Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baby shower block and Thangles

I get so much satisfaction from taking place in a group made quilt.  Some of my Verb friends are working on a little quilt for a new baby, so I got the opportunity to participate and make a block.

I decided to get SUPER fancy and use Thangles to put some half square triangles into the block. 

And wow, did I get fancy.  Maybe TOO fancy.  Ok, definitely too fancy.

Thangles are pretty cool - they are paper foundation base that you sew fabric to that helps you make half square triangles without wasting fabric.  I have used them before on several projects and find them to be pretty handy. 

They've been around for a long time and they come in different sizes so you can work them into whatever you are doing.  I used 3/4" finished size.

The fabrics I choose to use for the thangles are awesome and beautiful (and Japanese of course), and even look pretty good together until you attach them to each other and eat up seam allowance.

Once you actually sew them into the block, the fabrics need to be significantly different from each other, and also relatively un-busy in pattern.

I'll have to show the final block, but it turned out that my fabrics were too busy to really stand out. 

Live and learn. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Liesl by CoCo Knits: a sweater just in time for fall, and a lesson on what not to say to a woman

I finally finished knitting a sweater for myself, just in time for autumn.

The pattern is by Julie Weisenberger of Coco Knits and is called Liesl.

I used natural dyed sock yarn (super wash Merino) in the Octavia colorway by Verb.

Knitting this sweater was EXTREMELY enjoyable.  Even as somebody who doesn't really know how to knit, it was a piece of cake and I loved every last stitch of it. 

This is the first full sized knit garment I have made for an adult.

When the top of the tank was finally sewn together, I modeled it for my sons and said, "What do you think of this new sweater that I knit?"

The three year old looked up at me with his beautiful blue eyes and said:

 "Oh Mommy I really like look like you have a baby in your belly!"


I'm trying to be objective here (maybe I knit it, so I'm biased?)  I don't think it makes me look any bigger than I am.  Judge for yourself on my project page on ravelry if you dare to see the full photo.  Pls note that I AM NOT pregnant.

We did proceed to have that conversation that stems on the central concept that you should not imply that a woman might be pregnant unless you see an actual dangling head sticking out.

Sigh...I hope he learns a thing or two about women along the way, if only for the sake of my wanting grandchildren in another 30 years.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Handmade Tooth Fairy Pillow

It's rare that I have a true 'sewing emergency' but we had two this week.  

The first one happened when I realized my son was out of clean school uniform shorts which caused me to quickly convert a pair of his old pants from last year.  It's still roasting hot here.

The second one came yesterday morning when he said, "Mommy, my front tooth hurts, and it wiggles!"  Oh my goodness, I haven't made him a tooth fairy pillow yet and the big event is coming soon!!

I have been waiting for this happy day since the moment I became a parent.  I was so filled with maternal pride the day his first baby tooth made it through his gummy smile. 

I am even more thrilled now that he is on the verge of a visit from the tooth fairy.

You could of course buy a tooth fairy pillow, but I have been looking forward to making one for so long that it was a real treat to actually sit down and sew it together. 

There's a pocket for the tooth, and the first initial of his first name on the pocket.  I used embroidery floss to give the little tooth a face.  All the fabrics are hand dyed felted wool.  The handle on top is PurlSoho's Linen Ribbon (a dream to work with, really).

We have been reading a couple of books in anticipation of this happy day:

The Tooth Book by Theo Lesieg - a real classic, even reminds you not to bite your dentist.

My Milk Toof by Inhae Lee - our overall favorite book right now.  Just hilarious, well done, awesome photos, entertaining for both kids and adults.  I must have in your children's library.

One final word of wisdom that will make my dad smile, and you groan:  (apologies and advance)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Harvest Season

This year our harvest has been bountiful.

I'm not a huge fan of store-bought tomatoes, but I can eat the home grown version like they are going out of style. 

My sons do all the work in the garden so each and every fruit that comes out of there is like a little trophy proving that they did something right and that their hard work and dedication is putting dinner on the table in a delicious way. 

We usually grow heirloom tomatoes, but didn't have the time to start my favorite variety (Marianna's Peace) from seed this year.  We ended up with an interesting collection of various kinds though and they all worked out quite well.

I've been working on another class sample for a paper piecing class, so keeping busy with my sewing machine in the evenings.  It looks really cute so far.  Paper piecing is one of my favorite methods of quilting.  No guess work, no oops - my points don't match, just 100% perfect every time. 

Heaven on earth for this little control freak!

Speaking of paper piecing, I am itching to do a few blocks from this now out of print book by Shirley Liby called "Paper Pieced Sea and Shore".  Have you seen her books? 

It seems like they were all published some time ago (mid 1990's), but I really want to get my hands on all of them.  If you have some of these little gems taking up shelf space in your quilt studio and you're looking to find them a good home...look no more!  I'll adopt them!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quilted Ornaments

On Sunday, November 20th, I'll be teaching a class on making patchwork ball ornaments at A Verb for Keeping Warm.

I just finished this adorable little class sample and couldn't wait to share a photo of it for you. 

