Thursday, 20 March 2014

A bit like a headless chicken

So I haven't figured out my blog reading, posting, and commenting problems. I keep saving things up for when I have a little bit of time and I can sit down with my laptop. But I only turn my laptop on a couple of times a week now, and due to medication I now fall asleep at about 9pm. So I've downloaded blogger to my phone, and I'm going to stop waiting for the "perfect time" because, let's be honest, perfect doesn't exist anywhere in life.

I've been sewing, but I've been doing lots of little bits on lots of different projects. Nothing's finished, but I'm also not getting stuck in a sewing funk, cos I can change it up as often as I like!

Today, I'll show you two blocks I made following a tutorial from Nicole at snips snippets. She shows you how to make two Star Dresdens from 13 charms.

When I started I wanted to make one for me for a scrappy sampler quilt I'm planning, and one to send to Little Island Quilting for her Soy Amado project. It hasn't worked out for this block, it's ended up slightly too large, and there are some knots in the quilting that I'm not sure will last (at least one has come undone already). So I'll turn it into a cushion for our sofa and make a more sturdy and correctly sized block for Little Island Quilting.

I have to say though, that these blocks are so much fun and look really great for not a lot of effort. And it's nice to have something you can make from charms that is so impactful! Nicole's a bit of a genius, I think.

I've been toying with the idea of hand stitching the second Star Dresden down, but it might just end up languishing in the growing queue of things I'm supposed to be hand stitching in the evening.

PS I haven't figure out how to insert the pictures in among the text, but they are: 

- the drunkards paths for my sister's Retro Flowers quilt (I started these last July)

- two rainbow Star Dresdens

- doing dot to dot quilting for the first time (still straight lines)

- and, the quilted, too large, block which will be a cushion.

Maybe future blogger app posts should be picture heavy and word light!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Instruction Reading Fail

I had a splendiferous idea last week. I'd make a two-sided quilt to represent the places we've lived in America so far. Obviously, having just moved to Texas, the Lonestar was the first choice.

I already had a tutorial pinned. Janice at Better Off Thread has also set out tables for making 8 different sizes  of Lonestar (with 9-piece or 36-piece panels) depending on your current level of insanity!

I am going to point out upfront that her tutorials and measurements are all excellent, well written, well-pictured (not a phrase, I know), and just generally spiffing. My attention span is the exact opposite of all of those things.

I got enthused when I realised I had those WOF Amy Butler strips lying around, and that there were more than nine of them so I could totally make the easier Lonestar. Yay! There were pretty pictures, motivation to stay up after waking ridiculously early on a Sunday morning, just to start cutting and sewing. I hate cutting. Basically, I was quite excited.

Early morning instagramming...
Everything went swimmingly, right up until I had to cut my groups of three fabric strips (now sewn together). They needed to be cut at a 45° angle and with a spacing equal to the original width of the strips (3"). Sounds straight forward, right!?

That's what I thought. I dutifully went along and marked every 3" on either side of my strips. I lined my ruler up with the marks, and the 45° ruler line with the seams. I cut merrily, until I had 8 from each group, 28 lovely strips for me to admire.

I had already figured out how I wanted the fabrics to rotate when sewn together, so I could have just ploughed ahead at this point, sewing three strips together to make the 9-diamond panels. But I thought I should lay it out, just to make sure I got everything the right way around, and a picture to refer to should it all get hairy during the sewing.

I spent the next two hours, alternating between sitting on the floor looking at the strips, scratching my head, and reminding myself of a toddler trying to fit a round block into the square hole. I'd take a break. Watch some telly, think 'oh, maybe if I rotate it this way' - no, no that didn't work. Back to the internet - maybe the tutorial's wrong or it left something out (it didn't, but I looked at other tutorials to make sure). 'Ooh, maybe if I place them in horizontal rows instead of vertical' - nope.


'Ok, sit down and read each line of the tutorial and look at ALL the pictures'. Oh shit. Yep, that's the one, right there. At that point, two hours in, pieces all over the floor, sitting beside them, I nearly cried. Somehow, I didn't. I'm not sure why not, but instead the spirit of selfish sewing, and 'sure, you might as well find some way to put them together, they're still pretty' came over me.

They're still on the floor, but now they look like this.

Not right, but pretty!

I should point out, that I noticed last night while I explained to Paul all the ways it was broken that the panels on either side of East are wrong. All fixed now, but no picture yet.

Anyway, yeah, there aren't supposed to be those offsets between each point and the next panel. I kind of like it, in that there's a sort of pinwheel-esque movement (reaching, I know).

After coming up with a couple of different potential fixes, I have found my Make It Work fix. I will be cutting 8 more slimmer pieces from the leftover strips, in order to fill those gaps. It's going to make this look a little crazy, but I think that maybe the busy-ness of the fabrics will pull it all together. Then I shall proceed as per the tutorial, consulted properly and multiple times in future, to sash it in a solid, before surrounding it in a cream (I think).

Hopefully, the upcoming DC side of this won't be as torturous. Still though, I'll never forget how to piece a Lonestar :)

PS something was clearly wrong with our karma yesterday, after I did the above, I then made a sleeve for my phone that would be more suited to being a purse (massively huge), and then we somehow ruined our Shrove Tuesday pancakes...

But it's ok, we're going for Pancakes Mark II tonight!

Monday, 3 March 2014


I have been beating myself over the head for a few weeks now for not posting more often, for not sewing every day, for not having a finished project or even a started project to share with you. I thought last week would be the week when I would catch up with all my sewing and, of course, last week I was sick, then I got better, then the fire alarm on our 10ft ceiling decided to run out of battery and start to shriek at 130am, every 40 seconds, for the next twelve hours. Somehow Paul got back to sleep. I couldn't. So I decided to do something I've been putting off until I felt more caught up, on track, on top of everything. I started to do the Wardrobe Architect over at Coletterie.

Sleep deprived, grumpy, and with a stonking headache (considering there wasn't any alcohol involved) I realised last Friday that I need to let go, lighten up, and do things as I come to them and not force myself to do them to some crazy internal schedule that a clearly batshit dictator/drill sergeant came up with.
Something I put together on Polyvore, which I don't really understand
but do like quite a lot. I am looking forward to when Spring has sprung.

So I'm taking this week off. This is my week of fun, of whatever, and next week I'll add in little bits of more time-sensitive projects again. But in small doses, and with no invented hard deadlines.

So here's where I am. I finished the top of the Riley Blake Challenge, the night before the deadline. I still haven't finished the quilting. There are a lot of threads to bury (first time burying threads - how fancy!), and after forcing myself to work on only this for too many days in a row, until I started to actively avoid the machine (hello, awful daytime reality television) I have stopped. It is now pinned on a wall, until I mellow towards it again and return happily to bring it to a finish.

I will eventually show my inspiration and explanation behind this!

The one thing I have been doing is doodling, making quilt plans, loving them, hating them, colouring them in, and generally enjoying the possibilities. The other guilty pleasure has been pinterest - no required interaction, and lots of possibility.

On the cutting table this week, are some leftover Amy Butler WOF strips, the remaining x and + blocks waiting to be pieced, skull fabric I won almost a year ago paired with an AMH Pastry voile (bought before I knew what voile was), and a stack of solids to be cut up so I can practice my new-found appreciation for paper piecing with last years forgotten Lucky Stars blocks!

I don't know if it's clear, but my unused, almost 1 year-old,
darning foot is out - this week I shall try my hand at some FMQ!

I have a new needle in my machine, and new blade in my rotary cutter, and a new found enthusiasm for doing what ever the hell I please! If I wasn't six months or so late, I'd be joining Made with Moxie on her Selfish Sewing Week - here's to fresh starts :)