Monday, July 30, 2012

English Paper Piecing... The 1 inch hexagons continue!

My English Paper Piecing (EPP) project continues. I believe it will continue on for a good year or more! I would love to turn this project into a king size quilt to snuggle under some day.

I now have an entire 20 flowers finished. With a new set getting ready to be started. Sometimes I feel like I should be making faster progress but then again it is all handwork that I usually only get to do while I'm sitting on an airplane. It is very rewarding and I am certainly enjoying the process.

I wanted to put up some pictures that have inspired me. However, I am never quite sure of copyright laws and infringements (which is why I do not use Pinterest)

So instead I will give you a couple of links to pages that I like.
Sue Daleys Busy Fingers is what got me started. I picked up some of her products at a quilt shop in Delaware last holiday season. She has a nice blog and an online store with high quality products. To bad shipping from the land down under is so expensive!

Another website that has great pictures as well as EPP products for sale is:
They have a great tab with pictures of completed quilts submitted from customers. Very inspirational, lots of hexagon quilts to look at. They have great prices on their papers much less expensive that busy fingers, however not quite as durable. BUT... The shipping is very reasonable.

Here are some photos from my work room. I am playing with ideas in my mind of having some groups of flowers together as 3's. With the rest interspersed as singles. It will be fun to play with. The other nice thing is that I am only purchasing fat quarters of fabric as I need. This way I can pick whatever colors fancy me at that time. The next set of flowers are going to be white with yellow centers.
Set of 3 flowers sewn together as a grouping

completed flowers

Next set of flower fabrics

- Posted by Steph from my iPad
Location:Lisle, IL

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zip Lining, Rope Bridges, Lowering Stations.... Canopy Tour!

Not Sewing!!

A 4 hour tour through the trees in the beautiful forests of North Carolina.

It was super fun, exciting, thrilling and sometimes down right hard! And a bit scary at times. Overall a great sense of accomplishment!!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, NC

Friday, July 27, 2012

Serged Picnic blanket top and the toad

Greetings from Charlotte, NC. I arrived here this evening and will be spending the next 6 days here for work.

I did get lucky enough this morning to get my picnic quilt top done! Yay :) and all on the serger. It was super fun to do and with an easy block it was a successful serger piecing experiment.

Since seeing the pictures, i am thinking that maybe i should have not used the green blocks on the outside and stuck all with red... Or maybe put green at the top and bottom center as well. Oh well, too late now. I'm not unpicking serged blocks that are for a picnic blanket!

Now to get the rest done. I will need to practice my quilting since I am using an unconventional fabric for the backing. I am thinking that the tension may need some tweaking. I think a simple quilting design will be all that I do and with this measuring at 70 inches square it will be that largest project that I will attempt to quilt on my home sewing machine. I love a good challenge.

I also want to configure some sort of attached closure and carrying strap. Any ideas for closures? Any one prefer snaps to Velcro?

Before I left for the airport I was waiting all my potted flowers and plants outside and I this guy hopped up onto the deck. Ok, well he actually more like climbed up onto the deck. It always makes me smile when i see frogs and toads on my property. They are so sensitive to the environment and we have made an good effort to be 'clean' property owners. This is the fourth amphibian I have seen in the past couple of weeks. Yay!!

I don't usually like to pick them up. However, he was headed right towards the dogs and Blue would have no problem playing with this guy and then eating him. That would just be gross.

-Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Charlotte, NC

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kitchen Delights: home made pickles and zucchini nut bread

This week of working from home and no travel has been quite nice. I have been able to play in the sewing room and the kitchen after my work is done.

It will not last long, I leave tomorrow afternoon for 5 nights in Charlotte, NC for a big work convention/tradeshow.

Anyway... On to the Pickles. I checked out a new book from the library on small batch preserving, Food in Jars. It has some interesting recipes, nice photos and cute anecdotes on the history of various types of methods and how they developed. Only problem is that it is slightly too small batched. For the amount of work it takes to do water bath canning I would prefer bigger amounts. So with that in mind, I used this small batch method to play around a bit. I figure with only 3 pints from each batch if they come out horrible not such a big loss. ;)

Both were variations of Bread and Butter pickles.
The first was made sweeter with apple cider vinegar, red sweet peppers along with fresh dill heads.

The second was made with hot Serrano peppers sliced in half and red pepper flakes and turmeric. So more of a spicy/ savory type. My hope is that with the addition of the hot peppers that these come out with a kick!

And then of course I had to make some Zucchini nut loaf. It is so darn yummy and I was able to use up one of my very large zucchinis that seem to pop up in the garden overnight.

The heat we have been having this summer has been very difficult on one of my cucumber plants. This particular variety just doesn't seem to like their when we go over the 100' mark. It has nothing not do with it being dried out either, it's just that the plant itself doesn't tolerate that high heat and just withers.

Good thing I like to plant a variety of plants!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More on quilting with the serger

I did another set of quilt blocks on the serger, these ones turned out even better than the first ones. I had no idea that I could be this accurate with piecing on my serger!

I took a couple of notes and pics to share with you. ( and also as a future reference for my self!)

A couple things to note:

- I tested my cutting width from knife edge to left needle and found the perfect setting for me that is a scant 1/4 inch. On my evolution when using a 4 thread overlock stitch it should be set to M. I do not use the knife to cut, just trim any stray hairs and as a guide.

- I put on the clear foot. Really helped to see when I was piecing the smaller pieces.

- I only finger pressed in between chain piecing. Partly due to me wanting to be faster (laziness :) and secondly because pressing bias grain cut pieces can distort them if not careful.

I am hoping to get the last set of blocks done tonight and then onto the tedious trimming of the blocks and then more fun of sewing them together!

