Sunday, June 28, 2009

thread storage

My husband installed those IKEA "Strippa" shelves for me yesterday, and I had so much fun organizing all my thread by size and color. I honestly thought I didn't have enough thread to fill these up. Ha!

It didn't help that I picked up 9 of those ginormous spools on the top shelf at a flea market yesterday. They were only 50 cents each! (And the seller was dressed in a clown outfit and made a little pink balloon poodle for my daughter....) Will I ever use them? Maybe not, but they're kinda cool just to look at anyway!

Friday, June 26, 2009

the monster in my closet

I love it when bloggers post their "worst sewing disaster ever" stories, don't you? I get a tiny dose of schadenfreude (love that word!), and I almost always learn a valuable lesson. So, I suppose it's my turn to reciprocate...

Let me introduce you to The Monster In My Closet!!

What could this huge lump of white stuff possibly be? You quilters out there will probably recognize it as a roll of batting. Yep, 50 (well, about 40 at this point) yards of super fluffy polyester batting. I've been putting off basting some quilts for weeks now, just because I didn't want to deal with The Monster. But I've got three Project Linus quilts all ready to go, so I couldn't put it off any longer.

Oh no, it's trying to escape!! No, actually it just got stuck in the doorway while I was trying to drag it out of the closet. I was laughing so hard, I had to stop and get a picture.

I so wish I had thought to take a picture of it when it was first delivered. I swear, it was only about 12" in diameter!! When I took off the plastic wrapper, it made this sssssssound... and started slowly expanding.... and expanding... I rolled off about 10 yards (enough for my first few PL quilts), and then wrangled the thing into the closet, where it continued to expand ever so slowly over the next couple of months... And here it is in all of its puffed-out glory!

So how did The Monster come to be in my closet? Well, I'm one of those people who sometimes jumps in with both feet without really knowing how to swim. I had made a goal of doing 12 Project Linus quilts this year, and I figured I'd probably make at least a few personal ones too, so I'll need LOTS of batting, right? Before even making my first quilt, I got on and took a look at their bulk batting selections. I read all the reviews ("perfect for quilting", "great batting!"), and settled on the this one. Half price and free shipping = $35 for 50 yards. Not bad, right?

Well, let me tell you, this batting is not much fun to sew with. It's not horrible, but it's definitely not even in the same league as something like Warm & Natural. It stretches when I'm basting, its puffiness makes the quilting harder (as a newbie, I sure don't appreciate that extra degree of difficulty!), and it sure does take up a LOT of space in my closet!! On the other hand, it's batting, and it works, and it does make cozy quilts. I'm not sure it's not worth it, considering that nicer batting is three times as expensive. But still, I wish I hadn't bought 50 yards of it, without trying some first! Especially considering the kicker - I can get batting for FREE at the monthly Project Linus meetings! The donated stuff is polyester too, but it's the nice flat stable stuff. Grrrr....

Oh well, live and learn. And gosh, I only have about 20 more quilts to go until I vanquish the monster!!!

Here are two Quick Strippie tops I whipped up last week. I love how the batting looks like a giant roll of paper towels!

After cutting off pieces for the three tops I had ready to go, I decided I should cut a few more while I had The Monster out. Now I have a stack of 6 precut pieces filling a corner of my office, and an only slightly smaller monster in my closet...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

loot - shared and used!

Hey, remember when I had that super-secret giveaway, and Miss Prickly won the set of IKEA Rosali fat quarters? I was so pleased to see that she used them to make this super sweet little quilt! And doubly impressed that she whipped it up practically overnight! Fantastic!

Go check out her blog and say hi!

Last weekend's loot - books!

I don't usually pick up "vintage" books at garage sales. I'm not really into having books just for show - I like to buy them cheap, read them, and pass them on. So darn pragmatic! But when I saw this set ($20), I couldn't pass it up. I think it's because I can actually envision reading these with Vada, not just having them sit on a shelf. They're also just about as old as I am, and remind me of many days spent in the library reading every Nancy Drew book they had. Maybe I was overcome by nostalgia!

You can't tell from the photos, but these are "topsy turvy" books - each one is really two books, with the second book printed upside down so that the stories meet in the middle. So cool! There are 5 Babar stories, plus a bunch of classics, like "Heidi" and "Grimm's Fairy Tales".

Each story has its own typeface and illustration style, and they are all really wonderful. I love the title on the one below - "My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World". Nice!

Each book (both sides!) has a book plate in the front, with the previous owner's name (Fred) and his address (in Illinois). And at the beginning of each story, Fred also stuck a tiny little name sticker. Maybe he put it there when he was done reading the story, as a sign that he had finished it? It's a mystery!

And of course, I picked up a few more sheets and pillowcases. I really love those green ones! I'm itching to get started on another vintage linen quilt, but I've got a LOT of other WIPs in the queue that need to get finished up first. But I guess that's just good motivation to get through them, right? Right!

Friday, June 19, 2009

barefoot no more

There's that old saying: "The cobbler's children go barefoot"...

Vada needed a lighter blanket for daycare, and I was tempted to just go buy a cheap fleece one for her. Because sewing something for her would cut into my quilting time. :-) Yeah, that's just as dumb as it sounds!

After I resolved to make her a blankie, the idea percolated in my brain for a few days. I wanted something lightweight (so not a true quilt) but still snuggly. And of course, I wanted to use my loot! I have tons of flannel waiting to be made into swaddling blankets, so maybe just an oversized swaddler? Boring... I also have a ton of novelty prints, so maybe a "quilt" with no batting, with flannel on one side and fun prints on the other? Getting warmer... I went through my stash and picked out all the girlie ones that appealed to me - fairies, mermaids, and kittens!

And even some mermaid kittens!! This one ("merkitties", by Michael Miller) is definitely my favorite - check out the kittie holding up those um... bubbles? sea urchins?

But how to join the layers? Ah, how about that "baste as you go" trick from Des? Perfecto! As I was doing it, I realized that it's really just one huge foundation pieced block! Not that I've ever done any foundation piecing, mind you. But I've read about it. :-)

I sewed the strips down, squared up the edges, did one line of wavy top stitching for each row, and then bound it like a regular quilt (machine finished). I love it! It's so snuggly, and just the perfect size and weight. And it only took me about 3 hours!

For the record, the flannel happened to be about 57" long, and I happened to pick out 7 fabrics. So I cut 8.5" strips of each, and ended up with a blanket that's about 40" x 56".

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

birthday shirt for Zak

I can't remember if I blogged about this before, but here's a picture of a shirt I made for my daughter's birthday in April. (If the bottom looks a little weird, it's because it is weird - it used to be a onesie, and I cut off the bottom somewhat "creatively" and serged it. Whatever - it's a birthday shirt!).

Vada's best buddy Zak (in Portland) is turning 3 next week, so I whipped up this shirt for him. I'm so sad we'll miss his party - it's a Little Einstein theme, and I know Vada would have had such a blast. But it's just too soon for another trip down, especially when we'll be down again next month for a wedding, and then again 3 weeks later for another wedding! Yay for summer weddings!

I like how it turned out, though if I had to do it over, I probably would have used the purple thread to outline the 3. And I would have remembered to use a stablizer right from the beginning instead of after a few inches of sewing! And I'm a cheapie - I just use old dryer sheets for stablizer. Works good enough for me!

Last time, I appliqued the 3 onto the background first, and then appliqued the background to the shirt. The first step didn't work so well, and I ended up with some slight puckering in places. This time I fused the 3 to the background and then fused the background to the shirt, and did all the applique at the same time. Much better!

Monday, June 15, 2009

almost caught up on the quilt-along

I decided to go with 2 lap-sized quilts (5x7 blocks, so 50"x70") instead of one massive quilt, and I finished up one top this weekend. I tried not worry too much about placing the blocks "nicely randomly". I had two each of 20 different blocks, so I put them in order in a stack (1-20, and 1-20 again), and then sewed them in pairs (2 pairs, put one block aside, 2 more pairs, put another block aside, etc.). Then I joined the 2 pairs for each row, and then added on the singles (for 5 blocks in each row). Each time, I didn't pay too much attention to which way I sewed them, just that I tried to not have the same fabric touch, which wasn't always possible. When I had my rows done, I laid those out on the floor and tried for the best layout then. I'm sure I could have done better if I'd taken more time, but I was TRYING to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. It was really good exercise, because that letting go is hard!!

Wait - what's up with the little feet?? Who's that hiding behind my quilt? :-)

zigzag done!

Yay, I finally finished up the binding yesterday! I love how it turned out!

I don't totally love the backing fabric. The one I had originally picked out would have been better, but I found several small holes in it when I was ironing it in preparation for basting. I tried to make it work, but the holes were spaced just far enough apart that I couldn't work around them. I guess that's the danger of working with thrifted linens - you don't the spot tiny blemishes until you take the time to examine the fabric inch by inch. And even then, you might miss them... I found a hole in one of the binding strips when I was sewing them together. I was peeved for a few seconds, but then realized I could just make sure that spot was on the inside when it was folded over, so no problems.

Thanks again to Bee Square and Crazy Mom Quilts for the awesome tutorial!

Friday, June 12, 2009

a little progress, a little loot

I'm still a little behind on the quilt-along. I've got all my strips sewn, and some blocks cut. I'm hoping I can at least get all the blocks cut this weekend. Sadly, some of my strips were just a tad bit too short, so I won't be able to get two 10.5" blocks from some of the sets. But there aren't too many, I think those blocks will go nicely on a pieced back.

I've also got my gifties all packaged up and ready to ship out this afternoon. Whoop!

I found some super pretty toile fabric at Value Village last night ($5!). It's not full width, because it's been sewn into a valance (but apparently never used, because there were still straight pins in it!) Check it out...

It's a beautiful light robin's egg blue, with brown birds and botanicals. The piece I have is about 24" by 3 yards. I think it would be a beautiful skirt (if I ever wore skirts!), or maybe I can use it to recover some pillows... But honestly, my first thought when I saw it was that it would be perfect to put in one of those big embroidery hoops to hang up as a decoration! Heck, the repeat is so big on this, I could probably use it for several of them. Hmmm...

road trip loot report

What's a road trip without a little shopping? On my my trip to Portland last weekend, I stopped in a few thrift stores and scored a bunch of fun pillowcases...

these two really fine cotton sheets ($7 each - WAY more than I'd normally spend, but I just couldn't resist - they're pristine, and 100% cotton)...

these assorted sheets...

this fun monkey sheet (for what, I have no idea! but it's also 100% cotton), and another IKEA Rosali duvet cover. Like I needed another hole in my head. Whatever. They find me, what can I say?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

TGTIM - thank god tomorrow is monday!

My Portland trip was a whirlwind! Work was good (I telecommute full time, and only visit the home office a few times a year), hanging out with my friends was a blast (we even snuck in some garage saling on Saturday morning!), and my daughter had so much fun hanging out that she threw the BIGGEST TANTRUM EVER when it came time to leave. Oh joy. And then wouldn't nap on the drive, until maybe an hour from home (and after throwing the SECOND biggest tantrum ever). Poor girlie. She's normally a pretty mellow kid, but the excitement gets to her!

Not much crafting to report... I did squeeze in a little work on the quilt-along today. I'm no good at "random", so I numbered my 20 fabrics and used to randomly assign them to sets of 5. I had 5 strips of each fabric, so I made 5 sets of sets.

And here are all 20 sets, ready to be pieced (bad lighting for the photo - sorry!). If I did my math right, this means I'll end up with 80 10.5" squares. Hmmm.... That will be a big quilt.... 80"x100"??? Yikes. Maybe it will become two lap-sized quilts instead?

I also went to the Project Linus meeting today, and dropped off my quilts and swaddling blankets. They're so fun to make, but it's pretty anticlimactic to simply add them to the heap of other donated blankets. I dragged the coordinator over to at least look at mine - she was a good sport about oohing and aahing over them. :-) I helped to "wand" (they use a metal detector, like at the airport, to look for stray pins!) and bag up the blankets, and we had at least 85. That's a lot of blankies!

The winners!

Yes, winners, plural! I thought it would be fun to give away one set of each of the options, and wondered how many numbers I'd have to draw in order to find one request for each. I guess I got lucky, because each of the first 3 I picked asked for something different! Yay! Congrats to:

6. Mishkat said...

They're all great - but I'd be more likely to use the random FQ's. (I also love other people's scraps - I find them inspiring!)

15. Miss Prickly said...

I would LOVE your ikea fat quarters. Thank you for giving another chance at a give-away.

11. Carolyn said...

Wow! I am so lucky I subscribed! I would love the thrifted sheet set! They are such pretty colors. Thanks for another giveaway...I was starting to have withdrawals! :)

Please email me your address, and I'll get those goodies in the mail to you at the end of the week! Mishkat - if you have color/theme preferences for your random FQ set, let me know that too.

Thanks again to everyone for entering, and for reading my blog. It's so cool to know you're out there! :-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ssshhh... super secret giveaway!

Time to share the loot! Now that the SMS give-away is over and done, I'd like to announce my "thank you" giveaway for those of you who came for a visit and decided to stick around. I really appreciate it, and I love having "met" new friends!

So, for this give-away, you will have your choice of:

Another set of IKEA Rosali thrifted linens fat quarters (it might only be 7 this time - I'm not sure if I have enough of the two "stone" colored ones on the right)....


A set (9 maybe? however many I can fit in a small flat rate box!) of FQs that I will lovingly select for you from my copious supply of trifted sheets....


A random set (again, whatever I can fit in a small flat rate box) of FQs from my even more copious stash of cotton fabrics. You can specify a theme and I'll try to match it, but no guarantees. I have to tell you that I'm a compulsive pre-washer, so all have been prewashed. [No, I don't store fabric in piles like this! It just happened to be the only image I had, taken while my husband was building some new shelves for me...]

To enter this give-away, just leave a comment saying which you would prefer! I'll pick a name when I get back from Portland. Obviously, you don't want to blog about this, or you'll lower your chances. :-)

PDX bound!

I'm heading for Portland tomorrow for two days of work meetings, and I'm dragging the poochkins along with me. It's way more stress for me (hmmm... a peaceful train trip down and three days in a clean, quiet hotel room right next to the office -OR- 6 hours driving with the kid and three days of kid-friendly chaos at my friend's house a fair drive across town?), but she adores her buddies, and so do I. We moved up to Seattle almost exactly 2 years ago, and I still miss my gang of friends like crazy. Can't wait to see them!

In crafty news.... I guess three votes for "pitch it!" wins. I have a feeling those lavender strips will end up as happy blocks eventually, so they won't be wasted. I'm dying to get going on the sewing, but that will have to wait. In the meantime, I've whipped up 3 more flannel swaddling blankets for Project Linus. Our next meeting is Sunday, and I'm going to be so stoked to drop off 2 quilts and 5 swaddlers! I'm still one month behind, but I'm catching up fast now!

And I've got the zigzag binding stitched on, and will be taking it down to Portland with me. I'm an early riser, so I look forward to some quiet time in the mornings working on this.

Monday, June 1, 2009

help me choose!

So, I'm doing the Old Red Barn quilt-along, and I've got all these fabrics to work with:

I've got a LOT of that light lavender fabric that was intended to be a sort of background for the other fabrics. A lot of it is already cut into strips, so it's not like I can just use it for the backing. I'd love to incorporate it into the quilt, but I'm not sure of the best way to do it. My first thought was just to treat it like one of the other fabrics, and combine it randomly with the others. But that wouldn't use enough of it, and it's also so much lighter than the others. So, now I'm thinking that I'll place this fabric consistently, either one per block or two per block. (I should note that I'm doing blocks of 5 strips instead of 6, because some of the strips were already cut in half, so it just fits better that way). I'd messed around with PowerPoint (my super high tech quilting design tool!) to see what overall design might look best...

Any votes? Or should I just pitch that lavender fabric and pretend it never existed??