2016 APQ UFO Challenge List

Sunday, April 17, 2016

March 2016 Accomplishments

March was a really busy month for me - I was in Indiana (home), Mexico City, Danville, IL, Washington, DC, and North Potomac, MD.  Lots going on meant not too much sewing or stitching time at home, but luckily I worked on some stitching while traveling and also had a retreat as one of my trips so had some good dedicated sewing time. 

I totalled 34 1/2 hours of quilting in March, 27 1/2 of which was at my retreat.  Here are the quilting projects I got done during this month: 
- Iron bag
- Tool caddy
- 6 Sweetpea pods
- Crayons top
- Hourglass top (minus borders)
- Joy pillow
- Made back, batting for Wonky Trees quilt top

On the stitching front, I finished my ornament for March, Plenty, from the Just Cross Stitch Ornaments catalog. I really like this one! 
My work trip to Mexico went very well and our family vacation to DC and Maryland was great too - we walked all over the district to see museums, monuments, the zoo, and the cemetary. We had great meals and reconnected with old friends, and then spent a couple days with my brother and his family and the kids loved their cousin time. All in all, March was a great month! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Some ironing updates

It is funny how you don't always plan for things to happen in threes, but sometimes they do (just ask my mom, she's pretty suspicious about that!). In March, my "three" was all about irons or ironing. 

At the start of the month, two of us in our bee made bags to carry our irons. This is a pattern that's been passed around our bee quite a bit and I think about half of us have made this bag now!  I was so excited to pull out some of my Mary Engelbreit fabric to use for this project! I am a huge hoarder of this fabric because I love her art so much, so I am glad to have some which I can use and see every time I take my iron with me. I thought the travel fabric was appropriate since I will most often use this bag for sewing days or retreats. 
New iron travel bag and new iron
A few weeks later, my trusty Rowenta iron became completely incontinent on me. She's had a few dribbles every now and then (don't we all after a few years?!), but just completely lost it...all over my ironing board and carpet. Boy, she's been a great iron - with the perfect weight, lots of tiny steam holes, fantastic steam and a nice big soleplate. But, she was expensive (my husband bought her for my birthday and he said he remembers me being a little mad that he spent that much money) and I wasn't sure I wanted to invest that much in an iron again...especially given the declining reviews they seem to get from people I know and from the people who review them in quilting forums and places like Amazon. After a morning of going back and forth and reading tons of reviews, I purchased a Sunbeam Steam Master. It arrived later that day (I love Prime one-day delivery!) and I got it set up. So far, so good. It is a nice heavy weight and it is doing well with water/steam so far. 

The third part of my iron story is that I built an ironing station. After my retreat, I decided that I really wanted one to give me a bigger ironing surface and to give me some storage underneath the iron, which is hard to do with an ironing board. 
The pieces all ready to go before getting batting and fabric covering, faithfully guarded by the dog.
I researched how to do it, found some good step-by-step instructions online, and headed out to Target to pick up the shelving unit. My neighbor had a great supply of plywood and she helped do the cutting and drilling needed to get it put together. [Note: I decided not to put mine on wheels, because I liked the shelving unit size better at Target and it didn't come with wheels - might add them later if I decide I need to move it more often.] [Second note - we two girls did this in a couple hours with no help from the guys except to find a staple gun...if I'd waited for my guy to do it....well, let's just say it wouldn't be done yet.]
Ta-da! Done! 
I found some heavy canvas in my stash from Lois and it was a perfect fit! I got it all stapled up and promptly filled it up with my scrap bins, longarm supplies, and some other sundries. Suddenly I have more floor space in my sewing area! 
All loaded up! Look at the clean floor all around it! (And yes, the whole bottom shelf is buckets of scraps!)

Monday, April 4, 2016

TOT Retreat Report 2016

For the past several years, our bee has had a spring retreat to the Threads of Time Quilt Shop and Retreat center in east-central Illinois.  We always have a good time, eat lots of great food, and make lots of beautiful projects. This year, I didn't prep at all for retreat, so I was scrambling in the week before we went to decide what to work on. I still wound up taking too much, which is actually a good thing in my book, cause you never want to run out of projects to work on while at retreat! 

I worked on projects on and off this year, alternating between a few, so I will show you them in order of finish. 

My first finish is a tool caddy. It goes over a 5x7 plastic picture frame and is really handy to keep a lot of items at your fingertips. It didn't go all the way to the bottom of the frame when made as instructed, so I shifted it a bit and wound up with a few small raw edges on the bottom. It also has a tendency to tip over if filled with too many things! I loved using the thread and pins fabric that I bought years ago to make this. 

Next up was one of my kits - this one was gifted to me by one of my mom's quilting friends, and I never quite got around to making it as my friends were having babies. The crayon tops and bottoms are made from a variegated fabric, and the wrappers are some awesome crazy brights. This will be a perfect baby or small kid quilt, and I love how it turned out! This one will be added to my UFO list until it's needed :) 

The next top is made from the very first jelly roll I ever bought. It is called Kashmir IV and it is very light. While the top is a little richer in person, it is a very muted quilt top and I really like how it turned out. The pattern for this one is called Hourglass and it is from a Kim Brackett book. I've had it on my "want to make" list for a while. Now I will dig through my stash to see if I can come up with a few border that will work. This one is lap sized, although by the time I add border, it might be closer to a twin. 
On the last morning of our retreat, I pulled out my APQ Challenge UFO for the month of March - this is one that's been on my UFO list since I created it! I finished the stitching in 2005! I decided to make it into a pillow with binding, so that if I change my mind and want to hang it up, it will also work as a wall hanging. Once I finished it and put it into a travel pillow, I decided I love it that way!  It spent a few weeks on my couch so I could enjoy it for a while before it gets put away until the holidays next year. 
The final project of retreat was making up some sweetpea pods. I have now finished the pods for all of the Bendy bags I made last holiday season. I still have a bunch of zippers left, so there will be more of these in my future. 
 The one thing I didn't get any pictures of this retreat was our group. We have had a few different people each year and we always have a good time. This group was no different. I really enjoyed the days with my mom, Pam, Stephanie, Hannah, Muffet, Karen, Betty, and Paula and I am already looking forward to next year! 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March 2016 Stash Report

March was a really busy month for me - I went to Mexico for a work trip, then came home for a few days and went to Illinois for our bee quilting retreat, then came home for a week and went to Washington, DC with my family for our spring break vacation! It sure seems like the month flew by! It's a good thing that one of those trips was my retreat, because that contributed well to my stash report this month. I owe you a full update on the retreat, which I promise to write soon, and I will share pictures of all my projects when I write up that report. Let's just say for now that it was a very successful retreat with lots of fabric used! I also made a quilt back between trips, so that adds to my usage as well. 

I did my first shopping of the year while on retreat, and promptly used most of the fabric in one of the projects I was working on, then did a little more shopping while on our vacation. I visited Capital Quilts, a nice shop near my brother's family. I picked up two new bag patterns (big surprise!), the hardware kit for one of the bags, fabric to make that bag, and a charm pack of some new fabric that I just loved. 
Here's the result of all that activity on the stash report: 

Fabric added this month: 3 5/8 yards
Fabric used this month: 13 5/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 3 5/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 22 yards

Net fabric used: 18 3/8 yards

Not a bad stash report for the first quarter - I will be pleased with my end numbers if my usage continues to be the same throughout the year ending around 75 yards used. We shall see :) 

Monday, March 21, 2016

February 2016 Recipes

We tried a few new recipes in February, including our first recipe from the videos that go across Facebook seemingly all day now (mostly thanks to my mom!). It was a pretty well balanced month, with online, cookbook, and magazine recipes. 

Mongolian Beef, the recipe from Facebook, was a little hard in the prep stages, as I had to substitute a cube steak this time of year. This was an easy one to prep and it smelled great as it cooked. It tasted delicious and the whole family liked it, so we will be putting this into our normal rotation. Just fair warning though - it made a lot! If you're cooking for a smaller group, you might cut the recipe in half. 

Blueberry Pound Cake from Cooking Light was made for my bee. It turned out beautifully and we enjoyed every last piece! The kids really loved it (and were very happy my bee friends didn't eat all of it!). 
Spaghetti with Bartolino's Meatballs from Midwest Living was paired with a pasta sauce, which we haven't made yet. The meatballs were good, but not any better than the ones I pick up in the freezer section at Traders Joe's, so we will probably let this one go. 
I dug a little deeper into on of our cookbooks early in the month and found several more recipes to try from the Fix it and Enjoy it Cookbook:

Shrimp with Ginger and Lime - this was a great fast and easy recipe that was made while the rice cooked in my favorite new appliance, the Rice Cooker. It was a solid meal and we will probably repeat when we need an easy meal on a busy night. 
Poppy Seed Chicken - this is the second poppy seed chicken we've made. The first on was baked strips breaded in poppy seed, and this one was a "fill the dish with chicken and sauce, then cover with poppy seed topping." We liked this one just as much as the last one and it is a good way to use up the jar of poppy seeds I bought! 
Hot Cheese Dip - I also made this for my bee and it was really good. It is  made from a base of mayonnaise, and I wasn't sure how I'd like that, but it tasted great and was a big hit with the bee and also with my husband when he arrived home that afternoon! 

It was a great month of new recipes!  I won't have any to share for March - between a trip to Mexico for work, a trip to Illinois for quilting, and a trip to DC for spring break, we are focused on easy meals this month, which means going back to things we've made many times before. Hope you have a great month of dinners and let me know if you try any new recipes! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

February 2016 Recap

I really had only one critical goal in February - to get the George Washington t-shirt quilt finished and ready to gift by the end of the  month.  In total, I spent 17 1/4 hours quilting this month and I got a few other things done too: 

- Made back for and quilted Beth's quilt
- Made and attached binding to Warm Winter Wishes, which is now only waiting for a label
 - Made 4 Sweet pea pods with the remaining pieces from Bendy bags made last year
 - Finished the George Washington quilt 

I didn't even touch my APQ Challenge #5 UFO. Well, I touched it enough to move it around the studio about 5 times, but I didn't get the back made so it isn't quilted yet. I plan to get back to it on another month when the project doesn't take me the full month to finish.  

On the stitching front, I finished my February ornament.

On the crochet front, I had a great month - I finished two projects!  
- Mantella Cape, which I started back in August. I plugged away a few rows at a time and finally got it blocked and then the button sewn on. (I still need to get a good picture of this one.)
- Cable Stitch Jenna Headband - This involved some new stitches for me (which isn't hard since I am still learning) and I had it almost halfway done when I realized that it wasn't creating the cable pattern. I ripped it back to the start...twice, actually! I finally got the hang of it and then finished it the same week I started it. 

As it relates to my personal goals, I had great luck with my swimming - I went every week in February, twice a few weeks and I wound up with either 5 or 6 sessions swimming. I am getting better at swimming without stopping too. 

On the house front, I got the first estimate for our bathroom renovation and it was double what I'd planned to spend, so I am back to the start to get another estimate, and maybe adjust the plan.  While we could spend the higher amount, I still have way too much work that needs to be done around here to blow the bank on the first project! By the end of March, I hope to have another estimate and also a plan B. 

Hope you had a great February! 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Stash Report - February 2016

I started to write this post yesterday, but then paused with the optimism that I might be doing some sewing yesterday or today and have some stash used to add to my report. That didn't happen, so the stash report is coming on a Monday instead of a Sunday, but let's just say that's due to leap year ;) 

My #1 focus for February was to get a t-shirt quilt made for good friends.  It is made from shirts given at parties over the last 15 years - they host a George Washington Birthday party each year and for many of them have given away Washington themed t-shirts as a door prize.  I got the wild idea last fall that I should make them a t-shirt quilt to commemorate the 20th party this year. I sent the word out and a few other people who won shirts sent them to me so I had plenty to make up a lap sized quilt. 
T-shirts prepped, playing with the layout
I got the shirts prepped and stabilized at my January bee work day and thought a little about possible layouts - hard to imagine without any sashing.  

I set to work in early February getting each shirt sashed and figuring out how to connect them all together.  It gave me a good amount of time in my sewing room, and I was able to pull a bunch of scraps and partial fat quarters to use.  I kept with the presidential/ patriotic theme and used fabric with red, white, blue, and gold.  

It took me pretty much all of my sewing time in the month to get this quilt made, and I finished it up on Wednesday night before gifting it to them at the 20th party on Saturday night.  I couldn't have been more pleased with how it turned out or how happy they were to receive it.  
The quilt is finished!
The recipients love it! 
That's all the stash I used this month - I thought it would be more, but most of the pieces are fat quarters or fat eighths or even scraps. It didn't make a big impact on the numbers, but I am glad it made a big impact on the recipients :) 

Fabric added this month: 0 yards
Fabric used this month: 3 3/8 yards

Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 8 3/8 yards

Hope you had a great month with your stash!