Thursday, January 31, 2013

Last-minute birthday prep

Tomorrow is the big day for Mr. Nearly-Nine!! His pumpkin cake with bacon bits is cooling in the kitchen and his stack of Lego-centric gifts are waiting on the table. (I'm sure he'll be up in five hours, too excited to get back to sleep.) In addition to his gearhead shirt, here's a little sketchbook that I covered for his steampunk artwork, using the Urban Threads dirigible embroidery that I stitched out a while back. I can't wait to see what he fills this up with!!

Bacon...Lego...steampunk...let the day of Joyful Geekery begin!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Birthday sewing!

I do still occasionally dip my toes in the waters of garment sewing...this is for my steampunk guy's ninth birthday this Friday:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A New Project

I recently agreed to make a quilt on commission (!!) for a woman who wants to give it to her father, who is a messianic rabbi. It just so happens that I am super into patterns with 60-degree angles (anyone else have a favorite angle?), so I sketched out a pattern for a large Star of David quilt, with some smaller stars in the center and on the corners:

I'm using 6" triangles to construct the whole thing, because we're aiming to have it finished by mid-March, and big pieces = quick turnaround. She asked for colors that would coordinate in a room that's largely seafoam green, so I pulled out some teals and olives, and all the rest of my light neutral stash, which was already depleted from the Easy Street quilt, and is now completely gone.
Triangles under the setting sun.
After our trip to Old Sturbridge Village (where they were cutting ice off the mill pond and serving warm mulled cider) this morning, we stopped in at That 1.99 Fabric Store (aptly named) and I found some spot-on perfect fabric to use as a binding -- I love striped bindings -- for this quilt:
Couldn't be more perfect for the colors I'm using...also a good checkpoint to keep the olive green accents in line.
I also picked up five yards of this gorgeous print to use as the back. I love that it's the perfect teal/neutral colors, but it's not too feminine.
"Tokyo Rococo" by Andover (which has consistently been my favorite fabric company!)
I spent a few hours cutting triangles, which went a lot more quickly than I had anticipated, then a quick wall arrangement, and this is where I am:

My design wall is seasonally abbreviated by the couch, which we have temporarily moved away from our sliding doors because it's just Too Darn Cold to sit so close to a wall of glass right now. Talk about your first-world problems, huh?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Switch plates

I have had a little list of simple home improvement tasks hanging on the door right next to my computer since last summer. These are such easy things that they have slipped through every crack and never gotten accomplished. How does this happen?? I decided to tackle the "new kitchen outlet covers" item at long last. My kitchen is painted fire engine red, with black and copper accents. I recently came across some terrific fabric that complemented these colors perfectly:

"Byzantium Wavy Stripe" by Makower UK. (I used the upper color.)

I have decoupaged fabric to customize switchplates in my hallway and living room before, and it comes out great. It's also a terrific way to use those beautiful designs in even more places in your home.
Triple switch in my's like I'm giving you a home tour, right?
Although it only takes a few minutes to glue a 6" square of fabric onto a switch plate cover, it takes a bit of finagling to cut the holes and let the fabric dry into the correct position. It turns out that the standard switch cutouts are exactly the same width as a popsicle stick, so for those I just wedged in a stack of the boys' craft sticks. I hadn't done outlet covers before, so I had to find something that would hold the not-quite-circular shape open. What I eventually used was a snippet of the cheap-o bargain-store foam pipe insulation that I have used for painting circles, and which are also handy as whacking swords if you know anyone in the five-to-eleven-year-old demographic.

The job requires a few coats of Mod Podge so they will be sturdy enough to be cleaned after sticky little boy fingers paw all over them. I have eight separate switches and outlets in the kitchen, so I'm still not entirely finished, but the first five are now installed, two more are drying, and only the larger double-switch plate remains. Here's a photo of the first two in situ:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cousin Challenge

Thanks to my wonderful husband and sister, I spent a few days last week in the southern California region. My sister, cousin, and I drove around the central valley exploring such fascinating places as ostrich farms (!), a lavender farm (who knew?), olive groves (pro tip: olives straight from the tree don't taste too good), and the funky little kinda-Danish town of Solvang (muy interesante).

Who'da thunk it?
My poor non-quilting sister was extraordinarily patient in shuttling us from one quilt shop to the next. She barely rolled her eyes at all as we combed through bolts, with visions of quilts-to-be floating in our heads. We enjoyed Creation Station in Buellton, Betty's Fabrics in Santa Maria, and Roxanne's (!!!!) in Carpenteria. We also visited the fashion district in downtown LA...what an experience! There were blocks and blocks and blocks of stores selling every imaginable fabric, laces, beads, zippers, buttons, upholstery, notions, etc. Purely overwhelming. We visited Levine's Loft, where we literally dug through shipping cartons full of completely random selections of fabric scraps from who-knows-where. I have never been to a place where fabric was sold by the pound, but I managed to find four or five yards of batik scraps (some as long as two continuous yards) that cost only $7 for the whole heap. I think if I lived closer to that variety of choices, I would sew a lot more (if that's even least a lot more variety of things).
STUNNING view upon entry into Roxanne's: A Wish and a Dream (Carpenteria, CA)
This fantastic mosaic was the front wall of the cutting table at Roxanne's; apparently she purchased it from an art gallery that had closed, then did a little customizing for her own shop. I am already considering whether to start collecting broken pottery.
Something in that sea air: This fantastically overdone gingerbread house was right across the street from Roxanne's in Carpenteria.
My cousin and I both bought half-yard cuts of the same 10 fabrics. I think we talked about some ground rules for our friendly challenge, but I can't remember for sure...maybe we each get to add one wild card and one solid? Or maybe it was multiple solids? I will confirm with her before I start cutting. I'm thinking something in a Tula Pink design...

Digging for treasure at Levine.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another (gulp) new project

Despite my best intentions of NOT making a zillion more tops without quilting some of the ones that are waiting, I started last night on my rendition of the Rubik's Crush quilt that I have been eyeing up since I bought 101 Patchwork Projects a few years ago. My sister gave me a terrific stack of fat quarters a year or two ago that have been earmarked for this, and the time seemed right (mostly because my Big Machine is in the shop for a tune-up and I don't want to do anything super complicated with my Backup).

This pattern really couldn't be much easier (well, come to think of it, the Just Can't Cut It pattern actually IS a little easier...), so I got all of the big pieces and most of the 2.5" squares cut in one short evening. Fun Fact for any of you who might want to make this quilt: 12 fat quarters provides exactly enough fabric to make the solid, pieced, and grid blocks. Today I used the full daytime sunlight to pick a good background, and then managed to sew one little grid of 9 pieces together while the boys enjoyed (?) another game of Magic: The Bickering. This won't take any time at all to finish; I'll probably make good progress tonight. After I finish laying out the next issue of my guild's newsletter, my next priority is to open up that UFO bin and start piecing backs for the Projects-in-Waiting, because the repair shop just called, and I can get back to some serious production quilting with a freshly tuned-up machine!

Borders on Easy Street

The borders are ON my Easy Street quilt! Lisa found me the perfect purple batik to use as the inner border, and I had a lovely print of ginkgo leaves that worked perfectly, even to the slight hint of purple that coordinates with the scraps I used:
Ginkgo Leaf Woodland Mist, from Northcott's Stonehenge line
Voila! Now, to get this monster quilted...I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any "Finished" photos anytime soon, Faithful Readers...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Two red Civil War blocks

These two blocks weren't too bad. The hardest part was picking out "true" reds in the dark room; I did this mostly with the memory of what they look like in the daylight. Pro tip: Color is light, so don't try to evaluate hue when the light is insufficient.

Left: "Hospital Arrangements"      Right: "Mrs. Massie's Party"

A big finish!!

Easy Street: DONE. I owe it all to our viral contamination and subsequent quarantine. My goal for yesterday was to assemble the nine setting blocks, but once those were done, I decided to start stitching the rows together so I would have less to do today...and when that was done, I decided to sew just two of the rows together to get that out of the way...and then two more...and before I knew it, the whole quilt was in two big chunks. I left it like that overnight (my eyes gave out), then this morning -- after an insane fit of kitchen scrubbery that left me exhausted but with sparkling clean cabinetry -- I pulled those two chunks down and stitched them together.
Main block.
Setting block.
The whole shebang!
Despite its immense size, I think this still needs a simple border. I am really impressed with how Bonnie managed to break this huge project into manageable chunks. If I had seen it completed, I would NEVER have chosen to make this. There is a slight possibility that someday I may even make this again, using the vibrant colors that she suggested in the first place.

And tomorrow, I am re-entering the world!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Easy Street progress

Still stuck in the house with sick boys. One now has a prescription for bronchitis, the other was treated for dehydration. Next time that one gets a cold, I will be a HAWK about watching him drink, whether he likes it or not. After a mere 400 mL of saline IV, he is starting to look like his old chipper self again.

So, with the quarantine still underway, I've been getting lots of sewing done. Here's my progress on Easy Street. The 16 main blocks are done and connected to the setting triangles. The remaining 8 alternate blocks are already sewn into rows, which I should be able to get together tomorrow during the first batch of NFL playoff games. Oh yeah, I am ready for some football! I could have this monster finished before the link-up on Monday!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cruisin' down Easy Street

Another day of quarantine, another day of nonstop stitchery. I spoke to a nurse at our pediatrician's office, and she confirmed that there is just a brutally long-lasting cough virus wreaking havoc on the state, so we will just continue dosing the boys with OTC meds, herbal teas, honey, and rest. At least there's nothing serious to worry about, and I can feel less guilt about spending so much time in front of my sewing machine.

I have now finished assembling all of the corner and setting triangles for the Easy Street quilt, and I have finished a few of the blocks. I did one of each type just to make sure I was doing them right, then two more of the main block so I could assemble one full corner. At this point, I'm tired of working with these fussy little pieces. I'm putting it away for a while so I can do something brighter and with bigger pieces: instant gratification. When I get it out again, I'll work in true chain-piecing mode, so it will all go together at once.

Primary block (close-up)
I don't think I have ever assembled a quilt on point like this before. Bonnie's directions have made it very easy.
Corner and setting triangles: 84 inches is a really big quilt!
The contrast in these fabrics is subtle, which is not my normal style, but the quilt is turning out to be very pretty; it looks like natural colored marble tiling.
One finished corner!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Easy Street Mystery: Last Clue

Bonnie Hunter posted the final installment of her Easy Street mystery quilt this morning. It's going to take a lot of stitching to get all these three-inch units into a 84" quilt top, but I'm already going strong (thanks to the continuing Sycknesse). Here are the three choices of fabric that auditioned this morning as the third color:

I love this bright coppery fabric, but I think it's a little too bold with the dusky greens and purples.

This one looks like fire or lava. I have been wavering between old golds and  dark reddish-oranges, so I thought this one might fit the bill, but it's also too brassy with the other colors.

Here we go! This one is a much more subdued shade, like copper that's starting to oxidize, with hints of really dark olivey yellow and rust swirling together. Hard to describe, but it's just the right degree of muted to work here...and I think it has the feel of the Tuscan sunset that I was hoping for.

Monotone project

For the final Color Palette Challenge of 2012, we were to make something in a monotone. I chose Tardis blue as my color. I bought all of Lisa's blue mesh and all of the blue zippers from the J place, and used most of the scraps of Spoonflower fabric leftover from Barry's shirt to make eight of these cute little pencil cases for all the little Whovians in my life. I'm only showing two here because I didn't want to take the liberty to show the names of the other (non-mine) Whovians.

Doctor Who pencil cases!
Here's the shirt (made back in April) and the guy. I feel compelled to clarify, based on my recent postings about our Sycknesse, that he has been a saint in keeping us fed and entertained. Kudos to you, Captain of my Heart.