Saturday, December 18, 2010

still here...

Yes, I'm still here. Sorry for the incredibly long absence... I had a big work deadline this week, which slowly ramped up the pressure over the last month or so. On top of that, there were bouts of sickness, snow days, holidays, birthdays, feeble attempts to get ready for xmas... Blech. I know I should love this time of year, but I honestly don't.

And I know it doesn't take long to make a blog post, but... I'm also utterly behind on reading blogs. My reader had been pegged at 1000+ for weeks now!! I somehow feel wrong to post when I haven't caught up on all my friends' blogs (or even worse, emails). So, friends, please forgive me for not having my act together. I'm working on it. And if you soon get some comments on really old blog posts of yours, you'll know why!

Meanwhile, here's a little show and tell from last month. I finally finished the Project Linus quilt I started way back in July!

The standard crazy patchwork back...

I did all the quilting at the November PL meeting (killing two birds with one stone!), and it was pretty interesting to do the quilting in front of a room full of people. I was surprised that so many of them had never done free-motion quilting! I'm no expert, but I did my best to demonstrate, and answered lots of questions.

I did stippling in the large strips, and tried a couple new-to-me things in the narrower strips. The loopy quilting in the pink strip was fun, and I did okay on that. The wavy quilting in the green strip, on the other hand... not so great! I think I was getting tired and sloppy by the time I got to that. Oh well, it was good to try it out anyway!

Sorry again for dropping off for a while. I'll try to do better in the future. :-)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm so crafty, I make...

Hair! Ha! I've been growing my hair out for a Locks of Love donation, and last week was the big day. So, in memory of Julie, and my aunt Georgeanna, and in honor of my friend Kelli and everybody else fighting cancer... I went from this:

to this! Big thanks to Hannah at Gretchen Scott Salon in Woodinville, WA, for a fantastic (and free!) haircut. I really love having shorter hair again.

Funny thing is, I hated (hated!) my red hair when I was growing up. If I had been given a chance to get a wig back then, I wonder if I would have said "hey, make mine blonde, please!". Oh well, I hope my donation helps make a kid happy, whether they already have red hair or just want to try it out for fun. :-)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

October bee blocks

Here are my bee blocks for the do. Good Stitches bee (nice and straightforward)...

I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by this block. With all those seams, I was worried about having it come out the wrong size. But the directions (and my 1/4" foot!) are spot-on. I only had to trim a tiny bit, and it was perfect. I think it's going to be a really cute quilt. Though if I was making this myself, I know I'd take the easy way out (just do a straight patchwork, and set it on point). :-)

Friday, November 5, 2010


I had some great scores at the thrift store last weekend! Wouldn't these three sheets make a pretty something together? I think I can hear Amanda's sharp intake of breath - I know that one on the right is one of her favorites. :-)

And how about some more butterflies? I really debated about the one on the right - It's a Vera print, and I have it in purple (and love it, of course), but brown and orange aren't the most popular colors. Oh well, I always err on the side of buying!

I seriously almost squealed out loud when I saw these pillowcases! I love this print, and have it in orange and pink. It pained me a little to fork over $2 each for them, but wow, I just love them!

I also found a bag of new FQs from Joann, 7 of them for only $1! Very timely too - I just used the one on top for one of my bee blocks!

And last, but not least, some vintage fabric that had been sewn into a duvet cover. I love the orange and pink combination!

No thrifting for me this weekend - I'll be too busy sewing instead! Yay!

retreat - project #2

After all those triangles, I was ready to slip back into my comfort zone! I was inspired by this quilt on Jeni's blog In Color Order (another vintage sheet fan!), and knew this would be a fun and simple retreat project. I went through my stack of pre-cut sheets (6" squares), and grabbed any that I liked that I had at least 5 of. I brought about 80 prints, when all I needed was about 30! Oh well, it gave me plenty to choose from at the retreat!

I really love the simplicity of it. I didn't think too hard about the layout - I just narrowed it down to my favorite prints (anything 'colorful'), and then I slapped them up on the design wall. I did some minimal rearranging as I went, but I really tried not to over-think it.

(I stole this picture from Karen's blog post). The purple square really jumps out, doesn't it? I probably won't get this quilted until next year. In the meantime, it will languish in 'quilt purgatory' (draped over the stair railing upstairs), where I'll get enjoy petting it whenever I walk by!

Friday, October 29, 2010

retreat - project #1

The quilt retreat was awesome! I was fighting a stupid cold the whole time, but I was determined to not let it get the best of me. There were no super late nights this year, but when we weren't eating or sleeping, we were sewing! Here are my buddies Quynh and blogless Suzette (not great pictures, sorry! I hate my new camera.... grr....)

My biggest project by far was a half-square-triangle quilt. It's been on my wish-list since I saw this quilt last summer. Loved, loved, loved it! I started with 5" squares, with white for the background, and 32 prints from my stash (mostly "colonial" type reproductions), in all sorts of pink, peach and salmon-y colors. I came to the retreat with all the squares cut, and the white ones marked for sewing. It took me about 8 hours just to sew, cut and press all the HSTs! I made them in the standard fashion (sewing 1/4" on both sides of the diagonal), except that I trimmed the corners before I cut along the diagonal. I don't know where I read this tip, but if you fold the square along the diagonal and snip across the corner (perpendicular to the raw edges, not perpendicular to the fold), it makes a notch in the corner such that you don't have to do any trimming after you cut and press the HSTs. It works great - but only if you're very precise! My HSTs were pretty good, but not exactly perfect. I was torn - should I spend the time to square up all 256 of those blocks (ug!), or just throw caution to the wind and sew them all together (and maybe end up disappointed)? I had some (40) extra blocks, so I decided to make a test mini quilt to see just how far off my squares were. Turns out that they were fine! Or at least fine enough for me. :-)

And after 8 more hours of sewing, and I had 16 blocks of 16 HSTs! Yay!

I would have sewn them all together and called it done, except certain friends kept pestering me with suggestions... How about a different arrangement for the blocks? Like maybe this...

Or maybe all pointing out...

Or maybe all pointing in...

And how about sashing around each block? Or maybe just around the groups of 4 blocks? Would the sashing be the same white? Or maybe an orange or gray would look cool! Arg!!!! After 16 hours of working on it, I was in no frame of mind to make a decision! I gathered up the blocks, and moved on to a different project. I'm going to let it percolate for a while. If you have any opinions or brilliant ideas, let me know! :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

back from vacation

We've been back from Texas for a few days now, but I'm still not back to normal. I felt like I was fighting some sort of flu the whole time we were there, and now I'm left feeling exhausted and spacey all the time. I hope it clears up soon - the quilt retreat is next weekend, and I've still got lots of prep to do!!

Here's a sure sign I've been on vacation...

A new stack of craft magazines! It's one of the few times I let myself splurge on magazines - who needs them when you have the internet, right? But on vacation... if I can't *be* crafting or reading blogs, at least I can be looking at crafty p*rn!

I'm happy to report that my stepmom loved her new patriotic table topper! I lucked out, and it was the perfect size for her dining room table. And sorry I'm way late, but the winner of the mini quilt kit is Elaine from Soggy Bottom Flats. Yay!

In more somber news, my friend Julie (who I made my first pink quilt for) passed away last weekend. I'm so sad she's gone from the world, and for all that she and her husband had to go through, especially in those last months. I'm grateful that I was able to give a little comfort with that quilt - Brian said Julie used it all the time. I stole this picture from her blog....

Friday, October 8, 2010

quickie projects

I'm almost embarrassed to post about these, because they're such quick and easy projects. But what the heck! Here's what you can do with 15 or 30 minutes of sewing time...

Cut a pretty pillowcase in half, sew a casing and add elastic at the top. There you go - a cute little skirt!

Take a couple of old (but dearly loved) dresses that have become too small up top...

Chop off the dress tops, chop off the bottom 3 or 4 inches from a new shirt, and sew the skirt to the shirt (I just used my serger). There you go - two new twirly dresses!

Take one crappy old canvas bag and cover the random logo with a patch of cute vintage fabric. There you go - a new bag for your budding ballerina to take to dance class. Sweet!!

[PS. I haven't forgotten about the giveaway - I neglected to mention a deadline, so I'll pick a winner on Thursday 10/14.]

