Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A few more chevrons!

I continue experimenting on my method, and meanwhile, I've completed 9 chevrons! Only 51 to go (yikes!)!

I stopped by the closest quilt guild tonight and was sad to find out that I'm too late to enter their quilt show in the spring. I'd thought the timing would be perfect to be able to show my Storm-at-sea before giving it to my friends, but alas! I'll just have to make an awesome quilt next year in time for the show! I'll try again in 2 weeks to see if it looks like a fun group. It doesn't seem as welcoming as the DC Modern Quilt Guild, but I'd thought it would be convenient and fun to meet some nearby quilters (plus I don't really know anyone in this area, and it would be nice to meet folks who may know nannies or babysitters for our future little one!). I'm a fan of having a regular date night with my sweetie, but that will be difficult without knowing someone we can leave our child with, but if someone has a recommendation from a quilter, well...high praise indeed!

I have lots to accomplish this aunt's birthday is next week, and I plan to actually have a nice present for her in time this year, so I need to mail the package by Monday. But...tonight, I played with chevrons!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A start (at last) on Chasing Chevrons

I finally took a couple hours tonight to make a couple of blocks for the Chasing Chevrons quilt-along, in which I am terribly behind but still very excited! I am glad I made a few to try out my method, as I'd picked out the wrong size of half-square triangle stencil. The stencils refer to the finished size, and I kept confusing myself about that, as I need 4" squares to see together to end up with a 7.5" unit. When I used the ones that said 4" finished HSTs, I ended up with 4.5" squares, which meant I did a little trimming. I'll try tomorrow with the 3.5" finished stencil, and I should be all set, though I may still make the larger ones for the strips I already cut, since it is nice to have room to trim them, so that they end up a perfect 7.5" square. That said, the stencils were surprisingly accurate, so I'm not too worried about them. I used a marking pen tonight, but I'm anxious to see if the pounce pad works, since that would make marking go even faster! I'll take some pictures of what I'm talking about later this week, since I'm pretty excited about this concept...making gridded HSTs using a stencil! I'm planning to time myself to see how long it takes to make this quilt at a leisurely pace...2 hours tonight for 2 of the 60 blocks, but I was puttering a bit.

Also, thanks for the birthday salutations! It was lovely! Bryan took me to a wonderful restaurant on my birthday for a romantic dinner for 2, and then Friday we celebrated with 3 great friends at the restaurant where we went last year for my birthday/our engagement, and our meal was exquisite! We spent the weekend cooking Cajun...crawfish bisque Saturday night and crawfish pie tonight! I made some chili this morning for a frozen food baby shower brunch today, but I was sad when I realized people had brought cute baby things, in addition to the frozen entree we were asked to bring. I could have made a cute blanket or burp cloths, and i was dying over the little outfits, but then again, I have enough projects on my list right now, so maybe it is good that I didn't realize I should have done more. Ah well! Not enough hours in the day, and I'm determined to get rolling on things for our future little one!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The big 3-5!

Well, today is my birthday, and I'm in pretty good company. I share the day with Dolly Parton and Paula Deen! Spunk and butter...that about sums me up (or at least I'd like to think so)!

My poor mom braved a blizzard in Birmingham, Alabama, to get to the hospital to give birth to me. No one knew how to drive or had snow tires, and a police officer had to get my mom to the hospital after a harrowing walk up a steep hill (both directions barefoot, I'm sure).  ;)  I was supposed to be a scheduled C-section because my brother had been an emergency C-section, but my mom got to go through labor (lucky girl!) for awhile because the anesthesiologist had gone home and couldn't get back to the hospital through the winter weather. (I can imagine her distress...definitely not part of the deal...labor pains and the joy of recovering from having your belly slashed open (though at least this time they could make the cut straight!))  My dad was at home sleeping...the excitement from my brother's birth 2 1/2 years before had been enough to last him a lifetime, apparently! The family lore is that my mom called to tell him he had a baby girl, he said "great" and promptly went back to sleep. (I was born just after 7 in the morning.). When he got up later, my grandmother asked if he'd heard anything from my mom when he nonchalantly gave her the news. Poor dad...every year we give him a hard time about it. Gotta love family traditions!

