Friday, April 30, 2010


I just built a page on facebook for Sewbot's Laboratory.  Click on the badge below to check it out and become a fan.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jargon of the Week - Quilt Sandwich

Jargon of the Week

Have you heard the term quilt sandwich?  It always makes me want to giggle.  So, what is a quilt sandwich?  A sandwich is not something you eat while taking a break from your quilting.  It's not at all edible. 

A quilt sandwich is the layers of your quilt.  You have 3 layers (typically): Fabric on top, batting in the middle, and fabric on the bottom.  You can make mini quilt sandwiches to practice your quilting skills on (a really fun thing to do) or big quilt sandwiches that you make into finished quilts.

So, what's describe a sandwich as? 

sand•wich [sand-wich, san-]

1. two or more slices of bread or the like with a layer of meat, fish, cheese, etc., between each pair.
2. open sandwich.
3. something resembling or suggesting a sandwich, as something in horizontal layers: a plywood sandwich.

-verb (used with object)
4. to put into a sandwich.
5. to insert between two other things: to sandwich an appointment between two board meetings.

1755-65; named after the fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-92)
I suppose we can give them this jargon.  Definition number 3 is pretty close to what a quilt sandwich is.

Want to see a quilt sandwich in action?  Go to this post from a few weeks ago. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jason came across this awesome website.  It can be found at

They have a killer blog where they talk about all sorts of things crafty business related.  Here's a few great posts about things that have been on my mind lately and a few I haven't even considered:
They have a book club.  How cool is that?  Here's the upcoming schedule:
They have a few ebooks available for purchase.

CraftMBA also has a recommended reading section on their site. 

They're about to start up some online workshops to teach about crafty business things.  The schedule for workshops coming up soon is:
  • Business 101: May 12th, 7-9pm
  • Marketing Kick Start: May 19th, 1-3pm
  • Pricing for Profit: May 20th, 7-9pm
The classes are $40 each and open to 20 participants.  Are you interested in taking one of these?  Head over to the workshops page and click on the register now button near your desired workshop.

If you have yet to discover this awesome resource, I highly recommend it.  They have all sorts of different approaches to help you, the crafty business person.  I'm sure you can find at least one approach that suits your needs. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A new computer!

We decided it was time for an upgrade.  Our old arrangement just wasn't doing it for us anymore.  We've been hobbling along on just one laptop for nearly two years now.  It's just not working anymore.  I am wanting to read and write blogs in the evening, but Jason has had some drafting side work many nights.  His side work is great for our expenses, but not so good for the Sewbot.  So, the time came to upgrade.  This is the first time I'm writing a post from my shiny new Toshiba.  So, far I love it.  I just thought I'd give all my readers a heads up that I'm back in the modern world with a laptop that's reliable and probably always available for my use. 

Now, it just needs a name.  I am leaning towards "The Leo McGarry" after my favorite character from The West Wing.  I'm nearing the series finale and loving it.  If you haven't ever seen this t.v. show I totally recommend Netflixing it.  It's fabulous.  It's smart & funny.  Sometimes it goes above my head, but hey... I'm not in politics, so I'm bound to get lost here and there.

Do you have any suggestions for a name for my new laptop?

Monday, April 26, 2010

What am I missing?

I'd like your input.

I'm wondering what you'd like to have me write more about.  Would you like to read about my recent home buying saga?  See more book reviews?  Tutorials?  More news from my kitchen?  My cat?  My husband?  Quilt-alongs?  Thrifting?  My favorite notions?

Any and all thoughts are welcome.  Please share any of your ideas in the comment section and I'll see what I can do to incorporate your idea into my blog. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chicago Day #3 - The Show

These are photographs I took at the Chicago International Quilt Festival.  I apologize for their poor quality; I had our small point & shoot (a.k.a. crappy camera) and was limited in time. My mom and I breezed through the display quilts in less than an hour. (It was a very fast trip).

Cherry Blossoms #4
This is "Cherry Blossoms #4" by Noriko Endo.
Easter Parade
This is "Easter Parade" by Sandy Curran.
Evening Egrets
This is "Evening Egrets" by Joanne Baeth.
SHH!  She's Sleeping
This is "SHH!  She's Sleeping" by Barbara McKie.
Mary's Basket of Flowers
This is "Mary's Basket of Flowers" by Mary Seymour.
Hibiscus Reflection
This is "Hibiscus Reflections" by Barbara Barrick McKie.
Testa Work
This work was hung in the Saturday Night Sampler. It is by Melanie Testa.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chicago Day #3 - The Class

Yesterday at the Chicago International Quilt Festival I was lucky enough to take Melanie Testa's Machine Quilting Sampler class.  It was every bit as good as the day before.  If you ever get the chance to take a class she teaches, take the opportunity.  She is truly a fabulous teacher.

