Wednesday, April 29, 2009

He Did It!

My husband did it! He passed his exam and is now a Master Plumber. Yay! There are levels of plumbers, starting with Apprentice, going to Journeyman, and finally Master. You have to have ten years as a Journeyman before you can even take the test! He was very stressed out the last few months preparing for this, studying hundreds of pages of code and math problems - it's WAY harder than one may think. I'm very proud. And so very glad I don't have to help him study at the kitchen table anymore instead of quilting! Yay me! Yay quilting! Oh, whoops, I mean, yay him!

I picked up his cake at Sam's Club on the way home after finding out so it wasn't very good - I think i'm spoiled to scratch now. It said "Master of the (Plumbing) Universe!" but he cut it before I could take a photo. Men! In the picture he's holding his test results and our first grandbaby, Tim's son Axel. Yes, he was named in honor of Axel from my sad baby story.

I was wondering, what color do you think Gigi's eyes are? Double click to enlarge. I really can't tell. Hazel is green with brown, but hers are more like dark blue or grey with brown. Hard to say! I'm brown and DH is blue. Thoughts?

Malka's Overdying Technique - Shock and Awe!

Can you believe that there is no piecing in the above quilt? It's all overdyed commercial fabric! Click to see it bigger.

Wow, i've always admired Malka of the blog astichindye as an artist and fellow Austinite, but I never really looked at all of her stuff until today. I am FLOORED by the overdyed circle and square quilts she has on flickr! I just can't stop staring at them. I want to try this technique with every fibre of my being, so much so that it almost gives me an anxiety attack when I think about it.

So I went online and found Malka's PDF tutorial for this exact technique in an article she wrote for Quilting Arts Magazine. That's where the shock and awe come in. I went from being shocked at the list of materials needed on the first page to awe at the quilt on the second page (above) to shock again at seeing the materials in the scary clamps and bath on the third page! What a roller coaster ride. I am still determined to try though! I will not be defeated by scary materials lists and clamps! I have an inner artist desperate to get out.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Blocks Done for New Quilt

Here are the first two blocks for my sister's requested heart quilt. She wants it to be similar to the last one I made her. What do you think?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Stash

I was recently "allowed" by my DH to spend $100 on fabric! Yay! So I ran right over to etsy and did my part to help the ailing economy. I've been hoarding these in my etsy favorites folder for months and I finally have them! Two colorways of new Anna Maria Horner (I wanted the pink/red too, but you can't have everything!) plus the blue coriander and the birds I've been dying for.

So cute! Alexander Henry's Tillbrook Sprites and mushrooms. You should see the mushrooms in person. Love it!

And finally, some Japanese i've been coveting: the echino tiger/owl print, the Heather Ross Rabbits and Racecars forest dance, and the hedgehogs! My sister Heidi sent me some scraps of other Heather Ross - bikes and dogs on yellow - to help complete my collection. Thanks Heidi! The Japanese fabric is home decor weight, very stiff and thick. It makes me want to wash it with fabric softener. I'm sure it will be fine mixed into a quilt.

Click any photo to see it larger and enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free Toys for Strangers

I just found this blog for The Toy Society! Anyone can join. You just make a stuffed toy and leave it outside somewhere for a stranger to find. You also include a note to email the site when it is adopted. I think that is a really sweet piece of public art and I want to join, but I've never made a toy before.

I will try to make something though. I've thought about it some and I think i'd like to make this chick, it seems easy enough (famous last words, right?). I'd like to make this mousie or this scotty dog, but they seem to be patterns for people who know what the heck they're doing! So yeah, not so much.

I just think joining this effort would be a good lesson in giving for my five year old. What do you think? Will you join?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Which One Should I Make???

Well folks, i've been folding and sorting like a madwoman and I am still nowhere near done organizing my stash! I am using a method I read online where you wrap the fabric around a six inch ruler so it all comes out the same size.

I am also preparing to make another quilt my sister has requested, in the same pattern as Dale's Giant Heart Quilt. Heidi has purchased all the supplies and they have just arrived. Check out these giant slabs of fabric! I am a scrapper so i'm used to tiny pieces - it's weird to have these multi-yard monsters laying on the table. I will start cutting tonight!

Now, the question part. I want to make my son a bed quilt for his sixth birthday. I want it to be fun, but also able to grow with him and not look babyish. I asked him what he thought and he said he wanted it to have "squirrels and snakes, oh, and Bakugans". Yeah....okay, so here I am. I am pretty sure I want to do something with squares. I've been very inspired by these two quilts by handmadebyalissa - she has such great stuff, you should check her out!

So the question is this: Which quilt do you think I should make??? Comment and let me know!

This one OR

This other one with solids?

Vote just on the style and pattern, obviously I wouldn't use the same colors!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Stash

Hello Sunday Stashers! Today I am showcasing some bumblebees from Tina Givens (you really need to double click them to appreciate the beauty of this fabric) and an unknown floral I got in a scrap purchase. I love them both! Cheers!


Friday, April 17, 2009

My Favorite Quilt - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Over at parkcitygirl, I've joined the Quilt Festival! When you join you're asked to showcase your favorite quilt, so here is my favorite quilt. This is the Heart in a Heart quilt I made for Gigi. It's my favorite because I made it while her heart was still beating inside me - she's the little heart and I'm the big one. It also has extra significance because she came right on the heels of my sad baby story so I was giving her some luck for her heart to keep beating inside me!

Here are some more photos of the quilt. Click to see them bigger and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Spring!

My five year old, Wolfgang, drew this picture for my blog! He says to tell you Happy Spring. The purple bunny is holding a carrot in his left hand and an Easter egg in his right. Happy late Easter!

Oh, and a gratuitous photo of Gigi and my DH on our Easter egg hunt, just because :) It was windy that day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Three More Improv Blocks

Here are my last three blocks for Project Improv in the pink and orange colorway. Double click to see them bigger. Which is your favorite???

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Got Gnomes?! Sunday Stash

I do! A whole yard of gnomes! Hey, that's funny, a yard of gnomes. You know, because they live in your yard? Well, anyway, I've got gnomes! Sounds like a medical condition, but one I'm glad to have. My wonderful boss Angela knows me very, very well and for my birthday last week bought me a whole yard of gnomes on ebay. Go Angela!

The cuteness of this fabric cannot be overstated. I'd never gotten to see it up close before, but just look at how cute these guys are! I mean, for Pete's sake, the one on top is pushing a wheelbarrow full of red and white mushrooms! Come on! And of course, the trademark Heather Ross softness of fabric.

Here it is on top of what I have so far in my "blue" pile of fabric in my new Bergsbo cabinet. I am hard at work sorting and folding, so this is a sneak peek of a future post showing my total organization.

Happy Easter! Wendy

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My First Two Improv Blocks!

Jacquie over at tallgrassstudio developed Project Improv, a challenge to create log-cabin style blocks in a free form way with no measuring. It freaked me out a little to try it, but I did, and now i'm so glad! Everyone who participates donates at least one block to the charity quilts Jacquie is making and I chose the orange and pink colorway from her options to be "spring-y".

These are my first two tries at improv and I love it! I hand piece, as you know, so it was very relaxing to sort out all my orange and pink scraps and then just choose as I go, adding logs. I'd never done log cabin before either, it always seemed like a machine sewer kind of a block, with all those straight lines and such. You should try it too! We can never make enough charity blocks, ya know!

In the last photo you can see the blocks on the design wall in my new sewing room. Hey, those blocks really match my wall paint, don't they? Maybe I should leave them up permanently, or oooh -I could paint log cabins on the wall! That would be fun.

Happy almost Easter everyone! Check back tomorrow for Sunday Stash!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's A Quilt Party!

Ok, maybe it was Jimmy's 8th birthday party. But to me it was a giving-him-the-patriotic-quilt party! Jimmy (center here) is the oldest stepson of my oldest stepson. We took all the kids to an Easter egg hunt, then to McDonald's for the playscape and then later over to our house.

I made him his requested strawberry cake from scratch with scratch frosting. I managed to find a recipe that didn't have boxed mix, jello, corn syrup or food coloring at all, which wasn't easy! I finally found it on the blog of a fellow Austinite, Confections of a Foodie Bride. So funny to search the whole internet and find what you want a few miles away. It was very easy to make and all the strawberry flavor and color comes only from frozen whole berries (no syrup).

Jimmy has four brothers, you can see them all in the photo. From right to left they are Gavin, his fraternal twin Tristan, then Jimmy, then my son Wolf, then Linden and finally baby Axel who will be a month old tomorrow. My 15 month old, Gigi, is missing, already in bed. Here they are eating Jimmy's favorite meal, breakfast for dinner! I made waffles from scratch in my 80 year old round waffle iron, scrambled eggs and thick-cut bacon. And yes, every room in our house IS painted a different bright color.

Jimmy loves his quilt!

double click any photo to make it larger and enjoy! Wendy

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Jimmy's Patriotic Quilt Finished!

Yay me! It's finally done! There must be thousands of stitches in this thing, all by hand. If I were to give this quilt a nickname it would be "the quilt that almost convinced me to buy a sewing machine". It took what seemed like forever, but was more like six weeks. If you want to see the individual blocks closer up, here are the stars, the flags, and the Sams. Here are the photos of the quilt party where I presented it to him! With cake photo!

This quilt was supposed to be a twin size, but if you'll notice, I put the sashing in only one way and not the other way - it was already too big I discovered. This gave it an interesting medallion effect in the center four blocks. As it turns out, his new bed is actually a double, so it fits perfectly and the flags don't hang off the sides as they do here.

I also didn't add the four inch border all the way around that I had cut, so I pieced it to make a piece big enough for the pillow. I put his name on the pillow in felt letters, lower case. I forgot that I don't want to use flannel for the letters on the back anymore, as they tend to shred. Oh well, I'll replace it when that happens. Also, his pillowcase was supposed to be the Texas flag, but sharp eyed viewers will note that the red and white blocks are supposed to be top and bottom to each other, not left and right. Oh well again! I'd never made a pillowcase before, so I taught myself how from this internet tutorial. It was easy.

I used an orphan 400 thread count sheet for the back and I love it! It's all smooth and silky and sheety. Mmmm. Wonderful sheetiness.... I tied it in red, white and blue embroidery floss. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Stash

For my Sunday Stash today I am featuring two of my favorites. The lemon yellow I got at Joann's. I wanted to get yardage to back a quilt but all they had was three fat quarters, so I got them. I like some stuff they have there, but I can really tell the difference between it and my beautiful designer fabric. The colors are very flat, whereas expensive fabric colors have depth and a glow to them.

Love this pear print too. It's Robert Kaufmann and it says "Made in Japan". I got it off of etsy. Do you know about the fabric on etsy? Just go to the search area, click on the drop down menu and choose "supplies", then search for "designer fabric". They have all the best stuff and you are supporting the little guy (probably girl, actually).

Click on it to see it larger. Great stuff!

Friday, April 3, 2009

I Do Everything Wrong

Kind of a weird title for a post, but I've been thinking lately about how I quilt as I read all of you guys' amazing quilt blogs. I am almost wholly self taught, so I don't do most things the way you're "supposed" to. But I still get the job done! Here is a partial list of things I don't do that most quilters do tend to do:

1) First and foremost, I don't use a machine! So that means I can't chain piece, or stipple or paper piece or strip piece, or really do anything where I have to cut in the middle of the quilting line because it cuts off my knots.

2) I don't prewash

3) I don't iron - and I mean really, I don't iron. I'm more likely to cut off a rogue piece of fabric that won't lay flat than to go get the iron. Is that wrong? Not a big piece, mind you, i'm not crazy. The only time I do "iron as I go" is when I'm doing improv piecing with no measurements and i'm using my little cutting/ironing board on the couch.

4) When I do iron my blocks before I piece the whole top together, I don't press my seams in any particular direction - ever. I just smash them down however I feel like. Oh, and I move my iron around if I feel like it, instead of pressing straight down. And I don't wait for the iron to heat up either.

5) I have absolutely no respect for cutting with the grain, against the grain or on the bias. I don't "straighten" my grain before I cut. I just buy fabric, come home, make one of the edges line up and cut. Even when I make double fold French binding, I have no thought for which way the grain is going.

6) I use a high thread count orphan sheet for backing if I feel like it even though I've read over and over that it's bad. I like the 'sheety' feel.

SO - What do YOU do wrong?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I've Finally Got a Sewing Room!

Yay! We've been in this house for 7 years, with various and sundry kids and stepkids coming in and out, so i've never had a room of my own. I keep my cutting board and ruler under the couch, my iron in the bedroom, my fabric in the bathroom closet and my sewing kit in a gallon plastic bag on the stairs overlook. Not very efficient. Especially since my first baby, and now my second baby, sleeps in the master bathroom closet. Sounds weird, but it's a huge sideways closet with sliding mirrored doors that fits the crib perfectly and it keeps the baby in our area but not in our room, and away from the bustle of the other kids' rooms. What does a baby need a whole room for anyway?

At any rate, when our 21 year old moved out recently, he took the entertainment center and couch that was in our front room, so now I get a whole room to myself! For my birthday yesterday my husband bought me this Bergsbo glass front bookcase from IKEA to put my fabric in. This is the best part because I was forever trying to rummage in my fabric closet in the dark because the only time I could quilt is when the baby was sleeping. I also got a flannel design wall and a cutting table. Hooray!

PS: the flannel design wall is a $4 picnic tablecloth from Walmart, with vinyl on one side and flannel on the other, just tacked up on the wall.