Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday at the Table

Grandgirl was over the other day, and after a while she asked what we were having for dinner. I told her, and her quick reply was, "I don't like that idea." (She's very nearly 4.) She went straight to the fridge, yanked open the door, while retorting, "Let's see what's in here." Having no inkling she'd find much interesting in our refrigerator's post-vacation emptiness, she soon announced, "Hmm. Let's have eggs and toast." Why not? So we got to work.

I was a tad surprised when grandgirl announced she'd crack the eggs, but always one to encourage kids in the kitchen, I got her stool so she could wash her hands and then work at the counter. Just 1 little reminder about where to place her thumbs after cracking the first egg was all it took, and I tell you, in no time we were ready to scramble.

All that to say, when I needed some random sewing the next night and came across a plain pre-made apron in my stash, I knew it was time. I'd purchased the kid-sized apron last year when I made my own Polka-Dot-Cafe-Apron during the Zakka 2.0 :: Patchwork, Please sew along, intending to downsize the Zakka design for grandgirl, but I never did. Debating on blocks for the pockets, I finally decided to keep it simple and went with an old favorite, the Polaroid block from CapitolaQuilter. The bright pink of the apron made me immediately think of Cotton+Steel tiger stripes along with a couple of other C+S coordinates. Fussy cutting definitely seemed the way to go.
Working from a fuzzy memory, I framed the Polaroids in white and sewed them into a row. Backed with a layer of batt, I matchstick quilted around the blocks with some straightish lines using Aurifil 12wt #4660 (Pink Taffy). Then I added the lining using a technique that left a tall enough flange to show off those sweet daisies. Easy peasy and just the amusement I needed. Stitch the rectangle onto the apron, dividing into 3 child-sized pockets, and it was done.
When I showed the apron to grandgirl over the weekend, she did admit the "kitties" were really cute, and pink was her favorite color, but she refused to try it on. So time will tell if it gets any use, but it was a fun diversion at any rate, and apron or no, I'm curious what she'll have us cook up next.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Selfish Sewing :: Guilty

So have you been participating in Selfish Sewing Week? When Rachael/imagine gnats asked me to be one of the featured stitchers, I knew right off what I wanted to make - the Brookfield Bag! The pattern, by prolific bag designer Sara/Sew Sweetness, was offered free on Sew Mama Sew a while back, and I was smitten at first sight.
Now in general, I'm not known as a bag-maker, though I did once survive making a Weekender, and count that as one of my major sewing accomplishments. But anyway, the Brookfield Bag looked doable to a quilter like me, and I began gathering supplies.

I'll tell you right off, the prep was half the work. You know, cutting all the fabrics, fusing them with interfacing, etc. etc. And of course it took me a while to even decide on my fabrics. In the end, I selected 2 Indelible prints by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics (Doiland Gloss Plum for the exterior and Threaded Shreds Dim for the interior), accented with Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Black. And I can't say I regret those choices one bit!
Purse hardware isn't my forte, but I was thrilled with what I found at Emmaline and for the Soft and Stable I went straight to byAnnie. I was stocked up on Pellon SF-101 Shape Flex and the other bits I needed, so that part was easy.

The pattern itself was clear as day, and I just followed it step by step with no problem. Sara gives plenty of "Helpful Hints" along the way (marked in red even!), so I found it all quite straightforward. Two "ah-ha" moments were:
  1. The Soft and Stable - wow. I had never used this product before but I'm a believer. It sews like a dream, and gives just the right sturdiness to the bag. 
  2. The metal twist lock was my one piece of frustration. (As I said on Instagram, "That hardware took 30 minutes, 4 hands, several random notions & tools, but thankfully only 1 episode on hands & knees looking for a teensy little screw.") The trouble was getting that tiny screw on the back-plate secured in the right place, and I'm thinking next time I need to hunt down my grommet tool and use the small punch to make a clean hole. So I'll be researching that further, so there's less frustration next time, but the result of said frustration is one I'm pretty pleased with.
Another detail I'm quite proud of is the piping. Following Sara's instructions, it came out as neat as can be.
I made a couple of little tweaks to my bag, just due to personal preference. One was sewing in 1 pair of pockets, where the pattern calls for 2. 
The other is that rather than a shoulder bag, I usually prefer a cross-body bag. To give me the flexibility for both, I just made an extension piece about 8" long finished, using the same directions and hardware as the main strap. Perfect.
Essentially, making the Brookfield Bag was a delight and I'm more than pleased with it and have already put it into daily use. Quite the successful selfish sewing interlude, for sure.

