Thursday, November 27, 2014

birthday disaster coming right

 my birthday is in the summer and this year two dear, international quilting friends both surprised me with some beautiful handmade goodies. however, i was on an extended trip when they mailed the surprise packages. we've been gone before so i didn't fret about what was happening with my packages and was looking forward to the mail when i got home. since i stopped purchasing fabric earlier this year, going to the mail has not been nearly as fun. so i was doubly excited about what was waiting for me at home.

unfortunately, the person we'd asked to occasionally check our mail couldn't find the key. and our unwanted junk mail crowded the box so much the postal carrier pulled all our mail and left a note saying if it wasn't picked up in 10 days our service would be discontinued. this was two weeks before we got home.

so the morning i hopefully went to the post office to collect my treasures i was informed that all mail had been returned because they assumed we had moved. all mail. in dismay, i said, almost tearfully, "even surprise internationally shipped birthday presents?!" the postal worker at the window looked at me like i was short a few brain cells. "yes," was the ominous reply. unable to yet grasp the concept i tried again, "so packages sent from indonesia and new zealand were returned there?" again, the horrid reply, "yes."

can i tell you how very strongly and intensely i dislike junk mail?!  the reasons are plethora and this incident just caps it all.

i went home, empty handed and crying. those beautiful handmade goods, sent at considerable expense over oceans from other hemispheres were somewhere in mail transit oblivion. it was doubtful they would ever make it back. how was i going to tell my friends? it was a full-blown quilting disaster.

 surprisingly, the package from deborah in indonesia was the one that made it home safely and the cutest-ever dumpling pouch (in heather bailey fabric!!!) never found it's way back to liz in new zealand. i'd have bet on it being the other way around.

deborah had a friend returning to the states who kindly agreed to mail the package to me when they got state-side. so a few weeks ago this lovely mini of epp liberty hexies on linen showed up in my mailbox. i can not overstate how exquisite it is. this is something i would not have made for myself but i can't stop looking at or caressing when i walk by.

i just love everything about it. for starters, deborah is very accomplished at handwork so the craftsmanship on this is delicate and refined. the subtly-colored hand quilting is exquisite. i love the diminutive size of the hexies - less than an inch measured by sides. of course i'm over the moon about the liberty of london prints. some are my very favorites (betsy and mitsy) and other's i've never seen before. the liberty paired with natural linen is a match made in quilting heaven. the fact that deborah made it and that i happen to know she was stitching it whilst on a train traveling through england adds to it's value.

thank you, thank you deborah! again, i'm sorry for all the trouble but all's well that ends well. it now has a home on my sewing table, where i can look at it all the time, until i have a sewing room of my own where i can display it on the wall.

that's just one more reason i could use a dedicated sewing room.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

around the sewing room

 for whatever reason, as i was walking past my dining/sewing room the other day, i decided to pause a moment and take photos of the various bits and pieces of the room. sometimes i like to just look at different parts of my sewing process or set up, and consider the individual components of my hobby. as one who likes to capture moments and pieces in pixels, i just decided to photograph it all, too.

"bandwidth" has occupied my sewing time for more than a month, and, happily, is finally quilted and awaiting binding. yay! time to move on to something besides orange and navy. also captured here: the way the afternoon sun moves across my sewing area and has to be blocked if i want to work (hence the sewing machine cover in front of the machine); the endless supply of soccer balls that my kids always kick into (and leave) in my sewing space.

 all the little tools and necessities i keep close at hand by the machine: pin cushions for various pins and needles, a tray for tidiness, indispensable snips, ott light, my tool caddy. and a bracelet i shed while sewing. i always seem to do that.

 my recipe stand-turned-pattern-and-ruler-holder, currently sporting the gypsy wife pattern, photos of various wips that i use for reference, and my quilting sketch book/idea journal where i work out my ideas and maths.

 design wall where s1's wonky coins quilt awaits (so there is lots more navy and orange in my near future after all), a msih-mash of scraps where d4 was playing at making a quilt top for "a sick little child", and the beginnings of my indian blanket quilt taunt me.

 the pressing board area: gypsy wife blocks all gathered in a pile to make room on the design wall (how they landed here, i'm not sure?); d4's pile of scraps and pins for that "sick child" quilt she's designing nearby; rulers that were flattening blocks; a little chicken costume shed late on halloween and still hanging around; something super precious in that white bag on the floor - how did that get here?; and some bins of scraps and charity quilt yardage waiting their turn.

lastly, just above the cutting mat: some dishes that hold my cutting scraps (hsts in the green dish and little strips in the white); marking and cutting tools i want at hand but out of reach of little fingers;  and the rulers presently in use at the cutting mat. oh, and something special hiding behind there, to be highlighted another day.

what are the little stories your space tells?

Monday, November 10, 2014

chain mail

 if that post title makes you cringe - yeah, me, too. but it was just too obvious a title for these little chains of envelope blocks. so even though i have never liked chain mail, i do like these liberated envelope blocks, which were the last "liberated" block i worked up from an ::angled:: class tutorial to donate for charity quilts. rachel said we could send chains of 1 to 5 envelopes, as many as we wanted. once i cut out hsts, i had to use both of them, and then i also wanted variety in the way the envelopes were constructed. so i just kept going until i made myself stop.

for some reason, these were the hardest blocks for me of the 3 styles i tried. not only did i have to unpick and resew a few times, i ended up with three reject blocks (that now need a home or an unpick). two of them have points that were cut off by the seam allowance and one of them i turned the wrong way so the darkest color was not the "flap" of the envelope, which rachel had requested. i think the ones that cut off the point were because i wasn't using a true hst on the right side (green dots). they looked like hsts but i didn't check them to make sure, so they didn't trim up right.

but despite these rejects and a few other unpicking moments, i did like the way they turned out. especially with the light blue background. i just might need to use up scraps for a quilt in this style for myself someday.

now the envelopes and other blocks are all in the mail.
i can't wait to see them worked into actual collaborative quilts!

Monday, November 3, 2014

::angled:: liberated blocks

wonky stars block
 at the end of each instruction week during the ::angled:: class, rachel taught us how to make an improvised, "liberated" block from angled scraps leftover from the shapes cut during that week's lessons. if we wanted to practice the block without committing to an entire project, she kindly allowed us to submit the blocks to her for inclusion in a charity quilt to be donated to a child in need, much like her do. good stitches groups make.

i have long wanted to be involved with charity quilting but have been unable to commit to the monthly time and deadline involved, so i really appreciated the chance to try out these blocks and have the honor of contributing them to a quilt rachel was making. and i was also a lot bit nervous about making a block good enough to be used in the quilts. while my skills have been improving, precision is still not my strongest suit; hit-and-miss at best.

first, i did the wonky stars block, comprised of small hsts and 2.5" squares. rachel asked for blocks that had either the star points or the background in a solid. i did one of each. i must have got my scant seams right because the blocks were just large enough to trim squarely at 6.5" finished. whew! that was the bit i was most concerned about. my corners do not all match up exactly, but some do and the others are only a hair off. i think it's good enough.

this was a super fun block to make and my kids loved it so i will probably be finding a project to feature these at some point in the future. maybe a fun christmas quilt?

as a sidenote and tip, the first block i pressed all seams to the side and although there is some bulk, all was well. when i tried pressing open for the second block, so as to reduce bulk, it simply did not work as well. i had to go back and do some extra pressing to get the block large enough to be fully square. this is the opposite of what i expected.

liberated butterfly block
next up, the liberated butterfly block, which is hsts sew into the corners, sew-and-flip style, of 3.75" blocks. these blocks were super easy and have a playful, retro feel to them. one of my butterflies is on the small side and the rest are medium to large. the only bit of redoing required here was on that teal and floral block. originally, one of the butterfly wings had a navy flower in it and the other didn't. it just looked wrong and completely un-butterfly like. so i quickly undid the block and switched it out for another piece with a navy flower included. while it's still not symmetrical, it works and looks so much better. i'm glad i took the extra 5 minutes to rework the block.

there are two more liberated block styles rachel shared with us and asked for submissions for a charity quilt. i may or may not have time to try those out this week before the mailing deadline. either way, i had an enjoyable sunday evening working on these blocks and am so excited to see them in rache's quilts when completed. i wish i had the opportunity to contribute a few quick and simple blocks like these more often.

and d4 reminded me last night, as she was helping me select fabrics for these blocks, that we need to finish up our own charity quilt from girls weekend. maybe when the family gets together over thanksgiving?