Word of the Day!

Word of the Day

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why Kids Crack Me Up

Brandon yawns.

Amanda(to Miss M): Look, Daddy needs a nap.

Miss M. says solemnly: Daddy needs a nap?

Amanda: No, that was a joke. Do you know what a joke is?

Miss M.: Yes. (she points) Daddy.

The whole Daddy/Mommy thing was a source of some inner debate for us. I introduced myself to Miss M. as Amanda, and my husband as Brandon, but she started referring to him as Daddy by day two, and after a week or so, decided that I was Mommy. I think it made her feel better to have a Mommy and Daddy, as opposed to a Daddy and some lady that lived in the house and bossed her around. As for Little D., any grownup lady is Mama if he has boo-boo that needs kissed. I think in general (and other foster parents have told me) that kids this age see "Mommy" and "Daddy" more as job titles than as descriptive of a relationship.

So my sewing has been confined to short bursts during nap times or when Brandon can watch the kids for a few minutes, and I've been doing a lot of kid sewing, mostly things I've done before as gifts for baby showers: the patchwork ball, the baby bib.

I also made a bucket hat for Miss M. to wear outside. I had bought a couple, but the one intended for Little D. was too small for him, so he wears the one intended for Miss M., which was too small for her.
While I was in a hat-making mood, I made one for my nephew, complete with chin straps, though I have no idea if it fit right or not, since he ripped it off of his head the second we put it on him. I didn't get a pic of that one before it left home. It was pretty plain, just the blue fabric of the bib with an orange lining (that orange is an awful polyester fabric someone gave me that somewhat resembles an outdoor upholstery fabric, but lighter and not waterproof, and I thought I would never find a use for it)

The hat pattern was free from McCall's. I think I had to sign up for their e-mail list to get access to the free projects.

My review of the pattern is this: it's super easy and quick. Great for a quick gift or in the middle of summer when anyone going out really needs a hat and you don't have any that fit.

Changes I made: It is a lot quicker if you pin the crown lining in place with the seam allowance turned up and then topstitch it from the other side instead of slipstitching by hand. I did not interface the crown and top of the hat as instructed, only the brim, and it worked fine. I think interfacing the whole thing would make for a very stiff hat.

My one complaint: The picture shows the chin strap coming right up below the little boy's chin, and it is way, way longer than that. You'd have to cut off six or more inches of the strap as given to get it that length.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting Caught Up

I finished this quilt and gave it to my mom a week ago, but since two foster children arrived the day after our birthday, I haven't blogged about it, or anything else. I love the way it turned out, though. The quilting took longer than expected, though. After trying to use the quilting bar on my machine, and then using a white marking pencil, I found the best way to mark the lines for this design was masking tape.

Whew, life in our household has changed a lot. There is a little girl, three, and her little brother, 20 months. I haven't been so concerned with "going potty" since I was toilet trained myself (and I don't remember that).

They are really sweet and well-behaved children, though. Most of the issues we are having are normal toddler/preschooler things, and things that are only to be expected when you have two little kids learning a new set of house rules and boundries.

I have only manged to get sewing done during nap times, and it's been all kid stuff - another stuffed ball and two bucket hats (one for my nephew, and one for the little girl). I will post them later.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Works in Progress

My car fabric shirtdress is still unfinished. I was going to finish it to wear to my brother's graduation from college this weekend, but came to a grinding halt when it came to putting the facing onto the front. Such a grinding halt that for a little while, I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the dress. But now I think that if I hand-sew the facing to the dress front, it may work. I hate to hand sew. But it's that or chuck the whole thing in the trash. Okay, I would salvage the skirt part to make a skirt, and use the rest for quilts. But I don't have the heart to mess with it right now, so I'll wait a couple of days before attempting the hand-sewing.

The other thing I'm working on is a quilt for my mom, for a Mother's Day/birthday present. Obviously, I missed the boat for having it ready for Mother's Day, but I should have it finished easily by her birthday, which is a couple of weeks away. The top is done, all I have to do is quilt it. I followed the tutorial here to make this quilt, and it worked wonderfully. It is about 45" by 45", but the great thing about the tutorial is that it gives a chart to figure out the measurements for any size of star.

I liked this quilt because it used all scraps, long skinny "string" scraps that were mostly hard to use anyway. I gathered up all my string scraps in a basket, gleefully anticipating how depleted it would be after I was done.I was a little disappointed, but it proves my theory that scraps multiply when left in mixed company in the dark.

