Tuesday, August 30, 2011

That's one pasty midwesterner...it just looks like three...

Boxer Rebellion took a giant step forward tonight...and Mr. Fabric Therapy is still speaking to me (bonus!).  Ola helped me with my skin tone dilemma earlier in the day.  Yep...that's his color, alright...(how does she know so much about my husband's skin tone?!?  Hmmm...).

He went from the drawing board to the freezer paper/glue stick prep stage tonight.  His head is about the size of a Barbie doll head...minus the hair (as if depicting him without his boxers wasn't humiliating enough...).

"It's ALIVE!!!"  Now I know what the creators of "South Park" must feel like, playing around with their little construction paper cut-outs of the TV show characters (he does sort of resemble Mr. Garrison...uh-oh, Mr. F. T.'s not going to appreciate THAT one...).  I need to settle on background fabric, hand applique and do the embroidery embellishments.

Oh, let the economy slide into oblivion...fun things are happening in the quilt cave...but for now, must - go - to - BED, zzzz.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, August 29, 2011

These boxers won't be brief...

No...this isn't Weasley, but it looks like him and his work.  I couldn't resist when I saw this "LOLCAT" on the Internet.  I hope everyone in the hurricane-affected area is OK after their long weekend of watching the weather.  I've lived in a hurricane zone, so my heart goes out to all of you dealing with high water, wind damage, loss of power, and all inconveniences related to these things.

Well, I fought the urge to title this post "I've had my hands in my husband's underwear..." or something like that.  I've been making some preliminary doodles concerning the appliques I want to do for "Boxer Rebellion" to blend with the blocks pieced from the actual fabric from the boxers.  I'm still not happy with arms and hands...Mr. Fabric Therapy thinks I'm spot on concerning his head, though (giggle).  I wish I had had nothing to do this weekend so I could have devoted FULL ATTENTION to this project.

After dissecting the shorts, I can tell you there is PLENTY of fabric to work with...if he had worn extra large undies, I might have had enough for a king-size quilt!  So, Tonya and Bonnie...I challenge you to use boxers in your projects along with the old shirts!  Now I need to finalize the applique drawings, make a decision about the pieced block design, and find just the right skin color fabric to match my pasty white mid west husband's skin tone.  Thank you for all your funny (and serious!) suggestions for which block(s) to use!  I really enjoyed reading your comments.

I have to say my husband has been a good sport.  If pictures of MY underwear had shown up on the Internet (even on an obscure quilt blog), there would have been a murder by now...he likes that my doodles have no facial features except for the glasses.  As he would say, "this could be ANY naked, balding, middle-aged geek..."

Meanwhile, my magic box containing my little hand applique basket blocks is almost empty...I'm stitching on the last prepped block!

I had to prepare some more...too many meetings coming up in the next couple of weeks, and I manage to stitch at least one a day when I am waiting to pick up the teenagers after school.  It was time to dip into my red reproduction fabrics.

I have about 15-16 freezer paper patterns that I work with.  I iron them on the FRONT of the fabric, cut them out leaving a small margin, and use the paper as a guide to glue the margin to the back with a glue stick and a pointy tool (I like my long, Clover stiletto).  (If you want more detail, there's a tutorial about glue stick applique on my top tool bar.)

After the gluing (and much pressing with my fingers), I peel off the freezer paper off to use again.  I use these over and over again until they won't stick any more when ironed to fabric.  Then I will chuck them and trace some more using my plastic template that I traced from the book "When the Cold Wind Blows" by Blackbird Designs.  My friend Susi of Susi's Quilts is making another quilt from this book...you should check it out!

Now to put the baskets together, then glue baste them to backgrounds...

I glue baste the handle to the basket first before going to the backgrounds.  I work right over my paper pattern.

I place the basket handle on the pattern first.  Then I place pattern weights on the handle to keep things from shifting around while I glue.  It takes very little Roxanne's Glue Baste to hold things...always think "dot-dot-not-a-lot."  Never glue right at the edge of a piece where you will be making stitches!

See my little dots?  Excess glue is messy, wasteful, and harder to soak out later after stitching the block.  It may not seem like a little dot will hold, but this works remarkably well (I hate stitching around pins!).

I carefully place the basket on the handle and press.  I use my beading tweezers to move pieces around because my fingers are a little clumsy.  I press just long enough to hold things together then carefully run the tweezers underneath it all to make sure I have not glued the whole mess to the paper.  It you are frugal with your glue, you won't have this problem.

Obviously, I have a little trimming to do (I'd rather err on having too much to tuck under than not enough...).

Now I can start stitching red baskets!  I was getting a little bored with the green ones.  I still have some more red fabrics to cut baskets from, but this will hold me for a little while.

FINALLY some quilt-related humor in the New Yorker...(is this the new rotary cutter??).

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Well, I've got my undies in a bunch...

...well, more accurately, I have my HUSBAND'S undies in a bunch.  If you read my last post, you know that my husband loves all quilts, but thinks the BEST and MOST AUTHENTIC quilts are made from old clothes and scraps.  So naturally, I decided that the new wall hanging he has been hinting about for his office area at work should be made from his old boxer shorts.  Ha!  We'll see how if he continues to hold this opinion after he is presented with the finished project!  I will call this effort "BOXER REBELLION."

This morning, after he left to report for federal jury duty in Detroit, I raided his underwear drawer (now, if they called him to serve, I'm going to feel really guilty...).  This action on my part should not alarm him or raise suspicion  because this was something I was going to do anyway...new underwear was bought and washed last week, and it is already in the drawer.  There is one red plaid pair in the laundry to add to this fairly boring pile of blue plaids and stripes. 

Some are pretty thin and most are a cotton/poly blend, but a frugal pioneering suburban woman collecting precious bits to make warm covers to get through the long winter can't be picky, can she?

So now I am trying to think of an appropriate block(s) to piece out of mens underwear.  Since I am making a wall hanging, I figure I'll make 6-inch pieced blocks.  I will sprinkle some funny applique blocks in the mix as well...more on those in a later post.

So, are there any blocks out there with funny names that YOU can think of?  Here's the list of possibilities so far...and yes, 1)  these are actual names of actual blocks, and 2)  my mind is in the gutter (I'm going straight to Hell...):

Jack in the Box
Devil's Claw
Gentleman's Fancy
Odd Fellow's Chain
Darting Bird
Hands All Around (I kid you not...giggle)
Old Maid's Ramble
Hen and Chicks
Bachelor's Puzzle
Ball and Chain
Delectable Mountains
Buzzard's Roost

Barb of Fun With Barb suggested I also make an accompanying seat cushion...HILARIOUS!  GREAT idea!

These are the kinds of twisted things I ponder when I chain-piece.  I have been going around and around with the remaining 81 log cabin blocks I am working on to go with the 39 finished ones.  They are about 2/3's of the way done...woo hoo!  

It is slow work because I didn't cut all 120 pieces of each size log before I started...I was too eager to start chain piecing with my new machine.

I got a couple of emails asking me why I cut all my log pieces to the right length before I piece.  Why don't I just sew on random length strips, then square up after pressing each addition.  Basically because I'm lazy, I guess.  Also, the right length strip keeps me honest.  If my 1/4 inch seam allowance is correct, I don't have to square up...my blocks will be the right size.

Before I sew a strip, I quickly check the width of the block at both ends to see if I need to adjust the position of my strip before sewing.

This may seam slow, but I use the extension table that came with my machine to lay out several blocks at a time, I check them all with the ruler, then drive those puppies through...bingo, bongo...

I still have the positive/negative chains on the design wall...I need to sew those blocks together as well. 

Must - fill - another - dozen - bobbins...

Pretty soon I will have two scrappy tops finished!!!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Positive/Negative Chains and Introducing Boxer rebellion...

More progress on my positive/negative scrap project!  I made big blocks from my little positive/negative units...now they are 4-patches made up of 2 positive and 2 negative units for each 9 inch (finished) block.  I have 48 of them, pinned on my horrid pink college blanket design wall, set 6 x 8 (should finish about 54 x 72). 

I may stop at this size and add a skinny stop border and a wider outer border.  This pretty much uses up all the delectable scrappiness I had cut up in this project box.  I fear it becoming a UFO if I try and wait to make more blocks...at least that is what I am feeling right now.  We'll see...they are really fun to make.

It has been a VERY satisfying project, but there are other scrappy things calling my name...like my green/neutral log cabin blocks.

But mostly, I'm yearning to do some applique...

Mr. Fabric Therapy likes this project...he says scrappy quilts look more like God intended quilts to be..."bed covers made from old clothes and unwanted bits of fabric."  Oh don't get me wrong - he is very supportive of my quilting - he is my biggest fan.  Last time he was on his soap box (and my eyes stopped rolling to the back of my head), I decided that I would give him EXACTLY what he wanted. 

I have started saving his old, cotton, printed boxer shorts to make him a little quilt some day...maybe a wall hanging that would hang prominently near his desk at work, LOL.  I wish I had thought of this sooner, as I have already thrown some faded, old ones away.  We'll see how he feels when it's HIS old undies, made into a quilt, hanging for all to see.  I already have a name for this project...BOXER REBELLION...

Now I hope I can scrape together enough pairs to make this...would you believe I saw some at a yard sale at the beginning of the summer?  The woman said she was going to use proceeds from the sale to buy her husband new underwear.  I hope the poor man isn't "going commando" in the mean time...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meeting the challenge...and without chocolate...

I'm finally caught up on my Bee Balm bee blocks.  Ya hoo!  I'm not sure I followed Beebee's instructions to the letter, but after making the requested pink crazy-pieced hearts for her red background, I hit a creative wall.  (This block is 6 x 12 inches.)

I still had the two light pink backgrounds that she sent for us to fill, and the larger one seemed so inviting for some original applique doodling.  Here's what I came up with (this block is 12 inches square).

I had drafted a linked hearts applique pattern years ago for a round robin quilt exchange.  That particular month I was working on someone's quilt who had asked for heart blocks in reds, oranges and pinks.  I came up with the following (Hey Jean, if you are out there somewhere, did you put your quilt together?  I'd love to see it...).  

Anyway, it was fun taking the original idea beyond linear and coming up with something for a large square block.  It was more satisfying working on a circular, non-linear block with the hearts because overlapping the links was less awkward and the effect more noticeable.  I will be doing this block again!

For the third block, I made another version of my original "flutter by" block using bright red bits.  The whole block is 6 inches square.  I love making these happy little creatures!  They are so satisfying...

This morning when I stepped on the scale, it revealed that I am now over the 60 pounds lost mark.  I've been at this new life dance since May 3, so I guess that is almost 4 months.  I'm NOW on friendly speaking terms with the scale again and not using the 4-letter words I used all LAST week when I was on another dreaded plateau.  I think my body is still trying to determine if I am really serious about the weight loss thing this time, or if it is a passing fancy, soon to be abandoned.  I can't quit weighing myself, entirely (because there is a little food demon inside me that lies to me), but it does point out my pathetic need for validation.  Why can't it be enough that I am putting the right stuff in, and in smaller amounts?

There are all kinds of adjustments that come with weight loss and life changes...I've felt completely empty for the last 2-3 weeks, emotionally.  I think that is why I was feeling the need to work with my exploding scrap bins...just mindless, repetitive work that kept me from reaching for food.  I wasn't feeling very creative.  I wasn't wanting to face the overdue bee blocks.  Now that I finished them, they feel like a little victory, and they seemed to re-spark my creativity.  Thanks, Beebee!

I also managed to work some more on my positive/negative scrap blocks.  They have gone from this...

...to this...

I'm starting to assemble them into quartets, which makes a 9 inch (finished) block.  Then there were these...

This project is on temporary hold until I cut just a few more strips to the right length...then I can zoom toward chain-piecing the last of the 120 log cabin blocks needed for the quilt.  I should have waited to start piecing until after I had everything cut, which is why I am experiencing "Piecus Interruptus."

As my daughter just started school last week, I have managed to knock out a few more hand-appliqued baskets (a la Blackbird Designs) as I wait to pick her and her friends up in the afternoon.  (Notice Weasley's feet...he was actually waiting for me to snap the picture before he prissed across the blocks...)

