Sunday, August 28, 2011

Baby Eli

As I have shared with you, there have been a lot of pregnant teachers at work this past year. As of a few weeks ago, there are none. Our last pregnant teacher, Amy, gave birth to a very small and very early baby boy, Elijah. He wasn't supposed to greet the world until October, but due to some complications, he has graced us with his presence 2 months early. Luckily, both Amy and Eli are doing well, although Eli is not ready to go home just yet. I just got back from Amy's surprise baby shower at the hospital and we learned that Eli is gaining weight and is now out of the isolete and into his own bed. He just needs to gain the ability to eat on his own. which the doctors say should be soon, and he will be home with mommy and daddy!

Here is baby Eli's quilt, Amy's favorite colors (mine too.) It is, of course, a new favorite quilt of mine, and Amy loved it!
I got my inspiration for this quilt from Oh Fransson's 12 + 2 = Q. I love that this quilt didn't take a lot of fabric, and was so fast to put together! 
I used some random fabric prints I had lying around in my stash, stuff I have bought for other projects and changed my mind, so it was exciting to cut into this fabric. The green fabric with polka dots came from JoAnn's and I had intended to use it for one of my first quilts as a back, but it was too wild for that quilt. It ties everything together on this quilt and I had enough to use it on the front, back and as the binding.  :)

I stepped out of my comfort zone with the quilting and did straight line quilting 1/4" away from the seams of the blocks of fabric. I love the grid lines it made, it mimics the plaid brown fabric in the quilt perfectly.
I think doing the straight line quilting was really pretty quick, but it was definately out of my comfort zone. I laid out some painters tape to be my guide, and was worried that my lines would be crooked. They turned out pretty straight, but my stitches weren't even, some are smaller than others. I think this is because I would get bored and push harder on my pedal, hoping the tedious lines would be done faster.
While quilting this quilt I learned that no matter how tight you think you pulled your fabrics before basting, you need to pull tighter for straight line quilting. This row of blocks moved as I stitched, making it a little crooked. Now I know for next time. It will be awhile before I decide to straight line quilt a larger quilt than a baby quilt!
Finished this little quilt is approximately 32" square. Little Eli will get a lot of use out of it, it's the perfect size for such a little guy. Welcome to the world, baby Eli!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Husker Play Square

This little baby quilt may be one of my favorites, although I think I say that after finishing every baby quilt! This is for a co-worker and her 4 1/2 month old; her little man is such a cutie, and very active! He is constantly wiggling, and almost always smiling. Daddy works in the athletic department for UNL, and Mommy works with me as a toddler teacher. Mom asked for a Husker taggie after returning from maternity leave, but I had bigger plans in mind: I have been meaning to make this quilt for months, and finally got around to it.
I made this quilt using my same pattern I did for this co-worker's quilt. With this quilt though, I varied the sizes of the squares even more, which I think looks even better. I used two different licensed Husker fabrics, one with Lil' Red (I love him!)
....and one with the Nebraska N in red and black.
 Then I found coordinating red, black and white fabrics to go with it.

 My favorite being this number fabric! What a great way for this little man to learn his numerals!
 I did two minky squares in red,
 and one white square scraped together with left over white minky dot fabric.
I didn't quilt the white dot fabric, and because all the other fabrics were quilted and shrunk in the wash, this dot fabric did not and is puffy and great to touch and pull at. For the back I used a red fabric with tiny little white dots, a great contrast to the white thread I used for the quilting. I used Kona red for the binding, which stands out from the dots on the back.

I love the contrast in the white and black, along with the red. Too bad I hadn't finished this sooner, it would have been great for a newborn! The fabrics I picked have a lot of different textures and prints to them, stripes, dots as well as the numbers. The ribbons do too; dots, argyle, smooth, bumpy and shiny, lots of textures to touch during tummy time.
I plan to make many more quilts using these fabrics, a student teacher has requested that I make her a Husker quilt, which would be my first paying customer. :) I also want to make a few of these baby quilts for etsy....when I find time.

For now, I am relaxing on my last evening of summer, my first class is at 2:00 tomorrow. Followed by a Tuesday morning class and Wednesday night class. Hopefully these classes won't be too stressful with work and my internship. Only 3 semesters and one online summer class to go, graduation is getting closer!!!

What I learned from making this quilt:
When using the soft minky fabric, stabilizer is a MUST! I have used this soft cuddly fabric on almost every baby quilt I have made, and every time I get frustrated. This time around, one of my squares ended up crooked and when I quilted it the minky fabric stretched causing wrinkles in the white sashing. Luckily when I washed and dried it, the wrinkles blended in with the rest of the crinkles, and you don't notice it. But for next time and I am definitely using fusible interfacing! Maybe it will take away some of the swearing that comes with using minky fabric too. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Way Too Critical

Why are we so critical of ourselves? I am a perfectionist, I have been since I was a child. I can remember in art class in elementary school that I would get so frustrated when my art did not look like my VERY talented peers' art. I would try my best, but it never was good enough for me. Yes they were more talented, but my art was good too. Now I feel that I am the same with my quilts. There is always something (at least one thing) wrong with my quilts. This block didn't line up right, the stitches were uneven in my quilting, the fabric is fraying on this appliqued circle..... but really, for the person receiving these gifts, they are perfect.

While browsing on Flickr today, I came across this amazing quilt by Geta at Geta's Quilting Studio. Geta is not happy with the way her quilting lines came out on the quilt, due to the batting she used. When I think of the time it took to plan this quilt, cut the fabric, piece it so that points all matched up and then quilt it....I am speechless. To me, this quilt is perfect. I am sure her sister who will be receiving this quilt will agree. I think the quilting is great!

We are always so hard on ourselves, so quick to point out our flaws, whether it be in ourselves, our personalities, our name it. We are our own worst enemies! I think today, right now, everyone needs to stop and take a look at something they have made, something you worked hard on, and name all the great things you see in this. Then take a look at yourself and do the same. Maybe we can stop being so critical of ourselves, if we do this everyday. I am still learning, I know I have room for improvement, but when I stop and take a look at my first quilt, and then look at all the things I have made since then, I see progress.
And I see beauty in my first quilted quilt....even though the blocks don't line up and the stitching is uneven. (not to mention the patched hole from the dog) :)

Congratulations, Geta, on this piece of art!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Missing the Rockies

It has cooled off significantly since my post about the dog days of summer. It almost feels like our trip to Colorado a few weeks ago....the only thing missing is the mountains. We had a blast on our vacation. We got to stay with/see some wonderful friends who we miss so much. Obviously from this photo you can see it was great to laugh with old friends, and we had quite a feast that night!
Lee got to meet our friends new baby as well. He was busy when they came to visit a few months ago and he didn't get the chance to cuddle with handsome Patrick. Needless to say, it sparked baby fever in both of us. Even Penny caught a little baby fever.
She did great around the baby, and our other friends' toddler A.J. as well. We will have no fears with her when we have kids of our own, although I do expect some jealousy. :)
We stayed with our friends for a few nights before heading into the mountains to camp. While with them we all went on a nice little hike, minus our friend Mandy who drove to pick up her mom and niece for a weekend visit. It was a nice trail, although the higher altitude tried to hold us back.
Then we all went white water rafting down Cache La Poudre river, sans Megan our pregnant friend and the little ones. It was great, it was the first time for a few of us, fourth time for me. We went with a rafting company located in Fort Collins, and I highly recommend them for first timers. I'm the one on the left in front of the guide, Lee would be the one in the front, covered up to his neck by a rapid. :)
After our rafting trip and a yummy lunch, we said our goodbyes and headed to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It was BEAUTIFUL and PEACEFUL in the park, so peaceful we had no cell phone reception.
Lee, Penny and I enjoy several hikes in the park, and had some friends join us for a campfire dinner one evening as well.

It was hard to pack up, and even more difficult driving away from the mountain views into Nebraska. Although, I did get Lee to agree (much to the dismay of friends and family in Lincoln/Omaha), that once we are both done with school, we will look for jobs in Colorado. :) Maybe we could re-vamp this little cottage we saw at the end of one of our hikes:
I can't imagine getting to go hiking in the mountains every weekend and viewing the mountains from my home everyday, this would be my heaven....sigh.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Weekend Project

I am making a good friend her much anticipated birthday quilt. This friend is single, and unlike my other wonderful friends whom have received baby quilts, she has not. So, after a year and a half of her begging for a quilt, I have chosen this weekend to get it worked on.
My goal is it have both the front and back pieced and a put into a quilt sandwich by Sunday night. I would say it is likely, however Netflix has Mad Men available on instant I am a little distracted. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

It is hot in Southeastern Nebraska. It has been near 100 (or a heat index of 105+) everyday now, for about a month. It is disgusting. I was so happy to have a break while in Colorado....

But now that I am back I can't help but sing "The Dog Days are Over" by Florence and the Machine, in hopes that the weather will get the hint!
Our vegetable garden has seen much better days! Last year, our summer was on the cool side with a ton of rain, nothing grew all summer. Then by August, everything began growing (slowly) but never turned. We had green and yellow tomatoes, and our red and orange peppers were only green. Even after picking them and placing them in paper bags, they never turned. Well this summer we have the opposite. Our plants are huge....the zucchini and squash were huge. I say WERE because these are our squash plants now:
 One week ago, they were covered in veggies.

Our tomatoes are doing alright, but they have some friends:

I counted 6, all in their 5th instar, and one going into the pupal stage (thank you Entomology for my insect knowledge!) However after asking Lee to get them and put them in a jar for my kiddos (I still hate touching insects!), he brought me 7! And this is not including the one in the cocoon. Let's hope they don't all kill each other tonight in the jar (or suffocate) before I get them to work. Our pet hissing cockroach, Jack Edan Pinkalicious, just died last week, so I can put a few in his old box. The kids are going to love watching them go into their cocoon and turn into moths.

So tonight we are grilling the last of our squash with our burgers, topped with juicy tomatoes. Our forecast for the next 10 days is all 90 and below. And right now I am actually chilly in my shorts. :) Maybe the " days are ov-a-er, the dog days are done...." How has your summer been?