For those of you who live in Northern California, I would love to meet you in class.  These make the cutest little gifts and you can whip them up in no time.  I'm also going to discuss inking on fabric techniques in class too, so that will be an added bonus.

Enrollment is now open!

Hope that your weekend has allowed you some time for sewing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Japanese Taupe Fabric: where to get it

Above is a photo of my son's 3 yr old signature quilt block with well wishes from family and friends.  The '3' is appliqued down and the fabric is Daiwabo yarn dyed.  It's got a thick weave but I didn't have a super hard time working with it.

It's not easy to get Japanese Taupe fabric if you are marooned here in the US (or other countries, for that matter) as opposed to those lucky ones that actually live in Japan.

The  quilt shop that I teach at has a small but growing collection of Japanese taupes which is great, but if you don't live in Oakland, California....there is a fresh option out there online.

One World Fabrics is the new kid on the block with some very interesting Japanese taupe fabrics - both prints and yarn dyed. 

You can see their entire collection here - lots to choose from.  The owner, Steven, also has an interesting blog with a focus on Japanese quilting.

Steven is kind enough to read my blog, and has created a coupon code for readers of Quilt Otaku.  If you are like me, and cannot resist picking up just a couple more pieces of taupe fabric (or a boat load of them!) you can use the coupon code "otaku15" to get 15% off your first order between now and Dec 31, 2011.

If that isn't a green light to start holiday shopping for yourself, I don't know what is.

I haven't ordered yet, but I am thinking I may need to pick up a few things...I'm a HUGE sucker for the yarn dyed fabrics - especially love this one - and they really are hard to get your hands on.  One World's prices for these sorts of fabrics are also below what I've usually seen, so that is nice too.

Thanks for your cool offer Steven, and best of luck launching your new taupe-a-licious shop!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Birthday Quilt Block

The kid birthday extravaganza has finally drawn to a close.

I for one will miss this time of the year.  As soon as it's over I feel a small twinge of relief as the prep and execution is complete but there is a big swell of sadness as it really is my most favorite couple days of the year.

We had a gathering for some of the boy's school friends at the ice rink, and even some tiny 2-yr-olds got out there and scooted around on the ice.  It was magical.  My older son decided he can now skate without leaning on the 5 gallon buckets or clinging on the side of the wall.  I was so proud.

All four grandparents were present and accounted for which was the icing on the cake of the entire event.

I made birthday signature blocks for them and will be adding them to the collection of blocks.  On their 16th birthday I'll turn them all into a quilt to enjoy the history of all the celebrations of the past.  I like to use a black size 05 pigma pen for the inking, and I iron on some freezer paper to the back for added stability.

The kids to came to the party were sent home with handmade goodie bags.  I was so rushed to get everything together I didn't get a good photo of all 20+ of them together, but I will have to show them to you anyhow in a future post.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birthday Signature Quilt - more blocks

Getting ready for more birthdays around here.  My sons' back to back parties are just around the corner.  I'm digging up their birthday signature blocks, prep'ing new ones, and gearing up for some serious boy party fun.

Let the cupcakes roll!

I decided to made handmade goodie bag pouches to put the little party favors in.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  I did finish them all up tonight, so I'm feeling quite pleased. 

Quilt blocks from past years are out on my bed in the photo.  The set on the left of obviously the older one's blocks.  I used hand dyed fabrics from Primrose Gradations (a company that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore) for the applique numbers.  For the blocks on the right, I'm using Daiwabo Japanese yarn dyed fabrics.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Long weekend R&R

This 3 day weekend was really restful and more or less spent with my boys.

A couple of weeks back we had silhouette artist Karl Johnson create cut-outs of our boys, and I'm really happy with the results.  It was fun to have them done in person and the cut outs do look like them.

This weekend I did a small bit of quilting, a bunch of spinning (which I will need to elaborate on in my next post) and a LOT of eating. 

I try not to put a bunch of food photos up on my blog because when I'm surfing out there looking for cool crafty inspiration the last thing on earth I want to do is get hungry.  I may have to share my recipe for ratatouille with you.  We have so many veggies coming out of the garden right now, it was an awesome way to eat them up and only makes a single dirty pot.  Interested? 

Hope your weekend was awesome.

Oh and if you haven't smelled the flowers above yet, they are Chocolate Cosmos and yes they really do smell like chocolate!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The F Word

Yesterday afternoon my son came home from first grade and said, "Mommy, there are some naughty kids in my school that say bad words.  They even say the F-word!".

I, of course, was shocked since after all this is only first grade.  In my mind I am already wondering if I need to transfer him from public school to to a Christian school or become the room volunteer mom or someting in order to figure out what is going on.  You know I'm always up for a little PANIC!!!

I took a deep breath and asked, "Honey, what is the F-word anyhow?  Can you tell me what it is that we are talking about here?"

He was reluctant to share it with me because it is "soooo baaaaad" but he eventually said in a very quiet voice:  "Fart!"

I did not burst out laughing because in our house we say 'fluff' instead of that other ugly word.

Whew, bullet dodged, at least for now.

The photo above is my little man, complete with Mommy Baby Monster dolls that I made to match his PJ's.  They are his #1 favorite stuffed animal right now (score one for me!).