A Commissioned Quilt? Well, Sort of.

>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I received a very surprising and exciting email from Jade over at Craft Hope. She let me know she had received the quilt I sent, used it in her most recent post, and taken it into the Miracle Foundation to show them. They were apparently very pleased (even impressed!?!) with the quilt, and especially loved the reds, oranges, and yellows, all colors common in India. They asked Jade to ask me if I would be willing to make more to hang in the walls of the orphanage as art!

I was shocked and excited to receive this request. After asking whether it was ok if the quilts were completed after the Craft Hope July 25 deadline and finding out the delay would be fine (no sewing machine access until August precludes making anything until then), I said yes. Of course, I said yes; I don't think I could possibly have said no. It's not every day I get asked to make art for orphanages (or, let's be honest, anywhere)!

In conjunction with this new project, I have a request to make of you and those you may know. I depleted much of my red/pink/orange/yellow scrap pile making the last quilt, and now need to acquire more warm color fabric. If you have any scraps you're willing to donate or trade, please be in touch. I can't send you anything until August when I'm back in the same state as my fabric stash, but I would be happy to arrange swap your scraps (of a range of sizes) for scraps, fat quarters, and other amounts of fabric to amass a varied stash for these quilts. I'm open to a range of fabrics, the pretty and the ugly, the excellent and the not-so-amazing, because in a scrap quilt, the diversity of fabrics helps make the quilt. When I send the quilts to the Miracle Foundation, I will credit everyone who contributes fabric of any amount. Thank you!


Lemonade in Prospect Heights

>> Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's been a semi-eventful past few days. What does semi-eventful mean? Basically it's been busy, but would have been busier and more exciting had I not caught a cold.

I ventured eastward on Tuesday night, and spent several days at home with my parents. We went to a Nats-Red Sox game, I saw some friends, I worked on an editing assignment, I made a buttercup bag (pics soon), and I repacked my bags for NY. On Friday I woke up with a sore throat, and the germs invaded my ears and nose from there. For the first time in years, I managed to avoid catching a sinus infection/cold during the winter, only to get infected in the summer. Hmph.

In any event, my mom and I took the Vamoose bus to NY, and then spent some time walking around Greenwich Village -- just in time for the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the parade in its honor. It was fun watching couples take pictures in front of displayed memorabilia and the (new) inn. Alas, about 10 minutes later we got caught (and wet) in a rain storm. I still wasn't feeling well, so after some Vietnamese food, we headed to our hotel and called it a night. I was a pretty boring person, I must confess, but a stuffy nose, inability to hear much, and a sore throat will do that to you.

This morning I moved into my summer sublet in Brooklyn, on the border of Park Slope and Prospect Heights. I'm renting a room in the garden apartment of a brownstone, and so far it's lovely. The grandchildren of the woman I'm living with live upstairs, and they spent the late afternoon selling lemonade on the sidewalk alongside a small stoop sale. They did well for themselves, earning $21 even as they gave multiple cups away for free (including to family, close neighbors, and yours truly).

The oldest boy, 12, is quite a businessman and kept asking his dad why he had priced a table the same as a lamp given that a table is so much bigger. The youngest boy, 6, wanted to give the lemonade away because "even though we'll lose money, we'll make more friends." In the picture above, the car wheel on the right comes from a car that the boys lured over for 2 cups of $.25 lemonade. The driver ended up purchasing several other items as well. Madame, an 86-year-old neighbor who was born somewhere in Europe and grew up in Lebanon as the daughter of the doctor to King Fuad of Egypt, stopped by as well.

In any event, I'm starting to feel better, which is good since my summer class begins tomorrow morning. I'm trying to figure out if the Park Slope Coop has reciprocity with my midwest coop, but the answer will have to wait until I can talk to their membership people since their manual was mum on the issue. As always, any New York (or other!) recommendations are welcome.


