Thursday, October 18, 2012

eep! EPP!

It's been nice to have a bit of hand stitching to do over the past week. I just sat on the couch with Dave during the evenings and stitched away while watching episodes of Poirot on Netflix.

These six-pointed stars end up being pretty big! It's kind of satisfying, actually. I've had this false impression that paper piecing always involves little fiddly bits, and indeed the couple of experiences I have had with it involved smaller blocks and more pieces. These were a lot easier and faster.

The other nice thing about this is, I only have to make two! They are off to be made into a bee quilt. Still not sure I'd want to make a whole quilt myself using this technique. Smaller projects like pillows seem ok. I need to find a thimble strategy that I like better than 'none' -- my leather ones make me feel like I have 4 thumbs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ticker tape the rainbow

I combined inspiration from a number of sources for this tote bag. First, I've been saving a bunch of "rainbow order" quilts and projects on Pinterest and Flickr. Second, I've been wanting to try ticker tape ever since I saw the Bottled Rainbows quilt along and quite a few lovely versions of that design. Aaaaand third, this is a repeat of a tote I made this summer in handstitched class. What you make for one niece, you must make for the other. :)

Instead of using pieced hexagons I sorted through my scrap jars and found a set of scraps in each color of the rainbow. I like that I ended up using a few little pieces that I was sort of wondering why I saved at all. In retrospect, I probably should have used some fusible interfacing to attach the fabric scraps onto the bag instead of just zig zag stitching them in place. The problem I ran into was edges popping out of the stitches. Oooops. I ran back over them with more stitching, but this might not be the most durable approach ever.

I do like the rainbow effect of the layout, though. I didn't have any small purple scraps, so I decided to skip using purple on the front and used a big piece for the lining. The handle is the cutest part, though. I had some leftover Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar scraps from a comforter I made for Samara a loooong time ago (well, 6 years maybe) and I used the fruit series in the strap -- makes for a nice little rainbow in there, too!

These two totes are destined to hold some Christmas goodies, so I'm crossing another handmade gift off the to do list. Hurrah!

Update: linking up to Finish It Up Friday

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blushing coreopsis

I had so much fun last Friday night playing with fabric. I bought these half yards back in April mostly because I got a great deal, but when I pulled them out and put them next to each other, an inkling of a project came up in my mind. They are: Anna Maria Horner Loulouthi Coreopsis flannel in Tangy and Joel Dewberry Heirloom Opal voile in Blush.

When I first found Maureen's blog (and at the same time, blogland in general) her Simple Scarf Tutorial was recently posted, and I fell in love with the idea of a flannel and voile scarf. It kind of stuck around in the back of my mind, and like I said when I saw this combination I filed it away in my brain as a good pairing to use. I was in the midst of lots of knitting and sewing for my nieces' birthdays in April, so these got put away on the back burner. I had some fun a few weeks ago making an infinity scarf from voile scraps and quilting cotton, which reminded me of this project. I've had so much on my mind putting together my faculty application packet that I've been all about making small projects this month to take quick mental breaks; this was another great one.

I modified the measurements in the tutorial a little, only using a half yard of each print since that's what I had. The scarf is plenty long (almost 90 inches) and this flannel is so soft!!! It was totally worth making the change in length so I could use it. This will be the perfect bright accessory for winter. If I were keeping it, I'd also wear it for fall since the colors are perfect for this time of year, too. It's destined for holiday gift giving though, so winter it is. That's right it's only October and I've got a few gifts done, so happy.

This is a satisfyingly quick project that is a great way to showcase quirky fabric combinations or favorite colors. Everyone loves a scarf, too! At least I do. At one point I was told they were my trademark. That was before I worked full time in a lab with corrosive chemicals. (But I do still like to wear them when I'm presenting group meeting.) I'll be making at least one more, I'm sure.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A quick gift for a great cook!

I made another necklace. This one is for Lisa who made a fantastic plum pie for us all to enjoy this past weekend. Thanks, Lisa!

She picked out this seed stripe fabric from my stash before heading home that evening, and I think it makes a lovely finished piece. I used a dark gray grosgrain ribbon for the tie.

It didn't take me long at all to finish, so I decided to also make a bag to go with it, a la Brighton. I just love the pretty bags I have from them whenever my mom and I buy jewelry there (which happens basically every visit). I use one to carry my camera in! I've had this bird in flight print, which is rayon maybe?, left over from a tunic top I made myself and I thought it would be a fun fabric to use. I lined it with home dec weight fabric to give it some structure and hand stitched the casing for the ribbon drawstring using pearl cotton. 

This was a lot of fun to do, and I hear she was pleased. That's what it's all about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

goedemorgen starshine

I don't know why that song popped into my head, but it did. Well in English it did (good morning, starshine). It might have something to do with the fact that the pattern name I am using for part of this next project is called Planetarium. Why the Dutch good morning? Because I've finally started my Amsterdam-inspired quilt! I wrote about the idea for this quilt back in April in one of my earliest posts. I've been waffling since on the pattern to use for this set of fabrics, which are orange for The Netherlands and bright green for the walls of AMOLF, our temporary workplace there. They've been hanging out in the stash cabinet for a while. 

I recently purchased a copy of Elizabeth Hartman's lovely book The Practical Guide to Patchwork because it was so darn pretty when I flipped through the pages. Her use of color is really right up my alley. I also really like that many of the quilts use traditional patterns, like these little hourglass blocks (in progress), in interesting ways. 

I knew I wanted to make a square quilt as a picnic quilt for us like the ones I've made for a couple of wedding gifts recently. Dave is gung ho about buying me some laminated cotton to use for the back (yay! suggestions anyone?) and he has also been really helpful and involved in figuring out the design. In flipping through my new book, I found two quilts that really caught my eye: Planetarium which has outlined 9 patches of hourglass blocks and Rain or Shine which has square sort of sunburst blocks with yo-yos in the center (!!!). While I was trying to choose between the two, Dave asked "well why not just alternate blocks of both?" Genius. They're slightly different finished sizes, but I will alter the sunburst block size to match the 9 patches and everyone's sensibilities will be intact. Well mine, really. Dave had no problem with this little fact of mismatchery.

It was soooo nice to start a new quilt project that didn't involve just cutting squares and sewing them together. This piecing will be more time consuming than the two patchwork picnic quilts, but also more interesting for me. Besides, there's no deadline for this one so I get to take my time and enjoy reminiscing about our life in Amsterdam while I piece. *siiiiigh*

The fabric soldiers patiently wait in formation at camp ironing board.

Linking up to my first WIP Wednesday in a while, thanks for stopping by if you popped over from Freshly Pieced!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Riding in style

Haha its better than I thought it would be! 

Here is my pile of riding equipment. Helmet, gloves, half chaps, and - wait, where are my boots? Ah. They're hanging out in that nifty bag over there. I got this urge to make a lined drawstring bag to keep my boots separated from the rest of my equipment because boy they get dirty! Shavings and arena dust on (or in!) my helmet is not my idea of a good time. And when I stopped putting them in the duffel bag, I was getting said shavings and dust all over my trunk. Even less good. The car gets dirty enough on the outside without bringing it inside, too.

I used Jeni Baker's lined drawstring bag tutorial as a guideline for steps and sort of winged it as far as the dimensions go. I lined the bag with cuts from an outdoor tablecloth I picked up. I liked the paisley design, the colors, and the price! Reasonable for such a big piece of 'fabric'. A good chunk of the rest of this tablecloth is waiting to be transformed into a garment bag. The best part? It's coated. This way the dirt, dust, mud, shavings, what-have-you will be easy to clean out of the bag periodically.

Here is a picture from this weekend of the front panel embroidery in-progress. I had this vision in my head of a horse contentedly grazing underneath a tree, but wasn't sure if I would be able to accomplish it in felt. I tried anyway, and am pretty pleased with the results. I might go back and do some more detail on the horse, but I originally had a silhouette in mind. (Turns out I have no black felt, so he's a gray.) I don't want it to have too much in the way of long satin stitches or anything, like for a mane or tail, because it's going to get thrown around the car, tack room, and just generally abused so it would end up pulled and looking like heck anyway. It will probably just stay this way.

