Quilt block for the librarian

Just as a botanist/quilter such as myself should have a tree quilt, it stands that a librarian/quilter should have a bookcase quilt.  Manda realized this and requested bookcase blocks from her hive members in Bee a {modern} swapper.  I’m not in Manda’s hive, however, she posted a thread requesting a one-for-one exchange.  So, I make her a bookcase block, she makes me a tree block.  Win-win.

While I thought I had measured correctly, I was wrong.  Boo hoo.  I added a strip of the background fabric to the top to compensate.

The books are various sizes and styles, made from my scrap bin, so this was nice scrap buster project.  The book on the left and the one on the right were once pants.  How’s that for up-cycling?!

This particular shelf of the bookcase is decorated with a flower vase that has two flower with disproportionately skinny stems.  Call it “creative license.”  A little wonder under and they were ready to go!  Perhaps I should have picked some flowers with fewer petals to go ’round, but they did turn out well.

Be Free Bees May addition + the process pledge

For the month of May in my Free Form Robin, I’m working on Bernie‘s quilt.

Unlike Thea’s quilt in April, when I really struggled to find some inspiration for my addition (never fear, I’m really happy with how it turned out), I had ideas about this one before I even had it in my hands.  I had seen photos of it in our Flickr group and had already begun thinking about what I could add.

This is how the project looked when it arrived at my door.

I wanted to mimic that horseshoe shape across the entire end of the piece, but face it in the opposite direction from the one that is already there.  And I wanted to incorporate something similar to that pieces star that Bernie used for her starter piece.

And here is where things get tricky.  If your eyes start to glaze over when I talk about geometry, just skip down past the next photo!  The original piece is an octagon, and thus the angles are 135°.  However, because of the way the additions were incorporated beyond the original octagon, it made the most sense to add a piece that had just 3 sides (rather than the 4 that would be 1/2 of the octagon).  This meant that the center point of my addition was not an equal distance from all the edges.  In order to fill the space in a manner that makes the points look cohesive, each point had to be individually measured and drawn.  Phew!

I started by drawing one half of my shape.  When I paper piece this, I will cut this portion into four segments.

I’ve already pulled fabric and labeled where each will go.  It like the quilting version of color-by-number but with fabric instead of colors!

The other side mirrors the first.  It was easier to do this than to individually draw each of the points on the other side.  I taped my original drawing to a window, face down, and then taped another pieces of freezer paper on top and traced.

Here is the quilt with my paper addition.

I know it’s tough to picture without the colors, but the whole quilt will look something like this when my addition is complete.

These are the fabrics I’m planning to use.  The background is Kona Ash, which is a very light gray.  Bernie had included some of her original white-on-white batik with the quilt, but it was put to good use in the previous addition, and I didn’t think there would be enough left for my purposes.  A solid white was too much of a start contrast, so I settled on this gray.  The others are all batiks to keep with the original fabrics, as well as the additions.  The green and yellow were included from the addition of the first horseshoe border and the others are mine that I already had.

I’m really looking forward to completing this.

Also, since I’ve already posted several times about the process I go through when creating, I decided it’s high time I take the process pledge!

I, Em, at Sewing by Moonlight, pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear.   I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there.

Works in Progress Wednesday

Time for an update on what we’ve done around here this week!  For more inspiration, head on over to Freshly Pieced to see what others have been working on.

Here’s the “to do” list from last week:

1.  Three mei tais.  No progress.  After finishing two mei tais last week, I put them aside for this past week.

2.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.  Some progress.  Actually, a lot of progress.  No actually sewing progress, but I’ve decided what I’m going to do, created a paper piecing template and pulled fabrics.  I hope to post about that process in the next day or two.
3.  Tote bags.  No progress.  I think I have a mental hurdle to get around in terms of producing things to sell.  Must do some self-analysis and figure this out.

4.  Gathered clutches.  Minimal progress.  I’m happy I made something happen here, but it’s hardly worth posting about.  I completed wrist straps for three clutches and added a pocket to the interior lining piece of two.
5.  Double staircase block in yellow-orange-green.  DONE!  

This finish actually surprises me as this block wasn’t really in the forefront of my mind.  However, Ann of A Girl in Paradise posted on Twitter that she was looking for people to share a quilt block tutorial for a series she’s doing on her blog called Building Blocks with Friends.  Since Double Staircase is an original, designed-by-me block and I have not yet published a tutorial, it was perfect for this series.  I believe my date to guest on her blog is Monday, May 28th.

But now I’ve added an item to The List because I want to finish a baby quilt made of this block using some of the color wheel charm squares before I send the tutorial to Ann.  It’s perfect, actually.  This is just the inspiration I need to put together my idea of combining Double Staircase with the rainbow charms.  In fact, I already mentioned that I wanted to do that.  Go look.  It’s right there in the 4th paragraph!
6.  Design and order woven labels.  No progress.

7.  Warm colors dresden plate: what to do with this?  No progress.
8.  Rainbow/color wheel dresden wall hanging.  No progress.

In fact, I’m officially moving those two dresden plates off The List to the back burner until something inspires me to create something with them.

9.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks

9a.  Apple core block
9b.  Equilateral triangle block

10.   Kim’s May blocks for Bee a {modern} swapper.  DONE!  I think I finished them the day after I posted The List last week and then put them in the mail.  Kim already has them.  I can’t wait to see the quilt she makes with her bee blocks!
11.  Bookcase block for Manda.  DONE!  So cute.  I really enjoyed making this block, and I’m tempted to do one more.
 And hey!  Here’s something that never happens: I added an item to the “to do” list and crossed it off within the week, so you never saw it here.  Imagine that!  Less than a week to conceptualize a project, create it, and finish it!  Wow!  I decided to make a couple last minute Mother’s Day gifts for my mom and mother-in-law.  I’ll tell you more after they’ve received them.

 Here’s what I’ve got on The List now:

1.  Three mei tais.

1a.  for Emily
1b.  for Kim
1c.  for Amanda

2.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.
3.  Tote bags
4.  Gathered clutches
5.  Design and order woven labels.
6.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks

6a.  Apple core block
6b.  Equilateral triangle block
6c.  Cactus flower block

7.  Double staircase rainbow baby quilt

Back burner:
*Warm colors dresden plate: what to do with this?
*Rainbow/color wheel dresden wall hanging.

Looks like my list got a lot shorter than it actually did, since I took those two items off that were not finishes, but rather just not priorities right now.

On being a better blogger

I started this blog in January, just four short months ago, as place to put all my sewing endeavors, projects, ideas, processes, et cetera, et cetera.  It’s sort of like a digital portfolio of my creative medium of choice.

Of course, if I just wanted a digital portfolio, I could simply document my projects photographically and save the digital files.  Part (a big part) of why I want to put my art online is the community aspect.  With a blog, I have the opportunity for interaction, conversation, sharing of ideas.  I don’t often get to sit in the same room and sew with friends in real life or ask someone in person what she thinks about a certain project or what direction I should go.  I want to be able to learn from those who have been doing this longer than me or who have a different perspective just as much as I would like to inspire and teach with my own projects, ideas and experience.

I was thrilled to have a real life sewing play date with Katie of swimbikequilt, Amy of amylouwhosews, and Kim of mygogolife.

That brings me to this: if I want to be part of a community, I need to have something valid/interesting/useful to contribute.  I want this blog to provide content that inspires.  Inspires someone to comment, “Hey, nice to see what you’ve been up to/great idea/lovely finish/better luck next time/did you think about x?”; inspires a project idea in someone else; inspires you to try something new, or a new take on something old.  In order to do that, this blog space needs to hold information that people actually want to read and comment on!

I’m pretty confident in my ability with a sewing machine.  As a writer/blogger?  Um … notsomuch!  I’m trying to be proactive about making my blog better, though; I signed up for an online class!

Content Brew is presented by Melissa, the author of MomComm, a blog about helping bloggers be better bloggers.  Who knew!  Anyway.  The course lasts 7 days and promises to give me lots of ideas about brainstorming new/interesting topics to write about in this space.  There’s going to be homework.  Imagine that!  It’s been awhile.

But since I’m thinking about it right now, I’m interested to know what you’re looking for on a blog like this.  What would you like to see me write about?  Do you want to read about projects I’ve finished?  The process I work through to complete a project?  Supplies and fabric I’m using?  Tutorials?  A look into what’s in the works in the sewing room?  Where I’m finding inspiration?    What else?

The welcome email for Content Brew is expected Friday; course starts Monday.  I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll let you know how it’s going next week.

So excited to share: my business cards!

Last week, a small heavy box arrived in the mail.  I didn’t immediately recognize the return address and I couldn’t remember what I had ordered that would come in such a package.

I opened it up before I even got home and was so excited to discover my business cards!  I know it seems like a small thing, and a business card is, literally, a small thing, but I feel like these tiny rectangles of card stock are just one step further down the path to becoming a “real” business.  We’re getting there.

There they are.  My logo.  My company.  My name on the card.

At the suggestion of my friend, Maddie, one side features my logo owl all on her own.  (Isn’t she cute?)
 The other side is the lovely shade of blue that the owl sports, along with all the pertinent information for an online business.   Want one?

