Thursday, August 20, 2009

More or Less

Which is to say, I more or less succeeded with my iPod case.  I don’t see any design awards in my future on this one but I did manage to get one made.

I got most of what I wanted: that I be able to access the display and wheel, that I be able to attach it to a purse or a belt loop, that I be able to wrap the earbud cord around it and have it stay in place. 

Here’s the photo from the  back that shows the cord wrapped.  I think adding a cute little button to the flap might be in order.  I usually avoid Velcro (cause it’s so darn noisy) but I wanted the strength for this so it’s Velcro holding it closed.

As per usual, I figured out a number of things in process – like it would make more sense to satin stitch the top edges separately and then join front and back with the side satin stitching.  I did the side and bottom stitching first and made my life more difficult than absolutely necessary.

If anyone is wondering why I satin stitched front and back together, it’s because in order to get the stiffness I needed, I used Fast2Fuse as the interfacing.  No way that puppy was going to agree to turn inside out.  (I know because I asked ever so politely and was rather emphatically refused).

Anyway.  Whew.  Honestly, I’m not sure whether I’m pleased I got it done or want to whack myself alongside the head for just not going out and buying one!  Though, really, most of the hassle was simply all the avenues I tried that didn’t work.  With all due modesty, I can say I know how to go about it now.

The sewing for this version is actually pretty easy.  I’m not sure  anyone else is nutty enough to want to make one of these but if you do, just leave a comment and I’ll write up a tutorial. 

The only thing I wanted here that I didn’t get is a pocket to tuck the ear buds into to give them a little protection when not in use.  The only thing I don’t much like is that the section just above the display window is a little loose.  Not awful but more than I would like.

Meanwhile, any ideas for a little product improvement before I can’t help myself and make another one?  Because, you know, I might need one or two more to color co-ordinate with my book bags – though I worry the fact I even consider that  is enough to indicate I really need to get a life.

Meanwhile, AJ, whatcha think?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ready or Not

And at my back I always hear, the first day of classes hurrying near. *  I do these days, anyway: syllabi to review, websites to prepare, semester overviews to assemble.  Still, it’s not like I can’t find a little time for sewing.  Here’s the laptop sleeve I said I was going to sew up:


I originally thought I was going to do a tutorial on this and took bunches of process photos but then at  the final stages realized I had made an oops or two and needed to adjust in process.  So much for the earlier photos making sense.  Oh, well.  Still, I got most of what I wanted out of this project.

One, finally using a pretty fabric I’ve been saving.  It’s a heavier weight cotton imported from Japan.  I love the pattern, the colors, the texture.  A project of this size really allows me to see and appreciate the fabric.  There are some fabrics that are just to0 beautiful to cut up!

Two, I’ve never gotten terribly good at manipulating the touch pad, so I still like to take a mouse with me even when I’m on the move.  Most of the laptop sleeve patterns I’ve seen will fit only the laptop itself.  The pocket is for the mouse (and a wallet, too, if I decide I need to just hop over to a coffee shop for some writing fun).  You can’t tell from the photo, but I even added a couple pleats for fullness.  Very uptown.

Three, I found the perfect button at Joann’s.

And here’s a little focus on the oopsie.  I was totally off in estimating how much depth I needed for the flap – that colored strip is “the fix.”  I kind of like the way it looks as if I was being intentionally stylish instead of having a “duh” math challenged moment (not to worry, I teach English).

I’m still debating adding some D rings onto the side.  Then I could create a shoulder strap and use this as a general tote as well.

Still ahead – possibly, how much of a glutton for punishment am I is the relevant question here:  So, possibly, just possibly, I’ll take one last run at an Ipod case.


*  With all due apologies to Andrew Marvell, who wrote what may be my most beloved poem of all, To His Coy Mistress.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

School Supplies

When I was a kid, I was always excited to see the school year start up again.  All things seemed possible when you get to begin all over again.  I was going to get straight A’s.  I’d never procrastinate homework.  I’d take superb class notes.  (Perhaps one of the things that distinguishes childhood is that for a while there you really believe that reinventing yourself is as easy as wishing it were so). 

And to go with the new me, there was also the thrill of new clothes and, even better, new school supplies.  Sleek yellow pencils, unused erasers, the pristine possibilities of a brand new notebook.  Ahhhh! 

I admit.  I’ve gotten jaded with the years.  The fact that Fall semester begins in a week is not making my heart go pitter patter.  But I still like the sense of a new beginning.  Resolutions still sprout like mushrooms (“I will get through my grading faster” wins for perennial favorite).  I always try to wear something new on the first day of classes.  And I always get  new school supplies.

(There are some people who think that Victoria’s Secret is where you go to buy sexy accessories.  Others think you go to Office Max.  No doubts here as to which camp I’m in.  The desk gadgets’ aisle is hot!)

So, here’s the first of the new school supplies: a new tote bag.

Me, the sewing machine, and the fabric had some disagreements over that button hole.  I won with sheer bull headedness and a refusal to be cowed into Velcro.  So I say, “Yeah, me!”  Sometimes you just have to take your victories where you find them. 

I lost a couple of days to trying to make an Ipod case.  I went through three prototypes to no avail.  Right now I’m licking my wounds and trying to decide whether the greater path of wisdom is just to go to Best Buy and buy one.  (Because, you know, easy.)

But mostly this last week I slid into reading mode.  I love my sewing room (of course) and besides being a place I just love to spend time, it’s also where I go to regroup.  If I’m anxious or spinning my wheels worrying about this or the other, the satisfaction of making something helps me regain my balance. 

But there are times when I seem to need a deep well refreshing, and then, it’s all about story.  I immerse myself in books.  Which is what I’ve done for the better part of the last week.  What a luxury – spending anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day off on some fantastic adventure or other.  

So, just what have I done this last week when I haven’t been quilting and haven’t been blogging?  I’ve solved a mystery in Victorian London, learned my true heritage, saved the world, danced in full ballroom dress, engaged in particularly witty repartee, and hiked through deep dark woods.  I’ve fallen in love several times and lived happily ever after. 

It’s one of life’s mysteries – how one of the best ways to clear my head and come back to me is to spend hours and hours living in the heads and lives of entirely fictional not me’s. 

Meanwhile, I think I’ve got enough stamina for one more attempt at “the-Ipod-case-that-fills-all-my-needs,” and don’t you think a pretty sleeve for the laptop is in order?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Well, that was humbling!

I was really thrilled when I was asked to join an on-line block swap.  The first set of fabrics included Halloween prints.  Here’s the block I made today:


It’s a 12" finished block and, for me, anymore, that is huge!  I’m so used to working in miniature.  Cutting a fabric patch 4 1/2"?   That’s more than half the size of my finished foundations. 

And, then, she adds sheepishly, I actually had to match things myself.  No easy Fold and Sew method taking care of that for me.  Definitely humbling!

I had a few design challenges mid-process.  I had started cutting out fabrics for the block but then wound up just a smidgen short on a fabric I needed for my original design.  I made some adjustments and I think I actually like what I finished with better than my original idea so that turned out okay.

Now, I’m wondering about those big orange stripeys. Are they too bulky, too dominating?  I could possibly applique something there – like a bat.  Bats are good.

In any case, I love these fabrics.  I’m a sucker for Halloween quilts and fabrics anyway. 

I can’t wait to see what next month’s fabric will be.  In any case, this is certainly good for me.  (Though I was very, ve-e-r-r-r-y slow making this block.  I’ve made entire foundations in less time!  Just a wee bit out of practice at this, I’d say!)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Having a Heat Wave

Not really.  But we’re finally getting a little summer heat here in Colorado.  I’ve enjoyed our cooler weather but a summer without at least a few hot days wouldn’t really feel like summer, now would it?  This little guy (gal?) is called “Heat Wave.”  It measures 11 1/2" by 12".

I didn’t get very good color in this photo.  The orange/reds are a little brighter and deeper than they look here, the outer border is a deep purple and the thread I used for quilting is a lovely variegated pink, yellow, orange from King Tut.  Still, this is kind of close.

This was a super easy quilt.  I used the 13-square foundation from Miniatures in Minutes.  Instead of piecing every row, I only pieced rows 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12 (I’ll demonstrate below with a picture).  I laid out the patches in rows to create a stacked four-patch effect.

I didn’t bother with a Fabric Placement Guide or marking letters on the foundation.  I just pulled squares from the placement above.  This isn’t the method I suggest in the book, I’ll admit, but it works just fine as long as you DON’T SNEEZE. 

As I sewed the foundation, I just skipped over the rows that didn’t have pieced squares.  When all the 1" square (unfinished) patches are added, the foundation looks like this:

Notice that I only pieced 12 patches across instead of using the full thirteen.  That’s because I was working that four-patch effect (though, obviously, if you wanted, you could  use the full 13 squares for other layouts).

Here’s what the foundation looks like with the white fabric strips added to the foundation, ready to sew the rows together:

This project just came together so easy.  I knew it would, but I’m still always pleased when what I think I know turns out to be right!

Sidenote:  do you pay attention to those letters we have to enter in order for our comments to appear on most blogs?  I love the combinations and sometimes like to come up with definitions for them.  So here’s one that I came across earlier today: “Crubbi.”  I think it’s for when you feel really crummy and you’re crabby because of it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Where’d the Mojo go?

See, this is what happens when my husband takes a week off.  I wind up in a slough of not getting anything done! 

