Monday, March 31, 2014

Fabriholic Check-In

March comes to a close: 3 months into my fabric fast.  Time to report how it's going.


I have appreciated having a "no buy" policy, as it has gotten me out of making a couple random purchases when I was seeking retail therapy.  (Boredom can be treacherous.)

Sadly, I have not done much sewing, and thus my endless stash is still hanging around.

On an upbeat note, the Relaxing Robin sew-along project (that I just sort of slipped into) has been a way to use up flannel scraps.
The flannel scrap box

Plus, I have pulled out long-saved hunks of flannel from my stash and daringly cut into them.  Of course, I would love to be able to go buy just the right color for the next round (I really need some yellow for the sun I am wanting to make!)  But I am finding my creativity come alive in being forced to use just my stash.

Current Relaxing Robin dilemma: I prefer the "picket fence" style with the narrower spacing, seen in the top row here, but not sure that I have enough of the cream/gray/purple plaid to make it work.

Also used up pretty much all of a striped scrap in making binding for my blue baby quilt.
Use it up: striped binding fabric

So it's all good from here.  Linking up with others who are also reporting on their progress.  Send them some love!

P.S. For some of my fellow Fabriholics, I stumbled upon this post about the state of American quilting magazines.  It has a ton of comments, and got me thinking about those who are truly drawn to the newest lines of fabric.  Here's my favorite comment quote, from Karen, who blogs at Nana Girl Quilts:
"My takeaway thought on this subject much as we love new fabric, it seems the manufacturers have taken away the thing that made quilting personal and fulfilling (at least for me) - choosing our fabrics. The patterns haven't changed but the way we choose our fabric has. I too would love to see quilts made from somebody's real stash and not from a stack of fabrics put together by committee! Maybe somebody's listening."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Guess What I Made

First clue: here's what the pattern looks like

I used freezer paper to make this pattern, then cut it out from scraps of an old skirt.

This was to be my prototype.  I had some fiddling to do to make the item fit its intended recipient--of that I was certain.

Found the pattern, a free .pdf download, on Miss P's blog.

Here is what the pattern looks like, printed out at full size (100%), and again at 60%.  That was my guess as to how much smaller I would need to make it.

Lucky guess on my part! 

I used the recommended 1/4" seam allowance.  Left the back seam unsewn, which is a good thing, because it was tricky to get that tiny fabric tube turned right-side-out.

A very stylish young man
Oakie needs an outfit for the wedding, and I just couldn't think of a penguin not wearing a bow-tie to such an event.

I got a little ahead of myself... wanted to see if Oakie would look sexy-casual with the bow-tie untied.  Started picturing him with a smoking jacket.  Meh.  Not so much.

I need to make another one of these--this time in the wedding colors!  (I have just the satin fabric.) 

And to narrow down my options for what goes with a bow-tie:
  • tuxedo jacket with tails?
  • tuxedo pants?
  • with suspenders?
  • tuxedo shirt front?
  • cummerbund?

Stay tuned.  90 days until the wedding, give or take.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Finish: Blue Baby Quilt

Got the idea last week, from the (temporarily suspended) Finish it Up Friday, that I haven't really focused on finishing some of my languishing projects.  They take up space in my sewing room, and I move them around as I get excited and start working on other projects, but I just don't buckle down and take those last little steps.

Blue baby quilt favorite block: Old Windmill pattern

Case in point: blue baby quilt.  Blocks made as part of 20111-2012 Buck-a-block BOTM.  Sashed and bordered, even machine quilted.  But no binding.

So close to being done.  And there it sat.

Git 'er done!
All it took was some willpower, and not much time. 

I so seldom finish a quilt that I have to go back and learn the tricks of binding anew each time.  Found the Missouri Star Quilt Company's binding video super-helpful--especially the tricky "hiding the beginning/ending seam" portion.

I love stripes and plaids in bindings, so I use bias more often than not.  Just like the way it looks.

And there you have it: a finished project.  Hoping to link up with TGIFF (thank goodness it's finished Friday), or Finish it up Friday.  Next week.

Last word: the creatively-pieced backing

Organizing the T-shirts

My inspiration:

Sweetie, aka The Tidy Fairy, discovered this way to fold and stuff her t-shirt drawer about a week ago, and has been raving about it ever since.

I decided to give it a try.  I have been acquiring extra t-shirts lately (one of the hazards of teaching high school: logo t-shirts for sports and clubs), and my drawer is pretty stuffed.

Before: the overstuffed drawer
However, this new t-shirt folding technique requires a deeper drawer than this one.  So I needed another location.  Good thing I have 2 dressers!

Tall dresser with deep drawers.  Narrower than the low dresser, but it might work.  Top drawer was a junk drawer + long johns/hiking clothes catch-all.

WOW!  It worked so well that I was able to grab a couple t-shirts from my "running shirts" drawer.  My few camisoles are rolled up and tucked on the side.

Now, I know that organizing my t-shirts doesn't take care of the fact that I have too many of them.  However, I did manage to organize and consolidate my junk + long johns drawer.  So that's a win, too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oakie needs one of these!

Just gotta share: I found a Sew Along that I am so tempted to jump into.  I'm not yet horribly behind--their schedule started (slowly) in February, and continues through Fall.

It's called the Great Quiet Book Sew-Along, and it's being hosted by Sherri at Thread Riding Hood.  A sew-along to make a cloth book!  I LOVE cloth books.  I am such a sucker for them...


My book of basics: "How to Make Cloth Books for Children"

Moda's "Ten Little Things" counting book

Other ideas (blogs, websites) that have caught my eye

A pattern I purchased last spring.  (No, I haven't made it.  Yet.)

"Hurry up, Pizza Man!" The pepperoni page...

My very first cloth book (1997), of a completely original design.  I long to make another of these one day, updating with all the new techniques and ideas I have learned.

Oakie needs a cloth book, right?

I could populate the pages with penguin-specific fabrics
 and notions,
Oakie on a recent brewery tour. Kids, avert your eyes!
make sure good photos of him are included on the photo pages,

and add to the adorable over-the-top attire and accessories that he is collecting.

Reality check: I need another new project right now like I need another hole in the head.  I'll just set this website away for later...  Maybe after the wedding I can still jump into a sew-along and have a completed product in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Relaxing Robin, March complete

I feel so accomplished!  I have done the March step for the Relaxing Robin--within the month of March.

If you recall, February's step was to "add some applique".  I went a little crazy with my applique aspirations, making all sorts of crazy-pieced cats to put within a very wide border.

Applique round, with stand-in cats

There are six completed cats, with two more going to join them soon.  So, technically, I am not done with February's step.  However, I didn't let that deter me from moving on to March.

March, as suggested by our fearless leader...

4. add some triangles. this could be flying geese, pinwheels, etc. again, have fun with this. there are many blocks and ideas with triangles.

Well, that's not exactly what I worked on.  As in, not at all what I worked on.  All those kitties inspired me... to make balls of yarn.  Well, not so much yarn, but ball-shaped anyway.

Took all my flannel florals and cut circular patches, which landed on colorful plaid patches.  Left the edges raw, as I intend to Big Stitch quilt these in the completed quilt.  (What am I doing, planning how something will be quilted?  Geez, when did I get to thinking so far ahead?)

This is getting large; it's 40" wide so far.  But I want to make a twin-size quilt, so I need to add significantly to the height.  Thus, my revamped March step only added circle patches to the top and bottom.

4. add some triangles. this could be flying geese, pinwheels, etc. again, have fun with this. there are many blocks and ideas with triangles.

I have planned this step.  Saw what Sunny did on her triangle border (a picket fence! at least that's how I interpreted it) and decided that my cats could use that treatment, too.  So I'm busy measuring for the next border, with triangles, and that will become my April step.


5. using some of the fabric in the first border make another border of your choice

I can hardly believe it, but I am planning out the May step as well.  Just hope I have enough of the pink flannel to be the background to what I want to do.

Check out the links to other quilts in the Relaxing Robin.

Friday, March 14, 2014

3 More Cats in the Relaxing Robin

I'm liking the crazy-pieced flannel cats that will make up the applique round of the Relaxing Robin (February's step).

Crazy-quilt cat silhouettes

I finished 3 more cats.  Discovered after the first few that they look better with dark fabric in the head, and not a lot of piecing around the face.

The gals at Stitch n Bitch kept praising my creativity in doing the crazy-piecing.  I am flattered.  I just have so, so many ideas--I don't understand folk who say they aren't creative. 

Isn't everyone creative?  (Answer: yes, you are)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bouquet Assembly: Take 2

Had my crafty Play Date with my friend Tree, and let me tell ya, she is a whiz.  She took apart the sad button/brooch bouquet with nary an emotional outburst, and started back in on the reconstruction post-haste.

After about 30 minutes, had a decent-looking collection of stems wired up.  Slight variation on the "use fake hydrangea's as a base" technique: twisted the wire stems around the hydrangea under-foliage to better secure them and prevent them from sliding about willy-nilly.

brooch bouquet under-structure

Also, kept twisting the wires around the stem all the way to the end (instead of trying to hold them straight in a bunch).

brooch bouquet stem (under construction)
This is so much more secure.  The brooches and button-towers are pretty immobilized, even though fewer than half of them have been placed so far.

  • don't have to twist each individual stem's wires down to the ends
  • don't need floral tape until the end
  • brooches can't slide around within the arrangement
  • actually easier to thread the stems into the arrangement
  • takes more than 2 hands

However, I still think I am going to take this version apart.  I like the technique, but I want to tweak things a bit.

Too much hydrangea; it's hiding the bling

My main complaint is that the overall shape has strayed too far from oval/round, and the hydrangeas seem to be swallowing up a few of the stems.  I don't want to lose sight of any of my carefully crafted lovelies!

Phew, good thing I started this project so early...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

reaLISTic expectations

I have worked diligently over the past few years to become aware of how long things take.  I am chronically late.  I also know that I just move slower than my fellow human beings.  So these are my challenges... but I am working on them.

Made a To-Do list when I got home from work yesterday.

Ok, 11 items.  Doesn't seem so bad.  Numbering helps with being realistic about what can get done.

According to my recent experiments with how long things take, I can estimate 30 minutes for most individual To Do list tasks. (Unless travel time is involved.)  So, an 11-item list might take 5 and 1/2 hours to complete: yikes!  Who has that much time, especially starting at 5:30 on a weeknight?

According to Sweetie's advice, I should cut this list in half.  Which is what I did.  Prioritize.  What do I really want to/need to get done tonight?

Happy to report that I completed all 5 circled items before bedtime, and felt pretty good about it.  My
most proud accomplishment was "hemming curtains".  I had a 6-hour odyssey with what should have been simple curtains awhile ago, and I was determined to just get this project done, letting go of all need for perfection, and settling for basic, finished curtains.

Didn't iron.  Barely measured.  Used 1/3 as many pins as usual.  But they are done, and they look fine.

Done is beautiful.
Haven't I heard this somewhere before?

A successful list management experience, for a Tuesday night.  And guess what?  The after-work To-Do list will happen again today.  More opportunities to practice being reaLISTic.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Relaxing Robin, applique progress

Relaxing Robin: a round-robin style quilting project in which several people participate in adding borders/rows to a central medallion, according to a monthly theme or sewing technique.  
Center Block of Relaxing Robin
This robin is relaxing because the "rules" of what is to be done each month are just guidelines and don't have to be followed.  Also (and most importantly), the quilting project never leaves your house.  Meaning: you don't have to stress about deadlines, or whether the next recipient will like your choices, or whether you will like what others have created before you--it's your project.

Spent the past several weeks working on other things, so not much got accomplished on the Relaxing Robin quilt this month.  The assignment for February was "add some applique".  My applique idea is rather involved, but also will greatly enlarge my quilt.  Which is good, as I'm looking to make a lap quilt or twin bed quilt out of this project.

On the final day of the month, I went to stitch-n-bitch and pieced 3 crazy-quilted cats.

Crazy-piecing in Flannel

I think there are 6 cats total in my design, plus the mitered borders that will form their background.  (Never have made mitered borders before--that should be interesting.)

So that's where I'm at.  Behind, but still relaxed about it all.  I'm linking up with the Relaxing Robin check-in at Sew You Quilt 2.  Not many of the participants have linked in their progress yet...  I wonder if that means many of us have not completed February's step.

Stitching assignment for March:
Step 4. add some triangles. this could be flying geese, pinwheels, etc. again, have fun with this. there are many blocks and ideas with triangles.
My idea for the next step does not involve triangles.  Darn.  Much as I like to follow the rules, I have my creative Muse to consider here.  I will re-evaluate my options for March after I actually finish the February applique step.
Check out the other Relaxing Robin stitchers?  Their blogs are linked to the home page of Sew You Quilt 2