31 August 2012

Firemen, camping beauties and solid scraps

So, in my previous post I gave a little hint about some birthday gifts for this week (which admittedly became just one single birthday gift, with something waiting in the wings). Of late years, my friends and I rarely exchange birthday gifts beyond maybe a bottle of wine, a dinner out, or some silly token if at all, but yesterday was a milestone birthday for one of my closest friends here in Portland - the first friend I made after moving here 11 years ago, in fact. She loves throwing parties, baking, board games and for nearly as long as I've known her she has one consistent (if somewhat facetious) request for her parties, "Feel free to invite any firemen you might know!"

As far as I know I never did see any firemen at these get-togethers, but that was gonna change this time around! Maybe not as exciting as she had envisioned, but darnit I decided to bring her some firemen!
I think this surprised her new man, but he took it in stride ;-) Perhaps I should have offered him the camping centerfold version... maybe when his birthday rolls around, we'll see (or maybe I'll have to save that one for J to go with the camping babes flannel quilt his mom made him many years ago!)

And changing tack entirely...

For some reason my response time on bee blocks has slowed down tremendously over the months. I think earlier this season I actually was late on 2 different bees. I don't think I'm alone in this at this stage, but it is certainly different from how I started out on these guys. This month I got in just under the wire for Bri's block in the Friends + Fabric Bee. She asked us to make improv blocks using only solids, inspired by this quilt from Ashley of Film in the Fridge.

A gorgeous inspiration, wouldn't you say??
So, as I was working on a few other things over the weeks I was weeding out all of the scraps of solids I came across. Finally yesterday I took the afternoon and sat down to attack that pile, small cutting mat and rotary blade to my left, Cut 'n' Press and iron to my right.

I actually enjoyed this process much more than I thought I would (though it did, obviously, take me a few weeks to work up to it), and in fact was struck with the idea to make a baby quilt kind of like this. How fun and cool would that be?? I'm on the fence about using only solids - we know I do like my busy prints! I might play around with mostly solids, throwing in just a few tone-on-tones here and there to add another dimension, but let me tell you I'm excited by the prospect, so thank you Bri!

28 August 2012

Stitching and Camping

To begin with, I have FINALLY gotten a couple of new items up in my Etsy shop, also titled Surrounded by Scraps. It had been way too long since I had updated that little venue so I am glad to have a little momentum back.

But in order to get a few of the newer items up sooner rather than later, I did have to take some binding work away with me camping this last weekend. My reasoning was twofold: we were going camping primarily to celebrate 2 friends' birthdays and I had intended to sew up a little gifty for the birthday kids before the trip, but fell short on time. But here's a little hint on what I had in mind...
(both part of the Alexander Henry collection)

The second part of this equation is that I had spent the time I had in my sewing studio before the trip trying to make some new potholders and get the bindings machine sewn on to take with me, INSTEAD of working on the birthday presents, so I figured I'd better actually have that handwork with me to have SOMETHING to show for the oversight!

and with a little fire going

trying to smile for the camera - feeling a bit foolish, I have to admit!

Now, thankfully I wasn't the only one playing at hobbies. J was trying his hand at starting fire without matches or flint, simply with the power of the sun! He got the bark smoking, but no flames to be had this time around...

The first night it was just J and myself at a campground on the east side of Mt. Hood with a creek running right by. The following day we drove around, back toward Portland to meet up with the rest of our party at a campground on the Sandy River. Fun was had, horseshoes were thrown, pinecones were fetched and breakfast was quite a to-do!
(look at all of those camp stoves in action!!)

It was a great weekend, and I even have new potholders that survived (and will be in the next load of laundry to be sure there are no remaining campfire fumes attached - I promise!)

11 August 2012

Sunny Day Dress

A while back I posted a photo of an upcoming garment project

I have had it in my mind that I want to try and make more clothing and at the beginning of the summer season I looked through my closet for a fun little sundress to wear during the day and realized that I don't have one. Well, what's a seamstress to do about that? Though it's been a really long time since I've considered myself a seamstress, technically I do have the training. There was one pattern in particular at Cool Cottons that kept catching my eye, the Sunny Day Dress and Skirt by Jamie Christina.

