Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Catching Up in Tucson

Wow! All of a sudden I look up and July is over. The summer is halfway gone. How did this happen? Most of my sewing has been an obligation lately, so I've been a little quiet around here. I did have a plan to catch up before I left on for Tucson, Arizona last week, unfortunately my husband ended up with a broken toe in the middle of my marathon catch up session, so I had to take my sewing machine with me to get things finished up. I'm happy to say that I am *almost* all caught up. Which is good, because I have some grand ideas running around in my head that I want to work on getting out.



I spent most of my free time in Tucson catching up on outstanding blocks for the Bee a Lone Star(burst) Bee. First up, for May, Lee wanted a scrappy rainbow - but not a color wheel. I actually finished my first set of blocks for her on time. And then I posted them. Yeah, I completely forgot the "bright and pure" part of her request.Thankfully, she spoke up. And I am so glad she did. I know that many people (and I am one of them) are often afraid to speak up and correct others missteps in bees and swaps. But, quite honestly, I want to make her happy so I was relieved that she had the courage to tell me that the colors I chose weren't correct, so I could rectify my mistake. So, I'm very late, but I re-made her blocks. I hope these work better.



Then came June. Natalie asked for ombre stars either working from light to dark or dark to light. Her color palate was based on Domestic Bliss using clear and bright plums, berries, pinks, turquoises, teals, and yellow. So I chose to do one in yellow and the other in plum.



Finally, Solidia wanted Christmas colors (but not necessarily Christmas themed) blocks. I had a little winter-y fabric left over from an old swap that I thought would be perfect.



I never meant to get so behind on these blocks. It's embarrassing really. But at least they're done now, and sent off to their deserving homes. Forgive my tardiness ladies! I hope you like them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Looking for a Few Good Stitchers

I'm looking for a few people out there who would like to join in a VQB. We have a couple spots open in the Hope Circle that I run for do. Good Stitches. We're looking for one Quilter and one Stitcher to join our group this round. Each round lasts five months and every month we make a charity quilt for Threading Hope. All ten members are responsible for making two blocks a month from their stash and sending them off to the Quilter. In addition to making two blocks a month, each of the 5 Quilters in the group are responsible for choosing the pattern and color scheme for one month and then they assemble the quilt and send it off to the charity. It's a lot of fun and for a great cause.

Then, the Sewn Together Bee is gearing up for our third year together and we have a few openings. This is a more traditional VQB. There are 12 members working together and each member is responsible for one month. The week before your month starts, send out fabric and instructions for your quilt blocks to the other 11 members of the group and then members send back their completed blocks at the end of the month.

If you would like more information on either of these VQBs or would like to join us please email me ASAP. Both bees start up again in August.

Friday, July 13, 2012

PTS8 Received


Cheers to another super successful swap. I received my pillow from Charise the other night and I was thrilled when I opened the package. This round I told my secret partner that I would love an "odd-shaped" pillow like a circle, hexagon, rectangle, etc. Well, she listened!


There were a couple pillows I had my eye on this round, and the one Charise was making was one of my absolute favorites. I held my breath as she posted teaser pictures and even went so far as thinking that her pillow might be for me because it was just perfect. And her construction is absolutely amazing. There is not a single stitch out of place. And she even added some amazing hand stitching (my favorite!) and did you see her fussy cutting!


She also added a few extras in the package for me! She gave me a great little pocket journal. I'm so going to carry this with me in my purse for an on-the-go inspiration journal. AND Charise included fabric! Who doesn't love fabric? But this isn't any fabric. Oh no! She gave me some Farmdale Blossoms. Eek! This print has been on my ISO list for a long time. I LOVE this print but I totally missed the boat when it was out so I don't have any in my stash. Well, thanks to Charise I now have some in my stash and I can't wait to work with it. But I'm sorry, this one is going into a project for me because I love it so much.


Since this pillow is an odd shape, I'll have to make my own pillow form to do it justice. And I think that just jumped to the top of my To Do List! But I did have to immediately throw some temporary stuffing in there to see it take shape.



This pillow is going to live in my sewing studio. I only think that's appropriate, don't you? So thank you Charise! You did an amazing job. I could not be any happier. I love it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

LAMQG Trinket Swap

It's funny. I joined the LAMQG online pretty much when the guild was first formed but I didn't have the guts to actually attend a meeting until well over a year later. Looking back, I wish I had mustered up the courage to go sooner. I am so blessed to be able to gather with such an amazingly talented and kind group of people every month (sometimes twice a month if I can sneak away to our Saturday Sew) and now I wouldn't miss a meeting for the world. So if any of you are out there and chicken, like I was, to attend your local MQG meeting, I would encourage you to just go. It might take a couple meetings to get to know people, but it's so worth the effort.


