Thursday, December 26, 2013

Home for Christmas, and what that means

So. I have this job. I have this job that's full time. I have two little kids, and a husband, this blog, and I sew fanatically.

We're home for Christmas, and this means I've been drawing more this week than I have in weeks, because there is only so much time in a day. But suddenly some of that time is free time.

On Friday morning, on the bus to work, I sketched out (I'm a brave girl to sketch on the bus, I know, but, did I mention the lack of time I have to draw?) something that I am desperate to make into something, but it's huge and involved, and there are several pieces, and in pieces it's getting done. (Now that I've decided to be serious about drawing, I've started using this set of pens from Prismacolor, and I really like them.)

On Friday night, after work, I began to make larger more detailed sketches:

First appearance.
On Sunday I bought a larger sketchbook so that I would have more room to work with. I still find myself unhappily bumping into the margins.

Yesterday, the kids played with their toys and we watched movies, and I drew, and my elder child caught sight of it today, and said, "Mama, did you draw that?" And I said yes, and she said, "I didn't know you could draw like that!" And it made me sad, and somewhat proud of myself to be able to impress her, and I replied, "I can draw this way if I concentrate on it."

Further developed.
Which in part is the same off-handed manner I always use to deflect these questions that make me uncomfortable. When she asked me why I was always writing in my notebook (ah, my now neglected novel!) I asked her why she wasn't writing a novel herself. (She claims she hates to write! But she loves to read, so I think she'll come around one day.)

The truth is, it burns in me. There is a vision there, and I can't rest except to work on it, and I'm not sure what else to say, sometimes it passes with the thing half done, sometimes I can just burn through it in my head and not commit it to cloth or paper, and sometimes I am up in the middle of the night because the perfect turn of phrase has occurred to me and if I go to sleep it will be lost forever, irretrievable. And that spark comes from everywhere. That's why I read, that's why I watch movies, that's everything. It's out there if you're open to it.

And I think I can no more talk about why I must be compulsively puzzling over some creative issue, than I can explain what it is like to be a twin to someone who isn't one. I have no frame of reference for not being what I am.

And even if I am not actively writing in my novel, I am dragging it around with me, because you never know... And that's why my tiny sketchbook is tucked into my work bag. You never know, there might be a moment.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

3 days before Christmas, and still much to do.

So, thing are happening in my life, which I am not sure if they are secrets or not, so I'm not sure what to say about it.

The upshot is that I am sure that in a few weeks I will have even less time to sew, which makes my 100 WIPs a problem that I have maybe 3 weeks to sort out.

To that end, I've dropped out of the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild's Round Robin, which is sad, but as I won't be able to attend meetings regularly anymore, seems like the only thing to do.

And here it is so far!

Isn't it great! I'm really happy with it, though it's not very big yet. I'm not sure if I'll work on it, or hold it for awhile, we'll have to see.  As I've said, I've got a lot of WIP already.

And I'm dropping out of one other guild in a few months, and the other two I have dropped entirely this year, because I'm just too overbooked. Which is really sad, because guilds are amazing, and such a cornerstone of my life these last few years, but... But, other things are going on, and I hope in a year or two, things can settle, and I can turn up again. And that in itself is a great thing about guilds, you can wander back in after years away and it's like you never left.

One WIP that I'm trying desperately to get done is my new tree skirt:

It's a bit greener than the pictures of it, in real life.

I've gotten all the branches sewn on, and the circles are currently being prepped. I bought a back from Pink Castle Fabrics's sale section, which I am super excited for. It's from that super cute collection Birds of a Feather. They didn't quite have enough for the entire back, so I'll be piecing in some things, I think mostly it will be the leftovers from the top. Or left over from other backs. Because this one is going to be on the floor, I don't feel like I need a coherent story for the back.

I also made the traditional buche de Noel for my work's holiday party, which was excellent, because as someone who is lactose intolerant, I don't need to make a giant cake filled with whipped cream to eat almost entirely by myself. This way, I made it, decorated it, and had one piece, and the tradition was fulfilled without any leftovers...

In doing so, I used up the last of the snowflakes from the Snowflake mix, so we'll have to be on the look out for that before next Christmas.

Well, a child is telling me it's time to decorate more cookies, so I have to go!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A nice surprise!

In what was an amazing surprise and honor, my half square triangle baby quilt was one of many featured as favorites on Jeni Baker's blog on Friday.  How awesome!

Which I only discovered today because I'm way behind on my blog reading. Sigh.

Of course, this is the time of year to get behind on everything! I'm making a (another?) gift for one child, and that is my current sole concern.  That and Moby Dick, but we'll have to talk about that later.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

10 Days before Christmas...

And I am not getting things done. I have a desire to redecorate!

I made this mini for my grandmother. And sent it a few days ago. The trees are improvisationally pieced. - Basically, cut some strips - 2-3 inches wide, doesn't matter, sew them together, in groups of three, then slice up the middle piece, sew it to some other strip, and keep slicing them apart and sewing them together until the pieces are all skinny and mixed up. The sky is similar, except it was cut vertically instead of horizontally.

I am making a second one for myself, though instead of piecing the trees into the background, I've decided to applique them instead. Mine will be a pillow cover. I am planning on getting four done for my four windowseat pillows... eventually. One a star, one a creche, and one with gingerbread men. Or maybe a nutcracker? Alright, I'm not entirely sure. Or maybe I need a fifth pillow?

And speaking of eventually, Thursday night, I took a class with Debbie of Esch House Quilts to make her modern snowflake tree skirt.

so far...
I feel like this tree skirt, and the pillow covers, and many other ideas I have had, may end up like that wreath I wanted to make last year - I put it in a box after Christmas last year, and put it away with the Christmas decorations, and said, maybe next year! Of course, I pulled it out this year, and put it right back again, thinking, maybe NEXT year!

So, I hope that does not happen here. I've got the tree skirt out where I will work on it - I would rather put it away finished than in pieces.

And since we're snowed in today, that will give me lots of time to sew, right?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A few little Christmas gifts and very little quilt progress

It's been a while, so I feel the need to update the blog, but while I have been working on things, the truth is I have been working on too many things at once, and not getting any of them finished.

Two weeks ago, the number of WIPs stood at 8, and I have added two more this week.  And pulled fabric for a third.

And I am seeing lots of Christmas pillows appear on Instagram and started thinking  that I should stage a seasonal windowseat makeover. I have been hoarding Christmas fabrics for years and it would be nice to use them for something!

All Echino all the time!
I also want to make Debbie Grifka's snowflake tree skirt, but have been for weeks undecided on a color. Or I have decided on hot pink but think maybe I should choose again, because I don't live by myself.

He's a very tall soldier! I wonder if he was in a set?
Oh! Christmas! We are getting our tree tonight! I picked up some adorable wooden ornaments from the thrift store this morning. It is my favorite place to scavenge for old fashioned sorts of ornaments.

My only handmade gifts (so far) are these snowmen skirts of my daughters. This is one, but I made two - however they are identical. I took a class from Rae of Made by Rae at Pink Castle Fabrics on how to make this "made to measure" skirt, and these are just smaller versions of that. I used my serger on lots of seams, because I am lazy. 
My friend Stephanie took the picture. We're by the linen at Pink Castle!
 This is the one I made in the class. The thing I love about this pattern are those great big cut out pockets!

I didn't actually reduce the pocket size proportionally, so the pockets are huge!
I used Santa ditzy fabric for the girls' pockets.

Then I am going to make another one for me with some Lizzy House fabric:

It's the medals from Red Letter Day! It is amazing what you may find in some quilt shop somewhere! Always worth a look... The contrasting pockets will be the ducks, which I got a yard from Etsy a while back, and that will be the last of them... The end of an era! But as long as the era ends with a new adorable skirt, who is complaining?

not the best picture! It was windy, and my garage is not the prettiest.
One other thing (among the many) I have been working on is a neutral tumbler quilt. I cut most of these pieces out with my big shot and newest (then) die - the 4" tumbler - around Halloween, when we were watching horror movies, so there is a bit of disquiet embedded in this project - at least for me. This has been on my mind for awhile; I started buying these fabrics at Easter.  I read Yoshiko Jinzenji's amazing book "Quilting Line and Color" and that was the first time I really thought about the different shades of white. But because it's me, I wandered from whites and ivories and added a few grey tones and pastels, then some subtle blenders. I auditioned a whole slew of white on white fabrics, but the only one I liked were pale crosshatches from sketch and Architextures and this one beige pearl bracelet. So I went with that.

But now a few more crosshatches are available from Carolyn Friedlander's new line Botanics, which I have ordered, (though I expect the light blue will be the only one I use in this project) but as they have not yet arrived, this quilt on hold for now. Those rows are 11 or 12 tumblers long, I'm going for 24, because I think that will give me with 18 rows (16 pictured), a 6 foot square couch quilt?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Finally finished! Giraffe inspired baby quilt

I finished something!

And the baby is expected any day now, so I'd better get this in the mail!

Also it snowed today... The kids are excited. I was... not so excited.

I went with giant spirals, but as always with giant things, the mistakes become more obvious. Though, if one was all that concerned with hiding her mistakes, she wouldn't be quilting with hot pink thread.

Oh it is soft and crinkly and the colors are still wonderful! I used a tone on tone Spot On tiny dot for the binding. Which bridges the multiple purples and also the mostly purple back:

I used about 10 inches of this tone on tone purple print at the bottom after much internal debate. Because the back is mostly lavender, purple seemed a better choice than pink or orange, or even solids.

Here are the other posts on this quilt: Half Square Baby Quilt and Plots and Plans: A Baby Quilt.

I'm also including a picture of my first quilt - from 7 years ago, a baby quilt for my own first baby:

I showed some of my old quilts this week at the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild, as a member showcase. I took a picture of this one, because it's not much around these days. This quilt generally resides at my younger child's daycare as a napping blanket. It's not bound (it was turned inside out, I have not clue as to how that was done, though I did it.) It's tied, sort of, with embroidered stars. It's backed with a Star Wars sheet.

The block is Woven Ribbons from Quilter's Cache. Though the border is my own invention. Also, wouldn't be easier to piece this as a log cabin? huh.

Anyway! I've got more sewing to do. Cut my first Christmas projects out last night! I'm writing a list, and trying not to take on more projects... no matter how insistent they are.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just a quick note to say...

I have an entry in this week's Spoonflower contest.

I call it "The Last Good Weekend".
The limited color palette was interesting, I haven't done that before, well... mostly. It's not a proper repeat, it's just faked over the distance, so don't order it or anything.

Monday, November 4, 2013

River People!

I finally managed to get this collection purchasable, so here it is:

So, my friend does not think River People is a creepy enough name for this collection, but she does not have to walk across bridges on her way to work, so she does not know how creepy it can be.

Sadly, I don't have the brainpower to get the scales of the prints in proper relation to each other right now, and I know that the two fluorescent green prints were tacked on as an afterthought. The dots kind of work, but the moons just don't fit, but I love them, so there they stay.

If you want to see them in relation to each other scale-wise, the River People collection page on Spoonflower shows all fat quarters.

I've also got bone field (top left) available as wrapping paper, I have some of this myself, it is so good!

The other print I have as wrapping paper is my haunted house design. I used it to make some posters with:

I think they look amazing! But they're huge! They are three feet high! And there were reflections on the glass I couldn't get rid of, so that's my excuse on why it looks somewhat weird here. That and I took the picture at the last minute before the sun went down. Darn shorter days!

Anyway, in order to mess with the giant frames, I cleaned off my counter, and now it looks like I can do things there. I bought a new screen for silk screening, and wrote on it, and hopefully I will find the time to fill it with filler and make some prints!

I've also started cutting for two new quilts, despite having two quilts in progress! And while I finished the baby quilt last night, that is not much of an excuse. I still have two other quilts in progress!

I'm having one of those inspired to go in all directions at once months, I guess.

PS. There are several other new prints available on Spoonflower from me. The Haughty Moons are my favorite of the rest, but there are some fun orange swirls, and the club chevron, among other things.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WIP: half square baby quilt

So, some of you have been following my struggles with this on Instagram, but this is the first time the whole thing is being shown off, even if it still is many pieces.

I have three super saturated fabrics (one pink, one orange, one purple) and three light fabrics (one pink, one orange, one purple), and 8 medium tones (one purple, one orange, the rest are pinks and corals.)

The light orange is my favorite, it's Soho solid in Citrus.

 The top four rows have been sewn into a partial top, because I only have room on my design wall for 7 rows. And I am aiming for eleven.

So this is the rest.  The top four are joined into rows, the next two are joined into blocks, and the last is still loose triangles.

And then I have about just as many extra triangles as I have put into the quilt, because I get carried away when I cut fabric with my Big Shot.  In response to this, my sister has helpfully informed me that she likes orange and pink, too.

I'm hoping to finish it up, quilting and binding, too, before the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild meeting next week. We'll see.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halfway on the Scrappy Plus Quilt

I finished 4 more blocks today, and laid out my progress when I was at the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild Sew In last weekend.

Photo courtesy of Brenda of Just a Bit Frayed

Although I brought my camera, I failed to remember to take a picture, so I am relying on the kindness of my friend Brenda who took a picture with her phone, because it's better than the picture I took with my phone, which is so dark and slightly yellow, that if you compare the pictures side by side they look like two different quilts.

I have the number 54 in my head for the number of blocks I am aiming for. This is 27, so it's exactly half, by some cosmic accident. I just bought two new fabrics today (one coral, one teal) and two yesterday (one coral*, one teal) but I need to stop, because I'm probably going to end up with too many blocks (like always! I am the queen of the orphan block!)

*I can't find a link to it, but it's a super cute Jenean Morrison print from Wishing Well, lots of little birds. It might just be out. I may be the first person on the internet to possess it!

Here is my newest method of piecing, I suspect there is no room for further improvement. My unhappiness with the previous method (even with my improvements) stems from my desire to chain piece everything, and having to go from piecing multiple blocks in the first steps to doing one at a time, prompted me to try a new method. (Faster, and probably less accurate, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice!)

Which I am ironically showing you with a block I pieced all by itself.

Follow the directions up to the point where you "square" the block:

Stitch the first piece of the internal cross on the top:

 Now! Stitch the second piece to a long side:

And if you're clever you'd trim it at this point and save yourself some trouble later.

Cut off 5" of the longer side starting from the edge without the border:

Put the bottom piece on the top:

Pin and sew:

Now, on the short side, cut 4.5" off, measuring from the borderless edge:

Move this piece to the other side of the interior plus:

Pin and sew:

And done!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Still here and still sewing

I still seem to be up to my ears in secret projects, so here are a few little things I can talk about:

I have the pink feather print, too.
I made this 241 tote for my sister out of Anna Maria Horner Field Study linen parenthetical flight. The lining is this awesome circle print from Modern Whimsy, and some yellow Metro Living circles. The big blue dots are an Echino print from last year that they happened to have some leftovers of at Pink Castle.

I had a couple of issues with this, the most irritating was that the first time around the handle was super long, because my sister wanted a bag that could be worn across the body, and I'm not a person who measures things, and it came out six inches too long, and of course, I'd already sewn it all up. To fix it, I had to rip out three seams, and reposition it, and sew it back up. (This story makes more sense if you know how the bag is constructed.)

Actually, the most irritating thing was the thread I used, because it was heavy cotton thread for denim, and I could not find a suitable tension for it, and after ripping it out three times, I just left it looking imperfect on the underside of the handle. 

lots of polka dots.

I sewed up this mini quilt for the Pink Castle blog, for which I occasionally write for. It will probably be at least two weeks before it is finished and on the blog. And then I will reveal why I made it!

And, inspired by one of my secret projects, where I've been creating and using up a few of my Wasteful Star scraps, I came up with this block:

It needs a name...
And of course the Scrappy Plus Quilt is still ongoing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Making the Bag with precious Echino

I have decided to make some stuff from patterns.

I have gone a little big overboard recently with buying fabric, but also, I've had some stuff hanging around for a long time, and it's time to make some stuff!

This weekend I bought the Noodlehead Super Tote pattern:

A paper copy from Pink Castle Fabrics
And I was thinking - I have this Echino hanging around...

Quite literally hanging around.
And wouldn't those Dear Stella snails make a great lining?

Amazing, right?
The trouble is, you look at the pattern and it calls for half a yard of focus fabric for the front, and a yard of contrast fabric for the gusset. And, of course, I have half a yard of the contrast, and a yard of the focus, and I'm not actually cool with that idea.

So, I'm holding off on this bag. I actually have another yard of classic Echino on its way to me (from Country Fabrics and Quilting which you should totally visit, because they have some hard to find prints in their collection; also SuperBuzzy has a lot of prints from older lines - though I haven't ordered from them yet, also, there's always Etsy!) so I suspect this bag will still be happening soon. But I will use something less precious for the gusset - Essex linen, perhaps?

Did you get that I'm obsessed with Echino? I'm obsessed with Echino.

In the meantime I've made the 241 tote as I initially intended. It only takes a half yard of feature and contrast fabric! This isn't the first time I've made a bag, but it's the first time I've used a pattern to make a bag. There's a lot to learn, that I wish I'd known earlier. Especially about interfacing and linings (Sara of Sew Sweetness has a great post on bag interfacing if you need somewhere to start).

I had this fat eighth of bugs in my Echino scrap pile! So excellent.
Sadly, it's not actually big enough for all the stuff I feel need to cart around with me (looking at you, lunchbox!) So, I really do need to buckle down and make the super tote. Then I start to wonder... would it be weird if my 241 and my super tote had the same feature fabric? I do have a half yard of it left after all...  I think that carrot linen would make an excellent contrast. Or the lime green? hmmm....  I mean, it's not like I would be carrying both at once.

But what I really want to do right now is make another 241 tote! They're so fun! And I have just the fabric for it, too...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

And so on - more on scrappy plus blocks.

My big accomplishment this weekend was finishing cutting some pieces out of all my set aside fabrics for my Scrappy Plus quilt. I don't think I'm done cutting, just done with the first round. I wasn't counting while I cut, haven't counted what I cut before, will not be counting... at least not until they are finished blocks. Also, I will probably continue to buy new fabric for this quilt. It may never end. I bought one new one just today, actually.

Bags of 2" and 2.5" strips in front of the remains of the stack of fabrics.
I've been thinking about the process of making these blocks, while making these blocks, and though it appears from my last post that I make them one by one, that's not true. At least after that first block.

I do the first round sashing in groups of  5-8. Semi-chain piecing as I go; this cuts down on trips to the ironing board. I will always chain piece if I can help it. But I keep the group size small so that I don't end up with a confusing tangle of the extra sashing pieces, because I also don't want to be digging for stuff.

Sashing the first side.
After each side is attached, I press the blocks.
Then I lay the next piece on:

 I don't pin, 'cause I'm a cowboy.
Almost done!
 Then "square them up" (though they aren't square blocks).

Making sure to check it against my cheat sheet.
The whole group together:

Now the kids think we need to decorate the house with fabric.
For the second round of sashing, I do them individually, because I feel they then need my undivided attention. Or something may go wrong.

And here are all my finished blocks. I did not complete one today, well, not yet. The night is young!
So far there are eleven!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday: scrappy plus along quilt

I've got a few secret projects underway, which leaves me a bit puzzled as to what I can put up on the blog.

So, I'll share the other thing. I've been working on a Scrappy Plus quilt. I have been collecting coral and turquoise (or pink and orange and aqua and teal, not really any or all of them specifically) fabrics in hopes that a project would come along that could be a two colored quilt. This does work for that purpose, and so I've started some blocks.

I am using this tutorial from my friend Brenda from Just a Bit Frayed. Which she had posted to instagram, also flickr (from whence I lifted the picture).

My husband was a little upset that she referred to a 6x7" block as a square.
I would expand on these directions to say that you need about 36" of 2" wide strips, and 24" of the 2 1/2" strip for one block (less, probably, but I like to have extra rather than find out I'm short at the last moment).

Here is what I have done so far. I've cut most of my coral fabrics (though I've ordered some more), but only a few of the teals (or what have you) so they're not as scrappy as they will be. I'm hoping for 56 blocks for a twin (provided I did my math right....)  
It's either phone pictures or no pictures in the middle of the week.
While piecing my sixth block it occurred to me that the piecing could be easier in a slightly different order, demonstrated here:

Sorry, put this together on my phone in the middle of the night.
The upshot is that if you put half your internal sashing on before you cut, you save a little bit of the trouble of piecing tiny bits in the next step.

I hope some of you will consider quilting along on this one, it's really very fun, to make something, slice it apart, and make it into something that looks very different.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Photocollages courtesy of the Instacollage app on my iphone.