For many years, I was the most excited about turning 34. That was my varsity volleyball number is high school, and I always looked forward to it being one of the best years of my life.  Well, it was!  My boyfriend, Bryan, proposed to me on almost my birth minute last year, and I was very surprised, but excited! I said yes, of course, and one of these years (probably this one), we'll actually get married!  I sort of wish we'd gotten our license so that we could run to the courthouse today, since it's a Federal holiday on the anniversary of our first date and we'll be out of town on his birthday.  I guess we'll just have to have another special day to celebrate...awww darn!

The only sad part about looking forward to being a certain age for most of your life is that now my big year is over.  I'll never be 34 again.  As I told my mom yesterday, it's all downhill from here.  I was joking, but it felt like less of a joke when I got up for Pilates at 5:30 this morning...yikes!  Now I wish I'd taken the morning off work for a leisurely breakfast and sewing time, but I always wish that by Thursday morning, so...better to stick with routine!

At least my favorite year ended well...Bryan brought me these gorgeous flowers.  He brought me some right before Christmas, and the purple flowers were actually just finally starting to fade yesterday...well done, my good man.  But, these are just exquisite.  I have no idea what that purple one is, but it is so cool!  Maybe some sort of thistle?  The first flowers Bryan gave me were purple tulips...he'd actually listened through our many hours of conversation, and he paid attention(!) and knew that purple was/is my favorite color.  I don't know why things like that still shock me and please me so much, but they do!  I'm a very lucky birthday girl, indeed!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One thing, One Week Challenge

Last week, I saw Amy's One Thing, One Week Challenge, and I decided to join in the fun!  The idea was to pick one thing and accomplish it, and the reward (other than the wonderful sense of accomplishment of setting out to do something and actually doing it) is a bunch of charm packs of Flurry for one lucky winner.  Having just bought a tiny bit of yardage of a couple of prints from the line, I really, really, really hope I win! :)  (Yes, I broke my pledge to not buy new fabric for six months!  I knew I wouldn't be able to hold out...but still, I kept it more in control than I usually do, and since Bryan and I weren't officially exchanging Christmas presents, I decided that he really wanted me to buy myself some fabric.  Yeah...that's it!)

Anyway, even if I don't win the Flurry charm packs, I've already won because I've made great progress on my projects and felt more motivated than usual, so thanks Amy!

Here's what I said:

"Good challenge! I just finished the top of my storm-at-sea quilt, so assuming the fabric arrives in a timely fashion, I’d like to get the back made. I’m also going to try to make a good start on a duvet cover for my brother…I’m using Cynthia’s garden fence design again, and I hope to get the first ring of sashing cut and applied to 36 charm squares of Fandango! Finally, I hope to finish organizing and cleaning my sewing room this week. That is 3 things, so I guess I’ll be happy if 1 of them gets accomplished (though just writing it down is motivating me to make better use of my prized vacation day and get up and get to it!"

Yes, apparently I have trouble following directions (or I know myself well enough to know that I hate basting and cleaning, so I needed to give myself a chance at accomplishing a goal)!

Well, not only did I get the first round done on my brother's duvet, but last night I finished pressing all 36 of my completed blocks! Admittedly, I spent about 9 hours on Sunday and the better part of Monday working on it, in addition to a few hours on Saturday and many evenings last week.  I was slowed down slightly by the fact that I apparently have difficulty with simple addition.  I cut my pieces to 3.5" and 5.5" rather than 3.25" and 5.25", so I had to go back and trim my units before adding them.  D'oh!  (I did figure out that I could just trim one side of each unit and save the extra trimming for when the block was complete.)  Having added the second set of sides, I'm finding that they aren't adding up to a perfect 11" square...not sure how I managed to be off, but I started trimming them last night and decided to see how I felt this evening.  I decided that they were close enough, so I've just sewn the first row together.  I don't think it will be obvious when it is on the bed if it's not perfect...and it is better than their current duvet cover, which is apparently completely worn out!

