Friday, August 26, 2011

Jewel Box Quilting ... Off the frame and ready for binding

Jewel Box baby quilt for Angel
I'm really excited with how pretty the quilting turned out on this quilt.  I wondered as I was sewing if the border design is too large in scale for the rest of the quilt.  It provides lots of motion since it's so large.  I think I like the overall effect.
Here are more photos of this jewel box.  By the way, after I scribbled / doodled the design on paper, I felt like I knew how to work out the design with thread.  There are enough reference points in the piecing that I didn't mark any of this.  I rarely mark a quilt.  Just my preference.  I'm not that precise.
Closer view of the border

Hibiscus framed with a sort of bird of paradise and then  leaves

Leaves almost form flower where they meet

Batik backing is a little washed out in this photo, but it shows the quilting better.

I guess I already mentioned that I'm excited about this quilt.  I can't wait to get the binding on and hand it to a first time momma.  I think she'll be happy with it too.

The tree guys saved me from eating my words yesterday.  Our next date is Monday.  So I'm looking forward to posting photos of the stump-less backyard jungle on Tuesday.  We'll have a landscaping challenge ahead of us!  But first, the stumps must go.  One battle at a time.

Flooring should be delivered today.  The HVAC guys had planned to finish yesterday, but we didn't see signs of their work.  So, hopefully today's the day.  We have a bit of a misunderstanding.  It seems the estimate and the bill are off by a significant amount.  They are expecting the insurance to just pay the additional amount.  Ummmmm.  That's not how things work.  I dread this battle.   Not sure if I mentioned that we were victorious with the storm debris battle earlier this week.  After calls to the county, who called FEMA to investigate, our debris pile was removed.

The storm repairs have helped me to pray more often.  Many things are out of our control, especially timing of repairs and the money matters with the insurance and mortgage company.  Many more things could go really sour if ego gets involved as the discussions with various people take place.  Once, the builder told me that our request for more caulking was stupid!
It's been a comfort and blessing so far to pray whenever I feel anxious about the next event.  I admit that I still feel stressed and anxious about a lot of this stuff (just ask my husband if you have any question about that!).  But I think it would be completely overwhelming if I didn't know that I have someone greater who cares deeply about our family and this outcome.  It helps me look for the lessons I can learn instead of feeling sorry for myself during all these inconveniences.  It helps me to remember that this day, His mercies for me are fresh and new.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Thursday, August 25, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt is ready for the frame!

Woohoo! The t-shirt quilt top is finished!  For now, our dining room table is in the basement great room, along with my sewing areas.  It's great for playing with blocks and squaring up large quilts, and in this case, keeping a large quilt from getting too wrinkled.

I may go ahead and quilt the baby quilt first.  It's already loaded on the frame and has been waiting so patiently.  I think I may have to sketch the design again to make sure I still remember what my plans are for this one.  It's probably too much quilting for a baby quilt, but I like to play and learn and experiment.

T-Shirt quilt top on the dining room table.  Baby quilt on the frame.
There's one extra t-shirt quilt block that I'll make into a pillow.  Notice the stain on that lime green!  I think I'll quilt a guitar neck over the stain using green threads.  It will be subtle, but will distract from the stain.
This block will become a pillow.
Are you wondering about all those half-square triangle units?  So am I!  They're remnants from the 4 outer edges of each block.  They can be trimmed down to 2.5 inches each.  No plans yet, but I'm sure they'll make a nice contribution to a child's quilt.  Pinwheels, diamonds, 8 pointed stars ...... What do you think?
Leftovers from the T-Shirt quilt blocks
Today, the air conditioning guys should be finishing their work - vent covers on all vents, taking care of insulation gaps in the ductwork, etc.  Then tomorrow, the hardwoods are scheduled to be delivered.  It's nice to see the house repairs in motion again.

Also, the tree stump removal is supposed to really, really happen today.  There should be 2 stump grinders working all day.  Sigh.  If I seem a little skeptical, please forgive me.  There have been several excuses as to why this hasn't happened yet.  This Saturday will mark 4 months since the tornadoes.  I'll stop by the house after a haircut to see what's going on and hopefully, will have to post again and eat my doubtful words this afternoon.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Anniversary Baby! I've Got You On My Mind

Here's the view from our room's door onto the deck. 
Notice the sort of artfully arranged foxgloves peeking through.  They're looking a bit pitiful, but the gate helps hide their flaws.  The table is ready.  Now to get the breakfast casserole in the oven.

And what's on the table? Step a little closer and you'll see.
An anniversary card with ... a honey bear on the front.  And seventeen bears ready to sweeten his morning tea. 
Love you Honey. 

Happy 17th Anniversary!

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Saturday, August 20, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt Layout on the Design Wall

Yesterday was so much fun!  I met several ladies at the Quilters Combo classroom and we giggled and sewed most of the day.  I finished the piecing the last block just as my mental timer began to prompt me that I needed to go pick up the kids.

So they hopped in the van and we went by the house and found the air conditioning on and the downstairs was a cool 71 degrees!  The upstairs unit had only been on for about half an hour, so it was 95 deg F up there.  Very exciting after the six weeks of appeals and convincing the insurance that we needed more funds to afford the new units.

Top portion of the T-Shirt quilt layout

Bottom portion ... I didn't have enough wall height, so the last blocks were scrunched.
The white background t-shirts were the most challenging.  Most of them have lime green in the design.  I wondered about adding more red in that row, but decided that it would call more attention to the piecing and less to the shirt designs.  So those triangles have a lime green background, but are multi-colored to help the one white shirt with no lime green seem like it belongs too.

Someone asked me about sashing, but I think this is going to be large enough as it is.  No sashing!  Maybe no borders or very narrow borders.

We have a fencing tournament today, which will be held in our church building's gym.  My whites are in the dryer after last night's fencing.  We'll grab some food at the store on the way to heat up for lunch.  It will be a long day, but fun!  A women's epee event first, followed by an open event.  Next week, I'll wear long shorts and 3/4 length sleeves to hide the bruises.  Younger teen is going with me, but isn't going to fence today.  As beginners, it certainly keeps us humble to fence with those A, B and C rated fencers.  (Even those who are D's and E's.)  We're both U's (unrated).

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Thursday, August 18, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt ... the blocks are coming together

First, here's the block for each t-shirt.
Gold T-Shirt

Lime Green T-Shirt

Tie Dye T-Shirt

I started working on a group of elementary and middle school t-shirts last Spring.  So now it's time to get these made into a quilt.  I'm scheduled to teach a T-Shirt quilt class soon and it's essential that I've actually made one first.

There were so many colors!  It could have looked a little too much like a clown splat.  I think the layout is the most fun and the most challenging part of this process.  My daughter and I decided to arrange the shirts in diagonal rows of colors.  The extra triangles of that same color adds to the continuity of the design.

Tomorrow, I get to use the classroom and it's huge design wall.  I'll be able to post a photo of these blocks all situated in order.  The blocks are 18 inches finished and there will be a 5 x 6 arrangement.  Once it's pieced, I'll do a simple meander and see how challenging it is to quilt through the stabilized shirts.  It's not hard to sew the block with them, so I'm not expecting problems.  All the seams are pressed away from the t-shirt, so there won't be any double layers of stabilizer.

A quick house update ... Insurance has been very helpful in a second settlement to cover all the expenses that were missed the first time.  Our contractor is happy with it too.  As a result, we're getting the new air conditioning units installed even as I type.  The old ductwork is gone, the new has come.  We knew there was water in the old ducts from the rain streaming through the house.  It's a gross sight, but I'm so relieved that this problem was handled and we don't have these ducts in the house any more.
Inside of water-logged duct ... what is that stuff growing in there?

By the way, I haven't forgotten about the Jewel Box quilt top.  It's loaded on the frame and I've auditioned a few threads.  I think a darker green will be better for the green leafy design in the squares.  I get excited when I see it waiting patiently for me.
Top, batting and backing are just waiting patiently.

This blog is now up to 20 followers!  Woohoo!  Thank you all for stopping by and joining my blog.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jewel Box Baby Quilt ... deciding on the quilting designs

Sometimes, I have a strong feeling of how a top will be quilted as I'm making it.  Other times, the idea is much more fuzzy.    This one's been very fuzzy.  Here's a zoom of the top I'm about to quilt.  (You can increase the size of photos on this blog by clicking on the photo.  Just use the back arrow to return to the blog.)
portion of the Jewel Box quilt top
This is what I've finally decided I'll do to quilt it.  I want a tropical feel to this quilt, which will compliment the batiks.
Quilting motif for the Jewel Box quilt top

I think I got stuck on making those diamond jewels symmetrical.  Most of the other designs ended up looking too much like a spider for my taste.  I also didn't want to blend the diamond and the yellow backgrounds, even though some of my other doodles attempted to join the motif into one large area.
Ideas that I rejected

First attempt of ideas.  I find it helpful to quickly color in the design until I can see it without any shading.
It's nice to print out the design and sketch the quilting with a pencil. I can audition without any seam ripping.  Once I'm happy with the design, there's already some muscle memory / brain training for making those continuous lines.  Also, I'm aware of how many starts and stops I'll need to deal with. 

I'll share the quilting in progress soon.  It's time to grab my sword and go fencing.  We have a tournament next Saturday and it's time for some practice.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Award Winning Photo!

