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!