Friday, April 29, 2011

Natalie is AWESOME!

Good morning party people! First of all I wanted to share something with all of you. My bloggy friend, Natalie of the Threaded Mess just published an amazing tutorial of her recent preemie quilt over at Fat Quarterly. Not only is the tutorial great and easy to follow, the resulting quilt is stunning. Really! Run over there and check it out! She's totally inspired me to make my next baby quilt. And if you haven't visited her blog yet, please stop by. She is so talented. Seriously, I can't wait for the day that we get into the same room. One of these days, Natalie, we'll be together sewing up a storm!

That's the happy news. In my little corner of the world I'm actually very frustrated. Remember this?


Well it now looks like this...


That's right. I ripped every last damn stitch out of the little bugger. But, I am determined not to let this block defeat me!!!

At first I just took out enough stitching to get it in half...


It was still laying funky so I sectioned it down to quarters.


No luck. Seriously, my love of dresdens is quickly waning. So now all the petals have been torn apart and I'm attempting to re-sew them this morning. The worst part is, I am seriously behind in getting this bee block back to it's rightful owner and I feel horrible about that but I want it done right. In case you're keeping score it's: Dresden Block 1, Hollie 0.

Wish me luck. I'm going back in!

But wait... there is one bright spot out there. I'm getting very, very close to hitting 100 followers! Can you believe it? My followers count here on Blogger reads 91. (My count on Google Reader is actually at 97. Can anyone explain that?) I'm going to go with the official blogger one since I don't understand the discrepancy but when I reach 100 I'll have a very special giveaway to celebrate with you. I want to thank each and every one of you who follow my little blog here. It really means a lot to me. And your comments always make me smile. I love you guys!

P.S. Some of you were asking about the yard-long cutting ruler and also my mega cutting mat I was using to cut down the Soul Crushing Table Runner. I found them both at Joann's. The cutting mat was EXPENSIVE but worth every penny. I recommend waiting until they're having a 50% off sale or coupon to buy it. That's what I did. You can find the ruler here and the cutting mat here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Just Needed Thread

I walked into the fabric store with the intention of just getting this...


Instead I walked out with this...


I can defend my purchases, really, I can. As I was pin basting the quilt sandwich for the Soul Crushing Table Runner the other day I thought that this would have been the perfect project to try spray basting. So I put a can of Spray Baste on my mental shopping list. I went into the store, grabbed my thread and headed to the spray baste. Of course I have been wishing internally, for some time now, that I had a longer cutting ruler. One that at the very least stretch over a single fold fabric. I get ruler and cutting board envy every time I'm at the cutting station of my LQS. Lo and behold positioned right next to the spray baste were cutting rulers. And they even had one that measured a full yard. Well, I just had to pick that up too. And then I spied a ruler grip. Now, I've never used one of these before but I know a lot of people do and I thought that maybe using it would help give me some leverage when I'm cutting so what the hell, throw that in the basket too. Then I turn around and spy the latest edition of Stitch Magazine and $80 later I walked out with my thread and more toys than I need.


And as I was cutting down the Soul Crushing Table Runner last night I realized that my least favorite part of the process isn't the quilting or the basting... I think it's actually cutting the quilt down. I always lament over this part. The quilted quilts are always too long for my ruler or sometimes even my cutting mats so I worry about cutting down correctly with straight lines and proper measurements. It's always a stressful process.


But when it's done at least it means I get to move onto my favorite part... hand binding. Yippee! It's almost done!

And, even though it's not technically a "finish" since the Soul Crushing Table Runner is almost finished I'm linking it up to Sew & Tell Friday over on Amylouwho's Blog.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On The Wall


I'm making progress on the Soul Crushing table runner...


And I've been playing around with Nancy's Quilt up on my design wall. I think I've narrowed it down to one of four possible layouts. All of them have the four squares with the Central Park Zoo fabric in the center running diagonally through the quilt. Layout #1 flanks the Zoo centers with the Blue and Green centers...


Layout #2 is random...


Layout #3 flanks the Zoo with Blue and Orange centered blocks. The Green and Moda animal centers alternate in the corners...


Layout #4 is the same as #3 except the Green and Moda animal centers each dominate a corner...


Hummm.... Thinking, thinking... What do you think?

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I'm linking up to WIP in Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blogger's Pillow Party

Blogger's Pillow Party

I didn't expect such a response to the Cathedral Window Pillow I made for Meghan. She seems delighted, which makes me so incredibly happy. I've decided that I'm entering it into Rachel's Bloggers Pillow Party this month.


I love Cathedral Windows, in fact I tried them once before but got a little frustrated so I abandoned the project. Then I was paired with Meghan in the latest round of the Make Mine Modern Swap and she mentioned that Cathedral Windows make her swoon. Also, she was in the middle of a move so she wanted something she could use to decorate her new house. That was enough to give me the courage to try my hand at cathedral windows once more.


I poured over two tutorials that I found very helpful. One over here at Warmth in the North and Heather's tutorial found here. I jumped over to Heather's when it came time to machine stitch the windows open. I just didn't have enough time to handstitch them as suggested in the other tutorial.

TIP: I did have to rip a stitch or two and towards the end I found that instead of trying to machine stitch all the way around each window opening (as I did on most) that it helped create more precise corners if I stopped towards the end of each side and started fresh on each window curve.

It's my first "real" pillow ever and hence my first entry in the Bloggers Pillow Party. If you haven't joined in the fun yourself you should check it out over on Rachel's amazing blog!

Fresh Poppy Design

I'm also linking this project up to Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story! Check them out and link up your latest project if you haven't already.

Monday, April 25, 2011

do. Good Stitches April Blocks

This month Hope Circle quilt in the do. Good Stitches Bee Jeni asked for two 12.5" wonky star blocks inspired by this fabric...

Alexander Henry Rodeo Star
Photo by Jeni of In Color Order

She's using that super cute fabric as the quilt backing and asked us to make blocks with fabrics using the colors found in the backing fabric. The only other request was to use solid fabric for the background of our stars. Here are my additions to the quilt which I'm linking up to Sew Modern Monday's at Canoe Ridge Creations...

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

I've also been making progress on Nancy's Quilt...



As you can see the wonky star kick continues!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

As my regular readers know, I have been in a little bit of a blogging slump lately, so I was honored and thrilled when Anna awarded me a Stylish Blogger Award. Anna is a very talented quilter who also resides in Southern California and I have been lucky enough to experience her work first hand through the Sewn Together Bee on Flickr. Over the past year I've got to work with some gorgeous fabrics thanks to her. Remember these blocks?


And she created these lovelies for Marc's Quilt...

July block for Sewn Together

July block for Sewn Together

Thank you Anna!

So the award comes with a few strings. First, I need to post seven random things about me. This should be easy, right?

1. I love my job (most of the time) but I do dream of living an alternate life. In that other world I would be traveling to developing nations doing relief work.


2. I spent 20 years working as an actor. I primarily worked in musical and classical theater and was trained briefly with the Royal National Theatre. My paychecks weren't large, but I did get paid.

3. After I graduated high school I took a year off before I went to college and traveled around the world with an international student organization called Up With People. It's a non-political, non-religious organization with the mission of building bridges of understanding between cultures. I traveled with a group of 150 people representing 32 different countries. We stayed with host families in each city that we visited as part of the cultural exchange. We also performed community service in every city.

4. Eighteen years later I still keep in touch with a majority of my cast from Up With People, in fact last summer the Scandanavians organized a 17 year reunion in Copenhagen and we had almost half of our cast attend. They are a part of my daily life as we are in constant contact vis email and Facebook. I truly think of them as part of my family.

5. I never thought I would get married. I didn't think it was important. Now, I've been married twice (to the same man). Once (legally) in Thailand in December and again in February here in California (to make the parental units happy).


6. I hate tomatoes with a passion. I can't stand it if raw tomatoes touch my sandwich. I hate the little gelatinous slime they leave in their wake. It's a texture thing and a flavor thing. I will eat ketchup, and spaghetti sauce BUT the sauce has to be pureed. Chunks of tomatoes in my sauce gross me out. I'll also imbibe in a Bloody Mary and I'll eat the pureed type of salsa. And I know it doesn't make any sense but there it is.

7. I was a vegetarian for 20 years. Now I love meat. The bloodier the better. It's all my husband's fault.

Now it's my turn to pass on the goodness to six deserving bloggers...

1) Natalie of Threaded Mess. This one isn't a shocker at all. I have been so fortunate to have met Natalie through the blogosphere. She is incredibly talented and more people should know about her. Even before she was my secret partner in the scrappy pincushion swap last fall I was a fan of her work. Since then I've been lucky enough to work with her in the Hope Circle of the do. Good Stitches Bee and in A Dozen Quilters Bee.

2) Megan of Canoe Ridge Creations. I first came across Megan's blog because she was my secret partner in the Spicing Up the Kitchen swap. Megan made the most beautiful apron for me. I was so impressed and surprised that I hadn't come across her creations sooner. She makes beautiful things.

3) Darci of Stitches and Scissors is yet another blogger I didn't have the pleasure of discovering until her super cute table runner ended up on my doorstep in the SavVy Seasons Swap. Darci is also one of the hosts of the Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap on Flickr.

I know that a lot of these are former swap partners, but I have been introduced to some very talented people thanks to swaps.

4) Up next is Bek from Dreamfctry. Again, I discovered her through a swap. Bek's creating over in Australia and she made me some incredible placemats and coasters that even my picky husband adores.

5) Jewel of the Intrepid Thread. I don't exactly know how I stumbled across Julie's blog but I've been following her for quite a while and I really like her style. Now, I'm lucky enough to be working with her on her Round Robin. I was so excited when I saw her call for quilters to sew with her and I jumped on the opportunity.

6) Esch House Quilts. I have been following her blog for quite some time now. I really admire her beautiful work. She's definitely worth checking out!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good News / Bad News

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? How about the good news? In the midst of all of the insanity that currently is my life, I actually managed to finish Marc's Quilt! It's quilted and bound and it's even been washed. But I can't show it to you yet which leads me to the bad news... a couple of the circles didn't fare so well in the laundry. So sad.



The only solution I can see is to re-sew them down about 1/2" from the fray and then rip out the original quilting around the circles. Bummer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Soul Crushing Layout

Thanks for all the input on what I am now lovingly referring to as my "Soul Crushing" table runner. I don't mean it to sound as negative as it does. I think that's a reflection on where I am in my professional life at the moment. And "Soul Crushing" sounds a lot better than "Innocent Blossoms" dontcha' think? Take a look at my Innocent Blossoms... (hee, hee, hee) Sorry. I'm slap happy today, my friends. So I played around with the layout this morning before work and here's where I ended up...


I really do love how these two collections play off each other. I am considering using them in a quilt for a friend of mine who is having a baby girl this Summer. I think what I have been reacting to is the overall "girliness" of these prints and wondering if it's too much for someone's dining space. But thanks to all of your support and guidance, I am going with it.

I threw a piece of the stone linen up to get an idea of how it will help balance it out.


I really think the stone is helping me embrace the bold, girly prints! I like the way it softens everything just a touch. I think it will bring everything together nicely.


I am sitting with this on the wall today to let it sink in. I think I may play around with the symmetry of a few of the stripes by throwing a scant few off to one side or another to play with the balance. What do you think? Is it still jiving for you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Need Some Help...

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

All the fabrics I chose for this project.

I know, it's crazy, two posts in one day but I need some help. I am participating in another swap. I won't go into specifics in case my partner happens across this post, which is unlikely but you never know. My plan is to make a stacked table runner. My secret partner likes most of the popular fabric designers that we all do. My partner likes bold prints, bright colors, modern florals. I suppose my problem is that I am getting hung up on my fabric choices. Am I heading in the right direction?

The fabric strips have been cut down to various lengths and I'm starting to build out from the middle of my design wall pulling from the fabrics on the sides.

I chose to go with a mixture of Amy Butler's Soul Blossoms with AMH's Innocent Crush. The background fabric is a stone linen. Is this way too out there for a table runner? I think I'm getting stymied because mixing all these bold prints is way out of my comfort zone. Is this heading down the ugly stream? Or am I just scared because they're out of the norm for me?

A close up on the center of the table runner as I start to play with the layout.

Really, I need some input, please.

I Got A Commission!

One of my closest friends, Nancy, is an extremely talented wardrobe stylist. She gets to shop all day and dress people in commercials and television shows. Yes, Nancy can sew but she hates it. I suppose it's an occupational hazard. I'm sure it's no surprise that I think she's CRAZY! I mean, I can't live without my sewing machine. But then again, I look at sewing as therapy and creativity not work. (Even though it is sometimes.) So when Nancy commissioned me to make a quilt for her to give to her pregnant sister-in-law, of course I said "Yes!"

We hit Sew Modern to look for fabrics and talk through designs. I really dig the fabrics that Lauren stocks at Sew Modern. Nancy pulled some great prints from Kate Spain's Central Park line and she spied a wonky star quilt up on the wall of the store so we decided that would be a great pattern for a little boy. I am so on a wonky star kick as of late.


The background of the stars will be Kona Stone. A nice neutral that won't be too difficult to keep clean and will showcase the fabrics in the stars well, I think. It's my first commission. Wish me luck! I'm excited!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kitchen Goodies Swap Received!


I completely lucked out in the Kitchen Goodies Swap. I also lucked out in the MMM Swap, but unfortunately I took pictures of those goodies on our point and shoot camera and I can't find the USB cord to that one so I'll update you about MMM later. As I mentioned before I joined the Kitchen Goodies swap rather randomly and at one point I was doubting my decision because I am seemingly over committed at the moment. But I am so glad I participated. Bek of [dreamfctry] sent me the most amazing package from Australia.



She created eight (...yes EIGHT!) beautiful linen and Echino placemats. I loved them so much that I couldn't even wait to take pictures of them - instead we immediately used two of them.

Check out Bek's handstitching!

And you know who else liked them? The sweet and adorable husband. Really?! I was shocked. He is soooo super picky. He thought they were cool. We can't wait to throw a dinner party so we can use all eight at once and impress our friends.


Bek also included eight matching coasters that are awesome and now permanently reside on the coffee table in our living room. Bek totally "got" me in this swap and I am thrilled she was my partner. Thank you so much Bek! We absolutely adore everything!