Thursday, August 30, 2012

What's on my sewing table?

What's on my sewing table, you ask?

Or you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyways.

There's a Washi Dress with some major modifications.

There's this American Jane fabric that I purchased for a commissioned quilt. The customer chose this focal fabric [the finished quilt will be in the reading corner of a teacher's classroom].

And if I had to buy that 1/2 yd cut for the commissioned project then I was absolutely going to fill my package with other wonderful things. The Out to Sea gray anchors are destined for clothing [the line is on Cotton Couture's butter!] and the other items are to fill holes in my stash. Yes, it's a lot of orange. Clearly you can see what was missing in my stash.

Fabric pull for commissioned quilt [oh look, no orange...maybe there was a reason I didn't really own any...]. I'm actually liking the color combo, despite the fact that the American Jane fabric is not really my cup of tea. I lobbied really hard for the Out to Sea line as the basis for a kid's quilt, but since he's the one paying he won out.

Luckily I bought all those orange fabrics with a purpose, and have a fabric stack all ready to be made into a quilt this afternoon!

So happy about all of this! :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

DWR Dilemma

"What the hell is that?"

That's the weather mapping that is over Orlando today. And no, I'm not in the little white section. Add in the fact that my car is at the shop and you've got a very dreary stuck-inside kind of day. A sewing kind of day!

So Jennifer and I have been working on DWR quilts, and cheering each other on. She's making hers out of Fandango, and I'm taking the opportunity to reduce my scrap bucket. Sadly, that meant that my cutting experience was probably a million times longer than hers, since I had to cut each piece individually.  I got 120 squares out of my tiny scraps without any apparent difference in the volume of the bucket!

I did have to supplement my stacks o' scraps with some yardage too.


So here's where you come in! I'm having trouble deciding on my background fabric. The picture above is a DWR from a class at the workroom so you have an idea of what the final piece will look like.

Should I put my arcs made up of blue/green/grays/black&white prints on this background of the black and white pin dot...

...or this light blue and white pin dot?

Pictures are a little dull in color due to the aforementioned weather conditions, but hopefully you've got an idea of what it will look like. Help a girl out, and let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things [from the past week]

Ok, I admit, I didn't take a single picture of my week unless there was a kitten in it. I also admit that I've done nothing all week except play with the kitten. I need to get my butt in gear for the last 2 weeks before I start work! It's hard when he likes to nap ON me, thus making it much harder to get up and do things.

I promise I won't keep bombarding everyone with kitten pictures. I do have some sewing to show off in the upcoming days.

But today I bring you Kitten-palooza:

He loves Amy Butler Wallflower napkins as much as I do.

And now I have a latte and sewing machine calling my name :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kittens and quilting do not mix

So I've had a kitten [which we named Ares, kitten of war!] for just about 24 hours.

It's hard to sit on the couch and read blogs when your kitten wants to play. All.the.time.

Even harder is figuring out when I'm going to sew! We took him in the sewing/airsoft room and let him wander around yesterday, but there's so many small things and spaces he can climb into that we keep the door closed for now until he mellows out.

I'm not sure that I can sew and keep an eye on where he's wandering to in the room [those of you who sew with tiny children underfoot are clearly amazing].

I managed to piece this pillow top on Monday night since I figured I'd be too busy on Tuesday after picking Ares up at the vet. I woke up early this morning to sneak into the sewing room to quilt and finish it with an envelope closure. I would work for 10-15 minutes and then go play with Ares. It took a little bit longer to finish that way, but then I didn't feel bad for not giving him enough interaction.

This pillow cover is destined for The Sewing Studio, which is the store I teach at, for a class in September. It's based off the pillow by Kati over at From the Blue Chair, although I don't use her tutorial whenever I make one. And mine is not paper pieced, because that just seems to make things a little more complicated than needed.

I also like my original version [above] better, so apparently I'm more a fan of a skinny tree?

I'd like to get a bunch of DWR arcs sewn up today, because Jennifer is making me look super bad with all her progress. I cannot find my 8 arcs after we did a huge cleaning and kitten-proofed the apartment...I'm a little concerned Stephen might have thrown them out, thinking they were some sort of scrap project with the paper still on the back of them. Eeek!

Here's to hoping the kitten allows it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Evolution of a Queen-Sized Quilt

A queen-sized quilt? What was I thinking?! Only for Kelly...

Kelly has been my best friend since sophomore year of high school. We were just people who went to school together and had classes together until then, but we slowly realized that we both loved crossword puzzles [and were consequently the coolest of people]. We were still just sort of friends when she invited me to NYC over Spring Break with her and her mom. She wanted me to go so she wouldn't be alone with her mom for 5 days, and I wanted to go because her mom said she'd pay for everything but the plane ticket. Best decision ever. We spent 5 days touring art museums and cemented our friendship over coffee, puzzles, and the ability to pack for a vacation in just a Jansport backpack.

College came around and she went to MIT, while I stayed in Florida at UF. She came home once a year and I visited her twice up there. I spent summers working and she spent them in places like Sierra Leone, India, and Singapore doing internships for her architecture program. I hope you can tell by now that she's super awesome?

Last year when she graduated from MIT she decided to go to grad school at Berkeley for urban planning, so now she lives out in CA, and we still only get to see each other for about a week a year. Plane tickets to CA are pretty hefty, so I haven't gotten to visit her yet. Whenever she comes home I clear my schedule and try to spend as much time as possible with her.

At Christmas she mentioned how much she liked Stephen's simple patchwork quilt and sort of asked for one. Then later in the spring she said she wanted to pay me to make one, but felt weird paying me, so she'd send me presents in exchange for a quilt. I said sure, and got started collecting fabrics. And then in April she mentioned she wanted to use it on her new queen-sized bed.

And I stalled. Feeling very unsure of tackling a queen-size quilt.

But for Kelly...

This quilt is made up of 510 five inch charms. It measured about 95x108" before washing. Stephen is oh-so-nicely holding it up when it's damp, because I plum ran out of time for it to finish drying before I had to meet Kelly. Which is why all these pictures are just "meh". Hopefully the quilt crinkles more!

Many people expressed interest in what I ended up doing for basting. I had to move all my furniture as far back as possible in my living room in order to accomplish this. I've tried taping the backing to the carpet as you would for hardwood floor basting, and it does not work for me. So I lay the batting out on the floor, then spray baste each side to it individually. This time I tried pinning the batting pieces into the carpet so that it would remain didn't work exactly how I'd imagined it would, but maybe that was just user error.

Apologies for the picture, but this was an afterthought as I was running out the door. There was no way in hell I was going to piece a backing after piecing the top, so I pulled out a queen-sized flat sheet I had on hand. Too small. I had to run out and get a king-sized sheet, and it was juuust big enough.

How long did this whole quilt take me? Well, I sewed the first 28 [out of 56] nine-patches, and then I was SO BORED. So I pulled out my computer and Season 1 of Veronica Mars. Kelly and I LOVE this show. Love. Spunky female detective played by Kristen Bell? Yes please. Watch it, love it, thank me later. I watched the entire first season [22 episodes at 45 min per episode] while piecing the rest of the top together and quilting it. I had to bind it without any TV distractions. So I would say the whole thing took about 25 hours to piece, quilt, and bind.

The picture above shows a few things: 1, the quilt is clearly still wet, so I hope it ends up looking better from the back when it's dry, and 2, that it's fairly lightly quilted and looks like it could be basted better. I can't wait for the day when I'm a professional baster and those quilts are as flat and smooth as can be.

Because this quilt was a beast, I knew I wouldn't be able to quilt it as much as I might normally quilt. So I put some straight-lines down the quilt every 4 rows, following the seam lines. Then I added some free-motion flowers using the squares to help guide me. I quilted a single petal in each square. Every other row I alternated where the flowers started so that they would be staggered on the back of the quilt. The flower part of the quilting actually went really smoothly...during the straight-line part I could feel my soul shriveling up inside. Ha!

There are a few special fabrics in this quilt just for Kelly: the Children at Play rocket print that she loved from Stephen's quilt and is a nod to the smarties at MIT, the Etchings blueprint fabric for her architecture degrees, and the gray Michael Miller Catherineholm enamelware print to celebrate our obsession with coffee at any time.

It was certainly tough to make this quilt this huge, and it may not have turned out as awesome as I wanted it to be, and I may have cursed at the air quite a few times during the process, but I would absolutely do it all over again for seeing the appreciation on Kelly's face when I dropped it in her lap :)

Oh, and then as my last present in exchange for the quilt she gave me Adobe Creative Suite, which has Illustrator and InDesign and is super expensive. She gets it on the cheaps through her architecture program. As soon as I learn how to use it all you can expect some exciting things!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things [from the past week]

Made an entire queen-size quilt this week. I personally think quilt tops really spice up the lakeside view at my apartment complex :) The full reveal of this finished quilt will be up tomorrow!

My best friend was in town for a week. We play a LOT of Scrabble. I used to beat her every time, but in the last couple years she's definitely improved. I lost this round ha.

Canoeing with the best friend! School started in my area this past week, so it was blissfully calm at 10 am when we were out there. Lots of gators.

Celebrated five years with a delicious dinner at an Italian place that was inside a renovated house. Super cute place. Delicious creme brulee.

Lo and behold, a kitten! [so all of you who offered up a kitten in my last post, no longer necessary!] He was my anniversary present, and he's super sweet and loveable. Now I guess I need to learn to quilt with a kitten underfoot!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Sendin' out an SOS..."

*This post is brought to you by the song 'Message in a Bottle' by the Police. Rock on.

This quilt may look small and cute, my friends, but I took this photo from the 2nd story. That behemoth is 95"x108". I need a kitten for scale. Please feel free to give me a kitten for this purpose. And for cuddles.

So how do I quilt it?! And no, not what design do I quilt on it? I mean literally, HOW do I quilt it. My machine has a whopping 5.5" of throat space. I'm no math whiz, but I do realize that 5.5 and 95 are not the most compatible of numbers.

Things are about to get reaaaaal creative around here.

[Spoiler alert: I've already started quilting it. I've only torn out one chunk of hair so far. And there's only been one major pucker. I need to learn the secrets to perfect basting...did you hear that basting gods?!]

**PS, thanks for all the super nice words about my Winterkist gnoma advent calendar. You guys rock.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Winterkist Blog Hop - Gnoma Advent Calendar

When Katie asked if I wanted to be part of the Winterkist blog hop I said yes in about 0.2 seconds. And then in about 0.5 seconds I knew what I was going to make.

Even though I knew what I was going to make, I wanted to ensure that anything with Winterkist was made in the epically fun spirit of its designer. So I thought to myself: WWMSSD? That's What Would Monica Solorio-Snow Do? for those of you who are behind the times :) Monica's a pretty fun and hilarious lady, so I tried to rise to her level - this is me channeling my inner Monica.

I gathered myself a gnoma and we set out into the world, Flat Stanley style. I took the Prince Harry of gnomas, because he's not directly next in line for the throne, so he's allowed to engage in shenanigans and go out and rabble-rouse, whereas poor Prince William gnoma had to sit at home waiting for his moment to shine in the project. What did Prince Harry Gnoma and I do on our day of fun? Take a look:

1. Buckle up, Gnoma, safety first! 2. We had to get gas, and he pumped it [it builds character] 3. He was thirsty, so we had to stop for a Coke 4. Prince Harry Gnoma's favorite artists are ABBA, Tracy Chapman, and Tenacious D, in no particular order 5. Kelly and I buried him in the sand at the beach 6. I told you Prince Harry Gnoma was all about the shenanigans...wonder where he got all that cash money?! 7. Went hiking and had a zen moment at the top 8. Practiced the art of seduction with a mustache

By the end of the day, we were tired, but ready to get to work!

A Winterkist advent calendar! When I was growing up we had a Christmas tree advent calendar and you hung an ornament up for every day. I loved doing that [still do] and so I really wanted to be able to physically move something for each day to countdown to Christmas.

So to count down each day closer to Christmas you get to take a snowflake from the pocket [the snowflakes slide in more, I just wanted them to be seen for the picture] and snap it up around Prince William Gnoma. The snaps that are on the calendar itself are very hard to see since they're clear, so when none of the snowflakes are snapped on then it still looks great!

I Steam-a-Seamed the largest gnoma in the collection to the background and then stitched in DMC Perle 8 around the edges. The only thing I'd do differently next time is layer some white fabric behind the gnoma so you can't see the background when it's stitched down. I kind of think it looks like freckles?

The snowflakes are interfaced and then stitched to some heavy duty red felt for durability.

The white background [which is also Winterkist] is free-motion quilted in a new-to-me design. Swirls! Hopefully so it looks windy/snowy/blustery. I don't have the patience for practice, so this was my first try at this design, and I'm pretty darned pleased.

Winterkist pairs up so nicely with this red Farm Fresh dot for the pockets, and the Riley Blake [I forget the line] for binding, and some fabric marker drawn numbers to indicate the day. In all honesty, I'd originally planned to embroider the numbers, but wanted nothing to do with more hand-work when I was sewing this all together.

AND LOOK. Baby gnoma! From Holiday Happy! For the 25th :)

I love it! I love that it's on the bigger side [about 18" by almost 36"] so it will take a commanding space in my living room this winter. And I love that it's not "Christmassy" and so I can leave it up in January and February and June. The pockets are plenty big enough [3.5" square] to hold the snowflakes and even a little treat or note.

I plan to sew some snaps onto some double fold binding or some ribbon so that I can use the snowflakes as a garland in January if I want. You could totally do that with the gnoma too, I just didn't think of it until I had already sewn him down.

Thanks Katie for letting me join the fun, and for Monica for having gnoma fun with fabric!

Don't forget that if you leave a comment on this post, or any other blog hop post this week, that you get entered to win a FQ bundle of your choice from The Fat Quarter Shop!

The remaining blog stops:

Aug 16  Diane at from blank pages
Aug 17  Allegory at {sew} Allegorical

Aug 20  Kim at My Go-Go Life
Aug 22 Jennifer at Ellison Lane Quilts
Aug 23 Jenelle at Echinops & Aster
Aug 24  Katie at There & Back