Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Happy Stashing & some Fabulous News!

Please say "hello" to some new fabric friends just in from Sew Love Fabrics (who's having a little sidewalk sale - sale items are buy 3 get 1 free)!

Red & Eggplant Tufted Tweets


First, up a range of Tufted Tweets by up-and-coming Laurie Wisbrun.  I favor the purple and red colorways, and bought selectively.  Tiny Chairs is definitely my fav.  LOVE that eggplant purple!   I needed the eggplant for my Christmas stocking color sets.

A new project


Yes, these fabrics are for Christmas stockings.  I know they don't look Christmas-y at all, but traditional red and green just don't work in my home.  I chose orange (Liam), purple (Aria), yellow (myself) and green (hubby), inspired by the fabric boards that serve as a backdrop to some photographs in our living room.  I figured that it'll still be rather obvious that they're Christmas stockings, hanging over the fireplace and all.  Here's a glimpse of those fabric backdrops in this picture from Christmas 2009.



Now, back to the stashing :).


Next I selected a few aqua and reds from Sew Love Fabrics.  They are Full Moon (Amy Butler), Bloom (Woodland Delight), Picnic Rose (Darla) and Clover Dot (Mezzanine).  The two center fabrics aren't quite as aqua and red as I'd like, but I lean towards including them in my project.


Fresh Aqua and Red


And, I couldn't resist these 3 beauties.  No projects, no plans - just pleasure!


There's Wonderland's Snip Snip.  I rationalized that this chocolate brown "chai" is a neutral that will certainly come in handy.  Anna Maria Horner's Fanfare in green is my first ever print from her garden party collection.  Garden Party seems hard to find, though Sew Love Fabrics does have a little collection.  No rationalization needed for Anna, of course.  And, lastly, here's another Tiny Chairs from Tufted Tweets.  I had to have them all!  And, as it turned out, this shade has already been pledged to good use for my husband's flower-free (by request) Christmas stocking.



Little Treats


But, I saved the best news for last.... I'm IN!!!!  Yes, my family and I are destined for Nashville in late August.  Anna Maria Horner graciously asked the Frist Center to enlarge her class size so that desperate wait-listed women like myself could squeeze in for her Skirting Couture workshop.  We are all very excited about the fun to be had in Nashville, but you can imagine that I'm just a leetle bit more excited than everyone else ;).  Thanks for all your well-wishes.  I'll be sure to share all the gooey details of the weekend with you when the time comes!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Fairytale in Process

Two weeks ago I bombarded you with pictures of my daughter's Fairytale Patchwork finished quilt top.  If you think that the quilt finished by now, think again.

First off, I decided to try a bias-free finish for this laaaarge quilt (finished measurements are 76 x 89.5").  In I Heart Patchwork, Rashida Coleman-Hane finished a quilt by sewing right sides together with a 1/4" seam, turning and stitching closed.  Because binding is not my friend and because I decided that the linen sashing was a fitting edge,  I was game to try something new.

Fairytale Basting


I taped down my batting, laid out my quilt bottom and top and basted the edges.

All in a row


Don't the basting pins look sweet?  They're like happy little soldiers fighting for a straight edge.  I slip them all in at once and then close them with a size 3 knitting needle.  Saves the fingers.

I am happy to report that this was a snap.  Not only was it fast and easy - it looks great!  I don't think a binding would have looked better in this case.  Woohoo!

Now for the not as good.  After consulting with my mom and co-designer, we settled on a quilting pattern that has turned out to be rather difficult, at least for me.  I always admire the large diagonal grid quilting design used often by Ashley of Film in the Fridge.  My mom suggested a double row (two lines 2" apart) diagonal grid spaced just right so that it frames each large 12" block.  Essentially the design would mimic the piecing layout, but on point and with continuous lines.  I especially loved that this design would create little diamonds at the intersection points in the sashing, one on each side of each block.

But how to achieve it?  I've had bad luck with disappearing fabric ink markers, so I thought I could mark this quilt with the much-touted Clover Chaco marker.  After a week I finally got to the fabric store to purchase the gadget.  Yes, it's cool.  I'm glad to have it!  But, it so won't work for marking this quilt.  Some trial proved that the white chalk too easily brushes away, leaving me without a clear guide.

Next my husband suggested using masking tape to mark my grid lines.  Brilliant!  I laboriously taped the pattern in one direction and set off to sew tonight.

Masking Tape for Marking


Ugh!  The tape won't stay on!  I just bought it and it wasn't cheap stuff.  It particularly won't stick to the Little Folks voile.  So, I went back and moved pins that were causing problems, and even pined the tape on over each voile block.  Back on the machine I had mild success with a few short lines at the edges.  So.... I went for one of the longest lines in the middle to see what would happen.  Ladies, it wasn't pretty.  It seems I can't sew a straight line when juggling a large quilt, shifting tape and bias pin bombs.

I refuse to allow the quilting to ruin this quilt.  At the moment I plan to rip out the quilting I've done so far and either A.  settle on a MUCH easier quilting pattern or B. don't quilt at all.  Because I used a cotton blanket for batting and because the edges are already lovely, stopping at this point is tempting.  Or maybe I should tie it instead?

(Sigh)  I just don't know.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Interrupted

This week I dared to try a little stitching during the day.  I didn't get too far before Aria was imploring me to help her make a wedding dress.  Apparently, a wedding dress is strapless and long - really long.  She wanted to attach a blue playsilk to the hem of her pink and white hibiscus print sundress and remove the straps.  Um, err....

I steered her towards the concept of classic white, honestly hoping she might toss the idea so I could get back to work.  But, of course not.  She simply suggested I get some white fabric!  So, abandoning all hope for my project, I sent her to fetch this white petticoat dress of sorts that she's been wearing as a nightgown.


Here she is proudly pinning her chosen purple chiffon to the hem of the dress.  It was her first time at this type of pinning.  When we went to stitch I realized that I had forgot to emphasize that ideally the dress hem and chiffon should be pinned together without gathering either fabric.   But, as Aria says, "It's ok, Mommy!"



After pinning Aria chose a thread color for the machine stitching.  She worked the sewing machine foot peddle while I fed the fabric into the machine and removed the pins.  She prefers to go painfully slow.  Her favorite part of machine sewing is choosing a stitch.  After much consideration and reconsideration, she chose this wavy pattern which shows up quite nicely, I think.



So, there you have it.   One loooong wedding dress!  Aria handstitched a leftover chiffon scrap to a headband to create a veil, so I think we're all set for the big day.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dear Anna...

Dear Anna Maria Horner,

I'm a longtime blog follower, fabric fan and member of Rainbow Around the Block.  Please forgive me for the somewhat whiny email!

When I first heard of your Skirting Couture workshop, I immediately wanted to attend.  But, we live 7 hours away from Nashville, so it seemed unfeasible for me to get away for several days and afford such a trip.  Then today, I received a revelation - Nashville for the whole family!  Really, I came across an article this morning about all the fun things to do in Nashville, like the Nashville Shores, Belle Meade Plantation, First Center for Visual Arts children's art experience, etc. By lunchtime I had planned a trip and even convinced my husband over the phone that we should change our summer vacation plans to Nashville.  Of course, I was elated because I'd get to join your class (which was to be a birthday gift from my mom).  I even downloaded the registration form.

So... when I returned home this afternoon to settle on details and reserve our trip, I clicked over to the Skirting Couture page to double check the start time.  Much to my HORROR, it reads "sold out!".  This morning it was not.  Now it is.  NOOOOOO!!!!!  I even contacted them and left a lame message begging to be included.

Please, please, is there anyway that I can attend?  I will be very good. I will not cause any trouble.  I will smile and nod and not seem like a strange stalker at all ;).  And, if not (sniff, sniff) is there any chance you'll be doing this again?


Obnoxiously CheerfulThanks for bearing with me through this email.  My husband got a kick out of my endless sighs and such through dinner just now.

Somewhat desperately,

Rachel

________________________________________________________

P. S.  My sewing table is obnoxiously cheerful tonight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

at the Seashore


We spent Father's Day weekend at the beach, camping with friends at Hunting Island, SC.  On the one hand, it was ridiculously HOT.  On the other hand, it was a wonderful, unforgettable trip.  You wouldn't believe all the sea animals:  hermit crabs, live sand dollars, manta rays, blue craps, dolphins, sea turtles... even baby sharks caught at the pier.  Sand, sea and sun never fail to delight!



While on the road, I embroidered these snowflakes for my first Christmas project.  It was true serendipity that this sparkly silver thread was given to me by an old friend who found it in her attic just days before.
Embroidered Snowflakes

I also spent time pouring over Natalie Chanin's two books:  Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style.  And, since one of my favorite skirts was stained on the trip, I'm going to have to put her clever applique techniques to work in order to rescue it.  But not yet.



Right now I'm starting a new project for Amy of Progressive Pioneer.  I'm creating a tutorial for her virtual baby shower.  More details coming!

Monday, June 21, 2010

for the Love of Aqua & Red

I didn't mean to, but I fell in love with a color scheme - aqua and red.  I keep thinking, where can I decorate with these colors, but there is NO WHERE in my house that permits it short of redecorating an entire room.  It all started weeks ago when I came across this lovely mosaic at Savvy {Seasons}.

