Friday, April 29, 2011

Sew and Tell Friday: Quilt Top and more plans

It's Sew and Tell time, folks!  I love this link party and having a place to feed my obsession for new projects--via the hard work of someone else!

Over the last few days pretty much the only thing I can think about--besides food or sleep or my too cute little girl or handsome hubby--is my sister's quilt.  Every step of the way I feel like it keeps getting better and better. And now I'm at the big step: quilting it!! Well, almost. I still have to sew two big chunks of fabric to the back, but they are scheduled to arrived chez moi today and will be ready to go in no time.  Then I have to mop my floor.  Then I have to make my quilt sandwich and pin it.  I plan to do all that tonight. Then I get to quilt it!  I wish I could convey just how dang excited I am about this. Even if my sister hates it, I will almost be ok with it because I'm so gaga over this darned quilt.  Here is (part of) the top.

In other sewing news, I have all but bought the fabric for my diaper bag.  I went back and forth trying to decided whether to just buy one and I actually had one picked out.  Then I read the reviews and decided even at half off it wasn't going to be worth the money and I should just make it.  Then I decided I need to have my new diaper bag in hand by the end of next week.  Um, yeah, so I'm feeling slightly crazy for that considering that in that same time frame I also need to finish the quilt and two bee blocks.  Plus get some sleep and still take care of my family.  Good thing my floors will already have been mopped, because I just don't see that happening again until I'm finished!

As if that's not enough, I decided I need to make my diaper bag from Amy Butler's Sweet Harmony Bag & Tote Pattern.  Yes, I know you now think I've really lost it.  I hate her patterns while I am making them, and I really mean that.  But I love the final outcome.  I can feel my blood pressure rising already--good thing it's naturally low.  If you hear some strange words coming from my sewing room in the next week or so, don't worry it's just French.  I'll let you know how things go--and whether or not I actually hit the "Buy Now" button.  {image from Amy Butler's website}


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

{no spoilers here!}

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet opens in 1986 with Henry Lee being jolted from the reality of his wife's recent death with the discovery of hundreds of items in the basement of Seattle's Panama Hotel.  These items were personal belongings hastily placed in the hotel's basement some 40 years earlier by Japanese Americans just hours before their "evacuation" to internment camps.  For Henry, the discovery awakens memories he too had hidden deep within and begins a journey between 1986 and the early 1940s when Henry was a young Chinese American who had fallen in love with a Japanese American school mate. 

Exploring themes surrounding World War II, the Japanese internment, and life as a Chinese (or Japanese) American during that time, author Jamie Ford offers a compelling look at history through the stories of Henry's life. 

My book club is currently reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and I finished it in about 4 days.  This is one of those books that grabbed me at the very beginning and just didn't let go.  Historical fiction is particularly interesting to me as it helps me learn about real events through stories (I knew next to nothing about the topics Ford covers).  The author deeply develops each of the characters and although there were a few instances that seemed a bit unrealistic, this helped to move the story along. Ford also successfully balances the emotions of the stories without over-dramatizing the events.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet now resides at the top of my list of "favorite book club reads". Maybe one of these days I'll actually write out that list for you :)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

reflections on rest

Sipping tea before the sun rose this morning, I was gently reminded that this is a season of celebration. 

Sunday was the day to celebrate the greatest of days: the day Jesus rose from death to life, victorious over the forces of darkness.

Bleary eyed, sleepy, wondering what the day would hold, I heard the voice speaking truth to celebrate, to soak in the life given, and above all to realize the promise and the call to rest.  

My meditations this morning drifted in and out of praise and relief.  Cease striving is the call I heard and the call I share.

"Praise the Lord, my soul, forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion..."  
from Psalm 103

"In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength..."  
from Isaiah 30

Life has been redeemed, restored.  Don't turn back to darkness.

As a bit of a side note, this is the first year I have been following the Christian calendar via the lectionary series in the Book of Common Prayer.  Since I could not offer a food fast for lent, I "fasted" from sleep, rising early to meet the day and the Lord.  This has been incredibly powerful and is extending beyond Lent.
For me this has been a challenging time to sit and listen, to pray and meditate, rather than to study and aim to formulate doctrines.  It has also been a freeing time of relationship not only with the Almighty but with the millions of others who read these same passages day in and day out, sacred readings and sacred spaces all combining in a community of faith we will one day see.

