Friday, February 28, 2014

free-for-all february

i was on my way to fix my neglected toenails, when i stopped by the sewing table. that was the end of that for a while. hee, hee. sidetracked! my entire life is often sidetracked by sewing. sometimes this is funny and sometimes it's simply not. balance and prioritizing are a constant struggle in my world.

i tried to help with a portion of that by fabric fasting. january was good, february turned into a nose-dive, fabric purchasing free-for-all. the month is over as of today, so i'll be climbing on the wagon and starting over again. i should probably extend by a month (or 6) just to make up for february. who knew you could do an entire year's worth of fabric shopping in one month? i keep vacillating between contritely wanting to be honest in this space while being completely ashamed of myself, and feeling brazenly rebellious for busting my self-imposed limits. i did get some really great new fabric, after all. i'm like all jekyll-and-hyde{eann} about fabric fasting this month.

liberty lifestyle's practically extinct "bloomsbury gardens" collection found at jones and vandermeer

most of the last bits of my orders have arrived. i found some more meadowdot (allowed - always) and some liberty (not allowed just now) on-line (thank you, jones and vandermeer! - great shop),

small photo to minimize impact of large quantity already strategically piled to appear less

as well as one last order (for current wips and not) that i just don't want to talk about. i am not sure exactly why i feel compelled to report every single bit i've purchased this month. i don't normally show my purchases, preferring to focus on my makes in this space. why couldn't i just say "i broke the fast" without completely humiliating myself by airing all my dirty laundry? all this talk, however, is the mourning of the damned, not the sorrow of the true penitent - meaning i am reveling in my purchasing sin.

one of the main reasons the idea of a fast appealed to me was that it would allow me to use the lovely fabrics that i had before they got completely lost in the stash vacuum. that is important to me. well, now i have even more that need to be used. so i am recommitting with my reasonings in mind.

hello, march!
let's fast.
wish me luck.
maybe the luck o' the irish will work for me.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

on the bookshelf - rug edition

 this edition of "on the bookshelf" is actually more like "the UPS driver just arrived with a package and so we are looking at the new books on the new rug." so here's what's "on the book rug" today:

for me, some new quilt arrivals:

playful little paper-pieced projects by tacha bruecher
color essentials: crisp and vibrant quilts by amanda murphy
quilting with a modern slant by rachel may

when i get to dive into them, i'll let you know. i already have plans for st. patrick's day aprons from the paper piecing book. so cute!

for the kids, i recently added to our fairytale collection in preparation for doing a big, huge homeschool unit with the younger kids where we study various fairytales. i did this years ago with the oldest children and it was so fun. i like to go over each major (and some minor) fairytale and folklore story by reading as many versions of the same tale as possible. there are all kinds of related activities we do along the way.

 i found that rachel isadora has several new versions of classics set in Africa and illustrated in her wonderful, colorful collage style. this will help add more multicultural flair to our bookshelf.

 i also tracked down a few more books illustrated by sarah gibb. her delicate, lacey, silhouette-and-color style of illustrating is at the top of my list of favorite artists.

back of book jacket and book - they'd make great fabrics!

we've had her rapunzel a few years and loved it to pieces - literally. i just had to buy a replacement. i think it's my all-time favorite fairytale book.

 snow white and rose red is a rather obscure fairytale that i remember from my huge, lavishly illustrated fairytale anthology i had as a little girl. finding any modern publications was pretty difficult, but i did find a few. i hope the children love the story of the two sisters, a nasty gnome, and a kindly bear as much as i did.

what are you reading?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

gypsy wips and shifting piles

 you've got to love a morning where you overhear your oldest daughter giving her little sister a counting by 5's and 10's lesson while they eat breakfast and then the 7 yr old tells you she's doing "baby daycare" for the smallest one, which means she's getting her something to eat and making her a special place to take a nap. with them all busily engaged or taking care of each other, i snuck in some sewing during piano lesson time.

my gypsy wife blocks for the month are done. or as done as i'm going to get them. four of the pinwheels are supposed to have borders around them, but i am still waffling over selecting solids or not for the borders. i'm saving that decision for later in the game.

 i've used this opportunity of only doing a few blocks at a time to really focus on precision and improving my skills. please don't look too closely at my points just yet! they are far better yet not fully perfected. when making the pinwheels, i overcut the pieces, which is easy enough since the pattern calls for 1/8" increments quite often. rounding up to the full 1/2" or 1" makes life easier all around. then i trim up after the blocks are formed before joining them. doing this continually would be extremely tedious. but doing one or two blocks at a time has been much more bearable. i would never take the time to do this otherwise.

i did not make my pinwheels completely scrappy, choosing to do one background fabric and four scrappy pieces for the pinwheel. none of the blocks are identical as i worked in at least one scrap from previous blocks to make each one unique. the first two incorporated red and blue, the second set (above) was yellow, blue, and green. as i put the second block (left) of the set together, i didn't think the yellow and blue print in the upper left corner stood out enough, so i replaced it with a different fabric that had a darker yellow and blues in it. this wasn't a waste because i simply used that block and the other one created from making the new hst in the next block i made, the yellow and pink one, where it still didn't stand out enough. oh, well. moving on.

better! but i wish i had shifted the fabric just a bit so more of the blue showed up rather than the yellow, which still seems to blend. thank goodness this is just one block of dozens in a very busy quilt. i can stop overthinking it now. why is it that the points i was off by a mm on are the bright blue colors rather than those that blend in at the tips so you can't even tell how perfect (or not) they turned out?

anywho, my blocks are done just in time for next month to roll in this weekend. and the new sugar block, too. oh, boy!

 the piano teacher did not bring her toddler today, so my wip pile is still spread out on the living room floor. down to two! amazing.

 actually, that just means there are more in the "needs binding" pile on the couch in the dining sewing room, which is wip pile #2. however, they have moved along in the racket, so that's progress. i do adore binding. there never seems enough time for it, though.

while the piano was a-playing and i was a-sewing and others were . . . a-doing whatever, this little lady decided to experiment with measuring, mixing, and pouring in the kitchen. sugar, oats, nuts, and anything in reach kept her occupied for some time. love how they are so busy learning at this stage. the messes, not so much. watching her continually reconfigure 12 lego duplo blocks for 30 minutes this morning was more enjoyable. but i do love her constant enthusiasm.

Monday, February 24, 2014

triangle along with paula

 that purchase from fabricworm that i mentioned finally showed up. after making two spring fabric mosaics (here and here) for the color intensive class, i wanted the fabrics. and once the fast was broken for the month, i just went ahead and purchased with glee. a tad bit of guilt, too. in all honesty, unlike my other purchases for the month, these were bought simply for the "i want" factor. i got some of the fabrics from the mosaics and some i had wanted to use for the mosaics. some i also got from instead because they were less expensive (not arrived). i had no real idea what to do with them, but i'd created the pull when making the mosaics and thought they'd make something great. lucky for me, the idea showed up before the fabrics did. thank you, paula!

The Sassy Quilter
do i need another project? heck, no! but that isn't stopping me because i already have fabrics picked for this (so no purchasing required - really), i have the ruler, it doesn't start for another month (time to get wips done), and i've wanted to do a triangle quilt for ages. quilting along with a group under that sassy paula is the icing on the cake! isn't it great how quilt-alongs get you going on something you have intended to do? it just motivates and inspires me so much to work on stuff when doing it this way. i especially enjoy the flickr groups and link parties where you get to see so many variations on the same project. paula even has sponsors offering prizes along the way. so if you've ever wanted to triangle, and i know you do, come along.

for the last year, scrapbook papers like these (above) have been inspiring me to contemplate a triangle quilt. although i've considered doing a solid triangle quilt, i think my spring pull is a good match for this look.

now, my pull is actually a mix of the two mosaics: one that was more yellow/green/grey/pink and one that was new greens/spring blues/touches of warm colors. i am using the two florals of the same print in two colorways to tie everything together. it's now a very cool spring morning with some warm touches to it.

however, now that everything is here, i'm not sure how well it's blending. i've been breaking it down into separate groups to see if i like it better that way.

going with the blue background floral here. the main problem with this is it lacks any more coral. but pops are nice, so it could work.

then again, i really like just these together! so pretty and cheery, yet calm, too. there should be plenty left over for another project with these fabrics.

this it a mix to go with the grey background floral that incorporates the yellow-y greens and gold with bits of red, too.
or i could add a bit more grey (from stash!) and the soft magenta print to pick up the touches of purple in the main floral.
goodness, too many options! i think i'll just go with everything together. but not until the end of march, when the quilt along officially starts. until then, i have plenty of wips to complete!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

working up wips

 i was going to show off how the wip pile on the living room floor is shrinking, but it's currently rolled up because the piano teacher (and her toddler) is here for wednesday morning lessons. this drives me a bit batty since the reason i have these items laid out flat is . . . i want them that way. however, the teacher comes first thing in the morning and i don't always make it downstairs in time to move the pile to another area. so she rolls it out of the way so her son won't walk all over it or spill his milk on it. really, it's my fault for having the pile there in the first place! and i ought to remember to move it out of the way myself.

the point here being that this wip stack, that is currently a heap, has gotten smaller! after my naughtiness of new project shopping last week, i have put my blinders on and forced myself to do quilting chores. which have, in fact, been far more pleasant than i anticipated. once the excitement of putting together a top is done, the rest can feel like . . . just a chore. but small quilting chores equal big quilt finishes, so says i.

 first up - i got the backing on "rain or shine", quilted it, and squared it off so it's ready for binding. i'll admit that as much as i want to get this to the baby (born in october!) it's made for, i am going to miss seeing it's happy colors and pretty fabrics laying on my piano room floor.

 i also squared off this hot little mess of a strip quilt. looking at the awful, supposed-to-be straight lines, i'm thinking this fella needs some intentional organic lines to round it out and improve the appearance/lessen the damage. if it looks intentional, all is well. it was so distorted from the quilting that i couldn't tell how to square it properly. for the two longer edges, i just flipped it over, folded it in half, and made straight cuts. however, i can see that upper left corner is needing more trimming because the fabric doesn't cover the batting. i sure hope baby weston is less trouble to his parents than this seemingly simple quilt was for me! can't it just be done already?

 ah, here is my good news/bad news lady - "paris daydreams". golly, i love these fabrics! they satisfy the romantic/vintage french/ shabby chic side of my aesthetic nature. getting this done will mean i can snuggle the baby and the prettiness together. i finally braved the straight line quilting on my spray basted quilt. the good & bad news is: it went quick as a wink and worked perfectly.

this is good because, well, it was great! i completed half the quilt in the hour before dinnertime.

this is bad because i hated spray basting and never wanted to do it again. however, it appears that if i want to straight line with my juki, i'll need to spray baste first. the thought of doing that again makes me want to . . . um, say things i don't normally say.

i quilted on either side of each horizontal seam over the entire quilt. it was so good that i started thinking maybe i should add in some vertical lines as well, for more interest. (nope. keeping it simple, getting it complete.)

see how much one can get done if one stops looking for new things to do and just finishes up the old brilliant projects? it amazes me. before too long I'm going to have a pile of completed quilts instead of a pile of wips.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, February 17, 2014

love-ly weekend

some old stash that i hope to eventually make into valentine's bunting - maybe next year?

how was your weekend? i hope it was love-ly and full of valentine's goodness. we wound up our two weeks of marathon hosting and then squeezed in just a bit of hearts and kisses and romance. and a wee bit of quilting, too.

for the past several years, our oldest children have made a special valentine's day breakfast for the entire family. dad takes them shopping for ingredients the night before with an open budget. they get up early, line the stairs with a trail of paper hearts that lead into the kitchen, and make a breakfast feast. probably my favorite part of this tradition is that it was completely their own idea and continues solely on their initiative. for the last two years, they've dubbed this the "lion heart café", complete with signage and menus. it's pretty awesome.

 how many 13 year old boys do you know that get up at 6:45am just to cook breakfast for their families? (yeah, i'm bragging!) our 15 yr old, d1, slept in this year and did not participate, but d2 was the driving force behind making it happen.

that was the extent of valentine's celebrations on the actual day this year because we were hosting two lovely families from Zimbabwe, met through our son's soccer team, for dinner and the local event. yes, my husband planned this. it was the only time he could get tickets that they could go. however, it was a great way to spend the evening, especially since i'd already booked us a romantic interlude for the following night. usually, i do a valentine's dinner for the family, with sweets and hearts galore, but that had to be postponed this year. flexibility, even with dates and holidays, makes life so much easier.

an added bonus to our valentine's dinner for guests - i may have a new quilting recruit/friend! one of the mothers noticed my dining room-turned-sewing-area (we ate outside) and got very excited. she has been trying to teach herself to quilt. i jumped on that quicker than a box of valentine's chocolates! faith is going to become my new quilt friend. i can't wait.

after dinner, everyone left for the event while the baby and i stayed home together. i showered her up to remove all traces of dinner, and then she decided to play on the design board in lieu of getting dressed in jammies. it worked for me.

 she loves to get out scraps to put all over the board. it's so cute to watch her stick them up and rearrange them. it does require some patience, guidance, and redirection from me since she likes to scrunch up or pull on the fabrics. i inwardly wince as i know she's distorting scraps i want to eventually use, but i {try to} just gently get her to treat them better. or take them away completely when she won't cooperate.

 she has also developed a fascination with putting the pins in the board. again, i'm trying to teach her how to properly and safely handle the "pokies". with this child, i know she'll be searching them out and using them with or without me, so i might as well train her how to do it right.

 aren't her little fingers holding the pins just the cutest? i hope someday she looks back on this fondly as the roots of her quilting obsession that she inherited from her mother.

 on saturday, we hosted one more family in the morning and then our life returned to normal. it's bittersweet. we had some pretty amazing experiences with all of those people and have decided we need to host friends and family regularly more often. but it was so nice to know nothing else was required of me for a little while. after a nap, i made myself do a quilting chore. "rain or shine" has been in the wip pile since october. i forced myself to baste it into a sandwich, moving that much closer to the finish. it would have been so much more fun to work on blocks or start something new, but i really need to concentrate on the wip pile. getting the basting done does feel really good.

that's all i had time for, however, before i had to get ready for my hot date. the mr and i were going to a dinner and concert at our local botanical gardens. it's something we did last year and absolutely loved. so i took the initiative and booked us for "romance in the garden" again this year. we walked the gardens a bit before the dinner. i got some photos of different agaves, a plant i've had an interest in lately. i'll only include two:

stem and blossoms

aerial shot of a different variety

 dinner al fresco in perfect weather at sunset with my love. it doesn't get much better than that!

and classical Spanish guitar with violin is about as romantic as it gets where live music is concerned. it was pretty awesome.
now all my reporting is done, i'm going to go spend this holiday (happy presidents day!) doing lots more quilting chores. happy sewing, y'all!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

saturday stash confessions

for "gypsy wife"
 this is neither sunday (for stash sharing) nor am i catholic (so i don't go to confessionals), but there is a whole lot of stash to share and confessing to do today. two months ago i signed up for the fabriholics anonymous fabric fast with rebecca lynn and jess. last month i did make a few small purchases, but stayed within my personal allowable buying guidelines. this month . . . um, i fell off the wagon.

no, actually i took a FLYING LEAP off the wagon, nosedived headfirst into fabric purchasing within and well without my limits. so now i'm here with my tail between my legs ready to fess up and examine my neuroses. (but still smiling about the finds, sicko that i am.)

two factors are at play here - i started two new projects last month and my daughter got into my stash. both of these events pushed me over the edge. i mentioned before that my quite sizable stash was mostly purchased in my early, frenzied introduction to designer fabrics and quilting, before i knew what i was doing. that means my stash is large, but unvaried and with many gaps in it. however, a raid of etsy, some favorite on-line shops, and a trip to my local store solved my "problem".

enter new project #1 - the sugar block club with monthly block.

January's "intentions" & February's "mercy"
i pulled off a lovely january block, all from stash, and managed to find more coordinating fabrics i liked for february, also from stash. but i wasn't as happy with my fabric placement. i had a pretty good amount of the fabrics i was using, but decided that since i was going to use some of them in each block, perhaps i should purchase more of those fabrics. the green alexander henry farmdale crosshatch was a purchase i made a few years ago from cia's palette and i wasn't sure i could find it anymore. fortunately for me, she had some still in stock, and had it in a few other colors, too.

so now that crosshatch can carry across the quilt. very nice. but it was the leak that started the dam break.

i already had the farmdale crosshatches and florals, the meadowsweet plaid, and some great polka dots, pictured at top. but not enough for an entire quilt. looking over my stash there just wasn't anything else that had the right colors and feel for these blocks - sort of a sugar-sweet vintage farmhouse thing. in hindsight, why i needed to get the fabrics now rather than waiting til the fast was over is beyond me. all i can think of was that i was already going to the store for project #2, so i shopped for both. oh, yes. i only had a 1/4 yd of the green "comma" cirlces that i was using as my second neutral in the blocks. "comma" is moda and that means it couldn't wait until july.

that trip to my local shop fixed me right up with some bits of "scrumptious" from bonnie and camille for moda, denyse schmidt's "shelbourne falls" blue tile, and a bit of "sasparilla" from riley blake (red tile/fan), which all were the right colors and rounded everything out perfectly. also, i was able to get some yardage of the "comma" circles.  this sugar gal is set now (fingers crossed).

but back to that dam break at cia's palette first.
 golly, i hate breaking open her packages because they are just so prettily put together. she folds them perfectly and wraps them with cute vintage labels.

 the top pink floral print coordinates with my umbrella girls from alexander henry's "april showers" line, so i grabbed it while i was there. the crosshatches have already been discussed. then i hunted around for some pieces for "gypsy wife", aka new project #2.

gypsy wife is a super-scrappy project. ms kingwell, the designer, recommends "the more fabrics you include in your quilt the more fun it will be." i already had a good 30 prints pulled, but i noticed there wasn't much red in my pull and i want a lot of red in this quilt. in my book gypsy = red. also, after completing the first block, i could tell i would want a few more quiet background & blender fabrics.

red is my favorite color, so i was shocked to find so little red in my stash. cia had a few finds for me. i think that red matroyshka (alexander henry zhivago - nadya) print is going to be killer in the gypsy mix. the other two red prints with lacy designs are perfect also. in addition, i found a couple blender prints.

finally sewn together properly
looking at my first block, i decided not only that i needed more reds and background prints, but i was going to want more lush, complicated florals like the joel dewberry and heather bailey prints i had used. my design sense and appetite just started growing and growing.

 cia always includes some nice cuts of newer prints with each of my orders. i'd never have picked out this goat fabric, but i think it is dead-on for my "gypsy wife" quilt. i'll probably fussy cut one of those goats for a block the way i did the elephant in the "colour wheel" block. but i'm going to have to cut out those bitty skulls. i just don't do skulls.

the opening photo of the post is the stuff i found for gypsy at my local store. there's not a lot of red there, but it's all i could find.

we've covered all the purchases i made to round out my newest projects. i can pinpoint the reasoning behind all the buying for these. my stash just didn't match my desires for these quilts with enough fabrics to complete the projects. so on the one hand, it was the type of buying i was allowed to do. however, doing so much of it at once, especially after making some purchases last month, was icky feeling. i didn't want to want more fabrics but i also didn't want to make the quilts less than i wanted them to be. so i bought.

if i'd stopped there, perhaps i'd have been okay. but then i let my 11 yr old daughter pick a few fabrics out of my stash to make a baby quilt for a church fundraiser. and she picked my only pieces of some rare heather baily "nicey jane" prints. i was really torn about letting her have them until it occurred to me that i could just replace them with some on-line shopping. i'd already broken my fast - in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

also, as i began searching for them, i realized that these prints are becoming hard to get; that what's out there isn't much. and they are some of my very favorite prints! i'll admit i sorta paniced and just grabbed what i could. over time, i have used heather's prints a lot and grown to appreciate them so much. really, they suit my taste and my style perfectly. prints i had passed up before i could now see uses for. the thought of missing out on them was unbearable.

 the main print i was mourning was the "church flowers" in pink. every time i looked at my daughter's picks, i decided i loved this print more and more. heather didn't have any more for sale on her site, but etsy found me 3 yards. that should be ample.

 etsy also produced this lovely blue and green set of "nice jane" prints in one yard cuts. i've already used 3 of the prints in projects, but didn't have any of the "hop dot" in that pretty ice blue. now i do.

 on heather's site, i found several "nicey jane" and "pop garden" prints that i either didn't have or wanted more of. I've realized that these two collections are my perfect colors. i do like "lottie dah" a whole bunch, but the reds, blues, yellows, and pinks in her earlier collections are so very me. a few of these i plan on working into "gypsy wife" and the others i just needed.

so i'm really quite blissful to have all these heather bailey fabrics. it wasn't as if i was chasing after the "latest and greatest" thing going. i was buying up tried-and-true, proven-with-time, almost-gone-now fabrics. but it rather bothers me that i wasn't willing to just let them go. really, why do i need these fabrics? what's wrong with my psyche that i had to have them? this is somewhat troubling to me.

also, the whole time i was shopping, i was feeling greatly guilty because i knew i was going to have to publicly confess to my transgressions. that hurt my pride. i didn't want to have to eat crow in public. i most certainly do want to fabric fast because i think it's smart, sensible, and responsible. but maybe it's just not for me? if i keep starting new projects it's very likely i will not be able to go any length of time with out more purchasing. that's not smart, either. even my kids know that. they keep telling me, "mom, you need to finish what you've started before you start anymore quilts!" and they are right. so i guess it's time to buckle down with my blinders on so i don't get distracted and tempted even more. i have enough projects to keep me busy for months, probably even the whole year.

which is why i definitely didn't need to buy this pattern from cia's palette. however, while i was there, i went ahead and added this to my cart because i do eventually, way down the road, want to do some text quilts. no sense paying additional shipping later on, right?

i. am .hopeless.

but i'm dusting myself off and starting over again. there's no sense in not trying to improve.

oh, sugar! i just remembered there is a package on it's way from that has nothing to do with any of these purchase reasons mentioned here. it had everything to do with making fabric mosaics for the color intensive course with rachel at stitched in color. after all that picking, i wanted the fabrics. bad, bad, bad.

we're back to "i'm hopeless."