Inspiration for the SavVy {Seasons} - a modern Swap


Aqua and Red was a bit of a surprise for me, especially in a Christmas context.  Now, I may not be able to decorate in this color scheme, but I can surely sew in it!  This August our do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee} will be making it's first quilt for orphans through Wrap Them In Love.  I'm quilting, and as such have the responsibility to choose a concept.  You got it - aqua and red!  I'm thinking this narrow color scheme will allow for a considerable amount of freedom in block styles, without sacrificing the finished unity of the quilt.

I've already started collecting fabric!

For the love of Aqua & Red


From left to right, Del Hi Paisley Scarlet, Del Hi Monarch Cinnamon, Nest Berries Turquoise, Del Hi Chandelier Ruby, Ta Dot in Ocean and in Aqua, Wallflower in Cherry.

As if I needed further confirmation, I came across this lovely "Winding Ways" quilt today made by Heidi Gone Aussie:

Aqua and Red Winding Ways Quilt Top


I've come to realize that this color scheme does have a vintage flavor.  This may be why it's so out of place in our home.  But, don't tell my husband, because if it's labeled "vintage" I just know he'll always resist it.  He really cares about our decor and considers it Japanese/modern.  So, in my dreams, the clear solution is a sewing room all for me.  There I could indulge in a massive design wall and that quaint vintagey, thrifted decor that I keep being drawn too.  I think my first purchase would be some lovely prints by Freckles & Fairytales (left) for the walls....



Signing off with a little more aqua and red eye candy!  Do you like it?

Turquoise and red mosaic

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fab Flickr Swaps

And speaking of swaps, I've joined two others as well (all run by Heather.  That girl seems to be the source of great Flickr groups).

What's a swap?  The organizer pairs swap members up according to style, including taste in fabric.  Each member makes an inspiration mosaic showing projects and colors she loves that fit the swap theme.  Then, her partner makes her something or maybe a few things - it's a total surprise!  Because of the nature of Flickr, swap members have fun posting work-in-progress pictures and even pictures of the finished project to the swap group photo pool.  You never know if you might be the lucky recipient until your swap package arrives in the mail!

This is going to be so much fun!  I love the idea of creating for someone else with so much freedom and yet concrete inspiration too.  And, I just know my hard work will be appreciated by a fellow stitcher.

Here is my inspiration mosaic for {Urban} HOME Goods:

{Urban} Home Goods - Inspiration Mosaic


Please click on the mosaic to find links to each picture on Flickr.  If you want in on this group, there's still plenty of time.  Round 1 is finishing up and I'm waiting for Round 2!

I also joined Savvy {Seasons}, which is a swap focused on modern holiday decor.  Yep, this is the group that got me plotting for Christmas sewing already!  But, members can choose to focus on any holiday.  Here's my mosaic:

SavVy { Seasons } Inspiration Mosaic


The swap is scheduled to start in August, so there's still time to join. I can't wait to see my partner's mosaic and start dreaming!

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Little Potholder

This Little Potholder - front


Phew!  This little potholder took a looooong time to make.  Now, I really enjoy handwork, but piecing hexagons does not seem to be my cup of tea.  It's SO slow going.  And, is it just me or are hexagons sometimes cuter before they are stitched together?  (Please don't throw things at me, all you hexie lovers!)

Hexagon Potholder


Well, I truly needed a potholder, so this fits the bill.  I like this style made for folding.  There's an oval one like it in Patchwork Style, and I also have one by Kitchenaid in the same shape.  However, I have a feeling that my next potholder is going to be more like one of these beauties from Flickr:

[caption id="attachment_259" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="1. New potholders, 2. Patches potholders, 3. YIP 365.208 :: Potholders"][/caption]

So, I kinda like the back of my hexagon potholder better.  See:

This Little Potholder - back


Some scrap hexies along with linen tape jazz it up, and my quilting lines were drawn from the print design.  I hand applied non-bias binding, hence the puckers.  But, you know, I like the puckers.

Now I did join Heather's Flickr group {Handsome} Hexies - The Swap.  Whenever round 2 begins, I'll be basting and trading 25 adorable hexagons. BUT, this time I'm not piecing them together.  No siree.  I'm going to applique them, probably by machine.  Because, that's just So. Much. Easier.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green Squared for Rainbow Around the Block

Anna Maria Horner's Rainbow Around the Block Flickr pool has been lacking in the green department.  Now green is my favorite color, so we can't have that.  My heart was set on making a stacked books design like this beauty from The Sometimes Crafter:



I gathered my green fabric scraps and studied and studied then.  Alas, I could not get them to cooperate!  They insisted on being made in this 3" square mosaic instead.

Green Squared


I was quite pleasantly surprised to find this style of block goes together like lightning (which we've been having a lot of lately).  Seriously, if you chain piece, it's a snap.  I'm thinking that this style of block would be perfect for the quilt I'm dreaming up for our first do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee}.  You can follow that link to find our Flickr group, complete with all the specifics of how this quilting bee is designed.  Spots are filling up (hurrah!), so please request an invite if you'd like to join us!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcome Sew Love Fabrics!

