Heart to Heart

>> Saturday, December 31, 2011

I think I completed my last sewing for 2011 this morning. Although a few hours remain in the year, I've only got about 3 hours until friends come over for a New Years gathering, and somehow I don't think they'll be pleased if the entertainment is watch me sew. Call me crazy, but I put away the machine, cleaned up my sewing messes, and made a pinata. And baked and prepped some food.

But back to the pictures....for our December do Good Stitches quilt, Kelli asked us to make heart blocks. She gave us ample freedom, simply requesting heart-focused blocks made from reds, pinks, and whites and one more color. Technically she said use our favorite color, but I chose colors that I thought worked best with the fabrics and blocks.

Inspired by Sandi's list of paper-pieced hearts, I made the block on the right first. Hers were 6-inch templates, while I wanted a slightly larger heart, so I drafted my own based on her diagrams. I cut a standard piece of printer paper into an 8.5" square and then folded it every which way to have lots of angles to work with. Then I drew in the lines, stared at the template for a while, and finally labeled the piecing order. It's the first time I moved beyond a ready-made template for paper-piecing, and it provided some good mental exercise. The bias edges on some of the corners make it lay a little less flat than I would like, but I think it will be fine.

After paper-piecing, I wanted something simple. And I haven't made a square-in-square block in ages, so square-in-square it was. I transferred my elementary-school construction paper heart-cutting experiences to fabric, and made myself a swirly purple heart which I appliqued onto my pretty block. I'm slowly starting to see the fun in applique.

So there you have it, the last blocks of 2011. Except that I actually have three quilts to show you: two are making their way to their new owners and one needs to get photographed well. Obviously I can't do any sort of "year in quilts summary" without these ones included. Or maybe I can. To be determined. In 2012.


A Starry Night

>> Monday, December 26, 2011

I find Christmas a delightful time to quilt. I'm usually home alone (albeit often with a loaner dog), the neighbors' lights are twinkling, the street is quiet, and I spread out the fabric and get to work (or play). This weekend was no different, and I finished the interlocking stars quilt I recently started. It's not quite what I imagined since I ran out of the royal blue background fabric. I tried a few options, including sewing together all sorts of tiny cut-off triangles to "make" more fabric. But in the end, I decided that a rearranged layout offered the best solution, more seam-ripping notwithstanding. I'll show the full quilt once I've washed it and given it to its new owner.

I also started a whole new project. It's very new for me: templates, curved piecing, applique. And, as much as I actually like winter, it's a very summery fabric palette. Which is fun and bright and makes me smile. Which is a good thing because standing at the ironing board and attempting to iron curves does not make me smile. Ever. There was no smiling while ironing last night. Except possibly when I was watching Bones and laughing at some delightfully ridiculous scenes. The key to tedious chores is definitely internet TV.


A Different Tack

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I distinctly remember receiving this royal blue solid in the mail. I bought it from JCaroline Creative when during her final fabric sale. I bought it because it was a great price and blue and solid, all of which made me think I would find a way to use it well. It only took several years for me to identify how I needed to use it. And suddenly, I needed to use it. To drop all other projects and start one anew. To create a few interlocking stars -- or as many as I could with 1 yard of fabric.

These interlocking stars seem to be trending but, to be honest, when I first started seeing them I found them overwhelming. Not because they were hard to make (they aren't) but because I found full quilts of them visually overstimulating, too much for my eyes to take in. But then I saw this image of Elizabeth's quilt in progress and I realized -- in the most obvious sort of way -- that negative space was the answer. I could make a few stars into a whole quilt, or rather, I am making a few stars into a whole quilt. There's a minor issue of needing just a touch more solid blue than I have, but I'm working on a creative solution to that dilemma.


Yes, Virginia, She Can Sew

>> Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's taken awhile, but I finally used my sewing machine and started putting together the October do Good Stitches bee quilt. I played with a lot of ideas about how to use all the blocks (mostly in my head). I knew I didn't want to just sew all the blocks together as I thought it would be too busy.

I contemplated uneven rows or rows unevenly spaced, but ultimately decided to make 5 big blocks of 4 stars each. I'm going to sash each of the big blocks and hopefully create some floating big blocks. I may get a little improvisational as I sash. Since I now have 5 big blocks, I'm going to use 4 on the front and 1 on the back.

Having now seen all the awesome blocks that my group sent me, I have to confess that I love the solids (none of which I made) the most. Maybe I'm just in a solids-place, loving solids anyways. But there's something about the crispness of the blocks that really appeals to me. Don't get me wrong, I still like the others; I'm just lauding simplicity at the moment.

After I had sewn the blocks together and was arranging them to take pictures, I realized that this block looks pretty damn cool when set on point. I briefly considered ripping out the blocks and remaking the quilt on point with white blocks in between each star block. But then I recognized the insanity and opted to file that layout away for another time.


This is a Map

>> Monday, December 12, 2011

Image from here

I may have previously mentioned a love for maps. I can look at maps pretty much forever, and I love teaching maps. "What counts as a map?" generally elicits a wide range of great responses. Maps are fascinating in part because cartographic representations can take so many forms. Moreover, until the recent explosion of artsy maps (which started to gain prominence, I think, with Ork posters), it was relatively easy to forget about cartographers as thinkers and artists. I just saw the maps by These Are Things on design*sponge, and I find them quite compelling as art.* I'm still on the lookout for a Detroit map like this, but in the meantime, I'm happy with DC.

The past week has been a whirlwind of settling back in, feverishly working on a fellowship application, and making treats for holiday parties (and attending said parties). One of the things I noticed in New Zealand was the presence of savory muffins and scones. I started playing with a recipe this weekend and, when I've worked it out, I'll share it here. The party feedback was positive -- now I just need to recapture what I actually did!

Having now submitted the fellowship application due in five minutes, I will reward myself with some sewing tonight. Which means this blog may return to its crafty origins soon.Hopefully. Maybe.

*Dear Mom. This print would look marvelous in my living room. Just letting you know. love, your daughter.


Tangerine Tango

>> Thursday, December 8, 2011

I appreciate a good orange. I especially appreciate a good orange when I'm trying to get up in the morning, and NPR's Morning Edition is not necessarily full of cheery news (Michigan politics were particularly unpleasant this morning, I'll leave it at that). But NPR also told me that Pantone announced that "Tangerine Tango" is the 2012 color of the year, and I'm liking it. I might opt for a couple shades darker as ideal, but this is pretty darn close to my favorite orange (Betty's Orange, in Moda Bella Solids terms).


And Back...

>> Monday, December 5, 2011

Two Sundays can be kind of cool : one to play (and happen upon a crafts fair and the very adorable Devonport town Christmas parade) and one to travel (lots of hours in planes and airports). The benefits of the international date line....and now it's Monday, and I'm trying to get life back in order.

Which will take awhile! I'm mostly caught up on email (which I checked sporadically while away), and now have plenty of work and regular life stuff (bills, groceries, etc) to keep me busy. And I will slowly whittle away at the 1000+ posts in my Google Reader. This was the first time I was detached from my laptop and regular internet access for 2.5 weeks, and the rest provided a well-needed break from technology, a chance for my brain and body to reset. But I'm also excited to see what people have been up to, making, and talking about while I was gone.


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