Saturday, September 16, 2017

Back in the Saddle

It's been a couple weeks.  Part of that time, I was incommunicado.  You see, Wonderful Husband and I had promised ourselves that when our boys were big enough, we'd start going camping.  So we used up the tail end of his paternity leave window and took Squiddle and Jazzy and up to Yosemite!  We hit kind of a sweet spot so far as weekday reservations just after school started, so the park wasn't too crowded.  Though that was tempered by the smoke haze from wildfires outside the park.  Still, a wonderful vacation and one I hope we can repeat.  An annual camping trip during our family's three-week birthday period would be a nice tradition to start.

Since we got back, I've been on fire with sewing!  Last guild meeting I turned in the finished Animal Baby Quilt as well as two pillowcases to the Quilts for Kids group, and I've already got another pillowcase done for next month.  Plus I sewed one for part of Squiddle's Christmas present and tucked it away, and have the one for part of Jazzy's Christmas present on my lap being pinned at the moment.  I just need to find the right fabrics for one for Niecelet.  And then start pondering pyjama patterns and fabrics for all three, to go with.  (Another tradition I'm thinking of starting.)

I'm doing my guild's Round Robin again this year.  I turned in my block with a whole bundle of fabrics for the others to use if they choose, and am currently pondering what to do with the Hunter's Star I have to border this month.  I've also been sewing some star blocks from this pattern by Country Threads Chicken Scratch.  They're very easy to do and satisfying to make in pairs.  I need to decide how many I want to make.

But at the same time, I've been feeling like I need to start stretching my piecing skills beyond what is easy for me.  So, inspired by the whole whock of quilting books I've acquired lately, I've dug into Betsy Chutchian's History Repeated (a birthday gift from my sister-in-law) and started making Wheel of Fortune blocks.  I've also been going through Barbara Brackman's 2015 series of posts about 1800s fabrics and using them to help me pull fabrics for the Wheels of Fortune.  I... have a surprising amount of fabric that is (at least to my untutored eye) acceptable.

Also, I took my Singer 101 in to the Sewing Center of Orange County to see if Steve could get it working for me again.  We picked it up today.  It now bypasses the knee pedal and has a foot pedal, but it sews again, which is the important thing.  Hooray!

Anyhow, that's what I've been up to.  Back to pinning so I can get to bed soonish.

Friday, September 1, 2017

September Starts!

I vanished for a whole month~!  Ugh, sorry about that.

Let's see.  What did I do for the month?  I took my boys and the three of us flew up to Washington to visit my sister and her baby.  Just like her mama, Niecelet is so cute!  And my sister and I did a great deal of thrift-storing and not a great deal of jamming.  The former is much easier than the latter with two babies (one very mobile) and a preschooler.

How does that relate to sewing, you may wonder?  Well, I may have needed to borrow a duffel bag from my sister to haul all my new books back.  I swear, one thrift store in particular, someone must have dumped their entire stash of quilt books.  And the Venn diagram of their tastes and mine had a LARGE overlap.  Plus I may have been collecting row-by-rows as we went along.

After returning home, we've all been struck down by whatever got caught on the airplane.  And it's been miserable hot.  But I've been trying to finish a few projects to donate to the Quilts For Kids group at my guild.  I've finished one pillowcase that has been lingering on my desk for months, and sewn a label onto the veterinary scrubs triangle baby quilt.  I've also pulled out the Jaws fabric I got at Costume College's Bargain Basement, used that to sew up my Ugly Fabric 9-Patches for the month, and realized I had a block of it big enough to do up another pillowcase, so that got cut out and sewn as well.

I would <i>like</i> to be quilting.  But it's just too bloody hot.  Furniture is actively warm to the touch!  So the Jacob's Ladder quilt top I got for $10 at Costume College is waiting.  About 1/6th finished.  Where it's been since our guild demo day at the OC Fair.

In other news, I had my 41st birthday, which, in light of the miserable weather and all of us being different degrees of sick, kind of wasn't.  Though I got lots of lovely books!  Including a couple quilting books I've been coveting.  And Wonderful Husband bought me a couple more row-by-rows as a gift from my boys. :)  So I have things to sew.  But I'm trying to be good and not chase rabbit down their holes until I've knocked another few WIPs off my stack.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Costume College 2017 in review

It's creeping up toward midnight and I'm taking a turn minding Jazzy in the office so Wonderful Husband can get some sleep.  He does this often enough for me when the baby doesn't want to sleep on schedule, so it's my turn for a change.

Where to start?  Costume College was this last weekend, expanded to four days this year!  I didn't get the day limited class I would have liked on Thursday, but the Friday Victorian Corsets workshop had a two-hour fitting session that evening, which necessitated some dancing and shuffling and Wonderful Husband taking off from work a touch early so I could make it.

Friday?  The workshop was great.  My corset is something like 85% complete.  I just need to put the bones in and the top and bottom binding on.  The traffic, however, was hellish.  Because I'm a nursing mother, this year I needed to commute back and forth and pump milk a couple times a day.  And Wonderful Husband wasn't able to take Friday off, so I had to drop the boys off at my parents' before College and pick them up afterward.  I spent four and a half hours driving that day, and didn't get home until 8pm.  At which point I really needed dinner.

Saturday was my busy teaching day.  The Fabulous Fabric Fairy Wings class went well.  I felt a bit disorganized, but I had about 30 students (I need to mail the handout to a few; I only made 25) and I think they were excited by what they learned.  I attended a bit of a lecture on organizing your sewing room, which gave me a few tips but also made me feel like, no, maybe I don't really have that much fabric in comparison.  Then I took a workshop on Downton Abbey necklaces (I've now finished mine), which was fun.  And, finally, I taught the 1950s Petticoat class.  Which, I kind of feel like I need to figure out how to streamline it a touch, but given that they're all individually measured, I can't really cut the fabric ahead of time for the students.  Still, it went well.

Sunday I spent most of the day in a class about Precious Metal Clay, which, ooh, really tempting (if a bit pricey) for a new hobby.  I did get frustrated at one point and went for a walk down to the Bargain Basement to do some retail therapy ($5) and clear my head.  After that things went better and I had a great deal of fun, ending up with two pendants and a pair of earrings and a tiny smidge of clay left over.  After that, I had just a little free time to make my purchases in the dealer's hall (black and white coutil for future corsets, a 1950s quilt top, and an embroidered tablecloth for my mother; about $50 total), then taught my final class, Machine Quilting.  Let us say that I've been going to Costume College at this same hotel for years now, and this was the first time I've even known the classroom existed.  And also that this was the last class of College.  Even so, I'm slightly disappointed that I only had two students.  Still, I gave them my best and I think they left with a good handle on it.

I am quite pleased that the sewing machine I fixed up and donated to the Bargain Basement went for $100.  But I definitely prefer staying at the hotel when possible; commuting it is annoying.  Not so much for missing evening activities - I don't like the Social, and I've never been to the Gala - but for the pressure of it and the massive time/energy black hole that is traffic.  I also felt overscheduled this year, to the point where I didn't get to talk to friends I don't see elsewhere for more than a minute or two.  I kept wishing for more time.

But, oh, I did have such a good time....

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Prep Work

It's almost midnight.  Jazzy is resisting sleep.  Costume College starts tomorrow.  Pfaugh.

That said, I've got everything packed and ready to go for the first part of the Victorian Corset class tomorrow.  And after stressing myself into a mini meltdown earlier today (fueled in part by obviously sleeping hella wrong on my left shoulder and painkillers doing nada to help), the fairy wing wires situation has been resolved.  I borrowed my father's boltcutters, we dug the wire spools out of the garage, and measured and cut new wing wires this evening.  I've folded them at the midpoints, and my plans for tomorrow morning involve shaping them to the wings.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


My first teaching class at this Costume College is the Fairy Wings class.  I pulled my wings out tonight.  Hey, I even found the pattern for one of the sets, sweet bonus!

I cannot find the wing wires for either set.

The class is on Saturday.

Wonderful Husband, fortunately, has his chill about this because I do not have mine.  We have more wire in the garage, he says.  I just need to figure out how much I need cut for each set.

Meanwhile I'm still going though an internal monologue that consists of swear words and self-blame and more swear words.  Did not need this additional stressor right now.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Icky Sicky

As the title implies, yes, I've been sick.  The whole house has been sick.  We're going onto week 2 of the summer cold/flu.  Blargh.  Blargh, I say!

Plus this coming weekend is Costume College.  So I've been focusing on prep for that.  I do not have any costumes this year.  I'm hoping, really hoping, that making a Victorian Corset in the all-day Friday workshop will kickstart something for me.  Because I would really, really LOVE to get back into that groove.

Saturday I will be teaching a morning class on full-size fabric fairy wings.  Which I taught some years back and couldn't find my handout for when I searched.  Then I realized I had taught it back in the good old handwritten handout days.  So I'm having to transcribe, improve, and search for new images for it, while the baby wants me to hold him so he can bash the keyboard.  Saturday afternoon I'm teaching a 1950s petticoats workshop, and thank goodness, all the prep for that is done, signed, sealed, ready.  And Sunday afternoon I'll be teaching a machine quilting class.  I'd like to revise the slideshow and handout for it, but if I can't, it's solid, just... more repetitive than I'd like.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Making Things

As proof that quilts aren't the only thing I make, here's the icebox cake I did for my uncle and aunt's Fourth of July party:

And, of course, I got the quiet quilt finished:

The center four squares are each a quarter inch smaller than the others, so the center of the sashing is half an inch wider than the rest of it.  It's bound in the same gold as the corner blocks.  I didn't think to take a picture of the back, but it's another pale print with two green strips on the sides to make up the width.  I measured and mathed, but no matter how I plotted, I just didn't have enough of that pale artist print to make up the whole back.  Alas.

And, at the other end of the color spectrum, this is my current project:

My friend Jill had given me a whole bunch of offcuts from medical scrubs.  Veterinary scrubs, I suspect, given they all have animal prints.  But among the varying pieces were a whole bunch of nearly equilateral triangles of these three prints.  I measured the smallest, counted the pieces, and printed up some triangular graph paper to figure out if I had enough to make anything.  And, as it happened, what I had makes up a baby quilt.  It's roughly 39"x45".  So I trimmed and sewed and this is the result.

As Wonderful Husband put it, not fabrics I would have chosen to put together.  But they were freebies and it's been a fast project,  Plus I haven't worked much with equilateral triangles before.  I think it was a line from Full Metal Panic that went "Everything is experience." :)  I'm trying to decide what fabric to use as a backing.  These are my quick and fast pulls from the stash: