Saturday, June 30, 2012

A real challenge

12June30a Well, long time no see, so to speak. It hasn’t been because I don’t have anything to say… But this is the last day of June (already?) and I’ve finished my June FMQ Challenge.

This was a tough one. I guess they’re all tough, but no matter how much I practiced this one – and I spent many hours, going from bad to good and back to bad again – I’m not all that happy with my results. Maybe because June has been so chaotic for me and as far from relaxing as you can get.

12June30B It was a delicious challenge, though, and some absolutely amazing finishes have been posted over at the Challenge site. This month Cindy Needham encouraged us to blend hard lines and curves to come up with creative and appealing designs. She also instructed us to listen for that “Hum-purr” in our machine. (My hum-purr sits *on* my machine and stares with big yellow cat-eyes at me while I sew.) She does beautiful work, something we can all 12June30C strive for even if we never achieve it. But I’ll keep plugging away at it.

Thank you to both Sew Cal Gal and Cindy for this month’s Free Motion Quilt Challenge.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Going around in circles

12June13bag Two things I try and find time for every day besides family, work, eating, etc., is exercise and sewing. It doesn’t always work out, but both of these things are important to me. For one thing, they keep me sort of sane and give me a sense of accomplishment. If I didn’t make the effort to find the time for them, neither one would happen.

12June13mag This morning, after coffee but before exercise, I finished this little patchwork purse. The pattern was in the October 2010 issue of Quilter’s World. I liked it as soon as I saw it, but it’s only been in the past month or two that I felt confident enough to attempt it. No zippers on this one, but that’s okay - we'll get back to them. The bag looks quite simple, but I had to read the instructions more than half a dozen times before I could figure out what the 12June13bagsideview author was describing. Is it just me? I guess a big part of my problem is the ongoing internal argument I have while I’m reading. That little voice inside my head keeps saying: “That won’t work!” “How in the world can that work?”

The only way I get through the instructions is stubborness, a trait my mother identified very early on in my childhood. The trickiest part of the pattern, for me, was the handles. I adore these handles and they were what attracted me to the pattern. They seem so simple, but that's where I botched up. The pattern calls for stiff interfacing around the handles – attached to the two outer pieces and also 12June13baginside around the two lining pieces. I cut all four separately and then attached them to the wrong side of the fabric. Unstitching is part of every project and that wasn’t a big deal, but I ended up with four differently-sized holes. Not a huge mistake, but it's clearly noticeable that they don’t line up. Next time I'll cut out the two front and two lining handle holes together.

I think I’ll post these over at The Needle and Thread Network this week. In these pictures, you may be able to see that I'm gravitating away from the cheap "practice" material, and some of my favourites are beginning to show up.  Go me! That's a good sign. I feel like I'm just about ready to go to work on my Christmas projects. I have to get back to my quilt projects, too.

12June13bagbooboo And if it doesn't quit raining, I'll be up to my ears in finished quilty projects by the end of the summer! Sunday and Monday were sunny and warm, but I was busy with work (and dentist) both days. When I had some time to spare on Tuesday, it rained again. Likewise this morning. However, I did manage to finally get my sunflowers in the ground tonight when I came home from work (before it started raining on me). I also dumped a couple of cherry tomato plants in a patio planter with some basil seedlings, and a couple of habanero pepper plants in another planter with some thyme seedlings.

Life is good, but I am still so behind in the yardwork. I’m afraid that Winter will be here before I’ll have time to get to it. But at least there’ll be quilting.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rainy days and sewing

12June5rain Rainy days off mean sewing days because I’m not much into playing in the mud anymore. I had most of Monday off work, so I was going to clear the spot for my new greenhouse, but it rained all day. And all night. And into Tuesday morning. I suspect it will stop once I leave for work this morning and will be beautiful for the rest of the week. Hmmmph!

12May5strawberry It would be perfect weather if my vegetable garden was planted, but my little plants are still sitting in their little pots, waiting for my partner to plant them. At least I shouldn’t have to water them today. Fortunately, I planted strawberries last year, and we’ve already been reaping their juicy deliciousness.

12June5dumpling I’ve been working on a few things in the past week – which is odd for me, because usually it takes me a week or two after one project to settle on the next. Maybe it’s the rain. Or the full moon. Or the piles of fabric that are building up almost as fast as I can use them. I look at some of the “stashbusting” posts on other sites and the bloggers chat about the fabric they’ve used that week as if it’s actually gone, but it’s not gone. It’s just part of something they’ve made now. Which is good. But it’s not really gone unless it leaves the house, right? Anyway, one of my little projects I’ll show you when I’ve made one that looks better – I need to adjust the pattern first. But this little Dumpling pouch turned out not too bad. Recognize the practice material? I’ve 12June5squares seen other “dumpling” patterns around, but this is the one I followed. It almost didn’t survive when I closed the zipper too far in order to match up the ends so I could sew them together and then couldn’t unzip it to turn it right side out. I tried that for a couple of hours before I finally unstitched the end, pulled the zip back and restitched it – which took me considerable less time 12June5circles than I spent struggling with it. The lengths I will go to avoid doing something twice.

So, for my next number… Hey, not so fast. Maybe you can figure it out from the pictures. I got out my scrap bags for this and threw together some random strips. I cut out two 11.5-inch squares and sewed them down in paper piecing fashion. Then I took the tape measure out to the kitchen and measured all of my plates and bowls to find the one with the closest circumference. Turned out to be an aluminum mixing bowl. Perfect! I’ll give you a hint – this month is Purse Palooza 2012 over at Sew Sweetness and I’m thinking I might have something that I can contribute before it’s over. If it doesn’t stop raining, I may have lots of things to contribute.

Until next time,