Riley is going to Washtenaw International High School, the new International Baccalaureate program high school that just opened in our county.  It is very exciting for all of us, but I am learning how spoiled I became having busing through the 8th grade...I am now the afternoon "bus driver."  LOL!

My little magic box is going to get a workout this year...I can't believe that my daughter has started 9th grade!

Our internet has been acting up the last couple of days...I hope it is not a trend!  Just 36 hours without the internet seemed very difficult for all three of us.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pieceful easy feeling...

I finally got to sit down and continue my chain-piecing binge Sunday afternoon (I was chain-piecing, my new little machine was practically chain-SMOKIN', it was working so hard!).  Remember these from my last post?

I was able to add 14 more completed ones, so now I am up to 39 finished out of my goal of 120 of these 9.5 inch little gems.  Ya-hoo!  This anniversary present for my husband is beginning to materialize.

(I also have another 48 about half-way done...)

I really need to improve the lighting down in the quilt cave...nothing is photographing very well these days.  It's all darker and muddier than reality. 

Usually when I crop strips in anticipation of a log cabin quilt, I get all my strips ready before I start piecing.  This time, I was so excited about driving my new machine, I started prematurely.  I am experiencing "piecus interruptus," which is annoying.  So I am still cropping strips as I go...not as efficient!  I probably would have been finished chain-piecing the 120 blocks by now if I weren't stopping to cut and count all the time.

I'm still adding to the piles in the project box...I am completely out of a few sizes...

Mr. Fabric Therapy was away in Chicago all week for work, so I decided to clean out the basement while he was gone. The quilt cave area of the basement is pretty neat and organized, but I share the cave with the other two people in my house...for now (evil laugh inserted here...).  Every time my husband and daughter are gone for any length of time, they come back and ALMOST think they notice a change...the key to taking over other people's space is to do it very slowly...over time...almost enough to notice, but not quite.  LOL

I can't do anything about some of the stuff down there...the laundry, the furnace, the hot water heater, the sump pump, the kitty litter box, 2 of the 3 household computers, exercise equipment, a recliner, and some general storage.  I'm ALWAYS trying to make more room in the general storage category...part of my OCD, I guess.

What started all this basement attention was a quick trip to U of M property disposition looking for used 2-drawer filing cabinets for pattern storage under my quilt book shelves.  They are only $10 and I usually strike gold when I go (I also look for nice second hand office chairs...).  This time they only had one filing cabinet of the short variety.  I thought, no problem.  I'd take it home and shove it under my current arrangement...I love being organized, but on a very tiny budget.  Some day, it would be fun to have unlimited funds to spend on a space and nice fixtures, but for now I am a cave dweller.

Anyway (from the bottom up), I start with 2-drawer filing cabinets, place sturdy used doors across them as a table, then add my IKEA storage units on top to hold my quilt books.  It sounds like a bit of a house of cards, but it is really quite sturdy.  I do it this way to protect my quilt library from the possibility of a wet basement, and NOTHING is ever on a low shelf.

The filing cabinets contain hanging files that hold patterns and projects from magazines and such.  The sheet pocket protectors can also hold templates, etc.  This system really works for me.

Because I've grown this storage system over time, none of my short filing cabinets are the SAME HEIGHT.  I was certain this new one would just shove under the existing set up.

Wrong.  It was the tallest so far, which meant EVERYTHING had to be taken apart and the "tables" had to be leveled (made the same height) all over again...all the books had to come out of cubicles...EVERYTHING!  Oy!  What a job!  I should have taken a picture of THAT, but I was too annoyed at the time to see how hilarious the situation really was.  But it is almost all back together now, thank GOD!

I took a break from the basement and the log cabins to add to my Positive/Negative project box as well.  I have about 180 of these 4.5 inch blocks finished and squared up now.  I have enough to start piecing them together in quartets to make 9-inch blocks (finished).  These are such a satisfying scrap buster!

My daughter starts school tomorrow, so maybe the crazy summer is finally over.  I want to wrap up the scrap busting and get back into some intense hand applique projects.  Christmas is coming (gulp) and it is time to "get 'er done!"

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)