If this quilt could talk….

My second grandchild was born in March, a beautiful little girl named Alexia Grace.

kindra-and-lexi

Months before her arrival her mom showed me the fabrics she had picked out at Carousel Designs to have drapes, a crib skirt, sheets and a changing table pad custom made.  Since fabric was available by the yard,  I had the fabulous idea to buy some of the coordinating fabric and make a quilt for Lexi’s room.  In November I ordered a yard of each of the three fabrics and actually got it on sale for 20% off.  The thought was that I would have it made and give it to her to take back to Texas after she visited at Christmas.  That did not happen.  January came along with an extended stay in Omaha and all I had done was wash the fabric.

fabric

Finally I decided I had better get started so I planned a design on paper using a herringbone pattern.  Then I cut out my squares of fabric and started sewing the squares into layer cakes. If you have no idea what layer cakes are, check out my post here.

cut-squares

chain-stitching

cutting-layer-cakes-2

If this quilt could talk it would tell you that it heard more than it’s share of expletives coming from the mouth of it’s maker.  After all the squares were cut and sewn, I started laying it out in the pattern and it appeared I did not have enough squares.  The actual problem was I had cut the squares 6.5 inches instead of 10.5 inches.  I have no idea where I got that number from.  I had to go back to Carousel Designs and order another yard of two of the fabrics, this time it was not on sale!

It was close to the end of January before I received the new material and I was starting to panic that Lexi would be here before the quilt was done.  I buckled down and spent an entire Saturday in cold, snowy Omaha cutting out the new squares, making the new layer cakes and finally being able to sew the squares into rows.

sewing-rows

Once the entire quilt top was sewn together I hand basted it to the backing and batting and started the process to hand quilt.  If this quilt could talk it would tell you to never attempt to hand quilt something that is not 100% cotton.  Hand quilting requires a loose weave so several stitches can be picked up on one pass of the needle.  It took me about five minutes to realize I would not be hand quilting this tightly woven fabric blend, especially when the needle came through the leather thimble I was wearing and stuck in my finger as I was pushing it through the fabric.  OUCH!

I was totally bummed for a day before I had another idea. In the past I have had a few quilts machined quilted by someone who lives just a few miles from me.  I immediately called her and asked if she would be available to quilt this for me and she said that yes she could do it but her next opening was next September.  Whaaat???  I actually told her to save me the spot because I had just found out I have another grandbaby due next September.   This would not work for Lexi’s quilt though because she was due soon and I realized then that the quilt would not be done before she got here.

If this quilt could talk it would tell you that it traveled halfway across the country and back before it was even finished.  I had one final idea, I have a cousin who lives in the state of Washington and does machine quilting.  I gave her a call and practically begged her to quilt this baby blanket.  She graciously agreed so I removed the basting in the quilt since I knew she would need to do that and packed up all the pieces and shipped them to her.  A week or so passed and I got a phone call from her.  I could tell by the tone of her hello that it was not good news…….the quilt had broken multiple needles on her machine, she was not going to be able to quilt it.  I thanked her for trying and asked her to pack it back up and return it to me.

When I received it back I knew there was only one other choice to finish this quilt and that was to tie it.  Dave even offered to help me pull the needle through with pliers if needed.  My grandmother had tied most of the quilts she made but I had never tried that.  I searched for instructions online and went out bought a few supplies.

tying-supplies

I was pretty disappointed at this point, the quilt was not turning out how I had envisioned it at all.  I started with the tying process and found it was going pretty fast.

tying

About half way through I was starting to like the look of the ties.  It seemed to make this lavender quilt even more feminine, like little bows.  After the tying was completed, I made the binding and finished the quilt.  finished-quilt-4

finished-quilt-3

If this quilt could talk it would tell you that all the challenges in creating it were absolutely worth it when it’s maker saw this sweet picture.

Lexi-with-quilt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Strip Baby Quilt

I have been wanting to try a strip quilt for a long time and when the opportunity arose to make another baby quilt I decided it would be the perfect project.  Strip quilts are often made to use up leftover scraps of fabric since they are just long strips of fabric sewn together.  For this particular quilt I wanted to keep the colors somewhat neutral so I did a little fabric shopping.

fabric

I am a little bit of a fabric hoarder and ALWAYS buy much more than I need for a project.  One can never have too much fabric!  The first thing I did was cut a few strips of each fabric in various widths and started laying them out until I found a pattern I liked.