If you can't guess, last night was our monthly meeting, which meant the swap reveal. This swap was intense. Almost everyone who participated admitted that there were struggles along the way. But in the end there were some amazing swap items created. I know for me, I am glad I decided to participate in this one because it really challenged me. This swap was a little different than we've done before. Last month, everyone who wanted to participate brought in a picture of a trinket from home for our partner to use as inspiration. All of the inspiration pieces were put into a large bag and each of us drew out a piece blindly. I picked Patsy's geode which, while I love it and think it's striking, I was at a loss for inspiration.


I knew that I wanted to play off the curves of the outer part of the geode and with the clean lines in the striations in the inner part but what to make was the hard part. I didn't want to make a mini quilt and a pillow just seemed too linear. I carried the geode around with me everywhere in the hand stitching bag I take all the time, partly for safety and partly waiting for inspiration to strike.


Then it did. I started thinking about a bag. And I actually have a hobo-style bag pattern locked up in my head that I've been wanting to create but just haven't had the time. Well, I didn't have the time now, either, so don't get too excited. It's still hanging out in the gray matter and will come to fruition one of these days. Unfortunately time was running out so this was not the project for it. Instead I found a McCall's pattern for a smaller, curved, handbag. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for but it was close enough.


I pieced a variety of solids in strips from 1" to 3" in width, using the 3" strips on either side so I had enough to cut, and created a striated "fabric". I stuck with a gray palate to match the inside of the geode, working with everything from Essex Linen in gray to shades of Kona and Art Gallery solids. Using the striped fabric I created I then cut out one of the outside pattern pieces from this "fabric".


Then, to create the geode shell, I used an orange shot cotton on the opposite side and for the strap and base. The lining is Stella. I loved the gray color palate and the clamshell design which I think worked well with the overall aesthetic. But I ran out, and, quite frankly, I made this at 4 am the morning before the meeting so I couldn't really run out and get more, so I used an Art Gallery solid for the pockets and seam binding. Finally, to emulate the crystallization in the geode I beaded the button on the handle. I added the amber beads in the center because there is a tiny piece of, what looks like, fossilized amber inside that I wanted to capture. Patsy seemed really happy with it so that's all that matters!


I didn't go home empty handed, though. Oh no! Megan picked my trinket, which was a wine cork. (Yes, I'm a lush!) But Megan gave birth to her beautiful son on the Fourth of July so, understandably, she couldn't make the meeting. But she sent her gift to me with a proxy. Megan made me the most incredible pillow from my wine cork inspiration. Seriously, I am so in love! I think she might have been stalking me in PTS8 because she nailed me.



Her work is incredible! And the colors are so me. I immediately wanted to put it on our bed, but it wasn't made. It will live there eventually. And it's given me motivation to finish the Lone Star Quilt I've been making for our bed. I think it will match beautifully. Thank you Megan! It's perfect!

Friday, July 6, 2012

PTS8 Sent

Cross one off the list! Just in the nick of time I completed the pillow for Round 8 of the Pillow Talk Swap. I'm sending it off to my secret partner this morning. One of the things I love about swaps is stretching my sewing skills. Often I get to step out of my comfort zone to try and create something I think my partner will love. I hope I was able to do that this time.


I knew I wanted to try creating the star in the middle right off the bat. I used this tutorial to learn the fabric folding technique. But I also wanted to take the pillow to the next level, so after creating the star I started improvising the piecing around it. During the planning phase I had pulled this stack of fabric:

PTS Auditions

Then I started to edit when I made the star, but a few people in the swap chimed in and mentioned that they missed the lime green fabrics from my initial stack so I decided to add some back in. Then I brought some purple back into the last round, but as I mentioned the other day, something wasn't sitting right with me. So I put the pillow aside for several days to think about it.


A couple of you confirmed what I was thinking. And, thank you to everyone who chimed in. I really, truly appreciated the feedback! So I ended up ripping some seams, and pulling the purple border off the pillow entirely. Then I replaced it with a solid lime green border. Suddenly it was feeling much better to me.


I finished it off with hand stitching in lime green and purple. But please don't judge my hand stitching. This one was tough! There are several layers of fabric that I needed to sew through because of the folded, fabric star, so the back of the front (weird I know, but I think you know what I mean) of the pillow isn't so pretty and the hand stitching was slow going, taking one stitch at a time to get the needle through all those layers. The back is simple and I brought the purple back into the pillow here and a hidden zipper enclosure. I really love the way a zipper back makes the whole pillow taut. The finished pillow measures 14" square.


Of course, I included some extras in the package - some purple Pearle cotton thread, a spool of purple variegated Gutterman 100% cotton thread, some fabric scraps, buttons (yes, those tiny scissors and sewing machine are actually buttons!) and a pair of my absolute favorite scissors. I was gifted a pair of these puppies in a swap by my dear friend Natalie and they're amazing.


I really hope that my partner loves her package. The pressure is on for me because I'm actually an admirer of my partner. It was an honor to make this for her. I'll be holding my breath until it arrives at her house!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Quilt Marathon: Month Two

I just had a total brain fart and accidentally deleted the entire blog entry I was about to post with no way to recover it. So sad! Ugh. I think I just taught myself a valuable lesson. Sigh. I'll try it again. I'm officially two months (as of yesterday) into my quilt marathon, as I've started calling it. I spent so much of the first month getting organized, basting all of the intersection pieces and starting to baste the internal ring pieces. And I felt like I made a lot of progress in the first month.


June was a different story. It's not that I didn't make a lot of progress this month. I did, in fact, but I wasn't able to concentrate on this quilt as much. Work was crazed, which did allow me to take some hand sewing with me on the road. I was shooting a new project all month, and I like to get to location early so I'm not late, so I take hand sewing with me to work on in my car when I have time to spare. But I also had a lot of projects with impending deadlines to work on and since my City Weekend Quilt has no deadline, it's easy to push it aside. Much of my downtime was spent hand sewing two Joseph's Coat Blocks I'm making for a swap. Coincidentally, learning how to baste these curves is really helping me in my Double Wedding Ring piecing too.


That's not to say I didn't have any time to spend on this quilt. I continued to baste the ring pieces until they were overflowing the ziploc bag I'm using to separate them. Part of me considered continuing to baste the remaining ring pieces, but I was also getting a little antsy and was ready to move onto something new. I'm nothing if not organized, so even though it wasn't entirely necessary, I split the outer ring pieces (that connect with the intersections) in half. These are the only pieces that are directional - half need to point one way and the other half point the opposite direction. I didn't have to do this, but sometimes I just don't have the energy for anything else so I did. And I basted one piece in each direction so when I start making more of these I know which way they should go.


I also started basting some center pieces and the internal ring pieces settling on Kona Snow for these. There was a lot of debate about which Kona I wanted to use for these pieces. Ash is a personal favorite, and usually my neutral of choice. I was also considering Kona Natural. The white shades tend to be a little too stark for me. But after careful consideration I decided that Snow was the way to go with this one.


One of my many faults is that I can get distracted very easily, often moving from one UFO to the next before completing anything. And I do have a fear in the back of my head that working on a project of this scale for so long will start to bore me. Thankfully, so far that's not the case. But I did have an overwhelming desire to see one block completed before the end of the month. And, at this point, I have more than enough pieces basted to start making blocks. In fact, from here on out, I think I'll be doing a mixture of basting and piecing at the same time just to help keep things fresh and be able to see some progress.


There are thirteen different prints I'm using from the line to make up the rings (not including the intersection pieces) so I played around with them until I came up with a layout that satisfied me. I strung these pieces together to create a reference strand I'm using as I work. Because of the number of fabrics I'm using and the way the rings intersect I feel like this reference chain will help me control the chaos.


These blocks are not for the faint of heart and they are time consuming. The first block took me a couple hours. But the result is so worth it. My husband may think it's too girly, but I am in love and since this is for me I don't care. Hopefully I'll still feel this way six months from now when I'm still working away on it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Swaps In Action

June was absolutely crazy with work. I don't know where it went! All of a sudden I take a breath and it's July. How did that happen? I have been sewing a little bit. In fact, I've jumped onto the swap train again. After a quiet Spring, it seems like I'm almost overextended on Summer Swaps. But two of the swaps are associated with bees I'm in so we're taking time off from the bee to get to know each other better so there's a balance. In fact, all the do. Good Stitches Hosts are doing a swap and it gave me the perfect excuse to use my Joseph's Coat paper piecing templates. I'm loving this one!


And the Pillow Talk Swap is back in action. I have been working on the pillow for my secret partner, and while I love the center, I started improvising one afternoon and I'm bot sure if I'm liking where I took it. Did I go too far?


Part of me thinks that I should start ripping stitches and change things up, while another part of me thinks that my partner will like it. I guess it's a little out of my comfort zone with all the mixing and matching of prints so I'm second guessing myself. What do you think?


Then, my guild is hosting a swap and I couldn't resist joining in the fun. I missed the last swap because I was in South America and I think swapping is a great way to make new friends in the guild. For this swap we were asked to bring in a trinket from home and our partner is supposed to make something inspired from the trinket. I ended up with Patsy's geode and I'm really excited about this one. I'm brainstorming loads of possibilities. I know I want to play with solids, curves and thin lines with this one. But what to make? Perhaps a bag? That's where I'm stuck. So even though I haven't been around lately, I have been working a little. Hopefully, I'll be able to show some finishes very soon.