08 October 2012

Fat Quarter Organization

Let me begin with an extreme purchase of fabric that I feel pretty guilty about. I was planning on actually using all of this to make cute host/hostess gifts for my cousin and her boyfriend who are hosting Thanksgiving this year in their brand new [to them] house. I thought these colors would be fun while also a little autumny.

When I asked her about what she could really use and told her about the colors, she was thrilled! But then asked if I could use the colors from the housewarming quilt I made them. Here is a picture of that quilt.

As you can see, those are not at all the same colors. Luckily, I still had enough scraps leftover to make everything I wanted to make them. Pictures in a few weeks when I finish the backs. Fronts are done though! Yay!

So that left me with 24 fat quarters that I was not prepared to house in my limited and poorly organized stash. (My local brick & mortar quilt shop has a sale: Buy 10 fat quarters, get one free.) Well as the title implies, I have [finally] found a nearly perfect way to organize my fat quarters!!

Meet the answer to all one of my problems!

My boyfriend and I were out of town and needed to kill some time, so we went to the Container Store since I had never been. Our goal was to find some sort of shelf to keep my fat quarters on. A wire mesh CD tower appeared to be the best bet, until I found this by accident! We were ready to check out and in line, then he had a phone call, so I wandered through the random middle section and found it! Fat quarters fit PERFECTLY!

I was starting to put them in by color, then realized two things:
  1. I did not have enough room for all of my fat quarters in just one drawer. We only bought the one in case it didn't work. Next time we visit in a few weeks, I am definitely buying a few more!
  2. I was just so excited to see them fit in there that I really did not care about grouping them by color! 

I was able to fit 86 fat quarters in there!! Eighty six!!! Could have squeezed a few more in, but then the ones in the back would be more cramped, which leads us to the only flaw I am finding in this...

The poor fat quarters in the back.

Unless the drawer is removed completely, the last 4 fat quarters are difficult to look down upon and flip though. This is a minor problem, though. I can pull the drawer out completely and it is a non-issue, or I can put duplicates back there, fabrics I don't really like, or just put something rigid back there so they don't go all the way to the back. That would lose the space for about 4 fat quarters, but I was able to fit 86 fat quarters in there!! Eighty six!!! So really, losing 4 would not be the end of the world, considering I have enough in my stash to fill almost 3 of these bad boys.

27 September 2012


As of today, I am more than 1/3 of my way through my first semester of full-time professoring (I'm making it a word, okay?). This is very exciting because it tells me that I might actually survive. If I do survive and if I get all the same classes next semester, I might even be able to leave my part time job during the semester and save it for breaks between classes.

But that is crazy talk. Thinking in whatifs always frustrates me. As a wee-lass, that was always one of my favorite poems:

"Everything seems swell, and then the nighttime Whatifs strike again!" -Shel Silverstein

Anyways, moving on! This might not be too verbose of a post, but it will be picture heavy as I have been squeezing in time for quilting since I cut back hours at part time job and am now only working about 50 hours a week at both jobs collectively. That is easy peasy.

I was able to finish the September buck a block from my local quilt shop. These are all basket blocks which I probably would have never tried on my own.

As it turns out, I actually really like the way most of them look.

I also completed my block for the newBEES block swap. The leader of this month was time2sew and she sent all the fabric and pattern, so I can take no credit except for the piecing.

Very cute block to get us started for a year of swapping.

Then we switch from newBEES to NuBees...

In my hive for September, I decided to make a spidery looking block out of HSTs. This first one is in my colors, teal, green, gold, & coral.

Next we have the block for Elizabeth. She requested oranges and pinks with a grey background. I love this pebbly grey fabric. I used it instead of the swirly one since this block had some solid in it so the background needed to stand out more (in my mind). Turns out pansies are her favorite flower, so the pink fabric was perfect!

Then we have the block for Christina. She wanted bright colors on a white background. I wanted to try and make it bright but not rainbowy, and I think I accomplished that. Unfortunately, after mailing this block to her, it was returned to me by the post office and she seems to be MIA in our hive. Hopefully, I can get it to her.

