Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life First/Sewing Second

I'm MIA but for a good reason. Sewing is a hobby for me. Something that makes my days go faster and keeps me away from - cleaning.  Lately though I've been doing what I thought 20 years ago I'd never do - subbing in my local school district as a teacher's aide helping physically impaired children. If you're a mother you know the routine of what you have to do when your children are young. You are their sole provider to getting them fed, bathed, clean and the obvious happy and safe. As a teacher's aide I don't bathe children but the other 3 are up there in the to do list, besides helping them get the best education that they can.

Thank God my children went to a school where children of all disabilities are a regular site. Their elementary housed a program in our district with special needs children. I've noticed when my children were young and we would go out to dinner and their was a handicapped person there that people stare - my family and most importantly my children do not! They don't see a child/adult with disabilities - they see an individual or better yet just a little boy or girl. Proud moment when I finally figured it all out!

What started out as an hour a day working in the lunchroom when all 3 of my children started going to school full time has evolved into quite the part-time job. As the year progressed I was asked to substitute as an aide to help in the program with the children that also go to that school. Nervous is an understatement of my very first day. Learning their disabilities, proper lifting if need be, feeding if that was what I had to do and stepping back and letting them try to do things themselves was a big learning curve for me. As a mother you want to do everything possible but then their comes a time you have to say - TRY! This is what you have to do with special needs children. They are not as strong and sometimes not as capable of doing certain things that normal children can do but with patience and practice they can succeed in doing these tasks. Great accomplishment for them, bigger reward for me watching this unfold. I've now been subbing for more than 10 years.

So that is what I've been doing for the past few weeks. I like to tease the regular aides in the building that I have the best of both worlds. I get to work in all 4 of the different classrooms: preschool, kindergarten/first grade, second through fifth grade and then in regular education classrooms. I love it and wish I could get in full time but the way the budget cuts are going I'll probably never get  in. So I'll take what I can get and enjoy every minute of it!

So my days have been filled with children of all ages and getting more joy than I ever thought possible. Hopefully sewing will be taking place next week when we are on spring break, if the dust bunnies don't come and get us first!

I've received some great packages in the mail lately and some more are on their way! My goal is to take some pictures and thank these blogs properly as soon as my days are free.

Have a Great Day (I will be)!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New York Quilt Along Blocks 0 & 5

Sew Sweetness

Sara at Sew Sweetness is hosting a New York Beauty Quilt Along on her blog that I have happened to join along in. These blocks are all paper pieced and I have found a new love for this art.

This quilt was at the quilt show I went to a month ago and when I looked at this quilt I then wondered what I had signed up for. All those pieces should have made me run as fast as I could but it didn't. I was scared with all the colors so I was still undecided on what fabrics I was going to use.

So the 5th of March was the day that the tutorial for Block 0 came out over at My Go-Go Life hosted by Kim. As I read over the directions I decided that the curved seams were going to be my hardest part. The more I read the directions, the more I told myself I could do this.

I continued to watch the Flickr group to get inspiration on colors. One particular square kept catching my eye and I knew what I was going to do. I decided 2 colors were going to be my destiny. One was a plain old Kona White with the other fabric being from a stash of  a sentimental piece. The purple is from dresses that I had made my 2 girls 14 years ago as Christmas dresses. I have had these dresses packed away just because I had spent so much time on them that I couldn't donate them or give them to family members. While cleaning out boxes I found these lost treasures and decided the only way to keep this memory alive was to cut the dresses apart. To say the least I'm making new memories for this fabric. Every time I look at these squares I'm reminded of 2 little girls who have now grown into beautiful young women.

Block 0

Block 5

Block 5's tutorial was on Sara's blog. Block 5 had alot more pieces and I definitely had my share of mistakes along the way.

If you aren't doing the NY Beauty QAL try it! These blocks are beautiful and I can't wait to find out how the journey of these "beauties" turn out.

The weather in Michigan is starting to finally turn the corner and we're all spending alot more time outside. Hope you've had a great weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Two Final Blocks = 1 Quilt Top

I cannot begin to write about how much I have learned from doing Sew Happy Geek's QAL this past month. When I found Jenna's blog over a month ago I really had no clue what I was doing.  To get you caught up you can find the first blocks here, here, and finally here.

