Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fabric Obsession

It's more like a fabric website obsession. Ever have a week where things kind of fall in to place? That's how I feel after finding The Fat Quarter Shop.
I really don't like picking fabric for projects. It's ok, but I'm really bad at finding colors that work together. If I love a fabric and want to design a quilt around it, I do ok, but otherwise I don't really enjoy it.
I did not even realize (stupid, I know) that deigners make collecitons of fabric. Just never thought about it. Sometimes ten, even forty fabrics that all work beautifully together. And it gets better. You don't have to just buy it by the yard. They sell bundles. Fat quarters, fat eighths. Jelly rolls. Yes, jelly rolls. Long narrow strips of fabric all bundled up nice and cozy. But wait, there's more. Quilts are even designed using these cuts. Oh so cute quilts that mash dozens of colors together.
Once I get my next two projects underway, I'm placing a big, big order!

Project #5: Complete

Wedding sampler done! Almost. Waiting on Claddagh charm to come in mail. Then I can can get it framed. WooHoo!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Project #2: Complete

Yeah! Never mind that it took me from midnight to 5:30 am. I did it! I've only used my machine for small parts of a couple projects. It was time to learn. And it was SO fun!
First I had to sew on the ric-rac and then machine applique the fork and spoon. The pattern called for flowers, the Hubs suggested a fork and spoon. He always comes up with my good ideas. I do realize how horrible the applique job is. I'd recommend practicing sewing straight lines before attempting this. At least when I did the fork, I found I could narrow the stitch width to make it a little neater. I probably could have taken out the stitches and tried again (and again, and again), but I wanted it done so this was my first and only go at it.
The rest of the piecing went really quickly.
Pocket detail.
Gather, add pleats and waistband.
Done! I have to say I was surprised how much fun I had doing this. I thought the machine would be harder to use. I even had to wind a bobbin, and what fun that is! I bought some colored thread for my next project and I didn't want to have to wind bobbins. Silly me. Stay tuned for Project # 1!

Monday. Do it!

Monday is my favorite day of the week. I'm sure it would be much different if I had to go to work. But for me, it's a fresh start to a new week. Full of hope. I'm forever making plans, and making messes. I always think that THIS will be the week I catch up. It likely won't be, but I'll try. And I'll commit to finishing something.
What project are you having a hard time starting? Or finishing? Do it today!
I'll be working on Project #1 tonight.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beginner's Quilting Book

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn to quilt, especially if you don't know how to sew. I flipped through some books at Joann Fabrics, and this one looked easy to follow. It truly is, and I still refer back to it whenever I make something new. A lot of quilt patterns in magazines will give instructions for piecing the quilt top, then end with "quilt and bind as desired." It is nice to have this thourough step-by-step guide to use. Plus it has a couple of patterns that make great baby quilts!
It contains instructions for both hand and machine piecing, so it's good for sewers of all abilites.
Here is my first attempt at both sewing and quilting. It's a quilted Nine-Patch block. Lesson Number One.

Project #2: Apron

I don't need an apron. I do need to get some practice on a sewing machine.
Right now I piece and quilt by hand. I love buying yards of fabric, then washing and pressing it. Cutting it up into smaller pieces, rearranging them and sewing them back up whole again. Layering it all together, basting it all together, quilting it. Finishing with one of my favorite parts, the binding. Sewing that thin little strip all around the outside, folding it over the raw edges and stitching it in place. Nice perfect little corners.
I learned to sew while learning to piece quilts. Luckily for me, there are some nice books available with step by step instructions.
Problem is, doing it by hand is just so slow. I don't think I will ever machine quilt. I enjoy the process as much as the finished product. Maybe more. You can buy machines that pretty much quilt for you (I'm fairly certain they do- they are super expensive and gigantic). The result is really impressive, but for me there is no point in making a quilt, if *I* am not actually making it. Now I also said this about piecing the quilt top, but here I am, wanting to learn to use the machine. I might be willing to machine-piece, if I'm still going to hand quilt. It's just that I don't want to put in time time to learn. Templates have to be cut differently, seam allowances are different. Sewing through seams is different. But I have to try to say that I tried. And I do really hope to enjoy it. It would make my life easier.
So this little apron will be my practice piece for the machine. Not a lot of cutting. Just sewing on straight lines.

Project #3: Sampler Quilt

I bought this booklet back when I went on my first quilt-related shopping spree. I can't remember right now what it was that made me want to learn to quilt, but I know it was around Halloween four years ago because my first project was a little 9-square potholder in Halloween fabric.
Since then I've made a few baby quilts, and several Christmas items. I have wanted to make this, in part to learn some new techniques and just get in some good practice time.
Now is the perfect time; I'll make it for my living room! I just bought some fabric this weekend. My first trip to a fabric shop that wasn't Joann's. I hear that quality matters, but I'm wary of snobs. This is one of those times I could really use a quilt-mentor. When do you buy expensive fabric, and when do you buy cheap? And more importantly, is the expensive fabric always better quality, and the cheap always, well, cheap? Questions about fabric is actually what prompted me to start this blog. I wanted a way to find other blogs and websites, as well as to remember them. I had run across some great blogs about sewing and clothesmaking, complete with awesome tutorials, and I wanted to find them again. I'd also love to find a way to get input and answers from other quilters/crafters. As it turns out, I also have a lot to say. (The gift of gab, another of my few weaknesses).
I never did get any questions answered but I bought some fabric just the same. I was at the shop so long staring at the bolts, I felt I had to buy some to justify the time spent. I really wanted to find a medium green print print to plan my quilt around. Our living room is green. Our couches are green. The Hubs likes green. So I planned to make the quilt green and orange. I really wanted it to be funky, and I left with flowers. I couldn't find a green I loved, but I found a dark orange that was perfect. I don't even know what I'd call these colors but I think they have the right amounts of contrast. I have a poor color vocabulary, but I think the darks are equally dark, as well as the mediums. I like that I got a print for the background. I'm disapointed in the lack of funkiness, but I think the blocks will look nice.
Oh, and the fabric was expensive, but it is so heavy and soft. I've yet to wash it, but I believe it will be nice work with.

Home Is Where Your Stuff Is

Our little family just bought our first home. Due to the mobile nature of the Hubs' career, we've moved around a bit. Five moves in less than seven years. Four states, three time zones. Hundreds of white apartment walls.
Home is where your stuff is. That's one saying I've always liked. I truly have felt at home each place I have lived. Maybe not at our last apartment where we only unpacked enough to feel comfortable while we house-hunted. But other than that, once I dumped the contents of those totes and boxes, I was home.
Now that we're here, for good (knock on wood), I'm having an awful time decorating. I am getting way ahead of myself and I want the whole place to be decorated, co-ordinated, and all to match all of our future paint and furniture colors. Furniture we have no plans to buy, and paint we have no intenion of splashing on the walls any time soon.
I used to fancy myself a photograper. Our living room featured framed photos, stitched gifts, my own stitching. Bedrooms, more of the same. Now those things don't fit well. Our house is BIG. The walls aren't white. I have more rooms than things to hang.
In the back of my mind I've known how I want to decorate. I've known for a while, but forgot. Quilts! Quilts in all the rooms, quilts that use left-over pieces from a previous room. Or ones that use a common fabric. Quilts on quilt racks. This is likely where the dream always ends. That's a lot of quilts, on a lot of quilt racks. I don't have time to make these. But when I went to that local quilt show, I found the obvious, brilliant, answer. Wall quilts! They are small. They are (relatively) fast to make. They don't need to withstand washing. Oh the patterns, the fabrics, the techniques! I tend to not follow through on my grand plans, but this one has a shot.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Project #5: Wedding Sampler

I said I had four projects I wanted to start and/or finish. Wrong. There are five. This is the only one with a deadline though. July. My brother is getting married, and I'm so pleased. I love his future wife. I'm making them a wedding sampler. Typically, I steer away from making gifts like this. Is this something they really want hanging in their home? Is it their style? Fit in with their decor? I hate making gift receivers feel obligated to display something. Part of why I chose quilting to focus on. A quilt can be folded up and tossed in the closet if you don't like it. That being said, I do give these gifts.

She wears a claddagh ring; he has a shamrock tattoo. I think it works. Just got the last thread and beads in today, so I'm excited to start the finishing touches tonight.

This pattern is Shamrock Sampler from . I'm just swapping out their names for the alphabet. I love how this is turning out!


I spend so much time thinking about the things I want to do, or don't have time to do, but never find the time to actually do them. So that is my goal: work hard, play hard. Quality over quantity. I do not work; I stay home with my kids. Unlike a paying job, there is very little accountability. While pregnant and with a newborn, I was involved with baby/parenting message boards. What a world that is. Lots of moms have this idea that if they are home with their kids they are better than working moms. Better parents, better people. I have seen, more than once, someone ask why have kids if you aren't going to raise them. Harsh. And so wrong. It's all about the quality of time spent. I've seen working parents whose time with their children is so rich, so full of love and mutual enjoyment. That is good parenting; totaling minutes spent in the proximity of your child will never add up to that.
I have great difficulty finding a good balance. I won't read books during the day. I almost never work on crafts (unless I'm trying to finish a gift by a deadline). I also don't spend as much quality time with my kids as I'd like. Don't ask me what I actually do; I fear the answer is sitting in a daze thinking of all the things I should be doing. Hours of that, I would guess.
So it's time to shake things up. I'm going to start doing more and thinking less. I have two projects in mind. No, three. Four. A sewing machine to tame. Four Harry Potter books to read by August (ha!). Two cute little buggers who deserve some fun. And I might just do some dishes while I'm at it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hello, Blogger

Adding a blog to the list of things I try to fit in to any given day, or week, seems at odds with my intention of spending more quality time with the things I truly enjoy. I am not a writer, nor do I have anything deep or even interesting to share. What I do have is a need to find crafty bloggers, especially ones who are talented and like to share. For the Interwebs are large, and my time here is short.
I am a quilter. There, I said it. I recently went to a quilt show and stopped by the local quilting guild's table. The woman minding the booth asked me if I was a quilter. Why couldn't I just say yes? I do quilt, and my work isn't bad. But I learned it from books, so I have lots and lots of questions. And in my mind, if I don't understand something in its entirety, I don't understand it at all. One of my few weaknesses, really.
So I find myself here in the blog world. Looking for answers, looking for some sense of community. It's not all about quilting, but it's a good place to start. So take it away, Blogger, your world is my oyster.