Travel Sewing

We’re finally getting down to our last weeks before our big move back to the States.  This has meant lots of errands, paperwork and closet cleaning.   In addition to move business, it’s almost the end of the school year, and we have Bink’s high school graduation around the corner.  Other than fixing some loose draping on a prom gown, I haven’t had much chance to sew or knit anything.  If Handsome sees me working on a project this close to the move, he just gets wiggy, so it’s not worth it.  This our 10th move in 20 years and yet I still can’t seem to convince him that we could do this in our sleep.

Today I snuck in one teeny bit of crafting.  You see, any time we are traveling anywhere I am always thinking about what I am going to bring to DO.  I can’t stand sitting on a plane or in a car for hours just watching movies or reading.  This summer will be all about traveling by car and plane, so I need to plan for that, right?

I will pack some small knitting projects, probably socks, but I hate the idea of not getting to play with fabric until all of our household goods and the sewing machine show up again in August or September.  Thankfully, I’ve got lots of work to do on this English Paper Piecing project:

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I just needed a way to keep it organized and portable for a car or plane seat.  I probably should have stuffed it all into a ziplock freezer bag and gotten back to cleaning out the junk drawer, but that’s no fun!  So after a little internet searching and a few hours of sewing I have this:

PicMonkey Collage

 

This little kit holds just what I’ll need to work on the journey.  I plan to stuff some more uncut fabric and work already done in my suitcase to replenish as needed.  This project came from a great tutorial by lots of pink here!  It was quick and easy to follow – thanks loph!  I used three fat quarters from the Waterfront Park fabric collection by Violet Craft.  Thankfully, I have plenty of scraps leftover to use in another project – I love that fabric!

Wonder what that dark  background is in the pictures?  Handsome finally finished (maybe with some help from the wood shop guy) my sewing table just in time for Mother’s Day.

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It was worth the two-year wait!  This is a work of art.  It has drawers for all my sewing stuff and a cupboard that holds my smaller Brother sewing machine.  My Janome sits on a hydraulic lift, and when it sinks down under the table and the whole thing folds up into a cabinet.  I just love it.  Pretty cool, eh?

 

 

When life gives you a month of lemons…

Remember March, when I cranked through THREE quilt finishes?  I was sure that was the start of something big.  I was becoming a finishing machine, right?  WRONG!

Apparently March needed to be epic because April was going to be a total fail!  What a rotten month.  It was full of stress and frustration and no time for sewing to make it bearable.  Let’s hope I don’t see another month like that for a long time!  I have a feeling with the move coming up and my sewing machines getting packed into a shipping crate to sail across the world, my whole summer might be craft-deprived.  I’d better sit down and plan some hand sewing and knitting to take with me.

I realized late last week that, not only was I missing out on the fun, but I was also letting down my Believe sewing circle from do. Good Stitches.  I’d completely forgotten to make my April blocks, so this weekend was time to catch up and get those in the mail, even if they are a little late.  Maybe the best way to get over an awful month is to try to do something that will brighten someone else’s life.

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Viola – the April blocks – Scottie dogs!  I have to admit that when I first saw the block that had been chosen for us to make I wasn’t all that excited.  “Picture” blocks aren’t really my thing.  They’re too primitive and traditional for my taste, but of course, this quilt isn’t for me.  That’s what I love about belonging to a charity quilt circle.  It forces me to stretch out of my comfort zone a bit, all while spreading some joy to someone else.  I might not make a scottie quilt for myself, but I can just imagine the joy it will give some little girl to snuggle up and name all the dogs or pick which bow she likes best.  I know I’m going to love seeing this finished quilt.

Since I had taken so long to make those April blocks, the May block assignment had also been posted, so I got to work on those, too.  These were more my thing: wonky improv-pieced fun.

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These are intended for a boy’s quilt, based on this design.  I just love this block.  I do think its a challenge to piece in the strips and then match up the background fabric.  I’m really not good at angled piecing.  There must be a trick, but I haven’t learned it yet.  I just started with a 15″ square so I had plenty of wiggle room to cut it down to the 12.5 finished block.  Looking at these pictures, my finished blocks look crazy and way out of square.  It kind of freaked me out and I just went back and checked.  Nope:  optical illusion, they’re really square.  Whew!

Well, these will go off in the mail tomorrow and I will feel a little less guilty!

One of our great quilters from the group, allisonsews,  just posted the finished pictures of our February quilt:
Shades of Blue
Isn’t this gorgeous?  I love the way she laid it all out!  It’s such a thrill to see our little blocks come together into something amazing like this, and so much more interesting than what I could make on my own.  Normally, our Believe Circle quilts go to foster children, but this one is going to victims of the Oso, WA landslide disaster.  Maybe it will bring some beauty and comfort to someone who has lost nearly everything.

True Confessions

I have been bad.  Very Bad.  I have more fabric than one person could use in about a decade of daily sewing, and I live in the land of cheap fabric.  And yet, I ordered this: Fox_Field_large

It’s Tula Pink’s Fox Field fabric and I just couldn’t resist.  Looook the colors are so pretty!   And the patterns are adorable…

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I just love each collection Tula Pink designs.  Full of color and fun but not childish.  I wish I could get them here in Korea at Happy Quilt, but I have never seen any Tula Pink in all my shopping, even though it is made here.  Must be in the super-secret 4th warehouse – I only just made it to the 3rd on my last visit, and only because I followed Missie who brought gift booze to the owners!

If it justifies my spending even a little, I do have a project in mind for this.  I usually make quilts to be USED.  By used I mean snuggled, wrapped around people, and drooled on.  I think this is fabric to drool over not on, so this time I’m going to make a quilt for hanging.  I’ve been wanting to make a color wheel quilt for a while and it just so happens that Tula’s website has a free pattern (thanks, TP!!!) :

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Isn’t that fun and gorgeous?  It’s called Moxie, and I must have some if I think I can get away with this fabric secret buy.  Let’s not mention it to Handsome, okay?  Shhhh, We’ll just let him admire the finished quilt hanging on a wall of the new house in DC and think I got the fabric on the cheap.  And, yes – I know – if I buy any more fabric I will not be able to afford a house to fit it all in! :)

It’s a March Trifecta!

Well, March is over, but I have one more finished quilt to show off:

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This is Cluck Cluck Sew’s Pow-Wow Crib Quilt made from a kit purchased here.  I have loved this pattern from afar for a long time, and when the kit version went on sale I couldn’t resist, even though I didn’t know who would receive the finished product.  Our neighbors are such sweet people and so patient.  Not only do they share a wall with our noisy family, but he also works for Handsome.  Nothing like living 6ft. from your boss!  They are having their second baby next month – a boy – and it seemed like a baby quilt was in order.

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The original kit made a throw size, and I cut out enough fabric to make all of those blocks so I could use some on the back side.  I added in a plaid shirting print I have had in my stash for about 5 years, and I really like how it works with the rest of the quilt.  I think it adds to the boyishness, too.  This was a great pattern, and really fun to make in a weekend from start to finish including straight line quilting on my machine.  Now it’s all washed, dried and crinkly soft, waiting to be gifted.  What?  I’m done with a project ahead of time?  Impossible!

I still have blocks left over and the pattern includes a scrap saver technique that leaves you with loads of leftover half-square triangles, too.  I’ll have to find a way to use those up in a future project.

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One of my favorite bits is the one camo chevron on the back, since this is for a Navy baby!

March Bee Blocks

This month’s charity bee blocks for the Believe Circle of do.{Good Stitches}:

March Blocks for Believe Circle

 

The pattern is available from Fresh Lemons Quilts – a site I’ve loved for quite a while now.  If you’d like to see the blocks made by other members of the Believe Circle you take a peek here.

I can’t wait to see this finished quilt!  I think it’s definitely going to brighten a foster child’s day!

Finished!

Wahooo!  I finished another quilt this week.  That’s TWO this month, although I started them a looong time before that!

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This is my Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt – a great way to use up scraps.  (It was also a great excuse to buy more blue and green fabrics, but the least said about that the better!)  I was having a dilemma about what to do for the back, but my friend Missie came up with a great idea and the perfect solid from her stash:

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I love the way the teal seems to harmonize with all of the shades of blue and green in this quilt.  Of course, I didn’t manage to get the backing on quite straight, but c’est la vie.  If I wanted perfection I could buy a quilt with perfect lines and immaculate – but soulless – stitching, right? Let me tell you, this baby’s got soul!  :)

Speaking of stitching, I’d originally thought I’d quilt it with wavy lines all going in just one direction, but I tried about a line and a half before I decided that I didn’t like the look.  Better to rip out one or two lines of stitching than live with a bad choice.  Instead I quilted on either side of all of the seam lines in both directions for a grid pattern:

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I used Aurifil Creme de Menthe thread, which is one of their variegated  colorways.  I have been wanting to try variegated thread for a while and this seemed like a good time.  Honestly, I don’t think it really shows up on this quilt on either side, so there wasn’t much point, but the price was the same and the finished stitching looks fine, so no harm done.

