Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Obsessions

Miss me??  Mr. Bean and I took a little trip to Ireland this month.  We went for a wedding, but in between rented a car and road tripped the island as much as we could.  I will upload a few pics for you soon, but I almost don't want to lest I make a mad dash to the airport with a one way ticket in hand.  It was that amazing.  Until then, I will show you my obsessions for March.

{photo taken off the west coast of Ireland along the Ring of Kerry}
Pano for the iPhone.  This app replaced my crappy camera while Mr. Bean and I were in Ireland.  And I think it speaks for itself.  The views could not be properly captured on my little Canon Sure Shot (I desperately need an upgrade) so after a while I gave up and let Mr. Bean take over.  This gem was one of the many that Mr. Bean took with his iPhone along the Ring of Kerry.

{image via A Lovely Garden}
Daffodils.  Speaking of Ireland, there were daffodils everywhere. It was hard not to become obsessed with these as you walked by them.  Don't they just scream happiness??  I've been daydreaming about a planting these in my front yard.

{image via Amazon}
Adele's 21.  I bought this album just before I left for Ireland.  I wasn't disappointed.  I am sure you've guessed by now that I love music.  This album proves why.  Check out her cover of Lovesong.  I am very pleased (but also probably biased because anything that involves The Cure kind of rocks my world).

{image via Apple}
Jo-Ann's iPhone app.  Jo-Ann's has an iPhone app!!  My friend showed me the light with this life changer.  After the Jo-Ann's near me shut down a couple of years ago, I haven't really gone out of my way to go to the next closest one.  It's just too far out of my way.  I downloaded the app just to see what it was all about.  Total awesomeness.  That's what.  They allow you to download digital coupons that can be used in the store.  Or you can have the coupons texted to you.  Finally a sewing store that has jumped on the bandwagon with this fad we call technology.  Love it. 

{image via Little Willow's Thinking}
The Hunger Games Trilogy.  I am the first to admit that I judge a book by it's cover.  For some reason, I can't stand to pick up an ugly book.  Reading it doesn't excite me like a book with a beautiful cover does.  I wasn't too keen to read The Hunger Games when my friend picked it for March's book club pick simply because it didn't look interesting, but I read it anyway.  And I was addicted.  I was in Ireland looking at the most magnificent views I've ever seen in my life yet I couldn't wait to get back to my hotel room to finish reading this book.  I started Catching Fire last night.  I just hope I put it down long enough to feed Mr. Bean.  For his sake.  He'll need his energy to buy me the third book in the trilogy, Mockingjay

That's all for March!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I learned it from watching YouTube.

I figured I'd post a few things I learned and used while making my quilt in case anyone is interested.  It'll save you some time and energy.  
  • Pre-wash all of your fabric.  I know this is a quilter's mantra, but I was really surprised how much the fabric shrunk when I measured the before and after. I use Seventh Generation laundry detergent.
  • I basted my fabric like it was going out of style.  I never had a problem with the fabric pinching and clumping.  The only problem it created for me was that it messed up my flow so a lot of my lines are crooked at the points where I stopped to remove my safety pins.  Using safety pins to baste was new to me so that is probably just a problem for me because I am a beginner. 
  • I chose to use two different colored threads.  The pink layer has the orange thread and the orange layer has the pink thread.  That was just a design decision on my part.  My grandma would like me to note that I didn't buy quilting thread and would recommend using quilting thread.  I didn't have the right thread so she had to use a different type of stitch to make sure my binding would be durable enough to stand the test of time.  
  • On that note, I also didn't have the right type of needle for hand sewing the binding.  A hand sewing quilting needle is smaller and stronger than regular sewing needles.  Please feel free to laugh at me.  Or, check out this explanation. 
  • To make my binding, I used the method Angry Chicken describes in her book, Bend the Rules Sewing, for continuous bias tape.  This tutorial describes the same method.  It creates bias tape cut on the bias.  I opted for this style versus straight cut binding because I thought it would show off the polka dots the best. I cut my strips at 2.5" width. 
  • Quilt binding is different from bias tape.  I did not know that.  It is much easier to make and requires much less ironing to fold.  That may just be my opinion, but after spending hours making bias tape and then realizing it's not what I need - I could have used it, but it would have been too thin - quilt binding seems a heck of a lot easier to make.  This video was my aha moment.
  • I went with mitered corners on my quilt.  This two part video is a great explanation. This is the second part. 
  • I wanted my binding to look like one continuous strip.  I didn't want to see a fold where the strip ends/begins. To join the ends of my binding,  I followed this video.  I never quite got the hang of what she did in her video, so I ended up figuring it out myself by using that video and just knowing how to join two ends of bias tape.  This video describes what I am talking about. 
  • I am not sure how long the quilt took me.  I worked on it a little bit every day last week and then some on the weekend.  And then one hard core night on Monday.  And then of course, my Grandma worked on it one night. It sounds like a lot but it really wasn't.  Very quick. 
YouTube is a wonderful thing. So is Grandma.  When I have questions about how to do something, I usually check YouTube first.  When I have a problem, I call Grandma.  I call her The Sewing Hotline and the Sewing 911 Operator.  She laughs.

Overall, I really enjoyed making this quilt.  I am already thinking of making myself one for my bed.  Can't wait.  :)

Sew Perfect

I finally attempted my first quilt. :)  My friend just recently had a little girl so I pretty much made my mind up I would make a baby quilt.  And finish it.  This is key. 

Quilts have always intimidated me.  But ever since I went to Quilt Festival, I have been enamored with quilts and the idea that I will start making quilts and then one day become America's Next Top Quilter.  Then, I will write a book titled I'm Bringin' Quilting Back: Them Other Quilters Don't Know How to Quilt and be featured on Martha Stewart where I will start a quilting revolution that will spark a quilt-making frenzy across the nation and then, ultimately, around the world.  But, first things first....

Every time I go to Seattle, I pretty much flip when I see Amy Butler fabrics in a regular fabric store. Seattle fabric stores make sewing seem so much more hip than a Hancock fabric store here.  And they actually carry designers I recognize and usually just gawk at online during my lunch break.  Since I've got a good fabric stash going, I told myself I couldn't buy any fabric unless I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.  When I saw AB's Camel/Full Moon Polka Dot for the first time in person, I knew it was going to be the fabric that I would use to start building my ANTQ resume.

I love it.  It's not a quilt in the traditional sense.  But that's why I love it even more.  It's a lovely, simple, modern quilt.  I followed this tutorial, but I did cheat a bit.  I am a horrible blind stitch-er.  I don't have the patience for hand stitching.  I am a perfectionist and I much prefer the perfect stitch of a machine over my crooked ill-spaced stitches.  So I asked my mom to blind stitch it for me.  I told her to take her time.  I wanted it to be perfect.  When she took it home, my grandma decided she wanted to do it for me.  And that makes me so happy to type that. 

My grandmother has been sewing since she got married at 14.  She's now 84.  She was really just a kid when she got married.  My grandfather was always gone, so she says she would just be at home waiting.  She said one day her mother-in-law took pity on her and sat her down and taught her how to sew.  And she was hooked.  And she couldn't stop.  She says she sewed every day after that.  She would eventually become sort of the seamstress for the town.  She never made much money doing it.  People came by and promised to pay her next time but never could quite pay.  They'd offer her food as a barter.  They'd run errands for her if they were short.  When people asked "how much?" she'd often times say, "Just whatever you can pay" and take what they gave her.  One time a lady stopped by while I was visiting and my grandmother took $4 for altering 4 shirts.  When her customer left, I said, "Grandma, you need to ask for more money!  Four dollars isn't enough!  She's taking advantage of you!"  She just said, "Mija, I can't ask her for more than she can give.  It's so nice to just sit and visit.  I don't need much.  Besides, I enjoy doing it."

Two years ago, she had to leave her home and her hometown of 50+ years because she needed someone to care for her full time.  Naturally there will be an adjustment period, but the part that worried all of us was that she quit sewing.  She's had glaucoma for years and that never stopped her.  But, when my mom brought home my quilt to sew, my grandma looked at it and said, "Well, I guess you better get me my thimble."  And she started sewing.  My mom said she told my grandma she didn't have to finish it in one night.  But my grandma kept on sewing.  And she sewed until she finished it.  And my aunts, my mom and I all cried.  And I cried again when I saw all her little stitches this morning.  If you look at them closely, they aren't all perfect.  But yet they are. 

I talked to her last night to thank her for working on it.  She said, "Well, when are you going to make another one?  I need more work."  And then I cried again.

{My Grandma, taken with my mom's camera phone}
I have yet to meet the little girl who will be receiving this quilt, but I already need to thank her for what's she's done for my grandma in the short time she's been here.  Her name is Farhana.  In Arabic, it means happy or happiness.  What a perfect name.