Sweet Seaglass Solids

>> Monday, August 29, 2011

Over the weekend, I found out I won this sweet bundle of solids from Marmalade Fabrics (love the name!) through a giveaway on Teaginny Designs' blog. Alex posted a {free} tutorial for the Seaglass Wall Hanging she made with these fabrics, and I'm excited to test it out. I have an intended recipient in mind and may make a few modifications accordingly (and possible alter the layout/size to be more of a table runner). I head back to Michigan tomorrow, and I'm excited to take a few days for quilt stuff: finishing my quilt, making my swap items for the Solids swap, and planning/making a few gift items as well. Ok, I might not get the latter done this week, but I have big plans....



>> Friday, August 26, 2011

 Several months ago I showed you my first paper piecing efforts. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with the block, but I took the advice several of you imparted, and opted to make it into a challah cover/wall hanging. I added a slim aqua border and then a larger natural border, making the block a generous 19" square.

I knew pretty quickly that I would back it with a piece of Dogwood Stripe, from Laura Gunn's Poppy Collection (I think this print is now out-of-print, seeing as it's not longer listed on Michael Miller's website). I had used a tiny scrap on the front and wanted to show off the larger scale on the back.

{Please pardon the wrinkles!}

When quilting it, I opted for straight lines spaced about 1/4 - 3/8" apart within the natural border regions (I realize that makes it sound like I was quilting a political map of a contested war zone rather than a piece of art). I wanted the focus to be on the center circle of triangles, and I think I accomplished that. I also like how the slim aqua border puffs up a bit because it wasn't quilted.

I spent several months (literally) mulling over the binding. At first I considered using another aqua print, but that just seemed blah. Then I thought a green print would work well and pull out the green from the backing print. But I just looked at it, never finding it quite compelling enough. Finally I decided this was going to be a gift for friends I stayed with in Minneapolis and I needed to finish it before I left for the trip. And suddenly I knew that the peach Pearl Bracelet print (from Lizzy House's Red Letter Day collection) would be perfect. I had a momentary pause when I worried about the gray clashing with the natural, but I decided to stick with my gut, and I think the contrast makes the piece zing. And now "Twinkle" resides with my friends Dara and Barry who graciously let me stay in their Minneapolis apartment while they were away.

I think the binding is my favorite part of this challah cover/wall hanging. I already have more plans for the fabric as the binding of a future quilt. It's one of those prints that just works with so many colors, designs, and projects. While I missed out on some of the ducks from Red Letter Day, I'm glad I got my hands on this print. In fact, I'm finding myself more and more drawn to a lot of the "secondary" prints in big collections, especially the tone-on-tone or two-color prints that are extremely versatile and play well with others.


Solid Stashing

>> Tuesday, August 23, 2011

As luck has it, I'm house/catsitting mere blocks away from a fabulous local fabric store: Treadle Yard Goods. I first noticed it on Saturday and knew I'd head over there shortly. And shortly meant yesterday afternoon. And it was awesome.

First, they have an impressive collection of modern quilting fabrics. (They also have a lot of apparel fabrics and are apparently the last local apparel fabric store in the area, but as a not-yet-garment sewer, I sort of ignored those fabrics). Because there were so many other fun fabrics to feel and touch and pet. Tula Pink (Prince Charming is charming), Joel Dewberry (the new Heirloom line in Citrus is calling my name), various lines from Moda, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Japanese imports....all sorts of neat stuff. They also had a lot of substrates: quilting cotton, home decor weight, canvas, voile, sateen, velveteen, laminate, and oilcloth to name a few.

Second, they're really nice there. I mean Minnesotans have, in my week here, lived up to their extraordinarily friendly reputation. But Treadle did exactly what I think every store should: ask if I need help when I walk in, leave me alone to wander, and be helpful when I requested assistance. And then when I mentioned I was a visitor, they started telling me about all sorts of other fabric places to check out. Apparently there's an amazing shop in St. Cloud that I don't think I'm going to get to, but still: they heard I liked fabric and directed me to other places to look at it.

So I bought the solids above to use in the Simply Solids Swap. I have a few ideas rolling around in my head and need to make some decisions over the next week so I can start cutting and sewing when I get back. I also dug into their remnants and picked up two for me.

The gray print on the left is from Nancy Mims and the print on the right is a piece of oilcoth. I don't have immediate plans for the gray, but it's the sort of print that would be great as a bag lining, a binding, or in a quilt. As for the oilcloth, I've been meaning to make myself a lunch bag for years. I'm thinking oilcloth is smart since it will wipe down easily. I don't know how to sew with it, but that's just another thing to learn. I was pretty responsible with purchases yesterday, but I might need to go back and buy some Heirloom voile. It was just so pretty and would make a beautiful fall scarf. One can never have too many scarves. And buying fabric for a distinct purpose for me falls under "being kind to myself," right? Hmm.


Color Wheel Charm Swap

>> Monday, August 22, 2011

A few posts ago, I mentioned signing up for the Color Wheel Charm Swap. Kati assigned me orange and orange-yellow for my colors. I knew immediately what I would use for orange, but orange-yellow took a little longer to figure out.

For orange (right), I sent in 5" charms from Kate Spain's Central Park Collection, the Bridal Path print in Metro. For orange-yellow (left), I opted for Amy Butler's Full Moon Dots in Tangerine. It looks very light next to the bright orange, but it's more saturated than it appears here. I'm a pretty confident cutter, but cutting charms for the swap gave me a pause. Just a few nerves before plunging in as I needed the full yard to cut 56 charms and knew there wouldn't be enough left over if disaster hit. Handily, disaster stayed at bay, and the charms are now in Kati's hands waiting for distribution.


A Little Glimpse

>> Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's been a crazy week: last weekend I drove back to Michigan, where I spent 3 days unpacking and moving back into my place, and then I left for the Twin Cities. I stayed with my friends in Minneapolis for a few nights, and now I'm house/catsitting in St. Paul for the week. The weather here is beautiful, and I'm learning how to get around by bus, bike, and foot. After I booked my trip, I realized that the US Gymnastics Championships were taking place here while I was in town, and I was able to catch both days of the women's competition (and see some coach friends of mine). And I've been at the archives during the week. A busy (in a good way) time indeed.

But given this moving back and around, it's also been a time of transitions, and I'm not always best at transitions. So I started making a quilt in my brief sojourn at home. This was a little nuts -- and I very ambitiously thought I might even be able to start and finish it in three days. By day two, I realized that wasn't happening. But I finished the quilt front, and started the quilt back.

And I let myself be content with that. I say "let myself," because I'm prone to being hard on myself when I don't meet self-imposed deadlines or make silly mistakes (hell, I'm prone to getting annoyed with myself when I miss a poorly labeled turn, or rather take a turn I shouldn't have. See: last weekend's drive from DC to Michigan. Don't worry, I'm over it now).

When talking to a friend a week ago, she reminded me "to be kind to myself" -- something I'm not always good at (I have a certain ascetic tendencies after all) and something I'm often terrible at in moments of transition. This quilt, I realized, is one way of being kind to myself, materially and mentally: it's been over a decade since I made a quilt for myself. I've made a challah cover, a scarf, and a bag...small things, but I'm placing this quilt at the head of the queue when I return. I've long wanted a summer quilt for my bedroom, and this will be it. It's a little more planned than usual (which is to say, there was a sketch and measured dimensions), but also a little bit improvisational, which represents my piecing and quilting style well. The product and the process, therefore, are both for me, and I'm really happy about that. Only a week and a half until I return to it....lots of Twin Cities exploration to do in the meantime, including the fabric shop 2 blocks from my housesitting gig. Sweet.


Meet Bianca

>> Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meet Bianca, my new hippo friend. My parents found her somewhere in Israel, possibly in Tel Aviv (it looks like something one could find in the Modern Art Museum, whether that's where she was residing is unclear to me. My mom probably told where they caught sight of her, but I have since forgotten). In any event, I'm quite fond of my new desk gadget, especially because I have reunited with my desk.

And also because Bianca is so useful. Not only does she hold paper, but she also holds my ideas. Ideas jotted on a random scrap of a box, possibly the container for my mini external hard drive (Western Digital Passport). In this case, she's gripping a quilt idea I've already started working on, miracle of miracles. I was a bit overly ambitious in thinking I could actually make the whole thing from start to finish in the three days I have at home before my research trip to Minneapolis, but I've successfully used almost 5 yards of white fabric, so progress has been made.


Pretty Things

>> Monday, August 15, 2011

In July, I won a giveaway of Aurifil thread from Lynne. I got back to Michigan Saturday night and was excited to open the box -- living like a nomad really increases one's tolerance for delayed gratification. And gratified I was. Look at the color card: so.many.colors. I'm looking forward to playing with this thread. I've heard it really decreases the lint in one's machine and since I've grown a few lint monsters over the year, I'm looking forward to seeing if this holds.

Yesterday was an errand day, and errands meant getting a new planner. I know it says 2012, but it's an 18-month planner, and I always get a new one at the end of the summer. Random fact about me: I've always operated on a school-year calendar. All of my non-student years were spent working in high schools or universities. And my mom was a teacher, so even my tiny years moved with the cadences of the school calendar.

My roommate and I went looking for baskets. We ended up in Marshalls. She convinced me that I needed (and would wear) these 3-inch heels. I am not a heels person. But now I own crazy heels. Three inches. That's insane. But they are pretty. And made of patent non-leather (the non-leather shoe options have exponentially increased in the past decade, a trend that greatly pleases my vegetarian self).

Today: more errands and more sewing. That's right, I started sewing last night. It was too dark to get good pictures, but pictures coming soon....


Patchwork Piecing

>> Thursday, August 11, 2011

I almost forgot about my tiny patchwork project. These are 1" (finished) squares from the Terrain scraps Kate Spain generously sent me. My plan was to combine patchwork and circles with a lot of negative space. Then I saw Angela's post with a couple of design options for her quilt guild's Habitat challenge, and I thought maybe I should use my Terrain strings in a version of her Big Zig or Modern Tracks layout. I'll have at least 8.5 hours of driving on Saturday to further contemplate what to do. Maybe incorporate circles and strings? Maybe the Big Zig or Modern Tracks on the front and circles on the back? So many possibilities...


Mad Measuring (and Cutting!) Skills

>> Monday, August 8, 2011

My brother decided to put my sewing skills to use this weekend...by turning me into his drywall cutter. It was a pretty good match for my skill set, and I think I was pretty good at it....as long as he told me where to measure from, that is. There was one piece that I cut a little short because I measured from the top of the new stud rather than the old stud, but it was fixable. I was a little uncertain about the cut-outs for the outlets and light switches, but they actually turned out pretty well. And I preferred this work to grouting, though it might be a tie with drilling holes for wires. I really do like drilling.

Back to the regularly scheduled crafting programming soon....

At the end of the week, I'll pack my car (including my sewing machine and fabric) and drive back to the midwest. I'll have a few days at home to unpack and resettle, before taking off for Minneapolis/St. Paul for 2 weeks of research. Any tips or suggestions about places to eat, fabric shops to visit, and other places to explore in the Twin Cities is most welcome.


Living Dangerously

>> Friday, August 5, 2011

Apparently when I'm cut off from my stash and my machine, I sign myself up for all sorts of things. Like the Color Wheel Charm Swap Kati is organizing.

Sign-ups are already closed, but if you're interested in playing in the future, leave a comment for Kati here. I also signed up to be a stitcher in the do. Good Stitches {a charity bee}. I haven't participated in a bee before, but I've long admired what I see on other blogs. And since I try to make and donate several quilts to charity each year, this seemed like the perfect bee to enter. Hopefully I'll get to start in September.

With all these bees and swapping, my mind has been buzzing about a fat quarter swap. It's been a couple years since I organized one and awhile since I participated in one, and I miss them. Are you interested? When would you want to do it? Any rules you really like to govern your swaps?



>> Monday, August 1, 2011

I haven't been sewing much anything lately and just wanted to make something. Without a fabric option, I thought baking might be a nice replacement. But I'm staying with my brother and his kitchen is half-packed-up, which means the mixer is sitting in a box somewhere. Yet people have been baking for far longer than electric mixers have existed, so it had to be possible.

I gathered all the ingredients to make brownies, and plunged in. I melted the butter and chocolate, and I broke 4 eggs into a bowl. At which point I realized there was no white sugar in the cabinets. So brown sugar would do -- I decided somewhere between 1/2-3/4 cup of brown sugar would be best, especially since I was using milk chocolate which was already sweeter than other chocolates. Adjusting and adapting on the fly. All was good. Everything was mixed and ready for the flour. I dropped a 1/4 cup in the bowl and then looked in the flour.

Big mistake.

There were bugs in the flour. Little crawling gray things, and god knows how many invisible bug eggs. I was really annoyed -- mostly with myself for not looking in the flour before adding it to the brownie batter. That was just dumb and totally preventable.

After dumping the batter and playing on the internet for a while to mollify my annoyed self, I walked back to the store and bought more chocolate chips. I might have also impulse purchased some salt and vinegar chips to appease myself.

Then I made brownie batter again, and of course managed to spill melted chocolate, beaten eggs, and batter in various ways. Clearly, it was not a good day for baking. But I made my brown sugar substitute (I could have acquired some white sugar at the store, but I was committed to my experiment) and I used some cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. And it turns out that while chemistry limits baking in some ways, these sorts of substitutions are just fine. The texture and taste is slightly different, but they're brownies and they taste good. And there are no bugs in them.

Meanwhile, on the sewing front, while nothing has been sewn, lots has been contemplated.

In particular, I've been looking forward to the tutorial for this block of the summer sampler series. Kate posted it this morning, and I really want to make it. I might use it for a mini-quilt for my partner in the For the Love of Solids Swap or maybe make a baby quilt of them (I've got a bunch more of those to make for the fall) or maybe something else altogether.


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