Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sherwood Gardens

After a delicious lunch at Lebanese Taverna, Harvey, Katie and I took a little field trip today to Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore. The gardens were originally created in the 1920's, and anually planted with over 80,000 tulip bulbs. Here are a few:

And the prettiest of all

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Wall

When my kids were little, I made them each an ABC scapbook. You know the kind, the letter A, with a picture of Aunt Andrea and Aunt Lisa. I think Kyle dubbed it his happy book. From that point on, we always call our scrapbooks happy books. Today, I realized my design wall in my, ahem, studio, is my happy wall. I love putting up finished blocks, half finished pieces, swatches I want to play with, really any thing that makes me happy. This is what the happy wall looks like today.
What's on your happy wall?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Salsa Garden

I told Katie I was planting a salsa garden.

"A salsa garden."
"Sooo, we go to the garden and get a bowl of salsa?"
Tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro. A salsa garden.
Tomorrow, I plant a tortilla chip garden. jk

Iron Boredom

After yesterday's tutorial, which featured a shot of my totally gross ironing board cover, I was a bit mortified. To rectify that, I made this:
Super easy. Take off the old cover, remove the drawstring that pulls it taut (save that, to reuse). Use the old cover as a template for the new cover. Be sure to have the right side of your fabric up AND the right side of you old cover up. (I had planned on using my super awesome Denyse Schmidt a la JoAnns pink dot print. I cut the whole thing out, then realized my "template" was upside down. Crap. This floral was the only piece in my stash long enough to fit. BTW, I needed close to two yards.) Anyway, pin the two together, then rough cut around the template, adding about 1 - 1 1/2 inches all the way around. If you're lazy efficient like me, you'll use the selvedge edge for one side. Press under a 1/4", then another 1/2" to inch. Sew all the way around, close to the pressed edge, leaving about a 1/2 inch opening. I back stitched at the beginning and end. Using a safety pin, feed the draw string through your casing, fit it back on your board, cinch it up and you're done.
Oh, and the punny title is because although necessary, this project was bor-ing!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Using Quilter's Grid - A Tutorial

Do you cringe at the thought of sewing together 100 2 " squares? Yeah, me too. But here's an easy peasy way to do it. We're going to use Quilter's Grid . QG is an iron on fusible, with a convenient 1" grid printed right on it!

First thing you want to do is tidy up your piece of QG. You don't want any extra hanging out because it is a fusible and will gunk up your iron.
 For demo purposes, I'm going to show you how to do this on a smaller piece of QG. Mine measures 6x6, and I'm using 2" squares (this block is made of Vintage Sheets). Next step, lay out your squares on the grid, and follow the directions that come with the fusible. (I use a hot iron with no steam, pressing, not ironing. You may want to test on a scrap first. The first time I did it, my iron was screaming hot, and it melted everything!)
 We're ready to start sewing. Fold your QG, with the right sides of your fabric together. Fold directly on the grid line. Remember, we have 2" squares here, so fold on the second grid line over.
 Sew it down. A scant 1/4 inch seam here.
 Now's a good time to check the accuracy of our 1/4". My left edge (where I just sewed) comes in at 1 3/4 - just where I want it!
 Once you have all your rows sewn together (let's call these the vertical rows), it looks like this:
 And this:

Take a sharp pair of scissors or snips, and snip the seam allowance, just down to the stitching line. If you snip the sewn line, no big deal, it will get covered up when we sew the horizontal rows. Remember, again, snip every other row.
 We snip into the seam allowance, so we can press the rows in alternating directions, so the next set of seams will nest nicely. And I'm totally embarassed about the state of my ironing board cover and as soon as I'm finished posting this I'm going to make a new one!
Mmmm. Alternating pressing.
Mmmmm. Nesting seams.
 Okay, sew your horizontal seams now and give them a nice pressing. It should look something like this:
 And when you flip it over, it looks like this!
 If this is your test patch, check your size again. My middle guy is
1 1/2" ~ perfect. (And if yours isnt' perfect, ain't no big thing.)
 So, here's my bigger one, all pressed on my grungy ironing board. Since the entire 20" wouldn't fit, I laid it out and pressed it in stages.
 The big block with the vertical rows sewn.
Just snip and sew your horizontals and.....
Ta da! The finished block. Look at how pretty those points are!
Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you'll give this a try!

Spring Surprise!

One of the more pleasant things about moving is seeing your yard and gardens move through the seasons. We moved here smack in the middle of the summer, when everything started to brown and whither. So it was a wonderful surprise to come back from spring break and learn that we have a dogwood tree!!

We had one at our old house, but sadly lost it to Isabelle a few years ago. I really liked that tree, so I'm very happy to have a new one here.

Also very pleased to find this big pink puff ball tree.

I'm sure it has a real name. Is it a pear? Cherry? If you know, please school me on this. Anyway, very pretty.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Keeping It Real

On Spring Break. Blogging from the campground. This is me first thing in the AM. Don't be scared.

Actually, feeling pretty grateful right now. Horrendous storms ripped through the area last night (as it did in much of the country earlier this week.) We rode out the worst of it, while waiting to see this guy play with his band...

That's my Ky Guy. He's in a band called Turnover. Check them out here! I think they're awesome. Yes, a bit biased. What can I say?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bee and Swap Round Up

I kind of over committed myself with swaps. Back in January, 7 swaps didn't seem like too much. I'm so glad that the last package went out Wednesday.
My partner hasn't commented on it yet. But, she did want buckets, RRR and Central Park. Hope this fits the bill! (This just in - she likes it, she really likes it!)

In bee land, it's the final month of Not Your Granmother's Quilting Bee. Gratefully, it's my month! People are making blocks for me!
Honey Bees April 1

My friend Mary made this one.
 This is for Lucia in Sew Fun 2. Love the Denyse (not from Joanns!)
 For Sonia in Bee Vintage. She designed this block herself!

For Marissa in Bee Vintage. This one was tricky - lots of matchy matchy points. But I love how it turned out.
February was my month in Bee Vintage. I requested Dresdens! Aren't they beautiful?? I'm still waiting on a few more. Can't wait to get this put together.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another Tote Bag? Really?

That's what my daughter said when I showed her this one I made the other day:
I'm of the persuasion that you need a different tote bag for every occaision, every task. This will be my farmers market bag. I was going to wait until a trip to JoAnns, 50% coupon in hand, and pick out some cute home dec fabric - you know - something botanical, so that the nice farmer's market people will recognize me as one of their own. But then I remembered this hot pink number, left over from a bulletin board project for ladybug. Turns out I had exactly enough, I mean, down to the 1/4 inch, with only a minor haircut on the untidy ends, to make this. I took that as a sign. I used Alexandra's tutorial. Very clear, easy to understand tut. Of course, I had the tutorial on screen in my office. My sewing room is in the basement. So there were many trips up and down two flights of stairs checking and rechecking directions. I do have a laptop in the basement. I was down to step 12 before I thought to use it. Hey, at least I got a good workout! First time for me doing french seams - a perfect technique for this bag.

I think I'll break it in and go strawberry picking next week. See if the farmers approve.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Natural Patchwork - book review

I've been waiting for this one for a while to make it to my library. I finally got notification yesterday, and picked it up today. Read it right after lunch, and, well, I'm done.  I don't know, this one didn't do it for me like Suzuko's other book, Patchwork Style. This is a very small book. It measures about 7 x 9 inches. And at only 125 pages, I'd be hard pressed to plunk down $20 for it. 14 of the projects are for bags, which I feel like I've seen a few hundred times already.
The project that most interested me was the hexagon book cover. I could use it as a journal cover (I believe I've established my love for journals, with journal covers being part of the obsession.) However the pattern never actually says what size book it will fit.  Then there's the little detail about the 148 1/2" hexagons that you need to cut out and piece together. I get that this is a patchwork book, but that is too much emphasis on the work end for me. The directions refer to general patchwork piecing instructions given in the book, but those instructions are for sewing 4 patches and joining them into rows. If you know anything about hexies, they do not exactly sew together in tidy rows.
A second intriguing project was the octagon tote. But, again, with 72 octagons & 100 setting squares to be pieced, ain't gonna happen.
The photography in this book is minimalistic and beautiful, yet lots of the projects are hard to see, so you don't know quite what you're getting into. And when you get to the "How To Make" section, you don't get much more of a look. Just a business card sized repeat of the original picture, but minus all the color.
If you can pick this up at the library, do so. It's a nice book, perfect for flipping through before bedtime ~ my kind of bedtime story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trees and Owls and Birdies

All in a journal?! Come on. It's perfect. Want to know what makes it more perfect?
From the dollar bin at Target.
I'm a sucker for notebooks, journals, composition notebooks ~ really, anything that can be written or drawn in. Throw some cute trees and owls on it, and I can't resist. Print it on brown paper, so I think that it's recycled and therefore I'm doing my part for the environment, I'm all over it. I even bought a lunch bag in the same cute print, so that when Katie Cakes takes her lunch to school, she's not killing a branch.
When I opened the cover of one, I found this page. Don't know what it means. Looks like edamame. Wait. Maybe it's made out of recycled take out menus. Anyway, for a buck, it's cute.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ruby Star Rising Clock Tutorial

When I was in New York (again with the New York stuff!) I picked up a 1/4 yard of some Ruby Star Rising viewfinder fabric (sadly, Stephanie got to it before me, so that's all they had left.) The next day, I made a quick trip to Ikea and found a clock that I knew I could make cuter. This is what I came up with.

I posted it on flickr and got some positive feedback, so I thought I'd do up a tutorial. Now, mind you, this is my first attempt at a tutorial. If you see any glaring errors, or have suggestions how to make it better, please, let me know. And, if you absolutely adore it, let me know that too ~ I can take it!

Supply list:
fabric (maybe 12" square)
hole punch
spray glue
decorative paper (optional)
Okay, first up, get a clock. These came from Ikea. No, you don't need 5. Just one. Katie, my photographer, wanted some for a project for her room. The method below should work for most clocks, I should think. So, discount store, thrift store, go find a clock.
 Going from the backside of the clock, push the little tab thingie to get the front of the clock off.
 Like that.
Next, remove the hands. At first, they might feel like they don't want to come off. Show them who's boss and give them a good yank. They'll put up a bit of a fight, but eventually succomb to your mighty power.
Try to pay attention to the order in which you take them off. For this one, little hand on the bottom.
 Set the hands aside.
Peel the clock face off. This very expensive clock ($1.99) has a paper face. Save this ~ you'll use it for a template.
Trace around the face template onto a piece of cardboard. This is a cat food box. Be sure to trace the inside circle, too.
Cut out your cardboard circle, and punch out the center. If you have a cropodile, get that guy out now.
 Cool fabric, right? Press it really well. Don't want a wrinkly clock.
Center your template on the part you want to use. Mine had a built in circle that I wanted to center.
 Cut out around your template, leaving about a 1/2 inch extra all the way around.
 Cut out that center circle, too.
A light spray of spray glue (I think I used elmer's) onto the cardboard. Do not make a puddle. And, make sure your fabric is far enough away so you don't get overspray on it. You should probably do this outside, because that glue goes all over. My carpet is a tad sticky now.
 Center your fabric onto the cardboard and smooth it out.
 Another light spray of glue, this time just on the outer edge.
 Fold that 1/2 inch extra over the back side of the cardboard.
Flatten it all the way around.
Put your new face back into the clock. Make sure that center spindle thing is completely free of fabric. I took a razor blade and gently trimmed around it. Excess fabric will hang up your clock hands. Oh, and pay attention to which way is up on your clock when you replace the face (I referred to the hang tab on the back of the clock. Don't want to be 6 hours behind all the time!)

Put the hands back on your clock. (Little hand, big hand, second hand.) Then pop the top back on and you're finished!
After I got the hands on, I realized that the back looked kinda crummy, so I took it apart again, used that clock face template, and cut out a piced of scrapbook paper. There was enough glue left on the back to stick it down.
So there you have it! Your own cute Ruby Star Rising Clock! I'd love to know if you make one. Link me up!