Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hacked Gmail

If anybody received an odd email claiming to be from me, with either some crud about an iPhone or other links: It wasn't me. My Gmail account was hacked, and that was the result. Thankfully I caught it within about 20 minutes of it happening and was able to change my password (yay, thanks Jeff!), and it shouldn't happen anymore.

I do apologize if this caused anyone inconvenience!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Olivia The Pig

I managed to snap some pictures of the finished Olivia quilt as the leaves were turning and Autumn was in its glory. As I type it's gotten pretty cold the past few days, the leaves are long gone and the outdoor icicle lights have just popped on, as the light already starts to fade at 4pm.

I do wish Fall lasted longer, the turning of the foliage is such a fast process. Over almost as soon as it's begun.

Olivia the Pig Quilt
Pattern by Elizabeth Hartman

Olivia the Pig Quilt

The back of the quilt is pieced. Two large dot fabrics that were 54" wide. The binding is Kona charcoal with some of the white-on-red polka dot fabric that was used in the quilt top. The background is Kona medium grey.

Olivia the Pig Quilt

It presently lives on Miss Matilda's bed (it's not a bed-sized quilt though), where Lieam spends as much time sleeping on it as he possibly can!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NYCC Sunday Stash

While I was at New York Comic Con mid-October, it was nice to come home after very long days to find packages of fabric waiting for me on the porch.

Among the goodies some additional Ghastlies prints (who can resist? well, I certainly can't!) Different colorways of prints I already had:

The Ghastlies in smoke, and Ghastly Bramble in natural/tea(?)

The Ghastlies I got because I still need to piece together a back for my Ghastly Taffy quilt. And because the Ghastlies are just amazing. I was happy to read the other day that Alexander Henry is bringing them back again, and adding another new print too. May 2012 is going to be fun!

Summer House charms
A charm pack of Summer House by Lily Ashbury.

I really love the vibrant, bright colors in this collection. I think the Audrey print in Bright Blue is probably my favorite one:

Audrey in Bright Blue
The vibrancy of this print gets me every time. Delicious.

I finally broke down and added to my Lizzy House collection by picking up 1001 Peeps:

1001 Peeps

I think this may be my favorite print from that collection in my two favorite colors:

1001 Peeps Illuminate
The candles are adorable!

And what is possibly my favorite print from Jessica Levitt's Kingdom line:

Posy in Opal
Posy in Opal. The light in this picture really doesn't do it justice.

And each colorway of my favorite Happy Mochi Yum Yum print:

Happy Mochi Yum Yum
So cute and so colorful!

Now to clear more projects out of the way, and come up with things to do with this stuff!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


When they mentioned on the radio on Thursday or Friday last week that we might get a little snow, I figured it'd be a dusting, or an inch or so. Especially considering it was not yet Halloween, and snow is pretty rare to start before December here in NY (in my decade here at least), being that people start getting excited and hopeful that we might get some for Christmas.


And so late in the morning on Saturday it started snowing. And then it starting coming down really heavily. At about 1pm, as Jeff and I were enjoying a lazy morning in pajamas playing on the computer, we heard a really loud noise, and suddenly the power went dead. A tree behind the house had uprooted and fallen right onto the power lines.

Most of the trees still have their foliage, and the snow was really wet and heavy, so this combination caused havoc all over the northeast. Tree branches, so heavily laden, were just snapping off. Trees were getting uprooted. It was pretty crazy. Jeff and I went out for a walk later in the evening after the snow had stopped, and you could hear the sounds of creaking, cracking, snapping wood all over the place, as branches lost the fight with the weight of so much snow and leaves.

Snowtober Heavy snow-laden branches bending down to the cars.

We were lucky though. If the tree had fallen straight over, which would have been what I'd expected, it would have crashed right on top of the house. This is a small house, and it was a tree that was at least 70 feet tall. Somehow, it fell right between our house and the one next door. It took out the lines coming in from the road, as well as the one from the pole to the house.

The tree in the yard on the side of the house.

The Tree The Tree.

While we were lucky enough that the tree spared the house and "only" hit the power lines, this left the household dead in the water. While the heat is oil based, the furnace requires power to run the engine that circulates the hot water through the radiators. Our stove is electric, not gas (which I hate, but as renters we have no choice in the matter), so we weren't able to cook at all.

Our first evening was kind of fun and romantic. It felt a bit adventurous... a snowy white world, we still had residual heat in the house, and candles on everywhere. The snow did cancel our plans to head into NYC to go to a Halloween Ball, which we'd been looking forward to for months. It was even less fun when we woke up in the morning and the house was stone cold. Also much less fun was the realization that this was going to take a while to fix, and that the Halloween party we had planned for Sunday afternoon had to be canceled.

Jeff had taken comp time and had a long weekend to himself, which we would now end up spending without power and displaced. We roughed it a couple of nights at home, spent days with friends or finding other ways to kill time outside the house, and thankfully were able to spend the past 2 nights with friends and the ability to have hot showers! I spent the past 2.5 days just hanging out at Jeff's office, a refugee of sorts.

This morning (Thursday), I came to check on our cats, and found that our landlady had sent in contractors to start clearing the tree. Just as I left late in the morning, a convoy of National Grid trucks pulled into our street and stopped at the house. Hours later, we have heat and power and internet!

In quilt related news: I did finish hand stitching the binding onto Matilda's Olivia the Pig quilt, whilst killing time at Jeff's office... haha! And I had a few packages arrive also, some this week and some a week or 2 ago, so there will be a stash post soon.

Hopefully nobody else had such snow troubles!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday #2

Miss Matilda's Olivia quilt is quilted, which I got finished before the Comic Con weekend. The binding has been machine stitched onto the front, and I'm in the process of hand stitching the back, which is about 1/4 done so far.

I started quilting it with uneven parallel lines, which became more and more wavy as I progressed across the quilt top. I like the wavy lines more, but the difference isn't all that huge, and after it gets washed, I doubt it'll be that noticeable. Certainly it doesn't bother me enough to take out the stitching on one side to re-do it. Live and learn!

Quilting on Olivia

Uneven parallel lines. (Sorry, not enough natural light to get good pictures!)

Quilting on Olivia

Wavy parallel lines.

This past weekend we also went to a ragamuffin parade with the kids, so they got to dress up in their Halloween costumes and play around at the carnival that was there too.

And that evening we carved one of our pumpkins with them, as they'll be with their dad for Halloween weekend.

We used one of the stencils that came with the carving tools: a Crow.

The Crow

Besides that, the biggest WIP that's happening at the moment is the scrubbing of my kitchen! Woohoo!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Busy Busy!

Things have been a little crazy around here. For 4 days last week I was at New York Comic Con (October 13-16), helping Jeff out as his personal and live stream assistant at the booth that the company he works for was running there.

I've never been to a Comic Con before, though I've wanted to attend one. The one in San Diego is the comic con that seems to have gotten most of the name, so until last year I wasn't even aware there was one in NYC too. 120,000 tickets were sold for the 3.5 days, so this is no obscure event. Besides comics, which do make up the bulk of the booths (well-known and smaller and tiny indie publishers, independent stores, artists and writers), there are booths for console/computer games, and a couple of movies (like the upcoming Avengers movie).

Thursday afternoon was for the Press, and VIP ticket holders, so that wasn't too busy. After that, it was kind of crazy from 10am until the days ended at 7pm (5pm on Sunday). So, a couple of very long days, that started VERY early. We were lucky that our evenings weren't booked with other post-con events, so we did manage to get some sleep too. Overall it was a fun experience. I got to know a bunch of the people Jeff works with better, I was able to see little bits and pieces of the show, and also do some awesome things like get one of our Mouse Guard graphic novels signed by the creator (& author & illustrator), the hugely talented David Petersen. Mouse Guard is a really lovely series set in a medieval era with sentient mice, guardsmice who guard the mouse territories and cities. I was also lucky enough to get a hold of a signed limited edition print of Lady Mechanika, another comic series that Jeff and I like a lot. And at the Dark Horse comics booth, artist Jenny Frison signed a poster for an upcoming comic that she did the wonderful cover art for: House of Night. Good times, and I was glad to get my geek on a little in that way.

So that was the event that prevented my working on much. I did get the Olivia quilt quilted, and I have about a quarter of the binding stitched on (I like to hand stitch the back). Currently the house is getting a pretty thorough cleaning, which is eating up quite some time. But a tidy house makes me feel better about doing sewing. Between being away for a couple of weekends the past month, and having a lot of incoming stuff, things are a little more cluttered than usual. We're also planning on hosting a Halloween party this upcoming weekend, so time to get everything in gear!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday

On Monday I picked up my Flipside quilt again, and took what I'd assembled apart again (2 rows of blocks and the sashing between them), and reassembled them with some tweaking so that the inaccuracies are either gone or much less noticeable (spray starch with the pressing was a lifesaver here, smaller pieces tend to be so much easier to get pulled out of shape, and this stops that quite a bit). I'm much happier with it, though there are still 2 other rows that need to be attached, and the sashing will need to be duly tweaked, because those inaccuracies from having pieced almost half of each block on a terrible and inaccurate sewing machine before I got the new one certainly took its toll. Ah well, onward and upwards!

Here's what I have so far (Lieam made himself at home almost immediately):

Flipside WIP

And yesterday I managed to get the Olivia the Pig quilt for Miss Matilda basted. Apparently I need to do this during the day and not in the evening. For a start, the kids are at school for large portions of the day (though yesterday they were with their dad), and the cats are asleep most of the day, which stops Miss Isobel from lying on it immediately, and Mr Lieam from tearing across it as though it's a playground, as he is wont to do when I make the bed as well. Both he and Shiloh L-O-V-E it when you make the bed or fluff the sheets and covers. I'm not sure why it tickles them so, but it does.

Basting the Pig

Now, this isn't a large quilt at all, but man do your knees hurt after sitting that way for a while basting the entire thing. I'm a bit iffy about the idea of spray basting, though I guess it washes out completely? The fact that my knees wouldn't feel like I'm 85 when I get up after half an hour on a wooden floor makes it appealing though. Ideas?

I hope to get the Olivia quilt quilted tonight, it'll be some simple quilting, probably wonky lines straight across. I haven't decided on grey thread or white or possibly to go for pink. I made the binding a few weeks ago, so I don't have to worry about that, and can sew that on pretty easily. The binding will be Kona Charcoal with bits of the red with white polka dots interspersed.

Oh, and I extended the dining table and put the leaf in. This gives me a bit more working space, and also enough space on the table that I can keep project stuff on one end, and have enough room for everyone to sit comfortably and eat at the table. I do so long for a separate work room! I have to say I was a little bit envious of seeing Julie Herman's lovely new work space on her blog yesterday. So much sun and light in there! A very happy place to work in.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Making Whirligigs

The problem with not having a dedicated work space is that it ends up getting taken over pretty fast. Or, reclaimed for its real purpose I suppose. This place is pretty small and so my work space is usually the dining table. I do usually leave the sewing machine perched on a corner, and often the cutting mat stays on the table too, but sometimes it's a bit of a pain in the ass having to move all the other things on and off the table when other life things need to happen there. Mostly it was reclaimed with other things, and I haven't sewn all week until today.

Admittedly some of my evenings have been taken up by some other hobbies too. I dug into the game I bought back in March last year, Torchlight. It's a single-player adventure game, in the dungeon crawl/hack-n-slash style. It's a lot of fun, if you care for those kinds of things. Also, I played some Civilization V too, the popular strategy game (and achieved victory as Catherine the Great, whoop!). Both are worth checking out for those of you who also enjoy some computer gaming once in a while.

Trying to sew today was obviously a little foolish too, as both kids are home because of the schools being closed for Rosh Hashanah. But I got a bunch of the Terrain and white solid charms cut and parts of the whirligigs pieced. Even if it wasn't much, I feel like getting back into the swing of things.

Terrain Whirligigs

Piecing Terrain Whirligigs

(Excuse the dark pictures, they were taken with my phone and the indoor/weak natural lighting is a bit odd.)

I'm using a tutorial from this page, which is about how to make whirligigs using charm squares. Handy because I wanted to use the 2 charm packs of Kate Spain's Terrain I won on Melanie's blog. I had 2 charm packs of Moda Bella solids in white, so I'm good to go for a while!

And now off to bake some banana bread muffins with Miss Matilda. Mmm!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yes, Virginia!

No quilting progress made in the past week or so since my last post, this is all due to a trip down to Virginia to see Jeff's parents, which had us gone from Saturday morning (up at 3am to catch a 6am plane to Roanoke, urgh!) until we flew home on Wednesday from Richmond.

It was good to be able to see Jeff's parents, and I know they were both really happy with the visit. While in Richmond (an awesome city) to visit with his mom, we went to the Edgar Allan Poe museum. It's a tiny little museum, located in one of the oldest homes left in the downtown area (if I'm remembering correctly).

The Poe Museum

One of the things on display was Edgar Allan Poe's childhood bed with its quilt. I was naughty, and took a picture of it, even though it wasn't allowed. I wish I'd been able to get closer and pictures with more detail, but it wasn't to be. It was lovely though. It never ceases to amaze me the things people were able to do with much simpler tools at their disposal. Even now plenty of people avoid piecing with diamonds as it being something much too intricate or complicated!

Edgar Allan Poe's Childhood Quilt

I'm looking forward to at least getting something quilt related done over the weekend, even though Saturday will be eaten up by birthday parties, one for a classmate of each of the kids. It's not quite back-to-back parties, but it might as well be. The charm squares that I won on Melanie's blog are wanting to be turned into whirligig pinwheels very badly!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ending the Summer

I feel like time has slipped by the past two weeks or so!

The kiddos came back from vacation with their dad, and last week school started for Dashiell. He's back at Kindergarten, with the same teacher and the same aide helping him, so many things will be familiar for him.

This week, Matilda had orientation for her 3's preschool class, which starts tomorrow. She's so excited. She's wanted to go to school since she was old enough to express a desire to, and since Dash has been going (he's been in various Special Needs school programs since he turned 3 and left Early Intervention for CPSE/CSE).

Summer is almost gone, and it makes me a bit sad. I'm happy for the days with more moderate weather though... what we have right now is perfect! Warm, sunny, days with nice temperatures, low(er) humidity, and cool evenings. I'd like months more of this please!

The past weekend we took the kids to the Renaissance Faire, dressed in last year's Halloween costumes (Renaissance princess and a knight). Matilda really enjoyed all the dressing up. Dashiell's a little difficult to manage at events like this, but I think he enjoyed himself too.

All of this means that I haven't sat at the sewing machine all week, besides to fix some elastic on Miss M's undies, and a ripped seam on her costume.

My Flipside [Rachel Griffith pattern] quilt has been giving me some problems, which hasn't helped. All blocks were partially sewn on my old machine and partially on the new one, so the seams for the older machine stitched parts aren't as accurate, and so the blocks aren't accurate as the pattern calls for. This is an issue because the sashing uses a little block of color on the intersection between blocks, and I'm having problems matching the seams up. The discrepancies are REALLY bothersome and noticeable, otherwise I would have just gone ahead with it. I haven't entirely decided whether I'm going to try again to make things match up, or just do away with the little colored intersection squares, and just make it white sashing all the way. I think the latter may save my peace of mind.

Last week I received some Terrain charm packs in the mail. I was lucky enough to win a giveaway on Melanie's blog My Fifteen Minute Break {thanks Melanie!}. I really want to make Whirligig pinwheels with them. I do have a Lil' Twister ruler, but while fun, that doesn't leave me with square blocks. I'm considering making one of the pinwheel quarters a different fabric, rather than pinwheels all from the same print, but I'll have to play with that and see.

Friday, September 2, 2011

For Avery

The other night I finally finished my baby quilt. I watched myself some of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood (with Cate Blanchett ♥ and Russell Crowe), and hand-stitched the binding down on the back (I much prefer how this looks to machine sewing it down, even if it takes infinitely longer). I saw the movie in theaters last year, so I could work without watching the screen all the time.

Modern Workshop Baby Quilt

The top was pieced in about an hour or two, months ago. It was a free tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman, on her site. It was the first quilt top I sewed. I kept putting off finishing it because the baby wasn't due until July (and the top was sewn in April) because the idea of free motion quilting it myself was pretty intimidating. I still find it intimidating, but I decided to give it a shot. I like how it came out, it looks whimsical, though maybe in future I'd go for an all over loopy stitch, not straight-ish loopy lines.

Quilting Close-Up

This baby quilt is for dear friends overseas. I feel a tiny bit ambivalent about it now, as the baby it was made for sadly died at birth. It makes it tinged with some sadness. The top sat around for a while, well before the birth, as I hadn't been in a rush to finish it before the baby was due. And then the news that Avery was born sleeping, which was so heartbreaking. The quilt top sat in its box for a few weeks longer, and I decided to pick it up again and finish it last week. I wanted some time to go by as well, before I asked his grieving mama what she would like me to do with it. It was made with love for her and her son and her family, but as people grieve so differently, I figured it was worth finding out what would be most appreciated... the receipt of the gift, not sending it, donating it somewhere.

The back is one of the Modern Workshop prints. I picked the brown print as a gender neutral print, and also a dark one in case the blanket would end up being used outside on grass, or on the floor, so that dust and things wouldn't show as much, or that grass wouldn't stain lighter prints. The binding is also a MW print, the green with white (and the occasional yellow one) dots.

Modern Workshop Charm Square Baby Quilt

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

I weathered Hurricane Irene just fine, even though the forecast for southern NY (I'm about 30 miles north of NYC) had been severe. It rained hard, and the wind was fierce, but being on higher ground than NYC and on a hill within this town, helped me avoid flooding. I was also lucky enough not to have any power issues, though my ex-husband, in a town 5 miles down the road, lost power for 36 hours. He had a full house too, with both kids there and his parents visiting from overseas. At least he has a gas stove, so cooking isn't made virtually impossible, My stove here is, unfortunately, electric. I'd have had a harder time of it.

I was relieved I didn't lose power. Jeff is out in Seattle, where he was working at the PAX Prime convention. So without power I'd just have the cats to talk to. I'm not quite that ready to be a crazy cat lady yet! Jeff did a live stream for the company he works for from PAX, which was hugely successful. I was happy for him as he worked really hard on it. Having power also allowed me to watch the stream, and Jeff. And it allowed me to do some sewing as well.

I made binding for my charm squares baby quilt, and the Olivia the Pig quilt. I pieced the back of the Olivia quilt (it's only 2 halves). I machine quilted the charm squares baby quilt, and bound it. I'll post more elaborately on that one later, after I speak with its intended recipient.

Trying to measure and cut down your quilt backing using floor space, when you have cats, is nigh on impossible. I put the backing down and the top on to get an approximate idea, and this is what happened in under 30 seconds, when I had turned to get scissors:

Quilt Backing Attempts

Quilt Backing Attempts

Eventually I had to put Lieam (the smaller black one) into the bedroom, because he started rampaging around on the fabric, and I couldn't keep anything straight. At least it was only 2 out of 3 cats on there though.

Besides the charm square quilt, I also traced a pajama bottom pattern onto Swedish tracing paper, which I was going to use the Terrain flannel that Kate Spain generously sent to me. Of course, I picked a directional print, and the pattern did say that additional fabric would be needed for directional prints, but didn't specify how much. It would figure that in order to get the pattern going in the direction I want, I'm about 4-6 inches short. I think I will order some flannel myself when yardage becomes available, and sew some pajama pants for Miss Matilda with the material Kate sent. I'm certain Tilly will be very excited, it's such pretty fabric. I'm bummed though, the flannel is deliciously soft, and I had huge expectations of making them yesterday. So, sadly, I must wait. Argh!

Progress was also made on my Flipside quilt. I cut strips for sashing and binding, and got some sashing sewn yesterday. I hope to finish that top today. If I'm really good, and get the floor mopped again, I hope to baste the Olivia quilt. I'd like to finish that before the kids come back from their vacation with their dad. I hope Matilda will love it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Projects That Suck Your Soul

Have you ever had one of those projects that seems to kind of rip the wind from your sails?

Last week I got it into my head to work on a dress that I started YEARS ago. A silly thing, from Alexander Henry novelty fabric (skulls & roses), and a Simplicity cheongsam/Mandarin collar dress pattern. It was going to be something fun to wear when going out. I'd seen someone make a Victorian bustle walking dress with novelty sushi fabric (Trystan Bass, the Gothic Martha Stewart), and that's where the idea had sprung from.

I started this dress years ago, before I had Dashiell, who just turned 6 in July. I had finished it, and it needed altering, and it was lined and I'd have to take it all out, and that would be a pain in the ass, and I put it away, and then there was a pregnancy and baby and no time and it didn't fit etc. etc. etc.

For reasons I cannot fathom now, I had decided to line it. In black cotton. 2 layers of cotton that are not sheer or semi-sheer becomes very hot. Which is great for winter, but this was a short sleeved dress, and it didn't need the lining.

I decided last week that I wanted to finish it. We had floated plans for the weekend where I might actually be able to wear it too, and I just wanted to finish it once and for all. Taking the lining out was time consuming, but eventually got done. Then I had to try and adjust the fit in the bust, one of the longstanding issues with it.

As I hadn't sewn on this thing in years, I had little recollection of what size was actually chosen for this pattern. Nevertheless, it was too big in the chest, which meant there was some poofy thing happening above my breasts, and it looked like I needed quite a bit more padding to stop it looking all odd and slightly puckered. A first adjustment attempt sorted out quite a bit of the issues, but I was still having some problems. In the end, after several frustrating hours, I ended up just wearing it inside out, and hand stitching the bust seams, then machine stitching it. After all that, I had to put the sleeves back in again too.

Many many hours of frustration heaped on this dress the past few days. It has been the bane of my existence. I almost gave in to the urge to take it outside and burn it on a ceremonial pyre, but I persevered.

It's almost done, I'm finishing up some top stitching in certain parts. And I'm relieved.

I should add that I have little experience at all in garment sewing. I sewed on a bunch of garment stuff back in the day when my friend Kit still lived nearby, who was a trained costume designer. But when I had my first kiddo, that all went on the back burner, especially after Dashiell was diagnosed with Cri-du-Chat and needed a lot of therapy and doctor's appointments.

Garment sewing is something I'd like to get back into at some point, and it has been hard not to sour on that desire with this skulls & roses dress. This dress is certainly a case in point for why quilting cottons don't necessarily make good garment fabrics. I know a little more now than I did then about things like drape and such, even though a lot of it is still very intimidating to me. This fabric would work well as a skirt that's A-line or structured or something that doesn't require a lot of drape.

And so I am almost done with this dress, and I find that it has made me very frustrated and aggravated, and I've kind of obsessed with it and burned creative energy just stressing over the thing. And it also drained me of a desire to make anything else the past days too, which makes me doubly unhappy. But. It is almost entirely off my plate!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This past week or so has been perfect, weather-wise. I'm enjoying the late(r) summer weather, with less humidity, less crippling heat and cooler nights. It does make me sad though that this indicates that we're on the downward slope temperature wise, heading towards winter. We had a long and very cold one here in New York, and it feels like Spring and Summer only just showed up recently!

I'm glad the height of Summer is gone, and I look forward to balmy Fall weather with crisper nights. It would be great if it could stay that way. Fall, and Winter, do bring the promise of being able to wear some warmer clothes, and excuses to pile quilts around. I think that's the excuse I should use on Jeff if he asks why on earth there's another quilt in the process of being completed...

Anyway... a couple of weeks ago, I was looking at the previews on Moda's website for Kate Spain's new line, Terrain, and noticed that it includes flannel. I tweeted into the Twitter-verse that what would be AWESOME, would be to make pajamas from that. My pajama wardrobe is in dire need of some replacements, and it seemed like a logical thing to make. The lovely Ms. Spain saw my tweet, and offered to send me some of the flannel that she'd just received to help me on my way!

Now, I have to say that I'm generally a Purple girl. I don't entirely know why, but I often just gravitate towards that color. And while there were purples and blues among the 9 Terrain flannels, I went a different direction entirely. Oranges and greens and yellows. Because it will be cold and gloomy soon, and those colors are such a warm and sunny pop of color, calling into mind, for me at least, the late days of Summer and early days of Autumn.

Terrain Flannel

Terrain Flannel

I have to say that this flannel is the nicest and softest flannel I've ever seen. I haven't always had a really high opinion of flannel, but that opinion is mostly based on encountering it as cheap and awful receiving blankets. This was a welcome surprise! I want to keep touching and petting it. And I keep having to fight the cats to stop them from sleeping on it and covering it in cat hair.

The pattern I chose is "Sweet Dreams" by Make It Perfect, which I purchased over at Pink Chalk Fabrics (along with a pattern by Valori Wells for a small cell phone purse). Free shipping on patterns, yay! enabling!

Once I get the house a little more organized, I'm going to dive into making these. The kiddos went to stay with their dad for 3.5 weeks on Friday, as part of their Summer break with him, and I'm using some of that time to give the house a necessary deep cleaning. The cats are doing their best and stepping up the mess-making in the kids' absence. Lieam especially is good at knocking things off surfaces, to then bat them throughout the room. I'm still looking for my nice seam rippers, a week after they went missing >_>

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ghastly Quilt Top

Ghastly Taffy quilt top is completed. As with most things, this took a little longer to piece together than I thought it would, but still not bad. I thought I might have this pieced by lunch, but it was a couple hours (and distractions) later.

Ghastly Taffy

A sideways view, to avoid shadows across.

Ghastly Taffy

Ghastly Taffy

And close-up!

I feel like a bit of a jerk now that I've realized that the little girl in the pink tutu holding the hammer is actually woefully underrepresented in this quilt in the main blocks. It's strange how I didn't notice that before when I was (fussy) cutting the focal star centers.

I'm happy with how this turned out. Close up it's a little harder to make out the pattern quite as well, being so monochromatic as it is. But I was relieved to see that from a distance it's a lot easier to see. While I'm not always a huge fan of the Halloween favorite: orange, I can see how using a really vibrant orange with the Ghastlies in this pattern would likely make it pop more. But I specifically wanted mostly black/white/grey.

Julie's (Jaybird Quilts) pattern is really good. I can't say enough about the way that these patterns are written. It's very clear and I like the small graphs that tell you how many strips of Y-height x width-of-fabric you'll (most likely) need to cut the pieces, and how many pieces/blocks you require for each quilt size. It makes it so much easier to keep track. I did use less fabric/strips than stated because I'm a fairly frugal cutter, apparently. Leftovers though will end up in the pieced back, which I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with just yet. Maybe a wonky log cabin, to illustrate the Ghastly Night fabric I got specifically for the back.

Yay, accomplishment, yay!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ghastly Vertigo

I'm a bit behind lately with the blogging and sewing.

Parts of last weekend were spent cutting the remainder of pieces and assembling some of the smaller blocks for the Ghastlies quilt, and I had intended to get quite a bit of that sewing done at the beginning of this week. This got derailed quite a bit when I had a severe vertigo attack on Monday evening.

Vertigo was a fear of heights, or so I had always thought. But apparently not. In its severe form, it causes a sensation of the world spinning around you, nausea and vomiting, which is what I ended up with. One moment I was fine and talking to my boyfriend, Jeff, and the next moment everything was spinning, I felt supremely unwell, and vomiting started not long after. After about an hour we ended up going to the ER as it seemed unrelenting.

Thankfully hours later, after the administration of oxygen, a saline drip, IV anti-vomiting medication and tablets to combat nausea, I felt much better and was released home at about 4.30am. Blood tests indicate my body had been fighting off an infection, and one of the possible causes for severe vertigo can be an inner ear infection. But, hard to know either way whether it was just a random occurrence, or actually an ear infection (with the blood cell count indicating some other infection being combated).

Not an experience I hope anyone else has to ever experience! Tuesday was spent feeling kind of jet-laggy due to being up most of the night and getting to bed at 5am, but Wednesday had me feeling a lot better, and yesterday better still, to the point where I'd say I'm mostly back to normal.

I'm also back to sewing some on my Ghastlies quilt top. It's finally starting to come together, and that's always a bit of a nerve wracking feeling, because this is where I'll start to see if my fabric and color choices actually work as well as I'd imagined!

Still it's exciting though!

Ghastly Pieces

Re-cutting with the Lazy Angle ruler.

Ghastly Taffy Pieces

Ready to piece the big stuff! (Sorry, a little dark).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ziggety Terrain Mug Rug

Being the last week of summer camp for Dashiell, and not knowing whether or not Shannon will be his aide for the next school year, I wanted to make her something special. Initially I'd considered a mini quilt, but not knowing whether or not she'd have room for one or want one, I decided to make something more utilitarian: a mug rug {or snack mat}.

The pattern I went with was the Ziggety mug rug {free tutorial!} by John Adams from the Sew, Mama, Sew blog, featured here.

Scraps and Fabrics

After having considered 2 of the matching Terrain solids, Cactus and Iris, I ended up going with Kona Ash for the binding. The pale grey really frames off the bright colors in Terrain well. The other 2 were very overpowering without an additional border or so, and being a mug rug that's already on the larger side, I didn't want to add even more, or cut down the patterned fabric much.

Ziggety Mug Rug in Terrain

VoilĂ ! Simple quilting added.


I used Julie Herman/Jaybird Quilts' tutorial for perfect binding to finish the binding. The diagonal seam removes so much bulk, it's awesome!

Hopefully Shannon will like her mug rug! (And the dark chocolate covered caramels I got her from Trader Joe's mmm!)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Halloween Kitty Kindle

Today I finally got around to cutting the remainder of my Halloween Taffy strips from the Ghastlies charcoal Bramble fabric, finding out at the end that I had enough to use to make a Kindle case for myself, without needing to buy additional yardage.

I also finally got around to digging up the purple cat fabric I've had stashed for several years. It's from Robert Kaufman's "All Hallows Eve" line. I remember seeing it, and just falling in love with it. I didn't have a specific project in mind for it at the time, and I've just been waiting to use it.

The purple cats paired well with the charcoal bramble, which is a lot less severe than a solid, which was another option I had considered.

The flash washed everything out a little, but that's okay as it actually allows you to see the detail of the bramble fabric. Having already sewn one of these cases for Jeff, it was a faster process than the last time, even though I restitched the pocket bias trim three times because it was slightly wobbly and it was driving me nuts.

Kindle Case

Kindle Case

Kindle Case

Friday, July 29, 2011


I managed to finish the Lil' Twister mini quilt.

Twister Front

Finished size 18.5" x 18.5".

This is actually the first quilt that I've finished in its entirety, not just the top. It was the first time quilting a quilt too, which was a bit intimidating.

Twister Back

Things I've learned from making this quilt:

  • In future I probably want to match the thread I quilt with a little more to the sashing color. I had thought that the cream thread would work better than it did in the end. I don't consider it a problem, and it doesn't look bad at all, but it's a bit of a learning curve.

  • Figuring out how to quilt a quilt is difficult and I find it intimidating. I'm new at it, so that's understandable. I can see where free motion quilting in a stippling or loopy design is popular when you're not sending a quilt out to get quilted, it takes some of the difficulty out of it. I ended up doing pretty well, I thought. I quilted some of the pinwheels in the middle of the quilt, and then quilted some of the centers of other pinwheels because I was a little too worried about there being too much space between quilted bits.

  • In future with the twister pinwheels I might end up alternating solids with prints for some more visual pop. Because of the ways you cut up the fabrics and re-sew them, and with these particular fabrics that have so many colors within each one, in some cases it can just blend away a bit too much.

  • During the process of quilting this I figured out some techniques that will help the next time I quilt things that are separately quilted areas and not continually quilted. A tutorial from Elizabeth Hartman's site helped a lot with that.

Overall I'm really happy with how it turned out. I'm glad I got to reduce some stash by using the two orange solids that I had leftover from the Kitchen Window quilt, and by using cutting remnants from the pinwheels in the pieced back.

Twister Back Close-up

I stitched small fabric triangles into 2 corners on the back so that it can have a small dowel inserted to hang it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


It's been a little quiet, in no small part due to spending part of the (blisteringly hot) weekend camping. The camping was great fun, but I admit that I did also enjoy being able to climb back behind my sewing machine and get some sewing done.

Last week I received some of the solid white charm squares and a few other solids that I'd ordered to use with the Terrain charm packs. I also picked up a charm pack of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, his Fall 2010 collection, which was half off at the Fat Quarter Shop. I wanted to try out my new Lil' Twister template, and also this would be a good mini quilt for a birthday gift. The person I'm making this for is really a person who suits Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Bright, bold and fearless colors and patterns, riotous. In a stroke of luck, the solids I used in my Autumn Kitchen Window quilt went well with the KF squares, so I was able to use up quite a few leftovers, which was nice.

Making one of these is really simple. First you sew the charm squares together with a border.

Kaffe Fassett Charm Squares


Then you place the template on the junctions between each square, and cut around it. Then you sew them all back together again.

Lil' Twister

You end up with quite a bit of leftovers after cutting, ~2.5" squares of each fabric used. If I'd cut a little more carefully, they might have been 2.5" usable squares, but I ended up with 2" squares. I used most of those to piece together the back.

I forgot to take pictures of the process between having a quilt of squares, and having twister pinwheels, so I'll actually document that part when I make another one, which will be shortly. I want to make another, a smidgen smaller though, for my son's aide Shannon (as mentioned in the previous post).

Tomorrow I'll hopefully have finished quilting this quilt (my first time machine quilting anything, eep!) and I'll hopefully have it bound too (first time binding!). So far I'm happy with the process and how it looks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Traversing Terrain

When I first saw previews of this collection, I was totally hooked. I think Kate Spain's fabric collections are the top contender for my favorites, and she seems to outdo herself with each one. Verna and Fandango are great, and Central Park was amazing! And now, now Terrain! The colors are even bolder with this collection, fuschia and bright oranges and purples, counterbalanced with dark cactus greens and pale ocean blues.

Terrain Charm Squares

The collection isn't due out until September, but it seems that since Spring Quilt Market bits and pieces have started floating around, mostly charm packs (5"x5" squares) and I've seen a couple of jelly rolls and a few Fat Quarter packs. Whatever the reason, I am not complaining!

So, I grabbed 2 charm packs on Etsy. I have some of the Terrain coordinating Kona Solids on the way (iris purple and cactus green). Along with a Lil' Twister template to make Lil' Twister pinwheels (which use charm squares). I'd like to make a mini quilt for Shannon, Dashiell's aide, before summer camp is done. She was his aide for the entire school year as well, and now for this, and I'd like to make her something by way of a thank you. I kind of hate buying teachers stuff. I never know what to get them, and it always ends up being one of those kind of lame gifts, like you get at Christmas from people who don't know you well: bath product gift baskets and such. While I know that making something for someone you don't know well obviously runs the risk of not being liked too, at least it feels like more effort and thought has gone into it than just grabbing something at The Body Shop.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kindle Peeps

Back in May, my boyfriend Jeff gave me a Kindle for my birthday (most awesome birthday present ever!). Another friend, Kreestof, had pondered buying me a case for it, but as he wasn't sure what I'd like, he held off on doing so. With all the really fantastic fabrics out there, the idea to make my own had immediately come to mind, so I was glad he hadn't actually gone ahead with that plan.

Shortly after I got my Kindle, Jeff got himself one too. As my Kindle lives at home mostly, and his gets toted around a lot, his need for a case was much more immediate than mine, and just before he left to go to E3 in L.A. for work, we cobbled together a make-shift sleeve with some Alexander Henry Calaveras fabric, and a cloth pre-fold diaper that I re-purposed as batting. It wasn't entirely finished at the time, lacking anything to use as a closure, and it also lacked a lot of finesse, being a hastily sewn prototype, but it was functional and has housed his Kindle nicely for the past month or so.

The intention was to affix some Velcro as a closure and tweak some of the smaller issues, but plans changed slightly. I got a hold of some of Lizzy House's Castle Peeps fabric to make a Castle Treasury quilt. I showed Jeff the fabric and pattern, and asked if he would like to be the recipient of said quilt. He really likes Medieval stuff, fantasy, Lord of the Rings and all that kind of thing, so I had thought he'd be into that. In the meantime I'd found a PDF pattern on Etsy for a Kindle case... why reinvent the wheel, right? I'm not sure if he suggested using Castle Peeps for a Kindle case, or I did, but that's what ended up happening.

The batting I had ordered last week arrived yesterday, and I set to work last night. I adapted the pattern slightly to use Velcro instead of a button and loop closure (the latter is certainly easier).

Castle Peeps Kindle CaseMain body is the blue shields fabric, the lining, pocket and flap outer is in Castle Town.

Castle Peeps Kindle Case
The main body in blue shields, and the pocket. Velcro closure.

Castle Peeps Kindle Case
And the back!

Next I need to make myself one. I have some cute purple fabric with black cats, I think it was a Kaufman Halloween novelty print from some years ago. I might pair that with the charcoal Ghastly Bramble, or possibly the grey Ghastly Clover from the Alexander Henry Ghastlies collection. I need to dig up the fabrics soon and play around to see what works.