Friday, August 30, 2013

free fuglies

my friend lucy-angel of charm about you has organized another fugly fabric swap. if you have any fabrics that have been sitting around unloved and unused for too long you can help them find a new home anywhich way you choose and link up to the party to offer them to other sewers/quilters who can love them more than you could.

my offerings were internet orders that didn't look the way i expected when they came or some joann sale purchases before i really sewed at all. i know someone else can do something cute with them, i am just not interested in holding on to them. getting the shelf space back would be nice!

Chinese takeout - there is at least a yard each of these

merry Christmas! - 1 yd ea
found a home

a lonely piece that is cute but has no mates. looks a bit dark and grey here, but is more of a light blue. the print is large (see snips at top for reference)

i would like to send them off at least in the groups they are photographed in, but if you really are dying for something, i'll break it up. am offering each individually or collectively, whatever you want, to anyone in the domestic USA who asks for them. sorry, but this time i can't ship international (unless you are Lucy b., Liz g., or Deborah g. and really want something) because i don't want to pay big bucks to dispose of them. i don't mind sending them regular US postage, though.

so if you see something you like, ask away! please make sure you are not a no-reply blogger or that you leave me your email or i won't have any way to contact you and will have to offer them to someone else.

even if you don't have any fuglies or want any, stop by and wish lucy-angel a happy bloggy 2nd birthday. she's got some great giveaways going to celebrate. tell her "hi" for me!

finishing touch

 this afternoon i had an appointment to meet a lady who recently moved into our neighborhood and attends my church. (my other friend, linette, and i've been assigned as her visiting teacher, which is like being assigned to be a friend - it's awesome.) i wanted to take her a small something to say "welcome," so i planned to bring along one of my favorite chocolate bars in both it's dark and milk versions. instead of putting them in a gift bag, i raided my scrap basket for a piece to tie around the chocolate into a bow.

i found a bit that was about 3/4" wide by the width of fabric, which was trimmed off the backing i recently used for the 3 panel baby quilt. it had brown (chocolate) as well as pinks and greens in it.

with the bow tied around it, cute frayed edges and all, it made a sweet little package. i promise the bow looked a lot cuter in person. somehow it looks messy and less shabby chic in the photo.

i thought it made a unique and pretty finishing touch to the chocolate.  i've used scraps to dress up at least 2 other gifts (here and here). it's a fun way to use up scraps and represent yourself well in your wrapping.

other than that, i actually spent the whole morning sewing with my dear friend jill for the first time in months. we got a lot of catching up with each other done, but no finishes. maybe next week.

this fella almost made it to the finish line. i had planned on getting up early this morning and completing it, but my husband kept me up way too late. marriage and sleep before quilting.
i'm on the second to last round of echo quilting the squares. as soon as this is posted, i'm heading right back there.

linking in to crazy mom quilts! i know, i know, my "finishes" are being quite widely and liberally interpreted lately. life got in the way of the quilt finish i had planned this week. it'll be done next week for sure.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

the light of liberty

#1 - P  tungsten light  1/80  2.8f  +2/3 exp  iso200
this is a photo shoot process post. it's heavy on photos (28) and words, too, to describe my thinking. you've been warned! i've linked in with plum and june's photography workshop party. this is a more technical post. i also wrote a basic, entry-level photography post here.

while admiring beth's mini summer quilts at plum and june, i realized briar rose was now available and i didn't have any yet. yikes! even though i'm trying to fabric diet, i hopped on over to to get some. however, as darling as the line is and as much as i adore heather ross's designs, i decided i could live without a lot of briar rose. my willpower kicked in and i only selected two prints to coordinate with the pile i already have set aside from previous lines. whew! i patted myself on the back for being so good.

then, . . .
for some reason, i checked to see what liberty of london lines might be available. uh oh! lots of new tana lawns. that's where the willpower (mostly) flew out the window. i ordered 5 - 1/2 yard cuts of some irresistible prints. oh, shame on me! why, oh why does that stuff have to be so expensive? and gorgeous and completely irresistible to me? utter temptation.

#4 - P  tungsten  1/80  f2.8  +2/3exp  iso160
well, the whole caboodle arrived yesterday afternoon during our family cleaning hour. i didn't have time to look at it, so i set it aside, forgetting it until this morning. the dog woke me up at the crack of dawn, so i had some quiet time to myself. i got to sit down with my new lovelies and just admire them to my heart's content. they truly are exquisite. i can't help repeatedly running my fingers over their silky texture. and the colors! the dainty florals are my favorites. something about the delicate line drawn flowers appeals to me.

ah, it was a special time for just the two of us this morning. ha, ha!

M daylight  1/100  f4.0  iso200
as i caressed my darlings, i looked up at the entryway and noticed the amazing morning light shining through. i have these large wicker baskets lining the entry; one for each child to keep their shoes and such in. the sunlight streams through the window in the morning, setting the golden baskets aglow in such a lovely way. it reminded me of laura's photo shoot post. and liberty reminds me of laura. suddenly i wanted to combine the fabric with the baskets and light. it seemed a perfect match.

M  daylight  1/100 f4  iso200
i zoomed in a bit to try and capture how the light gleams on the basket handles and the dust motes dance in the air
it turned out much tougher than i had anticipated. having two different aspects i wanted to include really complicated the matter. i could get one or the other, but featuring both together proved illusive. i think i asked too much of the photo. in truth, none of the photos capture the details of the fabric designs enough for me. still, it was fun playing and working on my skills.

i took 50 photos, but only included 28 here.

M  daylight  1/100  f4  iso200
closer still on those handles - i still didn't capture the magic light, though
the very first photo in this post (#1) is the first one i took. and i do like it. but it doesn't showcase the fabrics as much as i wanted to. the yellow print, my favorite, is out of focus thanks to the shallow depth of field i got with my 2.8 f stop.

 i tried putting the fabrics in a row on the backside of the basket so they would all be in equal focus:

#2 - P tungsten 1/60  2.8f  +2/3exp  iso160
but to get the basket included, i was too zoomed out.

i zoomed in, including only a bit of the basket:

#3 - P  tungsten  1/60  2.8f +2/3exp  iso160
 but i lost the points where the basket was lit up and sort of sparkly in the bright light.
 i also tried the angle in the 2nd photo of the post (#4). that one looks rather like dishtowels in a basket. i was trying to include a bit more of the basket, but i don't like the way the handle covers the fabrics.

at this point, i was frustrated with the styling, so i went back to where the light sparkles on the handles. i placed the fabrics slightly differently and tried again:

#5 - P  tungsten  1/8  2.8f  +2/3exp  iso125
the aqua capel in the back is still too blurry. and the handles are dead center; i prefer off centered.

i was shooting in P (program) mode, letting the camera pick my settings, but with the exposure compensation bumped up for more light. it was tricky because i didn't want to totally blow out the handles yet the fabrics still needed to be bright enough.

while looking at my settings, i noticed the white balance was set to "tungsten light", which is for light bulbs. oops. i switched to that last night while photographing something else indoors sans flash.
#6 - P  daylight  1/80  2.8f  +2/3  iso125
 hey, that's a lot warmer looking! more of the golden quality of the light shows. but you still can't see all the lovely fabrics clearly. and the whites are less crisp from here on out with the white balance shift. it's a choice of what to sacrifice.

i moved the fabrics again to get them closer together:
#7 - P  daylight  1/123  f2.8  +1 1/3  iso 125
still not happy about the blur. i decided to go completely manual so i could move the aperture setting and still control everything else. what the heck.

there was a lot to think about as i was not only trying to find good styling but the proper settings. sometimes one or the other is sorta taken care of for you and you can concentrate on one. otherwise, you have to keep switching your mental focus. it's a fun challenge and brain exercise.
#8 - M  daylight  1/100  f4  iso200
i opened up the f stop a little so more of the photo would be in focus. however, it was still pretty shallow and because i focused on the fabric in back, the front two are still blurred. it's a nice shot of that pretty june's meadow in yellow/white, though.

#9 - M  daylight  1/100  f4  iso200
i framed this one a bit differently, but was still having depth of field issues.

so i went back to the laundry look at the back of the basket:
#10 - M  daylight  1/100  f4  iso200
 the light coming in the window was shifting all this time, as light will do. now i had serious contrast issues going on. yuck. the fabric is not bright enough and the basket is too bright. also, that draping looks sloppy.

i tried a couple and gave up. instead, i lined them up along the handle side and moved around so i could shoot more straight on:
#11 - M  daylight  1/100  f4  iso200
 argh - photo bomber! the toddler was up at this point and adding yet another aspect to my mental calculations.

remove baby, shift frame slightly:
#12 - M  daylight  1/100  f4  iso200
 getting better but i wanted more light to brighten the fabrics.

 i moved the shutter speed number higher:
#13 - M  daylight  1/200  f4  iso200
 dang. that was the wrong way! shutter speed numbers need to get lower for more light, aperture numbers go up. so much to remember.

#14 - M  daylight  1/60  f4  iso200
 ooh, i like this exposure! very pretty.

i got that angle down and decided to attempt the laundry shot again:
#15 - M  daylight  1/60  f4  iso200

#16 - M  daylight  1/60  f4  iso200
although i like the way the light bounces around here, it's just not what i was going for with the picture story.

what you can't see happening in all these shots is this:
M  daylight  1/60  f4  iso200
  . . . my cute little assistant. she was continually trying to replace my lens cap (bugs her when it's off) or style fabric for me or climb on my head.

because the light had moved, i decided to move the basket itself. also, i had two more liberty prints i wanted to photograph. in the interest of time, i added the darks to the lights for a complete group shot. the aperture/f stop got changed, too, for more light.
#17 - M  daylight  1/60  f2.8  iso200
 that need to balance the light on the baskets and the exposure on the fabric was a problem again - i don't like either here. the fabrics definitely needed more light and to all be in focus (more depth of field).

so i closed the aperture down to f4 (greater depth of field) and had to switch my iso higher so i could still hand hold the camera and not get any shake. if i had moved the shutter speed, i wouldn't have been able to hold the camera still enough. most experts say don't hand hold below 1/120, but i have a steady hand and feel comfortable taking it to 1/60. i'll actually even attempt lower if it's not a vitally important shot or i don't have an option.

#18 - M  daylight  1/60  f4  iso400
 now, this looks a tad too bright here on the dark teal mitsi at the left and also on the yellow june's meadow. but i like it on all the other fabrics.

and here, when writing the post, i noticed something important. the above shot looked perfectly exposed and pretty sharp on my camera's little lcd screen but less so on the computer. i think one major reason for this difference, besides size, is that on the camera the shot is surrounded by black, which makes it pop more, and here it's encompassed by white, which is dulling it slightly. that's something to keep in mind when shooting, i guess.

i tried one last angle on this styling to see how it looked. in order to not cut the fabrics off at the bottom but not have to include so much empty space at the top, i went vertical:
#19 - M  daylight  1/60  f2.8  iso400
 again, what you can't see is the way i'm laying on the floor to get this shot. but i couldn't lay flat on my back, i had to be raised a smidge to get the right angle. this was tricky enough photo yoga without the baby involved, she made it near impossible.

#20 - M  daylight  1/60  f2.8  iso400
 angle improved, the fabrics looks wrong.

i tried draping them and going horizontal again:
#21 - M  daylight  1/60  f2.8  iso400
 all that empty space on the right bothered me. i added a 2nd basket to fill it:
#22 - M  daylight  1/60  f2.8  iso400
 that blocked my light and looked dumb.

i removed the basket, placed the fabrics closer together, returned to vertical orientation:
#23 - M  daylight  1/60  f2.8  iso400
 oh, almost! the aqua capel looks yucky.

redrape the capel, crop in a tad, shift frame a touch :
#24 - M  daylight  1/60  f2.8  iso400
fabrics, l to r: emma and georgina in teal/dl blue; capel in aqua/wh; June's meadow in yellow/wh; floral fusion wh/yl/pnk;
misti  in dark teal

well, the light must have changed again because this is a bit lighter and i didn't adjust any settings!

everyone was awake and breakfast needed to be made at this point, so play time was over. i had to put my camera and pretties away.

if you actually read all that, or even just skimmed down to the bottom, which one do you like best? and why?

now i get the fun of deciding what to do with these darlings! it has to be perfect. i'm blank on ideas so far.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

wip report and a blue mood

 i got a few more fabrics to mix in my epp project. after doing the pre-wash, i have cut triangles out for basting. one really nice aspect of epp is that you don't have to precision cut your fabric pieces (or press them first, apparently). but i have been wanting to get a triangle ruler for some projects brewing, so i used one of those irresistible 40% coupons from joann to get an equilateral ruler.

it makes cutting the pieces much quicker than the way i was doing it - just placing an epp paper piece on the fabric and eyeballing it. and while i don't worry about precision, having the pieces more uniformly cut has been helpful with basting.
 you just flip that baby up and down, alternately, and cut away. some nice little blunt-topped triangles are the result.

the selection of ruler brands was limited. i got the fons and porter because the blunt tip wasn't too big and there are lots of handy marks on the ruler. sarah fielke recommended those features in her craftsy class i purchased. so far, i like it! no complaints.

by the way, this is the first time i've ever used blue nail polish and the first time in years i've painted my fingers. a slight rebellion against the new decade mark i achieved this year? i do my tootsies regularly, but find the fingers impractical because they get smudged or chipped pretty much instantly. while i was trying out some new essie on my toes i got curious about how it would look on my fingers. mint candy apple and i had a fun weekend fling, but it's over now and i cleaned them off yesterday. back to au natural and my revlon super buffer. (okay, who really cared about any of that?!)

