Saturday, May 19, 2012

Postage Stamp Quilt A-Long at NNC

This year, NNC organised a big project to be done together, or, we call it the Postage Stamp Quilt A Long or PSQAL.

Almost everyone at the group are excited, and many have started planning since late last year when orders for Jelly Rolls (not the eating kind! LOL!) were made from all parts of the world.

As for me, I only started thinking and making plans for the PSQAL after the NNC Anniversary Meet was over with on the 14th of April 2012, as earlier, I was busy with my certification program, and after that, getting things ready for the Meet.

I was torn between making a full Postage Stamp Quilt or combining it with some appliqué blocks. But, my mind was made up when I was going through the April 2012 issue of the American Patchwork & Quilting magazine on the airplane on one of my working trips to Penang in late April 2012.

This particular design by Jo Morton from just jumped right out at me! LOL! I just could not wait to get back to Kuala Lumpur and get started on my quilt! LOL!

I started working on the appliqué the weekend after I came back from Penang. It looked easy, and yes, it is easy, but a lot of work goes into it – the tracing, the cutting, the ironing and the sewing of the blanket stitch. But, so far, I am pleased with the outcome.

I am making this appliqué piece to be combined with the postage stamps blocks as I am not a particular fan of monotony. I can’t bring myself to cut hundreds and hundreds of squares. I need to break down the monotony and intersperse it with something that will catch the eye and make it more interesting.

This particular quilt will be in colours of reds, browns and greens (What? No PINK? LOL! *grin*). I am using the layer cake and jelly roll from the Late Bloomers Collection for Moda which I bought from Q Gallery in Penang some time back, combined with some other collections and remnants from my previous projects.

So far, I have managed to quilt 13 blocks already. I still have another 32 more blocks to do. I need to make 45 appliqué blocks and 45 PSQ blocks. See the sketch I made on the paper? That’s my design sheet! *grin*

I am also being a little bit ambitious (shall I say, overly ambitious? LOL!) by wanting to do another quilt too while I do the PSQAL. I am hoping to make a Sunbonnet Sue quilt for the guest bedroom.

I have in fact started on the quilt using Em, my embroidery machine, the following weekend after I started on the PSQAL. Unfortunately, I could not progress fast when I had to send Em to the clinic when she hit a pin which was used to hold the fabric together, preventing it from dragging. It caused the hoop holder to jump out of her carriage.

Em has never been away from me since I brought her home 2 years ago, and it was hard being separated from her when I needed her most!

However, she’s back with me last weekend, and she now purrs like a cat as I also had her serviced while her carriage was being repaired. She sounds like new!

I am having so much fun making my Sues as I see her come to life! Oopps! I don’t think Paul is going to like that very much, and I don’t think I want Sue to actually come alive! That would be spooky! LOL!

Here’s my progress thus far.

Still a very long way to go for both quilts, but I hope to complete at least one quilt, if not both, by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

NNC turned 5! Part 2 – The celebration

I was up early that day, 14th April 2012. I hardly slept, in fact. I slept very late the night before, doing some last minute packing. This time, it was really last minute as I was still up at past midnight trying to finish up everything.

I actually took leave that Friday the 13th to finish up whatever that I have yet to finish. I had the whole day, and I thought that it would give me plenty of time, without having to rush, to finish up making my posting gifts, packing them all up, cook the spaghetti (the Meet was Potluck style) and still have time to work on some appliqué which I hope to be able to show off to my friends at the Meet. *grin*

But, as fate would have it, on Thursday nite, my hubby came home and told me that one of his uncles is very critically ill and that he would like to visit him who is in Johor Bahru. We had earlier planned to go on Saturday, and I had asked if we could go after the Meet. But, my FIL said that Saturday might already be too late.

So, after sending Aiman off for his school motivation camping trip at 7.00am, we headed off to Johor Bahru. However, one hour into the journey, we got a call to say that the uncle has passed away. Al-fatihah.

Since we were already on the way, we decided to proceed anyway. We wanted to at least pay our last respect to Ayah Bid, my hubby’s uncle, and to lend some support to Aunty Chah, the widow.

We thought that we could make it in time to at least pay our respect before the burial, but, for some reason, our journey that day took longer than usual. It would usually take us only 3 ½ hours, but that day, it took us 4 ½ hours. By the time we got to JB, they were already performing the prayers.

