Thursday, March 31, 2011

the good, the bad and the ugly

First today, the ugly: some crooked "straight-line" quilting that I'm going to pick out.  Boo hoo.  Should have marked my first line, since every line just amplified the wonkiness.  I knew better, but it didn't stop me; I'm bad. Thankfully, you can't really see the ugliness in this photo...and thanks to my little seam ripper it will soon be only a memory.

Onwards to the good, the great, the beautiful: my new little friend, Dot.  She's unassuming, but loves to travel.

She's a good houseguest.

She's well-equipped for most any situation.

She has always been well-loved (look at the little labels on her bits and pieces!).

She's a beauty, and I feel very, very lucky to have her!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring is in the air!

It is still frigidly cold here, but this weekend our house was warmed up by a visit from a family friend and her lovely mother Margaret.  Margaret is a great quilt enthusiast -- and a little quilt she made for my littlest one (Miss F) was the nudge that got started in the quilt world to begin with, so I feel a lot of gratitude to her!  We had never met before, but she had seen some photos and this blog -- and her wonderful energy, her contagious enthusiasm lit up my day!!  Margaret: I will have more photos of WIPs very soon.  For now I just wanted to say thank you for your visit.  It was a pleasure to finally meet you in person.

Today the sun was shining (although the thermometer barely peeked over freezing), my students were fun and responsive (and having a blast discovering for the first time Angela Carter's wicked naughty, lush fairy tales), the semester is drawing to a close -- it's hard not to feel that sense of lightness and anticipation that is SPRING!

I always celebrate the end of the semester with a burst of...something or other: 4 novels read in quick succession, uncritically, without taking notes (gasp!)...rooms rearranged...walls painted...the purr of the sewing machine.  This spring I am (finally) going to be able to participate in two sew-alongs, and they are hosted by two of the most charming and talented sewing bloggers out there: Peter of Male Pattern Boldness (I have been reading his blog for months, and I adore it!), and Tasia of Sewaholic (a more recent discovery for me, but she is great -- and the Crescent skirt is her own beautiful pattern).  I just picked up the Kwik Sew jeans pattern that Peter will be sewing, and my Crescent skirt pattern is on order.

It's going to be great fun for me to be a student, a follower, a novice...hooray for spring!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

bee blocks -- and a springtime baby quilt

We were hit with a spring snowstorm yesterday. There were "scattered flurries" in the forecast, but the weather -- and the driving conditions -- were much, much nastier than we had anticipated.  As a result, my 6-hour teaching day was bookended by two 2.5 hour commutes.  Ugh.  I was totally and completely exhausted by the time I got home.

I needed some stitch therapy this morning, so I spent a few hours catching up on bee blocks (just in the nick of time, since the month is nearly over!).

First up were Crystal's "scrapbuster blocks" for Bee (A Little Bit) Japanese.

I loved making these...and was very, very happy to find that my Accufeed 1/4" foot produced very accurate seams.  (For anyone who might be working on a Janome Horizon, this tidbit will mean something: I set the needle position to 5.8, rather than the recommended 5.5 -- I'd be curious to know how others are positioning their needle with this foot...).  I am far from a perfectionist when it comes to piecing, but I have to say that I am greatly relieved (delighted!) to have all my pieces fit together reasonably well.  Phew.

Next I set to work on a 20" x 20" improv block for Sara in the Sew Modern Bee.  Sara provided a beautiful palette, and this was another fun project.

Finally, I washed and dried a completed quilt (yippee!): the baby quilt made for our friends who are expecting their second baby in just a few weeks.

The block pattern is "Birdbath" from Elizabeth Hartman's The Practical Guide to Patchwork. The fabrics are (mostly) American Jane "Look & Learn." Backing is Mod Geo and binding is American Retro dots. I love how this turned out, and hope the new baby will too!

Now I'll let the FO speak for itself.

All that's left to do is to make a label.  Very much inspired by Kerry (thank you, Kerry! --, I have black and dark blue Versacraft stamp-pads stashed and am now just waiting for my custom stamps to arrive from etsy seller Tommie77 so I can make a cute little label.  Tee hee.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

a 2-year-old's taste vs. mama's taste

I have recently come to the realization that my littlest one is drawn to colours that I don't usually choose -- bright, sunny, acidic colours that I like but almost always dismiss in favour of soft, faded, earthy tones.

For a while now I have had the sneaking suspicion that the quilt top I had intended for her double-sized bed was going to be loved by me, but not by her: it is the one from Bee (A Little Bit) Japanese:

and it was meant to replace the Hello Betty-Kitty quilt that is too small for her current mattress:

You may be wondering why a 2-year-old has such a big mattress...but some of you have probably intuited that the big mattress indicates a toddler who has trouble sleeping on her own.  Yes, this bed is also my bed (most of the time).  Hopefully that will change soon -- we're going to work on it once the semester is over.  In the meantime, the skimpy kitty quilt means that mama's getting cold, so a bigger quilt is needed!

Miss F loves fabric and loves quilts, but she has had no particular attachment to Hello Betty-Kitty and shows no enthusiasm for the Japanese quilt top.

On the other hand, she became instantly attached to a charm pack of "Verna" -- which is now hers and hers alone, stored in a cookie tin for her games of "quilties" (in which she arranges the squares on the floor).

I have slowly clued in to the fact that the quilts I have (ostensibly) made for Miss F's bed speak more to my taste (what I would have loved when I was tiny!) than they do to hers.

So something new is brewing, and it involves a scrap bag of Verna (a big score from Fabric Depot in Portland OR), scraps of Heather Ross and assorted Japanese prints and a LOT of pink and chartreuse. 

This one's really for YOU, my little bean!!

More to come....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

friends have babies and I make quilts

There was a long, long stretch of time in which I wasn't around babies, didn't think much about babies, and didn't feel compelled to make things to keep babies warm and cosy.  My big kids were big, no one I knew was pregnant or parenting a little one, I had moved on and had stopped noticing and engaging with the world of babies.  And then all of a sudden I was back in a world bursting with pregnant and breastfeeding women, newborn babies, crawlers, toddlers -- now that our own little surprise bundle, our littlest one, is on the scene, it seems to me that my world is full of babies.  I like it!

One of the members of our little playgroup (now disbanded, for all intents and purposes, because most of the mommies are back to work...but still a group in spirit!) is having a new baby in just a few weeks.  Last week I posted a sneak peek of the quilt top I had started for her, and I finished it a few days later.  Sadly, my week has been so busy that I haven't had a chance until now -- now that I am home fighting off mastitis! -- to photograph it.  Anyway, this little gem cheers me and I can hardly wait to get it quilted, bound, and into the hands of my sweet friend:

The fabrics are mostly from a fat quarter pack of American Jane "Look & Learn," bought at the Creativ Festival last fall.  I love them. (I had to supplement the AJ prints with a yellow reproduction feedsack fabric -- just to keep the inner border of each snowball consistently yellow-and-white.)

The double snowball block is from Elizabeth Hartman's "birdbath" pattern in The Practical Guide to Patchwork.  Once I got a little assembly line going, the blocks were quick to make.

This quilt top is a big hit with Miss F, who is more interested in the kids than the pictures of toys.  I hope it gives the new baby lots to look at and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

sneak peek

My (other) WIPs may have to remain on hold a little longer: time is passing and someone we know is having a a few weeks (!). 

So something new needed to be started this morning, in the tiny window of "free" time between sending the little one off to school and starting my own work day.  I cut into my sweet FQ stack of American Jane "Look and Learn": be continued.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday stash and WIPs

Ooooh, my over-stuffed package from my beloved Fabric Shack arrived today, full of goodies.

First up, Michael Miller "Mod Geo" in  several yummy colours:

Then some sums and dots from "American Vintage":

Then some replenishment of my stash of reds with "mod dot" in red-and-pink and "Woodland Delight" in coral (colours are VERY distorted in this shot...sorry about that...):

And finally a yard of a gnome print for my littlest one's new pillow case:

I would love to work with all of these fabrics straight away, but I have some works-in-progress that I want to finish first.  There's my orange string quilt, which needs just four more blocks

and my quilt top from Bee (A Little Bit) Japanese, for which I need to settle on a backing, and then get the thing basted, quilted, bound and into circulation.

I hope I can carve out some sewing time this week....

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

fabric storage

 At our recent Modern Quilt Guild meeting a few of us got to talking about fabric storage.  It's a challenge, no matter what your living situation. 

I have seen photos of some beautiful, brilliant sewing studios, but such a dedicated space is not in my future: we are a family of 5 in a small downtown house.  My "office" is our living room (thanks to two Ikea cabinets with file drawer bottoms) and my "sewing studio" is our dining room -- thanks to the sewing cabinet that my sweet, sweet, problem-solving, ever-handy husband assembled for me!

Words cannot express how much I love my fabric cabinet.

It's just an Ikea cabinet with some Valori Wells/Sole home dec weight fabric in its glass doors...and I lovelovelove it!

My cabinet houses my serger, sewing machine and all my fabric (other than scraps).  My fabric will never be perfectly stacked, but my cabinet does have doors!  And since I just reorganized, I can actually show you some photos of the interior, without shame.

To the right is garment fabric, flannel, holiday fabric, home dec weight and my serger:

To the right is all my quilting fabric, newly folded, plus a few works in progress and my sewing machine:

Even a little peek inside my cabinet makes me want to sew....But, alas, I have material to prep for my classes tomorrow and papers to grade.

The one thing I really have to tackle is the scrap bag.  It's overflowing.  But that will have to be a project for another day.