Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A week of travelling and tiny quilts

Do I need help? I flew across the country to attend a two-day meeting for work and when I checked into my hotel I saw that it was only 7:30 so I hopped back in the car and drove about 30 minutes to G-Street Fabrics in Rockville MD. Never mind that I'd just spent all day flying and hadn't had a decent meal! I had an hour and a half to shop before they closed! I actually was on a mission. I wanted to find buckles for the purse I'm making with the leftover black and white skirt fabric. I thought for sure they'd have them but they didn't. So I looked through their pile of $2.77 fabrics instead. In the past, I've found that they mostly have cottons in this pile but this time I found some good deals. I found a yard of a buttermilk knit in a paisley pattern - it actually was 1 1/4 yards, so enough for a Jalie T-shirt. I also scored a 2-yard piece of a beige poorboy knit that had decent recovery. And the final catch of the day was nearly 7 yards of a sheer polyester to make valences for my kitchen windows. I could tell the green/gold/browns would go well in there and how could I pass up the price? It was also suitcase-friendly thin fabric. Tally: 10 yards

I flew home Friday and then spent the next two days in a quilting class...working on a miniature quilt. Yikes. The course, taught by Sally Collins, can be considered as a way to learn how to improve your accuracy at cutting and sewing on "normal" size quilts, since accuracy is key when dealing with 1/2 inch blocks, or one can take the class to learn how to make a very small quilt. I took it for both reasons. I've only taken one other quilt class and I've only made one pieced quilt - well, actually just the top. I have made two small "quilts" - the top blocks are appliqued using Heat 'n Bond. I don't really think of them as quilts. I also have a small paper piecing project begun. After two full days in Sally's class I have 270 tiny pieces cut and only 8 pieces sewn together. The first day was spent learning about color and composition. Twelve women used the same Circle of Stars pattern and turned out 12 very different looks simply with different color choices. My quilt is a greenish-brownish background with yellow stars and brown centers. It reminds me of sunflowers or black-eyed-susans. Not at all what I thought the fabric would create. I simply started with a set of 8 fat quarters that ranged from gray to brown to green and pulled a few fabrics from my stash. Most of my fabric stash is fashion fabric for garment sewing but I have been accumulating quilt fabric - at an all too rapid pace, I'm afraid. I mostly collect cat prints for a "some day" cat-themed quilt. I'm pleased with the color choices of this quilt and hope to someday actually finish it. Yeah. Right. Famous words of a novice quilter. I also stopped at Joann's that night and buoyed by the thrill of taking fabric colors and combining them into something special, I bought 30 fat-quarters (it "helped" that Joann's was having a sale: $1/fat quarter). I'm not counting the fat-quarters in my stash. I don't think I will count (or have every counted) quilting fabric in my stash because it's not used up in the same way. Quilt fabric is like an on-going resource - like paper or pens. Hey, it's my stash and I can make the rules.

Anyway, the class was really great and I highly recommend taking Sally's classes if you ever get the chance. My husband actually saw the announcement at the quilt store and suggested I take it (yes, he actually goes into fabric stores with me). I thought it was too expensive and out of my quilting league but my husband persuaded me. Yes, he persuaded me to take the class. No I did not slip him a drug and yes, he was my husband and not an alien. Another customer happened to have taken the class and was planning to take it again. She told me how good it was and I relented. I had my husband, the store owner and the customer pushing me to take this class! How could I not? I am really glad I did take it, even though I spent more money on notions during the class (needed just the right pins, scissors, thread, needles...) and of course the fat quarter buying spree at Joann's. Expensive class indeed. But it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I really do hope to finish the quilt...and make a few more.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Happiness is...

...putting in an invisible zipper without a second thought.

Zippers used to be a scary thing and invisible zippers were especially formidable. I often stopped sewing for the day when I got to the zipper. I prefer to start fresh when tackling difficult things. Well, last night I didn't hesitate when it came time for the zipper. It was late, but not that late so I forged ahead. I put on the plastic invisible zipper foot, basted my zipper into place and stiched. Done. Perfect. Big smiles.

I'm pleased how quickly I'm sewing up this skirt. Well, gosh, it ought to be easy by this time. I've sewn two almost identical skirts in the last two months. Yes, I decided to do the shorter skirt. The pattern of this fabric just didn't seem right for a longer skirt. I left out the horizontal seam, which also made the sewing go quicker. I have the side slit, waistband facing and hem to do and then I'm done. I should be able to finish it tonight!

My willpower is holding in resisting ordering from EOS and fabric.com. I actually think that the more I sew, the less I will buy. When I realize how long it takes to sew just a few yards of fabric, it really makes it clear that buying 30 yards of fabric a month will result in a huge stash. I shouldn't have had to put my rocket scientist degree to use to figure that out.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

All work, no sew

I've been very busy at work and thus have been too worn out to sew very much in the evenings - or even on the weekend! But there has been some sewing progress since my last post. I finished this purse - view A using the citrus print from my skirt and contrasting orange fabric. It was tedious! I'm preparing a review of it for patternreview so I'm not going to go into all of the details here - too much writing! The purse came out quite well, I think. I'll try to finish up the review and get a picture posted soon.

My dress form is still wearing the citrus print skirt because I have nothing to wear with it. Of course I have fabric and patterns to make tops, but I just haven't made any yet. I broke down and ordered an orange top and orange sandals from the Eddie Bauer on-line outlet store so that I can at least wear this outfit while it's still summer. I'll be very orangey!

I did cut out a muslin of a short sleeve top using this New Look pattern. I have plans to make it up in an orange and white striped fabric - tiny stripes, the skirt is quite bold enough, thank you. Having read that the pattern had a lot of ease, I decided to cut a smaller size. Unfortunately there's not enough ease for my hips and waist and I'm not really thrilled with how it fits overall. It fits the dress form better than me, which is not a good sign. I have gained weight. But I knew that. I just didn't want to be confronted with it.

Since Eddie Bauer came to my rescue for at least one top to wear with the citrus skirt, I've decided to take a slight detour from the blouse and work on another Manhattan skirt. I have a black and white floral print that looks rather "toile-ish". It's the same cotton/lycra woven fabric as the citrus print. I bought it at the same store in Mesa. I'm going on a business trip next week to attend a two-day review and I think the black and white skirt would be perfect to wear with a black top and black sandals. I just can't decide whether I want to make the shorter style that I made for the other two skirts, but eliminate the horizontal seams, or make the longer version, which has a vertical seam down the front and a slit in the back instead of the side. Whatever I decide, I need to get moving! Fortunately it's a very easy skirt to make.

Oh yeah. I bought more fabric. My husband bought some shirts from REI that he really liked and he asked me to make some for him. The fabric is the wickaway type and when Wazoodle.com announced a sale on Malden Mills knits, well, you just know I had to check it out. The prices were really good and the fabrics will work well for his shirts or tops for me. 17 yards. Ouch. The good news is that I am restraining from buying more fabric from EOS, despite Linda's recent acquisition of great fabrics - I'm tempted but so far I'm holding firm. I'm wavering a bit on fabric.com. They've offered me a discount since I'm in their group of frequent buyers. They have some silk that I'm considering but I'm going to try to stand firm with them too. I have to remind myself that although the silk would make a lovely dress, so will the purple rayon I bought from Stone Mountain and Daughter and the linen I bought from EOS, and the rayon I bought from fabric.com - and those are just the fabrics off the top of my head. I must resist. I must resist.