Sunday, June 28, 2009

nice rac

OK, SoCal has to be influencing my title, at least a little bit. I thought I wasn't going to blog on vacation, but I have some nice downtime and immediately checked out Flickr, and look at what I saw:

I love both of these blocks. I'm also really pleased with my decision to let them be any size. I know that I've either come up a little short or wanted to make them bigger than what seems to be the standard 12.5" square. These two blocks were made by the lovely and talented Salt Marsh Designs.

On my first day out here, I went to the garment district and bought about 15 yards of fabric. I was overwhelmed in the best possible way, though there wasn't much cotton for quilting. I did buy some crazy Anna Maria-esque floral for some curtains. Pictures to follow!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

more AQB2 blocks

Look at this, two more blocks made just for me by Dancydoodle:I see some Full Moon Forest in there, and I like what I see! Very excited about getting these, too. Do you see the bit of ricrac in the second block, acting like a flower stem? So, so cute.
I have my 100th post coming up, which will probably be sometime next week. And what's a 100th post without a giveaway? More on that later.
I'll be gone for a week to southern California for my stepbrother's wedding. I'm making him a quilt, but of course, it's not finished in time. I think I might make a mini quilt/potholder with a sort of IOU on it. Just to prove that I'm not a total bum regarding that, here's a picture of the top in progress:
Naturally, I ran out of that brown and aqua stripe with one more row to go. Figures, doesn't it?
I will say that I found more of the green and white Swiss dot at JoAnn's, so I was able to finish Shorty's block. Phew.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sarah-- in progress

Well, the nine-patch top is finally finished. I ran into a kind of funny/very annoying problem. I used most of the nine-patches I just received from the Twiddletails swap, which was cool, but as Anina warned in an email, some are probably smaller than they should be. I'm not one of those super anal quilters, and really didn't think it'd be a big deal. I happily interspersed the swap blocks with my own, sashing away. Then I was attaching the strips together, and had a major problem-- things weren't off by a half inch or so, they were off by, like, 5". Too big to ignore. So, I decided to lay them out a little more organically:(It started to rain right as I took the picture)
Notice some of the crazy three-patches on the ends? It's one of those happy accidents, where I'm pretty thrilled with the way it came out, as non-linear as it is. I even added the pieced border, like the original picture. Two things I really dislike: long strips of sashing, and complicated borders. This had both, and I'm thinking it's worth it, every once in a while. This has over 150 different fabrics in the top. The only thing I had to buy specifically for this was the white (Kona Premium, my very favorite).
I'm thinking this will probably call for a scappy binding and backing, just to keep with the spirit of it. This will be going to live with my cousin Sarah in Michigan. She discovered my blog and was appropriately impressed, so we decided she needed a quilt of her own.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

meta butterfly

The fourth block to be added to my AQB2 quilt comes from Chen.  It's a butterfly made out of butterflies, hence the "meta" in my title.  She used her own ricrac as the butterfly's antenna:
I'm even more in love with these colours, now that I'm seeing them arranged in so many different combinations.  Not only do I like each individual block, but I'm also delighted in the variety of it all.  I sent everyone the same fabrics but they all come out so differently.  I think there are two different virtual quilting bee schools that have emerged: some participants have very clear instructions and want a specific style of block with only the fabric they've included, and then there's the other school that gives less guidance (or..... none, in my case).  I don't know what others prefer to make; sometimes I like to have a brainless block (see previous June blocks post) but sometimes inspiration strikes.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June blocks

For Shorty's block, she gave me everything pre-cut with a very simple diagram to follow: a nine-patch with two borders. How did I manage to do this? Hmmm. I'm hoping she sends more fabric, I'd be embarrassed to send it back missing a side. And here I was, thinking this was going to be the simplest of all quilting bee blocks to make. Silly me.

Then, I made a spiderweb block for Stephanie:(Apologies for the bright pictures. It's been raining, and the flash needed to be on)
The gingham is so cute. She sent a lot of different fabric choices, and I feel like I met a stash twin-- we have a lot of the same stuff. I'm also really curious what fabric she chose for the kites because it was wonderfully heavy, but looked like a linen. Love.

And, if those weren't enough, I got Kat's blocks in the mail the other day. They're even more gorgeous than the pictures!

One quick request: if any of you are in southern California, or are familiar enough with it, can anyone recommend a good quilt shop? I'll be in and around Huntington Beach.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


This is my finished product for the Old Red Barn Co. Quiltalong:The binding still needs to be attached to the back. It's a white Swiss dot on a celery background. Since it's going to a little girl, I decided to have some fun with the back:
There are a few puckers and that stripe of leftovers isn't quite straight-- but I'm going to let those things go. The back got a little skewed because I tried something new for the quilting: straight lines, about a quarter of an inch from each seam. I continued it across the vertical sections of the quilt, too, so the lines are only going horizontally. I used pale pink thread, which was a nice change as well. Here's a closeup of the quilting (click to enlarge):
Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. This was a really fast quilt and I appreciated not having to think too much. If I was going to do it again, I probably would've made it scrappier than just twelve different fabrics. This quilt, along with the Baby M, will be shipped to Nebraska. Luckily, Baby M isn't due until August, so I'm nicely ahead here.
Now, back to those blasted nine patches...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

bizzare bundle

There was a lovely rumor circulating among the crafty bloggers that JoAnn Fabrics had some Heather Ross hiding in their fat quarter bundles. Not wanting to miss that opportunity (as nobody in my fairly large city carried HR), I ran over there after work yesterday. Sure enough, I found this:This was the only HR fabric I saw at this particular JoAnn's, and yes, I looked through every single bundle. The one sad thing about buying these at JoAnn's is that all of the selvedges are cut, and Heather Ross has some of the cutest selvedges around. The first three, obviously, are the wonderful Lightning Bugs fabrics. They were hidden behind the black and pint polka dots and the ugliest FQ I've ever bought (which happened to be the front one displayed). Look at this one up close:
I'm not even going to give it the dignity of being ironed-- those are glittery smiling dogs on a neon green background. Yikes. It's even uglier compared to the gorgeous HR fabric. Now I kind of want to do an ugly FQ show of my collection-- ones I've recieved from swaps, or unfortunate impulse purchases.

Friday, June 12, 2009

flowers and butterflies

Really, if's hard not to feel loved when total strangers make you darling blocks like these.  Kat made me two blocks: 
AQB2 June Block 2 for Rachael by Ripping Out Seams.
I'm so excited to have some of that faux bois in my quilt top.  I think I need to buy a bolt of it.  Here's the other one she generously made me: 
AQB2 June Block 1 for Rachael by Ripping Out Seams.
I love them both!  And I got Mary's gorgeous block in the mail yesterday-- after seeing it in person, I can see she made that middle butterfly "float" by giving it a tiny ricrac border.  That was really clever.  Thanks, ladies!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

three is our magic number

I don't post much about my non-sewing life on here, but yesterday was my third anniversary.  My husband and I are silly and love to do the traditional gifts, and the third year is a funny one: leather.  I got him a new belt and wallet, both things he wanted/needed.  He thought about getting a big leather purse for me, but-- and this is where crafting comes in to play-- knows that I like to carry bags I make myself.  That, and everything that he liked was crazy expensive.
(Mine's the second one from the right)  
Now, I know that a sterling silver key necklace might not look like it followed the traditional bent, but it does: Tiffany's wraps all of their baubles in a little suede pocket.  Two of the many reasons why I love my husband: he's incredibly clever and has gorgeous taste.  And a reason I love my anniversary, aside from the fact that it celebrates my marriage, is that it's six months away from my birthday (which is always lumped with Chanukkah/Xmas/New Years celebrations).  Celebrating and gift giving in June is really refreshing.
Fourth anniversary is traditionally fruit or flowers.  See more traditional and modern anniversary gifts by the year here.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

skirt mishap

Remember this dress?  And how I was going to make a matching blue and white one for myself?  Well, after having about half of it cut, and my annoyance with the book that inspired it, I decided to go rogue and make myself a very simple skirt instead.  It's just like the red and white, only in blue.  It's a full circle cut on the bias, with it stitched up one side.  I made a casing and threaded through some elastic.  It took me about 10 minutes to make, and I really do want to make a ton of them.  I've decided an elastic waist isn't all that evil, so long as I'm feeling thin and use a really narrow elastic, like 1/2 inch.  The drape of this fabric is so wonderful, and I decided to keep the hem raw.  I really want to embroider/applique a clipper ship on it for some reason (if I can find a good free design).  I wore it to work yesterday with a navy cable-knit sweater, and I was happy and felt pretty.  

Except when I was walking from the parking garage to work, and realized that I wore a flimsy, unlined circle skirt on a very windy day.  Big City Downtown, I apologize for anything you may have seen.

Aspen Wildwood Fat Quarter Bundle Erin McMorris for Free Spirit Fabrics   

I started another quilt, too, as a wedding gift for my stepbrother using some of this and some of that from these two collections.  I know it's an unusual combination-- but the green and pale aqua are just about identical.  Pictures to follow soon. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

the excitement begins

Look what Mary made, just for me:
I think the only fabric she added are the outer lime green polka dots. I love the movement, and after my last block full of triangles, I'm very appreciative of them. I'm unsure how she got that little butterfly to float in the center; I can't wait for it to arrive back at the Sweat Shop. I'm crazy excited to see what everyone else is going to make for me! Mary, thanks so much!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Maggie (in progress)

I was so excited after I cut my strips for my most recent quiltalong, I decided to go ahead and sew the top together. Here's the top, from two different angles.It's going to be about a twin size, I think, which will be perfect for the little girl it's going to. As you can see, my lovely assistant Cassidy approves. My blocks are 12.5" square, and it is 5 blocks across by 7 blocks down. I have a couple of stray ones for the back. How should I quilt it? I'm kind of thinking straight lines, but I'm unsure how many or where. This was such a fast top to put together, which was a nice break for me!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PTQB-- June

This block is for Michelle. Here's something different for my quiltalongs: a specifically-asked for traditional block. I went to my 2009 Quilting Block-A-Day calendar and found this pattern (twirling pinwheels, I believe). Originally I wanted the off-white in the location where the light blue fabric is, but part of the fun of a quilting bee is working with what's sent. I'm really happy with this-- I took my time to make sure my points match.I hope she likes it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

sewing machine shop talk

The ladies at Sew Mama Sew have started a sewing machine meme.  I don't talk much about my sewing machine, but I guess it is kind of unusual.

What brand and model do you have?

I have a workhorse-- a Singer 201 from the 1940s.   It only does a straight stitch, but it will sew through a zillion layers without complaint.  It's also practically silent.  I adore it.
How long have you had it?

I've had it for about a year and a half now.  Previously, I was sewing on a terrible Brother machine that my husband bought me for a birthday.  It was refurbished and never filled a bobbin completely (among other problems).  It would've been sufficient if I was only using it occasionally.  Neither one of us thought sewing would become so important to me!

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

This was a lucky Craigslist find-- I got it for $40 in a cabinet, with a bench seat. 

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

All of the above.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I sew daily, and I think the machine likes that it gets a good workout.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

The machine doesn't have a name, but maybe it should.  I love it-- especially for the cost.  I also like that it has a long history, and will probably be mine forever.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

It has an absolutely giant space under the throat.  I can put a king size quilt to the right of the needle with little problem.  I also love the knee lift.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

I wish I could zigzag.  Also, the feed dogs are able to be lowered, but I think mine are stuck (no matter, I just cover them instead).

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

$40 on Craigslist makes it my find of the year.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Yes.  It's all metal, not fussy, and beautiful to look at, too. 

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

Just because it's new doesn't mean it's better.  I'm happy without decorative stitches because it does one thing, really really well.

Do you have a dream machine?

A longarm-- when I win the lottery and have a huge quilting space!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby M

I definitely took my time starting and stopping with this one, but here it is:
I've sewn the binding on one side already. I also decided to try a new-to-me technique for the binding. Typically, I do the French-fold binding, but decided to shake things up and try flat binding. I think I like the flat binding better, because I usually get annoyed at my iron when I try to get each side to line up with the center fold. I'll see how it looks after I wash it, but so far so good. This is the easiest explanation I've found regarding French vs. flat binding. Thoughts?

Anyway, this is inspired by Fanciful Flowers in Material Obsession. I made it smaller, and since I ran out of the brown fabric for the corner pieces (click to enlarge), I didn't continue those little squares into the border. This was my first time with raw-edge applique, and there are some missteps, but I'm overall pretty happy with this. I stippled it. I feel like I never get to play with pink, so this was fun. All of the fabric came from my stash, too. The center of each non-applique block is from Farmer's Market, and there's a little bit of everything in there. I'd like to maybe make a quilt entirely out of the pieced blocks. The blocks are huge (about 18" square).

Here's the back:The pale pink has a white polka dot, and the fun flowered fabric was a Hobby Lobby bargain.

Baby M hasn't yet been born, so I'm going to hold onto it until she is (to confirm it's really a girl). Baby M is the second child of a good college friend of mine, who I don't get to see very often. I wasn't quilting when her oldest was born, so I think I might have to make one for her, too.
Someday, when I have babies, I hope to have a daughter if for no other reason than to sew for her. I don't know many crafters who prefer to sew for boys.

IKEA giveaway winner

Wendy from Smalltown, NC is the winner of my IKEA bounty. Congratulations, Wendy! Thanks to you all for playing along with me.