Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Pinned, and a Placemat...

Well, I didn't get as much sewing (or studio organizing) done as I'd hoped over the weekend.  Instead, I scraped and painted around our front door, since that's been on our "to-do" list since July and we had a lovely bit of warm, sunny weather that I wanted to take advantage of.  When he was done raking the leaves in the front yard, I had Bryan dig a trench for me to plant some bulbs in (that I bought last year and never got around to planting).  Unfortunately, I was so worn out from my painting duties that I didn't get them planted.  Now, it is really cold and the trench is filled with water from our rain/sleet/wintry mix.  Oops!  Indeed, my exhaustion led to a call for pizza from Three Brothers for dinner...a sign that I was really wiped out (though it did taste good)!

We spent much of Sunday making food for the week.  Cauliflower garlic saffron soup for lunch, which was disappointing perhaps because my cauliflower was too old and I didn't use homemade chicken stock or enough saffron - d'oh!  We made a huge pot of spaghetti sauce for weeknight meals and the freezer, and then for dinner had chicken breasts baked with cumin and adobo spices, topped with a chipotle, lime, peppadew, garlic compound butter with a side of sauteed mushrooms and roasted rosemary olive oil fingerling potatoes.  I even managed to make my Monday dinner at the same time with the extra bit of chicken thighs from the freezer (I had broken down and made stock from 2 organic chickens a couple of months ago and had frozen the extra meat) - so I used my mushroom pan to make a quick chicken with mushroom cream sauce, which, when served over the extra potatoes, was to die-for.

I did manage to get the new quilt pinned, and I've begun the quilting.

Anne handquilts all the quilts that she makes and gives (which always amazes me, considering how many she has made and given away to her cadre of pregnant friends!)  I decided this quilt was worthy of some hand-quilting (plus I couldn't decide how I wanted to quilt it by machine!), so I've gone ahead and marked flowers in the center of each of the squares.  I was planning to free-hand about a 1/4 inch from the edges in all of the white parts, but I'm thinking it is probably worth it to mark it, since this was my best effort at free-handing...not exactly perfect (though probably not bad enough to pull out - I'll see when it's all done whether it bothers me).  The white center squares are 2 inches, so I'm only doing a square that is about 1.5"/side - in theory that shouldn't take too long, plus I've been wanting to have something I can do downstairs so I can be busy while watching/listening to television by/with Bryan.  [We are totally hooked on Modern Family and trying to catch up - just finished watching the first season, and I can't remember when I've liked a tv show more, but that one isn't ideal for quilting, what with actually watching it and laughing!]  I'm contemplating running some straight lines through the sashing by machine, but I don't want to lose the basket-weave effect (and I think starting and stopping might be annoying), so I'm still debating it, plus it would be nice to give her a quilt that is completely hand-quilted.  I think it will be quilted enough with the white spaces (and the pink flowers) to be strong, but I expect this to be washed a lot, so that's the challenge/debate of leaving off all the machine-quilting.  I also must say, if I didn't love my friend as much as I do, I'd have a very hard time giving this one away - I'm so happy with how it is turning out!  The night-time pictures on my sewing table don't really do it justice!

Speaking of giving things away, I made a really cool t-shirt quilt for my aunts this summer that was delivered on the day of their civil union in Illinois.
Eventually I'll get a better picture of it from them - one where it is actually on the bed instead of me trying to hold it up in the living room - it's heavy!  (I'll also learn how to make photos flip to the correct orientation.)  Anyway, I bought a LOT of extra fabric for it, since I wanted to be sure to have enough and, as per usual, I was coming up with the design as I went along.  I made them 4 pillowcases, including a little flange with some of the extra piano keys that you can barely see on the side (bottom, in this picture) of the quilt.  (They also ran across the back - I used a jelly roll of batik purples that I'd been saving for a long time for a very special use, and this definitely qualified!) 

But I still had more fabric!  So, I made my "aunt-in-law", Linda, an improv-pieced/quilted ipad cover.  Linda completely rocks my world, and she sadly had recently gotten rid of a lot of her old t-shirts, so when I visited them and brought up the t-shirt quilt idea again, Casey lucked out, but Linda got left out.  So, I really wanted to have something that was just for her to make up for my poor communication about the idea.

This photo was before I quilted it.  I guess I didn't take any pictures of the finished work, which is ashame since the quilting on it was really cool.  I'll request that picture, too - I have a horrible tendency to give away presents before photographing them, but I'm trying to get better!  I may have made the cover marginally too small - it's probably a tight enough fit that it isn't being used, since I based it on the size without a protective cover (and wanted it to be snug, since it is also a carrying case the way I designed the handle/flap).  I have ideas for a better one at some point, perhaps one that Linda picks out the colors for, rather than trying to have it be a surprise (in this case, it was for her birthday and our visit in August).  I enjoyed making it - very freeing to just play with the fabric!

Well, I still have more fabric, but not too much more!

So...I decided I could finally use it all up with placemats (again, imagine the photo flipped 90 degrees!).  The DC Modern Quilt Guild met out at Capital Quilts, my normal LQS, and the place where I purchased all this excess yardage!  Susan, the co-owner and head quilting cheerleader, showed us her placemat method, which involves sewing the strips right onto the batting and backing so that it is quilted as you add each piece.  I used this flip and sew/quilt method of construction, but I decided that instead of doing the normal binding, I would just sew the back around to the front, at least on this one - the test model - which I decided to keep for me.  I eat lunch at my desk now rather than taking a lunch break, in an effort to be able to spend less time at the office and more time at home with my honey (and commuting almost 2 hours/day makes that even more essential).  In an effort to protect the wood on my desk, I decided a placemat is in order, and in the one day that I've used it, I've loved it (though it helps that purple is one of my favorite colors). 

I may have enough fabric to bind all 4 placemats that I've got cut out for my aunts (thanks to a fun demo of an Accu-quilt cutting machine), but I'll have to see.  In case I don't, I'm going to use some tricks I learned from the test one to make it possible to bring the back around to the front for the binding in a much neater fashion, since it would definitely miss the point to have to buy more fabric to finish them!  I also gave some thought to the idea of planned obsolescence.  With a quilt that is meant to be a family heirloom, you want it to last forever, and then a bias-cut binding is definitely the way to go.  But with placemats...well, tastes change, and I think it is nice to have them wear out eventually, since that is a great excuse to get/make some new ones (and if they were really loved, I could always rebind them).  So, for these, I'll either use a straight-grained binding if I have enough fabric left, or I'll just fold over the backs and not worry about it!  (I will, however, try to do a better job on the next ones with making a little tutorial with the tricks I've learned, since I doubt I'm the only one who overbuys fabric!)

Tonight, we're off to see the Muppet Movie.  I'm more than a little excited!

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