I'm really looking forward to getting this duvet cover done - I'd told myself that I wasn't going to work on a project for someone else until I made myself a quilt...have I mentioned that I sleep under a blanket that was originally my brother's that I remember him having at least as far back as 2nd's at least 25 years old, if not older (but I love it)?  For a quilt, I still use my first "big" quilt - a flannel cheater print quilt that I did in a simple log cabin with piano key borders and a back that I designed myself.  I was so proud when I finished it, and I still do like it (and our cat loves it!), but gosh...that's been over a decade ago now and I've come a long way...and besides, I'm still cold many nights, so I need to get to work on my chasing chevrons quilt, which I've decided to make in the twin size rather than the sofa size so that I can use it on my side of our king-sized bed, given that I'm always freezing and Bryan is not!  Too many projects, not enough hours in the day!  Perhaps I'll start trying to set a reasonable goal for myself each week and then trying to accomplish it (or, as in this case, exceed it!).

This is a picture of my little "helper" on Sunday night.  She was annoyed that her dad was at book club/movie night and that her mom wouldn't sit down and provide a warm lap but instead just kept ironing, cutting, and sewing like an obsessed automaton.  So, she found the warmest spot she could...right where I had been sitting!  It was fine while I was ironing, trimming, and designing, but when I was ready to sew again, we had to talk.  Poor kitty!  At least she's now content to sit by me while I sew...she used to just meow at me until I gave in!

My challenge for the next week...tear myself away from the duvet cover to finish placemats for my aunt in time for her birthday on February 2nd.  They are all cut...just need to change my thread and get to it! task...let's see if I can get it accomplished!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My supermodel, Aileen, and a failed (but funny) attempt at a sleepsack!

Last Friday, I had taken the day off to go and visit Anne in the morning before having our ducts cleaned (yuck!), and I got to meet Aileen at last!  She slept through my first visit, but this time I got lots of smiles and good baby holding time!  She's such a dear, and Anne is a great mom...I knew she would be, but it is still strange to me...I'm older than Anne, and I feel like I should know all this stuff that she knows, but I don't!  Perhaps it comes from learning by experience or the fact that she has read lots about it?  That said, I'm glad to have a friend nearby to call when we get around to having a little one who is way smarter than me on mom-stuff!  I'll gladly follow in her footsteps!  ;)

Anyway, one of the fun things I worked on over the holidays with my mom's support and cheerleading/holding assistance was making a sleep sack/pajama (in addition to hand-quilting Aileen's second's sitting on the couch next to my mom in a "Where's Waldo?" cameo).

I have a bunch of old t-shirts that were misprinted/out-of-date, but they are 100% organic cotton knit from Patagonia. Mom had said she would take them to Goodwill years ago, but luckily for me, her "slacker-ness" worked out (am I really admitting/encouraging this hoarding behavior?  Yup - guess so...sorry, Dad!).  I had seen a pattern for a sleep sack using "upcycled" t-shirts when I was searching for a crochet pattern on the internet in the airport on my way to Georgia, and I thought it sounded like fun to try it out, but I mistakenly thought I could improve upon it instead of just following the directions as written!  I made one, and I'm so glad I waited to make 20 until after trying it on Aileen, because the pattern (as I modified it) didn't work that well (at least for Aileen).  I'd also never sewn knit before, so I didn't understand why some of the directions were what they were until seeing it on a baby (like not using the finished hems of the shirt to wrap around the openings - not enough stretch at all!).  In fact, I didn't think we were going to even be able to get it on Aileen, and at one point she looked unhappy about being my model, though luckily there were no tears - just lip trembling warnings of tears.  We did get it on her, though, and it was great to get feedback from Anne so that I can start over with some different ideas.  I also brought home a couple of Aileen's shirts - 1 that was too big and 1 that was too small - and one of Aileen's sleep sacks that fits right now and that Anne really likes the fit/features of to use to attempt to make my own patterns.  I've decided to try again from scratch to see if I can make an idea that I had for the bottom closure work with the rest of the garment.  If I can get it right, then I'd like to make a bunch in different sizes so that I have a stock of baby clothes before we even get pregnant, as every mom (especially every older mom like I'll be) has told me not to plan to do a lot after the baby is born, or even during the pregnancy.  Since we most likely will only have time/strength/money for one child, I want to enjoy the experience thoroughly and not be stressed out over having a naked baby, so making cute clothes in advance seems like a good idea, and if something doesn't work out, then my friends and/or local charities will benefit from my sewing frenzy!  Win-win!

Aileen - "I used to have a hand.  Where did it go?"
Me - "The force is strong with this one." Aileen - "Um...not funny, lady!"
"Oh, ok, I'll smile for you this time, if you promise to make me a better outfit next time or get me a part in the next Star Wars remake!"

In addition to my organic knit, I should have LOTS of extra knit from making t-shirt quilts for Bryan from the HUGE stockpile of concert t-shirts, in particular, that he has been saving for 20+ years!  I'm excited about making t-shirt quilts for him on many levels, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that one of the reasons is that it will be nice to get to reduce the volume of t-shirts being we need quilts, but we don't need multiple large plastic vats of too small or too big t-shirts!  We started sorting over the holidays, but it was a little overwhelming.  Hopefully we can get the first quilt designed and made, and that will make it a little easier going forward.

"Just a few t-shirts for quilts...including one from our favorite BBQ place in North Carolina!"

"Is there any room for me on the bed with all of these t-shirts?"

Question:  Has anyone ever used water soluble fusible interfacing, especially with knits?  I was thinking that it might be a great answer for t-shirt quilts, since I need the interfacing to help in construction, but it would be nice to not have the stiffness/weight in the final quilt.  If you've ever tried it or have thoughts about whether this is a good idea, I'd love your insight!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lots of sewing, little blogging!

Sorry to be so scarce, but I've been super productive on the sewing front! I finished the top of my storm-at-sea, and I just love it! Fabric arrived today for the back (though it is not the perfect blue that I had hoped for - drat!). Hopefully I can get some better pictures this's a rainy, dark day today, and I just snapped this one as I was heading to bed!

I took Monday off work and started a new project. I'm making a duvet cover for my brother out of Kate Spain's Fandango line. I had picked up a bit of yardage when it was on sale at Hancock's of Paducah, and then I managed to find 2 charm packs online to buy. I had been showing my brother some pictures of my recent quilts during our all-too-brief visit after Christmas, and he liked Hyacinth Design's garden fence pattern as much as I do, so I told him I'd make his duvet cover in that design. One problem - when I got home, I discovered that I didn't have a jelly roll in Fandango (I was confused by the fact that I'm planning to make myself the same quilt out of Terrain!). Luckily, my most local quilt shop (Tomorrow's Treasures in Crofton, Maryland) had 17 bolts from the line still in the store, and better still, they were willing to cut me 1/8 yard strips when I explained that I'd been in search of a jelly roll. They tear their fabric, which I don't love, but they tore it generously, so even after washing it, I had more than the 5" I needed for the design. With a 5" strip cut from the yardage I had, I had borders for all of my 36 blocks! I've already done the inner block and decided on my order and which strips contrast nicely with each charm square, and I've cut about half of what I need for the outer part of the design in just a few days! Pretty exciting! It's amazing how much more time I have to sew when we eat leftovers or pizza!

I've also prepped all my fabric for the Chasing Chevrons quilt-along (including a good bit of starching/Best Pressing), and I've now received the stencils I ordered from Connecting Threads that I will use to mark my gridded triangles for quick half-square triangle construction and picked up a pounce pad from Tomorrow's Treasures when I picked up the fabric to make said marking even easier.

I've got several other fun projects in the works, but my 2012 resolution was to post shorter notes (and more frequently - ha!). Like all my New Year's resolutions, we're off to a rocky start! Hope you are having a great week!