29 April 2014

Dresser Runner Finish and More

I finished my Lovely Year of Finishes goal for April: My EPP table dresser runner! I love it! I ended up doing FMQ inside the stars and added 1/4" echo quilting around the stars, by hand.

I love the way it turned out! In case you are interested, the dresser is called Hemnes from Ikea (their solid wood line).

Now that my Hemnes is protected from scratches, I can start covering it with rocks to avoid any accumulation of clothes on top of my dresser. This is my favorite hunk of fluorite!
In case you want to see the progression of this project, here are all the links.
EPP blocks being assembled
Front complete (LYoF goal link-up post)
Basting done
FMQ done
Hand quilting done

I also made progress on the 241 tote I'm making for my secret partner in Super Swaps.
Super Swaps. One side of a 241 tote.

And lastly I am going to leave you with my new plants from the San Antonio Cactus/Succulent show this past weekend. The two on the outside are both Haworthia limifolia var variegata, and the one in the middle is a Haworthia truncata. I had never seen the varigated limifolias before and I was torn between the two but settled on the left one. My boyfriend's mom could tell I was agonizing over making this decision and then second guessing myself once I had made it, so she bought me the one on the right as an early birthday present! Thanks, April!
My new Haworthias!

23 April 2014

Astronomical Twilight: A Finish

I finished the donation quilt for Girls Incorporated of San Antonio in one week! Huzzah! Perfect timing since I am supposed to drop it off on Friday for their upcoming raffle. Girls Incorporated is a national organization that "Inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold." Yes! That is a mission statement I can get behind. They also offer an amazing summer camp for girls that focuses on STEM subjects. As a woman in the STEM field (I teach astronomy labs and physical science teacher prep classes), this is something I vehemently support! Hence, volunteering to donate a quilt.

Anyways, here is the quilt in question. I'm calling it "Astronomical Twilight." It is 48" x 60" in size, so decent throw/lap quilt sized. A list of the fabrics I used and my planning are over here.

And here is a shot of the backing. It is only 48" wide, so I decided the way to waste the least amount of fabric would be to use one WOF strip that had some scraps from the front pieced to the side.

I decided that this quilt needed a label, just in case the person who wins it gets curious about where it came from. But I have never added a label. So I made this extra star and was planning on embroidering some basic info on it and piecing it into the backing.

...But I was so in-the-zone when I started on the backing that I completely forgot about it. So I had to sharpie in the info on the very bottom corner of the backing. Oh well. The good news is that I will never know who ends up with it, and they will hopefully love it anyways!

22 April 2014

Quilt, Purse, Chickens

Last week I volunteered to donate a quilt for a silent auction. The proceeds from which will go to San Antonio Girls Inc. and their STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) summer programs for girls, which is something I think is desperately needed. Woot! So I wanted to make something moderately sciencey. The only bad thing is that the quilt needs to be done by April 25th, because that is the only chance I have to drop it off. AHH!

I decided to do a gradient of blues to represent astronomical twilight--the time of day when the sun is far enough below the horizon so that stars are starting to be visible. The blues I decided on (in order) are: Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Royal, Bella Amelie Blue, Bella Bright Sky, Bella Little Boy Blue, and Kona Bahama Blue

I wanted the stars to be different sizes and shapes, so I ordered fabric from Fat Quarter Shop on Monday and had it by Wednesday. Yay for living so close to them! By the time I left town for the weekend on Friday, I had this much done. Pretty impressive considering how much grading I had to do. But then not so impressive when you factor in that I didn't work on anything else and had one night of total insomnia where I just kept sewing all night because I wasn't sleepy.
Astronomical Twilight progress

Yesterday was my odd day when I teach from 9-11:30 then not again until 7pm, so in that big gap of time, I finished up the front. Backing fabric was purchased today, so it will get basted tonight and hopefully quilted Wednesday.
Astronomical Twilight front is finished

Since I had a big gap of time yesterday after the quilt front was finished, I decided to work on a purse. I am in need of a fancy purse since every other purse I have made is covered with crazy fabric. I combined the shape of this bag with the fabric cones from this bag. I am loving the way it turned out! The grey and green are both linen.

Close-up of the cones. It looks frumpy because I didn't have fusible fleece, so I had to settle for FMQ on some regular batting.
Purse detail

And I couldn't resist throwing in some Star Wars fabric since the colors matched so well. My inner nerd is very happy about this.
Star Wars purse lining

And continuing with the bright green, we have the now 10 week old chickens! They are huge! Also, they now live outside in a bright green enclosure.
Chickens are 10 weeks old!

Eight have already gone to their forever homes, so we are left with seven. Four of these are still needing to be re-homed, which will leave us with the three we want to keep.
10 weeks old and moved outside!

15 April 2014

Old & New

Minimal sewing has gone on this week because there has been such an insane amount of grading to do lately. Then on Friday I got an IUD put in so I spent all day in agony on the couch hugging my heating pad. Then on Sunday I came down with food poisoning or some kind of stomach virus which I am STILL trying to recover from. That means I spent time on the couch working on hand stitching! I started adding a basic running stitch 1/4" away from the stars to the table dresser runner.
Hand stitching begins...

Prior to Friday I finished one of the six Salt Water/sketch napkins. The other five are in the awkward poofy stage that any self-binding, mitered-corner item has to go through, so they should be finished soon.
Napkins in various states of done-ness

Those were my old projects. As for the new, I made yet another potholder for my boyfriend's aunt. This way she will have enough to be choosy about which ones to keep. This was my first kaleidoscope block and since piecing anything that needs to look tidy without foundation paper is a recipe for disaster (Anyone else? Or is this just me?) I used a paper pieced pattern (found here) in the hopes of achieving nice, crisp points. Mission accomplished!
Kaleidoscope Potholder

08 April 2014

Cheating on My Sewing Machine

I have been going behind my sewing machine's back and doing other stuff. I did get some sewing done, and some prep for sewing, but you will see where my time has been allocated this past week. Let's start with actual sewing though, shall we?

First off we have some progress on my goal for April LYoF, the completely EPP table dresser runner. I stitched in the ditch to hold everything in place because I still didn't know if I wanted to machine or hand quilt it. Isn't the mark of good stitch-in-the-ditch stitching that you can't see it? If so, I win!

Then I decided to start with a little FMQ inside the stars. Now that I see how this looks, I am definitely going to add some hand quilting as well. Though where? Hmm...

I also solved a huge problem that has been plaguing me for over a decade and a half: COLLARS! I love witty t-shirts but hate collars. They are too tight and chokey, they do not accommodate necklaces, and they just aren't flattering. Over the years I have started purging some of my favorite shirts all because of the collars. That will never happen again! I found this outstanding tutorial and managed to make a fully functional, scoop-neck collar for a shirt I love but was going to get rid of. Yes! I even machine washed and dried it to make sure it held up... And it did! Double YES! Now I get to save all my shirts!

Speaking of things that were machine washed and dried, here's some pre-washed fabric. I never pre-wash fabric, but I'm making a set of fancy schmancy napkins for the house and don't want any warping after the fact so I figured pre-washing might eliminate any uneven shrinking. After my lunchbox napkins had uneven shrinking between the front and back fabrics, I knew something had to be done. Fingers crossed!

Now we get into the major cheating on my sewing machine. I made a necklace! Over the weekend, my boyfriend's parents came into town to see the chickens (and us, I suppose?), and we are all rock-hounds so we went rock shop-hopping. I didn't find any rocks I couldn't live without, but I did find these fresh-water pearls that I loved. Then at the second store, I found the awesome leaf toggle, and a plan was born! I have never made a necklace before, so hopefully it holds up.

It is choker length. Two pictures of me in one blog post; Wowww!

Then we have a shot of the now 8-week old chickies. Seven of them are going to their forever homes this week. That will leave eight: three for us, five to be sold.

Mmm, then we have the cooking. This was balsamic flank steak (recipe here), roasted veggies (combined my recipe with this one) with bleu cheese biscuits (no recipe link because they were boring and awful).

Then some orange beef (recipe here) with my favorite ever coconut rice (recipe here). We made some changes to the orange beef: No jalapeno, no deep frying, used sesame oil for pan frying, used half the corn starch to toss the beef in, then used some later to thicken sauce, after beef was seared we put carrots cooked for a bit, then broccoli, then garlic/ginger/orange/green onion THEN we added sauce  and put the beef back in.

Lastly here is my go-to quiche recipe, caramelized garlic, but this time made with a spaghetti squash crust to make it a tad bit healthier. To make this, I roasted a spaghetti squash as I normally would (Martha Stewart can explain that part better), then mixed the stringy goodness with one egg. I pressed that into a pie pan and baked at 375 for about 15 minutes or until it didn't look so moist. Then I just used it like a regular quiche crust! Taaaadaaaa!

01 April 2014

April Fools?

Warning: This post has nothing to do with April Fools Day, other than the date it was written on.

Sometimes I just really need to sew but no one is getting married or having kids, so there is no reason to start a whole quilt (especially since there are 5 quilt fronts hanging out in a drawer with no purpose or home). To satisfy my stitch-craving, I practiced my FMQ for a few hours. Be kind, I'm only used to doing stipple.
FMQ practice

Progress has been made on April's LYoF goal (and it is only April first!) and all the paper pieces ripped out of my EPP dresser table runner thingamajig and it is now basted. But now I'm stuck because I don't know if it should be machine or hand quilted. What would you do?
EPP Table runner has paper pieces pulled out and is basted!

Here's another grocery tote that got whipped up. This one is the designated meat tote, so that never again will a package of bacon touch my yogurt and give me the heebeejeebees. This way it will be tremendously easy to wash it after every trip.
Tote bag

It would appear that black/red was the color combo of the weekend. Here's a teeny tiny wide mouth pouch for holding little things in my purse.
Teeny tiny open wide pouch

And lastly here's a potholder for the boyfriend's mom.
Bird nest potholder