Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bouquet Assembly: Take 1

How I've spent the past six weeks of winter: working on my DIY wedding bouquet, with a hoped-for completion date of February 28 (pause, check the calendar).

I got all 80-something stems made.  Yay, go me!

A vase of pretty brooches/buttons/beads
Now comes the time to assemble them into bouquet form.  Started pushing and placing them within a fake hydrangea arrangement, as suggested on numerous DIY websites

Things went well for about the first 12 stems, then everything got all shifty--formerly placed brooches started sliding and cascading into each other.

Clumps of brooches + vast areas of unadorned fake floral

I got frustrated.  So close to my goal, so close to meeting my self-imposed deadline.  I've been pretty good at letting go of perfection on this project; but I'm gonna have to re-do this assembly.  Darn.  Not like I hadn't been warned of how this might happen

"...Brooches have a mind of their own, and often don’t go where you want them to go. You’ll probably have to take your bouquet apart and start over from scratch at least once, maybe more. You’ll have to learn how to work with the brooches, and there’s a good chance your bouquet will end up different from your vision..." (quote from Here's What DIY Articles Don't Tell You)

Awesome idea for Take 2: enlist a crafty friend to help me!  She has patience, since this is not a project she is already wishing were done.  She has an extra set of hands.  She has great ideas for how to craft and assemble.  And she can calm me down when the perfectionistas rear their carefully-coiffed heads.

Setting this project aside for my next crafty Play Date.  Linking up with the Cabin Fever Party over at Lily Pad Quilting, so I can share what I've been doing with my dreary winter days.

Have you done something interesting while the weather has been frightful?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Flurries of Filing

First, let me say that I have the best Sweetie in the world.  She moonlights as The Tidy Fairy, generally keeping things neat and clutter-free in our household.  (And this is despite my moonlighting as The Clutter Gremlin, sworn enemy of all that is tidy and organized.)

So it happened that this past weekend ended up being all about organizing my filing system.  (Total honesty: I did almost none of the work here.  Although I did do five loads of laundry.)

Main filing system: this bin of hanging file folders.

Used to be jam-packed
Reference files: this drawer in the credenza

File drawer:  used to be full. of. papers.

The non-filing files: piles of paper on the counter, under the cutting table in the sewing room, in the closet in the guest room, on my dresser.  Well... you get the picture.  I am a master at creating piles.

Just one of many piles

The haul: 4 bags of shredded documents.  Full paper recycling bin out at the curb on garbage day.  Empty file folders galore.

My attempt at making shredding look sweet

The payoff: I have actually filed new things this week!  And it was easy.  Amazing what a difference it makes to have labels, and space (lesson learned: never overfill a filing system).

Thanks, Sweetie!  We should do our taxes next...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cheating on the Fabric Diet?

Isn't this cute? Pattern just purchased.
Ok, Fabriholic Followers, time for me to report how I am doing.  The good news: I have NOT bought
any fabric, new or otherwise.

This doesn't mean that I have done much using up of the stash, however.  No real sewing going on lately--I have been wiring up my crafty bouquet instead.  I wish I were sewing. 

It seems that I have WIPs laying about in all sorts of places, taunting me with the possibility of adding a stitch here or there.

What I have done, and it feels like cheating on the Fabric Diet, is buy notions

Notions: ribbons and yo-yo makers

And books.

And patterns. 
Ooh, new Vogue patterns for me!
And magazines. 

I have filled my need for the next new project with ideas galore.  Just look at the tantalizing possibilities I have discovered in my new reading material:

Scrap-happy? Seduced by colorful, fun (see the narwhal? & the rick-rack?), and the promise of using up stash fabrics...

To my credit, I have not abandoned all my old WIPs and UFOs to take up with the latest fling.  Nor have I sauntered out to the fabric store to get materials to put any of these fabulous ideas into action.  The idea is still to use up fabric from my stash--even when it comes time to start a new project.

Linking up with the monthly check-in for Fabriholics Anonymous.  Gotta give some love to those deprived of new fabrics...


Monday, February 17, 2014

The Little Bouquet That Could

I have put off the sewing this month, determined to complete a crafty project with a self-imposed deadline of February 28: making a bouquet for my upcoming wedding.  I am following lots of DIY advice from various online sources to craft a bouquet from buttons and brooches and other jewelry-like findings that have sentimental meaning for me.

So far, I have made:
26 button towers
wired up 8 brooches onto stems
8 stems from clip-on earrings

re-purposed 4 pairs of clip-on earrings (including a couple pair from my grandmother)

12 crafty creations

and miscellaneous other stems consisting of fabric yoyo's (many made out of leftover bits of satin and lace from when I made my sister's wedding dress many years ago), jewelry and beading findings, and anything else that looks like I can press it into service.

Don't really know how much more I need to make.  My initial estimates were that I need about 80 stems to fill in a bridal-size bouquet.  So... if I'm counting correctly, I still have 26 more to make.

Then onto the daunting task of making a bouquet shape out of them.  The best advice I read online was actually a cautionary tale about how the DIY process is not as easy as some online sources make it seem.  And that is one of the main reasons I started in January, and intend to complete this part of the wedding DIY in February.

Also, I really want to get back to sewing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Retreat Recap

I went to quilting retreat at the end of January, car stocked to the roof with 9 possible projects to work on.  How did I do?

Well... I knew I would not finish everything I brought.  Heck, I knew I wouldn't even work on some of the items.  I just like having lots of options.

I ended up napping and napping hard while I was there.  My body was fighting a miserable cold, and all I wanted to do was sleep.  Did just a touch of sewing in between naps, but I had a lovely time.  I may have finally given myself permission to let go of a To Do list and just enjoy myself.  Win!

An update on my list of possible projects.  This includes finishing work I have done since retreat ended.

For sure want to finish:

Border and Backing

1.  Border for Sweetie's t-shirt quilt.  Also want to piece the backing fabric, so it can be sent off for quilting as soon as I get backDONE

2.  Complete the machine quilting on blue baby quilt.  Really, this is so close to done that I am almost embarrassed that I let it sit around for so longDONE, and blogged about.  Just the binding left!

3.  Stuffed cat for Barnyard Quilt AlongDONE

Other projects:

4.  Daughter's drama t-shirt quilt.  No progress.

5.  Decorative tissue box covers.  No progress.

6.  Little black dress.  (Ha-ha, really a nightgown from a knit fabric.)  No progress.

7.  Relaxing Robin.  If I want to be ready to applique on a border in February, my design idea calls for applique with crazy-quilt piecesCenter section DONE and blogged about.

8.  Quilted teapot cozy.  Requested by Dad when he saw the Kitchen Aid cozy I made in DecemberDONE.  Dad called to say it is in use already.

9.  More big stitch quilting on the Barnyard Play Quilt...  Always a possibility.  Hey! I actually got around to some of this, thanks to an ice storm.

All in all, not bad.  Especially impressive given the amount of sleeping that took place.  Retreat was clearly a relaxing experience for me this year.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Pretty Yet Dangerous: ice (on bamboo & clothesline)
Our weather was crazy over the weekend: ice storm, full-on freezing rain that attached itself with a vengeance to every outdoor surface.  The resulting damage to trees meant that over 50% of the households in our tiny town suffered power outages.

This was officially the longest I have been without power in my adult life.  And what does a sewing gal do without power?  Well, for awhile I just watched the storm while hunkered down under a cozy quilt.  Eventually, however, I had to resort to hand sewing. Not my favorite activity, and one I usually put off.

Spent much of the weekend making big-stitch progress on my Barnyard Play Quilt. 

Very slow going, but very zen at the same time (especially with no music or tv as background accompaniment).  And so I am linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching.

Slow Sunday Stitching

And yet, as one of my fellow introverted friends said of the weekend, "I appreciated all the quiet brought about by the storm."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Machine quilting: starts and stops

Had planned to complete the machine quilting on my blue baby quilt at this year's retreat.  Looked like I was almost done, so it seemed like a reasonable goal.

Finished the circles for the center of each block.  Yay!  Thought I was done.  My reasoning?  I used a high-loft polyester batting for a really poufy (is that a word?) look, and I wouldn't want to destroy all the pouf by quilting too much.
Original circle + inner circle for reinforcement

However... Sitting next to a Goddess of Machine Quilting at retreat, I soon realized that I needed to add more quilting in each block.  Her reasoning?  (1)  It is a baby quilt, so will see lots of washings, and more quilting will help to stabilize the seams on all the piecing.  (2)  Polyester batting will tend to bunch up over time with frequent washings, so more quilting will help to prevent that from happening.

So, back to the machine I went.  Not ready to try free motion quilting, so I'm stuck with my walking foot.  Which means lots of turning the quilt.  Grr, not fun.

Why is it so hard to turn this little quilt?
You know what?  I never really looked much at other sewing machines (don't want to get into machine envy, or ask what small fortune this or that machine cost), but I couldn't help noticing that Goddess of Machine Quilting has a lot more room to maneuver under the throat of her machine than I do.  In fact, I went ahead and measured (while she was away from her machine). 

Purchased for Halloween costumes: not ideal for quilting

I have 6 1/2" of throat; her machine has 11+" of space.  It's big enough to park an SUV under there!  No wonder I was fighting so hard to gather and bunch and twist and curse as I was quilting.

Still good pouf.  And yet secure.

And the end result?  Gosh, I really like it.  Can't hardly tell there was any sweat at all in getting that machine quilting done.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Relaxing Robin: step 1 complete

On January 31, I completed step 1 of the Relaxing Robin: I found an orphan block (well, truthfully, it was only part of an orphan block--how forlorn can you get?), sized it appropriately, and put a small contrasting border on it.

Ta-Da!  Crazy-quilt pieced flannel plaids, bordered with a baby pink flannel.  I didn't think I could get more contrast-y than that.

February's step is to add applique.  I'm really not a hand-stitcher, so my applique will be of the fused and machine-stitched variety.  I could try and work on a new skill with a different applique technique, but I am feeling a time and project crunch in February, so I will stick to my plan.

Starting to crazy-quilt piece the reds.

I purposely saved out my red plaid flannels for the applique.  Have a border fabric picked out and cut, and I'm making crazy-quilt patches for the applique shapes.  I am feeling so inspired.  This is so much fun!

At this point, I'm thinking cat silhouettes will be the shapes I applique.  Don't know why--I'm really not much of a cat person.  Tried out a couple different arrangements.  Ready to get back to piecing the reds...

(I know as I write this that I am putting this project aside for a couple weeks.  I have another pressing project that has a February deadline and much work to be done.  Stay tuned later in the month.)