27 January 2012

Make it work!

I have spent snippets of the last three days making something I've had all month to make.  I know... a day in the life a sewer (sewist?), eh?  After three attempts at installing the zipper, two attempts at sewing down the waistband, and countless ripped stitches, a poodle skirt is born.

I wasn't going to make this.  Martina has one of the speaking parts in a chorus performance tonight.  The role of Betty calls for a 1950's costume of a nice blouse with either capri pants or a poodle skirt.  I bought capri pants and thought that was the end of it.  Until the dress rehearsal two days ago.  Jivin' Judy showed up in a shimmery dress and the stage mother in me kicked in.  Little Jivin' Judy's not going to upstage Betty.  Not on my watch.

And so I rushed out to buy the materials to make this skirt.  Oh the pressure!  It felt a bit Project Runway-ish, and I could hear Tim Gunn barking "Make it work!" whilst standing over my shoulder, witnessing the many hiccups I was having with the construction.  A word to the wise- pin, pin, pin when sewing curves.  And if you're following the instructions for a centered zipper, make sure the instruction card doesn't accidentally get flipped over to the side for the lapped zipper instructions in the middle of installation.  These were lessons learned the hard way.

There are a few imperfection in the skirt, and I won't bother to go into detail, but on the whole it'll hold up for one night.  Martina will probably be a little sad I went with the Scottie instead of the Poodle, but there were too many poodle parts to applique, so Scottie dog it was.

Thank goodness Antonio doesn't have a speaking part in the performance.  I might have had to whip up a letterman jacket or some greaser outfit!

Raw edge appliqued Scottie
Giant batwings  --> poodle skirt

24 January 2012

Sewing the day away

It's hard to believe we're heading into the last week or so of the January.  I've got quite a bit of sewing on my plate for various bees and swaps.  Thank goodness for my local modern quilt guild's Sew Day over the weekend.  What quilter can resist the lure of a day of camaraderie and sewing?  Not I!  What a great opportunity to get those projects done (but more on that in a bit). 

One of the projects I brought along was my lot of red and teal wonky plus blocks from this Flickr swap.  Sadly, I couldn't use all the blocks I received from the swap because of the broad interpretation of red and teal, so my mission was to make replacements.   A fellow guild member who participated in the same swap was also making blocks for the same reason.  She and I traded a few fabrics and knocked out some blocks to supplement what we kept.  We donated the others to the guild for a charity quilt.  I've still got four more to make before these beauties can become a quilt top:

My bag was full of other projects I brought along (what was I thinking?), but in six hours of sewing time I only made four blocks.  If you've read my post about Open Sew at the local LQS, you'll see I'm a slow sewer.  Quite a bit of time was spent talking to the other guild members and admiring their work.  So many inspiring projects being made, among them Swoon blocks.  I've admired Swoon for a while but have been put off by the size of the blocks (24.5 inches!!!).  After seeing them at Sew Day and more on Flickr, I'm positively smitten and most probably will join the Swoon-Along.

The rest of my time was spent discussing guild charity business with the other charity co-coordinator.  There's an amazing spirit of generosity and good will in the guild.  Jennifer and I have received so much support for the newly launched charity program in the form of fabric and orphan block donations, ideas, and general enthusiasm.  There's been a high rate of participation in making blocks for our first charity project.  So far, we've got one completed quilt, one in the process of being quilted and bound by one of our guild members, and two more guild members took home blocks on Sew Day to make into quilt tops.  Not too shabby for the first month of the program!

18 January 2012

Yes ma'am

Goodness it feels like ages since I've written a blog post.  And, though I did finish hand-stitching the binding on a quilt a friend of mine made,  I haven't picked up any of my own projects since finishing up the Quilt for a Smile charity quilt over a week ago.  I should change my blog name to "Sew Lazy" or something similar.

Tonight should be a little more productive as it will be spent at Open Sew at the LQS.  I feel compelled to clean my machine before I head out, though.  I got schooled at the last Open Sew by a fellow quilter who was admiring my Singer 301a.  Noticing the dust bunnies as she removed the throat plate, she fussed about the need to keep my machine cleaned and oiled.  I must have had an empty look on my face, because she proceeded to clean the feed dogs and bobbin case and oil the machine!  The machine was a bit linty and dusty, but I honestly did clean it during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Either I need to find a less linty thread, or my house is dustier than I thought!

Apparently she felt the need to keep an eye on me.  As I was pressing the "Galaxy Star" paper pieced block I made (yes, after 3 hours at Open Sew all I had to show for it was one block), she tapped me on the shoulder and said "Excuse me... can I show you something?"  I got a lesson on how to "press" rather than "iron" my block.  Little did she know I was ironing the HE double L out of the block because, after sewing the four units together, it was an 1/8" short all around!  I'm sure she left that night shaking her head at the follies of the modern quilter.

Still 1/16" short- needs more "pressing"!


09 January 2012

Quilt for a Smile Status: Complete

Early this morning I stitched down the last inch of binding on my first completed project of the New Year: the Mod Mosaic quilt for Quilt for a Smile.  Not too bad of a turnaround time for me- I started this quilt the first week of December, had a quilt top two weeks later, and now a month later it's done.  It was based on Elizabeth Hartman's floor pillow tutorial, pieced from Patricia Bravo's studio scraps, and is destined for Project Linus (you can see other Quilt for a Smile projects here).   

Large cuts of fabric were used for the "tiles" because I wanted to maximize the yardage of Pure Elements in cabernet that came with the scraps (cutting it less meant I had less of a chance of running out of it).  Plus I was a little lazy. 

I tried to finish before the BAMQG meeting on Saturday, but I had a little binding drama Friday night.  Thankfully I decided to start hand-stitching at one of the corners, which happened to be one of two that were not totally square after I quilted the sandwich.  In trying to keep the binding straight when I was sewing it down, about 1/16"inch of batting was left exposed in each of these corners.  These were on the opposite end of where I joined the ends, and I thought I was going to have to rip back most of the binding.  Luckily, I was able to keep the un-sewing and re-sewing localized to the problem corners, but I had an unfinished quilt to show at the guild meeting.

This quilt is also the first completed project for the Finish-a-Long hosted by Quilter in the Gap.  It's early days, but I think I may have aimed a little low for Q1.  With one of three projects already finished in the first week of the quarter, I may be able to start a few projects to set myself up for Q2.

In the meantime, I'll be moving on to my next unfinished project, the Urban Chic quilt for Antonio, and hand-stitching the binding of a quilt made by a friend of mine.

02 January 2012

Finish-a-long: Q1

I thought I'd share a couple of notes my children posted on the refrigerator during the holidays.

Notice the difference in their tones.  Antonio was firm, but polite, in his note.  Smiley face and stars to generate a positive response.  Martina skipped the subtlety altogether.  The "thank you" is tacked on merely as an afterthought.  I guess they figured the time had come to stop asking me nicely when their projects would be finished and flat out demand that I finish them!

Rather than making a New Year's resolution to finish all of my WIP's, which just begs failure, I'm joining the Finish-a-long at Quilter in the Gap.

Rhonda had the brilliant idea of hosting a quarterly contest to encourage quilters everywhere to finish outstanding projects.  Projects we loved enough to start, but whatever the reason, we just didn't seem to get around completing.  The week before each quarter, we post a link to the projects we intend to finish during that particular quarter.  At quarter's end, we post a link to each completed project. 

At the top of my list for Q1 is the Mod Mosaic charity quilt top made for Project Linus in December 2011, fabric courtesy of Patricia Bravo (blogged here).  The backing fabric is in the bottom right corner.  This project needs to be sandwiched, quilted and bound. 

Next up is Antonio's Urban Chic quilt top, which I pieced in June 2011 (blogged here).  Backing fabric is in the bottom right corner.  To finish I need to sandwich, quilt and bind it.  My guy's been so patient.  I really should be a good mommy and finish this quilt. 

Finally, I have a baby quilt to make for my neighbor, whose baby boy was born on Christmas Day.  I have a stack of HST's and extra fabric leftover from this charity quilt I made earlier this year for 100 Quilts for Kids.  Since my neighbor admired the quilt so much, I'm going to make her the same quilt, minus the fabrics with pink tones in them.  To finish, I need to make more HST's, piece the top, then sandwich, quilt and bind it.

That's all I can handle this quarter.  There should have been another quilt on this list (the one Martina demanded I finish).  But since writing the note above, Martina has lost interest in her finished quilt top and has requested a new one.  It's to be a Mod Mosaic quilt using Patricia Bravo's Poetica in the Seafoam Symphony palette.  Thank goodness that collection isn't on the market yet!  Poetica is slated to be released in February, so that gives me a little time to finish up these other quilts.