This is Melanie's sampler for the class.  (Sorry, the photos are a little crappy.  The lighting was terrible and I only had the little point and shoot camera yesterday.)
Testa Sampler

This is my sampler made in class.
Machine Quilting Sampler Machine Quilting Sampler

These are some close up shots of each of the different quilting types I tried.

Zig Zag Sample

Straight Angled Lines Sample

Pebble Sample

Straight Lines Sample

Stippling Sample

Highlighted Lines Sample

Here is a photo of my name tag from the festival.  The bird sticker represents the "Most Studious Student" award I received an award from Melanie.  Fun, eh?
Name Tag

In this class I got to sew on a Bernina (I didn't write down the model number) and really liked it.  It retails for around $3200 I think. 

Did I mention yet how the machines work?  For each student in all the classes that require sewing machines, there is a nice machine provided by different dealers (I think... I guess it could be from the manufacturer, but the dealer makes more sense to me).  The dealers put out each machine for the students to use and provide some sort of an expert in the classroom throughout the day to help with any problems that may arise.  The machines are used for three days before they are packed up and given to their new owners for a highly discounted price.  I think if you are in the market for a new machine and are able to attend an event like this and try out a few different machines, you'd really get a feel for what you like.  And there's an added bonus... the discount.  Because the machines are open stock, they knock off quite a bit... today's machine, the Bernina retails for $3200 (I think) and I could have scooped it up for $2600.  It was a VERY nice machine.  Too bad I don't need to upgrade. 

To see the last few days worth of Chicago Quilt Festival blog posts, look here and here.

 I'll post a few photos I snapped of the quilts that were displayed in the quilt show on tomorrow's post. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chicago Day #2

Today my mom and I took another great class.  Today's class was Small Works, Big Impact taught by Melanie Testa.  We learned some really fun techniques.  Here's a few photographs from today's class.  Sorry about the bad lighting.  The images of my projects were taken in the hotel bathroom. 
Ladies Chatting

Gossiping Ladies

Black Bird

We also hit the vendor part of the festival in the evening.  Unfortunately, we were caught by surprise to learn at 6:45 that they were closing at 7pm and not 9pm.  Bum deal.  I did get to try out this machine, so not all was lost.

Janome Extended Bed

Janomi Face

Note: If you click on the images above, you will be linked to the flickr page where they are hosted. The flickr page has a much better description of each of the images.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicago Day #1

My mom and I were in a class today called Quilting with Character and Charisma.  In this class we learned the techniques to make these

I learned some great tricks to using pigment pens to illustrate fabric.  It's fabulous the way it works.  It's pretty easy to do, too. 

We got to sew on this MemoryCraft (I think!) sewing machines by Janome.  They were awesome!  So cool to try to use another machine.  It's kind of like driving someone else's car.  Fun!

I snapped a few photos of our instructor's amazing creations.  Unfortuately, I can't share the photos with you because of copyright issues.  Within the program for the entire festival it states that they don't want you posting photos on the web.  Pam also specifically stated that we can't put them online, so I think we're out of luck.

Pam Holland taught this class.  She's a very talented lady.  So neat to learn from somebody so creative.

We also headed into downtown this evening.  We met up with Jason and my dad for some Giordanos Pizza.  Yum!  Then we took a little walk through Grant & Millenium Park to show my parents where we got engaged.

Today we're taking Small Works, Big Impact with Melanie Testa.  We're looking forward to learning something new. 

So far it's been fun.  Sorry the posts may be a bit boring due to no fun photographs. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you to whoever sent me such a stellar gift.

When I returned home after work on Tuesday evening, I was greeted by a sticker on the door from the delivery (wo)man. I had a package! I rushed to the office to pick it up before we left for our trip on Wednesday.

The box that was waiting for me was addressed to Jessica at Sewbot’s Laboratory. I wouldn't send myself something like that. I thought maybe Jason had ordered me a gift. I checked our amazon account. Nope. No purchases since I bought the One Yard Wonders book. Maybe my mom sent it to me? Nope, she didn't.

I have no idea who sent me this package. There wasn't a packing slip enclosed. There was a fabulous little book called Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts: Basic Techniques for Sewing, Appliqué, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing, plus 150 Inspired Projects from A to Z just sitting there waiting to be flipped through. There wasn't anything hiding between the pages. There wasn't a note written inside.

I have absolutely, positively no idea where this book came from. The return address is just for Amazon. So, it's a mystery.

So, thank you to whoever sent it to me. I only got a chance to flip through it before packing for Chicago (we made it in case you're curious), but it is fabulous. It's filled with lots of beautiful pictures. It's filled with tons of inspiring projects. I can't wait to really get my hands on it and try a project or two.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the Road Again!

Jason and I are heading to Chicago. We're meeting up with my parents there tonight for the International Quilt Festival. Yippee!

I'm taking some classes I'm really excited about. I'm taking Quilting with Character & Charisma from Pam Holland. I'm enrolled in Small Works, Big Impact with Melanie Testa. I'm also really looking forward to Machine Quilting Sampler with Melanie Testa.

Can't wait to get there and get the party started!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Favorite Things - April 11, 2010

sewbot's favorites

My new favorite thing is a remote for my camera. I'm not sure I've mentioned it before, but I shoot most of my pictures on a Canon Rebel XSi. I also have a small (purse sized!) Canon Powershot, but that's only really for my out and about and I don't really want to have that touristy look kicking.

Last fall I took a fabulous class at the Photographx Unlimited store not far from me. In this class I learned about how to set aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and other basic things to get my camera out of the "mom zone". (Mom zone = the green auto square that anybody could hand the camera to their mom and tell her to click the button.) It was a great class. I really got to learn how to use my camera and how to analyze what I can do better in my photos. Well, the last day, our instructor brought in a sheet for us on how to photograph fireworks. It's such a cool thing to be able to do and I saw all sorts of possibilities with the method used. It requires a remote and a tripod.

It was pretty stormy here the other night, so Jason and I took Ansel (we've decided to name our camera that) out the other night and try to play with the lights. I picked up the Wireless Remote Controller RC-1 earlier in the week and thought it would be fun to learn how to use our new toy before we headed to Chicago. Here's a few of the shots we took the other night:

This is of an ambulance driving down the highway behind our apartment.

This one is of a car driving through the parking lot.

Back it up
This is a car backing out of a parking stall.

So, my favorite thing this week is my new camera remote control.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jargon of the Week - Gusset

Jargon of the Week
Okay, no more joking. I'll actually demysitify the term gusset today.

Elle, my sister-in-law and I were discussing a purse she made recently. She asked something about a gusset that was mentioned in the pattern she used. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I thought this would be a good term to define.

I did some research online and figured it out. I found this photo at Wendy's Knits and thought it was a good example. Do you see the small triangle above the ruler? That's a gusset.

A gusset is a small triangular insert used to improve fit or strength. Interesting, eh?

I think Wikipedia has a pretty good definition. It defines a gusset as:
In sewing, a gusset is a triangular or square piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress. Gussets were used at the shoulders, underarms, and hems of traditional shirts and chemises made of rectangular lengths of linen to shape the garments to the body.

Gussets are used in manufacturing of modern tights or pantyhose to add breadth at the crotch seam; these gussets are often made of breathable fabrics for hygiene on wearing pantyhose without panties.

The term "don't bust a gusset" comes from this sewing term; a gusset in this context was usually a piece of fabric sewn between two others to increase mobility or increase the size of the pant waist, the latter being more common in the early 1900s.

Gusset is also an alternate spelling of gousset, a component of late Medieval armor which functions similarly. has a few other definitions for gusset.

gus·set [guhs-it]

1.a small, triangular piece of material inserted into a shirt, shoe, etc., to improve the fit or for reinforcement.Compare godet (def. 1), gore3 (def. 1).
2.Civil Engineering. a plate for uniting structural members at a joint, as in a steel frame or truss.
a.Also called voider. an area of mail backed with cloth, for defending the armpits or areas at joints.
b.a small piece of plate armor at the armhole of a cuirass; pallet.

1375–1425; late ME < OF gousset, deriv. of gousse pod, husk

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crafty Pod

Are you familiar with Crafty Pod? It's the podcast (slash blog) all about making stuff. It's awesome. There's tips and tricks for indie crafters. If you're not familiar with it, you should definitely check it out.

I just listened to episodes #106, #107 , and #108 today and they are all fabulous.
  1. #106 is all about how to market better in today's internet age. Very interesting!
  2. #107 is about taxes (yuck!) and how to plan for them.
  3. #108 is about the balance between giving things away for free versus trying to sell things.

All three of these episodes I listened to today were on topics that a crafty business person may not consider, but probably should. Anyway... I recommend checking out this fantastic resource if you haven't discovered it already.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Row Robin Swap

I've been waiting for a long time to post about this swap. This was the first swap I ever joined. The sign-ups for it closed way back on February 28, 2009. I am terribly disappointed with the way it ended up.

Things were sailing along smoothly until after the first send out date, our swap mama had to drop out because of some health issues. Understandable.

That's when everything fell apart. One lady in the swap held onto each row she got for months. Yes, I said months. The deadlines were supposed to be every 6 weeks. How nice is that? Not.

Another of the swappers in my group had her father pass away. She told us she was going to get back into things shortly. That was six months ago.

The whole swap was supposed to be done back in November. It's now April. I still haven't got any rows back. In fact, I don't think any have been added. That's nice, because the lady who has been holding things up the entire swap just got a complete set of rows back. Isn't that nice?

I didn't even take photos of the row I did for her. It's been sitting on my desk for about 3 months waiting to be mailed out to her. We decided to hold it hostage in hopes of getting everyone else's rows back. I'm now wishing I hadn't done one for her at all.

I had high hopes for this swap. Do you remember my first wizard of oz row? Well, I'm pretty sure that even though it sat with Lady #1 for six months to be sent off to Lady #2 for an additional six months, it's still a single row. Isn't that a bum deal?

Anyway... it's over. Hopefully, our rows are on their way home. I hope Lady #1 enjoys her full set of rows enough for all of our group. She's the only one getting a full set back. Unless, of course I'm completely wrong and those two actually made rows for everyone else and were just holding them hostage, but I really doubt that's the case.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Here's a link to a really fun project. I made one for myself yesterday and it's pretty cute. I threw it in the laundry basket to help loosen it up a bit. I'll post a picture or two of mine after it has been washed.

Friday, April 2, 2010

I'm in love.

With Google Reader. How did I not find this sooner? It's fabulous. I am subscribed to around 200 different blogs, so it takes a while to look at all of them. Prior to my Google Reader discovery, I just used the blog roll on the side of my blog to look at all the blogs I was interested in. Now, I open up Google Reader and can scroll through them all at once. That eliminates excess clicking to open each blog. They're all rolled into one!

So, when I read all the blogs I follow now, I'm seeing something like this:
Google Reader copy copy

I've only come across two downsides to reading blogs this way:
1. I don't get to see the format of each blog. Google Reader is in a format that it just takes the text and image from each post and puts it on a plain white background. No big deal, just not as fun.

2. Some blogs (such as my own) don't show the images that are within the post. I'm not sure why this is and how to fix it. I just know that if there's not any images in the post and I think there probably are, click on the title and I'll be taken to the real website where I can see anything and everything it includes.
Some really awesome things about reading in Google Reader:
1. I can email an article to anybody I want by clicking the Email button at the bottom of any post. Bingo! That's about 400 emails to Jason last week. (Sorry honey... there was a lot of cool stuff to share with you!)

2. I can share things that I like with others. I can write what I liked about a certain post and share it and anybody can look at what I've shared and see what I've written. So cool!
3. I can star and smiley face things I like.

4. I can make my own tags for other people's articles. I've been using things like: Christmas Projects, Clothes, and Quilt to be able to create lists of things I'd like to be able to find again later. How cool is that?!
Google Reader is part of iGoogle which offers all sorts of other features I'm just discovering. I'm love, love, LOVING Google Reader. If you don't use it (or something similar) you should definitely check it out. It's wicked awesome. :D

Want to join? I think you can by going to Starting in the top left, there's a list of things like videos, images, etc. Click on the one that says more. On the bottom of the drop down menu, click on even more. Scroll down until you find the iGoogle. Click on that and it should get you started.

P.S. Happy 1/2 birthday to my sister, Katie.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jargon of the Week - Gusset

Just kidding! Happy April Fools Day. I'll be back next week with this post for you.