I am definitely tickled at how the tree turned out, though. I just cut out the leaves improvisationally and put them all down where I wanted on my sketched out tree trunk. Then I took a picture and referred to that as I went back and sewed down the layers in the proper order with running stitches. 

This was one of those projects I had in my head before thinking about whether or not it would be achievable, but it turned out really nice. I'm pleased. It is something that I will likely be using just about every day, and I am doubly happy that I will be able to take a little piece of creative whimsy with me to my "other" hobby.

Linking up to Free Motion by the River for a new (to me) link party and Finish It Up Friday. If you're reading this from there, thanks for clicking through!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Park Fountain II

I gave myself an easy project. Lately I've been feeling an overload of inspiration, potential projects, and the desire to push my skills into new territory. Problem is, my brain is full of work (as it should be!). I think the last straw was when the instructions for the garment bag I want to make were making no sense to me, and it wasn't even all that late at night. So instead I picked the easiest project on my list and went to town.

I really like fabric covered beaded necklaces. I think they were probably a fad from a while ago, but you know what I don't care if they're hot right now. I still like them. In fact, isn't that the best time to see if you really like something or not, after the hype dies down? I made Mom one for Mother's Day and really thought it turned out looking neat, so I copied myself. We can be twins! Yep, used the same fabric, same ribbon and everything. I think my beads might be a little bigger; I could only fit 9 in my fabric tube instead of 10. Green is one of my favorite colors, and also the color I have the least of in my jewelry. Funny how that works, isn't it? I think that's even true of my scarves and shawls. So here's one contribution to a little more green in my life.

It's more substantial than the knotted fabric necklace I made recently - the weight of the beads makes it hang nicely. I might try making a multi-stranded version next. I don't think they'll be all that 'professional' when it comes time for conferences and interviews (oh how I wish) but for a fun weekend or a bit of interest during the week, not bad at all.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Portland cowl

Isn't this the best way to knit?  With a coffee at hand... 

I completely love this cowl. Like I've already worn it 2 or 3 times since finishing it love. It isn't even cold enough yet. It seems I've finally found a type of wool (merino) that I can tolerate on my skin for long periods of time, so it's been pure pleasure romping around in this colorful squishy circle of fabric.

I need an excuse to purchase large quantities of this yarn (madeline tosh vintage) again. It's superwash, so that's a plus, and it's pretty substantial so I bet it will wear really well. The colors are Mica and Venetian, a beautiful combination of silvery gray and a mulberry purple. I really enjoyed threading it through my fingers as I worked, so soft. It is most definitely a contributing factor to why I liked working on this project so much. I'll be saving my pennies for a future splurge, but it will be a while.

It took me a little less than 3 weeks to finish this. The stitch is an easy one to memorize, and it was perfect for working on the plane and evenings on the couch with some new Doc Martin episodes (I think this would fit right in in Port Wynn). I blocked it to 10" wide, and it also looks great folded to 5" wide and wrapped a few times. That and the double-sided nature of the brioche stitch fabric makes this a pretty versatile bit of accessory.

Thumbs up for the Newsprint Cowl pattern, Knit Purl in Portland, and crossing off another 100 day hustle project.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Color for thought

Rachel chose the most interesting colors for our October bee blocks: gold, teal, peach, brown, light purple, pink, warm gray, royal blue, the list goes on. "Seasonal brights" -- it's interesting actually that I have a lot of these colors in my closet, not as much in my fabric stash. She has inspired a host of outfits for me with these color combinations, that's for sure! I'm actually pretty stoked that it's fall so I can wear my boots and scarves again. Well after this heat wave breaks, hopefully we will have a short Indian Summer because I'm over it being 90 degrees at the barn at 11 am.

palette chips from the prompt for this month's Love Circle quilt

I played around with fabrics looking for something resembling an appropriate combination (while trying to avoid the colors she requested we not use - harder than it sounds!) and I just want to pair blue with everything. I think that pop of color just looks so great and unexpected. But I'll restrain and only use it once. I do hope we have the same color definitions -- peachy orange vs red orange, royal blue vs regular blue for instance (one each a "yes" color and one a "no"). I'm taking a leap and making myself not use my beloved linen/cotton blend this time because while I love the color and texture, I think I'd be in for a world of pain if I tried EPP with it during a month where I have limited time to fiddle.

