Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gifting Season

We were BOOed tonight. Last year, the family across the street began a neighborhood tradition of "BOO"ing. You secretly leave a pumpkin of Halloween goodies, along with a cute poem and a little ghost image at two friends' front doors. Then, these friends need to BOO two of their friends, and like the old shampoo commercial revealed, soon there are dozens and dozens of happily BOOed families. I found our BOO basket by the door when I went out to turn on the Halloween lights. Tomorrow, we will excitedly pull together our BOO baskets and then run them around to the children's friends. Such a simple thing, but it brings so much joy!

That's today's theme: bringing joy! One of our guild service projects is to make doll quilts for the Salvation Army and the local homeless shelter. Each quilt complete with a doll or teddy bear is given to a needy child. I finished my two quilts (due in November) this week:

The charm squares were a gift themselves, from my guild secret sister last year. I thought they'd make a beautiful little quilt for a lovely little lady. The border, which I love, is a remnant from the backing of my strip quilt posted last blog entry. The binding comes from a couple bright Fassett FQs. They turned out exactly as I wanted, but then they needed owners to snuggle.

So, today, after early voting (hint, hint), I ran my kids up to pick out two teddy bears to match the quilts. They picked out almost-twin bears to match the almost-twin quilts. Here are the teddies sitting proudly:

I can only hope the receipients are as happy getting them as I am giving them. And, as someone I early voted for today once said, "There has never been anything false about hope."

My next project is quilting my daughter's All About Me quilt, the top of which I finished last November. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yes We Can

My politics in this election are fairly open--just check out my sidebar. So, I was excited when I saw that Denyse Schmidt and friends have made a wonderful "Yes We Can" quilt as a fundraiser for Barack Obama. If you'd like to support the campaign and possibly win the quilt, visit her personal fundraising site for Obama. Each donation of $10 gets you one chance at winning the quilt. Good luck!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time's Winged Chariot

Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it. I finished the work-y projects I mentioned in my last post in July . . . plus a few more. In August, I also took a vacation to one of my favorite places in the whole world. Here's my vacay self-portrait:

Here's a funny story about paying attention to details . . .

Our state natural history museum is having a quilt show: Quilting Natural Florida II. I was encouraged by several guild members to complete a quilt to enter. It seemed like a great opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone, as I don't really "do" non-traditional pieced or appliqued quilts. So, I downloaded a bunch of photos of Florida wildflowers, meaning to design a wall quilt of a field of flowers. Well, since I spent most of the summer designing new degree programs, rather than quilts, the October 1 deadline really snuck up on me. So, for two feverish weekends in September, I worked like mad on my first ever original art quilt.

I first sketched a potential design that included the flowers I most liked from my photos: verbena, blue-eyed grass, black-eyed susan, firewheel, and echinacea. They seemed to have a good variety of color and shape so that they'd be distinguishable from each other. The sketch is on half a sheet of typing paper. (typing paper--man, am I old!)

Great. Of course, then I had to think for a very long time about how in the world I'd get from this sketch to a quilt. While I thought that through, I pulled the colors I wanted from my stash. This was really very fun . . . trying to get the right colors and also a sense of depth in the variety to capture the moving light.

I finally realized that if I simply selected my background and then cut paper shapes that approximated the size of the flower heads I wanted, I could place them and then use them as guidelines for drawing bigger flower patterns on fusible. I had already decided to use raw edge applique. This felt like some kind of Nobel-worthy breakthrough :) I started in the upper right corner and just worked my way across, flower by flower. I figured that if it looked awful, I'd just ball it up and pitch it with no one being the wiser.

Well, after the first black-eyed susan and echinacea, I was completely overwhelmed. It really seemed to work and was looking awesome (IMHO). And, it seemed really, really easy once I broke the code of how to transfer the drawing concept into fabric. It took a while . . . I listened to all of Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship just while drawing, cutting, and placing the design--then almost finished No Way to Treat a First Lady while quilting it. Here's the finished piece in whole:

And, in a close up of the quilting:

As you can see, I went to town with the quilting. The background is curliques in variegated blue, and then each flower, stem, and leaf has its own quilting design in matching thread. Oh, and each border has its own design, too. I especially like how the batiks work in the background and borders. In keeping with the theme of the show, I called it Flora-dah (get it!). The quilt is 27 inches by 23 inches.

Okay, here's the funny part, as I was putting together my package to mail it just in time for the October 1 deadline, I gave the application one last glance. Yep, it needed to be mailed by October 1 . . . 2009! So, I finished the quilt a year in advance. Sigh.

The upside: I love (LOVE) it. It's completely unlike anything I've ever done, as my Flickr album documents, and is (by my standards) a full-on success. I'm putting it in a different show this year since I can't bear to wait more than a year to display it.

On a completely different note, I won the summer strip challenge that Hanne organized. I posted the top months ago, but finally got around to quilting it last weekend:

The quilting is all curliques in a pastel variegated. I really liked how the jelly roll worked in this format--all the piecing and binding is from one JR, so I think I'll remake this for my family with a S'mores JR I have on the shelf.

Whew, that's enough catching up for now.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Brownie's Bloomers

I finished the Hopkins's Aunt Agnes's Bloomers, which I'm calling Brownie's Bloomers because of the color palette.

I especially like the faded border. I found this fabric on a sale rack at one of my favorite quilt shops and bought the remainder of the bolt. It looks so worn and faded, while being brand new and workable. My ideal fabric!

I cleaned up my quilt room after finishing this project so I can use it as an office for the next few weeks to finish off work-y projects (degree program proposals, etc.). So, if I get to any quilting, it will be applique.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fluttering By

I just got the beautiful summer Four Seasons Quilt Swap quilt sent by Bea. You can see her lovely work at Capricorn Quilts. Bea lives in Germany, and she kindly included some genuine German gummi bears for my children (who have already gobbled them up!).

Here's the quilt--with bright, cheerful butterflies floating through the summer:

Now, here's the odd part. After taking this photo on the patio, I followed my dog to the back part of the yard. And, for the first time I can recall in the three years we've lived here, I saw a real butterfly on one of our flowering trees. I had my iPhone with me from taking the quilt pictures, so I immediately snapped several of the butterfly:

Clearly, it was attracted by Bea's quilt. It even posed like one of her butterflies:

Thank you, Bea, for such a summery quilt!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Projects Old and New

Last weekend, I was cutting a piecing a small wall quilt that I thought would make it into a December show. About half way through, I realized it was horrible looking. The background was dull and didn't pull the fabrics together at all. People who don't quilt sometimes think that smaller quilts are intrinsically easier to make. Well, only if they don't have a lot of pieces. This one had a ton, and I was completely depressed when I realized how unattractive it was. Wanting to make sure I wasn't way wide of the mark on my assessment, I asked my husband to look at the quilt. Before responding, he paused . . . dead giveaway. So, I swept up the many pieces and deposited them in the circular file.

But, I needed to get right back on the house, so I looked over my shelf. I had a nearly decade old finished applique piece sitting there. It was my first ever hand applique, from a needleturn class taught by Mary Sorenson from her original pattern. (She was a fantastic teacher and I use the methods from this class to applique to this day.) I was compulsive about getting it right, so the piece is really nice. I'm especially pleased with the teeny vines, all needleturned. The applique heart vine just needed a border or two to be done. It's nothing I would ever keep, so I thought it would be perfect to show and maybe even sell.

I settled on a thin olive-y green inner border and a checkerboard outer border of blues to capture the blue flowers in the heart wreath. I dug all the blues out of my age old stash; some of these lines pre-date my children! Here is the finished quilt, which I called In the Heart of the Night:

The gallery curator has been bugging me about photos, so I sent her this one last week. And she immediately emailed me back that she wants to buy it. How funny . . . all because I started a crummy project and needed to bounce back with a better one!

This weekend, I went back to a quilt I had cut a couple weekends back. It's another small piece, from a pattern by Carol Hopkins Designs called Aunt Agnes's Bloomers. Lots of teeny pieces (3/4 in squares!). In my typical more-is-more strategy, I used 32 fabrics in the quilt, which finishes to just 13" x 18" before borders. I stuck with the pattern's color palette of browns with some pinks. (I think I'm on a pink and brown kick--over the past few months I've bought a slew of it in all sorts of varieties: cupcakes, chocolates, polka dots, modern florals, checks.)

The Hopkins patterns are designed for repro fabrics and involve a lifetime of cutting, seam matching, and pressing. All the seams are pressed open, which is fun for the fingers. Each little block in this quilt has 13 pieces.

Here's the array of pieces pre-sewing:

And, here's the finished top as I try out borders:

I'm going to use four of the leftover darker brown 1 and 1/4 in strips for an inner border (a different one on each side). In the background is a faux-faded repro that has a great mix of pink, tan, and gold/green that I'll use for an outside border. The quilting will be fairly straightforward--straight lines to emphasize the horizontals and verticals. It should be done next weekend.

I took these last two photos with my iPhone. I upgraded the software this weekend and have been hypnotized by Pandora, the build your own music station. If you haven't tried it, you need to. It works on any internet-connected computer in addition to the phone version and is free. I now have a slew of me-centric streaming radio stations each based on my favorites artists. So, depending on my mood du jour, I can listen to my Madeleine Peyroux station, my Kanye West station, my Amy Winehouse station, or my Gillian Welch station. How fun!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Almost Swapped Out

I just need to whip-stitch the binding, and my year of Four Season's Quilt Swapping is done. I am pleased with the results. I quilted this one like mad, with small white curlique quilting in the applique panel, wavy rays radiating from the sun, green leaves in the grass, and hot pink flowers in the side borders. I did make a judgment call not to blanket stitch the main stems on the flowers as it seemed too overpowering. I did one and actually took it out. Here's the nearly final product:

I got to finish the top and quilt most of it last night while my children had their first sleep-overs with friends, while they danced, watched movies, and committed general mayhem about the house, I sewed. One of the fathers came over to hang out with my husband for a while, too, so the family was engaged on many fronts!

I've also started the Book Awards Challenge 2; for full details, see my newly revived "Getting My Read On" blog. Should be fun!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Clafouti Weekend

My husband pointed out yesterday that we had "two perfectly good tins of raspberries" in the fridge and asked what I was going to do with them. I shrugged; then later in the day, for some reason, the word "clafouti" popped in my head. I quickly googled several clafouti recipes and whipped together some yummy, custardy goodness (so yummy that a bite immediately disappeared):

So this weekend, we've been eating Clafouti and hamburgers, which I began craving after watching Camp Rock. If you've seen any of the eight billion showings of CR since Friday night, you'll know there's a scene in which Connie and Mitchie make what seems like hundreds of hamburger patties. So, I felt compelled to have barbequed hamburgers this weekend. If you have children of a certain age, you know that CR is a summer cultural milestone slightly below HSM1&2 and slightly above iCarly Saves TV. My children actually went to a Camp Rock party Friday night, complete with swimming, popcorn, and s'mores. We're already planning the Cheetah Girls One World party for late August, complete with an international buffet!

I've also grown kinda weary of blanket stitching my swap quilt (too much turning), so I decided to design a quilt to repay a longstanding quilt debt (hard to explain). I decided to use a Sanctuary Jelly Roll I've had for a while. I cut 24 of the strips into three chunks: 20, 15, and 8 inches; then sewed these back into 42 inch long strips in three varieties, mixing the order and fabrics. I sewed these strips together so that all of the seams were staggered and saved the remaining strips for random pieced borders and binding. It went together quickly and turned out lovely (IMHO)--soft and cottage-y, with enough variety to add movement and character, and a nicely popping red:

I'll quilt it before summer ends so that "my debt is settled" (it really helps if you say the part in quotes with the Scottish brogue of Davy Jones from the Pirates movies, a la my son).

On to the remainder of my Sunday chores . . . the gymnastics trials will make such perfect cleaning tv.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Back to Work

I spent most of last week in Austin, Texas, one of my absolute favorite cities. I was running around like mad the week before the trip, preparing for end of year school events for both liddle kiddles, packing, making arrangements, and trying to pre-catchup on work and the statewide meeting I'm leading this coming week. So, I didn't really pay attention when my thumb started to ache a bit the day before we left. By the time we got to the airport, it was thobbing with pain (which is great when you're jostling with two car seats and a princess backpack through security). My husband suggested we stop by an ER when we landed, but I voted for dinner first, knowing that two of our party needed some food and running around time after the flight. So, after some burgers and Amy's at Phil's Ice House, we finally went to the ER. Sure enough, I had an abscess. I don't know what hurt more, the infection or the cure! But, within a day, my thumb was good as new--if a little icky looking--and certainly nothing that a yummy room service breakfast couldn't cure.

I love going to places where I know enough about the terrain that I can navigate around and not get lost. While my husband conferenced at the lovely Driskill, the kids and I roamed the town--shopping, site seeing, and eating!! This was bliss, as it's usually me stuck in the hotel or conference center for days while my husband gets to play tourist with the children. The kids' godparents even flew out from LA to join us. Here are a few iPhone (best phone ever!) photos of our trip:

The first, a breezy night at Shady Grove.

The second, the Austin bats making their way out from under the Congress bridge. The bats are the blurry specks just above the tree line (gobs of them!). In this picture, my son can pick out the exact bat he says "looked him in the eye."

And, third, Barton Springs--no better place to go when it's 100 degrees!

This weekend, it was back to our routine. Cleaning, laundry, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and--oh yeah--cleaning. I picked up some carrot/onion bread at the farmer's market outside my daughter's dance studio--and made little egg muffins this morning with the remnants of the loaf:

They were cute and delicious for brunch with chicken/apple sausage. I went baking mad today. In addition to the little egg baskets, I made mini cheese/garlic muffins (for guild tomorrow), mini corn muffins (to go with the Mexican lime soup we had for dinner), and am about to put two jalapeno/cheddar bread breakfast casseroles in the oven as office surprises for our respective returns to work tomorrow.

I also spent some time last night and today working on my Four Seasons Summer Swap. My partner had very broad likes and no clear dislikes, so from the list she provided, I went with 30s repro. I paged through some books and found a nice sun and flowers combo in an old Teri Christopherson book, but I didn't like the setting. So, here's my thinking now (it's in process and not completely blanket stitched):

I think I'm going with three borders of unequal width to amplify the feedsack-ish look. I like the pink prints running up the side borders to pick up the reds/pinks in the flowers and the seafoam green to ground it--almost like grass. My goal is to finish it next weekend.

Oh, and go see Kung Fu Panda--way cute!!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Quilting Bloggers

On the right side bar, you may notice a new button. It's for the new Quilting Bloggers site, created by Michele Foster. The site is an interactive database of (you guessed it!) quilting bloggers. What's neat is that they're organized by country and state--or province for you Canadians, so you can see the work and musings of quilters in your own backyard. Think about submitting your site.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Graduations . . . of a sort

It's graduation week. My son "graduates" from PreK and my daughter from K. Both have parties in need of cakes, so I'm on call to create sand castle cakes (from my miraculous bundt mold, what a great investment) and some triple layer, moussed, chocolate calorie killers. I made 10 cups of swiss meringue butter cream this weekend, so I'm halfway there :)

One of my son's teachers has been so perfect for him while he was in the PreK version of our private elementary school. She completely understands boys, loves pirates, and always had time for him--no matter if it were the nine-billionth time he asked her to draw Jack Sparrow. In the time he's been at the school, he's advanced light years, largely because of her selfless interest in him and his success. So, of course, I've made her a quilt:

I've become fascinated with the new Moda Layer Cakes. This is the Fresh Squeezed line with fabrics from my stash mixed in for the border and binding. I simply crosscut each square, first into four smaller squares, then into eight triangles. I mix-matched the triangles when piecing the half-squares, and then sorted them into pinwheels when piecing these into blocks. I really love how this turned out. The colors move all over, and the quilt is so warm, sunny, and summery. It just screams, "picnic, please!" Piecing all the triangles was definitely a bit of a bore, but I listened to the end of the Spare Wife to get through it.

The quilting is basic in the ditch to pull out the triangles and then swirling curliques in the border in a sherbet-toned variegated thread.

I found two more layer cakes on sale at our LQS over Memorial Day (Maypole and Dandelion Girl), so I'll be playing around with them some more in the future.

Oh, and I got an iPhone!! Yipee :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Banner

Thanks to this vlog tutorial, my rudimentary understanding of Photoshop, and a mini-tutorial from my husband, I created a new banner for my blog. Yay!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Civil War Blocks Redux

In a previous post, I mentioned that one of my cats had pee'd on my completed Civil War blocks--an act of aggression I viewed as being rather uncivil, quite frankly. Well, I decided to start over on this project. I didn't necessarily take her action as a comment on my fabric choices; instead, I believed it to be her comment on being locked in my sewing room over night. However, I thought I could take a new direction with the do-over. At first, I thought I would do two sets of blocks, one from the CWD book in repros and one from the CWLL book in pastels. But, because the blocks are so small (6.5 in), I became a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of picking all the fabrics. Then, a wad of unused jelly roll strips and remnants from a previous quilt caught my eye. The pieces in these CW blocks are so small, they lend themselves easily to jelly roll strips. So, I pulled out the wad, through it in a basket and started off.

Here are my "second" first eight blocks:

Not in any order, they're Back Home, Americus Soldiers' Relief Society, Another Battle, Queen of the West, Baptism, Selling the Livestock, Sugar Cane, and John Morgan. The jelly roll strips come from two different lines: Sanctuary and Allspice Tapestry. They are nice muted, cottage-y tones with some more vibrant browns, reds, and blues tossed in for good measure. They add a poshy cast to the blocks and make them seem of a family. Because I focus on just one block at a time, it's amazing how quickly the blocks come together. Some of these are so intricate, I'd never, ever make a whole set of them, but making just one is completely manageable.

With this quilt, I also started keeping a quilt journal. Alma Allen from Blackbird Designs passed around a couple of her journals at the workshop I took from her and Barb Adams a couple weeks back. It was such a cool look into her creative process, that I tucked it in the back of brain to roll around a while. After grading college composition papers for years, I have HORRIBLE handwriting (such that one of my husband's great amusements is reading aloud his interpretation of the grocery lists I write for him), so I've never been a big journal-er. Plus, I do my introspection introspectively and only talk it out once I've reached a solution or stopping point, so I never felt a need to write this kind of stuff out. But, I loved the notion of pasting in my fabrics, jotting down the inspiration, using lots of arrows, little drawings, etc.

Then, when I saw a journal covered with buttons at Target yesterday, I knew it was the universe (or at least Dayton Hudson) sending me a message: Just Do It!! Here's my new journal, my basket o' jelly rolls, the CW books, and my indispensable iPod/speaker combo. Right now I'm listening to more trash, Alex Witchel's The Spare Wife.

Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

El Dia de las Mommies

This has really been a full-on Mother's Day weekend.

We started on Friday by seeing Baby Mama (okay funny, but not 30 Rock funny) and then coming home and finally watching our Netflixed Waitress (really funny and touching, and heartbreaking given Adrienne Shelly's murder and her own daughter's role in the movie). I immediately iTuned Baby Don't You Cry from Waitress--contrary to the title, it will make you cry.

Saturday--Starbucks and then ballet in the morning with my daughter--during which I shopped the Farmer's Market outside her dance studio: netting 2 red mandevillas, 2 purple native plants that look like posh dandelions, a slew of veggies, and some excellent carrot/onion bread. A quick zip to the gift shop for BOGO Webkinz for a last minute afternoon birthday party. Dinner and M's day presents for my mom (and dad). At the end of the day, I cleaned my quilt room and found that my cat had pee'd all over my Civil War blocks--long story--so I'll be starting that project over!

And, today, I got perfectly imperfect class-made gifts from my son and daughter, another awesomely cozy Pajamagram from my husband, and a full day of quilting while finishing the Shopaholic and Baby audiobook. Now, I'm blogging while doing some advance baking for a Teacher Appreciation Lunch this week (a chocolate cake, that after a day chilling, will grow up into a chocolate buttercream frosted triple layer cake with raspberry mousse filling). The extra batter is now heartshaped chocolate-chocolate chip mini-cakes, quite delicious when warm and served with white milk. Yum!

Here's my M's day project--the Jammie Quilt. If you glance at the blog regularly, you may recall my Domino Challenge quilt. Well, it's all quilted now, and I should be able to bind and clean up the loose threads on most of it tomorrow at Guild.

It's big--about 66 x 66. I love the brightness of it--so summer!

Here's a closer look at the quilting--I did a lot of different things depending on the shape/section:

The blue/red is the backing. I figured the more color the merrier. This is a Dargate Book print, I think.

Hope your Mother's Day weekend was delightful!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Beautiful Spring!

Look what arrived in the post, all the way from Wales:

My swap partner, Andrea, made this adorable 30s repro wall quilt for me as part of the 4 Seasons Swap. It's handquilted in a gorgeous salmony pink, including the cute spring blossoms in the counter-squares. Even the binding is scrappy. And, her label is also pieced. I'm so lucky to have been gifted with this thoughtful, clever, and beautiful quilt!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Back to the Blog

The phrase "I've been at sea" sometimes means that one has been lost or without a direction. Well, I've actually had too many directions lately--too many work world changes to chase down like a mom running after overactive toddlers careening from bright thing to brighter thing. So, I haven't had much blogging--or quilting time. But, I did find some family time to go literally to sea! We took a Disney cruise during the kids' spring break, and it was a wonderfully timed break for us all. Just looking at the lovely blue sky portrait of the ship below brings a sense of peace:

I've also had to do a bit of work traveling recently. I spent almost a week in Rochester, NY (with an evening dinner event at the supercool George Eastman House). I'd never been there, and the city was surprisingly charming and full of spring life leaping into color. When I came home, I had to jump quickly into my Four Seasons Quilt Swap spring quilt--so I was thankful for the inspiration (and the cool pink and orange wallet I bought there!).

I sank into my quilt room chair overwhelmed. Where to start? I had delayed this project a bit too long to go crazily creative, but I also didn't want to cheat my swapmate. Then, my eyes lit on a Strawberry Lemonade charm pack. It perfectly suited her stated color preferences. And . . . I designed (as in, with my own little brain) a quilt that would use all of the charm pack. Voila:

I used the lighter prints for background, drafted two flower patterns for the layered blooms, and used buttons for the flower centers and accents. I made the binding from the remaining charm squares. I called it "Strawberry Spring," and quilted the word "spring" in there among the meandering. I hope my swapmate likes it. Based on her blog, it seems just her style.

Then, I turned my attention to my daughter's Kindergarten teacher's baby quilt. Each of the children in the class decorated a 6.5 inch square. Each was unique and captured the child's personality to a 't'. I added one block to make 25, which is whited out since it had her personal info on it. It's put together with a simple pillar and post setting, and "hello" and "baby" are quilting throughout the sashing. Here it is:

My daughter gave her the quilt at a special shower breakfast last week, and tears were had by all :) The teacher is leaving the school after this year, so the quilt is doubly special as it represents the last class she'll have there. I didn't cry when she opened the quilt (only when I was making it--ha!), but I did cry when she took me aside to tell me that all her students are special, but she knows that one day she'll hear about the great accomplishments of a few--including my daughter. Given that I work about 9000 hours a week at a job I love, am frequently out of town on trips I usually don't, try to keep up with my writing projects, and have all the working mom guilt that goes along with this--I felt so good to know that I am still stirring the pot in the right direction at home. That coupled with a super cute note from my son's preK teachers that he is definitely ready for Kindergarten (he skipped a level largely on verbal wit and native charm!) really made my week.

Then, yesterday, I spent a whole day in a quilt workshop with the Blackbird Designs women, Barb Adams and Alma Allen. They were just wonderful--clever, giving, gracious, funny, and just plain nice. I got just a wee-bit finished on the workshop project, but learned oodles of great tips for machine applique and bias stems. Plus, I got to do some active browsing (read: buying) at one of my absolute favorite shops: Olde Green Cupboard.

Today, I'm in house and porch cleaning mode with the liddle kiddles as my workforce. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting Old

Because this is my birthday weekend, I've been able to do some sewing. Of course, most of it has been on a quilt for one of my daughter's aftercare teachers, who was injured in a car wreck--but it's still sewing! The teacher is very bumped and bruised but not permanently hurt. Though, my experience is that bumps and bruises hurt plenty all on their own. The teacher is a huge fan of a very specific college sports team, which you might be able to suss out from the picture of the quilt below:

I took the picture rather quickly, so it's a little blurry, I think. The binding is pieced because I made one too many strip sets and wanted to use it up somehow; it still needs to be sewn down. All of this fabric is from my stash. My daughter picked out the colors and matched the strips--and pushed the pedal every once in a while.

I've been listening to the Monsters of Templeton while working on this project and the Civil War blocks that will show up below. It's really a great book--surprisingly so: Imagine a very dissolute Stars Hollow with a more rancorous Rory and Lorelai. One thing I realized during listening though is that I am OLD. I am almost as old as the narrator's mom . . . and I used to be the narrator. It's freakily hard to make that perceptual shift when engaging in a narrative. Sigh.

Luckily, I will be 60 before my children graduate college--and people keep telling me that they will keep me young. By which, I am assuming, they mean in debt and constantly working so that I cannot possibly retire. Woo-hoo!

As the new button on the side bar denotes, I've joined the Civil War block madness that's sweeping the blogosphere. If you've paged through either of the books by Rosemary Youngs that have inspired the recent craze, you'll recognize that I grabbed some low-hanging fruit with my first four blocks (from the upper left): Abomination of Desolation (possibly the best quilt block name ever!), Special Blessings, Soldier's Box, and Yankee Papers .

And, I've lost 19 pounds so far! And, it's Oscar night--fantastic whip-stitching viewing. Happy Oscars! Happy Birthday, to all!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My Very Own Domino Challenge

I'm a charter subscriber to Domino. I'm not sure why; maybe because it first began publishing when we moved into our no-longer-new house a few years ago. Maybe because I simply love getting magazines--especially those that are really just catalogs in disguise. Anyway . . . every once in a while, Domino runs an editorial spread in which its decorator du jour (read, some intern) tries to turn an outfit into a room. (Clarification: The goal is to create a room that captures the essence of the outfit.) It's a wacky idea that somehow always works.

So, this weekend, I've decided to engage in my very own Domino challenge: make these pajamas into a quilt!

My husband, who knows my heart spookily well, got me a kicky Pajamagram for Valentine's Day. Here are my jammies:

In case you're wondering, they're covered with little chicks engaging in me-like activities, all labeled "Cool Chick." After thinking about this project for a while, I grabbed a long-on-the-shelf stack of Amy Butler prints and went in search of a pattern. Believe it or not, this is the one I chose:

I've had this pattern forever but never made it. The flash blurred the pattern designer's name, it's by The Cranberry Cupboard. Now, you're likely looking at this pattern and seeing little to no link to the jammies. It's so country. But wait . . .

The pattern needed 20 FQs, so I added some Westminster/Rowan/Fassetts from the shelf to my Amy Butler stack. So far, so good. But, it also needed over a yard of background. Well, one of my parameters for the challenge was that I needed to use ONLY my stash--because I started it on Friday and wanted it done this weekend. So, I auditioned several tone-on-tone, neutral prints, none of which really seemed to capture the spirit of my endeavor. Then, one decidedly non-neutral print caught my eye, and with the bravado that comes from a middle age wasted on Domino, Lucky, and Cookie, I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it. I have to confess that I completely felt like Kay Thompson in Funny Face as I cut into my background, though rather than "Think Pink" I thought orange.

And, here is the almost finished project in wall paste up form:

I had some serious moments of doubt last night while sewing and even cut up some more neutral triangles to try out over the orange paisley print. But, I decided to sleep on it. When I looked at it again this morning in the clear light of day, I simply loved it!

And, I think I really managed to turn my new favorite jammies (which I'm wearing even now) into a quilt:

What do you think?

This project was so much fun and really pushed me way, way out of my comfort zone. So, I encourage everyone to take the Domino challenge!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yes, this is an entire kitchen's worth of Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing.

Can you feel the calories?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Baby Quilt

One of my daughter's kindergarten teachers is pregnant, so she drafted me to make a quilt. I felt in the sewing mood, so I whipped out the top this weekend. My daughter actually helped me "sew" a bit and got a lesson in assembly line cutting and piecing that I'm sure will change her life :) I started from a pattern (Cobblestone something) in a baby quilt book I've had for a while. But, I changed the colors and added a more complex set of borders, including the checkerboard. I used a lot of my 1930s stash fabrics and tried to make it suitable for either a boy or a girl. This era of fabrics seems to cry out "baby"!

I'm going to get all the kids to print their names on the label. It should be cute!

I listened to another several hours of Jeffrey Eugenide's Middlesex while working on the quilt. I think the whole book is about 18 hours long. The story is more engrossing than I might have thought, and my parents lived in Grosse Pointe for a while in the late 80s and early 90s, so a lot of it seems very familiar to me (and makes me long for Detroit-proper Coney Island hot dogs!). Now, off to prepare for Hannah Montana in 3D!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Winter Work

Look at what fantastic surprise came in the mail last weekend:

It's a gorgeous Four Seasons Quilt Swap (FSQS) quilt from Ms. Jan. Like me, she lives in warmer climes and opted to focus on our shared winter fruit: the orange. (I've actually still got them hanging from the tree outside.) The quilt is so very lovely and is in colors that are way-me, so much so that I own at least three of these fabrics. The quilt now graces my dining room. Thank you!

As the arrival of the winter swap quilt suggests, it's the end of January, and I'm finally posting for the new year. Yipes. Well, since I last posted, I have lost 13 pounds, which is nice. (Or, as my newly-six year old daughter with the metabolism of a tweaking hummingbird says, "You look less fat than you used to." Ah, children.)

I also got called an "artist" in a review of a quilt show in which three of my works were featured--similarly nice. The reviewer wrote that I have "a modern inclination shown to great advantage in 'Heralded Hydrangeas.' The contemporary design uses folded fabric boxes to represent flowers layered on a two dimensional stem. This method gives depth to the small piece - it wouldn't be large enough for a cat bed - and takes this work from craft to art." What's funny is that--while I do have a strong appreciation for contemporary/postmodern art--I so-completely-don't have a modern inclination in the vast majority of my work.

I finally finished the combo jelly roll quilt shown previously in top-only form. I decided to quilt it to emphasize the boxes:

I called it "Cottage Comforts" because the mixed-up, shabby-chicness of it reminded me of Cottage Living magazine and of our summer-rental beach cottage. I liked how the polka dot backing added yet another pattern. (It's a bit wrinkled since it was dragged all around the state over the holidays as I finished the binding.)

And, I planned and (this weekend) actually finished my own FSQS winter quilt: Father Christmas. My mystery-swapmate said she wanted something Christmas-y but not religious. So, I found a few coloring book images of Father Christmas and adapted them into an applique pattern. This was actually a bit harder than I thought it would be as I had to simplify things to get them to look right. I really like the result:

I wanted it to look like Father Christmas making his way through the starry winter night, and it seems to work that way.

Well, I've either re-caught the cold I had earlier in the week (which I think is impossible) or caught its mutated cousin (which is totally possible). So, I'm off to dig into the chicken soup that's steaming away on my stove and get ready for the SAG Awards, hoping to see some love shown to "There Will Be Blood." Go, red carpet!!