What I Did on my Summer Vacation

I’m working on a quilt for the 100 Quilts for Kids Quilt-Along!  This weekend is the link-up, so here it is… DSCN3295

(this is upside down… oops)

A while back I sent off some charms for an I-Spy charm swap on Ravelry’s Quilters Knitting group. The idea was that they would all be kid-appropriate fabrics. Since there were about 60 charms in the pack, it was perfect for the Storytime Squares quilt!

This quilt came together SUPER quickly. Like, ridiculously so. Two evenings, maybe, for the top. Working with pre-cuts makes things SO much easier–I hate cutting! I decided to leave off the final borders, feeling like it was big enough without it. I’ve backed it with a puzzle-print that is an autism awareness fabric, apparently, and I’m working on quilting it using FMQ for the first time (loops and curliques). I will post the finished version when it’s done! In the meantime I have a Christmas block to make for a swap, a Halloween mug rug, and I’d like to get caught up on my Across the Sea quilt and my Skill-Builder Sampler–in addition to all my grading, test writing, math team stuff, and hosting a bridal shower next week! Soooo much to do!

First things first–I used some stash fabric (a cute remnant that I picked up from JoAnn’s) to make a baby shower gift for one of my coworkers! I started out with the plan to make a bib, burp cloth, and onesie. The onesie did not work out. So I revised the plan, and instead made a portable changing pad and a wet bag.

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Bib–tutorial from Chickpea Sewing Studio.

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I don’t know why I can’t turn that one the correct direction! Burp cloth tutorial from Chickpea Sewing Studio, though I think I referenced several others.

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Changing pad, folded up.

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I LOVE this button!

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Unfolded to see the inside. I can’t find the tutorial I used! Hopefully it’s still in my browser history on my laptop.

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Wet bag! Tutorial from Dilley Dalley Diapers.

DSCN2509You can see the PUL lining here–finally found some in white, and I will be using it frequently!

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The whole package.

DSCN2523And the mama-to-be opening it up!

Everyone was super-impressed that I made it and she especially loved the changing pad. It was a hit!

I mentioned in my last post that my sewing machine sucks. Well, here’s the thing–my sewing machine is a very basic entry-level machine from Brother, the LS-2125. It was not intended for heavy usage and I’m using it a LOT. So I am in the market for a new sewing machine–I’m looking at the Pfaff Hobby 1142 or the Bernette 25 (goes to a PDF). There are so many things to think about–do I NEED the 155 stitches (including alphabet and numbers) that the Bernina offers? Do I need an automatic needle threader? Would I rather have mechanical (Pfaff) or computerized (Bernina)? So complicated! And since presumably I will own this machine for many years I want it to be a purchase that I don’t regret.

In the meantime, I’m struggling with my old Brother, and I learned something new last night. I’ve had lots of trouble with the bobbin thread–it catches at the end of nearly every seam and requires me to rethread the machine almost every time, which majorly slows me down. I know I’m threading the machine correctly. But–did you know there are different types of plastic bobbins?? I didn’t! I’ve just been purchasing bobbins that look right, but not necessarily the ones that are intended for my machine–meaning that the bobbin thread jams! Total breakthrough! So I’m ordering the correct type (Brother Style SA156, for future reference) and going to mail all the wrong ones to my aunt, who owns an alterations shop and about 15 different sewing machines and should presumably be able to put bobbins of nearly any type to use!

Skirt Week: almost over and I have yet to complete one single skirt! But I’m working on it. I’m using some stashed linen or linen-look fabric, not sure which, to make Simplicity 2314 (the medium-length version). Which brings me to my rant. How on earth do they figure the numerical sizes on patterns? I was a good little sewist (I kinda hate that word) and measured my hips and waist, as I was supposed to. My 33-inch waist and 42-inch hips somehow resulted in me having to make the LARGEST size of the pattern–a size 18! That’s absolutely ludicrous. That’s 4 sizes above my usual size 10. I cut out the waistbands, and it is the correct size for me, but Simplicity, what are you thinking? How on earth do you think that making women sew a size drastically larger than they’re used to is a good idea? And no, the number doesn’t really matter, but still–it’s maddening.

And finally, I’m participating in a new swap (button is in the sidebar)–the Gen X Quilters Spoonflower Swap. For those of you who haven’t heard of Spoonflower–you can design your own fabric and upload it to the website, then you (or anyone else) can purchase your custom printed fabric. I’m definitely not a designer but I’m loving a lot of the stuff on there–it’s so pretty! It’s a little pricey which has kept me from ordering thus far, but I’m looking forward to getting charms of 28 different fabrics from the swap. (You order one yard, cut it into 56 charms, mail them off, and get a charm pack back with 2 of each charm.) It should be fun! Here are some of the ones that have caught my eye so far.

And finally finally, Happy Quilting is hosting a sponsor giveaway from Sew Obsessed fabric–because I need another resource for pretty fabric like I need a hole in the head! Go here to enter the giveaway.

Have a good day, everyone!

So yesterday I took the first step in my second goal for the summer. I went to Good Friends Group Fitness and signed up to use my 1-week Living Social deal. This deal is for a week of unlimited classes, and the next class they had available was a spinning class. I have never done spinning before, and I know I need to do a mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility, so I went ahead and gave it a shot.

Spinning is really, really painful and difficult! Everyone said you get used to the seats on the bikes, but I feel like I have a million bruises on my rear end. I also recognized fairly early in the class that I did not have the stamina to do the whole class full out. Instead of 80-110 rpm, I was going more like 60, and on the inclines where we were supposed to be going 60, I was going closer to 40. And when I came close to throwing up, I realized it was time to back off. So I did, and that made it better, but I was still counting the minutes till the end of the class. This shouldn’t be taken as a negative review of the class–I feel like the instructor was great, and she took a lot of time at the beginning of the class to make sure that the bike was set up correctly for me (even though I wasn’t taking the beginning spin class), but I don’t know if it’s for me.

I should probably describe my fitness history–I don’t do gyms. I’ve taken dance classes since I was 3 years old (with a break now and again–I danced all through elementary, middle, and high school, then did it sporadically in college, then not at all for the first year and a half I lived in Tallahassee, then began again in spring 2009). Dancing is the only form of exercise I really and truly enjoy, but at this point in my life, one or two hours a week is not enough to keep me in decent shape–as evidenced by the weight I’ve gained in the past three years. I’m hoping that taking classes will help to keep me motivated.

So this morning I took a Body Sculpt class, which was mostly about strength training. I actually really enjoyed it–I was using lighter weights, but I definitely could do the vast majority of the class and felt like it was a great workout. I was spent afterwards, but not destroyed as I was with the spinning class. I would absolutely take this class again.

Over the next week I want to take yoga and BodyJam at least, but I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to fit in, because the daytime classes are primarily on Monday and Wednesday, and next week I’m starting my summer job–I’m teaching math at a summer pre-college institute here in town, on Mondays and Wednesdays. Oops. But I also have a month at GroupFit Studio and a month of unlimited boot camp classes, plus dance class, water aerobics, and I’m hoping to start going to Zumba. So I’m definitely getting my group fitness fill this summer! I just hope I take advantage of all of it.

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Hi all,

Just wanted to quickly share something I plan to participate in this summer/early next year.

 

Swim, Bike, Quilt

 

 

100 Quilts for Kids is a drive started by quilters in a DC guild to make quilts to give to kids in local communities at Christmas. I have a baby quilt in progress (will blog later) that I’ve been considering what to do with, so maybe this will go for that, or I’ll make something new–this seems like a perfect use for a Baby Rag Quilt (though I’ve already made one of those and I’m trying to do things I haven’t done before). We’ll see! I will probably be donating my quilt(s) to Project Linus, though I’ll have to find a chapter.

 

Yes, we are!!! It’s officially summer vacation! I had to go to work today to finish packing my classroom, but as of about 4:30 PM I turned in my keys and went home :-D

I’m posting a work-in-progress today. I started participating in the Freshly Pieced Supernova Quilt-Along when it was first announced back in March. Many people are already done. I am…. not. :-D But I finished my first 4 squares this weekend!

 

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Most of the fabrics are from the Homegrown collection at Connecting Threads, with a few fat quarters from Joann Fabrics thrown in.

The quilt-along pattern calls for you to make 9 blocks and arrange them in a 3×3 pattern. But of course I picked 4 different color combinations, and well, 4 does not go evenly into 9, does it? (Yes, I AM a math teacher.) So this was my original idea for a layout:

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But I don’t think I like it anymore. So now I’m going to do something like this:

potential layout for Supernova quilt

 

I think the blocks look a lot better than these little stacks of fabric though :)

This appeals to me more because it’s more even–I have three blocks of each color–and I prefer rectangular quilts to square quilts. This also probably means I have to buy more fabric, at least of a couple of them, because I only had 2 10×10 pieces of each of the Homegrown fabrics.

Things I’ve learned thus far:

  • The seams look MUCH better when I press them open than when I press them to one side.
  • Piecing when you’ve got diagonal seams is HARD! This is only my second pieced quilt top and it might have been slightly beyond my skills when I started. I feel like I’m improving a lot.
  • My sewing machine sucks. I have to rethread it about once every 5 minutes. This makes the chain-piecing process rather difficult.
  • Looking at the blocks, it’s hard to notice all the wonky seams–so this is a good thing. :)

There are lots of really pretty finished Supernovas at the Supernova Flickr group, if you want to check it out!

Linking up to Lee’s WIP Wednesday for the first time :-D

I’ve been interested in scrapbooking for a while now, but never really got into it. There’s so much paper and so many punches and just so much STUFF. Plus, all my pictures are digital, and I wasn’t interested in paying a fortune to get them all printed so that I could start the scrapbooking process. (I do help with the math team scrapbook every year, and I pretty much get my fill of the physical scrapbooking from that.)

So when I started hearing about digital scrapbooking, I was interested in pursuing that. But problems arose there too–I don’t have Photoshop, wasn’t interested in buying it, and don’t know how to use it (I’ve forgotten everything I learned freshman year of college on the newspaper staff). And most of the really creative stuff requires you to have at least Photoshop Elements.

Then I found a Groupon for Mixbook and I thought that might be the answer. I’ve used services like this before–I made our wedding album through Blurb (take a look here), and I enjoyed it. But the nice thing about Mixbook is that you can take all those backgrounds and stickers and things of that nature and upload them and use them in your design, or you can use the prepared layouts.

So that’s what I did! My ultimate goal is to make a big photo album from the four months in which Bryan and I were in Hong Kong in college (I would estimate conservatively that I took at least 1000 pictures during that time), but I wanted to try something small first. I have many, many pictures that I’ve taken in the past two and a half years that we’ve been dog owners, so I made a photobook of my dogs.

 

http://www.mixbook.com/flash/mixbook_albums.swf?b=5495591&k=KM75dKMYh7&mode=production&pid=5495591&autoplay=true

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

Most of the pages are from pre-made templates. However, I made the Halloween and Christmas pages on my own, using free digital scrapbooking collections that I downloaded. I think it turned out really well, and I’m excited to start working on more of these in the future. The only major issue I had with Mixbook is a small one–for some reason exclamation marks would not show up in anything I typed! I use a LOT of exclamation marks so this is a problem. I’m going to have to send an e-mail and inquire what’s going on. Since they weren’t working in the editor, I didn’t put any in the book–maybe it was just a problem with my browser.

Tell me what you think! I’m very new at this so I appreciate feedback.

Today was the last day of school!!!!!!!!!

Of course, I still have to work for two more days, finishing up grading finals and packing up my classroom. But the students are done today and so it is the official beginning of summer vacation, as far as I’m concerned. Tomorrow is graduation, and I get to wish all my seniors goodbye and good luck as they head off to their various colleges.

That means that today I get to stay up late and sew. I got to go to knitting at my LYS (Wooly Bully in Tallahassee, FL) and now I’m working on getting a swap package together for a swap on Ravelry. Tomorrow is the deadline for mailing… nothing like waiting till the last minute! Since I wanted a little variety in the package, I decided to finally make a little boxy pouch I’ve been meaning to make for a while.

I don’t know what tutorial I started out using, but I’d cut the fabric a couple of weeks ago and started pinning. The outside is Masai Swirl in Citrus (Alexander Henry), and the inside is a fat quarter that I picked up at a local quilt shop (Sew Faire). I ended up using this tutorial by Prudent Baby for the bag, though theirs is much larger than mine. I used my pinking shears to trim the inside because the fraying was terrible.

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It’s not bad! Definitely not perfect (the center seam is not perfectly lined up with the zipper, and the zipper could stand to be a bit longer, but I worked with what I had–I need to buy some longer zippers!), but not something I’m ashamed to send as a gift to someone.

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However, I did make one major error. I had prepared a handle for this little bag, and I wanted to use it. So I cleverly stitched it in between the lining and the outer fabric, as I was sewing up the sides. I thought it was great, until I turned it right-side in and discovered… DSCN2317

Yup, that’s the handle on the inside of the bag. Oops. Ripped out the seam, pulled out the handle, resewed it without the handle. Maybe next time.

I will definitely make more of these in larger sizes, and also at least one more in this size (it is the perfect size to carry around pens and mechanical pencils, and since I carry about 50 million of those it’ll be nice to have a cute little bag to put them in). Ideally I can make these the perfect size to carry around a knitting project!

Edit: I am linking to Fabric Tuesday on Quiltstory!

Current Projects

Garden Fence Quilt, Alexander Henry June Jubilee and various Kona solids

Supernova Quilt, Connecting Threads Homegrown Collection

Kaleidoscope Quilt, Kona Coal and a variety of pink-patterned and blue-patterned FQs

Sunkissed Squares Quilt, off-white cotton background with a bright jelly roll from Joann's--no idea of the colors, I want more of this!

Sew- and Quilt-Alongs, Link Parties, Swaps

crafterhours
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced BWS tips button Fresh Poppy Design
Swim, Bike, Quilt
Gen X Quilters

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