Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I check out so many blogs every week let's face it, daily, and I'm always mystified by the prolific nature of some quilters. Granted, many folks are at home all day, or even make a living by crafting. But even when I have the time, I get tangled up in how "big" and "important" and "permanent" each decision is, which causes me to continually pump the brakes.

In grade school, I had a lucky little friend who somehow came into possession of a power scooter. I think it was being stored in her garage after her grandfather got a newer model. Naturally, we sneaked it out at the first opportunity and took it joy-riding around the neighborhood. The thrill! The glory! The ridiculousness!

The power scooter had two speeds: a picture of a tortoise and a picture of a rabbit. (To give you an indication of mph, on the rabbit setting my friend's older sister could easily jog by us, with enough breath for mocking as she went.) After a cautious beginning (after all, we'd never driven anything before), we set that sucker to rabbit and terrorized the neighborhood until we were caught by my friend's dad, who sensibly put the kibosh on our little adventures. Drat.

When I stand at the cutting table, I give a cursory glance around for the rabbit switch. My quilter speed seems to be stuck on tortoise all. the. time. These scrappy blocks for the back of Mumu took three days. I put in at least 30 minutes of staring for every couple of seams. It sometimes feels rather pathetic.

My goal on this project was to make decisions quickly and not be so fussy. It's tough to push myself to just act without doubt and debate, but it's definitely a worthwhile practice. I love the results. This is so beautiful to me.

Perhaps achieving a random or scrappy look can only be attained with a slightly reckless attitude. This one doesn't feel done yet. Plus I have a few more scraps that need using up. But maybe I should just get on with it already! :o)

Luckily I have the hand-quilting on Paisley Sunrise to soothe me. No other progress, I'm afraid. Still mighty tempted by Swoon...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Yay, I'm so glad to be back on track with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

Good pics are tough in the winter, folks.
A couple of easy finishes this week: two blocks for my Block Party Bee. Mary has January and she chose this super sweet fabric with little bunnies. She thoughtfully included a strip of paper for piecing in her packet.

Normally when I put together wonky strips of fabric, I just eyeball it and trim up later. Using the paper made the piecing so much faster and easier, but when it came to peeling the paper off, I thought it made the stitches a bit uneven. I might try it with a lighter paper in the future.

I'm counting this one as a finish too. I put together all the HSTs for my brother's quilt.

Fabric self-portrait

I know, I many times will I say I finished those blocks...I'm holding off on piecing them into criss-crosses because I might want to try this new basting method if it works out on Mumu.

In progress this week: my spelling. I realized with embarrassment that I've been calling my current quilt-in-progress "Mumu" (which, according to Wikipedia, is, among other things, a Nigerian word for 'idiot'...cruel irony...), where I meant to say "Muumuu" (a colorful Polynesian dress). Well, too late to change it now.

I'm eager to get the backing of Mumu done so I can snuggle up with this beauty. I sewed a bunch of leftover scraps together, then cut them up lengthwise.

Wish I could just throw the scraps on a wall and sew 'em where they stick. They look so lovely in a heap.

I'm determined not to throw away any scraps larger than these. Every bit of this fabric is going into the quilt.

Luckily "mumu" also means 'intelligent person' in Mexican slang. I don't feel like I've fully solved the puzzle yet, but I'm trying to use this opportunity to take risks and be less controlling.

And since we're talking progress...I have been doing AWESOME at getting up at 6am every weekday (weekends were ambitious. It's pointless to get up in the dark with nothing to do.). I get to see the sunrise every day, and I really enjoy it. My whole day is better. It's amazing how shifting of a couple hours can slide a whole new lens over the day. I haven't been sewing every evening, however. I'm usually way too tired to focus. Stretching has fared better; it's fitting into my routine daily. Yay for change!

No Progress
Spring Sampler (I have totally lost steam on this one. Scrappy mojo is lost.)

I'm considering jumping on the Swoon bandwagon. I've long since purchased the pattern, but still yet to settle on a set of fabrics. The truth is, this block looks amazing in basically every color and tone combo...mmm, indecision!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Avoiding Basting, Part I

My head has been in the clouds lately. It's lovely.
Each quilt is a kind of experiment, a chance to try new techniques and learn new tricks. So far Mumu has been coasting comfortably on my prior knowledge. It's time to try something crazy.

So crazy it just might work.

The view from my window
My hatred is of basting is well-documented. Why not take this opportunity to find a way out of (or at least around) it?

After surprising success in stitching the batting directly to the strips as they are being joined in my small Christmas projects, I decided to try it large-scale.

I had 9 panels of Mumu (wait, what?): 3 made of blocks, and 6 of sashing. I laid out the batting (Quilter's Dream 100% cotton, high loft) and smoothed it all out. Then I placed the center panel down the middle. I laid a strip of sashing on top and pinned it to the batting.

There was a moment of dismay as I noticed the sashing appears to be a slightly different color than the white I used in the blocks. Paranoia ensued; did I accidentally use a different color? But it's so slight that maybe I can chalk it up to different batches. Arg.

I sewed all three pieces together using the walking foot. A little ironing and...

...not a disaster! So I pressed on...(okay, pun intended). I continued in this way until all the pieces were attached.

I would never try this method if I wasn't 100% sure about the layout. Ripping out these stitches would be a serious pain.

Yay, the experiment worked!! The top is complete and now it's attached to the batting too. If I can get the backing on there without wrinkling, I'll have a happy new way to baste.

This quilt is going to be huge (about queen-sized).

I was all psyched to start free-motion quilting next weekend when I remembered I haven't made a quilt back yet.

Hmm, details.

There was something else brewing in our apartment today...literally.

Mr Awesome got a brew kit for Christmas...a dream come true! He immediately set to work on a pale ale.
It'll be ready to taste on Super Bowl Sunday.

Brewskis and quiltskis...what could be better?

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I know.

It's cliche.

But bear with me here. There are a few things I'm determined to re-solve for the last time in 2012, and my blog-dignity is going to hold me to them. 

1. I will get up at 6am everyday.

Like a typical Gemini, I have a significant struggle with time. I'd rather be in the moment than in the minute. Currently, I wake up about 5am, go back to bed, and engage in a perfectly pointless lolling for another 2-3 hours before eventually rising in a panic of lateness and rushing to work. It does not a lovely morning make. This habit is too pervasive to dislodge with pure willpower (believe me, I've tried). Since my attempts to convince the Rest of the World to share my 10am-2am working hours have miserably failed, I have developed A Plan.

Yesterday (at 11:30am, when I got up), I found this Pavlovian article. It is refreshingly unlike the usual drivel about going to bed earlier, so I'm giving it a try - a real, no-excuses, 30-day commitment. Even on weekends.

In the evening I actually practiced seven reps of waking up to an alarm. My husband supportively smothered his laughter. Then I was up until 2am. I did pop out of bed at 6am to my alarm (victory!), but it was cold, dark, and pointless-- no work today, and nothing much to do. I climbed back in til 9:30. Let's hope for greater success tomorrow.

2. Each day, I will spend at least 15 minutes sewing. 

Good for the blog, good for the soul. 

3. Each day, I will spend 15 minutes stretching.

Sewing can be hard on the body, not to mention all the other craziness we put our physical selves through. I'm going to help undo the tension with some simple stretches.

Time is precious. In 2012, I want to get more out of my time, using it more wisely and naturally. Hopefully these little adjustments will do the trick.

Speaking of which, let's get to the quilting already:

I completed my blocks for the 4x5 Bee. This was my first round, and honestly I found it rather stressful. Everything from choosing a pattern to figuring out measurements to selecting fabrics caused me anxiety. Maybe it was just the crush of the holidays, but I was totally intimidated by this bee.

I don't feel awesome about the blocks. Which sucks, because everyone in my hive is really nice, and I'm sure they are doing super-impeccable work.

If you choose such a simple block, you should do it perfectly, right? None of my blocks finished right at 12.5". Somehow I cut this one too small and had to add a border. Does it look ultra-lame?

(It's tough to see in the photo, but each of those blues is a different shade.)

The others were all a bit too big. I'm not sure if this is kosher, but I'm going to leave the trimming to my hive-mates. Does that make me a jerk?

See what I mean about the stress??

You've been warned...don't get into a Bee with me!

On a happier note, I've finished the blocks for Mumu, yay!

Each block measures 27" square.

I end up making a lot of square quilts.


But I think this one will be large enough that it doesn't matter (about 93" square).

It's been a bit cold and cloudy here - not too much sunlight in the sewing area.

But you get the idea. I can't wait to show you the quilt top soon!