I'm linking up ShoutLaughLove today

Friday, April 22, 2011


First, I loved reading your "random comments" in response to the fabric giveaway.  It's fun to know little bits about you or what you are working on! Feel free to leave more comments like that on any post--whether or not it has to do with what I said ;)

Second, I'm reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and the suspense is killing me.  Does he find her or not?!

Speaking of suspense....  do you want to know who the winners are?  Ok. fine.  I used to help me pick the numbers but totally forgot to save the pictures of the numbers!! I'm pretty sure there's some blog rule I'm breaking with that, but since it's my giveaway, I guess I can give myself permission to do that.

Package One will be heading out to Kelly with comment #3!
Kelly said...
i'm finished up dresses for my girls for easter! i've never made any garments before, but i'm using an oliver + s pattern, and their reputation of being easy to follow has not let me down. i only have the buttons left!
April 17, 2011 10:45 PM 

I hope you post pictures of the finished dresses!  I have yet to try an Oliver + S pattern but have certainly been tempted!

And Package Two will be heading out to Jacqueline with comment #15!
Jacqueline said...
Well, something interesting. One of your sisters was one of my best friends in the whole world through gradeschool...

So, it's a small sewing world indeed when my older sister's best friend from grade school (she totally remembers, by the way!) wins my giveaway!

Congrats to both of you ladies. I'll send out an email to you later today to get your mailing address.  If you didn't win, don't worry. I had so much fun I think I'll do it again soon ;)  Also you can still use the code iRead10 to get 10% off in my destash shop (which I hope to update this weekend). 

In the mean time, I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend.  I know for many of us, this is a big weekend not just of celebrating family and Spring (which are both big deals), but also the very core of our faith.  


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Diaper bag sewing plans

***If you haven't entered the fabric giveaway, you still have one more day!***

When I was pregnant with Della, I had plenty of time to plan out all kinds of projects for her.  Now with this baby I'm so busy keeping up with Della I hardly have time to think of anything else! I have been thinking about diaper bags though and trying to fit diapers, bottles, sippy cups, and the like for two little ones into one bag.

I made this bag with a Craft Apple sewing pattern before Della was born and I still use it.  I love the pockets, size, double straps, all of it. But it's definitely showing signs of wear, so I need a new one.

I'm contemplating using this pattern again but have also seen some others I really like. Among my top choices is this Favorite Things Diaper Bag. It's pretty similar to the Craft Apple pattern, isn't it?  I don't think I realized that until I put them both up here.   Maybe I'll just need to figure out a way to marry what I like about both to get it just right...

This is subject to change at any time, but the fabrics I'm leaning towards today are all heavier-weight cottons that I think will hold up well to repeated use 

Anna Maria Horner :: Drawing Room :: Plume in Raspberry

Joel Dewberry :: Ginseng Collection :: Tossed Flowers in Camel

Love of Nature Japanese Cotton fabric {found here}

To be honest, I have so many other projects that need to come before this, I wouldn't be surprised if I don't start it until June. It's fun to look and plan though, and if you have any suggestions for great fabrics or patterns, I would love to hear them!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weekend rewind

Yes, I do realize that most people no longer own anything with a rewind button.  I also realize the weekend was officially over as of yesterday morning, but this week is already going by so quickly I am barely able to wrap my head around it being Tuesday. And while we are talking about this week flying by, be sure you enter the fabric giveaway before I shut things down in just a few days!

One of the bad things about the week moving so quickly is that I haven't had time to plug in my camera (with 200+ photos from the last few days) into the computer and get them ready to go up here.  I have, however, had time to take a few quick shots with my phone (soooo not the same; I know). 

I finished all 6 sets of the quilt blocks for my sister's quilt with the Parisville and Kona solids fabrics.  I am using the Mod Sampler quilt pattern from Elizabeth Hartman, and so far I. love. this. quilt. I think if she didn't know I am making it for her, I would keep the quilt for myself and send my sister something else!  

{A quick word on the pattern: It's easy. And fun. Because you make 6 different sets of blocks it's great for setting up a mini-assembly line while piecing, but there's enough variety to keep it from being monotonous.}

Now that the piecing is finished, I am slightly intimidated to start the next steps of putting together the quilt top and then doing the actual quilting.  Also I will need to mop my kitchen floor before attempting to make the quilt sandwich. You wouldn't make a sandwich on a dirty plate, would you?  Can I just say I swept that floor FIVE times over the weekend. And it's still dirty.  How does that happen?!

Not that you wanted to know about how dirty my floors are (but now you do). This is one of the main reasons. 

The girl loves to throw things...especially her food.  I think I'll keep her though, dirt and all. 
{yes. we were at IHOP. I let them clean up after her for one meal.  And yes. It was in response to a pregnancy craving...who else serves pancakes at 6pm on a Sunday??}

I hope you all had a great weekend and got some work done--maybe even a little mopping. 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fabric Giveaway!

***The giveaway is now closed!***

I promised it, and I wasn't kidding! I'm clearing out my stash and adding to yours.  *cue the confetti*

Prize one includes a yard of apple corduroy and a "mystery yard".  This is a fabulous fuschia cotton fabric with a fun textured goldenrod thread running throughout.  The other half of this package includes various cuts from my "neutral" stash, including some Robert Kaufman, Joel Dewberry, and Sandy Gervais fabrics.

Prize two is from my "warm" and "cool" stashes and includes several Fat Quarters, a half yard of Anna Maria Horner's Ice Dance Floor among others.

I know if I go on and on you're not going to read it because you really just want to know how to win so.....

You have two chances to win:
1. Leave a comment letting me know something interesting (what project you're working on, your favorite way to buy fabric--online, in FQ sets, random half yards..., the last dessert you made, etc.)

2. If you are a follower of this blog, leave an extra comment letting me know.

The {fun} rules:

You must leave one comment for each entry.  Your email address needs to be included with your comment so I can contact you if you win.

The giveaway is open internationally and will run from Noon EDT Sunday, April 17 through 8pm EDT Thursday, April 21.  I will use to choose the winners and will assign the prize packages based on the order your number comes up on  I will announce the winners on the blog Friday, April 22 and will also email each winner.  In the event an email address is not available, I will still announce your name, and you will have until Sunday, April 24 to get back to me. After that, I'm going to choose another winner. 

{{{Remember that if you use the code iRead10 over at my destash shop you will get 10% off your total purchase price--not including shipping--through April 30!}}}


Friday, April 15, 2011

Living in reality = DESTASH

My younger sister wrote yesterday about having to pack up her sewing room and move it to her attic.  I'm in denial, but one day soon I will also have to pack up my sewing room and figure out how to make it all fit in a smaller space.  The sad truth is that it won't all fit, but I have been living somewhere between awareness and denial of that fact for the last few months. 

Last night I decided to go through some of my fabric stash and choose some I could part with.  These are all fabrics I really like (or I would not have spent my money on them!) but I just know I can't use every last piece.  I put up some yardage and FQs over at the FabAttic, and--brace yourselves--next week I'll be giving some of it away in a mega giveaway with multiple prizes!

Speaking of giveaways...does anyone know when the next Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway event is going to be?? Did I miss it or have they just not released details yet?

Oh, and in the spirit of giving things away, if you mention the code iRead10 over at FabAttic you will receive 10% off your total purchase price (not including shipping). This will be good through the end of April. (lucky you!)

For the record, the picture above is not of my sister's sewing space or mine. It's a great example of making do with the space that is available--something we will both need to do!

This weekend I will be starting on my other sister's quilt. I actually started last night with cutting but hope to start sewing all the blocks together as well.  I'm putting the Kitchen Windows on hold until this is finished because her graduation and birthday are right around the corner!  What are you doing this weekend?


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MSQB April Block 1: Wonky Star

After the Mod Mosaic block, Lindsey's MSQB block was a welcome relief!  I was able to complete this wonky star in under an hour--including choosing my fabrics.  I think it would be a fun one to make a quilt out of someday.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Mod Mosaic Block Take Two (and another quilty tip)

{This post could also be titled: How to Fry Your Brain}

It's official now: March is over. I mailed my last March MSQB block Friday morning after a grueling Thursday evening making it.  We followed the instructions from Elizabeth Hartman's Mod Mosaic Floor Pillow and made it 12.5" square.

Remember Take One of this block?  Take Two is so. much. better.  The seams don't look wonky thanks to my handy new 1/4" presser foot!, and it really is a square, not an odd-sized rectangle.  Also I feel like the fabrics go together a bit better.  I stuck with polka dots rather than a bunch of different prints. This is such a busy block and I feel like that helps bring some balance.  

Another fun theme here you wouldn't otherwise know is that all of these fabrics are from a little scrap swap I did with Sara a few weeks back.  So these all came from her stash! she felt bad for me after I ranted about not knowing of these sorts of things and swapped with me even though her swap had already closed...thanks again, Sara!

For those wondering about making this is difficult. I'm not gonna lie.  My head still hurts from thinking this one through.  The only measurements you are given to go by are the 1" sashing pieces you cut and then whatever your end goal is for a final size. From there you have to decide how you are going to meet that goal. 

The very first thing I did was make the section with the diagonal lines.  I knew that if I were going to attempt that I had to get it right before going any further.  Once I had those pieces sewn together and ironed, I trimmed them so the edges were all even and basically counted it as one piece of the puzzle.  Then I began to lay out the rest of my fabric to fill a 13" square.  From there I just started pairing smaller pieces together in the middle and eventually got all the pieces sewn together. If I hadn't used every ounce of mental energy I have on this, I would have thought to take pictures for you to see what the heck I mean. 

I trimmed as I sewed, so sometimes I would have unsewn pieces overlapping on the 13" template, but once they were sewn and trimmed, they fit right.  Also, because of the way the sashing is added, when you lose a 1/4" side of the fabric to sewing it together, you gain it back from the sashing so don't lay out the sashing in the 13" square with the rest of the fabrics

If that all reads like jibberish, I'm sorry. It still feels like jibberish to me.  All I know is that I somehow managed to get this to look good; that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I should also say that although this was the most difficult block I have sewn, it was also the most rewarding.  I most certainly did do several fist pumps and a small booty shake upon completion of the block. 

And for those of you still with me after the fist pumps and booty shake, here's your quilty tip: Check your needle placement before pressing GO!  Oops! I forgot to set my needle to the center, so it missed the little hole in my presser foot and broke & bent instead.  My bad.  Sorry needle. You needed to be replaced anyways.  I always keep plenty of extras in my sewing basket for moments like this that's the other half of your tip in case you missed it.

Have you made this block?  Did you find it to be difficult or not so much? I imagine that there are people our there who didn't have such a challenge with this, but I am not one of them!


Opposites Photography Class: Old and New

Beth V's Opposites Photography Class started with the themes of Old and New.  In the first we were encouraged to focus our attention on balancing the light in the photo with the camera set to Manual. That's right folks. I moved the button!  The second idea was to focus on perspective.

{{{Quick Question: Does anyone know how to find out what Aperture/Shutter Speed/ISO I used on each shot in either iPhoto or Flickr? I want to include that information with the pictures, but when I'm taking 50 of the same thing, I can't remember which is which!  Once I get that, I'll edit to add the correct info for each picture.}}}

OLD I took a whole bunch of ugly photos of this beautiful teapot my hubby's grandmother gave me when we were getting married.  The teapot belonged to her mother--or his grandpa's mother...I need to double check on that!  I love the gold lines painted on the handle and spout of the of the pot.  This sits on my "window sill" in the kitchen over my sink. It's actually a little cubby in our cabinets where I keep my favorite cookbooks and a few other treasures.

It was really hard for me to work on balancing the light in these shots. It wasn't because the lighting was off or my camera wasn't cooperating; it's just a totally new concept to me.  I've worked in Aperture mode before, but never fully in Manual.  Also once I changed the perspective of my shot to focus on the details I was able to get something I actually liked. 

NEW What's better than new fabric?!  I ordered some Kona Solids last week from the Fat Quarter Shop to go with some of the Parisville FQs I already had. These will all be made into a quilt for my older sister. 

In the first shot, I just focused on the new fabrics and getting the light to balance.  I am loving these colors!

In the next shots I added the element of perspective and the rest of the fabrics.  Notice how the second one looks so much better just from being taken at a diagonal rather than straight on.

For those of you who are reading for the fabric more than the photography no judgment here on that one!, the Kona solids are (from top to bottom) Hibiscus, Pansy, Pistachio, Pond and Snow.

I have a Kona solids card I won a long time ago from Purl Soho (thanks again!), and at the time I thought it was pretty lame. I didn't use solid fabrics and didn't plan to. Fast forward to today and I am slowly growing in my appreciation for solids and thus for the card. It's so much better than looking at my computer screen trying to decide which of the 25 shades of green to use with my fabrics! I'll admit that I'm less likely to branch out to other brands because of this (good job RK, you got me!) but I'm OK with that.

I'm linking up with the rest of the "students" at Beth V's blog today! Check out their old and new perspectives, too!

opposites button


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Sewing Plans

I had lofty plans for a free Monday evening--mainly to finish my block for Pam that really should have been in the mail Monday morning.  However, Della had other ideas.  Our usual 15 bedtime routine took 2 hours.Not only did my sewing plans go out the window, but so did any cleaning, eating, etc. That's okay though because I got in some quality cuddle time with my little girl (which is becoming increasingly difficult with a growing belly).

I still need to re-make Pam's block, and then I get to make the April blocks--both of which I'm excited about.

Lindsey is asking for a wonky star using any combination of teal, orange, and/or white.  I need to check my stash, but I have a fair idea of what I'll be using for this one already.

Hilary is going for a block I was hoping someone would do during the bee: an improvised flower block using the neutral background fabric she is sending and just about any bright colored fabrics.  I really like the quilts I have seen where each block is a totally unique interpretation of "flower", "tree", "house", etc.  Hilary put together a really good inspiration set on Flickr for us, and I chose my favorites and added them to an Improv Flower Gallery.

My other April sewing plans include finishing the Kitchen Windows quilt (all the blocks are now finished!), making a dress for Della, and starting a quilt for my older sister's graduation/birthday!  If I'm really ambitious, or just need a simple project, I may make up a few more napkin sets for one of our local shops I've badly neglected lately. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Opposites: A *free* photogrpahy class

In the spirit of the little pact we made a few weeks ago, I wanted to let you know about  Opposites: a free photography class which starts tomorrow at Beth V Photography!

opposites button

Every time I grab my camera to take pictures of what I have sewn, I think I need to use this more often.  Then I don't pick it up again until I have another fresh sewing project--or some delicious cupcakes.  I think Opposites will be a good motivator to get the camera in my hands (and the settings off auto!) a bit more.  I mean, it's probably pretty hard to go wrong getting tips and ideas from a pro every other day for a month, right?!

If you're interested, there's still time to head over and join in on the fun.  There will be a Flickr group to show off your mad skills and everything :) I hope to see you there!


Triple Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

I know cupcakes were all the rage in recent years, and some people say they are now "out", but I'm not really sure I get how something like a cupcake could ever really be "out".  I mean, I'm not sporting cupcake t-shirts or anything like that, but come on, Folks! When you have something that resembles this,

I would say it's nothing by in!

I had the opportunity to celebrate a friend's birthday this weekend pot-luck style, and I was asked to bring the birthday cake.  I went with Triple Chocolate Cupcakes from the Cheeky Kitchen archives. (I made this recipe as cupcakes for Della's birthday last year.)  It's really hard to go wrong--or be out--when you're using three different kinds of chocolate for one cupcake.

Three little notes for you if you make these cupcakes (and if they are for a birthday).
ONE: The cupcake base is really rich and dense.  I would actually like to try these again but will play around with the chocolate-to-sugar ratio because they were almost too chocolately--yes, it's possible when you're using real baking chocolate. 
TWO: Don't be intimidated by the chocolate filling.  It was more liquid-y than I expected, but it was fine.  Just prepare it in a glass measuring cup with a little pour spout so you can fill your cupcakes easily.  I let my cupcakes sit in the frig for 30 minutes after filling to get it all to set.  
THREE: If you're celebrating a birthday, remember the candles! Whoops. I left mine with the lighter on the counter at home.  Faux Pas.

And if you're wondering about that third layer of chocolate, it's in the frosting.  The OMG delicious white chocolate frosting.  There's still a small bowl in my frig that I just can't bear to toss out--or eat because it's so sweet and delicious.

Do you have a favorite cupcake recipe (or t-shirt)?  If you're still a believer like me and want some cute wrappers, this shop is where I got mine.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Mod Mosaic Quilt Block

This post could also be called How Not to Make a Mod Mosaic Quilt Block!

March's second quilt block for MSQB was a Mod Mosaic block based off the Oh, Fransson! Mod Masaic Pillow tutorial.  I haven't actually finished my block yet (and now it is April...yikes!), but here's my first try

I actually really like this block and plan to make a little pillow or something else out of it, but I don't think it's quite suitable for sending to a bee member.  For one, it's quite off the requested size of 12.5" square; instead it's a 10x11" rectangle--I think at this point adding to it is not a good option. And I made this prior to buying my new presser foot, so the seams are fairly inconsistent. 

I went about making this block in a semi-chaotic fashion, which isn't really a great idea. I cut a few pieces, sewed them together, cut a few more, sewed those together then to the first piece, and so on. However, there needs to be some math and forethought involved  if you have a specific size in mind for the finished product.  Otherwise getting to that size may not be so easy (trust me!). 

This weekend I plan to make another similar block but I think I will try a new approach: cut all the piece at once and lay them out on a 12.5" template.  Then add the white pieces and trim to size.  Does that sound reasonable to you more experienced quilters??