Even Monkeys Learn

I've been keeping busy with lots of sewing as I just got a new sewing machine last month. My other machine works fine for piecing, but was just not cutting it on the free motion quilting- weird tension issues that came and went and it was loud. My new machine, a Janome 6600, is... uh... wow. It's smooth and quiet and has a 9" harp. I was good and didn't go for the 7700 mostly because of cost (it's $2600 MORE than what I paid for the 6600, which... yeesh). As it was, I've sold some fabric from my stash on eBay and some other things, and have plans to sell my serger (new machine has an overlock stitch and handles knits well) to help offset the cost of the new one. But it's totally worth it.

One of the last things I finished on my old machine before setting it aside (for Bloomer? Or for when I need to travel to a class, more likely) was this mini-quilt for the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild:

Because it's true...

It's 24" by 16" or so, and apparently I impressed everyone with my mad free motion quilting skillz. To which I said, please don't look at the back which is JACKED UP with crazy tension loops. However, the awesomeness of monkeys make up for it.

One of the other projects I'm working on is a quilt for the Good Mews Animal Foundation auction this year. Zapper is trying to help, but...

This is why I probably need a design wall

She's a might bigger than the 4 1/2" square she's trying to fit into. Her head's about the right size, though.

The kids are doing... whatever it is they do. Bloomer had a great first month of Pre-K, but things have quickly descended into madness again. I don't think her teacher believed me when I told her that August appeared to be the calm before the storm. Nothing like being proven right, but as I said below, "Even monkeys learn". She'll figure it out.

One day.


Analogies Are Probably Not My Thing

You know what's weird? I miss podcasting (side note: I did a scifi podcast for a while). Maybe I just miss the sound of my own voice since I rarely talk to other non-work people that I didn't 1) marry or 2) grow myself. I'm thinking about doing my own podcast but then think... eh. I probably wouldn't stick to it. Look how well this blogging thing turned out!


In the mean time, I finished two quilts this weekend, and am waiting for the last one to dry on the clothesline before I can take pictures. I have another ready to quilt, too - a Transformers one. Still just simple squares, but will probably be appreciated by a young boy somewhere. Same deal with that as with many others I've made. I'll try to sell it on etsy, and if that doesn't pan out, I'll donate it to the quilt group. As it turns out, they may be changing from donating to the kids' hospital to a local shelter because the kids' hospital is now requiring quilts to be washed with special soaps and hermetically sealed. I get that there may be kids with sensitivities to dyes or soaps, but I hate that it will take away from our ability to donate quilts to them.

The ladies at the quilt group, well, one of the ladies in particular, is quite insistent that we will make, as a group, 60 quilts to donate this year. Last year she had a goal of 50 quilts, of which I made at least 20 - maybe more.  I'd like to point out that this particular lady has no "power" in the group other than the ability to annoy others, so I don't know that anyone is really buying into this stat, but a lot of women sure are repeating it! For reference, there are about 10 or so consistent women involved in coming to the meetings and such.

Not that I'm keeping score, but I totally win.

Anyway, I think I might start posting shorter entries, because I miss it, but I feel that I have to have some whole big complex story to tell. Mostly, I can be funny in sprints instead of in marathons.
Also, I'm really poor at analogies sometimes.


Best Airplanes You Can Buy for $18

After about 10 years of owning this fabric, I finally turned it into a quilt. I originally bought it to make something for Brief out of it, but apparently if you wait long enough, you can just make other people and transfer your affection to them! Ha ha, just kidding. Sort of.
Boxer's Airplane Quilt
Apparently Flickr is on its period or something, and refuses to show this right side up. And now that I see this in picture form, it's screaming "RED RED RED OMG too much red on that diagonal!" Which just go to show you should always take a picture of your squares laid out before you piece them together to avoid things red diagonal-ness as this.

However, since it's done, I figure 1) it's done and oh well, 2) he's six and won't care and 3) AIRPLANES AIRPLANES AIRPLANES

Boxer's Airplane Quilt - Close-up

Tiny little airplanes that fly upside down and goofy made up travel stickers. Potentially politically incorrect ones that say "Indiana Airways" and have a profile of an Indian!

And since I've had this fabric for soooo darn long, I've amassed enough coordinating ones to make this entirely from my stash, thereby sticking to my craft diet.

Boxer's Airplane Quilt - back

The back is made up pillow panels that coordinate with the prints on the front, which piece together nicely into a big ol' backing. I still have something like 6 or 8 pillow panels left, too, so I'll probably make a baby quilt or lap quilt or something- I bought this lot off of eBay 10 years ago, so you know someone else had insane designs to wallpaper their house with this airplane fabric or something. As I recall it was a very competitive bidding process at the time, but the other person bailed out at $18. Eighteen dollars for what turned out to be 8 yards of fabric. Insane.

Boxer is pleased with it, but just informed me that he likes trains better than airplanes right now. Well, kid, unless you've got another $18 and an eBay bidder ID, you are shucks out of luck.


What I Did Before My Summer Vacation

So! Yes. I've been gone, and then back. Mostly here, but also somewhere else.  Regardless, here's part of what kept me busy before the end of the school year (aside from last-minute parties, goody bags, packing for the beach, etc.):
Handprint Quilt

I made this quilt for the director of my kids' daycare in honor of her retirement. The handprints are from the kids in Bloomer's class, done with watered-down craft paint on plain muslin. I machine pieced it with scraps from my stash. The blue sashing and red outer border were 2 of 4 exceptions to my fabric diet this year - all the other fabrics were from my stash.

