Jackpot in Vegas

Every year for work we head out to a huge convention in Las Vegas.  Every year we drive.  The employees that go change a little from year to year, but we always drive.  This year I decided to bring my sewing machine, the Janome 6600 and of course that meant I needed to bring a few projects…and of course since I’m visiting, well, I gotta check out the local Quilt stores that I’ve never been to!  
Keep in mind we arrive Sunday evening and we head out mid Wednesday.  I had big plans - I always do!  I also needed to fit in some work! 
We stayed at the Monte Carlo, which was nice.  It’s at the end of the strip.  Here's the view!

This was my room set up! I wasn't  missing a thing! 

You can even see my laptop there among the fabric.  Yes...it's closed but incase I need to work, it was right there ready to be cracked open! 

The nice staff member who brought me room service (come on!  It’s Vegas, you gotta get breakfast room service! Lobby beer, too, while on the topic of musts!!)  wanted me to make them a quilt…I’ll just add them to “the list”!  HA!

So Monday morning’ish (again it’s Vegas...) I hit the taxi line at 11am to head to the first shop, Christmas Goose Quilt Shop!  $65 dollars later…ouch!  Should have caught an Uber.  I heard you couldn’t Uber out of the Vegas Strip hotels, but you can - you just need to go to a special spot!  Livin and learning!  They have an interesting shop, and a must stop if in the area.
Next up was Sew Yeah Quilting.  They have over 3 thousand bolts!  I was in paradise!  Was this my oasis mirage in the middle of this desert?  No!  It’s real, and the staff was very nice and helpful and greeted me warmly as I walked in!  Just the experience you’d want when walking into a Quilt store for the first time!  The sun was setting, and I Uber’ed on back to the hotel ($14. should have Uber'ed the first trip!).  I found so many goodies! 

I love the experience of finding a new Quilt store and being welcomed like an old friend.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?  We are able to buy fabric anywhere, even never leaving the house.  But when you do go out of your way to shop a Quilt Store, it's so nice find a shop that appreciates it!  Building a relationship with your customers is huge and you bet I’ll be back every time I return to Vegas because of it!  For those marking your calendar that will be next year! :)

Did I accomplish all of my goals, no.  Seems I never do because there's just never enough time! I did finish this backing to one of my quilts, so I'm pretty happy with that!

Tuesday I worked my tail off (for my my actual job) then Wednesday came in a blink of an eye, and it was time to head home.  Packing up and heading out! Traveling with my sewing room was a little tough, but totally worth it!
I got to go on my own Quilt run, sew, work, and visit with some of my favorite clients and coworkers.  I hit the jackpot!  I feel very lucky without ever taking a spin on roulette!

 Sew on my friends!  Whether at home or on the road! Always bet on red!  :)

My 7 Year Picnic Quilt

I kid you not....I've had this picnic quilt completed -minus the binding- sitting around for ohhh... 7 years!  Why have I been dragging this out for so long?  Truth be told, binding is just not my favorite thing to do in the quilt making process. I still have a stack of quilts that need to be binded, but those were made last year,  and are going to be gifted this year!  What is it about hand binding that binds us up?  Well, I was binding backwards for a long time which didn't exactly help! If every you find yourself struggling with a task, go in and ask for assistance from your Quilt store!  Then practice practice practice!  I really need to get better at completing this step faster.

I have a Quilting Planner, and I think this is just the tool I need to hold myself accountable.
I'll give myself one month from quilting completion to finish the hand binding and check it off the list and move on!  Plus, this is an excellent way to keep track of what you make every month! Lets see if that works.  Seven years is just silly!  Think of all the picnics I've missed out on!  :)

I was such a different person when I started this quilt, but I do still love everything about it.
I didn't use a pattern - I just created, as I still do today.  When I think of the type of quilter I am, Modern or Traditional,  I look over the quilts I've made and believe I like to tell a story in my quilts. I like the fabric to make sense in my head; to flow.  The fabrics need to relate to each other.  Are y'all like this too?

So in this quilt, I found those ants who are trying to carry away all the picnic food adorable and they really set the mood for this quilt.  The dark red fleshy fabric reminds me of watermelon, which of course you'd want to be eating on a picnic.  Then some cute ladybugs that just might want to come down for a visit if you were having a fun time on a grassy knoll.  I think the black and white fabric is just the right about of pop.

I remember when I was making this quilt....every Saturday morning I'd pick up my Mom who lived a few blocks away and we'd head down Olive Street in Burbank, CA to go sew for the afternoon with our friend Jan.  I miss these days. I can just hear my Mom say "oh yes, that really pops!"  "Pop" was thrown around a lot in our little quilting haven.

Back to the pop...I also used the black and white fabric as the backing.  I thought if I was going to use it on grass or the beach, it would hide the soiling.  It has already been used with an unfinished binding at a movie screening at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  It was a great time, but I was worried red wine was going to be spilt on it.  That's the trouble, I want it to be used...just very delicately like the white leather couch that the plastic has just been removed from in those old sitcoms.  :)

Back in the day, my coworkers wife long armed so I send it off with him, and soon enough it was done.  She used clear thread in the top and black in the bobbin. The motif is an apple being eaten, so there is a full apple then one with a bite taken out, and another bite taken out, then just the core.  It's perfect for this quit.  It's just a down home fun useable quilt.

We've been having some beautiful weather these days in beautiful Southern California, some would even say perfect for a picnic!

Sew well my friends! 

Sewing Podcast and More!

                                  My new favorite thing are Podcasts.

Really, it's my husbands fault!  We love going on little road trips.  Sometimes you just can’t get away for large chunks of time but you get that deep down nagging feeling like you really need to get away - that’s when we hit the road.  We’ve found little weekend getaways can be a big relief.  It seems to simmer that boiling tea pot until we are able to take a real vacation.  

So it was on one of these weekend trips where he introduced me to America's Test Kitchen (Chris Kimball, an ATK founder, has since created the new show 'Milk Street', which is now our favorite cooking podcast, but that's a whole other story!)  I'm not sure where I've been!  I had no idea this platform even existed.  We so enjoyed our drive learning about different cooking techniques, gadgets, chefs and more!   I was hooked.  We spend so much time cooped up in the car stuck in traffic, why not spend that time learning!!  

My husband took it one step further and says… "well you know they probably have sewing and quilting podcasts" 

I said, "......wwwwhhhhhhaaaaaattttttt?!?!?!"  

My brain started to spin, I could barely speak, I just handed him my phone!  Would you believe he was correct?? 

It was like Heaven’s gate opened as I tapped play on my iPhone and listened to Modern Sewciety.   I would hands down recommend this podcast to everyone interested in creating. And I say creating because while I might not have a passion for cooking, I love to eat, so I love hearing about the different techniques!  It might be the same thing for you!  

Stephanie, the hostess with the mostest at Modern Sewciety, is one of a kind!   This might sound weird, but I enjoy the sound of her voice.  She just sounds nice, and she has an addictive laugh.  You can just sit back and enjoy the time you share together!  I've learned so much from listening to her and diving into her podcast notes to find out more info.  I love hearing about the latest quilt pattern book, or about new websites.  For example, a site called Massdrop that sells one Quilting goodie a day.  I wake up early every morning to see what's dropping today!  Maybe not so good on my checkbook, but really interesting!  

There is a podcast out there for everyone, no matter what you're passion is. Even if you don’t have a passion and you just like good story telling.  Podcasts have enriched my life!  Really!  Let's face it, traffic in L.A. isn't going anywhere.  So as long as I'm forced to sit in my car I'm going to utilize my precious time to educate myself.  I even listen while I sew - it's like a double bonus!  I also listen while I do the dirty dishes but it's so rare, why even bring that up!?  (don’t tell my Husband, I don’t think he’s caught on yet)
If I don’t have you hooked yet, here are some of my other favorites and you let me know yours!

Vintage Sewers

I don't know about you, but I love finding vintage sewing machines.ccI wonder how old they are, what they've made, where they've been.  I wonder what's happened to their owner?  Did they love their machine?  Did they sew all the time, or was it never pulled out of the closet?  Was it a wedding gift, or something they saved up to purchase?  Did they sew because they loved it, or was the sewing machine a way for them to earn a living?  What to you think about when you find an old beauty like this?

The following machines are in no particular order other than the order in which I found them. :)

You can barely read Singer across the front of this one.  It's been really well used. 

In 1851, Isaac Merritt Singer started the Singer & Company in Boston.  He created and patented the pressure foot to hold fabric and mounted the needle vertical.  Seems like that really set the standard for machines still today.  He also tried to patent the foot petal or treadle (I always thought it was called trendle, isn't it nice we can learn together!) but that had already been used for too long for him to include it in his patent.  But still, he kind of killed it with the longevity of his design don't you think?  It wasn't until 1857 until a true domestic machine, the Family Machine was introduced. 

Now I understand the love for classic cars.  I could sit here for hours looking at the curves of the machine, the colors, the knobs. I wonder if they still run and what it would take to fix them.

This Spartan is a Singer Manufactured sewing machine.  I do wonder why most of the sewing machine these days are white and most of the vintage machines are black.  I think I'd like a black sleek shiny machine!  What color would you like?

I'm not even sure who made this one, it was in a glass case and couldn't get into it, but you can surely tell it's an old one!

I found this one at my local Salvation Army.  It was $50 including the cabinet!   I'd love to take in old sewing machines and make them purr again, but let's face it, it's hard enough trying to find time to sew as it is without adding another to-do list! As it is, my husband hasn't had a warm meal yet this year!  Just kidding, he's a great chef.  Thank God or we'd never eat....and I might be thin. :0)

 And then theres that...what are these babies worth...?

Look at this beauty! This one wanted to come home with me!  It had a lot of the original parts, the hand wheel spun freely but I just have to wonder what the repair bill would be after spending $200 on it.

Look at this Little Betty! (ignore the creepy doll...if...you...can...)  These were made in England by EMG.  The company started making toy sewing machines in 1935. Straco was an American toy importer, and in 1940, they started importing these. At some point, Straco partnered up with Walt Disney of all people and Snow White was pusing sewing machines for a while!  Betcha didn't know that!

Umm, this is just true, I couldn't help myself!

The White Sewing Machine Company was founded in 1858 in Massachusetts by Thomas H. White. At one point in 1900 they also started making automobiles.  No wonder these ran so well!  :)  SVP Worldwide now owns both  Singer and White, and a few other names that I'm sure you'd recognize, Pfaff, Bernina, Juki.

This Singer is very close to the one I learned on, and sewed on for twenty years...then the light burned out!  Oh how I loved this machine!  

Isn't the artwork on each amazing.  All the designs or decals are different. 

This little (literally) Sew-O-Matic Senior is also made by Straco (the makers of the Little Betty).

This White even had it's original feet box with it.  Pretty amazing!

I found these next two at an Estate Sale just this weekend!  In doing some investigating, seems like there is not an Antique Sewing Machine Museum in the US.  There was one in Arlington, VA but it closed.  I'd love to go to a Sewing Machine Museum!  Add some fabric, and I'm there!

FYI, this is not my arm...if it was I would have waxed it first.  My husband wanted to show the size of this little Sew Handy Electric sewing machine.  At first I thought it said Sew Randy and thought that was a weird way to promote sewing! 

I hope you had fun strolling down memory lane with me.  I hope if you have a sewing machine, it's not tucked away in a closet.  If it is, take it out!  Take it for a spin!  Contact your local Quilt Store ask them when their next beginning class is.  Patronize a Quilt Store and they will help you learn how to use your machine!

Honor Thy Ghastlies...

Let me first admit to you that I love, love, love, The Ghastlies. I've been hoarding the fabric collection for years. Thank you Alexander Henry!  I adore the detail and the fun spookiness of the family!  I had a hard time finding a quilt pattern that played to the fabric's strengths, until now.  And thank you Quilters Cottage for showing me the way!  They used a quit pattern from Villa Rosa Designs called "Honor."  It's perfect for focal fabrics that, do I dare say, are too neat to cut up! And this is where I found my inspiration! 

I mixed different years of The Ghastlies together... and I had to of course include Sebastian the cat!
Sometimes it's hard for me to follow a pattern exactly, especially this one because of the cheekiness of the cute fabric. How can you not love these faces? This is me in the morning...

This is me at work minus pointing the finger, but most def with an owl on my head!  :) 

It's like a family portrait from Thanksgiving! Minus the staff! :)

This pattern is really just a bunch of strips sewn together. It's a great starter quilt for anyone just beginning. Remember when sewing strips together you want to sew each strip together from opposite sides - not all of them from say, the left side. If you do, you might end up with leaning quilt, and nobody wants that.  

In adding to the quilt pattern, I thought throwing in corner stones would be fun.  That would allow me to use a sizable boarder for Sebastian the cat.

Here, I'm auditioning one of my options.  I'm really big on taking photos to provide a different point of view when auditioning.  This is showing me the white is too light for what I'm looking for.

I think these wonky stars are just what we need!
Doesn't that play nicely?

Now for the back!  I've become a big fan of using up all the scraps on the back.  I find it makes it more interesting -  it's like two quilts in one!  I lay the quilt top down (face up) and then build a back on-top of it, just playfully sewing the scraps together.

...and it just grows and grows.

See the quilt top peaking from the bottom?  

I find it very relaxing and carefree!  I let the fabric do all the talking. Remember your backing needs to be 4"larger than the top for quilting on a longarm, just to be safe! 

We wanted to keep with the playfulness for the quilting so we quilted it with a nod to the wall paper at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. :)

I love a good puff in my quilts.  We don't need a lot of warmth in the quits we make since we live in California, but I gotta have a great loft! We used the deluxe cotton.

And now the binding!  I mitered the 2 1/2" strips.  If you don't do this all the time, it can get confusing.  Lay the first strip down, RS up (running nose to belly button)  cross the second WS up overlaping the ends, (right sides together) right shoulder to left shoulder.

Draw a line from the upper left side v to the lower right side v.  Think of it like your sewing Oregon to Florida not Maine to California.  (I heard this in a class and I love it, hope it helps you too!) Pin it following the penned line and pull it as if it's sewn together.  It will be pretty obvious at this point if it's pinned going in the correct direction.

If it is correct, change the direction of your pins, crossing the penned line and sew it up.  If it's not just try it again! I hope the pictures help!

Hand Binding time!  I use to hate, hate, hate hand binding, but not bad enough to machine it down. I'd just let the quilts stack up.....I had an entire pile of quilts that needed to be hand sewn.  And I've heard people love to hand bind!  I had to get the the bottom of this, so I grabbed my quilt and headed down to my local quilt shop to ask for guidance.  That, my friends, is why they are there!  When I walk in, it's almost like Norm walking into Cheers...I hope there are some of you old enough to know the reference.  So after they stopped laughing at me for doing it backwards all these years, they showed me the way...and now I'm happy to say, I love it! It's so relaxing!  

If you ever find yourself with questions zip over to your local shop.  They really do want to help you. Most people who work at Quilt shops are there because they love the process and would love to share their knowledge with you!

And here's 'Honor Thy Ghastlies'! I hope you too are able to see a pattern and add your own personal touches to make it yours.

 My back art....I love the little girl on the tree branch.

In my mind, this is where the Ghastlies would live!  Just down the street from us at the Heritage Musem! :)