Stop by imagine gnats for the complete lists of featured stitchers and indie pattern designers, and you can see all the linked up projects over at co-sponsor Kollabora!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

W.i.P. Wednesday

Finally I'm feeling that yearning to get sewing again and I know exactly what I need to work on . . .

All the Postcard Blocks from FAITH Circle have been stitched into a quilt top. I have fabric for a simple but special quilt back, and a quilting pattern in mind. So all ready to get going on this one.

My latest Spiraled quilt top is pieced and basted even! Still debating the quilting on this one, but it won't take too long once I get going.

My project for Selfish Sewing Week, a Brookfield Bag, is coming right along and I'm pretty excited to finish it up! After a brief frustration installing the swivel clasp, all the hardware is set in place, and basically I just need to sew the lining in. yay.

So that's where I am. Hoping against hope to have all of these completed in the next week or so and see where October takes me!

Linking up with W.i.P. Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday at the Table

As you can imagine, there were countless memorable foodie moments when hubby and I were in Italy recently. And I can't promise that I won't share more of them in this space in the weeks ahead. For sure I want to reminisce about the cooking class we took in Tuscany. But for today, just a small moment in time, Italian-style.
It happened because after over a week of traveling, we were anxious to do some laundry in an actual laundromat, rather than our hotel's bathroom sink. And finally in Lucca, we had the opportunity and we took it. We got our load going and to bide our time, we stepped across the lane to De Cervesia's taproom, mentioned in passing by our tour guide as we'd walked into town earlier in the day.

There were just 3 beers on tap, and we chose the Duchessa, an Italian saison made with farro. Tiny as the shop was, we had no choice but to take our drinks out into the street.

Which wasn't really an issue, as that's what everyone else had done as well. The beer was tasty, don't get me wrong. And after a day of travel, to sit and sip it was a treat and a relief. But what really struck us was the sheer number of people on the sidewalk in front of the shop and spilling out into the street,  leaning against the buildings and sitting on the stoops. We actually counted over 75 including ourselves, just hanging out, sipping their drinks, and enjoying the summer evening.

It probably didn't even seem unusual to anyone except us. But in the moment, it felt significant. We had been transported somehow, and without intention, we were together at The Table, with no table in sight.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday, Monday

There's two things to tell you about today!

First, I have a new quilting roundup over at Sew, Mama, Sew8 Modern Quilt Backs. Not only are there several tutorials, but oodles of inspiration if you follow the links to the free class, flickr group, and Pinterest boards at the end of the post.
I usually find both planning and stitching those larger quilt backs a challenge. I try to keep some larger "quilt back worthy" prints in my stash, so at least I have more options. But I do really like a multi-pieced back too, so there's always a quandary. Anyway, let me know what you think. And if you have a go-to method or especially love a new technique you see, I'd love to hear about it!

Also, here's a link to last month's Twelve Fundamental Quilting Skills if you missed that.

The other thing I want to mention is that Rachael/imagine gnats just announced the kick-off of Selfish Sewing Week!
Believe it or not, I was invited to be one of the featured stitchers, and I'll be blogging all about my week's project on Saturday. Meanwhile, what I'm working on is making the Brookfield Bag by Sew Sweetness. It's a free pattern on Sew, Mama, Sew, and I thought it would be perfect for every-day. So far I have all my pieces cut and prepped!
So stay tuned, and I hope you join in and do some selfish sewing for yourself this week!

Friday, September 19, 2014

September Bee Blocks

Though I had great fun over the weekend creating my Mini Saltwater quilt and it piqued my interest in sewing again, I found that the back-to-work days this week have been pretty exhausting. Wanting desperately to make progress even though I couldn't yet face any of my w.i.p.s, I decided bee blocks might be manageable. They were.

For FAITH Circle, I made 4 Patchwork Chevron blocks using a tutorial by In Color Order. These were a great place to start, and I like the palette we were given to work in.

I was kind of apprehensive about the Pineapple Blossom blocks we were asked to make in That Stash Bee. But Quiltville's tutorial made it easy, and these blocks went together quite quickly. Again, the palette made these extra fun, and I really enjoyed them.

The Mid-Century Modern bee was asked for Union Jack blocks, one I've been wanting to try for a long time. Molli Sparkles' tutorial was terrific, and I really love the unique size of this block.

So sooner or later, I really need to face some more complicated projects. And some deadlines. But these were certainly a pleasant diversion...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


For 2 days after returning from vacation, I was basically wiped-out. Whether it was travel fatigue or let down from all the excitement, I don't know, but I didn't really have the energy for much.

But then, catching up on my blog-reading, I got thinking that if I just started sewing something new, maybe I'd snap out of my fog. And then I saw Camille Roskelley's post with her new Daysail patterns.
It was Mini Saltwater that caught my eye. At 15" square, I figured it would be a quick jump-start back into the studio. Though the pattern calls for fat eighths or 10" squares for the blocks, what I had were partial and full charm packs of most of Camille's fabric lines. I like mixing them up so with that thought, Saltwater went scrappy.
 And it did the trick! I really enjoyed each step, and am a tad closer to getting back in the groove.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday at the Table

Have you ever felt like the whole world knew about something super tasty and you just found out? That was me after our recent trip to Italy and I did a Pinterest search on spritz aperol. I mean why hadn't anyone told us before? 
Luckily, we had discovered the Spritz in Venice at the beginning of our trip, so now we know and even though it might be considered a summer beverage, I couldn't take the risk of you not knowing about it!
The recipe is right on the back of the Aperol bottle, though it seems traditional to fiddle with the proportions, and we were rarely served a Spritz without at least some peanuts or chips - usually a quite nice array of muchies, which just added to the moment. But at any rate, spritzing our way through Italy was great fun, and it hasn't been forgotten even now that we are home. Just sayin'.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Going and Coming

Considering I just returned home a few days ago from an extended vacation, I'm still trying to figure out life as I knew it, if I remember how to sew, and where in the world my quilts are. And by that I mean . . .

Right before I left, I dropped off Aurora to be shown at the semi-local Bainbridge Quilt Show, where it hung last weekend beside 1 + 1 = 10 by fellow SMQG member Amber Arnold.
photo by Chandra Wu

I also had mailed off Fissures, recently accepted to be shown at International Quilt Festival in Houston in October.

And while I was away, daughter dear was kind enough to deliver Rectangles in Rotation so it could travel and be included in the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild exhibit at NW Quilting Expo in Portland OR later this month.

Meanwhile, my Modern Metallics quilt, ástərisk, arrived from Quilt!Knit!Stitch! the day after I returned home. (Btw, if you'd like to see more of this exhibit, I just came across an expansive blog post by Kristin Shields, plumb full of photos.)

And at long last, Common Affection has finished her many months tour with the American Quilter's Society Modern Quilt Challenge exhibit and is now home. Leanne/shecanquilt was able to attend the most recent show in Grand Rapids MI and kindly sent me photos of my quilt hanging there.
Common Affection by Debbie Jeske
Whew! See what I mean?

So there. Thanks for letting me tally the quilts as I try to keep track of them. Now to face the sewing To Do list and deadlines for the month. Kinda crazy but of course totally worth the chaos after the travel fun I've had. Though Italy-withdrawal is still very fresh, it feels good to be back.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fresh Sewing Day

I'll just say it. August was an unusual month for me. To put it simply, I guess I just moved at a slower pace. I wasn't in overdrive like I often am, and that's probably a good thing. I did get bee blocks out of the way right off, and a few littles made.

I experimented with polyester hex mesh and made a few items for traveling.

The largest project was a pair of Stone-Stepping table runners, which were inspired by a quilt pattern in We Love Color, and while a tad challenging in that I figured it out as I went, really were quite satisfying. Thanks goes to my mom for her assistance in choosing both the adapted "patterns" and solids. And honestly, it was kind of fun dragging out the graph paper to sketch things out.

And finally, over a weekend's time, I was able to create Canvas, Baby, my third project using shecanquilt's charming "Canvas" pattern. Excuse my saying so, but every version I've made has been a delight every step of the way. Serious.

September will have a slow start with what else I have going on, but I'll be back at it before you know it!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts.