The Pressure to Get it “Right”

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Part of the reason I haven’t blogged lately– much less done much “fun sewing,” even– is because I’ve been tangled up with a wedding quilt. My brother proposed in December, so of course I got to planning their quilt immediately. Even though I had until August for the wedding, I wanted to be done far in advance.

::insert raucous laughter here::

Long story short, I brainstormed MANY designs, bought fabric and started on one, decided to make the design fancier, then decided to use the already halfway cut-and-sewn pieces for a fairly different pattern, and THEN completely scrapped the whole thing (pun sort of intended) to start with a completely clean slate, different fabric, and different design. All this between January and April, so 4 months and plenty of fabric “lost,” though I’ll certainly wrap up the other project and find it a good home.

While I’m sure they would have liked what I originally planned, I was worried about it being Good Enough, which is surely something many quilters have dealt with at one point or another. Normally, I wouldn’t worry about it for a charity quilt, or something to make for a friend’s couch, but this is (hopefully) a family heirloom. No pressure, right? RIGHT?

One of the things that helps me when my bipolar is bad and my brain is tangled up in knots is writing lists, so I tried that exercise to this quilt project, as well as my hobby in general. Why the eff am I so worried about this turning out so well?

  • Family heirloom– if it’ll be around for a long time, it had better be a nice design that’s been made well. I don’t want my legacy to be crap!
  • The Bride-to-be is stylish and I don’t want anything too cheesy that she would be embarassed to be seen with!
  • Good impressions– I don’t get to chat with my brother often (we live far apart and have very divergent interests/careers) and have never met his fiancee, so if there’s something around to remind them of me, I’d like it to be a positive thing.
  • Does it reflect my skill? I’ve been doing this for many years, and I don’t want it to look too simple or silly.

Since I made my first quilt 10 years ago, I’ve managed to let go of a lot of the self-imposed pressure to be perfect in my work. What’s important is #1.) having fun while I sew, #2.) making something that the recipient will enjoy, and #3.) hopefully finishing something that I think is pretty. Notice that things like perfectly-matching points, backing without puckers, and the like are NOT included on the list!

Yes, it’s important to do quality work, and tossing out something for the sake of having it “done” is no bueno. But at the same time, obsessing to the point over tears over a project like this isn’t healthy, either. (Though, to be fair, having to rip three sets of borders off of a queen-size quilt because your setting triangles have stretched would drive any quilter to tears!)

Luckily for me, the top is done, it’s off to the longarmer, and I should have at least two or three days to put the binding on before I hop on the plane for the wedding. Enough time to get a good picture for posterity’s sake, right?

Sunbonnet Sue: Girl Power!

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“Real” post coming soon! Honest! Lots to post about the wedding quilt, I’m just paranoid about Brother and his Wife-to-Be finding the pictures :)

I’ve been home sick the past two days, and in my fevered craziness, I came up with an idea…

Why not take the traditional “Sunbonnet Sue” block, which is usually dainty and girly, and give it an update? Some “girl power,” if you will? Show that girls can do anything they want to?

Here’s a quick and dirty proof of concept in Photoshop, and I’m very excited about the design. Not sure when I’ll be able to get around to it, given my current “to do” list, but I can certainly plan and shop in the meantime!

subonnet sue girl power

Back and better than ever!

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Wow, has it really been almost a year since I posted? Plus even longer since I’ve put up anything substantial, geez.

It’s been a crazy interim. I’ve been laid off, adopted a new dog, started volunteering at the animal shelter, and I’ve FINALLY got my mojo back. Life is good, and I can’t wait to start sharing pictures and photos again!

What’s on my plate right now?

  • Wedding quilt for my little brother. This one has had several designs in progress, including one with half of the blocks completed before deciding it just wasn’t “family heirloom” material. I still think it’ll look great, but I’ll set it aside for another day.


    579591_643612563753_908598576_n
    Instead, I’m going to try a log-cabin-based pattern I’ve been eyeballing for a while, this time with purple to match their wedding “theme color.” Still waiting on fabric to arrive for this one as well.

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  • Graduation quilt for my cousin. My cousin is graduating from high school and heading off to college in the fall, with the goal of becoming an ESL teacher. With a stack of pretty FQ’s and some Thangles paper sitting around, I completely improvised this one and I’m loving it so far. The blocks are pieced and trimmed, and I’m currently waiting on an order of fabric (dark purple) to use for the setting triangles.

    grad wall

  • Marriage equality quilt. Inspired by all of the pink = icons on Facebook, I’ve ordered some strips of brightly-colored batiks to make some equals-sign blocks. I love the colors, and I can’t wait to put it together, though I have no idea what to do when it’s finished.

I’m also toying with the idea of putting together another marriage-equality-slash-quilting project, though I have no idea where to begin. I got to thinking, when another state votes in gay marriage, how neat would it be to have a bunch of itty bitty quilts, maybe just 4″ x 6″ or 8″ x 10″, to hand out to newlyweds as they leave the courthouse? Everybody deserves a little wedding heirloom, and I think this would be a really neat way to lend support.

So that’s the state of things, more or less. Hopefully I can get back into the groove of sharing pics and the like, but it may take a while :)

Long Time Gone

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Hi everybody! It’s been ages since I posted last, so I figure it’s time for an update. I’ve decided to stop quilting– at least for the time being– since I just haven’t been inspired in quite a long time. I’m keeping my equipment tucked away in a closet, so I can (and probably will) pull it out sometime in the future and get back into it. I’ve been meaning to parcel up my stash and put it all on Etsy for months now, so maybe I will get around to doing that this week. There’s tons to re-home, probably 3 large tupperware boxes of yardage and at least half a dozen unquilted tops, and I will likely re-invest the money in a new hobby of some sort.

I’m not abandoning sewing, of course! I’m getting back into a bit of dressmaking, putting together two formal dresses for my Mom; she and my Dad are going on a cruise in a few months, and they need fancy-dress outfits. Maybe I’ll get into making small projects, too, and see if I can make some purses and whatnot, or even a few patterns, to put up on Etsy as well.

In other news, life is cruising along fairly well after a bit of a rough patch. I start a new job in Monday, my psych meds are working well, and I get to see all of my extended family in the midwest in a few weeks. I’m exceedingly grateful for all that I have, and all that I have to look forward to.

While I probably won’t be updating this site any more, I will be leaving it up so others can see pictures and patterns and such. I’m shifting over to a personal blog, feel free to comment or email if you’re interested in following it, or my twitter account.

Thanks so much for reading, and may your seams always be 1/4″! :)

Sewing day!

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Today, I will go on a sewing spree. It’s been at least a month since I sat down and had some quality time with the sewing machine, and today seems like as good a day as any to do it. I’m going to put some time in on the Dresden Plate quilt I bought fabric for a few weeks ago, and hopefully knock out a few purses as well.

In other news, life has returned to (mostly) normal after Max’s passing. The house felt kind of empty, and moose-dog Sammy was starting to get depressed and lonesome, so Husband and I did some research on dogs available at the local shelters to see about finding him a new friend. After finding one we liked at Animal Control (who had already been adopted when I called, hooray for her!) and visiting another who was sweet but might not do well with another dog in the house, we decided to stop by the Humane Society on a whim.

There were many nice dogs who needed good homes, and we were considering a young Shepherd mix who looked a lot like the dog I had growing up. But as we continued through the kennels, we found our match: a litter of Corgi mix puppies! Husband and I have been interested in the breed for a while, since they’d be a very good fit for our family, and while we’d been hoping to find an older (read: housebroken) dog, we decided that this was a good match. We picked out the last boy left in the litter, took him to a little park area outside to meet him, and instantly fell in love.

We named him Lloyd, which is a good Welsh name that is actually pronounceable (Corgis were first bred in Wales about 3,000 years ago). It’s a little bit dignified, and a little bit silly, and that seems to suit his personality just fine. He’s a total sweetheart, and is getting along very well with Sam; the two have been play-fighting all morning, and I think Sam is glad to have a new friend.

Now, I just have to figure out what to do with him while I sew! Max liked to nap on the futon in the sewing room while I worked, but I suspect that Lloyd has too much energy to make that work. He likes to nap by my feet while I’m at the computer, but I keep my fabric stash under my sewing table, and I would really prefer it if he didn’t pee on my fabric. Maybe I’ll just try to keep him in the living room, where Husband can have some “Special Time” with the new puppy :)

Getting back in the groove

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It’s been a rough few weeks for our family, and sewing has fallen by the wayside. Our dog Max, who has been dealing with valley fever that settled into one of his leg bones, had surgery to amputate the leg, and never managed to recover; he went to Doggy Heaven about a week and a half ago. I did some sewing before the surgery to make him a shirt so he wouldn’t chew on the stitches, but I’ve been so worried about the surgery and saddened by his passing that I haven’t done any quilting in weeks.

I’m feeling a bit better, though, now that some time has passed and life is getting back to normal. Part of that healing process is getting back into quilting, which helps make life feel a bit more normal, so I headed off to the quilt shop for some inspiration and shopping time this morning and came home with a fun project in mind.

On a whim, I picked up a Dresden Plate ruler a few weeks back and tried a sample block using some Amy Butler scraps I had sitting around. The pattern was much easier to execute than i thought it would be. While it didn’t lay 100% flat, it was certainly close enough that there were only a few puckers when it came time to stitch the spokes down to the background. I even had a decent enough time figuring out what quilting design to use, which is normally one of my biggest challenges when working on a quilt!

So for lack of any better inspiration (and since there were no quilt kits at the LQS that really piqued my interest), I picked up 10 different reproduction prints in a variety of colors and textures, so I can use each print twice in this 20-blade Dresden block. I also snagged a few yards of Kona solid in “snow,” which is a soft enough white to go with the old-timey prints. I forgot to get any yellow for the plate centers, but there’s a Kona solid that’s just the right color of yellow that I can pick up once the plates are assembled– which could take a while since there are so many pieces. (Then again, the sample block I did took maybe 2 or 3 hours, and if I’m able to assembly-line-sew the blades in sets of 20, it’ll probably take less time overall.)

Once the blocks are assembled– and I have no clue how many blocks there will be, I figure I’ll just make as many as I can with 1/4 yard of each print and go from there– I’d like to do a traditional “ice cream cone” border, like in this antique example:


I’ll probably do that in another Kona solid, since I don’t want the print to distract from the Dresden blocks, but I think I’ll probably wait until the whole thing is put together to start worrying about that.

Overall, I’m super excited to get started on this pattern. My super-quilter Great Grandma MUST have done at least one Dresden Plate in her quilting career of over 500 projects, and probably around the 30s for sure, so she would have used these sorts of fabrics too. Granted, I don’t think she did much (if any) machine quilting, so this will probably take much less time, so I’ll have one on her for that! I think it will be tons of fun to recreate something that she did, even though I’m sure she would have done a much better job, but it gives me something to strive for :)

Fun with the design wall

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I love my design wall. It’s a twin-size flannel sheet that’s held to a big blank wall with thumbtacks, and things stick to it very nicely. It’s come in quite handy for two projects I’m assembling right now.

The first is a quilt following Ricky Tims’ “Kool Kaleidoscope” design, which is remarkably simple. I’ve tried one of these before from my scrap bin with mixed results, so I decided to order a bunch of 1/2 yard cuts from Connecting Threads in assorted coordinating shades of blue and green. Having a bunch of colors that work well together helps a LOT, and the end result is much more harmonious, I think, than Version 1.0, which had purple and yellow and green and orange all next to each other, urk.

The finished medallion will be framed in navy, have a skinny border of pale blue, and then an outer border of navy with some sort of green pattern to it, maybe random narrow stripes thrown in here and there around the corners or something.

