Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hotter Than Blue Blazes

   This spring and summer have been hotter than usual. Two days ago it got up to 110ยบ F. Luckily, our home is well insulated and we have a swamp cooler that works swell. With our desert air, the evaporation effect is great. Our garden is thriving. Mr. Thimblepie put in a sprinkler system and we have plenty of water in our well, so let the sun shine!
   My perfect scenario is to garden for a couple of hours early in the day, then come inside and sew when the sun is high. Then take a break and go swimming in the river with the dog. Currently, the garden chores are picking raspberries, picking peas, and picking weeds.
   My goal of June was to quilt this little baby quilt, and I did. I had fun with the free motion quilting.
I also got commissioned to make three chair cover quilts, each 20 inches square. The client's cat only wants to sit on antique velvet, not quilted cotton. Works for me.

Daisies, Yellow-eyed Susans, and Echinacea from my garden.
And one last photo. I am in a fun block exchange that you can look at via the button on the right, Stash Bee. I had some issues with the June block, and wrote about it here.
Innocent looking blocks.

Later that day I got a birthday gift from the group leader, and first I felt guilty, then I decided that it was a compensation from the universe, or some such feel good stuff..... And if feeling good isn't your motto, well, what is your motto?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tutorials for Everything

In Boise the annual event to not miss is Deli Days. It is THE Idaho Jewish Cultural Festival. For over two decades the fundraiser has grown and grown. Parishioners make the most delicious ethnic food, office deliveries happen, and at the synagogue klesmer music plays and people enjoy the lovely summer weather while eating outdoors.

I was contacted to make something for the fundraiser. Specifically, for a basket of kid's goodies to be raffled off for the kid's library at the synagogue. I had a lot of fun looking at internet tutorials for sewn  kid's gift ideas. I found a super idea here, for a utility belt. It is actually an over the shoulder sash, with a pocket, D rings, clips, and fun devices to stimulate the imagination.  I used cotton duck cloth, from a pair of shorts I found at a thrift shop.  Here it is:

The fun starts here. Little flashlight in the pocket.

Pocket with snap for (included) metal tape measure, and a loop for a tool.

Back. Large elastic band,  flashing red light, and grommets.

Top of the front.
I had a lot of fun making this project, and want to make another one for my 8 yr. old grandson. I am thinking about something similar for myself, more like a tool belt, to wear when I am gardening or harvesting in the forest.  There are tutorials for everything out there!

Last week I finished a baby quilt for Ainsley's friend, Brandee. She is a special woman who is having a baby in September. Her nursery theme is baby jungle animals. I was given some jungle fabric and found another tutorial at the Moda Bakeshop website for a pattern called Jungle Path. It was easy and fun to follow the directions.

Scrappy Wonderfulness.

Two jungles here, and a wild binding.

I love the Jane Sassaman fabric with the elephant family.

The amazing, totally unexpected thing happened. I wouldn't let myself start a new project until I finished this quilt. That is a new feeling, a psychic change. I give the credit to the past 2 ½ yrs of being part of ALYOF. This adorable little baby quilt is going to be in the Council, ID quilt show (June 17-July 6) before it goes to Brandee and Nick and baby Kelton.

And, speaking of ALYOF, my goal for this group for June is to finish yet another UFO, my sunny-day-baby-quilt-. It is featured in my etsy shop. I have it basted and expect to finish it in about 8 hours. Then, I will be ready to sew yoga skirts for Ainsley and her two girls for the wedding.  The fabric is from Imaginegnats, rayon challis and cotton voile. Dreamy. The skirts will be all white, swishy and pretty.

What favored tutorials have you used recently?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Creative Self: 1, Inner Critic: 0

Last post I wrote about a bridal shower surprise. My middle daughter Ainsley is getting married, and her friends had a fun party game at the shower. Everyone gave a pair of panties, anonymously. Ainsley had to name who they were from. I was sure she'd guess the red satin panties with ruffles on the butt were from me, because they were home sewn. But, she didn't!! I was surprised. I used Simplicity-3737 and a UFO from 10 years ago.

ruffles on the bottom!!
I used red satin and red cotton knit for the crotch. They went together very easily, and turned out adorable. I want to make panties for all of my gals now.. flannel, knit, even feed sacks. So fun.

Ainsley's pal, Brandee, is having a baby in a few months. She wants a jungle theme, so here is the quilt top I made. I used Jungle-path-baby-quilt pattern from the Moda Bake Shop Web link.

43" x 43"

Each center square is a jungle animal. I love the dots!
I went through my usual creative process:

1. This is awesome.
2. This is tricky.
3. This is shit.
4. I am shit.
5. This might be ok.
6. This is awesome.

Fortunately, I know myself well enough to push through the middle and get to the awesome end. I wanted some lively darks to give the quilt movement, and then doubted the overall scrappiness. And, the sashing is totally scrappy with some grey that ran out, then pale blue that also ran out, and pale khaki pants weight, of which there was barely enough! I think the overall effect works. Stay tuned for the quilted finish, coming soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spoiler Alert

I already spilled the beans to middle daughter, Ainsley, and mentioned her (surprise) bridal shower, coming up. She knew about it, but said, "what shower?" Oooops. I might be able to attend, but it is iffy at this point. My sewing goal for May is a gift for the surprise shower, and the even more surprise party game. I won't tell you what I am sewing, but I promise to show before and (hopefully) after photos at the end of the month. The wedding is July 4th, in Boise at Municipal Park by the Boise River. I am excited to be sewing swishy skirts for the flower girls, and a pretty dress for myself as well. The girls' skirts will be white, and my dress will be solid summer green. I will be using rayon challis over double gauze from Imagine Gnats, a fun online shop, blog, and sew much more. If you are interested in checking out the fabric, you can click on the link at the right side of my blog. She also has patterns, many of them free downloads. I especially love the variety of adult sized garment patterns that are available.

Last month my sweet sister, Pam, came to visit and teach at my quilt guild's retreat. She shared a fairly new ruler and technique with us, the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) from Sew Kind of Wonderful. Here are some highlights from retreat:

Leona happily creating.

Pam rocks the hair tie.

My sample poinsettia, with the QCR.

Jody from Homegrown Quilts sewed the rows and borders of this group project.

Adorable Pam, showing her pressology expertise.

Pam finished this "Metro Scope" quilt top, one of the patterns using the QCR.
I finally finished the quilt top for Dianne, the Utah Star. It looks about the same as the photo before I sewed the edges, but here it is anyway. Pam is going to quilt it. It is about 90" square, almost king-size. As a nod to Dianne's mama, and her Utah heritage, there will be bee hives quilted into the corners. I can't wait to see it finished!!!

Dianne Hunt's Utah Star, pieced by her mama, Ramona Shurtliff.
Other news update, the toad is active in the garden, a fat female chirping and peeing when picked up. (I just learned that the females are the ones with those behaviors... ) I am so glad to have an organic garden, and to witness the wildlife. We have a baby cotton tail rabbit in the garden as well. The stuff of stories...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Artist Will Prevail

Now I see why her mom cried over this lone star quilt top. It lies flat but the bias is taunting me. The artist will prevail where the perfectionist tailor was stymied. It is gorgeous and I know she will love it! Here it is, ready for pattern pieces of the corners. I had to add the olive-brown edging to help it play nicely with the ecru corners. It will be 3-dimensional to the rest of the top. 

I will have to hand shimmy the diamonds to work this star into submission.Completing this top was my February goal, and since I didn't get it done, it is my March goal for ALYOF . I drew the pattern pieces, so cutting and sewing them will be next. 

In other blog news, I made blocks for Stash Bee's block exchange for January and February. The bar is set very high for quality, fabric selection, and fun. The tutorials are easy to follow, and so far I have wanted to make myself quilts with these designs. 

January's Hunter's Star 16 ½" sq.

February's String 9 " sq.
I pulled out a very old UFO from a class I took over 20 yrs ago in Seattle, "Special Effects, Iridescence/Opalescence" on color theory. I put together the pieces and here it is. The upper left corner is iridescent, the rest is opalescent. I thought it looked like an eye. I added a border that makes me think of hawk feathers, and named this, "Eye of the Raptor."I am not sure the hot pink will work. I may need to make it paler. I might try covering it with some tulle. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Plain Jane

Last fall a friend from Boise asked me to finish an incredible lone star quilt top that her mom started. The star is hand pieced in 70's calicoes of brown, yellow, orange, and ecru. It is a masterpiece, and lies perfectly flat. It needs to be cornered, and then quilted. My goal for February is to sew the corners of this lovely star. I believe it deserves to be hand quilted, which is a big goal, and not one for the faint of heart.

An article in my favorite, and no longer published journal, The Quilt Life, (Oct 2014) discussed the setting for an antique star quilt using unlikely background colors of red and dark olive green. It makes the stars ZING. I am inclined to do that for this lone star quilt, and here are two audition photos:

The center fabric is my first dyed attempt, and is browner than the photo. 

This center fabric is a primitive weave linen looking cotton.
I like the colored fabrics best. The ecru piece is what some people like to call "plain Jane." Ouch.

I'd really like your opinion on the colors, though I am at the point in my life where I do what I like and I like my own color choices.  Since I hardly ever ask for opinions, go for it!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Don't Sugar Me

Another word for doldrums

A feeling or spell of dismally low spirits:
bluesdejectiondepressiondespondencedespondencydolefulnessdownheartedness,  dumps,dysphoriafunkgloomglumnessheavy-heartednessmelancholymope (used in plural),mournfulnesssadnessunhappiness.
Why am I blue? Just avoiding sugar, and missing that dysfunctional relationship. I love sugar, but it gives me a quick thrill and then leaves me in the lurch. I am not answering that call this evening, so don't even leave a message, Sugar. Don't sugar me! Here are the lyrics to the song, by Walt Kelly:
Oh, I may be your cup of tea,
But, baby, don’t you ‘Sugar’ me!
Don’t stir me, boy, nor try to spoon,
Don’t sugar me, cause us is throon!

I won’t sip a lip with you, less
You want a granulated lump or two,
Just roll them eyes right out that door,
Them saucer eyes ain’t square no more.

All them things, them diamond rings,
Them stuff you promised me,
Were figments, Newton, sure as shootin’,
Shootin’ sure as A, B, see

The teapot pouts that the kettle’s blue,
It don’t work out that spar is true,
Just boil away, boy, don’t sit and brew,
Don’t sugar me, cause us is through!
 Don't worry, I am having a low spot, but it is transient and most of my day today has been great. I slept well last night, slept in till almost 8 am...a luxury of retirement. I got up and made a pot of espresso, got a fire going in the wood stove, heated some breakfast, and came up to my loft. I did my 3 pages of morning writing, which is my key to creativity. I wrote under the glow of my full spectrum light.

 My task for today was to work on my fabric inventory. Before we build storage in the loft for my fabric and supplies, I need to measure the dimensions of my stuff, and that means it is time to reduce the amount. I am following a plan laid out in Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space, by Lois Hallock. My goal is to have a lovely studio, rather than an attic full of stuff, which is the case now.  It was painful to imagine purging some of my wonderful but ridiculously excessive fabric hoard. However, once I started, it turned into relaxing therapy. I have gone through a large plastic tote of brown fabric and a medium size tote of yellow fabric, and have folded, condensed, sorted, and purged. Anything smaller than an 1/8th of a yard is either going in the trash, or donated to a thrift store as a "scrap bag." I have reduced my amount by 1/3 so far. Wow! At this rate, the 12 more totes will be reduced to 8, and that is a big deal for this hoarder. 
Here are a few before and after photos, but be warned, it isn't pretty.

One of my activities is a monthly goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. This is my third year with ALYOF, and it has changed my sewing life. This month I set the goal to finish 4 quilted bags I started last summer, and to embellish them. I did it. I used favored buttons on the front flaps, and it was a nice touch. 

Super cheerful. Just writing about this, and seeing the photos has brightened my evening glums. I am cheered by the finish, and dreaming about my next month's goal. I am also cheered by the contentment of dinner finished and put away, dishes done, coffee pot ready to start in the morning, and the end of my day... my favorite way to end the day, snuggled in bed with the cat, dog, Mr. Thimblepie, and my latest book. Life is good, and I am ready to go to bed. Good night!