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

[First of all, thanks to all 3 of you who raised your hand for the flannel scraps giveaway! I was happy to have any takers at all! Congrats to #2, Pam of Warm Hugs Design! Send me your address and I'll get those scraps in the mail to you!]

And now, another finish!! I'm only a little late on this one... It's a table topper that I started way back in July - a birthday present for my stepmom, Claudia. I'm so happy to have it done in time to hand-deliver it when we visit my family in Texas later this week. Claudia loves to decorate for holidays, so I think she'll really like it. My dad is a former Army guy, so he should at least appreciate the theme!

I'm so proud! It's really my first traditional quilt project, with REAL blocks, and sashing and cornerstones and everything! And I kinda love it - all the fabrics came from my stash, but they came together so nicely. Every bit (except the star points) has stars - even the cream has a tiny star print! The design (such as it is - it's pretty simple!) is my own - I just made it up as I went.

I liked it so much, I made a tiny version to go with it!

I considered giving them both away together, but I'm going to be selfish and keep the little one. I want to start a wall of mini-quilts, and this will be my first one. Yay!

I love the stars... I was going to go wonky at first, but I'm glad I kept it traditional. Well, maybe they're slightly wonky anyway... :-)

The quilting is just a free-motion stippling. It's been a while since I did any of that, so it was fun to get back in the groove. And nice to only have to do these small sizes! The mini is about 20" square, and the big one is about 36" square.

I thought about trying to make it dual-purpose by putting something Christmas-like on the back. After much mental debate, I settled on this snowflake print that matched the color of the binding, and did a plain back. I added little pockets on the corners, in case they want to hang it on the wall instead of using it on the table. I'm not sure it will work (I've never tried to hang a quilt before!), but I'd read about it somewhere and figured it wouldn't hurt to try! Hopefully the corners are subtle enough that the quilt can still be used upside down on the table at Christmas time.

So, it's a finish, and you know what that means - another giveaway!

How about a kit to make a little mini quilt of your own? Everything you need (except for batting) is included, and it's all cut to size and ready to piece. I'm not including any instructions for how to put it together, because I'm sure you can figure it out (you can always email me with questions). Oh, heh - I was just about to say that international shipping is okay, but duh! Oh wait, maybe some ex-pat would like a little reminder of home? Anyway, everyone is welcome to enter, just let me know if you're interested in your comment!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

up to my ears in flannel!

When I go out thrifting, I always keep an eye out for flannel fabric. I'm happy to find either scraps (usually left over from someone's pajama project), or whole pieces (pajama projects that never happened!). But a few weeks ago, I went to a garage sale and got a HUGE box of flannel for something like $5 or $10. It was a crazy amount of fabric - about 40 yards in all! It's not the most exciting fabric in the world, but I knew I could give it a good home and put it to use right away...

I collect all my flannel in a big bin, and every once in a while I go through and process it. This huge addition pushed me over the edge, and I felt like I was working on nothing but flannel all last month!

As I've blogged about before, I love to make swaddling blankets (look, a tutorial!), or use flannel for the backs of "quiltlets". So I first took all the big pieces of printed fabric, and cut them into swaddling blanket size (about 42" long) or quiltlet size (about 60" long). Then I took all the printed scraps, and cut them into 7" (if possible) or 6" (if not) squares. Then I cut up enough solids into 6 or 7" squares, to match up with the prints, and made rag blanket squares. I tried to find a tutorial for exactly how I make these, but all the ones I could find showed how to use batting inside. I just use a third flannel square (same size as the outer two squares), and sew a big "X" from corner to corner, through all 3 layers. I was an X-sewing machine!!

After I had a bazillion squares, and it was time to sew them into blankets. Here's the first one, with all unique squares. It's a 9x12 grid (so 108 different prints!), with about 3/4" seams, so about 50" by 70" in size, I think. This first picture is after snipping the seams, but before washing.

That one had a lot of girlie prints, so I wanted to do another one for a boy. I didn't have nearly as many boy prints, but I did have multiples of the prints I did have, so I grouped them into 9-patches.

And here they both are, after a couple long washes and dries. You would not believe the amount of lint these things generate when you wash them! But they are so soft and fluffy. And heavy - I love that!

Unfortunately, these blankets can't be given to Project Linus (because the lint can get into wounds and equipment, etc.). So, I'll soon be taking them with me to Texas when we go for a family reunion. The highlight of the reunion is an auction of handmade goods, and the proceeds from the auction fund the reunion for the next year. I love that! Last year, I donated this quilt, which sold for $84. The year before that, I did another rag quilt (like the girlie one here, but with 6" squares), and it sold for $125! I'll surely be lowering the price by bringing two quilts this time, but whatever. It's for family. :-)

Even after making these two quilts, I still have enough squares left for at least three more. I know, it's crazy! AND, I have a huge pile of swaddling blankets just waiting to be sewn up! But, yay, all my flannel is processed, and all I have left is a crate full of scraps less than 6 or 7" in one or both dimensions. My plan is to someday turn those into coin quilts for Project Linus.

Speaking of which... remember my idea about always having a giveaway when I have a major finish? Well, is anyone out there up for a grab-bag of flannel scraps? You could whip up some cozy patchwork rice warming bags, or some smaller cold/hot packs for kids for Christmas gifts! If you're interested, just say so in your comment, and I'll draw a name on Monday. This one is for US folks only, because it will be a big chubby flat rate envelope... The next one will be international, I promise!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

september bee blocks

Here's my block for Colima, for the Vintage Sheet Quilting Bee. I love the "flower" blocks she requested! She asked us to use similar colors, and it was really hard to choose a set of prints! I finally settled on sort of "groovy green flowers". I like it! [I feel the need to point out that the block is actually square - I'm using a new camera, and it doesn't do closeups very well...]

And here are my two blocks for the do. Good Stitches bee. The fabrics are pretty random (from my very random stash!), but it looks like they will go good with the others. Can't wait to see how Jennifer will put them together!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

back from vacation

Ack - almost a month since my last post. I really did not mean to disappear like that! We went on vacation, and when we got back I just could not get my act together! I feel like I'm finally (sort of) back on track. Just in time to go on another vacation in a couple of weeks. Yipe.

Anyway, let me start back with a huge shout out to Amanda, who made some wonderful new dresses for Vada. I tried to get a good picture of the beautiful rainbow dress, but Vada was not cooperating that day. But do go check out the pictures on Amanda's blog - it really is fantastic! I thought the rainbow twirler would be Vada's favorite, but no - she fell in love with this sweet apron dress instead. Must be all that pink!

I love the little apron detail!

And it definitely meets the "twirly" requirement!

Thanks, Amanda!! Your sewing ROCKS!

I'll be back soon with some crafty stuff of my own. I've been sewing like crazy, and I've got lots to report....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

91 and counting!

The sweatshop was a success! Quynh and Robin came over, and there was much sewing (with bonus baby snuggling!). We got a dozen pillowcases fully made, plus a bunch more in various stages of completion. I been continuing to work on them, and I'm now up to 91 completely done, and 9 more in progress! That's 100 pillowcases, soon to be off to ConnKerr Cancer!!

I'm so excited. It's such a worthy cause, and I'm loving the stash-busting. Each pillowcase is just a smidge over one yard of fabric, so that's over 100 yards of stash busted! Believe it or not, I still have a lot of fabric left. So, I'm continuing to cut out more, and plan to keep going (though at a slower pace for sure!). Here are a few of my favorites, from fabric I've blogged about...

From the coordinating prints that I picked up at the Purge Party in April...

From those coordinating bowling prints that I picked up at a stash sale a couple months ago...

From the vintage ballerina print I found last summer, and the great curtain fabric I found last fall...

And just a few from the epic cat lady estate sale. I'd say at least 2/3 of the pillowcases are from fabric I got at that sale. I'd like to think she would have approved of her kitty fabrics being used for this cause!

I realized a couple things as I was working on these. First, pillowcases are perfect for large prints that aren't easily used for quilting. It's nice to know that I can put them to good use. Second, I now have a greater appreciation for "blender" prints. It was fun to pick out prints for the borders and trims that coordinated with the main panels, but I couldn't always find a perfect match. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more fabrics like that in the future.

Lastly, this really showed me how much I dig sewing like this. I imagine most people would find it totally mind-numbing, but I find it meditative and downright addictive. I think it means I must really be a quilter at heart. :-)