before I leave, here is a the link to one that BeeBee made for the swap.  If any of you want to share what you have made and want me to link it here, let me know or you can link it in your comments.   Great job Beverly!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quilt-in Background Top

This is what I have worked on all weekend.  Well, not really allll weekend.  I did take a couple of naps and played games on the computer and read blogs and finished a book.  So, I don't want you to think I slaved over this one quilt top.  This small top - about 36 inches square - is the background for some applique.  Back in September I attended the Ogallalla Quilter's Society's annual fall retreat.  The proposed project for that retreat was applique.  Since applique is not really one of my favorite things, I decided to work on another project or three.  However, watching people at the retreat work on this project, I found it really intriguing.  I loved the concept, the story and the meaning behind the pieces along with the designer, Cinde.  My friend Kathy and I decided that we needed to do a project, also, but we would wait until the January quilt-in at our guild.  That quilt-in was this past weekend. 

Kathy got to the church with a sketch of what she wanted to make and an armload of her hand-dyed fabrics that she recently snow and ice dyed.  (way cool stuff)  She just jumped in - which we learned at the first of the school year is her nature (can you say North?) - and began working on her quilt top.  She got it all put together before we left Saturday afternoon.  (sorry, I didn't take a picture of it.  Maybe she will send me one and let me post it here later, hint, hint Kathy)

I showed up with my folder of the design elements, a couple of tubs of fabrics to choose from, another stack of fabrics that might include a background fabric and some steam-a-seam 2.  I also arrived with no clue as to what I really want to do.  My original intention was to use the light blue as my background.  However, Friday night I had changed my mind and decided I wanted a pieced background of subtle monkey wrenches. (or churn dashes)  I left the quilt-in Saturday with the middle squares put together.  Today, I added the borders.  I didn't know I was going to put those on there, but Saturday night while eating dinner I saw the two fabrics (waiting to go in the wash) and decided they would be the perfect borders for this quilt.

Now, I am making and cutting out all of my elements.  Hopefully, I will have everything ready to go later this week and can begin the designing.  Even though the quilt top could stand on it's own right now, it's just a work in progress, but I am pleased with my background. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I am glad that all your comments show up in my e-mail and then I can reply to you from there.  I replied to one person, but then thought that the rest of you may have the same idea she had and I needed to make a public comment.  However, for some reason,  Blogger is not letting me see or make any comments. Soooo, here is what I wanted to say about the Stocking Swap: 
I won't match up anyone until December, just to be on the safe side. I would hate to have my "partner" sign up now and then drop out along the way. That would mean I wouldn't get a stocking and that is just not fair. So, I decided that only those left playing at the end will be matched to ensure a fair and equal trade.
To me, that is the only way to do this kind of year long swap. Also, since I have listed everything from the beginning, if you want to work ahead or if someone joins in around June, it is all just fine. the only thing that really matters, is if you have it all finished in December. And that you have fun doing the swap.

So, you won't swap your mug and rug now, keep it in a safe place (or box) and then add to the collection every month.  In December, you will pack up everything and mail it to the person, whose name I randomly draw for you.  I hope this helps clear up my muddy directions. 

Hope you are looking for that fun mug and pulling fabric to make a coordinating rug for it to sit upon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let it Snow, Again

 You never know about the weather in west Texas.  A couple of days ago it was in the upper sixties/lower seventies and today - - - today we have another 6 - 8 inches of snow on the ground and more falling. 

This was taken about 15 minutes ago over my back fence.  You can't see the snow falling in this picture due to the angle of my camera. 

This picture - taken 25 minutes ago - is out my back window and you can see how hazy it looks with the snow coming down.  Little bitty snow flakes now.  The flakes  were big and fat on the way home from school. 

