Thursday, December 29, 2011

WIP: 1930s reproduction

Worked a bit on the 1930s reproduction challenge blocks I received last January.  In order to calm my sense of overwhelm, I chose two blocks to focus on first.

The blue/red block that I had already disassembled and remade part of into a pinwheel.

So darn *cute* when put with other more pastel-y prints into a Card Trick block.  Now there are two Card Trick blocks in the group of 21.

Rail Fence block that was not quite big enough.  This was harder to expand than it might seem.  I considered putting a border on it, but it would have been a very narrow border.  I thought to just add another stripe in each direction, but there ended up being an awkward hole in the middle.

Much fiddling and trickiness is hidden in this finished product.  Not quite as cute as the original--I feel like something got lost in the translation.  Anyway, the colors will flow with the rest of the quilt and this block will blend in nicely.

Next up, one block that seemed out-of-place...
I have ideas.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hoarders: TV as motivator

As I have been decluttering and sewing recently, the TV was keeping me company.  Mostly it was just background noise, but some poignant points came through.

There was a Hoarders marathon on TLC, so I watched several episodes of that.  I heard one hoarder say out loud something that has gone through my head: "this fabric was over $20 a yard".  Well, she said it about her brocade fabric collection, but I had exactly the same internal discussion about a pair of pearl earrings.  I don't wear them.  Haven't worn them in years.  Can't imagine my daughters wearing them.  But they cost $50 (a large sum for earrings, in my world).  So, how could I part with them?

No, a single pair of earrings won't overflow my house.  But holding onto items that no longer have any usefulness to me just because they are "worth $xxx" is not a good reason to cling to things.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The clutter corner beckons

I have had to move the boxes in the corner of the sewing cave three times in the past week.  Each time, the thing I was looking for was in the bottom-most box farthest in the corner (of course).  I take this as a sign that this stack of boxes needs tending to.

Even though FlyLady doesn't recommend trying to "rescue"a room in one sitting (the resulting burnout might leave you with a half-completed job, or no energy for the long haul of decluttering), the day after Christmas seemed like the appropriate time to at least delve into that corner.

Goal for the day was to eliminate two of the boxes or bins in that corner.  Not sure if I actually accomplished that or not, but things *feel* better in the sewing cave.

The entire stack in the corner is boxes of "memorabilia" that had been located in various places.  I need to get some bins and separate out things that belong to each of the children (who are all now adults), so the stuff can be stored in the garage.  That stack seems like it could disappear this week: I don't need to make multiple decisions on what to keep, so it should be relatively easy to just divide up the spoils.

So much more exciting to me is that I put things onto the shelves right next to that corner.  I removed things that were taking up space but had no reason to be stored there (the inaccessible printer, a fire safe, wrapped-up nick-knacks, unused picture frames). I put file crates from the floor onto the shelves.  I hope to empty out the red milk crate so I have room to bring my serger in from the garage.  It's an inspiring start.

The small shelf unit that used to be in the corner (but was totally hidden, and completely empty) is now on the other side of the room, holding clear plastic shoe-boxes of quilting scraps and fat quarters.  The top 2 shelves just fit drawer organizers from Ikea, so I'm using them like drawers for smaller sewing items.

Behold!  Useful things stored on shelves!  I feel like I just invented the wheel...

December BOTM done

A week of random sewing--no more than 2 hours a day--and I have completed this month's BOTM.  I couldn't pick a single color theme, and I liked the block so much, I made two of them.

Pink, red and black.  (The flash on the camera was misbehaving... it's cuter in person.)

Dark blue & turquoise.  I would ask which block you prefer, but the color on the two photos does not allow a fair comparison.  I actually think I like the pink/red/black better, which is surprising because I am loving the completed blue blocks.  I now have three in one color scheme and two in the other.  It feels like I have accomplished something!

A pleasant Christmas eve.  Now I won't be scrambling to finish in time for next month's pattern.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gift Certificate Paralysis

As a result of my Lane County Fair win this past summer, I have a gift certificate: $20 to spend at one of the many fabulous quilt shops in the area, courtesy of our local quilters' Guild.  The gift certificate, which has been in my purse since August, expires at the end of December.

Aack!  What am I going to buy with it?  As in many areas of life, too many choices leave me paralyzed.

First choice: which shop to use the coupon at?  If only Something to Crow About was one of those featured shops, I would certainly make my purchase there.  They are my "home" quilt shop; I know what they carry, I know the layout of the store and all the employees, plus they have a giant sale at the end of December.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  That leaves two other Eugene shops: Piece by Piece Fabrics (a current mini-obsession due to their blog, modern quilting patterns, and bright, whimsical fabrics) and The Quilt Patch

Second choice: what to shop for?  I have been turning this over and over in my mind, unwilling to just wander into the store and go with the flow.  I feel like I must have a purpose to this gift certificate: no willy-nilly impulse purchases allowed!  Why am I imposing this restriction, when I make impulsive fabric/pattern/notions/book/magazine purchases all year long at quilt shops?  Heavens, I don't know.  But the idea, which I can't seem to shake, has me basically sitting at home fretting over what I will use my $20 on.  (Okay, I recognize it as part of my overall perfectionist demon.  But I'm still stuck.)

The current thoughts seem reasonable: buy something that would help you finish or move forward on one of your current WIPs.  Ah, the infamous work-in-progress bin.  What's in that bin, anyway?

WIP Inventory:
  • Buck-a-block/BOTM
  • Stack-n-whack quilt for my bed
  • 1930's reproduction challenge blocks from quilt camp
  • "How do you feel about..." word play wall hanging
Problem is, I don't need anything for these projects, unless it is batting.  And there is nothing exciting or sexy about spending my gift certificate on batting.  I might as well buy spools of thread!

Bah, humbug.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Buck-a-block: December pattern

Been hard at work on this month's block pattern.

The pattern is "Garden Path" taken from the book The Farmer's Wife.  It caught my eye among the blocks on display in the shop because of the strong picture frame aspect.

Red, cream, and blue: the Americana palette.  The picture frame is to be in red. 

I like this block so much that I'm thinking of making two copies: one in the navy blue & turquoise palette, and one in red/pink/black.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Re-inspired: 1930's reproduction blocks

Last year at "Quilt Camp" (annual January quilting retreat sponsored by my favorite quilt shop, Something to Crow About), I participated in the block challenge:  12" finished block made from 1930's reproduction fabrics.  I have a love of the 1930's reproduction look, and a few scraps of appropriate fabric in my stash, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I entered 3 blocks in the challenge:
A basic pinwheel, with border supplemented from a neighbor's stash.  I love the green cat/alphabet print.

I had always wanted to try making a Snail's Trail block.  Again, with the cat/alphabet fabric, and leftover ladybug-embellished yellow gingham.  I discovered that a single Snail's Trail is not so fun to make, because you can't chain piece any part of it.  Good information to note for the next time I make this block.

I guess I don't know my block history, since I thought Card Trick was a rather modern-looking block.  I was told that it is actually very appropriate to the time period of the 1930's.  I think this block is the cutest of the 3 that I made.

So... I entered my blocks into the challenge pool.  The rules for quilt camp are that you get one entry for each completed block, and all the blocks are awarded to a single winner, drawn at random on the final day.  Although I have participated in making blocks for several years (often playing with patterns and techniques I have long wanted to try--isn't that the point?), I must admit that I haven't wanted to actually win the blocks until this year.  I just love 1930's prints--the more the merrier.

I won twenty-one 12" blocks!  With the responsibility to make them into a finished quilt top by next year's Quilt Camp date (coming up in January, in case you forgot like I did).  I did some dreaming and playing with the blocks last spring, then put them away.  Having remembered my January deadline, I got the blocks out again to assess where I am, and give them some more of my time and energy.

Blocks, in no particular order...
My favorite 1930's setting is to have clean white backgrounds.
Busy fabrics compete with each other here
A matching pinwheel to the one I entered.  I confess, though, that this wasn't a block that was entered.  I cut apart a completed block, made with only the blue and red fabrics, because the colors seemed so out of place among all the blocks I received.  I hope the original seamstress doesn't mind.
The rest of the blue and red block.  I'm hoping to add some other colors and make another Card Trick block with these fabrics.  That will give me two blocks from an original one!
I ended up cutting down the black-peach pinwheel to insert this border.  There was a bit too much of the black--it stood out against the other blocks.  But I now have similar pinwheel blocks.
I'm thinking of cutting apart and restyling this block.  It has so much white area (and it's a white-on-white print) that it doesn't fit as much with the other blocks.  I have ideas...
This block wants to be set on-point.  Which presents a challenge: does the entire quilt get set on-point as a result?  How do I mix straight-set and on-point blocks?  If I put only this block on-point, can I "fill in" the corners in order to make it fit?  What about that lavender block above--can I make that work with this idea?
A block I already chopped apart.  I don't remember what the original block looked like--maybe I took its pieced borders and used them with the black-peach pinwheel.  Sorry I don't remember what I did, only that I kept the miniature blocks to reuse somehow.
Applique butterflies!  What a treat.
This Rail Fence is too small, so I need to add another rail.
Again, I think there were size issues with the border of the block. I'm re-sewing
Another butterfly.  So cute!
Well, 21 blocks are a lot.  Many thanks to the wonderful women who sewed them last year.  How will I put them together?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

November BOTM block done

Today was Buck-a-Block day: time to show off last month's completed block.

Finished it just last night.  Didn't realize until this morning that I put the strongest non-blue-colored piece right in the center of the block.  Oh well, it has to have some interest somewhere, right?

As one might say, "The fish appearing in the turquoise pinwheel adds that pop of color that makes the overall block more interesting."

Amen.  Done.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Catalog Xmas Ideas

So many ideas this time of year!  No time or inclination to actually make anything new (still haven't done this month's BOTM block), but I've been daydreaming up a storm.

The ubiquitous catalog season is winding down.  Idly paging through one of many almost-identical catalogs full of cute-but-unnecessary items, when I see an inspiring set of tiny bags.

Advertised for "giving small gifts, gift cards, candy..."  Tiny:  5" tall, 6" wide, 3" deep (front to back) with a 5" handle.   But priced to sell: six bags for $7.
Gingerbread Man - for giving cookies @ the office
Reindeer bag - checkered scarf and button nose

Noel - with a snowman face!
Joy - primitive tree in plaids and stripes
These bags are darn cute!  But for $7, I know the quality would be cheap, cheap.  They are made of polyester felt.  Do I even think the darling country-print plaid fabrics are cotton?  Oh well, it got me thinking about felt.

Felt, felt.  I don't work in wool felt, so bashing an inexpensive gift bag for being made of polyester felt is a bit unwise of me.  I did start to think about a "utility fabric" I collected recently: is it a reasonable felt-substitute for crafty items like these bags?

Bought a memory-foam mattress pad.  Rather expensive, but not as much as we would have spent on a new mattress; and it saves on chiropractor visits :)  However, this lovely item of bedding comes completely wrapped in a fiber/fabric/webbing concoction that I couldn't bear to part with.

Yards and yards of the stuff - how could I just throw it away?

Seems sturdy, like it would sew up well
Can this be used like felt?  Can it be dyed?  What sort of material is it made of?  Would it stand up to washing of any sort?  (Then again, could those little catalog bags be washed?  Doubt it.)

Sigh.  We are such a throw-away society.  What useful thing can I do with this windfall raw material?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beach Bovine ideas

I have recently been introduced to modern quilting.  The fabrics and designs are so much different than what I've been around--and yet the brighter, clearer colors and clean designs suit my tastes more than not.  One local quilt shop, Piece by Piece, features tons of pictures of all their new fabrics.  I've been reading their blog... and the creative juices have been flowing.

The holiday placemats that were brought out this week got me started.
  Cute, winter scene, in non-traditional colors.

The photo doesn't do justice to the light, lime green.

Yummy polka-dot tree.  Doesn't seem out-of-place at all.

Graphic snowflake-print blue tree.  Just as Dr. Seuss would have imagined it.

Penguin salt-and-pepper shakers go so nicely with the placemats!  And this is where I made the leap from "isn't this all so pretty" to "hey, I've got a pattern idea".  Notice my little penguin friend: he is not black and white.  He is sporting an alternate color scheme.  And it looks fine.
So... what else have I seen recently that would look okay in unreal colors?  Oh yeah, a pattern by Amy Bradley designs called "Beach Bovines"

(Pardon the quality of this photo.)  The pattern is for a wall hanging, but I don't do wall hangings, so I bought it with the intention of making placemats.  I was just worried about how the bright jellybean colors shown in the pattern would work with any possible table decor.  But my little penguin friend has opened my eyes to the possibilities of alternate colorways.

Imagine a pink-and-maroon cow with brown-and-pink printed bikini.  A taupe sky and navy blue grass?  I think I might have a tendency to go overboard with colors.  I believe the solution is to completely copy the color scheme of something else I like.  (Maybe not the color scheme of the snow-scene placemats I already have, but at least I know I like those colors together.  Saves me from myself.)