Work-in-Progress Girl


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Ramble Ramble (Random Thursday)

So it’s been a little while. I’ve been sewing, though, so I figure it’s all good! I meant to post last week, but then I just didn’t have anything to show and I didn’t even work on reorganizing my sewing room, so then I was going to post over the weekend, but it was my weekend off and I was actually sewing and no way was I stopping just to write a blog post. And then this has been a weird, weird week. I normally work a really set schedule, but I had a first aid course to attend on Tuesday (which shifted my work day by 3 hours from 6 AM to 9 AM) and then I had a training thing on Wednesday (which shifted my work day by 3 hours) and at least when I’m working my normal 6-2:30, I can get home when there’s still a drop or two of sun in the sky, but coming home after 5 pm means it’s already dark enough not to make photo taking virtually impossible.

I used to take photos of everything with flash because fuck it, what else can I do? But I’ve been trying to be at least a little better with my picture taking. And to that end, I asked my mom to buy me a light box for Christmas. Which yay, lightbox! But I can’t get enough light into it! I can clamp lights onto the table for either side, but I don’t have any lamps high enough to get above it and the lighting in my sewing room is unbelievably terrible (I could take off the light cover, which would help a little, but it’s not the most attractive of looks, having a bare bulb), so even the light box isn’t helping too much! (I’ve been trying to use one of the clamp on lights from the top and one from the left and then tilting my sewing lamp in from the right, but the angle is all wrong and the lamp on top is too heavy and it rests right on the light box surface, so it doesn’t really diffuse the light properly. Basically I’m winding up with kind of yellow photos and still having shadows where shadows ought not to be. A couple of Giveaway Day’s ago I won a pdf guide to photography from someone, but do you think I can find that file now?

Anyway, on the subject of Giveaway Day – I never did find a good entry to pop this in, but if I’m calling this one random, then why not now? (Finally!) This December I won a giveaway from Stephanie at Simple Sewendipity!

Heat Pad

How pretty is that? It’s a heating pad with lavender in it and it just smells unbelievably delicious. You microwave it to heat it up and then just apply wherever needs some extra warmth. Lovely! (I kind of want to pull it off the heating pad, though, and just hang it up in my sewing room it’s so pretty!)

Right, so, weekend sewing. I started out by pulling a long-standing WIP off the design wall:

Design Wall

I think I started this one about two years ago and I love it immensely, but it just seems like so much work every time I think about it! (It’s all with inset seams and it just gets heavier and harder to put in the bricks each time.) I’m a little worried it’s going to fade since it gets a shot of sun every day, and also it’s kind of made my design wall useless to me. So time to go.

Now this is all that’s up there:

Design Wall

Two of these are going away because they’re bee blocks. The other is my first Gypsy Wife block – just testing things out!

Hive 12: January Block

This is my first Stash Bee block, for Heather at Quilts in the Queue. This block was paper-pieced in the centre and then it’s just a sea of white around. I had to make this one twice – the first one when I was pressing it, suddenly came up with two dots of that blue water-erasable ink, which was a bit weird because I hadn’t been using the stuff! It didn’t come off with water like it usually does, so I thought it was going to be garbage and I rotary cut off the white from the sides so that I could trim it down into sizes useful for remaking the block. About an hour later, one of the dots had disappeared and now the second one has gone away, so I don’t know what that was all about. I still have that extra centre unit, but it’s got a 1/4 inch border of white sewn on and I’m not sure it’ll be easy to get off – I’d left on the paper and so I’d used a tiny little stitch to sew it down, and I don’t relish the thought of ripping all those little stitches.

Aeneous - January block

And this is my last block for the Simply Solids group on Flickr, for Laura at Waffle Kisses. This block uses this herringbone tutorial from Bijou Lovely and I think it comes out pretty great looking. I’m really happy with this one and hope the recipient will be happy too.

I also sewed up an entire quilt top, which you can see on Instagram (I’m @clumsykristel), but I haven’t been able to take a proper decent shot of it. It’s too big to tape to the wall for a photo and my yard is such a snowy mess that I can’t take it out and pin it to the fence either. Anyway, hopefully the backing material will arrive soon and then I’ll be able to take a finished photo! (I hope!)

Linking up with Really Random Thursday and Let’s Bee Social:

randomeer LinkyBees

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Bits and Bobs

I had a to-do list this weekend that felt a mile long. It really wasn’t, but it just FELT like it and it’s all because I left all my sewing commitments for October until the Very Last Second, which made it feel like work instead of fun to finish them up. And they should have been fun! Some of what I was working on I won’t be showing for a few more days, but here are some of the blocks I finished up:

Tall Shoo-fly Blocks

I sewed up four Tall Shoo Fly blocks for my Livejournal Birthday Blocks group. These blocks are quite small (6.5 x 9.5″) so even though we didn’t have to make more than one I’d always planned on doing three or four. I found these hard to photograph, largely because the wall and the background fabric were pretty much the exact same colour. I kept thinking shadows would be a good thing for once since it would help distinguish the blocks a bit. It all looks a bit dingy and underlit, though, doesn’t it? Oh well, I think the blocks came out well, and that’s all I could ask for.

I’m still behind one block for the month for the LJ exchange, but I will get that one done in the next couple days, I hope. But also, I have a quilt I want to get quilted! I’m torn! (Commitments to other people really should come first, though, shouldn’t they?)

Anyway, I also did up my Simply Solids Bee block for October:

Road to Fortune

This is a paper-pieced Road to Fortune block, made for Shena of Apple Pie Patchwork. I don’t know why, but I kind of spaced out the making of this one, doing a unit two days ago and two units yesterday and finally finishing them all up tonight. Somehow I got all discombobulated about where my colours were going to go and it all came out a bit clumped up instead of nicely spread around. Oh well, I think it came out okay and it should blend in with the rest of the blocks by the time it’s all done anyway.

I also finished up my needlebook for the Sweet & Simple Scrappy Swap on Flickr. I’ve shown a lot of pictures of this already, but here are my finally finished shots. And if any of you can find my opps! error, the first one to get it right in the comments will get sent a Fat Quarter in the colour of your choosing. (Things which don’t count: the shoddy stitching on the snap, the not quite round felt, the not quite centred felt, the not quite straightly stitched felt.)

026

I said before that this is a taco shaped needlebook, and here it is snapped shut and holding its taco shape all on its own. Yay! The pattern for the needlebook came from Suzuko Koseki’s Playful Patchwork book, but I wound up making it a bit larger than the pattern suggests. You’re supposed to shrink the daisy pattern down to 80%, but I wound up preferring it at full-size. It’s about 8-inches in diametre, I think, but the larger size made it easier to modify the interior a little bit.

028

In any case, the exterior is kind of paean to Japanese design because not only is a pattern by a Japanese designer, but the green fabric is a Japanese print, from a Yuwa Kei line, which might or might not be called Newsprint and Roses. The stitching was done with Sashiko thread that I had in with my embroidery supplies. It’s nice and thick so it leaves a lovely line around the petals. Of which, the yellow fabric is a Lakehouse print, from the Annie’s Seed Catalog line and the off-white is actually a Moda Grunge fabric, though I forget the colour name of it. It’s a kind of off-white or winter white with very pale strokes of green and red brushed through in the grunge pattern.

030

The interior has two leaves of wool for storing pins and needles. The green came from a local fabric shop, Traditional Pastimes, and the off-white wool was a gift to me from Jennifer Ofenstein, when she passed off a collection of mostly hand-dyed wool pieces.

033

I modified the interior a little by adding this zipper pocket on one side (and if I’d had a second matching zipper, I’d have probably added a pocket on the other side as well). It wasn’t a complicated change, but I do think it made the needle-case a little more useful since otherwise scissors or a skein of thread would just slide out and possibly get lost.

So that’s my needlebook that I sent away for the swap. I was pretty happy in the end with how everything came together, and I really hope my swap partner will like it as lot as well.


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Random Thursday

Is this supposed to be a link-up or is it just really… Random Thursday? Well, here’s a few random bits and bobs:

1. Next project

002

I spent an embarrassingly long time sitting and staring at that one hexie yesterday trying to decide which way to go with it. The Paper Pieces package recommends sewing through the paper, but I want to use them multiple times and so I can’t help thinking it MUST be better for the paper not to sew through. The package does say you can keep reusing them anyway, but don’t they get all damaged in the corners where the stitches go? I don’t know. I’ve been planning today to watch a few videos on YouTube to see if I can decide which looks a more likely route for me.

2. Birdie Sling

Birdie Sling fabrics

Not sold on the denim yarn-dyed Essex Linen. I like it, a lot, but it feels too pale compared to the darker blue, maybe? (Special thanks to Michelle for her contribution to these fabrics being in my stash! :D) I thought from photos online that maybe it would be a darker blue than it is. I think a bag looks top-heavy if you put the darker fabric on top, and I could switch it so that the print fabric is on the bottom, but honestly I don’t want that much of the print on display. The bag on the pattern cover has a darker top band, but I think that large print on the bottom (with the smaller print up top) counter-acts the top-heaviness. I’ll have to think about it. I might have some Kona Nightfall fabric that would probably work (maybe?) and would definitely be darker. I don’t want to have to buy more fabric, in any case.

3. Leftover bits from something I’ve been working on.

Liberty Scraps

Liberty scraps. I’m not a big fan of Liberty (by and large I find their prints to be overly fussy, but there are a few I do like, even though they are fussy little florals), but wanted to see what the Tana Lawn was like to work with. I’m not 100% on board with the thing I made that generated these scraps (photos later – I want to be more happy with it before I share) and I wound up putting interfacing on the fabric because it was too light-weight (compared to the linen I paired it with). It also smelled a bit of bug spray – I have to assume that’s the fault of the seller, not the fabric maker, but I’ve been airing it out and can’t smell it any longer. (Also, I could smell bugspray at work the other day where no bug spray existed, so maybe I had some crossed wires in my brain…)

4. The solids Churn Dash.

Churn Dash

Just need a few more… Well, I need one more row’s worth, plus I’m waiting for 2 that will be sent to me. Love how this is coming together.

5. Some of my problem spots with the FMQ on the Star Surround project. If you have suggestions or advice for avoiding, please let me know!

008

There’s lot of little things to nit pick with this one, which I will nit-pick in other photos instead, what I took this photo for was the kind of jerkiness of it. I didn’t get a smooth loop at all on that top one, which was just me needing to stop and get my hands in a better position (but just pushing through anyway). What really bothers me is the stitches just before it goes from a straight(ish) downward line into the loop – you can see a spot where I went from vertical almost immediately to horizontal, and although I mentioned this was a spot where I’d needed to reposition my hands, I ALSO had that same issue in places (sometimes) where I did come to a complete stop, and then started again. Sometimes I could get a smooth restart and then other times I’d go off in a completely different direction than I really “should” have. I KNOW that it’s not going to show much in the grand scheme of things (which is why I didn’t pick out any of my stitches, except where there were thread breaks and the one time I had a toe catcher), but I’d still rather learn to prevent it.

011

Okay. Quarter-inch stitches vs sixteenth of an inch stitches. I know this is about the speed of my hands relative to the speed of the machine, but… how should I sew into a curve to keep my stitches smaller and more uniform? I know, practise. Yay, practise. But should I be giving it a little more gas at the beginning of the curve or easing off…? Move my hands faster as I go into that motion? I don’t know. As with all my other little issues, they seemed to hit intermittently – every time I congratulated myself for a particularly well done bit, I’d wind up doing something dumb 😀 (If I hadn’t used such garish fabrics, I’d show you my practise stitches! My best rows were the first two, before I started paying attention to what I was doing, before I remembered to turn my stitch length to zero even!, then they got progressively worse for a bit while I figured out what to do to improve things, and then they started to get better again. My one practise row of stippling is… appalling. There’s a reason I haven’t done it for realsies yet. Definitely need a whole practise sandwich just for that! But I want to go through Leah Day’s method of practising in stages – u shapes, lobster claw shapes, etc. – before joining it all up in a properly random stipple.)

009

Okay, this doesn’t show super clearly because I could not convince my camera to focus on the problem spot rather than a spot an inch above it. But that particularly long looking stitch kind of in the bottom middle of the lower loop… My machine skipped a stitch. It only happened a couple times in the whole quilt, but I seem to remember reading something somewhere about what that means, but I can’t seem to find any information on the topic now! (I tried googling FMQ skipped stitch, but that didn’t help. It’s possible I just got bored of looking for answers, though, so I should probably search it again now that I’m not so focussed on getting that quilt done done done!) A couple of my skipped stitches, I went in with a needle and thread and couched the skipped bit (didn’t want to unpick, also didn’t want to leave a loop big enough for a kid’s finger to go into), but I didn’t do it every time. (It was awkward! And I don’t know how stable that couching will be, it’s not like with embroidery where you can secure it really easily on the back.)

010

Okay. You can see a bit of this in most of my photos, but the bobbin thread is even more visible in this photo because the darker part of the variegated thread is on the bobbin thread here, with a very pale part on top. I always thought this was a tension issue, but my machine is set at almost the highest tension available. I didn’t adjust it to the higher setting because it didn’t do this all the time I was FMQing, so I wondered if something else was at work?

I don’t know. If any of you do much FMQing and have thoughts or suggestions, let me know! I know it’s not easy to diagnose when you can’t see what I do when I quilt, but I figured someone might have thoughts.

[Also, I’m linking up to Free Motion Quilting Friday at Leah Day’s The Free Motion Quilting Project. If you want to see the finished quilt which has all these flawed bits of stitching on them, you can find it here.]


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WIP-Wednesday

The U.S. Postal Service has just done for my bank account what countless resolutions and notes to self has not be able to do: put a stop to my constant fabric buying. Well, I don’t know yet that that will be the case, but the cost for flat rate shipping from the US to Canada is about to go up from $12.99 to $19.99. Which, holy christ on a cracker. See, I’ve bought a lot of fabric from the US because it’s been cheaper, even including shipping, to buy it online than to buy it up here. But the cheaper part of the equation is not going to hold any longer. I could just shift more of my fabric buying to Canadian fabric shops (I already buy a fair bit from Mad About Patchwork), but I’ve never found the same variety from Canadian sellers as you find from American ones. And that’s mainly just because there are less Canadians, thus a smaller market, thus fewer people selling to us, but also because many of these shops are quite small, they only bring in a handful of the fabric lines that are out there at any given moment.

So, sorry American fabric sellers! But if I’m going to be spending more, I might as well spend more on the fabric and less on the shipping, and get it in one week rather than two. So, uh, know any good Canadian online fabric sellers? (Other than the aforementioned Mad About Patchwork.) I don’t need the links, or maybe my bank account doesn’t need them, but I wouldn’t mind to have a bigger pool to work from, anyway!

Anyway, this is meant to be a work-in-progress report.

I’d like to report that nothing is in progress because I’d finished everything I’d planned over the holidays, but ahahahahahaahaha. No.

I haven’t finished my Vintage Modern Wonky Stars quilt yet.

Vintage Modern Wonky Star

It looks exactly like it looks in this picture, except that it’s folded up and sitting on the futon, waiting for me to get around to finishing it. What needs finishing? I need to finish quilting the borders, the weird bit between the star points and some kind of fill for the centres of the stars. If I could focus, I could get the quilting done in a day. (I work nights this weekend, though, so probably I won’t work on it until next week. Hopefully I’ll find some time on Sunday afternoon though.) After that, I just need to cut out, stitch on, and sew down my binding. I enjoy binding, so I look forward to getting that far along…

Otherwise, the only things I needed to finish over the last week were two blocks for various exchanges. I’ve done that! Go me!

This block was for my Simply Solids bee, of which I’m a member of the Aeneous group:

Asterisk block

LethargicLass requested this asterisk block, for which she sent out a fairly random selection of four squares and four thin strips, which I could put together any which way I pleased. It was a really fun block to put together, and it turned out really fantastically, I thought.

This second block was for my Birthday Blocks group on Livejournal:

Maple Leaf Block

Amanda (or APhoenixRain) requested leaf blocks (Maple Leaf in this case) in autumn colours. I chose this kind of fantastic feather print which I wish I had more of (but don’t even have a selvage so can’t track down to see if there were other colours…). (Wait. Did I say something about buying less fabric?) This was a simple but fun block to pull together.

After that, I also made two blocks for myself, kind of sample blocks, I guess, for my Birthday Blocks and Simply Solids bee groups to see.

Churn Dash blocks

In both groups I’m requesting Churn Dash blocks in solids. For the bee, I’ll be sending away pairings of fabric, but for the BB group, the others can make blocks in whatever solid colours they want. With hopefully a preference toward brighter colours. I say that, though, but I made these blocks specifically to show that not have “bright” solids doesn’t mean having a dour looking block – this is a kind of celery, almost pastel green with a charcoal, but I think they elevate one another to make the colours pop. If that celery had been paired with a another dusty or muted colour, the whole thing would have fallen flat, I think.

Anyway, the plan for next week is just to get back to the finishing the Vintage Modern quilt. I’m not due to get anything else made before early February (another Birthday Blocks block or two, but I’m waiting on fabrics for those), so it’s just that quilt that needs to be finished!

Linking up to:

The Needle and Thread Network

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
WIP Wednesday at Freshley Pieced


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2013 Goals

Sometimes I don’t know why I set myself goals because I pretty well never meet them. I think I managed two things from my list of twelve last year. (I don’t quite want to go check for certain because it’s sort of embarrassing and sort of sad and I don’t like to feel guilty about my hobbies, but I WILL if I think too hard about it.) But it’s good to have goals, to have something to aim for, so here are mine for the year.

1. Simply Solids Bee blocks. (Aeneous group.) This will be one block a month, 11 over the year, plus my own, and it’s a mystery what block I’ll be making each month. (I know what February will look like, but since we send out our fabrics to the other participants in time for our month, I won’t find out until the fabrics/instructions show up each month.) My month is August, and I know what I’m asking for… the same thing I’m asking for in my goal #2 group…

2. Birthday Blocks. There are 11 participants, so I’ll be making/receiving 10 blocks. I requested churn dash blocks in bright solids, which is exactly what I’ll be getting from the Simply Solids bee (unless I change my mind before August). This is a pretty big mix of stuff, again, and some of it is giving me fits already. (Namely one block requested in batiks, and hard to find colours. I think I might have to go use non-batiks, which I hate to do since she did say she prefers batik, but it might be that or else blocks too pink or blocks too purple, rather than blocks just right.)

3. Finish quilting all the finished tops in my closet:

Posh Tot quilts The Poppy Quilt
First Project Ever Checkerboard Quilt
Vintage Modern Wonky Star

There is also a half-quilted Amy Butler quilt, a blue and orange big block quilt, and a Plume quilt, which I don’t have decent photos for. I’ll try to fish them out and take a better picture soon. I think this is all of them, but I’m not 100% certain.

4. Don’t start anything else new (except a wall-hanging or two for my mom).

5. Work on some of my unfinished projects.

On the embroidery side of the fence, I have four things to work on (no photos, sorry):

1. The ABCs sampler – nearly done, just not quite
2. The fandom project (Moss’s fuzzy hair)
3. The Illustration-along project (Edward Gory’s limerick cousins)
4. The bird needle-book
5. The crewel twists project

Of all these, I’d really like to finish them all, I can’t seem to come up with an order of what is most important to me, which suggests they’re all important. If I can keep it to these five projects, then I could aim to finish one every other month.

And that’s it. It seems too long a list – I didn’t think I had quite so many quilt tops laying around! – but I’d like to do as much as I can, while still having fun with what I’m working on. I need to find a better way to balance work and crafting because generally if I’m tired after work, crafting is the first thing I set aside, and it shouldn’t be because I find it relaxing and why not use it to wind down after work?

Edited to add that although I’m late for this month, I’m going to start linking up in the future with A Lovely Year of Finishes at Fiber of All Sorts. I only just stumbled across it today (via Pretty Lady Baby), but I like the idea of it. (I liked it last year too, with the 12 in 2012 idea, but we’ll see how it goes!) How it works is there will be a link up from the 1st through 7th of each month, you’ll link up a post about what project you intend to finish that month (finish meaning finish a top or finish a quilt totally), mid-month will be another link-up where you can link another post talking about your progress, and then the last seven days of the month will have a third link-up where you can link to a post about the finished project.

A Lovely Year of Finishes