The fabric I chose is a print from Andover, trimmed with just a plain solid white. I was hoping to finish the dress by the time I went on my trip to the east coast in late June, but didn't quite meet that deadline. For the most part the construction went pretty smoothly, though I did have a couple of problems losing track of top/bottom of some of the pattern pieces that were either truly rectangular or (in one case) nearly so. Even with the markings I was unsure if I put the bodice and waistband together properly. The only other problem I had with the pattern/construction is that the trim for the top of the waistband came up short. Not by much, but it did leave unfinished edges on that tiny little flange just before the gathered back.

I also made just a couple of adjustments for size and length as I was putting it together. For one, the pattern definitely errs on the short-waisted side of things, which I am not. But even with that being the case, the measurement for the elastic for the back of the dress was a little long and had to be shortened to stay where it should in order to keep the bodice and waistband hanging correctly. I also made a really tiny hem on the skirt in order to keep the length below my knee.

But I finished it, and FINALLY got up the nerve to wear it to work earlier this week.

We've been having temperatures in the upper 80s and into the 90s here in Portland, but the day I chose to wear the dress was one of the cooler days of the week - perhaps hitting 80°F at the most. Which worked out perfectly so I could be comfortable wearing my little short-sleeved cardigan over it, covering up the amply exposed back this dress offers. I thought I'd be happy to have a fun garment that actually shows a little of my mid-back tattoo, but am thinking not one for work, perhaps. Does this mean I'm getting old??

All in all, I am definitely glad I made the effort to get this finished and was able to wear it at least the once. I'll keep my eye open for more of her patterns as long as I feel I'd be able to alter the bodice length to fit me better. But it is cute, isn't it??

07 August 2012

Is this what a quilt top looks like?

Okay, first off, it seems I might have to dedicate some time to a little blog redesign... either Blogger is having issues, or my computer is having issues, but all of a sudden my page template seems bleak. I'll try to get around to it soon.

But first I just have to say I think I am finally over the inertia hurdle (though I probably shouldn't speak TOO soon). Last week I managed to piece my first quilt top in several months. Yay!

As I've mentioned, there are a couple of baby quilts on my radar and I've finally started pulling fabrics.

and playing with some not-too-complex designs emerging from my sketchbook, and the results so far are:

I'm looking forward to getting the others under way, but had to at least get this first one under my belt. Phew.

05 August 2012

Summer Giveaway Winner!

So, we have a winner of those luscious Rowan fabrics! Since my HTML is a little rusty, I can't figure out how to get rid of this ridiculous pause before the widget, so...

...wait for it....

RANDOM.ORG - Integer Widget

True Random Number Generator

Powered by RANDOM.ORG

COMMENT #5 - Jennifer Gail
I have discovered ID discovery channel on tv. Don't laugh it's really addictive.

and thanks to her insightful comment J and I discovered that I DO get that channel as well, and had an interesting evening of watching a show called Blood, Lies, and Alibis. Oh yes! (I can totally see the addictive quality, too)

So, congratulations, Jennifer, and thanks to everyone who shared their what-ups! It's fun to get a little window into what interests others and how we are enjoying spending our time both in and outside of the sewing room!

01 August 2012

August's Improv Inspiration

August is my month as Camp Counselor for Design Camp 2 [think outside the block] Improv Bee. I've actually been collecting images onto a Pinterest board for the last few months in anticipation of this very thing! The new twist for me in this online bee is that each of the hosts chooses his or her own fabrics and sends packets out to the other members of the bee for their month. I've only ever participated in scrap/stash busting bees up to this point, so this is a whole new challenge for me!

I'm starting with this:

then breaking it down to groupings more like this:

Because this is an improv bee, we're not working with a specific pattern, but more of a guideline. In the past there has been a request for improv robots, drunk love log cabin blocks and in one of the other camps an interpretation of shipping containers. The guidelines I'm asking folks to follow are to stick to a more linear construction (though not necessarily straight lines!) OR to do a wonky or drunk love log cabin construction. Again, my pinterest board and Flickr favorites have a variety of examples.

Here are a few photos of my process with making a single block, using the fabric cuts I showed above:

and once a grouping seems sufficient, I join it with another group, end to end:

...and just keep going until it feels "done" (or at the very least, a decent size).

Once I finished that first block I still had enough fabric left to throw together a log cabin block. Don't think I need to go through my process with that one, but here's a photo of the finished product:

Sooo, the fabric packets will be going out by next weekend and I'm hoping that my fellow Design Campers will just have fun with this! Feel free to be creative!