Friday, December 31, 2010

Sewing Resolutions, revisited

I've just reviewed my sewing resolutions for 2010. Possibly if I'd done that on a regular basis throughout the year, rather than leaving it until 12/31, I'd have accomplished more of them. Or not. Regardless of resolutions met or abandoned, much fun was had in the sewing room during 2010:
Anyway, here's how I did:

"spend less, sew more"
I'm as stunned as you are that I can say I achieved this. Barely. $122 less on fabric purchases this year than last, although the difference in yardage accumulation is a threadbare 1.5 yards. And when fabric received as gifts is added, I'm up on last year by close to 10 yards, thanks to lovelies like these:
On the "sew more" front, I used less total yardage by a good amount but sewed more items. (2009 sewing included lots of curtains, which tilts yardage use heavily.)

Other resolutions accomplished:
"Make pants that fit"
"Sew some knits"
"Learn to machine quilt"

I did well on "delete all fabric sale emails unread" until about 2/3 through the year, with a noticable lapse in December which I blame on Santa.

"work on one garment and one quilt project at a time"
hahahahahahahahaha! Complete and utter joke.
Don't know what I was thinking.
I am just not wired that way, so why fight it?

"complete one UFO before starting a new project"
I did finish up some UFOs, but am confident I ended the year with more of them than I started. There's one on my design wall right now:
Frankly, I'd completely forgotten about that resolution (yeah, maybe don't wait until the end of the year to review the resolutions list?), although it's a good one. I might even attempt it again. I also forgot to "use stash patterns before buying more."

For this coming year, I am keeping it simple. "Spend less" for sure is a goal. "Sew more," though, is not likely. I did about as much sewing in a year during 2010 as I'm ever likely to do. I would like to maintain that momentum. Some clothes will be produced, but quilts are where inspiration and creative ideas are flowing for me right now. I'd like to end 2011 with a personal best in the total yardage used department, even if I produce fewer items. It will be tough to beat 2009's curtain-heavy total, but I see no reason not to try and if I tackle the UFO quilt projects I could do it. The 100-yard Challenge should keep me on track.

I might even aim to end the year with fewer UFOs piled up than at the start. First, though, I need to go count them.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"NTG" Quilt Details

More pics of Mr. de Hilo's "Nothing Too Girly" quilt. First, the arty draped shot:

I quilted this from the Monkey Wrench side, figuring (correctly, as it turned out) that the other side could absorb contrasting abstract thread lines more easily.

The purple "monkeys" got long swirly lines down the arms and through the centers with purple thread. The orange/green background is filled in with a meander in light green. Although they are contrasting colors the orange and green are so close in tone that the green thread is less noticeable on the orange bits than I'd thought it would be (click pic for full size):

I finished the boarder in random wavy lines. Overall, my purple swirlies could be more graceful in many instances, but I'm very happy with the background meandering. Best part, Mr. de Hilo is unlikely to notice or care that the quilting demonstrates that this was a learning piece.

Pink Lattice Quilt Details

More pink lattice quilt pics, for those interested in the details. The little dining lanai off the kitchen is a nice spot for artier, draped shots, like this one:
There's space for photos out there because I moved the kitchen table into the sewing room (no way could I do any actual quilting on my tiny 18x30" sewing table), and the lanai table, rarely used, came inside to be the new kitchen table.
Here you can see (click on pic for full size) that I pieced the binding from some of the rusty orange prints used for the lattice intersection squares. All the pink sashing is straight-line quilted just inside the seam.:

My original plan was to echo that with an additional line of quilting about 3/8" inside each edge line, but I way underestimated how mind-numbingly tedious straight line quilting is, even with (or maybe especially with) a walking foot. The outermost pink sashing pieces are longer than the inner ones, due to triangle geometry, and needed an extra something, so they've got a meandering vine thing going. I felt the inner sashing would not be improved by additional quilting (and couldn't face more straight lines) so left it alone once the first set of straight lines were done. Each inner lattice piece is a scant 1.5"x3", so the edge quilting is ample.

The piano-key border is free-motion quilted with a swoopy almost-leafy-in-parts randomness that was lots of fun to do. The outermost edge has one or more lines of echo quilting to fill in the gap between the swoops and the binding.

The charm squares and orange intersections were all free-motion quilted in a pale blue. I started at one end of a column of on-point squares and squiggled my way down through the 3" charm squares and orange intersections to the other end. Some are outline quilted (loosely!), others have a leafy or swirly pattern inspired but not attempting to follow the charm print, others got a meander. The orange intersection squares got a variety of spirals, loops, squiggles, and leafy shapes, made up as I went along:
And I think I took a detail shot of the back, too... where did that go? Okay, here it is:

The pink/orange floral was a great find (and on sale from, but not quite wide enough, so I inserted a strip of this fun grass-full-of-bugs print from my FabricDepot shopping spree. I had no idea at the time what I'd do with it, but it's perfect here, so that's a score for stash-building.

"Pink Lattice" and "NTG" Quilts

Both our "deck" quilts (lap quilts, for lounging on our deck chairs on cool afternoons) are done! I test drove mine yesterday, and both Cosmo and I are very pleased with it. Both quilts are about 44"x72", a size I decided on based on best dimensions of the various beach towels we've been napping under on the deck up' til now.

I am still looking for the optimum quilt-photo location around our house. It's tricky. I like the idea of outdoors, for days when light cooperates. But our lot is extremely steep.Nice views from up here, but it's practically vertical. We have plenty of deck and railing to hold a quilt over, but in most places I'd need to rent a cherry picker to get up level with it for a photo.

The side of the house is better than the front, heightwise, so I strung a piece of clothesline between two railing supports, clipped the top of the quilt to it while crouched on the deck, then smooshed the quilt through beneath the railing, then scurried down the stairs on the other side of the house, back and around, and up the side slope to get a photo. Repeat as necessary until all sides are done. Cosmo thought this was a fascinating process. Here's the back of the Pink Lattice Quilt, with cat supervision from above:

And this is the finished "Nothing Too Girly" quilt made for Mr. de Hilo. It has two fronts, rather than a front and a back. I did the blue-green squares side first. Photo colors are brighter than actual, but you get the idea:

I did not have a back planned out for this one. While pondering options and rummaging in the far acres of the stash, I came across a large ziplock baggie of long-abandoned, half-finished, monkey wrench blocks that I had  forgotten about. A little quick punching at the calculator, and I figured out that not only did I have enough extra of the orange and purple fabrics to use as borders for the front, but also that using all the mostly done blocks would fit this one as a back and qualify as finishing an embarrasingly old UFO.
Mr. de Hilo has tried it out both ways up, but has not expressed a "front" or "back" preference yet.

Using these monkey wrench blocks makes this side a winner in "most satisfying sewing project of the year" category. And the Pink Lattice "front" I'm going to call my "favorite" item made this year, even though all of the front except the outer border was made in 2009.

Both of these are (I think) worth a closer look, but I have not yet taken detail shots of the quilting, so you'll have to wait for those.

It's been immensely satisfying to get these projects to the point where I could  machine quilt them, which counts as using a new toy: the extension table thingie for my machine was a much-anticipated purchase for the year.

I had fun doing the quilting, and look forward to finishing up more in-progress quilts this coming year. Hopefully by the time the next ones are done I will have found a better photo location. The back wall of the carport has possibilities... and it would be nice to have an indoor option as well.

I only wish, as I was spending so much money on fabric in 2010, that I'd remembered to save a little for a camera tripod, so I could start taking decent pictures of the finished products. I'm going to make that some kind of incentive/reward for fabric purchase restraint in 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Christmas Show and Tell

So, the big day has come and gone and secret projects are no longer secret. Here's the pillow I made for my Mom, to go with the Cathedral Windows one from a year or so ago:
Recognize it? These are the sample One Block Wonder hexagons I made earlier this year, after seeing what Shelley was up to. They lingered on my design wall for months before I decided to go ahead and do a pillow front and back with them. I filled in the outer bits with blue solid.

All those bias edges looked like a hot mess by the time I was done piecing...

but a brutal pressing worked wonders. I quilted each side with some poly batting that was lying around, with cotton lawn for "backing" to reduce weight.

This was my first-ever free motion quilting, and I had a blast zipping around more or less highlighting various shapes in the hexagons. Objectively, I did a really a horrible quilting job: sloppy and imprecise with wildly varying stitch lengths and all kinds of "ooops, didn't mean to do that" moments. Fortunately, Mom is as forgiving of my adult efforts as she was with kindergarten art projects, and I had no illusions going in that I would be capable of anything other than an exuberant slapdash job, so we're both happy with it.

The  piping, alas, did not turn out well. I do think it makes a nice defining line between front and back, but it's why the edge is so ripply. I've decided to think it looks sort of flower-shaped, and to not worry about it.

My sister got a couple of the prettiest coffee mugs (she's happened to mention needing new ones) with matching coasters I made following this tutorial:

My first one was a bit of a dud, due to user unfamiliarity with my new 1/4" foot and how it would behave, but the rest were easy-peasy. Next time I might get really lazy and machine stitch the binding.

Here's the set of six. As you can see they are a mix-n-match set from prints that play well together:

The "back" wraps around to the "front" (or could be the other way around) to make the binding, which is a nice touch when using two different fabrics for each.

Mr. de Hilo's lap quilt is done and has been put to use. I haven't figured out yet where in (or outside) this house to set up for a quilt pic, but hope to get one soon. My lap quilt is almost done. There's a bit more quilting still to do on it, and then binding. My goal is to get it done before NYear, and I might even beat that by a few days if all goes well.

BTW: Santa outdid herself this year in the gift fabric department! I'll show off some of those new goodies in a next post.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The 8-lb Christmas Ornament

... and why we don't have any lights or other ornaments up on our tree yet:
So far, he's only tipped it over once, and he climbed right back in as soon as I'd set it upright. We're waiting to see if the thrill wears off. It's an artificial tree, and a bit ratty; I'm half hoping he does enough damage I'll have a reason to junk it come 12/31.

Cosmo has also been helping out in the sewing room. I'm trying to finish up a lap quilt for Mr. de Hilo to use when we lounge on the deck on chilly winter afternoons (when the temperature might plunge toward 70... brrrrr!). It's already a big hit with the cat, who naps on it every chance he gets. When he's not napping, or out chasing birds and geckos, he tries to remove the safety pins with his teeth:

This my first free-motion quilting project, and I'm having fun. My FM stitching is about as bad as it gets, but that's okay, so long as I feel I'm getting better by the time this is done. Mr. de Hilo is unlikely to notice, or to care if he does, that the quilting is a long way from gorgeous. He'll just be touched that I made something for him, for a change, after sewing so many things for myself.

When this one's done, I do also have a deck quilt for myself to finish up. Chances that will happen before Christmas morning are looking slim, but it might get done.

Hope all your Santa projects are coming along... only a week left for elfin sewing!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Amy B. Origami Bags - Set 2

Here are the other two Origami Bags I made from (from Amy B's new bag book):

The larger one is 14" across the top, the smaller one 7". That's the last small bit of the orange leaf print, which I wish I had more of. Both these bags feature my fave "Persimmons" by Kaffe Fassett. I have very, very little of this left so was thrilled to find it on sale at, and could not resist ordering 2 yards to replenish the stash.  Even though I am not supposed to be doing ANY stash-building until substantial yardage is used up.

My questionable logic is that, technically, "virtual Santa" bought it to go under the tree, but still. More fabric. 2011 will be all about stash busting, because I am close to the point of having no room for more yardage (not to mention a drained hobby budget!).

The larger bag is Amy's proportions. It holds all kinds of bathroom stuff, and got use again last weekend on an overnight getaway to Kona. Amazing how a couple hours in the car and a night at a resort feels like getting away for days. Hoping for more frequent short getaways next year.

The front one is taller than Amy makes 'em, accomplished by taking a very shallow corner seam. It is perfectly sized for those "feminine necessities" we sometimes need to have at hand. Both these have that lovely Heather Bailey print inside. I was so happy to find a good use for that print. It's lovely, but a little too pretty/girly for other purposes I'd considered. It's perfect to line these bags.

I look forward trying out more patterns from Amy's book, after I get some more XMas sewing done.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amy B. Origami Bags - Set 1

So, I'm really slow getting these pics up. Here, at last, are the first of the Origami Bags (from Amy B's new bag book) I made for corralling travel stuff. I strayed from Amy's exact sizing on some of these, as I was using whatever caught my eye from the scrap drawer, and with whatever odds and ends of mid-weight fusible interfacing I could find.

This is the smallest one. If I'd blogged this closer to sewing day I would remember more precisely how it might vary from the littlest Origami pattern in the book, other than it's made from just one piece of fabric on each side, rather than having pieced sides like all the others. 
I also made it a bit longer than the pattern, partly because I only had a narrow piece of this fabric, and also to fit the intentended contents, which were my pink iPod Nano and my ancient cell phone + earpiece, as you see here. This one came along in my purse. That's a Kaffe Fasset print on the outside, Heather Baily on the inside.

These two are a bit larger. The green one in front was the first I made, so it's the most accurate rendition of Amy's sizing and proportions. That came in my purse, too, as it held the requisite 1qt. zip-lock baggie of hand sanitizer etc. Sure, I coulda just stuck the plastic baggie in my purse, but who doesn't like pretty fabric better than plastic?

This whole project started when I made the green one, thinking it would be handy to corrall all the powercords and rechargers I was taking with me. But, duh, I didn't pay enough attention to the photos and diagrams in the book when I selected what size to make, because these bags are all about 2" longer at the zipper than they are at the base. So when I got the first one done, and went to fill it up, it turned out to be just a little bit small for the purpose.

So I made another: the pink and orange one in the back. It's about 12" long and intentionally wider/flatter than Amy's design (accomplished by taking a deeper cross-seam when forming the corners of the base). From a purely design standpoint, the proportions of this one are not as pleasing, but it's the perfect size for everything I wanted to stash in it: chargers and power cords for the camera battery, the iPod, the cell phone, and my Kindle. It holds a lot of cords. This one went into my suitcase, and I was very pleased with it.
These were so quick and fun, I made two more. Which I either never took or have lost the photos of. I'll remedy that shortly. They are just like these three, only slightly different.

If you are looking for an excellent last-minute homesewn gift idea, I highly recommend one or more Origami bags. BTW: the book calls for making these from home dec weight fabric, but as you can see, quilting weight works just fine, too. And don't worry about having exactly the interfacing called for. I used probably three different kinds and weights in my not-matching set, with no problem at all.

I would have made some of these for XMas gifts, but I used up all but tiny scraps of my mid-weight interfacting stash on the ones for myself, and haven't managed to restock yet. Maybe next year.