Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Severe Bee Allergy

Yep, that would be my mom. The one with the severe bee allergy. The last time she got stung she had left her epi-pen out in the car while she was dining on the patio at a restaurant. Her friend ran to the car to get the epi-pen, got her injected, but it was too late - she ended up with a one-way Life-Flight helicopter ride to the nearest hospital - which would have been two hours away by car.

And just why did she not have her purse with her? Well, it's a lovely leather Coach bag - but with all the stuff she's got inside the beast must weigh close to 40 lbs.! My solution? Sew her up a super-fun quilted bag in her favorite color -- red -- in a petite little size that she'd be sure to carry with her.  It was my first purse and I really liked the way it turned out - a riot of different red fabrics crazy-patched together. Sadly, I did not take any pictures of it, but when we were visiting with my folks a couple of weeks ago, my sweetie looked at the fugly black canvas thing I was toting around and said, "you should sew yourself a cute little purse like that!"

So I did!
 It was a very spur of the moment project - basically I opened the cabinet o'fabric and pulled out some improvisational quilt squares I'd made a while ago and began cutting out the shapes. I quilted an "open-faced quilt sandwich" (just the outer layer and some batting)  and ironed some fusible interfacing to the lining fabric. I made sure to include some inside (quilted) pockets - one for my sunglasses, and one for my lipstick, and sewed the whole thing together.

My notions cabinet just happened to have some magnetic purse snaps inside which were not only super-easy to put on, but give the bag just the slightest oomph of professionalism. Here is the other side of the bag: keen-eyed readers will spot some Amy Butler Ginger Bliss, and Charm, and a couple of different Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

The quilting was done in my "faux free-motion" style and I think it pretty handily reads as a lovely paisley swirl.
I plan to tote it to a "Ladies Night Out" cocktail party this Friday - maybe I'll have to wear a hand-sewn skirt as well - just to be as hand-made as utterly possible!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Boo Yah!

The thrill, the agony, the accomplishment. Actually, I'm only halfway done with my latest circle applique quilt. I changed a few of the dimensions of the circles, and I've pretty much decided not to use any sashing or borders for the 16 panels. I had looked at some Kona cottons in black and red and thought that might be a fun look - to make it look like more of a modern quilt, but I think I am really like the assault of all the different patterns and textures. So, here you go - below is half of the sixteen panels rather randomly laid out on the "Quilt Room" floor.
I'd have to say I'm pretty happy with the way this quilt is going - I haven't yet experienced the "I hate this quilt and every fabric in it," phase that tends to happen while working on a big project. My only quibble has to do with the different shades of red - some are more orange-y than the others - I guess I'll chalk that up to the 'pleasing contrast' category.

My new job is going pretty well, since, as far as I know, I haven't made any big mistakes -- although for some reason, I have been a total klutz while on the job! Spilling tea, knocking over files, and today -- spilling a big bag of tamari sunflower seeds inside a cabinet and all over the floor! I'll be happy to have more time with the boys once their summer camp is over - we can spend afternoons doing the stuff we normally do - going to the beach, berry picking, and of course, hanging out at home building with Legos and...quilting!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

One of Sixteen!

The progress on this incredibly time-consuming project will most likely be slowing down somewhat as I have just landed a FULL TIME JOB! Wahoo! My three college degrees and years of hard-fought experience have finally resulted in a truly dreamy position at my boys' school! I am at turns thrilled, excited, daunted and exhausted. First to go off my schedule will most probably be gym workouts and oodles of quilting time.

However, in the midst of all of my resume re-writing, cover letter crafting, and interviewing and angsting, I mocked up one-sixteenth of this particular project. I have already sewn together approximately 1/2 of the surface area of the squares needed to complete a full-sized quilt for a certain someone who will be graduating from design school in 2011. At Christmastime he stated that he would like a quilt in the same color scheme as his favorite scarf, which, to the best of my recollection was white, black and red. Wouldn't it be hilarious if the scarf was actually puce, orange and violet?

Observant readers will notice that this is based on the maquette from an earlier post. For the fabric of Project X, I had the giddy opportunity to spend about an hour at Portland Oregon's Fabric Depot over spring break -- where they not only have a half acre of fabric, but large SHOPPING CARTS to put your fabric selections in. As may be apparent, I tried to stick with small scale geometric fabrics, suitable for said young adult recipient.

To calculate the number of squares I would need, I calculated the square inches needed for a full-sized quilt and divided that by the square inches of the maquette I made -- the magic number being 16. My design conundrums at this point are: to continue as is, having every square contain a magically pieced circle in the center, or to cheat a little and mix in some "blank" squares with no applique´d circles. What do you think, dear reader?

