Monday, April 8, 2013

New Gagdets

Who doesn't like new gadgets or toys!  For sure, I do.   Recently, I  purchased some new ones to make life easier and more fun.

My latest gadget is the "Big Shot" by Sizzix:

I can't wait to try it out.  Silly me, I didn't purchase the fabric dies yet!  I had to remedy that real fast so last night I went online and purchased two and can't wait for them to arrive.  I became interested in this product when Amy from During Quiet Time shared some quilts she made using Sizzix, where she is a part of the design team.

This is a beautiful pillow that she made using the Bottle die (which I just purchased!):

(Picture from Amy at During Quiet Time)

Also found this wall hanging using the same die:

(Pic from Sizzix website)

There are a few YouTube videos that show you how to use this die.  I'm looking forward to see if I can make something unique!

Recently, I enjoyed going to Arizona Quilt Guild quilt show with a friend.  While there, I purchased a couple of small items from vendors selling their wares.  The first item was this cool seam ripper:

I was a bit skeptical that this would work, even though I saw it demonstrated.  I brought it home and tried it out for myself and it works like a dream.  Really,  I don't know how I lived without it before.  It cost $22 and was worth every penny.

I also purchased this thread cutter for $1.49 but it doesn't work as well as I had hoped.  It's OK but not great:

I bought an old Bernina sewing machine, Record Electronic, made in 1979 from someone at work.  Her grandmother passed away and left this for her but she doesn't sew and offered to sell it to me.  She brought the machine to work and I did a test run on it.  I bought it right on the spot!  The motor runs so smoothly, like a gently hum that could you lull you to sleep.  It doesn't look fancy but I didn't buy it for its look.  I read wonderful reviews on this machine.  Many of the women who own it say they wouldn't ever part with it.  You can't get a better review than that.  The only thing that I miss with this machine is the button that allows you to choose what position the needle is left when you stop sewing.  I own a Janome 6600 Memory Craft machine but I really prefer to sew on the Bernina.  On the Janome, I have trouble sewing through layers of fabric.  It could just be a seam I'm sewing over and the Janome can struggle with it.  It's sad because I spent $1400 on it and it should do a much better job.

What gadget do you own that you wouldn't part with?  Please share!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Celebration

Happy Valentine's Day!

I realize that not everyone likes to celebrate this holiday for various reasons.  But I'm not one of them. I realize that it's a commercialized holiday but it doesn't have to be.  I'm happy receiving cheesy gifts as well as thoughtful ones.  The whole idea is about being aware of the person who lives in your heart and letting them know it.  

Today I finished my present for my husband, Zdenek.  He asked me to make him a pouch for his (really mine) GPS (remember, men don't get lost!).  I used Anna's pattern for this scrappy pouch and I'm pleased how it turned out.  I am a little concerned that I might have made this a bit too feminine.  If that's the case, I'll have a new pouch!  Because I'm pretty sure he knows I'm making this, I'll have to surprise him with filling it with some special trinkets.  Yes, I'm cheesy!

I have joined a local English Paper Piecing (EPP) club.  I'm happy to be able to get together with other women who love this style of quilting/sewing as much as I do.  A nice surprise was that I met a woman, Margaret, who works in the NICU at my hospital! It's a small world.  We sat next to each other and got to chat about ourselves and I believe that we'll become friends.  I worked on my "Hex on the Beach" quilt.   I have to remind myself to enjoy the "journey" of making this quilt and not to rush to get it done. I have a long way to go since I'm only on row three and there are 47 rows.

 While at the quilt store, I couldn't resist picking up some Valentine's fabrics; especially because of the 20% discount.  It's a miscellaneous pack with pink, red, brown and white fat quarters.  I haven't decided what I'm going to make with it but I did find a few ideas  in Pinterest.  There's  one idea I really like at SewMamaSew.

I also purchased myself a new desk chair for my sewing room.  I had an old chair that over the years lost its fluff!  It felt like I was sitting on a hard board.  I even tried to fix the chair by taking it apart and adding a blanket and stapling it back together (I know,very amateur!)  All it did was make me feel like I was sitting on a hill!  Either way, flat or hilly, the chair had to go.  I put together my chair with no help from my husband!  The good thing that comes from him traveling all the time is I'm self-reliant.  Of course, I might ask him to take a look at my chair to make sure it won't fall apart!

