Virtual Quilting Bees

June 2, 2010

I am now in 4 virtual quilting bees!  One is wrapping up in the next couple of months and I will probably not rejoin so I can spend more time on the other 3 bees and the many projects I need to get started/work on.  I also started a virtual quilting bee with my modern quilt guild. I’ve had the chance to make some fun blocks recently using some different techniques so it’s been fun working on all of them.   I still need to finish one bee’s May blocks, I am hoping to get them done today so I can get them in the mail because I am late again!  I think I will be late less when I am not in so many bees.

In April’s Block Swap bee, Paloma wanted tiny random scraps on a white background.  I added a lot of my own fabric scraps, and pieced the blocks improvisationally – one log cabin style, the other just strips.  I like the log cabin one better.

The Block Swap April Block 1

The Block Swap April Block 2

The blocks by themselves don’t really look like much, but you can see how the quilt is coming together here.

For the Bee Pieceful bee, I got to make some old fashioned quilt blocks, one is called shoofly and the other is called churn dash.  It was interesting to use these classic patterns.  I think that they could look very modern depending on the fabric choices.

Bee Pieceful April Block 1

Bee Pieceful April Block 2

For Bee Pieceful May, Andrea wanted wonky stars, which I love to do!

May Bee Pieceful Block 1

May Bee Pieceful Block 2

That’s all I’ve been working on sewing-wise lately.  Next post I will show you the blocks I have received from two of my virtual bees.  They are gorgeous.  I am lucky to be in groups with such talented and creative sewists!

Virtual Quilting Bees

March 29, 2010

I’ve been mostly working on blocks for my assorted virtual quilting bees lately…I just signed up for another!  I’m first in the new bee, so I need to figure out what I’m going to send and what kind of blocks I want so I can get the fabric in the mail by April 15th.   It’s fun to get the mail when I’m doing bees.  I do have a top-secret project in the works, but it will be a long time before anyone gets to see it.  But for now here are some of the blocks I have made for others with their fabric in the bees that I am in.

The Block Swap March Block 1

The Block Swap March Block 2

The Block Swap February

Bee Pieceful February Block 1

Bee Pieceful February Block 2

March was my month to get blocks in my Bee Pieceful group.  They are amazing!  Check them out:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/antijamsect/galleries/72157623728515632/

I haven’t gotten blocks back from everyone yet, but the ones that I have received are beautiful.  I love what they did with the fabrics I sent.

We just had our second meeting on Saturday…1 person came.  It was pretty disappointing.  We had 7 ladies at the first meeting who all seemed very enthusiastic about getting together to sew – and quilt a few new people sign up on the website, so I’m not really sure what happened.  I’ve never organized a group before so I am unsure what I am really doing wrong or if this is to be expected.  I don’t know what I need to do to keep people interested and active in the group.  I am not an entertainer.  I cannot sustain interest in this group on my own.   When I started this thing, I figured having the forum would be enough to maintain some sort of connection between the group members and a running dialog going with an active message board…I mean, from what I’ve seen in other cities’ guilds that is what is happening.  It’s been frustrating.

I found an awesome space in downtown Indianapolis to hold our meetings at the Harrison Center for the Arts – the Harrison Center was very exciting about having us as a group.  They are interested in displaying our work in one of their galleries for a First Friday.  I was super pumped about this!  But at this point I don’t know if we can keep meeting there.  It’s 25/hr to rent the space and I can’t keep paying out of pocket hoping people will show up.   I didn’t force dues on anyone since it was a new group – I agreed on a pay as you go type of membership so if you come to the meeting, you pay 5 dollars, and your first meeting is free.  So our second meeting – one person showed up besides me!  We had a good time talking and sewing together, but its a waste to reserve that space every month when no one shows up.

So for April, I am not sure what I am going to do for the next meeting.  I’m not doing the Harrison Center.  Anyone who runs a group or knows how to get this project back on track please share your ideas with me.  I want this group to succeed!

The modern quilt guild

January 20, 2010

The Modern Quilt Guild

Alissa has been working on growing her LA modern quilt guild into a national movement of modern quilt guilds nationwide.  She has started a new site to help others start branches in their own city at The Modern Quilt Guild.

I decided I wanted to start an Indianapolis branch – personally, I’d love the opportunity to meet other modern quilters in the area and meet once or twice a month.   You can find more information at http://indymqg.ning.com/.  I will be posting information on our first meeting soon, and would love to have anyone interested in the Indianapolis area join us.  Beginners are welcome!

What is modern quilting?  According to The Modern Quilt Guild:

The concept of modern quilting is not meant to divide or segregate. It is meant to welcome new quilters, of all ages, to the world of quilting in a style that they can relate to. In many ways, modern quilting takes us back to the basics of the early quilters, when women of the day used the colors and styles of their time to express themselves creatively.

There are branches starting all over the country, so even if you are not in Indianapolis, check out the member guild links and find one in your area!

All caught up now

January 13, 2010

I feel so relieved.  I am finally all caught up with my virtual quilting bees.  I joined a second bee that started this month, so now there is two! I am really happy to be all caught up with my original bee, Bee Pieceful.

Here are December’s blocks:

rail fence

looking through a window

January’s – maverick (wonky) star – she sent some fabrics she got in Australia – I was so nervous about making a mistake.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  I think it looks kind of aboriginal.

My new bee is called The Block Swap and this month’s bee wanted wonky stars as well.  I like making them so it was a fun month.

pink

blue

She just sent the center square and the background fabric, so I had to fill in with my own scraps to make the points.  The blue one is my favorite.

My month for Bee Pieceful is March, so I need to decide what fabrics I want to send out.  I am thinking some 30s-40s reproductions, because these ladies are so talented and I know they would make some really beautiful blocks with that fabric.

Also, if you do not read Handmade by Alissa, she is helping to organize Modern Quilt Guilds in cities all over the country.  I volunteered to start one up in Indianapolis, so if you live around here and are interested, please email me at janmadethis at gmail dot com.

Craft Talk

January 11, 2010

I don’t know if you are familiar with Leslie Hall and her magical gem sweaters, but she’s awesome.  This song definitely helps crafter’s block!  Enjoy!

Maybe I should have made my resolution to be more consistent in updating my blog.  I had to take an extended mental leave of absence – the last two months have been so overwhelming.  I have been doing a lot of crafty things while I’ve been away.  Let me show you some:

Terrariums:

I went to this art fair in Irvington at the Benton house a while ago with my friend Jess and while we were there, we went into the conservatory.  I love plants.  They were selling all sorts of interesting little plants, and while I was looking at all of them, I came across this domed glass container.  It was dirty and rust stained, but I knew it would make an awesome terrarium.  I’m not sure what exactly it’s original purpose was.  So, I picked it up and bought some plants – all succulents.  When I went on the internet I found out you can’t keep succulents in a closed terrarium because it is too humid for them.  Oops!  So then I scavenged some containers I had around the house and made two desert terrariums, and got some new plants to go under the dome, I went with a more ferny, mossy, woodsy style in that container.  I love how they turned out.  I added a little ceramic good luck pig from Chile that I got a while ago to my domed terrarium.  Here’s a better picture with the dome off, since there was a lot of glare on the glass.

When I have time, I would like to go looking for some more cool glass containers and make some more.  I will have to start giving them away, because I don’t have enough flat surfaces to display them all.

I like how domed terrariums have an old fashioned-ness about them, and I like seeing the strata of organic materials in the clear glass.  You can pretty much make them in anything – jars, glass ornaments – and there is lots of inspiration on the internet.

Christmas Treats:

I went a little crazy this year with the holiday baking.  I just really love making cute stuff.  Edible cute stuff – even better!  I don’t have a sweet tooth, but cookies and candy are about the most fun thing to make.  I made so much stuff, I mailed boxes of treats to a few friends, and gave boxes to ones locally.  I still had a ton left over to bring home for Christmas.  My cousins’ kids were happy – no one else made cookies this year!

Some of the cute things I made this year.

Unfortunately, it is not easy for my to photograph what I am making when my hands were constantly covered in sugar and flour, so not everything got it’s picture taken.  That box has quite a few though.  There’s chocolate cherry mice, chocolate covered pretzels, sugar cookies (tree and snowflake), cornflake wreaths, plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies, and potato candy.

Yes, potato candy!  It’s very rich and sweet.  My dad was talking about how his grandma used to make it every year when he was a kid.  I made a mental note to try making it, and I surprised him when I came home for Christmas.  It’s easy – 3 ingredients – a potato, 2lbs of powdered sugar, and peanut butter (creamy).

mashed potato

Boil and mash a small potato (trust me, a 1/2 c. of potato makes a ton of this candy).

potato - sugar chemical reaction

Now take the HOT mashed potato and put it in a mixing bowl.  Add sugar a little at a time.  I don’t know why but when you first add the sugar, it liquefies to potato and you get this strange colored, glue – like mess.  Don’t worry – just keep adding sugar and stirring.  You will get a ball of white “dough” that is play-doh consistancy.  Split it in half and put one half between two sheets of wax paper to roll out.

ready for pb

You need to work fast.  You have to get this done before the dough gets too hard to roll.  Roll out to about a 1/4″ thickness.  Looking back, you should probably make it shaped like a rectangle, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time because it was the first time I did this, and really didn’t know what I was doing.

the hardest part.

Now, spread your candy with a thin layer of PB.  If there is too much PB, then it all squishes out the ends when you roll it.  Take the bottom piece of wax paper, and use it to help you roll it up.  Its kindof like doing sushi, if you’ve ever made that.  Take your log and wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for it to firm up.  Repeat with the other ball of dough.  Then you can cut it into slices and enjoy!

finished candy

I also made some cornflake wreaths. During that same conversation with my dad, my brother said his favorite Christmas cookie was a cornflake wreath.  After my inital “seriously?! WTF” reaction, I decided to surprise him as well.

It’s basically a rice krispy treat with cornflakes instead of krispies and lots of green food coloring.  This is another beat the clock recipe, because you have to get them all made, shaped and the candy “berries” stuck on before it cools and they wont stick anymore.   I think help from a friend would make this a lot easier.

I also made some old fashioned sugar cookies.  I think they tasted better than the frosted ones.

I also made some marshmallows and dipped them in chocolate.  I dont have any pictures with them dipped.  Marshmallows are really easy to make if you have a kitchenaid mixer.   Once you get everything together, you have to beat it on the highest speed for 10 minutes.

just beat it

Pour it in a greased glass pan, let it sit overnight, and the next day turn it out and slice.  I used a pizza cutter, it worked really well.

marshmallow mountain

one 9×13″ pan makes about 50 1.5″ square marshmallows.  roll them in powdered sugar so they wont be sticky.  Quick side rant:  I went to the Indy Winter Farmer’s market last week and they had a new vendor there selling nothing but marshmallows.  Apparently they got a best of Indy award from Indianapolis Monthly magazine for best artisan marshmallows.  They were giving free samples so I tried one.  Mine were WAY better.  WAYYYYY better.  Granted theirs were flavored, and I just made vanilla, but flavoring cant change the marshmallows that much!  They were just really dry and chewy and looked really ugly.  They were all lumpy and uneven and ugly dull colors.  Mine are relatively square, bouncy, light and fluffy.  Anyway, I couldn’t believe these people were charging 3 dollars for 4 of their crappy marshmallows.  And people were buying them!  I called my mom and ranted to her (like I am now)…she said I should start selling my candy.  Coming from my mom, who can find something wrong with anything, that is a huge compliment about my candymaking skills.  That gave me a lot of confidence I can do this.  Next year.  I swear.  I will be at that Winter Farmer’s Market, and I will be selling my marshmallows!  And other candy.  I am really into this idea.  I like sewing, but not for profit.  I tried and wasn’t that successful, because the time and expense of making sewn goods rarely makes it profitable to sell.  Non-crafty people don’t realize the amount of time and skill and money it takes to make really nice baby quilts or cute bibs from imported japanese fabric or designer fabric from someone like Heather Ross.  With candy, it’s relatively cheap to make, even if you are using all organic ingredients, and you can make a large amount in a comparatively short amount of time.  And people don’t think about spending a couple bucks impulsively, whereas they are going to think long and hard about spending 75 or 100 bucks on a handmade quilt.  I think I can do this and be successful. And I have like 8 months until the next season of the winter farmer’s market to practice and plan.  I am really excited about this right now.  You may be seeing a lot more candy making in my blog in the near future.

I should have blogged about all this Christmas baking when it was actually Christmastime, but maybe it will inspire someone to try something new next year.  And I like posting pictures!

Sewing:

I FINALLY finished my poor bee member’s blocks for November.  I am ashamed! They were sent out the Monday before Christmas.  I am happy with them, it was my first time paper piecing.  I liked the technique, I will have to try it again.

I still need to finish my Dec. blocks.  I have one done, but I am only halfway done with the other one.   Then January!  I will finally catch up this month.  I need to start thinking about what I want to send out…my month is coming up in March.  I am really looking forward to seeing everyone else’s blocks with my fabric.

I also made a reversable quilted tote bag for my mom for Christmas, but I forgot to take any pictures of it.  It turned out pretty well, considering I didn’t have instructions on how to finish what we started in the class I took!

So Happy New Year everyone, I hope you had a nice holiday season.  Let’s see if I can keep that blog writing resolution!

Well, I moved.

December 11, 2009

The entire moving process has been a lot more draining than I thought it would be.  I finally have gotten most things put away and the house is pretty much done, except for hanging pictures/art on the walls.  Right now they are just leaning up against the walls where I want them to hang.  I love my new place, it’s very cute.

So Christmas time is here.  I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I really have been working on things!  Just not sewing.  Which is bad, since I still need to do last month’s quilting bee block, and this month’s block as well!  I also need to finish a reversible tote.  I started this tote at a class I took…after 6 hours the most anyone in the class got done was about half.  Which wouldn’t be a problem except that the project wasn’t in the book they made us buy, and they didn’t give us a handout.  So I had to get this other book but I just haven’t had the motivation to finish it.  I need to get it done because I am intending on giving it as a gift!  Unfortunately I have had zero desire to sew since I have moved.

I have done some things since I have moved.  I made a few terrariums and now I am addicted! I will do a post on them soon.  They are so beautiful and vintage-y.  I really love them.  I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my parents.  I bought a 1TB hard drive and enclosure.  I am in the process of downloading as many HD movies as I can fit on the drive and converting them for playback on a PS3.  That way, they can just plug the external harddrive into the PS3 and watch them.  It is much easier than burning 100 DVDs.  Besides, I don’t have a blu ray burner, and the blank bluray disks are like 10 bucks a piece anyway. Ridiculous!  And using a DVD would degrade the quality and it wouldn’t be HD any longer.  In case you didn’t know, in addition to my love of sewing and crafts, I am a huge tech geek.  I especially love networking all the devices in my house so I can stream back and forth.  TV to computer, Computer to TV.  I didn’t even unpack my DVD player when I moved because I never use it.  I have all the movies I want on hard drives and when I want to watch them I just send it to the TV via the Tivo, or watch them on my HD monitor.  I use a Slingbox to play TV on the computer or laptop. That way, I don’t need to have a TV in every room I want to watch TV in!  Saves space, and TVs are expensive!  I still dont have an HDTV.  I am waiting on one particular TV to come down in price.  Its almost low enough where I can afford it!  Its a really cool Samsung tv.  It has onboard networking so the TV can connect itself directly to my wireless network, and I’ll be able to stream movies straight to the tv without having to download them first to the Tivo.  Awesome!

Sorry about my nerdy ranting!

I’m also on a Christmas treat baking frenzy.  It was a huge fiasco in the beginning so I am way behind.  We had a cookie exchange yesterday at work and I was making biscotti.  I decided to do a test batch last weekend to make sure the recipe worked.   The recipe was fine.  The oven in my new place was not.  The biscotti were in there like 7 minutes and I smell burning.  They were ruined!  Long story short, I tried everything I could to fix the burning problem.  Moving the racks as high as they would go, lowering the temperature, cleaning out the oven.  3.5 batches still burned.  So I ended up making 6 batches of biscotti to get 9 dozen cookies.  I was so angry.  My landlord thankfully replaced the oven on Tuesday so hopefully I won’t have these problems with the other cookies I want to make.  I want to pack boxes of cookies to send to some friends.  I need to get them all done this weekend so I can send out the boxes on Monday.  Hopefully I won’t have any more oven problems.

In the meantime, I have started on other things.  I made homemade marshmallows.  They are waiting to be dipped in chocolate.  I also made my brother’s favorite “cookie” – those cornflake wreaths!  I find it hilarious that is his favorite Christmas cookie.

Here’s my list of Christmas treats:

Chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate dipped homemade marshmallows, potato candy (dad’s request), butter cookies, Chocolate Cherry Mice, lemon-poppy seed biscotti, old fashioned sugar cookies, cornflake wreaths.

I can do this!

I have been taking pictures, I just haven’t uploaded them yet.  I love making candy, even though I am not much of a chocolate lover and don’t really have a sweet tooth.  I just like how cute everything is, and it makes me happy to give it to people who love to eat sweets! I’ll update with photos soon!

What are your favorite Christmas treats?  What are you making for Christmas this year?  Gifts, cookies, candy, I’d love to see them!  Post your links in the comments!

The advent calendar

November 18, 2009

The finished calendar

I decided to start doing this while I was packing up my things to move, because you know the best time to start a new project using techniques you’ve never tried before is while you are preparing for a major life event.  I probably started it just to give myself a reason to not pack…I justified it by telling myself “well, you are doing something productive instead of packing so it’s OK!” I actually finished it the Sunday before I moved.

I finished this during one of the most stressful weekends of my life.  I was trying to get as much packing done as possible.  Saturday I needed a break from packing.  Foxy has been at my parents house since before Halloween to make it easier to show my apartment and get ready to move.  I decided I would go to the local city animal care and control and pet some kitties to relieve a little stress.  What ended up happening was that I brought home this sad little dog.

little pumpkin at the vet

The poor thing had kennel cough, fleas, and messed up teeth.  I don’t know what I was thinking, it was just an impulsive decision.  Immediately after taking him out of ACC, I took him to the vet.  He has all his shots now, is flea free, and got antibiotics for his cough.  I brought him home.  That night I was a mess.  I felt like I had made a horrible mistake.  My dog Foxy really does not get along with other dogs.  I just couldn’t bring him back to that horrible shelter.  I didn’t know what to do.  I had just compounded my stress level by 1000.

What I ended up doing is working with an adoption group called Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership to try and find him a new home.  They placed an ad on Petfinder.org for me.  I have had at least a dozen people contact me who were interested in Pumpkin, but none of them followed through.  It has been terrible.  And the worst part is, the longer he’s with me, the more I’m getting attached to him, and I don’t think I will be able to adopt him out.  I’m really conflicted and don’t know what to do.  I’ve been so stressed out for the past month – my hair is falling out.  I feel terrible and tired all the time.  I cannot wait for Thanksgiving so I can have the time to just do nothing for a few days and hopefully relax.

close up of the applique and quilting

Anyway, back to this advent calendar.  I used the tutorial that was on the Sew Mama Sew website.  I pretty much used the same fabric too, Michael Miller Funky Christmas.  I just really loved the prints in that collection.  It was the first time doing any real applique, and that was probably what took the longest and was the most challenging.  First I had to trace the numbers backwards on the double sided fusible webbing, and cut them all out.  Then I had to iron on the numbers to the fabric I was using for the numbers and cut them all out.  Then I realized that I had ironed on all the numbers that were on printed fabrics to the wrong side, so I had to redo half of them!  Once I got that all straightened out, I ironed the numbers to the background fabric and began to satin stitch around the outer edge of the numbers on the sewing machine.  It really took a long time to finish all of that.  Once I had that done, and sewed the pockets together, the rest of it came together really quickly.

I forgot to add, they are all little pockets to put treats in!

I messed up the binding though.  I was so tired on Sunday night, but I really wanted to finish.  I didn’t realize until I was sewing the binding to the back (which I do by machine) that there was batting showing in the upper left hand corner…I hadn’t sewed the binding onto the top of the quilt there, I missed the edge.  But instead of ripping the seams out and fixing it, I just sewed the binding so it covered the batting up, folded it over and finished the back.  That’s why it looks crooked there.  I just didn’t care at the time, but now it drives me crazy.  There’s a couple of crooked pockets that bother me too, but I think overall it still looks ok.

I need to dig my sewing machine out from the pile of unpacked boxes and at least put some things away so I have enough room in my “craft loft” to set it up so I can finish the blocks for the quilting bee before the end of the month.  There’s about 4 projects I wanted to make before Christmas as well.  Some will be really quick, like these bookmarks, and some not so much – I wanted to do a quilt as a gift for someone for Christmas…I hope I can get everything done in time!  I have about 6 weeks, I think if I do a little every day, I’ll be able to finish all the stuff I had planned.  Hopefully!

the poky puppy quilt

October 29, 2009

the front

I finished this last week and gave it to my mom on Sunday.  She doesn’t like it.  I don’t really know what to think about that.  It’s not my most favorite thing I’ve made either, but I didn’t really use a pattern, and just tried to do what I thought would work with the print and the subject of the fabric she bought.  She picked out the poky puppy and golden books fabric, I just added in some other things to fill it out.  I asked her what she wanted me to do or how she wanted it to look, and she said to do whatever I wanted to, so that’s what I did.   She said she thought I’d be using smaller pieces…what?  I used a fabric panel in the poky puppy line and cut the 9 blocks from it, I thought the whole point of her wanting to use this fabric was the puppies…the puppies on the green fabric were large too.

I know the the fabric I used for the triangles doesn’t really look right with the other stuff once it was sewn together, even though it looked cute when the uncut fabrics were just laying together.  I know I could have done a better job on the quilting too.  So it’s not like I am in denial about this quilt having problems.

After I got over my initial indignation and hurt feeling, I thought about what she said about the smaller pieces and I think she wanted something along the lines of what I made for my goddaughter’s 1st birthday.  But a coin quilt with this fabric, and on a lap sized quilt just wouldn’t have worked, in my opinion.  The golden book fabric would have been fine, but all the puppy-related stuff – you’d never see a puppy in there.

The other idea I had before going with this more traditional juvenile looking thing I came up with was to use those panels ask the center of some wonky log cabins and then use the other stuff she picked out as  the strips and used the go-to white sashing.  In hindsight, I probably should have just done that and gone with my instincts, but I second guessed myself that she wouldn’t like it because when I showed her the first wonky log cabin block I made – which I loved how it turned out – she didn’t seem all that impressed.

She did like the back of the quilt.  I used the book cover that was printed on the panel as the label and put her name on it.  I also cut out some puppies from the panel and did my first applique.  It ended up being not as hard as I had thought it was going to be.  I was just intimidated by the satin stitch.

Oh, well; you can’t win ’em all.  Have you ever made something for someone who ended up not liking it?  I’d love to hear your stories.

I do think its looks cuter in the staged photo, the colors in the full view shot make it look worse

The colors in this photo and the one of the back are more accurate, and I think it actually looks cute here.