Monday, February 28, 2011

The Mini Mini

So, I probably shouldn't make this confession, but here goes...

I am involved in a mini quilt swap via Flickr called Mini QT.  The little quilts can be no more than 12-inches square and this month's theme is 3D.  This isn't a secret swap, so you can't show photos of the whole thing until your partner receives her little quilt (which is OK, since my creation isn't finished yet LOL).

I have this dynamite idea in my head which requires the creation of a mini mini quilt (or maybe even 2).  Anyway, I've been struggling with the mechanics of creating something so small.  Yesterday, while I was finishing up the SUTK swap I came across the scraps I cut from what was supposed to have been the reversible place mats after I cut off the excess after I took them apart for the second or third time and added more of the yellow sunbursts (at least that's what they look like to me - or maybe kaleidoscopes)....  I had a ton of these little pieced scraps - 16 of them to be exact.

So I started playing with them, turning them every which way, putting them together in different combinations, and suddenly, I had this little mini mini ziggy zaggy quiltie.  The binding was also a scrap from the same project, already cut.

In all, the whole little quilt took less than 30 minutes, quilting and all.

Kinda makes up for all the problems I had with it's obstinate parent.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

SUTK Swap Package

My package for the Spicing Up the Kitchen swap is finally done.  After several abortive ideas and much frustration, my package is COMPLETE!  I am so glad.  It seems like I have been working on it forever.

I started with the idea of a reversible place mat.  My original color choices were based on a piece of Amy Butler fabric that was lovely, but the only fabrics I could find that coordinated were pink, and that received a resounding thumbs down from the SUTK Flickr group.

Then, I thought I would do little birdies in green.  It was maybe just a little too green.  Note the Amy Butler fabric in the picture below.
 Then I fell in love with Kumari Gardens and wanted to showcase the butterflies.  Sadly, they did not want to be showcased as badly as I wanted to showcase them.  This is where most of the frustration came in.  I took them apart and put them back together too many times to count.  And then, when I finally did finish them, they were bigger than their partner and wouldn't work for reversible place mats at all.  I may finish them for a wedding gift or something.  They really are pretty.

And so, I did what any self-respecting quilter would do who was running desperately short of time - I took what was to have been the other side of the double-sided placemats and went full steam ahead.  I don't think I have a scrap much bigger than a charm square left of any of these fabrics.

There are 4 placemats, each with a different applique.  The applique patterns are from Sandi Henderson's Bits and Pieces book.

Note that I am too short to get a really good picture of these.  This was taken standing on the couch.

I made a decorative dish towel.  I pieced a decorative border for the bottom of the towel.  I was amazed that I had a towel the perfect color in my stash.  Such forethought (NOT - purely accidental!)
Each of the fabrics is "quilted" onto the towel.

I made a double sided pot holder from a tutorial I found here.  It was super easy and fun to make.

I did discover that my sewing machine, which does not really like to FMQ at all, REALLY does not like to FMQ on Insulbrite - especially two layers of insulbrite.

This is the outside.  

And this, of course, is the inside, with two little pockets for your hands and a little loop to hang it up.

 Finally, I made a modified fat quarter apron.  I used the same border idea on the apron as on the dish towel.    I thought it turned out pretty cute.
I really hope my partner likes it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fabric Probation

Our  LQS has been having a great sale.  Everything from 2007, 2008, and 2009 is at least 50% off and some as much as 70% off.  I have been in the store a couple of times watching people check out with some amazing fabric, but either didn't have the time or the money to settle down for some serious stash-building.

So Friday night, I thought I might go in and look around, see if they had anything left, and maybe buy a yard or two of fabric.  It is possible one might think I got carried away.  Perhaps.  Possibly.  Just a tad.  But boy did I have a good time.  Isn't it beautiful?  I got a whole rainbow.  Each one of those pieces is a half yard (except for the mushrooms
Hoodie's Collection

and the fishies,
This one is called "The Cat's Meow".  Isn't that funny?

which are current pieces) and they were dirt cheap!

Did I mention that there are 44 pieces in all.  (And yes, the cutting lady had a TON of fun with me on Friday night.)

While it may be true that I have a bit of fabric stashed in various places, it is also true that most of it is not suitable for the kind of sewing I have been doing lately.

Here are some more of the pieces I bought that I REALLY like:
Tina Givens

This one is Hoodie's Collection

The selvage was cut off of this one, but I think it's called "Time for Coffee" or something like that.
Fun, huh?

But it probably goes without saying that I am on fabric probation for awhile.  I guess I'll have to find a new kind of therapy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Catching Up - Times Three

Charms received from Laura
 This morning before work I had a few extra minutes and I decided to take a couple and go through the mail which was falling out of the basket onto the floor, which is a pretty good indication that it had been several weeks since I had done this oh-so-boring (usually) task.  If you have been following this blog, you will know that the last couple of months have been stressful at best, and I have been coming home, collapsing in a chair, and getting up the next morning to do it all over again.  The arrival of these yummy little packages of Flickr mail, along with some serious fabric therapy, extra kindness from WH, and some thoughtful packages from Beautiful Daughter #1 have kept me going.  Thanks to all of you.

