Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cat Wallhanging

I recently visited the Pacific International Quilt Festival, and bought up tons of great patterns and fabrics.  Now that I'm home and the high is wearing off, I'm wishing I had been less frugal and had spent even more!  Especially on cool fabrics, because lately I've been very disappointed with the selection at my local quilt shop.  One stand at the festival sold "fat sixteenth" bundles of batiks.  Fat sixteenths are tiny but perfect for all of my scrappy projects, including the current animal alphabet quilt.  I bought three bundles of eight fabrics, and which I had bought even more.  They all contained lovely batiks in all kinds of interesting shades, perfect for so many projects!  I will have to get into the field of online fabric shopping if I continue to be disappointed by my local store.

In other news, it is far past time to start on Christmas presents!  I'm still lacking an idea for the perfect present, and then there's the challenge of who gets a present.  This year I have four circles: immediate family (they don't usually get sewn presents), close family (I am trying for things that can be used year-round as opposed to Christmas centric), friends, and co-workers.  I have some ideas for my friends and co-workers, I am still not sure what to do for close family members.  I want something nice, but nice things take a long time to make!

Anyways, at the quilt festival one of the patterns I bought was for this cute wallhanging.  I whipped it up in just a few days.  The final wallhanging came out a little crooked, probably because I made it so rapidly.  I also didn't do any free motion stitching on it, aside from blanket stitching the outlines.  I would like to do more free motion on projects but never know what designs to do.  Really I need a book of just free motion ideas.

The wallhanging pattern came with the cute cat-shaped hanger and the fish buttons for embellishment.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More alphabet animals

And more coming!  I bought a bunch of brown fabrics at the Pacific International Quilt Festival to round out my palate, so I am ready from critters like monkeys, horses, and lions.

Speaking of the quilt festival, it's been neat to read other blogs and see the photos they took.  There was so much to see, I see photos on other blogs and don't even remember seeing the quilt!  So many patterns to buy too.  I found a bunch of fat sixteenths and bought three 8-packs (perfect size for alphabet animals) but now I'm wishing I had bought even more because they are so awesome!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Newest Project: ABC Animal Quilt

Now that I have my new workspace, I finally get to sit back and decide which project to delve into.

On my to-do list:  Some hemming projects, placemats, and of course quilting my cat quilt.  But I decided to start out with something fun, just to get back in the hang of sewing.  I absolutely adore all of the patterns by Don't Look Now Quilts.  A friend of mine is having a baby, so in my excitement I ordered this pattern.  I really love fusible web applique projects and have done two quilts with this technique.  I am comfortable with it and find it enjoyable to do.  Additionally, this quilt allows me to use my most fun and crazy fabrics, and can be completed almost exclusively with scraps.  It's also a bit of "instant gratification" because I can complete a finished letter set in about an hour and feel very accomplished.  So I just decided to sit down and get started.
A-Alligator.  All of these blocks will be appliqued with additional details like, in this instance, eyeballs and smiles

B-Butterfly.  I am intentionally trying to use whichever fabric I use for the letters in the critter as well for some continuity.
D-Dinosaur.  You may note I skipped C (chicken) because I love crazy colors so much that I don't own any brown, tan, or beige fabrics.  Whoops!  For the dinos, I actually have an awesome dino fabric (used for the letters) that I wanted to incorporate. I decided it was too strange to use the dino fabric on the dino bodies, so it's in the letters and their spikes.  However, the cut is so small I'm not sure you get the fact that it's a dino fabric.
I took another shot on a darkers background so you can see their teeth and spikes better.

Finally...A Workspace!

Posts are finally going to pick up, as I have settled into a brand new apartment with a brand new quilting space.  This is my first ever personal sewing space (I used to just share with my mom) and it has been incredibly exciting to plan out and organize.

First I had to decide where in my apartment the sewing space would be located.  I originally wanted it in the corner of the living room because I grew up watching tv while sewing and I wanted to continue that tradition.  Well, it turns out we don't have a tv and probably won't get one for a while, and the only tv outlet in the apartment is right where I wanted my sewing table to go.  Additionally, I am known as a messy person so we didn't want it sitting in the living room looking messy for guests to see (although quilting is always a great conversation starter for someone in her 20's because it's so unexpected for many people).

Next thought was the bedroom, which is surprisingly large.  The debate became whether the desk should face the wall (takes up less space) or face the room (takes up more space).  I wanted to face the room because a wall is no fun to stare at while working.  So once we had a location, it came time to select a desk.

Last year I used my actual dorm desk as a sewing table.  It worked, but it wasn't really big enough at all, and I did many things like cutting and ironing on the floor.  I knew that I wanted a really large sewing table this time around, but large desks are expensive!  I checked out actual sewing cabinets, which are all awesome because they fold up and look like regular cabinets so you can't even tell they're for sewing, but the tiniest one (and it was quite tiny) was $600, and the one that was in a size range I wanted was over $1000.  Next I considered IKEA desks as an inexpensive option.  Most of their desks are to small, but they have a "make it yourself" desk option where you choose the table top and legs in a mix and match sort of scenario.  However, this would cost around $1000.  There was also a great IKEA dining table that folds down small, but it was $200.  So I did nothing for a while because I was debating the trade-off between cost and having a wonderful workspace, and trading to figure out how much I was really willing to pay.

Then, inspiration struck.  I work right across the street from Stanford's "Surplus Sales" department, where excess stuff is sold to the general public for cheap.  I had to go over to drop off about 50 surge protectors for my work, and while I was there decided to shop around.  Lo and behold they had tons of desks.  I started inquiring about prices and they were CHEAP.  The desk that I selected was—get this—a mere $15.  This thing is HUGE, has drawers on either side, and little pull-out extensions above each set of drawers to make the workspace even larger.  It was bigger and better than anything I had been shopping for, at an absolute fraction of the price.  All my life we have had to do cutting on the floor because of lack of table space, but with this sewing table I can actually set up my cutting board on the corner.  Additionally, I picked up (for free) a little table-top ironing board last year that fits perfectly on the desk.  Photos below.  Unfortunately the desk is so close to the wall that I couldn't get a good shot of the other side of it, but imagine a row of drawers on either side, plus a big shallow pull-out in the center for gadgets.
Set up with my cutting board on one side.  The black blob is our video monitor, this desk is also perfect for watching movies from bed. :)

All of my fabric stash in one drawer!  Its very exciting because I can actually flip through it for colors, whereas before it was in a big bag and impossible to work with.

Set up for my current fusible web project.  I took away the sewing machine and set up the ironing board!