I hope your holiday is filled with happiness and fun!

                                                             Sew Long….Kim

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February's BOM, Dyslexia and Me

I did my first BOM on the last day in January!  So this month, I wanted to do things differently:  I finished my block yesterday.  I didn't procrastinate this month so I'm giving myself a "You Rock!"

This month's BOM is called "Jack the Ripper."  It's part of Kristy's (Quiet Play) BOM, "And Sew On..."  Kristy is all about paper piecing and so is this BOM.  I took an online hand stitched class from Rachel (Stitched in Color) and was introduced to English Paper Piecing (EPP).  When I was having trouble with that, she said that we could also make some of our blocks using paper piecing.  I had never tried it so of course I googled it and found plenty of help.  Now I'm hooked!
Jack the Ripper

I love seeing my two blocks side by side:

When I introduced myself on this blog, I mentioned that I have dyslexia.  It's a learning disorder that deals mostly with reading, writing and speaking.  Generally, it takes me five times longer to learn most things than someone who doesn't have dyslexia.  When I was growing up life was very hard for me in school.  I wasn't diagnosed until I went to college.  A professor at the local college spent many months helping me learn how to get around my disability.   More than anything else, he gave me HOPE!  He never let me give up on myself.  

So you can imagine that if it takes me five times longer to make this block than it takes an average person, you wonder why I do it.  Well,  I have perseverance!  I KNOW it will take me a long time to do anything and have learned to accept that about me.  For example, I have to read a pattern over and over to make sense of it.  I know I will have mistakes that I will have to either correct or accept.  I am very stubborn when I want to do anything.  I won't quit!

When I made this block, I spent two and a half hours just picking out my fabrics.  Then I read Kristy's blog article on how to piece this together.   I printed my pattern and cut it out.  I noticed that the image of the block in the PDF file was backwards to what the pattern printed out:

 So in the picture above, the top paper is how it printed out, the left is my pattern that I cut out and taped together to help me have a pattern with all my fabric choices written on it and the right paper is a mirror image of the top paper.  My brain has a hard time processing a reverse image.  When I cut out the pattern pieces  and tried putting them in order I was getting frustrated because my brain can't easily process it.   So I know I needed to reserve (flip) the image and then I was able to put the pattern pieces together.  Altogether, it took me about an hour and a half to do this,  something that would take the average person maybe 15 minutes.

Next step is to lay the fabric choices out the way the pattern looks:

Continuing onto construction:

Well, this is the only picture I have:

I can tell you it took me about 4 hours to sew it together!  I printed the pattern on recycled paper that had writing on it.  I wouldn't do that again!  First, it was very hard to see my fabric through the back to check my placement and then when I ironed it, the print rubbed off onto the iron and then the fabric.  VERY BAD!  When piecing the three parts together, I would recommend that you take your time!  You'll be spending a lot of time with your REAL seam ripper if you don't.

So all in all, I put about 8-10 hours into making this block.  For many people this would be totally unacceptable but for me it's the norm.  I accept this as a fact of life.  I always have a good laugh when I see an estimated time on a project.  I love sewing and that's why I do it.  I don't care about how much time it takes me.   I love that I can make something beautiful.  It's maybe even more beautiful because I know how hard it is for me.

Just to write this simple post, it's a two to three-hour process.  I would like to post it right now but I will wait until my husband is home to go over it with me.  Did I mention I have the most wonderful husband?  He sits down with me every weekend (he's only home on weekends) to go through all my writings.  He knows how hard writing is for me and we go through it together .  He doesn't change what I write, he just makes sure the reader will be able to understand what I write.  Although I understand that having dyslexia is genetic and isn't any fault of my own, it's embarrassing.  People put so much importance on how we write and speak.  I am constantly reminded of this when I read blogs about how people are turned off by bad grammar and such.  My co-workers often tease me about words I can't pronounce correctly or when I can't get my thoughts out coherently.   I know they mean nothing by the teasing, they say it's endearing but if they knew what it's like for me, I'm sure they wouldn't do it.    I have a job in radiology taking images of our bodies so I don't have to rely on writing to make a living. Thank God for that!  I write a few times a week. I do it because it is difficult for me and I'm always striving to improve.

Only two percent of people who have dyslexia graduate college.  I am so proud to be included in that number.  Dyslexia is a part of who I am.  It is my weakness but it's also my strength.  I have more patience than most people.  I go after I want no matter what.  I don't give up easily.  I have to "over-learn" everything in order to understand it. I accept imperfection and wished society didn't praise perfection so much.

If you know a child with dyslexia please tell them they can have success in their lives.  They can do anything they want; it will just take HARD WORK and a LOT OF TIME. They need to figure out what they are passionate about and go for it.  If they have passion, work hard, the rest will follow.  I have graduated college, have my pilot's license, sew, cook, hike, read all the time, have two wonderful sons,  I am married and make a good living as a radiographer.  I want them to know they can have a wonderful life.  Life is never dull for me.  I get to laugh a lot at how things turn out, e.g. fabric cut the wrong way (Oops! I know how to sew it back together!)  Lots to enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nice Relaxing Day

Pictures tell the story:

Crapes, Coffee and iPad…..Nice!

Zdenek and I went for a small hike…up the hill….

Made it into one of the little holes in the rocks…..

Just wondering…do I really have to hike down? I would love a slide about now!

No sewing but good day all the same.

How did you spend the day?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Can't Stop Making Pouches!

It's OK, not wanting to stop making these great bags, right? 

It's all Anna's, from Noodlehead fault!  She designed a delightful, simple to sew bag with super easy instructions.

This pouch will be a "White Elephant" gift for a ladies' luncheon I'm attending today.  It's a shame I have to wrap it.  I was thinking of stopping at Michaels to pick up some cute, inexpensive stationary to stash inside.  That way  I wouldn't have to wrap it; it would just be thought of as the wrapping.  I know, SMART!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Some Pretty Sewing and Some Sweetness

  Isn't it cute!  I think so.  I used this free tutorial from Noodlehead.   It's called the Open Wide Zipper Pouch.   A cute catchy name for this bag.    The exterior fabric is from Laura Gunn's  Garden Wall, Wind Song in Multi color.  I love that the zipper travels along the back of the pouch and makes it easy to open and shut the bag.  Plus, I believe it gives you more room in the interior.  I made this one for a special lady, Anesthesiologist Emily.  She saw that I was suffering from a major headache when I was working and offered to try Acupuncture on me.  Now everyone who knows me,  knows I hate needles!  It doesn't matter how small.  I know what you are thinking; don't you start IVs on children?  Well, yes I do but it's not my arm!  I know, shameless.  Anyways, my head was pounding and I was willing to give it a try.  Surprising, about an hour later my headache was gone.  I thought she was so kind to help me during her busy day and made this bag in honor of her kindness.

On another note...

I came home from work on Monday and found these on my table:

Thanks Honey

Hope you have a wonderful evening....                      


happy hour.....

happy hour..... by sewing for real
happy hour....., a photo by sewing for real on Flickr.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My First Block of the Month

I'm participating in my first BOM!  I'm excited to be a part of a group, it makes feel like I belong to something special.  The reason I signed up for this one is because I really like paper piecing and want to continue to build my skills.  Every month Kristy (from Quiet Play) is posting a new block in her Craftsy shop. Here is the best part: it's free!  Well, it's free for one month but then,  if you need more than one month to complete it, it will cost you some moola.  As you can see, I waited until the very last day in the month to make mine.  I don't recommend doing it this way.  The good news is tomorrow she'll reveal February's BOM.

Here's January's BOM:

Measure Twice Paper Piecing block

The top, bottom and flowered fabrics are from Laura Gunn's collection, Garden Wall.  Top is Grass Bamboo Thicket, flowered fabric is Mural Wee Spring and bottom is Spice Painters.  I purchased the tape measure ribbon years ago and this is the first time I had a use for it.  Of course, what makes this one special is that I managed to sew the end of tape on crooked!  I was going to rip it out and fix it but then I kinda like it being a bit off... It's sort of like me: not perfect but totally within the norm!   

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Bit of Sewing and Stuff

Good Morning!  

Since I have started having weekends off, Sundays have a new meaning to me.  One, I'm no longer dreading this day because now it is my day off!  Two, it's a  day to spend with my honey, sew some and do whatever I want!  Who wouldn't want that...  My day always starts off the same way:  


After the first cup all is good with the world (and me).  

