Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I fought the Vinyl . . . and I'm not sure who's winning?!

Hooking up with Lee's Wednesday's WIPs again! Pop on over this week and say hello to Felicity who's guest blogging!

This week I decided to BGP up (Big Girl Panty up) and brave the wild world of vinyl for the inside of my zippy pouch, because I wanted to replace my old, worn cosmetic bag. I had these scraps left over from my Spare Change quilt and I'm still crushing on the fabric, so onto the bag they went! I scored some great heavier weight green fabric at a yard sale across the street (the one where I found the fab antique cabinets for my sewing room), so I used that for the inside lining, and then I used the vinyl for the inside on top of the green. Of course I decided to be all difficult (for a change!) and used the cheap, really heavyweight vinyl I got for nothing in the remnant rack at Joann's. The good news? It was cheap and it is so cool and heavyweight in this bag!! The bad news? It was a real bad boy trying to wrestle inside out into this bag!! Ooh boy was it a real pain in the tush! It remains a WIP as I still have to finish the inside by sewing the inside lining back up. Sigh. But it does look lovely on the outside!

Here's where the rest of the WIP list stands:
  1. Mom's Lilly quilt: top done, backing chosen; "just" need to baste and quilt it!
  2. Granny squares: my squares all finished and the swap done; "just" need to figure out how I'm going to put them together in a quilt and then do it!
  3. Sewing bag: I have a rolling wheelie bag for my sewing machine, but it's really bulky and takes up too much room when I'm traveling on longer trips, so I've decided to make a padded tote bag (with a zippered top) for my sewing machine. That way it will be a little more stream-lined and take up less room. The idea is great, nothing done on this project yet!
  4. Pajamas: Yes, there are still some wayward, unfinished pajamas from a holiday I dare not name!!
  5. Tote bags: I have about 4 tote bags I need to make or finish (various stages)!

Grannies for Lunch!

Grannies in da house y'all! 

Aren't these all fabulous?! These are from our Granny Square exchange! I have 24 in all, some of which are duplicates, so I'm just showing the different ones. 

I survived my very first block exchange and am no worse for wear--nor, more importantly, are my co-block exchangers!! As you know, I am so not a precision blocker, so when presented with the Granny Square block exchange, as much as I wanted to be a joiner, I didn't want to jump in feet first and then mess it up by losing my mind and not following the pattern or having mine end up a royal nightmare! But I bravely put my toe in the water and then dove right in and there I am (second row, second from the right) and it seems to fit in with the others?!). Phew! It's official! I've done a block! And aren't these other lovelies just amazing?! I just love the vintage yummy fabric everyone used in their blocks:

And there are still more I didn't add, but also have adorable animal prints, like April's cute puppies!! I just love the vintage people and animal prints. They remind me of the books I read when I was little, like Lois Lowry's books and the Boxcar Children!

Pamela hosted us for brunch and for our granny square swap. Thanks for the scrumptious yummies and a lovely day! It was so wonderful to get together with everyone (April, Ella, Kristin, Marion, Pamela, and Sue)! 

Now I just have to get busy with all my lovely squares! I got a little granny-mad when I was making mine, so I have about 10 extra of my pattern, so I was thinking of perhaps using them as an outer ring and then the other ones shown above in an inner ring . . . but I'm still just mulling it over! Suggestions welcome!

On the Lilly Pulitzer quilt update, the top is finished and I have found the wildest Lilly Pulitzer backing:

I know, I know, it's pretty wild! But it totally goes with the color scheme of the front blocks--and that's saying' something! and it has peacocks on it! Just to give you and idea of scale, this bad boy is about 10 inches tall. No joke! 

Thanks to Karen and Marion for their encouragement to go big and bold on the back--something strong enough to match the front, yet still coordinated with the very distinctive Lilly Pulitzer fabric. I picked the backing fabric not only for the color, but also for the peacock pattern. I found it about 10 months ago on Etsy from a vendor in Hong Kong. And here's why peacocks: when I was little, I was terrified of the peacocks in the zoo; whenever they would open up their beautiful fan-like tail-feathers I would start to cry because I would be so startled by the dramatic movement. What can I say? I was a sensitive child! Ever since, whenever my mother has found an appropriate peacock card, it has been sent my way. It seems fitting, therefore, to back her quilt in peacocks!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sewing Table Reveal!

Almost a year ago we found a vintage sewing table at a church rummage sale for about $25 (the price include a huge box of vintage fabric too!). It's faux wood and totally fit my old Singer. Not the most gorgeous piece of furniture in the world, but it had character and it served its function well.