big news - juki is back up and running!

right now she has a nephew baby quilt under the needle. i whipped up my first ever improv pieced top on sunday evening. it was a lot of fun, i learned some things along the way, and i'm pretty happy with the results. this little fella just needs some more simple outline quilting and a binding. easy peasy, which is great since i need 3 more baby boy quilts and one little girly one. as much as i like the blanket stitching handwork on them, i'm pretty much bored out of my mind with 4sqs and thinking these are almost as quick. it was a nice change up.

the fabrics for my next one were photographed and shared in the photography workshop link-up at plum and june this week.

maybe it was all those boy quilts and blue fabrics that inspired my polish choice?

i got the go ahead from my cousin's sisters-in-law to turn this fun pile into a little girl quilt so i won't be blue forever. i sent them a photo asking if it was something she'd like. i got three responses of "cute" and "yes!", so it's in the que.
what a sloppy photo! i wasn't shooting for any big photography post or anything, so it'll do as dark, cool-tinted, and unstyled as it is. jump over to plum and june if you want some photography fun with your fabric.
linking up with wip wednesday at freshly pieced and needle & thread thursday .
my report:
finished - none
jed's baby quilt - being quilted
4 other baby quilts - fabric pulled
in progress
epp  - new fabric purchased and about 3 more pieces basted; 9 blocks completed
taite - needs basting
plus a diamond - needs binding
twirl - needs adjustments and border on top
paris daydream - still a flimsy
hst diamonds - untouched
trips to the store
one to ETC for yardage for epp quilt (and a few other bits that caught my eye)
internet activity purchase of 2 briar rose selections (really limiting myself here, trying to be good) . . . and a few more liberty tana lawn half yards (not so well behaved)
ordered patchwork, please! from b&n to check it out (just curious about all the fuss and cute projects everywhere. and i'm trying to figure out what exactly is "zakka"!?))
worked on cleaning up my dining sewing space, but it's just getting worse. my goal is to have only the project(s) i'm actually working on in there. everything else needs to be upstairs in the splish splash zone.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

prairie city gem

tucked in on main street
one of my daydreams of travelling by car through so much of the country was to stop at quilt stores along the way and maybe even find hidden treasures, lines of fabric sold out everywhere else long ago but tucked in a corner of a store in an out-of-the-way place. maybe some meadow dot for me or parisville for liz.

decorative painted quilt block at the front door
the first stop i got to make came as we were wending our way from Utah to central Oregon. we were going from aspen grove family camp to a reunion at sunriver in Oregon. it took all day long. any trip for our family can be counted on to require a few extra hours. there were lots of interesting and inviting sights along the way, but we had to cover a lot of ground and couldn't stop.

finally, we were making a pit stop in the very cute little town of Prairie City. while the kids played in the park and took a potty break, i noticed a shop on the main street across from us that said "quilts." without telling the mr. or anyone else, i grabbed the 5 yr old's hand and ran across the street. i wasn't sure if it was a gift shop or an actual quilting shop until i got inside.

on the design wall
 what i found was the heart of a small but thriving quilting community in rural Oregon, quilts & beyond, etc. the owner told me they had a guild of about 25 members, which i found quite impressive considering there weren't that many buildings in town. the tiny shop was crammed full of bolts of quilting fabric with a mostly traditional flavor as well as a back room for classes and guild meetings.

 i hadn't brought my camera or even my wallet with me, but i ran back to the car to get both. and to tell the mr. where we'd gone. the shop was about to close, but they were kind and chatty with me, as quilt folk will be. they let me take a few photos. i didn't have the time or lighting to do justice to the samples i photographed. i hope they'll forgive me!

 the owner, marci, is also into Brazilian embroidery, which i'd never heard of before. it's much more three dimensional than traditional embroidery. you can't tell well from the photo of the humming birds, but the individual feathers on the wings are quite raised from the canvas. it was beautiful and i wish i'd had more time to learn about it.

 my little charmer i'd brought with me lucked out. they were having a "Christmas in july" sale and giving away sewing kits to every 10th customer. when my daughter begged me for a pair of snips similar to some I already own, they gave her one of the kits, which included some of the snips. and we hadn't even bought anything yet, nor do i believe we were a 10th anything. quilt people really are so generous! this kit provided entertainment through out the trip and prompted many pleas to sew.

i did pick out a few fat quarters and a bit of yardage from their collection, but the kit they gave her far outweighed my purchase in value. it was truly very kind of them. when my other girls popped in to see the shop and did not get a kit offered them, my little stinker said, "i guess i'm just the cutest."

d5 gives quilts and beyond shop a thimbled thumbs up!