This block was called the Quatra Star. Jenna has a video up on her site on how to do this block. It could have been done 2 ways - paper or foundation pieced. After watching the video I decided I'd rather screw up on a piece of paper than a piece of fabric, no matter how scrappy it is. Call me scared but what little fabric I have I need to make the most of it. I've done a few paper pieced blocks from participating in the Solstice Star blocks by Fresh Lemons Quilts so I felt more comfortable in this technique. Good thing is because my handy, dandy seam ripper came through again for me. When you paper piece you really have to make sure that you have enough fabric to cover the area that it is intended. I really love paper piecing. The sky is the limit on what you can accomplish with a piece of paper, lines and fabric.

The last block was the Dresden block. I was hoping to use my acrylic template but this blades were taller than mine so I used Jenna's paper template.  The fabrics above were the last of my stash of all these colors from this QAL. I started with remnants and thank goodness I made it to the end.

To be entered into the giveaway you had to have your blocks sewn into a quilt top by the 18th. I knew if I was going to spend this much time on these 12 blocks I was going to finish. Since I had run out of fabric I needed to purchase more white. With the blocks done and ready to be put together I found I had made a mistake all along on these blocks. Being the newbie as I was when I first started I didn't quite understand that when you say 12" finished this really means 12.5" before sewn into the top. Duh!! I had stopped trimming my squares after the first 6 and when I noticed they were different sizes and the points weren't sharp it dawned on me. Never make that mistake again!

I'm so glad I took this leap and conquered my fears of cutting pieces of fabric to make different patterns. I have some blocks that are my favorite and there is one that I wish I had changed the colors but never did. The touch of blue was a last minute addition. I had thought about red but one of the pieces of fabric in the blocks has this blue in it. In the end it gives it a little splash of something different.

I'm off to get caught up on my NY Beauty QAL since block number two comes out today.

Have a Great Day!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Birthday Table Runner

I've been on a table runner kick lately. I had bought three 8 ft. white table runners for only $9.99 from Pottery Barn's outlet awhile ago. They've been sitting just waiting for the perfect project. One of them is a birthday table runner for my buffett. Below is my inspiration that I had pinned on Pinterest.

First things first though I didn't want an 8 ft. table runner, I wanted a 4 ft. one for my buffett, so I cut it in half. The table runners have mitered corners so I had to finish up the end that I cut off before I could even get to the applique.

The original table runner had a 2" hem plus another 1/2" so I had to rip the seam down 10" to give me room to miter the end. I did this on both sides.

I ironed the runner really good and then folded in a 1/2" for the first hem. I folded again another 2" to match the hem for the whole table runner. As you can see from the picture above I also made sure that I matched the creases (that I couldn't iron out) from the original 2" hem on the side.

I matched my corners from the long end to the short end with the right sides together. I'm now ready to miter the end. I don't know if this is the right way or wrong way but this is what worked for me.

I took my square ruler and matched up the lines. As you can see where the crease is the ruler is marked at 2 (I hemmed 2") and then I matched up the skinny line on the ruler. I marked the line in a water soluable pen from one end to the crease. (Since I'm known to do things a few times no matter how many times I measure I did a basting stitch to make sure it was right.) I then turned it right side out to make sure the hems lined up all the way around the table runner. Flipped it back over and cut the end down 1/4".

Done! I now have 2 table runners but first things first we need to get on with the project at hand - the Birthday Table Runner. I printed out a font that I had downloaded. I loved everything about it but it was just to thin for what I wanted to do. So I thickened it up with a marker on both sides and transferred them onto fabric.

I used Steam-A-Seam for the letters. I've used it before and I like how I can re-arrange the pieces to my liking but also having the pieces only temporarily still stick.

Once I had the letters displayed how I liked them I was ready to sew. I ended up using a zig zag stitch and a variegated thread from Sulky in Black and White.

Once the letters were finished I debated on adding small presents, cupcakes, hats or even confetti all around the runner but it would have made it to crowded. I didn't want that.

