Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gosford Park

My sweetie had yesterday off. We watched Gosford Park for the fourth time. I really enjoy the movie and yet, even after so many viewings, I still have a hard time remembering who all the people are and how they relate to one another. Maybe that's why it's a film that can sustain repeated viewings. That and it's an English mystery - one of my favorite genres.

I've still been quilting on Space 4 Rent and actually have an entire block done - I've been skipping around a lot, not just focusing in on one area. I haven't been doing much sewing - one block a day, tho that does add up in the end.

I managed to pry myself out of the house yesterday to help my friend decide on a binding for her New York Beauty quilt and I'm leaving soon for lunch and quilting bee. Two days in a row of socializing - how about that. Sky is really overcast and the heat is on in the apartment, but I bet it's not all that cold outside. Yesterday I wore a sweater and I sure didn't need it.

wonky house

Yesterday's house was pretty boring, in my mind anyway. I like my houses a bit wilder. All it takes is one change. Today's door slants inwards at the sides and the top slopes diagonally. Otherwise, I'm pretty much going to build the house in the same manner as yesterday, it's just that the workmen are tipsy.

One trick I used on this house was to sew the window onto the end of a strip - that way I know that section isn't going to be too short.

After sewing the window section on, I trimmed everything and then decided I didn't want quite so much slant to the sides of the house, so I straightened them up a bit. I like how that changes the look of the window - it's not going to be square anymore.

Now it would be perfectly acceptable to just sew sky strips onto the side like so (this is how I would have made it a few years ago):

But instead I'm going to angle the side of the sky piece so that I won't end up with bias along the edge of the block.

I cut out an oversized roof with steeper sides for this house, but completely forgot to take a picture of it. I then cut out a big rectangle of sky, just like I did for the "normal" house. But I want to keep the angle on the top of this house AND not worry about bias all along the top of the block so I'm going to angle the bottom of the sky so that it matches the house section. I just sliced along here.

I then cut around the roof, just like with the first house. And made a slice for the chimney. But the wonky house needs a funkier chimney, so I used an angled chimney fabric strip AND sewed it to the end of a wider sky strip. After sewing that in, I trimmed it up.

And then layed the chimney section over the sky section and sliced at an angle through both sections.

That's what that looks like sewn back together. The chimney is actually subtler than I was expecting - guess I didn't angle it as much as I should/could have. You'll notice that today the smaller sky section was sewn on so that there's extra sky peaking out on top. Just gonna slice that sky off even with the roof.

And then sew the big chimney section sky onto the roof.

I've got enough sky and roof that I can move my house section more to the left or the right. Too much to the right might mean I lose a bit of that roof corner, but that would be okay. I could also decide at this stage that this roof is just way too big and could slice an inch or so off the bottom of this top section - that would make it smaller.

And here it all is sewn together. For now I'll leave the sky extra big, so I can angle one or both sides of the block if I choose to.

I know this wonkier kind of house isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly fun to play around with.

Monday, January 30, 2006


I finished watching Angel Season Five yesterday. I was blubbering like a big giant baby. Can't believe that's it - there'll never be any more. At least it went out on a high point - can't say I thought much of Buffy Season Seven. Next up is The Shield Season Three. I so love DVDs.

Here's how to improvisationally piece a house. No templates, no stress.

Cut a couple different widths of your house material (I've got way more than that cut, but you don't have to) with the max width approximately 1.5". These don't need to be long strips.

Next cut out a rectangle for a door and a square for a window.

Sew some house fabric to the side of the door and above the window.

Okay, more house fabric on the other side of the door and below the window.

And some fabric above the door:

Attach the two units together.

Trim it even and add house fabric to the side.

Add some sky fabric to either side of the house.

This is a quicky roof. Lay the bottom of the house on top of the roof fabric, leaving a corner of the roof sticking out. You want about an inch of roofing on either side of the house. Slice the roof triangle off.

I shaved the sides of the roof down a tiny bit so that I didn't have such a strong 90 degree angle.

The next step is to cut out a rectangle of sky fabric. It needs to stick out about an inch farther on either side from the edges of the house block. And it needs to be a couple of inches higher than the peak of the roof.

Lay your ruler on top of the roof and slice all the way across the sky rectangle. Set it aside.
Then cut the other side in the same manner.

You should now have two pieces of sky vaguely shaped like this (plus a sky triangle that you can use as a roof on a different house):

Now make a slice thru the bigger triangle for a chimney.

Pick out a rectangle or square for your chimney and sew it to the end of a sky strip. This works much easier if you leave the strip long.

Attach the chimney strip to the larger bit of sky.

Trim it even and then add the smaller triangle.

Meanwhile, attach the roof the other side of the sky.

Trim the excess sky off (this will either be at the top or bottom of the roof, depending on how you added the roof. Either works).

Then sew the chimney section of sky onto the roof section. Trim even. This is terrible to admit, but I got so carried away with sewing, that I forgot to take a picture of the roof with both sides of the sky added. D'oh. Anyway, you can figure that part out.