When I wrote my catching up posts last weekend, I had the tickling thought in the back of my mind that there should be more of these fun little envelopes floating around my house, but I didn't take the time to go back and look.  Well, today when I went through the mail, I rediscovered some of these great little pick-me-ups that have brightened my days over the past few weeks.  All of these items had been opened, then left with the mail and shoved in the basket in an effort to tidy up.  We won't make any judgments about how effective my tiding up might have been.

So, there was this delightful package (photo above) from Laura which included some truly yummy fabric charms.

Charm Swap package from Judy

Then there was this package from Judy.  I love the flowers.  You can always use flower prints in a quilt.  Very nice.

Charm squares from Lynn

 Lynn sent this great package of really fun prints.  Such an interesting mix. These will be fun to add to my quilt.

Charm square package from Bev

Bev's package included some of my all-time favorites, including some Bliss prints.  These will make great additions to my quilt(s).

I also rediscovered two jelly rolls I bought on ebay a couple of weeks ago.  The lady had a great sale and shipping was FREE!  Who can resist that?  The Central Park is such a fun print.  If I can bear to cut into it, I'm thinking I will make this into a quilt for the Silent Auction at the Opera Ball in April.  Not quite sure what I'll do with the Lily & Will, but it would make a great boy quilt.

Earlier this week, I received my third postcard from the Fabric Postcard Swap.

Fabric postcard from Mary (13 insane penguins)
Isn't it Valentine-ey?  Mary (13 insane penguins) was brave enough to put a stamp on it and stick it in the mail.  It came through just fine, but I'm still not sure that I'd be brave enough to do that.  With my luck, a thread would get caught in one of those postal machines and rip it to shreds.

I mentioned above that BD#1 had been cheering me up with fun packages.  I received two great books in late January that I've been poring over in my spare moments.  I have even made a project from one of the books already.  Today, I received this

in the mail all the way from Australia.  BD#1 traded a layer cake she had for this one because she knew I liked it.  It is always so much fun to get international packages.  They seem so exotic somehow.  Anyway, I think that this will be the fabric for my Single Girl quilt.  I think it will be perfect.  I'm getting excited!

So now, I THINK I am all caught up.  Maybe.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Love Holidays!

Today, I'm very glad that Presidents have birthdays.  I really needed a long weekend to recoup from the last 6 weeks or so.  And I planned to be very productive.  So I got up this morning and decided I didn't like this project after all and that I had to add some more contrast in the string portions of the side panels.  Boy was that a bad idea.  I wanted to add someof the yellow medallions that you can barely see in the corners.  Guess who ran out of fabric?  So now I have 2 finished placemats and two that are still in pieces.  I suppose a trip to A&E is in order after work today.  Oh darn!  Still it is frustrating.  I could have gone to A&E today, but I just didn't want to make the drive, not that it is far, but it would just be too much interruption.
The good news is that this placemat process yielded some interesting scraps.  I am going to make string quilt-esque pot holders to go along with the placemats.  I was going to do an apron also, but I may just let the market bag do.  

Anyway, I was playing with the pieces, and came up with this:

I'm thinking it may be the beginnings of a pillow top for my Urban Home Goods partner.  She said she likes modern and traditional mixed, and bright colors, and this string-quilt-meets-log-cabin may just do it.  Here is the center detail:

Right now it measures 14" square, so with the last border and binding, it should be about 18".

On another note, I am the QB in my First Time Bee virtual quilting bee in March.  I have been racking my brain for an idea for my blocks.  In the charm square swap, we have been discussing quilts that we have known and loved, and it reminded me of a quilt we had when I was a little girl.  It was a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt that my great, great grandmother had made for my dad.  It was made of teeny, tiny hexis cut from old dresses and shirts and who knows what all, and tied together with a peach border between the flowers.  Perhaps that is where my love of quilts came from, because I loved that quilt.  I would have slept with it every day, but my mom would only let me use it when I was sick (hmmm...  maybe that's why I was sick so much as a child...  but I digress.)  Anyway, this thought keeps coming back.

So on Saturday, I made this suggestion to my Bee Buddies and they were so supportive.  There were a couple of hesitations, but now everyone seems excited.  I have been intimidated myself by all those hexagons, so made a sample block just to see.  I had bought some templates a couple of weeks ago, and those - along with a good pressing - make the job pretty easy.  Here is my sample block, in stages.

GMFG flower, stage 1, one row

GMFG Block, stage 2, two rows
The fabrics are from my scrap bag, so this quilt should be a good scrap buster.  I left the choice of fabrics up to the quilters, but while this block is terribly traditional, I think the quilt would be more fun in a mix of traditional and modern fabrics.  And I saw a totally non-traditional block on Flickr that really excited me.  I'll have to see what I can do with it. 

And I just realized that my Mini QT quilt has to be done by the end of the month, and all I have is a sketch.  Guess I'd better get going, huh?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spicing up the Kitchen

So I've had a month to get my act together for my swaps, and I am really struggling.  I am starting to feel the pinch of time, since this swap is due at the end of the month.

My partner asked for placemats and said she liked the usual fabric designers.  From the beginning, I wanted to make a double sided placemat in fun, bright colors, which is what she said she liked.

This was my first idea, but when I posted it, the general consensus was that pink in the kitchen was a no-go.  I guess I was stuck on the Amy Butler fabric, though, because I just couldn't get that print out of my mind, until I made this:
Easy Reusable Grocery Bag by Keika Lou

Somehow, that seemed to help, and I could move on.  Then I came up with this

Then I came up with this:

which I think was entirely too green, and not very exciting.

My next idea was a little better.

although I should learn not to take photos late at night because the color just doesn't do it justice.  This is a beautiful robin's egg blue Kona matched with Moda's Bliss by Bonnie and Camille.  This one turned out OK, and I think I will like it when I get it quilted.  The appliques are from Sandi Henderson's Bits and Pieces book, which BD#1 got me a couple of weeks ago.   Each placemat has a different applique. 

I lightened this photo and the colors are better, but it lost a lot of the detail in the process.  

For the other side, I picked Kumari Gardens by Dena Designs as my fabric inspiration.  I just loved the butterflies.  Somehow, the design just doesn't pop like I wanted it too, so I pulled it all apart and started over.  Here was the first try:

And here is the detail:

Well, I'm a little frustrated, but as they say, it's a work in progress.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Catching Up - Part 2

I have been participating in the Chronic Seamstress Charm Square Swap.  I have loved seeing what everyone has shared.  The fabrics have such variety and it has been a blast to go through each little package and pet the fabrics.  Some have come with lovely little notes that were nearly as sweet as the fabrics themselves.  But the absolute BEST part has been coming home to find a little envelope in the mail that was just for me. I felt like a kid again.  For awhile, every day was a new surprise.  I have come home from some less-than-wonderful days at work and found a sweet little something in the mail - some days more than one.  It has been a great pick-me-up.
But sadly, I have been so exhausted that I haven't done the proper thing and thanked those who sent them.  Ungrateful?  Certainly seems like it.  I really want the senders to know how their participation in this swap has brightened my days lately.

The package above from craftytammie is just too cute to pull apart yet.  I love the little string tie.  And the fabrics inside are yummy.  

Charm swap received from Brandie

This one came from Brandie.  Isn't this the most eclectic assortment of fabrics all in one place?  I can't decide if I like the strawberries or the circles (bubbles?) best...  or it might be the pink telephones - I had one of those once.

Charms received from Cindy

This package from Cindy is "outta this world"!  Love the stars and planets, and the bright flowers.  And then the contrast with the black and white prints is so interesting.  

Charms received from Jessica

This package from Jessica in The Netherlands is all organic cotton.  I put her cute little business card in the photo, but it was so shiny it reflected the flash from the camera.  This one has some cute little birdies in it.  And the purple is kind of a herringbone weave.  Very nice.

Charm squares received from Jonah

This package from Jonah  may be my overall favorite.  Each of the fabrics is SO FUN!  There are doggies and froggies and AIRPLANES (always a favorite in this house) and teddy bears and owls and I-don't-know-what-all, but they are so much fun!  And Jonah is from Renton, Washington, which is practically my home town.  How cool is that?

So thanks, everyone, for making my days brighter at a very difficult time. 

Catching Up - Part 1

My Spicing Up the Kitchen loot from Lisa (miniature quilter).  Beautiful!

I have to admit that the craziness in my work life has been leaving me exhausted and I haven't been attending to details like I should, so I hope to use this weekend to catch up. 
First, I received this lovely package from Lisa (miniature quilter) in the Spicing Up the Kitchen swap.  Isn't it lovely?  I love the fabrics she chose, and everything is just so pretty.  I love them.

My work on the Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap isn't going so well.  My partner asked for placemats, and I found a great start in Amy Butler's Stitches book, but my attempts to strike out on my own have been abortive at best.  My first attempt was something less than I hoped, so I am off to A&E tomorrow to get some supplies to try again. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Honestly, I had such good intentions...

Seriously, I had such good intentions for this weekend.  I was going to get myself out of this swap deficit and really get some things accomplished.   In fact, I did get some things accomplished, just not the things I planned.

I made 10 more primary chair covers.  All of the red ones are done and I completed 6 of the blue ones.  There are 4 blue ones and 10 yellow ones to go.  This is a worthwhile project, but I will be glad when it's finished.  Frankly, making 30 of anything is not especially interesting.

I got BD#2's Fandango Sugar Rush quilt ready to quilt.  The more I look at the scallops, the more I'm glad I cut the border away from the scallop.  It gives it such a nice contrast, and I didn't like the darker border fabric showing through the white.

So that was my Saturday.  Doesn't seem like much for a full day's work, does it?

Today, I planned to come home from church and really get some things accomplished.  I did do a couple of things.  I sketched a design for the Mini QT swap.  A conversation with BD#1 scaled the project back some and it was a good thing.  My idea was too ambitious by half and there's only so much you can do with a 12"x12" maximum area.  I really like the design now, and I think this little mini quilt will be really cute.  Need a few supplies, and then I can get going.

And I made this reusable market bag for my partner in the Spicing Up the Kitchen swap.  I got the pattern here.  It was super easy to make and is larger than it looks.  I think you'd be able to fill it up with groceries and not be able to carry it home.  But it is really a cute bag.  I see myself making several of these for little "extras" in various swaps.

So here it is - mid February, and I have several swaps due at the end of the month.  Gotta get busy!

Meanwhile, tomorrow is heart day.  Or as my younger children like to call it, "Singles Awareness Day."  Whatever you call it, I hope it's happy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thank Goodness for Saturday!

 Since the first of the year, work has just been - well - chaotic.  For the lowdown, click here.  I have to admit that it is taking its toll.  Consequently, I've been looking forward to Saturday to sew.  Just sew.  Without interruption (you can do that - usually - when you are empty nesting).  Just sew.  I have several swaps that I need to get my act together for and a quilt, and a project that has been niggling at the back of my mind for months.

Way back in October, I stopped by Target after work and found their flat sheets on sale for ridiculously low prices - like $3.97 for a king sized flat sheet.  Flat sheets are awesome.  They have a million uses.  Think of all the yardage in a King Size flat sheet for less than four bucks!  I had to have them.  I bought pretty much all they had.  The had a really pretty aqua, and a cream, and white, and yellow, and then they had red (more burgundy really) and blue.  I really didn't have an interest in the red and the blue, but I kept coming back to them.  I stood there for a long time, picking up the little boxes and putting them back, picking up another and putting it back.  Finally, I decided that if I never did anything with it I was only out four dollars.   I have surely wasted more money than that in my life.  So I took home 7 or 8 flat sheets, including the above mentioned.

That Sunday, I subbed in Primary.  We have found that the childrens' behavior is better if we are proactive about where they sit and who they sit by.  We accomplish that by putting their names on their chairs.  Our previous method involved construction paper and packaging tape.  It was ok, but after a few weeks, really looked shabby.  Anyway, when I came home from Primary I happened to look in the sewing room and spied those sheets that I didn't know what to do with.  Aha!  Now I knew why I bought those colors.  They're Primary colors.

So, I went to the fabric store and bought some plastic and within a few days had created a pattern and cut out 30 chair covers - 10 red, 10 blue, and 10 yellow.  They have a cool plastic pocket on both sides to put the child's name and class in.  They are quick change.  If a child only comes one Sunday, we can still put his or her name on the chair, without a lot of hassle.

Then, On Veteran's Day, I made 6 red ones.  I have to admit that after the technique was perfected, they are pretty boring.  And this is mid-November.  It is time to start sewing for Christmas.   So I put it aside and began all kinds of other things.

 Finally, today, I worked on them again.  I have now completed 16 of these little guys - all the red ones and 6 blue ones.  Only 1 4 to go.  But 16 should be enough for all the children who generally come to Primary.  I will get the others done soon.  Frankly, I'm tired of looking at the pieces.

 When I got tired of Chair covers, I worked on Ari's Fandango Sugar Rush quilt for awhile.  The pattern is by Camille Roskelly from her book "Simplify".  I LOVE that book.  I think I want to make every quilt and project in it.  Anyway, this is a work in progress, but it is now ready to quilt.  I had done the scallops one evening this week, and today I was ready to put it together, but I had to piece the back.  That took much longer than I thought.  The pattern calls for the final border to go under the scallops all the way, but I wanted to reduce the bulk of the scallop - and I am running out of fabric - so I only cut them long enough to sew the scallop on, and then trimmed away the excess.  I really like the way it looks now, much better than before it was trimmed.  I did a raw edge scallop and machine blanket stitched it on.  I really like the stitching.  I am thinking about free motion quilting the top.  I really want to, but my machine gives me fits when I try to free motion quilt on it.  Oh, well, not tonight.  It's late.

I didn't get much done on the swap stuff today, but it was still an enjoyable and productive day.