Friday, March 29, 2013

Covert Robin Swap

So I signed up for the Covert Robin Swap being hosted by, among others, CasaCrafty.  It's a pretty wide open swap, you just get assigned a secret partner and make them something hand made in the $20-30 value range.  I have no idea what that really equates to but I made my partner a few things and I hope she likes them.

I've been wanting to make a boxy bag for a while, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  I used this great tutorial from Libby over at Truly Myrtle, all very easy to follow and correct instructions.  It's fully lined with no exposed edges and went together very similar to the way other lined zipper bags do.  I made one for me (the dark one) and one for my Covert Robin swap partner (the pie chart one).  They're nice and soft and the perfect sized for a carry-along project.  I think it'd be fun to make a couple of these as toiletry bags for traveling with oilcloth or vinyl coated fabric on the inside and home-dec weight fabric on the outside.

I also crocheted her a nice scrubby dishcloth, I have a bunch of these and I love them.  Most of mine are sort of dirty yellow now after many many washes through the bleach cycle, but they hold up great and I don't ever use store bought dishcloths any more.

Finally I included this cross-stitched bookmark I finished some time ago.  It's a duplicate of one I made for my mom back when I was in college.  I don't really cross stitch anymore but I always thought this was a pretty pattern.

I hope you like these swap partner!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Anna's birthday presents

So Anna turned 1 this past weekend and we had a joint celebration for her and my grandmother (who was turning 85).  It was so lovely and fun to see everyone.  My aunt made a wonderful scrapbook for my grandmother (to which we all contributed pages) and she loved it.

I made several things for Anna, starting with this fun kid-friendly photo album.  It's just a three-ring binder and inside are a series of pictures of "people who love Anna".  Each page features easy to read sentences that say things like: "Who loves Anna?  Mommy and Daddy love Anna!" with a large picture of the person in question.  I included pictures of all our family and as many members of my brother-in-law's family as I could track down.  They're just printed on regular paper and put in heavy duty sheet protectors.  I wanted her to have something she could look at to see and remember all of us when we aren't there, but that wouldn't be too precious.  If she rips out pages or pictures, I'll just print them off again!

I also made her two little outfits.  The sewing was easy but the sizing was crazy!  I swear I made the size on this cute romper that matched her measurements, but I think it's going to swallow her alive.  Does anyone know if there's a difference between infant and toddler patterns?  The romper was listed as a toddler pattern (although I still made the size that matched her measurements) while the second one was listed as an infant pattern.

This is the second outfit I made, it's a little dress with separate purple diaper-cover-panties.  The dress is one of those cute ones that cross in the back.  I love this fabric, the background is sort of olive green, but I think the big flowers give it a feminine air without being too pink!  It's actually leftover from my giant bed quilt, and I was excited to be able to use up some of the weird sized scraps.  This one looks like it will fit ok, although the panties are still pretty big looking.  We'll see!  Hopefully they'll be good (with sunscreen and a big hat) for summer days in the sandbox.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Orchard

I mentioned earlier that I decided not to put any insets into my Sierra Blanca mountain quilt and instead decided to incorporate them into a new quilt.  You may remember my orchard inspiration picture, this is at my parent's, they have apple and cherry and peach trees (these are apple I think).  I wanted to have a blue sky though instead of grey since that's one of the characteristics of New Mexico winters- once the snow goes, the crisp blue sky comes back (as in the next one of my bldg a snowman about 8 or 9 years ago).

Anyway, while I was still at the seminar, I painted some sky pieces to put behind my trees using the Australian equivalent of cetacolor transparent fabric paints.  I also decided to paint the three apple trees and apple tree shadows I'd decided to put in the quilt.  For the sky, I painted the fabric wet to give a blendy look.  However, for the shadows and trees I painted the fabric dry. At Gloria's suggestion, for the trees I sketched my tree outline in ballpoint pen (with the intention of cutting the line off later) and then painted it in.  While painting the brown in, I made an effort to leave half of each branch white to give the appearance of snow.  I think my trees turned out very nice, but painting them was fairly painstaking.  I am not a painter, so even though this type of painting doesn't require any drawing ability, it was still outside my comfort zone.

After all my pieces dried, I assembled my sky and foreground in preparation for adding the trees.  This whole piece will be machine appliqued onto another snowy landscape background.  So far the trees are just pinned up, and the left ones don't have their shadows, but this is more or less what they'll look like.  I may decide to thread paint some more trees in the background,  I'm not sure yet.

For the sky of my larger snowy landscape background, I decided to use one of the techniques Gloria taught in the class that I didn't use in the mountain quilt: tiling.  You can see it in the background of her Fern Pool and Wind Power quilts here.  Although you can do this with any type of fabric, I didn't have any that I thought worked, so I decided to paint another piece of fabric to cut up for my tiles.  Here it is.

And this is as far as I've gotten!  My next step is cutting the fabric up to use for tiles- you can make them any shape; squares, rectangles, and diamonds were all popular.  One of the students from a previous year brought her quilt in for show and tell and she'd arranged her diamond tiles in a tumbling block pattern so I decided I'd try that.  We'll see!  I'm linking up with the lovely Nina-Marie as always!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Hi All!  I can't even remember the last time I did a WIP Wednesday post.  I finally feel like I might be glimpsing the other side of the chaos though, so bonus!

Two exciting pieces of information from around here, Seymour got a second place ribbon in the pictorial category at the Dallas Quilt Festival, and my unblogged-about-quilt "in nomine Patris" got accepted into SAQA's Text Messages show which will debut at Houston this fall.

Recent Finishes:

-My covert robin swap package (secret partner- I mailed it this morning!), a blog post about that should be coming soon.
-Birthday presents for Anna!  Can you believe she's 1?  I certainly can't.  I'll hopefully post more about her presents later as well.
-My Handprinted: a fabric swap III fabrics (not-so-secret partners, I mailed these this morning too!).

I started out by hand-dyeing these three different half yards.  They're all PFD broadcloth from Dharma.  The top two I just scrunched up in the dye, the third one I folded up to give some fun lines.

Then I made some fusible vinyl silk screens (like here) and printed my fabric!  The trees were inspired by my latest orchard quilt, blog posts about that to come.  Some of them have "roots" where the vinyl started to come off and make drippy bits which is not ideal, but I guess contributes to that "hand printed" look.  The bottom one, which I think looks like bats, was actually a left over screen from "in nomine Patris".  It's not actually a bat, just a little flower motif, but all by itself here, I think it definitely looks like a flying creature!  Partners, I hope you like the fabrics I made!

Works in Progress:

Sierra Blanca quilt-  This is the next one to finish
Orchard quilt- This will be second in line
Dogs-  This is my big you-will-finish-this-long-languishing-UFO-this-year project, but I'm honestly not sure when I'll get to it.
Hand-pieced star miniature-This is my handwork project but lately I've been itching to finish it.  I'm determined that it will be a competitive miniature, although I'm not sure how likely that is given my general imprecision (part of why I'm a more free-form quilter) and the phenomenal miniatures that show up at shows.  Anyway, I've been dreaming about this one at nights though, how I'll do the borders and the quilting, and I feel compelled to work on it.  Interestingly, my hand piecing seems to be a bit better than my machine piecing, so that's good I guess.

Anxiously waiting to start:
Projects for the new baby!  Anna will have a sibling arriving sometime in September (yipee!) and supposedly we'll know its gender in April.  As soon as that happens I'll be busily making things for it!

Hope you guys are all making progress on your WIPs!  Linking up with Lee as ever!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sierra Blanca

I'm having a little difficulty getting back into the blogging swing of things after being gone and being sick.  Since I got back from the course at Empty Spools I haven't done very much sewing.

I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in designing landscape quilts to take one of Gloria Loughman's classes. It was really great to have five days to work with her- for me the class was the perfect combination of lecture/didactic material, one-on-one consultation with her, and independent work time.  We had a nice large classroom with lots of light and windows, and my mom and I had tables in the back corner so our explosion of fabric and mess didn't get too much in the way of others.

The point of the class was to design and landscape with multiple images embedded in it, but she was very supportive of helping the students make whatever kind of project they were interested in.  I think one of the best parts of the class was how much she helped us get into our quilt whatever it was that was in our minds.  She taught us several of her construction techniques and left it to us whether to incorporate any (or all) of them.  We also painted fabric (for example for use in skies) and talked a lot about color.

My original idea was to take these three pictures of my parent's home in New Mexico and incorporate them into a quilt.  I was going to have our mountain (Sierra Blanca) in the background with the llama as an inset on the left and the apple orchard in the inset on the right.  The llamas live just behind my parent's back fence and it's kind of fun to see them wander up.

I elected to do a watercolor sort of approach with squares of a bunch of different commercial fabrics for my sky, planning to use painted fabrics for the sky in the insets.  After much trial and tribulation (I mean they're just squares, how hard can it be) I got the sky assembled and then started on the mountain.  It's about 20X30", I thought any bigger was too big to start in the class (given the size of our design boards and work spaces and airplane suitcases).  I finished the mountain on the second to last day and was getting ready to start on my insets but Gloria recommended that I leave my mountain as is, and put the insets into something else.  My mountain is fairly detailed and a lot of what makes it look like our mountain would be obscured by insets so I decided to leave my apple orchard and llama for another quilt (and another blog post!).

I'm going to set this top aside until I have a chance to piece my apple orchard top since I have pieces of it floating around the studio that I don't want to lose, but I'm pleased with the direction it's heading.  Hope you guys are doing some fun sewing!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


If you guys are ever looking for a place to go for a quilt retreat, I recommend the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar State Park Conference Center.  They just put up the list of teachers for 2014 and registration for 2014 should open around April 24th.  Every morning we went for a walk along the ocean path, and one afternoon on the first day got to visit some tide pools.  It's such a glorious place-  wonderful for getting the creative juices flowing!

I love these anemones!  Apparently they cover themselves with shell pieces and rocks and stuff to protect them from the sun and for disguise!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back and not back

Late last week my mom and I got back from our fabulous week at the Empty Spools seminars in Asilomar California.  After only a day and half at home I rushed off to Dallas to visit with Becky and Anna and Andrew as well as go to the Dallas Quilt Show.  Unfortunately I came down with a wretched head cold so couldn't interact much with Becky or the baby.  Even more unfortunately, this (March) is the busiest month of the year for us here at work, so the traveling and cold couldn't have come at a worse time.

I have all sorts of things I want to talk about and think about in this space- artsy things and creative process things and life things, but I don't have the time or energy right now.

I will just say that given all the work stress my brain can't ever let go of, it's amazing how much I was able to unplug and enjoy the seminar/retreat.  Gloria Loughman is a fabulous teacher, and the experience of being there for several days creating with my mom in her class was perfect in every possible way.

Just one snap of the unfinished project I designed and worked on during the class.  Hopefully more to come in future!