Thursday, October 30, 2008

What I've been up to....

I've been pretty MIA this past week--it's been a busy one. Here's a short run-down of what I've been up to lately: 
  • Touring a paper mill, which was incredibly interesting
  • Touring Gettysburg battlefields (photo above taken from Little Round Top) in the cold and rain
  • Spending lots of time in rental cars and airports
  • Seeing Johnny Pesky in Logan Airport

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finished project: circles mini-quilt

I've posted on this project a bunch of times already, but it's finally finished! Pieced, appliquéd, and quilted entirely by hand. Phew! Again, it's based on the Japanese Circles pattern in the book Bits and Pieces (which, by the way, I love). I don't even want to think about how many hours went into making this quilt. It definitely was a learning experience. 

Here's a detail of one of the circles and some of the quilting. I quilted in the ditch of all the seams with brown thread that I waxed myself, and then quilted around the circles a little away from the seam with some white hand-quilting thread. This was possibly the hardest part, as it's really difficult to load on multiple stitches while stitching in a curve. 

Here's a detail of the quilting from the back. It's really hard to see--sorry. I had a hard time getting really small stitches, but I was able to do a pretty good job (I think) on consistent stitches. I guess I just need lots more practice... 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall mini-quilt sent

Now that my partner for the Swap Til You Drop October swap has received her quilt, I can post about it! This month's theme was fall, and after some deliberation (quilter's block??) I decided the best thing to do was make a pumpkin patch. The ladies at my local quilt shop were immensely helpful in choosing fabric for this project. 

I mean, look at that sky! I think it's the perfect way to represent the dusk sky. It's so perfect with those oranges, too. To make this quilt I used a variety of techniques. The stems are all appliquéd, the vines are embroidered, the pumpkins are hand-quilted, and the grass and sky are free-motion machine-quilted. I also threw some stars in the sky, just to up the cute factor. 

I loved these colors and this idea so much that I made a second quilt at the same time--for me! I've decided that whenever I can, I will make two quilts for my swaps. That way I will add up the mini-quilts much faster, plus I'll be able to keep some of my quilts here. Next month's theme is two-color quilts and I'm really wanting to use some traditional blocks to make this one. Hmm... I am thinking, but don't want to finalize ideas or colors until I get my swap partner at the end of the month. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall mini-quilt received + link love

Yesterday I arrived home to find a package waiting for me! It's my fall mini-quilt from October's Swap Til You Drop Flickr group swap! It was made by Lish/Sewwunderful, and it's called "The Colors of Autumn." Very appropriate title! 

The more I look at it, the more I love it! The colors in the quilt are fabulous. Each fabric reminds me of something different. 

And adding to the wonderfulness are these two bits of 1930s repro fabrics! Love! These would both work wonderfully in my Dear Jane quilt. I haven't made any progress on that for a while but these new fabrics really have me itching to get back at it. 

In my last week of internetting, I've found some really cool links that I wanted to share, in case you haven't seen them: 
  • Ric-Rac's Big Selvedge Project. Wow. When I first saw this, my jaw dropped. Amazing. I am adding her to my crafty links! 
  • True Up. Another new crafty link. Fabric geekery. Love! 
  • Handmade Nation. Yet another new crafty link. I bought the book while we were in Portland and I haven't read it yet, but am so excited about it. Even more excited about the documentary! 2009 can't get here fast enough. 
  • Indie Fixx Shop. There is some great stuff here, and lots of gift ideas. Hint, hint!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October Swap Til You Drop update

I was lucky to come back from my trip to Maine to find that I was the recipient of my Flickr swap group's special treat package! This is something that arrives without warning to one person in the swap every month and comes from the organizer (who is super sweet and amazingly organized!!!). What a treat! I got some nice fall fat quarters, some matching embroidery floss, and some Halloween treats. It's like Christmas in October!

I've also been working on my October post to send. The theme is fall. Here's some detail of my embroidered label. My embroidery still looks like it was done by an elementary schooler... I left the raw edges this time (instead of folding them over and then zigzagging) and don't like the result as much. Next time I will be sure to not embroider so close to the edge so I can fold those edges under.

And speaking of my swap quilt, here is a little sneak peek close-up. This is the first time I'm combining machine- and hand-quilting. I think the results are pretty sweet!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What I've been up to

I'm just back from a long weekend in Maine and a week spent with my parents, who are visiting from Wisconsin. I have a ton to catch up on with work, etc. and may be quiet for a few days, but here are some pictures of what I've been up to for the last week or so. First, I was in Camden seeing beautiful foliage, like in the photo above. Then I was on the beach...

With this pensive writer-guy.

The weather was beautiful and we had a lot of sunshine through the changing leaves. I loved the orange trees right next to the ocean. I am definitely turning into a coastie girl...

I also made some progress on my hand-quilting, as you may be able to see below. The thread is brown, and right now I seem to be at 6-7 stitches per inch. Any tips on how to improve, other than practice?? I'm using the technique outlined in Jinny Beyer's book (at least, I think I'm interpreting her instructions correctly!)

And I just had to include this cute picture of us looking happy and relaxed. Aaahh, vacation!

What have you been up to?

Monday, October 13, 2008

More fabric (!)

Last week (or was it two weeks ago?) I got another fabric order from Fabric Depot in the mail. Look at some of these lovelies! They're from different lines and different brands, but I'm sure they were all on sale! ;)

These above were all part of a line called "Shiki" by Kumiko Sudo for In the Beginning fabrics. I was so drawn to the print on the right, then found the two leaf prints on the left. They were so lovely I just couldn't resist! 

I will readily admit that I have a fabric-buying problem (and, really, don't all of us quilters share that problem??). I don't think it's that bad, really, to spend money collecting beautiful things that happen to be fabrics, even though I'm now having trouble storing them all. Sometimes I buy fabric for specific projects (and I have a lot of pre-washed fabrics just waiting to be turned into dresses), but most of the time I don't. Like all of the fabrics above--I got them because I like them. Of course, I have to consider potential projects when deciding on yardages, but if I like something, I get 1/2 a yard. If I really like something, I get 1 yard. And if I like something so much that I might make a dress out of it, I get 1-1/2 yards. 

All of that isn't the problem. The problem I have (though I don't think I'm alone, here) is that I tend to hoard fabrics. Some things just seem too pretty to use. Or others I just hold on to, waiting for that perfect project to come along, though for much of my fabric stash I'm still waiting. So, what's a girl to do? Stop buying fabric? Start making things? A little of both? Just not more of neither. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fat quarter score

This is a bit of a bittersweet post. A couple of weeks ago I took a Friday off work--just because I can!--and slept in, lazed around, etc. etc. What anyone would do on a rainy Friday at home. In the morning I'd gotten a call from a friend of mine saying that the little quilt shop in her building was going out of business and having a 40% sale. Sadly, I'd never made it to that quilt shop, mainly because it was a 9-5 store in a complex and was closed on weekends. Not easy for me to get to. So I figured what the heck, why not run over there? Rob was nice enough to agree to come with me (I bribed him with the promise of lunch!). 

I am so glad I went, because I totally scored. The inventory wasn't huge, but was pretty great. She had only Moda fabrics, which I thought was a little surprising, but evs. She also had a lot of pre-packaged things, like jelly rolls and charm packs and whatnot. Anyway, after some digging I found 13 fat quarters that I liked. They were $1 each! I also scored on some rubbery thimbles that I like. My local quilt shop sells similar ones for around $3, but these were $1 and 40% off that! So I did what anyone would do: I bought ten! 

Here are some more of the fat quarters I picked up. These were the biggest score of the day. I'd read about and seen these paint-by-number bird prints by Erin Michael for her "Uptown" line, but I'd never seen them in person. Wow! They are so fabulous! I snapped up everything that was left, but it was only a fat quarter in the three colorways above. Still--score!

This blue/teal one is my favorite (of course, right??). I'm trying to think of what to do with these, though I suspect I'll end up hoarding them for just the right projects. This one seems to want to become a whole cloth mini-quilt, with hand-quilting done along all the lines. Hmm... Other ideas for how I should use these precious fabrics? 

Also, I should note that my parents are in town for their annual visit from Wisconsin, so I am out of the office and away from the computer at home. This post was scheduled ahead of time (sneaky, aren't I?) as will be the next one. I hope to accomplish some hand work while they're here and post some finished projects late next week. Fingers crossed... 

Monday, October 6, 2008

WIP - circles mini-quilt (again)

Again, here's my WIP circles mini-quilt. This has been in-progress for a long time, but I'm beginning to see the end of the tunnel. The reason it's taking me so long is that I wanted to do it completely by hand, for practice. So, all of the piecing and appliqué was done by hand. The only thing I used the machine for was to make the quilt sandwich. I'd never done this before, but the instructions called for layering the batting, the top, and the back, sewing through all three, and then turning inside-out and stitching the hole closed. I really like bindings and the way they finish a quilt, but I am out of the brown fabric I'd want to bind with AND I've already invested days' worth of work, so figured it was okay if I took the easy way out on this part. The photo above is of the quilt after I'd done the sandwiching and some additional basting (I spray-basted the top to the batting first). Since that photo was taken, I've entered the world of hand-quilting and have made a little progress in the outside borders. Finished project pics to come soon--in a couple of weeks? 

The fabrics above are from Mark Lipinski's Califon line for Northcott. I fell in love with the bright colors, bold shapes and swirls... There's also a stripe in there, but I guess it's hiding in this photo! Anyway, these are destined to become a quilt for a little one. I have yet to begin, but I know it'll stitch up fast once I do. I love Atkinson Designs and the ease and speed of the Yellow Brick Road pattern. 

Also, I just want to take a minute to mention my new love, Mark Lipinski. This guy is fabulous! I am now subscribing to Quilter's Home magazine, which I've only read one issue of but have loved! It's informational, humorous, and a breath of fresh air. So far I haven't found the patterns to be anything fabulous, but the same can be said of a lot of quilting mags, so I won't hold it against him. However, Mark, dear, you need a better copyeditor! 

And last but not least, I gave away the bird mobile this weekend, but not before the sun came out and I was able to get a couple more pictures in better lighting. Iris was curious and came over to check it out. The cats were too sweet all weekend! Aww. My friend Cynthia loved her birthday gift, and I couldn't be happier!