Monday, September 27, 2010

Delightful Delovely Desserts

In a statement that will come as a surprise to, um, no one...I'm a bit over-committed right now. There is a large pile of want tos and a large pile of need tos and I'm having a really hard time tackling either pile.

One of the things in my want to pile is my virtual quilt bee (see button on the right) (I love my bee girlies!). This bee has challenged me in ways I honestly did not concieve. I had NO CLUE what I was getting myself into! :o)  And, frankly, my other bee girls had no clue that I had no clue, and I'm sure they're dreading my presence in the bee! :o)  But, they allowed me to join, and each month I'm given a pile of fabric, and someone else's vision, and asked to contribute to their quilt.

It's fun. Really!  I want to do more!  But not right now. :o)

Now, way, way back in July, Queen Bee Lori gave us some lovely fabrics from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks collection and asked us to make dessert blocks for her. Her only stipulations were that the blocks be finished to 14", and that the dessert be on a pedastal.

Well, I was stumped. STUMPED, I tell ya!  I went around and around and around and couldn't come up with anything that I thought I could do. I looked on Flickr, but there aren't any other dessert quilt blocks on there! Lori's a trend-setter, that's for sure. :o)  So, left to my own dessert-related experiences, I thought of an ice cream sundae. I thought of a lollipop (Oops! No pedastal!) I thought of a good, straight-out-of-the-south 6-layer cake. I was beginning to feel like I could do it.

And then?  All my other Bee Happy bees started putting their blocks on our little Flickr group site. And they were ri-DI-culously crazy/awesome. We had cupcakes, we had hand-embroidered mice nibbling on the crumbs, we had ric-rac. We had it all, and then some. And I instantly became a little quilting turtle and tucked my empty head inside my shell and tried to hide.

So, after a few tear-filled pity-parties, I decided to gracefully bow out. I went to Lori and told her that now was a really bad time for me emotionally, creatively, mentally, and physically (duh!), and I handed her fabric back to her and said that I was really sorry, but I wouldn't be able to complete the blocks on time, and it was probably better for her if I didn't do them at all.

In another statement that will come as a surprise to, um, no one...she looked at me like I was a looney bird, and pushed the fabrics back into my hands. She very gently and gracefully told me that whatever I decided to do for her blocks would be awesome and wonderful. She assured me that she wasn't going to compare my blocks to anyone else's, thus loving them any less. And then she told me to go away.

Really, she did. With a smile, of course. :o)

So I started brainstorming for ideas again. I wanted to create at least one block that said something about me. Somehow. This block had to be meaningful to me.  And since most desserts are meaningful (ahem), I had to rethink. What desserts were meaningful to me, but were executable? The British "sticky toffee pudding" would be a huge, beigey blob...not so pretty in a quilt. The ice cream sundae would require too many circles. I couldn't figure out how to depict a slice taken out of the 6-layer cake. Hmmm...then I remembered something. For our LA MQG Quiltini party at Lauren's house, I brought a strawberry and something-or-other trifle, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

At that point, I knew I had "it". My block. The one that was meaningful to me. The trifle. It's symmetrical, it's colorful, it's meaningful, it's executable. It's decided.

So I got my pencil and graph paper, and started to design the quilt block. Next I got my scraps and got to work making a sample block. Boy, howdy, am I glad I did that!!  It's not that I made a ton of mistakes, it's just that I was able to realize where I had guestimated wrong, and how to correct for that. It also allowed me to figure out how to sew angles into a strip. Had I had some sort of instruction, that part might have been easier...but winging it? Wasn't easy! :o) Anyway, a month later, I completed my sample block.

Trifle, Anyone?

Then I decided to applique a couple of strawberries on top, but they didn't make it into the picture. :o)  Ain't it purty!?

I love the fact that I learned how to successfully create another one, because I was READY! I had been through so much to get to the point where I was ready to start on the actual block, you know? And here I was, fabric in one hand, measurements in the other, ready to...stop. I was tired. :o) Tired of the trifle, tired of the lines, tired of the piecing. Tired.

So I decided to make the other block, instead! :o)  I spent a little time, and figured out how to make the southern layer cake, but without all the angles and strips and stresses. I made it wonky, and I made it soft and squishy, and I made it with a rough-edge applique. I made it. Block #1 was done. D-U-N done, I tell ya!

