Spending the weekend at my sister's for Easter. Enjoying some down time, sewing Koolaid bags, walking, lying about reading my newest quilt book, and playing games with the kids.
However, there is also a great sale on at Craftsy and thank goodness my ipad is linked to my account! I was able to score the Downton Abbey fabric for the backing to my Double Wedding Ring quilt. I had resisted buying the so-cute Abbey motif fabric since I had already spent so much. My patience was rewarded with 40% off! It was bugging me that it was the last missing piece of the quilt and buying nine yards of fabric wasn't going to be cheap in Canada (let alone matching and as nice quality). I am very content now! Check out Craftsy's awesome fabric sale. The link to the right will take you there. My fabric already shipped!!!!
I was on a roll with my Beginner Serging Craftsy class homework. I bought some samples of various types of fabrics, from linen to fleece to slippery polyester. Testing the serger stitches on different textiles helps you to figure out the proper settings for each. Once each sample has been successfully sewn, into the serger book it goes with notations on how the stitches were achieved.
It was really fun to just play with the machine and it certainly isn't as intimidating as it once was. I feel more confident adjusting the tensions and using the cutting blade, taking out the needles, and knowing what the stitches should look like.
The stitch that took the most effort for me to get right was the rolled hem. I tried and tried to get it to work and I had to keep sending pictures to (instructor) Amy for advice. Then all of a sudden, it worked! I was so excited and happy - realizing that the hem rolls UNDER and not OVER and having the right adjustments for that to happen. The stitches look great and it's a really cool result. I can't wait to make some napkins or something.
The flatlock stitch also took a bit of trial and error but I think I got it pretty well figured out too. I'm not sure I would use it all that often but I will add the sample to the book for future reference.
One awesome thing I figured out while doing all this homework is that the waste basket on the serger station my son gave me just slides out from the base so you can easily empty the trimmings. I want to finish up my samples and get started on some real projects. I have used the serger to finish off the edges of fabric before washing but so far haven't made anything.
I bought this Dirt Devil Broom Vac years ago but never really used it. I thought it was awkward and kind of heavy and since the house was carpeted almost entirely, had little use for it other than in the kitchen. I even considered giving it away to a family member or selling it in a garage sale.
I'm so glad I never did because now it's one of my most useful household items. A couple years back we took out all the carpeting and got laminate wood floors so it's very handy for keeping them tidy. I keep it in my workshop at the ready and it's so easy to zoom around and get rid of the thread and fabric dog ears all over the place. The central vac is a pain to drag out for a quick clean up and the Broom Vac is perfect on the wood floors. You simply sweep up as if using a broom and then step on the 'power' button to vacuum up the dirt and dust.
I know I bought it at Target on one of our trips to the States and I'm guessing it was around $60(?). (hmm, maybe even cheaper. I found it at Dirt Devil on sale for $39.99!!!!!) It is like a broom and a dustbuster combined and it works really well. I am pretty sure the first time I used it 'way back when' I had it turned the wrong way and that's why I found it awkward. I really like using it now and have no trouble.
One of the specialty things recommended by Gail Kessler which I didn't have was silk thread for the applique. I've never used silk thread before and had no idea what kind or colour, or how much, to buy. Fortunately, Gail had everything I needed in her shop, Ladyfingers Sewing Studio. She recommended the shades best suited to the Downton Abbey fabrics and said two spools of each should be adequate. I'm very excited to try such fine thread but hope I don't get too hooked as it's a little pricier than regular cotton thread. I'm sure I will feel very posh using it though!
I also grabbed a pack of these 60/8 Microtex Sharp machine needles by Schmetz. They are the finest available as I understand and are perfect for the silk thread. They will make just the tiniest hole in the fabric. I'm a bit nervous with all the applique I will be doing adhering the 'rings' to the background fabric, but I'm also very pumped to do it! I plan on going slowly to ensure the blanket stitch falls in just the right places.
