Thursday, February 6, 2014

Satisfying Scraps

Sometimes I am still the 6 yr. old with needle and thread sewing itsy bitsy pieces of fabric together. Back in the wayback it was troll it's pincushions...what can I's just satisfying to use up those little bits and have a little pretty...:) This is one little 2.5 square of Marmalade and some taupe polka dot. The button is a scrapbook adornement...glued it on so I hope it stays put!

Sometimes it's about those fun bits sellers put in the package with your order ( see previous post ...I have a history with these--actually a wall full of them!) This was two pieces, different orders and they just said "zipper pouch" and so there it is...scrap satisfaction...sometimes it's just the thing in between big I'm off to find a troll...I know there's one around here somewhere...probably needs some clothes....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Improv Piecing - The Balance Quilt

It all started with a little sample square of "Koi". I received it in a fabric order. I love those little samples that come along. I save them, and make little projects from them- zipper pouches, pincushions, etc... They used to be more common but I suppose sellers are feeling the pinch more these days and it has become much more of a surprise when one pops up with my order - I still love it!
This particular one went onto my bulletin board right away, and just seemed to be meant for something more than a zipper pouch.  I love that little plucky Koi swimming around. I gradually acquired a collection of blues and reds, mostly from Rashida Coleman Hale's Koi and Tsuru lines, just because I liked them; and some Laniki basket weave from Dear Stella;  no plan in mind. Until, one day I looked at the Koi, and pulled out my little stack and decided they would be the start of something...just for fun.  It would be Improvisational piecing. I started with the fish and simply worked out from there,

making improvisational log cabin blocks and mixing them with larger panels and "whatever" blocks.  I told myself...don't criticize it, just have fun and use your eye. So, this is what I have come up with and I call the quilt "Balance" because that was just about the determining factor as I pieced it...making and adding sections one at a time with an eye to balancing the shapes and colors, but not trying to over control it. It's a fun piece, one of a kind that will always remind me of the sheer fun of quilt making and the pleasure of working with fabrics I fell in love with and bought "just because".

 It's lap quilt size- perfect for just curling up on the couch. I'm currently quilting it- stitch in the ditch and then a different pattern for each section. I am taking my time with it and enjoying the process since it is just for me and isn't due anywhere at any time:)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thread Divas - February - My month to be a Diva!

Our Block swap group on Threadbias called Thread Divas is underway and February is my month to be the Diva!  Here is the information for my Thread Divas:

For my month I have chosen Log Cabin Trees. The tutorial is by Penny Halgren and can be found here

The tutorial is very DIY...blocks can be made to any dimensions you like. For my blocks, I am requesting sizes anywhere from 9.5- 15". My plan is a modern grid of seasonal trees around a center tree.

For colors, I would like each person to choose a season and then interpret that season as they like. My color requests are to avoid really neon colors but other brights are fine. Backgrounds can be neutrals of any kinds- from white to grey, text prints, and even blues and greys for Winter trees. The trees themselves should have a dominant color for their season but that can vary. Winter could be bare trees or Fir trees for example. Spring can be any number of colors ( flowering trees) and greens in so many hues.  Summer would most likely be more intense greens and colors, and Fall can run from yellows, oranges, reds and greens to pale greys,browns, rusts...or whatever else you may see as each of these seasons. Applique, embroidery and PP are fine- I intend this quilt to be a wall hanging for my sewing space so you can be as creative as you like with the texture.

If you would- please sign your tree can sign your initials in the trunk with embroidery thread, or use an archival pen, or any other number of ways you might find to work your name or initials into the design- again- have fun with it.  This part is important to me because I see this quilt as a real friendship piece and the blocks with your initials will make it that much more special.

Mary had an excellent suggestion that I a little tutorial of how I made the here first tutorial.  (If you make a lot of HST's then this will most likely be redundant but it's here if you need it!)

Decide how large you would like your starting block to be. ( This one is 4"). Cut a strip ( any width you example is 2.5") of your Trunk fabric at least 2" longer than the diagonal measurement of your block. For example I cut a 7.5" strip for my 4" block.
Cut the block diagonally.
Sew your strip to one diagonal side. (I am using contrasting thread to make it easier to see:)
To determine exactly where to line up the second side of the strip with the second half of my block, I placed one diagonal piece over the other and lined up the center point.
  Then I carefully slipped the one side free, and continued on to sew the second piece.
Press both side towards the dark strip and you will have your block ready for trimming.
Trim and cut a second block from your background fabric to the same size.
Place your solid square over the trunk block and draw a diagonal line which intersects the trunk section, and lines 1/4" to either side of that line. Sew on each of the outside lines. You will cut down the middle. 
You will wind up with this!
Trim and voila! You have your starting block with trunk.

Now you can start adding your "branches" (normally called "logs" in this block) They can be any width you like, but I have found between 2" and 2 1/2" to be good.

Note in the original tutorial  that when you get to round two, you add a piece of your background fabric, the length of the width of your strip. So if your strip is 2.5" wide, add a 2.5" long piece of your background fabric. In the third round, your background fabric should be about twice the length of your strips approximately 5" for a 2.5 wide strip.

Please note ( it was really late last night, so I will try to get a finished photo up tonight!)- my sample above does not have the final sashing added. the sample below does. This sashing does not have to be the same width as the branches - it is your choice- you can go 1/2" smaller if you like as I did in the sample below.  As you can see also in the sample below- my background inserts are not to the ratio specified- I was using up every scrap of the Kona meringue that I had left. The point is, if your measurements are a bit more or less it is not a huge deal- not a deal at all really, as they still work, and with the improvisational layout I plan for this, they will simply add to the charm!

Update:- Here is the finished block- sorry for the light- we are having a crazy snowstorm and it's gloomy.

Have fun with this block. I am looking forward to seeing how everyone interprets their season!

And, please don't hesitate to PM me on Threadbias if you have any questions!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Jazz Age

So, I am finally getting caught up and into the present day, just a final historical post and then on to the here and now.

In 2008 we moved from our sweet bungalow. My hubby's mother needed to move in with us and we knew we would need to either renovate or move. I had some ideas about how to make it work and still keep the bungalow look but it wasn't to be. The owner didn't want to sell to someone outside his family so moving it was.

We searched everywhere around Baltimore-finding a home with an adequate MIL suite that ticked all our boxes was no easy feat. We finally found a charming house built in 1920, that had the right number of rooms and space, and in we moved. It's nice having the room to host large groups after concerts or whatnot, and also nice to be able to have people stay the night. Lot's of paint and our glorious mismatch of inherited furniture  which all just happened to look right in a 1920's house, and everyone has been comfy for 5 years. My MIL had to finally move into assisted living-92 next year!!! But she lived here well for almost five years, and now my mom will move in come January. 

The big change for me has been sewing space. I have a good portion of the basement set up- a crafty mom cave so to speak. So now, with just one at home and in her Senior year, and the with the space to put everything out, it has been nice to get sewing and quilting done.  Joining Threadbias has been one of the best parts of that- finding a wonderful community of sewers (Threaders;))) and being part of so many great groups, swaps and projects....may the fun continue:)

Onward to actual postings about the all the history stuff can get archived but at least I've got it down somewhere:)))

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Little Bungalow on the Hill ( Not a Prairie in Sight)

Okay...long hiatus from posting but life does that. In any case we last left our intrepid sewer moving into a bungalow- actually a 1928 Montgomery Ward Kit House replica - in the sleepy hollow of Woodstock, Maryland. ( Yes, just a stone's throw from the Catholic Seminary where the priest featured in the true life story of the Exorcist, lived).

And on that cheery note- we find our happy family of five moving into this lovely bungalow- a rental mind you- the owner would not sell it to us- and I don't think he ever really warmed up to us beyond the point of freezing the entire time we were there- but I am getting ahead of myself.

The house was very sweet- the exact plan of a MW bungalow with two massive pillars between the living and dining room- they were very cool and the kids loved squeezing in between them and the door frame. It had lots of lovely wood in a dark cherry stain, and I painted the dining room cream with a top border stripe of a deep medium purple. Funny how that worked out. My husband approached the gruff owner to request $ to cover the cost of paint which was begrudgingly granted and as they were concluding their business, my husband casually remarked..."don't worry- it's not like we'll paint it purple or anything". But purple it indeed was- and really very nice. I had chosen it to pick up the color in a painting- Love Among the Ruins by Edward Burne-Jones.

My purple border stripe picked up the purple in the center of the picture, with a hint of the rose on the prince's sleeve as well. The print is huge and hung in our dining room. (Now it hangs over our fireplace). The Sleeping Beauty/ Briar Rose series by Burne Jones was the subject of my Senior thesis in Art History,  and this a stunning painting- actually went up for action this year

In any case- the owner definitely had no idea what he was getting into with us. "Those artsy folk" is what I imagine he was thinking. It didn't help that the garden he let us have went to weed and ruin ( no love among the ruins there!) and the children turned it into a giant diorama of the trenches of WWI for a school project, and that he, living next door as he did, could see us spending literally hours on the front porch reading books aloud."Crazy homeschoolers" was probably also going through his head.

It was during this time when my sewing went into hibernation- only to come out for the occasional costume or table runner. Life was too full steam ahead with schooling and our space too parceled out for other needs for me to do much in the way of projects that couldn't be finished in one day and then put away. This was fine, since I wasn't particularly inspired to sew by what I was seeing in the stores at the time- (and we still don't have many good fabric stores nearby but at least now I know where to look online;)!

Somewhere around 2010 I rediscovered fabric and what a change!  How nice of the sewing world to remedy this while I, like Rip Van Winkle, took a little nap. I go away for the most part for over 10 years, and when I wake up...voila! The world of fabric and sewing has changed, definitely taking a page from the world of scrapbook paper design. Now there are gorgeous, intensely saturated color palettes, designs of every scope and size, and many are not just design/pattern but very close to what we think of as art.  Additionally the explosion of DIY and the accessibility of tutorials and inspiration online makes it virtually impossible not to find something to sew and the instructions to do it well.

Sure, there were nice fabrics available before the sewing revolution, but they weren't seen in huge numbers and certainly not at visually appealing. It truly is a revolution-helped primarily I suspect by the Internet and bloggers - certainly the abililty to access and store patterns online alone is transformative to the craft. This is old news I know, but I have a reputation for coming late to the party...just glad I made it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pride and Prejudice

I promised some photos from the they are...once again by Ashley at Wide Eyed Studios   . I made Becca's  ( Elizabeth) dress and the gold one at the far left being worn by Susan Wefel, who is appearing as Mrs. Bennett.Photo


Saturday, March 2, 2013

You Can Go Home Again But You'll Need a Permit for That

So...time to pick up the story...we were zooming up to Maryland. Now, back in Georgia, there had been a housing bust of sorts- this the 90's version- and houses weren't selling- at least not older ones like a 70's rancher...which ours was. So, we left an exchange student friend living there and the real estate agent set about trying to sell it. In the meantime, we were able to live in the little Missions House on the church property.

Today it has been remodeled beautifully and is very comfy- back when we lived there it was not quite so- Ben and Becca shared a room with bunk beds, and the baby, Glenna had a sort of trundle bed in our bedroom. Add the bath,  living room and kitchen and that was it. You can imagine the huge adjustment this was for the kids, who had left a fairly spacious rancher in South Georgia but hey it was supposed to be for a short while and we were adventurous, and everybody enjoyed the novelty of it all.

 The kids had the entire church parking lot to ride their bikes in and the property extended down to the reservoir- we could hike whenever we wanted. We lived out of  a lot plastic tubs and the schoolbooks were lined up on an Ikea bookshelf. My sewing stuff was stashed away, only to come out for projects.  Our Christmas there included a little Charlie Brown type tree- complete with homemade ornaments- since all our stuff was packed away- and I still remember that Christmas as a favorite one. Yes, I know it is starting to sound like a special episode of Family Ties or something- the one where the family learns the meaning of being together and stuff- but it was a sweet time- it's amazing what happens when you are parted from a lot of your stuff:)

 I sewed at the kitchen table and it was from there that I made the smocked organdy dress for Glenna's first birthday that took first place at the Maryland State fair, and a few other dresses that also won blue ribbons- me!- I had never won anything in my life- what a hoot! And it had all been done in the cramped less than optimal conditions- I think back on that whenever I am feeling sewing space envy:)

The short stay turned into a year and still no bites on the house. It was getting desperate and it was told to us by our agent in Georgia that the house would sell better with a family in it. The exchange student had moved on, and the house was empty- this was not a good thing. So, we packed up our stuff, Barry stayed in Maryland, living in various church member's homes and moving around like some circuit riding preacher without the horse, while we went back to Georgia to try to sell the house.

We made the house up like House Beautiful- invested a few hundred dollars in new paint and such, and kept it immaculate- ready at the drop of a hat to be shown- not easy to do with homeschooling but the house had wonderful built in bookshelves and the kids got really good at what I called the "Ten Minute Tidy" The scenario call from real estate agent. Said agent, who is supposed to give you a reasonable heads up of an hour or so says "we'll be right there" ( keep in mind this is small town- when they say we'll be right there...they are right there) and we would all go into Ten Minute Tidy mode. Like tornadoes running around the house- everything whisked back to its place, and everyone already trained in keeping the house looking like people COULD live here but nobody actually does.

 I did a small bit of sewing over the holidays when the house wouldn't be shown but not all that much- it was simply too big a risk to take when a smiling RE agent might show up at any time and I would get the stare of death should any projects, dishes, mail, Legos or heaven forbid,  LAUNDRY be seen.  Having been through the moving/ house hunting thing a few times now,  I personally would like to visit a house during laundry routine-to me this is a crucial time- just how is it in a potential  house to lug laundry ?- where do you fold and sort- how does it all look in real life?  But no- being shown a house involves seeing a dollhouse and the family involved has to basically eliminate any signs of real life.

This is  the time when for all intents and purposes the sewing machine was sent into exile. Poor baby Elna was stowed in her box, fabrics and smocking stuff went permanently into tubs and out to the garage, and all evidence that  I could even hold a needle disappeared. We did other stuff- lots of field trips, horseback riding, school stuff- anything that could be cleaned up quickly or even more so- anything OUT of the house!.  It was simply a case of out of sight, out of mind and heart since it really wasn't possible to effectively show the house and continue sewing.  The kids were young and there was plenty to do, so it was okay. Sometime after about 9 months it finally sold and we could pack up for good and go back to Maryland- the land of a thousand government agencies and all the forms to go with it!  This time we would move into a 1928 Bungalow that had been built from a kit! The owner wouldn't sell it but he would let us rent it and being the best we could find- we did.  The tales from the bungalow will be ahead....