This is the interesting thing about collaborative work - worrying if you'll fit in or not. I find that I worry about this mostly with color and fabric choice, but sometimes I even worry if my seams are even enough. That is when I know I'm getting overly neurotic. In the end, we're all doing this to have fun and contribute towards a beautiful quilt together. I think the perfectionist in me gets projected onto other people as a matter of habit, definitely not because of any prior experience or impressions of those people. I do this at work, too so at least I'm consistent? I guess it just stems from a desire to do well in everything I do. (Dave and I are learning alllll about our inner selves as we prepare ourselves to apply for faculty jobs and think about what is important to us moving forward to the next adventure.)

At any rate, I picked out a bunch of fabrics from my stash and scraps to try combining. We have two blocks to make. I am thinking of pairing that peach and teal print with the solid brown and the blue with the peachy pink flower print, but I may end up making one more with the other two fabrics depending on how I feel about the blue and peachy/pink one when it's done and send all three for Rachel to determine if those colors are suitable or not. I think so, but the blue may be too plebeian and not royal enough (hehe, dork) and maybe someone else might consider that bright pink. I don't but I certainly am open to the fact that others will have different interpretations (especially after putting this picture in the same place as those color chips... but I think it matches up ok with other colors I saw in the mosaic pictures).

The diamonds for two blocks are all basted and ready for assembly. We are doing EPP six pointed stars this month. Perfect because I will likely have more short bits of time for handwork than larger chunks for sitting down at the machine this month. Away we go!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm seeing pink elephants

I wanted to make little Maria a stuffed friend to go along with her flannel blanket, so I opened up my One Yard Wonders book to try to find a good candidate. I had previously made a corduroy bear pillow from a pattern in this book and I liked it, but it was kind of big for a three week old. There are some big stuffed animals out there! The one I settled on was Elodie the Elephant, who as it turned out is just about as big as Maria is anyway. Ah well.

I picked a cute pink owl print and a bit of purple for the inside of her ears. I opted for an "Amish elephant" (i.e. without eyes) because I think buttons would have looked much better than an embroidered set of eyes, but buttons and newborns don't mix. I didn't LOVE making this, but I think that's more because I don't like sewing stuffed things closed rather than that I didn't like the pattern. I'm not 100% convinced I put the ears in the best place, but she's pretty cute anyway. 

Little elephant waits on the car while we get
a flat tire fixed on the way to her new home!

Maria got her gifts this past weekend, and I hope she enjoys them. Lizzie was pretty excited about the elephant since she was talked out of buying a little pachyderm just a few days before. I love it when I hear "oh wait, you MADE this???" - that's a pretty big compliment!

(Cross one item off the 100 day hustle list!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fresh Sewing Day October

Wow how is it October already! Time flies. Fall is upon us, which means it is my favorite time of year! I love all the colors and smells of fall - vibrant oranges, deep purples, the aroma of cider. It's a little bit different living in California, but I will always remember growing up near Chicago with the crisp days of autumn marking the start of school and football season.

September was a really busy month for me at work, but I am happy to say I accomplished quite a lot in my free time! Maybe I work more efficiently when I'm busiest. Yarn projects made a comeback since I traveled a lot, and I got some "must do" projects done like the large quilt and baby gifts.

October is going to be one of those times when work is really going to take priority, so it will be interesting to see what I get done. I did join up with the 100 Day Hustle, so I already have a list of projects I'd like to finish. I'd at least like to start cutting pieces for our Amsterdam quilt and baste/start the hand quilting on my Modern Medallion quilt.
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Linking up to Fresh Sewing Day and the Small Blog Meet at Lily's Quilts