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My favorite goofy little part is that little smidge of Navy camouflage on the back.  Most of that square ended up being trimmed off with the excess backing after quilting, but that teeny bit remains.  It’s like a little personalization, since we’re a Navy family.  I’m actually thinking of adding a little scrap to all of my quilts as a signature. What do you think?

Paper Piecing Progress? Perhaps.

With the end of the Olympics my TV viewing has tapered off, and so, I have to admit, has my pace on my EPP project.  I did get quite a bit done in those couple of weeks, though…

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I am still working on it in the evenings sometimes, just not at the same pace.  I decided that while I love the Sprockets quilt layout from A Few Scraps, I didn’t want quite so much negative space in my project.  I’m kinda crazy about that rainbow of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and wanted them to have the most visual impact, so I’ve gone with a simpler layout.

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There is something very satisfying in hand sewing all of these little diamonds.  Sometimes it’s nice to sit in a comfy chair instead of at the machine and these really do go quickly.  Because I started off making so many of the colored pieces, I have a lot of catching up to do to make enough of the black diamonds!  That’s a little more boring and black fabric is so much harder on the eyes.  I feel like an old granny squinting at my stitches even while using two lamps!

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I’m still not sure how big this will get.  I’m thinking I’ll just keep adding on until it looks like I’m going to run out of fabrics (or patience) and then see where I am.  I’m just enjoying the process on this one, not worrying about the product.

I did find a fabric yesterday that I think might be a nice backing, but I could only get 2 yards so it will have to be combined with something else:

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Wouldn’t this have made an awesome backing for this quilt?  If only I had found it sooner!

Linking up this piecey goodness to the In Hand link party at Splish, Splash Stash.

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And it only took me TWO years!

I finally finished my 2012 Craftsy Block of the Month Quilt!  Yep…that’s Twenty Twelve.  I know, I know, it’s Twenty Fourteen, but let’s not dwell on that, okay?

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Bink’s birthday was this week and she really wanted me to finish this as part of her gift, so it was great motivation.  That’s my 5’11″ son dragging it on the ground and holding up part of it with his head, so obviously this quilt came out pretty big (about 78 x 64 before washing).  He was the tallest available assistant, but he clearly doesn’t get the importance of good quilt photography!  It doesn’t help that even natural light is dismal with all the yellow dust here in Seoul this week.

As I mentioned here, this quilt was a learning process for me.  I started it when I knew absolutely nothing about quilting and, since the last block was just finished this week along with the assembly, it represents everything I have (or haven’t) learned about quilting so far.

It’s certainly far from perfect, but I’m kind of proud of the journey it represents.  When looking at it on the quilting wall a few weeks ago I secretly thought it was a bit of an eyesore.  All those disparate blocks, even with a shared narrow color palette, weren’t working for me. I had originally been planning on adding white sashing, but I realized that that wouldn’t improve things much.  Since the background of each square is white, white sashing was only going to make the shapes in each block float, it wouldn’t make the quilt feel more modern, less granny-crafty.  I am so glad I switched the sashing to silver gray:

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Now, the gray seems to frame each square as the separate little artwork it should be:

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After solving that dilemma, I was starting to like this quilt more.  But the next hurdle was waiting – ugh – quilting.  I wasn’t looking forward to dragging this big thing through my machine, but I wanted this to be all my own, so no longarmer.  I have no free motion quilting skills, so I knew I needed to do this whole thing with the walking foot and (relatively) straight lines.  After quilting along the sashing (need to learn to go SLOWER so it won’t ripple so much), I framed just inside the outer edge of each block by stitching in the ditch.  Then it was time to get creative.  I thought about quilting each block the same way, but then decided to just let each block talk to me.  One by one, without planning ahead, I looked at the block, decided what lines to emphasize or how to fill up the negative space, and somewhere along the way, this actually became FUN!  I surprised myself with the different ways I could make each block stand out, and since Bink didn’t want this super densely quilted (so it would be soft and drapey), it went pretty quickly.  It’s hardly impressive to an experienced quilter,  I know, but for me this was a step forward.  The worst part was all the fluff from the cotton batting combined with yellow dust  - I sneezed my way through this one!

