Friday, September 19, 2014

Parking the car to admire the view

Well, the nest is running over- but not with chicks- as they have all grown up and have for the most part, flown the coop. The youngest will still be home for vacations, but like her brother, who is also a music  ( now Grad) student, her summers will mostly be spent away at festivals and programs.  The older two are in apartments of their own and flying nicely so all we have to do is pick up our comps at the window and try not to embarrass them by hooting and hollering too much from the 13th row.

So the nest is running over with crafty goodness... and while in recovery mode, I've been sticking to simple stuff...nothing to complex...just too tired for anything I have to seriously THINK about.  I'm not sure the surgery always makes people as tired as I've been. I suspect its the surgery right on the heels of an exhausting year of school visits, sample lesson trips and audition trips, and moving my mom in to live with us this past spring was simply a "perfect storm" and so much napping has been in order. Playing with scraps of fabric and pinning 101 things to do with Mod Podge are about up my alley right now.

But, I was signed up for a sew along on Threadbias, and so it behooves me ( yay, my yearly use of "behoove" is accomplished!) to give it a shot.  The group is doing it block by block, with some alternative cutting and assembly ideas that are good- but considering my lateness getting started I'm cutting it according to the directions, and will just post my blocks according to schedule.  I'm doing the baby quilt size so that I actually finish it by November- which is so small it feels like cheating but hey at least I'll have something to show for the whole thing! And who knows, maybe I'll make a bigger one when I have more get up and go!

The Pattern is Star Crossed from Four Robbins designs, and available on Craftsy

Here's my fabrics...Woodland Adventures from Camelot Cottons - from Five Monkey Fabrics   on etsy  and Kona Oyster.
And here is my Block 1
Block 2
It's an interesting pattern- I think alternately doing the center blocks as squares in a square as some are doing is a really good alternative, but I understand the designer's thinking in engineering the cutting and assembly as she has done...once you have all your basic units in your baggies and labeled, it's a straightforward process of assembly. I can't imagine doing this without baggies and a Sharpie though, as it could get very very confusing.
Block 3 next week.
 Block 3
I like the variation on this that makes the center square a fussy cut square set within a square and would definitely do a version with that method as well but this one was just "as per directions".
Next month...Block 4 and putting it all together. Since mine is a baby quilt size, I may opt to put a border around these, but I'm still deciding on that.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Nest Runneth Over

Beautiful Charles River
College of Fine Arts
Quincy Market- the food!
Well, it's been 2 months since I had major eye surgery for a detached retina and macula and I am finally nearing the end of the blurry tunnel!  It occurred while I was in Boston for my youngest daughter's college orientation at Boston University (no they didn't have bungee jumping for the parents, I have a congenital condition called latticing so it was likely to happen anytime). Isn't Boston gorgeous? I took the one on the left from the 26th floor of their newest dorm, the morning I had woken up with the vision half gone from my left eye. No pain, but something was definitely up and that something meant major surgery and my summer of hibernation.

some apartments near the school
 Here's a few more shots from that Orientation visit before we move on. I absolutely love Boston and am really looking forward to more visits in the future. I would move there in a heartbeat.

Commonwealth Ave near student center
 When you have that kind of "let's not go into the gory details" eye surgery, they put a gas bubble in your eye and you essentially keep it in its place by staring at the floor for a few weeks. Its invasive- they put you under thankfully. At the same time, they did a laser treatment on the right eye to hopefully keep the same thing  from happening to that eye. I  definitely don't like the conjunction of the words stitches and eye so we shall say no more.

Glenna made a gorgeous birthday dinner for her sister!
Hubby bought me a cute purple neck travel pillow to rest my face in, I signed up for books on tape from the Library and we got through it- we because it was my husband and daughter who took on the load of everything from the cooking to the relentless eye drops and I definitely couldn't have gotten through it without them. At the same time, another amazing group came alongside me- my  quilting friends.  These wonderful ladies from my online sewing home, Threadbias kept my spirits up with  cookies, happy mail, cards, postings and phone calls, and the reassurance that they were angeling all my groups- they too were an important part of my recovery...we got through it!

 Andy hung out with me  a lot in the first two weeks...
My buddy

 After four weeks or so, I could stop staring at my toes, I could actually sleep for more than a few hours and was able to do stuff...but not much...I was to stay in "low gear" and of course, they keep your eye dilated for 2 months- so its like one long version of that hour or so after you have a check up at the eye doctors...daytime was definitely not my favorite time! So what was low gear?...well, not reading or watching tv...the issue of glasses is still ahead and essentially what I can see well is about 12-14" in front of sewing....yes, sitting at the machine and zooming along, provided it wasn't to complex...that was good- definitely low gear.

I commenced on several weeks of  "therapy sewing" in between the monumental amount of sleeping my body demanded ( it would not take no for an answer) - nothing involving major use of the rotary cutter or scissors - I could just imagine explaining to the ER folks why a person who could only use one eye was even handling a rotary cutter.

neverending mug rugs
pillow for Glenna
a mini- using Potluck- love that collection!
 Pre cuts to the rescue and lots of mug rugs, pincushions ( you can't have too many can you????)
a table runner or two, a pillow for  daughter to take to college, - did a bit of cutting for that one but I took it slow, and a mini quilt using large HST's.   This was definitely not ground breaking stuff, just playing and using up stuff just to do something other than listen to books on tape or do dishes!  For about half the time my eye was still shielded, since the white light was truly annoying, so I embraced the wonky and it hugged me back.  There are some wonky edges and a few places where the scissors went askew...
                                                                                       but hey it was all for a good cause- my sanity!

They're off!
My husband took our daughter up to school Labor Day weekend and I stayed home with mom...they definitely didn't need me bumping into things and being generally useless and in any case...there was no room in the mirrors adjusted, coffee cups filled they set off and I did some more sewing, of course!

Runner using Civil War Jubilee
I finished the eye drops last week, the dilation is almost subsided, and at last I feel like its safe enough to actually cut into something other than scraps and odds and ends, and safe enough to try to actually quilt something bigger than a placemat.  Its been a crazy experience- nothing anyone looks forward to of course, but I had incredible doctors, and they tell me my vision will be very near 20/20 when its all through- its a year long process for this procedure but the end of the road is good and I am grateful.  I have another surgery for the cataract that the surgery induces, and then home the meantime...with an empty nest and a stash that needs reducing...I'll be sewing and posting here a lot more!
Mini- Briar Rose and Peppered Cotton

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.