Giraffeliqué mei tai

What, you may ask, is a giraffeliqué??  And my answer is this:

Giraffe.  Appliqué.  Get it?

This cute little guy resides on the sleeping hood of a mei tai, requested by my friend Hilary.  The main print is Michael Miller giraffe garden gray and the sleeping hood and reverse of the carrier are a white with little silver pinstripes.  The silver pinstripes look great with the gray canvas I used for the straps of this carrier.

I’m a little bit in love with this little giraffe, peeking up over the waist band.

Here is a better view of the Michael Miller Giraffe Garden print.

The body of the carrier has a double layer of top stitching and coordinates nicely with both the strap fabric and the pinstripes.  If you look closely, you can see the silver pinstripes are metallic and result in just a tiny bit of sparkle.

Hilary and her husband thought that all the bright colors in the giraffe print would be balanced nicely by solid white and I suggested they take a look at this pinstripe fabric, which they eventually selected.  It works well on the sleeping hood and gives a slightly more formal option for carrying a little one than those darling giraffes if the situation requires.


Sew and Tell Friday: Patriotic Wonky Stars

It’s Sew and Tell day!  Go over to Amy’s blog and share what you’ve been sewing this week!

I was originally going to tell you about the giraffe mei tai that I mentioned I had finished.  But then, I saw that Kim is hosting Sew and Tell this week, and well, the finish I’m about to show you is for Kim.  It seemed fitting that I should show it off for the Sew and Tell link party.

Kim is the queen bee for the month of May in my Bee a {modern} Swapper flickr group.  She requested 18-inch wonky star blocks that she’s planning to use make a quilt (or more, if she has enough blocks) for Soldier’s Angels.  While each member of our group is only required to make 2 blocks, since this is for a good cause, I made up a couple more.

The advantage of this larger 18-inch block (rather than the more standard 12-inch quilt block) is that I have a full 6-inch in the center to play with so rather than use a single cut of fabric, I had some fun in there.

Patchwork center:

Pinwheel center:

Wonky star within a wonky star.  I think this one is my favorite.

Quarter square triangles.  I like that the solids in the center make a sub-pattern of a pinwheel on point.

Which one do you like the best?

First Quarter 4×5 Bee Blocks: all together now

The first quarter of 2012 in the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee was my second round in the bee.  It was my first round with these colors, though, since I decided that *I* wanted to do the work on my yellow and grays color scheme that I requested for the first time I joined this bee.

New colors are tangerine, lime, and lemon yellow on a gray background.  How fresh and citrus-y (that’s a word right?)!  When I have enough blocks in this color scheme, my plan is to make a sampler quilt that will be our family’s picnic blanket.  There will be a pocket on the back so the quilt will all tuck inside.  Maybe I’ll add a handle for ease of carrying.

Sarah made this triple wonky star block from the 99 Modern Block book.  (side note: I currently have this book checked out from our local library, and I’m really enjoying looking at all the creativity within its pages.)  It is very similar to what I had in my own head before I decided to create my double staircase block.

This is the second quarter I was in the same group with Pam, and this time around, she also chose to make a block from the aforementioned 99 Modern Blocks book (I only know this because I have recently looked through the book and recognized it!).

Jess tackled this super cool ring of wedges block.  No idea what it’s called, but I love how it turned out!

The x and + block came from Jenn.  I love how there’s a pattern-within-the-pattern of this block.  I bet it would look super cool as a whole quilt!

And the hexies came from Julie.  I love the saturated colors she chose and the hexagons themselves are really a unique element to the block.

Groups for the second quarter post tomorrow (today, actually, since it’s after midnight).  They’re due to be mailed June 15th, and then our fearless leader is taking the summer off from organizing the bee.  That schedule works just fine with me!

Works in Progress Wednesday: Wow! The list got shorter!

I actually achieved some finishes this week and I haven’t added anything new to the list.  You know what that means: the “to do” list actually got shorter this week.  Wow!

Here’s the “to do” list from last week:

1.  Five mei tais.  GREAT progress.  I finished TWO mei tais this week.  I already told you about the one with the Tina Givens Opal Owl print.  I also finished up a giraffe print one for my friend Hilary.  It has a totally adorable giraffe appliqué (giraffeliqué!  Ha!) on the sleeping hood.  I’ll show you the whole thing in the next couple days.
 2.  Mail Thea’s Be Free Bees quilt.  DONE!  And I forgot that I AM adding one thing to the “to do” list.  I received the Be Free Bees quilt that I will be working on for May.  I’ve already started planning.

3.  Curtain tie backs.  DONE.  Like I mentioned, it was a fairly straight forward project, I just had to make it a priority.  I ended up making a tutorial for the tie backs, so maybe someone else will get some use out of that little project.
 4.  Tote bags.  No progress.  These bags just can’t seem to make it to the top of the list!!

5.  Gathered clutches.  Minimal progress.  I’ve got all the pieces cut out for three of them.  I hope to have a few finished to show you next week!  We’ll see how it plays out, I do have mei tais to work on, and they take up considerable time.

6.  Double staircase block in yellow-orange-green.  I’d love to do another tutorial.  No progress.  

7.  Start the process of ordering woven labels for my products.  Progress-ish.  I’ve been playing around with the label design in Photoshop, and I’m pretty sure I know where I will order them from.

8.  Warm colors dresden plate.  No progress.  I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with this little guy.  Make a wall hanging?  Put it on a bag?  Center piece of a baby quilt?  What do you think?

9.  Rainbow/color wheel dresden wall hanging.  No progress.  No surprise.  This is a project specifically for me and I tend to not put things directly for me (it’s all for me, in a way, since I love the process) on the back burner, unless something motivates me to finish them.  (like the winter table runner and the Festival of Half Square Triangles.)

10.  I realized that I was several weeks behind on the Skill Builder Sampler blocks.  I have three to complete in order to catch up again.

10a.  tumbler block: DONE.
10b. apple core block
10c. equilateral triangles block

11.  Kim‘s May blocks for the Bee a {modern} swapper group.  Some progress.  Actually, quite a bit of progress.  I only have to do 2, but Kim is using them to make quilts for Soldier’s Angels, and since it for such a good cause, I figured I send her a couple extras.  Plus, they’re quite fun to make!  Three are finished, and one more is in the works.

 12.  Book case block for Manda.  No progress.  I have the design, which I showed you last week, but I needed Kona white to really do anything with it.  That’s here now, so perhaps I’ll find some time to work on this later this week.

That leaves the “To Do” list looking like this:

1.  Three mei tais.
2.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.
3.  Tote bags
4.  Gathered clutches
5.  Double staircase block in yellow-orange-green.
6.  Design and order woven labels.
7.  Warm colors dresden plate: what to do with this?
8.  Rainbow/color wheel dresden wall hanging.
9.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks

9a.  Apple core block
9b.  Equilateral triangle block

10.   Kim’s May blocks for Bee a {modern} swapper
11.  Bookcase block for Manda.

Hmm, I guess my list is really only one item shorter than last week, but it feels like I accomplished a lot because of those two mei tai finishes, plus all the progress on Kim’s blocks.  Those finishes just didn’t result in anything being actually crossed off the list (perhaps I should make each mei tai a separate item!).

All my life I’ve been searching for trees such as these

Aren’t they just wonderful?!

These are my blocks from the ladies in my group in Bee a {modern} swapper on Flickr.  Every other month throughout the year, one member of the group is designated the “queen bee” and she gets to request a quilt block of her choice from the other five group members, each of whom make 2 blocks for the queen bee.

I was first up, in March, and what sort of block do you think a botanist-turned-wanna-be-quilter would choose?  A tree block, of course!  I had posted a tree block mosaic for inspiration and these ladies really came through!

I originally thought that I would put all these blocks together in some way and make a fun wall hanging.  Now that I see them all together, though, I really want to make a few more trees and turn them into a quilt, something I snuggle and love and touch every day.  Maybe not a large quilt, lap sized would be fine, I think, but still, an actual tree quilt (it will be awesome).

Kim‘s were the first trees I received.  They are big, bright, and full of so many different wonderful fabrics!  Each leaf is individually appliquéd on the block, along with the tree trunks.

Trees are tough to do in fabric form what with their odd shapes and what not.  Deb used a more traditional piecing method (rather and appliqué) on these lovelies.  I think the one with the stack of different greens is beyond fabulous.

These trees from Ann are so fresh and tropical they make me want to grab a fruity rum drink, kick off my shoes, and put my feet up!  The oranges are 3-dimentional fabric yo-yos.  So fun!

When the month of March came to a close, our group realized that 2 of our original members wouldn’t be able to participate, but Tiffany and Kelleigh filled the voids and got these trees out to me quick-like.

Tiffany‘s trees move away from a traditional “real tree” look, which I indicated in my instructions was more than okay.  Her blocks are so fantastically vibrant, you can’t help but love them.  The three trees together remind me of truffula trees (The Lorax is a favorite book around here) and I adore the hammock because it looks so comfy and reminds me of a smile when I look at the block.

I wish you could better see the great free motion details Kelleigh added to her trees.  I love that I get to have cherry blossoms in fabric form all year round and I can’t express how much I love the little girl on the swing.

It might have something to do with the fact that those blond braids remind me of a certain other little girl …