Sunday, May 31, 2009

Christmas in May

That's definitely what it felt like at my sewing bee last Thursday night! After much cajoling, one of our bee members convinced us to get up from our sewing stations and go to her car in the parking lot to check out all of the home decorating fabric samples that she had stashed in the back of her car and was giving away for free. And while we were all somewhat reluctant to go out to the car with excuses such as not really using home decorator fabrics, not needing more fabric in our stash, etc., we pretty much all walked away with some GORGEOUS treasures, and some of us with huge armloads full.

Check out some of these wonderful pieces I came home with, and these are just a few from many:

I'm still trying to imagine what anyone driving by must have thought about seven or eight women standing in a parking lot around an overflowing suitcase, holding up fabric samples, loading them in their arms, creating little piles of them, etc. It must have been quite a sight (did they think some kind of deal was going down?), but I don't think any of us minded. Thanks to Judy and her daughter (who works in the industry) for providing us with some future fun (I'm not promising when I will finish anything with these beauties)!

Ideas for what I should do with this? None of the pieces are terribly large, but I'm envisioning some pillows and bags. I would love additional ideas!

Just Before Dawn

The only thing I do just before dawn is ... sleep. But it won't prevent me from making a quilt by that name, designed by This & That Patterns' Sherri K. Falls.

Yes, the fabric I used is distinctly Christmas-themed, and it's May... I'd cut out the project and taken it with me on retreat last November, but barely started it. Recently, I was looking to work on a project and didn't feel like machine quilting or cutting out another project, so I grabbed this as something that I could just get going on. The pattern uses Moda's pre-cut jelly rolls; I chose Holly Taylor's Birchwood Lane and made it in the larger lap-size version instructed by the pattern (requires 3 jelly rolls!).

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the quilt, and found the directions to be relatively straightforward (you just have to watch out because the instructions vary for the two different sizes included in the pattern). Because there is so much piecing, I do wish that some ironing directions had been included; I tried to plan ahead to think about how to keep the seams abutting so that it would lie flat, but I wasn't always successful. And many of my star points are nowhere close to being nice and pointy. Most of them float, some are cut off. Not sure what happened there - perhaps the stitch-and-flip method for creating them was the culprit for me.

Here's hoping I can get this quilted and bound in time for Christmas this year. I think it'll look great hanging in our upper hallway.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Beading Basics and Beyond

Last week our guild had the fortune to host quilt instructor Mary Stori, who made the trip out from North Carolina to give the lecture for our monthly meeting and a day-long workshop, "Beading Basics and Beyond." I had the privilege of spending lots of time with Mary, picking her up at the airport, eating meals with her, and helping her set up for the meeting and workshop. What a pleasure! I am definitely inspired to put more beads on my quilts as embellishments and am trying to figure out how I can incorporate beads into my small art group "assignment," due next week.

In the full-day workshop, we learned all kinds of techniques for how to bead on different objects. Here are a few pictures of what we accomplished in the morning, after learning about needles, thread and other important practicalities:

And a close up of the same:
In the afternoon, we learned all kinds of really cool edge treatments, which are pretty much based on what we'd learned in the morning. Unfortunately, most of my photos aren't turning out very good, which is disappointing, as the edge treatments are absolutely amazing and don't really seem all that difficult (easier said than done, right?). Here's one that seems somewhat decent:

I picked up copies of Mary's Beading Basics book and her All-in-One Beading Buddy to help me remember how to make the various stitches, learn others, and to keep me inspired by all of the creative ways you can use beads in your quilts. Unfortunately, I was so busy with everything else that was going on that I didn't take any real pictures at the workshop or guild meeting and I even forgot to get her to sign my books. Bummer.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My lucky week

A week ago yesterday, Ben and I went to the Brewers/Cubs game after work as part of our 20-pack of tickets. Right after returning from the bathroom midgame, I was asked if I wanted to be the contestant in one of the regular between-inning contests: the Crazy Cap Shuffle. I usually do pretty good at this when playing along, so agreed to participate, the scariest part being that I'd be live on the Jumbotron before the 40,000+ fans in attendance. Even with the staff allowing people to cut in front of me while the game was in action, I was able to pick the correct cap and won a $50 gift certificate to one of the restaurants at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino downtown. I've heard they have pretty good food there; perhaps we can try it while Julie visits Memorial Day weekend.

One cool outcome of being on the Jumbotron was that our friend Jeff, who was at the game and seated several sections over, saw me on the big screen and came over and said hi. And our neighbors, who were also in attendance, took a few pictures of the screen, one of which I've included here (the Brewers also gave me access to photos, but I have to pay for them!). We also were lucky enough to see ourselves on Fox News (which we don't usually watch) that night, as they were there to cover the Brewers/Cubs rivalry as well as the Danny Gokey hoopla at the game. They did the bulk of their in-game coverage from the area directly behind our seats, so we weren't surprised when we could see ourselves in the background of the broadcast.

My second awesome gift of the week was a HUGE basket of batik fabrics that guild members presented me at our year-end potluck and meeting on Wednesday night. Seriously, look at all of these lovely half-yard cuts of batiks donated by members as a gift to me as outgoing president! I truly am humbled that everyone gave these batiks and for the really nice notes that many people included with the fabrics. I'm guessing there are close to 70 (if not more) fabrics in this basket and I don't think any of them are the same, which just blows my mind. Now I need to search out some more pattern ideas to use up these yummy fabrics... if you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

More quilting posts soon (I promise!), including a post on Mary Stori's visit to the guild.