Yes, we did have school today, but unlike every other school district around us, we were there all day.  Most of my students weren't, but I was.  My largest class of the day (83% there) was this morning when there was only about an inch of snow on the ground and the roads were slushy.  I ended the day with only 28% of my class at school.  I had no students at all from one of the high schools.  (I teach students from two different high schools and they bus over during the day for my class).  When you live in the desert, anytime it gets really cold here, attendance drops.  Add in some snow (okay, a lot of snow today) and attendance is practically non-existent.  We just aren't used to this.  This has been our third major (more than 4 inches) snow storm in about one month.  We had a large one in early December where we got to stay home and have a snow day.   We had a beautiful white Christmas for the first time in about 18 years and now, another white day.  Like most of the students, I am hoping that our school district calls for a snow day tomorrow, but they don't make those decisions until about 4 o'clock in the morning.  So, I will  have to wait until tomorrow to know if I get to stay home and sew or not.  Oh, well, I will get up early to find out tomorrow.

Speaking of getting up early, I read until almost 1:30 this morning finishing a book and then the dogs woke me up at 2:30 barking.  My first thought, was great, they are out of water.  But, no, it had started raining and Taegan is afraid of thunder storms.  So, they all joined in to wake me up. (except Irish, who slept through the entire night.  Being deaf, has it's rewards)

Previous picture of Taegan sleeping on the floor

Now, it wasn't thundering, mind you, but Taegan knows that thunder and rain go together and so, when it starts to rain, he panics.  I got my phone, set the alarm clock, grabbed a quilt and layed down on the couch to snuggle with my scardy cat dog.  I also got McCallum and Fiona in the snuggling deal. 

Fiona and McCallum out in the snow today.  They would look at me and then I would start to take their picture and they would turn their heads. 

Once Teagan was comforted and had moved out of my arms to the other end of the couch, I went back to my bed - much more comfortable than a couch with three dogs laying on you.  However, the alarm went off really, really early and I am looking forward to an early night tonight and hoping for that snow day tomorrow where I can crawl back into bed and sleep for a couple extra hours. 

edit:  school just got cancelled for tomorrow!  This is unheard of for them to cancel this early (6:00 p.m.) but I guess too many parents had complained and we are expecting more snow overnight.  I am glad that I don't have to even set my alarm clock tonight.  Enjoy . . .

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Owl Pot Holder

I made two owl pot holders this weekend.  I got the pattern from this Sew We Quilt posting by Bea .  I thought they were really cute and wanted to give them a try since one of the items to make this year for the swap was a pot holder.  I messed up the first time in layering them for the final finishing since I didn't really read through the entire posting.  Yes, I thought I could figure it out myself, I was wrong.  After I sewed all around one of the pot holders, I started to turn it and found out that it was going to have the batting on the outside instead of the cute owl.  I had to rip out those stitches, re-layer the correct way - no, I figured it out, I didn't go back and look up the original posting, and re-stitched around the outside.  I hand stitched the turning opening closed and stitched around all the appliques.  I had planned on changing colors for each applique item, but thought that I would just keep these for myself and used the light pink that I already had on my sewing machine to do the zigzag stitching.  It doesn't look too bad.  I did notice that the handle was not completely sewn in to the seam since I had to take it apart and put it back together so I just zigged over that - remember I had already decided to not give them away, so it didn't matter what it looked like.  And yet, it's still not bad! I only have one finished to show.  I will get the other finished this evening.  This is a cute, cute pattern and with a layer of insul-bright and warm and natural I can't wait to use it in my kitchen.

January's Stocking Swap - Mug and Rug

January's Stocking Swap project is a mug and a mug rug that coordinates. 

When the mug rug craze was sweeping the blogs a couple years ago, I loved the idea.  However, I  always thought that the rug should go with a mug.  Two years ago, I found this wonderful penguin mug in the Christmas clearance and picked him up for cheap.  He needed a rug to make him the perfect gift, so I made one that coordinated with him.   Now, I am not an artist and before you think that I drew that penguin, let me say, Au contraire, Mon Ami.  I took a picture of my mug and printed out the picture.  I then had a template of the penguin.  I did fudge a little on his eyes, mouth, feet and bands on the hat, but those are just snippets and easy to cut out.  It was harder to try and make them exactly like the picture because I did try that first.   The words "mug rug" are just free form writing with my sewing machine - over and over - to make it darker and stand out.  You could even write it with a pencil and go over your writing to start off.  It's not hard to do, but not necessary for this swap. 
I still have this mug and it might be the one included in this swap or I could make rugs for any of the following mugs in my gift closet.  I have had two of these Maxwell house mugs in my closet for far longer than I care to admit.  They were part of a package I got one Christmas, but not really my style.  I thought they would have been a great gift for someone else, but yet they still sit in my closet, just waiting for that perfect someone to go home with.  I think a nice blue, gold and white mug rug with a traditional pattern might just fit this mug fine.

Notice it still has a package of coffee in the mug.  That might be a great idea to include with this swap.  A small sampling of your regional coffee.  Or a couple of your favorite tea bags (in their own little gift bag?).  What about a package of hot chocolate?  Something to think about, but not part of the swap, just a little extra.  

Here is another mug that I picked up on clearance, can you tell that I have a mug fixation? I picked 4 of these up on sale with the express purpose of making mug rugs for them.  A couple of months ago I sat down and made two mug rugs to go with these and when I was finished with the rugs, I got a mug out and, they didn't really go together.  My mind had an idea that this mug was green and yellow. . .it's okay, but not exactly what I wanted either. 

I think I will be making these over again this month to get the perfect (for me) mug rug for that particular mug.  I may have to find a mug that goes with this rug since it is already made! 

Another mug that I have in my closet that, yes, again, picked up on clearance, is this tic-tac-toe mug.  It was such a cute idea that I couldn't pass it up.  Here again, I got it just to make a mug rug for it and give it as a gift.  This mug comes with it's own marking pen that erases off the mug so you can play the game over and over.  The inside of this mug is a deep red and on the back has a description of how to play the game. When I saw this mug at Tuesday Morning, I could just picture the mug rug with a tic-tac-toe game in progress.  I think it will be a fun rug to make. 

This is the coffee mug I am drinking out of this morning.  It will not be one of the options for the swap, but I may just have to make a rug to go with it.  This one is part of a set of four that I received 10 or 12 years ago from a co-worker.  The mugs are over sized and perfect for the large mug setting on my Keurig along with my flavored cream.  I can just picture little grapes on the rug or maybe just these muted colors and not an exact replica of the grapes.  Like I said, this will be a fun month to play with making mug rugs.  I have several options, as you can see.  Someone is getting a mug and rug for Christmas.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Let's Get it Started . . .

Sing along with me if you want.  Let's get it started in here. . .  Are you ready?  Welcome to all the new readers and followers for joining in on my blog and this new swap.  Like I said before, I think this will be a fun project for the year and a great swap surprise. 

The Stocking Swap
Each person makes and/or purchases the item designated for that month.  In December I will ask for all participants to e-mail me their snail-mail address.  I will randomly assign you a partner and you will send your stocking full of goodies to them.  You, in turn, will receive a stocking full of goodies.  All I ask is that you use good quality fabrics and do your best work.  Since you don't know who you will be trading your stocking with, be mindful of the appropriateness of your items. (nothing too risque, etc.) You can choose to have a theme to your stocking (for example: Apples - then everything in your stocking has to do in some way with apples OR a color: blue - everything is a tint or shade of blue) That is your choice.  You don't have to have a theme, but for some people, that may be an easy way to play this game. 

Expand your skills and broaden your vision with this swap.  If you try a new pattern, make a couple of different versions.  Then select the one to give for this swap and keep the others to give as Christmas gifts.  This swap could help us stay ahead of our Christmas gifting, if we make more than one of the same item each month.