I embroidered each child's name on the square, hand quilted in an echo pattern around each hand print and then machine quilted the rest.

Close-up Handprint - 2

You can see some additional pictures on my Flickr stream.


Dieting, but not what you think.

Today is not a good diet day. Imminent monthly visitor and all that, I think my food consumption has consisted of 30% sugar, 40% salt and 30% cheese. So... yeah. Good times. But! I am doing excellently on my Craft Diet.

I decided that this year my sewing would be devoted to finishing up UFOs (UnFinished Objects) and making use of what I've already got lurking in the corners of my house, and therefore, not buying any new fabric. I have a fair amount of stuff already, but not nearly the stash of others I know. I decided that I could purchase thread or notions (like elastic or zippers for kids' clothes) to help finish up projects, but I haven't even had to do that yet.

I granted myself 2 "get out of diet free" cards as an exception: 1) the Sewing & Quilt Expo two weeks ago and 2) fabric that would be purchased to make the duvet cover for our bed for next winter. What I spent money on at the Sewing Expo was actually quite small, especially considering a third of what I purchased will be used to make a quilt for the local humane society auction.

The nice thing is that I still have access to new fabrics that come in to the quilt group I'm part of which are, of course, used to make prayer quilts or quilts for the children's hospital. And I can raid my MIL's stash if I really have a dire need for some accessory fabrics for a personal project. We joke that whenever I raid her fabric stash I'm just taking an advance on our inheritance.

So far this year I've finished 4 baby quilts (3 of which are soon to be listed on etsy) and the steampunk quilt (which sold for an amazing amount of money - $320!). I've got 2 more baby quilts cut and ready to piece (one for the quilt group, one for sale), and one "youth" quilt to quilt and list (it's a My Little Pony quilt! I almost want to keep it for myself). I've got another one ready to design and make for the quilt group out of fabric from my MIL's stash she didn't know what to do with. I also cleaned out 13 pounds of fabric and donated it to a group that is sending it to Haiti for the women there to learn to sew and make clothes.

Sidebar: I spent some time with co-workers this week and one woman described her experience volunteering in Haiti for a week. She speaks 4 languages and worked as a translator in the hospitals and witnessed so many procedures and spoke so eloquently about how devastating the earthquake was, and I was all, "I donated fabric!" But hey, every little bit, right?

Anywho, I'm feeling less bloated about my crafting, even if I'm more bloated about my salt intake today. Baby steps.


Steampunk Quilt for a Good Cause, also, A ZEPPELIN!

I am a huge bookworm, but since I have things like a job and children, I don't get to read as much as I used to. So I love me a good audiobook. I love me a good free audiobook even better. That's where the website podiobooks.com comes in. This site provides audiobooks in a variety of genres written by a variety of authors (some published, some unpublished, and some unpublished that got published after getting a large fan base established through distributing their books for free as podcasts). You don't need an iPod to listen since you can listen right from your computer.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because in January, Tee Morris, one of the founders of the site, and widely acknowledged co-founder of the whole "podcast your novel for free" movement, lost his wife to a sudden illness. He is now raising his five year old daughter (aka "Sonic Boom") by himself. This touches me in ways you cannot imagine. Well, maybe you can since I have kids around that same age and have taken serious advantage of this "free literature" trend. To say I'm not a people person is an understatement, so the company of these many characters I'd not ever had known otherwise is truly a joy.

One of his friends and fellow-podcaster Phillipa Ballantine, who hails from New Zealand and writes fantasy works (with a seriously butter-melty voice), started a ChipIn fund to establish a trust fund for his daughter. This then evolved into an auction with some seriously awesome geeky loot. Well, since I quilt for a cause regularly through my quilt group, I felt compelled to donate a quilt to help Tee and his daughter. More specifically, a steampunk quilt.

Maybe two of you (and that's being generous) know what "steampunk" is. But trust me, there are some wonderful costumers out there who have made some amazing garments and accessories in this theme. This particular quilt is in honor of "Books and Braun", an as-yet unpublished book by Tee and Phillppa. If you'd like to read a fun steampunk adventure/romance, I heartily recommend Gail Carriger's "Soulless".

So here's the quilt:
Hanging Quilt
A ZEPPELIN! (I love an obscure reference to a classic Christmas movie for no particular reason other than sheer awesomeness)

You can see more pictures and my comments about the different quilt elements on it here. If you are interested, go check out the rest of the auction goodies on the website. The auction will be held February 27th.


For the Rest of Us!

I've tried to sit on this for another couple of days until the Christmas/Festivus party we've been invited to with the White Elephant gift exchange this will be a part of, but it amuses me too much. It's like that weird compulsion to write about boogers and poop on a blog... must... share... with... internet. When I heard that the historical "winners" of the gift exchange in the past included Elvis Pez dispensers and a sample of the Joan Rivers perfume collection, I knew I had to bust out the craft skills for our contribution.

I really think that "plaid" should be the official color of Festivus (for those not familiar with Festivus, you can read more about it here). This hand-embroidered and machine quilted wallhanging represents 3 of the 4 important traditions of Festivus (from left to right): The Airing of Grievances, Alcohol, and Feats of Strength. We'll also have a Festivus pole to go along with this lovely gift.

I've been on a tear since finishing the king-sized quilt, so its nice to see projects move along. I also spent some time organizing my fabric stash and reorganizing my sewing area, although it still sort of looks like a fabric store exploded in my house. I can only imagine what sewing a giant pink fuzzy kitty will do for the fuzz quotient in the house.