First, the before shot . . . although, I should mention that I forgot to get the shot until she was already being taken apart! Oops!

A sad, sad sight, no? Well now, with a bit of spiffying up, may I introduce the new and improved sewing cabinet:

Isn't she just a vision in red?! She just makes me so happy! We still need to find some new hardware for her (the old hardware is pretty unmentionably awful, in that kind of late 1960s greenish brassy way!). And now for the full glamour shot:

Pretty nifty, eh?! Look at all that interior storage for scissors and seam rippers (er, not that I ever need a seam ripper with my sewing!), and such! I'm just so excited to be getting a-sewing in style! Any votes on a name?

She's going to be such a great addition to my new sewing room. Yay!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sleepless Stitchin'

Everyone once in a while, no matter how tired I may be, I just can't sleep. Last night was one of those nights! So rather than toss and turn uselessly, I gave up and decided to go sew instead. I apparently was on a tear, because when I headed over to my sewing machine it was 2:30, and next thing I knew it was 8 a.m. and I had finished a quilt top that I had barely begun the day before!

It is definitely bright and bold, but that's what Lilly Pulitzer fabric calls for! I tempered it (somewhat!) by using the purple and pink and solids. Thanks Karen for the consultation! The purple Kona matched perfectly with the purple in the purple and green tiger print! In addition to the tiger print I took from the border of one of my mother's skirts and made a center tile in the quilt:

I also put the green and purple daisies from that same skirt throughout the quilt to tie it together. I also cut out a few peeking tiger faces in charm square blocks that I hid in 2-3 places throughout the quilt as well.

In addition to the tiger, I also have a few other favorite animals. Lilly Puliter, in addition to her bright colors, is also known for her use of animals in her prints. I've selected a few of my most favorites that I included in the quilt as examples. First, the elephant legs:

I think there may also be an upside-down kangaroo there? I'm not entirely sure . . . 

Next, my most favorite . .  . the snails!!

I love the totally '70s styling on this print, plus the blend of pink and green. Yes, I'm a total preppie at heart!

When I began this project, I was completely concerned about how all these totally different fabrics would go together, but I'm so so psyched by the finished top! I guess I really shouldn't have worried. It's ironic, actually. One of the two skirts I chopped up to make this quilt was a Lilly Pulitzer patchwork skirt, meaning that it was already an eclectic mix of her fabrics. I essentially took apart her patchwork skirt and then put it back together in a quilt (plus adding in one extra Lilly Pulitzer skirt into the mix!)

Now "all" I have to do is to figure out what on earth to do for a backing. Gah!!

On other news, my cross-the-street neighbor, Lindsey, is prepping for a move and is downsizing, so was having a fabulous yardsale. Not your run of the mill yard mower, tupperware, granny afghan kind of sale either! She's an art student/photographer and has amassed tons of cool things, including furniture. Look at what I scored:

I haven't put the other two doors back in yet, nor put the shelves back in yet, but aren't they just divine! I bought two of them. They are 51x51 and just PERFECT for my sewing room! Just picture piles of fabric in there, alongside my yummy blue mason jars filled with buttons and zippers and selvages and such! Now, for those who know my current sewing room, no, there's no way on this here green Earth that these beauties would fit in my sewing room, but . . . as it turns out, we have found a great little house a few blocks over and will be moving in a few weeks! And these shelves will fit just perfectly in my new, bigger (!) sewing room/office! The blog tour will happen soon, I promise!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Are you a chaos muppet??

I was listening to NPR's "Morning Edition" earlier today when the most unexpected story came across my radio waves . . .  a story about muppet mates. Apparently most couples can be divided into order muppets and chaos muppets. Think about it: there's the ever organized, almost obsessive-compulsive Bert, and then there's the free-wheeling, life-loving Ernie. There's Janice, the calming (perhaps chemically altered??) band-member, and then there's the ever-crazy, barely contained Animal. One half of the duo maintains order while the other wreaks havoc. According to this Slate Magazine article that describes this theory in full, each of us usually find in our partner the opposite muppet type; if we are a chaos muppet, we seek out our Sam Eagle, Big Bird, Bert, or Kermit the Frog. And if you are the type that color codes your underwear (c'mon, 'fess up!), you most likely are paired up with a Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Gonzo, or sweet, adorable Grover. Both types have their place. Can you even consider how monotonous a marriage would be with two Berts?? Sigh. And can you imagine the chaotic maelstrom that two Animals or two Miss Piggys would produce? Yikes!! We all need a Yin to our Yang.

