June 30, 2010

Technology is making me a better quilter

Exhibit A: Flickr app for iPhone. Thousands of quilt pictures whenever I want!

Exhibit B: camera phone. Taking pictures of works in progress allows me to remember where I was months later when I pick them back up. Also helps me keep things straight as I sew, without continually having to lay things back out. Less up and down from the machine.

Exhibit C: Sketchbook Express iPhone app. Allows me to sketch ideas as I have them. Whenever they strike!

June 28, 2010


It was a long wet spring here in Oregon but finally finally the sun is shining, and flowers are exploding into bloom. Look at what I picked from our own garden!

And with the heat came an excuse to try that elderflower syrup. I use four tablespoons syrup, some ice and club soda. Mmmmmm. I will be making this again next year. I might increase the amount of sugar, and, as Sandra suggested, I may boil the syrup again afterward, to give it a longer shelf life. What a delicious reason to be using those coasters.

June 27, 2010

Making it happen

Hey! Less than a month ago I bought some fabric and now it's been turned into coasters. In mom time that's practically instantaneous.

Our previous coasters were relegated somewhere high up about a year ago. It will be so nice to have somewhere to set our glasses besides stray envelopes and magazines. I like the feeling of following through on my ideas, even when they're small.

June 24, 2010

Wedding quilt process post #1

Aw. That's sweet. This happened four years ago. Four years? Wow. A few days before the wedding I got a Great Idea. I would make a wedding quilt. Every guest at the ceremony would take a piece of fabric and make a prayer or wish or blessing for us and I would use the fabrics to make a quilt.

It was a sweet part of the ceremony. It was also like a hundred degrees out, and these puppies doubled as handkerchiefs for sweaty guests. Half of our friends watched my dad mop his brow with his and told us we "should wash them". Anyway, guess what's happened with those fabrics over the past four years?

Yeah. Sad. Despite the new home ownership, the graduate school and the breeding in the intervening years, the real reason this quilt hasn't gone anywhere is a case of quilter's paralysis. First of all, I shopped for these fabrics in an incredible rush and without much fabric choosing experience. Would I have chosen these same fabrics today? Heck no. So when I look at these fabrics I am a little perplexed. My husband, for his part, requested that the quilt "not look like a regular quilt". So I have a bin full of fabrics I don't love, and I need to turn it into a quilt that doesn't look like a regular quilt.

As my current quilt project nears completion, I find myself pondering this quilt constantly. I want it done so so bad. During nap time today I got the bin out and counted and measured the pieces, and thought about how I want this to go. I want the piecing to be simple enough to not stall out for the next two years. I want the design to symbolize togetherness in some way. I want to use at least a piece of all 65 scraps of fabric in that bin. And I would like, at the end of it, for us to actually use that quilt on our queen sized bed. So. That's where I am. I've got a couple ideas that I'll share with you next time but I welcome any thoughts on this matter!

June 22, 2010

Spare batting and a toddler

I cut some shapes out of felt and let the little one stick them on this scrap of batting. It was fun for about 5 minutes. I think her dad played with it more than she did! I'm leaving the batting up, we'll see if it takes.

June 20, 2010

Crumb control

Have you heard of crumb piecing? Taking those teeny little pieces of fabric you just can't throw away and piecing them together at random to create blocks? The quilt above has crumb pieced blocks. I like it well enough, probably because of the limited palette of colors. Sometimes when scraps from far and wide are included, crumb blocks can get downright wild, a bit much for me and my style of quilting.

 Here is what I am working on; sewing together crumbs grouped by color. They have all the fun of improvisational piecing but a little more controlled. I'm excited to see what these become.I am considering bordering them with yellow, or as the centers of sawtooth stars or churn dash blocks.

June 18, 2010

Wired for quilts

I was inspired by this stack of my husband's Wired magazines. The spines look like patchwork!


Looks like someone has a quilt almost done, doesn't it?

June 14, 2010

If it was a year ago

Then it would have been the perfect time to have completed this onesie! I think dandelions are so pretty. Probably because I don't take care of the yard.

I machine sewed the muslin dandelion heads with a raw edge and embroidered the seeds a year ago but only just got those stems embroidered this week (thinking of my friend Laura, embroidery muse, the whole time). A sweet little finish too late to fit my little one. So, breeders, next one with a girl is probably getting this.

June 12, 2010

Sewing for men

I consider it no minor achievement that I have altered a couple shirts and my husband actually wears them. To work. In public. Something that I stitched. I know, you're speechless.

I probably have it easier than a lot of sewists in the "my guy won't wear stuff I make" category. Here's a guy who likes to go to Burning Man and always wants things that are a little "different", things with an edge. But not a girly edge. And not too different. Trying to strike that balance sometimes paralyzes me. Sorry for all the rumpliness. One of the shirts had just been worn and the other is clean but I only use my iron for quilting. Ha!

This one has black fabric satin stitch appliqued and then stitching added for detail. I didn't use any fusible anything, just spray starch and a glue stick, in a process I will elaborate upon sometime in the future.

This one has a branch pattern free motion stitched over "Ultra Solvy" on which I had drawn the pattern I wanted to stitch. I then washed away the Ultra Solvy in water, leaving just the stitching. Like the process above, I'll have to do it again sometime and remember to take pictures.

June 10, 2010

If I were some hexagons

What would I want to become? A pillow?

Do I even need a pillow?

June 08, 2010

Oh Seattle

We spent Memorial Day getting rained on in Seattle instead of getting rained on in Portland. The picture above was taken on Pike street where there is a quirky fabric store right next to the super sex positive Babeland. My two great interests right next to each other. Always makes me smile.

I like getting fabric as a souvenir when I travel, so I got small cuts of these Echino prints. I think I'll be making some quilted coasters out of these strange treasures. I find those bicycles especially charming!  I justified the outrageous imported-from-Japan prices by pointing out to myself all the different prints in one fabric. "It's like getting three fabrics in one!" I reasoned. This is what a crazy person sounds like.

June 06, 2010

Let's be European!

I had the good fortune of receiving a gift from Sandra all the way in Switzerland. (I got super lucky on Giveaway Day and won her drawing in addition to Megs!) She sent me a book, the Crafter's Companion, and four beautiful green fabrics. I so enjoy receiving fabrics from other countries! They are usually fabrics that don't make it to the US, so I feel very special having them in my stash. I can pretend I'm worldly.  Thank you Sandra!

I also enjoy yummy Swiss chocolate, a sweet extra that Sandra included, and I guess my daughter does too. Check out the blur of motion as she swooped in to steal a chocolate during my photo shoot.

This weekend I made elderflower syrup. My husband and I planted two different strains a couple years ago. Thus far we have left all the flowerheads to produce berries. This year the plants are three times as big as last year and completely unwieldy and I decided they could spare a few. I felt a little overwhelmed trying to process all the berries last year so I can only imagine what this year will be like. Plus, I've read lots of praise for the delicate flavor of elderflower syrup (mostly from Europeans - see where I'm going here?). I intend to mix my syrup with some club soda for a refreshing drink once we all stop complaining about the rain and start complaining about the heat.

In case you also have a yard being overtaken by these beasts, here is how I made mine. I haven't tasted it yet so we'll be in this experiment together.

1.5 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
1 lemon, thinly sliced
8-10 elderberry flower heads. Be sure the blooms have opened but none have started to brown. Inspect for and remove any debris or bugs. Do not rinse.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, simmer together until all sugar is dissolved. This is a "simple syrup". Let it cool to lukewarm. Pile the elderflowers and lemons in a clean glass jar. Pour the syrup over them. Leave in a sunny location for 2-3 days, then strain out the flowers and lemons. Store in the refrigerator. I'll let you know how it turns out!