Sunday, January 30, 2011

Applique done!

Niece's peace sign
Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
I finished the MQ blanket stitching on the peace sign today. And yes, it probably does look as wonky as all that. But it seems to work so I'm good. I still think it looks better in person, though. I'll just name it "Wonky Peace Sign" and claim it as an artistic decision. You can't see it easily in this photo (and enlarged is almost worse--cell phone pic and using Picnik's auto-fix which grained everything up but good), but the blanket stitch is black, which will work well with the borders.

I'm now at the point of debating said borders. I have the main border fabric--a peace sign print. What I'm auditioning on my design wall, though, is whether or not it needs a thin inner border first. I'm thinking yes. And I'm thinking a tone-on-tone black. The border fabric has lots going on (and thankfully, wonky, so yes, it's definitely an artistic decision). Although I could probably get away with just doing the one border, I think it'll be more effective if I just do a narrow, say 1", inner border in black and then the print border. Then bind it in black again. Should keep it from spinning off into psychedelic mayhem.

I also had a last minute panic about the amount of border fabric I have. I've got half a yard, which would have been plenty were it not a directional fabric. I would end up having to blend in lots of seams and frankly, I'm just not in the mood. So I just ordered another yard. Which means I'll have lots left over. And I did second-day-air. Which means I'm paying more for shipping than the fabric. But I'm still good.

I can always make her a matching pillowcase.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Peace Sign Progress

I know, I know. It's been awhile. Sorry about that. I was away over the weekend and have a cold that's not serious in most symptoms, but just making me all sorts of draggy. So I took a few nights off of doing much of anything. But tonight I finally got the next big step done in the peace sign--it's all fused and ready to go.

I figured out how I could have done this a little more easily...of course, the minute I finished doing it the hard way. I suppose that's the way it often goes--you have to do it once to see how it works. Or maybe that's just me.

Anyway, debating fusing methods and ended up going to my trusty MistyFuse. Love that stuff. Now I've got to find just the right thread for the blanket stitch. I decided against doing a funky color since I have so many funky colors a-happenin' already. I'm just going with a basic black, but I want something of just the right thickness and feel. Off to my fave LQS tomorrow after work, and perhaps a second, since my LQS primarily stocks embroidery threads and not such a wide selection for other stuff. There's another QS way across town that has a bigger thread selection so I might end up having to check both.

Thanks, crowefan, for telling me a grid pattern would look great. You convinced me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not quite the big "reveal"...but getting there

Zoe's Peace Sign
Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
It's not done yet, but it's far enough along that I now feel like I can actually post a photo of it. This is the WIP that I've been referencing lately: my niece's wallhanging, a paper-piecing project where I worked from scratch, one that could have gone horribly awry any step along the way.

I've now gotten past the big scary mean piece that could have ended up being terribly traumatic--piecing that outer ring. B-T-Dubs, it's looking a lot more wonky in this picture than I think it is in real life, but who knows. Maybe it is that wonky. That just makes it more charming. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The colors also didn't come out true-to-life in the pic--the really, really dark strips are violet and dark blue, not black like they look here. It's a pretty happy quilt--lots of jewel tones. The background is two white tone-on-tone fabrics alternating--you can't really see it here but it provides a little bit of textural interest to the back without it being obtrusive. Once it's on white batting, I don't think the seams will show quite as much.

At the moment, it's just pinned up in rough approximation of its eventual shape; I didn't worry about aligning anything yet. I just wanted to see how it was turning out. I'll center it and make sure it's all even when I baste it. I'm going to do raw-edge applique with a blanket stitch in some fun color; I figured that would fit its sort of 70s-folksy/hippie vibe. And it's easier to boot. Win all around.

I'm debating what I'm going to do for an inner border still--I may do something with the leftover fabric from the peace sign (used a bunch of fat quarters and only needed a strip or two out of each). I have a cute peace sign print fabric for the border, so the inner border needs to be mostly fairly solid and plain. I've got a coordinating fabric to the outer border that I'll probably use for backing and binding, although I'm waiting until everything else is done to decide what kind of binding needs to frame it.

As for quilting, I'm debating between a simple grid on the background, or echo quilting. Leaning towards a grid, mostly because that will get this thing out of my house and on its way to my niece a lot faster!

That's all I'm going to do for today. I have a meeting in about an hour and a half and my son left me his cold when he moved back to college (and a messy room, but that doesn't affect me as much on a daily basis), so I think I'm going to crash with some hot tea for a bit and work my way up to meeting-mode.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wrestling the Beast

Another sneak peek
Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
I made more progess tonight and, most significantly, finally got down to wrestling the beast. What's in the picture is the easy part. The beasty part is currently resting quietly next to my sewing machine, building its energy up for our next round of battle, I'm sure.

Actually, at this stage, I have to say that I think I might actually be winning. But there's still a lot of punches the beast could make that could take me down, so I'm not quite crowing yet.

I do like the colors, though. You can't see them well in this picture because my design wall hangs in a particularly dark corner of my sewing room (not very handy for a design wall, sadly), and my camera broke right before the holidays so I have to make do with my cell phone. My cell actually takes pretty decent pictures--but not so much in bad lighting situations. So these colors are a little muddy. When it's actually done, I'll take a good picture. Maybe I'll own a camera again by then.

I do like paper-piecing. I just don't like having to figure out my own pattern.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Carol Doak to the Rescue

Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
I tried to get over myself tonight and just plough into the next steps on my niece's wallhanging. I've been finding all sorts of other stuff to do just to avoid starting on the paper-piecing for this because I'm still convinced it's all going to go horribly awry.

However, tonight, I decided I should just go ahead and start with the easy parts. There's three fairly straight (kinda sorta) segments that will give me time to get used to the process again before tackling the big, nightmare-inducing section that I'm sure is going to traumatize me before we're through.

So I pulled out my "Carol Doak Teaches You to Paper Piece" video and watched the appropriate segments to refresh my memory. I've only paper-pieced once before, several years ago, in a class. The finished class project still hangs in my kitchen today. Loved doing it, have always wanted to do it again, just haven't gotten around to it. Watching Carol's video reminded me how much I've been wanting to do this, so in addition to reminding me of the steps it also motivated me and made me want to tackle this puppy! And I just love her presence. Very soothing. "Of course you can do this, silly," she seems to be saying. Nay, she's exuding it from her very pores. "No worries!"

With my injection of Carol Doak, you can see I got a little bit accomplished tonight. Mind you, I did also cut all my pieces so I only spent about 20 minutes doing the actual piecing. It didn't take long to get into the swing of it. So doing these first three pieces should build my confidence for the last part...I hope.

Now it's off to watch a little TV and keep working on the binding for my other niece's quilt. Making progress all around!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some Progress...

I wasn't sure I'd actually be able to get any sewing done today with a schedule gone awry, but finally pulled out an hour or so in the end and got the binding on my niece's stack n' slash quilt. I'm madly trying to finish the hand-sewing of that now so I can take it to show n' tell at my guild meeting on Tuesday night completely finished. I can certainly take it even if it's not completely finished--it would just feel better if I could call it done.

Sadly, when my daughter went to bed tonight she discovered that her beloved guinea pig had departed this life for the next. He was about 4 years old, which is around average life expectancy for a guinea pig. But still. He was her buddy. She'd been making arrangements for him to go live with a friend of hers when she went off to college next fall--given his age, I'd been worried that he'd go to the friend and then pass away within the first couple of weeks, and how that would make both my daughter and her friend feel. So all in all, it's best that he move on now. This certainly isn't the first pet she's lost in her nearly-18-years, but so far, probably the one she was personally closest to. She'll be OK in a couple of days--tonight and tomorrow morning will be a little tough for her, in all "the firsts" (first time she doesn't have to refill his water bottle before going to school and so forth).

Does it make me a horrible mother to say, though, that I'm looking forward to getting that cage out of her room? Sigh.  I'll be extra nice to her tomorrow as my own little personal penance. She doesn't ever have to know why.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Vacation is Over ... Report

My vacation officially ended yesterday--I had Friday back in the office. I'm very proud of myself, however. Typically I suffer complete amnesia over the holidays and it usually takes me almost a full day just to remember where I was on all my projects, track down which emails I was supposed to be responding to when, and figure out what I'm supposed to do next. This time, though, I did such a great job preparing myself for the break--leaving myself all sorts of bread crumb trails and scheduling pop-up reminders for myself for when I got back, that not only did I catch myself up in about an hour, I was actually able to make progress! Woohoo! Yay, me!

Unfortunately, not so much in my sewing world. Friday evening I pressed some fabrics. That was it. Not insignificant given that some of them had creases in them the size of the Grand Canyon after being in my fat quarter drawer for several years, but still--not particularly exciting. There is something very relaxing about pressing, though. I don't mind it when it's fabric. Hate it when it's clothes, but that's another story.

Today I did somewhat better--I got the background for my niece's wallhanging pieced. I did 6" (finished) squares--5 across and 5 down. I'd originally thought I'd use five fabrics in all, too, but then I realized that would mean I'd have little bits cut off several fabrics rather than using up most of a couple--so I switched gears and only used two fabrics. I think it probably works better, anyway. Tomorrow I start on the hard part. I'm paper-piecing a foundation pattern I had to design myself, my daughter did the math for, and I then tweaked the results. It still doesn't look quite right to me, but I think I can fudge it.

Hopefully, if I get some good time at the project tomorrow, I'll have some pictures to post.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vacation Day 9 Report

Sorry--I skipped a couple of days in there!

Vacation Day 8 (yesterday) was a bit of a bust as far as quiltmaking is concerned. I had several errands to run in the morning which took me right up until about 2:00 or so. By the time I got home, I was feeling a bit draggy so I wasted a little time on the computer and then tried to tackle the paper-piecing project again (the wallhanging for my niece). The lines still just didn't look right to me, so now I've taken to just eyeballing them and redrawing them where they look right to me. I still have the lines from the original measurements my daughter made--but something was a little off. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I've had to cut the entire piece into workable sections so I think things may have shifted on her just a hair here and there while she was working. In the quilt world, we know "just a hair" adds up. So her lines are my current guides for sketching in something that looks more even. I think between her math and my eye, we'll come something remarkably close to what it should be.

In any case, by the time I'd messed around with that for a little bit, it was time to start dinner and then begin our family New Year's Eve festivities, which always include M&Ms and Settlers of Catan--just about in that order. We saw in the New Year and were in bed by about 12:30. Somewhere along the way we got boring, but boring can be quite nice.

Today, Vacation Day 9, had no sewing involved. Although I was wide awake at 5 a.m. (again I repeat, "why o why?" from a previous blog post), I was too fried from a short night (having sort of subconsciously kept myself partially awake until I heard my less-boring son make it home safe somewhere around 2a) to do much. I mostly got another load of laundry through so I could finish packing for our official, go-away-somewhere family vacation that starts tomorrow.

My apologies to anyone who is a listener to my podcast--I fully intended to get an episode out Thursday, Friday, or this morning--but between errands, working on my niece's quilt, and packing, it never happened. I'm so sorry! Next week. I promise promise promise promise!

Meanwhile, we're off to Disney World. It gets more fun the older my kids get--even now that they're basically adults. Or maybe I'm just more relaxed now that they're tall enough that I can't lose them in a crowd anymore.