Thursday, July 29, 2010

mini quilt: favourite things

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.  Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.  Brown paper packages tied up with string.  These are a few of my favourite things!"

STUD June Sneak Peek

I have officially finished my second mini quilt!  This one was for the month of June in the STUD (Swap Till You Drop) mini quilt swap group.  I was lucky to be partnered up with sweetteamom.  Our theme for the month was "Movies."

Initially, I was really excited about the theme and thought it would be easy coming up with a concept.  Movies are an endless source of inspiration, right?  The idea was to send your partner your favourite movie as inspiration for the mini they were to make you.  Neither my partner or I could decided on just one movie as inspiration (the first of many problems) so we each sent a list of 5 movies (and a tv show!) for each other to choose from.  I sent:   Up, Toy Story, Garden State, Willy Wonka (the original), The Office and The Big Bang Theory.  Sweetteamom sent: Willy Wonka (the new one), Beauty and the Beast, Pirates of the Caribbean, Psych, Breakfast at Tiffany.

Her list is pretty great!  Originally I had thought about doing the iconic picture of Audrey Hepburn from the Breakfast at Tiffany poster.  Then I thought about the opening scene from Sound of Music.  When both of those concepts failed, I turned to "Favourite Things."  (As it turns out, my partner was having some trouble coming up with a working concept as well so we agreed to extend our June 30 deadline and try again.)

STUD June Sneak Peek

I`m not really sure how "Favourite Things" slipped my mind to begin with.  Who hasn't had that song stuck in their head before?  (Before I go any further I should make the shocking confession that ... wait for it ... I have never actually seen The Sound of Music.  I know!!  I'll have to remedy that soon.)

After many hours spent cruising Flickr for inspiration, I decided that rather than a whole lot of applique (which I am currently boycotting because I want to by some Lite Steam a Seam 2 but refuse to pay the marked up prices of The Store That Shall Not Be Named) I would try my hand at foundation piecing.  I figured I could try it out in preparation for (hopefully) someday making the Geese in the Forest quilt by Twiddletails, and if it turns out I hated it then it would only have to be for this quilt.

It took me days to either track down or create the patterns for the first five items in the Favourite Things song.  It was painful.  But it's done, and I'm happy.  Other than the foundation piecing (which I may just be crazy enough to try again, and only because Twiddletails makes it look easy) I got a chance to try some embroidery.  My favourite bit is the phrase "these are a few of my favourite things".  I grabbed a couple of fonts off Word and traced the words onto the fabric before embroidering so it would be perfect.

STUD June '10 - Sent

I sure hope sweetteamom likes it!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

a quilt top and a salad

Pink Patchwork - Top Done!

It's finished!  I sat down and worked on this for a few hours this morning and it's finished.  I love it.  There are a few wonky bits where the seams don't quite line up, but after ironing the seams to the sides it worked a lot better.  I came to the conclusion that my cutting was to blame mostly.  I cut all of those pieces in one night and clearly didn't pay much attention to how accurate it was.

The finished top is 65" by 45".  Not quite as big as I had hoped, but then I didn't do any actual calculations before sewing.  My question is, do I want to add a border?  I took a (terrible) picture of the quilt laid out on a big piece of off-white fabric and I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  Maybe in chocolate brown?  Or do I just leave it alone and let it be a bit smaller than I wanted.

And of course the other question: what do I back it with? I've got some Amy Butler Midwest Modern honeycomb in linen that could work, but it's perhaps a bit washed out.

Honeycomb in Linen

I've been thinking about another Amy Butler print - Lacework in Olive which is from the Lotus collection.  This fabric actually shows up in the quilt top which is why I think it would be great, plus the repeat is quite large.  Unfortunately, there are no squares left over from the top that I could piece into the back or I would.

 Lacework in Olive

What do you guys think?  Should I go with one of those or should I find a solid?

In other (random) news:  this was my delicious lunch.

