Thursday, April 28, 2011

Like the world's slowest time-lapse photography

Let me preface this by saying that y'all know I love my girl. She's 18 shades of awesome and when she says "Mommy, I'm going to make you a quilt!" or "Mommy, I love you" or.. well.. anything, it just melts my heart. That being said, sometimes quiet time is nice, too.

This past Saturday my beloved was off hitting people with swords (no, really!) and our little ball of chaos was off being spoiled by her grandparents (that's their job!) and I took full advantage of the time. Not only did I spend the entire day quilting, I decided to take you along with me by taking photos every hour to document my progress.

Friday night I finished up Eventide and did a couple of proof-of-concept blocks for the quilt I planned on making Saturday. I also hauled all the rest of my tools and rulers and bits up from my sewing room in the basement and into the kitchen. I *love* my sewing room but it's in the basement and if I'd spent the entire day down there I'd have felt like a bit of a troll. The kitchen gets masses of light and I'd be able to hear if anyone came to the door and make myself some tea.

Here we are at 9:30 in the morning.

Hmmm. You see my dilemma. That chair is too short, that soda is not mine, I'm not sure where the pattern is and somewhere in here:

.. is my seam ripper. Also my thread snips, my good scissors (when you're a leftie these things really matter) but OH! there's the pattern. Okay, making some progress. But still, it would be a good idea to tidy up. Also breakfast would be good. And some of my own soda. I don't drink coffee, I just start drinking Diet Coke at breakfast. Gotta pick your poison, eh?

10am - Ahh, much better. Table cleaned off, fabric cut and organized. I see my seam ripper, my thread snips, and my favorite chair. (It's orange! I love orange.) Now, let's get to sewing. We're going to do Terry Atkinson's "Lucky Stars" pattern because it's awesome with fat quarters, looks fast and easy, and I do love stars. We're using the stack of fat quarters I got of Riley Blake's "Bloom and Grow" by My Mind's Eye in the coral/blue colorway. I used most of the brown and orange for a fall quilt that's sitting in the UFO pile. Should I be working on UFOs instead? I'll pretend you didn't say that.

11am - I've got two piles going. One of these -

One side of the little star points with the seams set and ready to be pressed open. Cordless iron? Best present I ever got. My poor mom was traumatized about giving me an iron. I think she worried it would seem like she was reinforcing some kind of stereotype to give me a housekeeping appliance. I thank her for it about once every month. And a pressing cloth. Not to protect my fabric, but to protect my pressing surface because I use starch like it's going out of style. I make it myself or I'd go broke on it.

Also, I have a pile of these -

The points pressed open and ready to be trimmed before.. well.. more pressing. I decided to make this (and the next) project the ones where I master two things, one being short corners. I've had a hard time getting them right and they're in so many great patterns I refuse to just write them off. So I remembered a line from the front of the hymnal that I used to pluck from the pew in front of me and read as a bored teenager in church. John Wesley said "If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing." I know that perhaps this isn't how he meant it (or perhaps it is) but I've always felt that to mean that facing your fear and conquering it makes you stronger and wiser. And maybe a better quilter?

Anyway. It's what I bring to mind whenever I think "I will never get this." I take it up, I practice, I am patient and forgiving with myself as much as I can be, and I accept that there is a level of expertise which only comes with time. It's amazing what I can get better at doing if I forgive myself for not being perfect at it right from the start.

Except for chess. I suck at chess. I forgive myself for that, too. :)

Where was I? Oh yeah! Okay, so I'm mastering short corners AND I'm making this the first project where I start pressing all my seams open. I found it made a big difference in some of the Eventide seams and it takes away that "which direction do I press these?" question. Unfortunately it adds an extra step to these corners. But worth the time.

Noon-ish (I may have waited until I had a good photo-op before I took this one, so let's call it 12:20)

Here's everyone pressed open and getting their second points. Is it me or does this stage seem to go on forever? (No Melly, you're just writing a really long post) Also? Behold! My Angler II in action! I have a new tool coming to replace this. It's vinyl cling and will allow me much easier access to my drop-in bobbin. I love my Angler but I hate having to wrestle with the extension table to get at my bobbin.

Chain piecing? I love you.

At this point I'm getting some real steam going and am rolling through episodes of Bones on Netflix at a frightening rate. It's gearing up to be a good day. We'll handle the back half of it in another post because this one is getting too long even for my wordy self.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's done it's done it's done!

I procrastinated forever about getting the scrappy border on. And then I took a while to audition some single fabric borders. And then I finally just put my big girl panties on and finished the quilt. It makes me so happy.

I tried to get a nice hanging shot but it was too windy to go with a tree or the fence and my husband? He's brilliant, clever, and funny. He does the dishes, takes the trash out, and spends his days teaching English to thankless high school kids. He's a saint. But holding up quilts for photos is not one of his strong suits. Witness:

I particularly like the bunchy bits at the top where he's got the fabric clenched in his fists and the drapey corners. I love him. Eventually he got tired of me saying "Higher.." or "To the left.." and I got this look:

He's too good to me to have to put up with my whinging at him about how this, so that's the point where I headed inside and got the kitchen floor shot.

My laser stylus for my frame machine (a Pfaff GQ I got for a steal complete with frame) gets here tomorrow and I'll put a nice swirly pattern on it, something that will just play with the surface without trying to compete with the fabrics. And then?

It's not quite right for our house, I'm still toying with letting my mother-in-law auction it off for her church auction. Or possibly a sale on eBay for charity. It wouldn't even be a big sale, I'd feel bad even considering it because my workmanship isn't at a professional level. When it comes to a worthy cause, any amount is a good amount.

I'd joke about how the complete engine replacement last week (to the tune of a number that starts with number greater than 3 and has a comma in it) makes me a charity, but the truth is that there are causes out there I'd love to be able to contribute to while still engaging in my hobby. We do what we can in other arenas; community service, giving of our time and resources, and I don't make quilts for any grand purpose but if someone liked one enough take it home in exchange for helping to make sure there are plenty of supplies for a place like this? That's pretty good in my book.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Signs from the universe.

Things which will bring your creativity to a screeching halt: The phrase "Ma'am.. it's the engine. We're going to need to replace it."

Which is, y'know, fine. It's fine. I really only need one kidney, right? :) Seriously, I think this calls for some serious destashing. I've never quite figured out what to do with some of the fabrics I just *had* to have, like that half-yard bundle of Wiscassett, or the Sanibel that is so pretty but has never quite wanted to be in any quilt. And lord knows there's French General coming out my ears. Plus, I got a layer cake of Grace last week and I know I'm going to need more anyway so why not let it go to someone who will use it and ask the birthday fairy for a fat eighth bundle? (eyes on the prize, eh?)

This might be the universe's way of saying I need more space in my sewing room.

The bundle of Heather Ross's Far Far Away lines, however? That's staying right where it is. I'm desperate but I'm not crazy! :D

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Not quite Eventide

You might have guessed by my lack of presence in today's parade that I missed the Eventide deadline. To be honest, I could have made it. In fact all but four blocks are made and the center of the quilt is sewn together but... I was rushing. I was rushing and I was making mistakes and I was wasting valuable sleep time.

And then there's the girl. She often comes to play with me while I'm sewing. She likes to put random fat quarters up on the design wall and "make a quilt" (which usually involves strewing a charm pack from one end of the floor to the other) but I realized that I'd been focusing so hard on making this deadline that I'd basically had my back to her all week. (note to self: Next sewing room layout involves a sewing table which looks out into the room instead of staring at the wall)

She's three, and she is occasionally a royal pain in my butt. Don't look at me that way, it's true. My child is a joy and a blessing but parenting is hard work and not always a barrel of laughs. And this is coming from someone living in the age of washable markers and dishwashers and OxyClean. I can't imagine what it was like for my mom. Though I'm sure I was a perfect angel who never gave her any trouble. STOP LAUGHING!

The thing is, that even if the days are sometimes long, the months and years are so, so short. Fabric lasts for a long, long time, but little girls are only little girls for such a little while. She's getting so tall and every day her words are clearer and she understands more and I just can't afford to spend a week with my back to her. Not to mention what she'd get up to while I wasn't looking. I'm lucky my hair is all still attached.

Anyway. Some time on Friday I just put the project into a lower gear and played on the floor with Chloe. I taught her how to use her safety scissors and we read books. And I sewed as well, but not quite as intensely. I should be done tomorrow or the day after. I'm going to give the top to my mother-in-law as she is a quilter herself and from Ohio so a quilt of Ohio stars might appeal to her. She has a friend with a long arm and they'll probably finish the top and raffle it off for the church.

It's been a great project and I had a really good time. I wouldn't have tried this pattern for a few years if it weren't for this and I wouldn't have made some of the color choices I did if I hadn't wanted to avoid duplicating anyone already in the challenge. And I am in *love* with some of the other outcomes. Just the variations in how the quilt looks with dark vs. light patterns for the big stars is amazing. And now I have a great notion of what to do with the Buttercup fat quarter bundle sitting on my shelf.

Am I sad I missed the deadline? No, I'm really not. The chance to win a goody straight from Mz. Carrie herself would have been lovely but come on, there's nothing lovelier than this: