Wednesday, July 29, 2009

holy heat wave, batman!

Seattle is roasting! I've been struggling to work in a house that's 85 degrees. But we're one of the lucky ones to actually have a window unit (upstairs; office is downstairs), so at least we can sleep at night, so I guess I can't complain too much. That poor thing is really working overtime!

Meanwhile, I haven't been sewing, but I've been preparing to get ready to start sewing! ;-) My stash of vintage sheets was overwhelming me. I have so many great ones, but starting any sort of project with them was a daunting task - imagine hauling out a dozen full-size sheets, unfolding each one, cutting a small portion off, folding it back up, etc. What a waste of time! So, I decided to go crazy, and cut up my entire stash into fat quarter sizes. Now they'll be all ready to go when I need them (not to mention, all ready to go for swapping!). At the same time, I'm taking a bit of each and cutting them into squares for my next project. It's been a huge task, but right up my OCD alley! I'm almost done, and will post some pics when it's all gloriously organized. Meanwhile, here's an in-progress picture...

Crazy, right?? And as if I needed any more, I found four more great ones at Value Village last Friday. I didn't even really plan on buying anything, but just thought I'd drop in with my daughter for a fun end-of-the-week outing. The smoothie place is right next door, so Vada gets a yummy treat while I get to shop with a happy toddler in tow - win/win!

Let me tell you, I was SO excited to find that pink and orange floral on the upper left. I already have it in green and blue, and now pink! It's gorgeous - I love the combo of pink and orange. It totally made up for a crappy morning of garage saling on Saturday. I went to FOUR rummage sales, and didn't find anything good. Not a thing! Vada, on the other hand, finally discovered Barbies. And now she owns two. I felt a little yucky about bringing Barbie into the house, but I knew this day would come. On the bright side, she hasn't played with them nearly as much as the new Woodkins toy we also found (for $1 - woot!). We spent some time tonight going through my scrap box picking out new fabrics for it. Fun!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

the karma twins

Here's what I've been working on - another set of twins! I just realized that I've made two of almost everything - two zigzags, two quick strippies, two simple gifts... Dang, I am quirky.

This time it's two "quiltlets", like I made for my daughter a while back. I was anxious to use the fabric that sweet lady gave me a few weeks ago, before it got shoved to the bottom of the project stack. It feels great to see these blankets done and ready to donate to Project Linus! I only wish I had thought to get that lady's email address, so I could show her the finished blankets. Oh well. I hope she feels a little bit of the good karma vibes that I'm sending her way. :-)

The pink flannel was exactly the right size to make the backs for two blankets (and that's why I made two!). Instead of using 7 different fabric strips like last time, I decided to try 5 strips of a single fabric with some narrower pink strips in between. I think they turned out so cute, and I love that they are so nice and lightweight, but still cozy.

If I were to make these again (and I bet I will!), I might go back to just 7 wide strips. With the "baste as you go" method, every seam is a chance to get misaligned by a smidgen, which can add up as you go along. I was only off by (at most) 1/2" by the time I got to the bottom, but still -- I'd rather not have to be so worried about it!

I also made a couple annoying mistakes. The first was when I was sewing the binding strips together. I remember thinking "great, solid fabrics! I don't have to worry about right side vs. wrong side!". Which is, of course, totally opposite - with a printed fabric, as long as you get the right sides together, you're good. It's with the solid fabric that you have to pay attention to make sure you get all your seams on the same side. And of course, I was very consistent and pretty much alternated the seams for all 10 strips, which meant I had to rip out half of them. Totally annoying! And no, this is not the first time I've made this mistake. I hope it will be the last time!!!

And then I goofed again when attaching the binding. I had intended to sew it on the back, flip it over and sew it down on the top. I did it the right way for the first blanket, but the wrong way for the second one. I'm glad I had recently read this post about sewing down the binding from the top, because it gave me the confidence to try it out. It does look slightly neater than the other way, but it's a little more work to ensure that you catch the binding underneath all the way around. I'm glad to have tried it, but I'll probably stick with the easier way.

I'm not sure if I'll let these count toward my PL goal. On the one hand, they're not technically quilts. But on the other hand, making the two of them probably took me about as long as making one regular quilt. I just don't want to get to the end of the year and feel like I "cheated", you know? Maybe I'll just keep these in reserve in case I'm not up to 12 by December... ;-)

Friday, July 24, 2009

loot, loot, and more loot

I didn't hit too many sales last weekend, but I did find a few cool things. My most exciting find was actually something I really needed - a new ironing board cover! My old one was so skanky, I don't even want to show you a "before" picture. I'd been contemplating making one, but when there's a new one (in the package, even!) for $1, how could I pass it up? It's not beautiful, as you can see, but it's SO much better than the old one!

Next up is this old tin of buttons, for $2. I love those big huge amber ones! And as an added bonus, it brought me at least an hour of kid entertainment - my daughter had a great time sorting through it to find all the pink ones, all the flower ones, etc. Love the old tobacco tin too.

