Galaxy Quilt (In Progress)

>> Sunday, February 28, 2010

For the record, I am very good at meeting deadlines. This trait probably has a little something to do with working on my high school and then college newspaper as a writer, photographer, and editor (usually only two of the three at one time, but when necessary, I could don all three hats for the issue). The DQS 8 deadline is fast approaching, and it was time to get working on a quilt for my swap partner.

AlthoughI'd figured out (at least conceptually) what I wanted to do, I didn't cut into any fabric or start sewing until last night. By the end of the evening, I'd amassed the wonky stars above, in various prints of red and aqua set against chocolate brown.

Over the course of today, I played with the block arrangements (I should have taken pictures along the way as it evolved through many iterations), pieced the quilt (that was a bit tricky, I must say, and the seam ripper scissors came in quite handy), quilted it, and now all I have left is the binding. I'll even make the internaitonal mailing deadline of March 1, though mine is a domestic package.

More on the quilt (and others too!) soon....


Friday Recipe: Hamantaschen

>> Friday, February 26, 2010

It's that time of the year again....Purim starts Saturday night. Purim (literally, "lots") commemorates the events of the book of Esther and involves all sorts of celebratory activities involving noise, costumes, drinking, and food. Though I think Purim is supposed to be one of those holidays everyone loves (see: noise, costumes, drinking, and food), I can't say it's up there with my favorites (see: noise).

To be honest, however, I'm not sold on the book of Esther. I think Vashti (the deposed queen) is much maligned for totally reasonable and even responsible behavior. She rejects the King's advances to promenade in front of his court, or in modern lingo, his frat. While this helps set up the annointing of Esther as queen and then savior of the Persian Jews of yore, I find it a highly problematic nonetheless.

But this textual issue notwithstanding, there are some lovely aspects of the holiday. In particular, the tradition of mishloach manot, or the sending of gifts, is fun. Basically, you make packages of food and drink and deliver them to friends. I haven't quite figured out why raisins and twizzlers appear so often in these gift bags and baskets (I get that they're sold in individual packaging, but still....), but hamantaschen always make the rounds. Hamantaschen, which represent Haman's ears or hat or anything else related to the misanthropic character, are triangular stuffed cookies. Traditional fillings include prunes, poppyseed, apricots, dates, and cherries. I'm more a of modernist, however, and use chocolate and strawberry jam.

I wrote my recipe on an index card at some point, and I don't know its original source, though I imagine most hamanraschen recipes are somewhat similar.

Friday Recipe: Hamantaschen
~ 30

2/3 cup butter (or margarine if making them pareve)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
Filling of your choice (chocolate chips, nutella, jam, etc)

1. Cream butter with sugar.

2. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well.

3. Add in dry ingredients and mix well.

4. Cover and chill for ~ 1hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degreed.

6. Take a chunk of dough and roll it out, about 1/8 inch thick.

9. Use a cookie cutter (or pint glass!) to cut out circle shapes.


10. Place a small amount of the filling in the center of the circle. Pinch the sides together to create a triangle (a little water often helps hold the pinched points together.  Place of greased baking sheet.

11.  Bake on 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. 

12. Enjoy!


*I've forgotten the baking powder and salt and they still turn out fine.
*One year I had no chocolate chips, so I used Hershey's Kisses. I think some of their newfangled filled ones (e.g., caramel) could be excellent in hamantaschen.
*Be careful with jam. Sometimes it leaks and/or bubbles out of the dough and creates a mess.

A few friends came over on Wednesday night to help bake hamantaschen and make mishloach manot. The bag decorating (which I only watched) was pretty hilarious.

For those who celebrate it, Chag Purim Sameach!


Flowers in the Meadow

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I. love. this. quilt. I made it for my friends Annie and Daniel, who were married this summer in a lovely ceremony. It's not spring yet, but the quilt reminds me of spring and summer, of grassy meadows with a few wildflowers poking through.

As you might notice, it's not summer in the pictures. Though I knew I wanted to make them a quilt, and I knew that I would use lots of green, with some touches of dark pink, I didn't start cutting the fabric until December. I'm glad I waited, as I constructed the quilt front after making this one, and I know that "Flowers in the Meadow" is better as a result.

The design started with the pattern to Amy Butler's Decorative Patchwork Throw (found In Stitches). I liked the idea of big chunks of fabric (and I used a fair number of Amy Butler prints in this quilt). But, like usual, the quilt transmogrified along the way. An improv adventure ensued, with one basic principle: big swaths of fabric.

Lots of awesome fabrics? Check. I varied the piecing, incorporating a big 9-patch block as well as some squares-in-squares and squares-in-rectangles and more squares and rectangles.

And then the chickens gave me an idea. The fabric didn't really fit with the other greens, but chickens are so Annie and Daniel. They would have a chicken coop if they could, and eat fresh eggs all the time (their dog, Mason, might not let this happen so easily). But there was a nice chicken pair, and it needed to make its way into the quilt. A little fussy cutting and zig-zag stitching later, and there lay the chickens.

The chickens were up for some company, and so arrived the turtle pair. Another green print that didn't quite work with the rest of the quilt, but placed on a white background and attached to the quilt, now made sense.

The birds are not green and neither is the background fabric. But they're loud and fun and wanted to preen on the quilt. So I let them. They work with the deep magenta and pink fabric that, I think, helps the quilt pop.

Annie and I agree that the grey fabric is just lovely. It might be my favorite, if I have to pick favorites and I used 2 big chunks of it. I should have ordered more of it, but when I was selecting fabrics online, I didn't realize the extent of its beauty.

I am not a pink person, but pink works here, and I knew it was the right color for the binding. In late December, I scurried to the store to get it, as my not-too-large pink collection lacked a good pink with enough yardage for the binding (the quilt is ~ 54" x 72").

As for the quilting, I opted for diagonal stripes, at varying widths. Sometimes an inch or 2 separate the lines, sometimes just 1/4" or a 1/2". Masking tape helped me stay on target, though it was a little tough in spots.
Finally, an outtake from today's picture-taking. My commuter bike really wanted to make an appearance on the blog, because some friends think I'm a little loony for biking in the snow. They're probably right, but I don't bike in the snow, only on the less snowy streets. Totally safe...except when it's slick.


Fabric Treats

>> Saturday, February 13, 2010

I would say that the doorbell rang, but doorbell is a misnomer. It's really a buzzer that, no matter how many times I hear it, startles me. Thus the buzzer buzzed and knocking commenced. My friendly postal delivery person had a package in her hand, an express mail envelope for my roommate, for which someone (aka me, as the door-answerer) needed to sign. But there was something else, a small box, for me.

Upon opening the box, I discovered all sorts of unexpected fabric treats. Once I recognized the sender, I knew the box contained fabric, as it was part of a fabric swap run by Maranda.

Maranda was in fact my partner and went above and beyond the 2 FQs we agreed to exchange.

This awesome parcel included 4, that's right, 4 fat quarters. And all awesome fabrics at that.

Moreover, 2 of the fat quarters were rolled up inside hippos! You can see the lovely Arcadia fabric bundled up inside the blue hippo on the right (whose full body appears in the first photo above).

Maranda cleverly packaged everything with strips of fabric as cushioning. I need to remember this for future wrapping.

Once I took the FQs out of the hippos, I put the strips inside, and the hippos are now happily resting on my bookshelf.

Awesomeness all laid out together. What a delightful treat. Thank you, Maranda!


Parrots and Pigs

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

I used to be a disciplined quilter. I started a project, worked on it, and completed it. Then I started a new project. I am no longer that quilter. I have three projects in the works, at various stages, and yet started a fourth this week. 

Elizabeth of Oh, Fransson! posted a tutorial for a Crazy 9-Patch Lattice Quilt. It looks fun and I needed to get crackin' on some gender neutral baby quilts. Indeed, I already need one, and the design seemed like it would be fun with lots of primary color prints. I made the first set of 9 blocks over the course of two evenings (and a couple of accompanying crime shows). I thought I remembered all the directions perfectly, but I did not. So that set is a bit imperfect.

But I've got another set in the works and I think they'll play well together even if one is more perfect than the other. I might use the lattice layout Elizabeth shows but I'm also thinking about a few other options as well. Once I have all the blocks in hand, I'll lay them out on my design wall floor, and proceed according to what speaks to me, or what screams "put me together, put me together." 

