Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pipes section sewn

I trimmed up a few pizza blocks tonight. Originally they should have been 10.5” square (unfinished). But I was concerned that the lime green background was not wide enough to get four 10.5” cuts from each width-of-fabric strip. I decided to go with 10.25”, which won’t take away too much from the finished size of the quilt. I’m glad I made that decision, because there was less than an inch of background left from the pieced sashing strips after I made the four cuts.

The pieced sashing was 2.75” wide, so that became the dimension of the cornerstone squares. I laid out four pizza blocks, four sashing strips and a cornerstone on the wall. It looks pretty good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First rehearsal with singers went well

Last night we added the lead singers and things went pretty well. There were no major problems such as people coming in late in the song, jumping the gun or other big timing issues. I was happy about that. Tonight we’ll add all of the singers. It’s the last rehearsal of the week.
Next week is just crazy with dress rehearsals and performances, and I’m taking the whole week off from both jobs so that all I have to worry about is getting to the theater on time.

Pizza blocks almost finished

Tonight I’ll put narrow borders on the last 8 pizza blocks for Pipes and Piperoni, then trim all 16 of the blocks to 10.5” unfinished. Tomorrow night I plan to start making the pipes sections made up of sashing that looks like exaggerated Rail Fence segments, with cornerstones.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Going along as moral support

My friend Lena has been thinking about taking BART to San Francisco. She’s never been on BART, but wants to try it. She’s a little nervous about it, so I offered to come along as moral support. I’ve taken BART and other Bay Area public transportation many times, and I plan to go as a coach of sorts. She will do all the planning and research, make the itinerary, and call the shots on the day. I told her I’d stop her if she was about to make any major blunders. Specifically, I suggested she check into the parking situation at BART, where I could think of at least two ways to get yourself messed up before you even board the train.
We’re planning to go to the Picasso exhibit in Golden Gate Park, which involves taking at least one city bus, and Lena will also research the bus system.
My plan is to take a back seat at much as possible, without being the leader, and pretending I don’t know anything. I’m sure Lena will do just fine.

Making plans

My friend Lena and I are planning to see the Picasso exhibit in San Francisco in June. It’s been a while since I saw works by a master. I’m looking forward to our trip.

Two rehearsals this week

There are rehearsals tonight and tomorrow for the show at Gallo. Tonight the lead singers will be joining the orchestra and tomorrow all of the singers will be rehearsing with us. Hopefully the singers will know their songs well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eight pizza blocks finished

I’ve finished half of the 16 pizza blocks for Pipes and Piperoni. They look pretty good.
I get home late tomorrow night, and in order to proceed I needed to do some prep. While it was still light outside I set up the last 8 pizza blocks: I took a sheet of tracing paper that had the inner pizza square printed on it and taped the paper to the window—creating a makeshift lightbox. (An alternative to the window would have been the television, but the glass is curved plus I didn’t want to scratch the glass with pins.) I placed a triangular shape of the pepperoni fabric over the tracing paper, lining it up so that the edges of the fabric covered the printed pizza slice, then pinned the fabric to the paper. I did that for all 8 of the remaining pizza blocks. Now I’m ready to start sewing tomorrow night even though I get home after dark!
Hopefully the last 8 pizza blocks will take me just a few days to finish. I expect the sashing and cornerstones to be very quick to assemble.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First rehearsal went well

Last night was my first rehearsal for the show at Gallo. I did pretty well, considering I was playing the music for the first time. I got lost only a couple of times. I was able to keep up most of the time, even on the fast songs.
The next rehearsal is on Monday. I need to look at a couple of songs before then to get them in my head and fingers better. Overall, I’m really proud of how well I did last night.
By the way, I picked up a few posters last night and put them on display in my office today. Maybe a few more of my co-workers will come to the show because they saw the signs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How to inventory fabric stash and quilt projects

"I was surprised at the result."

How I did it:

I am a member of Stashbuster Yahoo Group. Members are expected to give a stash report during their birthday month. I did a report last year, so I’ll compare as I go.

Most of my fabric stash is made up of smaller sizes, fat quarter to 1 yard. I keep them in gallon zip bags by color family. Total: 35 bags (down 4 bags from last year). Many of the larger pieces, up to 2.5 yards, are in 2 huge zip bags (4 bags last year). About half of this fabric is likely to be made into charity quilts. There is a "paper" box of what amounts to about 2 yards of fabric set aside for charity.

