Thursday
May122011

I'm Off!

What can I say.  I'm gonna miss my family. (A lovely little note from my sweet dyslexic girl.) 

I'm not equipped to post from the road, but you can always check out PamKittyMorning's Reports! 

Oh, and for those of you following along with Project Simplfy - remember Rule #1?  I'm going with the assumption that there isn't a jury of my peers (quilters) on this planet that would convict me for breaking that rule ... at a Quilt Market ... right? ;)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday
May112011

Project Simplify - Day 18

I changed my mind (again) and picked a different background fabric.  Both my helper and I agreed that the small taupe print was too "busy" with all the scrappy piecing action going on.  But I just so happened ... ;) ... to have a tonal from the same fabric line (Simplicity by 3 Sisters) and it works much better.

For a border I was going back & forth between these two delicate checkered Susan Branch prints.  I thought I'd like the pink better, but again the piecing in the middle is just so ... noisy ... that I chose the yellow (much to my helper's disappointment - she's a pink girl like her mama).

So I've been back practicing FMQing.  I was so happy with the results of "Little Lady" (I'm inserting this picture now as a defense for the next picture) ...

... that I thought I'd be a little adventurous.  If you look closely at the picture of this quilt in the book you'll see that Camille incorporated the sweetest daisy-like flowers with her "swirly-twirly" top-stitching.  Here's how mine are turning out.  (In a word - laughable.)

I admit that I'm biting off a bit more than I can chew right now.  I need to match my execution with my skill level - not my lofty ambition - and clearly I ain't there ... yet.

In keeping with the premise of this project - simplifying my stash - it occurred to me that I should be including thread.  I bought this lilac variagated thread ... oh, maybe 5 years ago ... and have never used it.  I think it might look really pretty for the top-stitching. 

I admit it's a bit risky, but what the heck, I'm feeling brave ...

Tuesday
May102011

Oh Yes I Di-id!

(Sorry, that's just me trying to be 'hood.)

Never mind.  From this ...

to this ...

to THIS!  Eeeeeeeeeep!!!

My head nearly exploded when the idea hit me.  This bag just HAD to be born!

I put flowers on both sides so it can never be worn "backwards". 

I love using a contrast fabric for binding on the inside - sort of a designer touch, don't you think?

And I am my mother's daughter so I had to use a practical, dark fabric for the bottom.

The only thing I forgot in my excitement was to make a pocket or two for the inside.  Yes, I could add them now by hand ... but I know I won't. 

Monday
May092011

To Market, To Market ...

... to buy a fat pig, home again home again jiggity jig.  To market, to market to buy a fat quarter, home again home again ... I'm a fabric hoarder!

Yes, I'm a very lucky girl who's going to Quilt Market this week with my best friend.  I decided last week to make each of us a pretty quilted tote bag and thought you might like to see them.

I love Japanese quilting books & magazines (don't mean to offend, but I call them - shh - quilter's porn!) and have long admired this delightful little design of revolving log cabins, alternating with solid squares, on point.

I practiced making a few of these itty bitty 1 1/2" finished blocks a long time ago (I included them in my banner photo up top) and have been patiently waiting for just the right project to come along.  They aren't difficult - necessarily - but they are quite fiddley because you need to sew a partial seam on a 1" square.  

The bag required only 63 log cabin squares but I ended up making ... almost triple that number.  Why?  Good question.

First, I started out with this grouping of fabric.  I was trying to imitate the book's use of black/white (with a little brown) but with a smokey gray, taupey brown palette.

and ended up with this (the first 42 blocks).

Too scrappy.  I don't like the weird geometric accidents happening from the dark rectangles.  If you look at this picture with squinted eyes you'll see what I mean.  Plus, it looks like a patchwork bruise to me.

But I was determined to get it right so I removed all the very darks & very lights and came up with this grouping.

Too dull.  The results were a little better, (another 35 blocks) but I wanted the piecing to ... sparkle.  I also figured out that some of the "too scrappy" was happening because I was picking my log cabin logs randomly. 

Third time's a charm?  I again removed all the remaining darks, put back all the lights and added a few more lighter lights.  I also planned out the log cabin blocks by using either a light middle square with equal valued dark logs or dark square with equal-valued light logs.

You know how when you plan to make something and you have an idea of what you think it will look like but somehow your imagination never quite manages to see exactly how it will turn out until it's done?  And sometimes you're happy with the results and sometimes ... not so much?  Well, I literally got butterflies in my tummy when this came together (another 35 blocks). 

(And there's no pink in it!?!  Quick, check to see if the sky is falling!) Right now I'm wishing I'd made just a few of the little log cabin centers with the softest blush pink.  That would have been really pretty.

Oh, and then when I was making the outside pocket, I must have been totally distracted because I accidentally made it one row too short - yet another 24 PLUS 28 blocks for a grand total of 164 - and of course didn't notice until I'd already top-stitched it ...

I have to admit that I've absolutely no idea where I got the inspiration for this top-stitching design - it came out of no where.  Up to the very last minute I was just going to ... you guessed it ... cross-hatch (which I still did on the piece behind the pocket).  Maybe I was influenced by all the Cathedral Window quilt stuff I've been seeing around lately.  And I do love the classic Double Wedding Ring, but I haven't made one in years.

Anyhow, it should be big enough to fit my camera, a bottle of water and all the paper one tends to collect at Market.

I'll show you the other bag tomorrow, but I'll tease you with this ...

Sunday
May082011

My Mother's Day

Tissue paper art just never gets old.

I love portraits.

And apparently my freak out a few years ago made quite an impression! 

(Yes, I was literally jumping up and down.  Come on, that spider was HUGE!!!)

Thank you my dear little artists.  You make my life wonderful.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday
May062011

Dear Mr. Policeman,

Thank you very much for giving me a warning instead of a ticket after I rolled through a Stop sign at the corner of my very quiet residential street. 

Oh.  And also, thank you for that totally awesome adrenaline rush I got when you scared the crap out of me sounded your siren behind me.  That was just the pick-me-up I needed in the middle of the afternoon ... WAY more effective than a cup of tea.

Sincerely,

The mom who's gonna try really hard to not lose track of time while sewing and then be late picking up her daughter from school.

Thursday
May052011

Project Simplify - Day 17

You know that saying "misery likes company"?  Well, apparently crazy like company too.  I don't feel any less crazy about my fabric issues, but I sure do feel like I'm in very good company.  Thanks y'all who chimed in.  You guys are funny!

So, from that barfing scrap bin, here are the prints my helper & I picked from my scraps for this quilt.  And I chose this light taupe on white print for the large border from my main stash. 

I haven't committed to a fabric for the colored inner border yet.  (Scroll down a bit to see the first picture of yesterday's post).  I usually wait until the main part of a quilt top is pieced before picking one - especially when I'm using scraps.  I just never know which color I'm going to want to accentuate ... although pink is usually a pretty good bet! ;).

There aren't enough years left in me to list & describe all the things I've made from these fabrics.  I couldn't possibly give you each piece's history.  There's everything from brand new Robyn Pandolph charm squares to 5 year old 3 Sisters by Moda prints to more Susan Branch to 20+ year old Laura Ashley scraps.  But you're looking at a fairly good representation of what sorts of colors & prints make me happy.

Ooooh, this is gonna be a pretty quilt (if I do say so myself)!

Wednesday
May042011

Project Simplify - Day 16

Chapter Three.  A scrap quilt.  I adore scrap quilts.  I think of them as a collage of the quilt maker's history. 

But I've been dreading this chapter for one reason.  You see, I sorta feel like a fraud because you might have the misconception that I'm a really neat & tidy person from seeing this picture of my stash that I shared with you a little while ago.  (It took 5 hours to make it look this nice.)

Yeah.  Here's what I didn't show you ...

My shameful scrap bin.  Doesn't it look like it's barfing?  I keep it under my sewing table, which is probably very bad Feng Shui.  And every time I try to get it under control I turn into someone who should be on a reality show about hoarding. 