*** and yes... I finally figured out how to make my pictures bigger form my iPad app!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quilting with my serger

I have decided to try doing some quilting with my serger. One of the ladies that runs serger club does most of her quilt piecing using her serger. So I thought, why not give it a try. Although... I must say my lovely Symphony is sending me dirty looks. LOL

I have been wanting to make an easy pieced picnic quilt with a cotton top and a more impervious back to it so wet grass or dirt won't be a staining problem. I have plenty of 1000 denier nylon left over from my days with horses so I thought I try out this project.

I am doing a simple pinwheel block that measures 10 inches and making 2 sets of blocks from stash fabric. I am honestly not worrying about making the blocks match perfectly at the angles. This is a bit of an experiment to see what I can really get away with on my serger! I am serging away with old seasons of Bones playing on my iPad while I work. SUPER relaxing and fun!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rust dyeing and garden play

This summer I have finally tried my hand at rust dyeing. I first saw some examples of rust dyed fabric a couple years ago at a sewing expo and was intrigued. Then came broken leg and two years of recovery... Finally I have gotten to play! I am currently working on my third piece and have been playing with minor variations each time. Each piece takes at least 5 days to complete.


Day one:

Day five:

Final result:

I went out to take some pictures today the sun was brightly behind me and I had some fun shadow play.

The darned rabbits have struck again and in one day decimated almost all of my green beans. One last layer of chicken coop wire fencing went up today. Now unless they dig down 10inches, are smaller than 1 in or can jump 3 feet high they will not be getting in the garden.

Luckily it is early enough in the season that I pulled all the rabbit chopped plants and replanted new seeds for the green beans and the sugar snap peas. I also planted a second crop of green onions, more spinach and of course more radishes. The cucumbers, summer squashes, tomatoes and eggplants are all producing beautifully.

Now that the garden is in full summer swing the birds have discovered both the bugs and the tender young seedlings. I made a bird deterrent from old CD's strung together and hung them over the spinach which seems to be their favorite! The sun plays off the CD's and is supposed to scare away the birds. We shall see if it works.

My (adult) daughter Melissa and her friend Lauren were kind enough to pose for me under my massive growing sunflowers! Still no flowers on them yet but you can see them forming in the middle.

Blue and Holly both found a nice spot on the lawn to roll in, those hound dogs just love to get all stinkied up!!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Horse Show Day

I spent this beautiful summer Saturday at a local horse show. Promoted the website, chatted with friends, watched some very lovely horses jump in the afternoon Derby class. Horse shows always make me miss my horses and miss riding!

My friend Emily and her horse Fiona. A Beautiful pair!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Roscoe, IL

Friday, July 20, 2012

Giving back by stash busting! And other things...

The news this morning is very sad. My prayers and thoughts go out to the families, loved ones and friends of those in Aurora, Colorado.

Now onto my regular scheduled blog....

In my last serger club one of the projects was making a project for Quilters Comforting Kids. ( this used to be the Illinois chapter of Quilts for Kids). I was immediately thinking what a great way to use some of those quilting cottons that I have been holding onto that I have no foreseeable future use for. I was actually thinking of donating the fabric but making something is even better! Unfortunately I really don't have the time to make a quilt but a smaller project is doable. The project I picked is saddle bags/ wheelchair bags/ walker bags. They measure about 15 x 27 and fold over and tie with pockets on either side and ribbon ties. A great evening project, a perfect way to give back and to make room for new fabric!!

I finished the placemat project with a runner/pad for each set. I did not have enough fabric to make a traditional matching centerpiece but I had plenty of scraps to work with. Using my serger I sewed all the scraps together, then cut them up and re-sewed several times until I liked what I saw. They somewhat resemble crazy quilting and the sharp angles play nicely off the prairie points on the placemats.

I really liked the idea of a round center piece by my table is just too small and only a narrow rectangle fits with placemats.

This week was a productive one for me. I was not traveling and my hubby was out of town so each evening I found myself playing on projects! I spent one evening working on more super secret wedding stuff and another evening saw me in the kitchen putting up my first batch of bread and butter pickles. Yummy!!!!!

Now for some random pics from the garden :)

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL

Monday, July 16, 2012


My summertime is flying by! I realized yesterday that it has been over a month since my last post.... Bad me.

Life has been busy. Busy working in the yard and the garden, busy having some staycation time, busy with the 4th of July, very busy with work. I took a couple weeks off mid-june from the sewing studio just because I wanted to focus on outdoor projects without feeling too pulled in multiple directions. Recently I have been busy with some DIY wedding projects, some home dec projects (new placemats for my table and some for a birthday gift for someone special) and a fun summer dye project that I am having fun playing with.

Placemats with prairie points, something fun :)

This picture makes the placemat look totally wonky... I swear it's not. Perfectly straight and beautiful. I thinks the way the light and flash reflected off the crown pearl rayon makes things look funny.

Outdoor report:
The yard is a battle to keep watered. We are in the midst of a multi week heat wave/drought. Most lawns around us are dry and brown, including my front lawn. Our shade garden which is losing its shade from a dyeing tree overhead has just been burnt crispy.

My veggie garden is looking beautiful. I have been having to run the sprinkle for an hour every morning just to keep up with this brutal weather.

The bunnies have been giving me a hard time. A second layer of rabbit fence has recently been added and I think the destruction has stopped. Only time will tell, they are crafty little buggers! They have eaten all my spinach and lettuce, a bunch of green beans and sugar snap peas. I think it is earliest enough in the season to re-plant the snap peas and beans.

My future son-in-law has been hard at work on a fountain project in the yard. This is a works in progress and I am looking forward to seeing the final project. I love hearing the water tinkling and flowing.

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL