Friday, August 31, 2012

Wildflower Fields

Late last year, I started a mystery quilt pattern from Bonnie Hunter called Orca Bay.  I'm finally getting around to finish it.  This has been a labor of love and sometimes of annoyance.  It took a very long time to make all the string blocks and triangles.  There's too many individual pieces to count in this quilt.

Here's how it was at the start of this week with the center pieced and the inside border on.


I was finally able to get some time after work on Thursday and put the last borders on to finish this up.  While I still have to quilt it, I'm really happy that the "hard part" is done now.  It came out a lot better than I had thought it would.  I liked all the fabrics I originally picked (all from stash with a few supplements when I ran out), but didn't dream that it would look this good.  The pictures don't do it justice.  My husband thought it was ugly for the longest time, but now that its together, he thinks its pretty cool.


Closer picture of one of the corners.


I have a simple pantograph pattern of daisies that I think I'm going to use for the quilting.  Since its so busy, I just want something that will provide texture to the quilt.  Now...on to the next project. :-)

 Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Tonight while making dinner, we had a cute little visitor in our back yard.  Actually, she wasn't so little, but it was good to see some wild life.  (Remind me I said this a year from now when I'm cursing at the deer for eating our plants!)


I zoomed in really far this time to get a closer snap shot, but its a little fuzzy.  She seemed pretty healthy and happy.  Some trees on the edge of the clearing behind the house are dropping little berries and I'm sure that's what she was eating.  It may even be the cherry trees dropping the little things, so I'm sure they probably taste good.


She eventually wandered to the opposite side of the backyard and off into the woods.  She went over towards the orange thing (its an orange tub covering a pump near our now-dry stream bed) and then wandered across into the field next to us.


We know we have fox (have had two killed and still have one eating frogs in the backyard occasionally) and a ground hog.  I saw a rabbit once, but haven't seen him since.  Maybe the fox got him.  We also have some huge bird, we think a hawk, nesting in a shag-bark birch just in the background behind the last shot of the deer.  Its kind of cool to have them so close and not really  caring that a house is now here.  I'm sure they will get more bold now that building has been done for almost a year and its just the two of us here.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Potential Quilt

Not that I need another project, but I saw a few patterns that used a 54-40 block and either shoo-fly or pineapple blocks and have designed the small-ish quilt below.

I'm thinking of keeping all the lights the same fabric, but to make the blues very scrappy.  Thoughts?


I'm not convinced about the shoo-fly blocks in the middle of the outer border.  I wanted to put something there, but I couldn't figure out what.  Maybe I'll just do a square in a square to mimic the middle of the pineapple blocks.


I think I like the square in square blocks better....

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Quilt #6

This is the sixth quilt that I ever completed.  When I first started quilting, we were in the phase of life where most of our friends were married and many were starting to have children.... hence, a lot of baby quilts!

This particular quilt is approximately 36 x 56 (I usually sized them to fit the standard 40x60 crib batting) and is made using flannel fabrics.  Most of the fabrics in the middle were a line that featured nursery rhymes.  It was very cute and I still have some of the fabric scraps to use on some future project.


This was the first time I'd ever tried flying geese.  It was definitely a learning experience.  While I like the fabrics I used for the geese, it was just a bit too busy with the ducks to really get a sense of the pattern.  This is probably a good thing since it hit the fact that the flying geese weren't really great. ;-)


Here's a picture of the backing.  I outline quilted the borders and corner squares and then in the middle I followed the spiral design with straight-line quilting.


I really liked the backing here, too since it had little shapes for kids with the letters next to them.  A for airplane, T for teddy, M for moon, etc.  Plus it was all flannel and was very snuggly.


Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Monday, August 27, 2012

Make-A-List Monday

What a beautiful Monday today is here in Upstate NY.  It was nice and cool this morning with a lot of sun breaking through the early morning fog.  It definitely feels like fall is on its way with these cooler mornings.  It still gets very warm, even hot, during the afternoon, but the evenings and mornings are cool now.

Due to the dry weather this summer, the trees are already starting to change color a bit.

It will be interesting to see how this fall goes with how dry the summer was.  We had our lawn put in this past spring and due to the heat and lack of water, most of it died in the front yard.  So this past weekend we spent prepping the ground (filling in holes and spreading fresh dirt) and then spreading grass seed and straw.  Hopefully we'll have better luck getting the grass to grow this fall.

Anyway, last week was fairly busy, so I didn't get a chance to post as much on the blog as I had wanted to at the beginning of the week.  I had a work "thing" on Wednesday and didn't get home until after 8pm.  Here's what I thought I was going to accomplish:

1. Post on the blog on Wednesday. Didn't get a chance to do this.
2. Finish sewing Wildflower Fields' center quilt top. Almost done.  I have just one pieced border left.
3. Post about Quilt #6. :-(
4. Post a picture and progress on the current needlepoint project.  :-(
5. Post for Stashbusting Sunday. DONE!

I'll be taking Friday off from work to make this week a 4-day week, then a 4-day weekend, and then a 4-day week next week. :-)  I think that's how life should always 4 days, then off for 4 days, then work for 4 days.  I think I could handle that. ;-)

Here's the plan for this coming week:

1. Post on Wednesday with project progress.
2. Finish adding the final borders to Wildflower Fields.
3. Post about Quilt #6.
4. Post a picture of the current needlepoint project.
5. Post for Stashbusting Sunday.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stashbusting 2012 - Week 34

I was able to get a little bit of sewing in this week and used up some additional stash.  I was able to get the entire center portion of Wildflower Fields sewn together.  This is based on Bonnie Hunter's pattern Orca Bay.  At the far right of the picture, you can see the scrappy blocks I use as leaders and enders.  I have a total of 76 of these 16-patch blocks now  I need a total of 99 for the quilt top I'm making.


This next picture shows one of the borders for the quilt.


So the 1/2 yard I used this week is a combination of another scrappy 16-patch block and 2" fabric strips for an inner border on Wildflower Fields between the quilt top and the pieced border.

Here are the numbers:
Added This Week:       0.0 yards
Added Year to Date:    18.54 yards
Used This Week:          0.5 yards
Used Year to Date:       21 yards
Net Year to Date:         -2.45 yards  

Go on over to Judy's post to see how everyone has done this week.

Happy Crafting! ~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Monday, August 20, 2012

Make-A-List Monday

Why is it that I make some fairly decent and I must say...EASY... plans and sometimes I just can't stick to them at all??!

Last week was somewhat productive, but work tends to get in the way of my "play" time.  At least this week the hubby is back to driving himself so I'm not losing 1 hour per day driving to his work versus mine.  His knee is definitely doing better and he's pretty much back to the way he was before surgery.  The knee is still tender and he can't bend it completely (i.e. he can't sit on his feet and have his knee bent a LOT), but he can pretty much do everything he needs to do.  He has some exercises to do now to gain that motion back.

So last week, I did get most of my plans done....

1. Post on Wednesday (I may be changing it to work-in-progress Wednesday). DONE!

2. Finish sewing rows together into quilt top for Wildflower Fields. This is almost done, although I haven't taken a decent picture yet.  I have one sewn section to press and then one final seam and the middle portion of this top is done.  Then its on to adding borders.


3. Post about Quilt #5 on the blog...this week I'm actually going to do it! Yay!  Got this one done too!

This coming week I'm hoping to get a bit more done, but I may be doing more needlepoint than quilting.  See last week we had our new TV delivered!  We haven't bought a new TV in 10 years and the TVs have come a long way since then.  We had a "little" 27-inch TV that you could barely read the writing on the sports scores.  We have now upgraded to a 65-inch HD plasma.  :-)


I have to say... its absolutely gorgeous! The one rule I gave my husband when he was picking out the TV was that it couldn't be wider than I was tall...and I'm only 5'2".  So he had 62 inches to play with.  I told him he was stretching it with the 65" TV, but he reasoned me out...the 65" is the diagonal, so on the horizontal its only 60.5".  What a goof!

