Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nancy vs. the Embroidery Machine

Today I dusted off my embroidery machine and my laptop and made two little zipper bags completely in the hoop. The CD is Boutique Collection by Pickle Pie Designs. The bag comes in three sizes. I was able to make the medium and the small size. The large size required the mega hoop, which I own, but my machine and the hoop were having compatibility issues, so I put it aside for the time being.

The bags were pretty simple to make and the zipper went in like a dream. I broke one needle when it hit the end of the zipper as the machine finished the outer seam of the bag with a mock serger/zig zag stitch. I'm going to sew around the inside edge with my sewing machine so I can trim down the outer seam and clip the corners diagonally. Right now, the corners are kind of thick and I can't get them to turn out fully.

I recruited my handsome husband Mike to model my new projects.

Close up of the medium size bag

LarryPug and Elvis send their love.
I would say that "medium" and "small" are a misnomer, the bags are more like "small" and "super tiny", but I needed something to hold my earphones so I'm happy with the end result.

Sorry, I haven't shown you any quilty stuff lately, but I'm still working on the Row by Row swap (the big reveal is in September!) and birthday blocks.

Thanks for visiting.

Pugs and kisses,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

eBay, a Tale of Love and Loss

I love to buy fabric. Probably every quilt shop owner in a 50 mile radius knows me by name (kind of like Norm on the old television show Cheers). And if I'm not buying fabric in person, buying it in my pajamas in front of my computer is almost as good.

A few weeks ago one of my favorite e-retailers, who sells both on eBay and Etsy, sent me her newsletter and I spied this little beauty -- three yards and 30" inches of Philip Jacobs loveliness in yellow seashells. The starting bid was $14.95. While I was not naive enough to think this gem would go unnoticed, I wanted it badly. So I added it to my eBay "watch" list. I have a yellow quilt planned that will be made entirely of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics, and even though I've bought plenty of fabric for the front of the quilt as well as the back, this would have made a fabulous border. I planned my Sunday evening around being at my computer as the auction wound to an end. Sadly, I lost the auction by $1 with three seconds to spare. There wasn't even enough time for my competing bid to go through. I was a sad girl when I went to bed that night.

A few days later, I bid on this lot of eight fat quarters. I really liked the typewriter fabrics and the camera fabrics. After my recent loss, I didn't want to love them too much. So, I put in a maximum bid of $10 and went to bed. In the morning, I found that I had won the entire lot for $7.24. Even with the shipping, the fat quarters were less than $2 apiece.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And that's the way my eBay cookie crumbled.

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pretty in Pink and Purging!

Rachel at Stitched in Color is sponsoring a Purge Along this summer. The idea is to get rid of some of your unloved fabric, projects, etc. I like the idea of a purge because I know that if I live two lifetimes, I'll never finish all of my projects.

I'm going to focus my purge on a good hard look at my UFOs (unfinished objects). I started by pulling out some blocks that have been lying around since at least 2006. I took this workshop with Deb Tucker. It is her Rapid Fire Hunter's Star. The block pieces were all completed. I just had to assemble them. On Saturday, I sewed them together while Marion visited.
A future holiday gift in the making. Only eight years so far.
Now I just need to add some borders and I will have a table runner. I will use the leftover fabric for the backing as well. My friend Mary Kate loves pink and my coworker Dianne has a pink dining room, so this will make a nice holiday gift for one of them.

I'm going to pull out a few more UFOs and make some executive decisions:
  1. Do I want to finish this?
  2. Should I list this in my Etsy shop for sale?
  3. Should I give the kit/project to my friend Sue for her ladies at Rosies where she teaches quilting?
I'll keep you posted. You should definitely watch this space since I'm going to go through the unloved fabric and put that for sale in my Etsy shop as well.

In keeping with my pink table runner, here are some lovely pink flowers from my garden this morning.
My front garden
The tall phlox looks beautiful with my painted mailbox.
Rose of Sharon. It is actually purple, but looks pinkish in the photo.
Here are some close-ups from the front garden. These are all perennials.
Echinacea and Rose Campion
Bee Balm
A different variety of Echinacea, also called Cone Flower (much easier to spell)
Better late than never, I'm linking up on Wednesday with Stitched in Color's Purge Along Week One and to Let's Bee Social. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Small Finishes Saturday

There's an old quilting adage, Finished is better than perfect. To which I add, And a small finish is better than no finish at all.

