31 August 2011

Jay McCarroll Habitat Challenge

At the beginning of this summer, The Modern Quilt Guild presented a challenge in conjunction with Freespirit Fabric using Jay McCarroll's newest collection, Habitat. The challenge is relatively open-ended, allowing each guild chapter to define its own goals, but keeping to a few set guidelines. Each member who wishes to participate is given 6 fat eighths (approximately 9" x 22") of different prints from the Habitat collection. The individual does not need to use ALL of the fabric, but if he/she wants to supplement, it must be using only solids or other prints from the same collection. The Portland Modern Quilt Guild asked its participating members to each sew one (or more, if they like) 12" finished block, any design. At our September meeting the blocks will be collected, and ultimately be pieced into donation quilts. While working on another project entirely, I came up with a kind of improv-flying geese idea, and sketched something out.
And since I had such a limited amount of fabrics with which to work, I decided to do a test block (or two, as it turned out) using some of my own fabrics, but trying to keep with a similar feel and amount of activity - so of course I look to the Westminster guys! And this was the first one I came up with...
Though I am not unhappy with this, I wasn't sure if it shows enough contrast, so I tried one more using the same designers' fabrics, but selecting a couple more solids and contrasts to see what would happen. I was pretty happy with the outcome.
(who knows, this might become a quilt all its own!) This gave me courage to dive in and start cutting the Jay McCarroll fabrics and just see what would happen...
I still have plenty more of the complimentary fabrics, I just don't know about time, but I definitely think I'd like to make a couple more of these, and if I really get my act together, I'll take more process photos and put a tutorial up. I had taken photos while making my first of these blocks, but in subsequent tries, found better and more uniform ways of doing it, so I think I need to fine tune a bit. But I have to say, I do like me a challenge!

27 August 2011

So glad to have an IKEA right here!

When I first moved into my home, I looked for shelving that I found both attractive and seemed to fit with the craftsman style of the house. Oh, and that was reasonably priced. Oddly enough, my favorite shelves I found at IKEA (which had only recently opened in Portland around the time I moved - and conveniently is just a couple of miles from me!).

Now, nearly 5 years later, as I'm setting up my studio space I know I want to get similar shelves for the studio, since they have worked so well for me and my stash. Oh, and a new table for my second sewing machine, and maybe a little comfy chair to relax in... You all know how it goes, right?

So last Monday J spent the early part of the day with me, driving the rental U-Haul in a sort of triangular route, from the pick-up spot, to IKEA, then to my house to load my current sewing and cutting tables, plus a few of the baskets of fabric, and then we were off to the studio space to unload.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I was at work, so I didn't get back in there until Thursday to start putting stuff together.
The table top alone was too heavy for me to really lift, so now that I have this together, I still need to wait for someone to help me flip it over without snapping the legs off.

One of the lovely, versatile Expedit shelves.

And of course, in the process of using tools with heavy boards, accidents will happen. This looks much worse than it actually was - got a cardboard papercut on the inside of one finger, and scraped the knuckle on my thumb. As I was not prepared with Band-Aids I had to throw together some make-shift bandages from what I did have around - paper towels and blue painter's tape. It did the trick well enough to allow me to finish my job for the day, which is all I could ask for.

I got 3 of the 4 shelving units put together on Thursday, and came back to finish it up Friday, and to hopefully get some of my fabric put away, so I'll be ready to work after this weekend... I think I'm on track!

This is just the follow-up fabric that wasn't already in baskets or fabric drawers... Maybe I could work on whittling down this stash one of these days.

The walls are still looking a bit bare, but in time, in time. Just have to get more quilts hung, and see what other decorations make their way to my space. But for now, I have 2 dowels up with quilts displayed:

25 August 2011

One of my faves

I was so excited to see this Michael Miller fabric at Cool Cottons when I came in to work this week!

I bought some of the same print, but with a brown background, a while back. Then bought quite a bit more. It's a favorite go-to for me, and I think I might have to add the green version to my bag of tricks as well.

19 August 2011

Design wall - CHECK!

Another update about the studio progress... Now that the painting is complete (I got that last little bit of the floor leading up to the door covered on Thursday afternoon), it's time to get to work on the design wall. Last weekend my friend Julia helped me with a trip to Home Depot, where I picked up two 4' x 8' soundproofing boards to use as the base for said design wall.

Earlier in the week I had picked up some Thermolam (or similar product... I keep forgetting which one I decided on) with which to cover these boards. Much of my struggle in getting this started was actually figuring out the darned staple gun. It took me WAY TOO LONG to get this working, but once I finally got one staple out, the rest were almost fun!

Unfortunately, the width of the batting was just shy of the width of the boards

which meant I had to make another trip to pick up one more 3 yd. length of batting to finish these guys off in a proper way. After a little cutting, and more stapling the boards were ready to mount on the wall. Thank goodness I brought the old boom box over yesterday, which served as the perfect stand for me to get these just the right distance from the floor before putting my hammer and nails to work. When I left the space this afternoon, I left it with a proper (if not perfect) design wall!

Oh, and had to hang one burst of color - a painting that had been my grandmother's. It ain't a happy work space without some art on the walls!

17 August 2011

The saga of the blue place mats

Many, many months ago a friend contacted me about making some placemats for her to give as a host(ess) gift to her brother and his partner. She did not specify a "need-by" date, which unfortunately for me means that it ends up getting pushed from the forefront of my project list more often than not. What she DID give me is a link to photographs of their kitchen and home, which had been published in a major design publication! (I probably shouldn't divulge until the set is actually finished, out of my hands and hopefully in the home of the intended recipients). Trying to work from these photos had slightly contradictory results for me: 1.) There was the added impetus to get going and whip up something fabulous to compliment this already beautiful space,
2.) But with that added pressure (totally self-inflicted, mind you) I would start going in one direction, then deem it unworthy and start over again. This happened at least 4 times.

Too dark, not to mention a bit too conservative and "strict".

A design I was very interested in, but had trouble feeling that it was coming together cohesively, so I abandoned it (for the time being).

After beginning to work with more solids, I started pulling these various blues to compliment the photos of the kitchen I saw... My next attempt was WAY beyond my skill level... a 1-patch herringbone design to mimic the brickwork in their kitchen, but my Y-seams were AWFUL! I couldn't even finish 2 mats, much less all 8!

But, I now have 8 pieced tops for placemats (and 2-3 possibilities for backings) that I am happy with, and would be almost proud to submit for this project.

Next step is to figure out how I am going to quilt these puppies! I am hoping the folks in the Flickr group How Should I Quilt This?come up with some better suggestions than I've had run through my mind!

Right now I'm leaning toward either a loose cross-hatching (more random than measured) or just going with vertical lines at various increments. Regardless of what I choose, I am imposing a deadline... Erica is due to visit Portland at the beginning of September, and I plan to have them finished enough to show her (binding may or may not be complete) in person before sending them off. She's been too lenient on me!

14 August 2011

Studio painting - Days Six & Seven

So, I didn't actually take any photos on Thursday, but tried to supplement with "first thing" photos when I got to the studio today. The only difference being that the furniture was just brought over this morning. A friend of mine had been offering help the last week or so, but the painting left to do is really a 1 person job at this stage, and being for the floor, is probably best to do without an extra body hanging out. But then I remembered, "Wait! She has a pick-up! Maybe she'd like to help me take over a few "smaller" items that I don't need to wait for the U-Haul day to load... and so she did! So now my big, comfy arm chair is there, plus my little desk, and we even did a run to Home Depot to pick up some boards I can use to build my design wall. Woo Hoo!! We dropped these few things off in the back of the space, where I had gotten the floor painted on Thursday.
I was a bit surprised that it's still ever-so-slightly tacky, but not enough to be making impressions while walking through, so hopefully I haven't upset things too much. And if there are marks left - oh well!

After taking my friend out for lunch and a beer to thank her for her help that morning, I got back down to it, and started laying down some paint on the rest of the floor.

only being sure to leave myself a pathway so I could make it out the door when I was ready.

Next step: Fill in that last path, making sure to have my staple gun and hammer and nails with me, so I can work on putting together the design wall while I'm painted in! So close, and yet...

11 August 2011

A Past Project with New Intent

Just when I was resolute in not joining any more swaps and not committing to another bee just yet, I came across an extension of one of the do.Good Stitches projects for this month. August is Natalie's month to design and quilt for her circle, and she asked to alter their recipient charity for this round, to instead contribute the quilts to the NICU at one of her local hospitals to go to preemies. She wrote a detailed account of her inspiration and intention on her blog, Threaded Mess. It's definitely worth checking out, even if you're not a quilter... just a way to think about doing little things for the community that can make a big impact to a few others.

Her block inspiration is from a tutorial by Anna Marie Horner, developed by her son during a block drive in 2010 to benefit the flood victims in the Tennessee valley, which she called Rainbow Around the Block. The idea being to collect an assortment of blocks using the same pattern, but each one having its own distinct color story - so together they become the rainbow.

Inevitably, I decided to make an effort to join Natalie's block drive and this morning began pulling focus fabrics and stacks to go with each:

I figure a couple blocks a week should be approachable, right??