Hmmm.  Well maybe not.  Jenna won't claim her advice helped with improvements here, but I think it's amazing because it represents the clearing of a huge hurdle.   We've waited over 3 months to get rid of the tree stumps left over from the April tornadoes.  Although the machine ran out of gas long before we ran out of stumps, there was some progress made today.  Joe plans to come back tomorrow and see how much more he can accomplish.

This stump has made us wonder how it could be removed since it sort of meshed itself with the remains of our toolshed.

So my husband and I grabbed some gloves and a few tools this afternoon.  We moved the shed to the street ... in pieces.  It now looks like this :
I still don't think I'll win any awards for this photography today.  But it's such a relief to see progress here!

Now the stumps near the shed are much more accessible.  I think the teens and I will add the shed's floor to the pile at the street tomorrow morning.  FEMA's deadline for putting storm debris at the street is Monday, so we're just barely in time to have this lovely mess hauled away.

Joe thought this one near the shed was the big one he's have to wrestle.  Later in the afternoon, he realized that it's not the big one.
Here's the big stump.  That lower cut tree has a diameter of 36".  It's a monster stump with the 2 trees root systems joined together.

I'll have some better photos next time, maybe of quilts again.  These snapshots seem a little boring, but the accomplishments behind them are worthy of celebration.  We also made a huge step forward in negotiating with our insurance company about additional items which were not covered or underestimated in the settlement.  The adjustor agreed with every single item we and the contractor submitted!  Now we wait for supervisor approval.  If our prayers are answered in this matter, we'll be able to afford to replace the smashed air conditioning units and the water saturated ducts in the crawlspace.  

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to the Drawing Board

Well, a few days ago, I posted a photo of a baby quilt top.  But ... it was rejected by my advisers (i.e. my 3 teens involved in band camp last week).  They were kind and honest in saying that it just wasn't going to work for this upcoming baby.

So, I started over.  A jewel box quilt is a pretty pattern and I've been interested in making one.  I threw out the purple batiks and just stuck with the baby room colors.  Here's the finished top.  That amazing orangy batik surrounding it will be the back on the quilt.  I think this one is more cheerful than the last attempt.
Angel's Baby Quilt top
So, while I'm deciding how to quilt it, I need to remove those Zendoodles from the frame.  Here's another shot at what I've done so far.  I added a few more designs this morning after the storms.
More Zendoodles with thread

Threads so far are black, gray and white.

We've had some amazing thunderstorms lately.  One last week sent a tree branch through the roof at the rental house.  It was an easy repair, for which we're very thankful.
Yesterday evening, I drove back to our house to check on it after more storms and heavy rains.  We have a leak in the new roof over the new addition.  Our builder knows about it and it will get fixed, but the rains do cause me some concern.  I like the new drywall to be dry.
So I had 2 discoveries waiting for me.  No new water was leaking in!  The roof isn't repaired yet, but those heavy rains didn't make their way inside.  And ... the concrete floor in the quilt studio was painted.  It looks amazing!  Sorry to make you endure so many photos of the same room.   I guess you can tell I'm excited!
Quilt Studio with wet painted floors
This photo was taken through the door.  There's a sign warning of wet paint so I didn't even dare to open the door.  The room look so much cleaner now.  I just noticed that the 5th light on the track was also installed.

I'm painfully aware of my lacking photo quality on this blog.  It would be nice to blame it on the camera, but alas, I cannot.  It's hard in this temporary space to step back far enough to keep the quilts in perspective.  They look really distorted.  And sometimes the stitches just don't show up well at all.
I have a friend, Jenna, who takes wonderful photos and has even had some published in the newspaper.  I'm going to ask her for some advice.  In the mean time, I'll just take more photos and hope to learn as I stumble along.

These were from yesterday morning.  It's weird how the greens look almost black in some photos and vibrant in others.
Dark greens while I'm about to enjoy reading with a cup of coffee

Same time of day, but much brighter

Indian Creek when it hasn't flooded and turned rust colored

I love the patterns these leaves make overhead!

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tropical Top Finished ... Not your usual baby quilt

I've been working on this top for baby gift.  The colors and batik tropicals are unusual.  And it's kind of large at 60" x 60".  But babies grow, and her parents are from a tropical place, and this baby's room will be orangey, green and yellow.  I just had to throw in a bit of purples to have a contrast to the lights.  It's hard to stand back far enough away to take a photo.  (Soon I'll have a design wall to help me show off what I'm about to quilt.)

Here's a stack of some of those fabrics.  I folded them when I thought I was finished with each.  It's possible  I missed one or two.  The center medallion is made from these tropical ferns on the right.  There aren't really any browns in this stack.  My colors look a little muddy in these photos.

I flipped through some old magazines and found this pattern in Quick Quilts from August 2008.  It's called Garden Party.
So now I need to make a quick decision on how to quilt it.  The shower is scheduled for Sunday!

No tree service today.  Bummer.  I thought this would be the time they'd really show up.  So I guess we'll hire a different tree service to finish the work that these guys started.  I'd hoped the first group would want the remainder of their payment and also want to preserve their reputation.

I cleaned lots of drywall dust this morning, chatted with the builders and the termite inspector, then went home for the 2nd shower of the day by 10:30 am.  Treated myself to a library trip and a milkshake, then worked on this top for a few hours.  Now it's time to get ready for my hot, tired and ravenously hungry band campers.  We have a spare trumpet player this week, so we're enjoying more stories, giggles and laundry.  I like to hear their conversation about all the funny things that happens with their friends, who stomped on who's foot, which upperclassman has adopted a freshman, etc.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Studio Update

View towards the cow pasture
Here are some new photos of the quilting studio.  I'm so excited to see it changing into a nice space!  It's going to be a fun place to work and play.  Notice the 2 a/c vents in the ceiling ... I'll be nice and cool in the summer.
Facing the veggies garden and cow pasture on the left side of the wall,  I'll set up my sewing machine.  It lives in a cute, old fashioned sewing desk that I found at a thrift store for $70.  I'm toying with the idea of painting it, maybe to match the trim in this studio.  
Although the windows are dirty right now, I wanted to share with you this zoomed in view of the cow pasture.  Hmmmm.  The farmer moved the cows and hasn't brought them back since the tornadoes, so is it still a cow pasture?
Zoomed view of the cow (?) pasture ... Yes, that's a church steeple off in the distance
After experiencing the destructive storm and now seeing this view, I'm reminded of a Psalm ... God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  ... The LORD Almighty is with us. ...  He says, "Be still and know that I am God."

I'm comforted when I am still and am reminded of his presence  ... in storms ... and in peace.  Another blessing to me.

Backyard view .... before the tree stumps have been removed

Then there will be a cutting table to the left of the sewing machine to make an L-shaped work area.  The cutting area will face the back yard.  There's lots of landscaping which is begging to be done.  We're hoping that tomorrow, the tree service will stick to their word and show up to remove the stumps.
Zoom of the view from the cutting table

The shed is mostly fallen, but sort of leaning on the stump.  It will be nice to get rid of all that mess and be able to start over with a new garden shed (moved over to solid ground).

A blessing from the storm
Although my sugar snap peas didn't survive the back yard construction zone, we've been delighted to discover some unexpected blessings.  Since we first thought this was a watermelon, I've called it our Tuscaloosa Melon, joking that the seeds blew in from there.  Imagine my surprise when my "melon" turned orange!  It will be in the way tomorrow with the heavy equipment, so I'll harvest it first thing and protect it from harm.

Left half of the back yard view
So over here, I'll set up the ironing board.  I'm imagining a large rectangular board to fit over the ironing board made from scrap wood, spare batting and muslin.  I haven't worked out all the details and I'll start with what we already have, but when I grow up ..... I'll be able to easily move the ironing station and cutting board side by side to have a larger area for squaring up quilt tops.  Since the ironing board has an adjustable height, this shouldn't be too hard to do.

Quilt Studio from the kitchen
The track lights are hanging above where the longarm machine will sit.  The light kit had a broken light in it, so I drove to 3 different stores to find another one.  Another blessing .... the track light was discounted again to $25.  Woohoo!   I thought it was a bargain at $50.   I'll set up the machine to be able to enjoy the view when free motion quilting.  There's enough room to walk around the machine at each end.

So I haven't taken photos of the closet where I'll store threads and fabrics - away from the sunshine.  Oh well, it's a closet.  No shelving yet.  I have a few ideas, so when we move back in, I'll have more to share.

Entrance to Rec Room ... sort of an inner hallway

Here's the rec room taken from the center toward the entrance.  We've considered a couple of tables across the hallway area for spreading out to do homework.
Back yard view ... directly above the quilt studio
To your left when you enter through the inner hallway is a little nook with a back yard view.

Rec Room ... window facing the front of the house
Those black rectangles high on the walls are outlets for power and cable.  We aren't sure which wall might host a t.v., so we asked the contractor to set it up for either.  There will be a ceiling fan in the large area and several canned lights scattered around.

The large nook near the front window is for my husband's man-cave-without-a-door.  I'm imagining a room divider which won't impede the air flow too much.  I know he's excited to have some space of his own.  The teens are eager to fill the rec room up with friends.  It will be so fun to see the paint finished, the carpets installed and to feel a cool a/c breeze and hear the giggles which are such a large part of sleepovers.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars