Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Quick, Fun Gifts

Having only recently returned to quilting with some semi-regularity, and with plenty of UFOs awaiting my attention, needless to say, I had nothing quilty prepared for Christmas.  A Jeep repair took me to the other side of town a couple of weeks back, and with a quilter on my shopping list, I took the opportunity to check out a quilt store that was new to me, Hen Feathers.  (Cute name!) I was prepared to use my fall back plan - fat quarters.  I mean what quilter doesn't like squishies in the mail?  But instead, I was presented with an idea.  Not particularly quilty, but at least something that allowed me to feel I'd put a little extra effort into the gift:

The shop had a nice selection of tea towels and pre-cut border fabric for easy mixing and matching.  

I ended up making two more:

The towels are quick and fun to make up.  The all sport a little quilting, but I didn't do anything overly fancy. I think next time instead of using the pre-cut borders, I'll just pick through my stash.  :)  I may make up a few to just have on hand.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Dresden Wall-hanging - Need Suggestions.

In May of 2010, P. at The Way I Sew It, gave me the lovely Dresden center below.  She'd been on some kind of Dresden spree and had an extra.  Lucky me!  It took some time to figure out how to best showcase it, but I finally decided to mount it on the black fabric with the ribbon border.

Forgive Max.  He takes his QI duties very seriously.

Then life changed very drastically and I have only recently found a somewhat settled place.  (P. probably thought I'd forgotten about it or lost it since I've made so many moves.)  I began working on it again.  The center is quilted in a spiral and the plate itself is merely outlined so it will pop.  I began quilting the black fabric outside of the Dresden, and decided I didn't like it. No worries, I'd just rip out the quilting in that one corner (the one without pins) and start again.

Except....!  I put a hole in it with the seam ripper.  I am just so not happy about that.

Now, I am left with two choices:  take it apart and try to put it back together with an un-holed piece of black, or applique something on top of the hole.  I am loathe to do either.  I have discovered that dismantling and reassembling rarely results in a satisfactory outcome.  However, I am afraid any applique I could add would take away from the Dresden I was trying so hard to perfectly showcase.

Anyway, quilters, I am open to suggestions.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Thanksgiving Tie

Eric, my soon to be ex-cousin-in-law, was invited by my grandfather to the Thanksgiving shindig at his assisted living facility, Avita (read: hotel-like elegance).  With this older crowd - my grandfather is 91 - these things tend to be more formal.  As Eric was in management in another life, he has a wide array of ties, but none that were fall-themed.  Unfortunately, a trip to Wichita revealed that none of his usual tie-wear apparel shops were going to be of any assistance.  They had Halloween ties.  They had Christmas ties.  But nothing for Autumn.

Eric related his tale of woe to me as he returned  from Wichita to Newton and I was driving back from a work-related jaunt in Western Kansas.  I told him, "You need to go to Charlotte's.  That quilt store will have a nice variety of Autumn fabric.  I can make you a tie."  (I'd never made a tie in my life.)

As luck would have it, I would drive through Newton on my way back to Wichita, and we would arrive about the same time.  We agreed to meet at Charlottes.  

Charlotte's is a fabulous store!  Any time I am in Newton, I try to make time to stop in.  And as predicted, the shop had a lovely array of Fall fabrics.  It quickly became apparent that the question wasn't IF there would be an appropriate fabric, but which one to choose.  

As we were both pressed for time, Eric quickly made his selection, paid for the 3/4 yards of the Hoffman (yeah, he has good taste), handed it to me, and we hurried off - me hoping that I wasn't blowing smoke about being able to make a tie.

My first step in the project was to take apart a tie I had to use for a pattern.  We had bought some interfacing, but inside the original tie, I found a rather substantial thickness of..., I hesitate to use the word fabric, because it is far too thick for that.  (If anyone knows what this is called, please let me know.)  In any case, I decided my tie-making life would be much easier if I used it inside the new tie.  It was already cut to the right size and length.  Plus, I rather liked the weight of it.

As usual, Max helped.  Eric said Max was imbuing the tie with kitty magic.

Eventually, we arrived at this:

After sewing the three lengths together, putting in the linings at either end (in the original tie, the linings were made from a different fabric than the outside of the tie, but I chose to do the simplest thing and use the same fabric), and pressing in the raw edges, I laid in the thickness that would give the tie its shape and weight.

After that, it was just a matter of hand-stitching it closed.

Oh, and I learned something very valuable for any future tie-making endeavors I might have.  The tag I took off the back of original tie that I thought was well, just a tag?  No, it has a dual purpose.  It is used to tuck in the skinny end of the tie, so it all hangs nicely.  After Eric and I both laughed at my lack of tie knowledge, I hurriedly sewed it on, so he could be perfectly attired for the Thanksgiving shindig with my Grandpa.

If you want to read Eric's version of events, go here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spicy Spiral

A lot has happened since I last posted.

In 2013, I did my best to live up to the Jypsy Quilter name.  I have changed residences twice AND changed jobs twice - both times within the same week.  (Both times I doubted my sanity.)  However with this last move, I bought my new residence - a somewhat dated condo from the 70's with some quirky features that I love.  I won't be moving again any time soon.  And I really like my new job as a financial consultant with AXA Financial.  The work is both interesting and challenging.

Despite the Jypsy Quilter name, which I took on after leaving Nevada and becoming somewhat of a nomad, I find it very difficult to focus on quilting when I'm not feeling settled.  For the last three years, I have very little show to in the way of quilting - although my beloved tubs of fabric have moved with me each time.

Now, having been in my new place a little over three months, it is time to quilt!

My mom and I signed up for a class called Spicy Spiral Table Runner at one of our local quilt stores, The Picket Fence.  It was the first quilting class I have ever taken, and the first time I've used a wedge ruler.  On both counts, I'm hooked!  I had a blast!

After you pick 8 colors, your first step is to cut them into strips (the strips are different widths) and sew them together.  We did this part at home before the class.

Max helped

Next, cutting using the wedge ruler.  While not difficult once you get going, it was immensely helpful to have a quilt teacher at this juncture. The wedges get increasingly shorter.

Eventually, you end up with a pile of wedges like this:

Then we started sewing.  I'm guessing it took us about an hour and a half to sew this:

The points still need to be trimmed to make a smooth edge before adding the batting and backing.  The teacher recommended that instead of binding the edges, we treat it like a pillow and turn it.  As I am not eager to do a curved bias binding, I am going to try the teacher's suggestion.

Hoping to eke out some time soon to finish it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Walking & Urban Wildlife

My quilting project is out and I enjoy looking at the parade of color draped across the sewing desk.  That said, adding to that parade has been a bit elusive the last couple of weeks.  No worries.  Progress is being made in other avenues.

In addition to the desire to bring quilting back into my life, I also have wanted to resume my long absent exercise.  Finally, the last couple of weeks, the weather has been cooperative enough to allow me to start walking.  I'm not doing too badly.  If I do miss a day, I don't let it cost me momentum - as such interruptions have done in the past - I just keep at it, resuming the next day.

I live in an apartment complex, in a group of apartment complexes.  The landscape set up between them makes it easy and enjoyable to get out and walk - a meandering path around this large water feature.  The pond comes complete ducks and geese - and much to my surprise, these baby goslings.

The mother wasn't overly perturbed at my picture-taking.  No squawking or flapping of wings.  Just a warning hiss, that seemed like a fair deal in exchange for my proximity. 

Actually, the wild birds here seem almost completely lackadaisical about the human presence.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Little Bit at a Time

I did manage an hour's worth of cutting this week, between work and school. At this point if I can manage an hour in the quilt room once per week, I will be a happy camper.

Quick recap: I started my MBA in January, moved March 11th, and started a new job March 25th.

The MBA was initiated because my former employer was strongly encouraging instructors to get our Master's degrees. Ironically, I left that job due to the long hours (I taught morning and evening classes three days per week - three 14 hour days in row), but kept the Master's. I will be done December 2014.

I moved because I was paying a lot of rent for a house so I could have a garage, only to have my car hailed on while at work. My apartment is significantly less expensive.

And the new job? I am selling life insurance. I get to set much of my own schedule, which is nice. But I am still trying to get a handle on it - and getting used to working on commission. 

So what is the nature of my new project?  I am making a wall-hanging from the same braid pattern from which my mom made an entire quilt.  I'll make one braid.  One.

In the meantime, Max's quilt inspecting duties appear to have him all tuckered out.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Every time I have tried to re-commence quilting in earnest the last couple of years, sooner rather than later The Fates intervene, and I get derailed, the quilting mojo slipping through my fingers like so much sand.  This time..., this time will be different.  I'm trying to sneak up on it.  Oh sure, I've got full sized quilt tops that need quilting.  I've got a small wall-hanging that I've bound and begun to quilt.  Just one problem, I haven't yet located it since the move.  I know it's here somewhere....  (Yes, I moved again - but that's another story.)

So the plan is to start with something completely brand new and small - so as not to attract the The Fates' attention.  Shhh.

Max is helping.  He's hiding the cutting mat.

Those teals are a pretty start aren't they?