Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fleece Pants

Invited my dear friend over for a sewing date.  It finally happened (a couple months later), and the result is that I have two pairs of fleece lounge pants to wear.

A la The Sew Weekly (which, maddeningly, has not had any site updates in 2013), here are...

The Facts

Fabric:  blizzard fleece, bought on mega-sale at JoAnn (almost 3 years ago?)
⁃ Pattern:  New Look 6014
- Year:  contemporary
- Notions:  1/2" elastic (stash), drawstring/shoelace (stash)
- First worn: at home, watching "The Wedding Planner" (ah yes, spring break fluff)
- Wear again?  Heck yeah, I can see these babies as my at-home uniform

- Fit/alterations:  Since I had not sewn anything from a commercial pattern in years, I was careful about taking my body measurements and comparing them to the pattern sizing and ease listed.  I thought I was a size 14, but maybe I could make these in size 12, since they are knit?  (Damned vanity sizing in ready-to-wear: why does Old Navy say I'm a size 6?  So confusing.)  I ended up cutting most of the pattern out along the size 12 line, but made the lower leg more flared, and *longer*
American patterns: sized for 5' 4" women?

Although the patterns of the fleece fabrics are a bit loud and obnoxious, I'm ready to lounge full-force.
Note my lounging companion: always at the ready
Total cost: under $20.  Even Sweetie thinks they are cozy-sexy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Diluting my efforts

Spring break has started: yay!  Went to the library and checked out a few books for my leisure-time reading.

Well, here it is: the symptom of my troubles.  FOUR books (all non-fiction), representing things I want to work on over spring break.  (Note to self: spring break is only one week long.  Not enough time to save the world.)

1.  "Getting Organized in the Google Era" - clean out my email inboxes, get my new email account working, maybe even learn how to use all the bells and whistles on the laptop that I got for Christmas.

2.  "A Practical Wedding" and "A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples" - Sweetie and I are planning our wedding, but also need to take care of some of the legal bits that aren't covered by our state, where a wedding for a lesbian couple is just a big party with no formal documentation.

3.  Suze Orman's "The Money Class" - yep, time to get my finances a bit more in order.

What I realized, as I waded through a few pages in a couple of the books, is that I can't make significant progress in any one of these areas of my life unless I settle down and focus.

Kinda like my master ToDo List over spring break.  It reads like the chapter list in a self-improvement series: finances, classroom, sewing, cleaning, decluttering, etc...  Gosh, why do I do this to myself?

Today's portion of the ToDo list: 45 minutes of decluttering, in 15-minute chunks.  That part is great.  What is bothersome is that the chunks are spread out around the house.  I have again diluted any effect I might be having.  I won't be able to see progress in any one area with only 15-minutes of effort.

Kinda like the books: I just need to pick one book, one area to focus my efforts.

Ah, focus.  Always the bug-a-boo for the ADD-afflicted.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Buck-a-block: Feb and Mar

I didn't finish my February buck-a-block BOTM in time for March's meeting date, but I made some time this weekend to complete blocks for both months.  So I am ahead of the game for the April meeting (Yay, go me!)

New Waterwheel - shop sample
 This is the shop sample of the March block.  The pattern is "New Waterwheel Variation" from Judy Hopkins' 501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).  This month, even more than previous blocks, looks like it needs the border to complete it.

 See?  The versions shown in our pattern/cutting sheet even show the center 9" portion of the block with alternate colors in the corner half-square triangles.

Speaking of half-square triangles--I took the opportunity, since I was making two blocks at once, which had several HSTs between them, to try out a new tool: the Gizmo.

The Gizmo, by Sally Schneider Quilts, is a small diagonal ruler that helps you make HSTs from rectangles of fabric.  The idea is to be able to use the same size strip sets as other squares you are using in a block.  I chose to just use the tool before cutting the strips to size.
You place the tool along the diagonal of your rectangle, and mark a line on either side of it.  These are your stitching lines.
Stitch, then slash the two pieces apart.
Press seam toward the darker fabric.  Since I didn't trim my strip fabric before sewing, I trimmed my HSTs to the correct size at this point.  (I must say, these are the most accurate HST blocks I have ever made!)

My opinion: I like the Gizmo.  I'll probably still use Triangle Paper for making either smaller HSTs or large quantities of HSTs.  But this is definitely a tool to use if you have precut strips of fabric.

After my HST adventures, the blocks went together in short order.  Cute.
March: New Waterwheel & February: Whirling Square

I still don't know what I'll end up making with all these blocks, but I'm back on track with completing a block each month.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nancy Drew's mystery block

Thank you for stopping by my blog!  I've never done a blog hop before, but I was inspired by the fabric.  In fact, I've had the idea for this block rattling around in the back of my head for maybe ten years.  It was just waiting for the right fabric to bring the idea to life.

The "block" is really a series of blocks.  Foam blocks, to be exact.  Eight of them.  Bought a piece of foam at Joann's, and had the shop teacher at the high school cut them down to perfect cubes (thanks, Kent!)  Cubes were 2" on each side.

I covered one single block in fabric, just to check how much ease was needed, and how big of an opening I would need to stuff the foam back inside after sewing the cube on the sewing machine.
The prototype block: inside surfaces

Bad news. I felt, after stitching a single block, that the overall project was going to need to be mostly hand stitched.  And I'm not much of one for hand sewing.

Made a prototype of the interlocking blocks out of cheery scrap fabrics in my stash.  Discovered a couple errors in my calculations and was thankful that I had not made such errors from a limited supply of Nancy Drew fabric.

So I ordered a Nancy Drew charm pack from the closest store to me.  Never have used a charm pack before.  Didn't quite know what to expect, and really really wanted to get an idea of the scale of the prints: would the pictures show up on 2" blocks?  Even the silhouettes?

Ok, enough stalling - time to unveil my creative baby.  Here it is, seen in its closed position.
There are six sides to a cube.  Lots of opportunity to showcase the delightful variety of Nancy Drew prints.
Top - Sides - Bottom of block

Did I mention it moves?

That's the beauty of this design.  The fact that the cube opens up to reveal three interior scenes.  And one of the scenes is scrambled when you first see it - but unscrambles when turned a different direction.  Oh, the possibilities!

I know you can't see the interior scenes well from the video, so here they are.  Had to do some creative fussy-cutting to use the charm squares.

The silhouettes gave me the most trouble.  Wanted to use the blue-on-white, but of course those pieces didn't showcase Nancy the way I would have liked.

(Oy, such a perfectionist I am.  It really gets in the way sometimes.)

I want to outline the figures here so they show up better.  Maybe after I finish the actual hand stitching of the blocks (note the pins - drat).

Second interior scene - don't you love this fabric?
And my favorite interior scene: the "message" from The Secret in the Old Attic.  It gets scrambled and then unscrambled as the block is manipulated.  This idea was the whole inspiration for signing up for this blog hop.

Thanks to Madame Samm and Carol for leading and cheering on this hop!

Have you visited everyone else?  What is your favorite project?

Friday, March 15, 2013 
 Rainbows. Bunnies. Cupcakes. (that's me!)

Talk me out of it

Tomorrow is my day to post to the Nancy Drew blog hop.  Of course, I am not done sewing on it yet.  (Of course: how many times did I predict this would happen?)  I don't work well on deadline.  It stresses me out.

And sewing is not the only thing stressing me out right now. *L*I*F*E* has intervened to complicate pretty much everything.  Top of the list for the past 2 weeks: editing on Sweetie's 100+ page Phd dissertation.

But enough of the complaining.  This post is about getting excited, inspired.  The creative juices are flowing, thinking about the Next Big Thing.  I happened to spy the announcement for another blog hop over at Sew WE Quilt
A blog hop for projects using Pom-Poms!  How fun is that?  Sweetie had the temerity to ask: do you make pom-poms?  Are you just itching to start making pom-poms?

Well... honestly... no.  BUT!

But... and this is where I go horribly astray.  This is where my uber creative brain--with its well-established talent for linking together disparate threads of ideas--takes over and reality takes its leave. 

Here's the thinking process: I have this partially-completed wallhanging with words

The top is mostly done piecing (picture above is without borders).  You can see it's missing the direct object of the phrase: how do I feel about... what, exactly?  Well, that part was meant to be interchangeable.  Could be pom-poms, ya know? 

However, I also want to add lots of quirky details to the basic wallhanging.  I have already purchased grommets and giant ric-rac.  Why not add pom-poms to the mix?

So, that's the justification for considering entering another blog hop: move an unfinished project along toward being done.  (As Sweetie said, "You can rationalize anything, can't you?")

At this point, referencing the title of this post: Talk me out of it, I must quote from this week's horoscope (courtesy of Rob Brezny at Free Will Astrology)

"The German word verschlimmbesserung refers to an attempted improvement that actually makes things worse.  Be on guard against this, Aquarius.  I fear that as you tinker, you may try too hard.  I'm worried you'll be led astray by neurotic perfectionism.  To make sure that your enhancements and enrichments will indeed be successful, keep these guidelines in mind: 1. Think about how to make things work better, not how to make things look better. 2. Be humble and relaxed.  Don't worry about saving face and don't overwork yourself. 3. Forget about short-term fixes; serve long-range goals."
Well, there you have it.  I don't always listen to my horoscope.  It doesn't always apply to me.  But really: "led astray by neurotic perfectionism"? He was clearly speaking directly to me.  Darn.

It sounded like such a good blog hop, too!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nancy Drew starts today!

The "Nancy Drew is a clue" blog hop starts today (March 6th).
A clue to my Nancy Drew creation - what could it be?

I won't post my completed project until next week (so excited! and, of course, sewing down to the wire, timing-wise), but you can head on over to Carol at Just Let Me Quilt, our dear blog hop cheerleader, for the blogs to visit today.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Project Report for February

A super-busy month.  Lots happening at school and at home.  Not so much happening in the sewing room, but little bits of progress add up over time.

Finished this month:  queen-size stack-n-whack quilt.  I crowed and showed off already about this finish--anything that has been over a year to completion deserves that, in my world.

Nancy Drew by Moda
Started this month:  two pairs of fleece pants and mystery project for "Nancy Drew is a Clue" blog hop.  I posted to the NewFO linky party about my guilt-free beginnings.  (Of course, I can say they're pretty guilt-free because I fully intend to complete them all in March.)

Completed projects this Month:  1
Completed projects Year to Date:  3
New projects this Month:  3
New projects Year to Date: 3
Discarded/donated projects (farewell!): 0
Net Project Count for 2012: 0

I feel like setting some goals for the next month.  Gonna go ahead and link up with the Year of Lovely Finishes and see how it turns out.

Of course, I have the hardest time setting a goal of getting only ONE item finished.  My goals are always so much more *aspirational* than realistic.

1.  Gotta finish the Nancy Drew item (there's a blog-hop audience waiting to see it, after all).

 2.  Want to zip through the fleece pants that are all stitched up except for their respective waistbands and hems.

3.  Buck-a-block BOTM will get finished by March 16th.

4.  Barnyard play quilt will have a tree embellishment all stitched together (by March 16th also).

5.  And my "official" finish for March will be to complete machine quilting on the navy/turquoise baby quilt made out of last year's Buck-a-block creations.
I'm still learning on the machine quilting, so this feels like a stretch of my abilities, but I have enjoyed the outline quilting done so far around the cornerstone stars.  Spring Break happens at the end of March--that could give me the larger blocks of time I seem to need for machine quilting.

Wish me luck!

Buck a Block February pattern

February's pattern sits forlorn in my sewing room.  Time to pull it out and get started.

The pattern is "Whirling Star" from Judy Hopkins' 501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).  I love the pinwheel effect of the light/dark placement on the half-square triangles.  And how the effect continues into the suggested border.  It almost looks like the paper has been folded along the diagonals.
Border options in alternate colors
"Whirling Star" shop sample

Due date for this block is March 16th.  I won't make the border, so it should be quite doable.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Starting things in February

Had a sewing date with my dear friend Tree in February.  We had been planning this for quite some time--making fleece pants!  She is not so much of a sewist, so had lots of questions along the way.  She is also a bit of a free spirit - throw away the instruction book - fly by the seat of your pants person.  So not me.  I won't say I can't let go from time to time... but I pin excessively, cut with severe precision, and press the hell out of everything.  I know this about myself:  I have an inner perfectionist.

Thus, I started making fleece pants.  Two pairs.  I think that counts as two projects, doesn't it?
Fleece fabric 1: teddy bears in sweaters!
Fleece fabric 2: pink camo... with sneakers...
(Seriously, who designs fleece fabrics?  I purposely picked ones that I felt were wearable, but all the fleece prints were pretty obnoxious.)

They look done, but need elastic and hem

Not finished, but darn close.  I will be embarrassed if I don't get these finished up in March.

Second start for February is the mystery project for the Nancy Drew Blog Hop coming up quickly in March.  I can't share it yet--and I'm certainly not *done* yet.

Here's my sneak peek.  There's a clue in the picture:

Okay, three newly started projects in February.  I'll report on finishes later, but I am taking time to link up to the NewFO linky party at Cat Patches.  (So decadent to have a place to park the "I'll just start some new projects with no concern for finishing anything."  It's almost guilt-free.)