  • "But I could use that for ____!"
  • "But this piece is way too big to throw out!"
  • "But I really love that _____!"
  • "But this would be great for _____!"
  • "But that's my very last piece!"

See, I have a weird love/hate relationship with my scraps. 

I love them because I can make something pretty without spending money.  It makes me feel ... frugal.  And I love the challenge of making things from scraps - no pattern, no guidelines.  It forces me to exercise a different sort of creativity.  Plus they're very handy when you just need a little bit of something.

At the same time, I hate using up my scraps.  The only reason they are still scraps and not garbage is because I love them too much to throw out.  Using up and throwing out a scrap is the same to me - either way, it's gone.

I don't quite understand why I can get so emotionally attached to fabric.  I almost always buy it because I fall in love with it, not because I need it.  I rarely find a pattern first and then look for fabric.  I'm always drawn to fabric first.  Then I buy it.  Then I wait to find something to make out of it.  This pattern of behaviour (pardon the pun) goes a very long way to explaining my stash.

So for me, my "scrap bin" is a sort of "scrap book".  It's like going on an archaeological dig every time I search through it.  Memories of past projects come flooding back.  Feelings about the objects made and the people I made them for bubble up to the surface ...  much like I experience when looking through a photo album or scrapbooks.  Some are old and dear friends, some are just aquaintances and some have grown old, tired & out-of-date but I still feel great fondness for them.

Anyone else feel the same?  (Please don't leave me out here all alone in crazy fabric addict land.  I could use some company right about now!)

Tuesday
May032011

Daughter's Pride

If you were 9 & 3/4 years old, which recorder case would you prefer?  This one (standard issue, grotty canvas) ...

... or this one (fashioned with a scrap from the last quilt your mom made and some pretty matching ribbon)?

Yeah, that's the one my daughter picked too. ;)

On days like today, I feel like a good mom.  There's just something about knowing my daughter is proud of me that's ... well ... everything.

 

PS:  Can't forget the other one!   (Fairsies math ... )

Monday
May022011

Project Simplify - Day 15

I l.o.v.e scallops.  Love them!  Not so crazy about binding them, but I've never regretted the extra time required to make a beautifully scalloped edge on a quilt.

The awesome thing about the scallops on this quilt is that they aren't on the edge!  They are cleverly appliqued on so you get the same scallopy sweetness without messing about with all the things that come with a scalloped edge.  (Anybody else suddenly have a craving for piping hot cheezy potatos ... mmmmmmmm!)

Remember I talked about shadowing in my last post?  Yeah.  Same problem here.  Maybe not as severe as the stripes & flowers because it's just little uniform polka dots.  But I guess I just felt like making things more difficult for myself ... again ... and I reverse appliqued the scallops too.

If you follow the instructions in Camille's book, this scalloped border is fairly simple to make.  And it just looks soooooooo sweet!

So here's the quilt top.  I think it looks so bright and happy & fresh.  I can't imagine how any quilt made with Flower Sugar can look anything but!

Oh, and I'm calling this one "A New Day".  I just realized I forgot to tell you that I made this quilt solo - no assistant this time.  You see, there are 9 quilts in the book and I only have 2 girls.  If you've ever had the fun of doing "fairsies math" you'll know why I had to do one by myself ;).

Quilts for Quake Survivors was accepting quilt tops so I didn't worry about top-stitching it.  (But I did make a back for it.  Sorry, forgot to take a picture.) 

I have mixed feelings about not top-stitching this quilt.  On the one hand, I am anxious to "practice" some more free-motion quilting so I'm sad to miss the opportunity.  On the other hand, I have absolutely no idea what design I'd use!  The quilt in the book is beautifully, professionally long-armed and there is no way I could replicate that design myself.

Do you have any suggestions for a nice FMQ design for this quilt? 

Stash Redux:

  • Yardage - 9.8 yds / 8.9 m
  • Weight - 1.8 lbs / 0.9 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 31.5 yds / 28.7 m
  • Weight - 11.4 lbs / 6.4 kg

                              *          *          *          *          *

Well, I didn't quite make the deadline for the quilt to be shipped to Japan (I got a confirmation email saying they received it just a few days late).  But they are setting up an Etsy store to sell all the post-deadline quilts they receive.  The money raised is going to Mercy Corp.

I'm very excited about being part of this initiative and hope the quilt makes at least a few dollars for them.  I'll keep you posted on what happens ...

Friday
Apr292011

Project Simplify - Day 14

Shadowing - at least that's what I call it.

It's an evil thing that happens when you applique a lighter fabric onto a darker one and the dark fabric shows through.  This is a pillow I made for my daughter 4 or 5 years ago.  (Notice the cross-hatching?  Told ya I need to learn FMQing!)

See how the dark hearts show through the pink?

What does this have to do with the green flower?  Right.  I'll get there. 

I had chosen a rather busy paisley print for the flower's center and it worked great with the light green polka dot. 

However, I thought the paisley was too busy to go with the busy-ness of the new green print and I wanted more contrast between the petals & the center of each flower.

So I went with a solid white which I'm also using for the scallops on the border. 

And here's where the problem lies - shadowing.

Ugh.  Now, one could always just cut away as much of the green from underneath as possible.  But you'd still see a shadow line just inside the seam.

My solution?  Reverse applique!  That means instead of positioning the flower's center on top of the petals, I cut out the middle of the green petal piece and put the white fabric underneath.

See?

And then just trimmed away the excess.

In the clear?  Not quite.  See how the stripes of the background are now shadowing through the white? 

It's a little hard to see in the picture, but trust me, it's there.  And the shadows will only get worse after top-stitching.  (I've made the mistake of hoping that top-stitching over shadows wouldn't make a difference ... )  So I just cut them out too.

It might seem like a lot of trouble for one little flower.  But every time I look at my daughter's heart pillow, I cringe.  And I just couldn't - in good conscience - make a quilt with shadows.  To me, it was so worth the effort.

Thursday
Apr282011

Hormonal?

I think Mother Nature is having some pretty bad PMS today ...

... this is snow as seen from my kitchen.  I'm going back to bed.  Someone please wake me up when she's finished menopause.

Thursday
Apr282011

Project Simplify - Day 13

Okay.

You know how you find yourself with a few spare hours and you're in a good mood, looking forward to a nice romantic date with your sewing machine? 

Then, all of a sudden you need a few yards of a weird thread color for some machine applique because you want to color match for invisible stitches?  So you pop into the nearest quilt store and they don't have a thread that really works but the saleslady talks you into something that's "close enough"?  And you don't really believe her but you're praying she's right so you buy it 'cause you just want to get back to your machine?

But when you get home and start sewing you realize to your dismay, "Not even for a giveaway is this good enough!"  (It looks worse in person.)

You know what I mean?  Totally annoying.

But you can't keep this quilter down for long.  Even though my options were limited based on the colors of the background strips - there just so happened to be another shade of green fabric in this line that was a somewhat better match to the new thread - kinda sorta.  So I cut out a new flower.  Problem solved?  Well, yes ... but then I had another issue ...

(Cue the "oh no" music.) 

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of the green flower conundrum.  (I used to be a Soap Opera junkie ...)

Wednesday
Apr272011

Project Simplify - Day 12

Figuring out how to make "Sugar Rush" with these fabrics presented an interesting challenge.  I had fat quarters aplenty, but not enough full-width pieces to meet the pattern requirements.   I didn't want a crooked line of pieced "cheater" seams across the middle of the quilt AND I didn't want to repeat any prints - that would just be just way too easy.

However, during one of many drooling sessions through the book, I noticed that one of the appliqued flowers is strategically positioned to hide a handful of seams made from piecing FQ strips.

I was able to hide all but 2 seams - one seen below in the yellow and another one on the opposite edge of the quilt.

The other bit of planning was to figure out which fabrics to use for the flowers - based on the prints I'd chosen to be pieced.  I didn't want a flower to sit on the same print/color because to my eye, the flower would lose some definition and just look a little weird.

I've done tons of machine applique and I'm always looking for ways to make the job easier.  If I can stitch smaller pieces together before joining them to a larger piece, I will.  So here I appliqued the centers to the flowers before attaching them to the quilt.

A word if you're planning to make this quilt.  There's a small error with the template for the large flower (page 106).  It has an extra petal and will result in an oval-shaped flower.  I think the quilt would still look pretty with an oblong flower and the integrity of the quilt is not compromised in any way should you use the template as is.  But here's what I did ...

The original template:

I drew a pencil line across:

And then cut along the line, removing the extra petal:

Easy bow-breezy!

Tuesday
Apr262011

Project Simplify - Day 11

Just shy of a few weeks ago I was visiting Posie Gets Cozy - the very first blog I ever read cover to cover - and noticed a button for "Quilts for Quake Survivors".  When I clicked on it, I found a wonderful group of women collecting quilt blocks & tops to make into quilts that were being sent to Japan.  Without hesitation, I knew I wanted to contribute.

I already mailed this quilt top to them - to try to make their April 22 deadline - but I'll spend the next week or so sharing the story behind the making of it.

                              *          *          *          *          *

My original plan for Project Simplify was to go thru the book in order by Chapter.  But my absolute favorite quilt is Sugar Rush ... in Chapter 6 ... way, way off in the distant future ... weeks & weeks away ...  .  So when I discovered this cause I thought not only was it ok for me to change my plan, it was necessary.

And I had the perfect fabric for it too - "Flower Sugar" by Lecien, a Japanese fabric manufacturer. 

This fabric found its way into my stash from three separate shopping trips over eight months.  That's one of the many wonderful things about Flower Sugar - every new collection works with the previous one.

The first batch of fabric - from the 2009 collection - I found last summer when we were on vacation.  We drove to California and on our way home I did a random search with my GPS for a quilt store and luckily found this little gem of a quilt shop just south of Salt Lake City.  I could have spent hours in there.  If you're ever in the area I highly recommend checking it out. 

Next, I bought a FQ bundle (ok, ok,  - 2 bundles) at Quilt Market in Houston 2010 on impulse (remember the agreement we have that Quilt Market purchases are always classified as impulse buys and are, therefore, exempt from any justification?). 

Then my local quilt shop had a lovely roll of 10" x 40" strips ... just the thing to satisfy my need for width-yardage.  I must have been subconciously planning to make this quilt for myself because I also got a few metres (yds) of the blue with white dots which are perfect for the border. 

So, what have I used this fabric for already?  Well, again before Project Simplify was born I made this quilt from Chapter 3.

I'd never made an aqua/red quilt before (Camille's signature colors) so I gave it a try combining both "Flower Sugar" and "Sweet Divinity" by The Quilted Fish (another Market 2010 impulse buy ...). 

I love how the quilt turned out.  (Notice my standard cross-hatch ... now a thing of the past?!)  But looking around my house I just couldn't find the right place for it.  So now it lives at the quilt store on display.

I've made a few other little things from this fabric, but they were birthday gifts for my daughters' friends so I don't have photos.  

Because that was before I became 'crazy blogger lady' who photographs everything ... (here comes a tangent).

"What's that sweetheart?  You hurt yourself at school?  Tell me what happened.  Maybe there's a blog post in there somewhere for me.  Yep, there it is!   Just give me 5 minutes while I take a picture of some books with a bandaid." 

Or how about,  "Yes Honey, I know I'm still in my pjs, but the snow on the trees isn't going to last long!  Don't worry, the neighbors won't see me." 

Uh, yeah they will. 

Note to Self:  If you're gonna wear pjs outside in broad daylight, at least put on the black bottoms that could sorta pass for active wear, not the bubblegum pink flowery capris ... with black snow boots, still unzipped ... and a chocolate brown corduroy jacket.  There's just no way to look 'not crazy' in that ensemble - especially while holding a camera & ruler - when Mr. Jones from down the street is looking for someone to talk to and happens to catch you on the sidewalk.   Just exactly how DOES one explain blogging to an 86 yr old, hard-of-hearing, retired construction worker who's never used a computer? 

Go ahead.  Give it a try.  I dare you.  No, I DOUBLE-dare you!  ;)

Monday
Apr252011

Giveaway Alert!

A few years ago I bought an adorable pincushion pattern and inside were pictures of the sweetest little pins ever ... plus details on where to find them.

The artist (now someone I'm honored to call friend) is the lovely & talented Gigi Minor of Pinks & Needles.  I went straight to her Etsy shop, fell in love and ordered several pins.  I've given many away as gifts but managed to keep these for myself.

Gigi creates impossibly tiny, perfectly detailed things with a bit of plastic dough, deft fingers and the prettiest of imaginations.  To give you an idea of size, the brown plate is 1" across!

If you didn't know her before, I'm delighted to introduce you.  Visit her blog for a chance to win a one-of-a-kind creation.

Friday
Apr222011

Easter Wishes

Thursday
Apr212011

Project Simplify - Day 10

Hello everyone!

First, my apologies for yesterday if you were unable to see pictures.  I fixed the problem.  Hopefully it won't happen again.  (Remember, I'm a techno-doofus.)

Now, meet "Little Lady" in all her Easter-y, Spring-y, girl-y lovliness.  Isn't she pretty?

My assistant named this quilt after I told her the one in the book was called "Little Man".  At first, she wanted Little Girl but it didn't take her long to figure out the whole Man vs. Lady thing.  :)

Here's her back side. 

I actually used up every last piece of fabric from the bundle (halleluiah!) and had to dig into my scrap bin to complete the back.  Maybe someday I'll even be able to close the lid on that scary overflowing can.

Stash Redux:

  • Yardage - 4.7 yds / 4.3 m
  • Weight - 1.4 lbs / 1.6 kg

And I forgot to add the giveaways from Chapter 1 so that's another:

  • Yardage - 8.9 yds / 8.1 m
  • Weight - 3 lbs / 1.4 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 21.7 yds / 19.8 m
  • Weight - 7.8 lbs / 4.6 kg

I've decided to donate this quilt to my friend's literacy fundraiser.  I already made this quilt in different colors for her and I think it'll be fun to have the same quilt with two interpretations at the event.  They have very different appeal and hopefully will attract twice the bidders! 

The fundraiser is just a few weeks away on May 6th so I'll let you know how much money they raise ... unless they only go for $5 ... then I'll lie and tell you they were stolen.

Wednesday
Apr202011

Project Simplify - Day 9

Check it out!  (Except please ignore the uneven stitch length - I'm still working on that.)

As a perfectionist (who's trying to surrender herself to the more productive philosophy of acceptance), sometimes it's hard for me to embrace the "special" qualities of something I've made by hand - those little imperfections and idiosyncrasies that are unique to me.

At first, I was unhappy with my inconsist loop size and it was making me crabby.  But as I found myself really enjoying the physical activity of stitching loop after loop after loop, I somehow managed to convince myself that if I were able to create the "perfection" I was seeking, this quilt would somehow feel ... I dunno ... less special? 

So now I'm really liking the irregularity.  I think it has ... personality. :)

I'm not secure enough - yet - with my free-motion skills to just pick any top-stitch design and I felt most comfortable using the same one shown in the book for this quilt.  I would have never in a million years come up with this idea on my own, and I lllllllllllllove it!  It's a little modern-ish-y, and I think it works really well with all the "funkiness". 

I don't want to go tooting my own horn or anything (well may just a little), but I'm wondering why it took me ... a few decades to take the free-motion bull by the horns.  It's turning out to be way easier to handle than I thought!

Tuesday
Apr192011

Note to Self #4

CENSOR the lyrics of a song that gets stuck in your head after listening to a 90s radio station - like “You’re Makin’ Me High” by Toni Braxton - before absentmindedly singing it in the kitchen while preparing lunch for your daughters. 

I don’t know all the words, but apparently know the first seven lines well enough to confuse the heck out of my 9 year old … !