Saturday, November 03, 2012

A Class with Elizabeth Hartman

A little while ago I took a workshop with Elizabeth Hartman at Sew Modern.  We learned two different methods of making letters.

The first was an appliqué technique using fusible webbing.
 We started with pieced fabric and ironed fusible webbing letters onto the back.
 After ironing the letters onto our background fabric we machine appliquéd them using a zig zag stitch.

The VA is for my Virginia, not the state.  I originally intended to turn this into a wall hanging but now I'm not so sure.  I might turn it into a very simple quilt.  Any ideas?

The second technique was a type of paper piecing using freezer paper and Elizabeth's Refrigerator Magnets pattern.  This is a very tedious technique but sometimes I'm in to mood for that sort of thing and it really does turn out great.  It's a good way to piece letters like this without fiddling with lots of tiny pieces.  Plus you have your letters all planned out before hand without having to measure anything.  Unlike traditional paper piecing, which involves sewing fabric to a piece of paper with the pattern printed on it, this freezer paper technique has you cut apart your paper pattern and iron the pieces onto your fabric as you build your block.  The benefits to this technique are that you can reuse your pattern pieces since you're not sewing through them and you can press your seam allowances open which is a very good thing when you're working with such tiny pieces as these.  Not everyone may think that last one is a pro but I'm ALWAYS an open seam presser.  It makes your piecing so much flatter and crisper, and I love the way it looks.
I put this in the back of a quilt that I will share with you soon.

I'm not usually a class kind of lady when it comes to this sort of thing (though I am a classy lady) because I figure I can just teach myself.  Although this is true, when some friends asked me to take the class with them I realized how fun it can be to spend the day sewing with a group of quilters and it's extra cool to spend time with someone like Elizabeth.  Not to mention she was a great teacher.  Also, piecing/appliqueing letters wasn't the sort of thing that I was very interested in attempting before but it was great to branch out a little bit and try something different.  I came home and immediately started thinking about an alphabet quilt for Ginny.  It was a great day and I would definitely recommend a class with Elizabeth to anyone!  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Family costumes!  I was thinking of making Ginny a fun ghost costume (she makes a pretty cute ghost noise) and the idea of the three of us dressing as the hitchhiking ghosts from the Haunted Mansion popped into my head.  I looked up some pictures online to refresh my memory and that sealed the deal. There's a tiny little one with a beard!  If you're not sure what I'm talking about look here or here or at this especially fun one here.

Ginny is holding the beard.  She happily wore it for extended periods earlier in the evening.

This is what happened when we tried to get her to wear it for the photo.

Oh well.  We're going trick-or-treating tonight so I'll try to get a photo of her in the beard.  Luckily she had no problem with the ball and chain.

I made Harv's coat, dicky and bow-tie, my cloak and vest and Ginny's gown and wig/beard.  Harv's vest and knickers were leftover from his Great Pandsby costume several years ago.  I dyed or tea stained all of the lighter clothes and I aged the dark ones with sand paper and watered down white acrylic paint

I hope you all have a great day with just the right amount of spooks, sugar and fun!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

The LA Modern Quilt Guild just celebrated it's third anniversary!  I am proud to say that I have been a member since the very first meeting.  

The Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild

And here we all are, three years later!

So big we had to take a panoramic shot!  iOS5 to the rescue!

Every year we do an anniversary scrap swap, where participants bring in a ziploc bag of scraps, take home someone else's scraps and make their partner something out of them, only adding one additional fabric.  Sadly, I wasn't able to make it to the meeting where we swapped baggies so I couldn't participate but...I never shared what I made for last year's anniversary!

I made this quilt for Nicole Ramirez last year.  The stripes are all made from her scraps and I added the gray background fabric.  I used the same fabric for the back, trying to play by the rules and intended to use it for the binding too.  But by the time I finished the whole thing I thought, "F*** the rules", I'd put so much time in, I didn't want to put on some stinky old gray binding.  So I cheated and added the polka dots.  I didn't get in trouble.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cats, babies and quilts, amiright?

That's a line from my quilt themed stand-up routine.  It's a riot.

This quilt was made for some friends' baby girl.  Different sized squares within squares.  I had the finished block sizes worked out and piles of fabric strips of various widths, then just went to town.  I laid the blocks out on my design wall as a completed them so I could avoid similar colors touching.  All of the fabrics are solids except for a small white on salmon polka dot and (I think) a simple little white and yellow geometric print.

An embroidered label!  You don't see those from me too often, do you?  I did my usual tracing the computer screen but this time stitched over it.  The larger letters have three strands of embroidery floss and the smaller letters have two.  The bunnies on the back are flannel which made an especially snuggly quilt.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Babe in the City

Hoo boy!  Where have I been?!  It drives me nuts when bloggers are constantly apologizing for not posting but it seems a little nuts to take an eight month break and not acknowledge it.  Eight months indeed.  But I'm here now, and I have things to show you!  I may not have been blogging but I have been sewing, so I've got quite a back catalog to share.  What's the statute of limitations on these things?  Is that a thing?  Is it tacky to share baby quilts that were given to babies who are now two and a half?  I'm going to say no.

Today, however, I'm going to share something much more recent.  The most recent something, in fact.  Ginny and I just returned from a trip to the East coast to visit friends and family and attend a wedding in New York City.  Having grown up in New England but living in LA for the last seven years, fall is the worst time of year for me.  It makes me so sad to read all about crisp weather, changing leaves and snuggly fall clothes while we're still having 116 degree days (not an exaggeration).  Visiting places with cooler weather is a prime opportunity to bundle up in our fall fashions that should not be squandered.

Of course, three days before leaving I decided Gin needed, not just an appropriately autumnal dress for the wedding but also the perfect cozy fall coat.

For the dress, I decided on the Junebug dress tutorial from Craftiness is not Optional.  It's a good simple tutorial with printable pattern pieces for size 2T and instructions for making other sizes based on clothes you have.

Instead of making a casing for the elastic in the sleeve I simply folded the sleeve edge over twice and pressed then sewed the stretched out elastic to the wrong side with a zig zag stitch.  This way makes a little ruffle at the edge and I think looks a little less homemade.  I also added a lining to the skirt as well as pleating the skirt instead of gathering it.

The coat I made her is Simplicity 2534.  I used a thick gray corduroy with some black pre made binding and lined it in aqua. The pattern's smallest size is 3T which seemed like it would be a little big so I sized down all of the pieces before I traced and cut them.  I just eyeballed the difference between the other sizes and drew new lines at a similar distance from the 3T lines.  It worked great!

This was a good little pattern.  It's a really nicely finished coat and came together easily.  I ambitiously bought some wool to make a second coat for her at the same time but wisely held off before the trip.  But seeing as we are just starting to get some lower temperatures here (i.e. low 70's, blarf) she'll be needing a back-up coat soon enough!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A year ago yesterday

*****The following is a long overdue birth story.  There's nothing terribly graphic but you can't have a birth story without at least alluding to lady parts and such so consider yourself warned!  Feel free to skip ahead to the birthday wishes at the end.*****
On my due date, my mom and I were out having a late lunch after some shopping.  We'd just finished our meal, the dishes still on the table when I felt something not quite right.  I went to the restroom and sure enough, my water had broken.  My mom quickly asked for the check while I tried to keep my legs crossed.  My dark jeans and long sweater prevented too much embarrassment as we walked to the car.  We called Harv to tell him the news, that things were happening but unfortunately not enough for him to leave work early.

We made dinner, had a tiny glass of wine, called the midwife, bought some castor oil in case contractions didn't start by morning.  I was told to get some sleep, which seemed sensible but unlikely.  We finally went to bed around midnight but thirty minutes later I felt the first painful contraction along with the urge to *ahem* go to the powder room.  After about a half an hour of moving back and forth, bathroom to bed, I decided sleep was impossible and we were up for good.  Harv set about filling the birthing tub and my mom manned the iPhone, timing contractions (there's an app for that).  I got in the tub, went back to the bed, puked a lot (sorry), then back in the tub, now with a metal bowl floating next to me in case I felt sick again.

The midwife came a little after five and said I was four centimeters dilated.  She said that was great.  I had been hoping for something a little higher like, say, 10.  I would have settled for 9.  I was anxious to push because duh, I wanted her out.  So at 9am, when the midwife said I was at 10 centimeters I was ready to go.  There was still a tiny bit of cervical lip in the way so she said I could push but she had to get in there to keep that out of the way.

Out of the tub, into the bedroom to start what would end up being SIX HOURS of pushing.  Yes, you read that right.  Six hours of Harv and my mom working as human stirrups, the midwife keeping that lip out of the way, her assistant doing something to my junk with what I think was olive oil to help prevent tearing (it worked), then making me do a tug-of-war with a towel while I was pushing to counterbalance something or other I don't even know.  The progress was slow but it was still progress and the baby's heart rate didn't drop once.  It was unbelievably hard and yes, the thought that I was being tortured did cross my mind but deep down I thought "the midwife must think I can do this so I must be able to".

We went back and forth to the bathroom a few times, the midwife having me push on the toilet to try to get things moving along faster.  After about five and a half hours she said we might need to talk about when we were going to call it and go to the hospital.  She said if we did they would probably use a vacuum and the baby would come right out.  I didn't have a problem with that but the thought of getting in a car or ambulance or even putting clothes on at that point sounded pretty terrible.  I don't know if that thought motivated me to push harder but it wasn't long before she was telling me to go into the bathroom one last time.  I had no idea until I saw in the bathroom mirror that the baby's head was very visible.  That was the carrot I needed to get to the finish line.  I pushed a few times on the toilet and she crowned.  Then, so that she wouldn't be born in the toilet, Harv sat on the closed toilet seat and I sat on his knees.  A full length mirror was on the opposite wall, the midwife on the floor in front of me, her assistant standing behind and my mom sitting on the edge of the tub, all in our teeny tiny bathroom.  The assistant suggested we go out and sit in the same position on a chair, some place less cramped.  I told her there was no way I was leaving that bathroom before my baby came out.  And with a few more pushes, she did.

The last year has been the most amazing of my life.  Ginny is such an incredible girl and I feel so lucky to know her, so blessed that I get to be her mom.  She is usually happy, full of squeals and shrieks of laughter.  Unlike me she's always moving and she has more confidence than I could ever dream of having.  Like her dad she's unsure about new foods but usually ends up liking them on a second or third tasting and like me she loves her cats and just wants to bury her face in their fur.  She plays Patty Cake, dances when she hears music, claps when she hears applause, loves keys, water bottles, packets of tissues and of course the ever elusive iPhone.  Everyday she's doing something new and I can't wait to see what her second year will bring. 
Happy birthday Ginny!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

On 2011

Oh what a year.  The biggest haps being Ginny of course.  She pretty much trumps everything else and I can't believe she's almost 1!  At this time last year I was large and uncomfortable and anxious for her arrival but also enjoying the last days of her in my belly.  Seeing pregnant women now definitely makes me a little wistful for that time.

We made a Ginny calendar for Christmas and I've put the photos up on flickr for you to see.  A neat thing about having a January baby is how nicely their growth fits into the cycle of a year.  It was so fun to sort through our (literally) thousands of photos from 2011 and choose exemplary ones for each month.  You can click through to see them full sized.
1. January, 2. February, 3. March, 4. April, 5. May, 6. June, 7. July, 8. August, 9. September, 10. October, 11. November, 12. December

The last photo I doctored up and used as our Christmas card.  There's pretty much no point in naming your daughter Virginia if you don't do something like this.

I got a modest amount of sewing done this year, kick started by a weekend in Lake Arrowhead for the LAMQG retreat, just six weeks after Ginny was born.  It was such a great trip and an amazing way for me to start working my way out of the new baby fog.

Although there was an acceptable amount of sewing happening there was a pitiful lack of blogging.  I still want to share a lot of what I made last year in detail but we'll see if that happens.  You know how it is.  I was going to share some photos in this post but I don't even have pictures of a lot of what I made this year!  Part of that's due to busyness, part just because I've made quite a few tops that have yet to be quilted.  The next guild retreat is coming up in a couple of weeks and I hope it will get me in the groove early this year.  I've never been one for resolutions but I really want 2012 to bring much more creative energy and the time to share it with you.

Happy New Year!