Interestingly, however, I was having a conversation with my partner about this topic, and we each insisted that the other was our order muppet, but in very different ways. Yes, I am most definitely the one who closes cabinet doors and vacuums and replaces toilet paper rolls and such, but my partner in crime is the one who creates emotional order. So perhaps it's not quite as simple as it being just one muppet per person. Maybe it's something more like this . . . . .

That we each may have more than one muppet capacity inside us!! For those who may not know, this is, of course, the two-headed muppet monster!!

Now, back to the crafty world, I'm starting to make some progress on my mom's Lilly Pulitzer quilt. I'm using 5 inch squares of fabric, so with the scraps that are smaller than that I'm making scrap blocks. I've made about 10 scrap blocks like these two: 

Crinkle-icious Spare Change!

Happy Friday everyone!

It's a finish with one big project and a start with another one. I hit one major goal of mine this week: I finished a "big girl" quilt! That is, I made an closer to full-sized quilt! It's about 50x65 inches and I couldn't be happier with it! It's a version of a stacked coins design that I saw on Cluck Cluck Sew's website and adapted from her baby-sized quilt. I loved the white space she put between her "coins," different from a lot of the stacked coins quilts I had seen elsewhere. I made this with fewer than 12 fat quarters, 3 different tones of red, aqua, orange, and green. I used those same fabrics in my binding. For the backing I used my current favorite Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market Fancy Polka Dots & Flowers in turquoise (which I also used as one of the coin fabrics on front). For the quilting I got my very first try at real machine quilting on a Gammill longarm machine, thanks to Ella. It is far far far from professional, but so much better than the FMQ'ing I would do on my little Brother! Thanks so much Ella for that trade! ;-)

My most recent quilts (besides this one) were baby quilts I made as gifts, and I so loved the crinkly goodness as they came out of the dryer that I just wanted to cuddle up with them myself! I vowed that the next quilt I made was going to be for myself! I hope that doesn't sound to selfish, but as someone who has been knitting for 15 years and who has only made one sweater and one pair of socks for herself (and countless socks and sweaters and goodies for others), I take it as a sign of progress that I wanted to make something for myself for a change!! I have an antique bowtie quilt from Ohio (1904 or so) that I used to cuddle up with, but now I have only on display because it's become a bit fragile, and we have a beautiful quilt Karen's mom made for us, but I wanted a quilt that came from my own hands as well. So now we do! Yay!! Cuddling in my crinkle-icious Spare Change quilt full steam ahead!

The next project on the block (so to speak!) is a quilt for my mama. I've been holding on to fabric from old Lilly Pulitzer golf skirts of hers for ages and ages, and I'm finally ready to do something with them. For those of you who may not be familiar with Lilly Pulitzer, she's a prominent fashion designer whose vibrant floral prints have been popular since the '50s. As the story goes, she originally ran a juice stand in Palm Beach, FL and began designing bright, colorful dresses that would cover the stains from the juice! And boy did her crazy fabrics ever do the trick! Her clothes became emblematic of the preppy generation, but when being preppy went out in the '80s, so did her clothes, and I must confess I gave my mother endless grief when she continued to wear her golf skirts!!

This is one of her current summer classic fabrics:

Fun, isn't it?! And this is actually one of the more subdued prints. I can't really begin to describe what she had going on in the '70s!

In the '90s, however, Lilly Pulitzer made a comeback and I hung my head in shame when my mother proved me wrong as her golf skirts stood the test of time and became vintage Lilly Pulitzer--worth more than even the pricey new lines of fabric that Lilly Pulitzer began to release in the 1990s and 21st century. Who would have guessed?!

Nevertheless, as my mom gave up her golf game, she relinquished her precious Lilly Pulitzer golf skirts to me, hoping that I, with my crafty ways, might do something to commemorate them. So that is my current project! In addition to the great golf skirts my mother passed along to me, I also scored a fabulous Lilly Pulitzer cocktail dress--usually about $250, but I found it at DI (the local thrift store) for only $10!!!!!! Can you believe it! It didn't fit me, or else I would be wearing it around town, so instead I  took it apart at the seams and will be integrating it into the quilt. Nice score, huh?! I've become a DI junkie, I have to admit! The Lilly Pulitzer prints are impossible to miss, so I pretty much recognized it from across the room!

This is one of the blocks from one of the two skirts:

Yes, it's a purple and green tiger! Typical Lilly Pulitzer! No, it's not going to be an ordinary quilt! But it's an homage to my mother, and her love for Lilly Pulitzer . . .  and her golf skirts! What I haven't mentioned is that my mother is an extraordinary golfer. She would be the last one to admit it, but she has a great swing and low handicap and a true love for the game. I've wanted to make this quilt for a long time as a way to honor all of that.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Seeing Double Rainbows!

Happy Wednesday all! Linking up again with Lee's WIPs at Freshly Pieced.

No, I'm not showing old photos--I've decided to make another Rainbow Sprout quilt, this time for our friends' baby. I had started (and finished the top of) a quilt ages ago (last summer!), but I was really unhappy with it. I so so loved this rainbow quilt pattern that I decided to make another. And it's such a quick project! I pieced the top together yesterday and I'm ready to quilt it today. Last time I used a wonky-style geometric quilting, but this time I think I'm just going to to FMQ all the way. I used many of the same charm squares I used for the last quilt, although I did change it up a little, using the fabulous sailboats from Emily Herrick's new line that I got from Sue (thanks Sue!). Goes perfectly with the bits from Going Coastal that I had already put in!

As for other projects, I'm still working away on my sock: one foot done, one more to go! Actually, truth be told, I have about 3 feet to go, as I tend to start new socks without finishing old sets that I had previously started! It's just that new projects are so much more exciting!!

I'm making headway with the granny squares: 17 down, 7 to go! The only hang-up in my progress is that I ran out of white, and while I'm 99.9% sure that the white I have in my stash is Kona White and not Kona Snow, I don't want to be wrong. Anyone out there know how different they are -- would I be able to tell if I put them up against each other? They look pretty much identical to me!

And on the non-crafty front, wish me luck: I'm embarking on 30 days without sugar, dairy, grains or processed foods! Okay, so I'm not giving up my diet coke, but other than that I'm eating clean!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Square dancin'

Happy 45th post! Yes, I know others celebrate so-called big milestones like their 200th or 1,000th post, but who decided that those were important numbers?! I tend to think the number 45 is sadly overlooked (as it's just a few years away in terms of birthdays I guess I better start liking it!). I frankly never thought I'd have a blog, so having 45 entries so far seems kinda noteworthy to me!

I'm linking up with Lily's Quilts' Small Blog Meet, so check out all those great blogs out there!!

For those who know me, I'm not exactly the typical quilt block kind of gal . . . it requires a sort of pattern following and precision that seems to challenge my sensibilities! I think that's why I've always been drawn to all things wonky! Now why I started with paper piecing, I can't begin to imagine, since the precision that calls for is extreme, but it feels creative and forgiving in a way that working with quilt blocks just doesn't! I know, I never said I make any sense! Anyway, a month or so ago one of my dear sewing friends suggested a granny square exchange and my desire to be a joiner overcame my block phobia and so I gave in. Having recently conquered my Rainbow Sprout baby quilt, I thought it was another BGP (Big Girl Panty) moment!

Here's block #1!

1 down, 23 to go! I meant to fussy cut the center block, so I may end up redoing that one so that I can highlight the ultra cute vintage '30s circus animals in the yellow fabric. So cute! And, I must confess, this block thing isn't nearly as painful as I might have thought! Here is one thought for the quilting community, though, whoever is marketing Granny Squares might think about upcycling the name to something that sounds a bit more hip and appealing! This is more fun than it sounds! We're using the great tutorial from I'm a Ginger Monkey.

On other fronts, I've been meaning to finish my update from my fabulous retreat experience a few weekends ago, but I had to upload other photos. In addition to finishing my Rainbow Sprout quilt, I also completed my pin cushion and scrap basket -- thanks to the amazing (constant) guidance of Sue!

I'm not sure you can tell from my photo, but it requires a lot of gathers, which I had not fully mastered. I had done a few in the class that accompanied my machine a while ago, but it's a whole different thing when you're trying to make them under pressure!

This looks far more simple than it really is--at least to me! It has a great, weighted pin cushion that is attached to the scrap bag that hangs over the edge of the table. Sue and April have brought theirs to the past few retreats and we have all envied them theirs, so they finally gave in and gave a tutorial on how to make them! I clearly needed a little more hands on help, so Sue was amazing and pretty much walked me through mine!

I made mine to match the sewing machine cover I made at the previous retreat:

Look how well those go together! My next project is to make a traveling ironing pad with a paper pieced iron on one side, also with those same fabrics. 

Happy weekend everyone! It should be up in the 90s here, which should be quite a change from my snowy travels last week! Not sure I'm ready for the weather!