Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's Been One of THOSE Weeks

The kind of week where I felt like it was Thursday or possibly even Friday and I realize, it's Tuesday afternoon.  The kind of week where for the past 3 days I haven't touched a sewing machine, haven't touched fabric altogether, other than blankets and clothing (not made by me).  The kind of week where the only me time I really get is while I'm eating.  And since I can't type or sew and eat at the same time, it was used to do other things.  It's sad, because before this week I managed to finish sewing all my tiny one inch squares and I took pictures while I did it to make a little tutorial.  (It will happen eventually, but not tonight).  I needed to get them off the ironing board, so I grabbed an extra strip of batting left over from a quilt and hung it on the wall.  Here it is with about half the squares on it.

So imagine my horror/sadness when I walked in to see this...

Clearly blue tape was a poor choice.
It has looked like this since Saturday.  I haven't had the time to fix it (since now everything will be out of order) and so I have left it where it lies.  

But I look forward to the weekend - I have finally thought of a solution for practicing my free motion quilting.  And my amazing husband bought me a foot for it while I was away the weekend before last.  Best welcome home present, ever! I do love him.

See you soon...
(...I hope, with something crafty having been done?!!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Broke a Rule...because I like my things to be Something!

When I got into this love of quilting, I set rules for myself.  I could see that other quilters tended to fall into certain habits or have similar struggles and I wanted to save myself from that.  So I made rules.  Very simple rules. 

1)  I only work on one quilt at a time.  ( I can do other sewing and creative things, but only one quilt)
2)  I don't buy fabric for a new quilt until the last quilt I worked on is complete.  Completely complete.  (I haven't done any hand quilting or hand binding yet.  If I ever do, that will be an exception because I have tendonitis issues and I wouldn't want to stress my hands out just to hurry to get to the next quilt).
3) I don't buy fabric unless it's for the quilt I am working on.  (I just found a local quilt store and I suddenly understood why quilters just buy a yard of this, a fat quarter of that.  There are amazing fabrics and I want to use them.  But I'll just have to plan a quilt around them and put it in line!)
4) I don't make a quilt unless it has a purpose.  (Lately those purposes have been gifts for family and friends.  At some point I may run out of people to gift to and I might try selling them on etsy but for now, I want it to be more personal)

I love my rules.  It helps me not spend all of my time and money on quilting (which I probably would if I didn't have rules because I come up with new quilt ideas almost every other day.  It doesn't help that I'm in math classes with graph paper so if I get a little day dreamy I can sketch out my hearts content of Half Square Triangles).  It helps me focus on one thing and have the awesome feeling of accomplishing something and be excited to move onto the next instead of looking at the list of unfinished things to be done.  

So now to the rule breaking.  I have a really good reason (said everyone who has ever broken a rule).  The GillyWhig quilt is sitting in my craft room, backing pieced and batting preshrunk and everything ready to baste for quilting.  But I reeeeeaaally want to free motion quilt it.  I have this awesome idea of clouds and swirly lines representing wind (to blow the whirlygigs).  However!...I have never done free motion quilting.  I need to practice on something.  And for some reason I'm having a hard time just taking extra fabric and batting and practicing.  I still want my practice to be Something, not just a throw away.  Is that crazy?  It sounds like it when I say it, but in my heart, I feel like it's not.  Because I'm a maker and I want my practice to still make something.  (This is me, I kept the first cable swatch I knit - using a pencil because I didn't have a cable hook or stitch holder - and I used it for the handle of a purse I made from an old ski hat around a year later.  So I think it's just part of who I am.)

I started another quilt.  And here come some more excuses.  
A-it's not a full quilt, it's only a wall hanging, probably around 2 feet square
B-it's something I'm going to love for more than one reason (and I don't like making things I don't love)
C-the piecing is a trial run for an idea I had for another larger quilt  (see?  I like my practice stuff to still be Something!)
D-all the fabric I've used for it has been scraps so far (impressive since I buy just a few inches more of what I need, typically (I'm on a budget!) and I only have scraps from 2 quilts)

These are my stacks of 1" cut squares.  Yep, they're going to be 1/2" finished.  Mini is so adorable.  I love them!  I sort of want to be surrounded by towers of 1" squares of fabric.  How can I add this into the decor???

Of course, now that I've started this quilt, I don't want to mess it up with a first attempt at free motion.  So I'm back to my old problem.  My sister said just practice on some big square that can be turned into potholders.  So something along those lines.  Maybe a cute bag or something instead, though.  Potholders never held much interest in my mind.  And I only make what I love, so a bag would work, yeah?  What are your ideas?

See you soon!
(with a look at how I'm making my illegal wall hanging!)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Brother Younger! I Made You A Bag!!

His birthday present was only 2 weeks late.  That's sort of a great record in our family.  I'm feeling a little proud of myself.  He had asked for a messenger bag a little while ago.  Really simple: one big pocket that could fit his laptop and a few extra thin notebooks.

He goes to the University of Utah, so I decided to spice the black up with some red.  A little subliminal support.  I'm in love with it.

The fabric is some heavy weave, tougher than just quilting or apparel cotton, but I think it was still cotton.  I got it at a thrift store and all it had was a price on it.  I'll have to take it in to a store someday and compare it to the fabrics they sell to figure out what it is!  It's a great weight for this project.  I made the two pattern pieces, then just cut a 1.5" strip out of both of them and sewed them into the opposite colored side to get the stripes.  I feel like racing when I see them.

The straps were tubes sewn and turned right side out (with a show on and a safety pin...slightly tedious, but worth it).  To keep it from shifting and for some fun detail I ironed it with the seam on the center back of the tube instead of the side and zig zagged a stitch down the seam through both sides.  

I knew I wanted an adjustable strap, mostly since I didn't know how long my brother's torso  He could also cinch it up if he was riding his bike or let it out a bit if he was wearing a super pouffy jacket.  Problem is, adjustable strap hardware is not really available on short term notice.  Basically you have to order it online.

However, if you happen to be roaming the aisles of Lowe's looking for alternatives at 9 at night, you might run into a great salesman with a sweet red beard who will give you a list of other places you could try (a few fabric/craft shops I was unaware of) and then say "You could always go to DI or Goodwill and buy a bag from there and use the hardware from it".  Genius, bearded Lowe's man, genius.

So that's what I did.  Got a sketchy, sort of smelly old leather suit/brief case for $3 and cut up the strap for the hardware.  (I am even considering re-donating it.  Is that bad to give it back without the strap?  It still has handles!  I'll mull it over a little more. )  I love that it has the clips (which my husband had suggested I do and I was skeptical - husband, you were on the money!), because the strap can be switched to have the adjustable part across his front or back. 

He also slings it across his right shoulder (which I thought was weird, having always had messenger bags slung from my left shoulder as a right handed person, and my brother younger is also right handed) so it can work if he lets a friend borrow it, or if I wear it around for the day before I give it to him...which I wouldn't (would I?).   It's quite simple, but it feels so well made!  (Sorry to brag, but I think it turned out really well).  I'm trying to figure out what color scheme I want to make mine in.

I didn't put any interfacing or fusible webbing or batting in it.  One, I only own the latter of the three afore mentioned items, and I like to just use what I have when possible.  Really, though, I wanted to keep it simple and lightweight and flexible.  I like that it conforms to the body's curves if it isn't full of a stiff laptop.  I never liked those people carrying around bags that stuck out from there far enough that I thought they needed a 'wide load' sign on it.  

So I left it simple.  But I have officially tagged my first item.  I have been working on these cross stitched tags for a while (sitting in church, sitting in class, sitting in the passenger seat, etc).  I showed my brother and asked him what color he wanted.  

I completely agreed with his color choice.  The green.  Love it!  (Actually, the top three colors, the gray, green and purple, will probably be a quilt color theme.  With the blue thrown in for some weight?)  Point being, loved his choice.  Then he asked for the half finished one.  The one that I ran out of thread on so I moved on to the next color, leaving the green to be finished later.  But that's what he wanted, and he is the birthday boy.  So that's what he got!  (Sorry I didn't get a picture of it sewn in.)

On another funny note of silly family being ridiculous, this is what my husband brought to me for breakfast when we first moved in to our new place (we couldn't find any bowls).  It's a gelato cup full of about 6 shredded mini wheats.  A mini cup full of mini wheats.  My husband is adorable.

See you soon!
(...with updates on whirligigs!)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Knit Baby Blanket

We are moved in to our house, but we are not unpacked much at all.  So I give you another previously completed project...the knitted baby blanket!

I don't know if I will ever knit a blanket again.  It takes a looooooong time.  I had planned on making it bigger, but I wasn't knitting fast enough to keep up with the growing baby girl I was gifting it to.  So at one point I just said - I'm done!

I love that it looks like a candy cane! (Yes, the girl was born around Thanksgiving and this picture is near Christmas, so it was time to let it go).  

I used this pattern, super simple, super cute.  The only fancy technique is doing yarn overs and dropping those stitches in the next row.  (And switching colors at the ends of rows, not too bad). It's also easy enough to remember the pattern, so you don't have to keep checking back to make sure you're doing it right.

Yay for cute babies!  I'm definitely sticking to smaller projects for them in the future!  Like these hats, or this blanket.

See you soon!
(...with some more recent projects?)

Monday, September 2, 2013

We have a House! And a wedding.

Our story has had some ups and downs lately.  We moved back to Idaho from Seattle and thought we had a townhouse to move back into.  It was all set, we checked it out, it was getting cleaned and then we'd be good to move in.  Until it was sold!?!  We were never told it was on the market so imagine our surprise!  That was on Thursday.  So I checked out 7 houses on Friday.  We talked with the owner on Saturday and started moving in on Sunday.  We are still very much Not set up, so I have not been doing much crafting.  Hence these last few posts have been older crafts.  So here's today's.  

My husband's niece (my niece as well I guess?  It was weird to marry and suddenly be an aunt to 9 kids) got married in January.  (She's not a kid, I guess).  With her parents both being teachers and not much time for planning/creating her wedding, I volunteered to come help for the week before since I didn't start school until after the wedding.

I had all sorts of fun, checking out thrift stores (where we got these cute metal baskets that I got to keep in the end!) to find cheap but cute ways to decorate.  I got to try these string balls, wrapped around balloons.  It was messy, but it was fun and they looked awesome.  We made some (close to 100) tissue paper flowers as well, the big ones!  No pictures of those.

For her shower I made her some pillow cases (and I was nice and gave her pillows inside the cases as well.)  I saw these somewhere (and for some reason I took a picture of them on my computer screen instead of bookmarking or pinning them).  So off to JoAnn I went!

I like them!  I made simple envelope back cases.  I used Martha Stewarts tutorial. The hard part was freezer paper stenciling the letters on.  We printed the writing out and my husband and I slaved away with exacto knives, trying to cut tiiiiiny lines out.  We were a little off on the spacing of the words, but I think it still looks awesome. They love Dr. Who so I tried to get a Tardis-ish blue.  Not that you would think that looking at it.  But I thought of it.

To make them a little more exciting I decided to add a button placket on Mr. Right's, just taking a strip of fabric, folding it in 3rds and stewing it on an angle on the case.  I sewed the buttons on after (I think they're still pinned in this picture!)

For Mrs. Always Right I made some ruffles.  To be honest, I can't remember the method I used, but I'm going to guess it was the - sew down the middle with a basting stitch (twice, perhaps?) and pull them to create the ruffle, then I stitched it down the center of the ruffle on the opposite corner of the Mr.'s.  Just for a little necessary girliness.  

I also found these Amazing shoes at target for $10.  Green and shiny silver, I loooove them!

It also snowed like crazy.  That's my car.  I think it looks like a giant monster took a swat at it.  So much snow.

I also made my first bouquet.  Just roses.  Simple is good for me.  But I think it turned out great.  I made two boutonnieres for Mr. Right as well, but I wasn't great at pictures this trip, so no pictures. 

I hope you've enjoyed my trip down memory lane.

See you soon!
(with pictures of a new craft room?  and a new craft??)