Lori's (Bee) Dessert Block #2

And all from the fabrics she gave me. I love it! :o)

High on my success, I was ready to start the actual trifle for Lori. The fabrics were cut, the iron was hot, and I was ready to go. Strips in the middle, side walls, pedastal, side whites, dollop on top, done.  I honestly completed this block in about 1/10th the time it took me to create and complete the sampler!! :o)

And I love it! LOVE!! IT!!!

Lori's (bee) Dessert Block #1

My two dessert blocks strategically placed on the seats of a couple of old ice cream social chairs.
Lori's Dessert Quilt Blocks

Mmmm...I'm thinking I need to have a bowl of something sweet...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Whole Lotta Lovin'

I know this blog is about my sewing adventures, but I've been distracted from my sewing these last few days.

Any locals need a little extra love in your life?

I found this little guy running down a rather busy street the other day, and have been trying with all my might to reunite him with his humans! It seems, though, that either his humans don't want to be found, or he's a true-blue stray.

But folks, let me just tell you this. He's a LOVAH! He is extremely friendly (unless you're a cat), is afraid of trash cans (aren't we all?) and won't eat or chew on a rawhide unless I'm right there with him. Goofy guy. I don't know much, but I think he's a terrier mix, and I think he's young based on his actions and his teeth. I think he weighs between 20 and 25 pounds, and is about knee-high.

This is a pretty pathetic picture of him, but I didn't take too many, and wanted to show you his whole self. Doesn't he look happy-go-lucky? No? Hah...that would be the photographer's fault, not the dog's. :o) He's a tail-wagger, he is.

He's great on a leash, and is pretty tame around tame big people and tame 2 year olds, and he is jubilant around 8 year old boys. We've got a great back yard here, but, unfortunately for him, he is slippery and unless you're out there with him, he likes to slip out through the gap under the gate. Which, now that you mention it, might explain why he doesn't have a home!

When we do play in the backyard, we pretty much just run in circles. He will go after a ball, but won't bring it back or even pick it up and run with it. Mookie runs around squealing and laughing because she thinks he's chasing her. And when the neighbor's boy was over, the dog pretty much just licked the boy to pieces. Who needs a bath when you've got that kind of all-over cleaning treatment?

Since he doesn't stay in the backyard, and since I've already got a house full of girls I have to care for, he's been relegated to a crate in the garage. Poor guy. I feel terrible for him, but he barkbarkbarkbarkbarks when he can see us, and is quiet (mostly, sorta, kinda) when he's in the dark garage. Now, I'm a fan of crate-training a dog, make no mistake, but I don't like the idea of him being in the crate 24 hours a day besides walks. That's just not fair to him. So, when it's quiet inside (like right now), I let him out of the crate and hang out with him in the garage. He walks around a bit, sniffing things, then settles down and eats or chews on his rawhide.

Aww...when he lays down, he splays his back legs out behind him. I love that in a dog, don't you?

And, for all you out there who think he was MEANT TO come home with me, I would like you to stop. Look around your house. Look at your yard. Look at the next few months on your calendar. Do you have 2 wee ones to care for? And two aging cats? And a yard that doesn't hold this dog? And a move in 2 months (yes)? No? Well, God, The Universe, and Bob Barker may all have conspired to "give" me this dog, but they will need to reconvene because he is NOT staying here.

So again I ask you...anyone want some extra lovin' in their life?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fatter and Thinner

Fatter and thinner. My fabric stash and my wallet, respectively. :o)

My friend, Tess, and I took a trip up to Michael Levine's fabric store in the garment district in LA on Saturday. (Then we went to Nickel Diner for lunch, and so that I could stuff myself silly, and then could die a happy woman.)

They had a sale. (Michael Levine's, not Nickel Diner.)

Need I say more? No sales tax (which, in LA, is 9.75%, so that's a good sale!) AND they had some Alexander Henry, some Joel Dewberry, some Michael Miller and some Robert Kaufman on sale for $3.00 a yard. Yes, three dollars. How could I pass that up??

So, without further ado, here's is what came home with me!

Punctuation alphabet panel. There was a bit of a cutting failure with this. I asked the cutter to give me one repeat (about 2/3 of a yard), and she did, however...she cut the "repeat" in the wrong place! Oh, not happy! I can make good of it, though. My plan was to make a little play mat/blanket with it, and maybe get another panel and make beanbags out of each letter so that Mookie and Sprout can match the beanbag with the letter on the blanket. Sooo...I guess I'll be making the beanbags out of the improperly cut panel, and I'll order another panel online and hope to get it right! :o) It's really too cute to not use in a million ways, though, isn't it?! :o)
Punctuation Panel

Sweet Tooth. I got this for some crafts I want to make at Christmas time (haha...maybe Christmas 2011??), but also because I have two girlies and cupcake fabric will always be handy to have around. :o) Plus, it was $3. Nuffsaid.

Kawaii Asian. I just loved the colors. And the design. And each yard was $3. It will live in my stash.
Kawaii Asian

Dill Blossom. It's not really this fuzzy in real life, I just took a bad picture and didn't want to go through the hassle of taking it back out and taking another picture. Sorry. These will go in my stash, and it was only $3/yd, and I love both designs and colors.
Dill Blossom

London Calling. Which makes me giggle because, well, this doesn't make me think of London at all! It makes me think of Liberty of London prints, and I'm kinda thinking Robert Kaufman was trying to jump on that lucrative bandwagon. I like the color combination and the design, though, so I splurged. $3. Big splurge. :o)
London  Calling

Toyland. In darling pink. Because (a) I have 2 darling pink girls at home, (b) it was $3, and (c) do you see those wee little deerlings? And the wee little squirrels and birdies on the wee little mushrooms? Too cute!

Fancy Hill Farm. Purty, ain't it? This is for a quilt for lovely lady who may or may not still read my blogs. Since I don't know, I'm gonna keep mum till I make it and give it to her. I will say it's something I've wanted to do for a while, and I have a good reason to make one for her, but the fabric selection has gone through a few changes. While I love this fabric, it's not something I would choose for me, and I'm pretty sure the LA MQG would kick me out for being too non-modern, but I know she'll love it and use it, which is the point! :o)
Fancy Hill Farm

Panache. I just liked this. I even paid full price for it. The colors do not read right in this picture AT ALL! It's just really pretty in real life.

Thea Lime. I love the bigness of the flowers, and I love the white/black/yellow/lime combination. Alexander Henry also does this in pink, which I love almost as much. :o)
Thea Lime

Brown Bear, Brown Bear flannel. This is to make a receiving blanket/burp cloth combination for a friend who, darn her, isn't finding out the gender of the baby. But it's bright and happy and I can get an Eric Carle book to go along with the gift.
Brown Bear flannel

Yellows. I'm part of a rainbow hexie swap where we all contribute one color of the rainbow (mine is yellow). Good yellows are hard to find! Wanna join us? We've got 3 more slots...let me know if you do, and I'll hook you up with Yolanda.

Boabab flannel. (sigh). I am on a never-ending quest for the backing for my best friend's baby quilt, which I'm really hoping to finish before lil Jack gets married, I'm SO far behind! I've finished the top (hallelujah!) (pictures soon), but now? The back. Sigh. I have hemmed and hawed over the backing for months. I've bought a few different pieces of fabric, and just haven't felt that any of them were right. Then I found this! I bought it thinking the flannel might be a good backing, soft and snuggly, modern and funky, etc. I told the cutter that I would like 1 3/4 yards, and she repeated it back to me. One and three-quarter yards. Yes. I saw her measure at the 3/4 yard point and grab it with her fingers, and I (mistakenly) thought she was going to move it over and measure another yard, so I turned away. That was my mistake.(I should know better because I've had cutting problems there, before. Apparently, I'm the only one, though!) When I got home, I pulled it out, and lo-and-behold, there was only 3/4 of a yard. No yard and. Just 3/4. I can't back a 40x50" quilt with a piece of flannel that is 24x42"!  Grrr...and so I search another day...
Orange flannel

Kona Solids for my Urban Circus. A week, or so, ago, I got an email from Sew Fresh Fabrics saying that I won a fat quarter bundle of Laurie Wisbrun's new line called Urban Circus. I was superdy-duperdy excited, of course. So much so that I took time away from other things to design a quilt or two! :o) Needless to say, I was even more excited when the little package came in the mail on Friday and I could pick the solids I needed when I went to Michael Levine's! I used my Kona Color Card to pick 3 solids per quilt for the backing, and I'm going with Peridot, Corn, and Medium Pink for the Spring colorway, and Peridot, Caribbean (heart!) and Chocolate (which is in the picture, but hard to see) for the Earth colorway. Sadly, MLs didn't have the pink or the peridot, so I have to order those online. But isn't it fun and perfect for a baby quilt?
Urban Circus

Aaaaannnnnddddd...there you have it. The fatter stash and skinnier wallet. You may now have your life back. Good-bye. :o)