Star Surround Quilt Along - Surrounds

 Friday, August 30, 2013

For Week #5, we are to make the pieces that surround the star center portion of the block from my last blog post.  You can find the instructions for this week's assignment on Melissa's blog Happy Quilting here.  The "surrounds" were made in two different parts.  First the corners, which I must say look A LOT better then my sides. The corners are shown below.  I really like how these turned out, but I will admit I do enjoy making half square triangles.

Now my flying geese on the other hand, which make up a majority of the side look a little bit "drunk" so to speak.  I promise you I was not drinking any of my favorite light mango passion fruit daiquiris when I made them, but it sure look like I did.  I am hoping that when I combine them into the entire block you won't notice them too much!

Guess what folks, this means I am almost caught up!  I should be caught up by tomorrow, which is when I hope to put the entire block together.  Man, it will be so nice to finally be caught up with something for a change!

Linking up to The Star Surround Quilt Along hosted by Melissa at Happy Quilting.

Happy Quilting!


Quilt Photography Workshop - August 2013

 Monday, August 26, 2013

Beth from Plum and June has decided to shake things up a bit and is now hosting a monthly photography workshop, which you can find the details for it here.  I was very excited she started this workshop because Beth always has such beautiful pictures on her blog, so I am very excited to read her "tips and tricks"!  Actually there are a lot of blogs out there that do, so I really can't wait to see what they all come up with on the link up days.  My absolute favorite part of blog posts are the photos, so this is an area that I really want to improve on my blog.  In fact, I have enrolled in an online Craftsy class, called "Shoot It, A Product Photography Primer", which can be found here.  So I am curious to see how my photos progress after taking this class and as the link ups continue.

Anyways, I am definitely in the learning stages of the photography world.  Beth has asked us to take pictures of some of our fabric stash and to share what works and what doesn't work.

First or all, I use a Nikon Coolpix S205.  Yes I know this is a very simple point and shoot camera that I got several years ago for only $100.00, but that is what I have to use right now.  Maybe someday I will get one of those fancy DSLR cameras.  However, I will admit I really like how portable it is.  Typically I shoot it on the "Closeup" setting, which is represented by a "Flower picture" and I always turn off the flash.  I try to use natural light as much as possible, however that is very hard in my house because I don't get a lot of natural light.

I decided to take some pictures of my "newest" fabric collection "flats", which is by Angela Yosten.  I just love this collection.  Anyways, I will show you pics below that are SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) shots from various spots in my house all taken around the same time.  None of these pictures will be edited.  I really wanted to see if I was indeed utilizing the "best photo location for lighting" in my house.  So here we go.

The first picture was taken in my living room right by the picture window where we have a window seat right underneath it.  This is currently where I am taking all of my photos for the blog right now because it is the neatest area of the house as well as the most conveniet for quick photo shoots.

The second picture was also taken in my living room, but right by the front door.  There seems to be a glare on the fabric that kind of washes the aqua fabric out a little bit, so it is not as distinct as the other ones or maybe I am just too picky.

The third picture is taken at my dining room table, which is on the south side of the house across from the living room.  The lighting over here is very touch and go.  This picture is okay, but I do think it changed the color of the aqua fabric a little bit and muted a few of the other colors.

The fourth picture was taken in my daughter's bedroom on my oldest daughter's bed which is next to one window and across from another window.  Both windows are small and this room is on the north side of the house (same side as the living room).  This picture definitely has some really weird glares and is rather blurry.

The fifth picture was taken in the master bedroom next to one window and across from another one.  Our master bedroom is located on the south side of the house right across from the girls' room and both of these windows are small as well.  This picture also has some weird glares and the picture is quite blurry as well.

I still think the living room window seat is my best option.  I did edit this picture below using picmonkey, which I really really like a lot.  It is extremely easy to use.  I usually bring the picture in and then I go to the exposure tab where I do "auto adjust".  I know that is considered a no no, but it works for me.  Next I go to "Sharpen" and click on unsharpen mask where I adjusted the radius for the pic below to 4.03, strength at 110%, and clarity to around 6% or so.  I must say this does change from picture to picture depending on my mood.  Finally, I go to "Effects" and I select "Curves" and I move the graph out to where I like it to make the picture a little bit brighter.  The "Curves" effect is only available to "Royale" customers.  That is it.  I pretty much use these steps for my standard photo editing process.  So far I have liked how it turns out.  See below.

So what do you think?  Do you agree with me?  For our next photography assignment, I think I will try out some of the different "modes" of the camera to see which shot is the best.  I am curious to see how that assignment goes.

Linking up to The Quilt Photography Workshop hosted by Beth at Plum and June.

Happy Quilting!


Star Surround Quilt Along - Building Block Centers

 Friday, August 23, 2013

For Week #4, we are to make the star center portion of the block using the half square triangles made from Week #2's assignment.  You can find the instructions for this week's assignment on Melissa's blog Happy Quilting here.  Mine is show below.  I really love how it is turning out.  I just love and I do mean love this fabric collection!

I am pretty excited because this means that I am catching up to everyone else in the Quilt Along and may actually achieve my goal of being caught up by the end of the week!  Woohoo!

Linking up to The Star Surround Quilt Along hosted by Melissa at Happy Quilting.

Happy Quilting!


Sewing Room Cleanup Along - Before

 Thursday, August 22, 2013

Em over at Sewing by Moonlight is hosting a Sewing Room Cleanup Along.  I wish that I could say I don't need to participate in something like this, but the sad part is I really do.  I am extremely embarrassed to show you the picture below, but she asked us all to be honest and I couldn't possibly get more honest than this!  I don't have any excuse that I just moved like Em does.  The only excuse that I can say is that I work almost full time and I have 2 little girls that my husband and I are extremely busy with!!!  So please forgive me.

The view in the picture above is what you see when you walk downstairs into the basement.  Our basement is pretty much finished and is all open.  I pretty much have the entire space for my sewing area because the girls do not like to go down there by themselves.  They only like to go down there when I am down there.

In the next picture you see my actual sewing desk which is right next to the stairwell.  It is pretty nice and is built right into the wall so it is really sturdy especially when I am using my embroidery machine which needs a very stable surface.  As you can see I have nothing hung on the wall above my embroidery machine.  I did purchase a bulletin board about 3 years ago, which I still have and never hung up!  I wish I could figure out a good method to store all my thread.  I keep my embroidery thread in the bins, but now I am collecting the huge spools of thread for my long arm quilting machine, so if anyone has any ideas please share.  I am very much open to any ideas you can give me!

Right next to the sewing desk, my husband did put up some shelving for me where I was storing my fabric in totes.  Now my fabric is pretty much all over the basement in various shopping bags, so I definitely need to figure out a better fabric organization plan.  I am not sure if the tote idea is working.  Maybe baskets would be better?  Ideas?  Again I am open to suggestions!

The next stop on my messy sewing room tour is my long arm.  This area is pretty much cleared out so I have room to use it.  As you can see I should probably take care of my exercise ball.  My kids like to play with it while I am sewing.  I also have a lot of wall space directly behind my machine that could really be utilized better with some peg board to hang my notions on and a design board.  I really want a design board.  It would make laying out quilts a LOT easier for me I think.  

Right across from my long arm I have two 6 foot tables set up for work space.  You can see these two tables better in the picture below.

I use this space to cut projects out and layout my blocks etc etc.  The nice thing about it is that I can leave stuff out and come back down to it even if I only get a couple of minutes, which is very nice.  However, as you can see I am running out of room and my daughter has even started to take over some of the space with her perler bead collection!  She likes to come down and "craft" with me!

The final stop on my messing sewing room tour is the last 1/3 of the basement.  This is the part of the basement on the other side of my long arm.  We have a bed down there in case my husband gets calls during the night and he doesn't want to wake me up for each and every phone call from work.  We also have a TV area for the kids to watch TV while I sew.  However, it has become more of a "junk" space to store more fabric.  I will say though I did just purchase a part for the excercise bike and this is finally being used again by me, but that is the only useful part about this area.  I do have some ideas for how I want to set up this area a little bit better for my workouts and for the kids to watch TV.

Sorry for the picture quality.  It is a basement, so natural light is literally non-existent!  So there you have it.  That is the honest to goodness tour of my messy sewing room.  You cannot get more honest than that!  I think I have made Em feel A LOT better about her space.  She has challenged us to work on "cleaning up" our spaces to make them more functional, useful, etc etc etc.  My goal is definitely to do this.  Half the time I spend more time looking for things then I do actually sewing and now you can see why!  To be realistic, I probably won't be able to get it all done in the next several weeks, but I do hope to make some very serious headway!  Anything would be better right?

Now my request for you guys is after seeing my space do you have any suggestions for thread storage and fabric storage.  I just can't figure out a "good" method for storing all this stuff.  Do I store it by collection, or color?  How do I handle scraps?  When do I just start throwing scraps away?  What do I do with the stuff that I will never ever use?  You get the idea.  Please feel free to leave me your tips and comments.  I would be extremely grateful for whatever feedback you have to give me.  I need as much "help" as I can get. Where are the Property Brothers (from HGTV) when you need them?  Anyways, wish me luck.  I have a LOT of work to do based on what you see above!

Happy Quilting!


Star Surround Quilt Along - Flying Geese

 Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On Monday, I announced a Quilt Along that Janice from Better off Threads and I are hosting called the "Countdown to Christmas Quilt Along" where we are making Oh Fransson's Advent Calendar.  It's the perfect project for anyone starting out in quilting or someone who would like a slow paced project to work on to get a break from your busy schedule.  I hope that you will take the time to check it out and join us!

Now back to the Star Surround Quilt Along hosted by Melissa at Happy Quilting.  I am still a little bit behind, but I should be able to catch up this week in order to be able to participate in this week's drawing. That is my goal anyways.  Assignment #3 is to make the flying geese.  You can find Melissa's post about it here.  You know how I told you last week that I used to hate making triangles well I must admit that I have an even deeper dislike for flying geese.  For some reason, my points never line up like I want them to and they always seem to look wonky for lack of a better word.  I tried Melissa's method which is a lot different than how I have put them together in the past.  I hate to say it but I still don't like flying geese.  They still look a little wonky, but hopefully some of that will be hidden when I piece the square together!

Can I say that I am very happy to have this "assignment" finished!  Definitely not my favorite homework if you would call it that, but on to Assignment #4!

Linking up to The Star Surround Quilt Along hosted by Melissa at Happy Quilting.

Happy Quilting!


The Countdown to Christmas Quilt Along

 Monday, August 19, 2013

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Better Off Thread"><img src="" alt="Better Off Thread" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

I am very excited to announce that I am hosting a Quilt-along with Janice from Better off Thread.  When I had said that I wanted to do a Quilt-along and I had a pattern idea in mind, she offered to help me because this was my very first experience with hosting one.  I was extremely appreciative and she has been really great to work with!  

The pattern we will be using is by Elizabeth Hartman from Oh, Fransson!, which you can find here.  It is a free tutorial on Sew Mama Sew's website.  Please go see this website to get the PDF instructions so you can follow along.  

I chose this advent calendar because my kids just love and I do mean LOVE Christmas, but hey what kid doesn't.  One of their favorite things about the season is the "Advent Calendar".  Sometimes I think this is actually their favorite part of Christmas!  I typically buy the store bought ones for $2.00 that have candy in them and they get to open them daily if they are good.  However, there isn't a lot of choice when it comes to purchasing these types of calendars.  When I saw Elizabeth's pattern, I knew that I had to make one because then I get to "surprise" the kids on a daily basis with what is in each pocket, so every day can have its own special unique treat.  I can include favorite goodies that each of my daughter's like because of course, they don't like the same thing.  

When Janice and I were discussing the schedule of the Quilt Along, I told her that the one thing I wanted most was to make it easy for everyone to follow along, so this includes working folks as well.  I work almost full time and it is very hard for me to follow the deadlines on some Quilt Alongs because the schedule requires a lot of homework, so this quilt along is definitely something anyone should be able to participate in and keep up with!  

The schedule is as follows:
  • August 19th - Announcement of Giveaway and sponsors
  • September 2nd - Quilt Along begins:  Choosing fabrics and fabric requirements
  • September 16th - Cutting and layout variations
  • September 30th - Applique techniques (machine, hand, puff-paint, ironed on).  The options are endless for how you would like to add your numbers to the pockets.  
  • October 14th - Piecing
  • October 28th - Quilting ideas
  • November 11th - Binding
  • November 25th - The Big Reveal and ideas for what to put in the pockets.
On each of these dates both Janice and I will have linkups on our blogs for everyone to show their progress along the way.  It is always fun to see how everyone else is coming along and their "interpretations" of the project!  If you do not have a blog, please post your pictures in the flickr group, which can be found here. We would love to see your progress as well.  So please, grab a button to get the word out and join in!  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send Janice or I an e-mail.

At the end of the Quilt Along we will have prizes for those who link up to "The Big Reveal".  Four random winners will be chosen to win the following prizes:
I hope you all join in and have fun as we "Countdown our way to Christmas"!  

Happy quilting!


Star Surround Quilt Along - Half Square Triangles

 Saturday, August 17, 2013

Assignment #2 for Melissa's Star Surround Quilt Along is to make the half square triangles for the project. You can find her post about it here.  I used to be terrified of triangles and just points in general.  However, with this common method that she uses to make them, I actually enjoy making them and they have become one of my favorite blocks to make!  So here you go.  My cute little pile of half square triangles completed.

Linking up to The Star Surround Quilt Along hosted by Melissa at Happy Quilting.

Happy Quilting!


Star Surround Quilt Along - Cutting

 Thursday, August 15, 2013

Melissa from Happy Quilting is hosting a Quilt Along called the Star Surround Quilt Along.  I usually don't join these types of things because they are usually too much work for me to keep up with on my busy schedule of almost working full time, taking care of two little girls and a husband, a home, etc etc.  Okay, sorry if that sounds like whining, I only meant it a little because I love my life just wish I could create more "time".  Anyways, Melissa did an excellent job making sure that EVERYONE can participate.  She set it up so you can really do whatever size project you want based on the pattern.  You can make a one block pillow all the way up to a queen size quilt.  This was definitely a lot more work on her part to set up, but I let her know that it was greatly appreciated!  You can find the information for her Quilt Along here.  She is also keeping the linky's open each week until the very end of the Quilt Along as well, so you can join in at any time.

Since I am late joining in because it started July 15th and I don't have a lot of time already due to my sister's wedding this weekend, I am just going to do the one block pillow.  Since I am on a mission to decorate my house for Fall I am going to use some of my Boo Crew collection by Sweetwater for this project as well.

Our first assignment was to cut the fabric up for the project.  So here it is.  All cut and ready to move to assignment #2.  Aren't the spiders and monsters so cute!

Linking up to The Star Surround Quilt Along hosted by Melissa at Happy Quilting.

Happy Quilting!


2013 - A Lovely Year of Finishes - August Goal

 Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I decided to take last month off from joining in on the "Lovely Year of Finishes" because let's be frank not a lot of finishes have been occurring around here lately, so I felt I needed to take a break from it.  However, this month I fully intend on getting back into the saddle and actually finishing something.

A week or so ago I saw a really cute fat quarter bundle of 8 fat quarters of Boo Crew for only $20.00 on Etsy by Sew Lux Fabric. I have been admiring this collection for quite some time, so I really couldn't pass this purchase up.  I received it over the weekend and look at just how adorable it was packaged!

Okay, I know what you are thinking, what happened to my fabric diet?  Well.... I cheated a little bit, but now I am back in the saddle after my weekend purchases.  We will see how long that lasts.  At least I did admit that if I could get my pretty little hands on some of the Boo Crew or Flats collection, my diet might go to the wayside.  Thankfully the Boo Crew craving has been filled, but really who could blame me.  Look at how adorable this collection is.  I just love the little monsters and in the next picture you will see the little spiders. Scary, but not too scary for my kids.

While I was at the Polish Festival in Boyne Falls, I went up to a modern quilt shop in Charlevoix, MI called "Hearts to Holly A Quilt and Gift Shop" and picked up some additional fat quarters of the Boo Crew fabric collection there too.  See below.  It really was a beautiful fabric shop and I will take pictures of it when I go up there next year!  They had a lot of really great fabric collections such as Happy Go Lucky, Boo Crew, Curiosities etc, so if you are ever in the area you should really check it out.

I am so excited that I was able to pick up some of this collection to make a couple of decorations for our home for fall.  It is about time my house starts to get decorated!  The first thing I plan on making is a smaller version of Judy's Pumpkin Table Runner, which you can find the tutorial for it on her blog here.  My goal is to make this table runner by the end of the month!

Linking up to 2013 - A Lovely Year of Finishes hosted by Fiber of All Sorts.
Happy Quilting!


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