Sunday, October 26, 2008

Modern Quilt

Yesterday I took a workshop through my quilt guild with the quilt artist Norma DeHaven. She was the lecturer at our last guild meeting and does some impressive stuff using freezer paper templates.

I'll admit that I wasn't so sure about the particular design we were going to make (a bit too abstract for my tastes), but was interested in the process and in supporting the guild's efforts, so I signed up to take the workshop. It was nice that the instructor provided a diagram in advance so that we could plan ahead and color in what fabrics we wanted to use where, etc. Of course, I did very little of that. Plan ahead? Color in a diagram? That requires too much work.

I did go to my fabric stash on Thursday night and pulled the suggested fabrics: three colors with a light, medium and dark value of each. I opted to work entirely within my existing stash (I had no time to go to the quilt shop for more fabric anyways) and took some other fabrics along with me as well, as I wasn't a true believer in the notion that this pattern required three different colors or that there had to be hard and fast distinctions between the values. I'm glad that I took those extra fabrics, as I did dig in and use some. Do you notice that one of the biggest areas - in the bottom right - is made from fabric I used as the backing to Russ and Shannon's quilt?

Preparing the template and cutting out the pieces was pretty easy, although I think we devoted way more class time to this task than was necessary. The afternoon portion of the workshop was devoted to sewing and if you pay close attention, you might realize why. See those rectangles on my finished top: they are all sewn in. Yes, sewn in, as in around a "u" to do those corners, etc. The ladies at my table - Caren, Sandi, and Diane - we all had issues with the technique taught to do this and experimented with our own. Caren came up with a pretty good one, although after I fought and fought and fought with my first seam sewn in this manner, the others flowed much more smoothly.

See the big circle inset at the right? She showed us a really cool technique for that requiring no pinning or matching registration marks. But it does involve a glue stick. It was pretty slick, other than I managed to catch fabric from the other side when sewing mine in and had to rip it out. Sigh. It was probably because I was in a hurry at the end of the workshop, attempting to sew it so that I wouldn't forget the process, which I think they'd showed us at Bigsby's a while back, but I'd forgotten, of course (really, how often do you inset a full circle into something else?). I'll probably forget again, and I'm sure that I can't explain the process well enough here for you (or for me). I tried Googling for other instructions to point you to, but to no avail. Just know that there is a really sweet technique out there...

I was impressed at how flat my finished project laid, given the number of curved seams and the fact that I cut it out of my fabric pretty haphazardly, with absolutely no attention to grain. Did I get lucky? Or is paying attention to all of that just overrated?

Now I have to think about how I want to quilt this... any ideas?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My parents visited last week and Mom and I squeezed in a little bit of time for sewing.  It's hard when we have so many other things planned and only a few days to do it all! In addition to sewing, we hit Goodwill (where, yes, we managed to spend a full 3 hours!), DSW, Christopher & Banks, a baby clothing resale shop, the quilt store, Bigsby's, the farmer's market, a craft show in Menomonee Falls, etc., while also canning up 42 quarts of apple-pie-in-a-jar and just having time to chat, play cards, fix meals, etc.  

We went to Patched Works on Saturday and picked out some fabrics so Mom could make a new tree skirt.  She decided to go with a beautiful range of blues and use Linda Marcou's pattern based on Marilyn Doheny's 9-degree circle wedge.  Let's just say that it probably would have been easier if I'd had the correct length version of the circle wedge. I had the three smaller versions, but not quite the right one.  Ever the creative bunch, we just added an extension onto the wedge using another ruler and followed the same cutting line.  Mom got the entire top pieced in the afternoon!  Doesn't it look great?  Perhaps I can help her with quilting it at Thanksgiving time.

I chose to work on yet another new project (it's no wonder I haven't gotten anything finished lately - I keep starting new things!): this batik table runner kit featuring some drunkard's path variation (anyone know the actual name of this block?).

 Now I know the layout doesn't look like a runner, but I ran out of room on the design wall (the top three rows represent exactly half of the runner) ... and I'm kinda liking the possibility of making it into a wall hanging rather than a runner.  We'll see, however.  I bought this as a kit from Keepsake Quilting. I ordered it in May and it just arrived about three weeks ago! (Not sure what the delay was, but I had to confirm once or twice that I did in fact still want it.  At least they threw in for free the backing fabric to make up for the delay.)  I'd also purchased one for Mom as a Mother's Day present and thought I'd work on it so I'd be able to help her out with suggestions when she gets to working on hers. 

More quilting posts in the near future; I guarantee!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Works in Progress

While I've been busy with fall activities, baseball, and homework for my class at MATC, I have found a bit of time to work on a few sewing projects. I finally put the last border on my Suffragette quilt, but I'm going to make you wait to see a photo of the finished project until I have it quilted.

I did use charm packs from the same fabric line - Minick & Simpson's Prairie Paisley - to make a small wall hanging - Decoy, a Schnibbles pattern by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. I love this line and this pattern and can't wait to quilt it, although I suspect it may be a while until I am able to get to it.

I also sewed the guild's block of the month. I haven't done this in a couple of years because I would always leave it to the last minute and it was one more stressor to add to the mix on the night before a guild meeting. But I've vowed to be better this time around, and it probably didn't hurt the the first block is literally one of the ones from Suffragette, and it uses the Prairie Paisley fabric. It turns out I was about to follow-through and I actually had this done EARLY. Unfortunately, I didn't win any of the blocks in the drawing last night, but there's always next month!

Finally, I decided to pick up the Moda U. Postcard quilt that I began in the Moda U. club at Patched Works two years ago. I had three more of the feature blocks to finish (there are 13 total), and here are the ones I recently finished. I'm hoping I can pull this off as a Christmas gift for a special someone.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall Weekend, Birthday & Brew Crew

It's been a fun and exciting weekend here in Wisconsin. I'd purposefully scheduled some relaxing and fun activities, because when one turns another year older, I think it makes it a bit easier to forget that fact.

Yesterday, Ben and I started the day off by going to Barthel Fruit Farm to pick apples. We picked three bushels of Cortland in practically no time at all. I'm going to make some into sauce and perhaps a cranberry/apple crisp or two, but most are slated to be turned into "Apple Pie in a Jar," when Mom comes out in two weeks. While at Barthel's, we also picked up a few pears to eat, a package of Galas, a package of ginormous Pippins to turn into a fresh baked pie, plus four nice-sized pumpkins for seasonal decorating.

We headed from the orchard to Azana salon in Brookfield where I treated myself to a 50-minute massage with the gift certificate Ben gave me last Christmas. It was wonderful; I have some money left on the gift card and should schedule another soon before the holidays come around again. The two of us followed this up with lunch at Le Cakery in Elm Grove, where I had my favorite: BLT salad and we split a tasty Turtle Brownie.

Then it was off to the farmer's market in West Allis where I snapped up two huge and beautiful mums before they were gone. We also bought some Roma tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, basil, lettuce, mixed sweet peppers, potatoes, two more bunches of Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena) for drying, and I think probably some other things that I've forgotten. I have to admit that I love the farmer's market and am sad that it will soon be dying down. I'll definitely be heading there next weekend and every weekend I can because I know the end is near. I was seriously tempted by the beautiful squashes but am waiting another week or two because I know they'll have a deal soon where I can mix/match in a basket for a really good price.

We came home and I took a few minutes to arrange the decorating purchases in front of the house. Here's a photo taken this morning. The straw came from the farmer's market last week. Good thing I got it then: I didn't see any this week. And it won't totally go to waste; I figure I can put it on the garden before the first snow (which I won't even want to think about).

Then it was off to the Brewers game at Miller Park. They made it to the postseason for the first time since 1982 and everyone here was really pumped up about it. The atmosphere in the park was electric and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to experience it. We had amazing seats in the Terrace Box level, pretty much right at third base. (Unfortunately, my camera died so I got only a few few photos - including the one above of the lineup for both teams.) I was crossing my fingers for a Brewers win because it would mean another game - one on my birthday - and I've always wanted to go to one on my birthday (the only way for this to happen, however, is for the team I follow to make it to the postseason). Yesterday's game was nerve-wracking, but they pulled it off, and it was just amazing to be a part of the crowd afterwards. People were making tons of noise, waving the free towels they provided at the door, high-fiving, chanting, etc. all the way to the parking lots.

Tam and Steve came to the ball game with us today (here I am with Tam). We got pastries on the way to the stadium from Cranky Al's (and a hazelnut latte that will beat Starbucks any day). It was great to go with our friends and spend time catching up with them. While the end result was unfortunate (the Brewers lost 6-2 and have been eliminated), it was awesome to be able to go and to experience the crowd and baseball again for one more day. And I can now say I've gone to a baseball game on my birthday!

Post-game, I opened some generous gifts from family members. Ben and I played a game of cribbage (he didn't even let me win on my birthday!) and finished reading the Sunday paper that we couldn't read this morning because we left for the ballpark so early to get parking (it's also raining outside, so no more outdoor activities today).

Tonight holds in store some pasta with fresh sauce and, I believe, just a wee bit of sewing.

What a wonderful weekend!