Sunday, March 24, 2013

No Pictures Today

There are no pictures today for a very bad reason.  Pollux had a stroke on Thursday.  He's doing fine and the vet is confident that he will recover most, if not all, of his balance once the "seasickness" feeling goes away.  We've got him on pills and are watching him carefully.  FH and I are also giving him sub-q fluids here at home.  Pollux is eating well, but his drinking is so-so... hence the fluids.  He's also getting lots of love and quiet time.  He's really enjoying the "love" bit... not so much the quiet time though.

So, no time = no pictures.

I did managed to get most of my tool bag done on Tuesday at the meeting.

* The pieces are all quilted.
* The pocket section is all sewn together and I'd basted piping around the edge.
* I added hand embroidered details to two pocket edges.

Then I realized two very important things:

1) I'd rather have button loops and buttons than velcro.  This meant I needed to go home and make button loops from matching fabric before I could sew the final seams.


2) Somehow I'd forgotten that I'd cut the grey outer fabric wider than the pocket sections.  I did it on purpose, to give myself wiggle room in case the applique stitching pulled the fabric too much.  The happened on the table runner center block, so I decided better safe than irritated.

This means I have to remove the basted-on piping and trim the appliqued section to fit the pocket section.  The lining too, since I'd used the grey as a guide piece. 

All that is really simple to do, but for obvious reasons, I haven't taken the time to finish the complete piece.  I was still irritated with the project (and myself) on Wednesday, so I worked on a large cross stitch instead of fixing the issues.

Between today and this coming Wednesday I'll be cleaning, decorating, and baking.  The guild's embroidery group is meeting here Wednesday morning.  I'll have pictures of three new recipes and hopefully get a chance to finish up the tool bag for next the next post.  If things go right in the world, I might even have a finished cross stitch.  It is rather difficult to stitch with an extremely loving Siamese cat pulling your hands towards his head so you can scratch him in just the right places.

Oh, and before I forget, Pollux turns 14 on the 29th of this month.  It's hard to believe how time flies.

See you all next week!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I made two different attempts at a classic party dish this week.  I'd never made deviled eggs before and saw a fun way to dress them up on a really cool food blog.  I think they're going to be a hit at the next guild meeting I host here.  They were good, but the whites tasted more like a pickle than an egg white.
 I also did some in a darker green, just because, for the second attempt.  This time the outside weren't overly vinegary.  I gave the whites a quick rinse after pulling them out of the dye.  This time they were perfect.

The appliqued violets are finished, waiting for Tuesday's guild meeting to be turned into a tool case.

That's all for this week.  I was busy running around for several days, hence the lack of projects.  Friday I visited a historic home in Bloomington, IL that would be a gorgeous dollhouse.  The David Davis Mansion is a stunning home that was constructed between 1870 and 1872.  Pictures were not allowed in order to better preserve the antiques.  I will have to go back with a sketch pad and colored pencils sometime.  The ceilings in the public rooms are all hand painted with different floral motifs.  The hall stand in the front hall can hold six gentlemen's hats and is graced with a bronze stag's head on top.  The hat hooks are all carved animal heads as well.

I know I'm going back between Mother's Day and Father's Day.  That's when the gardens are in full bloom. Happily they allow cameras in the garden.  All the plants are either original to the garden (and thus very old) or have been replaced using information from letters written by Sarah Davis and the help of other historic gardens.  Many of the replacement plants have come from Monticello, as did several of the original plants.

That's all for this week.  Happy crafting!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


When I attended the PASG Quilters' group meeting last month, I was informed that we would be making a fun case to carry our various tools to quilt classes/workshops/retreats during the March meeting.  After examining the sample and the cutting list, I decided it was a little plain.  Yes, I could simply use some wild and happy fabrics for my case, but I don't have any that isn't earmarked for something else and I can't justify buying more for this.  So I came up with a plan.  A fun plan.

First I chose some fabrics that weren't set aside for anything in particular.  Neither of them is particularly stunning, but I liked them when I acquired them.  The bottom fabric will be the lining and one of the inner pockets.  Note: I simply adore violets.  Pansies and violas too, but violets are my favorite.
 I needed to go ahead and cut my fabric so I'd have a better idea of size and proportion for an applique.  I like the contrast between these fabrics, and the grey will make a nice neutral background for a violet or two to pop out from.
Then I did a little surfing and found lots of pictures of violets.  Lots of pictures.  (And a pansy too, because it was gorgeous.)  You see, appliques are really just pieces of fabric that fill in an outline.  All you need is a set of outlines to fill in.  If you're good at tracing around a picture, you can make an applique design.  This also means coloring books are an awesome source for making your own appliques. 

In the case of flowers, I like to find as many shapes as I can.  Different angles for petals and leaves are a must if you want it to look real.  Tracing onto a transparency sheet allows for flipping elements as needed.

The next step is fun, if somewhat fiddly.  I don't own a light box, so I got to trace my elements onto paper via a window.  I had a basic idea in my head for the picture, so it only took two tries to make it.  The dotted lines indicate where an object is behind another.  You do need to keep the size of your elements versus the size of where they're going in mind during this process.  I don't show it here, but there was a good deal of measuring going on.
Next, you trace the design again, this time onto another transparency sheet.  This is a tip I read in a quilting book over the summer.  You can check the placement of your pieces as you're working by laying this piece on top of the applique in progress.
Here's the fun part.  The final check to make sure your design fits where you want it.  Room to spare without affecting the seam allowances!
Now you're ready to make the individual pattern pieces for the design.  I'll be using a thin cardboard to make templates for tracing onto freezer paper.  That way I can reuse them down the line since two of my sisters also love violets.  Once my freezer paper shapes are ready, I can start in on the applique.  I need to have it finished before the next Quilters' meeting so I can sew along with the other ladies.

I have already found some fabric to use.  Of course I have plenty of purple scraps on hand.
Once the applique is done, it will be hard not to go ahead and finish my case.  I'll have to tough it out and work on the quilting on the table runner instead.  Or finish a cross stitch.  Or something.  Oh darn. ;-)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Frustrations of Designing

So an idea for a quilt popped into my head whilst I was lunching at my favorite Lebanese restaurant in town.  I've sketched out several ideas for block placement since then, the blocks stayed the same.  I just need to figure out sizes, placement, how many, etc.

The problem is I walked into the quilt shop after lunch that afternoon and saw the absolute perfect fabric for part of the blocks.  And then I saw the other perfect fabrics for the blocks.  And of course I hadn't done the math yet, mainly because I wasn't sure about the numbers of blocks I wanted.  So I left empty handed and got down to some serious thinking about the blocks.

Well I've since figured out the placement and done the math.  I've also gues-timated the amount of money I'll need to purchase my fabrics.  I have to buy it in small increments to make the money fit in with my cash allowance.  Not a huge deal, since most everyone is on a budget these days.

Here's the final layout of the quilt.  The outer border is supposed to be the same dark brown as the large triangles in the windmill blocks.  It's still blank for a on to learn why.
Apparently I forgot to turn it, but I don't think it really matters since it's not a unidirectional quilt.  The notes at the bottom of the page read:10" blocks; 85"x105".  This will be a twin size bedspread when it's finished.

When I went back to the  store I checked all three bolts of fabric, planning on purchasing the one that had the least left on it.  There sat my main fabric... with only two yards left on it.  I need two and a half.  Ugh.

I bought it anyway.  I figured I could check the other quilt stores and the internet to find another piece.  So far no luck.  Snow has kept me from driving the 20 miles to other shops and the internet hasn't yielded any results.  So I'm left with the choice of changing my design and using a different fabric for the outer border, or continuing the search.
The story behind the idea is rather involved, so I think I'll save it for another post.  In the meantime, I'll be looking for another yard of this fabric.  Otherwise I think I'll see what a different woodgrain pattern looks like on the outside.