Monday, May 22, 2017

(swoony) Stars for a Star, finished and gifted!

I've been so excited to share this finish!!

I'll add links to most of the posts where I talked about it,
but, just in case,
if, for some silly reason,
you don't care to know all of the important in-progress details,
I'll give you the nutshell story of this quilt:

 A year ago, 
I told my niece, Jordan,
that I would make her a quilt as a gift
when she earned her Master's Degree.

I wanted her involved in the process, 
so that she'd end up with a quilt that she really loved
(and not just because her (favorite) aunt made it for her ;-)
so I sent her to my pinterest quilt board,
and told her to send me some pics of the ones that she liked,
and we'd go from there.

The quilts on my board that she liked best were

So, drawing inspiration from both quilts, 
I sketched out a design
that sort of the combined the two,
and started collecting fabrics
(There are over 150 different fabrics in this quilt 💗
Go Team Use-All-the-Fabrics 😊)

I had a few quilting obligations already in the works,
a commissioned quilt 
that allowed me to give 5 sewing machines to Rahab's Rope!!

(If you're new here - a little back story:
When I sew for pay,
I use every cent that I earn to buy sewing machines
to donate to Rahab's Rope - a wonderful organization
that rescues girls and women in India from the sex trade.
They love on them, and teach them about Jesus,
and also teach them skills
so that they can honorably and safely support themselves
and their families.
They need machines for their classrooms,
as sewing is one of the valuable skills they teach.
and I feel so blessed to be able to help meet this need.
My dream is to supply them with enough machines
that they one day tell me
they no longer need any more. )

While I was making Faith and Freedom,
I felt like I was supposed to quickly whip up a quilt
as a surprise for a friend.
I called it Out of the Blue.

It turns out that she had been feeling especially down,
and the quilt was a timely reminder for her
that God loved her 
(and I did too)
and it helped to pull her out of her 'blues',
so even the name has special meaning.

When I finished those,
I made my gorgeous sister the perfect quilt for her
as a gift for her 50th birthday
(one of my specialties is creating a quilt that the receiver will love.
Tyler says I make people their 'inner quilt' :-)

So - I didn't actually start on Jordan's quilt
until mid October.

(I know.
right about now,
you're saying,
"this is the nutshell version?!?")

It is.

I could talk quilts and fabric and lovin' on people
all day long 😊
Plus - I spent over 5 months on it; there's a lot to say ;-)

So anyways.
I started on her top in October
and finished it January 13th.

I've been documenting house progress as it relates to quilt projects.
Here, you see that we just got drywall :-)

I basted the top to bamboo batting,
and stitched in the ditch with invisible thread
horizontally and vertically 
around all thirty 16" blocks,
to stabilize them and keep everything
from going all wonky with the quilting.
Then I added the backing
(a very lovely cotton lawn by Robert Kaufman)
and began quilting on January 22nd.

I think this quilt would have looked absolutely fabulous 
quilted with an all-over design to add texture.
But I have determined to really work to improve my quilting 
plus I knew Jordan loved big-stitch quilting,
so even though I knew it would take a lot longer,
I custom quilted Stars for a Star,
using a mix of hand and free-motion machine quilting,
being careful to keep the quilting density consistent throughout the quilt.

For the hand quilting, 
I used my favorite needles,
and an assortment of perle cottons and thick silk threads.

The machine quilting was done with pink 40 wt.
Isacord polyester (#2155)
in both the needle and the bobbin,
because it was pretty much the only thread
 with which my naughty machine would play nice.

The quilting took up all of my sewing time 
(and some of my not-really-my-sewing-time too ;-) 
for the next 2 months.

Then I made the (two-fabric) binding,
sewed it to the front by machine,
then down on the back by hand,
added a label,

and finished the quilt on my Dad's birthday, March 27th
a full 5 weeks before Jordan 
would be graduating with that Masters.

I'm not pleased with my photos;
I don't think they do the quilt justice,
and I'm a little bit bummed about that,
but I am quite pleased with the quilt overall,
and I was so very honored to make it
for such an amazing young lady.

We love ya!!
Happy Master's Degree
(and congratulations on your new job)

Here are all those links I promised,
in chronological order

This is the first post that mentions Jordan's quilt,
and includes all of my test blocks where I verified my maths

This one is almost a month later,
when I realized my plan wasn't up to snuff,
and I needed to add 32 more stars
It also shares some of the 'specially for Jordan fabrics'

This post has no pictures,
but gives an idea of how I fit sewing into my full life.
(admittedly, that particular week was a bit crazier than most)
The block I mentioned working on
is this one

Here is where I share a lot about fabric selection
and the 8 inch star blocks

This one tells how to make the firework-type star blocks,
which were the most difficult blocks in the quilt,
and by far, the most time consuming per square inch.
The swoon blocks took longer,
but they also filled up 4 times as much space...

The first part of  this post
gives you an idea of how we go from individual units
to a quilt top,
my realization that I needed even more stars,
what my dining room (slash schoolroom...) looks like when
the crazy quilt lady totally takes over.
(oh, and if you clink on this link,
which is at the bottom of the post,
it'll take you to instagram,
where you'll find photos and thoughts that aren't on the blog,
and a video that shows how I MacGuyvered curved ruler quilting,
to get the look I wanted on one of the swoon blocks.

And finally,
this one has the finished quilt top,
and shares a bit more about fabric selection.
(If you don't read any other posts, you should at least check out that one)

Collecting all of those posts
was a walk down memory lane.
One of the things I like about sewing for people
is how connected to them I feel during the process,
and how much love I feel
as a result of having spent so much time with them,
(even though much of that time, wasn't actually 'with them',
but 'for' them, if that makes any sense)

Jordan is a beautiful woman,
inside and out,
and it was such a joy and a pleasure to make this gift.

Friday, May 19, 2017

more of the same

I'm on day 2 of a headache.
And I rarely ever get headaches.


After 13.5 hours of collective labor,
the kids and I finally got all of the drywall debris picked up.

This, of course,
doesn't include the mountain in the living room
that we still have to deal with,
once we figure out
what, exactly 
to do with it.


I wrote that yesterday


I'm now on day 3 of this headache,
Tyler and I spent 2 1/2 very fast paced
hours yesterday evening
eliminating the drywall mountain.
Along with every trace that there had even been
almost a ton of sheetrock piled in our living room.
(You think I exaggerate,
but the pile was easily 4 ft at it's peak,
and 15-16 feet in diameter.
That is a dang lot of  'scraps')

ok. so. maybe not 'every last trace'....

I had big plans of finishing the Sleeping Porch Series
last night,
but of course,
those plans were derailed
by the need to remove the pile immediately
for the mudders/tapers.

Since the kids were all at TaeKwonDo,
it was up to The Man and me.

I was so worn out
(remember, I had, earlier in the day,
already worked on tiny drywall scrap & dust removal, too...)
I went to bed before 10:00!

(early bedtime ended up being especially smart
since it stormed,
so we ended up with a girl in our bed by midnight
(because we always end up with a girl in our bed when it rains loudly...)
which means not much sleep for the momma.)

Both my left elbow and my right hand
are a bit angry with me right now,
(as is my back - but that doesn't affect hand quilting ;-)
so I don't know if I'll get to finish today either : /

I tried something new for the binding on this one;
I sewed the binding on the back,
and then sewed it down on the front
with big-stitch quilting
(the other two I bound entirely by machine)
and I really love it!


I can't believe it's almost June.

Where has the year gone?


Tyler has some work thing on June 10th
that we both need to go to.
I'm already stressing about it,
even though he prefaced the whole thing by saying,
"Now, don't go stressing about this, but...."
What can I say?
I'm not terribly comfortable around a bunch of  'professional' people.

I'm not terribly comfortable
around groups of people,


Jeremiah finished up the last of his schoolwork yesterday,
so it's officially summer for us.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

1 down, 3 (and a little) to go

Brandon finished his Freshman year of college
(and 1st year of formal education outside of the home)
with a 4.0!!
(and, in case you missed it, 
he's also the Mechanical Engineering Freshman of the Year :-)

Congratulations, Bud!!
I am so proud of your dedication, and diligence,
your time/homework management, 
and your ability to say "no" sometimes,
to what you wanted to do,
so that you could say "yes" 
to what you needed to.

kids in the kitchen

The kids have been doing a good bit of cooking 
- or at least 'fixing' -
food lately.

Lily and Josiah, especially,
but mostly Lily.

She gave me a coupon for Mothers' Day 
to cook dinner for 7,
and suggested that maybe she could make a roast.

My friend, Sandy, hates it, 
but roast is one of my favorites,
so I was all over that idea,
and when I went to Sam's on Monday, 
I picked up a nice one that had been marked down.
Last night,
Lily (10) cooked dinner all by herself!!
(I forgot to take a picture, darn it)

Also when I was shopping Monday,
I picked up some chicken legs that had been marked down to
get this - thirty-five cents a pound!!

When Josiah saw them, 
he remembered that he had a recipe in his cookbook,
and wouldn't you know it?
We had almost everything we needed.
(it called for Asian bbq sauce, which we don't have, 
but it was such a small amount, 
that I told him he could probably just sub our regular bbq sauce
(Sweet Baby Rays - the one with the honey bees on the label)
and it would probably be just fine)
so he and Lily mixed up the marinade that night,
and he dutifully turned the bag every few hours Tuesday.

I had to cook them up for him,
since they don't get home from TKD until 7:30,
and Brandon had to leave at 8:10 for 242. 

After dinner, 
he and Lil made chunky peanut butter cookies,
also from his cookbook.

He'd wanted to make them for  snack for 242 on his birthday.
But since we ended up making puppy chow, 
instead of his preferred chocolate covered strawberries,
because the berries at the store didn't look good,
I didn't think we should bring two things with peanut butter
as a major ingredient....

The chicken was good, and we'll make it again
(he'll make it again...)
The cookies were okay, but nothing special,
especially the texture,
so I've talked them into trying the recipe with  healthy substitutions.
(baking mix for flour, xylitol and stevia for sugar, mostly)

That's one of the things I struggle with,
with kids wanting to cook;
most of the recipes that appeal to them
contain ingredients I'd rather we not eat all that often,
so I have a hard time feeding that desire.

What I'd really like is a cookbook that appeals to them
and me!

(and, of course, for them to clean up their mess...)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

some more of lately

I was super tired last Wednesday,
after not sleeping much at all for a few (very busy) days.

Before bed, Lily told me she hoped I slept til 8,
and then I'd get breakfast in bed
(Daddy was on a business trip, 
so no need to get up early to fix his breakfast
and see him off to work)

I was quick to tell her that I did not want breakfast in bed at 8 o'clock,
and furthermore, 
nobody was to so much as crack the door open to see if I'm awake.
because, of course,
I would be.

This is the note she put on my door:

She said that even though she'd written the warning,
it was so menacing
she was scared to come in.

(nobody came in.
But darn it! I was up before 8)


I went grocery shopping yesterday
(the situation was dire, let me tell you!)
and while I was out,
I popped into the sewing machine center / fabric store
to see if they had any low volume fabrics
to add to my pile for my next project.

There were only 2 prints that might work,
so I bought 1/6 yard of each
(at $10 and $12 per yard! no wonder I shop online...)

The look on her face 
when she put the two cut pieces next to each other was priceless.
She was thinking I'm out of my gourd, 
if I thought they could go in the same quilt.

Then, since I was in there,
I looked at the machines briefly.

They had a new HQ Avante longarm that I played with for a second
(I liked the Innova that I tried much better!)
but what I really was interested in 
is a sewing machine
that I don't have to fight with.

I told her what I needed in a machine
(large throat space, speed control (with ability to go fast)
beautiful stitch, and a reputation for keeping excellent tension
and being great with free motion quilting,
 a thread cutter would be nice,
but the lack of one wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker.
Oh, and low cost.)

She took me to a $4,900 machine.
(um. NO.)
It was a lovely machine, I'm sure,
and it did have a generous throat space,
but at almost half what a longarm would cost,
I'm not a bit interested.

I started all of this to say,
in trying to impress me with the machine,
she told me it came with all of the feet I could ever want,
so I'd never have to spend money on a foot.
So I said,
"It even comes with a ruler foot?"
And she said - "What is a ruler foot??"

I just don't understand how somebody 
in the business
wouldn't know this!

(It turns out, she didn't think it came with that foot,
but she was sure I could buy it 😂)


Lexi has been pogo-sticking
(jumping with a pogo stick?)
for a few weeks now;
she's up to almost 300 consecutive hops.


I walked in the house after church Sunday to find
the entire living room floor full of balloons!

The kids had spent their own money,
and a couple of hours of their breath,
blowing them up.

After lunch, they made a 'balloon bath' for me,
by corralling the balloons with chairs and blankets.

Everything was great until a balloon popped
 and scared the bejeebers out of me
and that was the end of that!

Among other sweet gifts,
I received this flower from Lexi,
it had no tag or label - do you know what it is??

I suspect its a bulb (or bulbs) of some sort,
so I'm hoping we can plant it
(and that I won't kill it....)


Our neighbors huge
fell over in the last storm.

It is so sad to see that big empty space 
where there was a glorious tree.

I know they miss it.


The drywall is all installed!!

I'm not feeling quite as excited about it as I thought I would,
and I'm not sure why.

Maybe because there is a massive pile of drywall
(aka - money)
in the center of the living room,
and  mess everywhere.

for perspective - that big piece is about 4 ft square.

I've worked really hard to keep it picked up out there
(with the kids help)
and ugh - it's a disaster right now.
It also doesn't look quite as perfect as I think it should,
so I'm a little worried about the end result...

Speaking of drywall
now that it's all in
 I have a bunch of paint cards I need to take out there,
so I can start eliminating colors.

We're painting most of the downstairs the same color,
so I've reeeally got to get it right!

I almost forgot!!

Brandon had an interview last night,
and he's got his first real job!

Last summer he earned money helping build the house, 
when we wasn't volunteering at church and camp,
and the previous summer, 
he did a volunteer internship  at church.

This summer,
he'll be interning at the church again, 
but in a paid position
mostly working with Ben
(whom we are so very fond of)
 in the children/family department.

He'll also be taking two sessions of summer school,
so his summer is really full.

I have another full day
myself, so I best get at it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

I want all of the projects in the whole world

I have been a busy bee lately,
flitting from one project to the next
and then back again.

So here's a quick roundup of where things are
at the moment.

and the binding is attached
and glue-basted to the back.

I love this quilt so much!!
It's exactly what I envisioned it to be.
Part of me wants to sell it;
But part of me want to keep it,
because really -
it is perfection in a quilt.


My Sleeping Porch Series 
is nearing completion.

Quilt #1 is only lacking 56 inches of hand quilting
(so - 1 episode of Hawaii 5-0, plus another 10 minutes)

which I thought was going to be the quickest
and easiest of the sisters,
has turned out to be a smidge more challenging than anticipated,
and still requires probably 4-5 more hours of work.
(but I am in love with the quilting - a first for me, I believe)

#3 has been made mostly in the margins;
I'd make 2 blocks here,
and 4 blocks there
and one day, I had no more blocks to make.

I spent most of Saturday working on it,
first filling in all of the extra spots,
sewing it all together until I had a top.

Which I immediately basted to the batting,
then added a few lines of ditch stitching with invisible thread.

After that, I spent some time with youtube,
learning how to quilt swirls.
while I was cooking dinner,
I practiced my quilting on the fridge using a dry erase marker.

When I felt reasonably comfortable with that,
after dinner
I practiced my swirls on a little sandwich 
made of lawn scraps (from the backing of my flowering snowballs)
 warm and white batting
and a square of leftover sheet.

Once I'd covered my practice sandwich with swirls
- twice -
I moved on to the real thing.

I'm not thrilled with the quilting,
but it's plenty passable,
and most of the wobbles will disappear in the wash.

All that's left,
is to trim and bind it.

We will (finally) be giving Jordan her quilt
this weekend,
so photographing it has moved 
to the top of the priority list.

I've been mulling over it for months,
I still don't know where I want to take the pictures...

I still have my huge test block to turn into something usable,
and I am at the very beginning stages 
of a new commission project
 which I am very excited about.

And of course,
I remain neck deep
in a major house-building project.


Friday, May 12, 2017

this and that the day after Thursday

I've canceled the paper,
but it still comes.

The rates went up to $15 a month,
which I think is just crazy,
especially when
for the most part
all that gets read is the comics.

One day,
the kids
will go down to get it,
and there won't be a newspaper in the box.
And they will be a bit sad.


Between the honeysuckle and the privet blossoms,
it smells divine outside.


Our pond is full again,
thanks to all of the recent rain we've had.


It's been a year since we've seen
Tony and Kacy and Hadley.

(thank goodness for technology!!)

even though it had been a long time,
when it was less than a year,
the ache wasn't so bad.

It's also been a year since we've seen
Lana and Luke and the boys,
but that ache has been familiar for a long time....

it hasn't been quite so long since we've seen T and his crew,
and hopefully we will be able to coordinate schedules for a visit soon.


We did get to see Milo recently,
so that was fun.

I always think he is going to miss the kids so much
 when we leave;
he sure does love to play with them!
And of course
they all adore him.

They taught him to say 'butt' on Wednesday,
so they feel quite fulfilled.


Speaking of Wednesday,
it was our turn with Gramma.

For 4 years now,
we've been driving up to NWA
every six weeks
to visit
and take her out for a meal
(usually lunch, so I can avoid driving at night)
When we get back to her apartment,
the kids will usually play go fish with her
 while I tend to her feet.
After about 20 minutes,
she's ready for us to go.

She's had memory issues since her stroke several years ago,
but there has been notable decline
in cognitive function in the past year or so.

This time,
before we made it to the ice cream shop for dessert,
she'd forgotten we even went to dinner
(an hour made rather unpleasant by her complaining
the. entire. time.)

That was a little disheartening...


I brought home a big bag of clothes from my sister in law,
which prompted a quick sort and straighten
of my clothes shelves.

I like it when my shelves are tidy.


Speaking of tidy,
there are quite a few spaces in this house
that are nowhere near tidy,
and we are having friends over this evening,
so I best remedy that.