May 30, 2010

Easy toddler craft

The Little One and I made some cards for Mother's Day. She has a real affinity for these little scrap paper circles that I cut out with circle punches. That affinity usually means putting them in her mouth. I was able to keep her interested enough to get three cards made before it all deteriorated into paper eating. I put glue on the circles and she pressed them down. As you can see, we worked with a couple "palettes". Then we went to her collection of coloring papers and made envelopes to send them in. I think the grandmas liked it.

May 28, 2010

Hexagons. They're happening.

I spent most of last weekend in my rocking chair with a sweaty, feverish toddler on me.  Oooh, my tailbone is sore! Anyway, there is a limit to how many times I can check my email on my iPhone so I eventually got a little hexagon sewing in too.
 When the Little One recovered she decided hexagons are pretty fun to crush, scatter and/or collect.
 I see how these hexagons can be addicting. Simple, mindless sewing. You get the tactile and visual rewards of stitching without having to make any actual design decisions. A long drive lays ahead of us in the near future and I'm going to make sure I have plenty little templates cut out for the journey.

May 26, 2010

Cosmic Potholder Swapping

Giveaway Day came and went and when the dust had settled I had won some potholders from local quilty blogger Megs who kindly dropped them off instead of mailing them! When she did we had a crazy mama conversation on my porch that went like this (paraphrased)
Me: Hi! Sorry I'm bedraggled, I was up all night with my daughter and her ear infection
Megs: (whispering) Sorry I just lost my voice, my whole family's been sick
Me: (looking nervously toward my daughter climbing on the rocking chair) Thanks for the giveaway, it's so nice of you
Megs: (looking nervously toward her car) Of course! Sorry I can't stay, my kid's in the car.

I loved it! We were both badly needing a nap and monitoring the little ones...but still having a brief quilt-blog-turned-real-life moment. Check out the swag Megs bequeathed to me: not only potholders so much more lovely than the outlet mall potholders we've used for years, but scraps of fabric! Some glorious fruit and veggie prints as well as some great little charm squares. 
So sweet. And, as luck would have it, I also recently gifted some potholders. I had been patiently waiting to post about them until all their recipients had them in hand, but I can't wait any longer! When the appendicitis fairy gave me some sewing time (be careful what you wish for, eh?) I immediately turned to my box of orphan patchwork to make some potholders. 

 Every one of these was somehow mis-sewn by me and needed my seam ripper to make things right. Most of the dysfunction came from treating purchased bias binding as some sort of magic product. When I started treating it like quilt binding things went much better. One potholder I tried doing without binding, by sewing and flipping. I screwed that one up the first time too! Maybe the Vicodin hadn't totally worn off?

I made these as part of a "pay it forward" that I signed up for about two years ago! The sign ups happened at the end of a long rambling post and I'm not sure that the people signing up knew what they were getting into. So, ladies, if you weren't intending to participate, no harm. If you want to keep it going though, you have a year to create something handmade for the first three people who sign up on your blog post! The fourth potholder is to go back to Kris, whose pay it forward prompted this one, and who adopted my little blog for some unknown reason. She nudges me when I don't post for months on end, comments on my posts to keep me going and even sent me a gift package when the Little One was born. Thanks for everything Kris! I may figure out how to be a good blogger after all, thanks to you!

May 22, 2010

My kind of quilt festival

This online quilt festival got me thinking...I have a quilt I've never posted about here! I just searched through my prior posts and I didn't see it. Though I did see this one which was made with its scraps.

I completed the quilt in 2005. This was the fourth quilt I started, and the third I completed. I was interested in testing some boundaries, and wanted to play with solids (which also happen to be cheaper and this was a very tight time for us financially). I didn't have any use or recipient in mind when I started. To my eye now it has similarities to the "Love Beads" pattern in "The Modern Quilt Workshop" however I'm 99% sure that I hadn't seen that book when I designed this quilt. The original intent was squares with rounded edges, not circles. The squares were to have smaller squares inside them. But when I went to assemble the quilt that didn't work out and eventually I ended up with plain circles.

The circles were not appliqued, they were quilted on in a spiral pattern after the quilt sandwich had been assembled. The edges were left raw to fray. I quilted the background with vertical lines and stars. The back was pieced of nearly every solid piece of fabric I had. Sometimes I like the back better, maybe because the quilting is easier to see. That block of mustard yellow really thrills me.

This quilt was a study in problem solving. It gave me some confidence in trying new things and lots of practice in free motion quilting. I don't particularly like the color scheme anymore but it still has an impact on house guests - it gets more attention than other quilts that I put way more time into. It spent a couple years on our bed, but now is our "outdoor quilt".  Even though it does not reflect my current aesthetic, it has a special place in my heart. And in my backyard.

What a great online quilt festival! I appreciate the kick in the pants to share this quilt with you.

May 21, 2010

Patchwork kitchen towel tutorial

So, as promised, here is a little tutorial on gussying up a kitchen towel with patchwork. I have made towels like this before, but I did those by turning the raw edge of the patchwork under. This involved a lot of time ironing, and an occasional burned finger. This time around I couldn't be bothered to get out the iron, so I used twill tape to cover the raw edges of the patchwork. Are you lazy like me? If so, read on.

Supplies needed:
  • A kitchen towel of some sort. I used these "barmop" towels not because I like them (I don't) but because they were the only plain towels available at the store when I went. In my mind's eye I picture these patchwork strips sewn on a sweet linen towel but alas, they are harder to come by than one would imagine.
  • A patchwork strip the width of your towel plus 2"
  • Twill tape, twice the width of your towel plus 4"
  • Basic sewing and cutting supplies.

Lay your patchwork strip across one end of the towel, evenly spaced from the bottom. My strip is shown about 2" from the bottom. Pin in place.

Get the starting edge ready (don't worry about the far end). Turn the raw edge of your patchwork under 1/2" so it is flush with the side edge of the towel. Pin in place. Align the twill tape over one edge of the patchwork so that the raw edge of the patchwork lies underneath the middle of the twill tape. Turn the twill tape under 1/2", so that the folded edge is flush with the edge of the towel and the patchwork.

Stitch along one side of the twill tape, as close to the edge as you can. Backstitch at the beginning. This thing is going to get washed a LOT.

Keep the twill tape aligned over the raw edge of the patchwork as you go. These crazy barmop towels stretched out as I sewed, which is why I recommend leaving yourself a little wiggle room with slightly longer lengths of patchwork and twill tape than you think you will need.

As you approach the other edge of the towel, fold under the raw edge of the patchwork so it is flush with the side edge of the towel. Estimate the length of twill tape required to reach the side edge of the towel plus 1/2" and cut the twill tape.

Fold the end of the twill tape under so it is flush with the side edge of the towel and patchwork.

When you reach the edge, pivot, stitch across the short edge of the twill tape.

Pivot again to return down the other side of the twill tape, again stitching as close to the edge as you can. When you reach the other edge, pivot to stitch up the remaining short side of the twill tape. (This step is not pictured!). Stop stitching, oriented to continue down the starting edge of the patchwork strip. Do not stitch yet though.

Set up the other raw edge the way you did the first, by folding under the edge of the remaining piece of twill tape, and centering it over the raw edge of the patchwork.

Now stitch down the side edge of the patchwork and over to the other twill tape. When you get to the tape, stop and pivot, stitch down the inner side of the twill tape (the side that overlaps the patchwork) close to the edge.

When you get to the other end, take the opportunity to sew down that loose side edge of the patchwork strip. I stitched down the side edge and then stopped and pivoted to stitch right back up over what I'd just stitched, to the remaining unsewn edge of the twill tape. (this step is not shown) Sew back up the final edge of the twill tape and the tape's final short edge, backstitch and you're done! (this step is not shown)

This is a pretty simple concept. I hope my pictures and attempts to explain haven't made it seem more complicated than it is. I would enjoy seeing anything you've made with inspiration from this tutorial!

May 20, 2010

That was fun!

Power to the people! I've never gotten so much enthusiastic email in my life - almost 400 comments for my little giveaway! picked #354, M and E - congratulations! An email has been sent to you.
I would say Giveaway Day was a huge success. I enjoyed hearing from new folks, reading new blogs and I am so pleased to discover some new followers here, how exciting. Thank you also to the two of you that emailed me about a hand quilter, I will be posting more as that develops.

May 19, 2010

Saying thanks

The nurse I had at the ER was amazing. The ER was packed, there was no bed for me, I was in tears from pain/anxiety and she was calm, efficient and reassuring. I knew she was keeping an eye on me as she came in and out of her triage room with other patients. She kept me up to date on my lab results as they came back and I felt very cared for through what could have been a scary experience.

Having the Little One at daycare this week allowed me to get a little sewing done (between naps!). I wanted to sew the nurse something to say thanks, so I turned to an old standby: stitching patchwork onto a towel. When I went to my post-op visit, on the hospital campus, I dropped it off for her with a little card.

This towel came together nice and quick so I made another one and took pictures of the process. You can probably see how I did them, but expect a tutorial in the near-ish future to eliminate any questions.

May 16, 2010

Giveaway Day!

**The Giveaway is over, comments are closed** Thanks for stopping by my first ever giveaway! It's Giveaway Day hosted by Sew Mama Sew and I'm giving away an Omnigrid cutting mat. The cutting area is 8 inches by 11 inches. This is for someone who needs to cut some small stuff!

To enter the drawing just leave a comment before noon PST on May 20. Additional entry: I am also trying to help a friend find someone who does HAND quilting (no machine involved!) for hire. Earn one additional entry if you email me a phone number (and any other contact info) for a quilter who does hand quilting for hire in your area. Click on my profile link above to see my email address. Winner will be chosen by random number generator. I'll post here and email the winner. Thanks again and happy giveaway day!

Shopping! Hexagons!

I haven't gone fabric shopping for about a year, save a fat quarter or two. That is perfectly appropriate because I also haven't been sewing much! But I took my birthday cash and did a year's worth of retail therapy at the monthly 35% off sale at the local humongous fabric store. I flirt with online fabric shopping at least once a month but never get around to actually purchasing. It's so much easier to see the fabric in person. Also, all the websites have a minimum 1/2 yard cut and I prefer quarters.

In other news I decided to try some hexagons. I got these sewn during my one hour wait for my post-op visit with the surgeon. And a few more (not pictured) were completed during the wee morning hours after the Little One coughed herself into a barf and I couldn't get back to sleep. Hexagons are a very convenient handcraft. I have a little kit in a bag with everything I need and it is easy to grab it when I think I might have a chance to stitch.
I really don't like traditional hexagon arrangements but seeing all the modern hexie layouts has inspired me. I would like a potholder to emerge out of this experiment, like the one here. I downloaded the 1" templates here. (I also bought some 1" precut templates at the fabric store and they are NOT the same size. I haven't measured to see which one's actually 1". So I guess my advice would be, whatever template you start with, plan to stick with it!)

I sew my hexagons a little different than other people seem to. I don't sew through the paper, all my stitches therefore stay on the backside. This way I can reuse the papers and they will be easy to remove when the time comes. We'll see if there's any downside to this when I go to stitch them together.

May 14, 2010

Free motion quilting

Several weeks ago I spent an evening sewing at Modern Domestic with the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. I did some "doodle quilting" where I insert little drawings in the middle of the stippling. It seems so much more personal than plain all over stippling.

The little bettle is my favorite. I chose the subjects to coordinate with the colors of the borders. There is also a blue and purple border but I couldn't get any good pictures of anything I'd quilted on those.

It's funny that this has been done for weeks but I'm only now posting about it. It is so hard for me to make that step of picture to computer in order to do the blogging. Expect a huge increase in my posts when a good blogger application is developed for the iPhone!

May 10, 2010

Oh Mama! What a ride!

My loving husband asked what I wanted for my birthday, which, lucky him, fell in the same week as Mother's Day, a double whammy he will be managing every year for the foreseeable future. He could hardly believe me when I said I wanted a day to sew. What? No iPad? No new sewing machine? No new laptop? No dear, but some flowers would be nice now that you mention it!
The flowers were obtained, as was a babysitter, and on my birthday we went to a restaurant that I had been wanting to try for months now. While we were there I was so giddy. "I feel like a celebrity!" I gushed. "You're just happy we're not chasing a toddler," he said.

It was exactly how I wanted to feel on my birthday. A little happy celebration, a break from the routine. Everything got weird after that. The Little One dove over me and out of our bed in the middle of the night, thankfully sustaining no injuries, but scaring me enough to keep me from falling back asleep. Then at work the next day I developed a stomach ache. Not any stomach ache. A pacing, leaning and eventually laying on the floor stomach ache.

I ended up having a coworker drive me to the Emergency Department where I learned that I am not a big weenie, I indeed had appendicitis! I went into surgery, I came out of surgery. I spent a night in the hospital, my first night ever away from the Little One, and was discharged the next morning.

I figure sewing on Vicodin is a good way to end up with a needle in your finger. So I've been napping instead. A few more days off before I return to work. Maybe I'll feel well enough to get that day of sewing in after all. In the meantime, I've been reminded that the routine isn't so bad and this mama has a lot to be thankful for (not the least of which is health insurance!).