Wednesday, September 15, 2021

September News

 The last day of the Alaska State Fair is always Labor Day. I was happy to get my three entries back home with me. I got a pretty purple division champion ribbon for my, "Hold Everything 2.0," bag. I entered two quilts and the Christmas theme won a first place ribbon with my Sparklers quilt picking up a third place ribbon. 


I finished quilting my, "Tropical Dreams," quilt. It took me three weeks to quilt this king-sized quilt...110 x 110 inches. I used Dream Puff batting which is lighter weight but gives a nice dimension to the quilting. My DIL has been admiring this quilt all summer long as I've had it draped around my sewing room for months. Her appreciation has been noted. 

I have finished two of the latest Mill Hill Santa ornaments. I had a comment about access to vintage Santa ornament patterns but I was unable to respond since the comment was flagged as a "no reply blogger." This is a default setting for leaving comments and if you want me to be able to email a reply, you have to change your settings. You can google how to do that. You can also message me through my public Facebook page or Instagram page...both are listed as "And Sew Forth."


I planted beets in my garden this year and was quite successful! I also canned them. I'm so proud of myself...my first foray into the canning world.

My poor cat is plagued with ongoing rash issues. We are seeing a specialist next week. I sure hope we find some answers. My dog, Logan, was snoozing away while I was quilting a few days ago and Eli just decided to join him. There was another empty dog bed in my sewing room but Eli wanted to be on the one with Logan.

My animals do entertain me!

Saturday, August 21, 2021

A Bit of Progress

The hardest part of quilting for me is getting a quilt loaded on my frame. I am going to tackle a king-size top which takes even more effort... just getting the backing ironed takes too much time! 


I find with my very simple frame it really is a must to baste the whole king-sized quilt first. 

So...trying to keep the quilting simple...free handing some leafy designs in the blocks.

Update on the next bag project.
All the fabric pieces are cut and labeled. Awaiting an order from By Annie for other supplies.


My latest Bucilla stocking kit has been challenging. I am now to the easy parts....just making lots of little sea shells and fish to add all around the quilt.


We had some more cat drama. Poor Eli has had a third rash flare up. He is on the mend and I hope to take his cone off tomorrow. We are going to schedule an appointment with a specialist.


He is very good at looking pathetic.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Quilting...Almost

I turned on my quilting machine...first time since April. 

I've been bitten by the "bag making bug."

I really want to make a travel bag for my cutting mat and rulers for quilt retreats, and By Annie has one that looks just right.

 

I quilted my coordinating back and front fabrics with by Annie's Soft and Stable. 


It took me a few hours just to quilt a yard and half...I probably could have gone with a bigger motif but I just naturally quilt densely. I tried drawing bigger flowers on my plexiglass panel to practice but I kept doubting the spacing.

The last By Annie bag I made took me several weeks to construct so who knows how long this will take me. So far, two days into the process.

Despite not quilting or even piecing blocks since mid May, I still bought fabric. 
The internet is a big enabler for me.

So...I think I have a brilliant idea. 
Go ahead and kit up several quilt projects while I start getting back to quilting on my Nolting. 

Like most quilters...there is a big lag between when I finish a top and when it gets quilted. 
I've got over 30 tops needing to get quilted. 

And...I am always frantically kitting up projects days before a quilt retreat or just a project day when I meet with a group at our local quilt shop.

The first quilt kit is a freebie pattern, "Absolute Autumn," from the Fort Worth Fabric Studio. It is a mystery from last year. There are also videos to accompany the pattern but I haven't watched any of them yet. 



The second kit is also a freebie pattern, "Craft Buddy Quilt and Buddy," from Windham Fabrics.
I have a running gift theme with my granddaughter when it comes to llama. Her birthday is in January so it should be a project I can get done quickly.


I have a new website to me that has become another enabler for quilting ideas and fabric, Jordan Fabrics. They do a weekly video where they make a complete quilt. 

My third kit pattern is from one of their videos, "Slice of Cake, Slice 2" from Me and My Sister Designs. It includes two patterns, "Slice 1," and, "Slice 2." The construction method is vey fun and I immediately thought of  Fourth of July fireworks when I saw the quilt. 


Last winter I spent some of my time looking through all the quilt patterns I had saved from magazines. I had two copies of the pattern below. One from the original magazine and one I downloaded from the internet. I think that was a major indication I really like this pattern. It's, "Ice Castles," from the February 2009 issue of McCalls Quilting. I have always been drawn to the snowball block...it makes such a great secondary block in many designs.


I also just happened to have the dark snowflake print yardage used in the blue outer border. And one of my first purchases when the quilt stores opened back up was the background fabric that was just delivered to the store. I'm telling you...some major serendipitous moments have happened already with this quilt. I think it is going to bring me good luck to make it. And double awesome...all the patchwork fabrics are from my stash.


I have a lot more I would say about the, "Ice Castles," pattern but I will share that when I start sewing it...more to blog about later...I should write a note about that right now so I don't forget. 

The last quilt retreat I attend was the first week of May. 
Retreats are another major enabler event.

  One of the ladies had all these really cool quilting-themed batiks. I. Went. Nuts. Came right home and ordered them from Missouri Star Quilt Company. They commissioned this line of fabrics with Island Batik. Initially they were out of fat quarters so I ordered charms.

So...I'm making the pattern, "Chandelier," from one of my favorite charm-themed books, "Charm School," by Vanessa Geortzen. I'm going with a black background that has a faint stitching line running in curves which is tough to see in the photo.


A week or so after the batik charms arrived, fat quarters and yardage was back in stock. Yep...had to buy more.  I was able to get some light backgrounds with the sewing theme along with a set of fat quarters. I got a few other pieces of yardage in some of the colors. I'm planning to make Lori Holt's pattern, "Sew By Row."


Of course there are many more kits in my head I would like to make but I don't want to get too ahead of myself. I have a retreat in September, October, February and May. I'm almost ready!

I did it! Three days in a row of blogging. (The weather was absolutely awful)

Next goal - get a quilt top loaded on the quilting frame and finish making the sewing batik kits. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Handwork Projects

 I officially finished the last vintage cross stitch kit in my stash by the designer, Sandra Cossolino.
"Making Gingerbread," is a tough kit to find but I snagged a new kit on eBay.


There are other enthusiasts who collect her kits and the internet has enabled us to find each other. 
This gives us an option to share out of print patterns. Below is, "Loading Sled." I have one more vintage pattern in the series in my files and am still hunting for yet one more in the series.


Luckily, Sandra Cozzolino is still designing three new Santa ornaments every year and I have started one of the new ones. This year's theme is, "Christmas Morning."

I am venturing into cross stitch designs by other designers. I follow a mother and daughter designing team on YouTube, Stitching with the Housewives. They release one or two designs a week. I am not even going to try and make all of their designs.

I finished, "Trick of Treat," a couple of months ago. Their designs are inspired by chalkboard art the mom has been drawing for years.


I am waiting for fall decorations to hit the stores so I can get some inspiration for finishing this piece. I don't want to do just a plain frame since the designers also have great ideas for alternate ideas for finishes.

My new DIL has picked out stockings for her and my son. 
They were married in Hawaii so an ocean theme grabbed her interest.


The toughest part of this stocking was definitely stitching the face. Plaid, the company that owns Bucilla, came up with the brilliant idea to include two copies of the felt for faces that are so finely detailed. Even with all my experience stitching these kits....I needed a second chance to get this face right. 


Then I had a second stumble...I ran out of sequins for the mermaid's tail. I raided several other kits in my stash but the sequins were just enough different to make me hesitate to add them to the tail. I called  Plaid and requested more sequins. 


The new sequins were not the same...so I spent two evenings carefully removing all the sequins. I mixed the two sequins and love the extra sparkly effect they make.


While waiting for the sequins, I started the companion ornament kit. 
I managed to get the first face stitch nicely on the first try. 
Very tiny stitching.


Quilting was very much on the back burner this summer. But I was determined to finish a blouse I had cut out months ago. It was a quick pattern to make and I like the design...


but too big.

 I tried taking it in but it just feels to big!

 I made most of my clothes when I was in my twenties and thirties...and I just went with the same size I always made...but I think the pattern companies have biggie-sized their patterns. I am going to keep trying...but next time I'm going down at least one size...maybe two. I just want to get a few blouse patterns I know work for me and make them. I can do this.

 Thankfully this fabric was on sale, half-priced, but it's pretty and I'm sad it didn't work.

I did it...two days in  row of posting. 

August is usually our rainy month...and we are getting the usual rain.

This week I quilted for the first time since April. 

More about that tomorrow. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

2021 Summer - Landscaping Projects

 Summers are always busy!

I obviously missed posting weekly (yes...I wish I posted weekly...doing very badly for 2021).

  To avoid an overwhelming post recapping my life, I am planning to post for the next three days. Maybe it will happen. (The weather forecast is rain).

First...the majority of my time has been spent on my landscaping projects. 

I tackled an area at the front of our acre. We have this boulder that was needing some company so I gathered hefty round rocks from around our lot plus every now and then a round rock got delivered with the fractured rock I bought.


It has been three weeks since I took the above picture and I can't believe how much the plants have taken to their new space.

My biggest project was to fix the part of our yard that was destroyed by the installation of a new septic tank two years ago. I am happy to say I have officially finished that area.


My septic engineer said it was fine to rock around the man hole covers so...I did.


The new raised bed at the base of the birch tree gets lots of sunshine so I put in 12 blueberry bushes. I have 11 blueberry bushes on the side of the house and there are never enough berries to freeze. I think blueberries are the favorite fruit in the Bailey house.

In the photo below, the mechanical box on the side of the house is the brains of our septic system. This whole section of my existing landscape got torn up in the new installation so I made some major changes when I reworked the space. I widened and raised the walkway so it was level with the rocked slope to the right. I also widened the fractured rock area and added metal tubs for some future plantings. I did add a few shrubs...we'll see how they weather the winter.


And here is the rock left over. I used all of the huge pile of gravel. 


I will use the leftover rock to start adding tiers for planting on the little grassy hill which I hope to get started this year. Mostly, it will be a big project for next summer. 

My garden has been very productive. I am able to grow beautiful broccoli but I only have a little bit left to harvest. I grew cauliflower for the first time but the slugs hijacked it...darn.

My red cabbage is slowly growing. August is our rainy month and sometimes the slugs ruin my cabbage. I have no idea what to do about slugs. Any suggestions for this year or upcoming years would be appreciated. I've tried to look online for ideas but I never feel like I've found a good solution. I don't want to use chemicals.


I have a large bed of carrots and beets. I'm so excited as I can see the little orange and purple tops of the plants poking out of the soil. I also started a strawberry bed and have gotten a handful of berries to eat. 


Last year I started a second perennial bed in our backyard. It's doing great despite the occasional visits from moose. They don't eat the plants but they do walk right through the middle of the bed and sometimes right on top of the plants.


I love my tub wall in the photo below. 
That was Phase I in my landscaping saga. I think I am on Phase XI now.
My first perennial bed on the left side of the photo is getting crowded. Next spring I will have to do some rearranging and dividing of plants. (I already did some of that last year which is how I started the second perennial bed).


I have a sloped area that I have been striving to clear for a couple of summers.
This little slope gets lots of great sun.
Right now I am leaning toward trying to propagate some more blueberry bushes from cuttings of my plants to cover this area.


And finally...a visitor. 
My DIL snapped this photo as she was going down our driveway. 
Funny thing is we had spent most of her visit outside walking all over the lot.


At least the bear did put in an official appearance for her. 
We've had three black bears regularly sighted on our street this summer.

The dogs have gotten a lot of barking exercise. 

Oh...and the other big summer project that only required money...was the installation of 22 solar panels on our roof. We can monitor our energy production on an app...pretty fun stuff.  One of our neighbors only had a $9.00 electric bill last month. It's a big expense upfront but we do plan to live here forever.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Recap of June

 No quilting of any kind was tackled in June.

I did finish two Bucilla stockings. "Winter Magic," and "Snow Queen." 


My biggest accomplishment was finishing my bag project, "A Place for Everything 2.0."


The front side...


the backside...


and inside.


This pattern from By Annie, is amazing. She has several videos to show her techniques. It took me a month to make this bag...I tried to take my time and work on it a little each day so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed by the challenge. 

I will share pictures of it all packed up with goodies for my next retreat in September. 

The 2021 Santa ornaments from Sandra Cozzolino were released in June.
 I am anxious to get started on this series, "Christmas Day."


I am spending most of my time outside...as it should be!


My blue Himalayan poppies are always the biggest attraction in my perennial beds.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Summer 2021 Underway

We had some visitors. I love it when the critters cooperate for photo ops.

This moose cow had her two-day old calves stroll through my yard. Because of photos from a neighbor's trail cam we were able to nail down when these calves were born. 


And...my other neighbor's horses came to visit...again.

Here's an official "before," photo of this summer's landscaping project. 

So...not much quilting planned but that hasn't stopped me from buying fabric.

I am spending a little time most mornings trying to tackle stitching parts of a fancy tote bag.


Evenings are devoted to handwork. I finished the stocking fronts of two Bucilla kits. The one on the left is the original design from 2008, "Snow Queen." An update to the style was released in 2020, "Winter Magic." I liked the update best. And there were two faces printed on felt so you could "practice." I only needed the one face but it sure was nice to have that backup face just in case.


Gotta run...the sunshine is calling me.