Saturday, July 30, 2011

More fabric love: Planning a baby quilt

I had fun this morning pulling favorite fabrics from my stash and combining them with some fat quarters I purchased last week to make a  quilt for a new baby I'm going to be meeting soon.  I'm really feeling inspired to go wild with prints and colors, and I'm looking forward to doing some improvisational piecing.  Stay tuned -- this is going to be a wild ride!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fabric Love

Today I put some of my favorite fabrics up on the wall.  They are all (except one) from my vintage fabric collection and it was hard to cut into them, but I love seeing them together.

They look terrific with the "My House" quilt in my bedroom.

To secure the fabric in the hoops, I trimmed the fabric to about 1/2 inch larger than its embroidery or quilting hoop, then ran a line of hot-glue down the edge of the hoop and pressed the fabric down over it.  Some of the excess fabric is still hanging over the back end of the hoop, but it doesn't show and it doesn't look bad in the back.  The hardest part was not burning my fingers on the glue.

Now I am getting ready to make a baby quilt and at least a half dozen other things.  My studio looks like Santa's workshop walked in and exploded inside it.  I have a feeling it's going to be this way for a while...

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ten Things: Four

Lately I have been thinking about my Great Aunt A.  I would tell you that she taught me how to crochet, but that isn't strictly true.  She taught me to crochet, while I was teaching myself how to crochet; that is, that crocheting is a worthwhile pastime and can produce valuable, desirable finished objects.  Likewise, she taught me about sewing, embroidering and other needle-crafts.

Aunt A. was a remarkable needle-worker herself and had made beautiful clothing for my mother (and her dolls) when my mother was a child, and had moved on to afghans and pillow-cases and crocheted lace Christmas angels as she grew older.  She never did anything less than her best work.

I would work next to her with my crochet hook or embroidery needle, and from time to time look for her approval.  She was always gentle and kind; the worst thing she ever said was, "You didn't do a good job."

I hear those words now as I look at a crooked seam, a split stitch or a sloppy join.  They don't always make me go back and redo my work -- sometimes it isn't worth it -- but they always make me think.

First, that I should always do my best work, that there is no excuse for that.  I try to remember that and, if I am tired or just don't feel like sewing or knitting, stop.

Second, that kindness and gentleness go far in this world.  They go farther than we can ever know.  I try to remember that and moderate my words and tone whenever I speak.  This is very hard.

Aunt A. died before she knew of the influence she had on my life.  I tell K stories about her while we sew together, and I hope that K will know some of the goodness and richness that my aunt brought to my life.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Anniversary Quilt

    Congratulations! To my parents-in-law, on forty amazing years of marriage!  Wow!

    To celebrate, a whole bunch of us got together and made are making a quilt.

    Last spring, we all went to the quilting store together to pick out fabric.  We took over the place with our scraps of paper and calculator-phones, pulling out bolts and fat quarters every which way.  It took a long time to choose.

    Then we went to the four corners of the earth our respective homes, in four different states.  Many, many emails and Fed-Exes of replacement fabric ensued.  

    Two people did embroidery, one person pieced the border, and another person pieced the quilt top.  They sent everything to me, and I sewed the border onto the quilt.  Now it looks like this:

     Here's a close-up of the embroidery:

    I marked the quilt top with an off-center diagonal pattern and basted it with the batting and backing.  I did some of the quilting, but had some trouble with my machine, so did not finish the quilt in time for the anniversary celebration.  I think my parents-in-law were pleased to see the unfinished quilt, though, and will be glad to have it when I can do the quilting properly.

    It moves me that we were able to pull this together, even if we didn't quite come up with a finished product.  I think it says a lot about my in-laws -- who are, indeed, a remarkable couple whom I have always known to "Choose life!"

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    SCI Knitting -- July Update

    Here is a sampling of the hand-knits we have received to go to the Seafarers at Christmas -- aren't they magnificent?

    Some are done by veteran knitters and some by absolute beginners, and all were made lovingly and with great care for the intended recipients.  I am told there are plenty more in the works!

    I think I admire most about this project is the zeal with which so many knitters have taken it up -- they are not stopping at one scarf; I get quite a number of hat-and-scarf combos, and often multiples.  Also, there have been several women who had not knitted a stitch before this project started but who have found ways to learn the ropes and have become amazingly productive knitters.

    The deadline for our church's part in the SCI knitting project must be October 15, because of the work involved in putting together the ditty bags for the Seamen's Christmas.  With that in mind, it is time to start thinking about the future of our knitting group, and considering other causes for which we might want to knit.

    I will be addressing this subject at the next Knitting Group meeting on July 21; please attend this meeting if you are able.  If not, you can drop me an email or leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the matter if you wish, and I will share them with the group.  

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    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Christmas Bazaar Crafting -- Patchwork Ornament

    Last night's project for the Christmas Bazaar Crafting Group:  a "Quilted Christmas Ornament."

    I love that this is a no-sew project!  It is tricky to get the hang of making these, and they are a bit time-consuming, but the results are so satisfying!  I hope we can make a handful to sell.  

    Full tutorial can be found at Pot Holders and Panty Hose.

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    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Journal Cozy

    I love my patchwork Moleskine notebooks so much that I dislike writing in plain ones anymore -- to the point that I will avoid making notes until I have time to decorate a new notebook.  (I know that's ridiculous.)  Then inspiration hit, in the form of an embellished Ann Taylor sweater from the thrift store.  Why not make a journal cozy that I could reuse?

    It took a lot of improvisation to get to this design.  Some things I learned:
    • Don't try to machine-sew over beads and sequins.  Just don't.
    • It might be a good idea to use some stabilizer if you're going to sew satin ribbon to sweater fabric.  If you plan to do this, make sure ahead of time that you have some on hand.  Otherwise, you might have to change your plans.
    • Sometimes you end up with a significantly different-looking finished product than you envisioned.
    • From my young friend Miss R. -- ‎"Don't be afraid it won't be perfect, the only thing to be afraid of really is that it won't BE."

    Instead of binding the edges with pink satin ribbon or hemming them, I had to opted to zig-zag them with pink and purple thread.  Rather than try to get the stitching "just so," which I knew I couldn't do, I went over the stitching several times in different colors for a layered effect.  I like the way it turned out.

    To finish, I zig-zagged a double length of grosgrain ribbon into the back my new notebook for place-holders, letting the stitching go a bit wonky once again.

    What a fun project!  I will be interested to see how useful this turns out to be.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Checking in

    This is just a quick post to let you know that I haven't disappeared off the face of the Earth.  We have returned from our vacation and are still setting things to rights, and I am working on a major project (to be unveiled here soon) and have many smaller projects in the works.  Also look for updates on SCI knitting and Christmas bazaar crafting.  Hope you are all well and doing whatever you love with whomever you love!