Thursday, February 24, 2011

Color Aversions

I don't like orange. There I said it.

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I think my aversion to the color is rooted in my past. I grew up in East Tennessee, a.k.a. Vol Country, where most die-hard UT fans claim that they bleed orange. I saw orange EVERYWHERE growing up.

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It's kind of obnoxious.

9-patch quilt for Merissa's grandmother
Tranquility Inverted 9-Patch

Sorry if I just offended any of my Vol-lovin' readers too much.

Gobble Gobble NIne Patch
Gobble Gobble top

When I first started quilting, I always thought, "Ulgh, orange. Who would make a quilt with orange in it?"

Nine-Patch Nirvana in Sonnet fabric

Apparently, I would.

Cotton Blossoms Shimmering Stars close-up
Cotton Blossoms Shimmering Stars

Every year, actually, I would make a quilt with orange in it.

Pumpkins Gone Wild for Hexagons
Pumpkins Gone Wild top

Then I would fall in love with other people's quilts containing orange.

Excuse me while I go fix some crow for dinner.

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Do you have any color "aversions"?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quick Resolution Update #1

I'm going to try to be a bit more conscientious this year about re-visiting my New Years' Resolutions once a month, if for no other reason, to remind myself that I boldly made them (public).

#1 - Get at least one step closer to wrapping up some unfinished business - done, done, and done.
#2 - Make 2 quilt tops, using 2 different books from my collection - Not yet.
#3 - Finish the 3 scrap quilts I've started + 2 more scrappy tops. - the first scrap quilt is done.
#4 - Keep cranking out the Just One Charm Pack tutorials - Double Diamond 4-patch was posted in January. I have another one written up that I need to actually make, to make sure that the directions actually create the quilt I think they will.

If you'll excuse me, I'm suddenly reminded of some sewing that needs to be done.

Monday, February 21, 2011

No stashbusting here!

Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I finally succumbed to temptation, ignored my mountain of UFOs, and started a new project. Don't judge. You've done it too. Ha!

I took this stack of small 2.5" squares that I showed a couple of weeks ago

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sashed them during the Super Bowl

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sashed them some more with white background fabric

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and turned them into a queen-sized quilt top. That's right, a queen-sized top.

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Can I stretch a square of fabric or what? I'm not really sure WHY I'm so compelled to combine these teeny tiny swaths of fabric with massive amounts of background fabric to create large-ish quilts, when my stash of yardage still looks like this (well, worse actually. This was after I de-cluttered the stash but BEFORE I found 2 more bins of fabric in the attic.):

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And my stash of charm packs still looks like this (minus the mini-charm pack of Bliss on top):

Lots of work ahead of me-e

Maybe I'm just really into the concept of blank/relief space right now. Maybe it's because these Bliss fabrics are so stinkin' cute, and I want to get some serious mileage out of them. Maybe it's because it's tough for me to integrate the yardage I've inherited with the pre-cuts I have on hand in my mind.

I take comfort in the fact that I've never claimed to be a stashbuster and that I don't participate in Judy's weekly stash reports.

I just ordered for this quilt top and one other top that should hopefully arrive later in the week. Maybe I'll have a finished quilt (or two?) to show in the next couple of weeks!

In the meantime, here's what we're eating this week:

Be sure to check out other meal plans at OrgJunkie!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Finished Quilt & Why I'm a Terrible Librarian

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If you've been lurking around here for awhile, you've seen this quilt before. I tutorialized it here. I just never got around to posting the finished photos. The reason for this is that I never felt like the photos did the fabrics in this collection justice. About the time I started working on this quilt, we invested in a new camera that is nice, but it absolutely baffles me. I'll be honest. It's way too much technology for me, and I'm an E-RESOURCES librarian. Let that sink in for a minute. I'll let you decide whether that means I'm a terrible flake at my job or if it means that I'm just too lazy to read the owner's manual for the camera.

Maybe a little bit of both. Hmm.

