Sunday, 1 December 2013

Lots of Tree Lot

I've been a busy little Christmas elf this weekend.  While I had grand plans to use my elfishness to get my house ready for Christmas, I instead got a couple of gifts to a more ready status instead -- I got the second of the two Christmas Tree quilt tops finished.  Plus, I pieced the backs for both quilts, and made both sets of binding!  What the hell, right?!?

This is the second of the two quilt tops - its pretty close to the first one.  I used the same fabric collection but just used different individual fabrics than the other.
Here's a close up of the bottom corner of top number 2..  
Completed binding for both quilt tops.  I roll them onto cardboard rolls to keep them from getting tangled, stretched, and otherwise disorganized.
And here it is - this is the pile of two pieced backings, two quilt tops, and both sets of binding.
My aim is to take this into the school with a big ol' bottle of 505 at some point this week.  I like using the floor of the atrium (which is a GINORMOUS open space) to lay it down flat and baste it.  Its a lot easier than re-arranging my furniture so I can create a space large enough to baste it at home. 

Now my back is sore so I'm gonna console myself by making a delicious peppermint mocha.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

Um...I have a confession...

...I LOVE Christmas.  More than anything else.  Okay.  Except coffee.  I REALLY love coffee, but I digress.

I look forward to the Santa Claus parade every year because that's the day CHFI begins to play Christmas music 24 hours a day.  Christmas lights make driving anywhere loads of fun, everything in public looks a lot prettier all jazzed up for the holidays, people are nicer, and I get to buy peppermint mochas at starbucks.  Yippee!

This year, I am making two (yup, still determined to make a matched pair) Christmas Tree quilts.  I was home sick for a chunk and so I was able to get some work done on them in between napping and wanting to rip my own ears off to escape the pain of my sinus infection.

Remember this?
This was one of TWO piles that needed to be sewn.
 Well, over the course of the last week, they became this:
Pieces, ready to be sewn together to make 48 tree blocks
Getting all those pieces into tree shapes got to be highly repetitive and mindless.  I settled into a rhythm of sew, slice, press, sew slice, press some more...all while I rocked out to Christmas jams on my radio.  Epic.

This was the step I began to loathe the most.  I cut 384 stooooopid corners off these tree parts.  384!  I have slicer's thumb.  It's for real.  Trust.
And I can admit, I'm pretty obsessive-compulsive and neat when I sew, but after 384 corners, I was tossing ready to press tree-bits in a gigantic pile.  There was no neatness happening.

Veritable fabric flinging
But before long, progress was palpable.  Trees began to take shape and I began to get super excited.  I really love the fabric I used.  Its Blitzen by Basic Gray for Moda and I would coat my whole house in it if I could.  So pretty soon this....

...became an official forest!  And once I got to that point, I couldn't stop.  I had to see this thing through!  

Two finished rows of trees - or, as I like to think, half my trees finished!
And soon enough....
Sooooo happy!
Close up - notice how the rows are slightly off-set?  Love it!
The intention is for these to become a couple of Christmas gifts so I can't lose any of my momentum or excitement or I might not get them completed in time.  I aim to have the tops done by the end of this weekend.  It may be a lofty goal and I might, in fact, not achieve it.  However, the pieces for the second top are finished and after I lay it out, it feels like it goes together pretty quickly.  Then I have to get the backings together and.....yikes....the quilting!  I feel like I just want to do a looser loop-de-loop all over both tops.  I hypothesize that doing that will speed up the whole process - but I may just be crazy.  And a bonus - binding it doesn't scare me so much any more.  I think I'm getting faster and once winter sets in, I can huddle under the quilt while I bind it.  Score!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Fabric Tsunami

So....this happened:

This USED to be a stack of fabric...on top of another stack of fabric...with some fabric as a garnish on top.
I was hanging out, chillfully (like cheerfully, only more relaxed) reading a book and I heard a crash.  After I got over the initial trauma of believing I was the victim of a horrible home invasion, I found the source of the sound.  There had been a fabric tsunami which swept through my closet and left a horrible mess in its aftermath.  Boo.  Something to clean up.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love fabric?  Like love.  L-O-V-E.  Like I love it so much I subscribe to newsletters on-line which highlight the new fabric lines coming out for me.  I walk into a store and can sorta tell how old the stock is based on the fabric.  I have a problem.  I didn't know it was a problem until my storage solution collapsed.  Literally caved under the weight of metres and metres of fabric I bought - not for a particular project (or series of projects) - but for the sheer joy of being able to look at how pretty it is.

When I finally mustered the courage to tackle that pile I got this:
Looking at these piles of fabric stacked on other piles of fabric, makes me a little ashamed of myself.  However, that's not the worst of it.  And by the worst of it, I mean all of it. 
More fabric.  I can't even reach the top of the pile without standing on the chair.   
Maybe I need to go on a fabric fast like my friend L.  Or maybe I just need to have a custom closet solution installed.  Hmm....I pick option number two.  

Monday, 18 November 2013

Biting off more than I can chew...Christmas editon

I can admit it, I have a hard time saying no --  I think obligation is important and it IS nice to be a person others can rely on.  This usually isn't a problem.  However, I am also incredibly ambitious.  This becomes problematic at Christmas time when it seems like there is less time and more to do.  I got this idea to make a couple of similar/same Christmas themed twin sized (or generous couch sized, as I like to call them) quilts for a couple of friends of mine.  Given that the Santa Claus parade was this weekend, its probably a good time to get started.  Eeek!

So I figured that I would cut out all the fabric for the whole she-bang all at once for two reasons: first, cutting is kind of a pain in the ass and I make a big mess; and second, this way I will HAVE to finish (I'm already tricking myself and I just started....this does not bode well).

When I had the strips cut for the first quilt, it seemed doable.
Okay, so started out...not too bad.  Manageable.  I only have to make 48 trees.  Only.  I'm a lunatic.

Strips for two quilts cut.  Okay...slightly more daunting.  
At this point, in a caffeine induced haze, I still believed it wouldn't be THAT much work.  Lol.  Then I cut out the background fabric.  Total game changer.  Total.

This is the fabric stack for ONE (yup, just one) of the quilts.  Only 24 trees.  Did I mention I decided to make TWO?!?
And yikes.
So I got the strips to make 24 trees all assembled.  All I have to do is sew these strips together.  Oh, you know, and then do it all again for number two.  If you need me, I'll be in my sewing room....till Christmas.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Binding Hell

Have I ever mentioned my least favourite part of the quilting process?  Binding. Not gonna lie people, I legit HATE sewing down binding.  Admittedly, I hate it less than I used to - my Grandmother showed me a faster way to stitch.  But I still hate it.  Alas, it has to be done.  I have had the quilt finished for...hmmm....closing in on two years I think.  It sat folded on my printer (or the almost finished stuff shelf, as I like to call it) but this weekend's upcoming visit from the Aunt it is intended for means I had to bite the bullet.  Damn you binding!  First step -- using my super cool new wonder-clips to hold the binding down.

Fabulous wonder clips on this really long-ago finished quilt
Then, the detestable part.....hand-sewing.  Ugh.  Seriously, its a wonder I can type right now.  It feels like my fingertips are bleeding.
Please note the sneak peak of my pink fuzzy monkey pyjamas.  You wish I was joking.  
And finally, after spending most of yesterday and then from about 5 till now doing the hand sewing, I got it all finished.  The result:
This is a little like a time stamp.  I can use it to gauge how much my personal tastes have changed since I started quilting.  This was the second quilt I ever pieced.
This is also the last quilt I paid to have quilted by somebody else.  After I got this one back I kinda figured I could do it myself.  

And also, just because its Remembrance Day, I wanted to share a couple of pictures of my Grandfathers - both veterans.  Thanks Grandpa and Bub for your sacrifices in honour of freedom.  Lest we forget.
Gunner Percy Hill - 17th Canadian Field Regiment. Wounded in action in April 1941.  Helped to liberate Holland
Private Arthur Baker - Royal Canadian Regiment.  Served in the Korean War for three years.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Back in the saddle

Can I just acknowledge that having to work seriously cramps my blogging/sewy/quilty style?!? Its been a while since I put needle to fabric.  Having been weeks since I sewed I can honestly say and assess -- it makes me happy.  This weekend was all about all things sewy.  Score!

First up, Friday afternoon, my friend A and I headed to the Creativ Festival.  Not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed this time around.  Maybe the booth fees went up or the fact that this show was the same weekend as Quilt Market in Houston, but I noticed there were a couple places I usually buy fabric from that weren't there this time around.  Too bad.  I bought a few (only 4) Laurie Wisburn fat quarters and a couple cute pillowcase kits but that's it!

Saturday our guild hosted a free mini-retreat for its members.  I packed all my junk into my car on Friday night so I could sleep later on Saturday and then headed up for the day.  There were lots of ladies who signed up.  Yay!  Makes me happy to see people participating.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to work on so I brought way more than made sense.  I ended up working on the October section for our not-a-BOM.

This is the section I was working on - rows sewn together.  Along with my cute army green chucks.  Ha
And here is what it looks like with the September section to the left.  They will eventually fit nicely together.  I'm starting to really dig what its looking like.  Wasn't sure I would like it but I had a LOT of those crazy blue fabrics left.
By the time I got the rows together our retreat time was over.  I was gonna go home and finish it but then I got my most favourite of text messages -- "Mom: Feel free to come for dinner"  SCORE!  When I finally managed to drag myself back to my house I just decided to unpack my stuff and get organized for today so I could finish this off.

This morning when I got up I knew I would get lost in sewing if I let myself. So after I met a friend for breakfast, I came home and did my work that I had to do.  I used sewing time as my reward.  I'm very effective at tricking myself into getting stuff accomplished.  Started up sewing the rows together and in about an hour, I had this:
The lighting in my house is really different than the lighting at the retreat.  But this is September and October sewn together.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
After I finished this I was really curious to see how quickly a hot dog/sausage/burrito pillowcase came together so I decided to whip up the pillowcase kits I bought on Friday night.  It was surprisingly easy.  I watched a 9-minute video by the Missouri Star Quilt Co. and then was off to the races.  It didn't take too long before I had finished both.  I feel like the king of the world in productivity over here today!
I made this one for me first - a prototype in case I royally screwed something up.  Have I mentioned before the obsession I have with snowmen?  Love!
I made this cute pinky one for my niece Rachie.  I think she's gonna love that its Christmas and pink all at the same time!
I figured its probably socially acceptable to wait AT LEAST until Halloween is over before I give it to her even though I wanted to jump in the car and run it right over to my parents' house.  Oh, did I happen to mention I am also OBSESSED with Christmas?
Anyhoo, that's what I've been up to all weekend!  I wish there was another day so I could get in some more!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Happy Delicious Mail

I'll be honest, I don't often get fun mail.  This likely contributes to why I hardly ever go collect my mail.  But today, I went to clear out the mailbox and there was a little key in my mailbox which means I got a package!  Yay!

I opened it up as soon as I got in the house and found the fabric deliciousness I ordered a couple weeks ago when Pink Castle was having a fall 30% off sale.

Here are my goodies:

Typewriters and Newspapers from the Objects line from Robert Kaufman, Text by Allison Glass, and Tipu Birds from Lotta Jansdotter's Bella line
This is Birds of a Feather from Alison Cole - not my usual pick but the colours are so saturated and happy.  I love it!
I also have been reading and reading about wonder clips on various blogs.  I had looked at them before but they are kind of pricey around here.  Usually about 8-10 dollars for a 10-pack.  Since there was a 30% off sale and these were originally priced at 7 a pack, I got some.
Hopefully they will be useful for holding down binding as I sew it on.
And finally, I need to kind of catch up on my Lucky Stars BOM.  I'm falling behind.  Over the summer there were a few really fiddly blocks with small pieces.  Doing the 12.5 inch blocks was hard enough so when I thought about doing the half-sized ones, I came up with all kinds of reasons not to keep up.  However, if I'm going to finish this thing on time - and I intend to dammit! -- I better get cracking.  Here's the one I made today:
Not too shabby.  I have one more half-sized block to catch up on.  Then I can go back to working month by month.  Sad to say, I'm about three months behind.  Yikes!
Alright, time for supper....I think soup is in order!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

I need to win the lottery...

...or conversely, to discover that I had some long, lost-to-me relative who left me a fortune.  Then, I would have ample time to dedicate to actually using my sewing machine.

Not gonna lie people, I hadn't touched the sucker in a really long time.  If it weren't for the fact that I'm kind of a neat freak, I'm sure there would have been a thick layer of dust on the thing.  So long in fact, that I (of all people) couldn't find the folder with my block of the month patterns in it.  Jeez.  Super Jeez.  Working my butt off is seriously cramping my style.  Ha.

Yesterday and today however, I took a little time to get back on the horse.  I was inspired.  Here's the semantic map in my brain...Pink Castle had a fabric sale --> I wanted fabric --> I looked at pretty fabric --> I thought to myself, "Self, where will you put this lovely new fabric you are lusting after?" --> I know! If I get rid of some by using it, I will have room for new fabric! --> Start on new project. --> Order pretty new fabric --> Repeat at some random point in the future.  I'm sure some of you can relate.

At the first guild meeting of the month, one of the guild women started a sort-of block of the month...well...more like a 1/9th-of-a-quilt-over-9 months-of-the-month.  Its made with all squares and half-square triangles and the finished product will have kind of a pixellated look.  I think the concept is cool, it really just involves sewing straight lines, it can use up some scraps, and it involves Very. Little. Planning.  I will struggle with this part but I do need to learn to let go.

So I chose my fabrics, and cut them up into squares.  I decided to go with six different lightish colours in this section of the quilt:
Going to go with orange and blue and use the massive amounts of leftover fabric from my sister's Star Dust quilt.
Then I had to throw caution to the wind and lay it out in a generally random fashion.  This caused an inner conflict so large I needed to do it and then let it sit for a while before I committed to attaching the pieces together.
I'm not sure I love it but I know its one of those things that will look entirely different sewn together than it will in 100 pieces.
And this is what it looks like in rows - I still have to sew the rows together but I already like it better than I did early this afternoon.  
Pretty sure that the darker it gets, the more I am going to like it.  I will be nine panels like this one.
So this is the top left of the quilt  By the time we get to the bottom right, there will be navy blues and royal blues.  Way darker.  Should be a cool experiment though.

Now...if only I could keep this weekend sewing momentum going.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Last post of the summer

I'm sad.  A little.  I love my job (like LOVE) and I'm pretty excited about this school year and all the kids and stuff but I had a good summer so I'm kinda sad to see it go.  Alas, Thanksgiving is in five weeks and then Christmas is around the corner so I won't be sad for long.  I'm not gonna lie, in preparation for what the weeks ahead hold I'm just sitting here in my living room in the dark and silence (I don't do well in intense busy-ness for long periods at a stretch.  I need some silence) enjoying the last few hours of Labour Day.

I hit up the sewing machine for a couple more small last-minute projects before we get into the routine of the year yesterday and took some pictures but then forgot to blog them.  Whoops.  Good call to do it today before I totally forget.

I need to get back on the horse with the smaller versions of the Lucky Stars Blocks.  When the summer hit, I got caught up on what I was behind in the 12.5 inch blocks but ended up shoving all the scraps from the big blocks into Ziploc bags while I worked on Out in Space.  The blocks from the spring had so many fiddly little pieces that I couldn't imagine doing the smaller versions.  Today, I decided to attack one of those minis.  I cannot procrastinate or this will end up being one of those UFOs in the bottom drawer of the guest room.

See how small these are? I stuck my pencil in the shot to give an idea.  My poor eyeballs. 
But at the end, it ended up pretty.  Can't complain.

The half sized version I made on top of the larger one I did months ago. 
Then, after this took me ridiculously longer than it should have cuz I'm clearly working at summer vacation speed. I needed to get something accomplished.  So I made two more cable/workshop pouches.  Lynn, looks like you rank!

Perfectly sized to stash iDevice cables, cell phone chargers and other items at workshops. 
And on that note, I'm off to bed - gotta get up for school in the morning!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Quilt Hangover = Small Projects

Last week I finished what I can only describe as a "giganormous" quilt for my sister.  I'm not gonna lie, it left me with a bit of a quilt hangover.  You know that feeling, you finish something that consumed both your mental energy and physical time for so long that you can't imagine diving right back in again?  I think that's why I typically intersperse big projects with small ones.  After a quilt, I'll make a lunch bag, or another kind of bag, or a wallet, or pouches.  That's just what I did today.

You see, we've been back at work full throttle this week before the school year begins.  Today, we had a unit meeting and I travel with a lot of electronics.  I have a personal cell phone, a work cell phone, and an iPad which I use to take notes.  Additionally, when we get resources and handouts, I like to tab, highlight and write in the margins.  So naturally, I have to cart a bunch of cables and other office supplies around.  I solved this dilemma by making myself a pouch that pretty well lies flat so I can shove it in my purse or cart it around with my actual iPad.  When I took out a pen today, my Principal saw my pouch and simply said "I want one."  In the interest of not engaging in a career-limiting move, that's what I made tonight.

This is some left-over Amy Butler Lotus fabric I had from a bag I made.
The first step is choosing the fabrics.  They have to match both the function of the pouch and be something she won't mind having on the table at meetings and workshops.  Then I had to make sure I had a zipper in the right colour and length cuz there was NO way I was going back out tonight! After a precariously stacked pile of fabric fell on my head as I tried to root through drawers to find a matching one....SCORE!

Then I put the front together.  I used a Lazy Girl pattern so it was a relatively quick and simple job.  Sewed the zipper into the top and bottom rectangles (folded right sides together) then pressed the fabric back.
Tried to line up the lotus flowers as well as I could.  Not too shabby!
Then really, it was a matter of layering the lining fabric, batting, back and front (zipper side down) and sewing around the perimeter.  A quick trip through the serger to finish the edges and then flip it right sides out and voila!
All ready for the next meeting!
Now I just have to remember to take it to school tomorrow.  Ha.  Onto my next small project....PILLOWS!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Finished Quilt: Out in Space

So...where have I been all damned summer?  Ha. I have no idea where the time went.  For the first time in my working life,  I had the whole summer to do with as I pleased and I enjoyed every waking moment of it. Although I will certainly appreciate a return to the routine, I'm not ready...its too soon!  There's more fun to be had!  I'm back to work starting Monday and so I'm glad I got a quilt finished - it gives me some small sense of accomplishment that I didn't waste my entire summer being unproductive!

Thought maybe I'd share it with you -- you know, before we hit Labour day weekend and all.

Out in Space
As I have mentioned before, I made this quilt for one of my sisters.  She leaves on Sunday for four years to pursue her Ph. D in Astro-Physics.  Every time I say or write that, it makes me feel super dumb.  Anyhow, I'm really proud of her and am going to miss her a ton.  This quilt is so she can take a piece of home with her and so I can still feel connected to her across the miles.  I hope she enjoys it as its the most ambitious thing I have ever tried to make.  It took forever.  By forever I of course mean WAY longer than I ever anticipated.  She's lucky to be worth it!

Close up of centre
I did echo-quilting around each and every triangle piece in the centre meteor.  There are hundreds of triangles in this thing.  Hundreds.  At one point I wondered if I would ever finish.  I thought of setting my sewing machine on fire but didn't want to have to explain that to the fire-fighters.  

A bit better view of the swirl quilting in the massive amounts of negative space
This shows the pieced backing a little and the binding

The back
You can get a good look at the quilting details here.  I did an all-over swirl in the negative spaces.  I like how the effect turned out on the back.  Almost like a lunar eclipse - how fitting!

My "scraps"
On instagram I asked the important question -- If I can fill a shoebox with the neatly folded leftovers, does it still count as scraps.  Seriously people, I think I could make a whole second quilt top with these leftovers.  

The best part of the experience though.....

I used the practice and quilting of this top to trick my friend Alice into giving free-motion quilting a try.  I made a scrap sandwich and she went to town - even wrote her name!  She said it was fun...I'll get her hooked yet!

So I'm gifting this to my sister this weekend.  I'll let you know how she reacts!