Thursday, October 29, 2009

crafty friends

You know you have a crafty friend when...

They visit for the weekend (along with two kids, sister and brother-in-law), and they just happen to bring their sewing machine and 3 quilts to baste and quilt! And, then they decide to also bake and decorate a fancy cake to take back home for a party! All in less than 2 days!! My friend is a maniac. Only (ha!) one quilt got basted and quilted, but the cake was made and it was awesome (dang - I wish I'd taken a picture!). I wish a picture could capture the sense of chaos in the house, but there is just no way. Instead, here's a picture of her quilt (for a charity auction) and my trashed living room...

AND, we girls got to spend Saturday morning going garage saling! Yippee! It's almost the end of the season, so it was great to have one last fling. :-) Here's a bit of the crafty loot I picked up:

These are 4 practically brand-new hand-made curtain panels, about 1.5 yards of fabric each. All for $1! They will at least make some great quilt backs.

And this is just a portion of a $1 bag of scrap fabric. Nothing fantastic, but definitely some usable bits, and I sure do love the "mystery" of a random mix of scraps!

So, I have one more week until the quilt retreat. I'm excited, but I'm not at all prepared! I've made a list of all the crafty projects I'd like to do, and sort of prioritized them, but I haven't put anything together yet. Has anyone been to a quilt retreat before? Any words of wisdom about what to bring, what not to bring, how to prep projects, etc.?

And does anyone have any exciting projects that they're doing for xmas gifts that they'd like to share? My main "friend" gift this year is going to be this project - I've already ordered a gazillion (okay, 24) notebooks, and am trying to pick out some cool fabrics and get the pieces cut so that I can just assembly-line them at the retreat. I think I'll try to whip up a trial version this weekend, so that I can make sure I know what I'm doing... :-)

Friday, October 23, 2009

tutorial: simple I-Spy patchwork

There are probably a zillion I-spy quilt tutorials on the web, and here's one more. :-) This is how I made those tops in my previous post... They are about 45"x55".

First of all, cut two 5" squares from 30 different novelty fabrics. Then cut 60 5" squares from your solid fabric. That requires 7 and a half 5" strips of standard-width fabric, so about 1.25 yards. I made binding out of the same solid, so add 1/2 yard more if you're planning to do the same.

Chain piece them all, keeping the pairs together. (If you're me, swear under your breath when you realize you only cut 14 strips when you "doubled the recipe", and then trudge back upstairs to cut one more strip - grrrr...)

When snipping the threads, separate the pairs into two piles, with one of each print in each pile. Then hand one pile to your house's randomizing unit. If you don't have a small child, maybe a few spins in the dryer on the fluff cycle would do?

While the randomizing is going on, take your first pile of 30 pairs and put 6 aside. Pair up the remaining 24 and sew them together to make 12 sets of 4, then pair those up and sew together to make 6 sets of 8, and then sew on the 6 you set aside, so that you end up with 6 sets of 10-square-long pieces. Iron those all in the same direction - I put the solid on the right and pressed the seams to the left.

Take those 6 rows, sew them together while alternating the orientation, to make a 6x10 checkerboard.

It will look something like this. Repeat the drill for the second randomized batch of pairs, except when it comes time to sew the rows together, take a moment to make sure that the row that will attach to the first half doesn't contain any of the same prints as that first row.

Sew the two halves together, iron the seams to one side, and you're done. Then take a digital picture and be amazed that somehow all the red blocks ended up on two rows. Oh well, truly random things have patterns, don't you know?

There you go, easy peasy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hope squared

My contribution to the Hope Squared project at Margaret's Hope Chest is all boxed up and ready to go! I whipped up two I-spy quilt tops, along with two scrappy patchwork backs and enough binding for them both. I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to let someone else finish these off!!! I'm so slow at the basting and quilting parts, and I'm just so pleased to be able to contribute what I have most of - fabric!

I'm also passing along some simple whole-cloth quilt kits (coordinating fronts & backs) that I picked up at an estate sale last year. I emailed Carin to make sure these were acceptable (since they aren't technically patchwork), and she said sure! There's a Sunbonnet Sue at the Zoo, two of the animal alphabet...

...a Mother Goose, and a really soft turquoise flannel.

I'd been intending to sew these up for Project Linus, but had just never gotten around to it. I'm really happy to know that they'll be sewn up so much sooner than if I had kept them to do myself. I hope they will bring some joy and comfort to those kids!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PIF time!

 Sweet Marguerite twisted my arm into playing the Pay it Forward game...

Here are the rules, as I copied them from her blog:

1. I will make a little something for the first three people who comment on this post. It will be a surprise and it will arrive on your doorstep when you least expect it!
2. I will have 365 days to do it in.
What's the catch? To get a handmade prezzie from me, you have to play too.
1. You must have a blog.
2. BEFORE you comment here, you must post about your Pay It Forward on your blog to keep the fun going, and display the Pay It Forward button.

Here are my addendums:
- If you don't want a total surprise, I'm happy to take suggestions about what you'd like.  How about a book bag, quiltie, or  toddler birthday shirt?  I've also been thinking about trying some needlebooks and pin cushions, and I can make a pretty great bunting (fabric or paper)...
- I'd also be more than happy to "make" a crafty surprise package for you.  It's not technically hand-made, but you can be sure some labor was involved.  ;-)  Maybe you'd like some vintage linen FQs or 6" squares?  Or maybe a 12000 yard spool of white cotton thread?  How about a set of 5" or 6" novelty squares?  Pretty much any thrifted find you may have seen on my blog over the last year is fair game.  You know how I love to share the loot!   Well, except the beer fridge - my husband would be sad.
- You don't have to post on your blog first.  Who ever thought that was a good idea?   Comment here, then go post when you have time.  :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

auctioned off

Remember this quilt?  It's the one I made for the annual family reunion auction.  I heard from my mom that it sold for $84.   On one hand, that doesn't sound like much for all that work.  But on the other hand, it fetched the second-highest price of all the items (and none of my relatives are very well-off anyway!) so I think it's great.   I'm hoping we'll get to go next year, and I'm already thinking about what to make...  :-)

And speaking of old sheets...  I don't know why I haven't mentioned this before, but I've been hosting a series of vintage sheet swaps over at Swap-bot.  If you haven't heard of Swap-bot, here's the pitch from the home page:  Swap-bot is a online service that organizes group swaps and a community of creative individuals. Swap-bot takes the hassle out of participating in group swaps by organizing all of the participant information and doing all of the partner assignments. On Swap-bot, you can host swaps, join swaps, and chat with other swappers from all over the world. 

I've been a member for about a year now, with mostly good experiences, and have made a few wonderful friends in the process (hi, June!).  I'm not a super-active swapper, but I do enjoy hosting these sheet swaps and spreading the vintage sheet love.  We're about to start round #6, and the deadline for signing up is this Friday, the 23rd.  If you're game, sign up and send me an email or a Swap-bot message to let me know you read about it here.  And if you have any general questions about Swap-bot, ask away!

Friday, October 16, 2009

happy to be home!

I'm back from Iowa!  It was a great trip - lots of catching up with my old friends and watching our kids play, some fun time outdoors (despite the cold!), and even a little bit of crafting (some bat wings for my friend's daughter's halloween costume - sadly, I didn't get a photo!).  

Of course, there were also some not-so-great parts...  Like when Vada pooped in her pants (first time EVER!) at the airport before we even left Seattle.   Thank goodness I had a spare set of clothes in the carry-on!   I was so proud of myself for being prepared, but also terrified for the rest of the day that it would happen again, and I'd be screwed...  Ah, the joys of parenting!

And as usual, I caught a cold on the last day, and had to spend that horrible first day of being sick traveling back home.  I seem to always get sick right after I travel - I hate that part!   So, I'm popping Sudafed like candy and trying to get back in the swing of things.  Laundry is mostly caught up, and now I'm thinking about my crafty to-do list...  I only have a few short weeks to prepare for the quilt retreat, but I'd also like to whip up some quilt tops for the Hope Squared project.  Those are due by Nov. 15, and since I'm going to just send tops+backs, I'd like to send them as soon as possible so that they have time to be finished up (by people who are much better/faster quilters than me!).   So, those will come first. 

I was starting to get out my collection of 5" squares, when I happened to notice this poor abandoned UFO.  Maybe there's a way for me to salvage it for this project???  It's my very first attempt at quilting, before I knew anything about it...  I wanted to make some I-Spy quilts, so I just cut some novelties into 6" squares, and used plain old muslin scraps to add sashing to two sides of each square (stack of those on the upper right), then sewed those into rows of four (stack of those on the top), and sewed those together and added extra sashing, to make these really small and pathetic little tops.  I was even planning to try to make it double-sided, using one for the front and one for the back.  Luckily, my friend Robin very gently let me know that was a pretty bad idea.  :-)   Soon enough, I got distracted by other projects, and these poor guys have been sitting around ever since.

