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.

12 August 2012

On the Bench

Well, I am officially out of commission as far as quilting/sewing/cutting/piecing go for a while. Well, I might not actually be, but I haven't tried to do anything yet. Details at the end so those of you who get squeamish when people talk about accidents/blood/etc don't have to see/read it.

I have been working on a lot but not accomplishing too much (unless blocks count) since my last post. I have, however, finished a bunch of Block of the Month/Buck a Block blocks. Blocks and blood are all I talk about in this post. Exciting, huh?

As I mentioned before, I am working on the 2012 Designer Mystery Block BOM from The Fat Quarter Shop. So far, I have finished the first two blocks, and am loving the fabrics, the patterns, and the fabrics/patterns working together! I also received the ingredients for block #3 in the mail on Saturday. Do the happy mail dance!

Here are blocks 1 and 2, which turned out better than I could have dreamed of!

I also tried my hand at the Wonky Cross block from Sew Mama Sew. I increased the initial square size to 12.5" and the strips to 14" long (keeping 2.5" width) and after finishing the blocks, I probably should increase the width of the strips (and subsequently increase the length to compensate) because keeping them the 2.5" width made them look out of proportion in the finished block.

The pattern itself was super easy to follow, except for the whole getting the cross to line up part. On the brown block which I made first, everything lined up without me even trying. Then when it came time for the blue block, I made the mistake of trying to line everything up and of course I failed. So I ripped the stitches out and tried again, and again, and then gave up. It is supposed to be wonky, right?

 This is a definite potential bee block pattern! I made two opposite blocks because I just adore those two fabrics together. I have made so much our of them together. They are like my dream team of fabrics. Poppies and wood grain, what could be better? Here is a close up so you can [hopefully] see what I'm talking about.

Moving on! For those of you unfamiliar with the Buck a Block concept I mentioned in the beginning of this post (not sure if it is just my local quilt shop that has it or if it is a well known phenomenon), it is a neat idea!

For the one I'm in now, you buy, up front, 4 yards of the background fabric and then buy each block bundle (fabric and pattern) for $1 as long as you complete the previous month's block on time. If you do not complete your block by the first of the month, you have to pay like $5 (still incredibly cheap!) for that month's supplies instead of $1.

This particular Buck a Block is all basket blocks. I have never made basket blocks because they looked too old lady for me. But after I completed the first month's blocks (they give you enough fabric to make two 10" blocks each month) I am changing my opinion. Mostly because I just love, love, love the print on the fabric.

Those little birds are adorable!! Spwee! June is done! I'm going back to buy more bird fabric! Too bad I didn't take a close-up when there was still daylight available. What cracks me up though, is that I am at this quilt shop almost every week just wandering around and buying insane amounts of looking at fabric, but so far we are in month 3 and I have never noticed any of these fabrics! So far 2/3 fabrics are things I absolutely need in my stash.

For the background fabric, we are using muslin. I have never used muslin in a quilt before and I still am not too sure how I feel about it. I have yet to figure out which is the right side vs wrong side once I stack my cut bits in a pile. But it irons really well and doesn't seem to pucker, so that is nice!

Anyways, because of not being on the shop's newsletter despite countless tries by myself and the shop employees and being out of town a lot, I did not find out about this Buck a Block until last week. So I bought June, July, and August up front. I also finished the blocks for July this afternoon and I enjoyed this pattern a little less. Hard to tell if I liked it less because I liked the fabric less or if I was just frustrated with the pattern.

Oh well! They turned out really pretty, no matter how I felt about it.

Then I was going to get started on the blocks for August but somewhere between July blocks and August blocks, I decided it would be a great idea to chop off a big chunk of my finger with a rotary cutter. This must be karma for laughing at the safety gloves they wear on the Fons & Porter show on KEDT Create.

Anyways, if you get squeamish at the sight of blood, you might want to leave now or just scroll quickly down to the comment section (aren't I the optimistic one today?).

You have been warned.

Do not keep looking if the sight of gore makes you light-headed.

No, really.

Even if it just grosses you out, you might want to stop now.

Better safe than sorry. (Tell that to me next time I laugh at the safety glove!)

So, in case you ever wanted to know, this is what it looks like right after you run a new-ish rotary cutter blade over your finger that happens to be carelessly flopping over your ruler.

Good news is now that I have tried that out for you, you never have to give in to curiosity and try it for yourself! :)

Not too long ago I had a near-horrible quilting accident.  I dropped a rotary cutter and when I jumped in order to avoid it landing blade first on my foot, I ended up hitting myself with a hot iron. Luckily I was still jumping so I really didn't even get burnt.

I also scuba dive.

Boy, do I need less dangerous hobbies, or what?

08 August 2012

WIP Wednesday

Okay, here is my real WIP Wednesday post for the week. I hardly finished anything, but we will still go ahead and start with that.

Here is a block I made with scraps. I like the double pinwheel a lot, but the lighter aqua fabric just looks too light. This block is in desperate need of ironing, so just ignore the wrinkles and puckering, please.

Now on to the arduous process of the monstrosity that is the quilts for Jonathan and Chloe. J&C are my cousin Claire's two children who are 7 and 5 respectively. I was not yet a quilter when they were born. My cousin Claire has been getting peeved that all our cousins who are having babies now are getting quilts. So, I told her I would make them both quilts. The interest that has been tacked on for waiting this long has turned them both into big quilts.

I have finished the front of Chloe's quilt. I used the "Big Blocks" pattern. This pattern is so incredibly easy. I finished cutting & piecing all of the the front in one evening. I swear, it felt like I was making that magic jelly roll quilt everyone is talking about. Here is the front with my obligatory driveway shot:

FABRIC SPOTLIGHT TIME!!! Do the fabric spotlight dance!!! Wooohooo!!!

Okay, now that the dancing is done, I can talk about the fabric. Well, one of the pinks. I bought this fabric when I was visiting family in Hawaii with my boyfriend this past May. My aunt in Hawaii actually helped pick it out, and then I decided to use it in Chloe's quilt so it would be like my aunt was involved. I love all the hibiscus fabric I got in Hawaii. Next time I go, I'm bringing back a whole suitcase full because it was so incredibly cheap! This is the one I used in Chloe's quilt:

Cute, huh?

I already have the back picked out for both of their quilts. Chloe is getting the absolutely perfect (unless you want to use it for a boy) in every way Berenstain Bear fabric and Jonathan is getting a super rad dinosaur Batik I found. 

Before I move on to Jonathan's quilt completely, let me stay on the topic of things that I am actually making progress on!

First off, the Block of the Month by mail thingamajig I signed up for. Here are pictures of the first 2 patterns and fabric. My goal is to finish getting everything cut out today while my jam is boiling. I might even start piecing tonight. Might being the operative word there.

I also finally got off my butt and bought fabric in the Modern Quilt Guild colors. I have seen some beautiful blocks and these colors just go together so well. I am determined to make something fun! The women at my local quilt shop were cracking up when I started organizing the fabrics by color. Yay! OCD! But gosh, don't they look so pretty together when you finally get all your ducks in a row? Love, love, love!

Now, I can put it off no longer. I must talk about Jonathan's quilt. I had started his quilt with the intention of making some really cute dinosaur blocks I found in a rotary cut block book ages ago. So I cut out all the bits for the t-rex blocks, and was about to start cutting the triceratops bits when my mom sees how teeny tiny the blocks are and tells me to stop immediately because that is just too much work for this quilt. Ooookay.

Time for plan b. Cute little zig zag quilt pattern from Moda. Nice, simple, what could go wrong, right?

Pshaw. You already know what is coming once someone says "what could go wrong" about a quilt pattern.

I cannot make this quilt. I don't know if it just feels like I am going nowhere, or if I feel guilty for using a more difficult pattern on his than I did for Chloe's, or if I don't like the fabric, or if I am just so frustrated from packing everything up, mid quilt for the construction in my house that is seemingly endless. /end rant

So, here is where I stand on this quilt. The blocks have been pieced together and sorted into rows. The rows have been labeled and clipped together with pins so they don't get all willy nilly during construction. But they have not been stitched into rows, and frankly, I do not want to. I have never felt this apathetic about a quilt before. Ahhh! Maybe I can just give him a pile of pieced squares? What 7 year old boy doesn't want a tower of what looks like sewing scraps??


Please! If you are a quilter and reading this, I need your advice!!! I am trying to decide what kind of quilt to make for two friends of mine that are getting married in October. The groom-to-be said "if they aren't squares, it isn't a quilt" and the bride-to-be likes a more modern style. Any ideas/suggestions/advice/tips/tutorials??

Tomorrow I am going to be spending a lot of time at the post office, I can just feel it! Well actually, I will be spending a lot of time eating brunch and catching up with a friend, then I will be making mozzarella, mango jam, and hopefully compiling a legitimate WIP Wednesday entry since the bee block entry feels kind of like a scam.

What all are you mailing, Sabrina? ...You might be asking yourself. Well, let me tell you! I finished packing up all of my August blocks to be sent out. I know, I know, I need to slow down, but this keeps me from working on any real projects, so yay!

I am also sending Postcrossing cards to people in Finland, Poland, Belarus, Canada, Germany, France, & Belgium. Hopefully I will also be sending out a little something to Dirk, one of my pen-pals who lives in Germany.

Is this not a beautiful sight??

I love sending mail!! Postcrossing makes me so dang happy! So do quilt bees!! Tomorrow will be very happy!

07 August 2012

Better Block Pictures!

When I started this first month of bee blocks, I thought my stash was pretty diverse. I had these big hopes of being able to meet the color requests of every person in my hive by pulling from my stash (which is perfect because then I get to buy more fabric!). Unfortunately, I realized I stick to colors in my comfort zone and that there were some serious gaps.

Exhibit A: I owned absolutely no white fabric. It just scares me because I think it will look dirty and I make quilts in the hope that they will be loved to shreds.

So, off I ventured to my local quilt store and I came home with way too much fabric. I'm taking, 24 fat quarters too much. Ack! I only ended up using the white I bought and 2 fat quarters. Everything else did in fact come from my stash.

Moral of the story? I subconsciously underestimate my stash in order to convince myself that I need more fabric.

Admitting that I have a problem is the first step to recovery, right? ;)

Onwards and upwards! First off, here is a vastly improved shot of all the blocks together. Look! You can even tell that the whites of the backgrounds are made out of the the pretty new white I just bought yeterday! What a novel concept.

Next I will give a little recap of who the individual blocks were for, and what colors they requested so that I can maximize my bee-enthusiasm!

This one was my test block that I made in my colors. My colors being code for crappy scraps I found that had to get used.

Then we have the block for Laura. She requested rainbow colors, but not too bright. In my head, I kept thinking "muted rainbow" which seems to me like it would have a negative connotation. Why is that? Is muted a bad word when it comes to color? Whatever. I call this muted rainbow, and I hope she enjoys it!

Then we have the block for Jodie. She is making a baby quilt for her newest addition and requested blues and greens but preferably baby boy prints. I loved these trucks and thought any boy would be excited about them. Then the stars (asterisks?) were thrown in because I thought the colors go really well together!

Next up, we have the block for Alison. She requested blues, purples, and tans with a background in either white or any of the main colors. I love blues and purples together with tan, so I opted to use tan as the background instead of white. This block is pretty in-your-face, but I think she will like it!

Lastly, we have the block for Jan, our fearless leader for the month. Jan requested a block in blues and reds with a white background. Can I just say that I absolutely love all of the fabrics in this block. These were the only 2 reds I had in my stash that I didn't want to give up, but I decided this would be a good use for them. Plus, I still have oodles of each.

I hope all the women in my hive enjoy their blocks as much as I enjoyed making them! Now the only unresolved questions is why the heck did I finish these blocks so early in the month? Now I have to wait until September! Wahwahwahhh!