Things change, things stay the same

It’s been a busy few months – lots of traveling and learning the new job, and not much sewing at all. I even missed two months in a row of the Aviatrix class – in fact, I didn’t even touch the fabric until this weekend.

But, after almost a month straight of work travel, I finally got a whole weekend at home. Now, I was unpacked in my apartment fairly quickly, but if you’ve ever moved, you’ll know that there are always a few straggler boxes of miscellany that seem to find their way to a corner, and hide. For me, those boxes always seem to be craft-related, so they formed a little stack in the corner of my sewing room. I figured since I was resolved to spend the day yesterday catching up on my Aviatrix BOM, I might as well get the sewing room tidied up and organized first. Of course, since the logical approach was to remove the clutter, organize it, and return it to the craft room, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I now have a beautifully organized sewing room, and a pile of boxes in the kitchen. Sigh… but I was really jonesing to sew, so the boxes are just going to have to stay there for a day or two. Maybe tripping over them will inspire me to finally deal with them for good. Or not.

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In any case, I (finally) got my design wall mounted – it’s a gorgeous retractable job that disappears into a wooden floating shelf. It’s been a few years, but I’m pretty sure I got it here: Vanishing Design Wall.  It’s a piece of cake to mount, and rolls up out of sight when I actually have company.  It was a great investment, especially given the limitations of a combination guest room- sewing room.

So, after a morning of labor, I finally sat down at the sewing machine to make some magic happen!  The first border of Aviatrix was a piece of cake, just a bunch of Half Square Triangles (HSTs), so that went quickly.  the most time consuming part was figuring out how to make the color combinations look random.  I followed the given instructions and have been pressing my seams open, but I’m not completely convinced that was the best decision.  My stitch-length was fairly long, so unfortunately some of the threads are slightly visible from the front.  The appearance doesn’t bother me, but I’m having second thoughts about the long-term stability of the seams.   But, I didn’t notice it until I had the second border on, and I’m not taking it apart now.  I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope the quilting on the final product will be enough to do the job.

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The second border was also quite simple, just a matter of laying out the pieces in the correct order.  It was all simple straight seams, no extra cutting or anything required.  It took longer to lay out each color-sequence than to actually sew it all together.  So now I’m ready to go!

I also got to make a quick stop by my local fabric store, Sew Memphis.  My intention was just to pick up some thread to work on Aviatrix, but of course I couldn’t help myself, I had to pick up some fabric too.  I absolutely fell in love with this Michael Miller fabric, Flutter from the Swirly Girls collection – it absolutely screamed to become a funky blouse!  So I pulled out one of my favorite patterns, Simplicity 1364, a sixties-era reprint with only three main pattern pieces.  Seriously, it went together so quickly that I’m wearing it to work on Monday, even with the blind-hemming of the bottom and sleeves.   I absolutely love how it turned out!  (Although I think the butterfly necklace is overkill, so that will be staying home, I just didn’t have time to take another picture!)

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So all in all, a very productive weekend to end a long creative drought.  Sounds familiar, I know.  Like the song says, the more things change, the more things stay the same.  Happy (almost) Monday!

Cutting

I have replaced my rotary cutter (gr!), and begun the immense task of cutting out Aviatrix! There’s a lot of organization required, hence the color-chart I showed last week. On the suggestion of the class instructor, I’ve also laid out a bunch of index cards with plastic baggies to keep the pieces for each border separate.

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Even so, I’ve encountered a couple of question marks… for one thing, Border 5 is made up of modified Log Cabin blocks. Now, you all know by now that I’m not very good at precision. Generally speaking, Log Cabins require pieces that increase in size on each round – in this case, by an inch in length from one side to the next. Rather than cut all of the pieces to the exact length, I usually just cut a long strip, sew the unit to it, then cut to fit.

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This method is a little more forgiving of flexible seam allowances, so I’m leaning toward using this same method for the Border 5 blocks.  Plus, it will save me a lot of cutting up front!  But I think I’m just going to hold off on cutting any of this for now, until I decide for sure.

The other trouble I’m having at the moment is with fraying… Now, several of the fabrics I chose are interesting wovens with great texture!  However, the minute I cut the sample pieces off for the color chart I noticed their propensity to fray.  Some of my classmates suggested ironing them to freezer paper before cutting, but I always have terrible trouble getting the fabric to stick.  And as some of these pieces are VERY small, and the cutting instructions leave very little spare fabric, I want to make sure I get it right!  So now I’m leaning toward a dissolving stabilizer like Floriani’s Wet N Gone or Pellon’s 542 Stick N WashAway.  It seems like either one would get the job done without adding any bulk, so I guess it just depends which I find first!

But for now, back to the cutting mat!  I still have fat quarters to subdivide!

Aviatrix

I’ve always liked the word aviatrix.  There’s something about the feminine -ix that sounds so powerful… Bellatrix LeStrange, anyone?  Or maybe that’s a bad example…  But either way, it’s a great name for this quilt by Elizabeth Hartman.

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I presume it refers to the butterflies and birds in the quilt…  Yes, I said birds.  Can you find them?  Because I honestly only found them for the first time tonight!  If you don’t see them, look in the center of the medallion, inside the white star.   It’s easier to see in this adaptation by ColorGirl Quilts…
center adaptation

 

Now, if you’ve followed me for even five minutes, you’ll know that I never, and I mean NEVER follow a pattern to the letter.  I honestly think I’m physically incapable!  So while I probably won’t be going this far afield, I have already determined to make a couple of adjustments.

Tonight at SewMemphis, we selected our fabrics.  It was both an agonizing and delightful undertaking!  25 fat quarters – five each in five color ranges, plus two background colors takes quite a while!!

Aviatrix Materials

Here’s what I came up with!  It’s not the best picture in the world; still need to get the lighting hung in the sewing room!  But I’m pleased with my choices!  You’ll note the absence of orange… I absolutely can’t stand it!  So instead, I went with the proscribed neutrals, plus pinks, marines, indigos, and greens, and I think they make a lovely group!

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Now, I think the birds in the center are darling, now that I know they’re there.  In order to make them stand out better, I have opted against using two background colors – I’m going to use all white instead.  I think it will be a greater contrast than the grey tones.  I may make more changes yet, but this is what I’m starting with!

Or not starting with.  The trouble with moving?  Things vanish.  Important things.  Necessary things.  Like rotary cutters.   So, yeah, I have a LOT of cutting to do, and no rotary cutter.  Guess it’s time to hit the craft store!   But you know the minute I buy a new rotary cutter, the old one is going to turn up; that’s just the way of things.  So I may give it a day or two, but I’d best not wait too long – I have a LOT of cutting to do over the next couple of weeks!

Resolutions

So, I’m not really one for resolutions.  After all, I never seem to keep them, so it seems pointless to make the declaration.  That said, I still have a few goals for every year that I meet with varying degrees of success.  Eat healthier, sew more often, and finish something.  Anything.  

The thing is, I keep each project nice and neatly in a plastic bin of its own, so that the materials all stay together along with the pattern, etc.  My intention was to keep the bins underneath the bed in my sewing room, in the spiffy pull-out drawer I got at the organizational-mecca known as Ikea.  Somehow, though, all of the bins don’t fit.  And by all of, I mean half.  Half of the bins don’t fit.  The overflow are now stacked taller than my sewing table!

So what do I do?  Sign up for a new Block of the Month, of course.  Because “in for a penny, in for a pound”, right?

But I have a good reason, honest.  I mean, I’m in a new city, I want to meet people who share my interests, and where better to do that than in a quilt class??  Exactly.  So, starting this week, I’ll be working on Elizabeth Hartman’s Aviatrix Medallion!  We’ll see if I actually succeed in finishing it!

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In addition, I have also put myself to work on the Fat Quarter Shop’s St. Jude Fundraiser Quilt-along, Snapshots.  I started working on it more than six months ago, but only got three blocks finished before I got distracted by other things.  Like moving.  But I figure since I now live in the heart of Memphis, home of St. Jude, it’s a good UFO to start with!  And I can make a dent in the rest of the blocks fairly easily: after all, the fabric is all neat and organized in one plastic bin, right?

Updates, Advancements and Oven Mitts

Hello, it’s me…  I was wondering if after all this time….

Yeah, sorry, I went there.  But I’m just so excited to be posting, I can’t control the cheese-factor!  This has been a seriously crazy year, and I for one could not be happier to close the door on 2015, and find out what 2016 has in store for us.  That said, I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating black-eyed peas, and doing any other good-luck-in-the-new-year ritual I can think of, just to be on the safe side.

But I’m optimistic: Santa brought me a new laptop to post with, I’m almost completely unpacked in darling new apartment, and my first-ever sewing room is ready and waiting for the first project of the year!  And yes, it’s messy already – but that’s real life, right?

Sewing Room

 

While I’ve been unpacking, I’ve also been watching my new favorite show: The Great British Bake-Off!  (Or if you’re watching it on Netflix, the Great British Baking Show.)  I am obsessed.  Honestly, the Brits are so much better at these competition shows, primarily because they are REALISTIC!  I mean, Bake-off challenges home bakers on both their “signature recipes” and their ability to follow a very basic recipe – none of this Food Network “how good a chef would you be in the case of an apocalypse” business.  (The Great British Sewing Bee is the same way, if you haven’t watched it.)  One thing I particularly fell in love with watching Bake Off (besides the glass bowls for the stand mixers) are the double oven mitts!  Such a clever contraption, and something I can’t believe I don’t already own!

  
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I had several days off last week visiting my family in Texas, so Miss Priss (also known as Mom) and I decided to spend an afternoon making up a set!  We used this WeAllSew Tutorial as a jumping off point.  As usual, I made a few modifications: they call for 10″ long pocket pieces, but I found that to be just a bit long for my hands, so I cut mine down to 9.5″.  I also decided against basting my sandwich layers, as I was using my mom’s featherweight and didn’t have a walking foot.  Too much shifting!   (I did like using the Sewing Edge, one of Marci Baker’s tools to make a 1/4″ guide on any surface.  It worked perfectly on the featherweight and is conveniently reusable!)

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I did take the suggestion of making my own bias binding, using this method from McCall’s Quilting – although I applied it like quilt binding instead of like bias tape to make it a little sturdier, since I plan to use (read:wash) my mitts often.  There are about a thousand tutorials for doing both out there, so for the moment I won’t elaborate beyond saying that I chose this method (as shown by CluckCluckSew) over a more garment-oriented method like this one (shown by Positively Splendid).  And in hindsight, I think I would make the bias-binding wider – the instructions call for half-inch bias tape, so I cut mine to 1.5″, but it was quite tricky to bring all the way around, so I think next time I would do 2″.

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But other than that, we followed the pattern to a T!  (Hah!)  Actually, for me, only three and a half deviations from the pattern really isn’t much…  Nevertheless, I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!!  I may even have to make a second one in another color scheme, just for the fun of it!  And maybe even a matching stand-mixer cover…

so long until then!

MT

A New Addiction, and other happenings!

EQ

My birthday fell in the middle of last month, and I received the gift of EQ7! If you aren’t familiar, Electric Quilt 7, better known as EQ, is an amazing quilt design software that lets you do pretty much anything! Many if not most of the famous quilt designers out there use EQ to begin their creations, and now I can too!

I received and installed the software Monday evening, and then stared at the computer screen, completely overwhelmed. Thankfully, Tuesday evening was my monthly guild meeting, where I was enrolled in an EQ seminar as part of our Quilt University! At the end of the two hour session, I feel WAY more confident! I’ve built a half-dozen different projects, including an entry in the monthly challenge on the doyouEQ.com website! Crazy, right?  Crazier still that I have spent pretty much every waking minute with the program running!  But it’s seriously addictive – trying out colors, sizes of sashings, borders, you name it…  I will show pictures of some of my projects as soon as I figure out how to take screen shots – I’m far too used to using my mobile devices, obviously.

But there are other things I need to figure out, too… Like, brushing up on my Roberts’ Rules of Order – because the other thing that happened is I was elected President of the guild for the new guild year, which starts May 1.  Eek!  So that’s going to be an exciting challenge!  I have lots of ideas, and plans for our first board meeting are already in the works… but I’m getting ahead of myself.  I still need to hand off my OLD positions to the new people!  I was the Secretary and Webmaster, and thankfully there were volunteers for both positions, as I don’t think I could handle both the Presidency and the Website.  And no, this would not be an appropriate time to ask me for the missile launch codes or the truth about Area 51, that’s been done already!

But that’s all for now, it’s almost Friday! Happy weekend!

M

Minions

Inspiration

So, for a lot of reasons, it’s been quite a while since I last posted, but the main reason is that I was locked out of my site… oops!  After a series of technical issues and updates, followed by a series of life-gets-in-the-way moments, I’m back up and running!  (And for this I owe a big “Thank You” to my little brother, who doubles as my webhost and general tech-guru.)

Despite the fact that I haven’t been writing, I have been sewing, so I do have lots of things to show for my time away!  But for today, let me show you my latest completion, a baby quilt for a coworker and friend we’ll call Kiki.  Usually when I make quilts for people, I don’t like to take requests.  It’s happened more than once that I agreed to make something that I wasn’t particularly keen on, so I hated working on it, every step of the way.  Thus, the no-request rule.  I haven’t ever had complaints about the quilts I have gifted, and I try to bear in mind the taste of the recipient, but I like to have full control – it keeps me motivated.

That said, Kiki had mentioned more than once how much she loves the films in the Despicable Me series, and how cute a Minion-themed quilt would be.  I took the hint, and decided to give it a go – the theme appealed to me, and I had several ideas immediately.  I encountered several patterns for pieced Minions on pinterest, as well as crocheted Minions, knitted Minions, stuffed Minions… you name it, you can make it shaped like a Minion!   After a bunch of research, I settled on a simple applique of my own design.  For something like this, I decided to go with raw-edge applique using fusible web and a satin (aka button-hole) stitch.

If you’ve never made your own applique designs, it’s not as tricky as it sounds.  I took my inspiration image (above) to the local print shop and had it blown up in black and white to my desired finished size (approx. 20″x24″ in this case).  I was able to email the original picture to the shop, and have them do all of the re-sizing, which makes it even easier.

From there, simply trace the shapes onto the fusible web (use a lightbox or tape to a window), fuse to the correct color fabric, cut, and iron in place!  IMPORTANT NOTE – If the direction of the pattern matters, remember you need to reverse it, or your pattern will turn out backwards!  I did not reverse the Minion, because it didn’t matter to me whether he pointed left or right, but it is a little bit easier to lay things out accurately when it’s NOT reversed…and yes, i learned that one the hard way!

 

Before Binding

After stitching all of the pieces down, it was a simple matter to put on borders!  I did the quilting myself, which I don’t usually do, but I think it turned out okay!  I have a tendency to alternate between sewing machines for various projects, and this quilt taught me that I much prefer to quilt on my vintage Singer 301 than on my more modern Elna.  For whatever reason, the tension is more consistent, as is the stitch length. I ended up ripping out a bunch of the quilting and starting fresh, so I washed and dried the finished product to erase the evidence!  I think he’s pretty cute, don’t you?

-M

Inspiration

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