So needless to say, we've been finding new HD channels to watch and renting some HD movies from our cable provider.  We will need to get a new receiver in order to truly play DVDs properly with something like a Blue-Ray player.  Our current receiver is a DVD/receiver combo and it doesn't have ANY audio/video inputs.  Argh.  So you have to play stuff through its DVD player and it doesn't even have an HDMI out cable...just component cable which doesn't give as good a picture.  So we'll upgrade the receiver in a few weeks and get a Blue-Ray player.  We're eventually going to upgrade speakers, too, but that probably won't be until next year.

Anyway - so my list of things to do this week...

1. Post on the blog on Wednesday.
2. Finish sewing Wildflower Fields' center quilt top.
3. Post about Quilt #6.
4. Post a picture and progress on the current needlepoint project.
5. Post for Stashbusting Sunday.

Hope everyone out there in "blog-land" is having a good week so far!

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stashbusting 2012 - Week 31 - 33

The past few weeks have been a little hectic as my husband had knee surgery and work has been busy again.  I have gotten some sewing done on Wildflower Fields and I have a few more blocks made for my scrappy 2.5" square quilt.  I need 99 16-patch blocks for the center and I have 75 made so far.  I'm almost there!
Here are the numbers:
Added This Week:       0.0 yards
Added Year to Date:    18.54 yards
Used This Week:          0.35 yards
Used Year to Date:       20.49 yards
Net Year to Date:         -1.95 yards 

Go on over to Judy's post to see how everyone has done this week.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quilt #5

This quilt was one of my beginner quilts.  To be honest, I was going to use this for the backing on a quilt (so the quilt was dual-sized), but the sizes didn't work out the way I thought they were going to, so this was converted to a quilt top for a co-worker.

The top fabrics are cute ducks on blue and pink fabrics surrounded by a checked flannel border.  This was another quilt that I tied and had used a double-layer of polyester batting.



This was a pretty basic quilt and it was actually somewhat nice to make a simple quilt after making 4 prior quilts that pushed my abilities at the time.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Wanna Know Wednesday - Scraps

Do you ever wonder what to do with leftover pieces of fabric from a quilt?  I know some quilters are very big into scrap quilting and will save every little smidgen of fabric for use in some future project.  I did this for a while and found that I had piles of little pieces that I couldn't figure out anything to do with.  Now I'm talking in strips less than 3/4" wide, or pieces less than 1" square.

I've definitely learned that keeping those tiny pieces just don't work for me.  I do keep a small jar of those pieces and use them strictly for cleaning lint off my machine or wiping up drops of oil from oiling my machine.  That's about the most I get out of them.

What I have found that works for me is to actually "plan" for a scrap quilt.  When I have an idea in my head of what I want something to be or a quilt pattern that I want to make, I jot down the size pieces that I would need to make that quilt.  Then as I finish up an existing quilt, I cut up the leftover fabric into pieces to fit the scrap quilt pattern.

The first "planned" scrap quilt is actually very basic.  Its just leftover 2.5" squares and I just sew them into groups of 16.  Once I have enough blocks amassed, I will make them into a quilt top.  Since I always have leftover binding and I cut my binding at 2.5" strips, I just trim all that leftover down into squares.  All the squares are kept in one plastic bin and I semi-randomly pull out pieces (I usually make sure that no single 16-patch block has two of the same fabric).



I use these 2.5" squares to be my "leaders and enders" such that I never have to waste stitches on a scrap piece of fabric.  So far, I've amassed 70 of these blocks and I need to get to 99 blocks for the center of a over-sized Queen quilt.

One of the things I really like about this is that I have squares from EVERY quilt that I've made so far.  While I look at my blocks that I've made so far, I can pick out the fabrics and know exactly which quilt that fabric came from and who has the quilt now.  It is sort of like a trip down memory lane.

I think I'll post some more about handling scraps in the future as it seems like its a never-ending "problem" for quilters. ;-)

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Make-A-List Monday (err... Tuesday)

This is SO what I feel like today....

The husband is still recovering from knee surgery.  He decided to push it just a bit too much last week and ended up causing the knee/leg to swell again.  Its been doing a lot better though and he can now spend about half the day not having to use crutches at all.

However, Sunday night he decided he was going to try to sleep upstairs, which I was actually happy about...I missed sleeping next to him!  The down-side....he had awful stomach pains and was up all night, which meant I was up all night.  I'm not sure how he made it through Monday at work, but I definitely wasn't going to make it.  I had about an hour's worth of sleep and there was no way I was going to function, so I stayed home.  I'm still feeling pretty tired today even after sleeping 4.5 hours yesterday morning after dropping him off at work.

Needless to say, I haven't been doing a lot on the quilting front due to picking up the extra chores that hubby usually does.  I've even used this a few times now...

not for lifting rocks...but for taking the garbage out! ;-)

So here was the "grand plan" for last week.
1.  Post for Wanna Know Wednesday. DONE!

2. Start quilting individual blocks on the Quilt Sampler. Started.  I have maybe 4 blocks quilted, but then decided to take a break and get some piecing done.

3. Post about Quilt #5 on the blog. Ack! Didn't do this and I was really meaning to!

Hopefully this week will be a little better than last week.  Is it wrong that I just want it to be the weekend... NOW!?  ;-)

Plans for this week:
1. Post on Wednesday (I may be changing it to work-in-progress Wednesday).

2. Finish sewing rows together into quilt top for Wildflower Fields.

3. Post about Quilt #5 on the blog...this week I'm actually going to do it!

Hope everyone out there in "blog-land" is having a good week so far!

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wanna Know Wednesday - Thread Selection

This week has still been a bit messed up due to my husband's knee surgery.  He attempted to go back to work yesterday and after sitting at his desk for 4-5 hours without elevating the leg at all, his lower leg (knee and below) was swollen to twice its size again.  He's back home today keeping it elevated and icing it to keep the swelling (and pain) down.

So... on to this week's "wanna know" topic.

Thread Selection

A lot of new quilters (including myself) usually think nothing about picking out the thread you want to use to sew or quilt your finished quilt.  I know I started out choosing the cheapest cotton thread I could find.  Sorry to anyone who likes it, but I started out with Coats & Clark 100% cotton thread and its probably the worst thread I've ever used now that I know a bit more about thread.

I was under the impression that I had to use 100% cotton thread because I was using cotton fabrics.  The theory was that if you had a stronger thread (like polyester) and cotton fabric, the fabric would wear out and break before the thread did...and that the thread could make the wear happen faster!

How untrue that is!

After a few mishaps with my sewing machines, I really learned the importance of using the proper thread.  I made the mistake of using a rayon thread (which was very pretty and matched the fabric color perfectly) in a sewing machine that can do 1600 stitches per minute.  Because it was sewing so quickly, it managed to melt the thread!  The thread quickly because a jumbled mass in the bobbin and it made such a problem that it actually threw the timing off on my machine.  The timing was so bad that the bobbin was actually 180-degrees from where it should have been when the needle was in the down position.  It definitely wasn't pretty and broken 2 needles before I figured out what was wrong!

I've used several different brands of thread at this point, including Superior Threads (different types), Connecting Threads, Sulky, Mettler, and Isacord.  I think my favorite is the Superior Threads brand.  Not only do they have a HUGE selection of different types and weights of threads, but they have a great reference guide to help pick out the right thread for the right project.

Check out their References section here.  Not only do they have an easy-to-use guide for picking out the threads, but they have guides on how tension works and what types of threads and needle sizes to use for both standard sewing machines and long-arm machines.

Their thread color cards are also really handy, too.  For a very small price, you can get their color cards and then when you're trying to find JUST the right color of thread, you can match up the color card to your fabric.  The color card has their actual thread wound on it so you can really see what the thread would look like versus trying to match some color square on a computer screen.

Check out their site and I'd be interested to see what types of thread other people like.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Monday, August 6, 2012

Make-A-List Monday

Last week was crazy to say the least.  Rich's surgery went well on Thursday; however, the doctor found nothing wrong with the knee. :-(  So now we have no clue why he has so much pain when there is nothing wrong with the ligaments, knee cap or meniscus.  We have an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow to see what else could be causing the pain and what we can do about it.

At this point, he's slowly recovering from the surgery.  He's still on crutches and can't really put any weight on the leg, but we think that's just because of the swelling and general discomfort.  He's able to straighten it more now than initially after the surgery, so that is definitely good.  Once we're sure that the cuts are healed that he'll have to do some exercises to get full range of motion.  Since the doctor only poked around and didn't do any actual cutting inside the knee, it should be about 2 weeks or so before he's back to "normal".

Since I've been spending most of my days either helping him out (getting food, drink, medicine, ice bags, etc), I didn't get a whole lot done on the quilting/sewing front the past few days.

Here's the list from last week

1.  Plan stitching for Quilt Sampler and start stitching blocks.  I kind of have an idea of what I want to do with the quilting, but I'm a little afraid to start.  I guess I'm just going to bite the bullet and DO IT!

2. Post for Wanna Know Wednesday. I did post for this last week.  I've used the Thread Heaven conditioner a bit more and still love it. :-)

3. Post about Quilt #5 on the blog.  I didn't get a chance to upload photos from Quilt #5, so this didn't get done last week.

This week is also going to be a little nutsy.  I have doctor's appointments for Rich to take him to and work is going to be hectic as usual.  I did buy a Powerball ticket on Saturday morning (didn't win), and I bought one for Wednesday's drawing.  If I'm real lucky I might win, I have a 1 in 176 million chance. ;-)

So this coming week, I'm also planning a short list of things to do:

1.  Post for Wanna Know Wednesday.

2. Start quilting individual blocks on the Quilt Sampler.

3. Post about Quilt #5 on the blog.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wanna Know Wednesday - Thread Conditioner

A few weeks ago I was browsing my local quilt shop (yes, a very dangerous least for my wallet) and saw a small box of Thread Heaven thread conditioner.  


 I had heard about this stuff being recommended by a few sewers (both quilters and non-quilters) and they all loved it.  Basically, this thread conditioner will help prevent fraying and tangling of your thread while sewing.  If you want to know all the details, please see Thread Heaven's website.

I have to say that even though people talked about this product, I was skeptical of it.  It doesn't seem difficult to do hand-sewing the way I have been doing it without any thread conditioner, so why would this product be worth the price or effort to use?

This little baby is a miracle worker!  I decided to just try it since it was not expensive (I think I paid less than $4 for the container).  I used it to hand-sew the label below.


It was SO incredibly easy to pull the thread through the fabric.  It was very close to putting a hot knife through soft butter.  It was amazing!  I've been doing hand-sewing for a while and never has it been this easy to stitch through thick cotton fabric.  I am definitely a believer in this stuff now.

I would highly recommend using this product if you are doing any kind of hand-sewing.  While the company says that the product can be used on needlepoint without any damage, I am hesitant to use it on my needlepoint.  My needlepoint projects take years to complete because they are so large, and the last thing I want is to use a product and have it stain the fabric on me when its something I do not intend to wash.  I do plan on contacting the company though to see what kind of testing they have done.

By the way - I have not been paid by the company or contacted by the company to review this product.  This is just something that I had heard about and tried and found it to be very useful.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

UPDATE:  I just finished reading an email from the Thread Heaven folks and they re-assured me that Thread Heaven is safe for the needlepoint that I do.  In fact, they said: "Smithsonian has used Thread Heaven on the hand embroidered tapestry "seals" for presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and even though presidents come and go, the tapestries are meant to last!"  The Thread Heaven product will help protect the thread from UV exposure and other things that will "age" it.