I’m still here and sewing, I promise

I really have no idea why it’s taken me so long to update, other than maybe I moved my laptop to behind my sewing machine for Netflix watching instead of next to it, because where it was was hurting my neck and I didn’t like having to reach to type.

I’m working on several things, one of which is still growing this baby in my tummy. I’m nearly 39 weeks, so it could be any time, really, although the last two have gone past their due dates, so I might still have two weeks or more.

Enormous belly.

In the past four months I also finished a swap, possibly my last swap ever (I’ll go into this another time).

This is the entire package I sent to my partner, who was a total joy to make for.

I used some really rich, saturating prints, focusing on some big name designers because at the time, my partner had only been quilting for a short time and this was one of her first swaps. I wanted to not only make something *I* found really pretty, but showcased some of the popular stuff like Kaffe Fasset, Tula Pink, and Kate Spain.

Here is another picture of the mini, this time in natural light.

I quilted the purple pretty heavily with a sort of swirl pattern, and then left the orange, pink and yellow fairly puffy. I was really pleased with this finish and was a little sad to see it go.

Something new I tried that I’d never done before was pattern testing, this time for the wonderful FromBlankPages, whose patterns I have used and loved before (I used the Celestial Star pattern again for the previously mentioned mini).

I chose the 9″ block and designed an 18″ pillow with it, repeating the block four times. I used my newly purchased and oh so pretty Shimmer 2 by Jennifer Sampou (because those metallics are HEAVEN)

I did some simple straight line quilting, following a lot of the secondary diamond patterns (because I’m just so over matchstick quilting) and ended up with this, which I gave to my brother and his fiance for Christmas.

The piecing was a bit tedious, with I think 212 total pieces, and some of them quite small, but I am so happy with it. The pattern is called Space Gem, and is now available in any FromBlackPages shop.

I have a lot more to write about, but I still have late Christmas gifts to finish and a hockey game to listen to!

 

My first bag! and a swap finish

I’m trying to take advantage of a rare spurt of energy to catch up on all my finished projects from whenever the last time I wrote about any finished projects.

First up is a bag I made. My first bag, actually. All the quilters on IG are making bags, and my mom has been asking for one since I first started sewing several years ago, so I thought  I’d give it a shot. Plus, it was her 50th birthday, and it would have been kinda jerky to not get my mom ANYTHING for her 50th.

I used this free tutorial, and I think it turned out pretty nice. It’s not perfect. The bottom seams didn’t match up because I totally forgot to even check that, but my mom liked it and I can check “making a bag” off my list of things to make for her. Next up is tackling zippered pouches (check back in the next five years to see if I’ve ever gotten around to this).

I was really glad to find a use for some Tula Pink. It’s basically novelty fabric, which I really have no use for. I guess a lot of bags are in my future.

Up next is a swap finish I don’t think I ever posted. It was for the Spring Fling Mini swap way back in April.

My partner said she loved Bonnie and Camille fabrics in any of the Thimble Blossom patterns, so I thought I would rock my April Showers bundle in some adorable granny squares (seriously, Thimble Blossom and B&C fabrics are usually not my thing but I really loved these little granny squares. Granny squares make any fabric totes adorbs). This is what it looked like in the end –

I did matchstick quilting (not a fan) and rounded edges (it’s alright) for the first time on this quilt and I think it turned out nicely. I got a lot of positive feedback on IG, but I was actually really embarrassed when she received it because she had made THE EXACT SAME THING for herself, only she had never posted it on IG. Actually, she had made a full size version, but it was still April Showers in granny squares. She swore she loved it and loved the idea of having a mini of one of her favorite quilts, but I am still not sure if I totally NAILED this swap or bungled it.

A year in review – instagram inspiration part 2 (the bad)

I’m only weeeeks behind on getting this out. Sorry, all my six readers.

Now, like in my previous post (if you skip the hockey one I reblogged – sorry, but that was an amazing night and game and no I’m actually not sorry I reblogged), I highlighted several things I thought were super great about what using Instagram can do for quilt inspiration. But with good things, there are often downsides, and I know I have definitely come across a few.

1)FABRIC TEMPTATION. Seriously, I have probably spent more money this past year on fabric than everything I ever purchased up to last year, including non fabric quilting supplies. Fabric is gorgeous, and when everyone posts their latest purchase and happy mail from conventions and sales and shops, it’s really hard to resist. With Instagram, you can also follow designers and shops directly, and so you see the latest lines and all the sales. It isn’t just stores and shops that are the problem, either. See, there is this little hashtag called #thegreatfabricdestash with THOUSANDS of posts of users destashing some of their fabric stash. It’s usually at at least a slightly discounted price, and a lot of it is OOP, so that can be a problem. I am usually a little late to the ball game with big destashes, so I haven’t purchased a lot. Tula Pink goes especially fast, and the prices can get really high, so I’ve actually taken to make sure I don’t follow any destash accounts and I avoid Instagram when one of the people I follow regularly hosts a destash because I just don’t want the temptation to get caught up in it all, and believe me, it is really easy to get caught up in the frenzy of fabric purchases, especially when something highly sought after is on the line.

2) Every thing starts to look the same. I don’t mean this as an insult to anyone, because certainly everyone buts a lot of effort into every thing that they make, but after a while, it seems a lot of the work people make tends to start resembling each other, and it’s quite hard to really stand out and find your own voice. Now, a lot of quilters really just like to make what they know looks good, and I don’t think there is anything wrong at all with making a trendy quilt in a trendy quilt pattern with the latest fabrics, but for me, it’s started to become a bit much. I suppose there is a safety in knowing what already looks good, and like I said, that really is okay, I’m just a bit weary, creatively, from it all. A lot can be learned from mimicking other artists and quilters, and I’ve certainly made some cookie cutter quilts, but I’ve learned enough now that I really want to branch out and find where I stand in it all.

3) Extreme sadness when my quilt friends get to go do cool things and I can’t. I’m just three hours from where Quiltcon was held this year, and because of other things going on around that time, I couldn’t go. I signed up for classes and everything, and missed one of the biggest quilting events of the year, where pretty much my entire list of IG friends were. I had to not look at IG that whole week because everyone was sharing awesome purchases, amazing quilts, and getting to hang out with each other. It made me sad.

And that’s really about it for me on the bad. I have another post on quilt swaps which will hopefully not take a month to write. Thanks!

4.11.15 Stars vs Preds Game Recap (Anyway, Here’s Wonder Chart)

Deep in the Heart of Hockey

This game recap is going to be a little bit different because a) I was at the game in person, and b) I’m still reeling from the events of last night.

You see, I wasn’t even going to go to this game. I didn’t have tickets. And then Wednesday, when it was clear that Jamie was tied for the scoring title, I was thinking about it. On Thursday my friend Mary said she’d go with me. By Thursday evening, I told her I had to be responsible and save my money since I was already going to a Texas Stars game on Friday. And then by Friday afternoon, I’d had my YOLO moment and we had tickets.

We drove into Dallas and it was like a fog lifted. Because it did. Literally. Austin is grey and damp this weekend, but Dallas was sunny, mid 70s, and perfect for splitting a…

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Dirty quilt secrets, for the fun of it

 

 

1) I am not a perfectionist, and unless it’s a horrible thread nest or something, I don’t unpick seams. like ever. Points not matching? I wasn’t looking when I was sewing and my seam allowance is a tad off? It’s staying. Sorry.

2) I made my first mini and I actually really liked it, although i don’t know what the hell to do with it.

3) I like pretty much zero Amy Butler fabrics.

4) I hate novelty fabrics. All of them. I’ve kept a few in my stash because I thought I might change, but it’s been years and I just boxed them up yesterday to donate.

5) I iron the hell out of my quilt at every step of the process. With steam. And sometimes starch. That fabric is NOT going to sass me.

6) I don’t keep scraps. If I can cut a 2.5″ square out of a fabric I do, but anything smaller than that gets trashed or used as a filler for something like pincushions or something.

7) I used to think I needed a huge stash, because I hung out with old ladies who had fabric stashes that took up entire parts of their house. It wasn’t until I came across folks like Molli Sparkles who kept the fabric amounts down that I realized being a quilter didn’t mean I needed to drown my family in fabric. I’m currently purging everything but the fabrics I LOVE and it feels good.

8) I love dense, traditional-ish quilting. I’m learning to accept that sometimes a few straight lines or echoing is perfect for some quilts.

9) Animals on quilts is gross. I would be mortified if I gave a quilt and it was covered in cat hair. Cat hair is not glitter for lonely people. It’s cat hair and it’s gross.

10) I cannot stand rag quilts. And minky. Can. Not. Stand. Them.

13 Spools

It’s done.

After what, two years, it’s finally done – the green, yellow and gray block of the month sampler quilt I started with a group on livejournal in 2012. I’m not going to link all the posts I talked about it on here, but you can check the tag at the bottom if you are interested in the very slow progress I made on it.

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I’m really happy with this quilt. I enjoyed doing the different blocks, and learned a great deal. I think the fabrics are fresh and summery, and I think the quilt managed to stay away from being super feminine, which was one of my original goals. The quilting I chose may make it less masculine than I intended (this was supposed to be the “boy” and the brown and pink one the “girl” of the two), but  I don’t regret any of the decisions I made.

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What I’ve learned, or how this quilt has made me a better quilter –

I need to take so much more care piecing and cutting. I had lots of oopsies that I didn’t correct both in cutting and in piecing. I am not a perfectionist by any stretch, and I’m pretty lazy, so when a mistake happens, unless it’s just terrible, I don’t go back and correct it. As a result, I’ve got a lot of chopped off corners in the blocks. I know myself pretty well, and I know that experience is really the only way I would learn this lesson (and most others). I just have to learn the hard way why some people are more fastidious with their construction techniques.

holy wonky piecing and chopped off points, batman!

holy wonky piecing and chopped off points, batman!

Anyway, so for next time the lesson is definitely follow the saying “measure twice and cut once”, and work on my 1/4″ seams.

The same could be said for my basting. I now know why pin basting on a floor isn’t a great idea, at least for me. I just could not get the fabric taut enough, and so I have some areas on the quilt where I’ve got puckering. It’s not super awful, but enough so that I do wonder if I should bother putting this up for sale. I wouldn’t want someone to spend decent money on this and see those puckers and be upset. I  know we can be our own worst judge, but I am not happy about the puckers. I don’t have a great space in my house to baste quilts, especially anything larger than lap size, but my MIL just bought a house and now has a 17’x19′ sewing studio, so I can take my quilts there to baste.

soooo many puckers

soooo many puckers

In making this quilt, I found several traditional blocks I think I love, and a few I definitely do not.  The card trick and churn dash ended up being my favorites, and I’m considering doing a quilt in the future of just one of those.

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What I’m really pleased with is the quilting. Perfect it is not, but I’m a fan of “good enough”, especially for a serious first try. I had some hiccups – I had to buy a new table so my machine could sit flush with the sewing surface because I had gravity issues, but once I did that, quilting was much easier and very enjoyable.

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I’ve taken two classes on craftsy by Cindy Needham, and she has a wealth of great quilting information on a domestic machine. I stuck with simple techniques – an easy stencil in the center of each block, a small stencil in each cornerstone, and repetitive lines everywhere else. I think the repetitive lines create enough shadow and contrast to be quite striking. My favorite are the stencils I used in the corner of each border.

I loved using this stencil.

I loved using this stencil.

Some stats:

Name: “Jun”. I started it in June. I finished it in June. It’s named after a special little boy I met (through the wonders of the internet), who died in surgery on his heart. He was just 8 or nine months old.

(P.S., if you get a chance, please check out the organization that took care of him during his time here, Little Flower Projects. They are AMAZING, and I truly love those children)
Size: 54″ x 54″
Design: Blocks sourced from Quilter’s Cache
Quilting: Bottom Line thread, 60wt, by Superior Threads, light yellow.
Favorite part: The quilting. I rocked it (for a first attempt, at least). Also, having some sort of inspiration helped me finish this, because before I decided to dedicate (at least, internally, prayerfully) these quilts to the babies in Little Flowers and Love Without Boundaries, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore, and I didn’t know if I would finish. But after the loss of some particular precious children, I used this as a way to constructively work through some feelings. If this quilt sells, part of the proceeds will go to one of those organizations.

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Head here for this week’s TGIFF!

She Yelled and Called Me Names

Everyday Grace

she-yelledPulling my car into the drive-thru line at Starbucks, I wondered why it was a dozen people deep. It wasn’t raining, yet it seemed everyone was driving through today. I was transporting three dogs to the groomer, and there was no way I could leave two wild Shih-tzus and one crazy Bichon alone while I went inside for my daily dose.

Millie, the Bichon, sat on my lap licking the window.

As I peeled her away from the glass, I saw the woman.

She sat across the parking lot, leaving just enough room for a thoroughfare, as she too was waiting in the Starbucks line. I smiled, and gestured to her. It went something like this: “Are you next, or am I?” Really, I was fine either way.

She was not.

Thinking I was trying to snag her spot of next up, she gunned her Suburban, rolled down the window…

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40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

Thought this was really neat

TwistedSifter

 

If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that.

Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.

If you enjoy this collection of maps, the Sifter highly recommends the r/MapPorn sub reddit. You should also check out ChartsBin.com. There were also fantastic posts on Business Insider and Bored Panda earlier this year that are worth checking out. Enjoy!

 

1. Where Google Street View is Available

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Map by Google

 

 

2. Countries That Do Not Use the Metric System

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He’s here!

George Arthur (hereby known in this blog as “Yuri”) was born Saturday morning at 8:38, 40w 2d gestation, 9lbs 3oz, and 21.25″ long.

just a few minutes old

just a few minutes old

I don’t know if you can tell by the picture, but he was pretty banged up. I was, too, but no one wants to see that.

It was a tough labor and delivery – so much tougher than Kostya’s. With Kostya, I woke up to my water breaking, and he was in my arms less than five hours later, with a nuchal hand and everything. He was also only 6lbs 15oz, even though he was 8 days late.

I was so foolish to think this labor would be similar. I was SO WRONG.

I planned a home water birth with same, wonderful, midwife as before. My contractions started Friday morning at around 2am, and were bad enough I couldn’t sleep. They never really got consistent in intensity, duration or frequency so I thought they might go away. My mom came over and I tried to doze, but I couldn’t.

By 2am Saturday,  I felt like things had gotten serious enough that I called my midwife and she came over. She told me baby was posterior and not progressing well because of it, so she helped me labor in a few positions that got him turned. With her help I dilated fairly quickly and started pushing at about 5am. Yuri kept turning though, even as he descended, and so after three hours I had made very little progress and was exhausted. By this point I had essentially been laboring 31 hours and was mentally done. My midwife told me that we had exhausted the tools she had, and that it might be time to transfer. At the hospital I could get a little pitocin to strengthen the contractions, and maybe an epidural to get some rest. At that point I didn’t care if they had to slice me end to end to get him out, so we all packed up and left.

Something happened on the way there, though. I don’t know if it was the position I sat in during the ride, or more just giving up all of my dignity, but after we got there and they rushed me to the delivery room, I felt Yuri crowning. They didn’t even get a gown on me, the doctor and half of the nurses weren’t there yet, and he came. My midwife and husband got to catch. Well, sorta. Yuri also got shoulder dystocia and so there had to be some maneuvering, but he was born and James was an awesome papa bear and never left his side as they evaluated him. And, a small miracle, I was still completely intact (you know what I mean) and didn’t need a stitch.

The poor baby was so bruised and purple and swollen, but all of that went away fairly fast. The nurses and the doctor did a bit of a double take when they announced his weight. 9lbs isn’t huge, but prepregnancy I weighed 90lbs (I’m 4″11).

one day old

 

He’s quite cute I think. He nurses like a champ.

Here are my two boys –

holding hands

holding hands

at home

at home