Laying-out-the-strips

Then I just sewed the strips together.

sewing-strips-together

After I pressed the seams open,  I cut out the backing and low-loft batting and basted all the layers together.

press-seams

basting

The next step was the quilting and binding.  Since I had the time I decided to do the quilting by hand like I did on the Chevron Baby Quilt.  I am far from a perfect quilter but I like the look of handmade quilting and feel like it personalizes the quilt.  Besides that, it gives me an excuse to watch tv without feeling guilty, at least I am being productive at the same time.

on-the-tree

on-the-grass

Every quilt I make becomes my new favorite and this one is not an exception.  I love the neutral colors and it was easy and quick to put together.  This specific quilt I made for my physical therapist Christy that I talked about in this post.  Now I have two more quilts to make in the next two months.  I better get started right now!

Linking to Find your Voice Friday #1

 

 

November Chalkboard Art

I finally had some time this past weekend to create the November chalkboard for my kitchen.

Nov-2013

Did you notice the bright colors?  I had been hearing via blogland about a product called Chalk Markers that has the bold vibrancy of markers but the easy clean-up of chalk.  I also had been looking for chalk with more of a fine tip for creating different fonts.  I went to my go-to source (AMAZON.com) for a little retail research and I found these fun markers.  Granted, they are a little more expensive than regular chalk at $26.77 for a package of 10,  however the bold colors, chisel tip and EASY clean up was well worth the cost.

Chalk This Way 1I was a little hesitant when I received them because they included a warning not to use on porous surface including chalkboard paint.  WHAT?!?!?  What the heck, I knew if they did not wipe off easily I could always paint my chalkboard again.  Not sure what else I will do with that quart of chalkboard paint I bought when I made this board.  Anyway, I am THRILLED to report that they worked perfectly.  I can attest to the fact that they wipe off easily, just like chalk, with a damp cloth.

Now, if Santa is reading, they also have a set of EARTHY COLORS that would be awesome in my Christmas stocking!!

Chalk This Way 2

Most Welcome Guests

Our house was buzzing with activity today.  We knew the new AC unit was scheduled for  today and after waiting 7 full days to get on their install schedule, I could not have been happier to see anyone.

ac-replace-1

This past week has really made me appreciate the convenience and luxury of air conditioning that we can easily  take for granted.  Yesterday seemed to be the worst day yet, not sure if it was because this primitive living was getting old or the fact that at 4:00 pm it was 91 degrees inside the house.

ac-replace-3

The upside to the week is that I was forced to spend several hours just floating away in our wonderful neighborhood pool just to cool down.  As a bonus, I got in some physical therapy at the same time.

tkg-in-pool

Besides having the ac installers here, the windows we ordered several months ago just happened to be delivered and the carpenters showed up to install them.  One of the carpenters was joking about how hot it was outside today but inside our house it was even hotter!  Guess I have lost my sense of humor about that unpleasant truth!

win-replace-2

win-replace-3

The HVAC guys said it would take about 10 hours for our house to cool down but it already feels better.  Looks like the excuse I have used for the last week to not do anything in the house is slowly starting to go away!

A new dining room?

I have a formal dining room that has never been used for the purpose of eating.  For all the years we have lived here it has been referred to as the music room since it is where our piano and assorted other musical instruments have resided over the years.

Piano

We also have a large, comfy leather chair and my mother’s old curio cabinet in the room.

Chair-in-Dining-room

curio-cabinet

We have two different eating areas in our kitchen so we have never really needed additional eating space. Lately though I have been thinking a formal dining area might be nice.  I do love to have friends over for dinner and it might be fun to have a new place to decorate and hang out.  With the kids mostly all grown up no one ever plays the piano anymore so I am thinking of saying goodbye to this large piece of furniture.  I know a couple of my kids would like to have it but they are either too far away or do not have the room for it.  The curio cabinet really does not fit in to the decor in the rest of my house so I will probably ask the family if anyone is interested in it.  The chair can easily be moved to a couple of different areas in my house.

I have been looking at pictures on HOUZZ and PINTEREST for some inspiration.   I have a hard time describing what my decorating style is because I think it is a mixture of several styles.  I know I like clean lines (modern/contemporary).

I love colorful accents (casual)

I also enjoy rooms with comfort and warmth (traditional).

I have no idea how I will incorporate all of those styles.

My wish list for the new area includes:

  • A table that will sit at least 8, 10 or 12 would be better.
  • Pops of color, maybe teal or lime green
  • New window treatments
  • New light fixture
  • New mirror or artwork for the wall

We have actually already started this make-over by ordering new windows.  As soon as those are installed, I will start the decorating process.

What suggestions do you have for me?

Chevron Baby Quilt

DISCLAIMER:  This post is about making a quilt.  I have made a few quilts over the years but in no way am I am expert quilter or  seamstress.  My finished quilts are best viewed from afar. 🙂  I do come from a long line of quilters and have cousins who could be considered experts (Cathy and Bonnie I am talking about you). For me,  I am just trying to hold on to the family traditions.

With a new grandbaby in my near  future, I decided to dust off the quilting skills that I learned many years ago and make a baby quilt.  The year I got married, before kids, I took a year long quilting class where we made a full size sampler quilt totally by hand.  No sewing machine stitches on this quilt anywhere.

1st-Quilt

As you can see in the photo below it is a very used loved quilt….

loved-quilt

I have been inspired by some very bold graphic quilts I have seen on Pinterest so I knew I wanted to start with a chevron pattern.  I came across a youtube video by the Missouri Star Quilting company that detailed how to make the chevron pattern for a full size quilt. To view that tutorial click here.  I thought I could probably adapt these instructions to a baby quilt so I got out the graph paper and started cyphering.  Since that first quilt I made, I have not used a pattern on any other quilt, just a drawing that helps me visualize how to assemble it.

paper-drawing

The first thing I did was cut 12-10″squares out of each color fabric.  The tutorial mentioned making a “layer cake” which is a term I had not heard before.  Basically it means sewing one square of each fabric together around all four edges.

squares

sewing-squares

At this point I had 12 “layer cakes.”  The next step was to cut each “layer cake” diagonally both ways.  That creates 4 half square triangles per “layer cake” or 48 half square triangles in total.

cutting-diagnols

diagnol-square

In the next step I sewed 6 half square triangles together to make a row.  I repeated that until I had 8 rows.

rows

Now you just attach your rows together until you have the pattern you want.  Once the rows are attached you are complete with the quilt top.   An easy way to assemble the quilt top to the batting and backing for a baby quilt is to tape the backing to a large table, making it as tight as possible.

backing

Then layer on your batting and quilt top.

batting-and-quilt-top

Once you have the quilt assembled you can either baste it or pin it.  I have used both methods but since this was small and I was going to hand quilt it, I basted the layers together.  Pins get in the way when you put the quilt in the quilting frame.  At this point it was getting close to my daughter’s shower and I really needed to get done so I totally forgot to take pictures of the hand quilting or binding.  There are literally hundreds of tutorials on youtube showing you how to quilt and make your own binding and I am sure they do a much better job at explaining than I do.  I did remember to take a picture of the finished quilt before I wrapped it for the shower.

Finished-quilt

This was actually a fairly quick and easy quilt to make.  I am thinking about making a full size version to use in my basement for winter TV watching! I should have that done when I am about 80!

Seven Week Update

Long-Time-No-Chalk

I have been MIA from the blog for several weeks.  I was always taught if you do not have anything nice to say then say nothing at all.  (I really should remind myself of that more often.)   In the fourth and fifth week after my knee surgery I was in a dark place, not seeing much progress in my physical therapy and still having more pain than I anticipated.  On top of that, we have had the worst spring I can remember, torrential rains with no sunshine for days upon days.  Days without sun are not good for me.

However, these last two weeks have been much better and I have forced myself to participate in life and guess what happened.  I am seeing real progress in my knee bending (although still have a long way to go) and the pain has improved.  I am walking without my cane and even went to the gym pool yesterday to walk and do strengthening exercises.  I think I may actually survive this surgery!

I have even completed a project I have been thinking about for a while and that is creating a chalkboard for my kitchen! I love the idea of a changeable venue for menus, messages or inspirational quotes front and center in the room we live in the most.   Although I love reading, I have known for a long time that I am a visual person which is probably why I have always been interested in  typography (the art of making language visible).  I even have a “ChalkBoard Art” board on pinterest.  Look at some of these fun creations:

Children will be given

Source

Birthday Board

Source

Trust God

Source

The chalk board I made for my kitchen is even more special because it is a frame my dad made for me many years ago.  I painted it white and used chalkboard paint on the hardboard backing.  Easy!  I have another chalkboard I made hanging in my office that currently lists my goal categories for the year.  It is a great way to keep those items close 0n a daily basis.

Chalkboard-Goals

We have had several other fun activities going on here in the last week and I will be sharing those soon!

Lamp Quest

For the past month or so I have been looking for a pair of new turquoise lamps for my basement remodel project.  I have searched at Home Goods, Kirklands, Macys, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and several other on-line sources.  I have found many that are perfect with regard to size, color and style, but not so perfect when it comes to price.

expensive lamp2

Expensive lamp

I was ready to start looking for white (boring) lamps until this past weekend.  The Mr. and I were hobbling around Target, actually it was just me hobbling, when we spotted this lone lamp sitting on the shelf.

lone lamp

The color and size were perfect and the price was GREAT!  The problem was there was only one.  I jotted down the product number thinking I would be able to come home, hop on the computer and order two of them on-line.  No such luck…..they were not for sale on the Target web site.  I thought about the lamp for a couple of days and then decided to run (hobble) back to Target and hope the lone lamp was there.  YEAH!   It was there and I quickly purchased it and brought it home.  After work today, the MR and I jumped in the car armed with a list of 5 other Target stores.  I was on a mission to come home with another matching lamp.  At the first Target we stopped at, we found  another lone lamp on the shelve.  But one lone lamp was all I needed…….now I have two!!  I love it when my plan actually works!

The race is on to get the basement project complete before surgery……only three weeks left.  The things left on the to-do list include:

  • Install floating shelves on the wall
  • Paint two end tables
  • Make the window valance
  • Make a few throw pillows
  • Hang artwork on the walls
  • Hang pendant lights over the bar

There are a few other things we would like to do, like build a wine rack into the bar cabinet (which will require my brother-in-law’s services) and install a new light fixture (which requires new in the wall wiring) but I am pretty sure those will not happen in the next three weeks so I am not even putting them on the list.  I can be practical if I have to be!

Between hosting an Easter brunch, work, a trip to Omaha, and pre-op visits to the doctor and the hospital I will be hard pressed to get all these items done in 18 days but I am going to give it a try!  Hope you all have a great Easter!

A sneak peek

I am having such a great day today working on one of the many projects for our basement makeover.  It involves this lonely corner in the basement,

Before-reading-nookA newspaper pattern and 2″ foam.

newspaper-pattern

A little measuring and some cutting.

bench-seat-cutting-line

Sewing, sewing and more sewing.

Sewing-cording-1

And this gorgeous material I bought last weekend.

material-1

Can you guess what project I am working on?

Basement Makeover – Step 2

We are making progress!!!  I last left you with this:

After-EC

We (by that I mean the Mr, aka DA) added an additional electrical box and moved the boxes lower down the wall. Additionally, we (by that I mean DA and friend Paul) repaired the drywall where the entertainment cabinet was and put a primer on the new drywall.

Drywall-repair

Then we (by that I mean DA and myself) got up close and personal with all the trim in the basement by doing the “cutting in” work.  No masking tape for us, just an angled brush, paint bucket and a wet cloth for tidying up the trim when our hands were not so steady.

Painting-1

Painting-2

It took us about 10 hours of work each over the course of a week but by Saturday afternoon we had completed all the painting.  YEAH!!

Our next task is to order the carpet which I have been trying to do for a week.  Do you know how many shades of taupe carpeting there are in this world?  I am now on my second round of samples trying to pick one I like.  The room has been measured so they are just waiting on me to make my final selection.

Step 3 of the makeover involves the use of my sewing machine but I will save those details for a later time.