Modern Scrappy Bits Swap

First a quick (okay, not at all quick) note: I mentioned in one of my last couple entries that shipping prices from the US are going way, way up – here’s a handy chart from Sew Mama Sew if any of you are Canadian like me and want to know just exactly how bad it is. One pattern, one fat quarter, itty bitty amounts of things, basically? SIX DOLLARS FIFTY CENTS. If you go up to the larger size, the flat rate envelope (previously about $13) holds (according to SMS) up to ten yards (though I’ve seen other sites say about 7 yds),.. so let’s just say I were to buy a full ten yards of non-organic print fabric from SMS (sorry to pick on them, they just happen to be the site with the up to date shipping chart), it would be approximately 10 (yds) x 10 (approx non-sale price per yard) = 100 + 20 (shipping) = $120. If I were to buy 10 yds of non-organic print fabric from Mad About Patchwork (chosen because it’s the Canadian store I most often shop at), it would be about 10 x 11 = 110 + 6 = 116. It’s not a massive difference, and if anything were on sale in the US or were some of the cheaper fabrics (because A LOT but not all fabrics are in the $10 range, especially if you buy solids) then it might still be more economical to buy in the US. (And I assume shipping prices in Canada are going up this weekend too, so Mad About Patchwork may have to re-evaluate their shipping prices. Don’t quote me on any part of that, just speculating based on the fact that shipping prices go up EVERY year.) So, okay, then it comes down to some other factors: I usually don’t, but might get charged customs or duties (esp if buying a large amount) if I order from the US, it takes 2 weeks pretty much always, if you don’t spread the $20 shipping cost over a full 10 yards fabric your shipping costs (per unit) shoot up (6yds x 10 = 60 + 20 = 80 vs. 6 x 11 = 66 + 6 = 72).

All of which by way of saying that Canadian shopping is looking better and better and better. (Though I assume this means it will become more expensive still for a Canadian shop to bring in fabric, so that base price of approximately $11 may have to go up to 12 or 13 so that shops can still make SOME money off what they’re bringing in.)

Here’s a couple other things I foresee happening:
1. More bees will disallow Canadian/International participants. (Because never mind that when one of us participates we have to spend higher shipping on EVERY non-Canadian bee member where most American bee members might only have to spend higher amounts on one or two people. Yes, I get a bug up my ass about American people who don’t want to play outside their own sandbox because it’s more expensive shipping to the two or three of us on the other side of the fence.) Alternately, more bees might be run with geographic groupings, so that the Americans will play with the Americans, the Canadians with the Canadians, the Europeans with the Europeans, etc. Which may mean I’ll get to know my fellow Canadian sewists a lot better, but narrows the pool significantly.
2. Giveaways will become almost exclusively limited to country of origin. (Meaning Sew Mama Sew’s giveaway day will be by and large a for US participants only phenomenon. Again, not to pick on SMS, they just happen to host the largest giveaway party.) Non-Americans are already excluded from a lot of giveaways and I predict it’s going to become a whole lot worse. (Which, I hate to harp on, because people giving things away for free are still giving things away for free, and that’s a nice thing, even if it’s given away in a limited way.)

Anyway, nothing to be done about it. Except to shop Canadian and get to know my fellow Canadian potential-bee-partners, right?

Moving along…
So I’ve talked in the past about the things I’ve received from my partners in the Scrappy Bits swap on flickr (sign-ups for Round 3 are currently open, if you’re interested in joining in! Join the group if you’re not already a member, and then go to the Sticky Post section of the discussions where you’ll find a sticky post with a link to the sign-up form – you NEED to have a flickr account to join), but I’ve never quite got around to talking about the things I’ve sent away.

I’ve participated in both the previous swaps, so I’ve got two sets of things to show you here. I don’t remember a whole lot about that original swap, though it seems to me that we were able to talk about our likes and dislikes or something to that effect. My swap partner, CraktPot had requested a pouch, if I remember right, and hoped for something in an aqua/red/black colour scheme. Then again, I might be imagining all that. I knew from her Flickr account that she was a fan of Tula Pink, and originally I’d started trying to stitch one of Tula Pink’s clock-work birds in shades of aqua/teal on black Essex linen, which I was going to turn into a pouch. But, holy time consuming! And I didn’t have any of the Tula Pink fabric, so I was basing my pattern on a much-blown up image off the internet, which wasn’t very clear and wasn’t working very well. I’m pretty sure that project is still in a hoop somewhere, and I’ll salvage what I can of the linen someday because I don’t think the bird will happen…

Anyway, I had to re-evaluate, and I made up two different pouches using that colour scheme before deciding which one to send away. I still have this first pouch, which actually makes a pretty good pencil case and has been doing just that for the last few months:

Scrappy Bits pouch #1 (Mosaic)

This pouch, called the Elise Pouch from IThinkSew, is kind of shaped like a computer mouse. It’s a very interesting one to put together, though I found the directions a bit weird and maybe more difficult than they needed to be. I found it kind of fun putting together the outside of the pouch – it’s essentially just a circle, with a bridge connecting the sides (and a zipper through the middle of the bridge), so I made up a big square and then cut slashes through it to insert all the stripes of colour before trimming it down to a circle. (I’ve been contemplating making another with wedges, like a Dresden plate.) After it was done I pretty much immediately wished I hadn’t made the bridge piece in red – it just didn’t seem to fit and that’s ultimately why I didn’t send it away.

The one I did send away is this pouch, made with the open wide pouch tutorial from Noodlehead:

Scrappy Bits pouch #2 (mosaic)

I made the outside of the pouch the same way as I did for the Elise pouch (slashes of blue through the black), but this time I added a little stitching alongside some of the slashes of colour (which turned out to be largely pointless – so much of it got cut away when I boxed the corners! Ought to have thought about that…). The black in this pouch is Essex Linen, which is a cotton-linen blend that’s pretty nice to work with.

I really like this tutorial (which is free, the Elise pattern is a for-purchase pattern) and definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the pouch-making game. It’s fun and pretty easy, if you’re as scared of putting zippers into things as I am. (And on the zipper note, I can’t recommend the zippers from ZipIt enough. They’ve got a billion colours in a lot of sizes and the customer service is great.)

All that said, the point of the swap really is to give away part of your scrap stash and to receive back a pile of someone else’s scraps. I always have plans for things to do with my scraps, though I never seem to do something with any of those plans, but the way I see it… the more variety the better. If I get back into paper-piecing again, I might get bits and pieces that’d work out in ways my own scraps might not. Officially we send away the equivalent of one fat quarter’s worth of scraps, but I’m not very good at restricting myself like that, so I sent away a fair bit more than that.

Modern Scrappy Bits

I also sent along a little Elypoo notebook (it’s a book of paper made in a way that involves elephant poo, though I don’t really recall too much more about it) and some DMC rayon thread, which I picked out because it was so very, very shiny:

Modern Scrappy Bits

For the second round I made another Noodlehead pouch, though this time I modified the size (and shouldn’t have, since it threw off the proportions of the pouch) and machine appliquéd it with stars.

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To be honest, I really wasn’t happy with this one. I had this idea in my head, which started with the idea of constellations and I don’t know where the thought came from, but I wanted to make a constellation with the fabric and stars, but then I couldn’t find a small enough paper-pieced pattern for a star and, oh, I don’t know, just the general metamorphosis that happens going from thought A to B to C to reality and somehow it just wasn’t working, so I thought, well, I’ll machine appliqué the stars randomly and fuzz the edges so it’s kind of twinkly around the edges and… ugh. I wasn’t happy. But I was late! I spent so much time dithering over what to do – my recipient, Prsd4tim2, has this lovely blog full of things she’s made, but so very much of it was things she’d made for other people and I couldn’t decide if the things on her site were things she made because she loved them or because she thought someone else would love them, so I didn’t feel I had a real handle on her tastes and what sort of thing she’d really like to have. (If I’d been a wiser woman, I’d have looked at her flickr profile because she’s got a great big list right there in front of your eyes and mine that I could have used to narrow things down!) So dithering lead to the due date lead to me rushing through the project. And being a little more unhappy than happy with the final project. I don’t think it’s TERRIBLE, it’s just not what I wanted, you know? And then I also think it looks more suitable for a child than an adult, which is… frustrating, because she’s not an 8 year old with a collection of multi-coloured gel pens, you know? Anyway, despite my general frustration and slight dislike of the project, happily my recipient seems pleased AND likely to make use of it.

Anyway, I also sent along this collection of fabric scraps:

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In deference to the Christmas season, I mostly chose fabrics from the red and green parts of my scrap bag (with some aquas thrown in likely because they weren’t sorted by colour but were sitting in a heap on TOP of all the sorted stuff)

Awesome. Okay, I’m writing this in the bathtub, with my laptop propped on the toilet while I awkwardly lean over the edge of the bath to type, and I just managed to pull down my shower curtain rod. Thank DOG it didn’t crack me in the skull or my laptop in the screen. But just for good measure: UGH. Also, note to self: there’s a reason we don’t typically write blog posts in the bath. If I had a camera in here I’d take a picture. Of the shower curtain.

ANYWAY, in deference to the Christmas season, I mostly chose fabrics from the red and green parts of my scrap bag (with some aquas thrown in likely because they weren’t sorted by colour but were sitting in a heap on TOP of all the sorted stuff). That said, I very, very intentionally choose red and green fabrics that WEREN’T actually Christmas prints. (I don’t have any, anyway. Gave them all away.) I wanted the recipient to be able to use them any which way she pleased without being locked into a full-on Christmas project.

Modern Scrappy Bits swap package

I also sent along (one by one the last few attached shower curtain hooks are sliding down the rod, disconnecting, and giving me a little jolt of shock every time one of them slips and clanks down) some crewel wool in two shades of orange, because I know she does some embroidery and also I thought crewel wool might actually be a nice addition to a quilted project, even if you don’t actually do crewel embroidery and also just barely visible (hooked through that bitty square of fabric with the bird on it) a number 5 Bohin embroidery needle. Prsd4tim2 had mentioned on her blog her quest for a great needle, and I LOVE my #5 Bohins. They’re fantastic to work with (though a little large for more delicate embroidery), beautifully made, and just FEEL good in the fingers. They’re the only Bohin needles I’ve used, but I’m in love. (So in love I bought 4 packets of Bohin needles for an upcoming project of mine – they’re all different sizes/types ranging from beading needles to assorted embroidery sizes to tapestry to millners and sharps.)

Anyway, just wanted to remind anyone who is interested that the sign-ups for Round Three of the Modern Scrappy Bits swap are open now. I don’t see a date when sign-ups close, so sign up now not later!

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TTMT 85: Stitchy McStitcherson

In which I show off the last two quilt blocks I made for my Livejournal Birthday Blocks group, as well as two stitching projects I’m working on, an alphabet sampler and a tiny little tulip done in tent stitch.

All my Birthday Blocks blocks for 2012 can be seen here.

The Daisychain ABC Sampler came from Posie Rosy Little Things. (If you’re interested in making your own, you can buy the PDF, the preprinted fabric, and the Appleton Crewel wools to make a kit for yourself or any of the three that you need. The PDF has DMC conversions, if you’d rather stitch with embroidery floss.)

The Tulip kit can be purchased from Thistle Threads for a limited time (basically until they run out of kits, I think), though the pattern can be found for free at any time. A portion of the purchase price is donated to the MET Ratti Center, which is a textile museum (well, I don’t know if they have a museum proper, but they collect, study, and store textiles to preserve them and learn from them). The kit has the most lovely supplies – lovely 34-count linen and Au Ver a Soie’s Soie d’Alger silk threads – and you can buy a finishing kit to turn it into a tiny pillow or pincushion.

Finishes: Two Owl Stuffies and a Receiving Blanket

Two Owl Stuffies   Flannel Receiving Blanket

Well, this entry is a very, very long time coming – I made these back in March, I think. I know I finished the owl in the foreground on March 9, but I don’t know how long it took to get the rest of it finished. Anyway, they were for a baby gift for Jennifer at Quiddity Quilts, for her son who was born earlier this year (April? I forget that too!) and her daughter.

Owl Stuffies

I don’t do a whole lot of sewing outside of the quilting arena and I always feel a little bit adrift when I try to follow patterns and make things, so I made the first owl (the one in front) as a practise piece, which would be given to Jenn’s daughter, if I thought it turned out. The pattern, available here, comes from Patty Sloniger of Beck and Lundy and is really simple to follow, fortunately. I made a couple tiny changes to the second owl, but on the whole I thought it turned out pretty well. (My changes were to sew the eyes on starting at the bottom of the eye, because they drifted north-ward on the first owl and I think they look better closer to the belly fabric, and to add a touch of stuffing to the wings and ears.)

I always tell myself that I’m not going to buy any fabric that isn’t quilting cotton (I never know what to do with the leftovers, and I always feel too guilty to throw them away – what a waste!), but I never manage to follow my own rules and I bought minkee for the belly/wings/ears, corduroy and velveteen for the backings, and wool felt for the eyes. (Probably I had the felt anyway – I like making ornaments! And I know for a fact that the grey beak felt was given to me by Ofenjen.) I still have enough of the corduroy, velveteen, and minkee to make another 3 or 5 owls!

Owl Stuffies - back

I used corduroy from Ann Kelle’s Remix line for the “boy” owl and velveteen from Anna Maria Horner’s Innocent Crush line for the girl. I kind of love both lines, although I wish the print on the Innocent Crush fabric were a little smaller so I could have got more of the print in! (I fussy cut it so that a piece which sort of looked owlish to me was visible on the back.)

The other part of the gift was the receiving blanket. I’d planned to make two – they seemed so simple, just baste the voile and flannel together, round the corners if you wish, and bind – but hand-sewing voile binding to piece of voile is HARD. Sewing thin, slippery fabric to more thin, slippery fabric? Not easy. And then to NOT stitch through into the flannel? I’m sure it took me as long to bind that little bitty blanket as it took to do my last almost bed-sized quilt. (If I do it again – and I must because I’ve got spare voile and spare flannel in my sewing room! More non-quilting cottons! – I will stitch the binding to the flannel side and hope that it’ll be slightly easier to work with.) The idea for these blankets came from Anna Maria Horner, and her explanation is available here. (She doesn’t say too much more about methodology than I did though! It really is that simple. You’ll note her blankets have the bindings machine sewn, but I am not very good at that, so I never do it.)

When I sent it all off to Jen, I swaddled her son’s owl in the blanket, like so:

Swaddled Owl Stuffie

Isn’t it just the sweetest?

Finish: Needle-book with Crewel Embroidery Rainbow Mum

A couple of weeks ago I posted an in-progress shot of a bit of crewel embroidery I was working on. Here’s a wee photo to remember it by:

Crewel Embroidery flower

Well, I’ve finished it. And in a fit of creative energy, I didn’t just finish it: I turned it into something usable.

Needle-book with Crewel Embroidery Flower

I had started this with the intention of possibly giving it away in an exchange I’m participating in on Flickr (I was waiting for some zippers to come in the mail before making the thing my partner actually requested), in which case it was going to be a needle-book. Well, the zippers arrived and I didn’t mangle them whilst installing them into some pouches (I’d never used zippers before, and they were less horrible to work with than I’d imagined, except for that first bit of sewing up near the zipper pull, where even my zipper foot doesn’t get in very close to the zip), so I had this spare bit of embroidery and I had to decide if I was just going to hoop it and hang it or to go on with the needle-book idea. Obviously I went with the needle-book, largely because I can use one. I have random needles all over the place. There’s one (with a very long filament thread in it) tucked into a book on my bookshelf. There was one stabbed into the mattress near the foot of my bed (which I can’t find now! and it was an enormous needle!). There were three in the edge of my ironing board. And, well, I needed a single place to put all those loose needles that came from I don’t know where and always seem to end up in strange, strange places. A needle-book made sense.

Before I show the rest of the needle-book, though, I want to talk a little about the embroidery. The embroidery on the front is done using Appleton Crewel wool, but unlike typical crewelwork, has obviously not been worked on linen or cotton/linen twill. I used quilting cotton, which I stabilized with a layer of fairly heavy interfacing. (I don’t know what it was – just something I had laying around for no apparent reason, but which I probably bought for something I never quite got around to and then just forgot about.) I haven’t done a lot of crewel embroidery, but everything I’ve done prior to this was done on linen and my cotton/interfacing solution seemed to work out pretty similarly. It felt the same stitching and the wool thinned down at approximately the same speed it seems to when I work with linen. (One of the annoying things about crewel embroidery is how thin the yarn gets from pulling it through a heavy material like linen. Annoying because I always want to cut my yarn lengths longer but can’t because it’s just a waste of wool once it thins down too much to continue using.) I liked being able to use a more colourful and interesting background than typical linen (which, yes, comes in many colours, but is not the same), so it was a good experiment.

The pattern itself comes from Katherine Shaughnessy of Wool and Hoop fame. As far as I’m aware, this pattern isn’t in either of her books (I have The New Crewel: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery, but not New Crewel: The Motif Collection), but it is available for free at Makezine. If you open the PDF (linked at the bottom of the article) you’ll see I used the second version, but adapted it just a little for my own purposes.

Crewel Embroidery Mum

Obviously I changed the colour to rainbowify it, though I could only figure out a way to squeeze in six colours. I probably could have done seven, if I’d changed that central spider web a little, but it worked out all right because I didn’t have two worthwhile purples to use anyway (nothing in the zone of an indigo at all). And I changed that central spider-web anyway: I’d tried doing it with just a French knot in the centre, as in the original pattern, but it didn’t have enough impact, so I did several rounds in purple before starting in on the blue. The green and yellow got two rows of stitches (worked in my favourite, the split stitch) in a lot of places so that it would have more impact, and I added the second row of orange petals to fill it all in just a little. I didn’t draw them on, just winged it as I stitched, and they are… varying in quality as far as their roundness goes, but I like what they added to that circle of the rainbow.

For the needle-book itself, I didn’t follow a pattern. I looked at several on-line and thought about what I’d like in one, and figured out my own method. I don’t have a photograph, but it buttons closed on the back (with a red button that matches the one on the interior) since I didn’t want the clasp to interfere with the pattern on the front.

Needle-book Interior - Left side

The left-hand side has two pockets. The smaller red pocket was built specifically to hold a little packet of Needle ID cards from Access Commodities. The larger pocket has no specific intended use, but since I put in a button/loop to keep things in place, I think it’ll be a great place to keep small scissors, since they’ll be less likely to fall out and get lost.

The felt is actually bamboo felt, which I buy from TaDaa Studio Felt. I find it softer than regular felt, although I don’t know how it stands up in quality. It looks as good as typical wool felt, but I do have a square of really amazing Scottish wool felt that’s about twice as thick as the felt you normally find and is unbelievably lovely. (That’s intended for another needle-book project of mine, which you can see a little of here, but I’m stuck on that project – I keep having to pick out the second bird and I’m scared of ruining the linen if I mess it up again. I’m taking a break.)

Needle-book Interior - right Side

The right-hand side has just the one large pocket, which is where I plan to store booklets of needles. The pocket was constructed of some fabric scraps and an embroidered patch I’d bought from someone I used to know on-line. Jenny Henkelman used to have a shop on Etsy, once upon a time, where she sold necklaces made of buttons and some really cute patches she’d embroidered. It’s been years since she closed the shop and I never did find out if she’s selling elsewhere. Anyway: the robot is her work. I had recently found this patch (and a second one of a kid in a snowsuit) in a box that I’d packed up ages ago, and this seemed like an appropriate place to put it to use.

So that’s my needle-book. It’s probably a bit larger than standard, about 5.5-inches square, and was completed on 29 August 2012.

Now to collect all my spare needles and get them in there.

Talk to Me Tuesday (on a Wednesday) 81: Stuff, stuff, stuff

In which I show blocks I’ve received in the mail from my Birthday Blocks group on Livejournal, crochet from my mom, and embroidery from my Grandma. And also two pouches that I made for my Modern Scrappy Bits swap on Flickr, one from this pattern (The Elise Pouch at IThinkSew.com) and one from this tutorial (the Wide-Zippered Pouch from Noodle-Head.com), and a needle book, which features crewel embroidery using a Katherine Shaunessey pattern (which can be found via this article).

Molly Mutante stitch

Molly Mutante (close)

Last week I showed a bit of a teaser of this bit of embroidery – angled down along the top of her head, which lead one of my livejournal friends to make a wild suggestion that perhaps she was an alligator. Well, not quite, but now I have a real urge to stitch one next to her with a mouthful of flowers. (I’m not much of a drawer, though, so I probably won’t.)

I can’t seem to get a decent shot of her, there is too much light and it’s washed out the fabric a little, but here’s the full shot of Miss Mutante.

Molly Mutante

This pattern was created by Cate Anevski and was published in the book Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, which I borrowed from the library about a month ago. (My first library book as an adult-not-in-university!) As books go, I was glad I’d borrowed it from the library, rather than buying it (it was interesting reading, but I don’t think I’d read it again), but I did find two patterns in it that I wanted to try out. This one and another, which I haven’t started stitching yet, though I have transferred the pattern to fabric. You can see Anevski’s original version of the Mutant Girl here at her flickr account. Her version is so delicate and lovely compared to mine!

You were supposed to blow the pattern up to 130%, but I didn’t want to make it larger, which made it a bit difficult to get in the detail, especially since I mostly did mine in split stitch (with a little stem stitch and a very poor running stitch for the hair) when I probably should have done it with a backstitch. Oh well. I think it’s lovely anyway. My only real complaint is the fabric. The fabric was the only neutral I had actually sitting at my sewing desk when I decided to transfer the pattern, and pure laziness is why it got used. It’s a little silly, all the words are coffee-related and Miss Mutante didn’t grow tentacles by over-consumption of caffeine, but I thought it would be a neutral enough neutral anyway. In retrospect, I think it’s a little too busy, but what am I going to do about it now? Not nothing. (Actually, there is a vague plan in place to fill in all the clothing with more colour and also to put more stitches into her hair, so that her skin would be patterned by text – another mutation? perhaps she’s an octextumanoid.)

Once I decide if she’s really finished or not (to add more thread or not to add more thread?), then I’ll have to decide what to do with her. I had thought maybe to turn her into wall-art, maybe by adding some patchwork and then stretching her over a canvas frame or maybe by appliquéing her onto a different background (so that as much of the text print as possible is hidden) and then turning her into wall-art. But then I joined a fabric scrap swap on Flickr (Modern Scrappy Bits) and we’re also sending something small and hand-made to our swap partner, and if there’s anything about my swap partner that seems to be a fan of cute mutants, then she might get a zipper pouch made out of Molly (and some scrappy piecing). We’ll see. I’m calling this a finish, but I guess it’s really only 80% of the way there. Oh well, close enough!

Wonky Stars Quilt Top

Wonky Stars Quilt by clumsy chord

Wonky Stars Quilt, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

It’s been a while, I know, and my only excuse is that I’ve been lazy. I’ve been working on things, I just haven’t been talking about it.

Well, after almost two weeks of rain, I’ve finally had a sunny day so I could take some things outside and try to photograph them, but it was some kind of windy out there.

This new quilt top was a quick and fun one to put together. I took less than a week (and a whole lot of watching Lie to Me) to put it all together. (I generally finish nothing, over the span of years, so to finish something inside of a week is big! Even if that finish is only a quilt top and not a full on quilt.)

Last year I put together a quilt top of wonky stars in purple (blogged here) and had talked about it in one of my Talk to Me Tuesday videos (see here) and someone mentioned in the comments that they’d like to see how I make those blocks, so I decided to record a tutorial on my method. (Which isn’t edited, though it’s filmed, and was really hard to do because I don’t have a second camera person and I couldn’t get the right camera angle to show most of what I was doing. Frustrating! I’ll add a link about that once I have it finished, in case anyone is interested.) Anyway, since I was making a block for the tutorial video, I decided I should just make a whole quilt was I was at it. And so I did.

Wonky Stars Quilt

And now things go a little further back in time. All the way back in April 2010, John Adams of QuiltDad.com had a GINORMOUS giveaway for his two-year blogiversary. By luck of the random number generator draw, I won a prize of three charm packs: Jennifer Paganelli’s Dance With Me, Valori Wells’ Del Hi, and Dena Designs’ Monaco (donated by Missouri Star Quilt Co.). Westminster, the company that produced those lines, doesn’t use a standard number of charms in a charm pack (like Moda with the 40 charms), and I knew I didn’t have enough to make anything in particular with those charm packs, so I picked up a fourth charm pack for Amy Butler’s Love, since I thought her generous use of colour would play well with the mix of colours in the existing charm packs. And then the fabric sat, and sat, and sat a little more.

When I started planning to work on the wonky star tutorial, the laziest part of me lit up like a light bulb at the thought of using charm squares rather than cutting my own for the block. Yes, 12-inch blocks are pretty standard, but 13.5-inch blocks make larger quilts! And take less time to cut out! I had 100 squares and only needed 96 to make a 12-block quilt! Clearly it was destiny. All I needed then was a single standard colour for the stars to help ground the crazy-cakes mixture of four fabric lines from four different designers, so I pulled the yardage of white-on-white print that was on the top of my White fabric pile, and started cutting. I very nearly ran out – I didn’t measure anything, I just assumed that what I had would be enough – but I managed to make it work, though I did add a couple of scraps of a different white-on-white from the scrap bag and a single star point of pure white. I didn’t plan anything, in regards to layout. I just put my four piles of charms out on the futon beside my sewing table and took two from each pile for a while for each block, and then later I switched to taking three from the two larger piles and just one from the smaller ones, until I got down the end and had only four squares left. I also didn’t plan out where each block would land in the quilt – I just sewed them together in the order I made them, joining rows of three together as they were finished. Once it was done, I thought the crazy-cakes mixture of prints and colours was still too over-whelming, so I added the thick border in red to try to hem in and confine the crazy. I think it works. Or it works well enough, anyway.

This newly finished, freshly windblown quilt top is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50-inches by 64-inches. It was finished on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. I don’t know yet where it’ll make its home, but I hope it’ll be loved, where ever it winds up.

Fabric Postcards for Postcard Swap

It occurs to me somewhat belatedly that not only have I not been updating anything here, but that I’ve got a little backlog of finished items to post. I’ve always been a bad blog writer because I get so easily bored, but normally at least I put up the finished stuff, even if I don’t get around to talking about what’s going on in between. (Right now: working on my very first quilting project, stitching the birds and then picking them out and then stitching them again and then picking them out…)

Anyway, I’ve done another fabric postcard swap at my Livejournal group (Fabric Postcard Swap). (You can see what I sent out for previous swaps here and here.) When I started planning to do another swap, I was working on some little embroidery patterns, just to practise my stitches, so two of the cards here definitely feature that.

Jellyfish embroidered fabric postcard

This was my second practise piece, but it’s my favourite of the two! Love the jellyfish! It’s done with satin stitch, stem stitch, and some unfortunate French knots. The pattern came from a Sublime Stitching craft pad. Usually when I’m making fabric postcards, I wind up using whatever scraps are at the top of my pile, and that’s pretty true with this card too, as the background of it (and the other embroidery card) is using some Moda Crossweave fabric, which I’m currently using in a Block of the Month from Sew, Mama, Sew.

Hello embroidered fabric postcard

This was the other heavily embroidered card. There are tons of things I’d change about it if I could, well, not tons, but some of the stitching anyway, but I still like the idea of it even if not the execution. The worst bit about it is that it looks really dirty. I’d decided to use fusible batting (June Taylor fusible) to ease the quilting process and ironing it brought up beads of glue. So not impressed. I use paper backs on my cards, rather than fabric, so I couldn’t wash it (which would probably have gotten rid of the glue). I don’t know what I’ll do with the rest of that fusible batting. I’d used some of it for a table runner, and it brought up beads of glue with that too, but it was washable, so it didn’t turn out to be a very big deal, but I mostly have fairly small bits of it left. I hate to throw things away, so maybe I should just turn the iron down low if I use it for additional postcards and hope that’ll solve the problem.

This card actually disappeared in the mail, so it never reached its intended recipient. Annoying. (Despite all the shit talk people say about Canada Post, it happens so rarely, so it’s extra frustrating when it does.)

Hedgehog fabric postcard

Hedgie was probably my favourite card just because it’s so stinking cute. It’s paper pieced using a Sonja Callaghan pattern, which you can find at her blog Artisania. I had a world of trouble with Hedgie’s feet, but I don’t think it’s particularly noticeable (unless you’ve got the pattern in hand and can see where I decided to wing it paper-free). I didn’t want to deal with the small bit of fabric for his nose, so I embroidered that on when I did his eye. The rest of the embroidery was incredibly lazy work – just a few stitches in approximately a butterfly shape, and some very lazy stem stitch for the grass. All the colours for the embroidery were chosen… because they happened to be sitting on my sewing table. The fabrics here are all scraps pulled from my scrap bags – I dug around until I found a strip long enough to make up the whole purple background and the dark brown was a bit of leftover binding strip. I can’t remember where I originally used the lighter brown, it hardly looks like something from MY stash, but there it was.

Abstract fabric postcard

This abstract one was one that started out somewhere entirely different from where it ended up. I’d started out planning to do a turquoise card with thin strips of red running horizontally through it, but then I found the scrap of that Laura Gunn poppy print and decided to use it instead. And then somehow when I was cutting, I wound up cutting all willy-nilly and definitely not all horizontally. Anyway, I kind of like how it turned out, but I am still curious what it’d have looked like if I’d followed my original plan. If I can find enough of those red scrap strips in my scrap bags, maybe I should try it out.

Star Trek fabric postcard

And finally a bonus card, sort of. The embroidered hand postcard disappeared en-route, but the person I was sending it to (Cosmic Twirling) is a fan of Star Trek, so I decided to do the replacement card as a Star Trek insignia. This paper pieced pattern came from Fandom in Stitches and was designed by Jennifer Ofenstein (of SewHooked.com). This pattern features some rather small little bits, most of which are centred around that star. Three units join up on the left side of the uppermost point, and MAN did my sewing machine hate going over that lump of fabric. The first time I sewed the top unit to the joined middle units, I forgot to do a basting stitch first. I don’t know if this is common amongst paper-piecers, but I always join my units with a basting stitch first and then when I’m sure about my placement, I do it for real. But I forgot, and it was really bad, so I had to unpick miles of tiny tiny stitching (or, you know, five inches) so that I could do it again, just a little bit better. I also accidentally missed an edge of fabric when I pressed one of the narrower pieces around the top, and so it stuck through, raw edges and all, along the right side, so I decided rather than undoing it all and fixing it, I’d just hide it! So that’s the explanation for the embroidered edge (which is split stitch, I think). I’m not a Star Trek fan (I wasn’t allowed to watch as a kid), so I don’t know how it stands up to the REAL insignia, but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out anyway.

Finish: Double Wedding Ring Table Runner

Double Wedding Ring by clumsy chord

Double Wedding Ring, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

I keep not talking about this one because this photo is so dreary and it makes me not want to talk about it, but I’m going to have to get around to talking about it at some point. And it’s already gone off to it’s new home, so I really can’t take any more photos. And even if I could take more photos, the colours are pretty much spot on, so it’s not going to look much less dreary anyway. (I think it’s that off-white background with the sepia print on it. Just drags it right down to dreary.)

This was one of my oldest unfinished projects. I can’t remember when I started it, but I lived in Saskatoon at the time. And if I mentally travel back to when I lived there, I would have had to have started it sometime between 2004 and 2006, I think. A friend and I took a class at a local quilt shop there, Periwinkle Quilting, and it’s taken me lo these many years to finish it.

Someday I’ll catch up on all these old projects. (Actually, this is one of my 12 in 2012 projects, which is made up mostly of old projects. Though I’ve got older projects still…)

I still like this one, though it’s as traditional a pattern as traditional gets and though I did it in colours and prints that don’t really feel very me. At the time, way back when, my mom’s kitchen/dining/living room were done in pink and pale greens, and so I’d done this intending to fit in with that colour scheme, but with the intent of pulling it a little away from the sweetness of the pink and green and pushing it a little more towards the darker range with the burgundy.

It’s interesting to look at old projects like this and see what I knew at the time. In this case, how to put together colours/shades so that didn’t look flat – there’s lots of variation in value through the rings – and also how to put the emphasis on the burgundy rather than the pink. But it’s also frustrating to look at old projects and see what I didn’t know. How to accurately cut (along the grain). How to accurately piece. How to join my corners properly.

When I started working on this in January, my goal was basically just to get it done. I didn’t want to spend time trying to make it perfect (nor could I – the construction method was perfect for adding ripples and waves, but not so much for keeping things accurate), so I just fixed the most obvious problems (a split seam), pressed, and then quilted it.

In retrospect, I wish I’d quilted it more densely, but I like the blend of curves and straight lines I put into this. It’s meant to be a tablerunner, so if I’d done it more densely, it might sit a little flatter on a table, but I think it’ll be okay anyway. (And it doesn’t match my mom’s kitchen/dining/living room anymore, so I’m really not sure what she’ll do with it!)

When I’m back in Saskatchewan someday, I’ll have to take some more pictures to show a little more detail – the print on the back (which is a tiny little paisley, also used for most of the binding), and the blanket stitch in burgundy floss I did around the rings. And I’ll even measure it, because for whatever reason, I like to keep records like that.

In any case, it was finished on February 13, 2012 and gifted on February 17, 2012. At least five or so years late for the Mother’s Day gift it had been intended for, but gifted nonetheless.