I have enough blocks/rows to turn these into two decent-sized tops (6x8 blocks each, instead of 4x6).  But I'm not sure about that muslin.  I know it's "just" a charity quilt, but I'd hate for it to fall apart after a few washes...  On the other hand, I've used muslin for other projects (like linings for bags), and it's been sturdy in use, even though it seems pretty thin by itself.  Does anyone have any experience using plain old muslin in a quilt?  I really don't relish the idea of chopping it all apart (I'm much more of a "make it do" person than a "do it over" person!), but I also don't want to send something that won't be usable...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the four tops

I've been sewing, yes indeed!

It bugs me like crazy to have projects cut out but not sewn together, and these ones have been sitting around far too long. So over the last week, I finished piecing them. Somehow, a stack of finished tops, all folded up and sitting nicely in a pile, doesn't bug me nearly as much!

There were two of these (very close to this one, but using more of the printed fabric)...

One of these (almost identical to this one, just with smaller squares)...

And one of these (same stripe, but with a paisley print).

If I can get them all finished in the next few months, that will be a total of 13 Project Linus quilts for me this year, one more than my goal! But I will probably put them aside for the next month, so that I can concentrate on preparing for the quilting retreat I'm going to at the beginning of November. I'm so excited about it!! I'm really hoping I can get all my holiday crafting done at this retreat, so that I can relax my way through the holidays. And I'm even more excited because my friend Robin is going too - we are going to have a blast! If you're in the Seattle/Portland area, you should check it out, I think there are still spots left!!

This will probably be my only post this week. Tomorrow, my daughter and I are heading out for a trip to Ames, Iowa. I lived there from '94 to '98, working at my first real software engineering job out of grad school. Those were the crazy internet boom days, and it was insane - everyone was young and workaholic, and the company was growing and changing every day. It was a wild ride, with lots of high and low points. I'm glad to have had that experience - and it sure makes me appreciate working for a steady, sane company now that I'm an old married person with a kid! I am so looking forward to my first trip back there in many years, and getting to see some dear old friends.

Monday, October 5, 2009

fabric stash purge party

Last week, I happened upon an ad for a Fabric stash purge party. I can't even remember where I saw the ad - most likely on Craigslist. I really wanted to go on Saturday, but ended up going on Sunday instead. And that was okay - I mostly wanted to scout it out to see how it all worked, in the hopes of maybe joining in the next time they had one. It sounds like a GREAT way to unload some fabric without going to the trouble of having a garage sale, or having to do shipping like you would with eBay or etsy.

I was too shy to take many pictures, so here's a quick one I snapped through the doorway on my way out.

As you can see, it was in a big warehouse type place, so there was plenty of room for tons of fabric, and plenty of space to move around. It wasn't too crowded on Sunday morning - I wonder how crazy it was on Saturday? They had a wide variety of fabrics, pretty well sorted by type (cottons, synthetics, flannels, fleece, upholstery, etc.). In the back, they had more tables with all sorts of other crafty supplies - books, trims, stamps, patterns, yarn, etc. And there were also a couple other tables heaped with just fabric scraps (mostly upholstery stuff) - fill a bag for $2 or something like that. My only complaints were that parking sucked (there was some charity fun run next door) and that the checkout was painfully slow, because they had to do so much work to keep track of what was sold. But other than that, it seemed well run, and I think I'll try it out next time.

The individual sellers priced their own goods, and sometimes added extra info like length, width, manufacturer, etc. Some were bagged, and some were not. I thought the pricing was pretty high, but maybe all the more reasonably priced stuff sold the day before? My main purchase was this stack of flannel scraps, each one about 1/2 yard or so, for about $8. I'm always on the lookout for bits of flannel to make scrappy rag quilts with, so I was happy to find a nice variety of small cuts.

And I couldn't pass up this ginormous (12000 yards!!!) cone of white cotton thread. I put a normal 1200 yard spool of thread next to it for scale. And actually, it wasn't just one spool, it was four spools, for $4. I haven't tried a cone this big with the cone thread holder I have for my sewing machine - I sure hope it works!

And finally, I picked up this sweet little trim for $1. It's little girlies with fringe dresses - how cute!