The first round of photos of this finished quilt were way too overexposed, and when I tried to correct the issues in Picnik, the quilt just looked strange. (That might or might not have a teeny tiny bit to do with my complete and reckless ignorance of correcting photos post-production.) Here's one of the photos I included in the tutorial, since I was ready to post the dang thing already, instead of waiting another day for sunlight to take more photos. Exhibit A:

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So I decided to take a couple of quick shots of the quilt in its natural Christmas surroundings - in a doll cradle in front of the fireplace with all of my other Christmas quilts. These photos were a tad bit blurry and dark, due to lack of light at 9pm on a cold winter night. Exhibit B:

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(from left to right: Roman Holiday leftovers quilt; Merry & Bright bowties; 12 Days Inverted 9-patch)

THEN I took this quilt out one last time for a photo shoot a couple of weekends ago, this time to the other side of the house, where there's a bit more shade. After a quick tutorial from the Husbatron (who actually reads owners' manuals) on how to prevent extreme overexposure when the sun's out, followed by some heavy-handed post-production work in Picnik, I'm a little bit more pleased with these results. Exhibit C:

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I'm still not convinced that these pictures truly capture the great colors in this collection, but most of you who haunt the fabric stores and frequent blogs by people who know how to use their cameras have probably seen these prints by now, right? So you don't need to be convinced that these fabrics are, in fact, awesome and vibrant.

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As for the nitty-gritty information about this quilt, the backing is not from the collection - it came off the sale rack at Thimble Pleasures, one of the sweet local fabric shops. ($4/yard? Yes, please!)

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For the quilting, I stippled in the charcoal gray sections, with matching charcoal gray thread. In the inner border, I did a scalloped loop pattern - this might be my new  go-to pattern for skinny borders/sashings. It was sooo much easier than it looks, promise! This is the video that gave me the courage to try it: For the outer border, I quilted a paisley scalloped type pattern, kind of like this but puffier.

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If you'd like to make your own version of the quilt, look for the tutorial HERE. You might find yourself addicted to this pattern. I know I was there for awhile. (See here and here for pictoral evidence.)

Vital stats:
Started: December 2010
Finished: December 2010
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted
Fabric collection: 12 Days of Christmas by Kate Spain for Moda

Now, on to why I'm a terrible librarian. If you know anything about librarianship, you might or might not know that we're a profession that prides ourselves on bringing order to chaos, followed by a deep pride in our sensible shoes. Some of us get a real charge out of classifying and organizing items/resources/socks to make them more easily accessible to others. Some of us, (cough cough) on the other hand, have terribly disorganized flickr accounts and only use the classification systems available to us on a haphazard basis (i.e. tags, titles, descriptions, notes in flickr). It took me waaaay too long to dig these photos out of my flickr photostream, since they were taken 2 months apart. Another life project to add to the queue: clean up my flickr account! Any tips or suggestions?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finished Scrap Quilt, or Another Stop on my Journey Away from the Pursuit of Perfection

I'd like to introduce you to my first scrap quilt EVER. All the prints came from my bin of dark 2.5" strips. Most of the strips are leftover from backing and border fabrics. I don't think any of them come from the same collection. Even the batting was pieced together from some large pieces of leftover Warm and Natural. It makes me feel all Ma Ingalls and stuff when I think how I worked with what I had (mostly) to pull off this project.
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Making a scrap quilt was actually one of my 2010 resolutions. I didn't technically finish this quilt last year, but the bulk of the work did happen in 2010.

Honestly, I have lots of mixed feelings about this quilt.

