Sunday, June 9, 2013

Seven Days of Sewing

It's been 9 days since I've sewn anything. Nine. I haven't even touched my hexagons. It's taking its toll. I'm starting to get a little jittery. But the next week, it will be different.

Every day for the next seven days, I'm challenging myself to sew something. I'm not pressuring myself to finish a project, or even complete a whole step of a project. I'm not pressuring myself to work for a certain amount of time - 5 minutes, 30 minutes, 2 hours, whatever I can squeeze in, as long as I do something. I just need to shuffle some sewing time back into my life and regain some sanity.

I won't blog every day, but I will try to post a pic each day on instagram and come back at the end of the week with an update - I'm @crookedseams on instagram, and I'll be using the hashtag, #7daysofsewing, to pull it all together. Feel free to follow/play along if you'd like!

I'm traveling home from a work conference in Buffalo (skyline shot below) most of the day today, but the fun starts tonight!

buffalo skyline from the hotel

Per usual, this guy will supervise.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


So this happened
(FYI - not my actual ultrasound. Apparently, there's no shortage of people who are more comfortable than I with posting their ultrasound pics to the internet.)

then shortly thereafter, this happened
new toy

and now there's lots of these almost done projects sitting around my sewing room

I'm just popping in to assure anyone who's still out there that I'm alive. My small corner of the internet has been silent and empty, but my small life has been full and blessedly content.

Despite my radio silence, I've spent quite a bit of time crafting away, and my new conditions and the hardcore nesting instincts that supposedly accompany it have done nothing to quell the volume of fabric and project stacks haphazardly strewn across my sewing room (exhibit A above). I have maintained some degree of normalcy in my life.

With any luck, I'll be back soon with some finished projects posts.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 In Review

A Sampling of the Quilts I Finished This Year

2012 mosaic 

10 Favorites from 2012

  • Favorite New Quiltin' Stitch: Hands down, the concentric circles, as seen on the Joyous Strings Quilt.
  • Favorite Crafty Book: Antique to Heirloom Jelly Roll Quilts - If you have an affinity for antique quilts, try to get your hands on a copy of this book!
  • Favorite New Recipe: Channa Masala. A close second = homemade naan to go with said channa masala. I use smitten kitchen's pita recipe and just fry up the pita dough in an iron skillet with some olive oil.
  • Favorite Book I Read This Year: The $64 Tomato - it definitely tempered my delusions of gardening grandeur into something a bit more realistic for the amount of time and energy I have to devote to such endeavours. 
  • Favorite Fabric on My Shelf: The orange and aqua colorway from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection. I just like to sit and stare at it sometimes. 
  • Favorite Blogland Trend: Granny Squares - I loved seeing all the different color combos for this one quilt block made out of humble 2.5" squares. See my interpretation here
  • Favorite Erma Bombeck Moment(s): My Dr. QuiltLove Mini-Series. Apparently, I had a lot to get off my chest this summer.
  • Favorite Quilt I Finished in 2012: Half-Square Triangle Bliss, despite the fact that the bleeding charm squares almost gave me a coronary (spoiler alert: a combo of OxiClean and Color Catchers saved the day). Coincidentally, this is also your favorite quilt of mine from this year - it's had more views than any other 2012 post!
  • Favorite WiP/UFO: This inverted 9-patch top, even though I haven't worked on it since 2010. 
  • Favorite Quilt by Someone Else: Urban Beads by Jenny Pedigo 

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Only Snow I've Seen This Season

For December, I threw my jelly roll/strippy resolutions to the wind and went over to the dark side. I hit up Fat Quarter Shop's holiday sale, ordered a LOAD of Cuzco yardage by Kate Spain, and made my own layer cake. Well, the equivalent of 2 layer cakes actually.

cuzco yardage ftw!

You see, I used almost all my spare time this month making a KING-sized quilt top to go on my sister-in-law's bed. In between all the nuttiness that goes along with the holiday season - traveling to/from get-togethers, holiday gift shopping, and dealing with the fallout credit card fraud (2 rounds of it to be exact) that goes along with aforementioned holiday gift shopping - I was stealing some time in the sewing room piecing my little heart out.

Here's a sneak peek of the top. I used Natalia's tutorial for Verna's Quilt (minus the flower applique). I love the oversized snowball blocks - they're perfect for showcasing large-scale prints. Hopefully, I'll have some pictures of the finished quilt to show soon! We're meeting up with the in-laws sometime in January to exchange gifts, so I still have a bit of breathing room to finish the quilting.


Who snuck over to their sewing machines this month to work on a strippy (or not) project? Link up below! The party will rage on until January 7th around 11pm.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Soldja' Quilt

As you might guess, today's quilt is going straight to Quilts of Valor.

just one star blocks 

DOQ sponsored a sew-in one Saturday LAST summer, where folks brought their sewing machines, the guild brought the fabric, and we worked on soldier quilts to give to Quilts of Valor.

scrappy just one star blocks in progress 

It was hot outside, and I was too lazy to haul my sewing machine out in the heat, unload it, etc, so I just brought my rotary cutter and rulers and stationed myself at a cutting mat and ironing board the whole day. I trimmed blocks and pressed seams as people needed it. In between, I went through the huge boxes of patriotic scraps the guild had accumulated and starting cutting up the small pieces to make Just One Star blocks. By the end of the day, I had cut out enough fabric to make the star centers of 36 blocks. So I took the mini-kits home, made up the blocks, added the larger sashing pieces from my stash, and sewed them all together. Then the quilt top sat at the bottom of my pile for months. Literally, months.

quilt of valor backing 

I finally worked up the gumption to make the backing and baste the quilt early this summer. Then the quilt sat a little longer. I finally quilted it with a large meander stippling stitch, and then I let it sit quilted but unbound for even longer. Come September, I finally decided enough was enough. I made the binding from some of the leftover backing fabric, and tacked it on there by machine on both sides.

just one star quilt 

I really like the scrappiness of the blocks, and I think the fact that I only used 2-3 sashing fabrics to set the stars on point helps to tone down the busy-ness of the stars.

just one star quilt 

Vital Stats:
Started: July 2011
Finished: September 2012
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Central Park Flower Garden

For a good long time, I didn't really get the whole english paper piecing hexagon craze. I saw lots of hexagon flowers popping up in my flickr and blog feeds but didn't really pay them too much attention. Then I started going to quilt bee meetings, and I found myself scrambling to get my most current project in a state where it was portable. I was either rushing to quilt something so I could bind by hand at the meeting, or I would start a new project just so I could bring some fabric to cut on my little portable cutting mat, etc. One night at bee, I ran out of stuff to do - I finished all the portable work I brought for that meeting. One of the women was kind enough to show me her hexagon/flower garden project and show me how to baste the fabric around the templates. I won't lie. The basting I did that night was pretty darn rough, but I caught the bug. I went home that night, browsed the internet for some hexy inspiration, and started planning my first hexagon project.

central park hexagons 

I decided to start with the traditional flower shape. I had been hoarding a charm pack - Kate Spain's Central Park, and I was ready to put it to use. I cut it up into a bunch of 2.5" squares - they're the perfect size for basting 1" hexagons. In retrospect, I maybe should have picked out a charm pack without so many large-scale prints. When I cut them into the tiny pieces, some of the prints lost a bit of their charm (get it? 'cuz they're charm squares?), but oh well. Live and learn.

I picked out a couple of complimentary solids for the center hexagon and the outer rings on the flowers and started basting away. Complimentary solids = Kona Buttercup (yellow) and Kona Grass (green).

green borders with a warm colored flower 

By the way, Kona Grass is one of my new favorite solids now - it's the perfect green for so many different stacks of fabric that will one day be quilts in my stash. It took between 1/2-2/3 yard of each solid to make enough hexagons for the flower's outer border and the centers.

For my templates, I just use scratch copy paper, and I print off my templates from here, using the 1" template. I'm able to use the templates 3-4 times before they start getting ratty and too pliable. Then they're off to the shredder and then to the compost. Admittedly, it does take time to cut out all those hexagons, but I'm too cheap to spring for the plastic templates. Also, my hexagon projects are my mindless projects, so I don't want to have to think so hard about the best way to construct the hexy shapes in order to re-use a limited number of plastic templates. For me, taking the time to cut out the shapes on copy paper is totally worth it.

Central park hexagons 

It took about 8 months and a heckalotta football games for me to finish the flowers. I took them everywhere - to bee, on road trips, on visits to see family where I knew we'd be sitting and talking for a long time, and then I worked on them in front of the TV while we cleared out the DVR on the weekends. I very, very briefly toyed with the idea of joining them all together to make an all-hexy quilt top, then quickly decided I didn't want to live with this project for that long.

yellow borders with a cool colored flower 

So I just pressed them and machine appliqued them onto some bright blue background fabric (Kona Bahama Blue, 2 different die lots of it apparently) with a blanket stitch.

chicken scratch quilting 

For the quilting, I used a "chicken scratch" stitch that I first saw from Elizabeth Hartman. See her guest post on the Modern Quilt Guild blog for some great pictures of this stitch (and for tips on wrastling a big quilt into your domestic machine). The quilting on this went incredibly quickly - it's a great pattern if you're in a hurry to finish holiday projects but are weary of regular stippling.

crazy backing 

The backing is a great purple print from JoAnn's, and I used an orange Tanya Whelan print from the stash to bind it. There are a lot of crazy colors going on in this quilt, but the charm pack had lots of colors going on, so it all ties back together.
grandmother's flower garden quilt with central park

This quilt is on its way to Durham Foster Care via TMQG. I know there's some kid out there in town with a strong affinity for bright colors and a need for a cuddly quilt of their very own.

Vital Stats:
Started: August 2011
Finished: November 2012
Hand and machine-pieced, Machine quilted

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Granny Squares are FINISHED

Picking up where I abrubtly left off last week, I'm back with another finished quilt and a few giveaway winners. First the quilt.

etchings granny square quilt

I caught the Granny Square craze that swept QuiltBlogLandia earlier this year/late last year. I had every intention of following the ubiquitous tutorial to a T, but the road to @#$% is paved with good intentions and fabric shortages. I ran out of the solid I was using (Kona Oatmeal, which is one of my new favorites), and I couldn't find it anywhere. Even my go-to online shops had it on back-order. So I had to nix the sashing. At first, I was a bit bummed to go sash-less, but after letting the project percolate for awhile, I decided that I like it better that way.

broken down 
I tried following the tutorial for the block construction. Honestly, I did. But my piecing isn't quite precise enough for things to come out the way they're supposed to. So I came up with my own way to construct the blocks. See here for a quick tutorial.

The fabric I used is Etchings by 3 Sisters, with some Kona Coal thrown in for good measure. I used charm squares in the center of the blocks, and I cut a bunch of 2.5" strips from a few half-yard cuts to round out the other prints for the blocks. I love this fabric. I try not to toss that phrase around too much, I dunno how successful I am in that endeavour, though. But this time I really do mean it.

paisley ftw! 
I think this is one of those fabric lines that I'm going to still love in 5 years. I'm a true traditionalist at heart. What can I say? All those paisleys and florals make me all gooey inside.

feather quilting 
To ham up the traditionality of the fabric prints, I decided to machine quilt some feather shapes in each block. I pulled out my book o' feather patterns from Golden Threads and picked out a design that fit neatly in the blocks (no re-sizing here!).

tedium unplugged 
Since I had never tried any feather quilting before, I decided to use the tracing paper method. This method has its benefits and drawbacks. It's great for transferring unfamiliar designs to a quilt without having to mark on a quilt top. I'm terrified of using markers on my quilt tops, and I'd rather pluck my many chin hairs than use stencils to trace patterns on anything. I'm glad there are people out there who find stencils an effective tool for quilting, home decor, etc, but unless I have some kind of psychotic break, I will probably not be one of those people anytime soon. It's also somewhat efficient - I usually stack and pin 3-5 pieces of tracing paper together, trace the design on the top sheet of paper, and then use my (unthreaded) machine to perforate the design on sheets below. I had 42 squares on this quilt and only had to trace the design about 8-10 times.

map prints are my favorite 
The drawbacks? I'm usually left with a lot of little pieces of tracing paper that get stuck in the stitches and require surgical instruments to remove and many rounds of vacuuming to dislodge from the carpet. Admittedly, if I made consistently smaller stitches, this might not be a problem. Another drawback is that I'm not good at following pre-set lines, so my curves are not graceful arcs. They're wobbly as a 3-legged chair. Go figure, since I'm not very good at following directions either - see above, where I didn't follow the tutorial. That's right, a traditionalist at heart who can't follow directions or pre-set lines.

fmq feather practice 
So I'm thinking that next time, I might be better off spending the time it takes to trace and perforate all those pattern sheets practicing/sketching unfamiliar feather designs instead. Sometimes, you learn these lessons the hard way, amIrite?

scallop machine quilting 
Anyways, moving along. In the border, I did an allover scallopy shell-ish paisley pattern. And I bound it with some more Kona Coal.

DS Quilts backing 
The backing is a DS Quilts print from the Picnic line, I think? The colors match the colors on the top, but the fabric's personality definitely doesn't match the top's personality. I think that's okay, though. It's a nice surprise when you turn the quilt over.

This particular quilt is going to Quilts of Valor. The colors themselves are awfully patriotic, but hopefully, they won't look too closely/ignore the French map prints.

Started: March 2012
Finished: September 2012 (Yes, September. I warned you I was behind on the blogging front.)
Machine-pieced, machine quilted

Also, I almost forgot AGAIN. It's time for me to announce winners for both the OCTOBER and November jelly roll parties. (Thanks to Sharon for reminding me about October!)

The October winner is Colleen, who made a rockin' string quilt!

And the November winner is Anna, who made such an elegantly simple quilt!

I've sent y'all emails - send me your mailing addresses, and I'll get some fabric lovin' in the mail to you ASAP!