IMG_1481After this, I’m even looking forward to quilting the 3-4 finished tops that I have waiting for me.  I have only had my bigger machine for a few months and it made a big difference with quilt wrestling.  I also tried Aurifil thread for the first time on this quilt after reading all the hoopla about it on other blogs.  I hate to say it, since it is so expensive, but I think the hoopla is true.  I had such an easier time with it – less/no breakage, less lint, and no jamming.  It’s also so fine that you can pack a ton of it on the bobbin, which was nice.  I guess I’ll have to start saving my pennies to buy more.

I kind of want to go stare at this one for a while before it disappears onto a loft bed in a messy teenager’s room.  Who knows when I’ll see it again after that happens!

Note: Finished size after washing and machine drying on low = 74 x 60

VQR Catchup

Typical me.  I  got started on the Vintage Quilt Revival Block Along thinking “How easy!  Only 2 blocks a week,” and then life crept in.  Somehow Weeks 2-5 got away from me and so I spent last week while Peanut was home sick from school and I had cabin fever, getting caught up on those darned blocks.  Wanna see them?  Excuse my blurry pictures (I swear there was no very little wine involved!).

Week 2: Mosaic No. 19 & Diamond Panes

Mosaic No. 19 & Diamond Panes

Dove at the Window & Art Square

Dove at the Window & Art Square

Riviera & Dakota Star

Riviera & Dakota Star

Rolling Squares & Red Cross

Rolling Squares & Red Cross

The blocks get more complicated each week and I had no idea how many of them involved paper piecing.  I’m getting pretty good at paper piecing if I do say so myself,  but, as much as I love some of these squares, I’m not sure if I have the patience to make say 20 of the same block to make a non-sampler quilt.  That would be a lot of work!

Oh yeah.  I also re-did the Week 1 Double Z Block that I originally made in the wrong colors (again, no wine involved, I swear).
Double Z Week 1

Here’s what they look like all together thus far:

VQR Weeks 1-5

Of course now that I’m caught up on Weeks 2-5, it is now Monday of Week 6.  Wonder how long I’ll stay caught up…

Valentine Sketch Books

PicMonkey Collage

My three kids are all so different from each other, but they have one thing in common:  they love to draw.  Over the years I have bought countless art pads, notebooks, crayons and pencils, because they just can’t get enough.  Peanut draws elaborately detailed  bunnies planting flags on Iwo Jima, or doing a lapine version of the Birth of Venus (I kid you not); Lamb makes cartoons and designs video game characters with clean lines and small precise sets of ninja gear; Binx sketches fashions with moody looking models and enviable curves.  I am in awe, because this a a talent they did not get from me.  They inherited this from Handsome who can draw anything .

When I was making the art wallets for the school bazaar, Binx and Lamb both wanted me to make “big kid” art wallets for them.  I had planned to make some in time to pop into their Christmas stockings, but, as always, time got away from me.  The day before Valentine’s, while looking at the sketch books and pencils I’d ordered and never used, I decided that Valentine Art Books seemed like a good idea.  In retrospect, making 3 in 24 hours was probably NOT.

First I had to decide how to personalize them for each.  Miss Peanut is easy – anything with a bunny – so I appliquéd the front with a design I found at Wolf and Willow, reducing the rabbit to about 60%.  Since it looked a bit Easter-y I added a heart.  Binx is a Whovian – that’s a Dr. Who fan she informs me – the one geeky chink in her otherwise cool teen armor.  As soon as I saw the Dr. Who Quilt Along, I knew she would want me to sew her a tardis, but there is no way I was going to make her an entire Dr. Who quilt!  So, I reduced the block to 50% and got started.  What was I thinking?  At full size this is a really elaborate paper pieced block – at half sized it’s insanity!  We’re talking teeny tiny pieces and 1/8″ seam allowances. Someday I will actually think a project through…maybe.  At least she claims to love it.

I couldn’t find Lamb’s sketchbook in his mess of a room to take a photo.  Maybe I’ll be able to post one later.   It’s a small version of the block I made for this pillow:

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His gaming name involves a polar bear.  In order to make it “non-cute” the aqua background was changed to black (no snowflakes) and the bear now has a navy camouflage scarf cut from one of Bill’s old uniforms.  This pattern comes from here.

UPDATE:  Oh look!  He found it amid the squalor!:

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I measured the books and added seam allowances and, flaps and a pocket to hold colored pencils on the back.  Really these would be pretty quick to make in plain fabrics without the paper piecing.  Maybe next time I’ll come up with a project idea ahead of time.  I finished the last one of these 15 minutes before I left to go out to Valentine’s dinner!