Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival Entry

This is my first time joining the Blogger's Quilt Festival. I know I've posted about it before, but I really enjoyed the Bug Quilt I made for a co-worker and think it's my best completed work this year.

Bug Crib Quilt
Quilt Measurements: 38x48 inches
Special Techniques used: Applique, hand embroidery
Quilted by: Me
Best category: Baby Quilt, Applique Quilt, Home Machine Quilted Quilt
Entry #597

Monday, October 29, 2012

Name Change and Hurricane Sandy

I'm thinking of changing the name of the blog and also the blog address to something shorter and more appropriate to my craftsy tendencies. My blog is far from being well-known enough that it would cause problems if I moved it, and I like change.

I have tomorrow off, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. My husband, unfortunately, has to go to work even though the subway is closed. So he'll be taking our only car. He opens, and his boss said she would try to let him leave early. I hope that's the case. At any rate, I've made him promise to keep checking the weather and come home if it starts getting too hairy (supposed to start getting bad around 2-3pm). Luckily we live in a brick bunker of a townhouse; however, I'm still worried about some flooding in the basement. We did clear the drain by our basement steps, so hopefully it will drain properly, but if it doesn't, the water gets high enough to seep under the door into our utility room. Hasn't ever reached the carpeted area in the finished portion of the basement, but 5-10 inches of rain just might be enough to do it.

In sewing news, I got quite a bit accomplished today. Hoping to get more done tomorrow before we lose power, which is bound to happen. We've lost power during two of the major storm fronts that have moved through this year (derechos is the term I heard used), so I'm sure our pathetic power grid won't make it through a hurricane. I just wish it wouldn't cost so much money to bury power lines so this doesn't happen. Once we finally get a shed, I'm so going to insist on a generator. Until then we have no good place to store one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sewing Withdrawal

The last few days, I've either come home after work so late that I've changed straight into PJs and read before falling asleep, or I've been so tired after work that I just wanted to sit and do nothing. However, all of this has meant that I have gotten no sewing done at all. And I miss it!

This is why I am particularly looking forward to the weekend, since I am hoping to get a good deal accomplished, once I've had a chance to sleep, recharge, and get over this exhausted slump I'm in.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fracture Quilt

I am doing my first quilt-along, at "Let's Pervalong!". Apparently the name has something to do with the fact that the original quilt the quilt-along is based off reminded the leader's friend of 50 Shades of Grey. Regardless of the name, it's an amazing quilt that is based on 10 colors that seems to explode, or fracture, outwards. The idea is to start on a strong color, go through a neutral, and end with a strong color. I chose to do green to yellow to purple. The yellow is a bit more intense than most people's neutrals, but I like it so far.

I actually have a few Kona Solids in there, but don't ask me which ones. However, they all came from the same specialty quilting store I discovered on Saturday, Tomorrow's Treasures. It's still not as convenient as Joann's, but it's within relatively easy driving distance. Nothing like having to drive all the way to the other side of Annapolis, for sure. That's where I found another quilting store, Cottonseed Glory. Their fabric selection is about twice the size of Tomorrow's Treasures, but their selection of solids is sadly lacking (read: practically non-existent).
The quilt is all paper pieced, so it's perfect for me. I have recently discovered a love affair with paper piecing, perhaps mainly due to the lack of pins necessary to turn out a nice product. This is Block A of the finished quilt. I finished it on Sunday.
Here is Block B attached to the left of Block A; finished Monday evening. It's really starting to come together. Remaining: Block C, Block D, Border 1, and Border 2. I bought plenty of extra fabric and plan to add a top and bottom border to make it a rectangle and turn it into a baby quilt. It has a very pastelly feel to it, so I think it will work out perfectly and give just a bit of an edge to someone's nursery. I think I even know who I want to give it to.
I am thinking I might want to find a fun baby print with green, yellow and purple for the backing and do a scrapy binding from the leftover colors. Thoughts?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Make-A-List Monday

This is my second week of linking to Make-A-List Monday.
Last weeks goals and the degree of accomplishment are listed below:

1) Make several more blocks for my secret quilt project. As a teaser, fabrics are shown below. So bright and happy. And so much turquoise batik, it feels like I'm drowning in blue. Also my first time using flannel for the backing. :)
I made all of two blocks for the quilt this week. Definitely not where I wanted to be.

2) Get R2D2 drawn onto fusible backing and get started on the applique portion of my Star Wars baby quilt. Picture of the completed background below. I also finally bought green thread to satin stitch the edges between the background pieces once R2 is in place.
Well, I managed to get R2's general outline drawn onto the fusible interfacing. But that's about it. Fail!

3) Add at least one border to my Add-A-Border Blocks. My plans include a red and white check with little embroidered or appliqued ants for the first, a heart border for the second (the block is called Our Love), and for the third, a border on two sides of snow covered trees.
Also did not happen. In fact, I now have two additional starter blocks that need a border.
However, I did finish my December blocks for Color Bee Shocked, finished Section A for the Fracture Quilt, and finished two more of the placemat tops. That's on top of doing my usual weekend chores and spending quite a bit of time with friends both at the Ren Faire and two fabric stores on Saturady and a pleasure party/jewelry trunk show on Sunday. I feel pretty good about it.
Here is my list for this week:
1) Make several more blocks for my secret quilt project.
2) Finish Section B of the fracture quilt. Section A shown below:

3) Add a border to one of the Add-A-Border blocks.

4) Get the R2D2 interfacing cut out and ironed onto the white fabric (see, being more realistic).

Happy Monday... NOT!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

WIP - Placemats (Continued)

In addition to the December Color Bee Shocked blocks I completed today (blogged about in the Color Bee Shocked Blog which can be found here), I also finished two more placemat tops. I'm hoping to use them as free-motion quilting practice and therefore get them done before I have to quilt my secret project.
 Second placemat. First one can be found here.
 Third placemat. First time doing triangles... using two squares as the base and cutting them to size after they were sewn together.
In other news, I went to the Renainssance Festival today with a friend. Afterwards she was kind enough to put up with me while we went through not one, but two, quilting shops. One of which is closer to my house than I thought possible (I might have a viable alternative to Joann's, woot!). I bought the fabric above to use for the Fracture Quilt Along. I saw it a few days ago, and was really excited, and want to turn the quilt top into a baby blanket once it's done.

Friday, October 19, 2012

So much thread!

I bought two spools of Coats & Clarks, 100% mercerized cotton, All-Purpose thread in Parakeet for the secret project I'm working on when I bought the rest of the fabric and notions. But the project is all paper piecing and I've been going through ridiculous amounts of thread. So I went back to Joann's last weekend to get more. They had one spool left. That wouldn't even get me to quilting.

So I did something I've never done before for thread... I shopped online. I was kind of apprehensive, because the pictures that most vendors were showing was a very close up of the thread, which made it seem huge. But all of the information on the page was correct. So I decided to order 10 spools, which will hopefully see me through the rest of paper piecing and also through the quilting. First task, use up at least one spool making bobbins. I hate having to stop in the midst of paper piecing to roll up a new bobbin and I recently acquired a whole box full of new bobbins that are just waiting to be filled with this intensely blue thread. The minute I received the thread shipment the other day, I just had to sit down an piece another block. Only two blocks this week so far, hopefully I can get a few more done this weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Make-A-List Monday

I've decided to try my hand at linking to someone's weekly posts. In this case, Make-A-List Monday.

My goals for this week are as follow:
1) Make several more blocks for my secret quilt project. As a teaser, fabrics are shown below. So bright and happy. And so much turquoise batik, it feels like I'm drowning in blue. Also my first time using flannel for the backing. :)
2) Get R2D2 drawn onto fusible backing and get started on the applique portion of my Star Wars baby quilt. Picture of the completed background below. I also finally bought green thread to satin stitch the edges between the background pieces once R2 is in place.

2) Add at least one border to my Add-A-Border Blocks. My plans include a red and white check with little embroidered or appliqued ants for the first, a heart border for the second (the block is called Our Love), and for the third, a border on two sides of snow covered trees.
I think I'll keep it realistic, might not even get more than #1 done this week. Oh well.

Secret Project

So, this weekend was not as productive as I had initially hoped. I think I finished three blocks of varying sizes. That brings the total to 18 blocks. I haven't measured to see what the exact sizes are but the shapes varying from squares to rectangles.

I have learned some valuable lessons, including that paper piecing while tired leads to much seam ripping. And that I need to follow my gut instinct when deciding where to put colors because just blindly following the instructions helps no one. I hope to post pictures soon, sorry for the continued teasing.

At least the obsessive thinking about the project has tapered off, so I can actually focus at work.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Can't Focus

I cannot seem to focus on anything but my secret quilt project. I have 11 small and 2 larger blocks done for it and I just cannot think of anything but the quilt. It is making focusing at work incredibly difficult and all I can think about is going home and working on the next block. I think it's the stress of keeping a secret and not posting any pictures on Facebook or on my blog for people to ooh and aah over. Luckily I was able to show a friend last night, so I'm not going quite as crazy about that anymore. Have you ever had a secret project that you couldn't share because you knew that the moment the person it was for saw the project s/he would know it was for them?


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Slight Revamp, A Secret Project, and A Trip to Michigan

I have finally figured out how to add tabs and pages to my blog. So I have stolen borrowed a fellow blogger's idea of keeping track of works in progress and completed projects. It was actually a shock to see how many projects I have in the works, and I'm sure I'm forgetting quite a few.

