Sunday, August 28, 2011

Improv Blocks

Why am I so compelled to use these ridiculously small scraps. Who cares. No one will know if I throw away a 1" square of fabric.

And yet...I pull out these scraps and stare at them, waiting for some puzzle-like fit to make itself known. They WILL be pieced, damn it.

Yesterday I saw an "O":

And then a couple bars in a frame. These are so simple, but I really like them. There is something calming in the symmetry and simplicity of these blocks.

I'm channeling my inner-Amish.

Today's project: 1 case for all 3 of my iPods (I know. It's a sickness.) I'm scouring tutorials for iPod cases but somehow I can't conceptualize how to make dividers so I can stow all three. I'll let you know how it works out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Free-hand Cables

Poor neglected blog! Many things have cut you in the "line of priorities" the past couple weeks. Welcome back to the front of the queue.

Much inspired by this crazy awesome quilting, (paradigm shifting!) I decided to make traditional Amish cables freehand. This is more difficult than I imagined. Because I want them to look free, not...well, hideous.

I've been drawing the lines with a water-soluble fabric pen, then quilting along them. I can't manage without the lines because I don't quilt like normal...I take each stitch individually. Which is embarrassing to admit, in a way. It's ultra slow and probably violates like ten Laws of the Quilt Police. I wasn't even aware there was a "way" until last year. When I tried the traditional quilting technique, it was crazy hard and rather unsatisfying. So back to my (unique? original?) methods.

While my technique (as it were) is liberated enough, I still struggle to make the cables as free and twisty as I wish to see them.

Here's to embracing truly Free Motion.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Well, everyday is WIP-day at my place :o)

Another log cabin scored me some points in the epic battle of the scraps. They seem to be multiplying, not diminishing. These helped a lot too:

This tutorial gave me the idea to put a scrappy frame around my favorite Modern Meadow trees. This is a departure from my normal style (I sort of dislike things "floating") but this project is all about trying something new, right? Anyway, all these cheerful yellows make me happy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Appreciating the Tortoise

This sampler is forcing me to go slowly. I keep staring at those bits and scraps, waiting for inspiration...something I want to make, that uses the pieces I have. Ideas refused to be rushed. But it's a pleasant sort of long as I don't pressure myself too much.

I tried some wonky churn dash blocks:

And another log cabin:

The next project might have to be a design wall. So far all the blocks are heaped up on a chair, and, true to my measuring phobia, I've been making them all pretty random sizes. I have no idea how they're all going to go together.

Lovely carpet background, huh? Yeah, a design wall is getting put in the queue...

Friday, August 5, 2011

More Samplin'

Don't get used to these everyday posts, guys. I'm going back to work soon, and I'll be way less productive (at least in sewing)...which is why I'm trying to soak up all possible creative goodness over the next few days. And this sampler is doing the trick to keep me motivated. It's fun to make just one of each block. They become more unique and special.

I tackled the HSTs first (I'm not sure what the name of this block is?). I'm seeing these everywhere on Flickr and had to have my very own! But wow, it's been a while since I did any precision piecing, and let me assure I did not achieve the perfect accurate points I was going for.

I'm trying to banish "perfect" from my vocabulary. Perfection is a myth, anyway...why should I put so much stock in something that doesn't exist? This project has been going on for several years now...still a WIP :o) On the bright side, I did something with those HST that I think looks really beautiful.

Next I wanted to do some freestyling. This lovely quilt captured my imagination a while ago. So simple, yet it really gave me pause. There is just something peaceful about it. So I grabbed this guy and gave it a gray frame...

...stepped back, and realized I was re-creating a rainy day-- the gray clouds, the raindrops and puddles, the way that everything growing becomes greener. True to the scene, I cooked up a little sun that may or may not look much more like a rose:

But even so, I love it! These pentagon improv blocks are rocking my world. So satisfying to make and very delicious eye candy. And now for the big fabric version of a cloudy, rainy day:

Eeekk!! Why does this make me so happy?!!

Up next: these little orphans. Looking forward to sewing them into something tomorrow...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Scrap Bustin' Sampler

Today, my overflowing jars of yellow and green scraps were calling my name. This (entirely candid!) shot captures the mood-- gray and windy, a typical San Francisco summer day. At least my fabrics could be warm and sunny!

But what to make? A little rooting in the ol' quilt cupboard yielded these forgotten finds:

A log cabin made from scraps sometime last year, with no purpose in mind other than to get that sunlight-through-the-forest-canopy type feeling...

...and three little trees left over from these potholders I made my sister-in-law last Christmas. They have been patiently waiting to participate in a quilt ever since.

Since my attention span for repetitive block-making is at zero lately, this is the perfect opportunity to try my hand at a sampler. Some new blocks, a few old favorites, bustin' scraps...yay!

It's a challenge to stick to the scraps. I want to leap into yardage! But so far I've been pretty good. The trees got some roots from Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow (which I horde):

I don't love how it looks right now, but I have some ideas on how to improve it. Like maybe adding a lil sun:

I'm reflecting that I may be a bit obsessed with sunshine. I'm a native of San Diego, and while I love the Bay Area (and the fog that comes with it), I often miss the desert and the big open sky. Especially in the summertime.

I also found some 3" HST. (How am I just "finding" this stuff? Who cut these?!)

Endless possibilities! Yet I had nothing big enough to put them together with, so I made some green "fabric" from the thin strips I had on hand.

I find myself doing this increasingly. It's a pretty effective base for any and all wonky projects (not that I've done that many), but I'm getting kind of bored with it. You see why I was so excited by those HST...I've been living in line-land.
I haven't committed to these pinwheels yet. They seem a little...pukey? Sorry, pinwheels. Just calling 'em like I see 'em. I need a sharper contrast. It may be back to the cutting board on this one...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Basting Idea!

Guys, I just had a great idea. Well, maybe it's great. I'm hunting around for a project to give it a test run.

Next time I baste, I'm going to lay out the batting first, then spray baste or pin the backing into it. THEN I'll flip it over and attach the top. :oD What could possibly go wrong?!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vegan Molasses Cookies

Do they look like baby poop? Yes.

Are they delicious? Also yes.

Madly scrambling for a vegan cookie recipe this weekend, I happily found this lil gem. Less happily, I lacked half the ingredients as well as the time to go fetch them. Back to happy-- I worked a little improv baking and the result was the crazy awesome gingerbread thing. (Though I could see a little ginger going a long way in this recipe, and I plan to try that sometime soon.)

Here's my version of the recipe:
  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1/2 cup molasses (and maybe a little more)
  • about 1/2, 3/4 cups water
Oven to 325. In a small bowl, mix up the first 6 ingredients and set aside. In a big bowl, mix together all the rest (except for the water), starting with the cornstarch mixture. Make sure to get all the brown sugar blended in. Gradually You know what, you're supposed to do it gradually, but frankly I dump the whole dry mixture into the wet at once. Blend it well, then add the water. Now, it's going to look runny. Disturbingly runny. Keep stirring. Or let it sit for a moment while you check the score of the [home team] game. It will miraculously firm up!! Spoon out a little spoonful onto your cookie tray and watch it NOT RUN ALL OVER! (Okay this part was a big deal for me.) Bake for 10 minutes only and they retain that soft, chewy, fluffiness we all love to chomp on.

Happy eating!

Fresh Sunrise

The machine quilting is nearly done. I really like how it's turning out. The lines on the back don't perfectly match up to the piecing, but I decided to let that go. I'm making a blanket, not doing heart surgery, right?

As for the spray basting, I find myself having to reposition the top and backing pretty much as often as when I pin or baste with thread. So I'm accepting this as part of the process and saving my money next time!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Paisley Sunrise

After a week of little projects, it's back to the Big One-- or "Paisley Sunrise," as my friend named it. But it's time to baste. And guys, I hate basting. Hate. It. I've tried pins, I've tried stitching. Last time it took three days and I strained a back muscle (as well as the patience of the husband, who likes to use the floors too). But what I really hate (since you asked) is that it is impossible to ensure that the sandwich stays completely wrinkle-free and totally straight. Elusive perfection! [Shaking my fist at the quilting gods]

Since ol' Paisley is queen sized, I couldn't stomach the thought of traditional basting methods. Enter spray basting. All set to try 505, I bought Sulky KK 2000 at the last minute because it's more environmentally friendly.

And a good thing too. My grand plans to work on the patio were immediately foiled by the wind. Cursed wind!! (Setting myself up for some good quilt karma today, huh? Just wait.) Seconds after the above picture, my lovely quilt back was wrapped around a lawn chair, whimpering for mercy.

I dragged the whole mess beautiful pieces inside and took my time carefully laying out, spraying, and placing each layer. But, quilt friends, I flipped it over to check the backing smoothness and...well, see for yourself:

I surrender to the inevitable. It's probably wrinkly because I have to crawl over it to get at the center. But what else can you do? Okay, whining officially over! :o)

My quilting strategy is to do a machine/hand hybrid-- straight, machine quilted lines on the coin stacks, and Amish cables in the white "margins." Sort of a modern-meets-traditional type thing. I'm pretty excited about it.

I suppose I could have tried to fix the basting. But either I'm lazy or doubtful that it would do much good. Or I have a ton of faith in my walking foot and I'm really eager to overcome my perfectionism. Let's just forge ahead and keep our machingers crossed!