Friday, April 30, 2010

back in my happy place

Happiness is a rainbow hexagon pillow...

Just finished this little beauty yesterday, and I'm thinking of re-decorating the entire house around it. Well, not really, but it is HAPPY, yes? I wasn't too sure if I liked the quilting when it was done, but it's growing on me. If I tell you what I originally thought it looked like, then that is all you'd be able to see, and I don't want to spoil it for you. I put the green binding on just like you would for a quilt, mainly because after quilting it I realized it needed another pop of color to set it off from the all white pillow backing. And I added a zipper to the back so it can be washed - think it might need it someday with that white???
This was my first foray into English paper-piecing (before this I had no idea what that even meant) and I really enjoyed the process. I don't think I have the focus necessary to complete an entire quilt made from these hexagons... there are less than 100 in this pillow and that was enough for me. I take my hat off to all the people I see online who are piecing these things by the thousands - you go, girls! But I learned something new, and I have something beautiful to show for it in the end. What could be better?
P.S. I have to give credit to my daughter for suggesting the rainbow layout in the first place. You were right, honey!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

not the girl I thought I was...

  • I used to think of myself as a hale and hearty kind of gal. You know, the kind who could work all day in the yard, or go for a run whenever I wanted and have no ill after-effects from either event.
  • I used to think I had a pretty decent amount of stamina and strength.
  • I used to be okay with mowing the lawn because it was time spent outside, I could get a lot of thinking done, it helped my husband, and as an added bonus it was a workout and a tanning session all rolled into one.
I used to think all of those things until about 4:08pm today...

This is a photo of our lawnmower. It's your basic mulching lawnmower with the added bonus of a power drive system that makes it easier to push. Another helpful add-on is the bag that catches all the grass clippings so the lawn is nice and neat after mowing (and our cream cairn terrier Dixie doesn't look like Elphaba every time the grass gets cut.)
See how it says right on the mower "EZ Mulch bag"?
And "PowerGearDrive"?


This is what the bag for the clippings looks like now. The right side blew out as I was mowing, spraying me with grass clippings. Not a big deal except that the left side is already being held closed with a safety pin. Again, not a big deal, except for the fact that 2 minutes after I started mowing, I heard a whining, squeaking noise, and now the power drive doesn't work anymore. Again not a big deal except for these facts:
  • my heart is hammering in my chest from the effort of pushing this darn thing all over the yard,
  • I am sweating profusely even though the temp is only about 60f and there is a pleasant cool breeze,
  • I am stopping at the end of every row to catch my breath,
  • I'll look like a complete wimp if I don't finish this before my husband gets home,
  • and lastly, my mood has turned terribly dark and sour from frustration and the realization that I am not the girl that I thought I was.
Now that my little venting break is over, I've gotten this aggravation out of my system, and caught my breath, I'm headed back outside to finish this job that I started. Whew! Thanks for listening; I feel so much better now. It is what it is, and I'm still a pretty decent cookie, if I do say so myself. But I'm definitely having some wine with dinner tonight, oh yeah, that's for sure, and after all - "tomorrow is another day"!





Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A sweet new needle case

I have a little lots of trouble staying focused on one project at a time. So yesterday when I should have been finishing my hexagon pillow and marking my Italian Tiles quilt for quilting, my mind said "let's not get hung up on this completion thing... let's start something new." So.... lately I have been doing a lot of hand sewing, and my needles, thread, scissors, and project(s) are all currently stowed in (sigh) ziploc bags. Can you see where this is headed?

Kelli, a friend from my modern sewing group, has THE cutest little needle case that I have been coveting, so on Sunday when we got together she suggested I trace it and make my own. Of course the project took about 5 times longer than I expected, but the result was worth it.
All I needed was an 8" square of outer fabric, 8" square of lining fabric, an 8" square of batting, and a 7" square of coordinating felt. I made a pattern using regular printer paper from the tracing I took of Kelli's case, but had to make another because the first one wasn't symmetrical. A little cutting, sewing, pressing, and top-stitching and voila - a lovely new needle case!
The sides fold in to make it collapse, and a velcro tab keeps it closed when not in use.
I added a button to raise the cuteness factor, and now it's complete!
The fabrics used are Kaffe Fassett Kirman in Grey, Kaffe Fasset Spots in Fuschia, and some screaming neon green felt that I had on hand.
So now I still have all the unfinished projects that I had when the day started, but one of the projects on my mental to-do list is finished! That still counts as a finish, right?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I still can't believe I met him!

Yep, that's me... with HIM... hanging out together last weekend. We're pals now, Kaffe, Liza and me. Maybe you don't know this about me, but I have a little teeny bit of an obsession with Kaffe Fassett and his fabrics and patterns and books. And last Friday I got to take a class that he and Liza Prior Lucy taught at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago! The class topic was making a floral snowball quilt, and we spent the entire day fussy-cutting, arranging, and making color and design decisions. I was a little nervous to expose any of my ideas about color in front of him; I mean, he is a master of color, you know! But he was so gracious and encouraging and complimentary of every single person in that room, that we were all very quickly put at ease. Turns out he's just a regular guy who happens to be a color genius. Oh sure, he gave suggestions and his ideas, but he mostly just encouraged us to figure out what our own personal vision was for the quilt we were creating. How cool is that?!?
This is a sneak-peek of the quilt I am working on. It didn't really turn out like I had pictured in my mind prior to the class, but I have decided just to run with it, and every time I walk into the sewing room and see it in progress up on the wall, the more I fall in love with it. The toughest part was finding a fabric to use as the corner triangles that will eventually create the illusion of each floral block being circular when the whole quilt top is put together. The small lavender/dusty purple squares in the photo above are going to be my corner triangles. This fabric was the fifth one that I bought and cut up - the only way to really see what worked was to cut up some squares and stick them up on the wall with the blocks. I never would have guessed that this purple would be the one, but Liza suggested it, and it turns out she knows what she's talking about too! She was a riot! We listened to great music while she and Kaffe walked the room and offered advice and their thoughts.
I'll be finishing this quilt as part of the Quilt Along with Kaffe Fassett (button on right side bar). There is a group on Facebook for posting photos of your projects and progress, and Kaffe and Liza will be commenting and advising on all the posts. So now I can still interact with them without being labeled as a stalker :)
And here are the newest additions to my Kaffe stash! Maybe I went a little overboard, but this is the last year that the festival will be in Chicago, so who knows when I'll again have the opportunity to be in the same room with all that Kaffe goodness?! I think I may have even turned my friend Andrea on to his fabrics too while we shopped together on Sunday! Now what I could really use is a winning lottery ticket, because the fourth thing I would do with my winnings (after sharing with family and friends, funding my girls' future college education and wedding expenses, and buying my husband a cooking vacation in Italy) is buy an entire bolt of each of Kaffe's fabrics. I'm hardly able to wrap my brain around how much fun that would be!

Hope you are able to spend a little time on your favorite interest, ahem, obsession today!!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I never met a rainbow color layout that I didn't LOVE!

A few years ago I attended the Chicago Flower and Garden Show with my husband. The most captivating display was a huge, undulating bed of annuals and perennials arranged into a living, flowing color spectrum. It was breathtaking! At the time we did not have a digital camera (and who knows where the photos are now?) but apparently the idea has stayed with me and found an outlet in my next quilting project...


While on vacation I managed to get these rainbow-hued hexagons paper-pieced. They are all 1" hexagons, which is the length of each side of the hexagon. So before I left, I cut 2.5" squares from about 100 unique fabrics in my scrap bin and 100 paper hexagon forms that I printed from Melanie at texasfreckles. She has organized a piece-along, and at her blog you can find instructions and templates for different sized hexies. She is planning to make a charm quilt (all unique fabrics) from - get this - 1198 hexagons! Well, I am going to be content with just getting my little group of 90 or so put together for a pillow top. I am usually a strong believer in the motto that "if some is good, then MORE is BETTER", but not in this case. They are cute and fun, and the piecing of these little beauties goes pretty quickly, but I have got way too many things in the backlog pile to commit to any more than this.

I'm planning to put this grouping on a bleached white or snow solid background, do some random quilting, and end up with a fun summer throw pillow. Somewhere on flickr I saw a similar color scheme of hexies on a white background, but arranged more like a flowing bed of flowers on a table runner - BEAUTIFUL! Many of my scrap floral fabrics are from an old Moda line called Wildflowers by Rick Vanderpool. They have found their way into lots of projects at my house - a jelly roll bag, an apron, a hearts stack-and-whack quilt. It will be appearing next in a modified bento box pillow (tutorial at filminthefridge) to go with my hexagon pillow.

Maybe someday I'll get my color-spectrum garden bed, but until then I'll be content with all these lovely quilting projects! ENJOY THE DAY!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Spring Pillow finished!

You may remember that I took a couple of hand-sewing projects with me on vacation in late March. I am happy to report that one of them is now complete! Due to my recent convalescence (foot issues... see earlier post if you need the details), I was able to finish all the hand applique, and today I headed out for a zipper, piping, and a 16" pillow form to complete the job. Isn't it so spring-y?! I love, love, love the way it turned out!
Dritz Wash-Away Wonder Tape is my new favorite notion. It is a 1/4" wide, double-sided adhesive that makes adding piping, zippers, and machine-finishing your binding SOOO much easier!

You simply peel what you need away from the roll and press it onto the fabric where you want to hold your piping/zipper/etc. Here I have applied it to the raw edge of my quilted pillow front so I can hold my piping in place without pins.

Next you just peel away the paper backing to reveal the front side of the adhesive...

press your piping down and you are ready to sew!
PEACOCK UPDATEI am happy to report that the wandering peacock I told you about last week was reunited with his owner. My local paper reported that a nearby family keeps two male peacocks, and both went missing that day. The one I saw was captured by Animal Control the same day, and the other male was apprehended the next day. The owners (who live less than a mile from my house) were keeping them in a 7 foot high enclosure. They are planning to make it higher... and get a female so the guys don't need to go out looking for chicks :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Peacock, Pain, and a Pillow Prize

We got home from our wonderful beach vacation last Saturday relaxed and happy. It was so good to get away to some sunshine and sand!

And since then it's been a very unusual week! On Wednesday morning I was vacuuming and just happened to look out the front window and see this guy walking through the front yard!! I quick threw down the vacuum and grabbed the camera and the phone and headed outside in my pj pants, slippers, and sweatshirt. Quite a sight, I'm sure! I followed this peacock down the street. He never stopped to look around, just kept on walkin'. As I was snapping photos I was also exclaiming to my husband on the phone, "THERE'S A PEACOCK IN THE FRONT YARD!" To which he replied, "are you SURE it's a peacock?" Yes, I think I know a peacock when I see one. I kept waiting for Marlin Perkins and Jim whats-his-name from Wild Kingdom to show up - heehee :) Anyway, I called animal control so he could get back home when his owners reported him missing. Hopefully he made it back home.
And Thursday was mostly a horrible day, but ended on a FANTASTIC note. I had both of my large toenails removed due to a persistent infection (sorry if this is T.M.I.), and I can tell you for sure that podiatrists are LIARS when they tell you that it's perfectly fine to drive yourself home from this procedure, AND when they say that you can go back to work the next day (ha!), AND when they tell you that regular ol' tylenol will keep a lid on your pain (ha! again.) Not a great way to spend the day. BUT right before I went to bed, I checked my email and learned that I was the number 7 winner in the Fresh Modern Quilts flickr pool prize drawing!!!!! So now I am going to be the lucky recipient of the pattern and fabric to make this BEAUTIFUL PILLOW. Thanks again to Rossie from Fresh Modern Quilts, Malka at Stitch in Dye, and all the other great people donating prizes for this giveaway!!
Here's to a wonderful weekend that will hopefully include drinks on a sun-drenched patio in the backyard!

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