Friday, December 4, 2015

Fluffy Finish

The ball-o-fluff rag quilt is done.  Got tested out a bit during football watching on Thanksgiving weekend.

Sweetie models the finished product
At 36x54" (91.5x137 cm), it was deemed the perfect size for the lounging lap: won't hide the remote or get in the way of a plate of nachos, but tucks under at the sides and feet in a very cozy manner.

And it stores neatly over the back of the chair also, due to its compact size.

Same layout as was shown during my previous blog post: 4x6 grid of 10" (25.4 cm) squares.  I used one layer of Minky for the back, one layer of flannel for a filler, and flannel for the face.  Sewed each block's sandwich together with a single X of stitching, and attached the blocks with 1/2" (1.3 cm) seams.  Rag cuts were approximately 1" (2.5 cm) apart--but not because I measured while I was cutting them, just turned out that way by eyeball.

Closer view of some of the flannels used.  The owls, plain gray, and origami print were purchased for this project.  The dinosaurs and turquoise plaid were leftover scraps.  And the HO-HO-HO and couch prints have long been in my stash--gotta come up with something clever for them one of these days...

The back: I found scraps of Minky/Cuddle at Goodwill, in colors that went with the gray/white/yellow floral.  Yay for color and design, but Boo! for not using up very much of the floral fluff.  I still have YARDS of that stuff.

Ooh--shout out to glen of QuiltSwissy for the fabulous advice on de-fluffing and making the quilt safe for general house use.  Many trips to the dryer, and frequent emptying of the lint trap, did the trick.  Thanks for the blogging love, leaving a comment that did the trick. 

It's a finished project, and for that I'm thankful.  It gets almost daily use in our drafty house, and that makes me a happy grrl.  And I get to show off (every sewist loves a show & tell, right?)

Linking up with Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, being hosted this week at Quokka Quilts.  Go check out some other fab finishes!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

One in a Minion

Minion cupcakes!
Caution: extreme Minion cuteness ahead

Sweetie's birthday was last week, and I managed to pull off the next-to-impossible feat of making sewing a gift on-time.  All it took was for me to completely neglect housecleaning and making meals for a couple days.

Worth it.

Bought the minion panel, and had a Panel Apron pattern from Something to Crow About, but knew I was gonna have to be clever: the 1 in a Minion saying would get cut up if it was left at the top of the apron.  So I carefully sliced it off and pieced it onto the sides, where it shows in the back while being worn.

I was fortunate enough to have a bit of a coordinating minion print to use for the neck strap, but I needed fabric for waist ties (and a tiny bit of width in the apron body).  I think the blue/orange stripe I found goes well in both places.

Birthday win: Sweetie likes it!
The apron is backed with a blue chambray from stash. Only 2/3 yard used, but I'm so pleased to finally have busted something from stash.

Sew Cute Tuesday

Linking up with Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts for Sew Cute Tuesday.  This week's theme is Christmas gifts, but I'm hoping this birthday gift gets to join the party, too.

Now--back to housework?  Or back to Christmas sewing?  (So hard to choose...)

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Opposite of De-Stash

Quilting Treasures panel - sewed up!
Sunday Stash folks, I'm here to celebrate an entire month's worth of wanton abandon.
Stashbusting Sewalong folks, this post is me confessing a bout of weakness.

You see, there was this sale...

It was a month-long sale at the shop.  Kind of a gimmick-y thing, we called it Treasure Hunt.  The idea was to clear out some of the older fabrics in the shop, by discounting them based on the year they came in the door.  (For example, a 2005 fabric would be $5 per yard, a 2008 fabric would be $8, etc.)  Are you seeing the potential here???

As an employee, I can always get my discount, so I usually am not swayed by the monthly sales.  But this sale: some of the senior citizen bargain fabrics were priced below my available discount.  And, unfair advantage, I know where the older fabrics are sprinkled around the shop.  (I deliberately waited until late in the month for most of my purchases--gave other shoppers first dibs on saving $$$.)

Batik assortment, 2005 - 2009 fabrics.  I have a charm pack of very light creams to pair with some/all of these.

Two different Minky fabrics (sock monkeys!) to become backings (2013); funky Madras Patch from Michael Miller, and a Marcus Fabrics stripe from the 50% off table.

I hit the Asian section: the fabric on top of the pile, while 100% cotton, has the most amazing texture.  Gonna make a casual jacket out of it.  Below that, a 2005 Lecien Japanese plaid, and a 2009 Etsuko Furuya Echino (45% linen, 55% cotton) in electric fuchsia.

Last shopping day before Thanksgiving, and I bought enough Asian fabrics for a whole quilt, including backing and binding.  Top left corner is Robert Kaufman Asian Traditions (the chrysanthemums), Robert Kaufman Beau Monde, and Fresco from Free Spirit/Westminster.  The remaining fabrics are much older; some go back as far as 2004.  The Alexander Henry print in the bottom right corner is from 2009, I think.  I have this one all planned out, with the pattern.  Maybe I'll get to it in January!

I'm not counting yardage here, since my efforts to keep count all year have been woeful.  Suffice it to say that my stash has grown; BUT almost everything this month was purchased with a project in mind (or even in the works).

Molli Sparkles

Since buying fabric makes me happy, I'm joining in with the other happy, thankful souls at Sunday Stash, hosted by the ever-fabulous Molli Sparkles, and showing off my stuff.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Goals for November

My little brain is running away with me lately—can’t figure out whether I’m coming or going.  Which is why I’m taking a cue from many of my bloggy friends (chiefly Barbara) and setting some goals.

What do I want to accomplish in the month of November?   

  • Does this list seem reasonable to accomplish, when exposed to the light of day? 
  • If I list things out, will I go back and check my list when I get distracted?

1.  Finish fluffy rag blanket.
Just a couple more seams, then the slicing and fluffing can finish ‘er up.

2.  Make one placemat.
Just one? Why yes, this is the prototype for a whole set of placemats to be paper-pieced from a sushi roll collection of Asian fabrics.  Want one done to show off at the quilt shop during our upcoming shop hop.

3.  Make napkins.  Many napkins.
Several folks are getting cloth napkins as Christmas gifts this year.  Won’t spoil the surprise by showing the actual fabrics or the intended recipients, but you probably know who you are…

4.  Finish crochet rag rug.
About halfway done with this, but I put it far, far aside for most of the year.  It was meant as a gift back in the spring—ha!  Fear not, Christmas looms.

5.  Make 20 blocks for 1930’s patchwork quilt.
I need to make progress on some UFO’s.  This one is still in the “easy piecing” stage, so I thought I’d put it back on my radar.

6.  Finish Pi cowl.
My Monday Knit Football project, this baby is coming along.  Can’t remember whether I need 22, 24 or 26” before I attach the two ends, but I see the light at the end of this nerdy tunnel.

7.  Hem altar cloths.
A task that was bequeathed to me.  Should get it done before the chapel needs them for holiday celebrations.

BONUS Points?

My students would always ask me about extra credit, so here’s a couple items thrown in just for fun.  May or may not go in this direction.

8.  Banana pencil case

9.  Minion surprise
OOPS, I forgot about these “required” items:

10.  Blocks for quilt guild.  I am 3 months behind; however did that happen?
11.  Alternate triangle samples for December Triangle Techniques class.
12.  Black and white BOM for December January.  Have to stay at least one month ahead of my students!

Gad zooks!  What a list.  

If I take half a week off for Thanksgiving preparations and celebrations, and spend minimal time in the sewing room while it is being used as a guest room by our invited guest, will I come up with any time to sew in November?

I feel like I’m picking small, manageable projects.  But the cumulative effect of twelve such projects might negate the whole manageable notion.

Wish me luck.  And if you feel like weighing in about whether I’m truly living in Magical Wishful Thinking Land with what I hope to get done in November, I always welcome a Voice of Reason.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's So Fluffy!!!

Haven't seen Despicable Me 2? I'm gonna die!

Well, maybe not unicorn-fluffy, but the project on my design wall sure is some-kinda-fluffy.

Working on a super-soft rag quilt.

I have this excess Minky--thought I was in loooove with it for a backing, but now I'm all "meh."  Which means, I have yards and yards of said Minky.

And look what I found: links on the Internet for making a rag quilt with some Minky (or Cuddle, or the like) and some flannel.  No batting needed, just two (or three) layers of the flannel.

And I'm off to the fluffy races!

Here's the link I initially followed.  It is a tutorial site with lots of helpful video (but beware, it is super commercial feeling).

Design wall bed: the flannels

My goal here is to make a lap blanket 36" x 54", using Minky as the backing and flannel as the front.  Since both dimensions are divisible by 9, I'm cutting 10" squares and using 1/2" seams.  This means I need a 4x6 grid--24 squares.

And, after cutting 48 flannel squares (one set in place of batting) and 24 Minky ones, I know where to find the fluffy: my cutting mat, the floor of my sewing room, and the sweater I was wearing today...

Any hints on dealing with all the fluff? I'm a little worried about what will happen to my washer and dryer when I get to the ragging step.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Professional Sewist? Maybe Not

Since quitting my full-time teaching job and moving to California, I have been exploring alternate career paths.  I lucked into part-time work at a quilt shop, which had always seemed like my dream job.  While wonderful, the low pay and very-part-time hours remind me regularly that this is not to be my next career.  (Since when is entry-level retail called a career?)

But... my daydreaming aspirational mind keeps pushing me to try mixing my hobby with a career:
Sew Together Bag: class at Always Quilting on January 10th
Maybe I should write up some of my designs and try to sell them?  Maybe I should start a long-arm quilting business?  Maybe I can become a (famous) quilt teacher, traveling far and wide and plying my expertise to eager audiences?

Triangle Techniques...
And maybe, if I tried to do any of that, sewing would cease to be as fun as when it was only my hobby.

Yep: it already has happened.  The last four things I have sewed have been for marketing purposes, not for fun.  I can't even remember what my own UFO's look like because I have put them away in favor of striking out in the Big Girl world of quilting teaching and designing.

Sew. Together. Bag. Again...
Which begs the question: how do they do it???  You know, They. I'm talking about the Elizabeth Hartmans and Angela Wolfs and Lee Heinrichs of this world: they clearly have design careers.  I see them on their blogs, and on television, and on the bookshelves, and on and on and on.  Do they still enjoy sewing for fun? Do they have any time to sew for themselves?

How about you?  Do you dream of being a great designer (or something related)?  Have you found your sewing/crafting hobby becoming stressful? What do you do to keep a balance, keep the fun in with the creativity?

Triangle Techniques: class at New Pieces on December 5

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Piece of Cake

Well, this is me starting new projects--regardless of any previous promises to finish things before I start new things.  (Seriously: do I even listen to myself when I make promises like that?)

It's fall: Monday Knit Football season.  So I started a knitting project.  You know, a cowl, because the weather's gonna get chilly my sister gave me the pattern!

provisional cast on with waste yarn
The pattern is called Pi Cowl, by Emily Williams.  It is a simple tube, knit in the round on circular needles, no increases, decreases (or even purl stitches!), then joined at the end into a bit of a donut shape.  The color changes represent the digits of Pi: three (point) one four one five nine, etc...

Yay for nerdy projects!

So naturally, being such a basic pattern, I figured there would be no new skills to learn.  Wrong!  But no worries: I love learning new things.

First new skill: provisional cast on.  Not too difficult, since I already knew how to wield a crochet hook.  Brilliant additional idea from the YouTube video that I watched to learn this: mark every 10 stitches, so you don't have to keep counting as the cast on progresses toward the requisite 94 stitches.

Second new skill: changing colors in the round in a way that looks almost seamless.  Thank goodness for YouTube videos!  The name for this technique is "jogless stripes" and it is not difficult at all.

These are cakes of yarn; now you know

My yarn colors.  Fun, no?  They remind me of sporty clothing from the 1970's, especially when knit into all those stripes.

Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash

Not being well-versed in all things knitting, I didn't realize you can't knit straight from the skein as it comes from the yarn store.  That is a no-no.

Action shot: unwinding a skein

But, that doesn't mean you need to wind your yarn into balls by hand.  The well-equipped knitter (my awesome Sister) has a fancy contraption that winds it all with a few turns of a hand crank. 

I was mesmerized watching it.

And the end result is not a ball of yarn, but a cake.  Yummy.

This project will probably last me well into football season.  Just a-knittin' away.

Do you have "football season" projects?  What makes a good candidate for working on while watching (or listening to) sports on tv?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fear of FMQ

I've been following the stashbusting sew-along all year, without really participating in the "sew along" part of things. But August's theme really grabbed me: face your fears.

I realized that fear had been holding me back. No garment sewing had taken place because of fear of cutting into those special fabrics. You know, the stashed fabrics that I have held onto for so long, just waiting for perfect to happen: perfect pattern, perfect fit, perfect execution of some tricky sewing detail (like welt pockets, or an invisible zipper, or a curved dart, etc.)
But the stashbusting community was behind me this month. We were all gonna face our fears together! A garment was finally gonna come together in 2015.
Only thing is, I told myself I had to finish the quilting on a little ol' wallhanging before I could start something new (like a garment). And guess what? Fear had been holding me back from finishing that, too!

I didn't even realize... Didn't acknowledge to myself that I was procrastinating on the quilting--I just knew it wasn't getting done in a timely manner.

Followed the mantra

Practice session: ewww
Dived into a bit of FMQ (Free Motion Quilting--last seen publicly in this post from 2012).

Does it look like bubbles? Or sea foam?
And the quilting is DONE. Fear faced.

Not afraid of a close-up: perfect in its imperfections
Not perfect by any means, but it beats the heck outta hiding in a paper sack for another year or more. Win!

Now, can some elves come over and whip up a binding for this one so I can count the stash that was used? So very close to done done.

Thank you to all the Stashbusting Sewalong followers on The Facebook!  Seeing your work has really encouraged me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tote-ing my License Plates

Part of a winning quilt in Redding, CA
Have you been Row-by-Row-ing this summer? I had a 2000-mile road trip in July, which took me near more quilt shops than I could possibly visit (given that I was traveling with non-quilting family members).

Totally enjoyed collecting row patterns, seeing the quilts completed (most shops already had a winner--less than 1 month into the challenge!), and buying license plates.  

Yikes!  After only a moderate amount of shop-hopping, I am awash in license plates.  What to do with them all...?

Well, it just so happens that the friendly folk at Row by Row Headquarters provided a free handy tote bag pattern--and I think it will be the perfect canvas for displaying my license plates.

When last I blogged about bag-sewing, I showed the fabrics I was considering for this tote.  Fortunately, Sweetie talked me into the less is more camp; I maybe have a tendency to overdo it on the funky fabric mixing.

Fabric audition!!

Finished: basic tote bag

I am delighted with the handles--which I lined with a polka dot grosgrain ribbon (leftover from my wedding last summer). The license plate fabric was used for the outside pocket: cute & packs a graphic punch.

For now, I have just pinned a couple of the license plates in place.  I mean, I don't know how many more plates I might need to make room for, right?

This is me, tote-ing like a boss.

Happy to have another finished project.  Eagle eyes will note that this is not one of the UFO/WIPs I listed on my goal check-in--because it was done when I made the list.

Linking up with Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, being hosted this week on Quilt Matters.

Stash accounting:  used 1 1/4 yards of fabric