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?