I like using scraps, but it seems like I never run out, I just end up with a larger and larger supply of smaller and smaller pieces. Some of these, I would definitely like to run out of, so I can buy more fabric that I like better.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sampler Blocks

Here are a few more blocks I've finished lately. I am just learning to do set-in seams, which are used a lot in the block with the orange and black (The name of the block is Her Sparkling Jewels, and I found it in 500 Full Size Patchwork Patterns by Maggie Malone, which I borrowed from the library). The miniature cake plate block (an adaptation of a block I found in a book that belongs to my mother-in-law) and the "Amish" Trip Around the World block are nearly miniature quilts in and of themselves. I am surprised to find I like doing blocks with lots of little details, but they sure do take a long time. :) The other block with the curves is four 6" snake trail blocks. I found that pattern in a book I own, Encyclopedia of Classic Quilt Patterns. I have in mind to make a slight variation on that in different colors, eventually.
This is Brandon's block. not that he made it, it's just one that represents him, since he likes to play guitar, and as a farmer, he likes the colors green and brown (the colors of growing things). It is an Ohio Star.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Finally, some pictures

I would flaggelate myself for how I haven't posted in a month, but really, this blog is an entirely optional part of my life. If I have to make myself post, it isn't fun anymore and there's really no point to it.Long ago, when my sewing machine was on it's trip around the world, I started some bibs for Brandon's cousin Holly, who was expecting a baby. I figured I could do the handwork while my sewing machine was in the shop, and finish them on the machine when it came back. So I hand-appliqued the little Sunbonnet Sue and embroidered the elephant (cutest. elephant. ever.), and lost them somewhere in my sewing shack. If you have seen my sewing shack, you know how that could happen.

When the baby was born, I realized I really needed to finish the bibs, so I turned the sewing shack upside down until I found them. I backed them with polar fleece, and lo, there was cuteness.

We finally got to see the baby a couple of weeks ago, and she is so adorable, with her little scrunched up face and crazy hair.

I've been working on some other stuff, too, some cool blocks for my quilt and a small quilt for my mom, but the pictures are in the camera, and there are no charged AA batteries in this house, so that will have to wait for another day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Unfortunately Amanda

I found a funny meme - you google your name after the word "unfortunately" and see what comes up. Here's (some of) what I found:

Unfortunately, Amanda is not Elizabeth and it all goes horribly wrong.

Unfortunately, Amanda's wild ways are just too much for the Headmistress

Unfortunately Amanda's life isn't as glamorous as it used to be.

Unfortunately, Amanda walks in during this tender moment and comes to the wrong conclusion.

Unfortunately, Amanda catches them and storms out. (It seems Amanda is a common name in soap-opera type plots)

Unfortunately, Amanda's brain doesn't always behave like she would want to behave (I second that!)

Unfortunately Amanda's book is not available in France yet

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mad Hatter

I have been wanting to make a hat for awhile. There aren't many patterns online, but after perusing what there was (I downloaded the Wild Things software from Wild Ginger, but decided that none of the hats I could find made from it online looked like what I wanted at all, so I uninstalled it) I chose this one from Curiously Crafty.

It was quite simple and went quickly, but it's HUGE on me. It fits Brandon well, since his head is very large, but it doesn't fit me. The only way it even halfway fits is if I pile all my hair up under it, as in the picture. So I don't foresee using this hat often. I thought about shrinking the pattern and trying again, but I'm not sure the style is really for me, after all. It looked so cute on the girl on the tutorial page!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sampler Quilt Block # 8 (I think)

Today I finished this Dresden Plate block, and I think it turned out well. Of course, the ones that don't turn out well, I don't post on the internet. Like the one that resulted from an exercise out of a scrap quilting book that involved pulling random scraps out of your scrap bag without looking and making a block out of them. I'll put it on the foot end of the quilt, where it will be between the mattress and the sleigh-style footboard, and no one will see it.

This particular Dresden Plate came out of the Georgia Bonesteel book. I believe it also could be called a Wagon Wheel.

I turned the seam allowances under and topstitched the plate to the backing, instead of doing hand applique or using a machine zig-zag. I don't like the look of zig-zag appliques so much, and I don't like hand work, so the topstitching seemed like a good idea. I've never seen it listed as an applique technique, but surely I'm not the only one who has thought of this.

I thought I'd add a link here to a site that's been useful to me in my quilt designing:
Free Printable Graph Paper generator. Choose your paper size and block size, line thickness, etc.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quilting Again

Yesterday Sherry and I went to the quilt shop in Clovis for a quilt-as-you-go class. We quilted a lot, but never got to the as-you-go part. Just too much to cram in one day. We'll have to go back later and learn how to put the sections together. This is what I've got done on the first half.

Also I bought a "new" (second-hand) sewing machine, sort of. Sherry and I went halves on it, so it will be a spare for both of us. It is a cute little 3/4 size Kenmore. I've been messing with it today, and it works great. I think whoever had it didn't use it much.

To test it out, I made this potholder, for a potholder swap I'm part of. The block I used is "yankee puzzle" with two different darks to emphasize the pinwheels.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sisterhood Award

Elle at SewDucky gave me this Sisterhood Award. I am very flattered, and now I am going to pass it on. The rules say to 10 people, but as usual, I am not going to actually pass it on to that many, because it would tax my little brain too much. If I give you the award, and you choose to participate, here are the rules to pass it on:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post

2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award

So here we go, in no particular order:

1. Holly at Surviving the Metroplex, because I admire the ease with which she discusses spiritual things and the wonderful trust she has in God, even through the difficulties in her life.

2. Rachel at Being the Change, because she works so hard for the things she believes in.

3, 4, and 5. DJ at Musings , Robin at Robin @ 40, and Solard at green Solard because they are my writing peeps who keep my muse fired up.

Yup, five is about my limit here. And if I have nominated you for this award and you don't feel like trying to think of ten, or even five people to pass it on to, don't sweat it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

5 minute Chocolate Cake

I am still not sewing on my dress any. I have got all of a sudden motivated and am working a lot on my novel and my writing in general. Usually it's easier to be inspired to sew than to write, so this is fine with me.

The other evening I was very adventurous and tried two new things. One, Brandon and I were in the grocery store and saw that they had goat meat (chevon if you want to sound more refined) for sale, so we got a sirloin chop, and I cooked it. We've been thinking that we might get one of this year's kids butchered, so it was a good chance to make sure we actually like goat.

It doesn't taste like beef, that's for sure. Has more of a smokey taste (and the piece we got was pretty tough). I don't know that I'd like it every day, but I wouldn't mind trying out a lot of new recipes I found for goat.

Then I made the five minute chocolate cake, which I got from an e-mail that someone forwarded to my mom. I don't generally consider e-mail forwards to be reliable sources of information, so I had put off trying this recipe, even though the idea of chocolate cake in five minutes is an intriguing one.

The thing is, you make it in the microwave in a mug, and it is one or two servings (I cut it up and the picture shows the top half). I was afraid it was someone's idea of a joke to make chocoholics everywhere try this and then have it explode in the microwave or something, but it does work. I've had better cake, sure, but not in five minutes, with only one dirty dish.

So here's the recipe. I'm sure someone worked very hard to perfect this.

4 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising) That would be 1/4 cup, for the lazy.
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
small splash vanilla extract
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
1 coffee mug

Add first three ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again. I did not use chocolate chips, but next time I will. I think it would be good.

Put in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. My microwave is something like 1100 watts, so I think 3 minutes was a little too much. The middle was hard.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed. I used a tall mug for just this reason. Mine didn't rise over the top.

Allow to cool a little and tip out onto a plate if desired. It sticks to the mug a bit. Although it would add one more dirty dish, I think it might help to mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour them into a greased mug. I plan on trying it that way.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I have had a cold the past few days, which I caught from Brandon (just about the time I thought I was going to squeak by without catching it) and he caught from my nephew, who we now affectionately refer to as "The Little Petri Dish". We're always catching something from him.

But in between bouts of feeling rotten, I had bouts of feeling okay, during which I did stuff. I haven't worked on my dress any, but I finished this tote bag.It's the first "Moon Over the Mountain" square I did, and didn't post about. Yes, I posted one here, and it will go in my quilt, but this was the semi-failed one. It looks okay now (due to quilting it down and using cotton batting when then shrunk for the wrinkly effect), but what you can't tell is that it didn't lay flat, and I had to do some creative ironing and stitching to get it do look even passable. Because see, I cut out the pieces and then got sidetracked with some other scraps, which needed pre-washed. I grabbed those scraps up in a pile and put them in the washer, and started it, before going back to my moon-mountain square. Then I noticed some pieces were missing. I searched everywhere, and found them in the washer, which stretched the bias edges and made it not lay flat, etc.

I'm sure there's a lesson here, but I'm not sure what it is. It's not "Don't bother prewashing", because those flannel scraps needed it, for sure.

I do like the tote bag, though. It's just the right size for carrying a notebook and other assorted things to my writer's group meeting, which is it's purpose from now on.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Doing the happy dance!

I have been waiting in suspense for the last two months or so to receive this in the mail:

Why is that you may ask? Because I have an article in it! I have been published, and not just in some 'zine that was photocopied at Kinko's, but an actual glossy mag, for which I will receive actual money (the sum of which will remain undisclosed, as it doesn't sound nearly so impressive then). It also means a lot to me that this is a magazine that I subscribe to and read.

I didn't chose or take the picture, but believe me, it's perfect.

I've been published before, but always in webzines or very small press magazines that I had never heard of until I decided to submit to them, and they never paid over $5.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Work in Progres and Fabric Shopping

I am not going to actually show you the partially completed bodice of the dress I'm working on, but I will show you the pattern and fabric I'm using.

It's a high-quality quilting cotton that spoke to me in the fabric store and said "Make me into a shirtdress". And who am I to argue with the talking fabric in my head? While I am excited about the finished dress, I am not so excited about the actual things I have to do to finish it, like setting in sleeves, so it is progressing slowly.

I considered several vintage shirtdress patterns before choosing a current one from McCall's, not only because it was on sale, but also because the ones I've seen on Pattern Review look a lot better than the one in the envelope illustration. Also, the vintage pattern I most favored would have required some modifications and a muslin, and I was just too lazy for that, though considering the cost of this fabric, I should have probably done one anyway. I am making view E, with the 3/4 sleeves.

Today I stopped (made my husband stop, actually) at Alco in Muleshoe. We hardly ever go to Muleshoe, and so I always stop in to see if their tiny fabric department has anything interesting. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't; if they do, it's a whole 'nother headache to get someone to actually come and cut your fabric. But this time I was in luck. They had some nice quality cottons on sale for 50 cents a yard. Luckily I only had about $3.00 (most of it in change) or no telling what I would have come out with.

I have been trying to sew more from my stash, and thus reduce it, but if I keep running across stuff like this, it isn't going to happen.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Secret Revealed

I found this thing online called the Gender Genie that purports to be able to tell by the words used in a piece of writing what gender the author is. I entered in a piece of my novel and then a piece of my blog (the entry about the tie). Both times the Genie read me as male, which I find interesting. It bases its assessment on words that you wouldn't think would be gender indicators, such as should, we, with, not (female) and the, below, at, and it (male).

I'm going to be cutting and pasting random things in there for the ten minutes or so, trying to figure out if it's just a bunch of hooey or if I really have a "masculine" style.

I have no pictures today. I'm working on a dress, but Brandon took the digital camera with him in the truck.

*** AN UPDATE ***

After fiddling with the Gender Genie awhile, I think it more or less consistently identifies certain blog authors as male or female, but it has very little do do with the actual gender of the author. Some females are consistently predicted as male, and some male authors are consistently predicted as female, and a slight majority of people's gender is predicted correctly and consistently.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's a Tie!

I was in a very nice quilt shop in Amarillo and I came across a great acoustic guitar fabric. Since Brandon plays bluegrass guitar, I knew it would be perfect for him, so I bought a fat quarter, thinking I would make him...something. He saw it, and loved it, and immediately said he wanted a tie. Being as it was only a fat quarter, and ties are cut on the bias, there was no way that was going to happen, so I had him take me back and I bought a whole yard (Of which I still have quite a large amount left over. Bias cut things are so wasteful to lay out.). I am glad that I did it, though, because it looks a lot better on the bias than it would have straight up and down, much more like a real tie.

So the day before Valentines I was messing around with an old tie I had taken apart, using it as a pattern. The construction is not as simple as I had assumed, and I still didn't get the mitering at the tips right, but it doesn't show, so I say, it doesn't matter.

On Valentines Day I was at the card store, getting a card (their stock was severely depleted) and it was just me and two men searching frantically for the right card. Which goes to show that (a) I am not good at planning ahead and (b) the stereotype really is true about men always buying Valentines gifts at the last minute.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Scientific Experiment

I have always prewashed my fabric for quilting, because I learned to sew clothing first, and you always prewash the fabric for clothing to avoid any unwanted surprises the first time you wash a garment, like the sleeves shrinking up and exposing your wrist bones, or the rear becoming suddenly too tight.

Some quilting books say to prewash, some say to pretest (make sure the different fabrics shrink at the same rate and don't bleed), and some say it isn't necessary at all. So I've been sticking with what I know and prewashing all my fabric as soon as I bring it home.

