Friday, March 27, 2009

Simple pleasures

Iris sleeping on the bed
Simple pleasures:
  • Singing "Happy Birthday" to a little kitty who is three today! (we think--shelter cats, you know...)
  • Pulling a new quilt out of the dryer just in time to snuggle up under it for some TV
  • The weight of four (!!) quilts on the bed
  • Stitching the lining closed on an adorable new bag
  • Newman's Own Light Italian Dressing (seriously--I could drink this stuff!)
  • Friday!
Hope you're all enjoying some simple pleasures of your own. I'll be back next week with pics of some finished projects, assuming the sun comes out this weekend... 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blooming Nine-Patch finished--mostly

BNP quilted
I finished hand-stitching the binding on my Blooming Nine-Patch quilt on Sunday. Hooray! So, the quilt is done, but still needs a wash and dry and to get all crinkly. I will have one more photo session after this, and then we will move on to other crafty pursuits. I love this quilt, but I'm ready to move on, too. Okay? Okay. 

BNP quilting
This baby's finished size is about 76" x 87". I gained around 4" in each direction from the measurements given in the book. It's possible their measurements are wrong, or that my seam allowance was a teeny bit off, or both. Who knows. But I had to stretch my batting and backing and did not have a lot left over. 

BNP quilting in center
I quilted this in an all-over curlicue pattern radiating out from the center. I did the center three orange squares with curlicues in both directions (and had to rip and redo it at the end because I wasn't happy), then in each rectangle of "solid" squares I did a row of curlicues with the loops toward the outside. In the final row of quarter-square triangles, I did loops pointing in, one in each triangle. I like the look of it and I'm glad I did it--it sure seems to finish off the quilt. 

BNP quilting on back
When I was choosing the quilting thread color, I had three different spools picked out. I wanted to play up the blue and bring out those colors in the quilt, and I think this thread was perfect. It disappears into the back, which is an effect I really like (and one that will be really cool once the quilt is all crinkly and textured). The only place where I find the thread and the quilting distracting is in those middle orange squares, because there's so much contrast. But as I already mentioned, I ripped that out once and I'm not about to do it again. 

BNP finished w Iris
Gratuitous kitty shot. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

March STUD reveal

March STUD mini
My partner received the March Japanese-themed mini-quilt I made for the STUD swap, so here's my reveal of the final project. At first I was at a loss as to what to make for the Japanese theme. I had these Japanese fabrics, but didn't know what to do as far as piecing was concerned... Until someone posted some pictures of fabric origami and these folded flowers. Perfect. 

March STUD mini flowers
So I made some flowers pretty much using this tutorial, though I stitched all of my petals in the center and, before piecing, stitched them on the outside, too, to make sure I'd have the straightest edge possible for piecing them in. The piecing itself was a little tricky, but I think it turned out okay. I only stitched the very tips of the petals to the quilt top. 

March STUD sashiko
For the quilting, I did a sashiko-like hand-quilting stitch all over, using brown thread on the tree parts and white thread in the background. A while ago I was lucky enough to win a copy of Zakka Sewing from Softies Central (thanks so much, Therese!) and it arrived just in time to inspire this quilting motif. There's a pattern for sashiko placemats that I really liked, so I tried to imitate that stitching pattern for this quilt. 

The good news is this is done and received and the swap for March is completed. The bad news is I have not done ANY work on the twin I'm making for myself. The piecing isn't awful, but the quilting takes forever. I'm only a couple of feet into the binding on my BNP and these projects are both weighing a little heavily on me now. I'm hoping to finish the binding on the BNP and at least get the twin top pieced this weekend. We'll see what actually happens. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Treating myself

new fabrics march 15
As I already posted, I made great progress on my projects last weekend. By late Sunday morning, I was feeling pretty proud of myself and ready for a reward. So...I went to a local fabric store, just to look around. Heh. There are worse things in the world than stimulating your local economy by shopping at a small, independently owned business, right? 

fabrics for Buttercup Bag
Besides, these fabrics were bought with purposes in mind. Take these Michael Miller fabrics, for example. They are destined to become a Buttercup Bag (which it seems everyone in blogland is making right now). 

Trapeze Sundress fabric
And these 2.5 yards of a Benartex Paris Cats blender are destined to become a Trapeze Sundress from Weekend Sewing. I am getting a little excited for the weather to warm up so I can get back to some garment sewing. Because sewing a skirt when it's 30* outside just doesn't seem right...

Adding to the whole "treating myself" theme, yesterday I was alerted by the Fabric Shopper to an amazing sale at Quilt Arts online, where fabric was 50% off! All of it! I have a little something **cough cough 15 yards cough cough** heading my way. I couldn't resist! It was a great sale!

I also want to add that I'm being added to the Quilt Qua bloggy links. There's some great stuff there! Check it out. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Weekend progress + misc.

BNP binding for quilt
It was a good, productive weekend for me. Not enough nap time, but plenty of movies (Near Dark, Let the Right One In, and Synecdoche, NY) and enough quilting to make me feel good about it. Above is a photo of nine strips of non-bias binding...

BNP binding
...and here it is being attached to my Blooming Nine-Patch quilt! I am so close to finishing this project, which makes me excited! I also feel like I should pick up another big project, but the rational part of me knows I should take a break, catch up with the swap and my "twins" to the swap, make some bags and tops and aprons I've been thinking about... 

March STUD mini sneak peek
Speaking of swaps, above is a sneak peek of my STUD March mini quilt, going in the mail today! The theme was Japanese. Full reveal to come later this week. 

Finally, yesterday morning I decided to clean my machine out before attaching bindings to my Blooming Nine-Patch and my swap quilt. I love that YLI quilting thread, but it sure is linty! Anyway, I'd forgotten, but a few weeks ago while I was working on my Blooming Nine-Patch a pin went through my machine on accident. As a rule, I don't leave my pins in while stitching unless I'm machine-basting or using a really long stitch for whatever reason. Anyway, it was a mistake, and a pin went through and I heard this awful noise and I kinda freaked out. I spent five minutes looking for that pin but could not find it. I have a magnetic pincushion, so I thought maybe the pin had flown back to it. It was nowhere to be seen. So, I forgot about it. That is, until Sunday morning: 

pin before and after
On the left is a normal "before" pin. On the right is what I found in the bottom of my machine, under the bobbin casing. At first I thought it was some sort of spring/tension piece for my machine that I accidentally disconnected by cleaning it out with a little brush, but when I looked a little closer, I realized what it actually was. Wow. How in the world did it get bent like that? And what happened to the little glass ball from the top?? My machine is a monster. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Blooming Nine-Patch: sandwiched!

Blooming Nine-Patch sandwiched
Yet another post on the progress of my Blooming Nine-Patch quilt... I finished piecing the top last Saturday and sandwiched it with the batting and backing before bringing it to my LQS for show and tell and to choose quilting thread. Now I just need to quilt it, and bind it... I am going to free-motion quilt curlicues in all of the non-nine-patch blocks. I'm a bit nervous about that. I always get nervous when I free-motion quilt, but the last time I did it, for my February swap quilt, my bobbin kept jumping around or something and I ended up with a lot of bearding of the top thread on the back of the quilt. I'm hoping I can get through this one with minimal cursing.

Iris on BNP 1
Iris wanted in on the action, and I ended up getting this great shot. Her face is so expressive--she cracks me up. A lot. This makes me giggle. 

Iris with BNP back
Here's Iris checking out the back of the quilt. I splurged--but let's face it, this whole quilt is a splurge--on some gorgeous Kaffe Fassett fabric. Oh MY. It's beautiful, and sturdy, and I'm sure was worth the $10.50 a yard it set me back. 

Bellow on BNP folded 1
And not to be left out, here's Bellow taking a nap on the folded up quilt when it was waiting to go to the quilt shop. The cats both automatically think anything quilted belongs to them. While this would be a nice cat bed, I'm sure there are less expensive ways of making something like this. Of course, if I did make a bed for the cats, they wouldn't use it. They'd probably just steal something else not meant for them. 

Happy Friday! I hope to be back next week with a quilted and partially bound Blooming Nine-Patch and some sneak peeks of a finished March swap quilt. Fingers crossed I can get it all done this weekend.... 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March STUD mini-quilt received

March STUD mini rec'd
Saturday was a good mail day, as my March STUD swap quilt arrived! This month's theme was "Japanese," and my partner did a great job. 

March STUD mini rec'd detail
Here you can see some of the detail on this little quiltie. She quilted most of it in gold thread, and in this section she outlined the shapes on the fabric and then added seed beads as accents. There are many lovely little details that it takes a lot of looking to see fully, like a couple of gold butterflies quilted into the fabric on the left (they were hard to photograph). 

March swap rec'd
Here's a picture of the full swap I received. In addition to the quilt, I got three fat quarters in very bright colors, a retractable measuring tape, and a little book for handwork (it has a built-in needle book, plus spaces for embroidery shears and other necessities.) I feel spoiled! 

There's nothing like receiving your swap to get you in gear to make your own. I had done some preliminary work on my Japanese mini-quilt, but on Sunday I did the piecing, the label, and got about half way through the hand-quilting, which is sashiko-style but with quilting thread instead of embroidery floss. I'm not sure how the effect is working, but it's too late to turn back now! Sneak peek to come in about a week, when it should be in the mail. ! 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New books

New books

As I kind of mentioned way back here, I got some (more) new crafty books a couple of weeks ago. I'd been itching to get both of them, so when I found out they were available, I had to order them. Thankfully it was right before Valentine's Day, which is a week before our dating anniversary (8 years!), so I added some books for Rob and successfully took care of Valentanniversary presents for both of us! 

I've had these for a couple of weeks now and I keep picking them up and paging through them. I certainly have too many crafty books, but they serve as inspiration for me, even if I don't make any of the projects out of them. 

Weekend Sewing summer blouse
A lot of bloggers have already raved about the Heather Ross book, so I won't add to that. I don't have a lot of plans for her projects, but I did just get a yard and a half more of this lovely Anna Maria Horner print to make the Summer Blouse, which looks so cute and comfy... Though I have some modifications in mind. 

Out the Window whimsy
I am a little surprised that I haven't seen anyone blogging about Material Obsession (yet). I've wanted this book ever since I saw the cover, which is excellent. At first I wasn't sure what to think about the book, but after paging through it again and again, I'm really drawn to the projects, even though (again) I don't have definite plans to make any of them. The little bit of whimsy posted above is inspiring my March STUD quilt, though. And I may have to make that birdie quilt, because it's adorable. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More Blooming Nine-Patch progress

Blooming nine-patch rows laid out

Poor, sad blog! I just leave you alone to languish for a week at a time. Sigh. Last week was a rough one, but things seem to be looking up. I had a little break in crafting, but I made up for it over the weekend when I finally got to work again on my Blooming Nine-Patch quilt, which I've already blogged about here. The picture above shows my progress as of Sunday morning, I believe. The rows aren't pressed or stitched together, but this is what the entire quilt layout looks like. 

After I took this picture, I spent the next 10+ hours pressing the rows (all seams toward the solid squares and away from the nine-patches), pinning them (agonizing), and stitching them together. Right now the quilt is in six pieces of about six rows each. I probably would've stayed up late on Sunday night putting the entire top together, but I ran out of thread! I killed a 600yd spool of Mettler thread, plus I went through a bunch of Gutermann thread in the beginning of this quilt. I'm calling it the bobbin killer. Also, I don't like to get a top together and pressed unless I'm ready to sandwich it immediately, and I still have to do the label and piece the backing for this quilt. 

So, label embroidery tonight during TV, trip to the quilt shop for more piecing thread on Friday (which I'm taking off as a much-needed mental health day), quilt sandwich Friday or Saturday, then back to the quilt shop on Saturday to choose quilting thread. Then hopefully I can give myself a break on this for a bit and actually get at my March STUD mini-quilt! I have a great idea, but it needs to be executed. In March. 

And another note: I've been added to Quilter Blogs (I've added the link on the right), which is a great site that lets you sample what quilting bloggers are posting right now. There sure are a lot of us!