Then again, I just received a big box of fabric I ordered and I'm kind of hankering for an orange quilt, an orange creamsicle quilt, if you will. So what gets started and what gets finished this weekend remains a question...

p.s. I'm still trying to figure out my new camera and how it works in different lighting, but hopefully my images will continue to improve.


A Bit Jealous

>> Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I'm a bit jealous

...of the snow days (most of) my family and friends on the East Coast are getting (though I do not need to shovel 3 feet of snow, so I can make do with 8-10" though a snow day would have been reallllllly nice).

...of all the wonderful quilt finishes popping up on blogs of people enjoying snow days.

...of so many of the awesome DQS8 quilts popping up on flickr. There are some sweet quilts moving around the globe. I've been a bit undecided about the one I'm making for my partner, but the time has come to make a decision and I think I am ready to cut and sew.

...of a quilt I recently finished which will soon be off to its new residence. I really like it. I should make myself one like it. When I have some time. It's pretty darn sweet. A little sneak peek (from the old crappy camera) above and some more pictures (from the new sweet camera) coming soon.


Double Trouble: A Community Book for Torie & Todd

A couple weeks ago, I showed you the crafty results of a baby shower. I didn't, however, show you what I brought with me to the shower.

Nope, not quilts. Those aren't made yet. But I did complete this community book in time to wrap it and see it unwrapped in person (always a pleasure!).

What is a community book, you might ask.

Community books are a little thing I came up with a few years ago for my friends, the new parents (though they could certainly be made for any reason). 

While all gifts for babies are, in a way, for the parents, these books are really for the parents. 

 They gather gift certificates and gifts of time -- meals, babysitting, laundry, DVD delivery, etc. 

Everyone who joins in contributes $10 (for the gift certificate) and 1 service (of the person's choosing).

Then I make cards for the services, get the gift certificates, and put it all together).

Making this one for Torie and Todd had its challenges -- both known and self-imposed. 


[This might be my favorite design; when the Starbucks gift card is removed, there are black lines from the flowers to the green grass, intended to evoke a window box.]


[This runs a close second and is extra special because the green leaves remained from a book I made for Torie and Todd's wedding...a bit of continuity, if you will.]

Back to the challenges....First, unlike my previous versions, I no longer live where Torie and Todd and most of the people contributing reside. 

I therefore enlisted the help of a friend to collect money and get the gift certificates (a technical solution, as she would say). 

Second, I challenged myself to stick to a color scheme -- green, blue, and yellow. 

I'm not always good at restricting myself to part of the color wheel. So I added silver too.


And a piece from an old Nikki McClure calendar.

 Third, I challenged myself to construct the book (pages through the binding) by myself. 

The gift certificate for a massage might be the best part of the book. 
In fact, I wouldn't mind one of those myself.


Though I like the monkeys too.

And all the awesome services wonderful friends donated, all decked out on cards like these, with the service and contact info on the other side.


A Wonderland Excursion

>> Friday, February 5, 2010

Last spring I bought a couple of charm packs. They sat in my fabric stash for a while, as I debated how to use them. I'd consider squares and triangles, think about possible layouts, and grow paralyzed by all of the ideas. Then, over the summer, Ashley posted her Baby Wonderland quilts and, last month, I decided to dig in to the charm pack stash.

As for the quilting, I decided to go with 1/4" off each seam. I like it. It's simple, but shows off the squares which really make the quilt. A little Odyssea (also by MoMo) snuck in -- see that green Penelope and blue Calypso in the upper middle? The shades coordinate well with Wonderland, which I greatly appreciate.

I also LOVE this backing. It's been in my stash for a year and I intended to use it for a quilt for my living room. But it called out to me, and it was time to break in. Luckily, there's still some left, and I'm thinking of ways to use it for me. I think it looks best in large chunks, and I want display the overall effect, not just a couple flowers.

I bound the quilt with a deep reddish-purple Kona solid. I think it works well with both the back and front fabrics, and the solid contains some of the wilder prints. This is part of the stash 'o baby quilts I'm building for my 8 million friends having kids now and this spring. And for the friends keeping track, this one will head off to the home of someone who doesn't frequent the blog, or at least I don't think frequents it :)



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