Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making Limoncello: Step 3

As promised, Limoncello by 4th of July weekend! Here is the final product, straight from the freezer:

limoncello


Finished Mermaid Quilt Top

Check it out...a finished quilt top, finally:

finished mermaid quilt top

Some of the angles look funny but it was only the wind. I can't believe how quickly this top went together once I actually made an effort to work on it.

I'd like to finish the quilt by the time I see my aunt next, which will be July 18. I know I can do it if I only try...but sometimes I only try to try. It will feel good to get this one out the door, though, so we'll see.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mermaid Update

It's time for another mermaid quilt update! I've been avoiding working on this because all those bias edges were freaking me out. I was sure the pieces wouldn't line up and I just sort of didn't want to know.

But, I'm happy to tell you that they did line up and I have two rows finished and sewn together:

mendocino and neptune quilt

My machine likes to pull the top layer more than the bottom (even though I have a walking foot) so sewing on the bias is always tricky. Thankfully, this pattern calls for sashing cut on grain. I made sure to sew my pieces together with the sashing strip always on top. The sashing didn't stretch as much as the bias edge pieces would have.

mendocino and neptune quilt

I also pinned each seam when I put the two rows together. Check out those matching points!

mendocino and neptune quilt

Only four more rows left to piece...and now that I'm not scared anymore, I think they'll go together pretty quickly. I might even be able to finish the top by the end of June. Maybe...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Reading

I'm usually the last to the party when it comes to books and this summer's selection is no exception. I picked Memoirs of a Geisha off Karrie's bookshelf a week ago and haven't put it down since. (This is why I haven't posted all week!)

I remember when the movie came out I made the decision to ignore it and the book. I really wasn't into Japanese culture, you see, and every Japanese movie I'd seen up to that point (what, like, one?) seemed very slow and dull.

Now, a mere five years later, I'm still not into Japanese culture but after about three pages I was hooked on this story.

If you missed the geisha craze last time around, I highly recommend you give this book a shot. If you know nothing about geisha or their culture, you just might find it all very interesting. You might also find it interesting to know that women still train to be geisha. I had no idea and I felt sort of sad and confused when I found out. Even so, the part of me that loves beauty for beauty's sake truly appreciates the art that is the geisha.

So, what's on your summer reading list this year? Do you have any must-read recommendations?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Simple Equation

Soccer + Hand Quilting = Awesome!

aqua and yellow hexagons

That is all.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On the Edge

I can't remember seeing a crochet edge pillowcase for the first time. Instead, they seem to be one of the many things I've just always loved. Unfortunately, as a kid I had limited knowledge-gathering tools (no internet?! what?!) nor did we have the resources to buy art/craft supplies anyway. Most beautiful projects were far out of my reach.

Now, as an adult, if I want to make it, I can! I saw these beautiful pillowcases on Rose Hip and thought they were even more beautiful than the crochet edge pillows of my youth. And they are because just look at those bright colors!

crochet edge pillowcase

And while reading all about them, I found out that You Go Girl has created a four part tutorial showing us all how to make a posh pillowcase with a crocheted edge. Awesome!

crochet edge pillowcase

Last week I went to the scary yarn store, actually *gulp* asked for help and bought six lovely skeins of Baby Bomull cotton yarn. It's so tiny and soft!

baby bomull cotton yarn

I used a 3mm crochet hook even though the lady tried to get me to buy a teeny tiny 2.5mm hook. Too scary!

crochet edge pillowcase

And so, here it is...my very own posh pillowcase with a crocheted edge. I think I can get three pillowcases out of each skein (but I might be totally off in my estimations, never having worked with this yarn before). I'm pretty excited to crochet edges on lots of things, not just pillowcases. I'm also excited to try out new edges...scallops are nice but I'm ready for more!

What about you? Do you love crochet edge pillowcases as much as I do? Do you know of any sweet crochet edge stitches I should try? Are you going to make your own crochet edge pillowcase? Please?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More Flag Quilts

Have you been watching the World Cup? Are you as annoyed by the vuvuzelas as I am? There are not enough glorious ponytails in the world to make those things not annoying.

But, I digress. I have another mini flag quilt to show you today. This time we have Mexico (one of my favorite teams):

mexican flag mini quilt

And Cameroon (Ian's underdog choice):

cameroon flag mini quilt

All you need to make an 8x12" flag quilt is:

-3 pieces of fabric in the appropriate colors measuring: 4.5" x 8.5".
-fabric for applique (if your flag requires it)

mexican flag mini quilt

The fun thing about this quilt is that it's double sided. You can pair together any flags that have the same ratio, in this case 2:3. (In full disclosure, Mexico's flag is 4:7 but I adapted it to 2:3. Don't be mad at me, Mexico! Your team has the most glorious ponytails of all!)

cameroon flag mini quilt

If you make a double sided mini quilt, remember that your front and back pieces will be exactly the same size. To make sure they line up, hold your quilt sandwich to the light to check. If they're not lined up exactly, readjust and check again. Then pin and quilt. Easy!

So, what do you think: should more flags have flowers on them? I'm a huge fan of the idea. Daisies on a field vert...who would be cruel enough to declare war on that country?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Swap Quilt!

My first ever swap quilt is finished:

modify tradition swap quilt

And it'll go out in the mail today. On the actual deadline, go me! Actually, the quilt was finished a week ago but I'm so terrible about getting to the post office. Sorry, swap partner!

modify tradition swap quilt

My partner likes Depression Blocks, lime and grey. I don't know if she likes lime and grey together but hopefully she does at least a little bit.

modify tradition swap quilt

Finished dimensions are 24x24 and there are three hanging tabs on the back. And, if you can believe it, this is my first finished quilt of 2010 (even though it's mini, I'm counting it). What's up with that? Actually, though, I have two more that I'll show you soon and one that's waiting to be bound...so I'm not slacking off entirely.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nice(y) Fabric

My birthday is July 1 but sometimes Ian thinks it's June 1. And while he always figures it out pretty quickly, I really enjoy the "omg, it's almost June 1 and I didn't buy Crystal a gift yet!" panic on his face.

This year, though, he remembered the correct date and I found myself missing the early birthday excitement. To make up for it, I bought myself an early birthday present!

I've recently become obsessed with Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane. I'll be honest, I wasn't into Nicey Jane when it came out. It wasn't the fabric, because the fabric was lovely. It was me...I just wasn't in a pastel, vintage sheet sort of mood.

But now I am! And I bought a fat quarter pack of all the prints. And I LOVE them all so much!

nicey jane

I don't have any plans to cut them up just yet (mini American flag quilt aside)...I haven't even thought seriously about what I'd like to make. A nice summery quilt is always a good option but who knows.

For now, I'm just going to look at them and let my ideas swirl around until they settle to the bottom, like mint in a tall, cool, summery mojito.

In other fabric news, I won a humongous pile of Figgy Pudding from Jewel's Arm Candy. I was so excited to have won and I'm getting really excited to use it. I know it's winter fabric but I'm not planning to use it in a winter themed quilt. A lot of the prints will mix well with non-wintery fabrics just fine.

figgy pudding

In fact, now that my machine is making normal sized stitches again, I can get started on a mini project I've been planning for a while. More on that soon.

So, I have a question for you...did you ever not really care for (or outright dislike) a fabric line that you later came to love? Which one was it? What changed your mind?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mermaid Update

Just a little mermaid update today. I'm trying to keep myself motivated (this quilt is already more work than I like) so I thought that taking pictures and blogging them would help keep me going.

So, I finally cut out all my pieces and then decided I didn't like one of the prints. Then I had to decide which fabric I wanted to repeat. Then it took me about three hours (on and off) to decide the order of the stripes:

mermaid quilt in progress

This is always the hardest part for me. I like things to look "not planned" but really, I'm planning the heck out of it. I mostly wanted the stripes to look random but I ended up mirroring the orange and brown...by accident at first but then I liked it too much to start over.

And now I'm sashing each piece and sewing them together in rows. This part is freaking me out because what if I get my long rows all sewn up and then they don't fit together? What if the points don't match? The horror!

mermaid quilt in progress

It seems that other people's points are matching up so, maybe my luck skill will come through for me. Find out the answer in my next mermaid installment!

Lesson Learned

Oh my gosh, you guys...you have to see this:

cleaning my sewing machine

This is what I found when I took the plate off my sewing machine last night. My machine has been acting up...making really short stitches no matter how long I set the stitch length. So, I decided to check it out. And this terrible lump of lint is what I found:

cleaning my sewing machine

Before you all tell me I suck for not cleaning my machine, let me explain. When I bought the machine (at an actual sewing machine shop), I asked the lady how I should clean it. She said "just blow the dust out of the bobbin case once in a while." That's it! I swear!

And speaking of the bobbin case...this is what was beneath it:

cleaning my sewing machine

It was like a mini cotton candy machine! Gross.

And now? Now it sews better than it did when I first bought it (it was a floor model so it probably had a bit of lint going on already). I've certainly learned my lesson! And I hope this helps anyone who's sewing lady told them to just blow out the bobbin case once in a while.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Four Words

I have just four words for you:

World

american flag mini quilt

Cup

american flag mini quilt

Soccer

american flag mini quilt

2010

american flag mini quilt


Can you believe it? The World Cup is finally here and Ian and I are so excited. You know I'm not into sports, right? I'm not actually even into soccer. But World Cup soccer captures my attention (and my heart) in much the same way as the Olympics. But since I have to wait four years to watch soccer, it's even more exciting!

Before you stop reading this because you aren't into World Cup Soccer, let me tell you just a few things I love about it.

First, I love watching these amazing athletes at the height of their skill and stamina (90 minutes of running? Come on!) I love watching the best of the best compete for the world's respect and a nation's pride. I love how they can make their bodies do things mine could never do. I love how they throw tantrums when they get hurt. I love how they throw tantrums when they pretend to get hurt. I love their tight, sculpted calf muscles and I love their glorious ponytails. I love how they get all sweaty and how cute they are when they're so totally focused on the game. I love when they celebrate a goal, like it's the most fulfilling moment of their lives. And I mentioned the ponytails, right?

Have I won you over yet? I could go on longer, if you like.

Ian and I have lots of fun things planned for this year's World Cup but it just wasn't enough. Because there were no quilts! But now there are...mini flag quilts, of course! I'm making them for all our favorite teams and first up is Team USA!

american flag mini quilt

To make your own 8"x15" American Flag quilt, you'll need the following:

Blue-ish dotty fabric (I used Nicey Jane - Hop Dot in Sky)
- 6.5" x 4.75"

Red/pink striped fabric (I used Nicey Jane - Welcome Road in Pink...make sure the stripes run parallel with the longer dimensions)
- 9.5" x 4.75"
-15.5" x 4.25"

Background Fabric - at least 16.5" x 9.5"
Batting - at least 16" x 9"
About 60" of binding

Sew your blue fabric to your small pink fabric along the 4.75" edge. Press and sew this to the second pink fabric and you're done! Quilt and bind as you like.

There will be more mini tutorials soon and in case you're wondering what to do with a mini flag quilt, see conversation below:

Me: "Look, an American flag mini-quilt! Isn't it awesome?"
Ian: "I guess, but what does one do with an American flag mini-quilt?"
Me: ...blank stare..."I don't know, put bowls of chips on it?"

Obviously.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spiderweb Block

You all know I had to make a Spiderweb block for my Modern Sampler quilt, right?

spiderweb quilt block

And I'm really happy I did because I love how it turned out! I'm also 99% sure I'm not going to make another one. This block took forever and I was really nervous about my webs matching up in nice points. Maybe I'd consider making a mini quilt some day (this block really is fun to look at) but I'm not going to make a whole quilt.

I used Elizabeth's tutorial with just a few modifications. To make one 17" (unfinished) block, I started with four 8.75" squares of background fabric. Then I cut them each into only two triangles. My kite measurement was 2.5" from the corner (Elizabeth's is 2"). The rest is the same so check out her tutorial. I even clipped the base fabric at the corners to reduce bulk. What a fantastic idea!

spiderweb quilt block (back)

My layout was inspired by Jacquie's selvedge spiderweb tutorial. I love the quarter webs in the corners!

spiderweb quilt block

Both tutorials are awesome so check them out. And don't forget to add your pictures to their flickr groups:

Oh Fransson! Flickr Group
Tallgrass Prarie Studio Flickr Group

Monday, June 7, 2010

Three Hours

Sometimes I'll be sitting around, checking blogs, sketching sketches...and an idea will hit and I just know it's a good one.

hexagon coaster

I get really excited and make plans and gather materials and get to work.

And I work and as I work I get still more excited. I'll make these for all my friends and family!

hexagon coaster

Oh goodness, these are so fun to make...I love sewing by hand. Why don't I sew by hand more often? Maybe I can even make some to sell.

hexagon coaster

And I work and work and then, three hours later, I finish one measly coaster.

hexagon coaster

Sigh. Nevermind...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Relaxing, Quilting

After last weekend's crazy trip up north, I'm ready for a lazy, stay at home weekend. Which is just what I'm planning...well, lazy with a side of quilting. So far my plans include: quilting and binding a few small quilts while watching lots of episodes of Alias, making homemade pizza with Ian (he doesn't know this yet but he should have guessed) and maybe a movie at the $3 theater. I've been pushing to see Alice in Wonderland while Ian resists my many arguments. We'll see who wins.

I'm also working on a secret project that I hope to finish soon. It's a set of mini quilts with a theme and I'm going to gush about it all next week.

For now, I'm just going to gush a little...about hand quilting:

mini quilt


Turns out, hand quilting mini quilts is just about the funnest thing ever. I think I mostly have the pearl cotton thread to thank. It's so smooth and hardly ever tangles. It also makes this really soft, silky sound as you sew. I still like the sharp hiss of regular cotton thread but this is much calmer, much lazier.

Anyway, that's enough for now. I hope you all have a nice weekend, lazy or otherwise!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Work of a Summer

It was the summer of '98, the summer I turned 17. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and it was the best summer of my life.

That wasn't the year we went on a fancy vacation nor did I have the grand romance I'd always dreamed of. Instead, I spent the entire summer in my room cross-stitching and watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Every day. For three months.

To some, that may sound torturous, a gigantic waste of a summer vacation. To me, it was heaven on earth. Each day I'd wake up to the sound of birds chirping outside my window. I'd get up and have a bowl of cereal. Then I'd press Play on the VCR and get to work.

My aunt had given me this little cross-stitch pattern earlier in the year and it took me the entire three months to finish. I worked it up in burgundy because that's the color that came in the kit. I really appreciated the simplicity of just one color, the maturity of the silhouette-like pattern.

cross stitch

Even though I didn't set foot outside that whole summer, I savored every long, calm, summery moment. I remember the soft breeze through the windows, the flutterings of the curtains. I remember the hot, muggy days and the the cool, crisp thunderstorms. I remember the sound of birds and lawnmowers. I remember Buffy kicking some vampire butt and wishing I was like her, but not really because she wasn't into cross-stitching.

I remember feeling totally peaceful, totally in harmony with the world, with my tiny little piece of it. I think back now and I can't believe it happened, that I was content to sit, day after day, stitching little x's and fast forwarding through commercials. It was pure bliss and I don't regret a moment.

Now that I have a job and obligations and time moves so quickly, I'm thankful I had that one perfectly lazy summer. I treasure the memory of those simple days before real life started, my very last summer vacation.

I found this pattern while cleaning the other day and it all came flooding back. And I just had to cross-stitch something, even though I only had time for something small. It's not the work of an entire summer but it'll do for now.

cross stitch

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mermaid School

I'm making a mermaid quilt for my aunt. I've had the fabric for a year but I finally found the perfect pattern.

mermaid school quilt

It's an adaptation of the New Wave pattern, created by the lovely Elizabeth (Oh, Fransson!). I wanted to feature more fabric in each wave so I re-drafted the template to be bigger and fatter. I'll sash each wave in Kona Snow and back it with this sand print I found a few years ago.

My plan is to finish this quilt by early summer...a lofty goal considering I haven't even finished cutting all the pieces yet. And it's June already. What the heck...June?

The hard part is over, though...I already know what I'm naming the quilt. After years of attending "Mermaid School" with my aunt as head mermaid, it only seems fitting. Stay tuned...I hope to start some actual sewing later this week.