Whoa

Wow. Where to begin?

Seven months goes by SO QUICKLY! I never meant to fall off the face of the earth, but here we are.

Our third little boy was born January 10, weighing in at 8lbs even. We named him Benedict Michael (hereafter on this blog as “Beanie”, thanks to his older brothers). He’s a sweetie.

The birth went really well and there were no complications and he fits into our family perfectly.

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His brothers are growing up, too. Yuri turned 3 a little over a month ago and is delightful and trouble and mischievous and clever and very hard to stay on top of. He colors on walls without abandon and without regard to consequence, cuts his hair with no second thought, punches his older brother on a daily basis, and really enjoys helping out in the kitchen. He has also recently learned how to play minecraft, so he and Kostya do that nearly every day, until Yuri starts breaking everything Kostya has made. I think this photo pretty much sums it up.

Kostya turned 6 in February, and he is a delight as well. He is progressing through his phonics, and he is a fantastic big brother and a great help around the house. He is usually at the receiving end of a punch from Yuri, but he almost always kind of deserves it, if that makes sense.

I cannot believe how old they are getting! I have three sons! It is the best ever.

After Christmas I decided to shut down my etsy shop, probably for good. Kostya was going to be doing proper homeschooling, I would have three little ones to look after, and with the etsy shop, all of my free time was spent working on it instead of doing any fun sewing. The money was nice, but after four years, it was time to say goodbye. I don’t miss it at all.

In the meantime I have made real progress on my WIP list from the past few years, and, of course, started many new ones and have about a million other things I want to make.

I finished this in the spring as a gift for a friend of ours whose daughter was born about a month after Beanie. I really enjoy using the Quick Curve Ruler and the patterns that go along with it, and this Bonnie and Camille fabric was darling.

After

After I gifted the quilt, however, Baby’s Mother told me they actually fell in love with the back side of the quilt. Mom had always referred to her daughter as her “Little Mermaid” in utero, and so I found a mermaid panel printed by Hawthorne Threads, and so this is the side they display in the nursery. (This shows off the quilting I did a little bit)

I also finally finished the pink and brown BOTM I started years ago (in my gallery is it’s twin, Jun) and gifted it to one of Kostya’s friends.

I also finished a Halloween wall hanging using Cotton + Steel’s Spellbound line. It’s actually quilted and ready to hang, but I don’t seem to have a picture of it all finished. I’m not sure why I made a wall hanging, and a Halloween one at that. I don’t typically decorate for holidays or anything, and I’m not particularly attached to Halloween. Maybe I just really liked the fabric.

Another big finish (well, almost), is this quilt top I started last spring, but then fell pregnant and felt absolutely horrible and set it aside until this year. The pattern is Alsion Glass’s “Timber” and I chose to use dark neutrals paired with Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer and Shimmer 2 lines because I felt that, altogether, it would feel “masculine” and even a little bit “dwarfy”. This quilt will be my husband’s when I’m finished and it’s the first quilt I’ve ever used wool batting in. I’ll report back on how we like the wool. In Texas.

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Of course there are a million other things going on. I’m homeschooling a bit and I need to update the homeschooling blog. I’ve been reading and cross stitching some. My brother got married. Our garden did well this spring. Life is busy and I am a terrible updater. Also I hate computer, the internet, and most social media, so there you go.

It’s done.

After what, two years, it’s finally done – the green, yellow and gray block of the month sampler quilt I started with a group on livejournal in 2012. I’m not going to link all the posts I talked about it on here, but you can check the tag at the bottom if you are interested in the very slow progress I made on it.

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I’m really happy with this quilt. I enjoyed doing the different blocks, and learned a great deal. I think the fabrics are fresh and summery, and I think the quilt managed to stay away from being super feminine, which was one of my original goals. The quilting I chose may make it less masculine than I intended (this was supposed to be the “boy” and the brown and pink one the “girl” of the two), but  I don’t regret any of the decisions I made.

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What I’ve learned, or how this quilt has made me a better quilter –

I need to take so much more care piecing and cutting. I had lots of oopsies that I didn’t correct both in cutting and in piecing. I am not a perfectionist by any stretch, and I’m pretty lazy, so when a mistake happens, unless it’s just terrible, I don’t go back and correct it. As a result, I’ve got a lot of chopped off corners in the blocks. I know myself pretty well, and I know that experience is really the only way I would learn this lesson (and most others). I just have to learn the hard way why some people are more fastidious with their construction techniques.

holy wonky piecing and chopped off points, batman!

holy wonky piecing and chopped off points, batman!

Anyway, so for next time the lesson is definitely follow the saying “measure twice and cut once”, and work on my 1/4″ seams.

The same could be said for my basting. I now know why pin basting on a floor isn’t a great idea, at least for me. I just could not get the fabric taut enough, and so I have some areas on the quilt where I’ve got puckering. It’s not super awful, but enough so that I do wonder if I should bother putting this up for sale. I wouldn’t want someone to spend decent money on this and see those puckers and be upset. I  know we can be our own worst judge, but I am not happy about the puckers. I don’t have a great space in my house to baste quilts, especially anything larger than lap size, but my MIL just bought a house and now has a 17’x19′ sewing studio, so I can take my quilts there to baste.

soooo many puckers

soooo many puckers

In making this quilt, I found several traditional blocks I think I love, and a few I definitely do not.  The card trick and churn dash ended up being my favorites, and I’m considering doing a quilt in the future of just one of those.

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What I’m really pleased with is the quilting. Perfect it is not, but I’m a fan of “good enough”, especially for a serious first try. I had some hiccups – I had to buy a new table so my machine could sit flush with the sewing surface because I had gravity issues, but once I did that, quilting was much easier and very enjoyable.

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I’ve taken two classes on craftsy by Cindy Needham, and she has a wealth of great quilting information on a domestic machine. I stuck with simple techniques – an easy stencil in the center of each block, a small stencil in each cornerstone, and repetitive lines everywhere else. I think the repetitive lines create enough shadow and contrast to be quite striking. My favorite are the stencils I used in the corner of each border.

I loved using this stencil.

I loved using this stencil.

Some stats:

Name: “Jun”. I started it in June. I finished it in June. It’s named after a special little boy I met (through the wonders of the internet), who died in surgery on his heart. He was just 8 or nine months old.

(P.S., if you get a chance, please check out the organization that took care of him during his time here, Little Flower Projects. They are AMAZING, and I truly love those children)
Size: 54″ x 54″
Design: Blocks sourced from Quilter’s Cache
Quilting: Bottom Line thread, 60wt, by Superior Threads, light yellow.
Favorite part: The quilting. I rocked it (for a first attempt, at least). Also, having some sort of inspiration helped me finish this, because before I decided to dedicate (at least, internally, prayerfully) these quilts to the babies in Little Flowers and Love Without Boundaries, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore, and I didn’t know if I would finish. But after the loss of some particular precious children, I used this as a way to constructively work through some feelings. If this quilt sells, part of the proceeds will go to one of those organizations.

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Head here for this week’s TGIFF!

Short update, but I finished something yay!

I finally got the two block of the months pieced.  They are now ready to be basted and quilted (and I’d like you to know I got 8 yards of backing fabric and two queen sized batting for under $40. GO ME! Without  my coupons and whatnot I would have paid over $150!)

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Yes, I know I’ve posted this second one before, but I wanted to again to show both together.1185492_605579196169284_547973312_nSo, now to get these quilted! That’ll only take me another year or so!

 

It’s been forever

Apparently momming two little boys is time consuming. Who would have thought? Kostya is taking a break from phonics because we hit a little wall, and I wanted to back off before it became a struggle. Yuri is four  months old now and huge and adorable (17 lbs and 27″ tall at the last appointment!).

 

Here’s the fam at a nursery recently. It’s so hard to get a family picture now that isn’t blurry or has everyone’s eyes open or someone isn’t doing something goofy. 10303995236_3b50493852_z

In crafting news, things are as slow as always. I did get one of the block of the month tops done, though.

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The other is about 85% pieced. I just need to finish the sashing and borders. My points aren’t perfect on either, but I’m  pretty pleased. After the brown and pink one is finished, I’ll need to switch my brain into quilting gear, because I’ve got what I imagine will amount to at least a year’s worth of quilting work before I get back to piecing again.

Finished!

I really tried to get a post in during July, but with baby it just wasn’t going to happen. Speaking of baby, he’s seven weeks and adorable and fat (14 lbs at his six week check up, and I only nurse!). He smiles and coos, and it generally a content little guy. He even sleeps 6-8 hours most nights ( a double edged sword there, as I’m pretty sure I can expect to experience a significantly shorter period of infertility than I did with Kostya – I didn’t return to fertility until 18 months postpartum with him, but he didn’t sleep through the night without nursing until well into 2 years).

Here’s a picture for fun – 007

And big brother with our tea set –

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On to quilting!

As I wrote in my title, I finished something. Mostly. I completed all nine blocks in the block of the month I’ve been working on in both versions. These two are the churn dash block, obviously.014 013

 

And here is an Ohio Star variation – 015 012

 

And all of them together!  010

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It took me a little while to decide how I wanted to sash these and pick a border fabric, but I have and hope to have that in progress soon.

I reopened my etsy shop and it’s hopping along quite well. For  my sanity, I am making a rule for myself that I MUST take at least Sunday off from the shop to relax and do fun sewing. I found that if I didn’t require this of myself, I’d work seven days a week and it would be months before work would slow down enough to quilt. My husband holds me accountable for this, and I don’t even check the etsy website on Sunday, but it has been so nice to start on that small stack of UFOs I have and work with fabrics and color again.

BotM progress

I’ve done six of my blocks for this round, and have just three left to go. It might be a while before I get to those, since I haven’t picked out the fabric for them yet, much less cut or sewn anything.

This is block six, or Waterwheel010 011

Please please PLEASE forgive me on the awful quality of my photos, especially with the green and yellow blocks. I usually get around to photographing them late at night, so the lighting is awful, and I’m still playing with the settings on my camera and the photo editor I have. The picture seems to look nice on my camera when I take it, but when I upload it, it looks like crap.

Anyway, I’m kind of meh about these blocks. My fabric choices are fine, but I think the block itself is a little boring. I’ve been keeping a sketchbook of each block with instructions, and so far I have liked a few, but a few have been duds. There was one (number 8) I think, that I changed from what we chose in the group because it wasn’t technically a nine patch, so I will substitute an Ohio Star, because I’ve always liked the way those look.

Quilt Dreams

Aside

You know you’ve got a problem when you start *dreaming* about quilts, or even worse, that one of your favorite semi famous quilters has died (she hasn’t).

But seriously, that’s what happened last night. I spent the evening looking up how to join quilt as you go blocks, as the thought of quilting both versions of my botm quilts seems completely overwhelming. I got a voucher for a free class from craftsy from the quilt show in November, and decided to use it to take a class in FMQ. My block of the month pieces seem perfect for practicing new techniques in detail, as I know I’d just get lazy with a full quilt and do the simplest I could get by with.

But then I was too excited to sleep, even though I was completely exhausted. I stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning ruminating over my blocks and backing designs and which fabrics I’d use and what my next project might be before I finally fell asleep at the ungodly hour of three or so, only to them dream that my dear Leah Day (a great inspiration to me) had died! I had to check up on her website this morning to make sure she was fine.

So now I’m completely awake and mostly conscious. I hope to make the final fabric selections for my remaining blocks today and take the next portion of my class.

As promised, quilting update

I’m about three months behind on my block of the month group over at livejournal. The last one has been announced, and I still need to copy the instructions for that one and the one before into my notebook. The pieces have been cut for the one before that, but I haven’t sewn them together. While I have enjoyed the process of the block of the month,  I am rather glad this one is just a nine month round, because I’ve come up with a few new color schemes I’m dying to try out and I’m a little bored with these.

Here are the finished pieces for what I believe is month five, called Glory Boxes.

V1 IMG_0013I totally apologize for the wonkiness of the pictures. I couldn’t get a good angle without terrible shadow from my hands and camera. These were also the first two pictures I uploaded from my new camera onto a different computer and used a different photo editing program. I don’t remember what it’s called, and it’s got more options, but at first I didn’t really have the patience to figure out what I was doing, so in the first photo the color seems a tad over saturated and in the second, the pale pink comes off more orange-y than it actually is.

With these I made a lot of mistakes. #1, I didn’t cut accurately. I misread something, or got a bit lazy, and ended up cutting a lot of pieces that were supposed to be 7/8″ as 3/4″ instead. And then I only noticed about halfway through (and I cut both of these blocks at the same time, so they have the same mistakes at roughly the same places), so when I tried to remedy the problem, I ended up with inconsistently cut pieces. Then I wasn’t as careful as I should have been when I actually pieced, so some things are not straight and some corners don’t like up. For the pictures, I didn’t square up the blocks and trim them, which also lends to their overall messiness. I will try harder next time. This is what happens when you try to cut corners and don’t pay careful attention to measurements.

I made some similar mistakes with the next set of blocks, Waterwheel, but not to the same extent. Hopefully these will turn out a bit better.

 

Finally some pictures

It took about a week longer than I meant for it to, but I finally have a few pictures of some finished projects and some other works in progress to share.
First up is the cathedral windows pillow I started in June to go along with the Texas Tech pinwheel quilt I made. The fellow the quilt was for and the fellow the pillow is for are brother who are due to move into their first home sometime in the next month or so, so while I missed the birthday deadline for the pillow, it can still be a nice housewarming gift I think.

Sorry there are little bits of fibers I couldn’t completely get off for the picture. Something about having a pillow with black fabric laying around for several months means that dust and things will stick to it.

Here’s a shot of the back –

I wasn’t sure what size pillowform to buy when I purchased it ages ago, so I went with a 16″ because my SIL said to buy it bigger than the pillow to make it fluffier. The finished pillow was supposed to be about 14.5″, but  I sewed it a little small, so the back flaps don’t overlap entirely as they should. I suppose I could have just made them bigger, but oh well. Also, isn’t that fabric obnoxious? I still have about 3/4 of a yard left over and I have NO IDEA what in the world I am going to do with it. I suppose I’ll keep it and use it for more gifts for these same two guys. I could make like, potholders or something.

I also finally got around to sewing the label onto my brother’s bargello quilt (remember the nebulae bargello?) and gave it to him last week. No pictures, though. It was just the label I needed to add.

I know it can be a little confusing to use a single entry to update on a lot of different projects, but since that’s usually how I work (a little on one, a little on another, back and forth, start a new one, and so on), I guess it’s okay that that’s how I update this blog.

Moving on, here are the completed Jacob’s ladder blocks from a block of the month group I’m in (to read about previous blocks, just click the tag for botm2 at the bottom of this entry. That way I don’t have to link a ton of entries where I’ve only discussed that project a little bit). Version 1 is pink and brown –

And version 2 is green and gray –

I didn’t realize I hadn’t squared them up before I took photographs, but I did afterwards, so they look a little cleaner now. I wish I could visualize my cutting a bit better before I construct the block because I’m noticing the direction of the fabric is really bugging me. It’s something I know some people don’t give to craps about, and I didn’t think I did either until I started putting these together. I suppose the only way to get better is to practice, like with these botm’s, and working more with triangles, but it stands out to me so much. I know it’s not really that bad, having the fabric go several directions in a block means there really isn’t a true “up” or “down”, which will be nice when I put it all together (and I know that once it is all together, the mismatched directions won’t stand out so much), but for now, it still gets under my skin a bit. I’ve noticed more now that as I choose fabrics for these blocks, I am shying more and more away from things like plaids or stripes anything that feels too much like a directional fabric for this reason, and I think that might be to my detriment. The next block, one called Glory Boxes. I’ve got those nearly pieced, so hopefully I’ll get those up shortly. I made some goofy mistakes with those particular blocks, but they still turned out alright.

In the next entry I’ll also post some pictures of my progress on my disappearing nine patch placemats, now that I finally have all the fabric I need to finish them.

OH OH! I did want to mention – In early November my mother and I are driving down to Houston to go to the International Quilt Festival! I was so excited when I learned earlier this year it was held in my own home state, not more than a four hour drive away. I’ll be sure to get lots of pictures (and I absolutely plan on spending lots of money on fabric and toys and whatever catches my eye).

a lot of nothing, mostly

In the past few days I’ve been sewing a good deal again. Not just a bit here and there for my shops, but actual recreational sewing. I’ve set up my laptop just behind my sewing machine so I can watch episodes of Midsomer Murders and Sherlock Holmes while I sew, and when I want to play World of Warcraft. I can just pull the laptop down onto my sewing cabinet, connect my mouse (and mic, if need be), and go on with it. That way I can do a bit of sewing on long flight paths if I want, since I just finished the book I was reading during that time.

Speaking of books, the book I just read as book #4 of the Outlander series, called Drums of Autumn, (I think, I bought it on my nook and so the only time I saw the title was when I purchased it). I enjoyed it a bit, although not as much as the previous book (oh, reunion of the lovers!!) and there were a few passages I took issue with, but on the whole my favorite character is still a good person, even if he’s got a wife and daughter who pull that “but you just don’t understand what it’s like being a woman!!” nonsense. I hate it when the “strong, independent” female character gets turned into “selfish and childish man hater”, because it’s not impossible to think a woman can both be strong and independently minded and still choose to follow her husband and treat him with respect. I could go on and on about this particular issue, but to be brief – raising your station as a woman in society and in the eyes of male members of your acquaintance does not mean push said men and men overall down and treat them badly.

Moving on! I do plan to read books 5-8 (8 is scheduled to come out sometime next year) but at the moment I will take a break, although I do feel a little heartbroken. Perhaps I shall restart the series, now that I know that some things end happily and I don’t need to cry.

Back to sewing and crafts – I finally finished the cathedral window pillow case and will have a picture up in a few days. I’ve also finished two each of the last two month’s block of the month and will also post photographs of that as well.

I don’t plan on doing any sewing for Christmas gifts. Promising or planning something like that almost guarantees I won’t finish it in time.

A few days ago I went to the State Fair of Texas and had a lovely time. I am considering posting pictures on here, but the quality is very poor, so I am not sure.