Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quilt Pattern - Crack A Lackin

Sound the Trumpets... my first quilt pattern is completed!

Crack A Lackin

Frank named the quilt (and thus the pattern).

As you can see...

...there's just *a touch* of excitement about it around here...

I've also opened a shop in etsy to sell the patterns. Tom has created (a very basic) web page for my new company, Suzy Qute, which you can find at

As a Grand Hurrah Special, I'll be offering the first ten patterns up at half price... so hurry over to my etsy shop and be one of the first to see what a wonderful job I've done!

[And I'm not at all pround of it either!]

One of These Days

Do you ever give yourself too much to do?

I do.

All. The. Time!

This isn't a "posed" photo to cover sensitive information...
Someone is TRYING to get my attention!

I have so many great ideas and good intentions.

The first week on February I decided to leave "on or around" February 23rd. Then. I got it in my head to design a quilt before leaving... I even thought I'd like to have THREE patterns completed - HA!

I have an appointment in Phoenix on Saturday. I could drive it all in one day... but I've never done that. So, I can still leave today or even tomorrow, but, I don't know. I still haven't packed any clothes or loaded the van or even changed the oil in it yet. My pattern is progressing RAPIDLY in Microsoft Publisher... which is a good thing. The plastic pattern bags arrived late yesterday afternoon (they were due here last Friday). I guess I'll be bringing my mail and bills with me. All these little details.

Mainly, I just wanted to say, I always over-book myself. Always have. There are just so many things I want to do, choosing the best ones - and NOT feeling guilty about the others - has always been one of the hardest things for me to do!

Which makes me think of one other thing. Honestly folks, how DO you watch TV for hours a day? There are So Many things TO DO in life, I just can't figure out when / how to sit around and be unproductive! If I ever let myself do a Movie Marathon or Read a Book, I feel bad for "not doing anything."

Like my Uncle and Husband say, I need to Learn How to Relax.

Any pointers?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quilt Design - Sample FINISHED!

I JUST finished the quilt... all the way down to the label! I always mean to put labels on and often make them, but don't actually ATTACH them. Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about finishing the quilt, even though I STILL need to do the final draft of the Pattern, plus actually GET READY to go to Arizona... I'm planning to leave Wednesday... not really sure how I'm going to get EVERYTHING done tomorrow that I "need" to do. I guess I'll just have to "figure it out."

I wanted to let you know that the quilt itself is done... concept to completion, February 11-23. :D

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Little Piece of Me

A little while back a friend mentioned that she sees a lot of my expressions in Jack. Since then, I've been paying more attention to myself (in my mind's eye and also the cameras). Today, we took these photos of each other literally one minute apart.

I see things like this and it reminds me of how much (and quickly) our kids mimic us. I also think that it's funny how I have hair on my forehead at the same place he cut his off!

It's also interesting for me to ponder because while I relate to Frank, I frequently see myself in Jack. It forces me to realize that we are more alike than I think, I just have to discover how we're alike.

Quilt Design - Break Time

Can I take a break? Today, Jack and I left the house at 8 and returned at 3.

Here's an ice sculpture in the town we were quilting in.
You can see Jack's GREAT Self-Haircut!

During that time, we drove to the quilt shop and set up my quilt

I found I made a mistake with one of the zippers, so I had to re-pin it (to make it easier to attach the quilt to the machine, I have a set of zippers I pre-pin the quilt to). Then, I spent 3-1/2 hours quilting the quilt.

It was handy to have a little guy along...
he was able to climb
under the machine and attach my zipper when I put things on in the wrong order!

Now, for the binding and label and to finish the pattern, but I think I'm going to take the rest of the day off from all things quilting.

I'm pooped and I need a little break! And you know what... I think I've earned it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quilt Design - Almost A Job

Perhaps your tired of hearing about the Nitty-Gritty aspects of creating a quilt AND pattern to go with it... but do you know, I've been keeping track of my time and in the past six days, I've spent over 20 hours on this project. That's "almost like having a job!" And of course, I'm intending to make it lucrative, but, for someone who's "only" job has been running a house, homeschooling, and sorting out mounds of medical bills, adding 20 hours of ANYTHING to a normally busy week is quite a bit.

Tonight, I hit my wall. I miscut one piece, but one measly inch (over the course of 80" it doesn't sound like much). It was easy to fix, but not with the time crunch I was in. Instantly my hands started to itch (a nervous thing of mine) and I knew I was Done. I called Tom up and he encouraged me to take a break (I spent an hour cuddling with the boys on the couch) and push out the quilting until tomorrow. Tomorrow I won't have help from the machine owner. I have used a long-arm machine four times before, but the last time was last May and I had trouble with it. I guess, just like the rest of this project, I'll have to figure it out myself.

It's been enlightening to me that I've wanted to create patterns for so long. Finally, last week I decided I was going to do it, and I am doing it. I've realized that all this time I was waiting for someone else to encourage or nudge me, and really, I just had to make the decision and go for it. I've been so excited, but true to my nature, I've also worn myself out a bit.

I'll be leaving for Arizona AFTER my planned day of Monday. The trip will still happen next week, but I want to finish the pattern this weekend so I can get paperwork in order and pack (kinda HAVE TO do that) before leaving in the middle of the week.

Oh yeah. I JUST finished the quilt top - again. I decided it wasn't done with just the piece-work and added two borders. Today I also designed, cut, and pieced a scrappy back for the quilt. Now, I have to pin on three giant zippers so tomorrow I can "zip it" onto the quilt frame (at 8:30 am with Jack in tow!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Face Time for Jack

Jack hasn't been getting much (okay, any) face time lately... so, here's a quick picture of him today.

Not the best lighting (he put his back to the window), and the cat is all scrunched over, but, he wanted his picture taken and I wanted to share with you. Last week, right on developmental schedule, he cut a hunk out of his bangs. In true Jack fashion, he turned around and said "Mom! I cut my hair!" No trying to hide it, just excited at his "accomplishment"!

The Latest on Frank

The latest on Frank is that there's nothing going on. Nuh-thing!

Two weeks ago he stopped taking ALL medicine! YEAH!

The first week was when we needed to watch the closest. If an underlying infection had been there, it would take a few days for the antibiotics to start to clear out, then a few more for a potential infection to show itself.

We've seen the Surgeon and the Infectious Disease Specialist (last week in Salt Lake City). Frank was given a 5% chance of recurrence... which would likely have led to more surgery to remove more bone. Gratefully, there is just NO activity happening.

So, it looks like our Celebratory Trip to Arizona after all The Madness, will be able to happen and just on time.

Quilt Design - Cheerful Child, Almost There

I can see that the quilt is nearly done, but I really have worn myself out. I've been doing normal things, plus designing and sewing this quilt. It's just kickin' my butt!

Here's a little sneak peak at the blocks...

I've really been enjoying working with these fabrics! I enjoy or have wanted to make quilts with the following color themes:
  • Red, White, & Blue
  • Red, White, & Black
  • Caribbean - Blue, Aqua, & Green
  • Turquoise & Red
  • Pink & Brown
This quilt has all of those combination. It's turning out to be a very happy, cheerful quilt!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quilt Design - Cheerful Child, Progress Report

The Progress Report is that I'M MAKING PROGRESS! I can see it. I can feel it. I'm excited about it. I think I'll make my goal of having the quilt AND pattern ready to go on our trip to Arizona next week (though due to shipment of the plastic bags (to hold the patterns) we may leave one day later than scheduled).

I just added up my notes on my calendar... I put a fun hanging calendar in my Sewing Studio and as I leave the room, I jot down the time I've spent in there, the project, and the step. In the past five days, I've spent 12 hours on this quilt and it's design. It's not much per day, but, it's a LOT more than I've been spending on any ongoing project. The boys are all missing me... especially Tom (who's been picking up more than his share of Domestic Duties while I design and sew away).

Today, Frank was helping me with snipping pieces apart after I ironed them. When I ask what he thought of the colors he said they are "Crack-A-Lackin'!"

"Ding-Ding-Ding!" went my head. I'll probably call my pattern/quilt "Crack-A-Lackin'!" or perhaps "Qrack-A-Lackin!"? Hmm...

Which brings me back to names. As I see the completion of the sample and pattern, I MUST finalize a name for my company. Must do this. Any other input would be great, I think I'm leaning towards...
  • Suzy Q Sparkles
...but what else?
  • Sparklin' Designs
  • Shiny Quilts
  • Angel Quilts
  • Suzy Quilts
  • Suzy Q-ute
  • Suzy Q Sparkles
  • Suzy Sparkles
  • Suzy Angel
  • Happy Quilts
  • Happy Happy Happy Designs - ooh. I LIKE this one. I get a LOT of positive responses from an email address based on this phrase.
  • Shadona Designs
  • Color Me Happy
Also, as I think of names, my Minds' Eye wanders to possible graphics to go along with them.

Everything is fuzzy now, my eyelids are heavy and my body is sore (this much fabric cutting and work all at once IS hard on me.) I MUST get some well deserved rest! :D

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quilt Design - Cheerful Child, Fabric Values

Off my list, I've accomplished everything but The Pampered Chef work, which REALLY needs to be done... tomorrow!

[Truth be told... Tom took care of dinner and the dishes, so, I just had to stop to eat. I'm very lucky that way... Tom helps me A LOT in the Kitchen (and around the house in general!)]

I did make it upstairs to start cutting fabric, but first, I wanted to sort by value (you know - light - medium - dark - like that.)

I quickly pulled fabrics into groups of 10, approximately by shade/value, and re-stacked them. Then, I'd snap a picture, look at the image on my digital (small) camera screen and rearrange a few. I did this twice, first rearranging the bottom (lightest) row, and the second time rearranging the middle row.

I wanted to make this little collage to show you what I did, then I thought "I can switch this to black and white so we can really see the value".

After switching the pictures to black and white, I realized I SHOULD have done that with my camera in the first place... used the B&W setting. Because on looking at this, I see AT LEAST seven fabrics that should be moved about.

Color is tricky that way. You see the color and forget about the VALUE... even when you're trying. So, here are ways to find the real VALUE of your fabrics...
  1. Turn off / down the lights in the room (I use to do this all the time, but forgot about it today). If you have just a little light from another room, you see the value more than the color.
  2. Look through a piece of colored plastic (red or green work well - unless you are looking at that color of fabric, then use the other color - so, for a red and green quilt, this would be tough to do).
  3. Photocopy the fabrics and look at the printed pages. (This is an older method that will work if you can't do any of the others.)
  4. Switch your camera to B&W, take a shot, and then look at the picture (this would work for film or digital cameras).
  5. Take a digital picture, upload to the computer, convert to B&W, evaluate.
Many people underestimate the power of VALUE in art (and quilts ARE Art, if you were wondering!) In order to really SEE the different areas, you need to have light, medium, and dark shades... they all work together to create contrast, which keeps the eye moving AND helps you to see different areas/shapes.

Yesterday I showed a neighbor my fabrics, and she didn't think I should have the (one) pink or the beiges... I had to explain about value. Try removing the bottom row from the fabrics above... you loose so much of the contrast in the fabrics. The blocks I'm working on need contrast to really show off the design.

So. Today's lesson for you is about looking for different shades, even if they are all in the same color family, using lights, mediums, and darks is critical!

Quilt Design - Cheerful Child, First Draft

I just finished the very first draft of the pattern.

I printed it out (and emailed it to my friend to review) and now I'm taking a break from it. I think I'll cut some fabric and then read and edit it tomorrow, because right now, I'm SICK of looking at it!

Also, I have some work to do for The Pampered Chef. I'd like to set up my website, and write an email and also create a flyer for a show my friend ask me to do on my trip to Arizona.

Right now, it's time to play a game with my boys, then cut fabric, then dinner, then work on Pampered Chef, then work on my Mom's Cornucopia hat, then bed. I've got plenty to do in the next six hours! :P

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quilt Design - Cheerful Child, Fabric Selections

I went into those boxes last night, and I found 22 more fabrics.

Unfortunately, I was looking for dark fabrics and all but two are light! This is okay, just not quite what I wanted for the design I'm working on.

Then, I started thinking about something else.

The name of the block I'm working with is "The Cheerful Child" (also known as "The Miserable Wife", but I prefer the first name.)

So, I'm thinking to myself that the above fabrics don't really seem "childlike" or "cheerful" to me. Then I remembered this great
Timeless Treasures fabric I've had forever!

Isn't it great! I'm not all that into "farm" or "barn" or "cow" things, but for some reason I just LOVE this night-time barnyard scene. By the way, my having this "forever" translates to, "it's out of print", but Timeless Treasurers does have several current barn-themed fabrics that are similar.

I pulled fabrics to go with it...

This color palette is MUCH easier for me to pull from my stash. It's just cheerful AND happy to me! So, I'm working on the written pattern and now I'll be using the Barnyard Scene (probably as the backing) and saving the Rose Mosaic Fabrics for another upcoming (and as of yet, undecided) pattern. :D

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quilt Design - Cheerful Child

I spoke with my Mom about buying versus using my stash. I also spoke with my Hubby... who said to go ahead and purchase some of the pre-cut units. His quick support, in spite of our financial concerns, gave me the encouragement I needed to go up and poke around my Studio.

I discovered this little pile of fabric, which I've had set aside for OVER three years to "do something with".

Thing is there are only eight fabrics here and most collections have 30-42, so, I'd need to add to it. This isn't my "usual" color palette, but I think I've pulled together enough fabrics that can work...

