Thursday, January 23, 2014

November XOXO Quilt

Ok, so it's been 6 months since my last blog post.  Time flies when you're applying for tenure, teaching, taking care of various people.  I actually have accomplished some quilting during this time.

This first quilt I made over the course of about a couple of weeks in November.  Our friend and neighbor was hospitalized, so I made a quilt for him so he could stay warm in his easy chair in between medical treatments. 

Here is the final result:

This was an easy quilt to piece.  It just has one block!  I had seen similar quilts online, so I just figured out how to make the block by looking at pictures.  However, there is a nice video tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company that explains how to make this type of quilt.

Each block takes one 5" square and two 2.5" squares that match each other.  This is great for using up (a small portion of) the scrap bin.

I was not quite so fastidious as the quilting video method- I simply lined up the 2.5" squares with the corners of the 5" squares and sewed - no pre-ironed creases.

It took a lot of rearranging to figure out where to place the light and dark X's and O's.  At first, I arranged the X's and O's in a linear fashion like a tic-tac-toe board, but it just didn't look right with this scrappy quilt.  So, I offset the rows.

The back ended up looking somewhat scenic with some trees and a swath of blue fabric from the local Gift n' Thrift.  I kept the quilting very simple because I'm still not very good at it, and I had very little time to get this done.

Woohoo!  Washed and ready to go.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23 Garden

An update of the garden:

Zucchini mania is in full swing. I will refrain from posting pictures of piles of zucchini on my countertops.  Yellow squash are the same- in fact, they seem to be winning the "no one wants them, even if you are giving them away" award this year.

The carrots are done! They are not that sweet, but handy internet research tells me that it is way tooo hot for sweet carrots.
A tour of the garden: some extra zucchini plants next to remaining onions and what were supposed to be garlic but instead are leeks (thanks Burpee :( )
 More carrots....

 Cherry tomatoes and a random cabbage.

The broccoli is done and removed.  Cabbages are still growing, but full of holes from bugs.
 Corn and sunflowers....
 Basil! Italian basil and Thai basil (new to me this year).
 More tomatoes...
 Cucumbers and zucchinis
Beans and more beans.  I know I planted asparagus beans, but the other two varieties will be a surprise.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yoga mat hoagie bag

What to do with leftover Glimma charm squares from the last quilt I made?
I love this fabric, and I wanted to make something with it that I would be able to use and enjoy.

My "quilt inspector" cat is also a "yoga mat inspector."  She managed to "try out" my yoga mat within 5 minutes of me bringing it home this summer (the yoga mat usually stays in my office, but the building is being renovated this summer).

So, it seemed like a good idea to make a nice hoagie-shaped bag for my yoga mat and towel to prevent further "inspection."

This is the first project for me using my new Janome sewing machine (DC2012 on sale!)

I did not use a pattern to make the bag, but I was inspired by Jane's Girl Designs Tutorial based on an Amy Butler pattern.

I started by measuring the length of my loosely-rolled yoga mat.  Then, I added a few inches to the length to get the length of the bag because I wanted a little extra room in there for a yoga towel and maybe a water bottle.

For the bag ends, I just went around the house looking for circular templates that were bigger then the loosely-rolled end of my yoga mat, but not too big.  I found a small mixing bowl that worked, and used it to trace circles on the blue solid Glimma fabric for the ends of the bag.
I decided I wanted to do a quilt-as-you go bag because I wanted to try quilting on my new machine, and because I thought the bag needed some reinforcement beyond normal quilting cotton fabric.  You can see in the picture above that I also cut circles of the yellow lining fabric and batting circles at the same time.  I cut the blue and yellow fabrics about 1/4" wider than the original circle, so that I could sew the ends to the sides of the bag later.  Then I quilted each of these circles.

The sides came together from my remaining Glimma squares and some extra blue fabric.
I made two rectangle-shaped sandwiches of Glimma, batting, and lining fabric- one for each side of the zipper in the top of the bag.  I quilted each of these as well.  I made sure the rectangles were wide enough so that when put together they would have plenty of overlap around the circumference of the bag (ie, I could cut the extra material away when I sewed them together).

I basted the two rectangles together on one side, and then installed a 24" zipper in the basted side, like I was sewing a zipper into a dress (see this cool tutorial by Make it & Love it for instructions).

At this point, it was about 10:30 at night, I had a 17-year-old wanting help on designing letters for a sewing project she was working on, it was yukky hot even in the house, and I lost patience for taking more pictures.

The next steps were: adding a small strap to each of the round ends of the bag;

Then assembling the ends and sides together.  This is a little fidgety- I pinned one end to the sides to see how much extra fabric I had on each side, then carefully marked the seam location on each rectangle, sewed them together, and then cut off the excess fabric.  Then, I went back and pinned the ends to the sides again and sewed the ends to the sides.

I always thought it would make sense to use a yoga strap as a bag strap, so I wanted to try to make my own yoga strap and make it into a detachable handle for the bag.  It's really easy- just buy D-rings from your local craft store, measure and sew together at least two layers of fabric using plenty of quilting, then stitch off one end of the strap and add the D-rings to the other end.
The strap attaches to the bag by slipping it through the loops on both ends of the bag and using the D-rings to attach the strap to itself.
 Yay!  Now to try it out at yoga class today.

Garden update

It is hot, Hot, HOT, and very humid.  Which means that the zucchini and other vine plants are going crazy...
This was a week ago.  Yesterday I picked something like 10 zucchinis.

The cucumbers are also doing great.  I tried trellising them this year and it is working well- the plants seem less susceptible to wilt because they have less contact with the soil and splashback from the heavy rains we've been having lately.

The raised beds are also helping me win the war against the slugs and grasshoppers who love a diet of broccoli and cabbage. 
The middle of the garden is getting weedy / grassy because we didn't have time to install raised beds there.  I am trying to manage the mess with straw, some cardboard, and growing some corn and sunflowers to hide the mess.

But, I am pleased overall with the new garden arrangement. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"+" and wonky squares quilt for breast cancer recovery

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks ago.  The schedule for doctor and hospital visits has been (thankfully) rapid, and she just had surgery yesterday.  I wanted to make her a lap quilt for the surgery recovery and chemotherapy, but did not have a lot of time (major understatement!) to finish something.

I knew I wanted to use some sort of cheery fabric, but not too fluorescent as is the trend at the moment, because neither of us likes the early 90's look for home decor.
So, I tried pre-cuts for the first time.  I got 2 charm packs of Glimma and 2 of Bella from Missouri Star Quilt Company - these had like 42 squares in each of them.  Both fabric lines are by Lotta Jansdotter.
I also picked up a jelly roll and charm pack of white fabric as well.  Then I started brainstorming, which looked something like this:

I was going to use the jelly roll strips to surround the solid squares and use the patterned fabrics to make a plus-sign grid around these squares.
It seemed like everything was working ok... until I realized I was 0.5" too short for the solid-white squares because I forgot about seam allowances when I sewed the jelly rolls to the squares. Soo... I decided to go wonky and log-cabined extra jelly roll strips around two sides of each square, then cut the square down to the correct size to produce randomly non-centered color squares:

And I ended up with something that I found more pleasing than my original design.
 I wanted to do something special for the back.  I liked the pink I used on the front, and how it went with the gray/brown patterns from the Lotta Jansdotter collections.  So after messing around a bit, I put together a breast cancer ribbon combined with a heart.  I had to commandeer some light pink fabric from my stepdaughter's project, but there was extra and hey, I paid for it anyway :)
 Once again, the cat "helped" a great deal.  She and I managed to completely break this cheapo Singer machine trying to finish the binding the morning my mom went to the hospital for surgery.
 And here it is!  I am very happy with the results, especially since I was able to get the quilt sandwich to work so that I didn't have any wrinkles in the back.  I basically have to tape everything down to the carpet in the living room, which is not convenient for anyone but is the only way this seems to work for me.
Best of all, my mom loved it and they already used it to cover her up and prop her up in the car on the way home after surgery. 

Half Square Triangle Quilt

 I finally, FINALLY finished my version of the Half-Square Triangle Block of the Month Quilt for 2012 by Jeni Baker.  It only took me a little more than a year to complete.
 For one thing, I had a lot of unwanted help.  For example:
 I would say that my cat Sushi is not so much a Quilt Inspector as a Quilt Inhibitor and overall Highly Effective Cat Blocker at any activity that prevents her from sitting on my lap or putting her face in my face.  She knows very well that her tail is interfering with the one thing I am trying to concentrate on.  In this case, cutting 3.5" strips for the back of the quilt.
 Here is Sushi holding down the cut strips for the back of the quilt for me, in case a sudden gust of wind finds its way through our house.  Or another cat gets close and tries to claim the fabric.
 Here we are sewing/preventing sewing the strips together.  There wasn't too much of a plan for the back of the quilt except to use up as much of the leftover material from the HSTs on the front of the quilt. 
Excuse me for trying to use the sewing machine.  
 Here we are quilting the HST quilt.  This is the first time I used my old-timey Singer to quilt and bind.  It was the next-to-last time I used the white new Singer to piece, as I busted it on the next project.

And here is the quilt, made for my husband and just in time for Father's Day 2012 2013!  But wait...  something is not quite right...

 There are 16 squares for a 12-month block-of-the-month quilt...
Long story short, I started this tutorial in early 2012 but ended up having some significant surgery and recovery starting in May.  At some point, I just decided to try to do what I could, as fast as I could.  So, I started doubling up blocks - I did two of the same block.  I still didn't finish in the summer, and so I just ended up picking my favorite blocks from the whole year and doing two of each to make 16 total.  Seems fitting that I am missing some months' blocks as I felt like I missed some months from last year myself!
 This is the strippy back.  I ended up organizing three sets of strips in an intentionally imperfect tone gradient and then flipping the middle set to create some contrast.