Monday, June 30, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: E-1

Dear Jane block E-1Block number/name: E-1 “Aunt Exie’s Phlox”

Date completed: June 29, 2008

Number of pieces: 5

Notes on block: For this block I tried a different method of appliqué. I usually do needleturn with freezer paper on top. This time, I tried the method Anina demonstrated for this block. She used freezer paper underneath and then it acted as both guide and (temporary) glue to iron the seam allowances down. What I really liked about this method is that after the pieces were prepped, the appliqué went very, very quickly. I also felt like I had a lot more control at the points, resulting in pointier points (though still not perfect). On the downside, this method involved a lot more prep time, and I don’t think the time saved in stitching made up for it. In any case, I am happy with the result, and I think the method was successful enough that I’ll be using it again.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Star Quilt Along, Week 9

Here is my block for Week 9 of amandajean's Star Quilt Along:

Star Quilt Along, block 9
Only 4 more stars to go! I kind of have a color-plan in my head, in hopes of making them all work. Now, if I can only remember it by the time the next block is posted...

Stitchery is on the slow side this week. I've been more focused on cooking. I've made some tasty stuff this week, including a bunch from Cooking Light: I also made a couple of recipes from The Petit Appetit Cookbook. It is focused on making food for babies and toddlers. I made meatloaf and mashed potatoes with carrots. My hope was that we could all eat together as a family and get the boy eating something new that is not related to the nugget family (as in chicken nuggets and fish sticks). Of course, papa was late getting home from work, and the boy refused to eat. So much for that plan! But, at least he ate some of the leftovers the next day, so hope is not lost.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: F-2

Dear Jane block F-2Block number/name: F-2 “Kaleidoscope”

Date completed: June 23, 2008

Number of pieces: 28

Notes on block: Doh! My first scorch! After pressing this one, I noticed that there’s a little yellowy discoloration on one of the points. Character marks, I guess I’ll call them. I feel pretty good about this block overall, though I suspect I’ll lose some points once I get the sashing on… but I think I’ll lose them all equally, at least.

This block was definitely a spirit soother for me. I had a bad, frustrating day. Nothing big or important—just little things adding up until all I could do was cry. After dinner, my husband made me a dessert treat, and I sat and watched television and stitched. It was just the break my overwrought brain needed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: H-13

Dear Jane block H-13Block number/name: H-13 “Farm Fields”

Date completed: June 21, 2008

Number of pieces: 7

Notes on block: It just occurs to me how appropriate this fabric is for this block… cabbages in the farm fields! This was a nice, simple block. I was able to easily rotary cut all the pieces—one 5”square cut into quarter-square triangles and 1” strips for the bars. I think it took me less than 30 minutes to put it together. Kind of a nice change from the other blocks lately.

I sent off my fabrics for the second Dear Baby Jane Swap a couple of days ago—this one has a theme of green. I can’t wait to see what exciting new greens come my way!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Family Adventure Day!

Today Keith took a vacation day and we ventured forth on a family mini adventure. The 10th Annual Western Washington Shop Hop is going on right now, and so we hopped in the car and headed westward to the peninsula.

First, we caught a ferry from Edmonds to Kingston.

Boy on ferry
We ate a picnic at a park adjacent to the ferry terminal there, followed by a short walk to the first shop, the Kingston Quilt Shop.

Kingston Quilt Shop, Kingston, WA
(I just love their neon sign!) The boy had much fun rampaging about. Thankfully, papa was there to watch over him so I could focus on some shopping. The staff there was very welcoming and friendly, and they had a lovely selection of fabrics, including lots of batiks and Asian prints.

We continued southward to Poulsbo and Heirloom Quilts. The shop is in the downtown area, right next to the water. I saw a bead store, a ceramics studio, a rubber stamp store, and multiple bookstores all within a couple of blocks of each other. My kind of town! They boy was very excited because the quilt shop had small shopping carts—just the right size for him to push around the store (I wish I had gotten a picture of that!). He kindly steered my fabric selections around the store and to the cutting table, where he was not at all thrilled to relinquish the cart o' fun. The store was bright and open, and had lots of room to roam. They had a large selection of fabrics, grouped by style (batiks, Asian, reproductions, tone-on-tones, various collections). More batiks and Asian prints made it to the cash register.