Recently I was saying something about the difficulty of keeping pre-washed and non-prewashed scraps straight (when some are given by people who do not prewash) and our preacher's wife, who knows a lot about quilting, told me it really wasn't necessary. That mixing the two wouldn't matter. Even though she knows a lot about quilting, I was wary of trusting that advice to the extent of a whole quilt, so I made little miniature test quilts that mixed prewashed and non-prewashed scraps, and washed them on warm then machine dried them. The one on the left is before, the one on the right is after.

It really doesn't seem to make much difference, with quilting cottons. Mixing flannels that aren't prewashed with cottons (prewashed or not) would be a whole different story, I think, as flannel can shrink a lot the first time you wash it.

Also today I made another "Moon Over the Mountain" quilt block, although I prefer to call this one "Hippy sun". I used my little tie-dye swatch to make the sun, and then for the sky I traced the template onto tissue paper and used it as a foundation for the string piecing, then tore the paper off. It's similar to an example from Georgia Bonesteel's book, but a lot brighter colors (and wider "strings").

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Today's Breakfast Special: White Chocolate and Apricot Scones

I don't know if it looks like much in the photo, but these scones that we had for breakfast were delicious. They are very bad for you (stick margarine, heavy cream, and white chocolate are all pretty high fat) but the taste totally makes up for it. And I figure next time around I will tweak the recipe to make them healthier. I did go ahead and replace some of the white flour with wheat flour.

The recipe came out of the magazine that the Texas electric co-op association puts out every month. They tend to have good recipes in there, I think because they are the winners of a monthly contest. It can be found here (scroll down, they're called "Coffee Dog Apricot-White Chocolate Scones").

Because I am not running at full capacity first thing in the morning (True story: once I left the baking powder out of the biscuits. They were hard and flat, but Brandon ate them anyway. That's why I love him.) I chopped up the butter and apricots (and the cubes of almond bark, the little store in Farwell doesn't have white chocolate chips) the night before and mixed all my dry ingredients in the bowl so there would be that much less to do before I had my coffee.

The recipe says make a big ball out of the dough, flatten it slightly, and cut into eighths. These were huge, and I couldn't even finish one for breakfast, so next time I will make two balls of dough and cut them into eighths.

Yes, I know I said I didn't like white chocolate. But for some things I make an exception. Like these scones. And white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies. As long as the chunks of white "chocolate" aren't too big. I just don't want to eat a bar of the stuff.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Refashioned Skirt

Months and months ago, when it was barely fall, I bought this skirt for ten cents. Sure, it was a color I hardly ever wear (if that unbleached muslin oatmeal-y color is actually considered a color) and it was a size 1x, and stained, but I thought I would dye it brown and have a nice ankle length skirt for the winter.

Then it sat in a box for a long time, and I changed my mind. First, brown seemed very boring. And then the length turned out to be a not very flattering one on me.

So today I dyed it red, and monkeyed around with length and width, and here it is:

You know, I dyed a jean jacket bright purple in junior high (I thought it was cool and wore it to shreds, but I only remember getting one compliment on it), and I remember the process being more involved and taking more time than this did. It must have been because of my age that it seemed so arduous.

While I was dyeing things, I made a little tie dye too, to use in my quilt:
It's only about 9 inches square. Since I like the way it turned out, I wish I'd done more, but it was a sort of a spur of the moment experiment.

Quick Sale Announcement

Isn't this an awesome pattern? I so wish it was my size, but my wishes lack the power to change reality, so it's for sale in my Etsy shop.

I am having a Buy One, Get One Free (of equal or less value, must still pay shipping on the free pattern) sale on vintage patterns all this month. The patterns have gone from taking up space in the spare bedroom (that we are clearing out to have ready for foster children) to taking up space in my sewing shack, which doesn't have a lot of extra space.

I am posting multiple new patterns daily, so the selection will be changing throughout the month!

Friday, January 30, 2009

I have been named a Kreativ Blogger by Donna at Donna's Den. I feel so special now. :)

The rules of the award are: 1. Copy the award to your site - 2. Link to the person from whom you received the award - 3. Nominate 7 other bloggers - 4. Link to those on your blog - 5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

Well, I don't follow a lot of blogs really regularly, I'm pretty sporadic about it, so I will not be giving this award to seven other bloggers. So, here are my nominations:

1. Elle at SewDucky, because I like her style (crazy fabrics and vintage patterns, yay!)

2. Lisa at Made By Lisah, because she makes pretty things and has a blog that is (partly) about books

That's all for nominations!

In other news, I made the first block for my bed quilt today. It's called Moon Over the Mountains, and I got it out of Georgia Bonesteel's Lap Quilting (Which I got off of Bookmooch, along with New Ideas for Lap Quilting.)