REI, bags, and your opinions

>> Thursday, June 25, 2009

REI made it onto my "before I leave" to-do list. I *love* this store (see "Pacific Northwest outdoorsy" below; I rather like my Sherpani Milli bag, but I digress). REI rocks not only for what it sells, but for its excellent customer service and return policy. I bought a skirt there 2 years ago that I wear irregularly. This spring I pulled it out and wore it once, and the side seam ripped. I know that REI is generous with returns, but even so I wasn't sure about this one. No worries. I went into the store (with the receipt...I'm that compulsive...I have all my receipts filed away for moments like this one) and apologetically asked if there was anything I could do. I blabbered a little too much before the kind woman behind the register said, "It's not a problem, we'll take it back." It's hard to find such amazing customer-oriented policies these days (I'm looking at you, bookstores).

Also right before I left for the East coast, there was a delightful surprise in a square box on my doorstep. The lovely package came from Tiffany, and included 3 fat quarters, 2 fabric flowers, and 1 awesome black & white bag. I'm hoping the bag counts as "more chic, less Pacific Northwest outdoorsy" for my friends worried about my fashionability in NY. I'm also thinking of using 2 of the 3 FQs to make a buttercup bag. Thanks again Tiffany!

Speaking of my bag "needs," I'm open to suggestions for a handbag I should acquire -- a more fashionable, large enough to hold a book but small enough not to feel like a book/messenger bag, ideally handmade with kickin' fabrics, works with black, brown, red, and blue (the main colors I wear), and is all-around awesome. I'm overwhelmed by the bag options on etsy as well as on the blogs and websites I follow. What are your favorites? If you make and sell bags, this is your time to brag since I'm scouring my options to figure out something that is "me" -- practical and crafty-cool.


My Space (not myspace)

A couple posts ago, I wrote about my ten-month quest to decorate the walls of my room. Not only did I hang a mirror (which required some drywall anchors and subsequent maneuvering to get the screws and keyholes to match), but I created a collage of framed pictures.

It's not quite finished yet -- I received a print from Den-10 Studio that I'll frame and hang in August. I also ordered a 5x7 print of this picture (that I took in Africa) to go in the red frame. The current image in the frame, a neat Soviet-era postcard, is merely a placeholder.

In the meantime, I left my room very neat, and with new thoughts about a summer duvet cover.

I'm loving the red sheets against the blue walls, which is making me rethink the white duvet cover (option 1) and the multi-colored ORB quilt-along quilt top duvet cover (option 2 -- have the fabric picked out and will make it but where it goes is another story). Things to contemplate while I'm away!

Also on the "to-contemplate" list: what should I put on the walls? I kind of like 2 empty walls given the busy-ness of the collage wall, but I think they need something. Maybe a big stencil or sticker or something. Sort of like this one I bought for my bathroom -- which looks great but I can't seem to get a decent picture of it.

The birds are bright yellow, the walls are a nicer, brighter forest-y green, but my camera and the bathroom lighting are not friends.


Mentos? Rainbow Sherbet? You Choose.

>> Monday, June 22, 2009

Amanda Jean made a jolly rancher quilt, I went for Mentos, or maybe rainbow sherbet. Like hers, this is made entirely from scraps. Ok, it's made mostly from scraps, with a little help from my stash. I'm shipping it off as my Craft Hope contribution tomorrow, and I finished it just under the wire in terms of access to my sewing machine and fabric.

There are some things I really like about it as well as some things I would do differently next time.

I love that I found a fun way to use my scraps.
I wish my scrap collection were a little larger (who doesn't?!) so the quilt contained more variety.

I love the wonky, improv log cabin blocks.
I wish I had thought a little more about the initial piecing so the colors were more evenly distributed across blocks.

I love that I finally made a full log cabin quilt (only blocks previously).
I wish I made more blocks so the log cabin effect could be more pronounced.

I love that I also pieced the back from my scraps & stash.
I wish I had had more of a dark color for the binding (c'est la vie).

I love this section of the pieced back.
I wish I had more of the American Jane Recess fabric (on the left, got in a swap) and the pink paisley (gasp! pink! I also got it through a swap).

I LOVE that I stipple-quilted for the first time (just got a darning/free-motion foot!).
I wish I were better at it (I know, I know, time & practice).

I love that I felt comfortable enough to just go for the stippling.
I wish I had thought about the impact of using different top and bobbin threads.

Scratch that. I actually like the way the red peeks through on the back, and I don't think red thread would have looked as good (or blended as well) on the back. Occasionally it looks a little weird, though.

I love the stipple-quilting effect.
I wish I had time to wash and dry it to achieve the crinkle effect before mailing it. Next time!

* * *

And I'm still eager for any and all NYC tips: food, fabric, free fun....anything! Post away :)


Playing Catch-Up

>> Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's been a nutty week. A subletter is moving in tomorrow afternoon, at which point I'll drive off to Lexington, KY for a minute (well, 24 hours), come back for a night, head home to the DC area to see my family, and then go to NYC for 6 weeks.

How much closet and dresser space does my subletter need? I'm not sure, but I've left 2 out 3 dresser drawers empty and the primary closet rod vacant. The rest of the closet is another story. And then there were the pictures. After about 10 months of thinking about what I want on my bedroom walls, I finally hung a nice mirror my mom found for me as well as a collage of framed pictures. Prior to that, I rearranged the room. Inspired by new roommate, I opted for less floor space and a more grown-up bed protruding from the wall, rather than tucked in the corner (there are only so many options in a 9 3/4' x 9 3/4' room with 3 doors (hallway, closet, porch)). But I like it. I'm happy with it. I'm now pretty used to it (just in time to leave!). And if it hadn't been grey and rainy for the past few days I might have even grabbed a picture. Maybe tomorrow morning, in between washing all the linens.

Fabric has offered a lovely break this week. There's this bird print, an IKEA find:

And an array of awesome fabric acquired through swaps, the one I hosted and a couple of private swaps:

I've already got some projects planned out. Some of the blues and greens will make it into a chuppah I'm making, some of the blues and browns will go into another quilt that exists only in my head, and the pinks and oranges will find a home too. I'm very excited for all this fabric -- I don't have any of it and some I've admired from afar for a while. Moreover, I received fabric that I might not have bought but can't wait to use because it's just plain awesome.

Because I'll be without a sewing maching for about 7 weeks, I raced this week to finish several baby quilts. I need to bind the last one, a scrappy, wonky log cabin for Craft Hope, but aside from that I'm done. I'm saving some of the pictures since I won't be making anything for a while. Kind of weird that absence.

In the meantime, I'm going to ask you for your advice and knowledge:
*Any great vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Lexington, KY? Any good fabric shops?

*I'm from the DC area but haven't lived there in a while. Any new restaurants I should check out? What fabric shops should I know about that I don't (G Street Fabrics is about my limit).

*And, finally, the big one: New York. I'll be living in Brooklyn and attending classes at NYU. But I'm ready to venture anywhere. Please post any suggestions, recommendations, must sees/dos. I'm truly open to any and all information -- food, fabric, excursions, favorite hidden spots, free activities (in parks or elsehwere), somewhat known but unheralded must-dos? I've been to NY before but this will be my first time living there for any (short) length of time, and I want to explore as much as possible. Also, your favorite Thai restaurants are much appreciated!


Craft Hope

>> Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Craft Hope. At the time, the group was collecting handmade dolls for an orphanage in Nicaragua. Because I'm not a doll maker and have no designs on doll-making, I simply filed the site away in depths of my brain. This morning I found out that the next project is handmade blankets -- quilter, sewers, knitters, crochet-ers all welcome. This project is a little more up my ally, and the Miracle Foundation will distribute the blankets to orphan newborns in India.

When I posted Pay It Forward, I promised to not only make something for the three people who signed up but also pledged to help those in need. Craft Hope provides one opportunity to do so, and I plan to make at least one blanket for them. If you're interested, head over to Craft Hope and sign up. Blankets are due by July 25, so you've got some time to make one (or more!).

As much as Craft Hope and organizations like it are wonderful ways to share resources with those in need and I very much support the mission, I struggle with the balance between international and domestic aid. (I know about Project Linus and very much support it, but I think there are orphans and kids in foster care in the United States that could benefit from such an outpouring of love and help as well). I know it's more exciting to send blankets to newborns in India than to newborns in Detroit, but I think the need is the same in both places and yet I find more opportunities to send things internationally. I'm very much respect that Craft Hope will give the blankets to local groups if they arrive too late to go to India. The bottom line is that there are a lot of people in need and the more all of us can do to support those in need, the better off the world.

[/Off Soapbox]

News from the Swap:
Venezie Bags has received her fabric.
Lise reveals the fabric she sent.
Kerry has been to the post office.


Tutorial: How to Transform a Framed Picture into a Corkboard

>> Sunday, June 14, 2009



When I moved into my apartment, the black framed picture (see "before") was hanging in the kitchen. Having nothing immediately at hand to replace it, I left it perched above the stove. But I never liked it and the glass was already broken. When I painted my kitchen this spring, I decided it was time to repurpose the picture. I decided that Pain Francais would become a corkboard (see "after"). For under $10, you can do this too. [I'm sorry for the poor picture quality, this was a nighttime activity.]

framed picture (or empty frame)
foam core board ($2.99)
1/4" cork (I bought a large piece for $2.99)
spray paint -- if you want to alter the frame color ($3.44)
utility knife
ruler/straight edge
sawtooth picture hanger
scotch tape
packing or masking tape

1. Remove backing, image, and glass from your frame. Depending on the frame, you may need to cut off tape to do so (use your utility knife). If there is a cardboard backing, keep it. Also keep the image (or mat) for tracing purposes.

2. If you are going to paint the frame, take the frame and spray paint outside and paint it. Two coats should be sufficient. I transformed a black frame into a light yellow one and did not use primer. I recommend covering the area with newspaper or other paper/dropcloths.

3. While the paint dries, cut out foam core board and cork to the appropriate size. I used the image in the frame to get the most accurate piece. I taped the the image to the foam core board and used a metal ruler and utility knife to cut along 2 edges. I then did the same for the cork board.

[On the left, the already cut piece of foam core board, on the right, the image laid on the cork board prior to cutting).

It's wise to protect your cutting surface with either cardboard or a self-healing mat.

4. When the painted frame is dry, check to make sure that the foam core board and cork board shapes fit the frame.

5. Remove the foam and cork from the frame, and glue the cork to the foam board. Only the cork will be visible later, so it doesn't matter which side of the foam board is attached to the cork board. I used a paintbrush to spread modpodge evenly on the foam board before laying the cork on it. You may find that spray adhesive works just as well; I simply used materials already in my house. To facilitate attachment, lay heavy books on the foam/cork shape.

6. When the glue has dried, place the foam/cork shape into the frame, with the cork facing down (so it will be visible from the front). Make sure to wedge it in well, so it is flush with the edge of the frame.

If your picture had a piece of cardboard in, place, the cardboard on top of the foam core board. This should reach the edge of the frame. Carefully tape the cardboard to the edge of the frame. I used packing tape because I had it available, though masking tape or framers' brown paper masking tape might be better.

7. Decide which direction the frame will hang. If necessary, add a sawtooth picture hanger on the appropriate edge of the frame. Make sure to center it. I find it helpful to use a little scotch tape to hold the sawtooth piece in place while you nail it in.

8. Hang it up, add some pictures or mementos, and admire your handiwork!

The yellow-framed corkboard complements the other wall hangings in my study, such as this silk painting my parents brought me back from China (and they didn't know the wall color!):

A little closer:

And less exciting, but still rather nice, some framed paper:

My study is small, but has 4 white-trimmed windows. I love the deep purple and light yellow combination throughout the space -- or, rather, I love it almost as much as I adore the built-in, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

(This picture was taken about 9 months ago, the book collection has only grown.)


On the Bright Side

>> Thursday, June 11, 2009

Warning: Rant Ahead
(skip to the picture if you want the bright side)

I am very aggravated by the state DMV right now. I've been there two days in a row to try and get a license. Each time there was a problem with documents, all stemming from the fact that the website provides limited information unless one clicks on the pdf that contains the expanded information. Said pdf explains in great detail the requirements, but the basics are listed on the website and don't elaborate on certain details like dates and unexpiredness.

Today I learned that my just-expired passport was no good for establishing my citizenship. Even though the US government accepts expired passports for proof of citizenship for I-9s. And even though I purposefully didn't send my (now-expired) passport off to be renewed because then I wouldn't have it to get the license. Catch-22. Now I need to acquire an original, certified copy of my birth certificate (currently residing out-of-state) overnight in order to apply for the license tomorrow so that the real one arrives in a week before I travel (because the DMV office only issues a paper temporary license). Arrgh.

This is particularly galling to me for reasons listed above as well as the fact that after an 1+ hour wait yesterday, the guy looked at my documents and sent me home to get a current W2 to substitute for a social security card. Could he not have informed me of the passport issue then as well?

[I know at least one reader of this blog will point out that I should have taken care of this long ago. That's true, and this situation is partly my fault. But I still maintain that full info posted, not linked, on a website + information from the clerk could have made this a lot easier. And don't get me started on not making the basic form available until you reach the counter. Way to slow things down.]

To summarize, as 1/4 of an inch noted the other day, slight variations matter: "it doesn't take much for something to be super good or super bad - just a 1/4 of an inch." This too shall pass, it's just the major aggravation of the week.

Ok, rant over.

So what's the bright side? Yesterday I made myself lasagne to assuage my annoyance (recipe will come tomorrow). Today, I trolled through my Google Reader to catch up on blogworld news and excitement. If you haven't already see it, Venezie Bags is having an awesome giveaway/sweepstakes right now. Click on the link to enter and see all the neat prizes being offered to one lucky winner.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, On the Dot Creations has posted a download for these neat gift tags.
I'm partial to the trike one myself.

Finally, head over to Poppytalk for the Incredible Massive Letterpress Giveaway. I know winning that pile of awesome letterpress items would cheer me up! I'm sure it would brighten your day too.


A Brick River

>> Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Several friends are pregnant and due this summer. I, however, will be without my sewing machine for almost 7 weeks. Thus I'm trying to make a bunch of quilts before I leave town so I have them ready to send off when I receive word of birth announcements or other such arrival notifications.

This one is loosely-based on Amy Butler's Lotus Brick Path quilt pattern. And by "loosely" I mean it uses bricks (3" x 6" for those keeping track at home, 2.5" x 5" finished) and they are sewn together in no patterned order.

When I first laid it out, I tried to keep all the pinks and browns separate so no two of the same fabric touched. I didn't like it that way. Instead I found myself drawn to a random assortment of brick steps standing out from the lighter fabrics.

Why a "brick river"? When I quilted it, I made wavy parallel lines across the brick strips (and occasionally veering from one strip into its neighbor). They seemed somewhat ricer like to me, at least like an illustrated river.

I backed the quilt with soft flannel -- yellow and purple (it may well go to an Eph friend's child). Or not, in which case the yellow and purple is still a nice combo.


I wrote too fast + Staple gun love

>> Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yesterday I said I'd been unlucky in the SMS and SEWN giveaways. Turned out that I was too quick to assume the giveaways were over. Ginger commented and emailed me to let me know I'd won an orange bag.

I'll be adding it to my reusable grocery bag stash. Thanks Ginger!

Lise emailed me to let me know she'd received her first fat quarter from the fat quarter swap. Check it out here.

In other news, I have a new love for staple guns.
I re-upholstered a somewhat ugly ottoman I found earlier in the spring. I forgot to take before pictures, but as soon as the lighting cooperates, I'll post the after pictures.


SEWN Winner

>> Monday, June 8, 2009

Between the SMS and SEWN giveaways, some people have been really lucky. I, alas, have not been among them. But the random number generator picked #40, Grace, as the winner of my giveaway. She wrote, "Love to win! Any colors would be great" so I'll be plucking a couple surprise fat quarters from my stash to send to her. Good luck to everyone in the rest of the giveaways out there.


On the to-do list

>> Friday, June 5, 2009

Clean the mirror. Wow it's awfully dirty. But it's the only full view of the apron I finished last week in time to bring it to CA to give to Sivan for her birthday.

It uses fabric from 2 different Michael Miller collections as well as some deep purple broadcloth I found at a thrift store (3+ yards for $1!). I bought the dots (waistband) last year and the Asian lanterns/blossoms this winter, and the colors, especially the greens, are almost identical.

I'm still working to perfect the waistband on my aprons. I still debate whether it needs interfacing and the right amount to turn under (just a half inch would probably be ideal for maximizing fabric usage, but it's so much easier to iron in half and then fold the halves to the middle).

I don't think any of these pictures show the purple broadcloth, but it's plain, purple, and pretty. Sivan loves purple so it made perfect sense to use it. It's about the shade of the dark purple at the bottom of the left-most purple lantern in the picture above.

And finally a shot in nice light. Thank you sun for cooperating for a minute.

Up next: previews of some recently-finished baby quilts.


Fabric + Quilt-Along

What can I say? Peer pressure gets me every time. I decided to join OldRenBarnCo's Quilt-Along. I thought I'd use this as a stash-buster, but now I've decided to make it into a partial stash-buster + piece a summer duvet cover for my room. I've been thinking about what color combo and design to use for a while, and I keep coming back to a blue/red/yellow/black/white combo. Seeing this fabric in person (and buying a half-yard) at Eddie's Quilting Bee sealed the deal.

I have a bunch of fabrics in my stash that will complement it. I think only a good yellow is missing, and I'm on the lookout for it on my last couple of days in CA. Because I joined the quilt-along late, I'll be doing some catch-up early next week. I just need to check the measurements and figure out how many blocks and strip sets I need for a full duvet top. I'm thinking of following Amy's modifications -- 5 fabric strip-set cut into 4 10.5" blocks to maximize fabric usage.

As I troll through several local quilt shops tomorrow, I'm also on the lookout for Michael Miller's Jewel Tones collection. I think these three fabrics would make a lovely apron to complement my new orange kitchen.

Beatrice Dream

Beatrice Bloom

Espresso Flower Shower

Espresso Night Owls (perhaps as the apron pocket?)

I know I can buy these online, here for example, but while I have the chance to see and touch real fabric, it's nice to believe I could find it locally and also support a local fabric shop. If not here, then maybe back home here.

And while it doesn't coordinate at all, this fabric from the Happy Tones collection makes me smile.

I am such a sucker for Michael Miller collections. Alas, I didn't see any today. Except on my screen, which doesn't count when in proximity to brick-and-mortar local quilt shops.


Last Chance!

>> Thursday, June 4, 2009

If you want to participate in the fat quarter swap, email me (2hippos [at] gmail) asap.

Send me the following info:
Blog or anything else you want people to know
2 or 4 partners?
Will you ship internationally?


A Splendiferous Surprise

>> Wednesday, June 3, 2009

First there was a box.
Scratch that.
First there was a conniving idea.
Then there were co-conspirators, a plane ticket, and a lot of excitement.

Finally the weekend arrived.
I left the land of the Great Lakes and the (flailing) auto industry.
I boarded a plane for the land of sunshine, amazing friends, and fantastic food.
On Sunday morning, one collaborator and I set about to find a box.
A big box. A really huge box. A box I could sit in.

And we found said box. And we wrapped said box. And I got in said box.
I sat in the box, smiling to the 4 cardboard walls.
A phone rang.
My other collaborator called to say he and his crew were on their way.
The doorbell rang.
Friends arrived.
They learned of my presence, laughed, and put the box lid back on.
The surprisee (is that a word? well, now it is) was still out there.
The doorbell rang.

There she was, with family members and dessert in tow.
"There's a present for you."
"A present. A present you should open now."

The nonchalant approach.
What could be in there?
What wouldn't be delivered to my house?

A surprise. A real shocking surprise. A totally unexpected surprise.

Inside the box.
Totally shocking S who had no clue what birthday treat awaited her at the party...
she didn't want to have and protested -- to me, thousands of miles away, last Monday.
It. Was. Awesome.

* * * *
Last chance to sign up for the Sew Into Summer Fat Quarter Swap.
Go here for the info and email me (2hippos [at] gmail) to sign up.
Sign up by 11.59 pm June 3.
Ok, by the morning of June 4 will work too.
I'm checking out fabric shops this week.
Who knows what I might find for you?
A big thanks to Amy for awesome fabric shop suggestions in San Francisco and Sunnyvale.


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