It was a perfectly routine Saturday. Marion came over to sew with me, we had Chinese food for lunch and we ended the afternoon with a little fabric shopping. What more could a girl want?

I finished Logan's birthday present. He turns 1 on Tuesday along with Prince George. Prince George is probably having a slightly larger birthday party but he won't be receiving a hand made gift from me.

Scottie dog and two fabric books
The Scottie dog can also be seen in its full glory here (along with a link to the free pattern).

LarryPug and Elvis photobombed the original photo, so they had to be asked to step aside.
Marion brought over her Barbados Bag to show me. This pattern is from Pink Sand Beach Designs. Although Marion is a pink and purple lover like me, she chose a black and beige paisley to coordinate with her winter wardrobe, or a couple of pugs I know...

I'm not sure who is cuter, Marion or LarryPug.
Marion tries to explain to LarryPug that the bag is Not a gift for him. I'm not sure that he believes her.

I want to make this bag pattern. It's a great size.
Marion had a BIG finish today. Check out her gorgeous top made with her 2013 batik birthday blocks (yes, she made a few extras). It measures 90x96.
Marion, LarryPug, Romeo, Elvis and I are all behind the quilt, but it's pretty big.
Plus the wind started to blow as soon as we got the camera. Isn't this pretty?
My lunch today! Yum! I bet you thought I was going to show you the fabric I bought...
I hope that you are having a great weekend!

Linking up on Sunday to Sew Darn Crafty. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hatboxes or Drums?

Hello Friends!

I have nothing new that I can show you this week. On Monday night, I made birthday blocks. And I'm busy planning the next row for Lexine's Christmas Row by Row.

So, I've pulled a quilt from my quilting archives to share with you. Since I've been quilting for well over 20 years, and blogging since only 2012, there are still a few that you haven't seen.

Check out my Hatbox Quilt! This is a pattern from Kaffe Fassett's Passionate Patchwork (Hatboxes on page 83). I started this quilt in a class at the now defunct Quilters' Stash. I think that most of the fabrics came from one Moda line. I still like this quilt, but I'd love to make it again in something wild, maybe Kaffe Fassett fabrics or animal prints.

Dusk in my garden.
 Are you ready for your close-up?

The beautiful machine quilting was done by Diana Annis.
According to my notes, I finished the quilt top in February of 2006 and the final quilt was done in January of 2007. For several years, this quilt hung in my office at work. Then we moved buildings and I moved to a cubicle. Women all seem to know that these are hatboxes, but I've had several men admire my "drum" quilt. Guess it depends on your frame of reference!

Linking up on Friday to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Richard and Tanya Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Field of Dreams

On Sunday, my friend Kim took me to a daylily lover's paradise, also known as Tranquil Lake Nursery. There are daylilies as far as the eye can see.
You actually walk through fields of daylilies, write down your selections (everything is labelled with the plant name, price, and location) and then one of the staff members will dig up your plants.
Kim among the daylilies.
Please click on the photos to make them larger. You won't be disappointed.

 It was hard to make a decision but I finally chose four plants for my garden.
Pittsburgh Golden Triangle
Dune Dark Eyes
Double Ah
I was very fortunate to accompany Kim because she is a daylily aficionado. She has over 200 species of daylilies in her garden at home and gave me some tips on how to take care of them. Kim also selected some plants at the nursery. We made sure to get different ones. Hopefully they will all proliferate and next year we will trade!

The three photos below are of Kim's backyard. Isn't it lovely?

Sunday evening I planted my daylilies by moonlight. Mike assisted with lantern and flashlight. We are expecting three days of rain in Massachusetts, so I wanted to get them into the ground.

Tranquil Lake's other specialty? Iris, both the Japanese and Siberian varieties. I can't wait to go back there next spring!

Pugs and kisses,

Monday, July 14, 2014

F.A.T. Saturday

The Fabric Acquisition Team (F.A.T.) was at large on Saturday. I was on a mission to find grey fabric for the sashing for Phil's quilt. As usual, I was accompanied by my faithful friend Marion (yes, we have been likened to the Lone Ranger and Tonto before).

First stop, Fabric Place Basement in Natick where I picked up six yards of solid black fabric for just $2! OK, I confess that I had a Groupon. They had a couple of grey fabrics but none of them looked right with my fabric choices (which I was smart enough to bring along for audition purposes), so I bought the black as a back up in case I couldn't find grey.

Second stop, Sewphisticated Discount Fabrics in Framingham. Whoever said that money couldn't buy happiness, had never bought fabric at Sewphisticated. It's the Marshalls of the fabric world. You can't go there with a plan, because you'll never know what you'll find. All of the quilting cotton is $3.99 a yard and remnants are $2.49 a yard. When I first started shopping there about ten years ago, all the fabric used to be $1.99 a yard!
F.A.T's newest members.
No grey fabric to be found at Sewphisticated, but I didn't leave empty handed. I LOVE that I can fill a bag with ten yards of fabric for $40. I always open the bolt, check for flaws and feel the fabric. There are always some losers mixed in with the winners, but if you know fabric, you'll enjoy the thrill of the hunt. The fabrics pictured above have good names on their selvages, including: LakeHouse, P&B, Benartex, and Hoffman. The batik at the upper left is not quilt store quality but is a pretty print with butterflies which will be used as a bag lining or as part of the back for my Scrap Wave quilt. With the exception of the black and white print, which features the Eiffel Tower, I'll probably use the other fabrics for bags too. I have grandiose plans of making bags for all my friends, the girls at work, and the three girls at the vet's office for Christmas. Notice, I'm not specifying if this will be Christmas of 2014 or Christmas of 2024.

A very brief stop at Joann Fabrics yielded this great lime green zebra print from the remnant bin at 50% off, my favorite sign!
I've definitely got plans for this fabric, so stay tuned!
In light of full disclosure, there was lunch at the Chinese restaurant (not a big surprise), although we tried a new one that we both liked, and another brief stop at the Button Box, although we didn't buy anything (have you fallen over?). I couldn't convince Marion to stop for ice cream on the way home, but Mike and I went out for a late dinner at the Yard House and saw a documentary about Whitey Bulger, aptly called Whitey. Not my particular cup of tea, but Mike was eager to see it.

Linking up on Tuesday to Freemotion by the River. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Pugs and kisses,

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Logan is almost 1!

Logan poses on top of the quilt that I made Ben and Anna for their wedding in 2012. He is accompanied by his canine siblings, Jasper, at left, and Frou, at right.
Logan turns one on July 22nd! I can't believe that a year has gone by so quickly. Logan is the son of my friend Anna. Anna and I have worked together for ten years. Anna works remotely so I won't meet Logan until December when I go to Florida.

If you would like to see the full quilt, click here.

I hope that you enjoyed seeing my little cutie! Thanks for visiting.

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Remains of the Day

Normally we go to my friend Beth's house for the 4th of July. Beth and her Mom, Judi, are great cooks and we always have a very fun time with them. This year we invited Mike's friend Phil, who lives in New Jersey, to come stay with us for the weekend, so we decided to throw a party Chez Pugs so he could meet a lot of our friends. Mike and Phil met their freshman year of college and have been friends ever since.

Hosting our party kept me hopping, so I only took a couple of photos during the actual event. Mike did an outstanding job making barbecued chicken, which he had brined the night before, in addition to homemade potato salad. None of our friends and neighbors showed up empty handed, so we had enough food to feed a small army.

The pugs had a great time visiting with everyone. From left to right: Romeo, Elvis, and LarryPug.
LarryPug is keeping a sharp eye on the food table in case someone drops something.

I made my famous maple cookies. I enjoy eating the raw cookie dough as much as the finished product.

The cookies have maple frosting on top. Yummy!
Kim brought a delicious fruit salad and she even cut the watermelon into stars!
Eat your heart out Martha Stewart!
Paul and Terri tried out my new purple bench.
Terri brought strawberry shortcake...
...with home-made biscuits. Guess who is definitely getting invited back next year!

Joannie brought her famous broccoli salad.

Marcia brought the world's largest salad and she gifted me with the purple platter and purple salad tongs!
Thank you Marcia!
It wouldn't be the 4th of July without patriotic brownies.
The next day, Mike, Phil, the pugs and I cleaned up the last of the party items and hung out in our backyard. It was a gorgeous day.
I ate the last piece of Terri's strawberry shortcake for breakfast.
Phil made us home-made beef ribs with his Mom's secret recipe marinade for dinner.
Joannie and Dan came over to help us eat them. We also feasted on more party leftovers.
Guess who is getting a quilt?
Phil came over to the Studio and I invited him to choose fabrics for a throw for his sofa. He was thrilled. He chose a palette of greens, blues, and teals. I am using a pattern called Colonnade which was designed by my blogging friend Kim from Robot Mom Sews.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Pugs and kisses,