Thursday, January 31, 2013

Buck-a-block: Jan pattern

I was again unable to attend buck-a-block (which, according to the rules, means I can't get my next block for only a buck), but picked the January pattern up the following weekend--and finished sewing it already!

Here is December's completed block:

January's pattern is On the Square, and it again comes from Judy Hopkins' 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).

The suggested borders form a continuation of the cornerstone/Irish chain effect.  They look kinda cool, but I'm not sure how they would play along with other blocks.

I was able to stitch up both the December and January patterns at last weekend's quilting retreat.  I used these blocks as part of my decompression time--getting myself mentally ready for a weekend of sewing, and deciding on which of the nine projects I brought along were calling me first.

Will post some retreat stuff when I feel sorted out a bit.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Machine Quilting 102

Took a machine quilting class back in October, but haven't really gotten down to the practicing part that will improve my skills.  And improved skills is what I will need to actually do some machine quilting on an actual item--not just the demo quilt that I started during the class.

So I've been "collecting" projects that are complete up to the machine-quilting step.  The result is FIVE projects that are awaiting my skill-building.  Time to get practicing, I say.  There will be quite the payoff in completed projects if I can just get over this hump.

Here are the projects:
Wordy wallhanging - last worked on in November, but over a year in the making.  Wallhanging size: I think I might be able to machine quilt that.

 Baby quilt made from six blocks out of the 2012 buck-a-block BOTM.  Top finished in December, so this one hasn't been sitting around for too long.

 Baby quilt made from the other six blocks out of the 2012 BOTM.  Top finished beginning of October--before I had even taken the machine quilting class.  Since I knew it would be awhile before I got back to working on this project, I put the top, the batting and the backing fabric together in a clear pouch for safekeeping.  (I feel so clever sometimes.)

Paper-pieced daisy pillow top.  This was begun with the paper-piecing class I took in February, and has sat around patiently for most of the year.  How the unfinished projects do pile up over time!

Drum-roll please... the oldest project awaiting my machine quilting skills to catch up with my appetite for new projects: barnyard play quilt.  Pulled out of its paper sack in November, this had been hidden away for probably ten years, in exactly the state it is in today: ready for machine quilting before all the little add-on bits get attached.

Alrighty, woman, let's get crackin!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sewing? Mending.

Been hanging out over on The Sew Weekly website, getting inspired to do some garment sewing in 2013.  I have many boxes of many fabrics that are not appropriate for quilting--figured I should get some of it sewn into garments (and such), or start preparing to part with it for good.

Had a look around the sewing room, and realized I have piles of mending that have been neglected while I pursue quilt-related projects.

So, here's the rundown:

Gray trousers - purchased on mega-clearance just this fall, these haven't been worn because they are too big in the butt.  I think I can reduce the side seams a little.  How hard is that?

Black trousers - (ooh, dark photo!) these have been in the mending pile for quite some time, but I have pulled them out and worn them several times, flaws and all (the joys of safety pins and duct tape in unseen places).  The flaws here include a hole in the zipper area seam, a pocket that just won't lie flat (without a safety pin helper), and elastic in the waist area that has come loose on one side.

Brown trousers - I think the hem is the only thing that needs fixing on these.  But it's been so long since I've looked at them, there might be something else, too.

Green polo shirt - wow, can't even remember what I was supposed to be doing to this.  Maybe shorten the sleeves?  Maybe hem the overall length shorter?

Gold shirt-into-vest transformation - this is a restyle from awhile ago.  Hem is basted into place and armhole bias binding is partially complete.

Off-white skirt - this just has too tender of a color.  Bought Rit dye to jazz it up a bit.  Have to wait until I'm feeling comfortable with having technicolor hands for a couple days.

 Olive green skirt - making it longer (always the hemming); bought some ribbon trim to cover up the previous hem fold-line.

Rayon coulottes - yes, I know this style is no longer in fashion, but I just like them.  They are too long, however, and I'm through with wearing clothing the wrong length for my figure (I have skinny chicken-leg calves).

Black bobble t-shirt - the large bead-bobbles on this shirt have many that are coming loose.  Nothing worse than droopy bobbles...

Not pictured, but still in the mending area:
Columbia outerwear jacket - velcro closures have shredded in two locations, and you just can't buy velcro in custom colors, and this will require tedious hand sewing.
Red dress restyle - I was adding waist darts and hemming a sheath dress, when I decided to complicate matters and change the neckline and sleeves as well.

Well, gee.  Some of these seem like an easy fix.  Do-able, even.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Eeyore Sweatshirt finished!

Woop, zoop, sloop: that's about how long it took me to finish the Eeyore sweatshirt that had been hanging around UFO land for several years.  Pulled this project out in September, thinking I could finish it by the end of that month.

(And I could have finished it, if only I had sat down to work on it.)

 Commercial sweatshirt with embroidered Eeyore logo and the words, "Think Cheery".  I removed the lower ribbing band and replaced it with patches of assorted orange prints, including several featuring Winnie the Pooh.

 The sleeves, which were originally a little short for me, had their length extended with a faux chenille.  Then I took pieces of the original waistband ribbing to finish off the cuffs.
Chenille detail - after a washing

I think it's cute.  Adorable, even.  And it is just as lovely of an embellished sweatshirt as my purple Winnie the Pooh one is.

But the reaction I got when I wore it?  Meh. 

And that's not the reaction I wanted.  What incentive do I have to finish a long-dormant project, only to find that it's no longer my style?  (And isn't that a reason to re-think some of my UFO items?  And perhaps get rid of them?  I feel the gods are leading me toward a closet purge.)

2nd item finished in 2013!

Monday, January 14, 2013

First finish of 2013

Santa!  First sewing project finished in 2013.  And it was a UFO from long ago: make new clothes for a Santa figurine that had seen better days.

Found an embellished velour at JoAnn's that seemed appropriate and made a new robe using the old robe as a pattern.  I love the depth of this color and how rich it looks.

Ended up reusing the same white faux-fur edging as the original outfit.  Had to slice off some glue (the old outfit had been largely glued together), but it turned out really luxe and delicious.

Shout out to the high school shop teacher, who helped me affix a wooden base and stabilize the doll's plastic body.

I just knew I had to finish this soon, or abandon it for yet another year.  I will be so thrilled to take this out next Christmas and put it on display. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Resolution: 2013

Charlotte, the fabulously fake tree
It all started on December 26th.  Youngest Daughter came by the house and asked me, "So how was your Boxing Day, Mother?" 

Now, although Wikipedia describes Boxing Day as a shopping day, in our house we have always treated it as a day to box up unneeded items for giving away to charity.  Which is not what I had done on December 26th, but it was what I resolved to do starting the very next day.

So, as I  put away my Christmas gifts, I looked for items to box up.  It seemed only natural to part with items in the same general category as the new gifts: new pajamas and gloves = box up old pajamas and excess gloves (how many pairs does one need, anyway?)  Cute new earrings = what old earrings do I never really wear?

In this manner I managed to find at least one item to give away for every new thing I received.  And thus was born my New Year's Resolution for 2013: for every new item that comes into my life, one old item needs to move out.

 I tried to keep up with this mindset during the final week of 2012, but ran  into difficulty when I went to fabric clearance sales at two local quilt shops.  Bought about 8 yards of fabric--mostly to start a t-shirt quilt for Youngest Daughter.  Sweetie reasoned, "since the fabric is to be used to make a quilt that you are giving away as a gift, you shouldn't have to offset it coming into the house."  Yesss, but... what if it takes me 3 years to make this quilt?  What if I start using this mindset to justify acquiring lots of stuff fabric?  (I know me: the year I took The Compact to buy nothing new, I had to restrict myself from Goodwill shopping, as I veered away from the intent of the pledge into massive used buying.)

Well, the question of the fabric purchases remains unresolved.  Technically, the purchase was in 2012, but I really feel like this Resolution started on Boxing Day.  So I'll be looking for something to part with, to at least assuage my fabric-hoarding shopping guilt.

Here's to a 2013 that continues the 2012 journey: have less stuff!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Project Report for 2012

Santa WIP
Well, I haven't kept up much with the monthly project reports.  My last one was mid-November, reporting on activities of September and October.  I think I haven't felt the need to post about the fact that "finished" so rarely happens for me. 

Many of my long-dormant UFOs are glaring at me from the corners of the sewing room, daring me to take the next step toward completing them.  (Santa doll, Eeyore sweatshirt, knit coin purse)

I have so many projects that are awaiting the quilting step (I think I'll have to document them all in a blog posting soon), so they don't count as done done.  My queen size bed quilt is still at the longarm quilter (I got the backing to her too close to the holiday).  So close, so very close...

My two new projects this month were the holiday napkins (which I finished!) and this exploration with covering children's blocks.  A friend asked me what I was doing on this, and I had to admit that this was an idea I had long played with in my mind--and I just wanted to see if I could make it happen.  So I'm still in the playing stage, for sure.

Completed projects this Month:  1
Completed projects Year to Date:  13
New projects this Month:  2
New projects Year to Date: 14
Discarded/donated projects (farewell!): 8
Net Project Count for 2012: -7

Pictures of the 13 finished items:
Christmas napkins (Dec 25th post)

Oakie raincoat (August 11th post)

Oakie formal attire (August 11th post)

1930s challenge block quilt (July 12th post)
Oakie hoodie (July 9th post)
Quilt block for a friend (July 5th post)
Oakie visor (July 1st post)
Denim jumper remix (May 29th post)

Table napkins (April 14th post)
Purple jumper remix (April 1st post)

Reversible dresser scarf (February 19th post)
Fleece "blankie" shoulder wraps (made 2) (February 13th post)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Buck-a-block December pattern

Finally attended my first buck-a-block meeting for the year (I'm pretty sure I'll miss next month's date too: something about a birthday weekend getaway).

I really enjoyed seeing other people's choices for the finishing border on the blocks.  This flying geese was inspiring!
Additionally, some out-of-the-box thinkers substituted other fabrics within their block.  I really liked some of those also, especially since the colors this year are so muted/understated.  A couple of the fabric substitutions were still very soft; I think that would allow more flexibility when it comes to selecting outer border fabrics.

But me?  Stuck with the fabrics provided, as I still have no great ideas for how this will all play out.  I'm playing the hand I've been dealt.  So unusual for me.

So here's the shop sample of this month's block center, along with a suggested border technique.

The pattern is "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul", taken from Judy Hopkins' 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).  We are using Triangle Paper to make all the half-square triangle bits--I just love that stuff!

Got the block cut out, all ready to sew triangles on my machine.