Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A quilty gift

Yesterday was a sad day at the office. My awesome assistant, Molly, left. :( We were all so sad to see her go, and I couldn't let her leave without taking some more craftiness with her, so I did what I do: I made her a quilt.

The pattern is Atkinson Design's Yellow Brick Road, my go-to fat quarter quilt pattern. It's quick, it's easy, and it looks great. What's not to love? The fabrics are all from Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party line by Free Spirit and they were a joy to work with. I love me some Moda fabrics and what have you, but I seem to really be drawn to the Free Spirit ones. Hmm.

I'd never done a quilt with a large directional print on the back before. I did some design matching with the seam and did a pretty decent job, if I do say so myself. The quilting was all free-motion curlicues with variegated YLI machine-quilting thread and it turned out pretty well. I'm practicing it a bit with all of my swap quilts and getting fairly comfortable with it.

I took this photo when Molly was opening the quilt. It came out a little crazy-looking, I think, but it works. Molly said it was very Anthropologie-like. Huge compliment, though I think a lot of that is owed to the fabrics I used. I followed the Yellow Brick Road pattern precisely, but I added a wider fussy-cut border, and I used the polka dotted square in the corners because I was iffy about mitering the pattern at the corners. Overall, I think it was very successful.

I love these fabrics, but I think this blue one might be my favorite. Good thing I have more on hand for a project just for me...!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Give-Away Day

Just a quick post to let you all know that I have decided to participate in the Sew, Mama, Sew Give-Away Day, which is December 3rd. Be sure to stop by and leave a comment on my post that day to win some very cute handmade swag! 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November mini-quilt reveal

Here it is! My Swap Til You Drop November mini-quilt. The challenge was two-color quilts. I had a number of ideas, but when I saw that my partner really liked black and white, well, I couldn't resist using those lovely Mark Lipinski Califon fabrics! 

The pattern is my own but was inspired by one I saw in Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine. The white areas are quilted with a free-motion curlicue in white thread, and the black areas are quilted with a free-motion ladder / greek key pattern in black thread. Not really sure how best to explain that, but my free-motion quilting is getting pretty solid! Even the straight lines look fairly straight, and my curlicues are coming out well. It's all about the tension, I guess! 

I did another embroidered label. I couldn't resist throwing some red in there to really make it pop! This time I pinked the edges of the label then pressed them under before sewing it down. I like how this works. I also like the look of quilting through the label. I had read somewhere that you're supposed to do that because it makes it harder for a quilt thief to remove your name from your work, but at this point I think it's ridiculous to think of anyone wanting to do something like that to my stuff! 

My partner received the quilt yesterday and said she loves everything about it, so I think it's a success. I also threw in a beehive pincushion as a little something extra. I adore these things! I am considering making one this weekend and participating in the Sew, Mama, Sew Give-Away Day on December 3, but I don't want to commit until I have something definite completed and set aside. I hope to do something about that this weekend, so keep your eyes peeled for more news on that! 

Also, I am expecting my November swap package in the next couple of days, plus some awesome crafty loot I won online, so I'll be posting pictures of all of that. Yesterday my 3.5-year-old iPod died (that sad iPod face is just too much!) so Rob and I went to the Apple store and I got the fancy new nano in a beautiful blue. Awesome. Also yesterday my Mary Kay rep dropped off a big order I had just placed, so it was kind of like Christmas. For me. Except I paid for everything. 

Speaking of Christmas, I just saw this on the Purl Bee. I don't know what I want more--the advent calendar, or all of the lovely notions inside! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A softie refashion

This little woolly lamb is the result of cutting up the awful jacket I posted about yesterday! Pretty cute, right? The fabric is some kind of mystery synthetic, but it's soft and a little like a very crushed velour. It's the perfect texture for this little guy, who was completely sewn by hand in about 4 hours. 

I like all of this little guy, but that tiny tail just kills me! Oh, teh cute! He ended up looking like a sheep that had been shorn, so I had to give him that little wool scarf to help keep him warm. 

Who couldn't love that adorable little face? This guy will be making the rounds on the production floor in my office. I think it looks like he's frowning, but one of our designers has assured me that he's just making a "sniffing" face. What do you think? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recent reading

So the Smashing Pumpkins shows of last weekend were a bit of a mixed bag. Though, in truth, I am a huge fan and will probably heartily approve of whatever Billy chooses to play, there was a little disappointment at how the Friday show ended, even though Rob and I had a great time. The pictures are amazing, the set was amazing, and the sound was loud and good. Even so, the Saturday show was so much better and will probably go down as my second favorite SP show. That said, let's move on, shall we? Let's.

The photo above is of the reading material I'm currently shuffling. I picked up Handmade Nation last month in Portland and have been working my way through it. I'm nearly finished, but I think a part of me doesn't want the book to end. In some ways it reminds me of The Crafter's Companion, which I really liked. I'm incredibly excited for the documentary to come out. I really hope it plays in Boston!

In addition to the book, I've been shuffling through some magazines. I now get American Patchwork and Quilting magazine, which is fine, I suppose. It's one of those project-oriented quilting magazines that isn't really inspiring me right now, though I feel like I've flipped through it a number of times but never really looked at it. I went to Barnes and Noble last week to pick up Stitch magazine (which is every bit as good as everyone is saying!) and ended up with Martha Stewart's holiday magazine. It was that adorable little lamb on the cover that did it for me!

So, back to the crafting. My November Swap Til You Drop quilt is in the mail, so the reveal is coming later this week, once it's received. I ran out of backing fabric so need to pick some more up and get the "twin" quilted. I'm also working on binding another project, so that reveal is coming next week. Patience!

The jacket above was given to me last week in a pile of clothes headed for donation. It is so grandmotherly and hideous! I put it on and my assistant laughed so hard she was crying. Everyone said it couldn't be turned into something cute, wearable or not. Well, I believe I have succeeded! Pictures to come tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Friday, November 14, 2008

In which I talk waaaay too much about myself

Sorry for the lack of posting this week. My Swap Til You Drop quilt has been finished since Tuesday but I still haven't washed it (for the crinkly look I love and to remove the cat hair) so it won't be going out until the weekend. It has been one of those weeks where it's all I can do to make myself a bloody mary after work and then drag myself to bed at 9:00. (Seriously--9:00.) I can't really say why. Work hasn't been awful. I was feeling pretty gross on Wednesday and stuck it out for the full work day, so maybe that's part of it. 


Today is the first of the Boston two-night Smashing Pumpkins show! I am a huge fan and have been for around 15 years. Unfortunately, I was never able to see the "original" Pumpkins, though by the end of this weekend I'll have seen the reformed band four times! Plus I saw Billy on his solo tour, Billy on the Zwan tour, and met him at his book signing at Harvard Book Store about four years ago. 

I'm getting excited. We watched If All Goes Wrong on Tuesday night, and then I dreamed of Billy Corgan. The dream was one of those that feels really real and kind of undoes you when you wake up, but you can't remember the details of it. Perhaps that's a big part of why I spent Wednesday walking around in a daze. Anyway, I woke up a bit early this morning and used my extra time to do a really good job on my eye makeup. Unfortunately, you can't really tell because these are crappy cell phone photos I took on the train this morning. But I think they look pretty good, if I do say so myself. Lots of dark eyeliner, which is my requisite for show nights (I don't know why--it just is). 

Tonight and tomorrow night I will be rocking out to my favorite band of all time ever, probably crying during at least one of the shows. Sunday will be recovery and football. And back to crafting. I promise to have some sneak peeks for you next week. Also possibly a crazy refashion project. For realz. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Updates and a rambling answer

First off, I have to note that the cupcakes picture above is over a year old, but I'll get to that later. I'd love to show you some peeks of what I've been working on for the past week, but I can't. They are surprises that must remain surprises until they are received. I know I usually give a little peek of my Swap Til You Drop mini-quilt, but this month's theme is two-color quilts, so even a little peek will give away a large part of it! But rest assured that I'm making excellent progress. I pieced the top on Sunday and did all the quilting last night. I'm hand-stitching the binding on my commute today and hope to have it in the mail tomorrow or Thursday. Reveal to come next week! 

Also, I received a comment yesterday from sweetkelli (thanks for stopping by!) asking about Lady Scouts. I've mentioned Lady Scouts a number of times here, but I don't think I've fully explained my idea of it. Basically, it's a gathering of like-minded females who drink, eat, craft, and share. The end result is much more than the sum of its parts. In the beginning we were sharing a short reading, but that has fallen off. Hmm. I think it's something we need to resurrect. Below is a picture of what a Lady Scouts craft session looks like: 

This was from the cupcakes one late last summer. The end result cupcakes are in the top picture above. The second one from the right is mine and is sitting on my work desk. 

We've mentioned before that perhaps a manifesto is in order, but I think I've just been too lazy to come up with one. Lady Scouts got its name when I was thinking about getting together with friends and crafting when I was little and in Girl Scouts. What does one call a similar gathering amongst adults? Lady Scouts, of course! It's really lovely when we can all get together, but it's also a rare occasion. There are about five "core" members, and everyone is always welcome to bring friends, so we've had a number of different ladies attend one or two "meetings." Ideally, I'd like for this to be the second Tuesday of every month, but that just isn't possible, and lately we've gone months between meetings. 

So, I hope this explains my concept of Lady Scouts! Please, feel free to ask any questions, or to start up your own chapter! If you do, let me know! 

Also, I just have to note that I am going to see the Smashing Pumpkins on Friday AND Saturday night in Boston! I am super excited. I've been listening to the catalog pretty much chronologically this week, just to get ready. I had a hard time figuring out if I should listen to Earphoria or Pisces Iscariot after Siamese Dream, but I went with Earphoria because I was itching for some live stuff. It's been just over a year since I last saw the Pumpkins, and I realize I am incredibly lucky to be able to see them as often as I have. *sigh*

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some Christmas crafting progress

Here is the other crafty post I promised for this week. Over the weekend I was cleaning up post-Lady Scouts (yes, all of the craft supplies sat on the coffee table from Tuesday until Saturday!) when I was compelled to just sit down and play a little more with making some Shrinky Dink pins. People will tell you these are addicting, but then you won't believe them...that is, until you get addicted yourself! Anyway, what resulted from that session Saturday morning was about a dozen of these butterfly pins in a variety of colors. They were all drawn freehand (as opposed to the bees, where I made a pattern and traced it onto the plastic each time) and I really love them. 

Then on Sunday I took a few more steps to finishing some Christmas gifts. These are mini sewing kits in jelly jars with pincushion lids and handmade Shrinky Dink pins. This is also the last you'll see of them before Christmas--I don't want to spoil anything! But I will say that there are a lot of them, and that I hope the recipients like them as much as I like the idea of them. 

So, now that the election results are in (well, for Massachusetts, at least--sorry, Minnesota friends!) and the giddiness is starting to wear off, we can all get back to our normal crafting. Because, you know, I have no fewer than FOUR quilts I'd like to finish this month, including a two-color mini swap quilt (and a twin for me) and some surprise gift quilts as well. I have big plans for crafty progress this weekend; we'll see if I can follow through on them. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beehive pincushions

As I promised in my last post, here is a cat-free crafting post! Here is the beehive pincushion, made from the pattern in this book (which, have I mentioned? I love!). The felt is some really nice wool-blend stuff from Prairie Point Junction. I've ordered from them twice now and am very pleased with the products and the prices. I have a huge stash of acetate felt, but now that I've used this stuff... I don't know if there's any way I can go back to the cheap stuff! 

It took me a while to figure out the couching stitch and feel comfortable with it, but I think it's okay. Wonkiness is endearing, right? I have been out of flax for a while, so these are weighted with brown rice instead. I prefer the flax, but whatever works. The bee pins are the Shrinky Dink ones I made and blogged a couple of months ago. I am so in love with making these things! These pincushions will be Christmas and other gifts, but I feel compelled to make a few more just to keep on hand. Because you never know when you'll need a beehive pincushion, right? 

So please forgive the lack of posting this week. I've been a little distracted. But, um, YAY!!! And yay for the dogs, too. I am having a hard time not crying today, and rereading this did not help. I was a blubbering mess last night--in a good way. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween weekend

Halloween is a pretty big deal in Salem, where I live. Although this is the third Halloween that we'd been here, it was the first time that I actually dressed up and went out! So, here are some pictures of how I spent my Halloween weekend. Rest assured that there was craftiness, but I will save that for other posts. Above is a picture of reluctant Bellow in a pirate hat. That stayed on for about two seconds, and Iris saw the whole thing happen and was not about to let us try it on her next! Smart kitty. 

Here's me in my costume before going out. It was a rehashing of a costume I'd worn before--for our house-warming party. Yeah. The shirt says "Salem Pirate Girl" and has a glitter skull on it. I made my skirt and sewed on the tulle flare by hand. The belt was also made by me and has a loop to hold my sword (which has glitter on that bottom band of the blade), but I left my weapon at home lest it be confiscated by the cops. I had black leggings on, stripey socks, and calf-high black boots. Rob decided I was a pirate fairy. I guess that works. I have better ideas for next year, though. Halloween will be on a Saturday, after all! 

When I was not out and about in costume, I was at home doing a little bit of crafting and a lot of hanging out with the cats. They are so funny and awesome, I just love them! On Saturday night we were watching The Happening (which is much better than most people gave it credit for, but I still love Unbreakable the best) when Rob noticed the cats doing something funny and had me pause the movie. I was able to get to the camera and snap the photo above before they realized what was going on and started moving around. Seriously, we think this picture is hilarious. Iris laying on her back, paws up, back leg stretched out??!? Totally random. I forgive you if you don't share my sentiment. 

Here's a picture of the birthday boy conked out in the middle of the kitchen floor, half out of this box. Both of our cats were adopted from shelters and we've invented approximate birthdays for them based on their estimated ages at the time of adoption. As far as we can tell, Bellow turned 5 on Saturday. 

At least two crafty posts to come this week, I promise...