The next stop Material Girls in Silverdale. I loved that store. They had a ton of samples on display everywhere. Lots of McKenna Ryan designs were on display, including her new series quilt, "Faith, Hope, and Love" (gorgeous!!!!). Apparently, she lives in the area and the samples on display were made by her. So cool! I guess my style aesthetic was very much represented there, and that's why I enjoyed the store so much. That and the wonderful staff—again, so welcoming, and friendly.

Continuing southward, the next stop was Rochelle's in Port Orchard. This was a quick stop because the boy was finally napping, and so papa stayed in the running car while I hopped out and back (can't leave the car stopped, lest the boy awake!). It was a nice store, and they had a lot of fabrics I hadn't seen at any of the previous stores, including a really big selection of fun novelty prints. They also had a nice fashion fabric section that I wish I could have taken more time to look through.

We headed back northward to our final shop of the day, Esther's Fabrics on Bainbridge Island. They've been in business for almost 50 years now! The quilting fabrics they carry are just wonderful, their selection focusing on modern designers and lots of those wonderful big, bold prints, and edgy designs. I had been really good at the previous shops, just purchasing for specific projects. But I just had to add some to the stash here. A couple of the prints were just too good to pass up. I also picked up the Mail Sack pattern from Pink Chalk Studio, and a fun book on monster plush.
Finally, we got on the ferry and headed homeward.

The day's spoils:
phat lootz WWSH 2008
All of the batiks on the right are destined for a holiday quilt project. The Asian prints are for my Grandmother's Flower Garden. Of course, I couldn't go all day without a green fabric for Dear Jane. Then there are the just because ones. How wonderful is that black and white dino bone print???

I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful husband who supports me in my crafty, quilty endeavors and who has the patience to spend a day shop hopping. And the boy was a great travel companion with minimal fusses and lots of smiles. The sun was out, and there was only just the barest sprinkle of rain. We got to visit areas we've never been before, do a little exploring, and spend some quality time together as a family. It was a very good day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: M-11

Dear Jane block M-11Block number/name: M-11 “Rickshaw”

Date completed: June 17, 2008

Number of pieces: 31

Notes on block: Finished is definitely better than perfect in this case! This block is just wonky. It actually felt as if it was going together pretty smoothly until I got to the outside sashing strips. And then things just weren’t fitting together well. The only thing I can think of is that maybe I just wasn’t careful enough while stitching and pieces got distorted. Weirdly, the block is actually 5” square-ish—but it just feels unbalanced somehow.

One thing I do really like about it though is the green diamonds. I took extra time to fussy cut and showcase the diamond pattern in the fabric which is almost exactly the same size as the diamond pieces in the block. Of course, then I forgot to pay any attention to the little paisley swishy inside the diamond—so they’re kind of going every which way. But that’s okay. They still look pretty nifty.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Star Quilt Along, Week 8

Hmmm... not sure about this one.
Star Quilt Along, block 8
I mean, I really like it, but then I think about it in a quilt with the rest of the blocks I've made. I'm not so sure about it what with the green setting blocks that will be surrounding it. It's a lot of green and it may be just too blendy. I'll wait and see before I scrap it though. There are still a few weeks to go, so it may all work out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: H-11

Dear Jane block H-11Block number/name: H-11 “Piercing Rays”

Date completed: June 13, 2008

Number of pieces: 16

Notes on block: I almost re-did this one because I was so unsure about the green I chose. This is mostly because it is one of those Jinny Beyer “Millennium” fabrics with the text “2000” scattered all about. Fortunately, I was able to get all those text areas in seam allowances—so the finished block won’t have any weird text showing. But I look at the completed block today, and it’s not so bad. I look at the tiny image above, and I even like it. So I guess it has worked itself out. This is good because I really don’t want to re-make this one. It was tricky. Blocks like this one are a good argument for hand piecing. I can’t even imagine how difficult doing it by machine would be.