Quilt number two is a design that sort of came up out of nowhere. I found a jelly roll of Kaffe Fassett prints at the LQS, which was hand-cut and apparently intended for one of their “Strippers’ Club” custom designs. I decided to turn it into hexagons instead, and started cutting pieces to semi-randomly arrange on the wall.

I’ll admit that Kaffe Fassett (along with Amy Butler) is a designer whose popularity surprises me. I love bright, cheerful colors, but so many of the quilts I’ve seen using that fabric turn out garish and overly busy. Not to say that the fabric isn’t fun or could be used well, but most of the time the patterns and color combinations are ones that I’m just not interested in.

The hexagon quilt is going to be lap-sized or so, I figure I can add another dozen hexagons or so and stretch it out a bit. Ideally, I’ll get it assembled on Friday night and quilted on Saturday, that way I can send it out Priority Mail and have it arrive in Washington state in time to be given as a door prize at my 10-year high school reunion. (Can’t say I have much interest in attending, but at least I can play nice and send something pretty to be given away. I can only hope it doesn’t go to any of the a–holes who pushed me around when I was growing up. Nope, not bitter at all!)

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Today, I got copies of the “Sew Precise” paper-piecing programs published by Electric Quilt. I haven’t done much paper piecing, but there’s so much possibility out there that I just have to learn!

I spent a bit of time playing around with ideas and came up with this scrappy design. The real thing would probably be even more random, but for speed’s sake I kept the colors similar between blocks. I really like the design, especially the little secondary stars between the spiky wheels!

I think it needs something to finish it, probably a triangle border of some sort, so I’ll be playing around with that for a bit as well. I really like the effect here, and I can’t wait to see how it would turn out in person!

Fun With Stripes, Christmas in July Edition!

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I’ve had a copy of Wonderful 1 Fabric Quilts on my bookshelf for a while now, but I was just waiting for the perfect fabric to test it with! The basic idea of the book is that you can take a wallpaper-stripe fabric, cut it into matching triangles, and lay things out to create intricate patterns using only a single fabric. And boy oh boy does it deliver!


I found myself at Hancock Fabrics this morning, and absolutely fell in love with some M’Liss Christmas fabric. So what if it’s over 100 degrees outside and only halfway until Christmas? The teal, red, and chocolate color scheme really worked for me, so I took everything on the bolt (hopefully it’ll be enough!) and proceeded to chop it into itty bitty pieces.

My only complaint about the fabric is that the print wasn’t quite as even as I hoped; in order to get identical repeats, I had to do some creative cutting and wasted a fair bit of print in order to get everything to match up. Luckily, the print worked out so that I was able to get everything cut appropriately!

In a nutshell, you cut out large squares of the print repeat, then cut it on each diagonal to yield large triangles. You then re-position the resulting triangles to make two different block designs. Makes more sense when you see it laid out, so I put it down on my carpet and snapped a pic to preview the actual layout:

Depending on how much fabric I have left over for the borders (and/or whether I’m willing to drive to the other Hancock on the other side of town to get another yard or two), the finished product will probably be nine blocks square and measure about 40″ square before adding the fat 6″ – 8″ borders.

When I decided to do a stripe quilt, I intended to do it as a gift for my 10-year high school reunion next month for a door prize. I don’t quite think Christmas will work, though, so I’ll be finishing up my last Mystery Quilt over the next week or so  and hoping that turns out nicely instead :)

Three-color block

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So far, I’m really happy with the way this one is turning out. I’ve done one light and one dark block using the same two pink and black fabrics, so now it’s time to pick another pair of prints and see how the next set turns out.

I was worried that the busyness of the black/white fabric would distract from the look of the block, but I think it works surprisingly well; the plainness of the pink really balances it out against the solid white.

10 more of these babies to do, and then it’s time to sash (ugh, I’m terrible with sashing) and add borders. If I really set myself to it, I could have the top finished in the next six or seven hours, before I head off to hang out with my gaming buddies tonight. Hooray, motivation!

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