Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tidy Tuesday, the one in which I actually have a helpful tip

I haven't posted a Tidy Tuesday in a couple of weeks because, honestly, I haven't been very focused on housework. I've been in a complete sewing zone, which was helped by a few commissioned orders. This weekend, however, I reached my limit with the messy house and tried to play catch up all in one day. That didn't work so well for me:) But it's a great deal better than it was.

And one of the better areas (here comes the tip) is in my drip pans. You all may know this and may wonder how I don't, but it wasn't until this weekend I discovered the tip of using ammonia to clean my drip pans. There are many sites discussing it, but I found it here. Previously, I've tried everything - soaking in scalding water & soap or Pine Sol, running thru the dishwasher, scouring pads, which would just get shredded without budging the dirt. I resigned myself to dirty drip pans most of the year until I finally broke down & bought new ones just so I could have clean ones for a week or so. Before I went to bed Friday night, I sealed each one in a ziplock bag with just a splash of ammonia & Saturday morning, I had this, after a brief wipe:

Not perfect, but you should have seen them! I think I'll do it again this weekend & see if I can't get the rest off.

Since my "clean all the things" rampage Saturday, I've slipped back into my sewing zone, but out of necessity. I've had a plan for my daughter's teacher appreciation gift for several months, but received a phone call from the PTA last Thursday saying that teacher appreciation had been moved up to this week. Thanks for the notice, guys! I guess no one makes hand made gifts anymore? I wasn't going to let my plans get derailed over a bumped up deadline, so I got to work.

This teacher is all about reading, which is probably a good trait in a 1st grade teacher, and I think she'll like it. She has done an amazing job with my daughter, who I feel owes it completely to her that she is probably reading several grade levels ahead. And she now has the courage to try a word. She tries all the words. Every moment we're in the car, she's reading something from a sign somewhere & I'm usually frantically looking around to see what she's reading.

Unfortunately, it was raining yesterday, so I didn't get the best of pictures of it. I echo quilted each book and then hand quilted with some pearl cotton around the word. I wish I had a close up of the word, but for whatever reason, it didn't occur to me yesterday. I did get a close up of that tilting book:

Because with all those irregular angles, I was super proud to have the corners meet so nicely. I was sure I'd either cut one off, or end up with a book "floating" above the shelf. I think I audibly squealed when I peeled back the binding to see that perfect little corner:) As a bonus, each piece, even the white ones, were taken from my scraps. That makes it even more fun for me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My next project

I made my daughter a backpack when she started kindergarten, but that was 2 years ago and it's showing some wear. She never actually wears it as a backpack, instead just holding it by the handle, but when she's going to her granny's, she always uses the shoulder strap of her overnight bag. So that has me thinking she would prefer a messenger bag to a backpack.

My first step was to consult an expert, so I bought the Molly Messenger Bag pattern by Pretty by Hand.

This is the first Pretty by Hand pattern I've bought, but I've read her blog for years and just love her attention to detail. I figured if anyone could walk me through it, it would be her.

My daughter is very into Monster High and has been for a year now, so I was excited to find this iron-on patch on ETSY:

But imagine my surprise upon finding this next fabric right in my very own closet:

How great is that? I eventually remembered buying it to make her a pillow case, but I certainly haven't thought about it again since purchasing day. Wonder what else is in there...

Anyway, then I found this great stripe:

Reviewed my Kona & Moda Bella cards for a pink (Moda berryliscious), and pulled some Kona Coal & Kona Black from my stash:

And I think we have all we need for a great messenger bag, don't you? I love working with fabric lines, but when something like this comes together by accident, it's extra fun, don't you think?

In other news, I did get my table runner bound:

And the commissioned tetris quilt top done:

That's it for me this week. What are you working on?

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her Work in Progress Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This has been a busy week!

First off is the tetris quilt I was commissioned to make. Still waiting on the purple to arrive...

And then a friend of mine wanted me to make some gifts for her upcoming trip to her home country of Belarus. 

A hooded towel with a flower and the letter "M":

Some pot holders using the colors red, gray, white & black: 

And some pot holders using walnut & cream, for which I used my Aster Manor scraps: 

But I didn't leave myself out, because I made a pillow cover (still in progress) using my beloved Salt Air: 

The Kona color is pond, if you're curious. 

And a table runner with the same fabric line: 

Not one piece of Salt Air shall be wasted!! And obviously I've been putting the hexagons together for a while. I'm very much looking forward to sewing that binding to the back tonight. It's been a long time since I've gotten to do a binding, and that's my favorite part!

One more pretty picture before I go - this lovely bundle is Rock N Romance by Art Gallery Fabrics: 

Ok - two more pictures, just because I know you want to see more:

I feel pretty sure these are destined for my bed. I'm developing an unnatural affection for them. 

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her Work in Progress Wednesday. What's going on with you this week?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Two stacks, one plan

This stack of fabrics:

is one purple short of a tetris quilt.

I've been commissioned to re-make this quilt in a lap size.

This stack of fabrics:

is just for fun. It's Sweet as Honey by Art Gallery Fabrics. Not my typical style, but the oranges and aquas, as well as the super soft feel of the fabric, just drew me in.

I have no immediate plans for it, but I'm looking forward to figuring it out.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Who knows when I'll baste again

My daughter was invited to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago at a skating rink. I was there about 5 minutes when I assessed the situation - I could either sit in a chair with nothing to do, but not be rude by looking bored for the duration of the party (similar to looking busy at work when you have nothing to do), or I could see if I could still skate. After all, I was pretty good at it once. 30 years ago, but still - once.

Can you guess which decision I made? From that point on, I very happily sat on my chair and pretend to be mesmerized by the 7-year-olds inching their way around the rink.

So, basting a quilt on the floor has been completely out of the question these last two weeks, and based on the sensation when I accidentally bumped my shin against the toilet (softly, even) this morning, I have no idea when I will get to baste.

The only thing that makes sense in that situation is to make another top, right?

The fabrics are Kensington by Riley Blake and the pattern is Hexagon Garden. I love both. I originally was going to make this for selling, but not only did I fall pretty hard for it during it's construction, the piecing isn't quite accurate enough for selling. I should have starched the jelly roll strips prior to piecing knowing the whole thing is made of triangles. And I should have had the proper triangle ruler instead of just using the 60% mark on my straight ruler. Given those two factors, I'm pretty proud it turned out as well as it did.

This particular section turned out really well. Which is why you're seeing it. Overall, it was a fairly easy pattern. I'm really sure I'll be making it again.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I miss covers

I have always liked being under the blankets. I prefer heavy blankets - the weight of two quilts is just perfect. I've never liked those fluffy, weightless polyester filled types. And my favorite thing to do with them is pull them right up over my head, and then I tuck them around my face so I can breath. Warm ears, cold nose - that's apparently what does it for me.

One of the first things I did upon becoming an adult was to learn to crochet, and for 20 years after I pretty much had a crochet hook in my hand every non-working moment. I made a lot of doilies, but a ton of afghans too, for both babies and adults.

And then three years ago I took up quilting and have made a pretty impressive number of quilts since. So I guess you could say that I've devoted my entire adult non-working life to making covers.

But now I've reached a peculiar stage of life where I can no longer enjoy my covers. In fact, they torment me.

Each night, I will get in bed and pull them up as I've done for the last 47 years, but it's a matter of time until the heat comes. The heat that defies biological science given the temperature of the room. I try to outsmart it - I know it's temporary - so I determine I'll just keep the covers in place and wait it out. You simply can't do this - it's too intense. But I know if I throw all covers completely off, I'll just get cold, so I try to inch the covers down. Just below the shoulder, I decide, is probably the perfect place. The heat disagrees. So, waist-high then. That should do it. NO! Knees? NO! And on we go until the only thing under the covers is the left foot. The heat demands that should go as well.

Fine. I have no covers. I lay there, damp from my own perspiration, under a ceiling fan, in a room about 68 degrees. Now I'm cold. So, I try to outsmart the cold. Just the left foot perhaps? Freezing. Somehow colder. Fine - knee-high, both feet? Nope. Waist-high? PUT SOME COVERS ON ALREADY!! I still try to stop at shoulder high, but it never works - I'm never comfortable until they are in place all the way up to my ears.

And that is when the heat comes back. All. Night. Long.

Maybe I should take up painting now...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pattern buying

Last week I read this article on the subject of pattern buying and sharing. While I agreed with the majority of it, there were a couple of things about it that just didn't set right with me and I wanted to give my non-professional, non-legal opinion about it.

My only experience with intellectual property and copyrighting comes from my previous job at a Christian company which, among other things, published books. They published several versions of the Bible, as well as commentaries and study aids, like Vines. Did you know that after a work has been in print for 100 years, it becomes public domain? So when my company printed their Vines, they did not have to pay royalty. The same with several versions of the Bible. Perhaps that's why companies keep producing updated versions? Anyway, if we bring that philosophy into the quilting world with us, then certain quilt blocks, just by nature of being around forever, cannot be claimed as intellectual property. Take the churn dash, for example. Someone could write a pattern for a quilt using the churn dash block, but they cannot claim intellectual property of that block, nor can they sue anyone who makes a churn dash after it's publishing date of copyright infringement. It's public domain by now. That doesn't mean no one should ever publish a pattern with a churn dash block, in fact, Camille did in her Simply Retro book. There's nothing wrong with her or anyone else publishing a churn dash pattern, but neither is there anything wrong with someone making that block without buying a pattern.

Now, I'm going to go off on somewhat of tangent. In January of 2012, Blue Elephant Stitches wrote a tutorial for what became a wildly popular block called the Granny Square. I, and thousands of other quilters, loved this block and made quilts from it. Here is a link to mine. Bee in my Bonnet has just published a book entitled Great Granny Squared. I can only judge from the pictures, but she seems to take the basic block and show it in a multitude of ways - different numbers of rows, on point versus not, different sashings, etc. Lori of Bee in my Bonnet has produced a huge number of very unique patterns and several fabric lines that I just love - she's a very accomplished designer. But the issue of the granny square block is muddy now to me. If I see a picture from her book and decide I want to do that exact thing to my granny square quilt, it's a no brainer that I should buy the book. But every member of the quilting community can claim some level of creativity, so who is to say that someone else might have the same idea without even seeing her book. Or what about the person who decides this year to start quilting? Might she (or he) see the book first and think they cannot make any form of the granny square block without buying the book, when in fact, it was first provided to the public by Blue Elephant Stitches? I'm not even sure what my point is, other than maybe the tone of the article would cause a person to think all granny square quilt makers from now on should buy the book, and not only do I not agree with that, I don't even think that was Ms. Holt's intention. She provided multiple creative treatments to the block and wanted to share them with us.

But back to the article, which stresses that we should buy a pattern, no matter how simple. And that's where she lost me. Because some things are so basic that you simply can't claim intellectual property of them. Take for example this pattern - squares set on point with sashing and a border. If you are new to quilting and want the instructions for adding sashing and setting triangles, then I'm very glad someone has provided that for you. But you can't claim intellectual property of the square - you just can't. Two years ago, I shared some squares on point with sashing that will have a border - I had never seen this pattern before today when I went searching for an example to make my point. You can't claim that I should have bought that pattern if I was going to make that quilt. So, no, I will not buy a pattern no matter how simple. I will assume when someone publishes a pattern that simple, they do so with the understanding that it's mostly going to be the novice interested in purchasing it and with the understanding that countless others are going to have a similar, maybe even exact, idea without ever seeing their pattern.

Of course I agree with the rest of the article. When we see a new idea in a pattern and copy it by sight just because we have the math and quilting skills to do so, we are stealing their idea. If the pattern designer brings the idea to us, we should reward their creativity by purchasing their pattern rather than stealing it. And, come on, we spend hundreds of dollars on fabric - we can spot the $8 - $10 that most quilt patterns cost.