Saturday, February 26, 2011

Books & Notions

   First, but unrelated: a photo of my son fast asleep in a big Ikea basket with several of his beloved blankies.  Too cute (in my biased opinion) not to share!



   I've been shopping at Joann Fabrics and Borders bookstore!!  Borders is unfortunately in bankruptcy and they are closing several stores in our area-- but it is very fortunate for me because everything is on sale!!

   Here's my booty from Borders:


I'm a big Kaffe fan and am looking forward to seeing his home and studio and inspirations.

I love the bright, colorful patterns of Anna Maria Horner's fabrics and there are a couple projects in this book that I want to try.
All  magazines are 40% off.  I didn't find any quilting magazines (that I didn't already have) that I wanted, but I love recipes from Cuisine.  I've already bookmarked half the magazine with recipes to try! 

And from Joann Fabrics, I got the following:

 This book was 40% off and I couldn't resist it.  It has a lot of great, fun ideas-- some of which I can try on the Valentine postcard/collage for my husband that I am STILL working on!!
a variety of embellishments 
tiny beads for embellishing postcard/collage
Here's where I'm at now with it-- doesn't look too much different from previous post, but the applique is now stitched and its sandwiched with a satin stitch around the edge.  I have started adding embellishments (tiny beads)-- I'll share more detail in a future post. 

 It is a big experiment and learning process-- trying new stitches and techniques, lots of trial and error, but I'm having fun with it.   
Some new thread colors to use for decorative stitches and a cute little pair of scissors
more supplies for postcard/collage
Thread and bobbin organizer for all my new threads

So now I'm off to go play with and enjoy all my new purchases!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Belated Valentine's Post

   Valentine's Day at our house this year was very low-key due to the fact that both my son and my husband have been sick since the middle of last week with a very bad cold and cough with fever.  
   In the morning, we gave the kids their Valentine's goodies.  I had a card for my husband, but no gift yet (which didn't matter to him because he was so completely ill).  
   So, with my Hubster and Little Guy napping and my daughter playing with her Littlest Pet Shop toys, I got an idea from Becky over at her Patchwork Posse blog to make a fabric postcard (link to her free tutorial here) for my husband for Valentine's Day. 
   Here's my initial attempt:

   It's actually bigger than a postcard and more of a fabric collage`.  I worked on it in little spurts throughout the day, and then decided I really didn't like the whole landscape thing after all!!  So now I am going to scale it back to postcard size (below) -- keep it simple and add embellishments.  

I selected a pair of red-crowned (Japanese) cranes because they are a symbol of fidelity, long life and good health.  Crane pairs mate for life.   I used to work with captive cranes at The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI and they are AMAZING creatures. 
   I will post the final postcard version when I'm finished.  

   So the big highlight of my day was walking out to the mailbox with my daughter (and getting some fresh, cool air!!)-- and look what arrived in the mailbox:  I won a giveaway!!  YAHOO!!   I never win anything!!  I love quilters and quilt bloggers!!  They are such generous people!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Brenda at Quilting Cowgirl.  She is doing giveaways throughout the month of February for her birthday, so click on the link to check her out.
I won 24 beautiful batik fat quarters, and a pattern to use them with-- Yay me!!


But my Valentine's Day continues to yesterday...
   And gets even BETTER!
      The Hubster was well enough to go to the Apple Store (allegedly for some software) and came home with:

bright pink case



A MacBook Air!!!  For me!!! (for a combination of Chanukah, Valentine's and my upcoming 45th birthday next week)


It is AMAZING and sooooo lightweight!!
And it fits in my pocketbook, too!!

   Since this is a quilting post, after all, I displayed it on one of my UFO's: a Trip Around The World quilt top in colors to match my daughter's sheets.  (Soft pink minkee is going on the back).

So now the pressure's on for me to really do this blogging thing!!  I was trying to be laid back about it.  I better get those juices flowing in my brain!!

I'm off now to play and experiment with my new, wonderful toy!! (and hopefully come up with some new ideas for the blog!)

Have a great day!






Sunday, February 13, 2011

Progressions: Ice & a Funky Quilt Top

   At the peak of the ice storm a few weeks ago, we had massive, amazing icicles hanging from our gutters. [You can see more snow and ice photos here.]
   Luckily, I filled the birdfeeder before the storm, because I was unable to open the window (due to ice buildup) for another whole week!
Hello, little chickadee!




We've had some melting a few days this week, and it's been neat to watch them change...

Pretty interesting, huh?

And now on to the quilting project in the works:  a Chinese Coins lap-size quilt for my sis and her husband (see my previous post for background info).

    My sister came over the other day and I showed her my arrangement of blocks on the design wall-- which was just not working for me.  She decided to be random and moved the squares all around, and then suggested adding a sashing/strip (of Kaffe Fassett Roman Glass that she had picked out) down the middle.

   So here are some photos and details (and different lighting situations) of the quilt top now that it is assembled:

This is a little more than half the quilt top hanging over the banister in the hallway.
I will put one more black border along the top and bottom.





detail in different light

My brother in law has a dump truck (and a backhoe), 
hence the "fussy cut"



Friday, February 11, 2011

Chinese Coins Quandary

   This morning I spent squaring up my blocks for a Chinese Coins lap-size quilt for my sister and her husband (a belated anniversary gift).   I found a complimentary version of this pattern by Marcia Hohn on-line.   I collected fabric donations from all of their close friends-- a lot of people gave T-shirts, so that will be a separate quilt.  

   My first challenge was trying to unify all the various (clashing!) colors, patterns and textures!! (See photos below for details).  On the suggestion of a very artistic quilting friend, I purchased my very first jelly roll (Robert Kauffman dark palette of Kona cotton solids) and interspersed them.  I also added some scraps from other quilts I've made.  On the back, I am planning on using black minkee so it will be nice and cozy.

   I have 17 blocks @ 15" square each.  (Yes, 17 is not a practical number for a quilt-- I'll be using 16 of them).



Here are photos of the individual blocks:


Block 1 (have 4)

Block 2 (have 4)

Block 3 (have 2)

Block 4 (before squaring up; have 3)

Block 5 (have 2)

Block 6 (have 2)

  I squared them up with an improvised method using three gridded rulers:  6" x 24", 2" x 17" and 12 1/2" square.  (Too difficult to describe my method, but it came out accurate)






  Then I proceeded to put them up on the design wall:
    


AAAAAAH!!!!!  CLASH  of Colors!!!
   OVERWHELM!!  Can't bear to look!!  I attempted to put them up in an "orderly" pattern, but it looks too... too...  what's the word I'm looking for???!!

   I forgot to mention that I also made 2 coin strips about twice as wide as the rest (it didn't photograph well, but you can see one of the strips below, down the middle)

   So for right now, I'm calling it a day for these blocks of mayhem!!  

   My Sis will be stopping by later with my nephew (who's only eight but had to come into town for surgery for two hernias!!  Poor boy!) and I'll get some input from her.  We'll play with it on the design wall and bounce ideas off each other (she's not a quilter, but she's artistic) and have some fun and see what we come up with.  

Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Very First Pincushion!

   Now that I'm reading so many wonderful quilting and crafting blogs, I've been getting the "itch" to make a pincushion.  I finally found just the right pattern for a beginning sewer.   Retromummy kindly published a post about Sewing 101.  It had links for several projects, including this pincushion tutorial.  I got the idea to add the ribbon from a free pincushion project from allpeoplequilt.com.

Voila!!  There she (?)  is....

Side 1:
and Side 2:


Pretty cute if I do say so myself!  I'm happy with it :o)

* * I aplogize for the color and light quality of my photography-- I'll have to work on that.

In making this, I learned a few new things, such as what a doll needle is:


(It pierced some pretty big holes in my brand new homemade project!)

Since I took the Process Pledge, I have to confess that I also cheated a little bit:



I used fabric glue to secure the end of the ribbon!!  (You can see the tail just to the right of the coin)



And I really have to learn how to do invisible stitching!! (I'm almost embarassed to post this, but it's hard to learn these things from a book and I don't have a real live mentor handy at the moment-- I really need to sign up for a class!  And soon!)

slightly outdated book from 1976-- but still a good resource



In retrospect, as I post this, it occurs to me that I could very easily find a video tutorial on youtube or on one of the quilting blogs--  I'll remember that for next time!


I used one of my all-time fabric fabrics:  Cherish (in Plum) from Kona Bay Fabrics.  Isn't it gorgeous?






I usually use my magnetic pin holder, but now I don't have to take that back and forth with me to the dining room table when I'm pinning borders on a quilt top-- I can use my handy new pincushion instead!




P.S.-- For those of you who read my previous post about kitchen towels, you will appreciate how excited I was to find these at Target yesterday!!  Bright and cheerful (unlike the weather outside at the moment!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

(Unsolicited, non-quilt-related) Tip of the Day

a few of my kitchen towels


I don't know about you, but I frequently drink coffee or eat while driving in the car.  I have had far too many coffee spills/drips (good thing the interior of my car is dark!) and crumbs on my lap, so I now always keep a kitchen towel in the car with me.  When I eat or drink, it goes on my lap and then I toss the crumbs out the window.

I wash and replace it as needed.

It comes in very handy for a variety of things, actually.  My daughter uses it when she has her snack/drink after I pick her up from the bus and take her directly to dance class.

I actually have a fetish for kitchen towels.  I tend to favor the ones with chickens on them, but right now I only have one really faded one (its on the bottom left of the photo--time to buy more!).  Target always has great ones for different occasions (Halloween, Valentine's Day, seasonal).  Kohl's also has a good selection.  And Anthropologie always has very charming, vintage-y (albeit overpriced) ones.

As quilters/sewers, some of you probably make your own-- I'll have to add making a kitchen towel to my list-- I'm sure there are some great tutorials out there.

Hope you enjoy(ed) my little tip!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Step By Step..

View of ice storm outside my sewing room (guest bedroom) window


One of the things I like so much about quilting is that it has so many different, little steps along the way,



and as you proceed,



the "product" gradually comes together,


step by step



 little by little.



This is part of a pieced border for the project I'm currently working on



 I am a detail-oriented person, so this works well for me.

 I am also a very visual person, so working with fabrics that I love is a privilege.





These charming 1930s reproduction prints are from Marcus Fabrics, 
Aunt Grace Authentics line (from a few years back)



     Discovering my newfound passion for quilting (and pursuing it) has been very therapeutic for me.  With my PPD (postpartum depression), I feel overwhelmed so much of the time.  Since I'm not feeling my best (even though the meds have helped me to be more functional), the daily tasks of being a homemaker/stay at home mom are very challenging for me.  I like to be organized, but with young kids, life is very chaotic/ disorganized/messy.  For me, it's hard to keep up with just the basics and I've learned to let a lot of things go-- but almost too much so.

  But the thing about quilting is that I can escape, even if only briefly, to my sewing room and cut some fabric, or do some piecing and then leave and come back to it.  Even if its only for five minutes, it refreshes me and restores my sanity.  Which in the end, is better for both me and my kids (and the Hubster, too).

So without further ado, let me finish up this post and get quilting!!