Etsy is definitely my go-to for designer fabric!  The prices simply can't be beat by bigger name stores and it's a joy to do business with other work-at-home moms.  Naturally, when I put out feelers for a fabric store sponsor, I contacted Ruth, busy mama of 5 and owner of Sew Love Fabrics.  I've shopped at Ruth's Etsy store in the past when I was on the hunt for Sandi Henderson's Meadowsweet collection, which I used for this quilt



I just love Sew Love Fabrics' selection and Ruth's friendly service.  My purchase came quickly, nicely wrapped and included a few free charm squares to boot!  I'm working on a new purchase right now... for the Tufted Tweets collection arriving this week.  (Sew Love Fabrics is also receiving Heather Ross' new Far Far Away 2 collection mid-July.  Drool.)  Here is some eye candy currently available:



Do be sure to check out Ruth's One-of-a-Kind fat quarter sets.  After cutting so many custom orders, Ruth has an excess of designer fat quarters.  Whether you purchase a specific set or a surprise set, you only pay $1.75 per fat quarter. What a deal!  I plan to get in on the action with her Christmas Scrap Pack, myself.  (Oh yes, I am all over Christmas already). 



Thank-you, Ruth!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fairytale Snapshots

How do you photograph a ginormous quilt top all by yourself... when the only good light left is outside?  Hmm...

Spread it out on a grassy slope?

Fairytale Quilt Top from the grass


Climb a tree?

Fairytale Quilt Top from a Tree


Ok, there it is.

Fairytale Quilt Top


Well, now you can see it all.  I didn't finish the corners, because after 3 hours of stitching, I was ready to be done.  I plan to miter them like so.  But I'm not sure how I'm going to bind this quilt, so that's my excuse for not finishing.  I think I want a low-key linen edge finish.  I'm thinking about how I could use the edges I already have.  They're straight!

Woa, don't fall!

Fairytale Quilt Top


Let's get down out of the tree and try something a little more interesting.  Over a branch perhaps?

Fairytale Quilt Over a branch


Aaaah, pretty!

Pretty closeup


Wait!  Folded?

Fairytale Quilt Folded on a Branch


Does she look bored?

Fairytale Quilt


I think it's time to call it a night.  You tell me, how do you photograph a ginormous quilt all by yourself?

Sunset

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cut Short

At last I've begun piecing my daughter's  Fairytale Patchwork twin-sized quilt.  I can't tell you how heavenly it's been to work with this giant bouquet of gardenias on the table, fresh cut from my yard (and a new discovery!) this weekend.



Since the linen sashing has finally arrived, it's been coming along nicely.  Cutting all that 3" sashing was a good bit of work, but now that everything's cut, you'd think it'd be smooth sailing from here.

Fairytale Piecing


Yep, things are lining up all right. And, I've only had to rip out one seam. But....

Fairytale Piecing up close


Liam cut the cord - the IRON cord! This is not typical behavoir for my 3-year-old. And, of course, this was like the ONE time I left the thread scizzors in full view. I was shocked.

SNIP! - He cut my cord


Thankfully, Liam was not. Everyone is ok... except for the iron. And, now pieced fabric is backing up with no pressed seams in sight.

No more iron...


I was going to finish piecing the quilt top tonight, but I guess I'll have to settle for making some progress. The good news is that this iron was about to hit the bucket. It had started turning itself off every 10 or so seconds. You can imagine the fun of using it that way. My new iron just shipped today. Coincidence?

Fairytale Piecing in progress


P.S.  Sorry for the wrinkles!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Frequenting the local U-pick strawberry farm is our spring tradition.  This year we went twice!  There's nothing like fresh, sweet strawberries on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  Unfortunately, they don't keep very long, but I have a fix for that.  When the berries pass their peek I make homemade strawberry ice cream with my Cuisinart ice cream machine.
Strawberry Swirls

Ingredients
* 3 cups sliced berries
* 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 4 tbsp lemon juice
* 1 pint heavy whipping cream
* 2 1/4 cups whole milk


Preparation

Chill the ice cream bowl overnight!


Combine sliced berries with lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar.  Let sit for 2 hours, covered.

Drain and save juice.

Mash 1/2 of berries.

In a bowl, mix on low, milk and 1 cup sugar until dissolved, 1-2 minutes.

Add heavy whipping cream, berry juice, mashed berries and vanilla.

Pour the mix into the chilled ice cream maker and turn it on for 20 minutes.

Add sliced berries and run for 5 more minutes.

Put in sealed container and place in freezer for at least 2 hours to set.

Enjoy!
Yummy ice cream deliciousness!

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