Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Crafting Round-Up

Here's my finished Dear Jane block C1. Looks great, huh? I am LOVING these 1930s fabrics. Adorable.

So, over the weekend I did a LOT of crafting. Let's look again at my tentative to-do list from last Friday, shall we?

As for my weekend crafting, I hope to:
  • Finish Dear Jane block C1 and do a LOT of cutting so I have pieces ready for the airplane/my trip
  • Finalize the dress pattern I've been working on (yes, it's still in the works)
  • Whip up the Wasp bag from the pattern here.
  • Continue making progress on the "(sort of) crazy quilt" from this book (I'm making it as a gift for a wedding that's a mere 4 weeks away!)
It was an ambitious list, and I did everything on there but the dress pattern! I finished block C1, and even pieced D13 on the train in this morning. Awesome. I made the Wasp bag--out of bee fabric!--on Sunday and Monday. I also spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon finishing the crazy quilt center, then top, then backing, and then sandwiching the whole thing! So, that's ready for quilting when I get back.

Today at work is busy so I must wrap things up before my trip. All of the crafts mentioned will get their own entries, as usual. I have started entries for them all and may be able to post while I'm gone, but maybe not. So if you don't hear from me for a while, it's because I'm eating cheese in WI with my family! :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Weekend Forecast + Miscellany

It's been a LONG week here, full of busy-ness at work, a little play, and lots of planning for my upcoming trip home! I think everyone is looking forward to a long weekend. That's all I could think about this morning as Rob was shaking me awake during the third round of my alarm's snooze. It sounds like a garbage truck backing up. Ugh.

So, weekend plans? We don't have much specific in mind. I have a lot of crafting I'd like to do (as always), and there are definitely errands to be run, including a trip to the quilt shop for needles and thimbles and maybe a yard of something and maybe some 1930s replicas for use in my Dear Jane? Hmm... I hope a diner trip is enough to entice Rob to join me.

The picture above was taken last week when these two books arrived in the mail for me. They are great! I'd heard a lot about how Quilter's Catalog is an excellent resource. I haven't had enough time to confirm that yet, but so far, so good! This may have to be my reading material for the plane ride (when I'm not hand-stitching my Dear Jane squares)... I've been wanting Easy Bias-Covered Curves since I saw this post on Craftster in February. Wow! I have no projects immediately in mind, but I'm definitely thinking about it...

Anyway, as promised, here are some pictures of the Lady Scout craft from last Tuesday, ten days ago already! How time flies. Most of us made the business card holders from this book out of felt. The blue one above is mine, and the green one below is my friend Jenn's, which used some extra flowers I'd already cut out.

They are so cute and easy and fun to make! And a good exercise in hand-stitching, too! They were a big hit with the Scouts, so I was glad for it.

So, drawing on the list in Monday's post, I can now cross a few things off:
  • Belated Lady Scouts pictures (very few)
  • Another weekend craft: fabric basket
  • Crafty book shelf pics and reviews
  • And hopefully some more Dear Jane progress
I don't have any DJ progress to show YET, but I did start stitching another square, C1, on Wednesday night. I am so in love with the fabrics I'm using for this project! I love these 1930s replicas.

As for my weekend crafting, I hope to:
  • Finish Dear Jane block C1 and do a LOT of cutting so I have pieces ready for the airplane/my trip
  • Finalize the dress pattern I've been working on (yes, it's still in the works)
  • Whip up the Wasp bag from the pattern here.
  • Continue making progress on the "(sort of) crazy quilt" from this book (I'm making it as a gift for a wedding that's a mere 4 weeks away!)
Wow, that's ambitious! What are your Memorial Day weekend plans?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weekend Craft: Fabric Basket

As promised, here's my weekend craft post update. Despite a growing queue of stuff to do before I take a week-long trip to Wisconsin for a bunch of family stuff, I decided to whip up this fabric basket from a pattern in The Crafter's Companion

I really liked the book, but I had a lot of difficulty with the pattern. I'm pretty certain some of the measurements are wrong, as I had to take a good inch out of the middle of the lining to make it fit correctly (though I was having trouble keeping my seam allowance consistent around the bottom of the box) and I had to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the drawstring top where it attaches to the basket. 

Also, I learned I should trust myself and my sewing experience OVER a pattern if things don't seem as logical as they should. In this instance, the pattern had me put the sides of the box together, assemble them and keep them inside-out, and THEN attach the handles. That was the biggest pain in the you-know-what ever. After looking at the pattern I briefly considered attaching the handles before attaching the box sides, but decided not to because I wanted to follow the pattern accurately. That could've saved me some frustration and swearing. 

Overall, though, it was a good project, one I'd be willing to tackle again. Differently, though. I did like working with the interfacing, which was sturdy but also really easy to sew through. For some reason, this was my first time using a stabilizer, but I see a LOT more of that in my sewing future. I also want to try some other kinds of fabric boxes. 

Also, there's been a recent and disturbing realization in our household: I don't like Jean-Luc Godard. We watched Contempt last night, and I didn't like it. I also didn't like Band of Outsiders, A Woman Is a Woman, Masculin Feminin, and I can't say I really enjoyed Breathless, either. I just can't handle watching all of those twee domestic arguments. I hate being IN those arguments, and it's MUCH WORSE to be watching them. There are redeeming qualities of all these films, definitely. But as for me, and my personal taste, I just can't do it any more. I'm sorry, world cinema, for snubbing one of your masters. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Small Things...

It's the small things that pleased me this past weekend. The weekend before I had knocked out a needle book based on the pattern in Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts, but it needed a little more cute, you know? So on Saturday I made this little embroidery on muslin and used some Heat-n-Bond to attach it to the front of the book.

Pretty cute, eh?

I also made this little stitching tin, above. I just covered an empty Altoids tin with fabric and then filled it with all of my hand-stitching supplies for portability. The felt flowers on the top are made to mimic the flowers on the lining fabric, which is one of my favorite fabrics ever and is pretty much gone.

Also, very cute, right? It holds my thimbles, thread cutter, needle threader, Thread Heaven, and the tiniest little pincushion, made in a thimble. See it in the lower right?

It was the little things like this that made me happy last weekend. :) Plus Indian food, movies with my husband, yummy diner breakfast, and some time in the park in the sunshine.

Coming up:
  • Belated Lady Scouts pictures (very few)
  • Another weekend craft: fabric basket
  • Crafty book shelf pics and reviews
  • And hopefully some more Dear Jane progress.
Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Apologies for the lack of posting this past week or so. It has been a busy couple of days, I guess, with minimal crafting and minimal picture-taking. Also apologies for the crappy camera-phone photos today. I just wanted to share some images of things that are inspiring me this week. First is an image of my Dear Jane mug from here. I know it's a little obsessive, but I wanted to have it and I'm so glad I got it. The color is not so great and the quilt is a little blurry on the mug (and even worse in the photo above), but it's been so nice having this little reminder on my desk all day every day at the office. It will be fun to mentally fill in the squares I've completed as I get more finished. 

Also inspiring me this week is Zadie Smith's On Beauty. I've had this book since it came out a couple of years ago, but I'm finally starting to read it now. I've just re-read E.M. Forster's Howards End in preparation, and it's been fun, almost gleeful, for me to see the similarities and divergences she's making from that story. 

Other quick bits: 
  • I have had no working headphones for a week+ now, so no iPod on the commute. I really noticed it this morning when there were two rowdy pre-schoolers on my train. Ugh. NEED to get to Newbury Comics! 
  • Lady Scouts met on Tuesday night and we had a great time. Pictures of the fabulous mystery project to come soon. My camera battery has been low or out for the last couple of days, so that's not helping things. 
  • I have FINISHED the big secret family project, two and a half weeks early! Go me. 
  • Still working on that dress pattern, though I've decided to take a different approach. Heading to the fabric store tomorrow to get more muslin. Hoping to finalize the pattern this weekend. 
  • Also hoping to get a lot of crafting done this weekend. Last weekend was busy and full of allergy awfulness. I spent most of Sunday in a post-nap coma. Ugh. Not very productive. Looking to remedy that this weekend. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dear Jane

Another Dear Jane post! I've completed four blocks already, all completely stitched by hand! I guess you could say I'm on a roll, though there are other crafts sneaking up that will be needing attention soon, so this may be the furthest I get for a while. 

Anyway, the block above is A8. I am afraid I switched my triangles and used the inset ones on the corners and vice-versa. Oops. But I spent a couple of hours stitching this block and only had that realization at the end, so I'm not about to redo it. A finished quilt is better than a perfect quilt! And I must believe that if I ever plan to finish anything! 

My new question is, What would Jane do? What would she do in this situation? My guess is that she would make do and add a little extra sashing around the block. The blocks in her quilt do not all finish at the same size, and those that don't just received some extra sashing to make them fit. I'm disappointed, but I'm not going to let that get me down. I'm going to keep on working. 

This is my finished block B3. Isn't it lovely? Those curved seams are inset--no applique here! I guess after doing my fans quilt I realized how not difficult curve sewing is. I actually had a lot of fun with this one and completed it in just over an hour during the Celtics/Cavs game last night. And guess what? It finishes at exactly 5"! I'm hoping for a lot more of THAT in my Dear Jane future. 

A side note, but I wanted to wish my dear husband a very happy birthday today! He is so wonderful in everything, especially his patience with my and my whims, and his willingness to allow my projects to overtake the living room and the bulk of our movie-watching. I love you, Bert! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dear Jane

This is my second finished Dear Jane square, B13. It took me less than the entirety of Hoosiers on Sunday night, and that movie is less than 2 hours long. I'd say around an hour and a half to do, and I had to rip out one of the corner squares because I'd sewn it in with the diamonds pointing in the wrong direction. Definitely an improvement! I started on a different one last night, block A8, but wasn't able to finish before bed and didn't want to start staying up late to finish, especially on a Monday night. It's a bad habit for me to get back into.

Helping me along with things is this book, which I picked up on Saturday when Rob and I went to Borders to spend George Bush money that hasn't even come yet. Rob is like that--money burns a hole right through his pocket. Anyway, the book kept coming up in my online reading about hand-piecing, and it has amazing feedback on Amazon.com. Of course, in my rush to keep going, I haven't really read the book, mostly just looked at the pictures. I know, I know... But I should read it. I will try.

I'd been working on some posts about my crafty book shelf, but now those will have to be redone as, on Saturday, I added another shelf for the crafty books (since the one I have is already full) and I ordered two more books. But it is my intention to post pictures, links, and reviews of sorts for all of my crafty books, so stay tuned...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sewing Double

Sewing double, dress-maker's dummy, dress form... Seems like everyone has a different name for one of these. Regardless, I needed one that fit my measurements. I have a different one that was a sort of gift from a coworker, but it just doesn't fit my measurements. So, after seeing tutorials like this one all over the interwebs, I took an oversized tee, two rolls of Duct tape, and a willing husband to make mine a couple of weeks ago--maybe it was a month ago already!

It took us over an hour to do, and it was a funny feeling, being all wrapped up like that. It was kind of a nice little bonding experience for us, too. In a weird way, I suppose. Rob is never usually able to help me with my crafts, so it was nice that we could do something "together" for once (even though I wasn't all that helpful).

It is stuffed with lots of Poly-fil and also two cans of Great Stuff from the hardware store. Although at some point, despite my taking great care, I must have over-stuffed some parts of it. I can fit a good deal of my clothes on it, but the items that are very fitted (read: tightly tailored) to my bust and upper chest do not fit. I cannot zip them all the way up. Ugh. But instead of being upset and angry about it, or peeling out all the foam (which is hard as stone inside the form), I have decided to live with it.

I probably shouldn't be wearing clothes that are so tight, anyway.


Anyway, this is what I'm using to make my pattern for my new dress idea. Still working on that one, and waking from dreams of not having enough yardage for the sash or ruffle. After that dream, I haven't touched the project and now I'm afraid to find out!

As for the weekend past, it was kinda mellow and kinda busy all at once. We did manage to watch three movies: Lars and the Real Girl, Iron Man, and Hoosiers. I probably liked them in that order, too, with Lars as number one. Very sweet, very surprising.

I'm in a little bit of a rut and I've not been crafty at all until Sunday evenings. That's what happened again yesterday. Let's check out my continued list and see where I'm at, progress-wise:
  • some super-secret Lady Scout trial runs DONE!
  • finalizing my new dress pattern and possibly even sewing the first dress No progress
  • big secret family project that must be finished less than a month from now I can see the finish line!
  • and my new personal project, which I will refrain from mentioning until I really get started on it. Trust me, it's BIG and the entire process will be fully documented here. In case you hadn't guessed, this is my Dear Jane quilt, which I started last week. I added a box to the side where you can track my progress. I stitched another block last night, so now I'm at two. Woo-hoo! Two down, 167 to go...
Updated Dear Jane post TK. Otherwise, happy Monday! The sun is finally shining here today!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dear Jane,

Dear Jane,

I'm not really sure when I first saw your quilt. Possibly it was last year, in one of my quilting classes? It wasn't the focus of anything and kind of snuck itself into the conversation. I didn't understand at the time why so many people were so intrigued by your sampler. I think it was your signature, more than anything, that stuck with me: "In Wartime." Whatever the case, your quilt has stuck with me somehow and refuses to leave, and I find myself feeling a little obsessed about it.

So for my birthday (which is the same as yours!) I bought Brenda's book, just to get "a closer look" at your quilt. Oh my. It sure is lovely, and very intriguing. How did you decide on all of those patterns? How long did it take you to make it? It must've been ages. Then again, your signature suggests that you were looking for a distraction, something to fill the time while the country was at war and you were at home.

It looks so challenging, all those little pieces. And every block is different! And you even used different fabrics for each block! And you did it all by hand! What can that possibly feel like? And what does it feel like to finish something like that?!? I must know.

So I've decided to make my own version of your quilt. And I'm going to try to piece it by hand. I've never pieced anything by hand, so this will be an experience. And I've never done hand-appliqué, so that will be an experience as well. I've already purchase two six-yard cuts of white Kona cotton from here for the background. I decided that I'm going to use 1930s replica fabrics for my focus prints because, no offense, the Civil War replicas are just a little too drab for my taste. I'm making this in the "manner of Jane," not *exactly* like yours. So I've purchase one 35 pack of 10" squares and one 50 pack of 5" charm squares in 1930s replica prints from here. That's enough to get me started, I figure. I've also decided to free myself to use each focus fabric more than once, though I don't plan on using more than one focus fabric in each square--or triangle.

On Sunday I spent a couple of hours cutting out the first 12 squares I plan on doing. In which order did you do yours? I started by looking at the first row, row A in Brenda's book, and just writing down the numbers of the squares I felt confident enough to start with. I cannot follow your colors exactly because 1) it's hard to judge precise colors in a lot of the photographs, and 2) 1930s fabrics do not directly correspond with colors in Civil War reproductions, but I am trying to keep the pink squares pink and the yellow squares yellow. I don't want to lose that wonderful diamond pattern in the center of the quilt!

Last night I pieced my first block! A6. I did it all by hand, too! It wasn't as hard as I'd thought it would be. Actually, I think the block turned out really well. Look all these tiny stitches I took!

Pretty good for a beginner, eh? All of my points match up perfectly! How pleasing. I was very happy with this block until I pressed and measured it. It's a full 1/4" too small! Bummer. I am not going to redo it, though. It took me three hours to get that far! I'll just chalk it up to a learning experience and will be more careful to account for that "smidgeon" on future blocks.