Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gettin' fancy

We've been without pillowcases for a week. Somehow, someway, somewhere they got misplaced in the laundry.

Just the pillowcases are missing, as far as I can tell. I'd for sure notice if some of my clothes were gone because I wear the same five things all summer.

But back to the pillowcases. I said I'd make a new set. Perfect excuse to buy fabric.


I love, love, love the DS Quilts line at JoAnn. That's where all this is from.

I thought the pillows might look plain, so I used one of my decorative stitches to fancy it up.

Decorative stitches
I like it.

The baby quilt is getting quilted.


I stared last night and, like everything else with this quilt, decided I hated it. So I stopped, had a glass of wine and went to bed. This morning I thought it was fine.


The Essex Linen is quilting just like any other fabric. The quilt sandwich doesn't seem heavier.

Here's a lame cellphone photo of the back.


The grey is Quilter's Linen. It's regular cotton with a linen-esque texture print.

I ordered it when I planned to border each block in grey. This is the back of the fabric; the front is much darker.

That's the front.

Here's hoping I finish up the quilting tonight, in honor of Melinda. Maybe I'll have a beer. Also in honor of Melinda.

And, ahem, the adorable dog photos for Aug. 30, 2011:


Adorable dog photo for Aug. 30, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bits of the season

Nothing about sewing, but photos of summer meals.


Beet soup, almost all from our garden.
Roast beets, carrots, onions and garlic for 30 minutes at 425. Boil veggie trimmings with water for an hour to make stock. Let cool, then puree to desired consistency. Eat cold or warm with yogurt on top.

Throw 2.5 cups of flour and 1 cup of butter plus salt to taste in the food processor. Pulse until it's pebble-sized, and then add water to make crust. Chill for 30 minutes. For the filling, roast sweet potatoes until soft, mix with peas and add spices. I did salt, pepper, tandoori and curry. Roll dough into 2-inch circles, put filling in the middle and pinch edges closed. Bake at 400 until brown. You can freeze for later too.

Salads, etc.
(1)Chop cucumber. Blend olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and lots of mint in a Magic Bullet or something similar. Toss it all together. (2) Blanch broccoli. Crush and toast almonds. Magic Bullet some tahini, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Toss it up. (3) Buy awesome bread and cheese.

Summer dinner

Bread. Garden tomatoes. Perfection.

And the cool Goodwill find ($5!) I think Tim is claiming as his.

Goodwill find


Zipper madness

I've been on baby quilt hiatus, waiting for more Essex Linen. It came yesterday and got washed today, so I'll be back at it tonight.

But in the lull, I had a bit of a zipper attack.

Camera case

Camera pouch!

Camera case

Whales AND pigs, together in harmony.

Camera case

Zippity zip zip zip.

And now on to other things.

It was sewing machine maintenance day today.

Sewing machine maintenance day

It happens once or twice a month. The fella gets brushed out weekly because ::damn:: there's a lot of fuzz buildup. The Bernina guy assured me it's normal when half the things you sew have batting. But still. Gez.

But once a month it needs a little more: a good oiling. The manual says to oil BEFORE (in caps, so you know they're serious) you sew to avoid oil leaking on your fabric. That seems backward to me, so I sew for about 15 minutes on muslin scraps after the oiling. I've never had oil leakage, but it gives me the opportunity to check out all my pretty stitches.

Sewing machine stitches

Thirty-seven years old and it still sews in circles (and diamonds and comma shapes) around newer machines.

::Now, jumping to another topic just because it was laundry day::

Bamboo batting -- yes it holds up well. Super well.

Bamboo batting

This quilt has been loved. Tough love. It's been camping and fishing and to parks and used as a towel after swimming. It's been swiped away by Chowder for a makeshift bed when no one was looking. Tom peed on it once.

So it's been through some stuff. And had all that stuff washed out of it with extra-hot water and harsh detergent in less-than-ideal machines. Followed through a cycle in the dryer on high heat.

Bamboo batting

It's just as quilty soft as it started out.

So it's worth it. Half-off coupons at JoAnn don't hurt either.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ZIPPER! (and the pillow it's attached to)



That's my zipper!


And there it is again, in hiding.


And that's what it's zipping up.

My first pillow!

Made with one of the log cabin blocks I didn't use in the quilt. And used here to test out quilting ideas for the larger end product.


I like the straight lines.

I debated for about an hour over whether to sew my binding to the front or back. I was nervous about hand-binding into the corduroy I used for the backing, but it went well. So well I forgot how afraid I was of it at the start and didn't take any special photos to document the result.

And here's where we're at with the baby quilt.


I cut my yard of Essex Linen in the wrong direction, so I didn't get enough out of it to finish the sashing. Good thing it's cheap and I found some more online.

I think what I ordered will come tomorrow, so I should be ready to quilt by the weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm in this funky little rhythm where things are happening too fast and too slow all at once.

I want fall to show up already, but I feel awful wishing the last bits of summer away. I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day, but I want everything I do -- dog walks, for example -- to last longer.

I'm enjoying the poke-along pace of the improv log cabin blocks in the baby quilt I'm working on, but in my head (and on random scraps of paper throughout the house) I'm building a list of projects I want to start.

I get through 1.5 baby quilt blocks a night. I get one together, stick it up on the wall, start on the next one.

Halfway through the next one, after sewing machine-cutting table round trips that take me by the design wall 16 times, I decide I don't like the block I just finished.

So I push it off to the side, my designated blocks-for-the-quilt-back-or-a-pillow-or-something area. Then I decide I'm too tired to sew anything I like and head to bed.

By morning, I have fonder feelings toward all the blocks.


Today I wanted to do something else, start to finish. And I did.

It's a case for my sunglasses.

I used scraps from the baby quilt and some Essex Linen I had on-hand.

I sure do like that stuff. The heavier weight is wonderful (like Japanese fabric). You get the look of linen without all the fuss. And you get solids with some nice texture.

For this project, I used my sunglasses to make a freezer paper template and then built a basic lined pouch. I was going to sew Velcro to the top for the closure, but I couldn't find any. Oh well. I think I'll add a button and loop tonight. That way my closure will be quiet. Shhh.

I needed a project like this: one hour, no second-guessing. I like being comfortable enough with my sewing skills that I can build something small without the silly screw-ups that make it an all-afternoon affair.

I had a few Goodwill finds today, but I think T might steal one of them for his wardrobe. In all fairness, I offered it up. I'll post photos... as soon as I take them.

Time to roll over into the weekend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Been busy

We've been jamming as much summer as possible into August. So far it's been swell. Fairs, fishing, blues fests, etc.

Same on the sewing front.

We swung by Lowe's on Friday and for $21 ($15 if all of our hammers weren't in the basement of our Butte house for some reason) got the supplies I needed to build something I've been daydreaming about since seeing them all over when my mom and I had our Montana road trip in June.

It's a loom to weave fabric scraps into rugs! And Chowder isn't nearly as excited as I am.

It's 2 by 4 feet and has a bazillion nails. I hammered them all.

Here's a basic diagram of how it went together.

Rug loom

I bought two 8-foot long boards (I think they were 2 by 2 inches) and had a guy cut them into 2- and 4-foot segments. I used 1.5-inch roofing nails, but if I did it again I'd use smaller once because my boards started to split ever so slightly when I drove in the nails. Maybe it's just because I'm so strong. I placed a nail every inch and did that before screwing the board ends together.

Rug loom for scraps

I also raided the Goodwill pile and came up with lots of shirts and pants.

Plastic bag holder
Formerly known as a pair of trousers. I cut off a leg, hemmed the top and added elastic at the bottom.


Last night I was restless with my baby quilt blocks. I'll explain why in a few paragraphs.

So I took a break, wandered back to the Goodwill stack and made my first quartered log cabin blocks based on this quilt from, again, the Block Party book.

