26 October 2011

The plan

     Thank the gods, inspiration for the Habitat Challenge finally struck around 10:30 Monday night.   A plan was sketched, Habitat fabric was cut, a test block was sewn.  Things were looking up.  Until I was lured away by Parks and Recreation (damn you, Netflix!).  My project was dunzo for the evening.

     I fully intended on getting the rest of the fabric cut and all 16 blocks sewn yesterday.  After getting the older kids off to school, I built an elaborate train track for the little guy and let him go to town playing with Thomas, Salty and friends.  But I had conveniently forgotten about the planned power outage to upgrade a transformer in the neighborhood, so no sewing for me.  I couldn't even cut my Kona Moss into the 69 pieces required for this project because it hadn't been ironed yet!  I thought I might get to sew because the power came back on at 2:30 pm, but the transformer blew half an hour later.  On the bright side, I didn't have to make dinner.

     So now, with Kieran down for a nap, fabric mostly cut, and plan in hand, it's time to get down to business.  I'll be at my sewing table if you need me.


24 October 2011

Habitat Challenged

     This Habitat challenge is not quite working out the way I planned.  My great idea was...well, was not so great.  The plan was to discharge color from half of each fat eighth we were given and choose a simple design to highlight the results. 

     Here's what the fabric looked like after 20 minutes in my washing machine with a weak bleach and water solution, then a spin in the dryer:

The moss color turned to amber, and the aqua faded a teeny bit.  Aside from that, there was no perceptible change.  I threw a few of the pieces into my kitchen sink with a much stronger bleach and water solution, swishing them around for about 10 minutes.

The colors faded a bit more, but not to the degree I was expecting.  Of course, had I accidentally spilled bleach in the washer while pre-washing the fabric, there would have been all kinds of discharging going on!   
     Either the colors weren't saturated enough before the discharging experiment, or the fabric was treated to hold color.  Whether one, the other, or both, I've got to think of something fast- there's less than 2 weeks before the next BAMQG meeting.

     Speaking of BAMQG, I've also got to make my blocks for the A-Z Quilt-along.  We're on "E" blocks, but I've fallen a little behind.  So it's "D" and "E" blocks, plus my Habitat Challenge project by next Saturday.  I'm hoping the quilting gods will smile down upon me this week.    

19 October 2011

A bee for a Bee

     I've been hijacking time here and there from my domestic and child-rearing duties to work on a blog button for the Piece Be With You Flickr group.  My kitchen table was the sight of some furious paper piecing last night.  I thought I would be able to knock out the actual block for the button image during the little one's nap yesterday.  But those two hours were spent divvying up the design into sub-units and numbering the pieces.

    Here's a sneak peek that leaves little to the imagination, but it's fun to see the block before the paper was torn away.

    The big reveal will be on Flickr.  After I figure out how to make the actual button.  I'm hoping it's as simple as finding a piece of code, then copy-paste-replace.

18 October 2011

Down in the dumps

     The past few days have been stressful.  I'm embroiled in a tense situation with my daughter's Brownie troop.  And it came out of nowhere.  The only explanation I have is the troop leader is offended that we're transferring to another troop and felt the need create trouble.  I've had headaches ever since this bewildering situation arose over the weekend.   
    So, no sewing the past few days.  But today I decided not to let the pettiness of one woman keep me down.  My goal this morning is to make good on my commitment to make a bee button for the Piece Bee With You Flickr group.  Oh, who am I kidding?  It'll take all day because the little one is clingy these days.  Hopefully he takes a nice, long nap.

12 October 2011

Mission (almost) accomplished

   It's such a nice feeling to have fulfilled all of my bee/swap blocks for this month early.   So different from my college days of all-nighters, pots of coffee, pleas for divine inspiration, and vows that the next paper would be started earlier than the night before it was due.

The blocks for Teal We Meet Again, Design Camp, and Piece Be With You sit on my hutch, ready to be packed up and posted.  And the Scrapbuster Swap blocks were mailed weeks ago. 

     It was such a relief to get those blocks done, because I had a commitment to this guy:

Yesterday was his 2nd birthday, and I promised to make him a birthday cake from scratch.  He talked all day about his birthday cake and being "2 old."  We celebrated by having our special occasion dinner (Pan-Roasted Pork Pork Loin with Leeks over rice), followed by an eggless vanilla and chocolate cake with ice-cream.  It's pretty amusing to watch a 2 year old open gifts. 

     The only other thing I've got with a hard and fast deadline is the Habitat Challenge through BAMQG.  We were given fat eighths of Jay McCarroll's Habitat in the Brights colorway .  Here they are in their uncut glory:

     There are a couple of ideas percolating in my head.  The first is one which involves a lot of applique which would be beyond my skill level and patience.  The second idea is much simpler.  Given the impending deadline, I think the second one is the way to go.  Could be cool, could be a disaster. 

09 October 2011

The devil is in the details- Girl Skipping Rope take 2

     After 3 days of sewing, unsewing, design tweaking, and re-working an entire section, the first paper-pieced block I've ever designed and drafted on my own is done.  So much work never went into a 10-inch block!  
     Meet Ginger:


She's more than a little patchy- a testament to my lack of paper-piecing skills.  The head section was the part I had to tweak.  Those pesky y-seams!  The second incarnation was done without them, and came out much neater.  There are a few other spots that didn't need to be chopped up so much, but I wasn't looking at the big picture when I was piecing, and then the block came out a rectangle.  For me, squaring up meant adding fabric, not trimming back! 
    Nevertheless, I think she turned out well (I can't bring myself to refer to her as an inanimate object.  We spent too much time together).  I'm very sad to see her go (as are my children), but this week she'll be on her way to her new home in Melbourne, Australia.  Hope you like her, Jane! 
     Next month's Piece Bee With You block shouldn't be so much of a struggle for me now that I've got one under my belt.  Some takeaways from constructing Ginger:
  • The first sketch should not be the final draft
  • Draft the design using squares, rectangles and triangles.  Here I did the opposite- chopping the design up into squares, rectangles and triangles, which resulted in umpteen teeny pieces
  • Avoid y-seams if at all possible
  • Know the targeted block size beforehand
  • Measure twice, cut once (an oldie but goodie)
Just for fun, here is a pictorial history of Ginger's progression (first blogged here):

07 October 2011

girl skipping rope

     Oh my sainted aunt!  I jumped in feet first with this block!  For the Piece Bee With You October block, I sketched out this for Jane, who requested girls in dresses.  All those tiny pieces- what was I thinking?  I'll tell you what I was thinking... I fell in love with the sketch and knew she had to be made.  So post her in the swap's Flickr pool I did, to make it official.  Now I'm committed.
     See how nicely the lower half of her body came out?

 She was easy, until I got to her upper extremities.  So many teeny pieces of fabric to maneuver through my beloved, if temperamental, machine.  There are a couple of places where y-seams are required- putting those newly acquired skills to use (though still in the process of trying to master them).  Because of this, and the teensy weensy pieces in the top third of the block, a few bulky spots were unavoidable.  I'm hoping that the recipient will love her so much that she won't notice :)
   p.s. I unintentionally worked some Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope into the block.  I was looking for green in my stash to represent grass, and this was the only thing that could pass.  How neat is that?

05 October 2011

Letting go- sort of

     I have made my first ever improvisational block.  It took most of the day yesterday because little K is in this phase of needing me to be right there alongside him.  Or he needs to be a part of whatever I'm doing.  Not good when I'm trying to sew- he's tends to make a grab at all of the pointy tools.
     Working without a pattern was a wonderful experience- very liberating.  I must confess, however, that I thought making improv blocks would be quick and easy.  Not so- there was a lot of forethought and "unsewing" in the production of this block.  I wanted to make sure that the fabrics were balanced throughout.  I also had to have a crash course in Y seams (thank goodness for youtube).  I'm very happy with the results, but I fear the little blue and white striped triangle in the bottom right corner is going to be swallowed by sashing.     
    Anyway, without further ado, here's Dustin's Red X block for the Design Camp [think outside the block] Swap:

    It was great to work with fabrics I normally don't work with in my projects (although the brown herringbone came from my stash).  The older kids saw the unfinished block on the table yesterday when they came home from school.  They both LOVE the fabrics, and when I told them it was for someone else they were sorely disappointed.  Little momma even went so far as to suggest that I go out and buy all the same fabric and make a quilt for us! 
     I feel inspired to quilt fabric other than quilting fabric.  I kept a pile of the hubby's work shirts that were marked for donation, thinking I would make them into a quilt.  I hear them calling my name.