I actually had to take a mini-break while stitching this one to watch the latest BBC production of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I wanted to be able to focus my full attention on the film. It was a wonderful adaptation. Hopefully, Netflix will see fit to send me the recent Sense & Sensibility soon too. I’m just a Jane Austen junkie!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Emmeline Apron

The Emmeline Apron pattern from Sew Liberated (formerly Montessori by Hand) was one I had been admiring for months. Then I saw that Stacy Sews and Monkey Foot Designs were having a sew along contest featuring that pattern. It was just the impetus I needed to get me sewing! Fortunately for me, they extended the deadline to June 15-- so I can still enter my version into the pool (so many gorgeous entries!).

Though I do love Empire waistlines, they sometimes don't work so well on my rather buxom figure. But making an adjustment to account for that ended up being really simple. I measured from my high bust, down and over and under the fullest part of my bust to about where my bra band sits. I took that measurement and then just lengthened the pattern piece to match (I ended up adding about 4"). I didn't mess with the width or the top or bottom accent bands at all because I felt they would provide plenty of coverage across my front as is.

I'm really happy with the finished apron—it's really pretty flattering, I think. And I love that it is reversible!

Emmeline apron, front side

Emmeline apron, reverse side

I used a home dec weight cotton for the front and a regular quilting cotton for the reverse, both from Hancock Fabrics.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: K-8

Dear Jane block K-8Block number/name: K-8 “Springbrook Park”

Date completed: June 9, 2008

Number of pieces: 23

Notes on block: Such a pretty, soft green. I really like this fabric! Nothing tricky about this one—just lots of care with all the various seams. The Dear Jane software cuts off the edges of triangular pieces. On the one hand, it makes it very, very easy to line up triangles exactly where they are supposed to meet (which can sometimes be very tricky). But on the other hand, the finished block often ends up with funky little triangular divots where seams end. It won’t matter in the finished product, because they’re all well within the seam allowance. But it just makes the block not look as pretty as it would otherwise.

I’m getting anxious…now that I’m caught up, it’s feels like a long wait between blocks! But I’m wary of working ahead much because I don’t want to burn out. I’ll instead try and distract myself by working on some hexagon flowers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Star Quilt Along Fun!

In the last week, I've finally been able to catch up on my projects—including amandajean's Star Quilt Along. I'm having so much fun with this project. It's a very different approach than I'm used to, so not only am I stretching myself and learning a lot, but I also think it will result in a really wonderful quilt.

Here are my latest blocks:

Week 6:
Star Quilt Along Week 6 block
I'm not sure why, but this one was really difficult for me, both in choosing the fabrics and in actual construction. This is a little weird since I had no problems with the week 5 block, and that one is supposedly a lot harder.

Week 7:
Star Quilt Along Week 7 block
With this one, I'm breaking into cooler tones. It feels as up to this point, I have been using very warm colors. I think adding some of the blue/purple will offer some nice effects. I hope.

Setting Block:
Star Quilt Along setting block
I've only managed to get one of these complete, but the fabric is all cut and ready to go for the others. This green is the one fabric I've purchased for the project. All the rest have been from the stash.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: TR-4

Dare Jane block TR-4Block number/name: TR-4 “Bennington Cross”

Date completed: June 6, 2008

Number of pieces: 36

Notes on block: At last! Caught up! Now the trick is staying on top of new blocks. I’m really, really pleased with how this one turned out. Much more complicated than the first triangle, but I think it looks better. It was a little frustrating though because when I printed out the templates, the Dear Jane software treated the top section as two pieces—the triangle and then a V-shaped border. What the heck?! So I had to adjust the border piece to be two separate pieces. It’s not perfect (they don’t quite meet where they need to), but it should work fine.

I’m not sure how long this one took. It took a decent amount of time just to cut out all the pieces and prep it. Then I sewed on it Thursday evening for more than 4 hours, during the boy’s nap on Friday afternoon for a bit, and completed it Friday evening as we watched Bourne Ultimatum (which makes so much more sense now that I’ve seen it and the second one nearly back-to-back… I don’t know why it took me so long to work out the timing of the events in the two films, but it did).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: K-11 & C-1

Dear Jane block K-11Block number/name: K-11 “Columbine”
Date completed: June 3, 2008

Number of pieces: 25

Notes on block: I kind of like this star with its cut off points. I completed this one late Tuesday evening after my PEPS group meeting. I’m finally getting more comfortable with my seams—I’m not using my ruler every time I start one anymore (like I’ve been doing on the past few blocks, particularly the ones with more complicated construction), and am coming to trust my eyeballs again. It definitely makes the work go faster.

Also—I used another one of my swap fabrics for this one!

Dear Jane block C-1Block number/name: C-1 “Trooper Green’s Badge”

Date completed: June 4, 2008

Number of pieces: 13

Notes on block: Simple and quick to come together. It always makes me happy when I can easily rotary cut the pieces without templates. I absolutely love the background fabric in this one. I love it so much I bought 2 yards of it, so I suspect this is the first of many appearances it will be making.

It was nice to sit down and be restful for a bit. The boy was feverish all day and not at all himself. I called the nurse and ended up taking him in just to be sure everything was alright. Fortunately, all is well—it’s likely just a virus. So after the boy went to bed, my husband and I sat on the couch and we watched Semi-Pro as I stitched. (Thankfully, the block turned out a lot better than the movie!) As a movie treat, I made Key Lime Ice Cream from this month's Cooking Light magazine. With graham cracker crumbs sprinkled on top, it was like eating key lime pie. Yummy!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kitty Bag

A few weeks ago, I attended a “purse party.” It was a design-your-own purse event, in the vein of those scrapbook or kitchen parties. There were many sizes, styles, fabrics, and trims one could mix and match to create a unique purse or tote. The company is run by a local mom who sews all of the handbags herself. They were beautifully made, and well-worth the money she was charging (they really were reasonable prices).

But me, being the person I am, looked at the samples and could only think, “Hmmm… I think I could make that…” And so came to be the Kitty Bag.

outside of Kitty Bag
I have had this wonderful kitty fabric in my stash for 4 or 5 years—I bought a half-yard of it at the Houston International Quilt Festival. I wish I knew who made it or even where I bought it. But when I became inspired to make this bag, I knew the kitties would be perfect.

The basic shape of the bag, and the outer look of it (with the two fabrics and the ribbon covering the seam) were inspired by the designs I saw at the party. But, the button closure, the straps, and construction techniques used were all me.

This is actually my second attempt. The first one didn’t go so well—I used crinoline as a foundation, and it was way too stiff and crinkled horribly. And I had ribbon issues. This time around, I used canvas as a foundation and I am very happy with the result—the bag stands up nicely, but isn’t too stiff. And the ribbon worked out much better this time.

inside of Kitty Bag
The lining is not nearly as clean and pretty as in the purses I saw at the party, but I think it will work well enough.

Yay for a new summer satchel!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: F-5

Dear Jane block F-5Block number/name: F-5 “Parcheesi”

Date completed: June 2, 2008

Number of pieces: 17

Notes on block: This one was difficult for me. But I think it was more a mental block than anything else. I spent lots of time trying to get my head around how I would put it together. In the end, it worked out fine, but there were challenges to it. I went ahead and used Anina’s suggestion of piecing most of it and then using reverse appliqué for the melons. The basting was tricky because I chose to do all my basting first—and then I ended up with the fabric from one melon basted under another. So I basted again, this time being much more careful. Then the seams from the squares in the corners were peeking into the melons, and I was having to try and scootch them aside as I did the points while trying to keep my points looking closed and pointy. Thankfully, I was pretty successful (except for one point).

My husband looked at the completed block and commented that he thought this was his favorite so far. So really, I’m feeling pretty good about it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: I-8

Dear Jane block I-8Block number/name: I-8 “Pete’s Paintbox”

Date completed: June 1, 2008

Number of pieces: 25

Notes on block: Yay! Another one complete, another step closer to catching up with the Dear Baby Jane group. This one came together very nicely. I split my time between working on this and baking some chocolate chip cookies (I use Alton Brown’s super-tasty recipe, “The Chewy”). So when the block done I rewarded myself with some milk and a cookie. It was an excellent end to my evening.