Friday, November 30, 2012

Idea Overload...

So this post feels a little scattered, but I’m hoping that putting all these random ideas out there will help to keep me accountable and actually get me GOING on some of these potential projects.  So without further ado, here are the random ideas that are taking up space in my brain instead of on my ironing board:

I got some really cute “Little Green” fat quarters at Sew Fresh over 6 months ago with the intention to make a quick project of some placemats. Somehow it just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of my to-do pile.

With my oldest daughter’s quilt for her twin size bed finally out of the WIP pile this past summer (Hmm…looking back it seems like my typical lag time is 2 years.  Maybe acceptance is the first step to change?), I’ve been thinking about what to make for the time when little sis gets her own big bed.  She’s a pretty big Tangled fan and I’ve always thought that the mural that Rapunzel paints on the tower walls would make a pretty cute appliqued quilt.  It’s definitely out of my comfort zone – I’ve never attempted a “landscape” quilt before, but I think that it will be worth it. 
Typically, I’ve already purchased a few fabrics that I think will be great matches for the jewel tones of the painting but they’re just sitting and waiting for me to do something with them. 

I love this color combination of deep purples, magenta and red-orange.  I saw a floral arrangement like this a while ago and have been dying to find a good choice of fabrics and an inspiring pattern to match it, but haven’t been able to settle on anything.  Come to think of it, I’ve also been drawn to this patchwork feather pattern by Anna Maria Horner – maybe these two ideas could actually be combined?  The more I think about it, the more I like it!

I bought these four fabrics from a vendor at the Lowell Quilt Festival and liked the bright spring/summer feel of them together.  I’d like to make a mini out of these.  My typical impulse would be to have a white background, but I’ve done an awful lot of that lately.  Maybe a light grey would be a good alternative?  Again, still haven’t figured out what to actually make from these fabrics, but I’ll come up with something eventually.

Love, love this elephant fabric that I bought a few weeks ago (like I really needed to buy any more fabric without a clue what do to with it).  I’m imagining a baby quilt with a couple rows of elephants, a few pops of color and more negative space that I’m used to attempting.  Maybe it will inspire me to be a bit more adventurous in my quilting!

Now if I could just wrap up the 3 WIPs that are currently stuck in progress (or maybe even just 1??), I could move on to these ideas with considerably less guilt!  Just have to get back in the sewing swing of things.  More on the WIPs next time…

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Greatest Hits...Ron Swanson Mini

Have you ever tried to make a quilt for a man?  It’s HARD!  I was pretty settled on the fact that even though hubby is ├╝ber supportive of my never-ending sewing and fabric shopping, he’d probably never truly appreciate the gift of a quilt.  Fine by me if he’d rather have CDs or a new phone – whatever floats your boat!  That is until I saw this by Monica of Happy Zombie fame.
 (Perhaps I should preface this by saying that both hubby and I are major Parks & Recreation fans and “Treat Yo Self!” became our adopted catch phrase for longer than was probably healthy or funny for people other than us.) 

I guess my love of quirky quilts and pop-culturey projects is no secret, so making a mini quilt of this for our 13th anniversary seemed like it would be a good fit and probably a fairly easy finish.  About 2 weeks before our anniversary, I went onto Happy Zombie to find a few more detailed photos and how she constructed her letters…and found a tiny reference at the bottom of her Treat. Yo. that said that Ron Swanson would be appearing on her blog.  Hmm.  Intriguing.  So I clicked…and laughed, and laughed, and laughed. 

(Perhaps I should also add here that in addition to loving Parks & Recreation, my hubby wants to BE Ron Swanson and would probably wear his hair high and tight and rock a ‘stache if he could pull it off.
I knew instantly that a) this would be perfect, b) extremely appreciated, and c) WAY harder to finish in two weeks than I was counting on.  Undaunted, I joined the Ron Swanson Along and picked out my fabrics.  Happy Zombie’s version is pretty much one color scheme, but I liked the idea of having a separate color for the background.  I also really wanted the hair and moustache to stand out a bit, so I added a range of browns to the black and greys and chose aqua for the background.  Manly colors, all the way!

 I also wanted to scale down the size a bit from her tutorial so that hubby could bring Ron into his office to keep him company during the work week.  I scaled down the squares to 1.5”.  Now just so you know, each block was 10 squares by 10 squares.  And there were 12 blocks.  Ugh.  The cutting, my god the cutting!  I think I practically got a blister on my finger from all the rotary cutting, but I just knew that it would be SO worth it.

I worked and worked on the Swanson mini at every free second for those two weeks.  After a couple of days of sneaking around behind his back, I figured out a key point that I will probably use to my advantage again:  if I don’t physically bring him over to the sewing machine or ironing board or prompt him to come and look at a project, he will NEVER ask what I am working on. So I was able to work away right under his nose and still keep the gift a surprise.  Yay!  I finished sewing on the binding by noon on the Saturday of our anniversary dinner and wrapped it all up with a card that alluded to me never becoming one of his “Tammy’s.” 

The look of confusion melting into utter delight and amazement when he opened up the quilt was just perfection.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so satisfied with a gift I’ve given him.  It got even better when I asked him to turn it over and he saw the extra little something that I created for the back.

Scrappy eggs and bacon - because any Ron Swanson fan needs to have ALL the eggs and ALL the bacon.
I loved this from start to finish – even when all those hundreds of squares felt a bit too much, I’d get a glimpse of moustache or furrowed brow and it just all felt worth it.  Plus I felt like I was giggling and running Parks & Rec lines through my head the entire time that I was sewing.  It was pure bliss!

The cherry on top was that when I posted up pictures in the Ron Swanson Along Flickr page, I got comments and praise from Monica herself!  And then she pinned it as well!  I felt a little star struck.

And just in case you were wondering, Nick Offerman HAS seen Monica’s quilt and even SIGNED IT for her!!  Gasp!  Now THAT is better than a meat tornado. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Princesses from Scratch...

My family and I just got back from an amazing vacation – our first as a family of four – to Walt Disney World.  Just like most girls ages 2-10, my girls are both OBSESSED with Disney Princesses.  I mean, it looks like the Princesses threw up all over their room and then added a little extra pink just for fun.  We have a drawer full of costumes and dress up stuff in various sizes.  When we first started really planning this trip in earnest, I knew that between character meet and greets and a fancy dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table (yes, the most expensive chicken nugget meal EVER that still did not get finished, but still shockingly worth it), the girls would probably want to be tooling around in their fancy finest.  But we’re talking Florida heat and most of their store-bought costumes are polyester mixes.  No thank you.

I went online to search for cotton princess dresses and found an adorable shop that makes the most gorgeous stuff, but the price was pretty far out of my budget.  Could I try to make these on my own and save some money?  I figured that it didn’t hurt to try and found this e-pattern that could be altered to come close to some princess gear with the added bonus of breathable cotton fabrics and seams that didn’t rip at the slightest action (Imagine my Seth Meyer imitation voice here:  I mean really, Disney?  Really?  Do your costumes have to immediately rip and disintegrate 5 minutes after purchase?  Really?)

So for my first attempt, I settled on Briar Rose (Princess Aurora’s peasant alter-ego for you Disney-challenged readers).  It seemed pretty easy and it was immediately worn and played in with no ripping or tearing.  Yay!

Next I tried Rapunzel and got even fancier by using Michael Miller Fairy Frost fabrics which have a slight metallic sheen.  Success!  

My youngest is head over heads for Ariel, the Little Mermaid.  Most of the costumes out there are cute, but I wanted something that really looked straight out of the movie with her typical purple seashell bra and plain green mermaid tail.  I cut the hem so that it curved up at the center in the front and back to resemble the curves of a fin. I added a fleshly pink strip for the belly and straps and yes, I even embroidered a little belly button.
Side note:  I found that perfect green fabric at a local quilt store  and immediately thought that looked just like fish scales.  While the owner was cutting it, I told him what it was for.  He was shocked and said that was a “new interpretation.” When I asked what it was usually used for (honestly, what else besides fish scales does it look like?), he said it was supposed to be roof shingles.  Huh. 

 Older sister loves Belle so we got a couple yards of gold fairy frost to whip up a dress worthy of a twirl around the dance floor from the Beast.  I finished it up a week before we left…and it never got worn!  But I know that it’s going to be played in a lot, so no worries. 

My oldest already had a store bought Cinderella dress that she wanted to wear, but the little one wanted to be Cinderella too when we were going to the Castle!  I’ve always loved the pink dress that the mice make her – before it’s ripped to shreds of course.  I was even able to find a cute bow headband and make her a string of turquoise beads. 

The “real” Cinderella made quite a fuss over little sister’s pink dress and asked if her mice friends collected all the beads themselves.  And the “real” Ariel even noticed her little belly button and thought it was too cute! 

I’m all Princess dress-ed out, so I think I’ll stick to regular old quilting for a while until I go back to it again.  Or until one of them makes a new request...which will probably be tomorrow.  Back to the real world! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Greatest Hits...32 Color Paintbox

Many quilters make quilts for family members, quilts for baby showers, quilts for special occasions and loved ones – myself included.  I think that every quilt I made (with the exception of my first) was given away to friends and family.  But as soon as I saw Oh Fransson’s Paintbox Quilt, I wanted that quilt.  All.  For.  Myself. 

I started it in January 2010 when she first started her Paintbox Quilt-along and began buying up fabrics and (my first) solids at a rapid pace!  I tried to match up solids to fabrics that I already had and figured that a few blocks a week wouldn’t be too hard to keep up with.  I did okay for two months.  Then – surprise!  Baby #2 is coming!  Somehow with everything else to juggle, I found my beloved project majorly derailed. 

Fast forward to 2012.  Yeah…you read that right.  Two years.  After seeing the instructions pegged up on my project board and pining for that quilt for AGES, I opened up the box that I had been keeping all my blocks in and decided to tally them up to see how much further I had to go before I came remotely close to finishing the top.  Counting….counting.  WAIT.  This cannot be.  I put away all these blocks and only had 8 more to go??  After kicking myself repeatedly, I was able to finish up the 8 blocks (and replaced a few more that I found better fabrics for over the 2 year waiting period) plus the white sashing and I had a finished quilt top after another month!

The back was so much fun to finish – the letters were all traced and appliqued using Wonder Under. 

Then I finished it off with a black and white binding.  I have a major weakness for black and white bindings on colorful quilts - it just always looks good to me! 

So do I have a favorite block in my Paintbox?  Well….maybe the grey bicycle?

Or the yellow scissors?

No, the pink birds!

Or the coral flowers?

Maybe the navy star pattern?

It’s just too hard to choose – I loved all of these fabrics!!  Looking at this section always reminds me of a packet of Lifesavers.

I love it all –every single block.  Which just makes it all the sweeter that it’s ALL MINE.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Tale of Two Name Tags...

In the past month, both the BMQG and the SMQG asked members to make name tags so that we could get to know each other and new members better.  As usual, I trolled Flickr and Google images to find some cute inspiration but I also pawed through my growing scrap bag and pulled out the few scraps I had left from Heather Ross’ Far Far Away “Princess & the Pea” fabric.  I had originally made this skirt for my oldest and only had a few wide strips left, but the print is so cute that I wanted to keep any extra. 

Typically, I don’t love working with orange, but the love of the print outweighed the tangerine hesitation.  It’s a fairly small scale print, so I thought it would be cute to use for a name tag!  I fussy cut the little princess close to my embroidered name and added borders to each side that featured all those stacks of mattresses. 

It seemed a little bare after that, so I also appliqued on tiny swatches of a crown and shoes.  Cute! 

Slap on a binding and all looks good! 

Until…I stopped for a millisecond to consider the size.  This is supposed to be a name tag.  My finished size turned out to be more like a huge stinking pocket.  Sigh.  I considered just adding on a ribbon lanyard and slinging it around my neck, but to be totally honest, I didn’t love the whole look as much as I thought I would when I was putting it all together.  It was cute, it just wasn’t totally ME. 

Hmph.  Back to the drawing board.

I still had one tiny scrap with a Princess on it, so I kept her and the white background and decided to make things a little more colorful. 
I love a rainbow theme, so I found the tiniest 1” swatches of my favorite scraps in each major color and ROYGBIVed it with tiny white sashing. 

Instead of a binding, I just sewed all the way around and then topstitched.  And yes, I know that my corners stink - I'm always afraid that I'll poke holes in my fabric, so I went more for the rounded corner look.  I was a little paranoid that it would still be too big, but I think the size is perfect at 3 x 4.5 inches. 
I loved this finish so much more - it feels much more like my usual style, so it's coming with me to meet Alyssa Haight Carlton today. Hope to see you there!