Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: H-1

Dear Baby Jane block H-1Block number/name: H-1 “Peek-a-boo”

Date completed: May 30, 2008

Number of pieces: 20

Notes on block: Hmmm… though I do love this green fabric (so soft and pretty)—it’s not really doing it for me in this block. Ah, well. It will be fine. It’s just not my favorite block. But it came together quickly and easily as I was watching the Bourne Supremacy (sometimes I’m still shocked by how that one is such a complete departure from the book… I still love it, but whoa—very different).

I’m still working on catching up with the Dear Baby Jane quilters. Getting closer though—only 3 more to go before I’m back on track.

Dear Baby Jane: BR-1

Dear Baby Jane block BR-1
Block number/name: BR-1 “Rosemary’s Rainbow”

Date completed: May 30, 2008

Number of pieces: 12

Notes on block: My first triangle! Yay! It is far from perfect, but it is done, and it should work alright. I think it’s going to take some practice to get these triangles to start coming together well.

It was really nice finally getting to sit down and work on these blocks again. It’s been two weeks since I made my last one. So not only was I getting further and further behind, but I was also missing working on them. I pieced this one together yesterday afternoon while chatting with my mom as the boy napped.

Star Quilt Along, Week 5

Yay! Caught up at last. I really like how this one turned out:

Star Quilt Along, week 5 block
Hopefully, I'll get a chance to work on some setting blocks in the next week or two. It will be fun to start seeing how they all fit together.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Catching Up: Star Quilt Along

Slowly but surely, I'm beginning to catch back up with things—including the Star Quilt Along!

Week 3 Block:
Star Quilt Along Week 3 block

Week 4 Block:
Star Quilt Along Week 4 block

Just one more, and I'll be caught back up!

Next up: catch up on Dear Baby Jane.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Block Lotto!

Last month, I attended my first quilt guild meeting ever. It’s a new guild in the area that started-up earlier this year. There were a lot of great people there and I had a fun time and so I went ahead and joined up!

One of the guild activities is a block lotto. A theme is chosen. Members can pick up a fat-eighth of theme fabric and then use it along with their own coordinating fabrics to create a 12” block (or as many blocks as they’re inclined to do). At the next meeting, participants turn in their blocks. The blocks are put together into sets (of nine, I think). Then names are drawn and winners get to take home a set and make a quilt! For every block you turn in, your name goes in the bucket (so to speak). So the more blocks you make, the better your chances of winning.

I decided to give it a shot because it sounded like fun and it's not something I've ever done before. I took my fat-eighth and created these two blocks with fabrics from my stash. (Yay for stash usage!)

June block lotto block 1
The theme is “Independence!”

June block lotto block 2
The theme fabric is the blue star print.

The meeting is next week. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I prewash all fabric and batting. Sometimes, I have wondered if it is worth the extra trouble. I kind of like that crinkly look that quilts get as they shrink up in the wash the first time. But then I think about the danger of color-run even though it has been years since I've had an issue with any color running. I purchase high quality fabrics. I even use those Shout color-catchers (and usually, they work great).

As I'm ironing out my freshly washed and dried fabrics, I start seeing spots. I don't know which fabric was the culprit (except that it was green)-- but I now have green spots on yards of fabrics (3 yards of which were light cream color). Sigh. The dots aren't horribly pervasive, but I am going to lose a decent amount of fabric in trying to work around them. So disheartening.

My vigilance is seriously on high alert now. No more light and dark for me... it's going to be by color from now on. Or at least until this event is a distant memory.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The laptop case of doom

It started with a phone call from my neighbor. She needed a birthday gift for her business partner, but had been unable to find exactly what she was looking for in any store. She has a vision of a case that would fit a small laptop pretty snugly, that would lay open flat, and that looked stylish. I said rather skeptically that I didn’t think I’d be able to do it without a pattern. “No problem!” she says, “I can put together a pattern for you!” And so I agree, thinking to myself that it shouldn't take too much time/effort/etc. You see where this is going, don't you?

