Bandwagon: Jumped

>> Sunday, March 25, 2012

A few weeks ago, I decided that the thing to do between research trips was make drawstring bags. I had seen plenty pop up all across the internetz, and most referenced Jeni's tutorial. So I jumped on the drawstring bag bandwagon, which seems to have retained its popularity for quite some time, and made a few. I've given most of them away, but kept the one on the left above for myself. It's proven quite helpful as I travel -- I stuff all my chargers in there (still waiting for that universal charger....) and their aesthetics improve muchly. I'm about to leave for another trip, and this time the bag holds chargers, my camera, and my sunglasses. Pretty sweet.

These bags are the perfect size for using up small-but-not-quite-scrap-sized pieces of fabric. I will say that these bags are fun, though midway through my assembly-line, I remembered that I find making multiple bags at a time somewhat tedious. Nevertheless, I soldiered on and made six of them. I admire those who make lots of the same item to sell because I don't have that in me. I can make quilt blocks for hours on end but with bags, I'm a one-and-done kind of gal. I'll return to patterns I like, but even when they don't take that long to assemble, I'm just not that interested in repeating steps over and over again.

In other news, I was honored to receive a Liebster Award from Charlotte, who blogs at Twelfth Zodiac. The award--whose origins are unknown, as best I can tell--is for small blogs and helps spread the word about them. In that vein, if you haven't checked out the following blogs,* you should.

Michelle's Musings: A big fan of Tula-Pink fabrics, Michelle should get the award for best blog commenter. Not only was she one of the first to start commenting here (which led to a lovely friendship -- we even met in real life in November!), but I swear that every time I get ready to comment somewhere else, she already has.

Kitty Kitty Crafts: Not only does Karissa make fabulous stuffed hippos, but she makes her own dresses, something I find amazing and intimidating.

WoollyKat: Anna is now a real-life, local, quilty friend. Choosing a local quilt friend was tricky, since I'm lucky enough to have quite a few, but I decided to go with the first live, local person I added to my reader and Anna was it. Also, we have very similar taste and tend to echo one another in favoriting and commenting on items in the FTLOS swap.

The Quilt Engineer: I don't think there is a single quilt Latifah has made that I don't like. She is more than a quilt engineer; she is a quilt genius. She makes brilliant, bold geometric quilts, and sews up matching clothes to boot (at least for the babies).

Little Olive Branch: I'm not sure how or when I first stumbled onto Ruth's blog, but it's got a little of everything -- sewing, cooking, knitting, traveling, and more. She moved to DC from New York as I was transitioning to New York from DC for research last year, so I guess I felt a little transitory kinship.

*I'm basing "small size" on the number of followers I can see, either on the blog or via Google Reader.


Seriously Awesome

>> Friday, March 23, 2012

No, seriously. Awesome. I returned from Cincinnati to a box filled with these fantastic goodies. My For the Love of Solids Swap (FTLOS) partner, Diane, "got" me perfectly. {Note: in my experience, FTLOS has provided the best swap experience, hands down.} Not only did she make me fabulous items -- a sewing machine cover and a zippered pouch -- but she included homemade tomato jam (I love tomatos. Really. Love them) and a stack of chocolate whose wrappers match the sewn items. Impressive.
Let's take a closer look at these sewn items. Diane used the colors I requested (betty's orange, glacier (teal), and ochre (deep yellow)) and added aqua and cerise for a fantastic color combination. The background fabric is quilter's linen -- this is the first time I've seen it up close, and I'm smitten.

The sewing machine is completely reversible. Look at this cool improv back! And you can sneak a peek at the light brown walls -- doesn't this make my sewing machine into an art piece in the living room? I've been debating what colors and fabrics to use in a living room quilt, and this sewing machine cover seals it for me. I obviously need to make a coordinating quilt. Because these colors make me so happy. And they work with the gold couch (the best reading couch ever, but gold nonetheless).

To top it off, Diane sent this lovely pouch. Those blocks are tiny and perfectly precise. And the aqua zipper? Pure happiness (and awesomeness) all around.


Amidst the Wildflowers

>> Friday, March 16, 2012

My phone battery is dying. This is not really a big deal, except that it aggravates me. And it bothers me not because every night my phone emits a low-grade whine, alerting me to its wounded state, a mere half-day after it juiced up overnight. That is indeed annoying. But what agitates me is technology's forced obsolescence. The phone -- a Samsung something for Verizon -- is a year and a half old. I use it to make phone calls and send an occasional text. I don't surf the web or take pictures or check my email on it. It replaced a phone I held onto for over 5 years. Because the only thing I want my phone to do is make phone calls. And have a battery that lasts longer than 12 measly hours. Especially when I am traveling. I mean I'm just walking around today, as I'm staying about 12 minutes away from the archive I'm using. But I'm away from home and like staying in touch with people. Actually being away from home is sort of irrelevant as most of the people I talk to on the phone regularly don't live where I live. Whatever. I just want manufacturers to make batteries that last for more than 18 months. I'm sure they are all listening to me and will get on this immediately. Because I asked so sweetly. Or something.

So my little rant above has next to nothing to do with sewing, crafting, or that lovely photo above. About that.

I'm in Cincinnati right now, and I was lucky enough to coordinate my visit with a friend whose Bubbe (Yiddish for grandma) lives here, and I stayed with my friend and her Bubbe for 4 nights. Obviously I needed to bring a gift, and I sent a few emails to my friend to ascertain what might be appreciated. And then ignored the options of flowers and chocolate in favor of playing with fabric. I made a challah cover using Rachel's improv curves Rainbow-Road concept. I took all the 5" solid squares I had handy in my scrap bin, chopped them in half-ish, and started to sew. All very random and improv-y, just the way I like it. Since spring wildflowers are my favorite part of my front yard, it seemed only right to photograph the challah cover in their midst and show off those cute yellow flowers, whatever they may be.

I actually made 3 challah covers in this style, with different color schemes, but the others are being transported to their destinations, and will therefore remain hush-hush for now. This might be the 2012 Challah-Cover style, since it's good to have a yearly go-to. And why not be a trendsetter in the dashing world of crafty Judaica? Ok, the archives have made me a little punchy. But with that, shabbat shalom and have a wonderful weekend.


Chevron and Out

>> Monday, March 12, 2012

I realized it's been 10 days since I last posted. Ten busy days, but ten days in which images sat on my camera because sometimes getting images from the camera to the computer feels like way more work than it actually is. Hooking up cords and pressing buttons is not actually hard and yet sometimes it's an obstacle. But I'm back in the archives this week which means I needed my camera for images of documents and all my sewing pictures had to vacate the premises, err memory card. I finished up my mini-quilt for the For the Love of Solids Quilts. I vacillate on which side is "up" and which side is "down." For now, I picked the image I liked the best, which had a lot more to do with low light on a gray day than anything else. I'm quite pleased with how it came together as well as the random, angular line quilting, which came to me in a burst of inspiration also known as "Must get this done. Make a decision."

The back used remnants from the front. As usual, I changed my mind 3/4 of the way through and decided that the light gray line (Kona Ash, for those keeping track) should not go all the way across. This entailed some pretty precise sewing to get everything lined back up. And by precise sewing, I mean 4 seam-rippings and 5 tries later, it all worked out. Note: seams pressed open are your friends when precision on the millimeter level is necessary.

For the small gift (this swap requires a big item and a small one), I made a zip pouch. I based it on the size of the zip-lock I use to carry various chargers with me when I travel. I think its dimensions are great for chargers though I might switch the zipper to the long side on future iterations, even though I think it might work less well for bulky chargers. The pouch is stuffed with a rainbow of solid scraps that I hope my partner will enjoy using. Now I just need to find the closest post office to me in Cincinnati, ideally one open past 5 pm.


Stretching Out

>> Friday, March 2, 2012

So many tiny pieces. So many bias edges.

I probably should have invested in some starch before I embarked on this project, but why use an easily accessible tool when you've never felt the need to before? And, to be honest, it wasn't until I was sewing these little bits together and trying to square everything up that I realized starch could have helped. Next time...except, I have no plans to piece or paper-piece tiny little chevrons any time soon. I'm really glad I was crazy enough to plunge into making this without thinking through all these details as I think (hope) my partner will be pleased. And I'm glad that participating in swaps pushes me to do things I never would have thought of alone. But I feel sufficiently limbered up to avoid practicing this particular design any more for a while. I know, I know -- this is the exact opposite of what any coach, in any sport or activity would tell you to do. Luckily, I'm not aiming for the Quilting Olympics and can thus resume flitting around to other techniques and playing with new ideas with no remorse and no ill consequences.


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