On the positive side:
  • The colors aren't related at all, but they all seem to blend together really well. 
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  • The pattern for this quilt was really easy and did NOT require any special templates or rulers. This tutorial is pretty much the process I used to make the pattern. 
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  • It's quite snuggly and has been the perfect addition to our couch this winter.
  • The backing. It's so quirky, compared to most of my other backings - it includes all the leftover blocks I didn't use on top, some leftover border fabric from the top, and some leftover fabric from the border on this quilt. I love it!
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On the negative side:
  • Everything kind of fell apart as I quilted it.
  • I decided to try straight-line quilting for the first time, and instead of doing something reasonable, like a large-scale grid pattern that maybe followed the seams, I decided to use the width of my presser foot as my guide and do a bigajillion lines across the center of the quilt. It looks nice on the front - kind of a corduroy-like effect, but the pressure on my presser foot was a little too high, so the backing is a little (read: quite a bit) warped. 
  • The quilting around the border - eh, not quite how I planned it. Let's leave it at that.
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I'm sad to say that the list could go on and on and on, with lots of issues the quilt police would no doubt tsk-tsk over. At some points in the quilting process, self-doubt crept in like whoa. I was so ashamed that I didn't even want to show the finished product on my blog. Soooo many things went wrong that really shouldn't have gone wrong, considering I've been quilting my own quilts for a few years now. I vowed that if I ever finished this blasted project, I would throw it in a pillowcase, shove it in the back of one of the linen closets, and hopefully never see it again until I have to pack up and move out of the house. Yeah, that's where I was with this quilt.
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Do you ever get to that point in a project? 

I could have spent hours and hours ripping out stitches and re-quilting it, but that's not my style, and seriously, do you see all those stitches?!?. It took me a few weeks, but I finally came around. I finished the binding, threw it on the couch and started using it pretty much every night to keep warm. Slowly, I realized that when I'm freezing cold, the ridges in the backing, the crooked wavy edges, and the corner where I ran out of batting don't really matter all that much. In fact, you can't. even. tell. that my quilt is impossibly warped unless you turn on all the lights in the room and look for those specific problems.

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Sorry this post has devolved into an episode of Dr. Phil. I'm not sharing all this background drama and angst to fish for compliments, honestly I'm not. If I wrote a sunshine and roses post about this quilt and how fun (!) and exciting (!) and awesome (!) it was to make, it wouldn't be a truthful portrayal of my experience with this project. There might or might not have been lots of adult language flying around the sewing room as I wrestled with this quilt. Seriously, there were some nights that it sounded like a Martin Scorsese film in the sewing room.

It also wouldn't really be true to the name and hopefully, the spirit of my blog to hide the "learning process" quilts. I realized pretty early in my so-called quilting journey that I would never make the perfect quilt. Even with my trusty 1/4" foot, there's going to be at least one crooked seam somewhere in my quilt - THAT's the beauty and unique-ness of a handmade product, in my opinion. I try not to use this realization as an excuse to be sloppy and irresponsible, but it has definitely helped me loosen up a bit and enjoy the creative process, instead of obsessing over the mistakes. This quilt fits into the spirit of my blog fairly perfectly.

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In summary, this quilt is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's grown on me. It was definitely a humbling project to work on and made me realize that "winging it" and hoping that everything comes out alright in the end sometimes involves some frustration (and unladylike language) along the way. In the end, I think the things I love about this quilt are outweighing the arduous quilting process that led to the finished product. It's definitely left me with a resolve to continue improving my machine quilting skills. If anything, maybe I appreciate the quilt more because of all the angst it caused - you know, kind of like the mothers who talk about how much they appreciate the sweet moments with their "difficult" children.

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I guess the moral of this long, rambling story is to try to look PAST the mistakes in your projects and appreciate both how much you've accomplished AND how much you can still learn and grow in the awesome hobby of quilting. Even the quilts with horrendously offensive mistakes can still be beautiful, useful, and appreciated.

Today's episode of Dr. Phil: Quilting Edition was brought to you...

Update: Oops, I forgot to add that I'm linking up to Sarah's Weekly Whoop Whoop!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Bowl Show & Tell

Did everyone enjoy the Super Bowl the other night? I hung in there for the first quarter, but I quickly lost interest after that. I had already seen the much-lauded VW Darth Vader commercial, thanks to the Husbatron's hawklike following of blogs that feature things, like previews of Super Bowl commercials. I didn't really feel like I missed too much. The siren song of the sewing room called my name. Loudly. So I followed its beckoning call.

Earlier in the day, I had finished my Cotton Blossoms/Pint-Sized Wild Thing quilt top

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AND mini-tops to make accompanying throw pillows.

