Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why can't I quilt?

Ok, well maybe I can quilt a little...sometimes...but not when it comes to my Marshmallow Brochette quilt!  Weeks ago, I was happily quilting until I realized that I was getting puckers - lots o' puckers!  I counted to ten and then walked away before I hurt it.   Then one day I sucked it up and ripped out a ton of stitches.  (That's right, two thousand pounds of thread...ripped right out!).   Then I re-basted...but I was still frustrated so I let it sit in a chair for another week or so...then today I picked it up, quilted one line and...wait!..whatGIANT PUCKERS AGAIN!  What the hell?!?  I have never had this problem before!  (At least not to this degree!)  I figured re-basting would fix it!  Of course the middle half is quilted just fine...with a quarter of the quilting left to do on each side...I'm tempted to switch to hand quilting, but that will mean ripping everything out!  (Which would bring the total to well over four thousand pounds!) PLUS, I have already quilted three lines of text.  And I really, REALLY don't want to have to undo that!  So now it's being punished....it's sitting in the corner where it can think about what it's done...and I'm going to channel my energy and make it a dunce cap! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Swaperoo!

WOOHOO!  I finished the last of my swap items!  This was my first swap and I'm totally hooked!  Thanks so much to Natalie for giving me a little nudge in the beginning...without it, I would probably still be a chicken and be missing out on the fun!

So the big item for my partner is a wall quilt.  My partner likes improv quilts - I DID actually use improv piecing techniques (I swear, I didn't use a ruler or a rotary cutter!), but it came out looking more wonky than improv...but I'm ok with that for my first try though!  Hopefully this will still fit the bill!
I finished piecing it ages ago (or at least it feels like ages) and then couldn't decide how to quilt it...I printed out a page with four pictures of the quilt top and then drew different quilting lines in pen...I did at least two rounds but I couldn't get it quite right...  Then it finally occurred to me to consult the masters: Denyse Schmidt and Malka Dubrawsky!  I checked out a bunch of their pics and noticed that they often paired square-ish piecing with circular quilting so I went with wonky, free-motion spirals. 

On the back, I added four corner pockets to hang it up.  I always picture it in the orientation shown above, but there's really no right or wrong direction...so this way my partner can hang it up any way she likes.
(you know I couldn't just use a plain backing, right?)
For my small item I made a little pouch...
(the bird is carrying a twig...but I can see how it might look like a worm...or a moustache!)
And I added a little bit of color to the inside too!
I may have messed up the math a little with the zipper...ok, I definitely did!  And even though I think it looks ok (and I got a second opinion - thanks Audrie!), the knowledge that it wasn't the way it was supposed to be was eating away at me.  So I'm sending this for the swap because I really like the way the bird and the piecing came out...but I made another little thing to make up for the zipper! (I know, I'm crazy!)
It's a needle book.  I think my partner will get some use out of it!  I used a tutorial from Sew She Sews.  It was quick and painless!  (I might have to whip one up for myself too!)  The darker blue is a pocket, the "pages" are a wool blend, and I even managed to add a snap!  I have had bad luck with those "easy" grommet tools in the past and with my first trial snap yesterday, I kind of messed up the plastic on the tool and bent the knobby part of the snap...I clearly don't know my own strength...I'm a hulk!  But it still worked and after using up most of my snaps in trials, I successfully added one to the needle book!  Again, I say "Woo!  Hoo!"

I have to confess that I really wanted to dip into a polka dot or something for the inside of the needle book or the pouch lining...but this IS a solids swap and part of the fun was not letting myself add prints...  I'm really happy with how everything turned out!  So now I just have to hold my breath and hope this suits my partner!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blocks Away!

I sent my first two blocks off to Natalie today!  I only ever blogged the red one, but I made one in orange too...
I had big plans to make more and I started pulling fabric...but as usual, I had a hard time figuring out which ones to actually use for each color.  But there are two more rounds for the drive, so I can always send more blocks if I can ever manage to make a decision! 

In the mean time, these are on their way!
I've also been hard at work on my swap items!  I have one little, teeny, tiny thing left to do and then I should be able to get some pretty pictures for tomorrow!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hello, my name is Lucy.

This is our little girl, Lucy:

We adopted her a little over a year ago.  These were the pictures that sucked us in...
how could anyone say "no" to this face?
 She came from Mississippi and she was a tiny little peanut when we got her! 
Fresh off the truck!  She only weighed about 10 lbs.
We got her when she was only 3 months old.  Puppyhood almost broke me - we were told she's a lab/shepherd mix, but I'm pretty sure there's a little great white shark mixed in there too!  This was Lucy on her 1st anniversary with us (in June)...
(is that a dog or a horse?)
She's such a goofy, funny dog!  Her likes include playing with toys (real toys or objects that she turns into toys...she's not picky!), swimming in her water bowl, and giving herself facials.
sometimes a girl needs to treat herself to  a mud mask...LUCY!!
She also likes to help baste quilts...
Her dislikes include being quiet and sitting still...
She also appears to have some issue with our Cotton Anniversary quilt.  When she first started sleeping on her bed (instead of in her crate) we took the quilt off the bed and tested her with random blankets...she never touched them.  In fact she never touched anything she wasn't supposed to.  So we put the quilt back on the bed and she chewed the binding! LUCY!!  But I fixed it...you could barely tell where she took a bite!
So after I fixed it, we took the quilt away...it lived on the couch for a while....she never touched it.  We used the down comforter on our bed...she never touched that either.  We put the quilt back on the bed...
LUCY!!!!
So does she love the Liberty goodness so much that she literally had to eat it up or (gasp!) does she hate it and want to see it die?!?  And how the heck am I supposed to fix that one?  On a side note, we have developed the ability to distinguish the sounds of illegal objects (like quilts) being chewed...we even recognize these sounds in our sleep...but that Lucy is a fast little chewer and she can do a lot of damage in a little bit of time.  In fact, during her second offense, she was not otherwise misbehaving or trying to be destructive...she was just enjoying a little quiet time in the morning and absentmindedly gnawing on a quilt!...LUCY!!

Before I attempt any sort of repair, we have again put the quilt on our bed (the last couple of weeks have been a little chilly at night) - so far, so good...  But seriously...how the heck am I going to fix it?!?  It's a good thing she's so cute!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dear Heather Ross,

Thank you for drawing teeny, tiny pictures and critters to adorn your fabric.  They were perfect for my postage stamp block.  I think this might be my new favorite!
Kisses,
Shannon
#68, postage stamp





When it's on point, the little gnomes stand up straight!
P.S. I didn't plan to have that goldfish looking, with horror and shock, at the sushi...it just happened that way...the twisted side of me thinks it's funny!  The crazy side of me feels bad for the cartoon goldfish!

P.P.S. I finally decided on a scheme for my Farmer's Wife quilt.  Not a color scheme, just a scheme.  I'm using the little blocks as a way to document my favorite fabrics...anything from my first purchase until the day I make my last block.  This way, I will get to keep little snippets of all those prints I love and dream about and pet when no one's looking...all the fabrics I'm afraid to cut into and use up and give away...they'll all be in this quilt!  For the Heather Ross prints in the above block, I haven't really started using them yet so I didn't want to use up too much...luckily, I could get enough of each print in these itty-bitty squares to satisfy my craving!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last weekend...

...we took a quick trip to Germany...Deutschland, if you will...
...we took a walk past a lovely biergarten...
 ...and an opera house (or haus)
Ok, just kidding!  We were really at the Cleveland Renaissance.
Those Hollywood folk were filming The Avenger's and we watched them transform Cleveland into Germany (or at least a German-occupied space...I really don't know anything about the movie...).  Although I did NOT see Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Lou Ferrigno, it was still pretty cool to see the process.  (Note: I might have fainted if I saw Lou Ferrigno!  Or growled in his face and said "Don't make me angry.  You wouldn't like me when I'm angry!"  The Hulk was my FAVORITE when I was a kid - and even though the Underoos were for boys, I was allowed to get the undershirt!  Really though, if Herr Ferrigno would have been wearing intact pants, I might not have recognized him anyway.  It's possible that I actually DID see someone famous, but since I haven't been to the movies since the last James Bond, I probably wouldn't have known they were famous...I'm a little bit out of touch!)

We were in Ohio for Chris's cousin's wedding.  We got goody bags filled with snacks at the hotel...
 {The bride's name is Joy...isn't that cute?  It will be even cuter when I use it as my fabric shopping bag!  It will be filled to the brim with joy!!}

The wedding itself was beautiful.  Stunning, actually.  Rose petals fell from the ceiling during the newly weds' recessional! (I am not exaggerating this time...petals literally fell from the ceiling!) 

It was also a lot of fun!...
Hope you kids had a good start to your week too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SUCCESS!!

Ok, now I know I said I was going to work on another fancy, shmancy paper pieced house.  But almost immediately after hitting "publish post" I changed my mind and decided to try my hand at that Night and Day block again.  (I don't want to ruin the surprise, but before you scroll down, please start humming the most triumphant song you can think of!) 

 I don't know how to make a picture spin to really showcase its glory...but if you scroll back and forth between the two really quickly you might be able to achieve the same effect! 

As if that wasn't enough, I also made some scrap bins for my cutting table.  I had been using an AWESOME system of throwing scraps into 2 piles: one for stuff to save, one for stuff to throw away. But my cutting table is about 2 square inches...ok, more like 2 square feet (just big enough for my cutting mat)...so you can imagine how well my piling scheme worked...every time I started a project, my piles would grow together into one, giant, amorphous blob.  Then I would have to try to pick through them (you don't think I would throw away a usable scrap, do you?).  So I FINALLY made little bins for myself! 
(Note about the labels: My father-in-law rescues stray, inanimate objects that he thinks were discarded by owners who clearly underestimated their lifespans - said objects are typically found on the side of the road - he calls his process Trash 'n Treasure.  We think it's funny!)
I used the tutorial from The Sometimes Crafter - it was SO easy to follow!  The only tricky part for me was working with the world's stiffest and thickest stabilizer (Pellon Peltex 71F...I think it might be bulletproof!)  It was actually really easy to sew with it, but trying to manage the stabilized fabric and pins at the same time while everything was in basket formation required a little effort!  (I imagine with normal interfacing, there would be no wrestling!)  For the outside, I used my Amy Butler Sun Spots  (I got excited and ordered it without paying attention to the fact that it's home dec weight.  But this was the perfect use for it!)  Then for the lining, I used random FQs from Joann Fabric (labels made with scraps and attached with lite Steam-a-Seam 2)...I love these bins so much that I immediately put them to use!
I'm going to go try to fill them up tonight!  Happy crafting!

Monday, August 15, 2011

little houses

What do you do with a rainy Sunday?  Teach yourself to paper piece! 

You might remember that I tried it with the Night and Day block - I was less than successful.  But I really wanted to learn.  I've heard great things about Carol Doak's DVDs, but I really wasn't interested in leaving the house (or waiting for anything to arrive by mail)...enter YouTube!  I watched two random videos and got to work.  (Oh did I forget to mention that last time I dove in without even one bit of instruction and then became frustrated when I didn't magically do everything correctly!) 

Now, I had a series of blocks that I copied from a friend's book - they were all ready to go and numbered so you would know how to go about piecing them...sounds like a logical place to start, right?  Well, sometimes I'm just not the logical type...I drew my own little house, figured out what order to sew my pieces in, and got started!  In no time I had my first little house!
Hey, you didn't think I would start with something easy, did you?
Yeah, most people would probably start with a nice windowless, maybe even doorless, house...not me!  I like a good challenge!  (And I'm clearly out of my mind!)  Upon quilting, this house will also receive a doorknob and new vinyl windows!

Next up, I sketched out our house...here's a real picture
and here's the fabric version...
(the fabric version didn't get a porch or landscaping...I'm not THAT crazy!)
(Oh, and sorry about the crappy pictures, but it's still raining!)
I have already sketched out another super-complicated block to piece...I'm sure it's above my skill level but I'm going for it anyway!!  If I manage to hold on to my sanity, I'll report back!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Somebody stop me!

I'm on a roll with these Farmer's Wife blocks!!
#10, bowtie
#6, big dipper
And my favorite, of all the things I've ever made...
#2, autumn tints
I just happened to be rummaging through my fabric bin and saw the frog prince next to that coral solid...I heard angels singing!  (I have since pulled fabrics for a new and glorious quilt based on my autumn tints block...I have no idea what pattern to use, but all of my colors ready to go!)
I also made a block for Natalie's block drive...
I forgot to cut the chairs on point...oopsie!!
check it out, make one...it will make your heart happy! 

AND, another thing that will generate cardiac bliss is giving to the Action Kivu Fundraiser!  I have no connection to it (I am not a paid spokesperson!), but it seems like such a great cause and you can win fun prizes based on how much you donate.  I'm personally drooling over that Flea Market Fancy bundle!  I haven't felt such want since the Manolo Blahnik sample sale! Any little bit helps and the families who benefit will be much more grateful than Mr. Blahnik!!  (I'm sure he's a lovely man, but you get my point!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Show and Tell

It turns out, I only have 2 kinds of sewing days.  The kind where everything magically comes together and everything I attempt works like a charm...OR the kind where I can't get anything to work...I started out writing about my nothing-works-out days (I've had a lot lately), but I realized that despite the frustration, I've gotten a lot done! Here's what I have for show and tell:

Last weekend I got my piecing done for my swap.  I had so much fun - I might make another one today and then pick which one to send!  (If any swappers are reading, you get a second sneak peek!)
improv = fun!
I decided to sit back and think about how I want to quilt it...I have an idea but I want to let it marinate for a while.  I'm really eager to keep going with this one though!  I hope my partner loves it!

I got some more Farmer's Wife blocks done - I've really been going in spurts with this one...I won't make any blocks for 2 weeks and then make a bazillion (or four) in a single day!...oh well!  Here are my new ones:
#5, Bat Wing
#15, Buzzard's Roost
#41, Friendship Star
#29, Economy
That last one doesn't look as amazing as it did in my head!  The colors were inspired by my husband's aqua polo and khaki pants (I know I'm biased, but he looks so dreamy in that combo!).  I immediately whipped up a little block, but it's not nearly as dreamy I wanted it to be...I might have to make a new one and save the colors for something else. 

And finally, I made my first zipper pouch!  Thanks to Toni and her fabtastic tutorial, I did it on the first try!  Woo to the Hoo!
It was so easy, in fact, that I'm going to run out and get more zippers so I can make a thousand!  Maybe two thousand!

Oh, and if anyone knows how to get my links back to a normal color, let me know.  Blogger tells me they are the right color.  I say "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" and I have spent WAY too much time this week trying to fix the electric blue...it just doesn't match!  I don't want it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Super-Extra-Amazing Goody!


Chris was the buyers' agent for a couple that bought a house a few weeks ago.  Part of the deal was that the seller didn't have to clean out the house.  Well, said seller left behind some goodies which the buyers let Chris look through...actually, more like pick through!  So check out this beauty!!!
Ooooooh!
Aaaaahhh!
Thank you seller who never threw anything away!  And thank you x10 to the buyers who didn't want an old sewing machine!  (Those buyers are my new best friends...even though I've never met them...) We have to get it a little tuneup but it looks like it was well-loved and cared for.  I can't wait to use it!!  PLUS there are a bunch of bobbins with fun-colored thread,
so fun!
a jar of buttons (didn't get a good picture - it might not be possible...the jar looks pretty gross on the outside but the buttons are good!), and a button hole sampler so that you know the right size for all of your button needs!  Thanks Previous Owner!
 Oh, and the manual and some feet!
(my foot was not supposed to be one of the feet!)
(And a ton of random stuff in the drawers...seriously random...we're talking shoulder pads! 1980s, Dorothy Zbornak, big-ass shoulder pads!)  The cabinet appears to be from the 70s or something.  It was also well cared for...but ugly. 
See?  Ugly.  (And yes, it's sitting on a wagon. That sucker weighs a ton!)
I might be able to spruce it up a little with some paint...but that means I will actually have to paint it...so it will probably stay ugly! I used to drool over my friend's grandmother's Singer and NOW I HAVE ONE!  EEEEKKKK!  Ok, let's look at a few more pictures (if you say you don't want to see them, I'll think you're a liar!)...

 Ok, I'm going to go pet it a little...(don't judge!)