Thanks to all for the best anniversary wishes.  We had a lovely low-key kind of day.  We strolled around the Denver Botanic Gardens, hit up a quilt store on the way home (one reason we’ve been married 31 years: even on our anniversary, Jeff  brings a book along so he can hang out in Starbucks while I browse fabric), and then went out to dinner and ate like we weren’t two people trying to lose weight.  Came home and watched one of our favorite silly happily married couple movies: “Undercover Blues.”  I can’t really recommend this movie because there are a lot of ways in which it really isn’t very good – but, you know, there are some of those movies you love anyway.  We love how Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner bat their eyes at each other all movie long and Stanley Tucci is absolutely hilarious as “Muerte!”

About the Denver Botanic Gardens.  You might remember that I mentioned I’d show some photos if I got any good ones.  Anyone who’s been reading back further in my blog might also remember that I said my mother used to tell me I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached.  This isn’t entirely fair.  After all, I remembered to charge the battery for the camera.  I remembered to put the newly charged battery in the camera.  I remembered to bring the camera with us to Denver.  Really, there was only one little thing I didn’t remember: that was to bring the camera into the gardens with us. 


That said, the gardens were really lovely, and if you are ever in the Denver area, they are definitely worth the visit.

The Hugs and Kisses patch giveaway:  I used the Random Number generator and Mary on Lake Pulaski won the patches.  To everyone else, keep on trying.  I kind of like cutting up double patch sets so I’ll offer more.

Meanwhile, I haven’t actually stepped into my sewing room in days. (That’s his fault).  I did, however, play with designing a mini in EQ today.  This is another one that takes an existing foundation from Miniatures in Minutes and puts a little spin on it.  If I can find my lost mojo, I’ll tootle into the sewing room tomorrow and make this one up, see what it looks like in real life. 

13 square four patch

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hugs and Kisses and a Patch Set Giveaway

Okay, the name doesn’t sound remotely 19th century to me but, still, when I look at this one, I see X’s and O’s.

This is the August project that is available for download on my website. Once again, I took the Square-in-a-Square foundation and used it as the basis for piecing a very different looking pattern. I really like how adaptable the Square-in-a-Square foundation is. You can find pictures of other quilts where I adapted this foundation by changing the number of triangles here and here.

This time, instead of adding four triangles to a center on-point square,

2 corner square

I added only two:

2 corner X

I also trimmed the foundation down from a 5 by 5 grid

2 corner full foundation

To a 4 by 4 grid:

2 corner block a

The “Hugs and Kisses” quilt uses four of these grids – though, when I did mine, I actually joined the foundation pages so that I had an 8 by 8 grid. Here’s what it looked like with all the center patches added:

It was a little bit of a challenge to manipulate this larger single foundation under the machine bed so I wouldn’t really recommend it for someone doing a first try at Fold and Sew. Instead, I’d suggest piecing four 4 by 4 grids and then joining them using traditional sewing techniques.

Once again, I used EQ’s add-on quilt motif library to come up with the border quilt design. I love how easily I can print motifs the exact size I need!

I really like how this came out using a variety of reproduction and Jo Morton prints but most likely I won’t be able to resist making it up in some brighter contemporary fabrics as well. In addition to that, when I look at how the various lines weave around the quilt, I think there’s also some fun potential for color play. What I show below isn’t actually a color version I would use: I was just trying to identify the lines of color. Could be interesting.

2 corner weave 1

The Giveway: As I mentioned in an earlier post, I cut out two sets of patches for this project. It doesn’t take that much more time to cut a spare set and with a scrap quilt like this, cutting two sets makes it seem more worthwhile to have pulled out all those fabrics!

If anyone is interested in the patches (all trimmed to size and ready to piece), just drop a comment onto this blog entry letting me know. If there’s more than one person interested, I’ll do a random drawing. These patches were specifically trimmed to work with the foundation from Miniatures in Minutes, so the patches will most likely only be of use if you have the book. I’ll hold the drawing this coming Friday.

Jeff and I have our 31rst anniversary tomorrow. And, seriously, where does the time go? We’re doing a low key celebration, heading off to the Denver Botanical Gardens. If I wind up with any good pictures (a pretty big “if” there), I’ll be sure and post.

Meanwhile, good cheer to all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

S.T.U.D. July 09

Well, my little quilt made it to its new home with pink for me.  The theme was “Summer Lovin’ – and since one of the things I love most about summer is flowers, here it is.


I always figure it’s a good sign when I feel a pang as I put a quilt in the mail.  I definitely panged with this one!  The colors are a little brighter than the photo and I just really love how bright and happy it is. 

For the record:  I’m running a little behind with posting August’s project on the web.  I’ll finish it up either tomorrow or Monday.  Once again, I cut an extra set of patches so stay tuned.  If you like the little quilt I’m just finishing up, you may want to post a  comment for the patch set giveaway.