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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Let there be light!

My eyesight seems to be getting worse and worse. Quilting on the Handiquilter at night gave me headaches. I even borrowed my husband's headlamp.

I went by Huntsville Sew and Vac and looked at all of the accessories for the Handiquilter. I saw this pack of LED lights that stick onto the frame. It made so much of a difference! I cut a section of the strip off and it made the rest a little brighter.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bits and Pieces

Sorry I haven't posted in a few weeks.  I've been so busy working on several projects.  I completed two t-shirt quilts in time for graduation presents!  I also finished a baby quilt for my brother's baby who is absolutely adorable!!  (I'm not biased at all!  💗 )  I am now working on another t-shirt quilt!

OH!  Before I forget...I officially opened my little online shop.  It's A Cynch! is open for business! Like the name??  I can't take the credit.  My sister came up with it.  She's more creative than I am!  The link to my Facebook page is .  As soon as I figure out how to add the Facebook link on this blog, I will.

I also got a new toy to help stabilize t-shirts faster.  I bought a heat press.  I researched and checked reviews and this one had really good reviews for the price.  It is quite heavy though!  But what would have taken me an entire day of watching Dr. Who on Amazon while ironing stabilizer onto thirty t-shirts turned into only two hours (YES!!! You heard me right!) using the heat press!  That is worth the money in time saved!!

I watched a few YouTube videos on how to properly use it without damaging the shirts.  That's a tip for you.  When in doubt, watch a YouTube video...actually watch several.  YouTube is a great learning tool!  Just be aware that some of the videos are more what NOT to do, than what to do, if you know what I mean.

To use a heat press, you need to buy teflon sheets to sandwich the fabric or shirt for protection from the heat.  I used 375 degrees for 13 seconds.  That worked pretty well.  Another tip is that if the shirt has a vinyl design on it already, you need to let it cool before you peel the teflon sheet off.  (That's from personal experience!)  I can also use the heat press to make t-shirts with vinyl designs!  That's on my to do list.

One of the features that make my t-shirt quilts unique is that I like to add extra details.  The examples below are for the quilt I am working on now.  It is for a friend of mine's daughter who played soccer and is going to college to play soccer!  Ok.  She is also going to get an education.  I found a few digital designs on Etsy and Embroidery Library.  I added the name of the school or team mascot to them using my digitizing software.  The digitizing software I use is Palette 10 by Babylock.  I also did her monogram on one of the squares.  I like to do this if I see a blank space on the quilt.

Another embroidery detail I added is her first team name on her first little soccer shirt!  That way when they see the shirt on the quilt, they will remember the name of the team.

The last thing I want to share is what I do with the leftover pieces.  I got the idea to just sew them together willy-nilly and then cut them into crazy quilt blocks!  I put all of the embroidered blocks with the crazy blocks as the center row.  This is perfect because there are seven rows in the quilt. I am sewing the rest of the shirt pieces together for her mom as a lap quilt.  Then she gets her own quilted memories too!

I will post a picture of the completed quilt when I am done.  Hopefully in a few days!  Whew!  I better get busy!

Happy Quilting Y'All!!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A baby (quilt) to love!

My brother, Kevin, and his wife, Nicki, are expecting their first baby! We are all over the moon with excitement! We can't wait to meet this new little person! Defying the popular trend of finding out the sex, they have decided to let it be a complete surprise. I think that's more fun. So Nicki said she wanted neutral colors for the baby quilt. I fell in love with the scrap bin flying geese pattern. I used neutral colors with a tiny splash of aqua or blue-green.

I said a tiny splash of aqua...I just loved the geometric pattern. 
I used the leftovers to piece a modern quilt back. 
The quilt is about the size of a lap quilt. I think that's a better size. They can use it for picnics and a play blanket. I have some bibs and burping rags to make.  I hope the baby knows how loved they are! 

Meaningful gifts is what it's all about! 
Happy quilting y'all!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Just in time for graduation!

I finished another graduation quilt!!! It's for a good friend of mine's son. And good thing too. He graduates in two weeks! It's the best one that I've made so far! I did black and gold sashing for Vanderbilt colors. I also embroidered "Vanderbilt university" on top and "Commodores" on the bottom border. The finished quilt is 96 inches wide x 130 inches long.  You may be wondering why it's so long. Nick is 6 foot 7 inches tall. So it should cover him nicely!

Happy quilting y'all!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

My New Favorite Toy!

I decided to try my hand at using the rulers with my Handi-quilter. I was very nervous at first. The longarm is still new to me. I've mastered loops, but need to add to my arsenal of patterns.

So...I watched a YouTube video (my go to "how to" site) and decided I would stitch in the ditch using the straight side of the ruler. It is really hard to stitch a straight line on the longarm without help.  How hard can it be with the help of a ruler???

It was the easiest thing to learn! I started slowly, but as I gained confidence, I got a little faster.  Unfortunately, I got over confident and accidentally tried to sew straight through the ruler! Besides sewing through my fingernail, it was one of the scariest thing to happen to me! (Maybe I should have stopped and gone to bed sooner!) The machine set off a loud alarm, the needle snapped (thank goodness the thread was threaded or it would have flown off...possibly toward my face) and I had this horrible thought that I had just broken my new longarm!

After putting on a new needle, rethreading, checking the bobbin area...I gingerly started again. I learned a valuable lesson: sew slowly when using the ruler and stop sewing when you hit that "I'm tired" wall at midnight or 1 am.

But...I love using the ruler. They are my new favorite toy. There are so many options as far as patterns and designs.  I'm so excited to come up with new design combinations.  Check out how I did below! By the way, this beautiful quilt is another charity quilt that the Rocket City Modern Quilt Guild is giving away. 

Happy quilting ya'll!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Another Gift Delivered

I finished the quilt for my friend, Donna, who is recovering from pancreatic cancer. She has been through so much and I just wanted to wrap her up in love and support. She didn't want her picture taken, so I can't share with you my strong, brave friend. She cried and said she couldn't believe I had taken the time to make the quilt for her. But I couldn't think of a better way to show her that I love her and am here supporting her as she goes through this awful journey. It's been hard to know what to do for her. So this little gift seemed perfect. 

The quilt itself is a version of the rail fence pattern. I used a jelly roll to make it. Using precut jelly rolls, charm packs, layer cakes...I think someone was hungry when they made up these names...are a great way to make a quilted gift pretty quickly. A quilt is a gift that shows how much you love someone. And everytime they use it, they can feel your love!

I have to add a shout-out to my friend, Melody. My Embroidery machine is in the shop. The touchscreen quit working. Thanks  a lot, Babylock! So she made my name "plate" for me! Having great friends to call on in a pinch is a true blessing!

Happy quilting ya'll!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A kind, humble man

I haven't posted for over a week because my father in law got very sick and passed away on March 15.  He died from complications of COPD, emphysema and congestive heart.  I want to tell you about him.

First of all, he loved his family.  He wasn't touchy, feely, huggy...but he loved us.  I think he always enjoyed a good hug.  But we had to come hug him.  He wouldn't come hug us first.  He told my husband once that I was special and he should be good to me.  I never let my husband forget that.  I think it's because I have an engineering degree and work in the same defense industry he did for so many years.  We had a quiet admiration as my mom told me.  I made him his favorite peanut butter pie for any and every occasion...any excuse I could think of, I would make him that pie. He probably shouldn't have had it, but I figured if I could give him something he enjoyed, then I would do it.  I usually made two so he could freeze one and have it later.

When I tried to take his picture, most of the time he would make a face at me.  So it was nice to have those pictures in his slideshow.  It showed a different, funny side of him.  You wouldn't think he had a funny side because he was always sitting by watching everyone.  He didn't say much until he was ready to add something meaty to our conversation.  Or he would tell us a joke he heard.  I was hugging my husband once and afterward, I sat down beside my father in law and he said to me You love him, don't you?  I said Yeah, he's ok and I winked at him. He just kind of chuckled, but I know he appreciated how much I love his son.  That was my father in law, quietly watching us.

He loved my boys.  They used to say Papa doesn't say much, but when he talks you listen.  My boys enjoyed engaging him in conversation over politics (that was a fun topic) and what they were in to...especially college and their military experiences or telling him the fun things they did with their friends.  I think he was proud that his grandsons are both in the military.  I added my favorite picture of my boys with their Papa below.  The smile on my father in law's face says it all.

He loved his granddaughters too.  He would do anything for those girls.  My young niece and her Papa had a special bond.  She read him books, told him about her day, hugged and kissed him and told him how much she loved him.  My daughter and he had a special bond too.  She was a little difficult at times, but her Papa was always there for her...ready to lend a helping hand.

I miss my father in law.  I wish life wasn't so busy that I had more time to do more things with him.  I think he and I could have done some fun projects together.  One time while in graduate school, I told him I didn't know how to use MathCad.  So he asked me for a copy (free trial version) and loaded it on his computer. The next time I was over he said he used it.  But I had moved on and was busy with the kids and school, life I guess, and I never took the time to sit with him.  I know he would have enjoyed teaching me.  I'm very sorry about that. I guess what I'm taking from the experience of losing him is that I wish I would have taken more time, set better priorities, not been so selfish and caught up in my life...taken the time to enjoy his company.

As he got sick and was in the hospital and rehab, when I'd leave, I'd kiss the top of his head and tell him to behave.  He'd say No!  Then when he was frustrated because the nurses wouldn't listen to him and he knew he was right...I'd kiss the top of his head and tell him Give them hell. He'd nod his head because talking took too much energy and oxygen.  We were all there with him, except my oldest son who is on deployment, when he passed.  I hope he knew how much we all loved him.  I hope he felt us praying over him and telling him it was ok to let go.  That we'd be ok.  But we miss him terribly.