Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quick Strip Paper Piecing

I took this class from and it was fabulous.  It cost about $20, and with it I think there were 5 different block patterns, each with about 3 project variations.

I had never paper pieced before, so I made a block to practice, which I posted earlier, than skipped to a trickier block and made a wall hanging.
This wall hanging is made from the block "Sailor's Delight"- a variation of Mariner's compass.

The strip piecing methods meant it went very fast, but I did make some mistakes- you have to be very careful when cutting the blocks apart from the strip to take notice to where the fabric will cover.  Most of what I did wrong was in the seam allowance though, so it was no big deal.

I love the precision of paper piecing.  Peggy Martin recommends removing the paper from the block before assembling, so some of it isn't as precise, but in the whole quilt, I think I only lost 2 points.  Pretty impressive :)

This is hanging in our entryway right now.  Even if you've paper pieced before, I highly recommend this class.  I just love Craftsy- all the quilting classes have been great.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Workout Class Review

So I have actually completed a wall hanging quilt recently, paper pieced-  but what has not happened is photographs.  I get told I use the camera wrong, so I try to let Kevin take all my photos, but then I don't get them on the blog in a timely manner.  Sorry,

In an effort to not abandon the blog, let me tell you about something else in my life.

I joined a gym.  

Well, actually, I won a 6 month membership to a gym, and they agreed to split it between me and Kevin at 3 months each, but then they were running a promo where your first month is $4, so it just seemed like a really good deal to go ahead and join.  It is month to month, so we can cancel at the end of 4 if we want to, but I don't know that we will.  This likely means I'm not rowing anymore, as the monthly fee for both of us to go to the gym is about what it costs to row.  That makes me seem selfish to pay for the rowing.

Anyhow- the gym had a Friday Dance Party as part of their open house where they promoed 3 different exercise classes: Sh'Bam, Zumba, and Body Jam.

I think everyone knows what Zumba is.  Sh'Bam and Body Jam are Les Mills fitness classes (Les Mills is the program that has taken over gyms everywhere so there are no longer step classes there are "BodyStep" classes, etc)   Here are the class descriptions from their website:

Featuring simple but seriously hot dance moves, SH'BAM™ is the perfect way to shape up and let out your inner star - even if you're dance challenged.

Set to a soundtrack of chart-topping popular hits, dance music that is heard in the hottest nightclubs around the world, familiar classics remixed and modernized Latin beats, SH'BAM™ is the ultimate fun and sociable way to exercise. Each 45-minute SH'BAM™ class is vibrant, unique and varied - and like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new SH'BAM™ release is produced every three months with new music and choreography.

BODYJAM™ is the cardio workout where you are free to enjoy the sensation of dance. An addictive fusion of the latest dance styles and hottest new sounds puts the emphasis as much on having fun as on breaking a sweat. Funky instructors teach you to move with attitude through this 55-minute class. So grab a friend, get front and center, and get high on the feeling of dance. Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYJAM™ class is produced every three months with new music and choreography. Each new class will be a different dance experience depending on what's current and hot.

 Based on these descriptions, I expected to want to take the BodyJam class, and since everyone loves it, I expected to want to take Zumba.  I wasn't sold on Sh'Bam- it kind of sounds ridiculous.  But this class seemed the best way to go- and there were free Margaritas afterwards (which I actually didn't have...but a neat promo).  The class was an hour long and packed.  I was told that it is normal for Zumba to be this full, but the other classes are usually lighter on attendance.  Which is good, because BodyJam apparently often requires leaps!

So what did I think?   First, I was really worried I'd be way too out of shape, but my dance instinct kicked in and I think I did a pretty awesome job.  I wasn't always exactly right, but I was never lost.  And while I was sweating like crazy, I was never that tired.  I didn't do any of the add on moves, so I can definitely up the intensity next time.  Since I can't run 10 feet, it is nice to know I have some cardio capability.

As for each class component, well:

Zumba: Didn't like it.  In fact, I felt ridiculous, and I really didn't like how it was run.  The instructors don't cue verbally (there were two, and one occasionally would say something, but I think the other was silent the entire workout.)  That was really weird.  The silent one would point with her fingers, and a lot of time she would face away from the class which made it hard to tell what she was doing- she wasn't in front of a mirror.  I also felt the dance moves were too repetitive.  It reminded me of learning to salsa in Ms. Lamine's Multicultural Literature class in 10th grade.  This was the part of the program that had me watching the clock, and hoping the song was over.  I was bored.  Sadly, it is clearly the most popular class and all over the gym's schedule.  If I want a regular workout schedule, I'm going to have to Zumba.  Which is kind of sad, because then they will think "oh, Zumba is so popular, lets put more on the schedule".  I will definitely have to figure out which instructor teaches which class, because I really enjoyed one instructor over the other.  I think we did 6 tracks of zumba, each one stand alone.

BodyJam:  This felt like a dance class to me.  A relatively difficult one too.  The instructor was very good at cueing, but occasionally there was a "march while I explain" and I always feel like that isn't ideal in a workout class.  The 20 minute section was just learning moves that would be put together as one combo in the end.  Some of them were somewhat complicated, so this is the class I had to think about the most, but it was a progression and really fun to do. I think the instructor said that in class you learn a few combos, but that it is additive, where the moves get put together.  I will defiantly plan to attend BodyJam again.  I think it could be very challenging as I up my intensity level and don't 'mark' the really tough moves.

and then the surprise.
I freaking loved Sh'Bam!  There were a few moments I felt ridiculous- like dancing to 'Born this Way' and strutting down the room like we were in a music video, but it was so much fun.  The moves were super easy to pick up, so there was no frustration in this class.  It was just dancing, and great exercise.  In this class there are 12 different tracks (We did 4) and each one is different and stand alone.  Two different instructors demoed Sh'Bam and I thought both were fabulous.  Their cueing was perfect (don't you hate instructors who cue right as the move starts, instead of preparing you for the move?)  I cannot wait to go to another Sh'Bam class.

The gym has a bunch of other classes I want to try (like spinning- but I feel like spinning is something you need to be in shape for).  But the one that is on their schedule more than anything else is BodyPump.  My sister told me it is an awesome class and I should try it- but it looks HARD.  Like too hard for me to attempt.  Maybe a few months of dance classes will get me in shape for the other classes?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Paper Piecing

I took a Craftsy class called "Quick Strip Paper Piecing" and really liked it.  I am slowly working my way through the various projects.
I did my first paper piecing last night.  This pinwheel block is made up of 4 paper pieced block.  I wasn't exact- I still have issues with sewing directly on the line... but the paper piecing made my work way more accurate than I normally am.  I am really impressed with this method.

The strip paper piecing is also very cool- much quicker than the normal way of cutting each shape on a template.  It does waste some fabric, but I think I need to just start saving scraps.

I ordered the white fabric to put together my snowflake quilt (which still has a few blocks to go), but other than that I am sadly on a fabric fast.  I have so many ideas and no money to do them.  :(   This block was done from the scraps from my Mom's bed quilt, but I don't have enough scraps to make more, so it will only be a block, not a project.

The one thing I forgot to do was cut away the bulk, so there are some places that are 3 layers thick... oops.  Next time I will remember that step!