The next week, she comes over with a sketch. “Well, I know you wanted a pattern. But then I realized I don’t know how to do that. So I drew this instead.”
laptop case sketch
Fortunately, she has also done some research on the laptop and knows the dimensions. She also has a bag of materials, including upholstery weight grey corduroy, an orange upholstery weight suede-textured polyester, black stretch velvet(!), thread, peltex, and a parka zipper. I tell her I’ll do it for $50.

At this point, I’m kicking myself... what have I gotten myself into???

I spend many hours cogitating on the project. I finally commit to some measurements on paper. I buy additional materials—canvas and fusible fleece (because I just didn’t want to deal with the peltex, and the fleece seemed like it would provide more cushiness), some black poplin (to use as lining for the pocket), and a zipper (since I couldn’t figure out how to make the parka zipper work). And on Sunday night, I cut and sewed. Six hours later, I had this:
laptop case version 1
Yay! It turned out pretty well and looks just like the sketch. Then, I attempt to put a laptop-sized book into it. It fits. But just barely... like super-snug barely. I failed to account for the bulkiness of the multiple layers of fabric (and fleece and canvas)—so it just ended up too tight. Dang it!

I call my neighbor over to check out the case, make sure it is indeed what she’s after before I invest any more time in making another. She checks it out, and offers many compliments on how well-constructed it looks (and I blush proudly), but decides that the straps and the accent trim need to be narrower. I recalculate all of my measurements, making the bag bigger and the straps and trim narrower. I also figure out how to make the parka zipper work like a luggage zipper (where the two sliders meet in the center). Then I try again. Five hours later:
laptop case version 2
The inside (it even lays flat!):
laptop case version 2, inner
Compared to the first one:
laptop cases versions 1 and 2
I had to improvise a little on the outside pocket because I didn’t have enough fabric to do it in one piece. But I actually think it looks pretty snazzy.

Another view of the outside:
laptop case outer
My neighbor picked it up on Friday afternoon. She seemed really happy with it. Thank goodness.

This project caused me stress on so many levels, it wasn’t even funny. After attempt number one, my husband even suggested that I call my neighbor and just tell her I couldn’t do it—it wasn’t worth the stress, and definitely wasn’t worth the $50 for the hours of time and frustration. I practically yelled back at him, “That is NOT an option!” Sigh. Stupid, stubborn, Robin. But, in the end, I got it done. And, on the bright side, I even learned some things:

  • How to turn a parka zipper into a head-to-head slider zipper.

  • Painters tape is great for getting obnoxious fuzzies off of stretch velvet.

  • My machine can sew through multiple layers of upholstery fabric with no problem. (I think at some points, I had 8 layers plus zipper).

  • If I really put my mind to it, I can do some pretty cool stuff.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-11

Dear Baby Jane block B-11Block number/name: B-11 “Melissa’s Cross”

Date completed: May 16, 2008

Number of pieces: 21

Notes on block: I'm feeling kind of proud of this block. Because the one in the Dear Jane book and the software was significantly different than the actual Jane Stickle block, I went ahead (as others have) and redrafted it. I used Electric Quilt 5, and it was kind of a challenge for me because I hadn't tried creating my own blocks before. But I think it worked out really well as the completed block looks very similar to the one in the original quilt. And I think my handpieced curves even look pretty good. Yay!

This has felt like such an unproductive week. The busy-ness has been overwhelming me toward inactivity. So rather than actually accomplish anything, I read trashy fiction. I finished one book, and read two others. And I only completed this one Dear Jane block.

To itemize: I still have another DJ block, my Star Quilt Along block, a laptop case that needs to be created this week (ugh… I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that later, for now I'll just say that it fills me with trepidation even thinking about it), “Fairy Flight” to finish (because baby Grace was born on Thursday, May 15th!!!), and (of course) all of the miscellaneous other projects I want to complete, and the other ones I want to start. In addition, I’m volunteering for PEPS as a group leader, and my group starts on Tuesday—and I’m trying not to go crazy about that (I’m also starting to feel nervous, though I’m excited about it too). On the bright side, the big freelance project I was working for is done (huzzah!)—so I at least don’t have that hanging over me any more. But right now, I’m just feeling tired.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-10

Dear Baby Jane block B-10Block number/name: B-10 “Jud’s Trophy”

Date completed: May 10, 2008

Number of pieces: 29

Notes on block: It took me about 3 hours to piece this one. I worked on it at the end of a really nice afternoon with Keith’s family. First we spent some time looking at recent pictures of the boy and he said his first word!!! A picture of the cats was on the screen and he pointed at it and said, “Itty!” And then he did it again at the next picture of the cats. Pretty darn close to “kitty.” We’ll take it!

We all went out to dinner, ordered off the kid’s menu for the boy for the very first time, and had a great time together. We got home and put the boy to bed, sent off the family, and then I got to work while Keith and some of his buddies gamed it up in the other room with their PSPs and Monster Hunter Freedom 2. It was actually kind of fun listening to them as they played together. That game seems pretty wacky.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Star Quilt Along, Week 2

Yay! I finished my second block in amandajean's Star Quilt Along.

start quilt along, block 2Pretty in pink! My seam allowances were much better in this one than the first (which was a smidge small). The key for me: a scant 1/4". I think it had been so long since I'd machine pieced something that I kind of forgot how get an accurate 1/4". But, I'm back on track now.

I was bad this week though. I went out to buy some basting glue and saw some fabric I just had to have for this quilt. So much for making it entirely from the stash! But it will still be a mostly-stash quilt.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-9

Dear Baby Jane block B-9Block number/name: B-9 “Tinker Toy”

Date completed: May 7, 2008

Number of pieces: 13

Notes on block: I kept going round and round in my head about these fabric choices. I knew I loved the stripe, but wasn’t sure I’d love it in the corners. Inspired by Jane Weston’s block in the Dear Baby Jane Flickr pool, I went ahead and used 3 colors, one of which is my first repeated green in the quilt (I also used this dark green Moda marble as an accent in B-4). At first I wasn’t sure I liked it. When I looked at it this morning though, I felt really happy about it. So yay!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-8

Dear Baby Jane block B-8Block number/name: B-8 “Water Lily”

Date completed: May 6, 2008

Number of pieces: 12

Notes on block: While my mom was visiting on Friday afternoon (and the boy was napping), we sat together at the kitchen table and chatted. I also pieced the background for the block. She asked about the project I was working on, and I had fun telling her about the Jane Stickle quilt and the Dear Baby Jane quilt-a-long, and I got to show off my blocks. It was fun getting to share my project with someone in real life—particularly my mom. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to complete the block until this evening. Once again, our house has been beat down by illness (thankfully, at least the boy has been spared this time around!). As a result, everything is a little behind, including Dear Jane.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Caffeine buzz

After my 6:00 latte last night, I was ready to sew, sew, sew! I stayed up way too late (the power of caffeination!), but I completed two projects for the boy. First was a much-needed new pair of pajamas:

KS 3527 - dino pajamas
I used Kwik Sew 3527. This is the second time I've made this one, and I'll definitely be using it again. Read my pattern review for more details.

Next up was a very cute shirt:

KS 3146 - shark shirt
How could I resist that fabric? Two of my favorite things: sharks and green. How cool is that??? I used Kwik Sew 3146. Read my pattern review for more details. I am very pleased with this one. I went to Babies'R'Us today looking for pants (gah! Does no one sell pants after March?) and scoped out their shirts as well. They were not nearly as well-constructed as this shirt. I already have plans for another one. And apparently I need to add some pants to the queue.