Then we have the block for Sara. She requested teals and reds. I asked if she wanted individual teal and red fabrics, or fabrics that included both colors and she had no preference. I also love the way these two colors look together, so I had a good deal of options to pull from in my stash. Yay! I love the way the little apples and the poppy flowers look together.

Then we have the block for our fearless leader, Kelli. Her colors were basically the same as mine without coral/orange. This was the only block I used a different fabric for each arm instead of doing two fabrics. No idea which way I prefer. But I do know this block is pretty!

I also made an angel block for someone who never received one way back in the summer. Made the block for Kira, who is so incredibly nice! She was always so appreciative and friendly every time I bothered her for more info. I used some of my absolute favorite chicken fabric on her block which was very fun!

In news unrelated to quilting, my boyfriend and I made butter from scratch to practice for a lab I was planning for my students! It came out so delicious! Then I turned around and made 18 batches of it with my students over 2 days. I was mildly sick of butter at that point, but now, I am back to proud!

Back to quilting!

I completed 32 + 1 scrappy string blocks for the Scrap Basket String Block Swap. They look so neat together!

Well, I made 36 + 1, but could not allow myself to surrender these four beauties. Something epic will be done with them, I just know it!

I also finished everything for Potholder Pass Swap. I ended up making 4 extra coasters for a total of 8 plus the 2 potholders. I also included a jar of homemade peach ginger jam! Yummy! Here are all the goodies except for the jam which was added on my way out the door to the post office.

Then I tried my hand at paper piecing!

Gimme an 'L'

Gimme an 'O'

Gimme a 'V'

Gimme an 'E'

What does that spell?!?!


I had no idea what to do with this, but knew it was my favorite thing I had ever made so whatever it turned into, I was keeping.

Then I decided to use it as the center focal point of a quilt and surround it with blocks of coordinating colors. So here it is with a few borders.

The darker grey inside border was added in the hopes that it will make this stand out more when it eventually becomes the focal point of a quilt. I would hate for something so pretty to just blend in!

I also completely finished (except for binding) the quilt for my friends' wedding that is in November not October. I was still shooting for finishing as if it were in October, and that looks like it will happen. Unfortunately, I can't show you any photos past the fabric/block selection (found Here and Here) in this post because the bride-to-be and/or groom-to-be could possibly see this and then the surprise would be gone.

They know they are getting a quilt. They know which fabrics I used. That is all they know. Spwee!

I will show you the fabric I picked for the back of their quilt.

Since they really wanted earth tones and modern, I think this is about as perfect of a fabric as I could have possibly dreamed of finding for the backing of their quilt! Yay!

For pictures of the front of the quilt and pretty shots once it is bound and beautiful, stay tuned until their wedding in November or until I remember that I really dislike keeping a surprise a surprise.

Now I go back to my busy world where I work 50+ hours a week. I even get to go out of town for work for the next two weekends! YAY! *eyeroll*

17 September 2012

I'm Alive!

...Well, barely.

60 hour work weeks coupled with insomnia have been kicking my butt.

Luckily, I have cut back my hours are my second job to about 20 hours per week. So when you add in teaching/prep/grading/etc., I am now only working 40-50 hours a week! Yess!!

That means there might be a real post soon to show what little bits of quilting and/or piecing I have actually worked on. (Thanks, insomnia!)

But for now, off to try and sleep!

28 August 2012

Yay, Progress!

There has been a significant amount of progress made over the past week. Yay for syllabus days and pre-planning actually paying off! 

I finished what might or might not end up being the fronts of the Halloween coasters I'm making for Potholder Pass. They had to match, but not necessarily in an identical way. I think this counts, but just in case, I made two of each so that I could make a more matching set and keep the leftovers. 

I do really like them all, and will probably just convince myself to send the whole set possibly plus a few extras in case my secret partner doesn't like these 4 together.

There was also progress made on the wedding quilt for my friends' wedding that is in November, not October. I am trying to trick myself into thinking it is actually taking place in October so that my enthusiasm doesn't have the chance to fade. I do have other quilts to make, brain!

This is the giant stack of finished blocks for the quilt with sashing already sewn on one side. Now I just have to put them into rows and spend at least 2 hours trying to make said rows look effortlessly random, stitch the rows up, make it to the quilt store for another 1/2 yard of sashing fabric, add more sashing, and put it all together. Excuse the really horrible picture. It was taken on my cell in a dimly lit room. The fabrics are actually quite vibrant and not nearly as dreary as they appear in this photo.

If I wasn't going out of town to scuba dive in an old Cold War missile silo this weekend, I might have a chance of actually making that all happen. 

But I am, so I don't. Darn. 

On to another project.... I. Actually. Finished. Something!

Pretty shocking, huh?

I finished the voile (voy-el? vwa-le?) bag that is needed for my boyfriend to brew a new type of beer. In case you are a home-brewer, the logistics of what I did are pretty simple. I bought 2 yards of plain white voile. Cut a 25" wide strip off of the fabric, and double hem with a scant 1/4" seam what will be the top of the bag to prevent fraying. I used a zig-zag for added strength. Then I stitched up the sides along the selvages using a zig-zag stitch. Since it was on the selvages, I wasn't too worried about fraying. 

Then came the difficult part... The dreaded French seams for attaching the bottom of the bag. Next time, I might just make the initial strip about 10" longer in order to just stitch the two bottom sides together with a French seam. 

But I didn't do that. So I had to try and guesstimate how big of a circle I needed to make. Did I mention in my initial post that voile is difficult to measure? Well, it is. So I ended up overshooting it with the intention of doing some extra trimming. 

This meant that I was now sewing a French seam for the first time ever doing all of the wrong things like sewing on a curve (every tutorial I studied hinted that only experienced seamstresses should use French seams on a curve and I definitely am not an experienced seamstress!) and adding in pleats to make it fit.

You have no idea how much my boyfriend was laughing at me for stressing out about the process. He kindly reminded me that the soon-to-be beer would not care how it looked. 

So, here is a picture of part of the French seam of which I am actually proud!

And this is the finished result in the brew pot, where it should be.

What this means is that we actually got to brew on Sunday! Yess!! Well, first we went out for German food, and then we got to brew. Yumm, delicious, delicious German food.

Oh, yeah, back to brewing! My favorite part of the brewing process has to be the delicious smells. I can't get enough of the smells. That is why I used to hang around when my friends were brewing (those friends now operate a small micro-brewery!!!) and I even learned a thing or two about the process. 

Another neat aspect of the process is that when you stir, it makes patterns that I thought looked like Starry Night by Van Gogh. 

Thus far, that is all of my WIP work for the week. How about you? 

27 August 2012

BOMs away!

As predicted, I have not been doing too tremendously much. I did make some progress on the wedding quilt, but that will be its own post. This darn semester. One week in and I am already disliking the shuffling back and forth from teaching on campus to working my normal job.

I guess no one would like 12 hour work days, huh?

What I am most proud of today is the fact that I started and finished my August BOM for the Designer Mystery BOM from The Fat Quarter Shop... In one day!! Wooohooo!!!

So this is block 3. Not my favorite, so far. But it is very pretty. Maybe if the two red fabrics were the same I would like it more. 

I am too tired to write any more. Hence the saving quilt progress for another post. Plus, I have to be up in 8 hours. Yuck.

Is the semester over yet??

21 August 2012

Last Bit of Freedom/WIP

Sadly, this is my last day/night of freedom before this semester from hell begins. I'm expecting the worst, but hoping for the best. I will officially be teaching 15 hours of classes, and working 28 hours per week at my local Scuba shop. Once you add in prep and grading, this is going to be one beast of a semester.

I can do anything for 4 months.

...Anything but not quilting, that is.

I keep reminding myself that it will never be as bad as my last semester of grad school. That semester, I was teaching high school biology full time, teaching my 4 normal Astronomy labs as a TA, taking 4 classes, writing my thesis, AND co-directing the Vagina Monologues. If I can finish that with any semblance of a grasp on sanity, I can teach 15 hours and keep my other job.

Just in case I do start losing my mind, I have already come to terms with the fact that I might have to cut back my hours at the scuba shop. I do not want to do that, but winter is the slow season there anyways, so it wouldn't be too horrible for any party involved.

Now that I have gotten my "dear diary" mess out of the way, I can begin talking about my actual WIPs for the week. All of the old ones are still there. It seems like I am horrible at finishing projects. My goal of using these WIP posts as an accountability device does not seem to be attainable.


First things first: Potholder Pass! I am a little proud of myself for this one because we only received our secret partner info today and I have already finished my potholders! Procrastination is my best motivator. Well, technically, they still need to be bound, but they are pieced, quilted, and cute!

My partner requested Halloween themed potholders and coasters. No sign of coasters yet, though. Here is a horrible picture so you can see the fabrics and Japanese X Block pattern I used for the potholders.

My next WIP is something I am working on for my boyfriend who brews beer. Tasty, tasty beer. I love everything about home-brewing, but the amazing smell has to be my favorite part. This weekend, he is trying something new called all-grain brewing. In order to do this, he needs some kind of boiling liquid resistant but still permeable bag.

He did some research and found material that others have used to make such a bag to avoid buying an expensive, mass-produced version.

The fabric is 100% polyester voile. Apparently, people use this stuff for curtains and fancy dresses. I have no idea how to pronounce it. What I do know about voile is that it frays like crazy, it is nearly impossible to cut straight because it is so fluid, it bunches when you sew it, it should be sewn with a French seam, and it is difficult to iron.

Wow! I sure do know a lot about voile!

The bag that I am making has to fit inside a giant pot. So far, I have double hemmed the edge that will be exposed, and have sewn the cylindrical portion up along the selvages to avoid French seams. I forgot to trace the diameter of the pot to cut out the bottom that will be sewn on with French seams, and the material is too movey (sure, that's a word) to measure accurately. So I will get the diameter another day and finish it up in time for brewing on Sunday! Yippe! Here is a picture of one of the cylinders. (I'm making two in case something horrible happens.)

I have also made a teensy bit more progress on the wedding quilt for my friends. I strip pieced these initial bits that will eventually become half of the block. The other half of the block will be opposite the sashing and will be two squares of different fabric split by sashing to form another rectangle. This cute little "rainbow" shows the first halves pretty well.

Here is a mildly more close-up shot of the fabrics. I am loving these fabrics together.

Well, that actually feels like more progress than I was expecting to make this week. Now I am going back to my hole for more semester prepping!

20 August 2012

Moving at a Glacial Pace

As the title hints, I am not getting much done, and it looks like that will only be getting worse! But there is good news from a professional standpoint that is causing my anxiety and lack of quilting time. As you may or may not know, I have been working as an adjunct professor teaching Astronomy labs at a local university. Our department is in turmoil because the department chair left, leaving physics classes without a prof, so they juggled and filled them. Then that left 3 education classes without a prof.

...And you will never guess who they offered them to.

Okay, well you might actually guess [correctly] that it was me since I am the once writing this.

Yay! These are three REAL classes with their corresponding labs. Now that I am teaching so many hours, I might actually qualify for full time professor status. Not tenure track or anything, but a major pay increase and benefits! If I do well this semester and they let me continue, I might be able to leave my second job!

So, I have not been doing much quilting because I have been madly scrambling to make up a plan for the semester and syllabi since classes start Wednesday and I only found this out late last week. Ahh!

I did get some stuff done though, so yay!

I finished month 3 of the Buck a Block blocks. This is the block I chopped my finger up working on, so it was a personal triumph to finish.

Look at how adorable that bunny fabric is!! Aaaawww.

I also finished cutting up all of the charms for the Rainbow Charm Swap I'm taking part in.

I also finally decided on a pattern for the quilt I was so stuck on. It is for two friends who are getting married in October. He wanted just plain squares, and she wanted modern. Ack! What they did agree on was the color palette: Browns, greens, and blues. But I finally decided what I wanted to make, drew up a pattern and bought fabric. I love when fabric is sorted and in order. It makes me so happy!