The curved seams were not as difficult as I had feared, and I really like the spare, graphic look of this block. There are some other fabrics I want to experiment with for this block, too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My baby is back!

I got my sewing machine back, finally. It hadn't actually been serviced, after all that time, but Brandon, my handy husband, oiled and cleaned it thoroughly for me, so it's purring like a kitten. I won't go into the whole story here; I'll just say the Sears employee that we dropped the machine off with did not inspire confidence, and most of the foreboding that I felt was justified. Except it didn't get dropped in the highway somewhere between Clovis and Albuquerque and come back to me a mangled wreck, which was my worst-case scenario.

The Sunday before I got it back I borrowed my mother-in-law's machine again (A vintage Pfaff, and wow, you can tell it is well-made. So nice to run.) and doodled around with some batik swatch bits I had and made a cake stand block.

For some reason lately I have been obsessed with this block, sketching different ideas and such, just waiting to get my machine back. It is strange, because the first cake stand quilt I saw in a quilting book scared me. It was in ugly colors, for one, and those strange spiky things on top don't look like any cake I want to eat. But now I like it.

After I made the batik cake stand (or cake plate) block, I was on the internet looking up some other quilt thing, and found the same block but named Cactus Pot. Now that explains the spiky things. Here is my most literal rendition of a Cactus Pot.

I have been planning to make myself a queen size bed quilt, and mentally auditioning different patterns. I've decided now: I will do a sampler. Just all different kinds of blocks, out of scraps, whatever blocks catch my fancy. Some of the blocks that I've made in the past and never found a use for will find a home in this quilt. I'll just do blocks in between my other projects. I'll get to try all kinds of new techniques out.

The big thing that I decided I had to do when I got my machine back was bedroom curtains. I purchased five yards of home dec. fabric about a year ago for this, but I hate sewing curtains (such an expanse of fabric to keep straight and square, so many long, long straight seams), so I've been putting it off. Yesterday I finally buckled down and just did it, and here they are:

I love the fabric, and they turned out just like I wanted them to. Did I mention that the fabric was on sale for $2 a yard? Sometimes sewing your own really can save money.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I sneaked off to my mother-in-law's house yesterday morning and used her sewing machine. I checked a book out form the library, Patchwork, Quilting, and Applique by Linda Steward. An older book, copyright 1987, but I recommend it for variety of techniques covered and step-by-step instructions. Anyway, it has a section on Seminole Patchwork, and I've been wanting to try it, and I have a friend who just got married, and I wanted to make her something.

Since I've been rechecking the book, and am now out of renewals, I knew I needed to get this done pretty soon.

Seminole patchwork is a lot like the common quilting technique of strip piecing, except it gets a lot more intricate and the sections are offset to get diagonal designs. It was developed by the Seminole tribes in Florida during the early part of the 20th century, and traditionally is used on clothing more than in bedding or quilts. The history is interesting, but too lengthy to go into here. See the link above.

There is a tutorial for a simple Seminole patchwork project here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Holiday backlog, sewing machine still in the shop...sigh. There are some things I'd really like to get started on, here.

When I got married, my aunt gave me a quilt made by my great-grandmother. She had saved one for each of the female cousins. My sister got a grandmother's flower garden, and I got this:I had stored it in a chest until the beginning of this month, when I figured I might as well quit being afraid of messing it up and enjoy it a little bit. I will take it off again and put it back up in a few weeks. It is pretty old, but I'm not sure exactly how old. The quilting is all by hand, and much of the piecing appears to be, as well. I love the color scheme, the egg yolk yellow and the bright red. The fabric of the top seems to have been purchased just for this quilt, but the backing looks like it might be partly of bleached feed or flour sacks.

I looked on the Internet to find out what that pattern is called. I looked and looked, but it is hard to google something you don't know the name of. I looked for round quilt blocks, starburst blocks, sunburst blocks, and just paged endlessly through online lists of quilt block templates, and got nowhere.

Then I went to the library (have I mentioned how I LOVE THE LIBRARY?!) and paged through random quilt books until I found a picture of a quilt in the same pattern. It is called a Sunflower, or Russian Sunflower. Knowing the name, I found a few examples online, and a template, which I will try someday when I learn how to do curves and set-in seams. It's a little beyond my ability right now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tagged: 25 Random Things

I have been tagged by SewDucky for 25 Random things about me.

1. My favorite color is blue. But I also like green, red, yellow, brown, and basically all other colors, even pink. Sometimes.

2. When I was 12 or 13, I wanted to be a bush pilot (in Alaska) when I grew up.

3. When I was 14, I decided I was going to be a writer, and I sent my first short story to Analog Science Fiction. It was promptly rejected.

4. My first car was named Sparky. My second car was named Alex.

5. I have totalled three cars (one of which was Alex), plus one that was "totalled" by the insurance company, but I drove it for months afterwards (and I was rear-ended for that one). I really, really hope that that is my lifetime quota of car wrecks.

6. My resume includes approx. 2.5 months spent as a goat-herder in New Mexico.

7. Last month I finished the first draft of my first novel. No one gets to read it yet, it still needs a lot of work (And all those post-its? That's me trying to organize it.)

8. I've started at least four other "novels" since I turned 18, which were never finished. I can't even remember my lifetime count of novel attempts. I always wanted to write books. Well, since I learned to read, anyway.

9. Actually, in first grade, I didn't care for reading at all.

10. Then I got good at it, and read books while walking to school, during class, and pretty much any other time I could manage it. My parents would try to ground me from books. Word to the wise: it's easy to ground kids from TV, but books are much smaller, quieter, and easier to hide.

11. I love dark chocolate, but have never cared for white chocolate (I don't even think it is really chocolate.)

12. I love animated movies. My favorite is probably Lilo and Stitch, but I also like Mulan a lot. And Ice Age. That squirrel is pretty funny.

13. It's a good thing I've got spell check, because I had no idea how to spell squirrel.

14. I have at least seven UFO (unfinished objects) laying around my sewing room, and one on my knitting needles. One of them, at least, will never make it to the status of finished object, but I can't make myself throw it away.

15. My favorite food is a good hamburger, OR breaded fried shrimp, if it's done right.

16. My nickname the second year of college was Pixiestick.

17. In the Peace Corps, several of my friends occasionally referred to me as the Carne Queen, because I was always on the lookout for a good burger or a good steak (both rare in Ecuador).

18. I love bacon.

19. Milk and eggs, however, top the list of "Perfectly Good, Nutritious Foods that Amanda Doesn't Like".

20. Clubs/Organizations I have belonged to: (in elementary, junior high, & high school) 4-H, FFA (Future Farmers of America), National Honor Society; (In college) Renaissance Club, Table Gaming Club; (Currently) Panhandle Professional Writers, Pens and Pages Writer's Guild

21. For a short time right before I got married, I was certified as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician).

22. I was voted "Most Bashful" two years running in High School.

23. I only take my watch off for showers, and yet somehow, I still tend to be late.

24. Approximately six months before I met my husband, I actually said the words "I will never marry a farmer".

25. I volunteer at a food pantry/clothing closet (Bread of Life Ministries) and it's one of the most rewarding things I've done.

Whew! It's hard to come up with 25 things and still keep it kind of interesting. Hope nobody dozed off.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Murphy's Law: A Textbook Example

Brandon and I have been trying to get everything lined up to become foster parents. It is complicated by the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere (the first place we applied to didn't do foster care outside of a 60 mile radius, which they didn't bother to tell us until AFTER we had filled out a ten page application and sent it in.) So now we are going with DFPS (also to be referred to as the State). We have PRIDE classes three hours a week for the next two months. The first class was this Tuesday. PRIDE is an acronym for Parents' Resource for Information, Development and Education.

Tuesday was also my writer's group meeting. That was at 10:00 a.m. and the PRIDE training started at 6:30. No problem.

As the meeting ended, one of the other ladies noticed that my right front tire was extremely low, and so one of the other women showed me to the tire repair place, where they were very nice and had it fixed within twenty minutes. It had three nails in it (ah, the joys of living on a dirt road). I went to the fabric store and to the grocery store, and when I came out of the grocery store, the same tire was COMPLETELY flat. Way too flat to drive on. So I called the tire shop, and on the second try (everyone was gone for lunch) got someone, who told me it would be a few minutes before they would be able to send a guy to help me.

It was only about five minutes, actually. He aired it up so I could limp on over to the shop, where in another twenty minutes it was fixed, really this time. And of course they didn't charge me for the second go-round, so that was fine.

I got home and had barely forty-five minutes to eat and get everything straightened up and put together before we had to leave for Amarillo (we were allowing some extra time for a quick trip to Joann Fabric and to eat at the Country Barn Steakhouse). Before I left, I gave a brief thought to double-checking the address and meeting time of the class, but I DIDN'T DO IT for some reason.

As we finished up supper, Brandon and I realized we didn't remember the exact address of the DFPS office, or how to get there, and so we called various relatives until we got some directions. My sister knows a social worker, and his mom has the internet, so between the two of them, we got the info we needed.

Then we got to the DFPS office and there was NO ONE THERE (except a lady who was crying and obviously in the middle of something). The class was not at that office, and we had no cell phone numbers of the class leaders, or anyone at DFPS.

Brandon said "I bet it's at Amarillo College." And that sounded vaguely familiar, so we drove over to the main campus. It was dark, at this point, and we were already half an hour late, but it is a three hour class. There wasn't much going on at the college. By wandering through buildings with concentrations of cars near them, we found an evening lab class and chorus practice, but no PRIDE. I called my sister, who found out from her friend that PRIDE training is not held in any one place - sometimes it is at the college, and sometimes at a church building or a private home. We were getting desperate, and the only option that wouldn't result in us turning around, having made the 1.5 hour drive for nothing was to call Brandon's wonderful mother again, and ask her to do us a big, big favor.

We asked her to drive 20 minutes to our house, let herself in, find our folder with the address we needed, and call us on the cell phone to let us know where we were supposed to go. She agreed! We were saved!

This is where Murphy's Law kicked in. She would have called us on the cell phone to let us know the address, but Plateau cellular network picked that time to go kablooey. I think that's the technical term.

Flashback to us in the car, waiting, and waiting. It's dark and slightly chilly. After 25 minutes, Brandon couldn't stand it anymore and called Sherry's cell phone. Immediate busy signal. He tries again, same thing. I try to text her, and my phone won't send the text, even though I have full signal.

Brandon calls my phone, just to test. Busy. I'm not using my phone. We call the house phone, hoping that Sherry is there and will pick it up. The house phone rings. For ten minutes, we repeat dial the house, before coming to the conclusion that Sherry isn't going to answer it, and she must have turned around and gone home. Hopefully after finding the file, but who knows?

So we wait another twenty minutes. Brandon calls his dad, just to see if Sherry has called. The phones will call out, luckily. After a few minutes, he calls his dad again, and Sherry is just walking in the door. She gives us the address.

One and a half hours after we were supposed to be at the class, we got there. It was at the southwest campus of Amarillo college. We banged on a door until the janitor let us in.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Presents, Round 3: More quilty things

This wallhanging was made for my mother-in-law, because I wanted to make her something, and she has recently redecorated her living room with a loose theme of "old barns and houses". I learned a lot doing this, as it was the first larger-than-a-potholder freehand quilting project I've done. I also used a quilting design out of a book from the library to do the rope quilting on the borders. It turned out well, but would have been INCREDIBLY time consuming to do on anything larger.

Today, after making this wallhanging and a quilt that used a lot of flannel scraps, I checked out a book from the library that would have helped a lot. One tip - if your flannel is floppy and hard to work with because of loose weave, spray it with starch to make it easier to cut and piece. That would have helped me a lot. But at least I know now.

This next thing doesn't look like a quilt at all, but I found the instructions in a quilting book. It was another present for Connor, who as the first grandchild in my family, was spoiled entirely. It is made of twelve pentagons hand-sewn together using the English paper-piecing method. One little ball wasn't that bad, but I can tell you: I ain't gonna be doing a whole quilt that way. Unless, you know, we need to stay warm after the nuclear holocaust, when there are no sewing machines.

I got my instructions partly out of a quilting book from the library (I love the library) and when they were too vague, off of this blog. Brandon got to use his new drill to drill holes in an asprin bottle to put a bell inside. I tied the bell to the inside of the bottle with a twisty tie from a bread bag (so it would only make a "jingle, jingle" noise, instead of "thump, jingle, jingle, thump". Worked like a charm. And Connor liked it. Eight month old babies are a pretty uncritical audience, though. He was pretty thrilled with the wrapping paper, too.

Christmas Presents, Round 2: the wearables

Well, I took a sort of break from blogging (went to visit my dad's side of the family in Ohio for a week) without getting around to showing the rest of my Christmas goodies.

This vest I made for my dad. I was quite pleased with both the notched collar and the welt pockets, which were both new techniques for me.

For my brother-in-law and nephew, I made matching shirts in a motocross fabric. My sister told me that Jonathan likes for them to match sometimes. The adult shirt is modeled here by the ever-patient Brandon, who is not only the model, but also the stand-in fitting dummy, for all male garments made in the house.

In other news, I am giving my sewing machine a well-deserved break and sending it to the sewing machine spa (i.e. the Sears repair center). Knowing I have nothing to sew with gives me this awful urge to sew things now.