Thursday, September 30, 2010

PJ's, a block, and hexagons

I finished a new pair of pj's for Gregory. Though the elephant ones were darling, they were really too small for my big baby. I ended up giving them to a friend (who kindly reimbursed me for the fabric) and decided to make a pair out of this adorable Urban Zoologie fabric. I made Gregory try the top on but I still haven't seen how the whole ensemble looks. Technically they are a gift for his birthday. A year ago today was my due date.... 9 days later he officially joined our family. I am madly trying to finish some birthday presents for him in the little time I have left.... sometimes I feel bad because I am craving "alone time" to make him presents - when really shouldn't I just enjoy being with him instead of wanting to take a break from him in order to make him special things to show him that I love him.....? Today I am meeting up with my bestest NEMQG buddies for a sew-in. About a month ago I organized a block exchange/bee and Jill kindly volunteered to take September. Her instructions were perfect- she simply asked us to make a 12.5" block with a friendship star in it. I liked learning how to make a simply block while also having the chance to be a bit "improvisational." I hope she likes it! (Those "vintage" Amy Butler prints are gorgeous bytheway!)
I took a break from the floral hexagons to do the hand sewing on bird mobile and brainy ball, but now and then, I have had the chance to get back to them. I have started framing the flowers in charcoal grey - a choice I was a bit apprehensive about, but I think it will help the colors really "pop."

Finally, a big thanks to my swapping buddy Jen for providing a link to my design wall dilemma. I will definitely try it out and let you all know how it works for me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making profits by reselling fabric.....

When I went to the Mancuso quilt show, I came upon a vendor selling Tula Pink Neptune layer cakes ($25 a piece) and a few one yard cuts of the collection ($6 per yard). I grabbed all she had and promptly listed it on eBay. I quickly sold all of it and the grand total profit, even after fees, totals to $150. There are some crazy prices out there for fabric that some people are willing to pay. Heather Ross "swimming goldfish" recently sold for $93 per yard and a friend of mine recently unloaded some Flea Market Fancy fat quarters for $22 a piece! I have some "valuable" fabrics that I mostly gained from an online swap group, but sometimes it's hard to think about using them when I think about their monetary value.

For me, I get a lot more excited about getting a good deal on fabric rather than finding something that the blog world has created into this crazy obsession. I do think, however, that the quick rate with which fabric goes "out of print" contributes to people's large stashes- it really stinks to finally get to a project, need more of a particular fabric, and find that that fabric is no longer available. I predict that anything made by Heather Ross, and almost anything by Denyse Schmidt will be sold for crazy amounts long after it becomes first available. There are always newbies coming to the sewing/quilting world who will feel that they've "missed out" and just "have to have" certain fabrics that the cool kids have. It seriously reminds me of high school sometimes. But in all fairness, I have to say that some of the "hard to find" expensive prints are pretty awesome (can there be a more perfect boy fabric than fish in bags?)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bird Mobile and More

I finished hand sewing these little birds quite a while ago but I was pretty scared to put the whole mobile together. There are no instructions on the "free tutorial" - so Nick and I just had to wing it (pun intended). Both of us were shocked how quickly it came together. While watching a movie on Sunday night, I sewed the birds onto the sticks with three strands of embroidery floss (trying to make it look like little bird feet hanging onto the branches). Last night, we put it all together in about twenty minutes! Gregory loves it! He actually laid in bed for quite a while this morning just looking at it. I took advantage of some extra sleep.
Over the weekend, I delved into free motion quilting with this quilt. The binding is almost completely attached. I will show pictures when it is all done. I have to say that I really enjoyed quilting this and it wasn't as scary as I had imagined. I think it helped that I had been able to use a large gym floor at my church to baste it, I had good thread (Gutermann), lots of safety pins, and the quilt wasn't too big to be able to manage. The only thing I didn't like was having to constantly stop quilting it to attend to more important things (e.g. my family)- repeatedly returning to it made me have to keep developing a "rhythm" and I found that my "starts" were a bit rough.

Last night I finished my final circle block - completing my 88 blocks! I am not sure how to approach piecing the blocks together, as I think it ideally demands a design wall (which I don't have).
I also cut out some new pajamas to make for Gregory as a present for his birthday. I figure he is too young to object to handmade gifts now, so I am going to take advantage of it!
Finally, I did make it to a few yard sales over the weekend and bought these pieces for 50 cents!

The floral piece is much prettier in person - kind of reminds me of an Amy Butler print. I am also really excited about the linen because one of the library books is all about "zakka."
Usually I try not to have a zillion projects going on at once (I didn't even show you another quilt that I am working on binding today!) but for some reason, it's just how things have worked out lately. I am pretty psyched with all that I have completed and not only have taken care of Gregory (of course!), but I still have been social with friends, attended church meetings and activities, and not completely ignored my husband. I think it comes down to priorities - we all do what is important to us (which is why you are not seeing a picture of my laundry pile or kitchen sink!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Free Motion Quilting

Having recently counted 11 unquilted quilt tops, I knew it was time to face my fear of free motion quilting and finally try it out. Shortly after finishing the 9 Patch Lattice quilt, I completed the pieced back and cut out a piece of batting. I found it in a wrinkled mess in the corner of my bedroom and brought it to a sewing activity at my church. I had quite the audience as I was taping the backing and batting to the floor in order to baste it.

I've spent the time during Gregory's naps to stipple the quilt and so far, for a beginner, it is going really well! I am so excited! Now I have hope that I might be able to finish my quilts after all and not have to wait until I can take a long arm quilting class. I will show you the finished project! Meanwhile, I have requested bunches of sewing books from my public library. These books are so fun to thumb through and look at. I don't feel the need to own tons of these books and the library is a perfect alternative to buying them. I have some pattern tracing paper I am going to use soon in order to make some of the best projects in these books.
What is your favorite sewing book?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Good Folks Quilt Top

On Saturday night I put a new blade in the rotary cutter and went to work on a complete fat quarter collection of Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks. I received this as a present at least a year ago and Gregory was constantly going for it and throwing it on the floor. I really like her new collection, Innocent Crush, (is anyone else grateful it's coming out in a quilting weight cotton and not just that slippery voile!?) - so I figured I better get cracking on her "older stuff."

It takes a lot of patience to do that much cutting and I have to admit that I was not happy when my new rotary blade started to stop making clean, smooth cuts about halfway through!

I used Amy Butler's free Brick Road Path pattern with a simple alteration: I cut 9 of the rectangles in half to begin each column instead of having to eyeball the staggering of the rectangles and having 18 large half-rectangle scraps upon completion.

I feel that one drawback of this collection is that the prints would not mix well with other fabrics. But I have to say that I don't really love any of these prints individually - but they really "sing" when they are all mashed together.

So this brings me to 9, count them 9!!!!, unquilted quilt tops I have in my house. I am a hypocrite! I have to admit that I recently cast a critical eye on a prominent blogger who unveiled at least 5 unquilted quilt tops.... but here I am with more. (In my defense, I am really not in a position to go out and buy a bunch of backing fabric and batting right now, but I think the bigger truth is that I am still scared of quilting on my machine!)

Once again, I have pulled a bunch of fabrics from my stash to make an Urban Circus quilt top. This time I truly have a quilt pattern in mind. Although I didn't really like this pattern for Hope Valley, I think it might work well for a whimsical collection like UC.

I do have a bit of Kona White - but I am not sure if I should throw it in there.... I am leaning towards "no" - but please stop me if you think I should!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

New England World Quilt Show

I wrote a post today here, displaying some of my favorites from the New England World Quilt Show. Check it out!

Friday, September 03, 2010

City Weekend Pinwheels and a Diaper Bag

I snuck outside today to take a few quick pictures of the quilt top I finished a week or so ago. I really love this fabric line and I look forward to seeing what the blogosphere does with it. Yardage hits the stores this month.
Yet another quilt top that needs to be quilted, now added to the pile.

This week I worked on Anna Maria Horner's Multi-Tasker tote. I had the pattern and fabric for over a year but I felt uninspired. I feared that the bag would be too big and maybe wasn't all that attractive. But along came the motivation - a dear friend had a baby in July and I felt the need to make her a much better purse than the one she received from me a few years ago. (What progress I've made compared to that shapeless sack I unfortunately gave to her.)
So this bag totally kicked my butt and it shouldn't have. Life most bag patterns- you make the lining first. I only skimmed through the directions because I have made many bag linings and didn't think this was any different. Imagine my shock when at 10:30 on Wednesday night, after having sewn the exterior of the bag to the lining (and clipping the curves on the seam allowance) - I couldn't get the inside of the bag to lay flat - it was EXTREMELY lumpy and full of extra fabric. Long story short, I did the lining TOTALLY wrong and there was no salvaging it. I had to use a plain white lining amidst some recent yard sale fines as a replacement.

This bag is easy to make if you follow the directions and it is a deceptively clever design. I had no idea that the exterior of the bag has 4 built in pockets - it is really a great pattern for a diaper bag. Despite my troubles, I am very happy with how it turned out.

Noelani- I assume you are too busy on your travels right now to be reading this - but if you are - surprise! This one is coming to you.