Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's that time again... the time where I forget that days are marching past me with alarming speed (I swear Asheville is a time hole, things go faster here than anywhere else I've lived) and I have a day off in which to fritter away a few more minutes and add some photos here.

A while back I created this Lone Star... it's hanging in the shop right now (as some of you know), and I still intend to create an actual pattern for it. The whole thing, cutting and all, came together over the course of 3 or 4 evenings, much faster than I expected. I have a Lone Star ruler that I bought maybe 10 years ago, not long after I started quilting, with dreams of making a big beautiful star of my own. And then I chickened out. For, well, about 10 years.

In truth it was pretty straight forward to assemble... I had read some warnings in the past about stretching on the bias and ending up with a "bra cup" effect in the center of the star. Yeah, it happened-- but not in a really awful way, and I think it'll quilt out when I get to that point. Ha ha. I'm planning to make this bigger once it comes home, so that we can use it on the bed. Right now it's about 60" square, so I'm thinking smaller versions of the star in 3/4 sections around the corners, with simple filler to connect them.

Doesn't make sense? I'll try to remember to post what I designed in EQ, once I figure out how to export the image.

Moving on...
In the endless parade of Gwen's Friends Having Babies, I came across this awesome tutorial for a diaper bag at the blog A Mingled Yarn. Her directions are easy to follow, measurements came out just right (any problem spots I had were due entirely to my inability to just leave well enough alone, at least the first time out) and it's a good size. I think. Rob called it the MomJeans of purses, but then, that's kind of the idea.

There are a few things I'll likely change in a more definitive way on the next go-round, as this one was more a test/sample than anything else; the batik I had on had from who knows when, and the lining was some super-cheapy stuff I picked up a while back. She recommends using vinyl or vinylized fabric for the interior, which I will look for on the next one. I had to double up on the interfacing in most spots just to give it some body, and the vinyl will probably help that. I'd like to also make the strap an adustable length, but I'm having trouble finding the hardware I had in mind, so we'll see.

Under the flap...

So the hunt for a diaper bag pattern was brought on by my best friend's upcoming bundle of love; not only do I think she needs something more interesting and snazzy than the stuff readily available all over, I also think her man should have a bag of his own to carry. And what could make it better than something simple, messenger-bag-like, and featuring logo(s) from favorite teams? Yeah.

Inside the bag...
At first I had a fit of insanity and considered making an applique version of the Blackhawks logo. Then I regained my sanity and realized that even if I can't find a patch already made, I'm resourceful enough to find a solution that won't make me regret ever coming up with the idea.

Now I just need to find a fabric that will hold up to the kind of abuse guys tend to give bags.

While that project stews-- she's not due for several more months yet-- I've been busy with other platefuls of fabric.

Working on one the first quilts I'm quilting for someone else (that is to say, not my quilt). It's coming along quite nicely and I'm really pretty happy. This is also the first time I'm using a piece of the wideback fabric from the store, rather than a pieced back, and it is WAY easier. I don't have to worry so much about trying to square things up; just run the selvedge edges on the bars and I'm good to go.

The batting this time is the Dream Green from Quilter's Dream, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. So far it's feeling really good! Nice to stitch through. I'm really curious to see how it looks after washing, since the fabrics in this quilt weren't prewashed, and I can't imagine much if any shrinkage from recycled plastic bottles.

To keep my brain occupied while I'm running the machine, I've been listening to movies. (I've already gone through all seven Harry Potter audiobooks, and can't bring myself to start them over again. Yet.) I have a few that we've captured the audio from ourselves-- Rob has a way with these things-- but lately I've been going through this site, since my own movie collection is pretty small.

Listening to just the audio is kind of nice-- it doesn't work well with every movie, since you have to have either decent dialouge, good soundtracks, or some great foley & special effects work (scenes of dramatic tension translate about as well as visual gags on radio shows) but on the whole it gives your mind something to follow without the temptation to stop what you're doing just to watch.

Last but not least...
I'm a new Ciocia once again, as my older brother and his wife added to their family last week. Yay!
And while a baby quilt is in the plans, this new neice's older sisters are going to need a little love too. And as we weren't a part of their world when they first entered it, there's a certain lack of quilt happening that just can't continue. The trick is making something for 13-year-olds that is fun now, but won't look childish in a few years when they're awesome high schoolers.

Whew. That's a scary thought.
So I've come up with my own design, and have been cutting pieces from my stash (they'll be scrappy, I haven't done a good scrappy quilt in a while) while we watch movies and things. The photo has my sample blocks for the two quilts (one in darker tones, one in lighter tones). I'm trying to also get the scrap bins under control, so this is a good way to use up pieces. From what's left after the pieces for the current quilts are cut, I've been cutting assorted squares, in half-inch steps, just to have on hand and cut down the clutter. Keeping the range between 2" and 6" right now, and any odd bits after that are getting tossed. It's harder than I thought it would be to just LET IT GO and put those weird-shaped too-tiny bits in the trash, but it's gotta happen some time.

That's all for now... I should be sewing instead.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Well, here it is March already...
I've stacked up a big pile (electronically speaking) of photos that I've been meaning to put on here, and just hadn't been feeling up to writing. You would think I'd know better by now. *You* don't need words! Just pictures are fine!

I spent much of January thinking about a post concerning resolutions, which I don't believe in. Everybody knows the truth behind those harbingers of failure... resolutions are just a route to making ourselves feel grumpy about the way we *wish* our lives were going.

So I don't do resolutions.
I do goals.
And if it takes the whole year to achieve that goal, well, it's one less month than it might have taken otherwise. Sound a little cheesy? Yeah, it is. Backfires? Yeah, sometimes. And sometimes my interest in said goal is totally different at the end of the year. As in, no longer a goal. But that's okay too.

One goal for this year is to get friendly with my bread machine... my very first attempt was so dense and dry that I could hardly break it apart to give to the birds. But I'm ready to jump into it again, and early success is always encouraging. These were from a first attempt at the cinnamon roll dough recipe... I meant to try to set it so the dough would start mixing before I woke up, and I'd be able to roll them and bake them after taking the dog out, but the machine started anyway. So I made cinnamon rolls at 1 a.m.
And another goal, a two-parter: get my sweetie to finish the cabinet that will be crowned with this gorgeous lid...
and set it up with stitchy goods. It was meant to go in the room with Annabel Lee, but I think it might have to stay upstairs because I love the tile too much for it to sit where visitors aren't likely to see it. (The tile came from the Grovewood Gallery, the top is quartersawn oak with darker inset, I think it's walnut).

And an old (cough) friend! This damn thing refuses to speak to me and give an indication of what it might want in order to bloom the way it ought to, but I've about had it and will start forcing it to eat its peas any moment. I keep tweaking it and waiting for a response... I think it's destined for some background stitching next. If nothing else, that will make it easier to add additional branch-and-leaf layers.
In the meantime, I've launched into another piece. Trying a different shape, proportionally, with specific imagery and subject matter in mind. We'll see how that works out. There's a fair bit left to be added, but since I sat on the floor with some fabric glue and tacked everything into place last night while chatting with my fantastically awesome sister, I thought I'd share a snapshot with you. This one was started rather seat-of-the-pants, so I didn't get any fusible onto the back of the fabric before I started chopping it up (hence the fabric glue). While I much prefer the pre-fused approach for ease, the glue does a passable job holding all the pieces together until I have a chance to add some thread.

And just to prove that I'm still doing some plain ol' patchwork...
A rather hasty shot of the quilt I made for my aunt as a Christmas gift. I knew going into it that I was taking a risk... Mom doesn't have her own quilt from me yet, so sending one to her sister first could cause a ruckus. Plus, deciding 3 weeks or so before postal deadlines that a lap quilt might be fun is a bit nutty. But it came out okay, and I had it finished and all the ends snipped in time to get it mailed out to the west coast.
The pattern is from an issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting from several years ago... 2004 or 2005 I think, and probably a holiday issue. The pattern is called Pumpkin Patch; I made one while we were still in Virginia, the first one I dyed fabric specifically for. I think I might have added extra rows onto this version to make it more cuddle-friendly for two-- another idea I've been playing with lately. Always seems like we end up fighting over the quilt to try to make it cover both of us all the way to the toes, so I'm thinking I need to make it more long-rectangle shape.
And I'll leave you with the scary thought of what can happen if you give me a bag of marshmallows when I have nothing else to occupy me...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time flies, again...

It's been a rough few weeks over here. Trips to the animal emergency room (mysteriously all better now), trips to see family out of state, dealing with loss and grief-- and through it all, my first choice for processing everything, aside from talking things over with my dearest, is working with fabric.

I've been sketching a bit, though for me sketching to start work on new pieces can be tricky... so much of how I think and visualize is, well, less than concrete. The images are more like the blendy backgrounds and bases of scenic art than the defined lines of cut fabric, and it can be difficult to translate back and forth between them. I still wonder how different it would be to work on a backdrop now, with my glasses, able to see lines and shapes in much finer detail than I could a few years ago... someday I hope to find out. I really miss painting and the trance-like state my mind shifted to when I could sink into a project.
I guess learning to play with art-journaling ought to be a goal, teaching myself to use watercolors or at least colored pencils while I'm sketching, but that seems too... complex? If I'm going to haul out a bunch of supplies, I'd rather be doing something more than sketching. On the other hand, it might prompt me to do more work.

I've been leaning towards a one-to-one target for the studio anyway. One for me, one for X. For every shop sample or baby quilt or family gift, I can turn my attention back to artwork. For every finished art piece, I need to cross another "regular item" off the list. Considering the insane number of people I know having babies right now, this could be extremely productive.

The first quilt is off the frame and at it's new home-- forgot to get a picture once everything had been nicely clipped and tidied, but that can come later. And it's potentially a new record for me, getting the binding onto the quilt less than 24 hours after finishing the quilting. The next sample is on the frame and is currently a bit over half done, big meandered feathers this time. I'll get some photos posted once I remember where I put the camera.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Playing with some new ideas

...and trying to figure out what works. A while back I'd picked up some canvases from AC Moore (craft supplies... think Michael's, or Hobby Lobby) with half-formed thoughts of mounting pieces on them. {Still in sketch phase... I should know better than to try to take a bite out of fruit mentally, so that'll need some reworking. Or maybe un-fusing, if I can manage it.}
Instead of mounting the pieces on them directly, though, I threw a little paint on some and have been chopping up fused fabrics again. I'm torn about whether I like the feel of "composing" on the canvas, which means I'll either have to forego any stitching or do it by hand **shudder**, or if I want to set it onto some sort of loose background (as these pears are) which can still go under the machine.... to be attached in some fashion later.

Maybe with glue.
Maybe thread.
But that would involve more hand stitching.
Don't get me wrong... handwork is lovely. I'm just impatient. And indecisive. Using the machine forces me to make choices quickly, and that's a good thing for me.

On this one, I used thinned Sobo glue and stuck those suckers straight to canvas... and now am playing with arranging the pieces of branch. I've seen people put fabric & painted canvas together and seal the whole thing, with laquer or shellac maybe... but I'm not sure I want to go that route. Seeing the individual threads might get lost then.

one layout for branches...

and another layout...

And then there's this guy, back to (nearly) the front again-- originally painted the piece of background fabric before the wedding, in a misguided but well-intentioned thought that I might be able to get the whole thing assembled and bring it to Chicago for the parents. Not that it would have fit in the car with everything else we had crammed in there.

Still in progress.... there's more detailed shots of how all the little pieces fit together if you go back several posts to the bit where I was working on the big willow last year.

But first! Need to finish off a few somewhat more utilitarian things to be sent off to their new homes...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Moving on from practice...

So I like testing things out first... and though you can drive endlessly around the parking lot, practicing stops and starts and doing donuts, eventually you need to move onto the street, where there are lines to follow and cross traffic.
So to speak.

I selected a few blocks from my EQ Block Book-- mostly just classic/simple stuff-- and a sharpie, and drew them out on my scrap muslin.

It gave me something to work with, both to practice "coloring within the lines" and to see how changing a stitch design within a block can make it look.... different. Or more interesting.
And when I finally got over my fear of winding an actual project on for the first time, it went pretty smoothly. Took forever, yes, but mostly because I was worried I'd get it all pinned onto the leaders and wound up, only to discover I'd put it on upside down.

So here it is, the first one:
With the cloth leaders visible at the top edge, there. I debated about getting these. For about 2 seconds. And while I'd been thinking it would mostly be helpful for being less stretchy-- they're made of material that's closer to the weight of cotton duck, rather than muslin-- having those marks helps you make sure you're not stretching or squishing the top when getting it pinned on. My sister's friend has zipper leaders for her machines, and the thought of sewing zippers onto these has already crossed my mind. We'll see how the first few go.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New camera should be here at the end of the week! I hadn't realized how much I enjoy getting a few snapshots of things... whatever did we do before digital cameras allowed us to take a million shots of something, looking for that one right photo?

Tonight is Stitch 'n Pitch, when we'll be headed to the Asheville Tourists (minor league baseball) game. The idea is that you bring some stitchy handwork to do during the game-- knit, crochet, work on that binding... but it's also 60% chance of thunderstorms, and with the way it's been raining lately, I'm fully expecting to get soaked.

So what to bring?
I've considered taking a small piece that needs binding (and has needed it since about 2005) but it's sort of become the joke, now, and I don't know that I can bear to break the un-bound streak. Plus I keep thinking I'll put it into a bigger project.
Whatever it is, a ziploc bag will have to be involved...

Monday, May 31, 2010

A fully operational Death Star...

So it's home, and set up, only a few minor scrapes and bruises...

For the immediate future, I'll just be driving it around on this sample piece, getting a handle on shapes and playing with different thread types. And contemplating how I want everything else set up in the room-- the frame takes up about 1/3 of the room, and the desk/countertop space another 1/3, so storage for things like batting and supplies will have to be very...efficient.

Looking forward to jumping onto some of the tops that have stacked up, and to trying out some fun stuff.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wha happened???

Okay, so I lost the month of May.

And the rest of the year.

What happened? Well, I was in preparations for my wedding, and didn't want to yak about that on the blog... and then it sort of petered out. In the same way that ceasing creative activity of any sort makes it a little harder to get moving again, I kept thinking I'd wait until I had something really interesting to say.

So here's what's interesting: very very soon, hopefully at the end of this week, I'll be bringing home the new machine-baby. No photos yet, as our camera died in the middle of my brother's wedding, and the computer with all the useful programs on it died shortly after our return from said wedding, but I'll get there. HUZZAH! NEW MACHINE!
This officially brings the collection to 5, though one will probably never work and one I have no intention of running, since it's just pretty.
Bear with me as I get rolling again....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I think I lost the month of May....

I 'd like to go back and look for it, but like a little scrap of paper on a windy day, it's long gone.

I'm back after an unintentionally long break from updating the blog. A scramble with projects, trips out of town, and starting a new job have all rearranged my schedule. I've picked up hours in a local quilt shop, great for my peace of mind and maybe not so great for my hoarding tendencies. Yes, it's hard to look at the fabrics all day long and not want to take them home; on the other hand, someone is always bringing up a bolt you'd swear you never saw before... it's great for inspiration. Look for some new goodies in the shop in the coming months.

I'm finally making it back around to my own work, both with assorted reuseable goods (several items in the prototype phase as I figure out how to best piece them together) and with the artwork. The studio is very nearly littered with work that was started back in April and had to be set aside, so it's time to get the creative flow moving again. I've been thinking a lot about the words that move me to create, and I'm having to study my trees in a whole other way now that they're full of lovely greenery-- it presents a different kind of challenge for me. Bare branches are much more visually striking for me, more likely to get my pen scribbling away.

I'm planning to get some photos of the sample I'm working on for the shop in the next few days. It feels like such a long time since I did regular ol' patchwork piecing and I'm finding it very soothing. Even firing up EQ6 again as I keep coming across fabrics I'd love to use for.....


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

some overdue thanks

A roll of thank-yous!

To Katie at scrumdidlyump for her notes on my shop in the Howard Street Handmade blog. It's exciting to see someone else's view on your work. Howard Street is good fun to participate in, and I'm glad it's going well!

To fellow Etsyian mysticwynd for including my mossy tree in her lovely Arbor Day treasury.

Check out her shop for pretty pretty jewelry pieces, with some gorgeous glass and floral details.

And to KBShimmer for including one of my wraps in her sweet treasury for picnic time! Perfect for the warmer weather and sunny days.

Check out her shop for handmade soaps & bath bombs. I'll admit I'm intrigued by "Chocolate Beer cold process soap" and there's some Mint scrubs that make me want to actually clean the dog hair out of the bathtub so I can relax for a soak myself.

Many thanks, ladies!