As you can see I just placed the letters all over in a slanted and uneven manner.


We're ready now for cake and ice cream on our next birthday celebration.

Have a Great Day!

I'm linking to a few sites:
Visit Amy's Creative Side Sew Happy Geek Positively Splendid
sew many ways

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Portable Ironing Board

Since I knew the New York Beauty Quilt Along was starting very soon I dreaded having to get up after every strip to iron. My husband always teases me that I need to have "time management", so I decided I needed something right next to me to iron. So I set out to our local craft store over the weekend. Have you seen how much money they want for a small portable ironing board? Seriously I looked and the cheapest I found was $27 and it had to be less than a 12x12. I couldn't justify spending that much money on something that I knew I had all the tools to do at home.

So off to work I went the other night.I found a piece of board in the garage that I swiped asked if I could have. Couldn't tell you what kind of board it is but I knew it was thick enough to get the stapler through without going all the way through to the other side. It looks big in this picture but it is actually 12x30 inches. I debated on having my husband trim it down for me but decided against it.

 I knew I had fleece, Insul-Bright, and canvas fabric that I had bought at a local thirft store in my stash of stuff.  I also read to use batting but since I had all this extra remnant of fleece I decided to use that instead. I layered my fleece, Insul-Bright, and then the canvas in that particular order. I made sure everything fit nice with at least enough extra to wrap around the board to staple.

After I put the fleece on I noticed that I really didn't need any extra fabric on the ends and it would cause more of a problem with bulk when I went to finish it up so I cut it down to the exact length of the board.

I continued on my merry way with the Insul-Bright (also cutting off the very end) and then the canvas. When it came time to staple the final fabric I just pulled it and stapled it. Nothing to neat about this since no one will ever be looking at the bottom of it.

For the ends I just folded it almost like a package and brought the ends up and over. Staple and done!

 Here's my new Portable Ironing Board in my messy little corner of my sewing table.

Could have cleaned up don't you think? Wow! Anyways I've since moved this to the right of my sewing table so there is no overhang. My sewing area is shaped like an L and since I'm right handed having it at this end would not have benefited me. I used my new board yesterday afternoon and have to tell you I got so much accomplished in such little time. No getting up, taking off the readers, picking up the readers at the ironing station because I forgot to take them off, etc., etc. Why didn't I think of this before? I love it!

Have a Great Day!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm finally a Winner!

I'm so excited! I was picked by Angela Yosten to win 2 books - 2! She's even going to sign them! Thank you Angela!

The first book "Fresh Fabric Treats" is by lots of Moda Bake Shop designers. The cover is beautiful!

The next one is "Modern Blocks" and this has 99 (wow that's alot) of Quilt Blocks from different designers.

I'm beyond thrilled to be able to finally feel and look through the pages of these beautiful books that I've had my eye on. Someone needs to pinch me!

Have a Great Day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

St. Patrick's Dresden Plate Tablerunner

Thought I'd finally try my hand at what the quilting world calls a Dresden Plate with scraps of fabric. I also had an 8ft. white table runner I had purchased from Pottery Barn years ago from a girls weekend at the outlet mall for real cheap. I cut the table runner in half and made two out of the one. I even mitered the corners to match all the way around.

I used 5" blades (that's what they call the individual pieces) to make my Dresden. I then used a trick I had seen on the Internet to make my circle. I actually sewed two pieces together, cut a slit in one of the pieces and turned it inside out. This worked so much better than folding in the edge to make the applique. I then straight stitched all around the edge onto my table runner and blanket stitched the center.

I ended up making two plates for each end of my table runner. I'm using it for St. Patrick's Day but my daughter informed me we can use it at Christmas too. I've made a couple of table runners using other techniques for Christmas already that I haven't blogged about but she made a great point.

I love it! I have it here on my dining room table but I have officially moved it to the buffet where I don't have to worry about anyone messing it up at dinner. I have another idea for another table runner that I saw on Pinterest so I'll have to try that next. It's a birthday one and since my middle daughter's birthday is next month I better get moving.

Have a Great Day!
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