Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stitch and Pitch

Kristin and I had a fabulous time with the Stitch and Pitch group at the Brewers game last night. We got free t-shirts, picked up information and goodies from various local shops, and enjoyed being able to socialize with others and see all of the cool projects they were working on while seeing the Brewers score a victory (rather hard to come by these days).

Here we are with Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. Doesn't he look thrilled?

I was pretty surprised at how many men were there with their significant others (but I didn't see any men "stitching"). And everyone around me seemed to be pretty into baseball (rattling off statistics, etc.). It wasn't too difficult to both stitch and pay attention to the game and I'm glad that I was able to make some progress on the binding on the baby quilt (although I made it more difficult by forgetting my regular needles!! I managed to make do with some very tiny beading needles I bought in a workshop in May and which happened to still be in my bag).

Kristin worked on knitting a sweater for herself:

There were a couple of Brewers-themed quilts behind one of the tables and I took photos for inspiration because some day I think I'd like to make up some sort of pattern and surprise Ben with one (while he reads this blog, I bet I could still make a quilt in secret!). This first one is by Amy Stolowski of Milwaukee:

and this second one is by Donna Andrews of Mukwonago:

All in all, a very nice night. I look forward to doing it again next year.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fabric Diet - Blown

I honestly have done pretty well with my fabric diet this year. A few minor purchases, largely using accumulated points or gift certificates and the like and the rest of my sewing coming from stash (baby quilts and Thistlepod aside). But when I saw David Walker's Oh Boy! line for Free Spirit and kept returning to look at it at various online shops, I knew I had to pick some up.

I must say that most of the fabrics out there for kids do very little for me, especially those that are created with boys in mind. But these fabrics were just too cute to pass up, and with all of the little boys popping up of late, I figure there will be plenty of sewing for them in the not-do-distant future. I don't know what destiny these might have - and I might have gone a bit overboard, buying 10 different 2-yard cuts - but it won't go bad and I'm envisioning pillowcases, quilts, and other fun projects.

The Pressure's On!!!

I'd planned on today being a mega sewing day anyways, but the stakes have been raised as the intended recipient came into the world earlier today! I hope to meet him later in the week, so must complete the quilt by then!

After a long day of work yesterday (9.5 hours), I managed to muster the energy to machine applique the last of the animals (the zebra), sew the blocks with the alternating 9-patches, and machine applique the elephant's trunk.

Here's where the quilt stands as of this moment.

I'm hoping I can put on the narrow solid border, then the pieced border, and get this baby quilted today! It helps that there's a Brewer's game this afternoon to help keep me entertained (after that, it might be some podcasts or audio books, as I'm tired of the crummy TV options). And if all goes according to plan (does it ever?), I'm hoping to be able to sew down binding at the Stitch 'n Pitch game on Wednesday night. I'm taking Kristin for her birthday (last month); we've never gone before so aren't quite sure what to expect... While the top is somewhat on the large side, I think I can keep it folded so I can work on it manageably in my lap without having it drag on the potentially nasty floor.

At some point, I'll need to add on the eyes too... I figure that since Alex didn't get to play with his baby quilt, this one will likely be hung too, so buttons shouldn't be an issue. And I trust buttons will look better than my attempts to hand or machine stitch something approximating the correct proportions for the eyes.

As I want the finished quilt to be somewhat of a surprise, I probably won't post any photos until after the quilt is presented. While it might be safe to post photos as I don't know how much Tina and Mark read my blog (or how much they would likely read it this week with the new baby!), I'm going to err on the side of caution. I'll definitely share pictures when I can!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thistlepod progress

Well, life has been rather crazy of late, but in mostly good ways. I haven't had as much time for sewing as I might like, but I have engaged in many typical summer activities, including preparing loads and loads of jam (39 jars of strawberry, 38 jars of peach and 37 jars of blueberry), canning 7 quarts of sliced peaches, bumping back up to long runs on the weekends - up to 10.6 miles this past one (we even had the pleasure of seeing two deer in a wooded area we ran through and they didn't mind us at all, beautiful!), taking weekly swimming lessons to prepare for our trip to Australia and New Zealand later this year, and attending plenty of Brewers baseball games. No wonder quilting has hit the back burner!

I have, however, made some scattered progress on the Thistlepod quilt, as well as several baby quilts, and while I missed the last Thistlepod class, I learned that I misunderstood the homework to be done for that class and I actually have everything done for class #3. How cool is that! For once I'm not doing something last-minute!

Here are some of the units I've been working on:

I hope you're all enjoying your summer and finding time for quilting amidst everything else too!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


My small art quilt group met late last month and I'm just posting now because finishing up my small project took a wee bit longer than expected. Go figure.

We didn't really have a theme this time around, but the chapter in the book was on embellishments, which fit in really well with the recent workshop I took with Mary Stori through my guild. However, because we didn't have a theme, I really struggled to figure out what it was that I wanted to make this month. In the end, I settled on attempting to create an allium out of fabric, as I was seeing them in a number of gardens throughout the neighborhood and the flowers very much intrigue me. In fact, I think I may have to plant some bulbs and include a few of these lovely plants in my garden next year.

My original plan was to feature the allium plant in three different stages of growth in my small quilt, but things rarely go according to plan, do they? I began by thread painting the base of the allium that would still be in "bloom." And here's where I went wrong. I guess I really DO need to hoop up my fabric for threadpainting, as the central portion of the project got incredibly warped. Check out this picture showing just how "unflat" the piece was. Clearly, time for a Plan B.

I cut out the central square of the threadpainted piece and then ironed and starched the heck out of it. In the end, I was able to get it relatively flat, and when quilting it, I did have to leave just a couple of puckers/tucks along the outer edges. I probably should have started over, but by that time, I felt like I'd invested enough time that I was going to make it work, as Tim Gunn might say.

After playing around a bit, I came up with the final composition above, which I'm okay with, although I don't feel like it was terribly inspired or creative. I'd hoped to figure out something to put in the small squares at the bottom, and I do think I'll take it with me to look for some beads or other embellishments that might work; the closest buttons I had on hand were designated too blue by the art quilt group. The bugle beads were added as a final step, as I didn't want to deal with them on top of the other issues I was encountering as I quilted down the central portion of the quilt.

Not sure what I'll tackle next, but I'm leaning toward tackling one of the varieties of hostas we saw at the Boerner Botanical Gardens when we visited with my MIL last Tuesday. Perhaps this one:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Red, White, and Blue!

In between some paper-piecing and machine applique, I decided to finally quilt this lovely little project that I'd pieced last October. I thought that perhaps I could get it hung in time for the 4th of July and just this morning hung it in the hallway downstairs (another WIP finished!).

The pattern is called Decoy, a Schnibbles pattern by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co., and the fabric is Minick and Simpson's Prairie Paisley, a line that I still love, love, love! As for the actual quilting, I opted to meander in the background between the stars. In the stars themselves, I used the pattern shown in the "Ribbon Star" block from Ranae Allen's book, Skillbuilder Mastery for Quilting by Machine. It probably wasn't the best choice in that the leaves don't really go with an Americana theme, but the pattern fit in the block, it was a doable quilting pattern for me, and I was able to freehand it by marking just a few major points on each block with my chalk wheel (it was so nice to NOT have to rip out Golden Threads paper at the end!).

Have a wonderful 4th of July, all!