Three sleeves from mens dress shirts.

I also got a laundry quarter pouch from the cuff.

Just zig-zag up each side.


So, back to that baby quilt. I showed someone the block photos last night and they loved them, but said the colors leaned toward the boy end of the spectrum. Urgh. I hate when that happens. I hadn't been second-guessing myself on the gender-neutrality thing up until that point. I love these blocks and I think it'd be good for a baby girl to have a little blue in her life.

I mean, I'm a girl, and today I'm wearing a blue shirt.

But more green and yellow couldn't hurt. So I picked up some greens and yellows from MoMo's It's a Hoot line. Just a quarter yard of four prints, so only $9.50.

I had a big realization on Monday after seeing my three blocks on the design wall all weekend. That's one advantage to having it right in the middle of our living space.

One of these things is not like the other. Can you which?

I'm not sure if I'm getting the terms right here, because I've seen them used different ways, but the blocks on the sides are courthouse steps blocks (if you ignore the color rules) and the center one is a traditional log cabin block.


With all the different colors and prints, the traditional block seems too busy. So for this quilt, I'll stick with all courthouse steps.

Some of those steps will be modified a bit to keep it wonky. Like that one on the right has two sides added on before the top and bottom.

So I'll be back at it tonight, with lots more greens and yellows.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Two blocks down...

... no idea how many to go. Ether nine or 16, depending on how big I want the quilt to be. I'd like it to be 16 because I like sewing them, but that would make for one huge baby quilt.

Blocks No. 1 and 2
Block No. 1 on the left, No. 2 on the right.

I wanted to make my first block the most simple one, and the second the most complicated. That way I can work between these two for the rest of the project. This is a baby quilt, so it can be fun and busy, but I don't want it to be too busy. I think simple blocks will help keep it calm.

Improvisational sewing suits me. Probably because it's less organized. Instead of cutting a specific number of strips from one fabric and on and on, you just pick your fabric and cut as you go. I'm doing free-hand rotary cutting on this.

The sewing area
If a fabric is on the table, it's fair game.

Block back

I'm trimming the blocks to a 10.5-inch square. Right now, the plan is to border each block in 1 inch of white and then put the blocks together with 4-inch grey sashing. That's why I think I'll only need nine blocks. That's too bad.

But maybe I can squeeze more in on the back.

Block No. 2

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bound up

The Seattle quilt is done!






To clarify: It's not MY late. It belongs to someone else.


Hand-sewn binding!

Quilting detail (that corner is on the back of the quilt)

Back detail.

This was my first time hand-binding a quilt (thanks, mom, for the tutorial!). I prefer how it looks compared to machine binding and think I'll stick with it.

It didn't take anywhere near as long as I thought it would. The quilt is 50 by 50 inches and I spent about 3 hours sewing the binding on.

Now all I have to do is wash and send it off to its new home!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


One of my co-workers is having a baby, so I get to make a baby quilt!

I've been doing some fabric selection by committee, asking everyone in sight (and a few far away) what they like.

This is the first time I've had a stash large enough to pull from for a project. A real abundance. And I think I'll be able to piece the blocks almost entirely from what I have on-hand.

I started with this:

First picks

And then this:

Edited down

And now I'm down to this:

More editing
(The Xs are going away)

I think I'll add a yellow solid too.

The plan is a wonky log-cabin style block with largish strips. The elephants and birds will be the block centers.

To keep it neat-looking, I want to use a neutral sashing between blocks. I'm thinking Essex linen, which I've never used before. But the heavier weight might be nice for a baby quilt that will be washed lots.

Thoughts? Is it gender-neutral enough? Too boyish? I think the extra yellow will help.

On other fronts, I'm just about halfway done with the hand-binding on the Seattle quilt. I want to mail it by Friday.

(Ignore that stray dog hair. That's why you wash quilts before sending them)

And Tom and Chowder are, as usual, living the life.