Edit: I'm not sure I like how cluttered those pages look. I might actually break it out into categories, with finished and pending projects for that category on the same page/tab. I'm thinking I might use the following categories: Quilting, Bees and Swaps, Other Sewing Projects, Cross-Stitching, and Misc. Other Projects.

I think I mentioned a few days ago that I had started paper piecing and couldn't post the end result because it would give away what I was working on. Suffice it to say, it's a quilt. I've bought the fabric and made several blocks for it since then. The worst part about this secret quilt is not being able to share the pictures, because they're so bright and happy. But I will once it's finished and with its intended owner.

In other news, we made reservations for flights to Michigan over Thanksgiving. Our original plan was to fly out Wednesday evening, DH managed to get the opening shift that day. Then we'd stay until Sunday afternoon, just in time for us to rest up a bit before DH's next opening shift on Monday. That was the plan until I looked at tickets. At first I thought taht $600+ was the price for both of us, then I went to check out and had a rude awakening when I saw $1,200+. That definitely wasn't happening. So I checked surrounding dates and we figured out that it would be cheapest to fly in early on Thursday and fly back on Saturday afternoon. That turned our three and a half day trip into a two and a half day trip, but it will be so worth it to see our families.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cross-Stitch Barn Owl

I think I promised people a blog post about the Barn Owl I cross-stitched for my mother's graduation.
So here it is.

I started stitching this with what I thought would be plenty of time before the graduation. Turns out I was wrong, especially since I was also going to make a cross-stitch sampler of Alpine Flowers for my father (which I at least started) and horses for my sister (which I didn't).

I did take it to Michigan with me for the graduation at which point the owl itself was done, I just needed to add the foliage, the mouse (detail above), and the mushrooms. I almost finished it too. I literally had some grass left to sew the night before we left to drive back to Maryland. I had even bought a frame and matting while I was there. So instead, I dragged the almost finished piece back home with me along with the frame and matting.

I finished it a few days after we got back and then it sat in my craft room closet for ages. I finally framed it at around midnight the day before my sister-in-law and her husband were due to drive back to Michigan after they came to visit us. It was several months late (as a graduation present), but at least it's no longer a UFO sitting in my craft room.

Paper Piecing - Continued

So last night I made two more paper pieced blocks. One was from an amazing book I picked up at the library called Spellbinding Quilts. It has paper piecing patterns for wizards, witches, dragons, owls, and everything else I tend to associate with Harry Potter (I see a baby quilt in my future).

The Kimono came from yet another library book that has a multitude of paper piecing patterns in it ranging the gamut from flowers, shells, and food to Japanese and even African inspired blocks.

I sent both blocks off to the Add-A-Border Block Swap I'm taking part in. They are both 6.5x6.5 starters (or are supposed to be). I had to shrink down the witch pattern from a 10x10 block to a 6x6 and I think my printer reduced the size just a bit too much, so the finished piece is more of a 6x6 when you take off the irregular edge. But all in all I think they turned out quite well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Paper Piecing

I've been looking at some pretty amazing paper pieced blocks on Flickr and Pinterest. So I finally decided to jump into the deep end. And by that, I meant I found a tutorial on paper piecing on YouTube and watched it... then I jumped into the deep end.

I decided that for my very first paper pieced block, I would... not use a free pattern online (which would have been the smart thing to do). No! I decided that I was going to outline a block I had seen online in Paint, print it out, cut it apart into three sections, and then use that to piece my first ever block. Surprisingly it worked. I have one beautiful block (that I would link a picture to, but I'm afraid it might give away when I intend to start working on next) made from some of my scrap fabric.

I really adore the final product, the lines are straight and crisp, and even the smallest pieces where super easy to piece without fumbling around. Also, my hatred of pinning actually didn't matter. Simply holding the piece in place until the presser foot was down did the trick for most of the pieces.

One helpful hint, I started out with my thread length at 1, but that actually perforated the paper too much and the fabric would fall off the paper. So I switch to 1.5, just long enough that the fabric remained attached to the paper, but short enough that the paper perforated and tore off neatly when the block was done. So, do a few test runs to see what's too long and what's too short before you get started.

The only difficult part is getting a directional pattern to line up properly, especially when the line is on an angle and the piece you've cut is not.

Monday, October 1, 2012

W.I.P. - Placemats

So I bought some pretty fat quarters at the fabric store a while back intending to practice my piecing and making placemats. I decided on black print fabric for the backings and a combination of greens and yellows and one colorful printed black fabric to tie it all together for the front.

Here is the first one, although I may add another inch on either side to make it 12x18 instead of 12x16.

I am not entirely sure yet, but I think I'm going to do all four of them with different quilting patterns and with different tops, so I can get the max amount of practice out of them. I especially want to practice free-style quilting before I use it on a quilt.