We stayed on for a while and chit chatted with the family and caught up with some cousins whom we have not met for some time. It’s odd how we only do catching up at such occasions – weddings, funerals and such. Maybe it’s time to meet up more often with friends and families to keep our ties strong.

I plead guilty for not playing my part more, as work always plays a major role in my day to day decision. I don’t know how many times that I have had to cancel my leave to spend time to Aiman at the last minute when duty calls. Even Aiman has started to complain that his Mummy and Abah is always so busy. Maybe it’s time to look back and reflect at the way we run our lives...... but, till then, it’s back to my story telling on the NNC Meet! *grin*

By the time we arrived back in KL, it was already very late. There was a bad jam going into KL from JB. There was even a point when the traffic was totally stalled. I arrived home tired but forced myself to finish up packing whatever I could.

As for the spaghetti that I promised would make, it was totally out of the question now that it was late, I was tired and I still had the packing of the gifts to do.

I smsed earlier to Mel and Margaret about it during my journey to Johor Bahru of my emergency, and luckily they assured me that there will be plenty of food. They were right! Just look at the spread of food for the day!

And just look at Mel’s lovely table setting of the awesome cupcakes! I just love them – both the cupcakes and the setting! Mel is so creative! Can I steal this idea, Mel? *wink*

This corner is the worse! I call this the sinful corner! LOL!

Just look at that chocolate fountain! I could stand in front of it all day and let the chocolate coat the fruits. Fruits are good, right? LOL! *wink*

I arrived at slightly past 9.30am with Sally and Jo who took a lift from me to Mel’s house, our Hostess for this year’s Meet.

I immediately got to work with Janet to sort out the Door Gifts.

My! The door gifts are starting to get more and more interesting and exciting by the year! Just look at the contents!

I’d better start planning for next year’s Meet now! LOL!

I made these labels to ensure that everyone gets their door gifts and so that members do not get them mixed up with someone else’s should they put them aside to enjoy the rest of the celebration.

Notice that it's got a bird theme?

Mel had some extra items to give away and they were all so awesome!

She had them laid on the table in 3 lovely decorative containers. The containers themselves containing the extra items were all so lovely, I wish I could take the containers too! LOL!

The first agenda was breakfast, and everything was so delicious.

I hardly ate most of the food though. I was still feeling tired from the long journey the day before and so had very little appetite. I was also missing my son.

I ate a lot of tit bits though – the dim sum was delicious. So were the Roti Jala and the Potato Cheese Balls. But, I spent a lot of time in front of the chocolate fountain. LOL!

I think I have this bad habit that whenever I am tired; I look for something chocolaty to eat. When I am down with a cold, I look for something hot and spicy to eat as when I have a cold, I have lost most of my sense of taste and smell, and so, spicy food usually helps me with the taste so that I have an appetite to eat.

While some of us were enjoying breakfast, we took turns to chit chat with Diane on skype from across the globe.

We also took a tour of Mel’s lovely house. I just simply love this novel idea of using a clothes hanger to hang ribbons.

Thanks, Mel, for the inspiration!

Just look at Mel’s collection of handmade bags! All so lovely!

Next on the agenda was the demo on using the Sizzix Big Shot – the first of 2 demos planned for the day.

Thanks, Vivian and Janet, for the demo. I already have a Sizzix die cutting machine, but a much smaller one, and a very old version of a die cutter, but I am just tempted to get the Big Shot after seeing the demo, especially when I read that it can also be used for doing patchwork and appliqué!

The next demo was by Zarina on how to put together the blocks for the Postage Stamp Quilt (PSQ).

We have planned a PSQ Quilt-Along (QAL) at the group to encourage members to give a try at quilting. So, this demo was just appropriate.

Just look at the lovely baby quilts made by Zarina! They are such an inspiration.

Thanks, Zarina, for the demo!

BTW, we also had a corner for selling craft related items, and Zarina brought some lovely Layer Cakes, Charm Packs and Fat Quarters. I bought a pack. I also bought some overdyed threads.

Sally sold some threads which she purchased from Superior Threads, and I bought 2.

Faizon sold some tatted pieces, while I put up my owl and cat pouches for sale. I only made one sale that day, and it was from Janet. Thanks for the support, Janet!

I will be putting up the rest for sale at my blogshop. Do drop by and make your order.

We also put up a corner to sell items contributed by members where the proceeds will go towards paying for the postage cost to send back the Anniversary Gift items and the door gifts to Diane, Shanny and Radha who joined in the Anniversary Gift Exchange and contributed towards the door gifts despite being far away.

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Next on the agenda were the results for the most liked bird. But, before that, here are the birds all nicely perched on Mel’s bay window.

Aren’t they all so lovely? Aren’t all our members so creative and talented?

Sally’s origami bird has more than 500 folded pieces of paper put together.

I just love this bird sitting in the nest made by Mel. It is so cute! Wished that I had won this one too!!

Zarina made some lovely tatted birds.

See that Angry Bird? That’s the one made by Usha which I won with her Exchange Gift.

Aiman was elated that I won an Angry Bird, knowing how much he loves Angry Birds. It is now perched on his PC and he brings it to bed with him each night!

I can’t remember the rest of who made which bird, but the bird I made is the one in blue to match my Anniversary Gift.

Back to the Bird Challenge, votes were cast by members themselves, and the winner is..........Veronica! Two years in a row!

This lady is really talented, and I am envious. I wish I have the talent and TIME to come up with such a creative design.

Veronica did not make just any bird, but a bird that is actually a purse.

It has two pockets on the side which are under the wings of the bird. Really awesome, and the bird is really lovely! Congrats, Veronica!

Can I echo someone’s suggestion that you no longer be in the running for next year’s prize? LOL! *wink*

No, I wouldn’t do that. That only means limiting your creativity, and I wouldn’t want to do that. Maybe next year, we can have two prizes instead? One which will almost surely go to Veronica, and another one to the 2nd most liked creation so that we still have another winner without putting a stop or damper to Veronica’s creativity?

I’ll discuss that with Margaret. Maybe she can also let me in on what next year’s challenge will be so that I can start planning on it NOW! LOL! *wink* Psssst! Margaret! LOL! *wink*

To thank Margaret for coming up with the Bird Challenge, some members gave Margaret owls and chicks to prove a point to her that owls and chicks are birds too, as she said that she will confiscate any bird that looks anything like an owl and chicken, other than banning me from doing an embroidered bird.

Hey, Margaret, how come Zarina wasn’t banned from doing a tatted bird since she is also an expert tatter, like you banned me from using Em, my embroidery machine, since embroidering a bird would make making my bird a breeze? Not fair!  LOL! *wink*

Next on the agenda was the giving away of the Posting Prizes.

Diane won for the 1000th message posted the 31st of December 2011, and here is what I made. It’s a spectacle case.

I know Diane loves cats. I hope she will love this cat too!

I had actually made her an owl pouch, but she posted at the board a request “No more birds!” LOL!

She has had enough of birds! Who wouldn’t, after the talk on birds for months since Margaret put up the challenge? LOL! *grin*

Since Zarina and Janet stayed up with me on 31st December to try to reach the target of 1000th posting in December 2012, I decided to reward both of them.

Zarina won for posting the last message for the year at 11.59am on 31st December 2011, and Janet won the prize for posting the first message for the year 2012 at 12.02am. Congrats, Zarina and Janet!

Here are their prizes.... I made Zarina a Flip Flop Spectacle case, and I made Janet an owl pouch. Zarina too had requested no birds! LOL!

Usha won for posting the 80,000th message at the board since NNC was formed 5 years ago. I made her a pouch with her name on it as 80,000 is a big achievement for NNC! Congrats, Usha!

For Mel, to thank her for hosting this year’s Meet, I also made her a pouch with her name on it. Thanks, Mel! Big hugs!

Mel also received some lovely Hostess gifts from the other members, but I can only put up photos as I can’t recall she got what from whom.

I hope everyone like their prizes. I wanted to do more or add more to the prize, but I was short for time this time around. Maybe next time. In the mean time, keep actively posting at the board, members. More prizes will be rewarded from time to time!

We had some lucky draws for gifts contributed by Diane and Shanny, but since I did not take any photos, nor do I have record of who won, I can’t report on it. I ran out of memory space on my memory card in my camera at the time the lucky draw was done. I had to spend some time deleting some old photos, and so missed out on the event. 

But, luckily, I did not miss out on the big event, and that is the exchange of the Anniversary Gift! I managed to delete enough old photos to snap most of the photos of the much anticipated event of the Meet, though I still did missed out on some. :(

Here are photos of who got what from whom...

Janet received from Diane.

Here’s me holding up the gift Veronica made which Shanny got, and more close-up of the winning bird. I wished I was the one who got this gift!

Jo helping Zarina to open up the gift she made.

Instead of wrapping up the gift with wrapping paper, Jo had wrapped it up using fabric. Her explanation being that if she wraps up using paper, whoever gets it will just tear up the paper and throw it away. By wrapping it with fabric, Zarina gets to keep the fabric too and make use of it! Good idea!

Zarina got a lovely handmade bag from Jo.

Usha received a lovely set of stitching accessories from Radha.

I have always admired Radha’s stitching work and hope to someday be her lucky partner for the Anniversary Gift Exchange.

Mel received a lovely piece of patchwork piece from Janet which got everyone going ooohhh and aaahahhh! LOL!

I must say that it really is a lovely piece, and has inspired me to get started on my PQS piece.

Now comes one of the most coveted Anniversary Gift of all – Mel’s Anniversary Gift!

Each year, everyone would eye Mel's gift. It always comes in the biggest packaging and never fails to get everyone excited. This year was no different.

It was Sally’s turn to pick a bird, and she stood next to Mel and said allowed, I want Mel’s gift!

As if in answer to her request, she picked out the bird with the number that matches Mel’s gift!! LOL!

Come to think of it, Mel, did you hint to her which bird to pick? LOL! *wink*

Next year, I am sitting next to you! LOL! *wink*

Jo received from Sally (sorry, no photo), and Bee Ee received from Lillie.

Lillie made this very beautiful pincushion that resembles a doll’s dress.

It’s really pretty and very creative. I must ask her where she got the design or idea to make this pincushion from.

Veronica received from Vivian. Unfortunately I did not manage to get a photo of all the things she got, but you can read it all about it here at her blog.
Vivian received from me.....

.....and and this was what I made.

Like I mentioned in an earlier posting, I got the pattern from Embroidery Garden. It is a pincushion cum needlebook cum scissor holder cum thread holder, and I included a seam ripper and needle threader.

I think this owl with the spool of thread for its foot is really cute! Wouldn’t you agree? *wink*
I know that Vivian is more into cardmaking, but I still hope that Vivian will find some use for it and will still be able to enjoy using the pincushion.
For the 3rd time since we started having the anniversary Gift Exchange 5 years ago, I again got Usha’s gift. I think it has been fated that we are soul mates! LOL! *wink*

Anyway, I got another crocheted doily from Usha in the same colour that I got earlier from her, but, this time, it is bigger. Each time I get a doily from Usha, it gets bigger and bigger! LOL! *wink*
Now with 3 doilies in matching colour, I have a complete set to decorate my living room. Thanks, Usha!

I won’t be using the pot holders though. I don’t want it getting burnt after all the hard work and effort put in by Usha to make them. They are definitely going into my Craft Showcase.

I love the Angry Bird. It is just so appropriate for Aiman!

I did not manage to snap photos of the other gifts the members received when my camera ran out of memory space, but, for the record, here’s the list of who got from whom.

1. Janet received Diane
2. Shanny received from Veron
3. Radha received from Shanny
4. Zarina received from Jo
5. Lillie received from MW
6. MW received from Zarina
7. Diane received from Bee Ee
8. Usha received from Radha
9. Mel received from Janet
10. Sally received from Mel
11. Jo received from Sally
12. Nik received from Usha
13. Vivian received from Nik
14. Bee Ee received from Lillie
15. Veronica received from Vivian

After the big event was done and over with, some continued to eat whatever food that was still leftover from breakfast. Margaret, Jackie and Lillie, however, had to leave as it was Margaret’s son’s birthday that day.

It was nice of Margaret to still come despite it being her son’s big day. I really appreciate it!
Sally, Jo and I left soon after that, but we did not head straight home. Instead, we made a detour to Kelvin’s shop. I needed to get some fusible web for an appliqué project that I am currently working on. I will post on that in a later post.

I think, all in all, everyone went home happy, and I think everyone had a good time.

Thank you to everyone who came. Thank you to Margaret, Jackie, and Lillie for organising the Anniversary Exchange. Thank you to Paul for organising the food. Thank you to everyone who contributed towards the postage cost and towards the door gifts. Thank you to all who brought the food.
A huge and special thanks to Mel for opening the doors to her lovely house and hosting this year’s Anniversary Meet.

Looking forward to the next one, God willing!