Friday, May 28, 2010

pinch me

So there is a group on Facebook called the "SSSQ Quilt Along with Kaffe Fassett" created by STC Craft to celebrate the publication of Kaffe's latest book Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts. It's a public group that anyone can join and upload photos of quilts they are working on using his fabrics and/or patterns. Often he and/or Liza Roos Lucy (his collaborator) will post a comment on the photos.

Yesterday I uploaded this photo of my Paintbox quilt-in-progress to the group, and this evening when I logged into Facebook, this is the comment I saw posted under Liza's name...


"Message from Kaffe:
This dark grid and keeping all the elements of your graphic design constant you are really showing the variety of fabrics to advantage and getting alot of punch from your colours.
Kaffe"

OMGOSH! Can't believe it! All in all a great day for me :) This excitement on top of the absolute joy that today is the 22nd anniversary of the day that I married the best man on the planet. Life is GOOD!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Paintbox progress

I've managed to get all the left and bottom sashings attached to my blocks, although I did it a little differently than the directions from Elizabeth at Oh, Fransson! My quilt group friends advised me to add a bottom sashing piece to each block before arranging them. They thought that adding all the horizontal sashings in continuous strips would make it difficult and frustrating to make all the vertical columns line up correctly (and I'm all about making things easier!) Now after sewing the blocks into rows, and then sewing the rows together, all that will remain is to add one top and one right side piece of sashing. While I tried so hard to find a random color placement that satisfied me, this is the one that pleases me. First I threw all the blocks up in the air and let them flutter to the floor willy-nilly before positioning them. Then I dumped them into a big bag, mixed them up, drew them out one at a time and added them to the design board in that order. I tried a mirror-image layout. But in the end all those options just looked like chaotic messes to me!

I like neat and orderly, and this layout gives me that. Each block is paired with it's partner, and they are arranged in a sort of "snaking S" color spectrum (determined by the solid colors) starting in the upper right corner. We all know how much I love a color spectrum layout, and as much as I'd like to be a random, free-spirited, liberal thinker (with regards to color), I'm just not that kind of girl yet. If I could just get that right-brain of mine to work a little harder...

How would you have arranged this? How do you accomplish color placements that appear to be random, but still look harmonious? At this rate my entire house is going to look like Rainbow Brite has taken up residence here!

CHEERS!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MT mini-swap sent and received!

Am I a lucky girl or what? Cornelia in Germany sent me this lovely mini-quilt as part of the Modify Tradition swap. It is made from all Kaffe fabrics with a white background, and I just LOVE it! She named her design "Flying Birds", and it does look like four birds flying into the center of the block.


She hand quilted it (very impressive! I have yet to hand quilt anything) and put this embroidered label on the back. It is hanging on the wall in my sewing room, where I can see it and smile every time I walk into the room. THANK YOU CORNELIA - you do beautiful work, and I am very appreciative of your efforts to make it especially for me!


I also sent my mini-quilt out to my secret partner today. Here it is in all it's summery, Riley Blake goodness...


And here's a sneak peek at the back with the label cropped so you can't see her name ;)


I hope she loves it!

Friday, May 21, 2010

back to the Paintbox

My real life sewing bee group SewMod is getting together this Sunday for a six hour sew-in, and I'm finally going to get back to working on my Paintbox quilt! I am so in love with this quilt!



I cut all the Kona charcoal sashing this week to be prepared for Sunday. There are 80 blocks to be sashed and arranged. I always think I'll get WAAAYY more work done at these sew-ins than actually happens (all that laughing and talking and eating takes up a lot of time!), so I'm trying to be realistic and just hope to finish the left and right sashing.


These are my favorite blocks of the group; they are just so happy - how can you not smile when you see these oranges and yellows?!?!



And now how's this for a "small-world" story: A couple of weeks ago I was working my regular day at the quilt shop and in walks a customer that I know to be a fellow "Kaffe nut". She was looking over the Kona rolls that we had in stock and asked me, "which roll do you think would work best with Kaffe's prints?" So I told her that I was in the middle of a project doing the very same thing, "it's called a Paintbox quilt," I said. Well, she whips out her iPhone (as I'm green with envy because apparently everyone in the universe has one of these things but me) and starts to show me photos of what she's thinking of doing. And whose photo do you think she clicks on FIRST?? That's right - MINE! The photo above is the one she shows me first as I exclaim "those are MY blocks!" and immediately start to feel like kind of a big deal :)

So needless to say, we are each the other's new favorite person, and we fawned and smiled and sighed over Kaffe some more. *sigh* She also chose the "bright" Kona roll for her project...

Next week I'll show you some photos of my weekend progress and my swap quilt that will be mailed out early next week - I've just got to hand sew the binding and label and that little baby is done!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

conquering the procrastination bug

My name is Shelley, and I am a procrastinator. Been one ALL my life. Sometimes I think I should just embrace it as part of the wonderful-ness of me, but most of the time I am trying to fix it. And I am only marginally successful at that.

But since joining an online mini-quilt swap, an online bee, and signing on for a row quilt exchange in my real-life sewing group, I am really going to have to buckle down and beat this bug!

Good news is that week one of Procrastinators Anonymous has gone quite well for me. Today I finished the top for my Modify Tradition Mini-Quilt Swap! Here's a sneak peek:

Hope my secret swap sister likes it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

why are there so many... posts about rainbows?

Thank heavens that the day has only improved since my early morning wake-up in the midst of a house-shaking thunderstorm! Don't you hate when the real low point of the day is right at the start? Mine went something like this:

My husband (at 5:00am shaking me): "honey, I need you to get up and call the plumber... the water is almost to the top of the sump pit."

Me: "S#*T"

Fabulous. But a few hours (and many dollars) later, we are now the proud owners of a brand-new, super-exciting sump pump that is happily pumping away in the basement as I write. And it has stopped raining. And the water never actually crested the top of the pit. So I'm very thankful that a phone call and little bit of money were able to fix what could have been a disaster.

Now on to more fun topics. My happy, happy Dresden Plate pillow top is ready to be quilted! I am just pleased as punch with how it turned out! I used my new "Easy Dresden" ruler by Darlene Zimmerman and cut all the segments at 7" long. Then I folded them long-ways, right sides together and stitched a 1/4" seam along the top (widest) edge.
Don't they look like happy pennants all chained together here? Then I snipped the corner of each folded edge, turned the each piece right side out (while centering the seam line along the center length of the wrong side) and pressed, forming a crisp finished point. All the segments are then sewn together with a 1/4" seam. I pressed my seams open so the entire unit would lay flat, but you can press to the side if you prefer. After all that, you have a completed plate ready to sew to the background.
My plate will be a finished 18" pillow, so I cut my background (Moda Bleached White) at 20"square. Fold the background in half both length- and width-wise, finger pressing a crease so you can center the plate properly. In the photo above you can see my fold lines that line up with seams on the plate.
I used MonoPoly invisible thread to sew the plate on to the background. My stitches are very close to the edge of the plate.
The ruler came with a paper circle template for cutting the center. I used true red since I didn't already have that color present in any of the plate segments. The center is fused to the plate and background with Steam a Seam 2 and machine blanket-stitched with matching red thread to secure. I haven't yet decided how to quilt it, so it's back to the WIP pile for this little beauty.
We are actually having some brief moments of sunshine this afternoon. I do LOVE spring, but could do without all that thunderstorm drama! I hope you are all high and dry today!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

summer pillow love

My mom is here visiting for a couple of days (Happy Mother's Day to us!) so I've been busy shopping and cooking with her - yeah! (I made my best cherry pie yet on Monday, Aunt Mimi.)
But I did manage to finish this Quartered Squares/Modified Bento box summery pillow (tutorial for this block at film in the fridge.) The idea of making a pillow from this block came from Give it a Go, and the concentric squares quilting idea came from RedPepperQuilts. Lots of thanks to all those ladies for inspiration!
I had a bit of difficulty with the quilting on the first attempt - I decided to just "eyeball it" rather than re-read Rita's post and figure out how to do the marking... DISASTER. Had to rip everything out, find the post, read the post, and mark all the quilt lines. And now woo-hoo, I'm very happy with the way it turned out!
I added some zippy red polka dots for the back and a zipper - I love zippers on pillows - and now she's all ready for summer.
Made this sweet little bag for mom today. Have you made any of these Snap Happy bags yet? They are so fast, so easy, and so darn cute!! With two fat quarters, a few 3" square scraps, and a metal measuring tape from the dollar store you can have three different sized little pouches for makeup, sewing supplies, iPod, cell phone, whatever. I think my 12 year old daughter is scheming to make a boat-load of these for Christmas gifts this year :)

I can't stop thinking about the cherry pie sitting in the kitchen. Is is wrong to eat cherry pie BEFORE dinner?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

some random facts

It's a very dreary morning here, and I'm headed off to work, so I won't be spending the day hunkered down in my sewing room working on fun quilty projects. I am, however, participating in my first ever online swap group - the Modify Tradition mini-quilt swap. I put together a mosaic of projects seen on flickr that I really love (if you click on the mosaic you will be directed to the image on flickr which gives credit to all of the project creators) to help my secret swap partner know more about me.

And to tell my partner and you wonderful readers more about myself, I put together this list of random facts... I'd love it if you'd leave me a comment with some fun facts about you!

1. The age indicated on my driver's license is SO much older than the age I really feel.

2. I wish I were better at grammar, but not enough to really do much about it.

3. I LOVE the smell of Crayola crayons... but it's got to be Crayola - every other brand is sub-par.

4. My husband and I didn't start dating until his sister and my mother (very good friends then and now) gave up on trying to get us together. We met our freshman year of college and started dating our senior year. 22 years married this month!

5. My favorite dessert is cookies... nothing else even comes close.

6. I enjoy lots of different kinds of music, except jazz. I think every piece of jazz music sounds the same.

7. I used to be a closeted sewing geek, but since flickr and this blog, not so much.

8. I really enjoy being with my in-laws.

9. My sophomore year of college I transferred to an out of state school (IU Bloomington), but transferred back to EIU (10 minutes from my home) at the Christmas break because I was too homesick.

10. I used to think I was a pretty smart cookie until I started helping my high school daughter study for her honors science classes.

11. My husband is the smartest person I know. He remembers everything - what we ate at what restaurant, how to get everywhere we've ever been, how to calculate compound interest - I could go on forever.

12. I don't really like wine, but I love champagne. Especially with chambord :)

13. I keep a running list of every book that I have ever read.

14. I am a creature of habit.

15. My uncle is also my brother-in-law. He was my uncle first. His second wife is my husband's sister (previously mentioned in #4).

16. When I die, and my family has to clean out all my stuff, they will all be thinking (and maybe saying out loud) "Did she ever finish ANYTHING?!"

17. I am a big believer in the saying, "if it's worth doing, then it's worth doing right." Hence all the unfinished projects - or maybe that relates more to the saying "if it's worth doing today, it will still be worth doing tomorrow."

18. I work at a quilt shop located 10 minutes from my home. The people are great fun, we have beautiful fabrics, and they even let me teach classes there!

19. I don't drink coffee - never have.

20. I'm going to take a conversational French class at our local college later this year. I've been to Paris three times, and if I get to go again, I'd like to be able to communicate better.

21. I was an accountant in my previous life.

22. I'd rather bake than cook dinner.

23. I hate snow.

24. I love travel, flowers, quilting, dark chocolate, and reading... not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

a little of this, and a little of that

As I've said before, I am not the kind of girl that always sticks with something until it's finished. Oh, I'll finish it all right, but occasionally my attention wanes, and I think of another pretty thing to start. But my extremely well-informed and reliable nephew assures me that people who are great at starting new things, but not so great on follow-thru are "gifted." Therefore I am off the charts on the gifted spectrum... and you can trust him - he's a lawyer!

This week I've got many "irons in the fire", and each one gets a little attention every now and then. I finished quilting the center medallion on my sunflower wreath mini-quilt. This is the first time I've ever stipple-quilted anything, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. Of course I did spend about 30 minutes practicing the lines with pencil and paper and then stitching on a practice quilt. It's not perfect, but I'm okay with that. Now my friend Jennie is going to give me some advice on embroidery and/or beading on the flowers to add some pizzazz.
Next up is a modified bento box (or quartered squares) design that I first saw at film in the fridge. This will end up as a 20" pillow, but I haven't decided how to quilt it so I have to move on to something else...
Yet another rainbow! This time I'm doing a Dresden Plate design with the pointed tips seen at Sew, Mama, Sew. Initially I had all the fabrics laid out in a random order, but it was too much chaos for me, so I reverted to my rainbow/color spectrum layout. More on all these projects later!
LAWNMOWER UPDATE: Great news! We got a beautiful new lawnmower last weekend with a variable speed power drive (Tool Man Tim Taylor/Allen monkey hoot here), a KEY START and a clippings bag that stays attached when you turn the mower around! Woo-hoo! Now mowing the lawn is fun again!


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