Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I have to be honest, I didn't care for all the different colors and fabrics in the cover photo but I loved the monochrome drawings in the instructions so I decided to go with just two colors. Mixed purple prints and two cream prints with purple flowers.
I also wasn't a fan of the HST border so I went solid on the border and I LOVE how it turned out. I kinda buggered it up by trying to put the borders on so when I go to quilt it I'll fix those but I'm happy with the design.
I'm also including the picture of my October project. I got it done in time for the deadline but epic failed on getting a picture taken. This month I cut it about as fine as you can. Maybe next month I'll get it right.
Can't wait to see what's on tap for next month!
Monday, November 8, 2010
In fact, when blog-hopping I fell in love with the layouts from Freckled Whimsy's Charm Pack Quilt-a-Long and decided that rather than pull out some charm packs I'd rather use stash fabrics. I pulled a nice rainbow of ones that I completely adore and said "Go forth and conquer." And then I pulled a Melly.
I'm still working on getting a consistent seam allowance even with my 1/4" foot so I was surprised to find out that only three of the 150 HSTs I made were under the 4 1/2" trimmed size. The four-patches? Yeah.. not so much. I stared at them and thought "Ok... I can pick out the ones that are big enough to trim and make more to make up for the shortfall. Or........
Yeah, I trimmed everything down to 4.25" and moved along. In the long run it took less time to trim 150 HSTs than it would have taken to piece 40 more 4 patches.
I took as much care as I could to be non-anal about how the blocks went together and ended up having a good time. Probably it would have gone faster if I'd chain-pieced but I enjoyed making each block individually and putting it up on the wall. There are three blocks left to put together but here's how it looks now:
I actually think there might be too many fabrics but it's so happy to look at. Really, just so happy.
Other stash-busters on the drawing board? A reverse snow-ball (so colors on the corners and a white on white print in the centers) from my oversized orange stash. A blue pinwheel from Scrap Basket Surprises. And I think a brown and cream one to be manly. Also, the November La Petite project is going to be purples with the lights being a cream with little purple buds. I'm totally looking forward to it.
But with the whole day Sunday to myself I chose to spend some time very slowly putting my first block of Fig Tree's Butterscotch Tarts pattern. I used the layer cake from a Gypsy Rose jelly cake.. and, thanks to some cutting issues, some of the jelly roll as well. Whoops. Pictures forthcoming.
In the mean time, how do you guys deal with lots of bulk? Press seams open? Lots of steam? Help?
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I missed out on the outrageously fun Year of Schnibbles so I'm making up for it by participating in La Petite a year of small projects. Our first assignment was the new Schnibble pattern Paganini. I chose the first variation. Enter, the HSTs.
The thing is, you can hate them all you want but they're a necessary evil. I used to twitch and go all foamy at the mouth when I thought about having to make half square triangles. And then I realized what my issue was. I started cutting my squares way bigger than they should be, turned the steam off on my iron, and used the bejeebers out of some spray starch (I make my own, it's awesome! Cheap and smells just like I want.) and all was right with the world. Sometimes they still came out a little wonky but because of the increased initial size I just trimmed them down.
One of the things I appreciate most about Carrie Nelson's patterns is that she seems to embrace the notion of go-big-then-trim.
I welcome that. Here's my pile of trimmings after I finished the HSTs in the Paganini blocks. What's that you say? You'd like to see the wide shot? Of COURSE you would. Because you're a reader of style and class, you care about these things.
Here you go:
Rotary cutters, rotating mats, piles of trimmings, reruns of Top Gear. These are a few of my favorite things.
I'm not 100% sure about the outcome:
It's not hollering at me. I think if I'd had another charm pack I might have done one just out of the blues and green in this collection and that would have really done it. But the pattern was super fun and I'm going to do some of the other variations for sure. This one needs the rows sewn together (put the blocks in rows this morning) and then needs a border on. I may never quilt it, but I'll get it done enough to make the deadline!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
With Friday night and Saturday to myself I started off with a good tidy. I didn't get everything I wanted done but I got a good chunk. Some reorganization done on the shelves, more fabric folding, and some time getting the UFOs put in to boxes and labeled. I have an obscene amount of fabric coming in the next few days and I wanted to make sure it had a place to live. Then I got sewing.
I finished piecing an Irish Chain from a charm pack of Blush and it will be the perfect snuggly lap throw. It needs a containment border and then a nice big white border so I can put the last four 9-patches in the corners. I think I will proabably just do a nice fun meander quilting stitch. It'll be a picnic quilt so it doesn't need anything fancy. Containment border fabric is due on Wednesday or thereabouts so perhaps I can be quilting on it next weekend.
Then I looked at my boxes of unfinished projects and dove for the easiest one. A simple brick with white sashing. I fell completely in love with the California Dreamin' line from Jenean Morrison and I wanted a big block piecing that would let the pattern really show off. This setting is just the thing. It still needs the outside border on it but for that I need to get more white muslin. This will probably be my first experiment with straight-line quilting. Wish me luck!
No place in the house is big enough to lay this out (except the beds, and I couldn't be arsed to clean the beds off) so I dragged it outside on to the lawn and I think the sunlight really made it since the big medallions in some of the prints look like sunbursts.
Now I'm on to my own version of Vickie's Hello Yellow made out of Riley Blake's Bloom and Grow. I got the fat quarter set at Lancaster. Vickie is a godsend with this pattern. I've been looking high and low for something that was modern enough to work with the fabrics but still fun and not too severe. Yay! Plus I've been dying to make a tumbler quilt but it never occurred to me to use my Dresden ruler. Huge fun. The pieces are all cut and now I'm slapping them up on the design wall to see how it looks best.
So what's coming in the mail? An absolute ton of Fig Tree Quilts fabrics. I've always appreciated the soft vintage colors but something about fall just makes me want to curl up in Breakfast at Tiffany's and a good book. However, with a birthday coming up I'm holding off on buying Breakfast at Tiffany's until I see if any family members are looking for suggestions. *wink wink* Thankfully the fantastic Kimberly at Fat Quarter Shop has been good enough to make it easy on us (or possibly hard on us because omg how do you pick!?) with lots of precuts.
While I wait, I got jelly rolls of Patisserie and Fresh Cottons last week and finally got the courage to cut in to my Gypsy Rose layer cake. I picked up some yardage from Fig and Plum on sale and I so completely fell in love with the colors that I ordered a whole bunch more. I have patterns of hers also coming and it's going to be gorgeous. I can't wait! Thank you, Joanna for the gorgeous and inspirational fabrics!
I also have some Bliss coming in, a wonderful half yard bundle of reds and blues that I want to roll around in before I make it into something. I've got some Sanibel by Heather Mulder Peterson coming as well and I'm not sure what that's going to be yet but whatever it is will be fun and probably a little old fashioned. I read my way through ALL of the archives of Nicole over at Sister's Choice Quilts and it really put me in the mood to make some more traditional quilts. I'm falling in love with this hobby all over again.
Anyway. Back in to the basement!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Steve says he is reminded of the quote from "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (a movie about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel) where the cardinal yells at Michelangelo wanting to know when he will "make an end" and Michelangelo yells back "When I am finished!" Steve is both attractively well-educated and a total jackass at the same time.
From there we moved on. Realizing that we were never going to get all the books in the living room unpacked until we had something to unpack them on to, I put the media wall on the top of the to-do list. At some point my in-laws decided to come visit that weekend. I spent the whole weekend going in to a room to use the power tool there only to have them dash off in the other direction. I like my in-laws and would never deliberately make them uncomfortable, but if you're one of those who got stuck with a monster-in-law I suggest using your miter saw as an offensive weapon. Works like a charm.
I started with the base unit, building the box at my bff's house while she built a bookcase. It went together quickly and easily and even came home without getting all wobbly. I trimmed it out and got down to staining it.
Here I am putting extra care into getting an even coat on the underside of a piece of furniture that will then be loaded down with approx. 18 tons of paperback books.
It's a good thing I'm pretty, eh? Because I'm never going to get by on my brains.
The hutch construction was even easier and my father in law would cruise through the kitchen or porch every once in a while and make a little "huh" of interest. He's a man of few words so when he said "I'm really impressed" I got all chuffed and blushy.
And then... oh and then. And then we moved on to putting the trim on the top. Crown molding that I'd carefully cut and gotten all nicely mitered and ready to go. I used my nail gun and got it attached securely all the way down. Right to the very end. Where I wrapped my hand around the top to hold the molding on, aimed my nail gun, and shot right through the molding, the top of the hutch, and into the side of my finger.
Never let it be said that I don't shed blood for my art.
Looks like no big deal, eh? Hurt like a sonofabitch and then got this lovely bruise on it. And that's the finger I use to scroll down on my mouse. I spent the entire next day at work reading through a massive document making edits. So all day long I'd be like '*scroll scroll* Ow. *scroll scroll scroll* Ow."
Oh ye gods of carpentry I offer this blood sacrifice up to you. I ask that you take pity on my poor skills with a square. I ask that you grant me a smooth even finish, solid joins, right angles, and the ability to remember how to cut crown molding for more than 5 seconds because it seems like I keep having to look it up every single time. That's all I ask. Well.... that and a spot on the brag board.
At the bottom of this you can see the oak leaf trim I put around the top of the face trim. It was exactly the perfect touch.
And here's the almost finished project in all its glory. If by "glory" you mean "doesn't have all the shelves yet, haven't decided whether to put a back on it, and don't have the side units even started." Which I do.
Still, regardless of that I'm so amazingly happy with this new hobby. I look at it with total joy every time I walk through the room and I know that it's exactly what I need. It has exactly the shelves I want, fits my exact tv, and has the perfect finish for our living room furniture.
When you buy furniture you buy someone else's needs. When you make your own you get all this personal satisfaction AND something that fits your needs. Also, it gave me the excuse I needed to buy the sliding miter saw I wanted. And really, it's all about the toys.
Friday, May 28, 2010
I love it. I even *heart* it. We might be going steady, me and my headboard. It got one more coat of stain after this and then it got moved into it's happy home in our bedroom. It's gorgeous and it makes me happy every time I look at it.
So! On to the kitchen table. My original plans were for the Rustic Table but I wanted different legs. Also, my father loaned me his Kreg Jig, so it was suddenly possible to attach the apron to the legs at the sides.
I got all the holes drilled, the legs attached, the apron assembled, and then I got it set in the kitchen to make sure it was the right size.
I'm not sure if I thought we would be feeding the Partridge family or what, but that table was WAY too big for us. And that's *after* I whacked a bunch off the original measurements in the plans. So I whacked some more off. And then I realized that I needed to shorten the ends as well, which involved drilling out the putty and *then* whacking some more off. Finally it's all the right size and the unassembled wood sits in the kitchen taunting me for a week while we unpacked and unpacked and unpacked (and we're not done yet).
Last weekend Steve went off to a camping trip ahead of me and I took advantage of the evening to myself to lay out the pieces and paint them. I wanted a dark stained top and a white base so I put a coat on and decided to go to bed and let it really dry before putting another coat on and letting it finish drying while I went camping.
Then I came back down to get myself some water and I turned on the lights and damned if there wasn't a moth dying in my fresh paint. Just laying on his back flapping around in the Valspar Eggshell Interior Deluxe. I freed him to the best of my ability, redid that bit, and called it a night.
When I got home from camping I did the assembly and got the top attached. And then I detatched and reattached the top. Twice. And then I realized I had a seriously swoopy board in there somewhere. Also that I don't put enough "sink" in my countersink holes. I made a shopping list to remedy some of my issues and put an initial coat of stain on it and went to bed.
Here it is that night:
OMG stop looking at how messy my kitchen is! I swear we've made progress! Anyway, at this point I went to bed.
The next day I went to the Big Orange Store and got clamps big enough to hold down the swoopy board, longer screws, wood putty, all that good stuff.
Oh, Wood Putty, I love you best of all.
By the time the putty got put on I'd already clamped down the edges and really gotten rid of the gaps, put the correct size screws in, all that good stuff. Sometimes I'd bring the big clamp back out and show it to the table, just to scare it.
See the table quaking in fear? Wood trembles at the very approach of The Big Clamp.
Last night Steve and I had the discussion about whether or not it's done. It usually goes like this:
Me: I think it needs another coat of stain.
Steve: I think it's fine.
Me: You don't think it looks uneven?
Steve: No, honey, I think that's just the light.
Me: Well maybe just a touch-up on a couple of spots.
And then I wait until he goes to bed and I put some more stain on it anyway. Of course now I *have* to be done because I'm out of stain. Somewhere Steve is very happy. This is how it looked after the last stain coat. It'll get poly on the top and some putty/sanding/touchup paint on the base and it's done!
(You're looking at how messy the kitchen is, aren't you?
Now we're on to the Rustic Media Center, the base of which you see trying to hide under the table in disguise as a bench. I think it's afraid of The Big Clamp.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Here you can see that I've embraced the clamps and I'm letting my air compressor irritate my neighbors until it's got enough juice to let me nail these together while holding the nailer like I'm on a SWAT team.
Ana's original plan calls for 1x4's and 1x6's for the panel boards. I am lazy and also I know myself well enough to know that mine would have had gaps and been uneven and whatnot. So I
cheated improvised and used 1x6 tongue-in-groove flooring. It gives me a little fudge factor in the alignment of the boards and it appeases my husband who wanted something just a little less rustic. They worked like a charm. This is the back.
And this is the front. I think they look pretty good. You get a clear line between the boards, but there's no gap so that makes me happy.
Mmm... clamps. Mmm.. strawberry cake on the counter. We have houseguests who came in to help us move and when the menfolk went to get dinner they came back with cake. Works for me.
Ahh, another Saturday night at Chez Melly.
And voila! Y'all, seriously, this took less than an hour to put together. The nice guys at the Orange Store cut the lumber for me, and thanks to my square it actually went together with 90 degree angles and everything. It's going to get another 1x4 on top and crown molding on top of that just because I got 8' of solid maple crown molding for $2 at my local Restore and I can't pass that up. Plus, again, Steve wanted a little less rustic and the molding gives it a more polished look. However, that will have to wait until tomorrow when I can run the miter saw and only piss of the neighbors a little bit, as opposed to doing it at 11pm, which will ruin my chances of ever getting their daughter to babysit.
It needs a couple of good rounds of sanding and an epic amount of wood conditioner before it can get stained, but I'm so tickled!
Who doesn't love wood putty? Though next time I'll put on a pair of surgical gloves before I wipe it in with my fingers. It's currently forming a stainable, paintable, sandable bond under both pinky nails.
And today's lesson learned is this: If you think to yourself 'This is really hard to do from this angle' you should stop and stand up and move to a more comfortable position. Because I don't care what your college boyfriend told you, nothing is ever made easier or more fun by doing it at an awkward and uncomfortable angle. Especially if it involves a nail gun.
On that note, it's bedtime. Because tomorrow for Mother's Day my husband is giving me a few hours alone to hang out with my tools and my books on tape and quart of wood stain. *happy sigh*
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Looks simple, eh? Yeah, I thought so, too. I thought it would be a good starter project before I got into tables and headboards and such. And then came the lesson in humility. Because y'all, I made this:
Is that not the homeliest lookin' piece of carpentry ever? I know there's a rafter's square in the picture but apparently I thought it was just for show, because I certainly didn't use it. This piece is so sad and off-square and not flush and just hanging out in the corner with the girl who still wears headgear for her braces. But don't feel pity for it. Because it's mean. It taunts me.
See it!? See it just sitting there with it's little edges. They're not only not flush, the vertical leg in this picture is uneven at the end so there's a gap. This is where my father went "Wow, it did that even after you made sure and checked for plumb and flush on your saw blade?" And then I just blinked a lot like "Well of COURSE I did that." And then I said "Show me how *you* do it. Because I'm stealthy like that.
Boys and girls, it was off by not much, a degree and a half, perhaps. But when it comes to seating boards right up next to it, that makes a huge difference. Plus, it's lookin' at me funny.
And don't miss that screw in the back that won't go in any further.
How do I know it's going to stick up that way forever? Simple.
I stripped the bejeezus out of it trying to get it in. I'm good like that.
At this point I put the top boards on and then I cried little teary tears of "why is this so hard!?" and then realized I hadn't had lunch or dinner and that I was probably tired, hungry, cranky, and in real need of a nap. Things got better after that.
We moved into the new house and I decided to start with something I had some vested interest in and real need for. Instructables (sorry to cheat on you, Ana!) has a great plan for a super-easy platform bed. As a person always in need of storage space and not attached to the idea of a box spring, I'm a big fan of platform beds. I made the one we've been sleeping on for the last 7 years but it's mostly plywood screwed on to 6x6 posts, so it's not really a feat of engineering achievement.
Also, when we tried to get it out of the old house it was such a pain. And the screws were in so tight that bits of it wouldn't actually come apart. I wanted a bed I could take apart, that would be sturdy and easy to fix if something went wrong, and something that (even though it's *under the bed*) wouldn't look like it was dorm furniture (the plywood and 6x6s look like they came straight out of Rush Week).
I grabbed the lumber, just 2 2x4s and some 1x4s and then I went through the epic process of trying to get two cuts done. Two. Eventually the nice guy in the orange apron said "Are you sure you feel comfortable using a saw?!" Buddy, do not start. In my house the nail gun belongs to ME and I'm the one who snakes the drain.
Anyway, at this point I took my lumber home and learned important lessons about the Value of Clamps. Do not underestimate the power of clamps. Clamps will save your ass. Clamps are like being an octopus with very very strong hands. Drilled pilot holes and then carted my drill (who needs a name) upstairs and built my bed.
Check it out, baby's first 90 degree angle. My parents would be so proud. *sniff*
What you see if you're the monster under my bed:
It is level, square, sturdy, everything fits, and it doesn't wobble when I get into it. I'm calling that a success.
And after firing up my nail gun last night just to see how loud it was (lessons learned: a) it's not that loud and b) those pieces of scrap wood had it coming to them, wily bastards) I'm moving on to the headboard. Maybe, if Dad leaves me the Kreg jig when he departs this morning I'll tackle some of the table, too. Duck and cover, folks.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Here are Daddy and Chloe (and her huge bunny) heading up the walk to our new green door!
We have a bona fide ornamental cherry tree in our front yard and it's still got some blooms on it. Steve and Chloe stopped running around long enough to pose in front of it. Kinda. She's halfway through struggling her way out of his grip and off to the rest of the back yard but we held her still long enough to snap this.
And here is the intrepid suburbanite himself, bringing in the necessities. MREs, caffeine, and the binoculars so he can see if the zombies are invading.
Lawyer: So I'm assuming based on the paperwork that your name is not spelled Steven.
Steve: No, it's not.
Lawyer: And you're not Steven R. either?
Steve: No. That's my father.
Lawyer: How about Stehin? Does anyone ever call you Stehin?
Steve: Nooooo. I have occasionally wished to be called Allejandro, but no one ever took me seriously.
Lawyer: *confused blinking*
Me: *pleased I married him*
Now it's time to start moving the fabric! Also, making a thank you present for our darling loan officer who made this a smooth transaction for all. Yay!
Monday, April 19, 2010
The allergies kicked my butt in the basement, though. And I think that knocked down my last defense against the Spring allergies. I woke up Sunday feeling like I'd been hit with a brick. Steve was an angel about getting Chloe out of the house for a while so I could keep being productive. Got some cleaning done upstairs and some more packing and even more packing.
