Wednesday, August 26, 2015

W(hat's) T(his) D(ecision): Blocks 41-44

I didn't realize it's been a week since I've posted! I thought I was being better about that, but I guess not... I've almost got my quilt top finished, so it won't be long until I spend way too much time crawling around on my living floor and cursing myself for making a large quilt (a process more commonly known as 'pin basting'). I was seriously pondering sending this one off to be quilted, but I thought for such a personally-themed quilt it just wouldn't be right to have someone else do that part, even if my best quilting consists of a lot of straight lines instead of fancy loops and whorls and whatnot.

Don't worry. Only a few more posts until I stop pestering you with the weird way by brain "matches" fabric :)

This one made me think of a passage from one of the 'Little House' books (if I wasn't so tired I'd dig through the books to find out which one). But Ma always had a red checked cloth on her wooden table, and would put wildflowers that the girls brought her in a jug in the center because she 'liked her table to look pretty.' I do feel the same way. There's just something about a jar/vase/pitcher of flowers in the center of a table...

This one is my 'from farm to table' block. I remember the first time I had farm-fresh eggs. It was only a few years ago. A co-worker has a horse farm, and also raises chickens. He brought me in some eggs. I had the afternoon off so I made scrambled eggs for lunch. I sat there making all kinds of "Mmmmm-mmmmmmmm!" noises, driving my father insane. But seriously? They were that good. I pride myself on my quiet eating (food noises in others bothers me--it's a real thing. It's called 'misophonia,' so you know these were good if I risked bothering myself).

Don't you love how I manage to face my fabrics in the wrong direction? Way too late in the game I realized why, but I'll tell you what--I don't care. Everything about this is so typical of me that it just belongs, and I think I'd be disappointed if each block turned out perfect. This one is reminiscent of the beach--striped umbrellas, beach toys, and sailboats gliding by under the sun. 

I had run out of ideas for blocks, so my mother sat and gave me fresh eyes on it. I had completely forgotten about that center fabric until she pulled it from the stack. The first thing I thought was "Ooo, Grandma's sewing box!" I actually wrote a post about that little treasure.

Well, I'm off to bed. I had a long day, and a bit of a stressful one, and the news is just so depressing tonight (when are we going to just stop killing each other??). So with that I'll bid you ta for now, and see you soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Weekender for a Busy Toddler

A few weeks ago my sister asked me to make an overnight sort of bag for A-train as she's been using his diaper bag to pack his clothes in for weekends down the shore or when he spends a night here. Would you believe I could not find a single train, car, or truck print that made me squeal with delight in its perfection? I'm always about six months off the beat when it comes to fabric perfection--it's either on its way out and no one has it, or I have no need for it when I come across it.

Anyway, I found a super cute fire truck print at Super Buzzy. I had it laid out on the table, when A-train saw it and said "Oooo, look at all these fire trucks!" I told him I was making him something with it, and he said "I''m going to love it!" The kid loves anything with wheels. He wants to put all his little cars in it and carry them around. He's not exactly practical yet...

I wanted to see if I could use my own tutorial for a boxy pouch to make it supersized. It worked, but there are a few things I would do differently next time.

When I was holding up rulers and imagining proportions this eighteen-by-eleven-by-eleven bag seemed the perfect size, but I'd size it down a little next time for sure (probably eighteen-by-nine-by-nine?). This would actually be a good size for an adult bag for a night or two. I'd probably move those straps in just a little bit, too. It's hard to tell but I quilted the straps because I like the feel the extra stitching gives, but you can't really see it as that fabric is so textured-looking. BTW the bag looks so puffy because I stuck a few afghans in there to fill it out (told you it was roomy).

I got so caught up in thinking about if the zipper was going to work that I forgot about directional fabrics. So next time I would cut two large squares and sew them to what is the bottom section of the bag and have those be the flappy bits that stick out (this makes more sense if you've read the tut). Surprisingly, I'm OK with this blip, as I don't feel it's as terribly obvious a 'design feature' as it could be. And you know who doesn't care at all? Three year old boys. If my fabrics weren't directional it'd be fine.

