29 April 2011

Barcelona Skirts

For about 2 years now I have been meaning to make more skirts from the Amy Butler pattern "Barcelona Skirt," but for some reason it didn't happen until this week. It's not that it's a complicated pattern - in fact, once you've done it one time, it goes pretty smoothly from there. I even picked out some fabrics about a year ago specifically for this purpose, but put it off so long that I completely reconsidered my choices.

When I first made this skirt, I found a fabulous Tina Givens fabric at Cool Cottons here in Portland. And when I wore this skirt to the shop a few weeks ago, co-founder and owner, Marie, proclaimed that she, too, had made the same skirt using the same print. Great minds think alike!

And while at work, I kept eyeing a particular print from Michael Miller Fabrics, from their Metro Living collection. I finally caved, again with great encouragement from Marie. So, when I finally dragged out my old pattern from my sewing table drawer, I decided I was going to maximize on the effort and cut out two skirts at one time. I don't know whether it's consistency of taste or what, but as it turns out they are both predominantly grey - however the Andover floral is actually yardage I bought many years ago, while working at another quilt shop that is sadly no longer around. However, it was a print I loved then, still love now, and has been used in several quilting projects already (including one of the main prints in my queen sized quarter log cabin quilt).

and the Michael Miller one:

One thing I DID learn in this process, however, is that this pattern most definitely is more effective cutting and sewing from unwashed fabric. It not only accentuates the fraying of the raw edges on each tier of the skirt, but I found that the medium is just a hint too big for me, but I don't dare try and cut the pattern to the small, but with a hot water wash it seems to shrink just about the right amount to fit properly!
Now if only the temperature would stay above 58 degrees so I might actually get some wear out of my cute new skirts!

28 April 2011

Desperately Seeking Something

I'm sorry to say that the last couple of weeks have been less than inspiring on this end. But I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, and better yet, the light is DAY-GLO!

I've signed up for a new swap on Flickr: I Heart the 80s(sic)! It looks like it will be a feast of nostalgia for those of us who came of age during that crazy decade, and an excuse to revisit the completely over-the-top design sense that helped define it!

This is just a sample of some of the rad references I found on Flickr and incorporated into my inspiration mosaic for the group (the legend and links to the origins of the photos can be found here).

When I was trying to think of what sort of craft items or sewn goods I might like from that era, I kept coming back to the old lap desks, with the beanbag bottoms. Perhaps it has something to do with my relatively new acquisition of a laptop computer, which I do in fact use on my lap as often as on a desk. I found a vendor on Etsy, LapDeskLady who had some that screamed quintessential '80s in my book, like this one here...

And of course, who doesn't still have a mix tape or two (or a dozen) from back then?? Someone in the group located this fabric from Timeless Treasures, too:

But one thing that was consistent on most every form of art/craft/fashion/nick-knack of the time was MONOGRAMS! Whether they be the traditional embroidered monograms on towels, robes, even socks, or a more age-specific style of first names stitched on backpacks, duffel bags (myself, I had a cute pink and green duffel I used for ballet class for years), and then there was the paint pen onslaught... the bubble letters, dot-serif print, cute butterflies and bees, labeling ANYTHING and EVERYTHING! I even have a cassette case with paint pen ID on it!

And I can't remember which came first, the monogramming or the string friendship bracelets, but I recall that I had some entrepreneurial friends back then (somewhere around 4th and 5th grades) with whom I combined my creative force and we offered our services for a nominal fee. That might have lasted for all of a month, who knows, but somehow embedded itself deep in the recesses of my memory.

So, as you can see, I am scouting for ideas and inspiration, and trying to come up with fun projects for my as-yet-undetermined swap partner!

Signing out,
Linda (from circa 1984)

16 April 2011

Monochromatic project, next installment

As promised, I'm going to fill in a few more details on my journey through this challenge, which I have since learned I did not place in, but one of my fellow Portland Modern Quilt Guild members, Jill, did! See her fabulous entry here and here.

The design process began, as most do for me, with a piece of graph paper and a pencil - oh, and the original theme of the challenge, of course. The first design was in my awesome graph paper composition notebook, but as I was playing with ideas I realized this quilt wanted to be based on 60 degree triangles, which meant switching the type of graph paper I was using. Thank goodness for the options we have!

I've talked about the fabric selection process a bit in previous posts, so I won't go too much in depth here. Plus, there's nothing too complex about it. Bluntly, this challenge came about at a time when I was making a concerted effort to limit my fabric purchases to specific projects, and knowing I was going scrappy for this, I started out in my stash. Choosing from a color that I seemed to have a fair amount of fabrics in a variety of values made the most sense to me, and so that's where I began.

And then I just started making strip sets, selecting sub-sets of gradients within the full "spectrum" of values with which I was working. Those strip sets got cut down at 60 degree triangles and from the dozens and dozens of such triangles I started laying them out and sewing them back together according to the layout in the sketch.

Now, one of the new techniques this project introduced me to was binding the serrated edge. When I have a bit more concentration (admittedly, we are watching "Dangeroud Liasons" while I am doing this - an excellent film that neither J nor I has seen in YEARS) I'll try to put together a tutorial on the binding process, but for now I'll just load several of my photos from the experience.

and like my little "binding cozy"? Just a swatch from an old knitting project and a safety pin, and it keeps the long bias binding roll in check, while allowing it to unroll as I use it. Yay for scraps of all kinds!

11 April 2011

Monochromatic challenge

So, I guess I've been holding out on sharing much about my first major entry to a quilt contest. Some might say I play by the rules, and those same folks would also say that I take thing rather literally. And both are more or less true.

I did, once before, enter a quilt into a contest, or rather a juried exhibition. It was only a couple of years after I had started quilting, and though I still stand by the inspiration and theme of the quilt, I acknowledge that the technical aspects were not exactly museum worthy. I was looking for ways to combine my relatively newly discovered love of quilting with my more steady, consistent love for photography. It is a black and white "Trip Around the World," both literally and figuratively.

I designed this quilt using photographs I had taken while traveling. I printed the photos onto ink jet printer fabric (NOT Printed Treasures... in fact I don't even remember the brand) which ultimately discolored and became more charcoal and mauve than black and white,

plus I hand quilted the piece, with little to no experience. (Experience now tells me that my hand quilting will NEVER be jury-worthy!)

And enough with the tangent... Back to the matter at hand - the Modern Quilt Guild's Project Modern 2 Challenge. The theme, as you most likely know, was "monochromatic" with a bit of discussion about how stringently they would be sticking to that definition. I tried to do my best, though I battled with WHITE and the family of TEAL just a bit. However, I was happy with what I came up with. I started out with these guys
and started building out from there.

My first step was playing around in the sketchbook, and the first design I came up with, I figured was both more complex than I wanted to try for this, and would perhaps not be best realized as a monochromatic quilt. So I played some more and came up with a quilt based primarily on scrappy, string-pieced patches. After much playing around and adding to the fabric pool, I landed on what worked best for me.

Over all, this process took about 2 and half months, a few pieces of paper, and a fair amount of fabric. The quilting and binding of the quilt are something else entirely, and I shall devote another post to them, but for now I will stick with the overall picture and just say that I am glad to be in the game (even though I don't know the results just yet...)

06 April 2011

quilters' alchemy?

Bringing order from chaos, turning one thing into something else entirely, where the sum of two parts is most definitely greater than the whole.
Taking this:

and this:

and turning them into this:


and eventually this:

pretty much only takes stamina and determination (and very, very basic math skills).

A couple of years ago I made this quilt, based on a pattern in the Laurie Shifrin book, Batik Beauties, called Modern Mayhem.

I chose to adjust the measurements slightly, bringing the scale to a more approachable one in my opinion, and just CUT. From there I took the approach of drawing a name out of a hat, but instead of a name it was a fabric piece, and instead of a hat it was a box top. And I have to say, I have been very happy with the results - so much so that I decided a while back that this would be my formula for all of my smaller (but not miniscule) scraps. However, like washing the dishes just after preparing and eating a meal, it is not the easiest thing for me to trim my sewing scraps AS I use them. Instead I let them collect, keeping them in the wire baskets sorted by general color, and every so often get the urge to spend an entire afternoon cutting them down into just 3 basic sizes, awaiting the time when I randomly reach in and start piecing another of those scrappy quilts.

So, here is my oh-so-simple formula: 5x5, 2x5, 2x2. Beware, it is NOT a charm pack and a jelly roll. I suppose it could be, but for some reason I prefer the slightly smaller scale for the sashing and posts.
And here is my process:

Begin with a fabric scrap at least 5" square

Trim width to exactly 5"

Cross-cut to make as many 5" squares as possible. Once the remainder is too narrow for that (or there's a divet cut out from a previous project which gets in the way), switch to cutting 5"x2" rectangles and 2"x2" squares (for sashing strips and posts respectively)

And of course we all know that we have lots of viable scraps that do not start at 5" wide, and for those, just jump straight to the 2" components (which we'll be needing many more of in this case, anyhow):

Once enough elements (and please don't ask me to define "enough" because I apparently haven't figured that one out yet, even for myself!) are cut, I say just throw your hand into the big mess, come out with 2 differently-sized pieces at random, match up the edges that are the same dimension and start the chain piecing! It is one of my goals to start making a scrappy, single-color (as in same color family, not STRICTLY single-color) quilt from each of my half a dozen color-coded scrap bags. Just a few more scraps to cut down, first... then hopefully more quilts in this direction:

03 April 2011

Checkin' in for the first time

As I was browsing around Flickr this morning while enjoying my morning coffee, seeing the sun lighting up my house (a novelty for 9am as of late) and preparing to head downstairs to work on some bee projects today, I came across a new blog to me. Now, most blogs are new to me, relatively speaking, and I still haven't fallen into a rhythm with checking any on a regular basis, but I was glad to find Elizabeth's (of Don't Call Me Betsy) posts. First of all, I was led there by my intrigue after seeing these blocks for a different circle in the do.Good Stitches bee, made from her tutorial. Something I'll definitely have to try out for myself soon!

But what really got the fire under me was seeing a more recent post of hers about taking inventory of her to-do list from the beginning of 2011, now that we are a quarter of the way into the year. Now, those of you who know me know that I am NOT a list maker, though I would certainly benefit from doing so. BUT, this year started differently than any other for me, and I did at least begin with a mental list of things I hope/intend to accomplish - or at least work toward this year. So here follows my assessment of the year so far:

*This Blog... though I still have a LOT of work to bring it to the caliber I'd like, I've been keeping up with it, so that's something. And, as I mentioned earlier, I've been doing some scanning of other blogs and finding inspiration and most definitely learning. I do hope to bring more tutorials to this, as I work through some of my own original designs and projects, which brings me to my next couple points...

*keeping a sketchbook AND using it!

*Activating my EQ7 Software and having an instructor for it. After my mom granted my birthday wish last fall by buying me the software, my boyfriend contacted a local instructor, Katrina Hamer, and arranged for me to receive 3 one-on-one classes with her as part of my Christmas present. And she was GREAT!

*Work on building an inventory, to be sold through Etsy and hopefully ultimately other venues. I've been adding to my place mat and pot holder stock (not as quickly as I'd hoped, but that's my own fault) and have actually had a few sales, which can't be bad!

*testing out new designs, with the goal of publishing. My Fiesta Squares quilt, and more recently the Dorm Room Cots quilt are both headed in that direction.

*Participating in online quilting bees. So far, I've kept it to just two, which actually seems to be working out well, and I feel I lucked out in both cases. It's been great to get to "know" a new group of quilters, and I've been enjoying the interactions and the inspirations found both in the Seams Perfect Modern Scrap Bee and the do.Good Stitches bee.

And an addition to that is the Urban Home Goods Swap 4. Went outside of my box for that one with the messenger bag.

*Get my queen size quarter log cabin quilt basted and in the hand-quilting frame.

Granted, I've not even finished quilting one block, but I knew it would be a long process... it will eventually be on my own bed, thank you very much!

*And last, but certainly not least, submitting a quilt for the Project Modern Challenge 2. Since the deadline has now passed, and I've seen other VERY TALENTED ladies post photos of their submissions, here's a look:

(I'll add more details and process photos after the judging happens)

Now, the list of things I thought I would have gotten to, but have not is just as long, sadly. I still have a stack of not-so-new quilt tops awaiting quilting, some UFOs I began in classes but never finished, a quilt I began working on for my brother and his significant other, and then there's the bike.

If there's anything I would need to make a "new year's resolution" about, it's using my bike more. Which I think will need to start with a new front tire, and now that the weather is finally starting to change, I think that's next on the list!