Thursday, November 3, 2011

What happened to me?

Hey everybody! I haven't been posting these last months for several reasons, partly being really busy, but primarily because I've started gearing up to get back into school. Let me tell you something. I've been trying to get my BA degree for 20 years! I met with an advisor today who actually said, "Twenty years is a long time to work on a BA degree." I laughed. He took only 10 years to finish his. Anyway, it's been a busy summer and fall, taking classes to meet admissions requirements, and I'm thrilled to say I got admitted to San Francisco State University, I'll be starting in January full-time, quitting my job, to go study art with an emphasis on textiles. I'm SUPER excited! I wish you were looking at my face right now. If I could tell you all the serendipitous events that've allowed this to happen, I would actually write them out, but I can't because I can't think of them all right now, so I'll just say that the world is a beautiful place and the universe is full of infinite abundance. I've logged into blogger only a few times in the last months and the messages I've read inspired me to post some pictures and say hey wuz up.

I love these stars so much

I'm going to make twice as many

and alternate them with some solids

and who knows what else

I like not knowing what's coming

and figuring it out as I'm inspired

taking my time

and not rushing

I don't know when I'll post next but I do love this place and maybe next time I post it'll be some cool textile something I've made in school.

Take good care of yourselves and each other you people. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wonky Top On Point Pieced

Finally got the quilt pieced on point. I took my time cutting so's not to cut the triangles around the border too small. I took your advice and drew a line from point to point then stitched 1/4" on both sides of the line, then cut the along the line. It worked really well to keep the bias from distorting. I was surprised how well it went to together once I started sewing. ALL the seams lined up perfectly, first time EVER.

Here's how I pieced it:
I sewed together four quarters

Then made two halves

Then started from the center and sewed toward the outside corner

Then went back to the center and sewed to the opposite corner

I pieced it this way so that I wouldn't have to line up a lot of seams all in one go. Doing it this way minimized the chance of sewing wonky seams. 

Anyway, my friends, I'm now considering putting a border or two on this monster. We shall see. Toodle loo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Woven Star Two...or Psychedelic Rippling Flower

Alright. With this I took Leila's advice to sew triangles into the Y seam of the points, but then I couldn't resist trying my hand at inset seams, which is how I sewed the squares into the corners. I think they turned out looking good, and they were not as complicated as I thought they'd be. Despite some unintentional wonk and construction problems, I'm happy. It doesn't line up symmetrically like I wanted, but I will forgive myself and enjoy the effect this beautiful crazy thing makes. When I show Matt, he keeps me from getting obsessed with perfection, and he possesses the calm required to pull me back down to earth and appreciate the beauty of the process, "mistakes" and all. This one was capital F fun.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Woven Star, Lone Star

Well it's not actually woven, but it has the same look in the end. First I took seven 1" wide strips. They could be any width, but the wider the strip, the bigger the finished star will be. I thought if I chose 1" it would be on the small side, not really knowing exactly what I was getting into, but it turns out it's a kind of big -- close to 24" completed. I didn't measure the lengths, just eyeballed it! I'll cover how I lucked out on the length a little bit down the post, and how to be precise if you're inclined to be, which I usually am, but this time I didn't really know how long they'd need to be.
Then I sewed them together lengthwise.
I made a total of 7 sets of strips each with seven pieces of the same fabrics, alternating the order of the strips in each set (from left to right) like this:
set one (the one pictured above): 1-2-3-4-5-6-7
set two: 2-3-4-5-6-7-6
set three: 3-4-5-6-7-6-5
set four: 4-5-6-7-6-5-4
set five: 5-6-7-6-5-4-3
set six: 6-7-6-5-4-3-2
set seven: 7-6-5-4-3-2-1

Next I trimmed the bottom at a 45° angle. I used a 8" square ruler for this because it's got a 45° line running through the middle of it. Again I eyeballed it by lining up the two sides of the strip with vertical lines on my cutting mat. I laid the 45° line of my ruler along the horizontal lines of my cutting mat and perpendicular to the strips, then cut along the angle at the bottom of the ruler:
And I got this:

To cut the pieces of the star sections, I just moved the ruler up the strip by 1" and cut again. My ruler has little white lines running parallel to the edge which I used to get an accurate 1" cut. The width of the cut is determined by the width of  the original strips, in my case 1". If I'd cut my original fabric strips 2-1/2" wide, then I'd also cut these pieces 2-1/2" wide. So I lucked out on the length of my strips when I didn't measure -- I had just enough length to cut 8 pieces at this step and that's the number I need from each set of strips to get 8 star points. So this is also how you could determine the length to cut your original strips.

Now when all 8 pieces are cut from the 7 sections of strips, I kept them really well organized so they don't get them mixed up. That would be a big ol' mess since they look almost identical and there's 56 of them. I put them in little piles in the order I mentioned above: a pile of 8 pieces for the first set, a pile of 8 pieces for the second set, a pile of 8 for the third set, etc. I should've taken a picture here, because I know for me a picture makes it easier to grasp, but I didn't. Oh well. So I grab one piece from each of the piles in order of 1-7 and put them together in order so that the colors stagger across the diamond. The picture here shows top piece 1, below that 2, below that 3, etc, to bottom piece 7: 
Does that make sense? I hope so. I like you people and I want to be as clear as I can be!

Now I sew the 7 pieces together, turn it on point and here's a diamond! This is the first one of eight sections of the star:

Do it again and put section 2 next to section 1. Then get really excited, because it's looking awesome!

Section 3 done. Yes!!

You're halfway done now!

Section 5 done.

And here I have an almost finished woven star!

I'll finish the last two sets tonight and then figure how to sew inset seams between those points. Do you know how? Do you have a favorite tutorial or method for it? Send it my way!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Glowing Log Cabin, and Another Wonk Star

I placed the blocks into diamonds instead of squares and I like the result. I have enough to finish it if I cut the edge pieces in half. I think it looks cool and I'm feeling confident and ready to quilt it. What do you think of these two shapes?

Do you like this?

Or this?

I'm leaning toward diamonds because I'm bored with making these blocks. I have enough to sew the top if I do the diamonds and it'll still be square, which seems important to me for this quilt. It'll be smaller than I planned, but I can live with it. If I go with the squares I have enough blocks to make a 4 block by 5 block (blocks are 15") top, or I could just continue to make five more blocks for a 25 block square top like I originally planned. I'm leaning toward diamonds. It looks more interesting to me than the squares. Would love to know what any of you think. 

Okay. And last night I made another wonk star. Boy do I love these things! This one's about 9". I can see in my mind a big wonky top of randomly shaped and sized stars. The Patty Young Sanctuary fabric around the edges makes the thing POP. So this one is my interpretation of space, it's tumultuous out there. 

Happy sewing blog friends!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Be a Wonk Star

Last night I played around with some small scraps and came up with a wonky star. I based it on my wonky log cabin blocks from my other quilt project, and I used the same method as a starting point. I love all the star blocks I see out there and I've been itching to make some, but I also love the wonky stuff, so I focused here on playing and letting go of the results, just working in a general direction toward a star.

My first try actually began with a wonky log cabin but turned into a pentagon after I added a couple of logs and made a few snip snips. After I went around three times, I made the star points but couldn't really figure out how I'd attach them to this body, so I made some 4-sided wonk instead, which is what I used in the picture above. This is the original pentagon wonk still waiting for star points:
I love how this concept seems unlimited as far as the multi-sided wonk shapes. I mean, I could cut side after side into this that eventually it would look circular. I'll continue to play and still make a star out of it. I think a quilt with a mix of multi-sized random wonk stars and symmetrical stars would be awesome! I'm beginning to understand all of you who have multiple projects in the works. It just gets too tedious and slightly boring (did I say that?) working only one project at a time.

The star is just over 9" square...well, square-ish anyway (My aunt would tell me, "Square it up, Danny."). I'm guessing the pentagon star, when it's finished, will be around 12" square-ish.

I'll also start taking pictures of the process as I go along and post some of them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cross Blocks

Jenny over at Cut.Sew.Iron.Repeat is making a charity quilt to be raffled at an AIDS Walk fundraiser, and I think I caught the tail end of her request for block donations. She might need more, so you can find instructions for donating and details about the block if you follow the link. Here are my two crosses:

I just moved into a new house and I was determined to unpack my sewing gear despite being surrounded by boxes and bags of various other everythings. In my mind the room I would be sewing in had plenty of room to move and spread out, but in reality it's pretty tiny. But doing these blocks got me motivated to unpack my stash and sew. Once I got to piecing, I felt at ease and my confusing space didn't really matter. These crosses are simple and Jenny had a link for a tutorial. So the process was more about choosing the fabric. She said she wanted the background red and it needed to be at least 9.5" tall. So on the left I threw together a red batik with a blue paint splatter print for the cross, and on the right the red and yellow are a shadow leaf print which are better seen in a larger piece of fabric, but I love these fabrics so much that I didn't care if I lost some of the print. Anyway, this was a fun hour to get back into sewing after moving.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Purple & Pink

So I put together the light version of the purple/pink block. There wasn't much process to note. I'm in the process of moving and I wanted to sew one more block before I packed up the sewing gear, so I was worn out and on autopilot while sewing this one. Now that I look at it, a couple of the cuts are seriously wonky. I think the light one, more than any of my other pairs, is the most similar to its darker companion. I mean, I don't see any difference at all, which is unusual. In most of the pairs they look similar enough to look like a pair, but they also have differences that make them each look unique. I don't see it here.

I'm about 6 or 7 blocks away from a finished top and I'm beginning to wonder how I should quilt this thing. I'm leaning toward hand quilting, yet I'm afraid it will take me 10 years to finish. Maybe that's okay. I'm also tempted to try machine quilting it but I don't have a clue how to do it. I need a special machine? A long arm? My fear here is how will I maneuver a giant quilt top around my "regular" sewing machine. Will it be a nightmare? I think I'll make a mini quilt out of one my blocks and try some sample quilting. Does anyone have thoughts or suggestions as I get nearer the quilting stage?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tag > Paying It Forward

I was tagged! Marianne over at The Quilting Edge tagged me, and I'd like to say, if you haven't already seen her work, go there now. And if you have seen her work, go there now. She's a skilled and talented quilter and artist, and you'll be inspired. I'd tag her if she hadn't already been tagged.

Tag rules:
  • Tell your readers who tagged you
  • Link to their blog
  • Choose 3-5 bloggers to tag and link to their blog
  • Inform them and direct them to your blog post
  • Choose bloggers with under 300 followers

I feel inspired by something on every sewing blog I visit, so it was hard to pick only three. There is a whole lot of talent and skill out there, but these three inspire me every time:
  • Sarah at Pings and Needles. Sarah's witty writing style and posts about her process keep me coming back. She was one of the first people to greet me here in blogland. Being the newbie that I am I learned a few things about blogging etiquette too. 
  • And Nifty Quilts. Beautiful colors, hand quilted, appliquΓ©d awesomeness! I could feel the love radiating from Nifty's most recent post. Marvelous. 
One last thing. I decided I'd follow the tagging back as far as I could. I made it about 7 or 8 generations back before I couldn't find the "Tag" post, but I was struck by a couple of things. First, it felt sort of like doing family tree research. Even though I don't know you ladies well, I felt a connection to the Taggers from 3 or 4 or more tags back. I just can't get over what a cool thread the tagging created, and it seemed similar to a family tree in that, beyond grandparents or great grandparents, we don't really know our relatives before them, yet we're still connected to them. Aside from the obvious effect of gaining more exposure, tagging is a really neat concept from a relational point of view. Second, I only started this blog a few weeks ago and I must say I'm absolutely blown away by how amazing quilting bloggers are. I'm encouraged, inspired, complimented, and I learn so much about quilting by reading your blogs. I can't articulate my feelings fully here but it's changing my world view a bit by being here and contributing. It's making my world better because I'm feeling what a wonderful place it is here in the quilt blogosphere. Nuff said.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    My Purple Process

    Below is a picture of how my process begins. I don't have a large workspace. I work mostly in a small section of my kitchen that would be used for a dining table. So when I lay out fabric it's often on my bed or, in place of a design wall, I clear a space and lay blocks out on the floor. I didn't have a whole lot of purple fabric so I decided to blend purple and pink into a block. Even using the two,  both colors seemed scarce which worried me, but I really wanted another purplish block so I figured no matter what I have I'M GOING TO MAKE IT WORK. This is my outlook in general. I think that's why I don't seem to have a problem taking risks with color and pattern. I feel like there's nothing to lose so why not do it and see what happens. So here's how it started last night:

    And here's how it turned out:
    I'll tell you what, I was certain this would be a disaster. When I started playing with and combining these patterns my initial thought was, "Dan, are you seriously going to put these together? They'll never work." My fear was only partially true and only when I used one pattern. Once I added another pattern, and then another one, and then another one, it came together and looks, strangely and to my surprise, really beautiful, like those colors and patterns belong together. I could pick it apart and get down on a few of the choices, like the blue, which keeps drawing my eyes to it and making me wonder if it fits, but I'd rather enjoy it for what it is: an experiment and a process that I love. And it's what I love most about sewing and working with fabric, the process of creativity and not really knowing what's coming next, in a way being okay with feeling out of control, having an idea and following it wherever it takes me, and being okay with anything that happens, knowing it's right just as it is. MOSTLY I HAVE FUN. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Tonight I'll make the reverse block, dark center to light border.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Two More to the Mix

    Okay. So you know how I said making this one was going to be like taking a relaxing vacation? Well I wasn't able to put my feet up on this one. I decided while looking at the darker finished block that those pea green strips that look yellow just wouldn't work, so I thought I'd limit them. But that meant I'd have to pick new colors or repeat some I already used. So although I had to expend a little more thought energy than I anticipated, which I didn't think I had in me yesterday (I was beat - my work day drained me), I'm always energized when I get to be creative. Sometimes I forget it until I'm in the middle of it and feeling completely awake and alive. It's kind of like that thing about exercising -- I dread the thought but I'm always happy and feeling great once I drag myself out to do it. The difference is I never dread sewing no matter how tired (The travails of a working boy! I need a full time sewing gig, but that's a post for another day). So I kept those yellowish/pea green accents in the prints because I love, love, love those fabrics much, and it seemed to really tone down the yellow feel. Here's the block:

     I love it. And here they are side by side:
    I love them both and can't wait to see 23 more of these little monsters all cozied up in a quilt top!

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Another Approach to Blue

    I've got a new attitude about blue. I've decided to add green for two reasons: first I don't like any blue blocks I've done for this quilt so far, and second I bought what I thought was a ton of precut 2 1/2" solid color strips, but it turns out I'm going through them like a mad man, so the single colors are running low. No matter, I like being resourceful. It makes it more fun for me and seems to deepen my creative possibilities, and there's no telling what kind of happy "mistakes" I'll make by combining colors. I'm posting pictures so I can talk through some thoughts I had while choosing and sewing. 

    Usually the first few pieces are pretty easy for me to choose. I try to find the lightest shade of the block color I can find, and sometimes I choose just straight up white. I like a little bit of the shade of the color in the second, third or fourth piece next to a white piece. In this case, though, I decided not to use a solid white but try to go for prints that contained white or off white, and then throw them next to some light blue and green solids. Early on in the block, it's a crapshoot and I usually feel some fear about making the "wrong" choice, but you know what, it really doesn't matter, because no matter where I am in the block I can always proceed from where I've been. Hmm, sounds very Zen. But the color choices before always influence my choices ahead.
    I like to grab different fabrics to see them next to what I've sewn and imagine what they might look like after they're sewn in. The full piece of fabric looks much different from a 2" strip and so I really have to use my imagination and hone in on smaller areas of the fabric that might look good. The one above had a lot of brown in it so I fold and refold and find some spots that have more blue and green and I come up with this: 

    I think it looks pretty cool so far. And I like how you can only see the tips and edges of those brown parts of the new piece. It also seems to balance the piece opposite it with the brown and dark & light green leaves. Cool contrast.

    So at this point I feel like I could be off my rocker because of some of the colors I've chosen. I tried something this time that I haven't usually thought too much about in the past blocks for this quilt. Since I used so many prints with lots of colors in them I started looking at using the solids to complement the little oddball colors in the prints. I noticed that turquoise and shades of aqua emerged. I like this, it's going in a direction that makes me smile.

    So I kept going with it. I afraid I might be getting too blue heavy. Above, it kind of makes that lower left corner of green look like yellow. Not what I was going for but I think I'll forgive myself and think instead about the big picture when this bad boy is resting next to his colorful neighbor in the finished quilt top. Phew, disaster and melodrama averted.

    I like to lay the block on top of dozens of randomly colored strips and play around with the one that'll come next. Since this is the last round, I want them to be quite dark so that they frame the piece but still go along with the color theme. This time I toyed mostly with dark blue but realized I was getting blue heavy so threw in a dark green and a really cool Marimekko gradation of dark blue, dark green and light blue. Below, it's the one on the far left. It's hard to see how subtle and beautiful the combination is from the picture, but, up close, it's gorgeous. It was too short so I spliced another piece into it. And this is the finished block:

     It's going to show up amazing in the finished top.Tonight I'm making the reverse block, dark center to white border, which is always like taking a relaxing vacation since I've already worked out the color choices in the first block. Alright!

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011


    Alright folks I'm getting real inspired by your comments and your blogs and how-to's and what-not's, so, since I've sewn absolutely nothing this week and I'm itching to post something, I'm going to inspire myself by posting a few shots of my workspace.

    I'd like to say my fabric is beautifully organized and lives on its own shelf, but it isn't and it doesn't. It's loosely filed by size, age, maker, and color, and it lives on the edge of my cutting table. Since I'm new to sewing I've only built a small stash but I am addicted and intend to have WAY TOO MUCH fabric some day very soon. The table edge storage unit will not last.

    And here's wonky work space. I show this only to say that I have a sewing machine and it lives on a wonky little table that wobbles when I sew. It must go. All of this is tucked into a small space of my kitchen, which, if I cooked, would be used for eating. I make it work with the space I have!

    And here are some fat quarters and some scraps I bought recently displayed on my other work space also known as my bed. In the upper left corner are a few sock monsters I got obsessed with making a few months ago. Someday I'll make more.

    And here's what looks like a pterodactyl egg I found behind my work.