I keep reminding myself that it doesn't have to be "perfect", just complete. I also remind myself that it "just has to look good on a small photo", not up close. I mean, who would put Stars with Bamboo with Mosaic Tiles? Me, that's who!

Now that I think about it, I may know of a place I've stashed some other muted fabrics in the process of "Suzy's Carrot Quilt Replica" project. I'll have to go peek and see if there are a few more rose, brown, or green pieces I can use.

I'm so grateful for Tom's support and I'm also grateful for my abundant stash (also compliments of Tom) that I can use for spontaneous projects! :D

Quilt Designing - Ideas, Names, and Such

Just about anyone who knows me knows I want to publish my quilt designs. I've REALLY been wanting to do this for over two years. I design them. I sew them. Sometimes I even put them to paper and start to format for publication. And that's as far as I've ever gotten. I stop just shy of ACTUALLY publishing the work.

In the past decade, the quilting world has seen a trend towards pre-cut sizes of fabrics. Often these are bundled together in coordinated groups. First there were Fat Quarters (18" x 22"), then there were Charm Packs (5" squares), and then Jelly Rolls (2 1/2" x WOF (45") strips) rolled up. Over the years I've been watching as people snatch these up, and then don't know what to do with them. Eventually, patterns and books were written using these sizes. I've often thought to myself "if only I'd thought of that". Recently a new size was added, Layer Cakes (10" squares). VERY recently (in the past few months) two brand new sizes were added, Honey Buns (1 1/2" x WOF (45") strips) rolled up and Turnovers (6" squares cut point to point to form a triangle). These two units are VERY new and so far, there are only a few patterns out (from the manufacturers) to go with these.

Here's my great idea... design patterns using the new sizes and GET THEM TO MARKET... FAST! I brainstormed and jotted down a "few" (over two dozen) quilt designs in the first day. Now, I want to write a pattern, make the sample, and have the product ready to go with me on my Arizona trip. Actually, I'd like to make three, but I'll settle for one. Oh. I'm leaving in 10 days.

I've been wanting to do publish my designs for so long, now I'm TOTALLY PSYCHED about this and maybe, just maybe a deadline is what I need.

In addition to the design, writing, publishing, sewing, quilting, photographing, and printing. I also need to finalize a Company Name and probably obtain a URL for future web-based sales. I'm not even THINKING about making a web page yet (gotta get some stuff together to sell first), but I do feel that I should make certain I can have a website to go with whatever company name I settle on.

In my preliminary work, I've always thought of myself as "Heaven Sent" or "Heaven Sent Designs", but both of those URLs are already taken. I've also thought of "Suzy Quilts" (with an Angel face drawn in the Q of the logo) or "Suzy Q-ute". I could also play off this blog name and go with a "Suzy Sparkles" or "Suzy Q Sparkles". I could also just use my first and middle names "Suzy Angel" (thus all the heavenly references). These things I have to think about...
  • Suzy Quilts
  • Suzy Q-ute
  • Suzy Q Sparkles
  • Suzy Sparkles
  • Suzy Angel
Feedback on the names would be good!

Today. Right now, I'm debating using my stash for this first quilt, or purchasing some pre-cut units. If I call a shop today, they can send them to me today and I should have them on Tuesday. Money's an object right now, but then, so is time.

What would you do? Spend time cutting from the stash, or order the fabric and spend the time writing and publishing the pattern?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kids Art Project - Pokémon Valentine

Frank and I came up with (what I think are) some pretty clever Valentine's for this year.

Frank likes Pokémon. Frank likes Pokémon A LOT. In order to keep Frank from starting to purchase and collect cards, I spent several months last year diverting his attention by having him MAKE his own cards.

This year, while designing other Pokémons, we thought it would be fun to make a Valentine Pokémon... there are plenty of ideas here:
  • Heart Attack
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Love Bug
  • Straight to the Heart
  • Luv Needle (Frank's Creation)
Frank designed the card. I designed the envelope. Jack assembled the envelopes. Here's the finished product:

I realize it's a little late to make these for a class party, but there's still time to make a few for friends / family ON Valentine's Day...

If you'd like to do this, here's what you need:
  • two sheets plain printer paper
  • one sheet card stock
  • 1/2 sheet white construction paper
  • 3" x 5" scrap red construction paper
  • drawing supplies
  • black marker
  • glue
  • scanner
  • printer (if you don't have color, draw in black and white, then color after printing)
Here are the templates I've made, please feel free to use them to make your own cards.
Here's how we make the cards and envelopes:
  1. Print out the lined page, as well as several "blank" pages. Then, stack them together with the lined page underneath a blank page.
  2. Draw picture of imagined Pokémon.
  3. Fill in the name, "hit points" and other information.
  4. Scan into the computer.
  5. Pull it into Adobe Photoshop, where you can clean up any stray eraser marks or "mistakes". You can also intensify / adjust the colors.
  6. Reduce the cards to proper size (2 1/2" wide x 3 1/4" tall).
  7. Print nine per page on cardstock.
  8. You may either design a card back, or find an image online to use, then print the second side before cutting.
  1. Fold a sheet of white construciton paper so the edges meet in the middle. The finished size should be about 5" from fold to fold. Trim almost a 5" circle, being sure to leave about 1.5" of the folds intact. (If this step sounds confusing, take a look at the second photograph, with the open envelope and the card tucked inside.)
  2. Set the white circle over the red paper, lining up the edge of the red with the center of the circle. Trim the red to match the circle shape.
  3. Cut about a 1" circle out of a white scrap.
  4. Draw a black line around the small circle.
  5. Glue the side edges on the bottom half of the circle together. This makes the inside pocket. I only glued the top of the sides (not the bottom of the curve); just incase my card was a little big for the envelope.
  6. Glue the red flap to the outside front.
  7. Glue the white dot with the black outline to the center front (only glue the half that touches the red).
  8. Let the glue dry, the put the card in the envelope.
  9. If desired, write a name on the back of the envelope.
  10. Deliver. :D
This would also work well to make invitations to a Pokémon Party.

I'd love to see your efforts if you make use of this fun little project.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Home Depot Kids Club Workshops

Yesterday someone was telling me how much her son enjoys going to the Kids Club each month at the Home Depot. I remember seeing these long-ago, but not thinking about them for a while. Now though, my boys are the right age to enjoy them, maybe you have kids you know who would like them too.

Here's the blurb from The Home Depot on the Kids Workshops:

Designed for kids 5-12, these free workshops teach do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while instilling a sense of accomplishment. Offered on the first Saturday of each month between 9 a.m. and noon all Home Depot® stores.

I guess the kids get their own orange Home Depot Work Apron then each month they get a pin/button/patch to attach for the project they've done. Best of all, the whole thing is free! :D

If you peek at the website you'll even see what projects are being done.

Today is the day for this month's workshop. I'm going to start taking my boys, maybe I'll see you there!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Infections and Super-Antibiotics

Original Post Name: Ototoxicity and Mycin Drugs
Changed on 23 Nov 2010 due to daily Spam.

Since leaving the hospital, Frank has been complaining that he "feels like (he's) going to fall down" and that he needs to sit or lie down.

It went on five weeks. Then, the doctor's heard me and suggested he have a hearing test. I made the appointment, and the dizzy spells disappeared. To quote the doctor "just like taking a car to the mechanic."
Wednesday, I took Frank to an PhD Otologist.

Yet ANOTHER picture that has NOTHING to do with the topic of the post.
Just a picture of Frank's interesting way of eating his Biscuit. :D

His hearing is perfectly fine. His balance seems to be too.

The Otologist was actually surprised that we didn't have a hearing test done before starting the Vancomycin. The Mycin family of drugs is WELL known for causing ear problems. Apparently Ototoxicity (hearing and balance issues) is a very rare side-effect of Vancomycin... it's one of the Mycin drugs that is less-likely to cause the ear troubles. Still, the side-effecs are known to present themselves a full six to eight months after completing the drug therapy.

Since Frank was only on the Vancomycin 2 1/2 weeks, his chances are low, but still, he won't be "clear" until his birthday next October. In the meantime, I have to watch for obvious things (complaining of being dizzy, walking into things, and falling over) as well as more subtle things (swaying or loss of fine motor control).

I thought you'd like to know about the link between Mycin drugs and your ears... in case you should ever need or know of anyone who might need them.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Quilt - Ice, Pucks, & Blood

I made and donated a quilt for charity... in one day! Granted, it was only about 24" square, but I DID IT! Yeah me!

Here's how much time I spent on it:
30 min - Design pattern and choose fabrics.
2 hr 15 min - Cut and Piece the Top
15 min - Clean & prep Sewing Machine, pin layers for quilting
25 min - Quilt
30 min - Make and attach Binding
5 min - Label (I cheated and wrote on the quilt top with a permanent marker).

4 hr - Total Time, Start to finish

This quilt was made for a raffle at Frank's Hockey Tournament January 10th. The day before the tournament, I remembered that I'd said I would make a quilt for the Raffle, so, I went home and did it! I felt good starting and finishing something AND keeping my word, even in the middle of all the Medical Hub-A-Loo! :D