Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Procrastination

Eastman Interval Timer, Squared Circle Version

Sometimes, I'm crazy conscientious and get things done ahead of the deadline. Most times, though, I kind of procrastinate. I don't know about you, but I get most excited about a project when it's the absolute last thing that I should be worrying about. 

Examples: 
  • Looming deadline at work? It's the perfect time to clear out my email!
  • Friends or family visiting my currently filthy house in a few days? Why yes, I believe tonight would, in fact, be the perfect time to start re-watching all of the Mad Men seasons in preparation for the new season in August. 
  • Time to go to the gym? Nah, I'd rather bake a red velvet cake. From scratch. But it was a nice thought.

Red Velvet Cake
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lamiacucina67/434263597/

Unfortunately, this tendency follows me into my sewing room, too. What I should be focusing on right now: The Triangle Modern Quilt Guild's Kona Charm Pack Challenge (due July 10th). If you click over to my WiP spreadsheet, you'll see I haven't started. Haven't even bought the rest of my fabric. Tsk tsk tsk. Or maybe the baby quilt I've been meaning to make for the mom who just posted her 38 week belly photos on Facebook yesterday? (Hi, Betsy!

What's distracting me instead: this Nittany block. I'm crushing on it. Hard.


1. Red Aqua QIP, 2. Block for Sherri, 3. String X Quilt Top Finished!!!, 4. Livvy's baby's string-x quilt 2, 5. String X Quilt on Bed, 6. X Marks the Spot, 7. My Nittany Block Party Quilt Top, 8. String X quilt top, 9. String X Quilt

I'm thinking it would look a-mazing with the Martinique strips I got on ebay last month, along with the leftover trimmings from the Buttercup quilt I mentioned yesterday.

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Throw in a light blue for the skinny border around the string-pieced strips and some brown for the background triangles, and I believe I have myself a new project.

bella_solids - want

Because that's just what I need right now. A new project.

If you need me, I'll be trying to ignore the string-pieced elephant in the sewing room, so I can focus on my Kona dusty charm pack.

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What's distracting you right now? Procrastinating minds want to know. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

One Thing, One Week Results

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Last week, I left a comment on Amy's One Thing One Week challenge, pledging to finish the machine quilting on my Buttercup quilt. I'm pleased to say that as of 9:30pm last night, I met my goal.

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I even went so far as to make and attach the binding on the front. All that's left for this quilt is to whip-stitch the binding to the back and send it through the wash. Now I'll have a little something to work on in front of the TV for the next few days.

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Here's the backing - I used up some leftover border fabric, along with another green Fig Tree print from my original Double Diamond 4-Patch quilt, and I threw in a pink print from Aster Manor by 3 Sisters. Hurrah for using up bits and pieces!

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Be sure to check out Amy's post today to see what everyone else was able to accomplish this past week.

Amy's Creative Side

If you're here for the food, here's what we're eating this week:

Check out Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie for more of this week's menu plans!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Best of My World

Zig Zag

CRAFTINESS



CInnamon Rolls


FOOD

sectional - pottery barn


LIFE

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Wednesday - the lazy edition

After all the sewing I did last week and over the weekend, I think that I needed a mental break. Monday night, I went to the DOQ Guild Meeting, where a YLI rep spoke about thread and its importance in quilting/piecing. I left the meeting plagued with guilt that I hardly ever use fancy thread. Well, I guess I didn't feel guilty enough to buy thread the speaker brought with her, but oh well. On the other hand, I was super-excited to see the small samples of machine-quilting she passed around. Feast your eyes:

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The first sample (above) was from Diane Gadynski, machine quilting guru.

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The second quilt was made by someone who I'm sure is equally awesome, but I didn't snap a photo of the label on that one. Oops.

After dinner last night, I spent a couple of lazy hours on the couch, kickin' it old skool and reading a book. No computer. No TV. Just a good old-fashioned mass market paperback.


Despite my laziness in the sewing room, I have managed to cross a WiP off my list this week. I packed up the rail fence quilt top I made from a Portugal layer cake a few years ago and sent it to Sarah for her quilt ministry.

Portugal Layer Cake Quilt

I fell out of love with the fabric (too much yellow for my tastes now!) and really had no desire to finish this project, so I asked Sarah if she'd like to adopt it. She graciously agreed to take it off my hands, and I know she and her friends will find the perfect home for it.

For anyone who's keeping track, I'm now down to 32 active projects.

Here's a link to my monster WiP status spreadsheet, if you're interested in a peek at the insanity.

Check out Lee's W.I.P. Wednesday post to check out everyone else's progress.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Original Inverted 9-Patch

Back in November of 2009, I saw an innocent enough post on Moda Bake Shop by Pat Sloan, encouraging readers to enter her Gobble Gobble challenge. The general gist of the challenge was to make something out of Gobble Gobble by Sandy Gervais in time for Thanksgiving. All I had was a lowly charm pack of the fabric, but I figured it would be enough to make something for the challenge.

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I tossed out the idea of a table runner. Our table's pretty small, so table runners look kind of silly on it. So I sat down with some graph paper and started doodling ideas. I finally came across the idea of 9-patches with lots of sashing between the blocks. I made the top but then quickly lost momentum to finish it. The main reason behind my inertia was that we were still living in our apartment at that point and just didn't have a good place to lay out all the layers and baste them together.

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So, it sat in the WIP bin for a couple of years. I finally pulled it out a few months ago to baste and quilt. The backing came from the sale rack at Thimble Pleasures. The fabric itself doesn't match any of the prints in the collection at all, really. But once I quilted it, it seemed to blend with the top a lot better.

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For the quilting, I initially wanted to try my hand at straight-line quilting again, but the fact that few of the 9-patches lined up meant that if I tried to use my seams as guides, then it would just look funny.

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Instead I opted for squiggly lines about an inch apart. Since each of the patches in the 9-patch and all the sashing strips are roughly 2" (finished), I squiggled along the seams and eyeballed the squiggly lines in the middle of the blocks.

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After I finished quilting the squiggly lines vertically, I thought the quilt still looked a little bare, so I turned it around the other way and quilted the squiggly lines horizontally as well.

If you'd like to make your own version of this quilt, be sure to check out my tutorial for it!

Vital statistics:
  • Started: November 2009
  • Finished: June 2011
  • Machine-pieced, machine quilted
  • Fabric: Gobble Gobble by Sandy Gervais; inner border: Fabulous Fall by Deb Strain; outer border: Tranquility by Sandy Gervais

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Productivity

The husbatron has had his nose to the grindstone with some work deadlines lately, so I've been trying not to pester him toooo much. That basically means I've been holed up in the sewing room with my H2H projects and Mad Men, Season 2

I finally finished almost all the blocks for my H2H projects and their corresponding stash projects:

half square triangles

H2H - French General Half-Square Triangle Blocks - DONE!

double diamond 4-patch

H2H - Double Diamond 4-Patch Blocks - DONE

more half-square triangles

Stash Half-Square Triangle Blocks from Freebird (Momo) and Chrysalis (Sanae) - DONE!

scrap double diamond 4-patches in progress

Scrappy Double Diamond 4-Patch blocks - almost done. I'm making about 100 of these blocks. That's why they're taking so dang long.

close-up of machine quilting

After all the piecing I did last week, I was in the mood for something different. I ignored the fact that the H2H deadlines are looming and pulled out a Fig Tree top that I basted awhile back and started quilting it. After a solid hour or so of quilting, I'm about 1/4 of the way finished. 

On a side note, I've pledged to finish the quilting on this Fig Tree quilt by next Monday in Amy's One Thing One Week Challenge
Amy's Creative Side

It's time like this when I'm glad I have nearly 3 dozen projects in progress - no matter what kind of quilty mood I'm in, there's sure to be a project that will satisfy my yen to shop, cut, piece, baste (um, as if), or quilt.

If you're here for the food, here's what we're eating/have been eating this week:

Check out some other menu plans on OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday post

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ebay - love it or hate it?

I'm not one of those ebay fiends who buys some awesome item at a rock-bottom price and then re-sells it and turns a profit, but the few ebay transactions I've had have been pretty satisfying. The first time I used ebay was to buy my wedding dress.

ebay wedding

I was a bit nervous about the idea, but I figured that if the dress turned out to be a complete disaster, then I was only $100 in the hole, which isn't too terribly bad when it comes to purchasing a wedding dress. I'm happy to say that after Mom altered and re-hemmed it a bit, it worked out just fine.

Wedding - Officially hitched

My next purchase: this Cotton Blossoms layer cake, many many moons ago. I bought it a couple of years back to do Rachel's Pinwheel Quilt Along. I think I'll still eventually use this fabric for this particular project, but I've been sidetracked for the past few years.

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My most recent purchase: some Martinique scraps by 3 Sisters for Moda. I'm still pondering what exactly to do with these strips. I didn't have a specific plan in mind, but the strips weren't expensive, the fabric is cute, and I was feeling exceptionally virtuous yet fun-loving because I had just finished a couple of projects and was about to head out on vacation.

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What about you? Do you have a love or hate relationship with ebay? Have you ever used it to de-stash?

Monday, June 13, 2011

You Really Like Me

Over the past month or so, I've been very touched when fellow bloggers have contacted me to let me know they've awarded me with blogger awards of one variety of another. Jen of Ellison Lane Quilts was kind enough to nominate me for the Stylish Blogger Award, and Jen of The Quilty Home was nice enough to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award. The rules for both awards are pretty similar - 7 things about yourself and then you tag other bloggers you like for the award. Forgive me for lumping these awards together into one post.

Best Actress Academy Awards

So first, 7 things about myself:

1. I love dishes, all varieties, at all places. Whenever I make a Goodwill run to drop off donations, I always take a couple of minutes to peruse the dish selection. When I'm in Target, any department store, Williams-Sonoma, TJ Maxx, pretty much anywhere that might possibly carry dishes, I always peruse the merchandise, just to see what's there. I rarely buy anything. I just like to look.

Utterly Fabulous Flower Dishes

2. I used to hoard books the same way that I hoard fabric now. When I was in library school, I had this terrible fear that in order to find a job, I'd have to accept a position in a teeny tiny public library at the corner of Nowhere and Down Yonder, USA that wouldn't have much of a collection or a budget to build one, leaving me with only Charles Dickens and monthly Harlequin novels as my only reading options. (Disclaimer: this was long before e-readers hit the market.) So I hit the local library book sales and thrift store bookshelves HARD. Luckily, this fear has not yet materialized. I've only read a small fraction of the hoarded books, and I'm coming to the realization that I can check out most of them from one of the awesome libraries nearby. So, I'm gradually giving them back to the thrift stores and libraries to sell (again) to some poor paranoid grad student.

Library books

3. There's something about warm weather that really brings out my self-sufficiency in the kitchen. I'm much more likely to make homemade kitchen staples in the hot months of spring and summer than I am in the winter. In the past month, I've made homemade marinara sauce, focaccia, yogurt, and tortillas for the first time since last summer.

Tortillas

4. I'm a Freecycle convert. It's the greatest tool I've found to quickly get rid of stuff I don't want and/or that I can't fit in my car to donate off-site. I think it even beats the Goodwill (assuming you don't want tax receipts). You don't have to load the stuff in your car, you can just leave it on your front porch, and the designated person comes to pick it up.  So far, I've gotten rid of an old ceiling fan, smelly fabric from the 1980s and 1990s, an old desk I used as a sewing table, a seatless garden chair, and all the old cabinet pulls from our kitchen cabinets. (Seriously, someone sent out a call for kitchen cabinet knobs.) I look forward to many more happy years of freecycling.

Minimalism

5. I save almost all of my folded corner triangles. You know the ones I'm talking about, right? The ones that are leftover after you've made a flying geese unit or snowball block, where you cut away the triangles and fold over and press the top fabric? Yeah, I've saved them all in sandwich bags by project, which are then stuffed into an even bigger plastic bag. Hooray for teeny tiny scraps!

Fandango morsels

6. I don't like mushrooms. The Husbatron doesn't either. It's one of the many reasons we're so compatible.

no mushrooms. no grapes.

7. One of my favorite things in the world is to use up stuff. I derive grreeeaaat satisfaction from using all the thread on a spool, all the peanut butter in a jar, and the last of the milk. It's probably because I like closure.

No more Jam :(

Sorry to take the cheater's way out, but I feel kinda guilty singling out some people for an award and not others. So, if you're reading this and haven't been nominated for one of these awards, consider yourself officially NOMINATED and TAGGED.

If you're here for the food, here's what we're eating this week:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Return of the Schnibbles

Do you ever have times in your life when there are a billion things you really *should* be doing, but you say, "eh, screw it. If you need me, I'll be at my sewing machine." Yeah, me too.

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I'd like to submit this quilt as exhibit A to be filed under "using my hobby as procrastination." I started this quilt about 6 days before I got married. There were probably other things I should have been doing. But at the end of the week, I still ended up married, right?

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Sidenote: this wasn't my oldest WIP, but that's another story for another day.

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Back in October 2009, I finished my first quilt top for the Year of Schnibbles project with Sherry and Sinta. Ideally, I would have quilted each Schnibble as soon as I pieced it, but meh, we all know how that goes. You don't have the ideal backing fabric on hand and don't have enough fabric allowance left at the end of the month to buy some, you're seduced by the next greatest collection that just came out and start a project with that instead. Oh, and then you buy a house. I could go on, but I don't really need to, do I?

more loopy quilting

Anyways, folks like John and Angela actually followed the instructions. Take a look at their blogs to see what the quilt was supposed to look like. Rather than shell out the money for the pattern, however, I decided to wing it and rely on some good old-fashioned quilt math to get me through. This trend continued throughout most of the Year of Schnibbles; my quilt math worked better some months than others. I settled down with some scratch paper and did the math on how many charm squares were in each block and in which colors.

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I had a Glace layer cake and some cream background fabric on hand, so I was able to make a few more blocks than what's in the original pattern. To make the quilt even bigger, I set the blocks on point and added a couple of borders. Also, if you take a close look, you'll notice that I swapped the print and the background fabric for the flying geese units. This block is my favorite one overall. Don't you just love the itty bitty red flowers against the blue?

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These two changes (setting the blocks on point + swapping around the flying geese) led to a lot more neutral/background space in the quilt, which was an effect that I was really starting to dig at that point.

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All together, I made 16 blocks, with 3 leftover that I turned into a tablerunner, along with probably a dozen or so leftover charm squares.

full view

A couple of months ago, I finally backed and basted the quilt top.

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For the quilting, I just free-motion-quilted an allover loopy design that has turned out to be my most efficient quilting motif. Here's a peek at my favorite print from this quilt with a close-up of the quilting:

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After sending it through the washer and dryer, it's ready to grace the back of my couch. If you'd like to see other versions of this quilt, take a blast through the past and check out both Sherry's and Sinta's parades.

Vital Stats:

  • Started: September 2009
  • Finished: May 2011
  • Machine-pieced, machine-quilted
  • Fabric collection: Glace by 3 Sisters for Moda