Friday, November 14, 2008

Still on earth, just busy!

Wow, I haven't blogged in several weeks! time flies when you're dragging your feet! Truth be told, I have been busy and not busy. Motivated and not.

Today I tore into my sewing room to reorganize and toss stuff I haven't touched in years. Gone was all my tole painting books, dried up paints, old instructions and project sheets, magazines, etc.. I am in my quilting phase for good and will not be returning to painting forever(?) ... hard to say.

When we moved into this house 5 years ago, I wasn't sure how to organize this room. In went a love seat and a matching chair... this house did not have a family room and so we had to put it somewhere. The photo I have not yet taken because I am washing the sofa slipcover will show that there is a nice sitting area with a TV cabinet and built-in book shelves. Nice, but I'd rather have the room to set up my Hinterberg frame which sits in pieces waiting for me to make the big move and get rid of the couch and chair!

The built-in cabinets in the room and throughout the house are well done, really nice. But I just stuffed things in them 5 years ago and now that I am retired, I am committed to going through the house and reorganizing the junk that got 'temporarily' tossed into all the cabinets. That project will take me a long long time, cuz I have to be motivated to subject myself to such a distasteful project. I started with my sewing room 'cuz the mess it was in was keeping me from working in it. Ergo, I have not sewed in weeks. Clutter, dust devils, disorganization, yuck, who'd want to work in that environment? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Once I have this room in order I will be able to sit and work in it again without sneezing my head off from all the dust and devils. Then I will finish the baby quilt and camp quilt started oh so long ago. Speaking of the baby, of course I do have a photo or two to share. Biased or not, this child is cute cute cute!

Until next time, take care everyone. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Diagonal Pieced Back Excel Formula

Adding on to my previous post, I want to assure you that there is an EASY way to figure out the yardage. Once John Flynn originated the method, others got busy figuring it out and one site posted an Excel template! We can all thank Horizon Quilt Patterns for providing this. I used this formula to assist me in estimating the amount of yardage I would need. Not being too trusting of my cutting and measuring skills, I added a few extra inches.

Another hint I want to share with you. I found the photos on John Flynn's page a bit hard to see, so before I cut into any fabric, I tested his method on a rectangular piece of paper. Once I did that, I understood what to do. 

I will say that a small piece of paper does not compare to 2 yards of fabric all laid out. So here is my next suggestion. Get help. You hold the tip of one corner of the fabric, and have your helper hold the diagonal opposite corner. Then, fold on the fold, taking your helpers corner to yours. Fold that way again. Lay it down and trim about a quarter or an eighth of an inch on the mutltiple folds. When you pick it up, you will have two triangles of equal length!

Then, lay them down and slide one down, leaving the other triangle where it is, until you have the width you need. Double check that you have the length you need as well. Carefully pin the bias seam and stitch about a half inch seam. Press the seam open and then trim the big bunny ears off to arrive at a rectangle.

Again, practice with a piece of paper first if you have trouble understanding how to do this.

A little bonus shot for you all today, in case you follow Brangelina. John Wylie, a local pilot, takes some very interesting aerial shots from time to time. Here is a shot of Brad Pitt's beach house near El Capitan Beach in the Santa Barbara area.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quilt tops and Piecing the Backing

It's been  too long since my last post, but I have been busy... kind of.  I have been down to Los Angeles to help my sister Leslie and her friend Maureen each recuperate from surgery. Leslie's was planned... cataract surgery; Maureen's was not... emergency appendectomy with complications. Eleven days later, Maureen is still not doing that well. She sees the doctor tomorrow. 

Before I left, I finished my Camp Ocean Pines Retreat quilt top. I am thrilled to say that most of the points lined up well. I loved putting the sashing in as it surely helped square everything up. I actually have not used sashing before. This was an excellent project for learning color choices and precision piecing. Thanks Annie Smith!!

Here's a block close up: 

As soon as I finished the top, I set out to use John Flynn's method of piecing a back diagonally on the baby quilt top I made. (To find his directions, scroll half way through the above link.)

I am thrilled to say, I figured it out and successfully pieced it together. Luckily, I had two Costco tables I could set up in a spare room to prepare the quilt sandwich. The quilting is not my favorite part! I need a lot of practice with free motion quilting! I have lots of books and videos and classes on machine quilting but now I have to get in a lot of practice time. Poor baby quilt. It will have to be my practice piece for now. I have a feeling I may have to resort to stitch-in-the-ditch method for my camp quilt!

Oh, by the way, of course when I was down at my sister's, I had to go shopping too. Living in a semi-rural locale leaves me famished for shopping at the hot spots like Bed Bath & Beyond, Catherines, Beauty Supply, Claimjumpers, AND Candy's Quiltworks! I just had to buy something at Candy's, like I really needed more projects. I bought a simple Christmas apron pattern with matching potholders. Cute, and maybe fast to make.

I had to chuckle a bit today when my sweet daughter and her husband came up from San Diego for the weekend. They were having fun playing with Baby Carrie, and I caught them playing Peek-A-Boo, or something like it, while Carrie was supposed to be taking a nap. Only difference was, Carrie was practicing the Bronx cheer and Megan and Allan were egging her on. It was fun listening to all three!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fabric Coasters

Last year I was at a professional seminar and one of my colleagues who is an avid quilter was making these coasters. I thought they were really cool, so knowing how bad my memory is, I asked her to show me how while I shot video of her demonstration using my trusty Canon Elph cam. They come together really easily. I hope the video explains the process well enough for you to duplicate. 

Peggy used 5" squares. To make one coaster, do the following. To make a set of four, quadruple it. 

You need 5 squares of your favorite fabrics, one square of lightweight fleece or batting, and one square of white or other color fabric. Fold 4 of the fabrics in half, wrong sides together. Lay them down, as in the video, on top of a sandwich of white fabric, batting, and then your chosen fabric. Stitch all around the square. Turn it right side out, and you are done.  Just follow the video to clarify these scant instructions. Enjoy!

A major issue for me is precision piecing. I have a hard time keeping a consistent scant quarter inch seam. This makes for big problems when you are putting together a quilt square with lots of segments. Well, with the help of some friends, my problem may be solved! 

My friend Maureen gave me a Bendable Bright Light for my birthday so I can see the quarter inch seam guide better on my Janome 6600P. That is one solution. Thank you Maureen! 

The other idea comes from my new friend Janis Shipley. She told me about a Sally Collins DVD on Precision Piecing. I tracked that DVD down and learned a lot from it. Sally just lays her Ott Light down on the bed of the sewing machine to see the presser foot area better. 

THEN, I learned something else from the DVD. When Sally cuts out her fabric, she places her Omnigrid ruler line to the inside of the fabric. The effect of this is she is cutting the fabric a scant bigger than called for! Ah ha, no more stitching a scant quarter inch using your quarter inch foot! If you cut the fabric a scant bigger, you can simply use the quarter inch foot seam guide as it was meant to be! Yea!! I hope this works for me. 

I don't like moving the needle over to account for a scant quarter inch because it seems inaccurate from day to day. Of course, I try to be really accurate when cutting fabric, but I know I mess up at times. I am counting on Sally's idea to end my quarter inch seam woes.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wordle and Spoonflower

Here I am again. Still Saturday. I can't tell you how fascinated I am by all the ideas I have found on blogs! One thing leads to another and you can go from one blog to another blog to another and easily get lost. Well, I found this great idea at this last blog. 

Have you ever heard of Wordle? I played around with it in August and had a lot of fun. I showed it to a former colleague who wanted me to make a poster for her for an upcoming school event. Time passed and I forgot about Wordle till now.

Enough suspense already. Go to this web site and play around... Wordle. I suggest you leave out unnecessary words to arrive at the best looking design. Words like... and, to, the, but, etc. If this kind of fascinates you, read the directions they provide which will show you how to change fonts, colors, direction, and more. 

When I was happy with one of my 'designs', I took a screen shot of it to save it to my hard drive. Mac users can hit the Shift-command-4 keys to select the area they want to include in the screen shot, or, you can hit Shift-command-3 to obtain a shot of your entire screen. PC users: you have a key on your keyboard that says Screen or something like that. 

So, on with the cool idea I came across. This pillow image comes from jcaroline. Check out what she has to say about using a Wordle design to create cool things. Her blog is really interesting and she has an online shop that has decorator and other fabrics and goods. I am still discovering all that she has on her various sites.

In order to get a usable Wordle image you will capture your favorite design online and then print it out on fabric sheets using your inkjet printer. I can see lots of possibilities for this. If you make a Wordle project, will you take a photo and send it to me? I would love to see all the creative ideas people could come up with. 

Spoonflower: I mentioned it in the title for this blog. This is an amazing new fabric design group that offers all of us the opportunity to have our designs printed on fabric, and not by a home style inkjet printer. Go to their site and read what they are all about. They are still developing the process and are in beta testing thus far. 

Today's sports news... Notre Dame won handily and now I am watching the Dodgers wipe out the Cubbies. As a big sports fan, I am in heaven. USC took care of Oregon, avenging themselves after their loss last week to Oregon State and last year to Oregon. I'll have to check on UCLA and see how they are doing. Not a big year for them thus far.

Making a Pillowcase

I haven't made a whole lot of progress on my two projects this week. I did get over to Creation Station and buy backing for the ladybug quilt and sashing and border material for my Fabric Choices quilt. I am now watching Notre Dame football vs. Stanford. Most of my readers are Domer fans so I can be safe in saying that the Irish are currently wiping out Stanford. Of course, that could change. The Thousand Oaks kid, QB Jimmy Clausen, is doing a much better job this year. And, he finally cut his straggly mop. Bet the coach made him do it. Or his mom.

Anyway, I was reading a query on the Janome Yahoo Group where someone wanted to know how to make the pillowcases that are so popular right now. So, here's my story. I became aware of these a couple of years ago but never made one. Lost the pattern too, but now the patterns are everywhere. It's easier to watch someone put one together than to read directions, so, last summer I was at Candy's Quiltworks in Reseda and asked one of the ladies to show me how to do it. I took out my trusty Canon Elph cam and shot the following video. 

WARNING: This video has one error! 
I did what they demonstrated and had to take it apart after I stitched the layers together. The mistake they made was that the main body (largest) piece is supposed to be laid down with the wrong side up... the gal in the video put it right side up. Otherwise, the video is correct. 

If I had read Jen Buettner's blog more carefully, I would have caught the mistake. By the way, Jen's blog has all the instructions you will need to make a pillowcase. Be sure to check it out.

So, when the football game was over, I trekked upstairs and made two pillowcases. Once the three pieces are cut, they take very little time to put together. I think the next time I make one, I will make the flange much narrower. I cut a 3" piece for the flange and I think I will follow Jen Buettner's advice and make it 2" . It makes it stand out better being smaller, I think. 

Here is our cutie pie in her new green dress. Most appropriate for a Domer day!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A New American!

No, not baby Carrie. It is Allan, my #2 son who, as of Friday, Sept. 26, was sworn in as an American citizen. Born of Scottish parents, Allan grew up in Hong Kong's international community, completed his university studies in London, and then came to the U.S. to become a highly successful animator in the video game field. On April 19 of this year, he and my oldest daughter Megan were married aboard a yacht in Newport Harbor. It was an absolutely perfect day, and Allan is an absolutely wonderful SIL. We are soooo happy he joined our family. Here in this photo, he is meeting baby Carrie, born May 26, for the very first time. Congratulations, Allan!! We love you!!

Megan and Allan had a pretty busy week last week. On Tuesday, movers arrived and packed them up for a move to San Diego. Wednesday, they moved into their new apartment in Del Mar. Thursday was Megan's 35th birthday. Friday was Allan's big day at the Los Angeles Sports Arena where a smallish group of 18,000 new Americans were charged with allegiance to the United States.   Apparently, our officials do not know how to manage large crowds. It was a grueling experience, but Allan will be the first to say he's glad he did it. So are we! BTW, the 18,000 sworn in that day were divided into three groups of 6000. Can you imagine how many people earn citizenship every month in the U.S.?? Mind boggling. As an aside that will not be appreciated by all... I hope they all vote for Obama! Would that it were Clinton/Obama rather than Obama/Biden. Can't imagine the elusive Gov. Palin running the country. Disastrous!!

Well, of course since I mentioned baby Carrie, I will just have to post this photo of her I took today. Impish little smile. I can safely say that this is the happiest baby I have ever seen. Granted, the first three months of her life were very colicky. Ohmigosh, I thought we would all run away. Hanging in there paid off, and Voila!, what emerges but the sweetest cutest little girl baby ever. I'm not at all biased, am I?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cambria Quilt Retreat

What could be more relaxing and fun than a quilt retreat in Cambria with the wind whistling through the trees and a sunlit ocean view? On Friday Sept 19, a bevy of fabric hungry quilters met up in Paso Robles to begin a mini shop hop before hunkering down for a 4-day quilting frenzy at Camp Ocean Pines

Led by the energetic Annie Smith of Quilting Stash / SimpleArts, stops were made at Wine Country Quilting and The Quiltery in Paso Robles, and Quilters Cupboard and Sew Fun in Atascadero. Having found a treasure trove of fabrics and other goodies, we headed for camp and our first wonderful dinner meal in the ocean view dining lodge.

Following dinner, everyone went to set up their sleeping cabins and their sewing gear. Then we got down to some serious quilting... after introductions, Annie commenced our lesson in color value and fabric choices. Without a doubt, she presented the best compilation of color and fabric aids that I have ever been introduced to. (Francia the English teacher: I know... improper grammar - dangling preposition or something like that.)

The next day, ready and roaring to go, we worked on our sample color charts, learned how to arrange fabrics from light value to dark value, and began to finalize our fabric choices for our project quilt. Of course, we had a field trip to Morro Bay's Cotton Ball so we could purchase needed fabrics. All of the shops were ready for us and we sure filled the aisles, all 14 of us. A good day for the shops, I would think. We collectively spent a lot of $$.

As we arranged fabric pieces here and there, we got to know each other and enjoyed seeing color through different 'eyes'. Amazing how different a block appears when different prints and colors come together to make a whole. 

The photos here show: Fabric in order of value along with sample blocks made by all;  one of my fabric blocks; my sister Leslie and Janis, Aneda and Linda hard at work; and our special visitor, Jabber the Owl, who was being socialized by camp personnel prior to a crowd of middle schoolers arriving at camp that day.

As our retreat wound down, we realized we had bonded well as a group and determined to stay in contact one way or another. Our next retreat has been booked in March and then again in September of 2009. I personally can't wait to hear from our new quiltie friends and see their work. Such a special group, led by a special person... Annie Smith.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Month Later

I have no idea where the days went! A lot has transpired since Labor Day which I will probably mention in the next several blogs.

On Carrie's Quilt: I pondered more on what method of applique to use to populate the quilt with ladybugs, as per the pattern requirements. After several indecisive days, I used the method suggested in the pattern - freezer paper. Of course, along the way I got creative and made some dumb mistakes. I'm not sure anyone will notice, but I sure will. I misunderstood the placement of some of the pattern pieces, which could have been much better drafted, and machine stitched them in place. I cut out the backings and pulled out the freezer paper. Wow, I thought. I'm moving right along. Until I realized that I had positioned them wrong. Too late to change anything because I had already cut out the backing. Consequence is that the walking ladybugs have their feet attached to the side of the wings rather than the body. Drat. I had this nailed I thought. And then I see what a goof I made. Oh well. Onward.

On Carrie: Thanks to eBay, she has the cutest designer clothes ever. It is incomprehensible to me to spend big bucks on baby clothes, so buying them online as 'hardly used' and never abused makes complete sense. Heather has scored big in auctions and Carrie can be very proud of her wardrobe! At four months old today, Carrie has many functions to attend. She has PEP group, Kindermusik, and now Valley Baby to attend each week. It is important to look good, of course, for these activities. Take a look.

On my sister Leslie: thanks to her loving support, we weathered Jerry's trip to Bass Lake well. Leslie came and stayed with us for nearly a week, helping us handle all things Carrie. You know, it really does take a village to raise a baby. I am fortunate to have a sister who will do anything to help out. She had spent several days previous helping my sister Susan through a foot surgery. Many many jewels have been adhered to her heavenly Crown!

I hate to write pages and pages in this entry, so there will be more tomorrow and the next day.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Carrie's Blankie

Way back in March, way before Carrie was born, I bought the fabric to make a cute ladybug quilt. Needless to say, with work, Megan's wedding in mid-April, and other plentiful excuses, the quilt never got made. This is now the last day of August and I got it started! 

It's kind of like this. Work on the quilt, procrastinate a few days, work some more, etc. What finally got me started on it was this - Carrie has grown out of the bassinet. She needs to move into the crib. I need to make the bumper pads so she can be safe in the crib. So, Heather and I went to Creation Station to pick out coordinating fabric for the bumper pads. Then I washed all the fabric and Voila! the bumper pads got done that day. Then I cut out the blocks for the quilt. Today I pieced the blocks and border strips together. Tomorrow, the applique. Maybe this will even be done in a few days!

BG (aka Baby Girl) submitted to before and after bath photos while I was piecing. Here she is in all her nekkid glory.

Then it was nap time and she curled up tight in her Mom's arms.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Greetings from Santa Ynez!

Welcome, everyone, to the B 'n J Barber Lucky Lavender Lane blog! 

The B is me, Bonnie. The J is my husband of 36 years, Jerry. We have three grown children, Megan, Heather and Patrick, and one new grandchild, Carrie, whom you will see and hear plenty of if you continue to follow this blog. We have three dogs, Nevada-Frasier-LucyLou, and one older white cat, Lizzy. Undoubtedly, from time to time, you will see photos of them as well. 

You will see and hear about life on Lucky Lane; about quilts; about family; about things going on in our lives. I'm not sure anyone would really be interested, but it's fun to do and I guess I will read it, if no one else does!

When blogs first got popular, I couldn't see what anyone would want to know about a stranger. Now, I am obsessed with checking my blogs and finding out new 'stuff'. The blogs I read are about quilting. I found them through my Yahoo Groups... suggestions from other people on the lists. It is kind of fun peeking into other people's daily existence. Kind of gives me a boost to get 'doing'.

So, on this Saturday of Labor Day weekend, I leave this blog to go read some others, and to ponder why I thought I should do a blog. Secret is, Megan and Allan (our daughter and her dear husband) beat me to it. I love their blog and it prompted me to try one too!