Chloe and I took a three hour nap (not together, that would have been nice but she's not much of a snuggler) and then after we got up I set in to finish some stuff. I finished her Easter basket (plan from Moda Bakeshop), I finished my first Million Pillowcase Challenge project (adorable, still needs the threads snipped) and one other one that we'll get to in a minute. I made good progress on a couple more blocks of Chloe's fancy schmancy quilt, that's lots of hand sewing and very relaxing. And here's the little darling herself:
Barefoot and wandering around the backyard at Grammy's house. I love that dress on her, it's smocked and I have a serious addiction to smocking.
And here below is the other project I finished:
I taught myself to do Cathedral Windows after Mom and I got frustrated at not being able to figure it out (I don't deal well with that, it becomes a matter of principle at that point!) and made a 14x14 pillow for the spare bedroom at the new place. I think it's 4 windows by 4 windows. It turned out to be a GREAT way to use the Delft Remix stuff from Studio E that I got for Christmas. They're all such wonderful prints but hard to put together because they all blend into each other. I love how they're displayed in this pattern. The pillow needs the threads clipped, I hate that job, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
The other thing that happened this weekend is that I got sucked into Knockoff Wood. I spent hours on the site, on the Facebook group, and in the Flickr pool. I've decided on my first couple of projects, and to support me my husband got me this:
That's right. In my family we say love with nail guns. Three of them. And an air compressor. Nothing says love like a gun capable of firing a 2 and a half inch nail.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
After reading a completely familiar account over at Amy's place about taking her boys to a quilt shop, I got to thinking about the last time I took Chloe in to a quilt shop. She's pretty good in the Joann's because we're mostly only there for supplies so it's a short trip. Actual quilt shops? That's another story altogether. I suppose it's unfair of me to even hope she'll behave. She's two. She's not a bad kid, she's just two. And when you're two you don't look at baskets full of jellyrolls and charm packs and think "My, aren't those pretty. Perhaps I will just admire them from afar." No, you think "Oooh! A basket!" and then you grab it and carry it around with you, putting things in and taking them out as you go.
C-'s local quilt shop is the completely wonderful Webfabrics.net (I know, I'm horribly jealous too) and we paid a visit the other day. The first half of the trip was a nightmare. Chloe was just a total pill. Grabby, knocking things over, struggling so hard I couldn't hold her, all that good stuff. C- said "She's being a good girl." I said "No she's not, she's being a butthead. The fact that she's so cute is the only thing keeping her from being nothing but a strange smell coming from the attic."
The staff was horrified. Either that or deeply amuse, I couldn't tell. Anyway. The second half of the visit was a dream. Why? This:
Coloring books, Lego's, little chairs, lots of books, a little kid haven. I still couldn't leave her completely alone but at least I could scan the nearby pattern racks without wondering if Chloe was pulling the rotary blades down on top of herself. Thank you, nice ladies at Webfabrics.net for making it a little easier to be a quilting mom. (Thanks also to the ladies at Artful Quilter who have a comfy couch with a Mr. Potato Head and a gigantic stuffed iguana that Chloe loves to cuddle).
In an environment where it is so easy to just stay at home and order off the web and lose the great tactile sensation of a brick and mortar store, it's things like this that keep me coming back.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
C- went a little nuts with the oriental fabrics, she's dreaming of a bargello.
Me? I just grabbed up stuff I'd been drooling over. I also stocked up on the John James Gold'n'Glides which are hard to find around here and ridiculous to ship for something that weighs less than a penny. I got some fabrics I'd been thinking about but wanted to see in person first, and some that just made me smile. And I got a stack of 100 4" squares of 30's repro prints. I have NO idea what I'm going to do with them but they're making me happy. Here's my haul:
And see this stack of Riley Blake Bloom and Grow? Mine! All mine! No idea what it'll be but it's stacked up next to my sewing machine being wonderful at me.
Oh, and there were quilts, too. Here's the Best in Show beauty. It's just this amazing swirl of colors and detail and painstaking precision.
And here's my favorite. I just wanted to crawl inside it and fall asleep on the window seat.
I have inspiration and fabric and goodies and tools and all kinds of ideas. I also got some quality time with two of my favorite people in the world and the best sandwich I've ever had. A rousing success!
I'll leave you with this view. I like this shot because it makes it look like the fabric stretches on forever... ah, if only.