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...