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The quilt top itself seemed to take forEVER. I forget that tiny blocks means lots of blocks to sew into rows, followed by lots of rows to sew together. After that ordeal, the pillow tops seemed to go together in no time.

But anyways, I figured my good behavior gave me full license to start a brand spankin' new project.

After much restraint, I finally 1) ripped open these bad boys

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2) and then jumped on the red and aqua bandwagon with some sashing fabric.

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I have a good feeling about this quilt already.

What did you do during the Super Bowl? Did you work on quilt binding? Were you on the edge of your seat with excitement over the game? Did you even know there was a big game on? hahaha


And for anyone who's here for the grub, here's what we're eating this week:
For more menu plans for this week, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Four Things

Shamelessy snatched from misserincrafts...

Four TV Shows I Watch


  • Modern Family
  • The West Wing
  • Mad Men
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart


Four Things I'm Passionate About

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  • Machine quilting
  • Making lists
  • Spreadsheets
  • Faith
Four Phrases I Use A Lot
  • That should be good.
  • What?!?
  • Blast!
  • Umm, hold on
Four Things I've Learned From the Past

  • Break up large to dos into smaller ones.
  • I won't actually do it later.
  • I'm a lot less cranky when I chug water throughout the day.
  • Measure twice, cut once. 


Four Places I'd Love to Go

summer time.....
  • Greece
  • Maine (again)
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Italy

Four Things I Did Today
  • Made a grocery list
  • Went to the grocery store
  • Took a trip to B&N just for fun
  • Dried the dishes


Four Things I Love About Winter


  • Sweatpants
  • Homemade bread in the oven
  • Sweaters
  • Anticipation - first of snow, then of spring
What are your 4 things??

Friday, February 4, 2011

Best of My World Biweekly Edition

Moda Bake Shop
CRAFTINESS

FOOD

LIFE

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Back to my UFOs for a bit

I feel like my craftiness has been slightly erratic over the past couple of weeks or so. One part of me thinks, "eh, what does it matter? Any progress = forward progress. As long as I'm 1) having fun and 2) using up my fabric without buying too much more, what's the harm?" The other part of me blames the (re)discovery of fabric in the attic, quickly followed by disarray in the sewing room for my lack of perseverance when it comes to actually finishing a project. And yet another small part of me blames work. It's been busy, which I actually love, but after work + commute + dinner + walking the dog, I'm completely drained, and there's not much energy left to sew.

Anyways, here's a craftiness update...

I stopped in the middle of my pint-sized project to buy more background fabric to match the initial cream background I started with. (apologies for the preposition at the end of that sentence) So that project came to a screeching halt while I spent a couple of days searching for Hancock coupons then remembering to actually go to Hancock Fabrics on the way home from work to buy the background fabric. Even if the thread count/grain density of the fabrics don't match up, the creams match fairly well.
[Warning: grainy camera photos ahead]

Refresher: here's where this project started at the beginning of the year...

pint-sized wild thing

Here's where it is now...

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Granted, it doesn't look quite as neatly organized as it did before, but there's some definite progress. Now, I have all the supplies I need to move forward on the Pint-Sized Wild Thing quilt top. I've diagrammed my quilt layout on graph paper, I've figured out how many background squares I need and then cut them, I played around with the block arrangement the other night while we watched Toy Story 3, and I've sewn together the rows. Next step: pressing, lots of it.

Other ongoing projects I've played around with lately:

my spiderweb blocks, like I mentioned in the last post:

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I'm also {this} close to cutting into some solids that will coordinate with this adorable stack of fabric:

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I stuck my hand in the shot so you can get an idea of the scale of this adorable stack of fabric - 40 (2.5") squares. Too cute!

Finally, my blog - If you subscribe via Google Reader, feel free to take a minute to click through to the new design! I decided that my previous layout/template design was cute but awfully busy. So one night last week, I downloaded a new background and header and started shuffling things around, adding/subtracting widgets, etc. Like the construction road signs say, "Please pardon our progress."

I'm linking up to W.I.P. Wednesday on Freshly Pieced - check out everyone else's progress!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Finally, because I missed the blogging boat earlier in the week, here's what we've been eating this week: