Friday, January 25, 2013

Experimentation

Hey, it's Friday!

I don't know where the time goes. Well, that's not entirely true. A lot of it goes to fabric and yarn... a bit to cooking, a bit to dog-care, a bit to movie watching with the boyfriend. But it all seems to go by too fast, doesn't it?

At least I have something to show for the week. Mario (the boyfriend) has been asking me to make him a new shift boot for weeks now. What is this, you ask? Well, it's the little thing that covers up the the hole in a manual car where the shifter comes up from the transmission tunnel. I don't know how newer cars work, but on older cars there is often a sort of utility cover made of rubber or something (which he has) and then a piece of cloth or leather over that to make it look nice (which he doesn't have).

This is what I had to work with for a pattern:

deconstructed shift boot

Not pretty, huh? This is what 25+ year old leather looks like when you take it out of your car. All of the pieces were sewn together in a sort of pyramid and then attached to the plastic ring, with goes around the bottom of the rubber shift boot. (Side note- all of my pictures are going to suck today. It's dark in the desert with rain clouds hovering over our head). So, using these, here is my first attempt:

custom shift boot for volvo 240

He chose the fabric himself from Joann. It was Halloween fabric, too, so it was on sale for super cheap. It's really not perfect. The top definitely needs to be stitched better next time (I only took pictures of the "good side" so just imagine the horror of the other side...) and I think I'll make the whole thing a little taller so it is easier to sew onto the plastic ring. I will also be changing the order in which I sew things together to hopefully make it easier on myself. Once again, I didn't bother to check and see if there were any tutorials online for this sort of thing. But it was a great learning experience! I am going to make another one. Apparently he wants it quilted. Good thing I bought more fabric than I needed!

So that was a fun experience. I also finished up my second January block for the Skill Builder BOM (link in sidebar). 

grecian waters magnum block

I know, terrible dark picture. I tried! But now they are both ready to go! I really like how they both turned out and it was so much fun making them! I didn't really have a plan for either of them. I just messed with fabric and rearranged stuff until I liked it. It was really a lot of fun sewing this way and will definitely be doing it again in the future :) 

Those were my finishes for the week! I also made a good dent in my Hounds Tooth quilt. I still have about half of my stripey squares to press, but I needed a break. I think I might just square a few blocks up and sew a few together to see what it looks like. I'm getting more and more excited about it!

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts! Did you finish anything this week?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WiP Wednesday: In Which Progress is Actually Made

Happy Wednesday!

I have been busy over here in my neck of the desert. My Hounds Tooth quilt is really coming along! Very exciting. I finished sewing strip sets together and now I am cutting out triangles that unfold into beautiful stripey squares! Look!

hounds tooth quilt progress
Quilty Progression

I also made some progress on a blanket I am crocheting for my sister... pics to come soon!

Now that the monotony of sewing strips together is finished, I am starting to feel excited about this quilt once again. And since the boyfriend is stuck at work late and I already have dinner prepped and ready... I am going to get back to it!

Linking up to WiP Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced! Hope your WiPs are seeing progress, too!


WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Sound Wave and Other (non)News

Confession: I didn't get much done this weekend. Not just with sewing. In all realms.

My excuse? Well, Saturday my back was hurting. I think I popped something out of place Friday while I was helping to carry a year's worth of journals to the recycling bin. So I did very little Saturday except watch Downton Abbey and sulk because all I really wanted to do was sew but leaning over my cutting table and sitting in front of my machine hurt too much. But that night- a miracle! After trying unsuccessfully to make myself feel better all day- trying to pop my back and sitting with ice packs and popping pain killers- all I had to do was roll over in my sleep. Then- POP! It woke me up, sure, but the sweet feeling of release made me not mind so much.

So Sunday I got to sewing! I had a lot of other stuff to do, too, like shopping and wandering around thrift stores and working and a crocheted blanket for my sister... but I did get something done!

skill builder bom sound wave
Sound Wave block- Skill Builder BOM at Pile of Fabric
Yeah! The first of January's blocks! I was super proud of myself. I know my seam allowances aren't always a perfect scant 1/4" so I fiddled and fiddled and taped and fiddled... tried different feet and different widths. But FINALLY I figured out my new machine's sweet spot. And I used painter's tape to mark it as a guide so from here on out it will be much easier to achieve the perfect seam allowance. I'm so glad I took the time to do this. My block didn't end up a tiny bit too small for once! I was so proud. I know the picture isn't great. I was trying to angle it to catch the last of the light so you could see the colors. The colors are pretty decent. But the rest of the picture is pretty awful!

I have since added borders to this, though I haven't added backing or batting for the QAYG. I haven't actually made a decision about backing... so I'm dragging my feet. The Magnum block is also almost finished, so I will post more pictures when I get it done! :)

I am hoping this week yields more sewing time. I really need to get moving on the Hounds Tooth quilt if I want to get it done in any sort of timely manner. I'm not letting myself start a new quilt until I make some real progress on it. Of course, I am still allowing myself to do small projects... and I bought some little zippers... so we'll see how far I get on that promise to myself.

Linking up to Fabric Mutt who is hosting the Let's Get Acquainted Monday link up today! Have you been over there? I love Heidi's blog! And she has lovely pictures of her sewing space up today. I should organize mine better so I won't be so ashamed of showing it to people... Some day! Have a great week!

Plum and June
 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Slow and Steady Wins... Right?

Where did the last week go? I feel like it was just last Wednesday like... yesterday. Time is passing too quickly for my taste.

But I have a little bit to show for all the time passed, at least. I have been making slow but steady progress on my Hounds Tooth quilt. I sewed all the 2.5" strips together! Mostly in one very cold day. There was tea and Doctor Who involved, to be sure. And wrist warmers. And a silly poncho. My hands were still freezing, but it was worth it in the end.

Now I am working on turning all my sewn together strips into pretty, crisply starched and pressed strips. The good news? The steam from the iron helps keep my hands warm. The bad news? It takes forever. I don't have a real ironing board, you see, and I can't fit a whole long strip on my little table. So it takes some shifting. But hey, it's a good excuse to throw on Downton Abbey and spend all morning pressing seams, don't you think? :)

hounds tooth strips
Strip Transformation
It is so hard to get a good picture of these colors. I promise the purple isn't really that dark! Oh well.

Yesterday was Tuesday, which meant that I joined a couple of my friends for some crafty shenanigans. Another friend hosted this week, which I was grateful for because I really didn't feel like clearing off the dining room table (it was one of those days, okay?). It was such a huge success! She likes to make things out of duct tape and bits of comic books. So she taught us how to make ADORABLE duct tape bows, which I then attached to a cheap dollar store headband.

Duct tape bow headband
Duct Tape Bow Headband!
Isn't it cute?? I opted to just use two kinds of duct tape, but our other friend decoupaged some comic strips to hers before adding the border. I didn't get a picture because I'm dumb, but it turned out really cool, trust me. Here is a cell phone picture of it on my head.

headband on my head

We also made cool pendant things from cut up comics. Mine is this hilarious picture of Sonic making the BEST face. Unfortunately, it takes days for the resin-y stuff we put in the pendant things to dry and harden, so pictures will have to wait til next week. But trust me, it's going to be hilarious. I'm going to give it to the boyfriend to hang in his car because he loves Sonic. I'm also hoping the face Sonic is making will encourage him to slow down... We'll see if that works :P Anyways, it was definitely a good night. After all the crafty goodness I *finally* learned how to play Settlers of Catan! Woo! But now it is back to pressing and starching and pressing and starching.... Weeee!

Linking up to WiP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced! Hope your week is going well!


WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Dress!

Yes! I did it! I made a dress!


I used some mostly cotton gingham I bought online. I didn't follow a pattern, so I'm sure I didn't do anything the "proper" way. But still! Look! A dress! It fits! And it's blue! :D I totally forgot to get Mario to take a good picture with it on me, but here's a silly cell phone photo of me right after it was made.


I know. My eyes are all crazy and I'm wearing knee high argyle socks. But the socks were just what I was wearing under my jeans and boots that day! I have no excuse for the rest of the ridiculousness in the picture. Like the horse racing arcade machine. Mario bought it to convert into a MAME cabinet. At least, I think those are the right letters. It's basically an arcade cabinet on which you can play a huge number of awesome classic games instead of just one. But so far that hasn't happened and we still have Arlington Horse Racing instead. *sigh* Maybe I should just stand in front of it to model all the clothes I make. Might be kind of fun!

I also bit the bullet and bought some more yard for my scarf. It is now proper scarf length and I am much happier with it. I finished cutting all the squares and stripe for the hounds tooth quilt! Now it is time to get to sewing! I wanted to do some of this over the weekend, but it has been cooooold here. Well, cold for Arizona. I believe I mentioned I don't have central heating? Yeah. So my very poorly insulated sewing room is FREEZING. I cut the fabric out in about 1 hour shifts because that was all my hands could stand. I managed to do the dress in the same way- an hour at a time. But fortunately, a dress is a much smaller project than a quilt so at least I have something to show for this weekend! It will be warming up again later this week so hopefully I will have more progress to show you soon...

Linking up to Let's Get Acquainted at Plum and June!

Plum and June


Random side note- You know what makes me happy? That people never seem to get tired of the original Super Mario theme music. I mean really. People play it on all sorts of instruments, turn it into electronic music, make their own awesome renditions of the first few levels with cardboard cut outs for all the props... It's awesome. I'm so glad it was part of my childhood so I can watch all this ridiculousness and smile at the nostalgic feeling in my gut. I spent so many hours playing this game as a kid! My mom still has our original NES and if you play with it long enough, it still works, too. Ah, the good old days... Anyway, I will leave you with this awesome Youtube video:

           

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sleepy Morning

Good morning!

I don't know about you, but I don't feel very awake yet. There isn't really a good reason for this. By my calculations, I got about 8 hours of sleep. And I didn't even wake up because of nightmares like I did the night before last. Maybe it's the cold weather? It seems our annual week of winter has finally arrived in southern AZ and it's less than 40 degrees outside (I know, shocking!). It is set to freeze the next few nights, which probably means pipes bursting all over the city because we are never prepared for winter. Really. Two years ago we had a hard freeze and when I went to class in the morning, pipes had burst all over campus. There was a geyser of water outside the building I had class in that day. It was weird and kind of funny. Winter always takes us by surprise.

So what have I been working on? A bit of sewing, a bit of crochet. Well, maybe a bit more crochet than sewing. Although my crochet projects take less time than the sewing projects, so maybe it's about even. Anyway...

I finally finished some arm warmers for a friend for Christmas... Yes, I know. It's January. And I started these in November. For shaaaaame.

arm warmers

I also made myself a pretty scarf. I haven't woven in the ends yet, though, because I used a whole skein of yarn and it still doesn't feel long enough... now I'm debating whether I should be lazy and call it good or if I should just suck it up and go get another ball to make it the length I really want. Right now I'm leaning toward lazy because I feel sleepy. But I think I'll hold off on the decision making until I feel I've woken up properly.

crochet shell stitch scarf

What about sewing? Well, I did finish cutting strips for Mr. Hounds Tooth. But I won't bore you with more pictures of strips. I got distracted from Mr. Hounds Tooth by this:

sisters ten BOM january block

This is the January block for the Sisters' Ten BOM over at Gen X Quilters. I don't know that I will follow along the whole year, but I had some time on my hands and a pretty fat quarter bundle of La Dee Dah, so I decided to take a break from cutting 2.5" strips. Since I only made one, I think this might be destined to become a pillow. But how nice will it look as a pillow?? I'm kind of excited about it. I'm also pretty pleased with the piecing. I'm getting much better with the accuracy thing :) 

But the most exciting thing I've done? I FINISHED A SKIRT. And it even FITS. 

simple skirt

I can't prove that it fits. Because no one was here when I needed to take pictures and I didn't want to mess with trying to set up a times and anyway... my hair is a mess and I haven't shaved in a couple of days because it's winter and my legs are hiding under jeans most of the time anyway and... Well. You get the idea. So you'll just have to trust me ;) I used some super cheap Joann fabric that I got on clearance. Because it was my first attempt at making clothes, I didn't want to spend a lot of money in case it all went horribly wrong. 

With a Christmas Amazon gift card from my sister, I bought a book called Sew What! Skirts by Francesca DenHartog. It's a nice little book that goes over the basics- how to measure yourself, how to make a variety of cuts and waistlines for skirts, how to add buttons and zippers, etc. I did an easy elastic waistline to start because I didn't want to attempt a zipper on my first ever skirt. That and I forgot to buy zippers. Next time I think I will use wider elastic (this is 3/4" elastic I actually bought for a costume a long time ago and forgot about- it tends to roll easily) and add more flare to the skirt. But I'm still so pleased with the results! It was so much easier than I thought it would be. Definitely a good introduction to garment making, which is something I would love to do more of in the future. I already bought a couple of yards of blue and white gingham that I plan to use on a simple dress. Maybe I'll start working on that this weekend :)

I'm feeling a little more lively now. Time to cut the coffee umbilical cord and face the day, I suppose.

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Making (Slow) Progress

Anyone else feel like time is accelerating this year? I swear Christmas was only a few days ago, right? It's okay that time has been going by fast, though. I've been keeping busy! I spent most of yesterday cleaning and de-cluttering my house, which felt really good. I didn't finish, though. My bedroom is the place that needs de-cluttering the most. My boyfriend and I both have a problem with holding onto clothes a lot longer than we really need to, so my room is bursting at the seams with old clothes we haven't worn in months. It's a real problem. One that I plan to tackle this weekend.

But between the cleaning and spending time with friends who now happily live in the same town as us, I have been working a bit on my hounds tooth quilt. And by working on it, I mean cutting out all the many, many strips of fabric. Cutting is not one of my favorite parts of quilting, to be honest. I am so clumsy... I often nick my fingers with the rotary blade. I have no idea how this happens. I never notice when I actually get cut. It's only later where there is a smear of blood on my finger that I realize something is amiss. But I have gotten better at cutting. I haven't messed up a single strip (knock on wood!!). My first attempt at cutting strips was pretty disastrous. I could not keep the ruler straight and kept getting crooked, wavy strips. So frustrating! But now that I'm not so hopeless as cutting consistent strips, I can even throw on Dr. Who in the background as I cut without worrying about distractions causing super wavy strips!

hounds tooth strips

more hounds tooth strips

Side note- does anyone else love Dr. Who? I only recently started watching it about 4 weeks ago on Netflix and have since fallen in love :) Once I catch up on the current incarnation of the show, I plan to start watching the classic episodes! 

I also got some very exciting packages in the past few days. My wonderful mother bought me a gift card to Fat Quarter Shop for Christmas and I bought this with part of it:

les amis
Les Amis by Patty Sloniger

Seriously LOVE this collection! Little animals make me happy. And I especially love owls, turtles, and foxes so this collection is PERFECT. I know I want to make myself a quilt with it. I'm thinking of using Elizabeth Hartman's Kitchen Window pattern from The Practical Guide to Patchwork. I bought this fabulous book in November but all the holiday madness kept me from trying anything out. This might just be the perfect project to start :)

I picked this up from the post office today:

grecian waters bundle
Grecian Waters bundle of Kona Cottons
Isn't it pretty? This is what I'm going to use for my Skill Builder BOM quilt! I sort of wanted to pick out all my fabrics individually... but it was taking SO MUCH time. I was having such trouble making any color decisions and I was just getting frustrated. So I picked out a bundle instead and called it good. I'm super excited for the first block lesson! :D 

I have also been working on some crocheting... but I really prefer to take pictures when there aren't a thousand strings of yarn hanging out. That's probably silly, but oh well! Pictures to come later :)

Linking up to WiP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced! Maybe next week my hounds tooth quilt with actually have some pieces put together :) Hope you're having a great week!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


Friday, January 4, 2013

A Little Finish

Do you ever have those mornings where everything just seems to suck? Like no matter what you do, you can't win? I felt like that this morning. I woke up with a sinus headache and my arm hurting. I have trouble with one of my shoulders and sometimes it flares up out of nowhere to ruin my day. But I got out of bed anyway and wandered out to the kitchen to get myself a much-needed cup of coffee. I was going about my little morning routine- letting the dogs out, getting the coffee going, refilling the dog food dish and then the water dish... and what do I do? Drop the full dog water dish so it makes a HUGE mess and gets my pajamas and feet wet. UGH. All I really wanted to do was leave the mess for later and crawl back into bed where it was safe and warm. But being a grown up (sort of... not really) I instead cleaned up the mess, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat down behind my sewing machine to make myself feel better.

This may not have been the best plan given the state of my arm, but it did make me feel better! And a couple of hours later I had these to show for it:

pot holders

Pretty little potholders for a house warming gift for a friend who recently moved into a new house. I LOVE this fabric! It's Everything is Nice. I love the little stand mixer and the little spatulas... And, of course, all the dots! Pretty, pretty dots. Finishing these made me feel so much happier.

And even better? I got to wear these while I was sewing:

crochet wrist warmers

I decided after all the holiday sewing and crocheting that I really needed to make something little for myself. And since it is ALWAYS COLD in the winter in my sewing/computer room because we don't have central heating, I thought these would be perfect. I used this pattern that I discovered via Pinterest. It was a really great, easy to follow pattern. And so quick! I finished them up yesterday. Now I have something pretty to keep my hands warm while I sew. 

So, a little bit of finishing going on here. Therapeutic finishing. I'm linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts. Now I am going to go look at other finishes to keep me in this calmer state of mind :) Hope you're having a great Friday!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013- Let's Do This!

2013 already. 2012 went by in such a blur. Most of it was spent in school. I even took classes all summer just so I could finish by December! In hindsight, it was probably not the best idea to start my Master's degree 3 weeks after finishing my Bachelor's. But at least it's all behind me now, right?

But other than school, 2012 was a pretty good year. I started sewing again and even finished my first two quilts! I also crocheted quite a bit and started this little blog :) Another doggy joined my little family, which has been a bit of a trial with the potty training and the chewing of the furniture, but it is all worth it in the end because she is such a sweetheart.

One thing I have to share- the most awesome Christmas present! One of my best friends and, incidentally, my boyfriend's sister made this for me:

custom fabric

She designed and printed fabric for me using Spoonflower! AHHH! It's so cute! She drew my dogs on a purple background, combining my favorite things in one pretty fabric. She's the BEST. What am I going to do with it?? I'm thinking a cuddle quilt for the couch... But I need some coordinating fabrics first. And I have a few other things on the agenda before a get to it... So without further ado...

So what's in store for 2013? More quilts! I am going to use these pretty colors to make a hounds tooth quilt for my bed. The picture isn't the best, I know. The optimal time for photo-taking in this room isn't for another hour or so and I was impatient.

fabric for hounds tooth quilt
Moda Bella Solids- Aubergine and Natural

I absolutely can't wait for this quilt to be finished! I love hounds tooth and I love purple. You know what makes my boyfriend the BEST EVER? That he lets me put purple things on our bed and doesn't complain :D  He would probably let me girly up the whole bedroom without saying a word. But I won't do that to him. At least not now ;) This will be my first quilt of the year. Exciting! I might even try to quilt it myself. Maybe. And if I chicken out because it will be HUGE, I know of two local long arm quilters I could send it off to... We shall see.

Other exciting things! I am participating in a Bee, a Swap, and a BOM. Yes, I am just jumping right into the quilting community with both feet :)

The swap is the Low Volume Charm Swap organized by Lori H. Designs. I have never participated in a swap before, so it's a new and exciting thing for me. I have been admiring the low volume quilts around blog land from afar so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to get my hands on a wide variety of pretty low volume fabric to make a pretty low volume quilt. Would you like to see my fabrics?

stack of charms
Pretty little stacks of charms!

sorted and ready to go
All sorted and ready to be sent off
The next thing I signed up for is the Newbee Quilters bee over at Threadbias. I saw this group on Threadbias and knew I had to join. I wanted to participate in a bee, but being a new quilter, I was intimidated by the beautiful bee blocks I saw around blog land- would I be able to make blocks as well? What if I messed up and ruined the bee? Very scary prospect. This was a perfect answer. A bee just for newbies like myself! Much less pressure. Now I just have to decide on a block!

And the last thing I have jumped into:

Pile O' Fabric

The Skill Builder Block of the Month by Alyssa at Pile O Fabric! I just found Alyssa's blog after seeing the info for this BOM on another blog I subscribe to and I'm so glad I did! This is the perfect way for me to practice my quilting skills throughout the year in a low pressure environment. I am having a bit of trouble deciding on fabric, though. I think I would like to have a black background like Alyssa, but maybe with shades of green, teal, blue and purple? I must spend some more time looking through photos and palettes and everything before I buy any fabric... 

So, there you have it. Quilts in the works, a BOM, a Bee, and a Swap! Plus other little things here and there... like finishing some late Christmas presents and a house warming gift for a friend. But I will talk more about those some other time :)

Linking up to WiP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced