Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Just a quick post to say you should check out these two recipes if you need a quick, delicious meal.  We had everything in the house!

First, Mid-eastern chicken thighs (you'll need Garam masala, curry powder, onions, and red wine)

Second, Sauteed Broccoli with Cumin and Mustard Seeds (okay, I know not everyone has black mustard seeds lying around...but we cook Indian food often around here.  I'm sure yellow would work.  Also, we used frozen broccoli and ground cumin.)

And then we used a box of pre-seasoned couscous as a starch.  Mmmm...delicious.  I would've taken pictures but it didn't last long enough!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Purple Bunny Quilt is finished!


 My new favorite binding trick...Steam and seam 2 before hand finishing your quilt.  No pins!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

UFO Sunday Successes

Well, it really has turned into UFO Sunday everyday here at our house.  Any day I've been able to quilt I've been working on the unfinished baby quilt or my unfinished t-shirt quilt.  Sundays have become the days to tackle the tasks that I'm weary of...such as binding...I just haven't done enough binding to feel good about it.  And the coaster I made recently for a friend? I did an atrocious job with the binding so now I'm "afraid" of the task.

But this week, I continued to avoid binding but put some other helpful hints to work.  As Leah suggested, as I sewed the strips of sashing to the shirts, I didn't pin.  No ripples!  Also, as B suggested, I used the lengthwise grain instead of selvage to selvage and it worked much better.  B suggested pinning; I'll have to try that and compare.  So far, I've had more success with no pins and careful feeding of the fabric no matter what I'm working on.

So here's the progress so far...

And without a doubt my favorite shirt is the Baby Einstein reading Science magazine.  Never would I have guessed I'd be teaching my high school students to write papers that they could submit to peer-reviewed journals someday as I bought my first STUDENT edition of the magazine (the t-shirt must have been a "free" gift.)

But wait, there's more...my UFO progress has extended to my knitting habit too...
The pair of socks I started during professional development in August...finished!
Before blocking

Blocking in progress

Of course, I've come to the awful realization that the Christmas knitting season has arrived.  Here's  two upcoming projects:

Use the white Misti Alpaca "baby me boo" to make another cowl.

And finally, my hubby made a great meal tonight...we bought a spice mix for tandoori chicken, marinated overnight and broiled.  I found a fabulous recipe for spicy Indian green beans here.  And the garlic naan was from Trader Joe's...yum!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Time for a teaching post...

I've been blogging so much about quilting lately, and it is my main way of recording my craft, but I had to share some great photos of our class field trip.

We're using FWS land to study salamanders, so the kids are working on elevation and vegetation studies in the pools while they're dry.  Basically, we have a surveying scope (transit?) and a 23x28 meter field.  Most of the kids end up holding a pole with centimeters marked on it so that we can measure the depth of about 200 square meters.  If you've done field studies (or really any research) before, you know there are some boring, repetitive elements.  They figured that out today!  Some of them really loved it, and I saw some great leaders emerge!

On the orientation day we saw some great wildlife and learned how to identify trees with a dichotomous key.  Here's a few highlights...I apologize for blurry pictures, I was competing with around 70 excited teenagers...and there's no winning that fight...I gave them their space and let them be excited.

A few native species clipped off by the bus...Persimmon and Paw paw

Well...at least his habitat is in focus...

Saved from underneath our tires!
 Well, I've got to go rest up...it's day 4 of field trip time tomorrow!  I can't wait for spring when the ponds fill up and we get the kids in hip waders to search for egg masses!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's time to account for my WIPs...

It's been awhile since I've made myself a list of things in progress *deep breath* so here goes...

Quilty things in *active* progress:
1.) The bunny quilt!  It's coming along fabulously...but I've come to a standstill at the trimming and binding.  I want to practice on a few others first.

2.) The colorful baby quilt.  I could say this is one of my first quilts ever.  It's definitely the first quilt I tried to quilt on machine.  I hit some serious snags (see here), but thanks to the encouragement of UFO Sunday at The Free Motion Quilting Project, it's up and going again.  It just needs quilting around the purple squares.  THEN, I'll use it to practice binding.
Flowing lines quilting...I'm in LOVE!

3.) A charity quilt with an upcoming deadline.  Link up for 100 Quilts for Kids is looming on October 15!  I guess I should finish this one up quick!  Machine binding for this one!

Quilty things waiting in the wings: (fabric is in some stage of prep or the top is in progress)
1.) Another charity quilt...teen wonky log cabin. Love this one, but I guess it's waiting for next year.

2.) Giant Granny Panties quilt in pinks.  Fabric is washed, starched, and cut.  Ready to sew the top as soon as I cut the off-white for the border.

3.) Square root of nine quilt.  It will make a great baby quilt, but the cutting is so precise that I burned out part way through.
Lots of tiny pieces

Needs to look like the above, only that was 4 fat quarters and there's 8 to go!

4.) A fun scrappy colorful quilt (I really should come up with better names for my quilts).  Needs strips to be sewn together and the top is finished!

5.) The owl quilt.  A few more squares need machine applique then it's ready to be pieced together.  So cute, but I keep getting bored with the applique.

6.) A t-shirt quilt.  The shirts are prepped with interfacing and I bought fabric for sashing this past weekend!

7.) Quilt-as-you-go squares from the FMQ Project...lots of time to accumulate more of these.

8.) Quilted squares with animals and echo quilting.  Three done and hanging in class; three to go! (and yes, two that I'm not planning to finish any time soon...I admit it...no room to hang them)

***Oh my, I'm good at starting projects!  And I've only been doing this for a year!***

Quilts for the future (Fabric is purchased and waiting)
1.) A Christmas Sampler quilt
2.) Pink and yellow baby quilt
3.) Modern quilt in teals and oranges

Other ideas:
I'd love to make a purple and green quilt with City Block by Kitty Yoshida for Benartex.
A traditional green and red applique quilt in four blocks.


Now that the list is out there in the world, I feel a bit ashamed.  Anyone else successfully winnow down a list like this?  How do you stay true to projects with no deadline?

Also...suggestions to name the poor quilts with really sad uncreative names?


I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday and the Free Motion Quilt Along!  Love these two groups!  Their participants give me so much inspiration (I'd blame them for the deluge of unfinished quilts that they helped inspire...but I know it's not their fault.)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Long awaited progress on a UFO

Last September when I got seriously hooked on quilting I first finished a quilt top that I'd had in progress for over two years.  Then, because the first quilt top was large and difficult for me to imagine quilting as a first-timer, I made a baby quilt with some bright, beautiful fabrics I'd fallen in love with during a class on "Making a Quilt Sandwich."  (This class by the way was when I realized I'd need a new machine to be able to effectively machine quilt at all.)

Well, a series of problems led to this being tucked away as a UFO...
1.) The borders were attached in a stretched manner...still not sure what I did, but the borders flare so I must have cut them bigger than I needed to.
2.) I layered the batting and backing unevenly, so as I quilted outwards, some of the quilt top was no longer centered over the batting.
3.) Before I could free motion quilt, I chose a straight line pattern that required LOTS of turning...and that was just really annoying and exhausting to struggle with the quilt on the machine.  I lost lots of enthusiasm there.
4.) When I finally got started free motion quilting, I started to get thread breaks about every inch.  This led to discovering that the Inspira brand needles work great in my Janome.
5.) And then, frustrated with FMQ, and unsure of how to quilt the borders, I tried a parallel line pattern.  That was the final straw...I created all sorts of puckers.

And so it sat...until yesterday.

I completed a small patch of swirl stippling that still needed finishing. (No thread breaks!)

But that did include a frustrating mistake...seen here:
 The backing fabric folded back on itself!
Lots of ripping to fix that.  I seriously considered setting the project down again.  It seemed destined to fail. :/

Then, this morning, I spent HOURS ripping out the ten lines of quilting on the borders.

All the threads I collected as I ripped.
And finally, I started to use the Flowing Lines pattern from the FMQA #34 to quilt the edges!

Yay progress!!!  I seriously doubted it for a minute there!  Again...many thanks to Leah Day.  I'm linking up to UFO Sunday, and my question for Leah is "How do you attach borders / sashing in the most successful, least painful way possible?"  I've improved, but I still freeze up on projects that require lots of long strips sewn together.
To all my readers, I'm also curious, what color binding would YOU use for a quilt that's this colorful? UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project