Saturday, May 30, 2009

15 minutes

What can you do in 15 minutes? Well, today I set the timer and got to work. I worked in the kitchen in 15 minute periods and did 4 of those. Got the fridge cleaned out, counters cleared off and dishes done. 15 minutes at a time.

I also started trimming quilts and got 8 of them done in two 15 minute time periods. I still have another 10 to do (or more, I can't remember) and I realized that I shouldn't put this off for so long. It isn't a hard job to do, but when the quilts start to stack up, it makes the job tiring.

I graded papers 15 minutes at a time and have them all graded, now just to spend tomorrow entering them all into the computer so the last week of school can actually be enjoyable.

I even spent 15 minutes sewing a quilt for a family that is adopting two little ones. I am about half way done with the sewing thanks to a super simple pattern from and I look forward to finishing up the top tomorrow and maybe even quilting it...15 minutes at a time.

Some days just have to go that way.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

is it summer yet?

No, I didn't think so, but just had to ask. Only 6 days of school left and I'm sooooo ready. The kids are ready too. I've had to 'talk' to them much more often this week than all of the school year added together. They are just doing dumb things and not staying on task and wanting to play. Hey, I want to play too, but we can't do that just yet! Three real days of classes and three days of finals and then we are done for another year.

Things are pretty stressful around school too. Nobody knows what is going to happen next year with the schedules and class sizes and length of the school year. Looks like they are going to shorten the school year by 7 days, increase the class sizes by 6-8 students per class and cut a whole bunch of teachers. Plus, they expect us to increase test scores, maintain classroom discipline and keep a smile on our faces.

People have short tempers and complain a lot, which only adds to the stress level. The kids pick up on that and the cycle continues. I know we all need a nice long summer, away from each other to rest and relax. At least I know how I am going to be spending my summer! I have plenty of fabric to keep me busy and a goal of 150 quilts by the end of the summer will definately fill my days. I figure if I can quilt 3 a day, I should be able to make it. That will be a lot of pictures on the blog :)

The kids will be working on their sewing skills as well this summer. The more the merrier and it will give them some entertainment on the hot days too. Of course, we will do swimming and tennis and bike riding and maybe even a nap or two (those are all mine!).

I'm almost ready to count the hours. That will start next week :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I did it!

I'm jumping up and down with joy because I finished the t shirt quilt for my principal and it turned out great. This is the biggest quilt I have ever done so far. It is twin size and super heavy because of the shirts and the interfacing.

I learned a couple of things from my online friends about making a t shirt quilt. The printed part of the shirt likes to stick to the foot of the machine. One person suggested putting a little baby powder on the sticky part and the machine will glide over it easier. Not too much or it will gum up your machine. I'll have to try that on the next quilt.

Another person suggested not interfacing the t shirts. I'm not sure how well this would work for me. The shirts like to stretch, but I think if you sew with the shirts on the bottom and the cotton fabric on the top, it might go ok. With the twisted blocks, the seams are small in the corners so that would be a problem too, but maybe with straight sashing it would work out ok.

Finally, it was suggested not to quilt the t shirts, but to quilt only on the cotton part of the quilt. This is interesting, because then the t shirts will really stand out from the rest of the quilt. Since these blocks are big (12 inches) I'm not sure how well the quilt would hold up in the wash, but with smaller blocks, I think that would work well.

I am going to give it to my principal tomorrow at the staff meeting. I'm a little nervous because while I like making the quilts, I don't like everyone looking at me when I give one as a gift. I'd rather just leave it on her desk and run away but I don't think that will go over very well.

Wish me luck! So I don't pee my pants or pass out when I have to get up in front of the whole staff to give her the quilt.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I love this quilt

This is a quilting marathon weekend and boy does my body feel the pain. Who said quilting wasn't an olympic sport? Well, it should be!
I have been quilting and cutting fabric since Saturday morning at 6am. I cut for about 2 hours on Saturday to get some more fabric ready for the student who is helping make the quilt kits. Then, I turned my focus to the bright quilt for my friend's graduation gift. I had cut out the little squares and sewn most of them together earlier in the week, but the rest of the quilt was pieced and quilted on Saturday. But, first, I had to quilt the blue quilt because it was pinned to the quilting machine so I had to get it off of there to make room to quilt the graduation quilt.
I managed to finish the graduation quilt just as the party started, binding and all. I really love the colors on this one. It is big--52 x 80 and just perfect for curling up under for a nap. I came up with the pattern myself, using what I had on hand, all of the fabric is from stash and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
Yesterday I started working on the t shirt quilt for my principal who is leaving at the end of the school year. I finally got all of the shirts yesterday. So many people offered to help out, but then didn't follow through with getting the shirts for me. They just didn't understand that it takes time to make a quilt. They figured that if they gave me the shirt the day before school was out, I could go home that night and whip up the quilt.
The thing I hate about t shirt quilts is that you have to put the interfacing on the quilts, which means more ironing. I really don't like ironing because it hurts my back to stand. There is the cutting of the shirt and the cutting of the interfacing and then the squaring of the block and then the sewing of the border and then squaring the block again. These quilts just take a lot more work than a normal quilt does and I worked for about 6 hours yesterday on it and have most of the blocks done. I think I have 6 more blocks to do today and then put it up on the design wall and sew the blocks together. I was hoping to get it all finished today, but I don't think my back will hold out for that long. I will be happy to get the top finished today and then get it on the quilting machine. I just hope my machine is big enough for the quilt. It is going to be the biggest quilt I have ever quilted. If not, I have a friend with a long arm and I will beg her to do the quilting for me by next week. I just don't know if she can squeeze me in like that on such short notice.
And, I still have to clean my daughter's room because she is coming HOME today! I'm so happy about that I could jump up and down, but my back hurts too much :) I still have to wash her car because I haven't driven it enough while she was gone and some wasps decided to make their home in it. She wasn't too happy when she heard that and I promised to get rid of them before she got home. Nothing like waiting until the last second.

Friday, May 22, 2009

community service hours

Have you ever had someone volunteer to help you and it turned into more of a project for you? There is a student at my school who has mandatory community service hours from the court (fill in the blank here___) and he needs them done this weekend. Like 24 hours worth. He is a really nice kid who did a really bad thing and it is one of those things where you want to help him out, but the project is turning into something that woke me up at 3am and I couldn't get back to sleep.

I've been up sorting fabric this morning so he has enough fabric to work on this weekend. I am going to teach him how to use a rotary cutter and hope that he doesn't cut his finger off. I hope his mom can teach him to iron :)

I wish I had a free weekend so I could supervise, but I have two quilts to make. One is start to finish by tomorrow afternoon and the other is the t shirt quilt for my principal that I finally have all of the shirts for. I have most of the shirts cut and interfaced, but still have 5 shirts to cut and all of the squares still need borders, the blocks need to be sewn together and the whole thing needs quilting and binding. I am going to be busy.

Plus, I have to clean my daughter's room. Maybe I should just stay home today. Yesterday felt like Friday. That is reason enough to take a day off. I thought it was Saturday. You can't blame me for getting my days mixed up.

Yesterday we got news that with the fiscal crisis in California, the school district has decided to increase class sizes and cut teachers. One science teacher will be cut from my school. Pretty much one teacher from each department will be cut. There was a lot of crying after school yesterday. What do you say to these young people? And what do you say to the student teachers, who face the reality that there will be no jobs for them next year? It is frustrating to say the least. And to come so close to the end of the year, when the students are not motivated to work and you aren't feeling motivated yourself and to feel like you just got socked in the gut, makes you want to get up and go to work...not.

But, we press on, because we must. And we count our blessings. I have a job and a house and wonderful children and a love of quilting that can give gifts that can lift other's spirits. I am truely blessed! Thank you Lord.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I found it

It was under a roll of batting in the sewing room. Don't ask me how it got there, but I found it this morning. Now, I can talk again :)
I can't remember if I showed you this string quilt I quilted. The blocks were sent to me a very long time ago and I finally got the top quilted. Now, to do the binding and get it sent to Kazakhstan. I have another set of blocks waiting to be sewn together. I just have too many irons in the fire and need to make another list of projects that need attention.

This is a buttonberry Stashbuster's quilt that I have probably made 50 of since last
January. Last summer I started cutting lots of fabric into the pieces necessary to make about 50 more of these quilts and just started mixing and matching and putting tops together. I have a whole bucket of pieces cut, waiting for this summer to get stitched together. Ah, one more project.
And finally, pictures of the fabric a wonderful blog reader sent me. Thank you so much Rebecca from MO for sending me this lovely fabric to mix with what I have to make more quilts. I have already used up about 1/2 of it and given it to the ladies in my church to start cutting. I hope you are watching for it to be in upcoming quilts. We will work through it quickly.
And then there were 11...

I can't find my camera

I had it on Saturday for the science fair and I know I brought it home and it is no where to be found. I didn't figure you wanted me to ramble on and on with out seeing pictures of the quilts I am working on, so I haven't written. How's that for an excuse for being quiet.

Plus, there is a lot of stress in my life right now. With only 12 days of school left and a huge pile of papers to grade I feel like every day I am getting further behind in where I need to be. I thought with the science fair over, I could do some catching up, but there is always one more thing to be working on.

The kids are so done with school and honestly I am too. My mind is on summer vacation and my daughter coming home next Monday.

The special election in California failed yesterday and it looks like they will be cutting school days from next year, which means for a two teacher household about 10% of our salary will be cut. While I will enjoy the days off, I will not enjoy the pay cut. I know the Lord will take care of our needs but it means less trips through the drive through, less spontaneous purchases and perhaps the changing of our summer vacation plans :( That one I will miss the most. We had talked of a family reunion with my brother, sister and parents this summer, but for now everything will have to wait until the budget gets figured out for next school year. I'll find some way to get there, but I may have to ride my bicycle :) Hey, think of how good of shape I will be in.

If you see my camera laying around, could you let me know? I've looked everywhere logical, which means it is probably under the bed or in the fridge or something.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

science fair is over

Yipee! I have my life back.

To all of you who plan events. Thank you. I never appreciated how much work goes into planning, running, organizing and pulling off an event until I had to do it ALL BY MYSELF.

I have not slept much of this week, waking up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning and not getting back to sleep, thinking about everything that had to be done.

But, it is over.

And nobody died.

yet :)

Most mornings, when I look in the mirror, I think, "wow, you look intelligent." But, I guess that is not what some of my students think. One of my students must have thought I was the dumbest person on the planet. She copied her project straight off the internet. Didn't change a word. The kids don't realize that we have the internet too. Google is my best friend. I think we went to high school together. Especially when you use words you don't know the meaning to. That makes me suspicious.

I'm just so glad it is over. Now, I have more time for quilting. I have more quilt pictures, but that would require me to find my camera. That's not going to happen right now. Maybe tomorrow.

My stack of quilted and need to be bound quilts is getting huge! I had better work on binding them soon or I will lose my kitchen.

Oh, and I have baby chickens. I got quail eggs for my son's preschool class and they didn't hatch so I went to the local feed store and got baby chickens. His class loved them. Now I have 4 baby chickens in my kitchen. No, we are not going to eat them. We will keep them until they are too big and then find them a new home. They sure are cute.

We almost got baby ducks. They were cute too, but boy are those things messy. I had baby ducks when I was a kid. They were fun.

I'm tired, can you tell? I'm rambling.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

can't stop

I quilted three, count them, three quilts today. And I worked a full day at work. I can't believe it. I just can't stop. I'm having so much fun. And to think a couple of weeks ago, I was in a quilting funk. I feel so energized and excited about quilting again with the change in scenery of the quilting machine. It is in the dining room which is my sewing room, which is in the center of the house. I am not isolated anymore in a dark room, but in the lightest room of the house and can see outside to the sunshine and trees and birds and hear the kids playing. I'm close enough to the kitchen to hear the food cooking so I can sneak in a quick stitch or two between stiring dinner. It's crazy!

I finished up a quilt this morning before work and then quilted two more this evening.

Simple meander on one, some swirls on another and wonky feathers on the third. Lots of practice. On the third quilt I used up lots of bobbins that were half way filled. I was running out of empty bobbins and had all of these half filled ones so decided to use them all up. It didn't matter the color, I just used what I had and emptied about 10 bobbins on the last small quilt. That felt really good too. Now, I have room for the next quilt so I can fill several bobbins at once.

And there are only 17 days of school left! If I'm this productive on a work day, imagine how much I can get done if I don't have to leave the house :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

back in business!

I have been working hard to get things ready for my daughter to come home from college. I had no idea how much my quilting took over the house until I tried to move it all back into the room that I call my sewing room. This weekend I spent about 8 hours working in there and am no where near done, but I do have my quilting machine set back up and have quilted two quilts. It feels so good to be quilting again. I figure if I'm going to reach my goal of 150 quilts by the end of the summer I had better get busy. Plus, it is such a great stress reliever, when the thread doesn't break a million times. The first quilt I did, I had that problem. I'm not sure if it was the backing fabric, the cotton batting or the needle, but after changing the needle, the thread only broke 3 more times, so it was a combination of all three maybe. On the second quilt, the thread never broke and I used a flannel backing, and different thread, but the same needle.

It was so funny this morning because my 5 year old had to charge his video game and seems like the only outlet was right under my feet. Literally. I had to keep stepping over him with every sweep of the quilting machine. I just laughed and realized that soon enough he will be gone and out from 'under foot' and I will miss him But I did get my morning workout of stretching and stepping, that's for sure.

Hope you are enjoying your quilting as much as I am.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Birthday little man

I can't believe that 5 years ago, right about now, I was starting labor. Yeah, it was only 1 1/2 hours long and my little guy came into this world. Worst labor ever! By the time we made it to the hospital, the nurses said, oh, walk around, take a shower, you have plenty of time. I said, I think I need to push. They checked me and yelled for a doctor to come in the room. Good thing I had called my doctor on the way to the hospital because he ran into the room just as the baby came out and just barely caught him.

How could 5 years go by so quickly? I can't seem to find my 'pause' button anywhere around here to slow things down. I'm trying to enjoy each day as it comes, but sometimes I get so caught up in the 'have to do' list that I miss out on the little things that I can never get back.

Take time today to slow down and enjoy your kids. They won't be little for very long.

My oldest finishes her first year of college on Friday. Where did that time go?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

what have I gotten myself into?

I started this morning cleaning and organizing the sewing room. My oldest comes back from college in 2 weeks and will need her room back so she has some place to sleep. Right now, it is filled with my quilting machine and rolls and rolls of batting. I always think I can do more than I really can and the room is a total disaster. Plus it doesn't help to get side tracked because I am now sorting through fabric as I find more boxes that match some of the stuff that needed that third piece. Anybody want to come over and finish this for me?
I may even post pictures later, as another way to procrastinate. What I really need to be doing is working on the quilt for my principal. But I don't see that happening because I can't see the cutting table anymore. It is about 2 feet under piles of fabric!
Help me!

I can't reply

Three people have left comments that they want to help, but two of you did so using the no reply thingy and I can't reply to you. Please leave a comment with your email address, or sign in when you comment so I can have a way to get a hold of you and send you my address. Pretty please :)

The question was asked on the size of the quilts. I have been making them about 48 x 60 ish.

The stripie quilts are the width of the fabric, about 42 inches wide by about 60 inches long, but sometimes I make them bigger and sometimes smaller. Kids come in all sizes. The kids in Kazakhstan are smaller than the kids in America for their ages. Skinnier too. The kids in the orphanage are from about 3-14 years old I believe (if it is like the other orphanage we sent to) so think about your little one if you are making a quilt top or blocks.

But, remember, these children have nothing! They are treated as less than dogs and have been thrown away by their parents. Some of them still have parents, but the parents cannot afford to take care of all of the children they have, so they pick a couple and drop them off at the orphanage. I couldn't imagine choosing which of my children to abandon. Although I do threaten them from time to time when they are fighting!

Anything you would want to make and send, or anything you have that you think is ugly, these children will love and cherish because it is the only thing they will be able to call their own.

At this time we will only be sending quilts because we will need 150 of whatever it is so each child gets one. So, we cannot take scarves and socks and mittens, unless you want to send 150 of them.

Also, I was asked what kind of batting for the quilts. I use the poly batting I buy on the roll at JoAnn's. It comes 10 yards to a roll and I can get it for about $7 a roll with my 40% coupon. I love when I can get a 50% coupon and get frustrated that they don't stock enough when they have a sale. I go through batting like water around here and it is just about the only thing I am buying now since most of the fabric I have has been donated.

So, if you want to help, please leave a comment and a way to get ahold of you. I have been working hard at sorting fabric so the ladies in my church can cut it and pass it on to the other ladies who are sewing. I have a couple of people who are going to learn to sew this summer, when school gets out for me and I have the time to sit down with them and teach them. One is a little girl about 10 years old. I'm so excited!

My 13 year old is also going to be helping out and my 11 year old son too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Want to help?

"I will need 150+ quilts to give out in Aktobe (orphanage not fit for dogs). Are you up to it?"

This was the message I got today from my missionary friend who is in Kazakhstan. Of course I answered yes!

If you have an 'ugly' quilt top you are never going to finish, or some orphan blocks you don't know what to do with or want to see a quilt get into the hands of children who have very little and would like to help with this 150+ quilt goal by the end of the summer (or sooner) leave a comment with how to get ahold of you. I would love to have helpers so I can reach this goal as quickly as possible. My church friends will find a way to ship the quilts to Kazakhstan if you can get the to me in Northern California.

God Bless You all.

Happy Birthday

My oldest turns 19 today. How can that be? I'm 25. Been 25 for a couple of years now, but it isn't possible that she is 19.

She also was named Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year for her league in tennis yesterday. Not a bad birthday present. Tomorrow she finds out if she makes the Nationals tournament in Atlanta, Ga coming up in a couple weeks. I'm excited, nervous, hopeful...

Here's the link to the story

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I love it when a plan comes together

who said that? If you are old enough to know...don't finish that sentence :)

So, Carla has volunteered to help me quilt these tops. My friend's mom is feeling guilty for not keeping up with me as I cut the quilt tops. I took a whole bunch of fabric to church today and got a bunch of people to take it home. I'm feeling guilty for not keeping up with my friend's mom. I think it is funny how I'm trying to coordinate everything and it is working out! That rarely happens.

I wrote a note to give to the ladies who took home the fabric that said, don't feel bad if you look at these fabrics and think, ew what was she thinking when she picked these colors to go together! It won't hurt my feelings if you don't want to put these colors together. My friend's mom who is doing the sewing sent back some of the strips and said, these do not go together. I had to laugh at her frankness. I'm glad she said something, because after seeing what she did, I had to agree.

I was not gifted with color selection as a talent. My 13 year old often helps me pick out the colors to put together when making my quilts and I am getting better, but I usually run all of the quilts by her before sending them out or sewing them together. Sometimes she is busy or not home and I just do the best I can with what I have to work with. I'm glad we were all given different talents to make this quilting ministry work so the kids can have really nice quilts to cuddle under. If it was just me, they would have warm quilts, but they might not look so pretty!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

getting a handle on my stash

I woke up this morning at 4am because a little person crawled in bed with me. This isn't something new, he has been doing this almost every day this week and at least weekly for a while. He has bad dreams, gets cold, or just wants to make sure I'm still alive. It is really hard to sleep with a not so small child (he will be 5 next Sunday) trying to sleep on your head, so today I started thinking about my stash. I'm not exactly sure why I was thinking about my stash, maybe it was because I have been cutting into it a lot lately, making quilt kits for a friend's mom who is sewing them together like crazy. But I thought a lot this morning in the wee hours about how I have so much, but don't really have a handle on what I have.

I really want to figure out what I have and make my stash work for me. I figure I must have 10,000 yards of fabric. That is not an exageration. 99% of what I have was given to me, so don't think I spent the farm on fabric, or that my kids aren't eating because I'm spending every weekend at JoAnn's (although I do like to use up my coupons). I get a lot of phone calls from people wanting to give me their fabric and I cannot say no to fabric or yarn.

My friend just graduated from college. I was her freshman science teacher so I am a little bit older than she is. Just a little bit. Her mom likes to sew and her mom has an industrial sewing machine that stitches like 50,000 stitches a minute, so when she puts together the quick stripie quilts, she can do one in a matter of minutes. Really!

I gave her about 15 of them last week and they are already done. So, I am trying to cut fabric as fast as I can to keep up with her. I am so happy to have a helper turn all of this fabric into quilt tops that I can work on this summer. But the problem is, the fabric that is in the house doesn't match. This morning I decided to just start cutting the fabric that was in the house and then start bringing in fabric from the garage and see what I had that would match the fabric that I had cut. At 4am that seemed like a good idea. At 2pm that idea didn't seem to be working so well.

I have been cutting for about an hour and now I am worried that I will have lots of cut fabric and nothing will go together. I think what I had better do is start bringing in fabric from the garage and matching it before cutting. I also think I need to recruit other cutting helpers. I can cut for about an hour and get about 5 or 6 quilt kits made up and then my back gets tired. So, I think I will do some fabric matching and take it to church tomorrow and see if I can get some other people to take it home and cut it and bring it back to my friend to take to her mom. The more people involved in this whole process, the better for everyone involved.

Now, if I can talk my friend Carla into helping me out by quilting some of these quilts for me, I think I might be able to work through this 10,000 yards before I grow old and die. (hi Carla, did I tell you how pretty you look today?)

A day late

But worth the wait. I finished Kristin's quilt yesterday and am very pleased with how it turned out. I learned a thing or two on this quilt. You know how everyone says to cut the back 4 inches bigger than the top for quilting? Well, I have never done this and never had problems before on my quilts. Well, this quilt I had problems! For some reason, the top stretched way more than any other top and the back was too small. No problem. I would just add to the back after I quilted it. Yeah, that wasn't fun. I had to add to both sides of the back after quilting. You can see where I added in the picture of the back and it doesn't look bad, it was just a pain to do. I had to add about 2 inches to each side of the backing fabric, after the quilt was quilted. If I didn't tell on my mistake, nobody would notice, but this is a warning to everyone, you need to cut your backing fabric 4 inches bigger than your top, to account for the stretch factor in the seams from the top. Lesson learned :)

Now for the goals for this month.

I have a t shirt quilt to make for the principal who is leaving our school

I have a quilt to make for my son's preschool room mom

Graduation quilt for a good friend who 'finally' graduated from college :)

Bind the 15 quilts that are waiting so patiently on my railing

That's a good start. I would also like to cut as many quilts as I can for a friend who is sewing them together faster than I can cut them. I will be busy quilting this summer for sure!