Citrus Salad

A citrus salad - yum!  A homemade citrus vinaigrette dressing with sliced strawberries and oranges on top.  So light and delicious and perfect for summer.

the random object: voodoo fred

Whodoo Voodoo

Meet Fred.  He is a voodoo doll toothpick holder and I have never seen a more hilarious object.

Fred came a friend as a wedding present.  (He originally came with a really cool suspended picture frame which I broke almost immediately - oops!)  I think everyone has a story about getting a gift from someone who decided to go "off registry" (for whatever reason) and it was that weird serving tray or table cloth or obvious re-gift (really, if you're going to do it you should make sure to take the CARD out of the box top before passing it on, yikes!)  But every once in a while you get that amazing gift that is so original and so thoughtful it makes everything off the list you personally put together seem boring and a little pedestrian.

Fred is that gift.  He and a really cool set of handmade serving dishes from Portugal definitely sit at the top of the best gifts list.

Unfortunately, when I was taking the picture I didn't have any toothpicks to demonstrate his incredibly toothpick holding abilities, but I think you get the idea.  Favourite bits: his slightly tilted head and the hole between his eyes.

Oh and before anyone goes reading too much into his name (he shares it with my dad) I DID NOT NAME HIM!  It says it on his back.  :)

P.S. Thanks Rachel for the utterly original, fabulously thoughtful wedding gift!

Monday, July 26, 2010

single girl

I've started a new project. Or rather, I'm finally getting around to a project I have had all the supplies for for 18 months.

An Old New Project

This project is particularly special, important and time consuming.

For starters, it the famed "Single Girl" pattern by Denyse Schmidt. How can you go wrong? That woman is inspirational and I love just about every pattern and piece of fabric she has ever made. It is a dream of mine to one day own one of her beautiful collection quilts and to attend a class at her studio in Connecticut. (If there are any generous and wealthy sewers out there who want to help me achieve those dreams let me know.)

I decided to do something I wouldn't normally do and use the recommended fabrics. Actually, I wouldn't normally even use a pattern but I couldn't resist both the wit of the title and the fun design.

The suggested fabrics (Katie Jump Rope) are colourful, fun and a little retro and I love them all. So, I am henceforth attempting to recreate the exact project on the cover. IN KING SIZE! Am I insane? I think I might be. I did some quick calculations and figured out that a king sized quilt will include exactly 804 pieces to be cut and painstakingly, precisely pieced before being quilted. Yikes!

But wait, there is a good reason for me to be so insane as to attempt this. Joel. I love that man and it's going to be a gift for him. He is the one who found the pattern at The Workroom, and he is the one who loved the colours on the cover just as much as I do, and he is the one who suggested it would be the perfect quilt for our bed.  He is the one who spent weeks tracking down every last piece of fabric I would need to make it after I found out it was out of print.

So far, Joel has put more effort into this thing that I have, and it's supposed to be his gift!  Look out for regular updates on this monolith of project and for pleas for motivational comments!

pink patchwork perfection

Pink Patchwork Perfection

I've gone back to an old project.  This one has been in the works for at least 6-8 months, I can't quite remember.  I wouldn't normally describe myself as a "pink" person, but it seems that this quilt and the first one I completed for myself would say different.

I love this quilt for a number of reasons.  It's comprised of fabrics purchased mainly at The Workroom which if you ever have the chance you should definitely visit.  My husband and I drove to Ontario for 3 weeks during the Christmas season of 2008, and while we were there took a little trip into Toronto.  I love Toronto and have decided that I could live there (because I am a lover of metropolis') but Joel has lived there before and isn't so thrilled with it even though like me he loves urban centers.  Other than the giant soaker in my UGG boots and the trudging through 13 blocks of melting snow, it was a perfect day.  We went to the Hockey Hall of Fame (because how can you possibly resist it!) and then took a trip to the Workroom where I had a large budget to stock up on fabric with.

Even better than ordering online is the experience of actually handling the fabric before you buy it and I rarely do that because of prices here in Calgary.

So, not only was the experience of buying the fabric great, but the quilt is full of really great fabrics from now out of print collections: (Katie Jump Rope, Mendocino, Cake Rock Beach, Country Fair, etc.) are you jealous yet?

So there is a reason that I think of it as perfectly pink.

Originally, I was apparently trying to make more work for myself by ironing all my seams open.  But after an extremely helpful meeting with the Calgary Modern Quilt Guild I was advised to start ironing the seams to the right and left alternating by row.  (Which, yes, I have seen a dozen times before and for some reason never did it).  Since changing to ironing my seams to the side the whole quilt has been moving along much quicker.  The seams are lining up more easily and I don't want to scream and throw it in a drawer anymore.


So now, this is where I am.  I have finished piecing all the squares into rows (22 in total) and have moved on to sewing the rows together.  I start in pairs and then sew the pairs together and so on and sew forth.  Har har, I am a punny woman.

I don't know if I could love it any more!  I figure I'll knock off the rest of the top tomorrow and then I will move onto worrying about the rest of the quilt which includes finding a great backing fabric and ordering more batting.

Right now I am contemplating Connecting Threads for thread and batting because the prices seem great and the shipping is dirt cheap.  Has anybody used this?  Do you have another recommendation for cheap (100% cotton, 120" wide) batting?  One thing I don't love about Connecting Threads is the arbitrary 7% charge added to all Canadian orders to cover who knows what.  I live in a Province without sales tax (how did I ever live anywhere else and thank goodness we don't have the dreaded HST here!) so it irks me a bit when an extra whatever percent is added to my order.  I don't know, can I do better?  Suggestions and links greatly appreciated!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

peony obsession

I've been obsessing over flowers recently.  Peonies to be exact.  I love having fresh flowers around but there are a few things that usually stop that from happening:  money and allergies.  Obviously, fresh flowers are expensive so they generally don't appear unless Joel surprises me with them.  But Joel is the one with the allergies.  Bad ones.  Face exploding bad.

On my birthday, my dad sent me a gorgeous arrangement of pink everything.  Roses, lilies, gerbera dasies, carnations, it was gorgeous!

24th Birthday Flowers

Unfortunately it was stinkin' hot in the house (we were avoiding the a/c as long as possible) and so they didn't last as long as they should of had I managed to move them downstairs to the cool basement.

Before that I had some fresh lilacs cut form the front garden (sorry no pics).  And so now I am hooked.

When we moved into this house I was pleasantly surprised to find that someone had planted an amazing garden in the back.  There are chives, blue fescue, day lillies and best of all - Peonies!  With very little help from me, and lots of help from my mom (who just finished a great week long visit) the garden is looking great.  But, the peony bush is huge and definitely needs to be staked.  Since I'm not planning on staking it, I am cutting the blossoms when they get too big and start to touch the ground.


So now I feel like Martha Stewart with pretty vases of peonies around the house.  This one lives on the dining room table.


And this one was living on the coffee table in the living room:

Living Room

But then we had friends over last night and Bre loved them so they went home with her.  There are plenty more where those came from, so I'll have to find more loving homes.

Of course, one downfall to growing peonies is all the damn ants!  We already have an ant problem and I'm pretty sure the peonies are making it worse, but they are so pretty.  Since I cut the blossoms in the rain, I thought I would avoid the all the ants in them, but after arranging them I found (no kidding) almost 30 freakin' ants all over my house!  We are past that point now, but man that was a pain.

All this to say, I'm feeling a little more inspired recently.  We had almost a full month of visitors at the house and I was feeling a bit run off my feet.  Not much was happening in the creative department (aside from my mom's visit which I will get to in another post) but now it's getting better again.  I've got a little something in the works for a mini quilt swap that I'm excited about and then maybe some selfish sewing.