Friday, May 29, 2015

Kensington Gardens

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When Ian and I were in London a few years ago, we spent a lot of time in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. These parks (technically separate but right next to each other) are filled with beautiful paths and lakes and gardens and horse trails and statues and expansive lawns and hidden wilderness. Every morning and afternoon we would sight-see and every evening we'd pick up salads and cheese and wine and have a picnic in the park. It was lovely weather, warm and sunny. No bugs, no rain. Tall grass, rustling leaves, echoes of laughter.

One day Ian and I split up and I went to Liberty of London. I walked through the store slowly, admiring everything lovely and wonderful. When I began shopping for fabric in earnest, a beautiful and well dressed man took the bolts from my arms and carried them to the cutting table for me.

I left the store with a tidy package containing four of my most favorite prints. I took the tube to Hyde Park. I sat in the grass and read my book and waited for Ian. Every so often I'd take out my fabrics and admire them. They were the very first Liberty prints I had ever purchased.

Over the next few years I collected more prints from online stores. And they were lovely and I didn't want to cut into them. But the day finally came when I felt it was time to make a quilt. A place where all my Liberty prints could mingle together like flowers in an English garden. A remembrance of my time in London.

I made a plan, I cut and I cut and when I stopped to count, I had unknowingly cut enough fabric for two quilts. One quilt for me, large enough to fit on my bed. And one smaller quilt, exactly the same except for the size.

This quilt is for my friend Karrie. It's called Kensington Gardens, named after the smaller of the two parks. It's backed with a lovely soft voile and bound with Liberty Tana Lawn in one of my favorite prints and colorways. The combination makes this quilt airy and silky soft. Finished size is 64" x 80".

Even though I know I'll someday finish my own version of this quilt (I've set aside the blocks for now), it was hard to give this one away. But I did and Karrie loves it and that makes me so very happy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Updated Ballet Bag Tutorial

Just stopping in to let you know that I've updated my Ballet Bag Tutorial. The Ballet Bag is a fully reversible drawstring bag measuring approximately 13" x 15".

Since I started making these bags four years ago, the way I assemble them has changed just a bit. And since I was making a new bag for a friend this week, it seemed like the perfect time to update my tutorial.

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Click on the pics. to go to the tutorial. You can also find this and other sewing/quilting patterns and tutorials in the tabs at the top of my blog.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Little Blue

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Do you guys get a little blue in the summer? Like, people get SAD during the winter...I'm pretty sure I get it in the summer. All that sun and heat and people telling me I should get out and enjoy the weather when all I want to do is stay inside and sew...it's all too much.

With the little energy I can muster, Ian and I have been having friends over every other Friday (which is great because actual house cleaning HAS to happen). And we went to see a few plays at the Guthrie (that's where the above photos are from). And I've been quilting a lot, the restless kind where I flit from project to project and then feel bad about not finishing anything.

But it's not really so bad. I'm just a little blue.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Making Time

The other day my friend Karrie asked me where I found the time to make so many quilts (many being, of course, relative...because I don't feel like I actually make that many quilts).

I've never really thought of it as "making time" because it's just what I do with my time. I have to make time to go grocery shopping or do the dishes or to have people over but I never have to make time to quilt or knit. It is the default thing I do.

I thought it would be fun to document a typical weekend day where I have no other obligations. So, here's what I did yesterday:

7am - Wake up, feed the cats who are OMG starving!

7:15 - Make coffee and cut some squares for my Great Grandma quilt. My stack is growing!!
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8:00 - Cut fabric for two hexagon potholders, cut Great Grandma squares from those fabrics and put everything away.
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8:30 - Cut paper hexagons.

8:45 - Iron and sew backing for Kensington Gardens quilt.
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9:30 - Sweep floor.

9:35 - Look for packing tape.

9:40 - Remember that I ran out while I was at the post office the other day...found some masking tape!

9:45 - Tape backing to floor, spray baste batting and top, remove tape.
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10:45 - Put sewing room back together, straighten up, take a mini-break, shower, makeup.
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11:30 - Set up machine and quilt.
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12:00 - Out to lunch (Indian buffet...mmmm!)

1:10 - Back to quilting.
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2:30 - Half finished with quilting, time for a break...accidental nap on the couch.

3:30 - More quilting.
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5:00 - Finished quilting! Trim quilt, cut and sew binding.
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6:15 - Sew binding to back. Normally one side of the binding is much wider than the other. I'm trying to make them more even by using a 3/8" seam allowance.
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7:15 - On a normal sewing day, I'd probably quit for the night and we'd make dinner...but neither Ian nor I felt hungry and we both had stuff we wanted to do. So, I started sewing the binding to the front of the quilt. Looks good on the front but not quite perfect on the back. Ideally, the stitching would be right next to the binding, not ON it. I need more practice but I'm pretty happy with my first try.
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8:00 - Only 1/2 finished sewing the binding but it's time for dinner: cook a homemade pizza, do some dishes.

9:00 - Eat dinner and watch a really sad episode of Black Mirror. (Speaking of Black Mirror...it is WEIRD and the first episode was gross but it is SO engaging! I just sit staring for the entire episode and when it's over, I finally take a breath...it's really good! It's on Netflix streaming.)

10:00 - Reading and bedtime!

So, there it is. My entire day. I'm so happy that I'm almost finished with the Kensington Gardens quilt. I'm giving this one to Karrie and I'll make the second one to keep. We'll be quilt twins!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Listless

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I had planned to do a lot of sewing this weekend but it didn't quite work out that way. We spent a lot of time buying plants and pots and soil and then potting everything and then carrying everything upstairs to our balcony. Soon (well, soon-ish) we will have fresh basil and tiny tomatoes and everything wonderful, right outside our door. And a friend offered us free tickets to see The Crucible at the Guthrie on Sunday...so we gladly added that to our schedule!

And the rest of the time I felt listless. And headachy and sort of blah and not that creative. I sewed a few blocks for my Parisville quilt but it didn't hold my attention for long. So, I ended up digging through some bins for inspiration.

I found a few orphan blocks...some traditional, some scrappy. There was a block of pink strips that felt like it should be a bag, somehow. I've been wanting to try Jeni Baker's tutorial for her lined drawstring bag so I got to work. The tutorial (and the bag) did not disappoint! I really love how it turned out.

I've decided that whenever possible, I would like to "wrap" gifts in reusable handmade bags. I have so much fabric and the bag is an extra gift...win/win! This little bag went straight to the gift box before Extra-cat could fall asleep on it.

And then I decided to use the rest of the orphan blocks to make potholders. I got out my Insul-Bright and immediately remembered why I hate making potholders. The Insul-Bright is crinkly...as in, it makes a crinkly noise. For some reason I just can't stand that noise, even though it is very slight and I know tons of people like it just fine and use it all the time for potholders.

Do you like Insul-Bright? If so, I'm clearing out my stash and I'd love to give you some! Leave a comment and we'll chat.

So, anyway, rather than give up, I decided to make a test potholder with just regular cotton batting. I cut an orphaned block and backing to 9", quilted it with four layers of cotton batting and then trimmed everything to 8.5". I really love curved corners on potholders but I've never tried it before...so I tried it! And I made bias binding for the first time. The stitching on the front is fine but everything went a little crazy on the back. Not too bad for my first try but there is definitely room for improvement.

I tested the potholder with our heavy pizza stone in a 550 degree oven. I felt no noticeable difference between my new potholder and an Insul-Bright potholder I made a while back. I now feel comfortable making plain-old cotton batting potholders and giving them away as gifts. I'm excited that my orphan blocks will finally have a home!

And that's about all I did this weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pink Snow

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I've been inspired by my friend Sara to take up crochet again. It's been years since I picked up a hook. What could tempt me back into it? Granny hexagons, of course!

Every time I finish a hexagon and crochet it to the rest, I run over to show Ian...and every time he just glances at it and asks me what I'm making. Not how pretty it is or how he can't even begin to fathom how I'm able to create such loveliness with just my two delicate hands, not how much he admires my skill and creativity and my amazing ability to combine colors. I mean, maybe (probably) he's thinking those things but that's not what comes out of his mouth.

So, to answer his question, I'm actually not sure what I'm making. I guess that depends on how many hexagons I feel like crocheting. Ideally, I would like to stick with this until I have something that's a useful size...either a wrap or small blanket. But perhaps I'll end up with a pillow cover. Who knows.

The mornings have been beautiful lately and there are flower petals caught in the wind. It looks like pink snow.

Since finishing the Liberty top, I'm in search of another half-finished project to work on. In digging through my bins I found a whole stack of Parisville squares. I have a pattern in mind and I'm already planning it out on the design wall. This is going to be a fun one!