Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Project Linus #9

I finally finished up the Project Linus quilt that I started back in August. I backed it with some fabric from my stash (just a solid piece), and quilted it with a simple straight line pattern. I was too lazy to mark the lines, so I used a wavy machine stitch, figuring it would camouflage any imperfections.

The fabric quilted up pretty well, but the slight stretchiness from the Lycra content did cause a few minor puckers in the center of the squares when I was quilting the straight lines that were in the direction on the stretch. Next time, I might try doing the non-diagonal lines in the ditch, rather than in the middle of the squares, to see if that works better.

I also tried something new with the binding. I did my usual thing of sewing the binding to the top, ironing it over, and then catching the bottom as I sew along the ditch with the top up. This works great, but it always feels a little insecure on the corners to me. So this time I tried adding some extra stitching there - I kept sewing, going over the binding until I almost got to the end, then I turned the quilt about 45 degrees, and back-stitched to the opposite side, turned another 45 degrees, and started sewing again. This picture is not great, but hopefully you can see the stitching if you click to zoom it. The back of the quilt is on the left, and the front is on the right. I think it worked pretty good! (Yes, it would work even better if the thread actually matched the binding!)

tiny bit o' loot

It wouldn't be a trip to Portland without a Saturday morning spent garage saling with my pals. I miss them so much! Most of what I bought was toddler clothes (useful, but boring!). The only crafty find was this set of 3 gingham crib sheets ($1 each).

They will be added to the gingham collection that is slowly growing in my closet...

I have no real plan for these, other than "maybe a quilt someday". Or maybe just quilt backs? What would you do with them?

By the way, my chocolate covered potato chips were in a 3-way tie for 4th place in the dessert category at the Potato Fest. Funny enough, TWO other people brought the same thing!! It was the first year anyone brought them, and then 3 people did. I blame Google. :-)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

the giveaway winner is....

Congrats to #20, Miss QuiltyGoodness! I decided to pick another winner, for a smaller set of squares, and that one goes to #5, Miss Jane at Sew Create It! I'll be in touch with you both to get your postal addresses. Thanks everyone for entering, and for sharing all those great mom and grandma stories - I loved hearing them!

I haven't done much sewing at all this week (stupid work), but I did manage to cut out my squares for the Sew Many Ways I-Spy swap. It's not like I really NEED any more 5" novelty squares, but I can't seem to pass up a good swap. I plan to turn my swap squares into another Happy Blocks quilt for Project Linus.

And I guess this is somewhat crafty... We're heading down to Portland tomorrow, and the highlight of the weekend is a friend's annual "Potato Fest". It's a sort of cookoff, where every recipe needs to be made with potatoes of some sort. I wanted something easy that I could whip up quickly and with minimal tools. In my googling, I came across chocolate dipped potato chips. My first batch was made with plain old Ruffles, and the chocolate is a mix of milk chocolate bark and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

They taste surprisingly good! I tried a second batch with a fancier chip (Kettle chips, I think?) that was thicker, but I actually liked the Ruffles better. I might even try it with Pringles, just for laughs. I sent the first two batches to work with my husband (just to get them out of the house!), and they got good reviews. I doubt they'll win any prizes, but they sure are fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

loot report - thread, buttons, linens, and... a fridge!

(I'm such a Stephen Colbert fan, I can't see the word "report" without pronoucing it as "re-poor" in my head...)

I hit a couple rummage sales on Saturday, and here's the loot I scored:

A box of what I think is machine embroidery thread. It's nylon, and super shiny and pretty! No, I don't have an embroidery machine. But my BFF down in Portland does, so I'll see if she can use it. Worth a chance for $2!

Another box of random specialty threads (another $2) which included these variegated ones. Aren't they cool? I've never used thread like this before, so it should be fun to experiment to see how they stitch up. If anyone has any tips, let me know!

$3 worth of cheapo plastic buttons. Not nice enough to sew with, but they will be fun for Vada to play with - lots of sorting and lacing and collage possibilities!

And of course, a few more linens that I couldn't pass up. The striped one is buttery soft 100% cotton, and just check out the size of those orange polka dots! It's also all cotton, and will someday make an awesome quilt back!

And last, but not least, the best find of the day - a crappy old dorm fridge! My husband and I have been hemming and hawing for months about getting extra fridge/freezer storage for the garage, but we just can't decide on what we need. He wants something to hold beer, I'd like some extra freezer space for stocking up, and we might like having extra fridge space for those rare occasions when host parties. So, do we want just another fridge/freezer combo (and why doesn't anyone make a combo that is 50/50 instead of always 80/20??), or do we want a little upright freezer plus a little fridge that we could stack? We've been looking, and thinking, and debating, and getting nowhere. So when I saw this crappy little thing for $5, I figured, what the heck! At least we'll have something, and we can always freecycle it when we find something more permanent. And meanwhile, the husband is HAPPY - priceless!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

giveaway time!

Have you been wondering why I'm so crazy in love with vintage linens? Have you been wanting to give it a try without having to raid the thrift stores or fill your closets with old sheets? Now is your chance!

I'm celebrating my last finish with a giveaway! It includes almost everything you need to make your own patchwork - at least 130 6" squares of vintage linens (all different!), and enough 3" strips to do a scrappy binding. All you need to add is batting and backing (I recommend a nice all-cotton sheet - that's just one trip to the thrift store!).

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Any old comment will do, but if you're feeling chatty, tell me a favorite memory of something crafty your grandma or mom made when you were little. International folks are welcome. And I'd love to share the vintage linen love far and wide - so if you mention this on your blog, come back and leave another comment for a second entry. I'll pick the winner next Thursday evening (um, that's the 24th).

And speaking of giveaways, here's another little bit of eye candy from ircabbit - her second quilt made from the IKEA Rosali fabric from an earlier giveaway. Isn't it beautiful??? OMG!

Friday, September 18, 2009

linen patchwork 2.0, finished!

I finished my second thrifted linen patchwork quilt, yay!

Version 2.0 is pretty much the same as the first one, only one row longer (10x13 - that's 130 different prints!)

For the back, I used a fun cheater print sheet. Hmmm... Kinda looks like overkill in this picture, huh? Oh well, I think it's cute. The binding is scrappy, 7 different pieces.

It's all boxed up now, and will shortly be on its way to my mom in Texas. She'll be taking it to our family reunion in October, where it will be auctioned off. My grandparents are gone now, but their descendants (11 children, 36 grandkids, and I have no idea how many great- and great-great-grandkids...) get together every year for a reunion, and the highlight of the weekend is an auction of hand-made goodies donated by all the family members. All the proceeds go towards funding the next year's reunion. Isn't that such a great idea? (Feel free to use it!) Last year, I donated an awesome flannel rag quilt, and it went for $125!! I can't wait to see how this one does!

And really, I think my grandma would just love this quilt. She was a great seamstress (you'd have to be, with 11 kids in rural South Texas!), and so thrifty and crafty. I have so many great memories of the way her tiny sewing room smelled, the trips to the Five and Dime for fabric, and all the things she made. She kept all the hand-made prom dresses her daughters wore (from the 50's), and all the grandkids loved to play dress-up in them. And get this - she even used to give us handmade underwear for Christmas! She was probably the last person on earth who actually made underwear for reals, and not just for fun. And one year she made these hilarious fake bustier things (complete with stuffed boobs!) that hung from a coat hanger, that were supposed to be used to hold your pantyhose and other unmentionables. They were satin, with lace and straps and everything. Dang, I wish I still had mine! Ah, grandma, I love you, and thank you so much for your crafting legacy!

For the label, I googled up this totally cheesy poem:

A family is like a patchwork quilt
with kindness gently sewn.
Each piece is an original,
with a beauty all its own.
With threads of warmth and happiness,
it's lightly stitched together
to last in love throughout the years -
a family is forever!

Yeah, cheeeeezy! But good for a family reunion, I think. :-) (By the way, if you click to see it in a close up, and you notice any misspellings, don't tell me!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

oh my stars!

When Amandajean put out a call for folks to donate wonky star blocks for her Quilts of Valor project, I jumped right on it. I had been thinking about trying this block, so it was a great opportunity to give it a whirl. And I'm always a sucker for a good cause!

I whipped up these three blocks in no time. I admit I did have to rip out a few seams, but it wasn't hard to get the hang of it. I was thinking I'd send more than the single one she asked for, but I've had second thoughts - if everybody did that, she'd be forced to make more quilts! So, I'll stick to the rules and just send one. I think I like the middle one the best, so probably that one.

It's my very first virtual quilting bee - yay! Maybe someday I'll even be brave enough to try a swap. :-)

Project Linus workday

Just in case you're curious about Project Linus, here are a couple pictures from last Sunday's workday...

That, my friends, is one humongous pile of donated blankets! Some of these were donated by the folks that came to the meeting (my three are in there somewhere!), but many more were dropped off at certain stores and other locations during the previous month. This is not even all of them! There were at least 5 big bags of blankets waiting to have their labels sewn in. I spent most of my time hand-sewing labels into the knit and crocheted ones. Exciting, huh?

After the blankets have their labels, they are wanded with a hand-held metal detector (just like at the airport - no joke!) to make sure there are no stray pins in them. I got to do some of the wanding, which actually was exciting - it's a great chance to check out a bunch of quilts! There were a few stunning ones. Seriously, just so beautiful I couldn't believe they were donated! Next time I might take pictures to show some off. I wonder if that would be weird?

After wanding, the blankets are roughly sorted by size (small ones for the preemies, big ones for camps, then everything else), and finally they are bagged up in big garbage bags, 20 or 25 to a bag. Then our wonderful coordinator delivers them to the area hospitals!

And then there is the fabric! Bins, bins, and more bins! This workday was also a sorting day. Pacific Fabrics accepts donated fabrics all year 'round, but they also host big fabric drives in February and August. During a drive, people can donate their unwanted fabric in exchange for discounts on their purchases. At this workday, all that fabric was sorted by color/theme, and any small bits (squares, strips, blocks, etc.) were pulled out and sorted by size. After sorting, folks worked on putting together kits for the upcoming Blanket Bee (Sunday, September 27th from Noon to 5:00pm at all Pacific Fabric stores). The kits are either ready to go (a printed panel or flimsy for the front, paired with a coordinating backing), or they are a set of squares that will get sewn into a simple patchwork.

During the bee, the patchworks are sewn, and the blankets are made with a simple pillowcase method, and then hand tied or simply quilted. It's quite a production, and a whole lot of fun! If you're in the area, why not stop by a store to lend a hand? You don't have to be in a Project Linus group - just show up!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Project Linus #8

I finished my challenge quilt! I just did simple quilting through all the block centers, and then added more diagonal quilting through the corner squares on each block. Those lines aren't continuously straight, because the width of the borders+sashing was wider than the squares. But I just connected the corners, so that the lines zig-zagged a bit. It ended up giving the quilting an interesting look!

For the backing, I used a really wild Alexander Henry print, called "Stylish girls" (I got 6 yards of it for $3 at that awesome garage sale a while back). I know it doesn't match perfectly, but you'll have to trust me that it looks okay. :-) I think it will be perfect for a "tween" girl.

Here's a shot with both sides. And look - I even got the Project Linus label sewed on!

Things I learned with this one:
  • I tried low-loft poly batting for the first time, and found that it's not too bad to work with. I got some for free at a garage sale last summer, from a long-arm quilter who hooked me up with the local Project Linus chapter. I had been putting off using it, but I really didn't want to use that super poofy high-loft poly batting on this quilt. So, I tried the low-loft stuff. It was easy to work with, and it quilted up fine. My main complaint is that it's not opaque enough, and you can sort of see the back through the white (bleached muslin) on the front. From now on, I'll be sure to not use it for quilts with a lot of white.
  • I was lazy, and I didn't take the time to trim off fraying threads around the blocks after I added the sashing. And, of course, you can see many stray threads through the bleached muslin, especially for the blue framed squares. I'm a little bummed about that, but I'll do better next time. Or maybe I'll give up on that bleached muslin. I love that it's inexpensive and so crisp and clean looking, but I have a hard time sewing with it (my machine likes to "eat" it at the beginning of seams) and it's more transparent than regular cotton.
  • I tried marking quilting lines for the first time. I don't have a hera marker, so I dug into my neglected scrapbooking supplies and tried my trusty old bone folder. It worked great! This is one area that the bleached muslin did better in; it took the marking much better than the regular fabrics.
  • The challenge fabric worked fine for the binding. It was a little bulky at the corners, but still manageable. It was really nice to have one continuous piece, and not have to worry about seams. I think I will be using it for many more bindings in the future! Gotta use up the roll somehow!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

meandering away...

This is what I've been (slowly) working on all week. I've got 10 rows (of 13) done. Yay! The quilting is definitely not going as well as last time. Maybe it's because I'm not doing it all at once (though my back really appreciates the slow pace!), or because I'm not motivated to work on the exact same quilt a second time. Or maybe it's just because I'm not making this quilt for a specific person and so I don't feel compelled to make it as perfect as possible.

Whatever the reason, I'll sure be glad to have it done! I just started a small project that's been percolating in my mind for a couple months now, and I can't wait to see how it turns out. And I'm also hoping I can whip out a couple more Project Linus quilts before the meeting this Sunday!

Here's another finish I've been meaning to show off. Sadly, not mine! This one is from ircabbit, who won one of those sets of fat quarters of IKEA Rosali fabric in my Sew Mama Sew giveaway back in May. Just look at this beautiful quilt she made with them! You should go check it out - the back is cute too! I just love those greens!! What a great auntie she is. :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

hitting "reset"

I'm just about recovered from my mom's visit. I love my mom, bless her heart. But she's a little high maintenance and doesn't give me much breathing room when she's here. It always takes me a few days to recover...

Maybe I'm just bad at transitions. In my day job, I'm a software engineer. I do about half GUI design (what options can be changed by the user, what button goes where, etc.), and half actual programming (not my strong suit!). In the software design cycle, I usually spend weeks or months doing primarily design work, and then switch to development once the designs are done. That transition time always throws me for a loop, and I've learned to ease back into things by always starting with my simplest tasks - fix a tiny bug here, do a tiny long-standing enhancement there, etc. Soon enough, I'm back in the swing of things and can tackle the bigger projects.

I guess I'm the same with sewing. Now that I've had a week "off", I'm having a hard time getting back to the projects I was working on before. So, I decided to make some more swaddling blankets for Project Linus. They are my "reset button" for sewing - so easy, so finite! Now maybe I can get started on quilting the quilt I basted last week...

Isn't that blue flannel sweet? It's another rummage sale find, and must be vintage because it was less than a yard wide. That makes it a little small for a swaddling blanket, but maybe it will be the perfect size for a sick preemie.