Ten packs of old ric-rac for $1, and some cute old trim for another buck. Whee!

And of course there was some random fabric. The bee fabric is really cute, but a little weightier than normal cotton. I think I might make some fabric baskets/boxes with it. It's only 36" wide - I'd love to know when fabrics migrated from that narrower width to the more standard 44-ish width of today...

And, some scraps of hawaiian print fabrics. I'm hoping to one day make a "Postcards from Hawaii" quilt like this one or this one, so I was really thrilled to find these.

This morning I went by a couple more sales, and found this lovely "quilt cover for cradle" (whatever that is) from IKEA, new in package, for 50 cents. It's like a really small (30"x39", says the package) duvet cover, or an oversize pillowcase. But you really should zoom in and check out those sweet little flower girls - they are adorable! I think it would look so awesome as fussy-cut centers of blocks, kinda like this quilt.

And, yes, more fabric. $1/yard. I'm stocking up for halloween, baby!

And some girly flannels, some bandana print (just because!), and a shirred panel that I think will become a quick-and-dirty dress for my daughter.

And last, but not least, check out this cute folksy fabric. It's sort of like a flannel, but not as thick. Maybe it's a brushed cotton? I'll have to get my buddy Robin to take a look the next time she is over. It's has a teeny tiny selvage that reads "Beaver Textile Corp", but I didn't have any success googling it...

And yes, I have been sewing too. :-) I'm hoping to have a finished project to show in the next day or two.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

zigzag, done and gone

I finished up the zigzag #2 last week, and decided to give it to a good friend who was getting married on Friday. She saw the first version a while back and said she loved it - I hope she was telling the truth!! :-)

This was my first time adding a label to a quilt. I tried a black fabric marker first, and it looked like crap. So, I tried a green fine line Sharpie (as suggested here by Rachel at p.s. i quilt). It looked so much better, and it washed up just fine.

A funny detail about this quilt - I didn't even realize until I was almost done stitching the binding down that I had used one wrong fabric in my scrappy binding. There's a minty green bit in there that isn't in the quilt. I'm pretty sure nobody will every notice, but I had to laugh at myself for not seeing it for so long. But now I see how quilters can make "obvious" mistakes like getting blocks upside down. When you're looking at a quilt for so long, it's easy to stop "seeing" it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Twin quilts, that is! I'm happy to present Miss June and Miss July, my Project Linus quilts #6 and #7.

They are based on the Quick Strippie pattern from Mary Quilts, but I used different strips of fabric instead of just one print. And if you look closely, you'll see that these are all cat fabrics! Someday I'll tell the story of how I came to possess all this kitty fabric...

For the quilting, I did some random straight lines over the prints (in white thread) and stippling over the green/yellow strips (in green thread). Pretty much the same as I did for this one. I tried to be more methodical with the quilting, and they turned out a lot better than the one I quilted last week. I didn't even curse the batting too much (except when stray bits kept getting caught up in the walking foot - so annoying).

And here are the backs - pieced with 10.5" squares of novelty fabrics. Anytime I cut a novelty fabric, I cut some extras for the bin of backing squares. And when I get bored, I sew up a 5x6 back for the next PL quilt (or two, or three...).

So, let's see. Today is July 15 - that means I have 15 days to bask in the glory of being all caught up with my PL goal. Sweeeeet! I'm excited to concentrate on some personal projects for a few weeks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

my first quilt

I love a parade! :-) I'm joining (better late than never!) the parade of quilts over at Camille and Carrie's blogs. Here's my first "real" quilt, finished in February this year. I call it my "first hit is free" quilt, because I got all the materials for it practically for nothing, and because it totally got me hooked!

My last fully finished quilt was this one for Project Linus. I was hoping to have another quilt finished before this post, but I only got as far as finishing up the quilting, so it will have to wait a few days.

What I've learned over the last few months:
  • Use quality batting! Cheap batting is no fun to quilt with, trust me!
  • When you're starting out, do one quilt at a time for a while. That way you only make any given mistake once. :-)
  • Quilting for a charity is a great way to practice your skills without feeling like your time is wasted.
  • Blogging is fun, and crafty bloggers are wonderful, generous people!

loot report - yet more linens and fabric

On Friday, I ventured down to Renton to hit up IKEA [June - your duvet cover has been procured, and will be on its way to you soon!]. I mapped out all the thrift stores nearby, and had a great time checking them out. There are some really great shops down there - I hit a Value Village, a Goodwill, and a Salvation Army store, and they were all really huge and clean and well organized. I wish I could say they were cheap, but no. The prices are about the same as here (pillowcases $1, and sheets around $4-8). But they had a lot to choose from - I got a dozen pillowcases (my favorite is the one on the right in the middle row)...

And some sheets. Check out the yellow one!

In the afternoon, I hit up a nearby garage sale which had mentioned having fabric for $1 a yard. As I made smalltalk with the seller about the weather and sewing and kids, I mentioned that I was making blankets for Project Linus. She was excited to hear it, and said she had been hoping to run into someone from the organization, and she proceeded to give me all the kids novelty fabrics she had. It was so nice, and I think we both were glowing a little bit. It's nice fabric too - the two on top are at least a yard each, and the bottom two are flannels of several yards each (and there was a small stack of scraps that I didn't take a picture of). The pink is 60" wide - I'm not sure I've ever seen a flannel in that width! It's too big for a swaddling blanket, but I'm thinking it will be perfect as backing for a couple more "quiltlets" like I made for my daughter last month. I think those will be next up on my list - that lady was just so sweet, and I really want to see her fabric in some PL blankets!

And of course, there was some fabric for me... :-) She did let me pay for these, but gave me a great deal - $5 for about 10 yards. That brown in the middle is an awesome older Alexander Henry print, and I really love the blue floral one too.

It was a pretty great loot day. :-) And now it's time to buckle down for a while, and get to work on all those projects I have lined up!

zigzag quilt-along

In case you haven't heard, there's a follow-up project for the Old Red Barn Company quilt-along, and this time it's for a zigzag quilt! (I feel so trendy!) Amy of Park City Girl is leading the charge, and the details are in the quilt-along Flickr group discussion area. Also, there's a separate Flickr group just for zigzag quilts (started by your truly!), so if you want get all inspired to make one, go take a look at all the wonderful examples there.

I'm not totally sure I'll be joining this one, but I might go along as far as making a bunch of half-square triangle blocks. I've never tried them, so maybe now is the time! I'm fantasizing about making something like this or this instead.

And speaking of zigzags, here's the latest on #2. The scrappy binding is on, and waiting to be hand-sewn down.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

project linus #5

Ah, it feels good to finish something! Here is Project Linus #5, for the month of May, in all of its puffy glory. I used red thread, and did the quilting in wavy lines (a wavy stitch on the machine, not wavy by hand!).

With two more ready for quilting (and the binding already made - yay me!), I'm pretty confident I can finally get caught up this month. Keeping my fingers crossed... :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

progress, but no completions

I have been super busy, but I don't have any finished projects to show. Grrrr! That's what I get for having so many things going at once.... Here's a recap of my last week:
  • I finally pieced the backs for my two Old Red Barn quilt-along quilts. I don't love (to put it mildly) that abstract purple on the right, but I had a bunch in my stash and most of the colors matched, so I used it. I'm happy that I found a project that it goes well with, and doubly happy to have it out of my stash. :-) The fabric on the left is a really colorful batik, also from the stash. The stripes in the middle are the leftover blocks, with a few strips of the purple added in to get that section to the correct width.

  • I finally finished piecing my second zigzag quilt. I cut it out at the same time as the first one, and got as far as piecing all the blocks of 4, and then the blocks sat for months. I was so happy to get the top completed!
  • I spent Thursday on my hands and knees, basting 4 quilts (3 for Project Linus, plus the second zigzag).
  • I spent Friday nursing an aching back from too much basting!
  • Over the weekend, I quilted the zigzag. This time I used straight lines instead of following the zigzags, and it went SO much faster. It's maybe not quite as cool, but I like it. And I think the pattern on the back looks nifty!

  • I also continued working on these blocks. You might recognize these fabrics from the two zigzags! Months ago, I saw this design in an older quilt magazine and thought it would be so cool with linens. I happened to have a lot of 3" strips left over from the zigzags (and gawd, just how many times can I type zigzag in one post??), which I thought would be perfect. I'll post more about this one later, including a full reference (assuming I can find that magazine somewhere in the stacks of them upstairs...).

  • Lastly, I quilted up one of the Project Linus quilts. Man, I hate that monster batting. The quilt came out okay, but not great. I didn't even want to take a picture of it. How sad is that? Maybe after I get it bound, I'll like it better. And I just have to keep telling myself - it's warm and cuddly and colorful, and that's all that matters.

little bit o' loot

For the record, the 4th of July weekend is not a great one for garage sales. I only hit a couple, and spent a whopping $3. But I did score a few treasures, and only a buck each - two rulers (5" and 2.5") and a new cutting mat.

I'm pretty excited about the mat, since mine (the green Olfa underneath) has some pretty serious warps (um, I was careless with an embossing gun several years ago...). The new one is a Fiskars, and it's very plain jane (no angles, etc.), but at least it's in good shape! I was surprised to see that it's not exactly the same size as the Olfa - it's only marked for 23 x 35, and the outer edges are 24 x 36. I'm not sure I understand the logic, but whatever!

This is some fabric I picked up the weekend before last, but didn't bother to mention. I don't normally go for barkcloth, but this one was just so colorful, and only 25 cents, so I bought it. I wasn't until I had washed it and was ironing it that I saw the selvedge. I was surprised to see a name I recognized! This fabric feels so old to me, and I always think of Alexander Henry as a "new" fabric company. Makes me want to learn more...