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Kaffe

This little quilt (28" x 38") was all about trying to use some large-scale fabrics in an intelligent way. The pattern is called "Vanity Square" by Cindy Hayes - one of those one-off patterns one can buy at their local quilt shop. I liked how this pattern ends up with a slightly random look and I think it *does* showcase the Kafe Fassett and the other large floral print I can't currently find in my stash to identify. The orange, brown, aqua and white one? Totally awesome! I think I have a couple yards of it left that I have been saving for - a skirt? another quilt?

I had fun with the quilting of this one - and I'm totally impressed with this crazy photo! My super-secret technique? Accidentally leaving the Nikon on "child" mode - which somehow really picked up the contrast of the quilting. Also, don't you love how professionally I have hung this on my bathroom wall? Thumbtacks! I'm so metropolitan.

Meanwhile, I am deeply in the middle of making the squares for my red-white-and-black circle quilt. They are proving to be very time-consuming -- I haven't been able to really pre-cut much of the fabric, so am finding myself cutting 12 different fabrics out on an as-needed basis. I'll provide some pictures...soon, but right now I've got a few big irons in the Life Fire and haven't found the time to get to it!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Trying Things Out

Math, it's what I'm no good at. Thankfully, there is not too much math involved in quilting, at least not if you're staying away from such fol-de-rol as designing using the Fibonacci series, or only using squares that are prime numbers... But for this latest charrette, I decided to expand on the basic CD sized template to see what could happen with more circles and more squares.

My notes for this one are pretty funny - "salad plate" "cookie jar lid" and "bottom of the blue juice glass." I've subsequently bought yet another compass to draw my very own circles, so I won't need to scurry all over the house finding appropriately sized circles!

The fabric I used for this was the remnants from the four angel costumes I sewed for my fellowship's Nativity play. It was the very cheapest white muslin Joann's had on offer which I then low-immersion dyed in two colors of blue and some black. I rather like this color combination -- it's all over my house (on the walls, in the curtains, in the art) and it is all over my neighborhood -- grey skies followed by patches of blue, with plenty of clouds, rinse, repeat. I took the picture of the completed quilt-let in full sun, and darned if that isn't a strange exposure! I think I have a lot to learn about photography!

Last week I embarked upon a full-sized quilt using these proportions - it's turning out to be very tasky - I hope I like it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Oh Kaffe, Kaffe, Kaffe. How you inspire me so! My newfound thrill at my newfound skill of pinless circle piecing met up with my fabric design hero for this cute lil' wall hanging I'll call Targets -- after the lovely Kaffe Fasset-designed fabric of the same name.

Delighted as I was at learning this new technique, I immediately started grabbing and pulling fabrics out of the Stash of Density. The size of my creation hinged on the amount of linen fabric I had, so taxing my brain with math, I figured I could cut 25 6-3/4" squares of the stuff, which meant I'd need to unearth 25 disparate orange-themed fabrics. I tried, Lord, I tried, to do it all with stash, but ended up sneaking of to my LQS for  3 or 4 other little hunks of orange-y goodness..

Initially, I had intended to have the colors radiate out from dark to light, but I ultimately didn't have enough range of value to achieve the look I wanted. So I scattered them randomly, ultimately satisfied with the way the values helped the eye to move.

I was trying for a sort of plaid look with the quilting - and used a range of colors, some variegated, some not, the result I thought, although simple, seemed to serve the quilt well, as it didn't detract from the kind of homespun look of the linen.

And oh! The back. Sheesh, did I overdo that! First I stitch basted some crisp white Quilter's Cotton Sateen, and then I tried tea-dyeing it in a dark bath of way-expired English Breakfast (I guess I don't drink that much caffeinated tea.) The shibori effect didn't show up that well, and the tea-dyed portions were very subtle. So, I rinsed the tea out, pulled out all the stitch-basting, and threw the fabric into some Dharma Trading deep orange. It's a little eye searing now.

Just for fun, I made and stitched on an entire bias binding made out of the lavender and orange font fabric before deciding I hated it and ripping it all out. Using some of my precious remaining Targets for the binding instead -- pleased me. Yay! I'm glad I made the change.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Circle Time*
What do freezer paper, an Exacto knife, a glue stick, and a blank CD have to do with quilting? That’s right, it’s circle time. Here at Naptime Studios I have been having a lot of fun with a brand new (to me) technique for making inset applique´ circles. After creating my Kerr and Ringle Eclipse quilt, I was eager to try more circle work and began hunting around on the internet. I finally found this tutorial, that although at first it seemed confusing, I found that if I followed it step, by step, I could actually achieve it!
Of course this new-found skill had me grabbing fabric out of the cupboard to try out different looks. Bright Kaffe Targets and white? 
Bright Amy Butler and white? 
How about a little Kaffe Targets in the brown colourway with linen? 
Finally, I grabbed some hand-dyed cotton for a more atmospheric look. 
All I can say is, it sure is fun to learn a new technique and to try things out. Anyone else want to give it a go?
*I also have been lucky enough to be a part of the occasional child-centered 'circle time'. There’s nothing quite so lovely as adorable moppets sitting together and listening to a story, or singing a song, or yes, doing the Hokey-Pokey. I love the Hokey-Pokey!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It is just a simple little exercise I put together for teaching My Very First Quilting Class! I taught four lively ladies last Saturday how to cut fabric, strip and chain piece nine patch blocks. I had quickly grabbed the two fabrics and pre-cut the strips and pre-sewn a few and demonstrated a little bit more during class. The boys were finally back in school after spring break and so I had a chance to sew the blocks together yesterday afternoon.
I was also doing this quickly, as I felt kind of guilty to finally be sewing after many interruptions and fun, fun trips (to Portland! to Yakima! to Puerto Vallarta!) so decided to sash with skinny white strips. I liked the way I rotated the blocks and the stripes and thought it all went together pretty nicely until I slapped the finished project up on my design wall. And there it was, regret. How could I have missed the totally cute option of putting  setting squares of the striped fabric in the sashing? I kept looking at it and ruing my choice, and now it’s too late.
I think I’ll get over it -- I can always put setting squares in a border!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Home Dec

Just prior to Graham, our second son's arrival, we began searching for a bigger house. The availability of family-sized houses in our area were slim, but after a few months we came across our current home. One of three on a quiet street near a State Park, it had 3 bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths and was kitted out in "Spec House Classic": white, white walls and beige, beige carpet... everywhere!

We had a baby, potty-trained a big brother and taught our new little one to walk on those increasingly disgusting carpets. Finally, we bit the bullet, hired a hardwood floor installer and transformed the first floor  with beautiful oak floors. The arrival of the new wood floors sent me to where I found this vibrant and somewhat quilty looking area rug. After a while, the proportions and the colors got to me -- and I designed a quilt with the same proportions, and the same color scheme, even taking a digital photo of the rug to the fabric store to match the colors.

I tried to make it just a little bit wonky, with uneven stripe widths, and not a few less-than parallel lines, backing it with some light weight denim I had in my stash. It's a perfect size throw for a boy who wants to take a quick nap, and a bright spot of color in an already colorful room.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pin Me!

Finally, with the month nearly over, it looks like I am going to get back into the sewing groove. A combination of a sewing hangover from my gifting frenzy, a lack of inspiration to start something new and a bit of dithering on how to quilt a UFO, meant that I really haven't quilted ALL YEAR!

I made a few attempts: after creating a backing for my Dotty Kaleidoscope quilt and testing out some quilting options on a leftover block mini-quilt, I just could not come up with a quilting option that seemed reasonable to me. This particular quilt is either going to have to wait until my quilting skills improve (i.e. I finally learn/teach myself to free-motion quilt,) or I cough up the cash to have it long-arm quilted elsewhere.

So this weekend I pulled out another UFO and dug around for some likely backing options. Hayden really liked the quilt top and asked that it be finished up for him. Perfect! This particular UFO I think I sewed in 2005? I do remember that I chose the fabrics ultra-quickly -- Graham was just an infant then and I reckon I was on a tight leash, what with the breastfeeding and all...

Although I really made an effort to be precise and get those 2' strips to line up exactly, it was only until I had sewn the thing together that I discovered there were some serious glitches in my methodology. Of course, the biggest glitches had to do with the most visible of the colors, the Very Bright yellow center squares. This, combined with my lack of enthusiasm for the Very Bright color scheme slowed this project to a crawl. In an effort to combat the bright color scheme I sewed the turquoise border on with the intent to put the purple Kaffe Fassett border on last. Although I didn't get to it at the time, amazingly, I had not cut into the remaining Kaffe purple print! On it went last Saturday, and I found just enough purple and turquoise flannel to piece together a backing.

So here it lays, all smooth and ironed and ready to be pinned - let the "fun" of pinning begin!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Really Big Fur Ball

Yes, I am still writing gifting posts. Did I mention that I was slightly busy the last week or so before Christmas? Some mysterious force moved me to buy yards of puffy ocelot-colored fake fur this one time at Joann's. Maybe because it was $1.99 a yard? Who knows? The stuff hung around my sewing room for ages until I finally moved it out to a bin in the garage.

It became clear that what I needed to do with this fake fur was to sew it up into a really, really big ball. I had been also using my ball pattern template to make a dozen or more lavender scented Christmas ornaments which I gave out as gifts. About the size of a tennis ball, I thought they were pretty darn cute. Not so cute were the three or four comments from receivers that they looked like cat nip balls. Having never owned a cat, and having never purchased a cat nip ball - how would I know? Fine, give my Kaffe Fasset and Amy Butler carefully chosen fabric balls to your cat. Namaste.

Which brought me to the big fur ball. What to get a sports-obsessed 14-year-old nephew? You got it! A fur ball! Turning a tennis ball sized pattern into a really big ball required a trip to the glacially slow copy/print store. I got to use the architect's plotter machine to enlarge my pattern. I cut, I sewed, I noticed how the fabric's time in the garage had caused it to smell -- not so fresh. Downright musty. I forged on. I then used my remaining box of craft stuffing to give the ball a nice poofy heft. Finally, I gave the whole thing a couple or five spritzes of Febreeze, wrapped it all up and gifted! I think my nephew kind of liked it. Here is Graham posing with it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gifting, pt. 3
Gosh, I'm beginning to lose the thread of the frenzied efforts that led up to Christmas '09 (that was a whole decade ago, after all!) but I tried a few new techniques and wanted to share them. At any rate, I have two other nieces besides the one who got the Eclipse quilt, and they needed gifts, too! Obviously, pillows were the answer. Specifically, quilted pillows, because if one can quilt it, one should.

The construction ideas were all mine, because a) I was in a rush, and b) I thought it would look cool. For Maggie's pillow, I re-purposed my Eclipse maquette, (remember this?) ripping seams here, sewing others there. I pinned it to some quilt batting and quilted an open-faced quilt sandwich, as it were. I had an 18" pillow form tucked away in a box in the garage, and found that two twenty-inch squares, after quilting and being sewn together with some leftover double-faced home-made bias binding, made for the perfect proportions for my pillow form. If I had more time, I might have figured out how to make the pillow case come off the pillow form for easy washing, but I didn't. My unstated advice to my two nieces, "don't spill a beer on your pillow once you get to college, or let your roommate step all over it when they have frosting on their shoes" (true stories from my college days!)

For Linnea's pillow I un-shoeboxed some remnants from the very floral quilt I made her back in 2002? I wasn't sure if I disliked the floral-ocity of the fabrics enough to start anew, but finally decided, "hey, it will coordinate!" The pattern was Jacob's Ladder from 101 Fabulous Rotary Cut Quilts, to this day, one of the hardest patterns I ever sewed.

The resulting pillows, if a little musty from their long hibernation periods in my sewing room and/or garage, were delightfully soft and kind of snazzy looking. The bias binding gave them a slightly professional piped-edge look. All in all, a good way to use up quilt scraps!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cutest Giveaway Day Winner ---Evah!

What fun! I enjoyed participating in the Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day, even though I never imagined my ultimate 'winner' would be soooo adorable. Below is two-year-old Tucker,  hugging his new buddy Jed on Christmas morning. I am so happy Tucker's mama Debbie took this picture and thought to send it on to me, and thrilled to share his adorableness with you all! Have fun with your squooshy new friend Tucker!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Gifting, pt. 2

Since I came late to the idea that I would make most of my Christmas presents, I decided to turn to projects and pieces I had at hand. I had cut the triangles for Kaffe Fassett's Big Diamond quilt out three or four years ago, and had tucked them away so carefully (in a snap-top plastic bin!) that it took me an hour or so to find them. I kind of shuddered at some of the fabric choices -- while loving others of them. The Amy Butler Ginger Bliss in two different color ways? Love! The acid green checks, and the lime green dots? Not! I decided to sew it all up anyway, because I thought ultimately it would be a bright and happy lap blanket for my mom, especially if I used the big hunk of light blue minkee I bought at a going-out-of-business sale as the backing fabric.

For extra oomph I stuck some extra thick, here it comes, polyester batting in the middle! I used the evil polyester because I had it on hand, and because it would stand up to the minimal quilting I wanted to do. Minimal, because I didn't want to weigh down the minkee, and minimal because we're talking December 19th here!

Ultimately, it turned out to be like a big poofy hug. I know it doesn't go with the decor at my mom's house, but I figured it might be a happy touch in her wintertime beach condo. I think she liked it?