For the basic piecing, Gail suggested a neutral Aurifil thread. Since I'm already the biggest fan of Aurifil thread I had no problems adding a couple of spools of her preferred colour for this project. It's super close to what I already have but since I know I will use up any leftover thread, and I wanted to get an exact match to the background fabric, I ordered two spools of that too! (Really, it's just beautiful thread and this seemed like a good excuse to get some more!).
Now I'm all set to begin. I have all my required quilt components in a new, larger tote (I've had to resort to storing them under my counter!) and once I have my last two quilts finished (Spools needs quilting, Swoon needs a bit more time to complete), I think I'll be ready to start work on the Double Wedding Ring. As I said, I will take it one step at a time and not rush to get it all finished before starting any other project(s).
I want to add that I used the 'chat' feature on Ladyfingers Sewing Studio website and ended up having a lovely conversation with Gail's son. He was incredibly attentive and helpful as I tried to assemble my order. He checked stock and made recommendations and even checked a couple of things with Gail for me to ensure I was ordering the right products. It was so fun to 'talk' to him and he made sure to ship my order asap! I received the whole kit 'n kaboodle in no time at all, in perfect shape. (I ordered glue too, which I'll talk about in another post). Definitely check out Gail's on-line shop and if you are taking the Double Wedding Ring class too, she's got all the notions you'll need to complete the quilt.
I saw a great tip from Patrick Lose on how to make quilt binding corners less bulky. He was on a recent episode of Love of Quilting but I found a video of the same technique on YouTube. Watch below to see how Patrick trims away unnecessary fabric from the mitred corner to achieve a flat, smooth binding - all the way around!
I'm really lucky to have such a great craft room but one problem is the terrible lighting. I have no trouble in the daytime because I have lots of windows and a higher ceiling so there's plenty of natural light. However, in the evenings the two overhead fixtures are not bright enough and cast horrible shadows.
I couldn't afford to have extra ceiling lights put in because it is a finished room and gaining access to the wiring would have skyrocketed the cost. I did add some under-cabinet fixtures over my countertop workspace but at that time I had no idea I would soon get into sewing and quilting so heavily, necessitating better overhead lighting.
When I had to pick out all those monopoly stitches on the chicken wall hanging I decided I really need to fix the situation. I ended up buying this OttLite floor model. I have a smaller organizer desk lamp and I really like it...but of course, it only is for a small area. I bought this High Definition Easy View Craft Lamp from Michaels and even using a 50% off coupon it was more than $150!
The reviews were somewhat mixed about this particular model. A few people had problems with the lamp actually breaking in two. Others had issues with it tipping over. However, there were some people who loved it and gave it a good rating. I knew I could return it if I didn't like it and with no other options available in my area, I thought I would see for myself. I asked the lady in the store about it and she said she has had one for over 8 years and loves it. She said it lights an entire area.
Once I opened the box I wondered what people were doing to allow this lamp to tip over. The base weighs about 50 pounds and it feels very stable to me. The directions say to keep the pivoting head in line with the base (common sense) and I'm not sure why you would be flinging the light around. I'm sure the misuse might contribute to the neck breaking as well because it is made of metal and seemed very secure. I have it set up over my sewing machine and I don't plan on moving it.
The light is great! I used it at night and it was as bright as daytime with no shadows. I love being able to bend the light exactly where I want it, like directly under/around my presser foot or over the table. An added bonus is the 3x magnifier which is awesome! It's one of those things you don't think you really need until you actually use it. It will be terrific for picking out stitches and there is a little circle of even greater magnification which will be amazing for threading needles! I used to be so proud of my perfect vision but it's been going downhill since I hit my 40s! lol!
So far, two thumbs up for this lamp. It has been very helpful and illuminating and I'm sure I will love it when I use my frame and machine for stand-up quilting. I wish it hadn't been so expensive but I know the bulbs will last, are energy efficient and won't heat up my room. I also love the quality of light from an Ott bulb. (The pictures aren't great but you can see how I have it set up).
I saw these little organza-type gift bags filled with batting samples at my local chain fabric shop. They were only a dollar (the bag alone is worth that!) so I grabbed two of them.
What a fun way to sample all the different types of batting from the 'Warm' company. Once I opened up the bags I couldn't believe how many varieties they gave, from the classic Warm & Natural and Warm & White, to Soft & Bright,Insul Shine, and Fusible Fleece.
Obviously these are only small cuts (about 12" squares) but they are not only a great way to evaluate the loft and texture of a potential batting, but I am sure I can use them for small projects like placemats or wall hangings. In fact, I'm going to be doing this free 8"x10" mini quilt wall hanging (a free pattern from Camille Roskelley) so it will be the perfect size. There are samples of Unsul-Bright which are plenty big for potholders too! That's why I bought 2 of the pouches: one to keep for reference (there is a nice description of the features of each product and its uses on the wrappers) and one to use! There are two samples of each type in each bag.
I took out all the rolls and put them in one of my clear plastic storage containers so it's easy for me to grab them as I need and I have the organza pouches to use as gift bags.
I have plenty of quilting videos to watch thanks to all my Craftsy classes, YouTube, and my favourite Love of Quilting on Wednesday afternoons. However, when I saw the 1/2 off membership offer for QNNtv in my latest issue of Love of Quilting magazine, I couldn't resist.
The yearly membership is regularly priced at $24, not bad at all for all the material available and only $2 bucks a month. But $12 dollars a year? My goodness, you sure can't get much for only a $1 a month these days! I thought I would give it a try and see how I liked it. The biggest draw for me was access to prior episodes of Love of Quilting. I only found that show on PBS recently so I'm way behind. I really do love that show and it's the highlight of my t.v. week. Once you are a member you have access currently starting at the 1800 series and back. I like that there is a description under each episode title so I can hop around and check out the subjects that interest me most, first. There are even episodes of 'Sew Many Quilts' from Fons & Porter - which must have been filmed in the 80s or early 90s! It is so funny to see how young Marianne and Liz are and absolutely hysterical to see how high waisted their pleated mom jeans are (not to mention the hair styles!!).
The other reason I really wanted to have member access was for Quilt It - the longarm quilting show. This is such a specific type of show and there is such limited detailed instruction on-line so I knew this would be a good value for me. I've only watched a couple episodes so far. Same old problem - just finding the time to catch up on all this great information!!!
Quilt Outloud and Quilting Celebrations are also members-only shows. However, if you don't want to spend the buck, the rest of the shows are free to view. Quilty, Quilt Monkey, McCall's Quilting and several other shows are completely accessible by anyone. I probably would have followed McCall's Quilting ages ago had I know it was there for the taking! There is so much free content that you can probably find a video for any technique you need to know!
If you like quilting shows you will love QNNtv. Check it out for free and if you want the 50% off membership there is no coupon needed. Just go to QNNtv.com/Save50 and get it all for a dollar a month. I know I will ALWAYS have something to watch now!
We eat a lot of bran flakes and I really like them. I just hate when you get near the bottom of the bag and you have about four cups of crumbs - no longer crunchy flakes in your bowl but a big pile of mush. Yuck!
Still, I couldn't bring myself to throw so much of the cereal away and decided to make bran muffins with it. I found this recipe for Bran Flake Muffins from Kraft. I used up three cups of the leftover crushed bran flakes!
The muffins were good, although maybe a little dry because the recipe only uses 2 tablespoons of oil. The raisins were a nice addition and with a little bit of butter, Bran Flake Muffins are a good enough treat with my tea!
My all-time favourite go-to bran muffin recipe is one I shared a few years back. These ones are SO moist and delicious and can be made with stewed rhubarb, pumpkin, or applesauce.