I figured if I didn't start now, this thing would never be finished in time with my crazy semester so I even started cutting strips.

I also made some progress on the Hawaiian applique pillow, but I left it in my car and it is way too hot in South Texas to run outside to take a picture.

14 August 2012

Quilt Junkie

Hello, my name is Sabrina, and I'm a quiltaholic. No, really. I left work early to go buy fabric yesterday.

Warning: This is an extremely picture heavy and random post.

I bought two blues for the charm swap I am participating in.

I also found what is either the most adorable or terrifying fabric on the face of the planet.

Look at their little paws!!! Awwww!! Look at their terrifying eyes! Ahhhh!!!

...Naturally, I bought 2 yards of it. :)

Well, with that out of the way, on to WIPs.

All of my normal projects, blocks, and cutting charms for swaps has been put on hold since the slicing of my finger. I don't think they needed to be put on hold, but this is slowly becoming a mental battle. In my mind, I can't quilt because of my finger. Now to me, that just means I can't use my rotary cutter or my sewing machine. Too bad I had only recently found enlightenment that told me I am happier in the morning if I sew/quilt/craft before I go to bed.

So I have been seeking other avenues to get my daily fix.

Enter all the hand sewing projects I have been delaying!

First off: SASHIKO!!

I have been to Japan twice and I absolutely love it. I could totally see myself moving there. I have plans to apply to teach English there. Maybe this will be the year?

Back to Sashiko. I love Sashiko. How could I not? I love quilting and Japan. Quilting + Japan = Sashiko.

I had been wanting to try my hand at it, then finally got into it while I was at a point in life where I had a lot of "hurry up and wait" time, which is perfect for little hand sewn projects that can be stuffed in a purse.

Drooling over the pages in this book made me really frustrated with my progress and so it was put on a back burner.

I still find myself looking through this book for inspiration a lot, but now I have finally started to get back into sashiko. I brought out the pieces I had cut to make myself a cute little purse from One Yard Wonders that I have made a few times. If you do not have One Yard Wonders, you need to stop reading this and go get it! It has so much awesome stuff. I could (and just might) make a whole post about all the stuff I have made from it, so far.

Anyways, there is one purse in OYW that I love and have made multiple times. I had plans on quilting my next one with sashiko, and I actually got started on it! My stitches aren't perfect. (Hell, they aren't even good yet!) But I am happy with my progress, so far.

Another project I wanted to try after traveling around the Pacific was Hawaiian applique. I have only done applique once and I do not even remember if I did it by hand or machine. It was to add cute little hearts on a baby quilt.

So, I finally found a pattern I liked for the Hawaiian applique and decided to make a throw pillow. I made the template, traced it, cut out the fabric, basted the edges under, ironed it, pinned it to the background fabric, and then realized people use other easier ways to do applique. This was with the basting and pinning.

Apparently, I live under a quilting rock where the concept of fusible web had not yet trickled down. Once I found out about it, I immediately unpinned everything, took out the basting stitches and tried again with fusible web. FYI: I am using Heat N Bond Lite and it seems to be working okay.

Here is a super fun picture of the soon-to-be appliqued piece looking much like a mystical sea creature. Or kelp. Whichever. This also shows the color a little bit better.

So now I have the design bonded on and have started with the decorative stitching around it.

Le Boyfriend and I are roadtripping it this weekend, so I'm sure it will get finished in the car.

So far this is how I feel about fusible web applique (newschool) vs. needle turn or machine applique (oldschool).

Pro for newschool: So damn convenient, no stabbing yourself with pins, faster, lighter to transport because of no pins, feels more sturdy.

Pro for oldschool: More satisfying, no stiffness, no "bubbling" where the web has bonded, can be repositioned.

The jury is still out on which method I prefer. But I also started working on some adorable fusible web applique mustache coasters for some of my BFFs. I decided to use them as practice for the pillow, then got carried away and started working on the pillow first.

The idea came from a tutorial over here but I tweaked the size to make varying sizes to accommodate nearly any project.

So here is one of the super cute color combos I have been working on. I just love the combination of the batik and the crazy florals.