Monthly Archives: March 2014

Meow Mix, Top Done!

For the month of March, I set myself a goal of finishing all 25 Catvent kitty blocks for the Lovely Year of Finishes. (I’m #134 at the March kickoff linkup…) I admit I got distracted by my Modern Cross, but not so distracted that I missed making my goal.

The blocks went together very quickly, and often, the most difficult part was picking fabrics. I made the blocks nearly entirely from my scrap bins, with some very kind help from Cindy over at SeeLifeMarvels. Cindy sent me a wonderful pack of orange scraps to help bolster the weakest part of my stash…

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As soon as Cindy’s package arrived, I got to work on my orange kitties.

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I’m so happy with them! One of the brides-to-be receiving this quilt loves skulls, so sneaking in that fabric in one ear was just perfect! Also, not sure if you can see, but the orange-y yellow kitty right below? It has a teacup puppy, in a teacup, on its face. I found some of that wonderful old Heather Ross fabrics in my scraps. A kitty with a puppy on its face makes me smile!

I moved on to red/pink/purple next, and this was the most stressful part. I had a horrible time making the red to pink transition.

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I really wasn’t happy with that iteration. I liked the kitties individually, but, the two in the top right corner seemed too similar. I was tired, so I went to bed, but when I approached it after work the next day, with fresher eyes, I found a solution.

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SO much happier with that version! And, I got to make another funny kitty- the top left cat? Has flamingos on her face… (And, I plan to piece the “rejected” cat into the back of the quilt, maybe using her as part of the label, so all will be well there, too.)

Looking at my wild and crazy cats brings me to a point I’ve been mulling over lately. I was chatting via email with Cath at WombatQuilts who, btw makes the most gorgeous blocks and you should go visit her right now if you haven’t already. She was complimenting my fabric choices, and I was wondering if my love of prints and busy-ness means I am not a true modern quilter. I know that there many different ways to define modern quilting, but when I look around the blogosphere, I get confused. I don’t identify as a traditional quilter- that just feels like a bad fit to me. At the same time, I make quilts from patterns, and am very uncomfortable with improv or creating my own designs. That does feel VERY traditional to me. And then back to my fabric choices. I don’t like “traditional” fabrics, and  I do love loads of contemporary designers. But I also love using massive amounts of color and pattern- I’m terrible at minimal or low-key. These kitties contain everything from solids to Kaffe shot cottons, from batiks to novelty prints and from contemporary designers to random 10 year old scraps.  I think there’s even one piece of 30s repro.

So where do I fit? Do you struggle with these definitions at all?

Phew. All that deep stuff aside, look what I did!

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That’s right- I finished not just the blocks but the entire quilt top with 48 hours to spare. (I realize the month isn’t yet over BUT we head out on vacation at noon Saturday…) I even got it done before the sun set, so I could get a few photos before I totally lost the natural light. Of course, I didn’t realize how wrinkled the right side was until AFTER I took the photos. Oops. But the top IS done.

Now I can head out on my trip with a clear quilty conscience… Everything think warm, not snowy thoughts for us in Boston next week! (Also, there’s a quilt exhibit opening at the MFA while we’re there, AND the To Boston With Love flags with also be on display… so, hooray- for me at least, the kids are not so thrilled.) Hope you all did well with your own March goals. See you soon 🙂

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Filed under Finish It Up Friday, Gift, Meow Mix, Pinned it AND made it!, Quilts, Year of Lovely Finishes

Halfway There…

(Random aside- anyone else around my age now humming Livin’ On A Prayer? Take my hand, we’ll make it, I swear…)

Apologies for the ear worm, but hey, I am officially halfway done piecing my long-neglected Modern Cross quilt top! Thank you all for your supportive comments last week- it’s good to know that others have let projects, um, marinate, for prolonged periods…

This weekend, I sat down and made the final five green blocks.

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No more trimming!! Whoo!!

This quilt is going to be king (!) sized, and so only half of it can fit on my design wall at once.

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And even getting that half up there required some very hard work and precarious step ladder balancing. What you see above is half #2. It’s on hold for the moment while I work on Meow Mix, since finishing all the kitties was my March goal for the Year of Lovely Finishes. But before I put it on hold, I got the entire first half pieced together!

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(Ignore the surly faced helper- she actually wasn’t cranky at all, she was taking her role as holder very very seriously.)

This thing is HUGE. I’m going to have to send it out to be quilted, budget be damned. I can’t imagine that I could handle it at home. But all I want are simple straight lines. I have a fun finishing touch planned- I have tons of blue, green, and purple buttons (bought on a very lucky trip to Tuesday Morning) and each cross is getting a button in the center. So cute! (I hope!) Ask me if I still feel that way AFTER I sew on #100.

Something fascinating about having worked on this over 3 years is seeing my fabric tastes change. Today me might never have used some of the fabrics picked out by 2011 me, but I’m glad that I did. Some of my older choices are busier than what I might pick currently, but they are very, very ME. I love seeing them all together…  Do you find that your fabric tastes has changed drastically over the years?

Next week, we’ll be in Boston for spring break. Hopefully their latest snow will have melted. What this means is that Modern Cross will be put on hold for one more week, but I do plan to finish piecing it ASAP, probably in the week between out trip and the big sewing room move

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let’s Be Social.

 

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Filed under Modern Cross, Quilts, WIP Wednesday

Tula Tuesday: Blocks 19 and 20

I made my March goal! I finished ten more blocks for a total of 20!

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Only 80 to go 😉

Block #19 features a green Joel Dewberry woodgrain from my stash, and a Tula Parisville, also from stash…

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At first I was worried that the textures of the fabrics were too busy to work together, but, I like them.

Block #20 is Tula and AMH…

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And just now, looking at these blocks in the post, I realized that the one in the book that is pink, I made green, and the one that is green, I made pink. Silly coincidences like that always amuse me to no end…

Two months and twenty blocks down- that feels very, very good. I’m still really enjoying this project!

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Did you work on any City Sampler blocks recently? If so, link up with Tula Tuesday below.

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Sunday Stash: blenders… and news!

Working on Meow Mix has pointed out the holes in my stash- especially yellows and oranges. (And it has also confirmed that I loooooove purple.) I need more fabric like I need a hole in my head, and yet, when I got an email from Fabricworm with a good coupon, I placed an order… which contained yellows, and of course, more purples… I was thinking blenders. I need more blenders. Don’t you kind of always need more blenders?

(But stay tuned until the end for a total impulse buy, which is part of a very exciting pending project.)

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Violet Craft Waterfront Park Domino Dot in Starfruit and Joel Dewberry True Colors Wood Grain Yellow…

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Violet Craft Waterfront Park Domino Dot Jewel, Anna Maria Horner Field Study Fine Feathered Whisper, Studio E Modern Age Chevron Purple

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Joel Dewberry True Colors Herringbone Pink, Anna Maria Horner True Colors Crescent Bloom Fuschia

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Anna Maria Horner True Colors Haystack Bouquet Moss

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Timeless Treasures Sewing Machines Multi (Not a blender at all!)

But it is intended for such a wonderful project- read on.

I am lucky enough to have a room dedicated to my sewing. It used to double as an office, in the time before we all used laptops and tablets for everything, but for the last few years, it’s just been for sewing. And storing fabric and yarn, of course! Over the past few months, as I’ve been getting my sewing groove back, I’ve been thinking about ways to better utilize my space. The furniture in the room is a miss-mash of leftovers, most of which do not work so very well. The book shelves I use to store my fabric have shelves that are too deep, and it’s so hard to look get the fabric out and use it. And then putting it back away neatly takes sooooo much time. I have a “design wall” (felt backed plastic tablecloths tacked to the wall) but my cutting table and ironing board make it hard to use them. My cutting table is oval in shape, and takes up more room than it needs to.

So what to do?  I started searching Pinterest and the interwebs for crafty space inspiration. I’ve long wanted to use Ikea Expedit bookcases, and when I mentioned that in passing to my husband, he let me know they were being discontinued! Noooooo… Time to speed up my plans! A quick trip to Ikea netted a few pieces, in black instead of white as the white selection had already been decimated. I not so subtly hinted to Rich that he should start putting the Expedits together right away, but he pointed out that maybe I should finish my overall plans first.

I hate it when he’s right…

But he was, and it has worked out really well. Part of why we chose our current house was the finished basement. It has a guest room, as well as the laundry room, and one large room that became the playroom. We stashed most of the kids’ toys down there, and also a TV and some comfy furniture, so they had their own space to enjoy and also mess up… But at nearly 13 and 10, they don’t really use it anymore (we moved in when they were 3 and 1.5 years old.) I sat down and talked with them, and they agreed that it would be okay for me to turn the playroom into my sewing room!

It’s about twice as big as my current sewing room!

And even though it’s in the basement, we have a tri-level house, and the basement has windows. So, double the space along with light? Hooray!

The big move is planned for mid-April. When my office (a school) is closed for Spring Break, I have 7 days paid time off! (Plus a weekend in there to boot.) I’m planning on spending nearly all day every day of break setting up the new room. I am so excited!

And all of that still doesn’t mention what the sewing machine fabric is for. Curtains!! The colors work perfectly with the carpet and wall colors already in the space. Cute machine curtains will totally set the mood…

Do you have any tips for storage or setting up a workspace that have made your sewing experiences better? I’d love to hear them!

Linking up with Sunday Stash.

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Filed under Stash Enhancement, Sunday Stash

Better (Really, Really) Late than Never

Hi. Maybe you can help me understand something.

Why has this project been languishing on and off since 2011??

Back in 2011, I was totally sweet up in the craze surrounding Modern Log Cabin Quilting by Susan Beal, of West Coast Crafty. I bought the book and started the cover project, Modern Cross, right away. I loved it.

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And then, I kind of stopped sewing.  For a year or so. I barely made anything. Well, I knitted and knitted and did some pretty awesome crochet, too, but, no quilting. In 2012, I picked it up again.

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But it felt like, no matter how much I worked on it, I never made any progress. I got frustrated. And so, I put it back down.

On this past Sunday, I realized I had sewing time, and no plans. The Meow Mix quilt is on hold, waiting for some orange scraps to arrive, and I’m caught up on my Tula blocks. I didn’t have the energy to baste the one baby quilt top that is waiting to be finished. So what was I going to do?

I cleaned up the sewing room.

And when that got old, I looked at the pile of Modern Cross blocks, sitting in the naughty pile, along with my Anna Maria Horner feather blocks, and a few other neglected WIPs. And I thought, why not finally go back to these blocks?

I counted them. And I realized that when I quit, I was sooooo close to finishing. I needed 12 more purple blocks, and 4 more green. Less than 20 out of 100. So I buckled down, and started sewing.

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Okay, this is a terrible photo, but that’s ALL the remaining purple blocks, pieced since Sunday morning. That’s all it took.

Why on Earth have I put this off for 2 years? It feels ridiculously good to be this close to done with the blocks!

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All the blues are done, and actually, I have 6 extra. Ooops. I’ll get the 4 greens done, and then… I can piece the top. 3 years later.

This is giving a whole new meaning to better late than never, eh? Have you ever let a project sit this long?

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and Let’s Be Social,

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Filed under Modern Cross, Quilts, WIP Wednesday

Tula Tuesday: Blocks 16, 17, and 18

If it’s Tuesday, it must be Tula-day 🙂 This week I’m on to Section 2 of the book, rectangles…

Did you work on any City Sampler Blocks this week? Join in the Tula Tuesday linkup at the bottom of the post so we can all admire your work!

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From left to right, that’s block 16, 17, and 18…

Block 16 has Tula fabric from the Nightshade collection as well as purple and grey and polka dots. It’s a bit more subdued than some of my other color choices, but I like it!

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(The color in the bottom photo is more true to life.)

Block 17 had teeny tiny pieces, and all of them were blue…

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The deeper of the two blues has a faint texture, but the lighter is a solid.

Block #18 is more purple! Because I can never ever have enough purple… It has my focus fabric, that wonderful AMH Dowry print, as well as some Tula from the Birds and the Bees.

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I’m really happy with this week’s batch. I like them all individually, and I feel like they are good additions to my overall color story. (On another note, that block #9 is still totally jumping out at me. What do you think?)

blocks 1 thru 18

Speaking of Tula, I am so in love with her new Fox Field line. I want it all… Anyone else? I’m trying to resist blowing my currently barely existing fabric budget on it. Sigh. (ETA tonight I got an email from www.quilthome.com and all their in stock Tula fabrics are 20% off thru 3/21 with the code QHTPFF)

Okay, time to link up! Show off your Tula work from the last week…

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Filed under Quilts, Tula Pink QAL

Books and the Women who Wrote Them- and me

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some fun and met some crafty authors/rockstars- and I’m just now getting around to telling you about it.

On Tuesday, March 4th, I met up with some of my local Tula QAL peeps for happy hour, followed by a book signing with Rachel May, author of the new book, Quilting with a Modern Slant. Rachel was lovely, and so friendly, and we might have monopolized too much of her time… She was so sweet, she even blogged about us, with a photo (!), and told people about my skull quilt. Her book is also wonderful, and you should check it out if you get a chance.

Then on Monday of this week, the one and only Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, was at a local bookstore. Once, 7 years ago, I went to see her read. It was quite a night out– I even ended up on the local news. I guess they felt it was newsworthy that people knit? Anyway! 7 years ago, I was too scared to knit a sock. They scared the bejeezus out of me- the teeny needles and making a heel and oh, no. I confessed that to the Harlot, and she seemed unimpressed.

Shortly thereafter, I took a class, and made my first socks.

Fast forward nearly 7 years. The Yarn Harlot is back in town. Now, not only can I knit socks*, I can knit complicated socks. I can even kitchener a toe while in a crowded room, listening to a famous knitter regale the crowd! So, when it was my turn in the signing line, I told her how I used to be scared of socks, but now am a sockstar. And she examined my sock and pronounced it good.

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She even showed off my latest finish for a photo.

The other highlight of the night? I wore my newly completed Color Craving shawl, and got loads of great reactions from other knitters. Someone took my photo in it, and at least 3 different folks approached me to talk about it. It made me feel super special- and happy that I pushed through a project I didn’t love working on to get to the fabulous end result.

The only downside? When the Harlot took her trademark photo of the crowd with the sock, my friend and I were sitting too far to the left to be in the photo. If you look at the first photo in the post, and look at the right hand corner, you can just make out the grey and pink of my Color Craving at the very edge… Ah, well. I know we were there.

*I went back and counted, thank you Ravelry, and I have knit 60 complete pairs of socks in under 7 years. My mind is kind of blown by that.

 

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Filed under Brushes with Greatness, CookieA, Knitting, Quilts, Socks, westknits

WIP Wednesday: Meow Mix

Much like the Tula Pink City Sampler blocks, these Catvent blocks are also totally addictive… Digging through my scraps and playing with color placement is so much fun. I finished the blue kitties, got through the greens, and even started the yellows… 13 down, 12 to go. Oh, and I’ve decided to call this one “Meow Mix”.

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Yellow and orange are the weakest parts of my stash. (Actually, browns are, but I’m not making any brown kitties.) I’m nervous about the next few blocks! I’m thankful that Cindy at SeeLifeMarvels has offered to send me some orange scraps, and I am looking forward to that happy mail day! Even though I don’t love yellow on its own, I do like it in small doses in projects, so I can’t figure out why I don’t have more of it. I DO know why I don’t have more orange- I just don’t like it very much.

Now, when I make it to the purple cats…look out! I could probably make an entire purple Catvent quilt just from my scrap bin!

Are you good at stashing colors across the spectrum, or do you find yourself buying more of your favorite colors? And if the latter- what are your favorite colors? I know you know I love purple, and then greens, and grays and blues. You know, all the colors in my City Sampler blocks 😉

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and Let’s Be Social

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Filed under Gift, Quilts, WIP Wednesday

Tula Tuesday: Blocks 13, 14, and 15

(Otherwise known as… I finished Section 1 of the book! Crosses all done, on to the rectangles next week…)

With the (self-imposed) pressure to complete the Skull quilt gone, I went back to my Tula blocks.

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I really love all three of these blocks! I feel like the colors in each one are just right. They are a very saturated bunch, and of course, that’s the way I like it.

Block 13 consists of a pair of crosses, and I got to use my new Tula hot pink fabric.

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I love the treys with the pinks.

Block 14 uses that new Tula deep blue fabric I picked up, and I think it’s going to be one of my favorites overall.

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And finally, block 15 was all about the greens…

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I enjoyed the cross blocks, but I am very much looking forward to moving on to the rectangle section. I have a few fabrics with slightly larger prints that I think will benefit from larger pieces- and it looks like some of the upcoming blocks are designed to feature fussy cut bits. Hooray!

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Thanks to everyone who took part in last week’s Tula Tuesday Linkup. It turns out that a wordpress hosted blog can’t display a linkup, and that’s why you have to click thru to see everyone’s entries. I know that sucks, and I’m looking for a solution. (If you have any ideas, let me know?) Meanwhile, please linkup any Tula Pink City Sampler progress below. I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

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Filed under Quilts, Tula Pink QAL

Skullduggery

And finally, only a few days after the intended recipient of this quilt was born (a beautiful baby girl), the skull quilt is done!

I was hoping to finish it in February, but last week the screw attaching my walking foot decided to stop working. Thank goodness it was only the screw- until we solved the problem, I was worried I might have stripped the shank rather than the screw, and that sounded potentially expensive. Husband to the rescue, and all was right with the world. I spent large chunks of Saturday and Sunday at the machine, shoving this 60″x72″ quilt through my trusty Viking. My shoulders are FINALLY feeling better…

I got the bright purple binding 1/2way on in time to hand stitch it in front of the Oscars… and if the show had just been a little bit longer, I would have finished Sunday night… but I went to bed at the end of the show, and finished it after work on Monday…

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I am SO happy with how it came out! I echo-quilted inside the skull, fairly close together. I love the texture it created. The eyes have squarish spirals and the nostrils are just outlined. I did one row of echo-quilting in the green, around the skull. Finally, using painters tape as a guide ( I got the idea from this Pin), I did simple, straight lines radiating out from the skull. (Thank you, Oneblockwonderwoman for the idea!) They could be a lot straighter, my stitch length could be a lot more even, but hey, it’s done!

Here’s a closeup.

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What do you think? You can kind of see the purple binding in tis next shot.

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(FYI, a closed down restaurant near your home where they’re ripping up the parking lot makes a great backdrop for an “edgy” quilt photo shoot.)

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I can’t wait to get this quilt to the new baby! She’s already worn a onesie covered in skulls and crossbones, and a Dead Kennedys shirt- and her dad currently has hair that is nearly the same shade of green as the quilt! I think I got it right!

Here’s hoping you had some good finishes this time!

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(linking up all over the place… TGIFF, Can I get a whoop whoop?, Fabric Frenzy Friday, Show Off Saturday, and Fabric Tuesday.)

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Filed under Baby quilts, Finish It Up Friday, Gift, Quilts