I wanted the zipper to go just across the top, and was nervous it wouldn't work out for some reason but it did. However, I wouldn't do it this way again--I'd have it come down over the sides a little bit as it gives a little more ease to the opening for such a roomy bag.

I used that smokey-gray for the lining as well as the straps. And that big yellow zipper was in my stash. I was happy to be able to use it for such a cheery little bag.

So I think that's everything. If you fancy an overnighter in this style check out this tutorial for how to draw up a pattern, and follow this sew-along for how to put together basically the same thing (without pockets) but in a different shape. OK, so now that's everything.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

W(hat's) T(his) D(ecision): Blocks 37-40

I cannot believe it's Sunday already. I took Friday off from work and took a little day trip with my parents, so I've had a three-day weekend that went by more quickly than the standard. I don't get how that works. Anyhoodle, I sewed up a bag for the A-train yesterday, but I have mixed feelings about it so I'll show you that next time (again it's the usual conflict between reality and the picture in my head). So here are a few more blocks.

I used to work at CVS. Back then we had to wear khakis or the like (about two weeks after I left they switched the dress code to jeans. Figures). Anyway, my work pants were hanging on the clothesline drying. When I went to get them, I noticed a bird had plopped on them. That blackberry looking sort of plop, at that. I didn't think I'd get it out but it was mom to the rescue. I plop you not the next time they were hanging on the line (I rarely put my pants in the dryer to avoid shrinkage) the same exact thing happened. What a terrible sort of deja vu.

I love winter. And I kind of feel like that snowman when the fluff starts to fall. Everyone I work with thinks I'm absolutely insane for this, but I'd much rather wear boots and a sweater and be comfy than deal with the humidity of summer (which is a season full of headaches (literally) for me.

I always did really well in school. Except for chemistry in high school. I should have flunked the class, but I tried so very hard and the teacher was out about half the year due to complications from diabetes that he gave me a passing grade. No fewer than three times did I buy books like 'Chemistry for Dummies' in determination to understand some aspect of it. Apparently I have a non-functioning chemistry part of the brain. Out of those three books you want to know the one thing I learned? That bleach is not an acid but a base on the pH scale. Three. Books. See? Non-functioning. Must be, because I did well in bio and I love physics. I should go all Sheldon Coopery and insist on a brain scan, just because.

So several years ago I decided to try one of those online dating sites. Long story short it was not for me, and I could write a novella on the weirdos I met. There was one guy I had several dates with, and one was at a local bar. I thought they'd be playing quizzo so told my brother to stop by (I still don't know why), which they weren't but he did. My bro and my date hit it off really well. I sipped my beer and ate my fries (I need food when I drink beer because I hate the aftertaste) while those two talked around me. And bought each other beers. So while they were being all "I got this round," "No, man, I got it" the bartender said "Does anybody want to ask the young lady what she'd like to drink?" The ensuing silence and the "Oh, you" glance I received made it quite clear they had forgotten all about me. It didn't work out with the guy anyway, but this story still makes me laugh. So this block represents that brief period in my life wherein I tried to be coy and say things like "What are you thinking about?" only to be met with responses like "The quadriceps muscle." I plop you not.

And on that note...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

W(hat's) T(his) D(ecision): Blocks 33-36

I am knackered. After letting this quilt sit for so long I suddenly became hugely motivated to get it finished (I even ordered the backing fabric already!). All of my blocks are sewn together, and all my patchwork border blocks are cut. I forgot how much I was enjoying working on it and coming up with quirky combinations, so I'm not really even tired of it yet. Except a little bit literally, because my right wrist is saying to me right now "Whyyyy did you have to cut all those blocks in one day????" and my eyes are saying "If I never see another four inch marking in my entire life....."

Anyway, I've got a new book waiting on the old Kindle, so I'm going to toss four more block stories your way and call it a day. As always, you're welcome :)

Old school all the way. When I was a schoolgirl (BTW, my three year old nephew A-train now frequently begins sentences with "When I was a little boy....") and we were assigned essays or papers to write, we would spend whole periods in the library taking notes on our topic (in our "own words--no copying from the book," mind you). Then we'd have to write our rough drafts and have them checked, before we typed and handed in our final copy. Now everything is cut-paste-delete-spell check. Kids have no idea how easy it is. Ever type footnotes on a typewriter? If you ever feel like you really want your temper to flare give it a try. If you can find a typewriter.

I do love sweet kitcheny prints. This is simply a close-up of that basket of (what I decided are) strawberries on that center chair. I always thought it would be great fun to pick berries, and fill a little pail with their juicy goodness. Mind you, I don't really like to garden, so I don't want to plant berries, tend to them, wait for them, or anything like that. I just want to pluck them and eat them.

After a busy day of cowboying, these guys wash up, put on their cleanest bandanna, and head to town for a sarsaparilla. I remember the first time I saw that word. My friend Megan had a can of it in her lunch at school. Not only was I fascinated as to where one obtains such a beverage in not-the-old-west, I couldn't get over how that word was spelled.

I went to Joann's for music note fabric and only that. But I came out with a few other things, including that center block fabric of different little Christmassy houses. I have always loved prints like this, whether in books, on wrapping paper, and especially on fabric. I'm such a weirdo, but I sit there and look at each little house, and the different details, and wonder about the 'people' who 'live' in them. 

And that, said Bee, is that.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

W(hat's) T(his) D(ecision): Blocks 29-32

So, hey. Remember last year when I decided to make a quilt that makes no sense? Yeah, I forgot about it too. Sort of. I frequently saw the finished blocks and fabrics sitting there, and frequently thought "Oh yeah, I have to finish that." And then didn't. I'm not a big WIP person, and I've got the quilt, an afghan I have yet to show you, and a shawl in progress. I don't like having two big projects and one medium project in the works. It makes me feel overwhelmed. So last week I decided to just buckle down and at least get the quilt top finished. So here are the next four blocks in my 'What's This Decision?' quilt. Contain your excitement. I don't want to be held responsible for pulled excitement muscles.

This one is in memory of our swimming pool. Beach balls, umbrellas, and sparkly water. Pool noodles, diving sticks, and don't-pee-in-the-pool signs. Ah, memories. (Yes, I see that thread. And yes, the stripes were supposed to run the same way but I didn't notice until the end and was not in a seam-ripping mood. It kind of looks like a pool raft, too, so I left it).

Hippies, sittin' on the grass, crankin' out tunes. I really wanted to use that center fabric. Story for you. When I was younger this corner store used to sell these flower-power looking stickers with your name written on them. Being Bethany, I never had stickers, erasers, keychains, or license plates in my name. So at a school fair one of the things they were giving away was a set of these stickers with the name 'Mickey' on it. There was this other girl a year ahead of me who wanted them (her name was Celene) and I convinced her my name was Mickey so I could have these stickers that were not in my name either (I don't even know why--I wasn't going to buy something not in my name, but free? Come on). Next school year we were in the same class for reading. She called me Mickey all year. And apparently missed the fact that the teacher called me something not even close.

In eighth grade we had career day. I thought I might want to be a journalist (to my mind they wrote stories and took pictures to go with them--I didn't know they were separate functions), so I signed up for that guy (and I forget my other choice). I remember he sounded pretty...not...that smart...and got into an argument with the teacher who thought he should try to sound more intelligent. He told her "Look lady, I'm not gonna say octogenarian when I can say eighty-year-old guy." When he took questions I made the mistake of asking about how much money a journalist made. Not entirely tactful (I was thirteen, and doesn't one work to make money anyway?) but a general answer could have been provided. Instead he told me "That is the rudest question I've ever been asked, and I don't think you'd make a good journalist if those are the questions you ask." Now, being thirteen, in public school (which are a little more worldly than private/parochial schools) and also from Philadelphia, you can imagine (as I won't write it here) what I said to him in my head. Thankfully, the teacher jumped in and not only ended the session but told him she was calling the paper to let them know to send someone else next year.

I love little scenic depictions such as the center block. I really wanted to use it, so this is a picnic being held on the green, with the birds singing in the trees overhead. 

I tinkered with my layout over the weekend to figure everything out. I need 63 blocks like this total. I have 42 sewn, and 13 cut and ready to sew. It only took about two weeks to make all of them (if you don't count the year of rest I decided to take, bwahahaha).


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