Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge: March Motif

‘Tis but a part we see, and not a whole. –Alexander Pope

I'm not sure where March went. I printed out Ann's tutorial on the 1st and thinking about her variations on loops and swirls all month long. And now, here it is a few hours before the month's end. I did not practice any of the motifs because most of them I've done before. And I only scribbled a few sketches out before committing thread to the fabric of my sampler quilt.

I probably should have at least warmed up a little before I started on my sampler quilt to get in the right frame of mind. I did the flowers and loops first and don't love how they turned out. But I do absolutely love the stars and loops. This one I'd never tried before. This motif is deceptively simple looking. I'd made several attempts at doodling it out on paper, but would always get frustrated and give up because I could never remember which way to go when making the stars so I didn't box myself in. This time, I doodled more than I previously had, and drilled it into my brain every time I went to make a star that I needed to start the star in the opposite direction that I really wanted to do. I love how they came out.

I had a hard time deciding which design to pick for my sampler quilt, so I decided to do them all. I made a mistake when I bought my fabric and was short just a tiny bit. I had to piece two of the 8” blocks. It thought it would be fun to quilt a little bit of each design in to the divisions made by the extra seams.

And not to be bested by a feather, even an echo feather, I ripped out my one from last month and did it again. It's still not perfect, but I like it better.

I'm off to doodle the variations on loops and swirls in my notebook before it turns midnight, so I can officially say I finished March's challenge in March.

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Must Ask . . . Innie or Outie?

If you're born again, do you have two belly buttons? –Unknown

There were lots of people with vision correction last week and it seems that the method of choice is glasses. Glasses are quick and easy and they get the job done. You put them on, and bam! You can see. Glasses can be a fun accessory or even a reflection of your personality. Every time I take the Little Bugs to get their eyes checked I try on about fifty different frames looking for just the right ones for my next pair of back-up glasses. I haven't found them yet. I've had had my back-up glasses for close to six years now. When I put them on, I remind me a little bit of my grandma on my dad's side. The trouble with glasses comes when you can't find where you put them, or if they get scratched or bent or broken. Contacts are more high maintenance, but three of us brave them every day. I can see so much better with them. One person was brave enough to have lasik surgery. And to the three people who won the draw in the genetics lottery, count yourselves lucky!

Today's topic is a silly one; belly buttons. Innies seem to be the most common, so I asked Mr. Google what causes an outie, because he knows everything. Well, he knows everything except for what causes an outie belly button. There were only suppositions {umbilical hernia and extra skin in the healing process} and not really any solid answers. But I learned a whole lot about belly buttons that I didn't know before. Like there are 1,400 strains of bacteria in a human belly button. Makes you want to find the Clorox wipes, doesn't it?

Something that I'd never stopped to consider is that a belly button is actually a scar. It is a socially acceptable scar, but a scar nonetheless. It is a scar that people like to adorn and show off. But before bare midriffs, low rise jean and belly button piercings and tattoos, belly buttons were once censored. Joan Collins had to wear a jewel in her belly button in the 1950's film Land of the Pharoahs. And Barbara Eden's Jeannie costume had to cover her button completely. Cher was the first to show her belly button on TV during the 70's and she got in trouble for it. In 1989, Ariel from The Little Mermaid was the first Disney character, animated or otherwise to show a belly button.

I thought it was interesting what Ann Landers had to say on the subject, “I do not believe any female of good taste would wear an outfit where her navel shows. This does not include women in costumes or those on beaches in bikinis. The same goes for males. An adult male who wears hip-huggers so low rates zero minus 10 on the scale of taste — it's my opinion but it's one I feel strongly about.” Times and trends have changed. On most days you see at least one belly button that is not your own. Regardless, you'll never my belly button.

It's an innie, in case you were wondering.

And now, I must ask . . . is your belly button an innie or an outie?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Poultry In Motion: Chicken Cherry Checkers

Anytime I need to see your face I just close my eyes
And I am taken to a place
Where your crystal minds and magenta feelings
Take up shelter in the base of my spine
Sweet like a chica cherry cola
I don't need to try to explain
I just hold on tight and If it happens again
I may move so slightly to the arms
And the lips and the face
Of The Human Cannonball that
I need to I want to
–Savage Garden, I Want You

Those could quite possibly be the strangest song lyrics ever.

I was just going to call this table runner Poultry In Motion: Welcome {the fabric line is called Poultry in Motion, which I thought was very clever}. But that is just boring. I tried to come up with something a little catchier, but it just got weird. I went from Chickens & Cherries to Chickens, Cherries & Checks. That reminded me of the phrase in the Savage Garden song, "chica cherry cola," {which sounds deceptively close to "chicken cherry cola," which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.} Anyway, there you have it. That's how I arrived at Poultry In Motion: Chicken Cherry Checkers. And why I have an earworm.

That is quite possibly the goofiest table runner name ever. But it was a fun to make. And now you all have an earworm too.

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2012 Finishes Little Quilt Monday

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Sermons: Waiting on Our Road to Damascus

Those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed.
–Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sew: A Needle Pulling Thread

“Doing your own thing” is a generous act. Being gifted creates obligations, which means you owe the world your best effort at the work you love. You too are a natural resource. –Barbara Sher

I've you're visiting from a linky party, welcome! This is sort of a hodgepodge of things I've been up to this week. Please scroll down to the hot pads, which are my finish for this week.

20 Stitches Per Inch
I usually sit with LadyBug when she does her homework. On the days when she just wants me there for moral support and doesn't need a ton of help, I work on an embroidery project of some sort. This year, she's had to do a book report each month. The genre is assigned, but she can choose her own book within that genre. Recently, she had to read a historical fiction book and we chose the first book in the American Girl series, Meet Felicity. Felicity is a bit of a tomboy and hates to sit indoors and practice her writing or sewing. Her mother scolds her about some sewing she was doing because she had to take it out. Felicity had not done 20 stitches per inch.

A few days ago at homework time as I was pulling out some embroidery floss and a needle, LadyBug asked me if I could do 20 stitches in an inch. I replied that I didn't know, but would give it a try. The bottom row is my first attempt. Not to be beaten by a needle and thread, I tried again. And again. And again. I was stuck on 15 stitches per inch for a while, until I realized that it wasn't so much stitching as it was weaving. Getting stitches that small is a matter of catching a few threads of the fabric in your needle. I finally made it to 20 stitches, but perfection it is not :lol:. As I worked to get just a few threads of the fabric in each stitch, I realized that I was only working with one layer of fabric. I couldn't imagine taking such small stitches through two layers of fabric to make a seam. Still, it was a fun experiment and made me glad that I only sew by hand for fun.

Police Chief Swan: Revisited
One of the things I worked on this week was adding a few finishing touches to a block for my Twilight quilt. The block itself has been pieced for quite a while {read about it here}, but I wasn't quite sure about what to include in the embroidered details. Eventually, I decided on a composite of the two official badges from Forks.

I marked the blocks quite a while ago, chose a pretty gold floss and started to embroider. About 4 stitches in, I realized that my thread did not stand out enough. I put it away. I got it back out this week, determined to get the embroidery done. I pulled out the stitches and tried a different color combination, which also did not work. I pulled out the stitches again and tried five more color combinations, all of the unsuccessful. 452 colors of DMC floss {all of which I have} and none of them worked :rolleyes:. While the thread colors I was choosing were bright, they were the same tone as the silver Fairy Frost and once I started stitching, they blended in.

After trying so many color combinations {one of them twice} and then picking the stitches back out, LadyBug finally asked why I didn't just go with a different color. I explained that I wanted it to be gold, but realized that if I hadn't already found the perfect color, I wasn't going to. Resigned to using a blue that would match the fabric in the word “Police”, I put it back away and moved on to winding the last few skeins of floss onto bobbins. And there it was. A deep gold thread, which I thought might work. I added two strands of gold blending filament to give it a bit of shimmer, and voilá. I think the embroidery is just the right finish to this block.

Poultry in Motion: Hot Pads
For Christmas last year, I made a table runner with roosters for a family gift exchange. It was one of those exchanges where you steal gifts from each other in an effort to go home with the best gift. There was a bit of a kerfuffle over the rooster table runner, which is the point of these kinds of gift exchanges. There were four rooster panels and I only used three in the runner, so I decided to make a hot pad for the person who did not get the runner. She has chickens and roosters in her kitchen and I thought it might be fun.

The hot pad turned out rather larger than I expected, so I made a panel to go across the back so that you could slide your hand in and use it more like an oven mitt. At first I was going to just do two layers of fabric for the back pocket, with a small panel from a different print in the fabric line, but then I decided to quilt it. I had the whole thing assembled and the binding part-way on when I came to the conclusion that the pocket the back was not working; it was simply too big to work as an oven mitt. I pulled it apart and designated the large rooster hot pad to be a table topper or trivet of sorts. I used the already quilted pocket piece to make another hot pad. It was awkwardly shaped and didn't really work to trim to a square, so a rectangle it was. I used Insul-Brite, which is a little bit thicker and a little bit stiffer than Warm 'n Natural. I really like how much dimension it gives the quilting.
Brought to you by:

My 2012 Finishes Little Quilt Monday

Giveaway Goodies
Last month, I hosted the Leap Day Giveaway Blog Hop. It was a huge success and so much fun. I was amazing to see what everyone was giving away. I offered a retro inspired apron and Nancy was the winner. She was very sweet to send me a photo of her in her apron! Thank you, Nancy!

I won a little something, too, from Richard and his wife Tanya. Their son, Jared, did me a solid and pulled my name out of the hat. I was able to pick from eight different prizes they were offering. Richard made the hot pads and the granny squares {which I will probably turn into hot pads}. I was also happy to take a gently used rotary cutter off his hands. My rotary cutter is 20 years old and I still love it, but I thought it would be fun to have an extra on-hand. Thank you, Richard and Tanya!

This week I got a really fun package in the mail. Clear back in October, Lori Holt announced a giveaway of her fabric line, Daisy Cottage, as well as some of her new patterns. I was one of the winners and she gave me my choice of any three of the new patterns designed for Daisy Cottage. I picked Home Sweet Home, Ring Around the Rosy and Daisychain. Lori told me that she'd send the patterns as soon as the covers came back from the printer, in about 10 days. The package never arrived and I got busy with holiday sewing. I would think of it off and on and finally while cleaning out my inbox a few weeks ago, I timidly e-mailed Lori to ask if she'd ever sent the patterns. She had, but they were lost in the mail :Unhappy:, so she sent me a new set of patterns and some fat quarters of Daisy Cottage :clap:. I am so thrilled. And now I'm kind of wishing I'd have picked the diamond ruler that Richard and Tanya offered as one of their giveaway choices so I could start working on the Daisychain quilt :lol:.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Must Ask . . . How's Your Vision?

Sol had lived a long life, which was drawing to its end. As his family surrounded him on his deathbed, he asked to see his optometrist.

“Optometrist?” they asked. "Why in the world do you want to see your optometrist?”

“Just get him for me.”

So they go get Dr. Kaplan, who, on seeing Sol about to depart this life, asked, “Sol, it pains me to see you like this. What can I possibly do for you?”

Sol opened his eyes slightly and said, “Doc, before I go, there's one thing I have to know. Which one was clearer — A or B?”

Recap from two weeks ago: we talked about favorite chores. I'd originally intended to make it a two-part and do least favorite chores first and then do favorite chores the following week. But as I was writing that post, I didn't want to be negative. There's enough complaining in the world and when you look for the negative, that's what you find. Besides, looking at the poll, you can guess which chores are least liked :wink:. I thought it was fun that so many people picked cooking as their favorite and interesting that laundry was second. As usual, there were some categories I forgot. We'll give an honorable mention to car maintenance {changing the oil, washing, vacuuming, etc.}, shampooing carpets, a “day job,” paper work and chores at someone else's house.

I've missed you all. You always have such great answers to my questions. It's fun to be back this week. Now, on to today's question.

All week long, I've been meaning to order new contacts. During the day, I think of it before they open. Then remember again while I'm at work and probably shouldn't call and then I forget until 5 minutes after they closed for the night. I'm going to have to put sticky notes up all over the place to make sure I get it done tomorrow, because I've been wearing the same pair for . . . I'm not sure how long. Maybe three months?

I've started wearing glasses in the 8th grade. At first it was cool. But when the novelty wore off, I quit wearing them. When I turned 16, I decided that I really did need vision correction. And I decided I wanted contact lenses. I have a really bad astigmatism and at the time, gas permeable contacts were the only kind that could correct my vision. But my lenses always clouded over and they were so uncomfortable to wear. I'd soak them in protein remover twice as often as suggested and was always taking them in to have the edges polished. I tried everything I could think of to make wearing them comfortable, but I stuck with them for less than a year and went back to glasses. Almost six years ago, I decided to try contacts again. In the intervening years, somebody came up with this fabulous invention—toric lenses. They are thicker and larger {in diameter} than regular soft lenses, but they are soft and easy to wear. They are weighted so that they stay in the same place all the time and I can see so much better with them than with glasses. My eye doctor, who is amazing, could never get me to 20/20 with glasses. I'm pretty close with contacts. But, as much as I love them, it still kills me every. single. day to put them in :lol:.

Mr. Bug started wearing glasses when he was in the 8th grade as well. He's been wearing contacts for the better part of 30 years. Without correction, his vision ranks on the scale at right around “blind as a bat.” Both his parents and seven out of eight of his siblings all wear vision correction of some sort. Both my parents and two of my five siblings wear glasses. With those kinds of numbers, the Little Bugs were doomed. It was only a matter of time. LadyBug was the first to get glasses. She's actually farsighted, while the rest of us are nearsighted. She had a little bit of amblyopia going on, which the pediatrician caught at her exam the spring before she started Kindergarten. Luckily, they caught it early and it is corrected now. She just needs the glasses for the farsightedness. Grasshopper got his glasses just two years ago. We make a matching set now.

{LadyBug just after she started wearing glasses. One of my favorite pictures. Ever. Also, I can't believe she was ever that little!}

Now you know all about my family's vision, I must ask . . . how's your vision? This one is a little bit tricky to poll because there are so many possible combinations. Vote for the one that fits you most closely and then leave a comment. I'll meet you back here next week to discuss.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wardrobe Wednesday: Symmetry vs. Beauty in the Whole

The Power of Kindness: Choose to compliment the girls and women in your life for character traits, actions or talents you admire about them. The compliments that stick with you for a lifetime are often those that acknowledge your valuable qualities, like a good attitude, selflessness, talents, honesty and so much more than beautiful hair or a cute outfit. –Beauty REDEFINED, Sex Appeal and Thin Ideals, February 6, 2012

Many years ago, I read an article that stated that the people we consider to be the most beautiful have the most symmetrical faces; their eyes, eyebrows, ears and cheekbones are close to the same height and their features are close to mirror images of each other. They named a few celebrities, Denzel Washington among them, who were symmetrical. I'm not sure where I read the article, but I'm thinking Reader's Digest. Since that time, I've wondered how symmetrical I am and if perhaps I would be beautiful if I were more symmetrical. I used a photo of myself that I've always liked and did a little digital photo editing {technology is awesome!}. Here is the result.

This image makes laugh a little. The face on the left is my right side mirror imaged. I kind of look like a cartoon character. Obviously, that is my more angular side, and while there is a resemblance there, it is very slight. The face on the right is my left side, which is a bit softer, a bit rounder and perhaps a pretty face. It looks more like me, but I don't find that the resemblance is particularly great there either. What I find interesting is that I prefer the woman in the middle. In this case, the sum of the parts is not greater than the whole. The two sides of my face compliment each other.

To be fair, I did Denzel Washington too. The real Denzel is in the middle, his right side is on the left and his left side is on the right. I know, it's confusing.

Although she wasn't mentioned specifically in the article {that I can remember} I did Angelina Jolie as well. Again, the real Angelina is in the middle, her right side is on the left and her left side is on the right.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions about my mirror image experiment.

The media bombard us with the idea that appearance is the single defining characteristic of beauty. They are trying to make square pegs fit in to round holes. And rectangular pegs fit into round holes. And triangular pegs fit into round holes. They're even trying to make oval pegs fit into round holes. Why not let each peg, or person be her own kind of beautiful? Why not let each person's uniqueness characteristics define her beauty?

If appearance isn't everything, then why post about what's on my outside? Where does my What-Not-To-Wear-on-a-shoestring-budget experiment fit into all of this? Looking good on the outside goes a long way to making you feel good about yourself on the inside. Part of what Stacy and Clinton, the hosts of What Not to Wear encourage the contributors to do is to express who they are in the way they dress. If you're a beautiful person on the inside, why not show it on the outside? It is about finding the right balance.

Silver ¾-Sleeve Top
I'm not sure who the maker is because I cut the tag out. It was bugging me. But it came from Shopko.
Retail: $39.99
Out-the-door: $11.99

Levi's 512 Dark Wash Bootcut Jeans, Macy's
Retail: $54.00
Out-the-door: $36.32

Royal Blue Suede Platform Heels, Payless Shoes
Retail: $27.99
Out-the-door: $17.99

Red ¾-Sleeve Cardigan
I love this red sweater. I wear it a lot. I could use more ¾-sleeve cardigans in my life. I got this one second-hand for free. It started out as a mock twin-set and I re-purposed it because I liked the shape of the shell. The front panel, had a really high neck, so I cut it away, took off the buttons, dyed it from a sort of coral pink {because I already had a cardigan that color} to red, added some pretty pearl buttons with silver trim and voilá. A cardigan to dress up any outfit. Total cost in dye and buttons: $8.00.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Sermons: Receiving Revelation

If you want to talk to the Lord, get down on your knees. If you want the Lord to talk to you, open your scriptures. –Gerald N. Lund

If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.D&C 42:61

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday Night Sew-In Report

Q. What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four-leaf clover?
A. A rash of good luck.

I had a really nice Friday Night Sew-In. I got the rest of this cute little wall-hanging that my mom made quilted. It was a Block of the Month at the quilt shop near her. She and her friend signed up together. It was $5 for the first kit. If they finished their blocks and took them back the next month, then they'd get the next block for free, and so on. But just after they signed up, her friend's husband found out he had terminal cancer. So my mom did both blocks each month and finished this one for her friend. She's going to surprise her with it for her birthday next month.

You can get a better look at some of the details below. I think the stripey front door is my favorite. I set a little button doorknob on it to see how it would look. I had fun adding details to the building. I put shingles in the roof, quilted along the lines in the brick fabric, and did pebbling in the sidewalk. I quilted the window above the door to make it look like stained-glass and added some details to the “quilt in the front window.”

Here are the other blocks. I fiddled with the contrast on the photo of the sewing machine so you could see the quilting. It is nothing really exciting. I wasn't really inspired with a great idea of how to quilt it, so I did a bit of “chicken scratch,” which is a term I borrowed from the automotive world. Chicken scratch is a bit of free-hand embellishment along the pin-striping of a car, or sometimes near the door handles or other trim. I did a tight meander in the background and like the little fan I quilted in the hand-wheel. I had more fun with the little tomato pin-cushion. The loops in the background set it off nicely and I had fun sewing in details to make it look like the real thing. The rotary cutter was fun to do as well. I tried a bit of McTavishing in the background, added a bit of detail in the handle, and did a swirl in the black center of the cutter.

Today's post brought to you by:

Handmade by Heidi

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Checking In

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
–William Shakespeare

I have a loosely set schedule for what I blog. It helps keep me organized. And it is very useful on those days when I don't have something quilty to post about. Sometimes though, I almost feel tied to my schedule. Certain posts are kind of time consuming to put together. I'm so particular about what I put out there that just a regular, everyday kind of post takes a minimum of 30 minutes. If there is photo editing involved, you can add at least another 30 minutes to that. There are so many things competing for my time; work, kids, homework with the kids, cooking, laundry, gardening, dishes, blogging, quilting. This sort of sounds like an apology for not doing my regularly scheduled Wednesday and Thursday posts this week. I'm probably the only one who noticed. I love doing my scheduled posts and plan to continue. But other things are vying for my time and I'm trying to find a balance, so I may mix it up once in a while and post something different or not at all on days when I have a regularly scheduled feature.

This week, I've been enjoying the lovely weather and spending a bit of time in my gardens. I ♥ digging in the dirt. All kinds of green things are peeking up and pretty soon the bulbs will be in bloom. Actually, I already have a few things blooming in the sunniest parts of my yard. I've also been helping the Little Bugs with LOTS of homework and I've been doing some quilting.

This is a wall hanging my mom made for a friend. It was a Block-of-the-Month at the quilt shop near her. She and her friend signed up together. It was $5 for the first kit. If they finished their blocks and took them back the next month, then they'd get the next block for free, and so on. But just after they signed up, her friend's husband found out he had cancer. So my mom did both blocks each month and finished this one for her friend. She's going to surprise her with it for her birthday next month. This is such a cute wall hanging. I love the stripey front door. It probably needs a little button doorknob to finish the look. The quilt hanging in the front window is really fun too. I wasn't sure if that was another quilt above the door, or a window. I decided it was a stained-glass window and quilted it to look like that. I loved doing the shingles on the roof. I just did stitch-in-the-ditch for bolts of fabric upstairs {don't look too closely}. I'm going to quilt some clouds in the sky, but I'm not sure how, yet. I don't know if they are going to be puffy clouds, or if I'm just going to quilt lines to create texture.

Besides the quilt shop, there is a tomato pin cushion, a sewing machine and a rotary cutter. I've quilted the filler around the sewing maching {just a stipple}, but I'm not sure what to quilt in the machine itself yet. I've got the tomato pin cushion figured out, but not the filler around it. I'm really happy with how the rotary cutter turned out. I did an approximation of McTavishing around it, and you can't see it, but I did a swirl in the black part of the rotary cutter. As I was editing photos, I realized that I hadn't finished the details in the handle, so this needs a little more work.

The fun thing about quilting something like this is that it is small, and you can work on it in little snippets of time and still feel like you're making progress. I only had about 30 minutes yesterday, so I did the pebbling in the sidewalk in front of the quilt shop. I'd like to get this finished up in the next day or two, so my mom can have plenty of time to get it bound and to her friend by her birthday. I'm going to work on it during Friday Night Sew-In tomorrow.
Handmade by Heidi

Monday, March 12, 2012

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol. 25

If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size? –Sydney J. Harris

Apron № 110: Retro Pears

For my Leap Day Giveaway, I offered an apron, made-to-order in the winner's choice of size. Nancy was the winner and this is her apron. Nancy, watch your mail box :wink:.

Here's a close-up of the pocket, because it is just so darn cute.

Dad Was Here
Saturday morning, my parents came down to bring LadyBug her birthday presents and take us to breakfast. My dad hijacked my camera.

Showing off his super clean, super shiny Chevrolet Impala Super Sport.

An interesting shot of the mountains out our front door.

Bushel and A Peck
Last month, my mom made a costume for the Jr. High School play for her neighbor. It was a really last-minute deal and she put the costume together in just a couple of days. She took a quick photo of the costume with her phone, texted it to me, and dropped the costume off on her way to work so her neighbor could have it for dress rehearsals. At the time she, didn't even know what play it was :lol:.

I posted the costume for her because she doesn't blog so she could link up to the February Finishes linky party. Since then, we have a few more details. The play was Guys and Dolls {one of my all-time favorite musicals}, which my parents went to see. My mom's neighbor was one of Miss Adelaide's Hot Box Dancers and here she is in her costume.

On a slightly related note, when I was in High School, the play my senior year was Guys and Dolls. Our sewing class was assigned to make the costumes for Miss Adelaide's Hot Box Dancers.