I'm making progress with my Hex on the Beach EPP quilt.  I started the first step, putting the paper on each piece.  Well, this is gonna take me a while since there are 1008 pieces!  I purchased some Clover Wonder Clips and I LOVE THEM!  They are wonderful to use and make my life easier.  The clips hold the paper and fabric together with no fuss. They stay put and are much safer (for my fingers) to use than pins.  I use them for most of my projects so if you don't have any... get some!  You won't regret it.  I have never sewn hexagons that have only 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around.  I have always given myself a generous 1/2 inch seam allowance so learning to hand sew around each one with such a VERY small seam allowance has challenged me.  At first, it felt like 1/4 inch wasn't enough to work with but as time goes on I'm getting faster and coping with it.  I love that I don't have to cut any fabric.  Plus, since the fabric was cut on a machine, they are perfectly cut and the pattern is always in the right direction.  

(Image from Clover Website)

 (it's a start!)

Moving along... 

Star Blossom

Remember when I was going to add a plain back to my table runner?

Well, once again, I changed my mind.   Originally, I was going to use fabric I had on hand but then I went to a fabric shop.  You know how hard it is to resist once there.  When I was talking to the quilt ladies, they convinced me I could hand quilt with a pattern fabric.  I also decided to add a dark blue binding  to help tone it down a bit; the orange and green are pretty loud.  

So I tried hand quilting and had to rip it out.  My stitches weren't even and were very wonky so I'll try again.  But for now, this is how it looks, pins and all:

Another project I finished this weekend were lined drawstring bags.  I purchased the pattern from In Color Order where you can find a free tutorial for this bag!  I bought the pattern, which allows me to sell the bags.  I would like to try and sell them on Etsy.

When I was sewing these together I found that my ironing board was way too big to iron the little bags so I bought a mini.  I purchased it from Joann's Fabric and Craft Store.  It was $19.99 but with a 40% discount coupon I paid $12.  I'm sure I'll be using this for many future projects; it's very handy to have.

On another note...
I won a contest at work this week!  We had a chowder and soup contest.  People brought in crockpots of their favorite recipes and coworkers voted on their favorite.  A winner from each category was picked and I won!  My soup: Deconstructed Lasagna.  I found the recipe on Pinterest:

                                               Source: via Heather on Pinterest

I hope everyone in blogosphere is having a great weekend :)


Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Brand New Year and Plenty of Happy Sewing

Happy New Year!!

I love this month just because it's a fresh new year, which means new beginnings.  It also means letting go of all the things I don't need.  This year I'm letting go of thoughts of things I cannot change no matter of much I want to.  

My changes this year:

1.)  Don't bring home work issues.
2.) Sew more.
3.) Blog often.
4.) Smile.
5.) Believe in my abilities.
6.) Laugh.

Out with 2012, In with 2013!!!!

I'm on a great sewing roll right now.  Last year I learned English Paper Piecing and love sewing this way.  I like that it's portable and I can do it almost anywhere.  I have chosen a huge EPP project this year, a quilt:

(image from

This is a really cool kit that I purchased from Pink Chalk Fabrics.  

The kit cost $89, a real steal if you ask me since it's all precut!

The fabrics in the kit are from the Salt Water collection from designer Tula Pink.   The prints feature a maritime theme: shells, octopi, waves and lifebouys. It's colorways are aqua, coral and seaweed.  The fabric included 24 different prints and 12 different solids and came all pre-cut (who doesn't love that!) in 1 1/4" hexagons.  There are approximately 28 hexagons per group, adding up to a total of 1008 precut hexagons!  OMG, that's a lot of hand sewing!  I added up the number of stitches and came up with a rough estimate of 72,000.  At first, I thought I could finish this in about a year but now I might want to give myself more time!  The size is 43 x 60 but I may make it bigger by adding borders.  I am making this quilt for me.  I don't think I could part with it after sewing so many stitches!

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

I just finished this top for a table runner using the EPP method:

Star Blossom Table Runner

I'm trying to figure out how I want to finish the runner.  I would like to try hand-quilting the top. I'm thinking of sewing around each of the stars.  Because of the pattern the quilting will make, I think I should use a solid color fabric on the back; the stitches then would make a nice pattern.

This pattern is from  Stitched in Color blog  by Rachel Hauser.  I took a class from her and was introduced to hand sewing.  I almost love it as much as machine sewing!