Friday, April 22, 2011

South Pacific Single Girl

Well I haven't even finished the first one, and I am already planning the next one. I have decided on my next Single Girl to be themed South Pacific, sort of tropical, vintage, and colorful. Here are my fabrics that I have been collecting...not sure if I will add more or not.
I am planning on an off-white background to match the background of some of the fabrics. Since I am quilting my first quilt in a dark gray Perle 8 cotton, this one will be in a salmon color Perle 8. I can't wait to get started on it. This is nuts, since I haven't even finished the first one. Oh well, I could have worse addictions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Single Girl Part Deux...

Well, I am making progress. Slowly, but making progress. I have all my A-H quarters sewn and only saw a few pieces not lined up so well. I have to say that the posts I have read are very helpful, but have also made me very nervous to make this quilt. Once person even said that you have to measure just perfectly or the whole thing will be off. Great. I have decided that it will be what it will be.
I bought some pieces of dark gray poster board from JoAnn's to see how the circle would look against my not yet purchase Kona Charcoal fabric. So far so good. Now, I did cut two of the pieces upside down, so I had to re-cut them, but otherwise, it went pretty well. After once again consulting all posts for the Single Girl Quilt Along on Ginger Monkey's blog, I cut, and cut, and cut out all my templates. I have already started planning another single girl with what I am calling some South Pacific themed fabric and an off white background. This time I will actually trace the templates as shown on the blog, and also make copies of the templates rather than transferring them to plastic sheets. I feel that I made some errors in transferring them over. We will see.
Oh so many templates. Each one has twelve pieces to make twelve rings. In the meantime I ordered my Kona fabric for the front, back and binding. However, they only had 5.8 yards so now I am short for the back. With the suggestion of my stepdaughter, I may make the back from a fabric that is soft and/or fuzzy. We will see what I can find.
Here is my yummy charcoal fabric. It is even richer than I thought it would be (as you can see by the faded gray color of my background paper that I thought would match perfectly). The only pieces that I am not too sure about are the gray with ferns fabric, but I'm not changing it now!
So one of the posts explained that you cannot line up the pieces like at the top and the bottom like you would normally, but rather where they intersect. What? After much deliberation with myself, I decided to go old school and draw a 1/4" seam allowance on the back of the pieces (which later reduced itself to x's in each corner) and then put two pins through each corner where they intersect like you would for hand piecing. Granted I am sure there is an easier and/or fastest way to do this, but this is all I came up with.

After lining them up, I pinned a couple more in for good measure and sewed away.
After all 12 of these quarters were done, I will move onto the next quarter. I might get his done by summer if I'm lucky. Like I said, so far they are coming out alright, but I am concerned about matching them up with their charcoal cousins later on and it still coming out in the shape of a square. I might call on you experts that I know to help me "make it work" if needed. I will say that I have learned not only what worked, but what I will not do the next time on my South Pacific quilt. For the quilting, Denyse Schmidt includes a pattern to follow, which I will, but I have decided to do it with size 8 perle cotton. I can't wait! Keep posted to view the progress. I think I might also count how many cups of coffee it takes to make this quilt as well.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

I bought a vanity from Craigslist not too long ago, and decided that it needed to be refinished and some TLC. I noticed right away that it was indeed antique and had bakelite handles so I grabbed it up quick! I then started my on-line research of how to refinish with Danish Oil and how to clean bakelite. Coincidentally, I don't think I have sanded that much in my life! Here is a pic of the handles, before and after cleaning.
They were very stained and I was actually pretty shocked when they came up such a light color. You can see them sitting on the original color of the vanity, which was a dark brown 70's sort of shade (not attractive) and there was some mending needed. This is a picture of it with all the drawers pulled out. I did start with the drawers to see how much work it was going to take to get it to the color I wanted. I have some modern danish furniture and was shooting for something more in the link of that caramel, warmness that only danish modern can bring.
So, the trick to working with Danish Oil, I found, was the right kind of sanding, putting on enough oil, then waiting long enough for it to "dry", then wiping just the right amount off, deciding how much sanding to do between coats, and then when to stop putting on oil. Then when you are done sanding, coating, sanding, and coating, you then have to put a wax polish on it, which also takes more then one coat. You also have to "wax on, wax off". So needless to say my arms got quite the workout, but the outcome was so worth it.

I borrowed an old metal chair from my mom which needed a recovered seat. After buying some foam from JoAnn's and a $2.00 piece of clearance fabric for furniture, I had a chair! Now I have a great place to sit and put my make up on, or do my hair. I just love it, and love that I saved it. I don't know if I will ever refinish another piece of furniture again (especially with Danish Oil), but I can say that I did it at least once.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New quilting store in Henderson...

This weekend I went to visit the new quilting store in Henderson, on Water Street and it was great! It is called Sew Obsessed, and just opened a month ago. It has many fabrics that the other stores don't carry and many patterns that I hadn't seen before. It is Modern style and also has this great enclosed area for kids with little chairs, books and a TV. Here is a pic from their site:
I highly suggest that you take a visit when you get a chance. They are going to be expanding soon as well to accommodate a space for classes too. Water street is really cute, and you can also visit the homemade soap shop next door when you're there!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The meaning of quilting...

For those of you that don't know, I am in a program to learn Mental Health Counseling in hopes of finishing and becoming a therapist. One of my classes is Social Justice and Diversity which required us to write an autobiography describing life experiences that we have gone through and how "isms" have effected us (i.e. Sexism, racism, etc).Part of the paper assignment required a presentation to the class about our paper. I decided to show a baby quilt that my mother made me and the quilt that I made my stepdaughter displayed in the background. Then I had cut out pieces of fabric that I had used in quilts into 2" squares and then safety pinned part of a 3x5 card on the back. On the back of each square I wrote a statement of something that I had experienced in life. They were all very exposing of my life, and very intimate things. Each person was asked to pick one from a basket, only looking at the fabric without knowing what would be written on the back. I read an excerpt from my paper that started with a quote from Dorothy Parker that is actually in the beginning of Whitney Otto's book "How to Make an American Quilt." This is the poem and the excerpt from the paper:

When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
“Come out, you dogs, and fight!” said I,
And wept there was but once to die

But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
                                    - Dorothy Parker

" In Whitney Otto’s book, How to Make an American Quilt, she walks you through the process of making a quilt, but also a metaphor for discovering your identity. “What you should understand when undertaking the construction of a quilt is that it is comprised of spare time as well as excess material. Something left over from a homemade dress or a man’s shirt or curtains for the kitchen window. It utilizes that which would normally be thrown out, “waste”, and eliminates the extra, the scraps. And out of that which is left comes a new, useful object (p.9).” So many times in my life I would think back to experiences, and say, “why couldn’t I have had a normal life like some other people?” and I would expound hate or malice toward those that put me in those situations. I would shake my fist at the universe and curse it for the way my life had played out with alcoholism, rape, violence, drug abuse, mental illness, instability, cultural ambiguity, and death. A true quilter never throws away fabric. You probably started collecting fabric at a young age without knowing exactly what you were going to do with it. If you are like me, you are drawn to the color or pattern that seemed to radiate out from all the other ones surrounding it. Maybe it was a leftover that nobody wanted because it just didn’t “match” the others, or is just too bold to be used for fear of it ruining the demure look of the other fabrics. You feel as though you should save it from the impending doom of its dusty future in the clearance bin, only to end up repeatedly marked down until it is tossed away. There has to be some level of trust between you and the material; knowing that someday it will have its purpose but that you are willing to give it a home until that time comes. Now, you may be thinking, what if you just collect wayward pieces of fabric your whole life just to end up with a room full of baskets and boxes filled to the brim and teetering on the brink of hoarding status? Well, you see, that is where the trust comes in. You have to have faith that these tiny scraps will somehow take shape into a beautiful gift of love that you can either wrap yourself in or give away for someone else who may need it. And so, are the experiences of my life. These odds and ends that separately seem too bold, scary, or abnormal to be used, yet they are what make me who I am; beautiful, unique, made up of what others would throw away, the good and the bad, woven together into a crazy quilt. You see a crazy quilt is one that is put together with no pattern or plan, it is a group of quilters that come together to bring their own experiences and emotions that are expressed into the quilt in the form of pictures, words, and color from those pieces of scrap that were left behind. It’s crazy because there is no rhyme and reason, you have no idea what it is going to look like or where it will take you, and you just have to trust in the process; sort of like, life."

I explained to the class that the pieces of material they had in front of them were pieces of me and them turn them over and read them. They each read the statements, and while some cried and others came up after to speak to me about my experiences, it was obvious that they were effected by the things I had to go through in life. This was last Saturday afternoon and this evening I had class with them. They announced in class how much my presentation had meant to them and some of the students had gotten together to gather the pieces from people in the class. Then someone (anonymous at this point) sewed them all together into a quilt for me. It was the most special, thoughtful, and beautiful thing that I have ever had presented to me. I am planning to sew some tabs on it so I can hang it in my office on a decorative curtain rod. Here is a picture of the wonderful gift I was given today, and reminded about the meaning of quilting.

  Quilting for me has been great therapy on many different levels and this just sealed the whole thing! I wanted to share this experience with all of you. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

All Saints...

If you are in Las Vegas and have not yet visited the new Cosmopolitan (Hotel) please do so. It is not your typical strip Hotel/Casino and as a local, you actually find yourself in awe at the new concept. If the Chandelier bar in the middle of the entire entrance doesn't interest you then maybe the All Saints Clothing Store will. First, the clothes are to die for (in my personal opinion) but the whole front and back of the store is lined (stacked) with old Featherweight sewing machines. While this is bitter-sweet in that they are beautiful to look at, but will never be used in their suspended animation, it is still a sight to see.

They also have these racks of giant spools on display. You may recognize my blog picture as one of these. It was really an amazing store, and the chocolate martinis with the roasted marshmallows aren't bad either.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Single Girl...

Well I just couldn't wait to start on my Single Girl Quilt so I started to rack my brain on how I would lay out the pieces without cutting pieces out of the fabric. When I first purchased the patter at Sew Modern in LA, I thought I would just find some fabric here and there to eventually get around to it. However, after last night's meeting, I was all inspired to get started now! Here is the pattern...
I read through most of the blogs and looked at the pictures of others doing the quilt along. There was a great idea from one quilter, wish I could remember her name, who suggested using plastic three ring binder dividers for cutting out the templates, so that is exactly what I did!

I used a fine point Sharpie and had no problems with smearing or anything. Once I cut out all the templates, I wanted to keep them divided by the four quadrants of the pattern, so I found this great little pouch at Office Max that had three separate pockets inside and one big one; perfect!

I decided to do the background of the quilt in Kona charcoal and the circles (rings) in various shades and patterns of yellow, but having purchased some of the fabric already at Sew Modern, when I got home, I wasn't feeling it all like I was before. So, while at Quiltique last night for the meeting, I decided to bring the pieces I still liked and find some complimentary colors. This is what I came up with...
Unfortunately the colors don't show up as well in this photo, but trust me, they look nice together. Originally I had bought a large piece of dark grey cardstock from Joann's to lay the fabric against for organizing which ones would go where, however, I quickly realized that the only way to get the full perspective of how it would look would require to cut a swatch or two from the material to place in the ring pattern. I didn't really feel comfortable doing this, since some of my pieces for fat quarters and I really didn't know how much I would have to play with. So, I got creative. I took a picture of each piece of fabric, and after fixing the color and cropping made tiny little pics of all my fabric. Then, I set up a Power Point slide with a dark grey background and started to arrange the tiny pics where I wanted them. Then I labeled them with the matching template letters, so I know which template went with which fabric. I am sure there was an easier way, but being new at this, I have to find some way to make this work.
Again, the colors are really off in the photo, so I laid the actual fabric next to each other to make sure it would look good. the brownish colored darker pieces are actually a dark grey background and most of the yellows are much more pale then the picture indicates. The teal fabric is not quite as "teal" as it shows here either, but it will do the job. It will be my sewing project for the next meeting.

My Studio...

Well this last weekend I FINALLY finished putting my studio together. It is in the bedroom, but I was able to fit a nice area at one end of the room and get my projects organized. I set up a cork board and other mini design wall over the desk, along with a curtain rod ($8 from Target) to drape the material over for each project that I am thinking of using. This way, I can stare at it when I wake up and when I go to bed to keep me motivated, and let's me arrange and rearrange them as I see fit.
As you can see, the next in line is the Single Girl Quilt Along (yes, I am VERY behind) and a pattern I found in a quilt magazine that I am going to do with Japanese Indigo fabrics. I have left space on the wall above, for a flat screen, which will hopefully be installed after the summer (I like to watch decorating shows and animal planet while I quilt).
This is the shelf to the right of the desk, where all my fabric, scraps and supplies are. I have the baskets for now, but I want to move to something a little more see-through to view my fabric selections. Trying to find soemthing stylish that isn't plastic storage containers is challenging.
This is my design wall/window in the bedrrom (please ignore the messy bed). I put sheers up along the whole wall (HGTV trick to make the wall/window look bigger) but it hides my desing wall when I don't want the quilt to clash with the rest of the decor of the room. Then I can just open the sheers to work on the quilt...

this is a close up of the wedding quilt that I am making for my brother-in-law and his wife. It is all being done by hand, so I have no idea how long it will take me to finish. I want to do at least one quilt by hand. This way, if I am just wanting to sit on the couch and relax, I work on this quilt, and when I want to work on my machine, I have other quilts to work on.
Here is the view of the desk and shelf together. I am very happy with it, so hopefully it will inspire me to find more time to quilt. I really envy those of you that mentioned you quilt every night! I can only imagine getting to that point.

My First Baby Quilt...

So my girlfriend Shamika had her little baby girl Mary Jane (MJ as she is referred to) last year, and I made this baby quilt for her. It is Elizabeth Hartman's design (More Simple Modern Baby Quilts) and I used fabrics from Joann's and Fiddlesticks in Boulder City. It came out pretty cute, and was pretty easy to put together. I did a wave quilting design in the pink squares and in the brown borders I did a straight line quilt around the square is a swirl pattern (if that makes sense). These are the only pictures I have; I am learing to archive my projects better now.

The back was made with pink minky and border was a green with tiny white polka dots. Sorry for the cheesy smile on this last pic, I am not a camera person.
I love her pattern and can't wait to do it again. Now I just have to find someone having a baby!