Scraps 1" to 13" wide of various lengths, organized by width and cool/warm colors: Six 12" x 12" drawers plus 1 small lunch bag--all very full. I do not keep all of my scraps. I have a grocery bag near my sewing machine where I deposit the scraps that no longer interest me. When the bag gets full, I donate the scraps to my daughter-in-law’s Mothers of Preschoolers group, who hold a couple of yard sales each year to raise money for their group. In the past I have donated to Project Linus but the nearest chapter has disbanded. During the past year I donated to another local quilting charity but the lady had an attitude and I won’t be giving her any more fabric.

PIGs (Projects in Grocery Bags): 23 (10 last year), with about half of those set aside for charity

UFOs (UnFinished Objects): I tend to do my projects start to finish, so I have just 7 items that sit unfinished (up one from last year). Of those, three just simply need to be finished. One can be finished and given to charity. The remaining three projects I am quite proud of and would like to be quilted
professionally with the intent of displaying in a quilt show someday.

WIPs (Works in Progress): Pipes and Piperoni, which I am working on for my granddaughter Piper. Cathy's Southwest, which is actually two quilts. Quilter's Playtime, which I will continue working on during my at-home retreat in May.

I weighed all of the above to have something to compare to this time next year. All told, my stash weighs 138 pounds, up five pounds from last year. I was surprised to find that my stash had increased. Some explanations: I didn’t make as many charity quilts this year. I try to use stash only for charity quilts. I made 22 quilts last year, many of which were from new fabrics. I’m not in Stashbuster’s No-Buy group but my fabric purchases would have been okay since the projects were gifts. I am guessing that the leftover yardage from those projects increased my stash.

Lessons & tips:

Use a "paper" box or other container to pile the fabric into for weighing. A simple bathroom scale can be used to weigh the fabric. Place the empty container on the scale, then adjust the scale to zero so you're weighing only the fabric. Keep track of each weighing, then add to get the total at the end. You can keep track of each category of fabric, too.


"Paper" box or other container
Bathroom scale
Paper and writing instrument

It took me 1 day.

It made me

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First pizza block done

I trimmed up a block, then added border strips. The block needs to be trimmed again just a bit, otherwise it will look just like the photo.

EQ Sketch - Points near Cornerstones

Original EQ Sketch

In Electric Quilt I experimented with the block, leaving off borders on two sides and making the remaining borders much thicker. I figured the points would touch the cornerstones, tightening up a group of four pizza slices to look more like a flower. That did happen. However, the result looked a little too predictable to me, and I preferred the original design where the slices kind of float, so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pizza blocks progress

Here’s one of the paper-pieced pizza blocks in progress. It needs to be trimmed and a border of the lime green print added. I like it so far.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Ordered fabric

I decided to go with the special order Boston Terriers fabric I found at You can design your own fabric on the computer and upload it to the website. Spoonflower will print the design on your choice of a half dozen or so different types of fabric.

You can order fabric that other people have designed, as well, which is what I did. I chose Dottie the Boston Terrier. It’s cute and I think the colors will work for Cristine, because over the years I’ve seen her in red t-shirts often when she’s come over to clean my house.
The fabric isn’t cheap. I ordered a fat quarter of cotton sateen for $14 plus $1 shipping. A yard costs $27 plus shipping. I can make a nice design with a fat quarter of focus fabric.

My fabric should be in the mail in 18-19 days. I can’t wait to see it.

Foundation blocks printed

The paper-pieced pizza blocks for Pipes and Piperoni finish at 10”, too wide for my printer. I could try to draw all 16 of them, but that’s time-consuming. I considered drawing one block on my 12” graph paper, then take it to Kinko’s and print on wide paper.
Here is my solution: The block’s center is 8” finished, so I re-drew the block in Electric Quilt without the narrow borders. That allowed me to print on tracing paper. I’m good to go to paper-piece the centers, add the borders, and trim to size.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Two birds with one stone

I’m taking a week off of work in early May, while I play the piano for a show at the Gallo Center for the Arts. My plan was to take it easy during the day and do my show at night. A couple of days ago I got the great idea to do an at-home quilting retreat in the daytime, then do my show at night. I can do two significant things in the same week. Another factor is that it may be a few months before I ask for time off again, so I’d might as well do a retreat now.
I’ve done several quilting retreats in the past, both at home and out of town, where I quilt for hours each day. During a retreat I stay away from regular television, listening only to a music channel until I’ve finished sewing for the day. That keeps me focused on quilting, instead of whatever is happening on the screen. I choose a quilting technique book that I haven’t tried yet and just go for it—using stash only. No fair running to the fabric store!
I’m looking forward to my retreat. Now, which book will I work through?

Still thinking it over

I want to make a quilt for my housekeeper Cristine. She’s been cleaning my place for about 7 years, and it’s high time. Her birthday happens to be the same as my granddaughter Piper, whose new quilt I’m working on currently. It’s a no-brainer that Piper’s needs to be done first, so Cristine’s will just have to wait a bit.

I have just a vague idea what I’d like to do for Cristine’s quilt. She has a couple of Boston Terriers, so I’m on the hunt for a cute fabric in that theme. I found a couple of possibilities online, and I’m leaning toward one in particular. Once I have fabric in hand, I can start thinking about a design. A lot depends on the scale of the print.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Have fabric

I’ve picked up a bright pink and a bright lime green to go with the polka dot fabric for Pipes and Piperoni. I was debating between two greens, one being quieter and a little “safer”. But the fabric I chose really adds a zing so I’m going with it.

I need to wash the fabrics, and I’ll probably start sewing tomorrow.

Created a design

I decided to do an April Showers mini-quilt wallhanging for the doll quilt challenge. Yesterday I created a paper-pieced design with four umbrellas—bright pink against a grayish background. The blocks are set on point and there is a blank space right in the center of the quilt. I’m thinking about stitching “April Showers” in that space. I’m also thinking about getting some pretty beads to represent raindrops, which I’ll attach in various places.

I chose my fabrics from stash and started sewing a little last night. Today while I was at Joann’s I looked through their bead section and found a few possibilities. I may wait until I finish the quilt top before I make any purchases.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Created quilt design

I spent quite a bit of time today working on Piper’s quilt design in Electric Quilt and I have something I’m pretty happy with. The polka dot fabric will go in the pizza slices (Piperoni). I created sashing and cornerstones that I think look like plumbing (Pipes). I need to shop for the bright pink and the green, of which I’m still not sure whether to stay light or go a little medium. Once I’m in the store with the pizza fabric I’ll be able to audition greens and find something that works.

Bought pizza fabric

I looked for polka dotted fabric to represent pepperoni pizza all during my trip to Washington, Vancouver and Victoria last week, with no luck. After I arrived back in Oakland, California I decided to take a short ride on BART to Berkeley to go to Stonemountain and Daughter fabric store. I found fabric that has lots of different sized polka dots, some overlapping. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it has the right colors of lime green and bright pink, which are in Piper’s bedroom. I bought a yard, not having a design figured out, but hopefully it will work out.

Have an idea

Design notes

My younger granddaughter’s name is Piper. Two of her nicknames are Pipes and Piperoni. Her first birthday is coming soon and I got the idea to make a quilt for her based on her nicknames.

I want to make squares containing triangular pizza-like shapes out of fabric that has big circles that look like pepperoni. The pizza slices would be contained in a large square made of background fabric, with the point of the slice aimed at a corner. Four slices would be arranged almost to look like a four-petal flower.

I also want to make sashing and cornerstones that looks like plumbing pipes. My idea is to make three-piece sashing made of a large center stripe surrounded on each side by narrow strips of background—kind of like an exaggerated Fence Rail.

See more progress on: Make Pipes and Piperoni quilt for granddaughter

Friday, April 01, 2011

Visited Victoria and Vancouver BC

"Cross one off of my bucket list!"

How I did it: About 33 years ago I visited Victoria, BC in Canada while on a church choir tour through Oregon and Washington. We were only there for 3 hours, but I fell in love with the place with its European feel. I had been wanting to go back all these years.

Above pictures: Chinatown, Vancouver BC
Tim Hortons, fast food restaurant seen everywhere we went.

My dream was finally fulfilled recently when I visited my daughter who lives in Washington near the Canadian border. We drove to Vancouver the first day, visited Chinatown--my daughter's favorite hangout, walked up and down Granville Street in search of a shirt for my granddaughter, and went to a comedy club. We stayed the night, then headed back toward the border to Tsawassen to catch a ferry.
Ferry Terminal at Tsawassen, BC
Our ferry coming in. I couldn't believe how many big trucks could fit in it!
Lighthouse seen on the ferry ride.
The scenery was breathtaking.
Taking the car on the ferry would be quite expensive, so we parked at the dock in Tsawassen and caught the boat for the 1.5 hour ride to Swartz Bay. Once there, we caught a city bus to Victoria for another 1.5 hour ride.
Satin Moon quilt shop
Above photos: Chinatown
Old Vic Fish and Chips - in business for 80 years
By the time we got to Victoria it was mid-afternoon. Both my daughter and I had a few places on our agenda and, amazingly, the places were very close together. Satin Moon quilt shop was right across the street from Chinatown, and Old Vic Fish and Chips (lunch) was just a few blocks away.

The Empress Hotel
On the way to the Empress Hotel, we looked at the mall for a t-shirt for my granddaughter, but didn't find what we were looking for. At the Empress, we had hoped to get a cup of coffee and enjoy the atmosphere (in lieu of the pricey Afternoon Tea), but the dining room was closed until breakfast. Surprisingly, both of us decided that it was enough to have walked through the dining room, imagining what it would be like to dine there. Both of us have good imaginations!
Beautiful fountain
Metal work in the windows reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright
Having ticked off the items on our wish lists, we wandered up and down Government Street and through Chinatown in search of the elusive t-shirt and souvenirs. Meanwhile, we had to decide which ferry to catch and how we would get there. There wasn't enough time to catch the 7:00 ferry, and 9:00 was the last one. I considered taking a taxi, but that would be expensive.

We went back out on Douglas Street where Bus 70 had dropped us off. Despite the cost of international roaming, I called the ferry to verify that there was a 9:00 boat back to Tsawassen, otherwise we'd might as well stay in Victoria since I didn't notice any motels near the dock. Happily there was a 9:00 boat, and we flagged down a bus to ask when Bus 70 would come by again. The driver said eventually, and I grabbed a bus schedule before the bus left. As it happened, Bus 70 was finished for the night, and we caught Bus 72 instead. We got back to Swartz Bay with a half hour to spare.

Victoria seemed to be different than I had pictured it. It didn't feel quite as European as I remembered. Granted, in 30+ years things change. Nevertheless, I'm glad I went. I can cross that goal off of my bucket list!

Lessons and tips: Public transportation is inexpensive albeit a bit slow. BC Transit buses will pick you up at the dock and drop you off in downtown Victoria. Ditto for the reverse. Grab a bus schedule as you board. Plan ahead so you make it back before the last ferry leaves.

Ask locals where to get off the bus in Downtown Victoria. My experience is that people are happy to help.

Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel is at noon. It's pricey but I understand it's a nice experience.

Contact your cell phone company about international calls, texts, data, etc., to avoid expensive bills later. The call I made to the ferry was worth the money for my peace of mind.

Resources: BC Ferries
BC Transit

It took me 33 years.

It made me feel completion.

See more progress on: visit Victoria BC

Attended my daughter's special event

"I'm so glad I went"

How I did it: My daughter was to receive a special recognition and I wanted to attend. She lives in another state and travel was involved so I started planning about a year ago. I found out when the special day would be and asked for time off from both of my jobs. My daughter and I talked about how long my visit should last, as she needed to take time off, as well. About 1.5 months before the trip I bought my plane ticket.

I flew to my daughter's town the day before the special event and got to spend time with my daughter and her roommate. The next day about 20 of us gathered at a local restaurant to celebrate. Then most of us went on to the venue for the presentation, where dozens of well-wishers were already waiting to honor my daughter and a few other people.

I had the privilege and honor of presenting my daughter with her award. Although I was the only family there, I felt like I was representing all of us. My daughter and many others told me it meant a lot to her that I came for the special event. I'm so glad I went.

Lessons and tips: Take the time to attend your loved ones' special events. It means a lot to them.

Plan ahead. Ask for time off from work far enough ahead, especially if you must travel a good distance.

Resources: Allegiant Air

It took me 12 months.

It made me Honored to be there.

See more progress on: attend my daughter's special event in March 2011

Nurse Quilt Finished and Delivered

How Are We Feeling Today?
For my daughter Lisa, who is studying to be a nurse
Original Design
Red Cross 2 and King's Cross Blocks
60" square


Design notes

"She was so surprised!"

How I did it: My daughter is studying to become a nurse. She asked me to make her a nurse-themed quilt to keep her inspired. I found a cute theme fabric, then chose a nurse-related block: Red Cross 2. I designed the quilt using Electric Quilt, and chose another block, King's Cross to fill the corners.

I shopped for fabric, found the basics, then chose one wild print for the background. Ordinarily I wouldn't have selected such a busy print, but my daughter has a big personality and she told me to go crazy with the quilt, so I did!

I drew my own paper-pieced patterns, constructed the blocks, then joined them together. After doing a pillowcase finish, I tied with embroidery floss.

I finished the quilt in time to take it with me on my recent trip to visit my daughter in another state. I was able to squeeze the quilt into my little suitcase along with my clothing, etc. My daughter knew about the quilt and had hoped I would bring the finished quilt with me. However, she gave up hope when she saw my tiny suitcase because she didn't think the quilt would fit in it. She was so surprised when I gave it to her the next day at a party in her honor!

Lessons and tips: Keep the recipient in mind when choosing fabrics. My daughter loved the wild print, which was outside my own comfort zone, but it was just right for her.

Resources: Electric Quilt

It took me 3 weeks.

It made me Happy.

See more progress on: make Nurse quilt for daughter