So, here we go. . . . THE STOCKING SWAP

January - a mug and coordinating mug rug
February - Pillow cover for a 14" pillow form (just the cover, not the form)
March - 2 matching pillow cases (for a standard bed pillow)
April - a pin cushion and a package of your favorite pins
May - a table runner
June - a bag - any type and size
July - The Stocking  (Christmas in July!)
August - an ornament
September - a journal with a made cover and a nice pen
October - Pot holder (be sure to use and insulation)
November - a book
December - candy and nuts (no stocking should be without these on Christmas morning)

There you have it.  All the requirements for The Stocking Swap.  Each month I will remind you here on the blog what to make along with some ideas.  My next posting will be about January.  Have fun with this project and if you have friends that you want to join in on the fun, send them to my way.  (If they don't read blogs or even Internet, doesn't mean they can't join in the fun - you can be their go between person) Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New SWAP!!

I have come up with a great idea for a December/Christmas exchange.  For now, I am calling it The Stocking Swap.  The premise is very simple, you make and stuff a stocking, then swap it for someone else's stocking in December.  Simple! 

"But that is just so boring." 

 "We've done that before."

 "Why would I want to participate in that, especially since it's January." 

 I know, I hear your comments even as I type this.  If that is all there was to it, then I would agree whole heartedly with you.  Yes, it's a stocking swap, but it's more than that.  It's a game and a challenge and you will get back a wonderful stocking full of surprises. 

"Now, putting it like that, I  am a little more interested, tell me more."

The game will be ongoing throughout the year and at the first of December you will send me your mailing address, (don't worry, I don't expect you to remember that far in advance,  I will post on the blog when to send it to me)  At that time, I will put the name of everyone who is playing, in a hopper and randomly assign who your swap person will be.  (This way, only the people who are playing will make the exchange.  You will definitely get a stocking and not get shafted if your "partner" decides to drop out)   You won't know until it is time to make the exchange who you are making your stocking for.  You may get a stocking from person B and send your stocking to person E.  (So you have to be prepared for shipping costs if for example you live in California and your swap person lives in Virginia.  However, your swap person may live next door to you, you never know.  It all depends on who is playing)  Similar to the Blocks of the Month "game" there will be something to add to the stocking every month.  You will know what the addition to the stocking is before you start, so if you get behind, you can catch up or even work ahead if you know you are going to have an extremely busy month.  It all has to be finished by the exchange day in December. 

Okay, this is sounding interesting.  Since I am going to know what I need to put into the stocking each month, I can work ahead if I find the perfect item. Or, if I get really busy during the summer months, I will still have a couple months to make those items I didn't get done during July.  I'm with you, now what? 

Now is the time to let me know if you might be interested so I can get a preliminary count of who might be joining in on the fun.  If you want to wait until you know exactly what you will have to do each month, I understand.  Sometimes it is better to be cautious than to just jump in feet first.  My next post will have all the directions, etc.  I am just trying to narrow down and finalize the list.  I hope this interests you and you join in on the fun with me.    

Monday, January 2, 2012

Retreat Quilt Top finished

My 9 block version of the retreat quilt with two borders.  It measures about 52 inches square.   A nice lap quilt size or table topper.  Thanks to Seth, one of my students for being the holder so I could take the picture. 

I am working on my BOM from the 15 minutes play site.  I noticed this past weekend that a picture of the finished top is due by January 18 (It is probably supposed to be the finished quilt, but if I can get my top finished by then, I will be lucky.  I made the first 6 blocks and then stopped.   I made two more on Friday or Saturday and last night I made a bunch of fabric so I could make two more.  This one should have 12 blocks in all and then I will have to get to figuring out how I want to put it all together.  Thank goodness we have MLK day off so I have a nice long weekend to work on it.  I will post more pictures later, but just to remind everyone which one I am talking about here is an old pic.

I am using batik scraps (because you know you can't throw those away) and gray backgrounds from dark, dark (rose) to really light (upper right star).  Even though I made the rose block the wrong size (I think I cut 6" instead of 6 1/2" .  I will add a border around it or put it on point maybe.  I really need to make all twelve blocks before I come to a decision.  Gotta go sew -