Sew the sky section onto the bottom house section, trim it up, and you should have something along the line of this:

This is just the most basic of houses. There are so many different variations. You can change the number of windows, the side of the house they're on, etc.

One of my favorite ways to build a house is to take a look at a house block that I like and try to follow the blueprint. My house never looks the same as the original, but it gives me a direction to go in. I've got loads of examples of house blocks in both my blog and my pages on Quiltville. Take a look.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Here's a bad photo of an okay quilt. This is "Bloom," a quilt in which asterisks become flowers.

I made asterisks in different sizes, as well as some free-pieced stems and petals. I quilted it with a thick rayon metallic that was a b*$% to use with all the fraying. This was the second, and last, time I quilted with this wavy design.

I had intended to sew buttons in the centers of the flowers, but the quilt rejected them. So I used embroidery floss instead. If I'd made this a few years later I might have tried loads of different beads, but this was made before I started the beadiness. I think the buttons idea would work on a different kind of fabric, such as plaids.

A friend loaned me season 5 of Angel. I'd missed a few when I started out watching it on tv and then we had to go to London for my knee and that completely blew that. So I was able to pick up the ones I missed and then start back up again in the middle of the season. Woohoo. Some unexpected developments. I was so sucked in I stayed up until 2am last night watching. Completely unproductively watching - there was no quilting involved. Can't wait to start watching again today, but look, I posted first.

Went out to dinner with friends last night to a restaurant that serves pork. Pork. I had the smoked grilled pork chop - mmmm. They (my friends, not the pork chops) filled me in on how many people have gotten the horrible flu/virus nastiness that is spreading around and which my hubby and I so far have managed to not get (knock on wood). I knew there was a reason I was spending so much time locked away in my apartment.

Friday, January 27, 2006

quilt top finished - sort of

I sewed the border onto the Fruit Punch quilt today. Decided I liked the sparkly cherry red fabric with purple bits so I was gonna use it darn it. Didn't use the purply inner border cuz the top O is that fabric and it would have disappeared, which I wasn't in the mood for.

I sewed the border on extra large, so now I can play around with how I want to cut it down. Even like up above?

I love Gwen's lopsided borders - hers always seem so balanced and off-center at the same time. I haven't had nearly the luck playing around with it. But am trying it out on Picasa, before I actually slice into it. Seems like it should work well with this quilt because it already goes from small in one corner to much larger down in another.

Extra border fabric on the top and left side:

Extra border on the lower and right sides:

I also managed to sew another couple of endearments for the current quilt, "Charmed" was on again, and I got to rub a lot on my sweet Pokey's belly. Life is good.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In Defense of Pooh

Interesting feedback on my Terms of Endearment quilt - an objection to the nickname Pooh? It's cute and sweet. You have to think of the silly old bear Winnie, not children's pottiness. It's a great nickname. But see, that just makes this quilt that much more about "us" and not everybody.

I've gotten a little bit more done.

I'm worrying about the really strong red in here - the one I used in two different heart blocks. But I gotta keep working with it, not ready to quit yet. Not that I would quit making this quilt, but quit using that red and toss out those blocks.

I actually left my apartment two days in a row. I know, that shouldn't be such a big deal, but I've just gotten terrible about cozying up with my kitties and staying put. Anyway, got myself three more boxes of English Breakfast Tea - I was out and craving it badly. Plus I decided to go wild and crazy and give money to a friend to buy silk for me in Dubai. She says the prices are really good there. So I gave her an idea of what colors I wanted - my usuals as well as a meter of black. Have an idea of making some kind of gorgeous wall-hanging with it in those amishy colors. Mmmm.

Sun is out today and it's gorgeous - there are even fluffy white clouds in a blue sky. Guess we're lucky to be down in the 'burbs cuz I've heard the air pollution has been atrocious downtown recently. It's even fairly warm out there. It's entirely possible winter is over - it was by this time last year.

Amazingly enough, I got to watch Charmed this morning. So now I just have to remember to check every single day, but esp on Thursdays and maybe I'll get lucky again. Some days it just seems entirely random what's going to be on tv, but I'm sure there's actually a plan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

fireworks, snowflakes, and more

This is the asterisk block I was telling you about. They're easy to make, just a bit time consuming, as is true of so much of quiltmaking.

Start with squares, or rectangles if you prefer. The ones I'm doing here are 4 1/2" and the strips I'm inserting are 1". I've done these with various widths of strips but I stop liking it after they get wider than 1 1/2" - but that just may be me. Working with the 1" strips, I end up with a block the same size I started out with or a bit smaller, depending on how uneven I pieced it.

These start out a lot like Xs. Slice from one side (or corner) of the square to another side or corner. The slice can bisect the square or be angled. In the purple block, I'm aiming to get the center of my burst offcenter, where that white chalkmark is (tho the mark got swallowed up in seam allowance). Sew your strip of fabric to one side of the triangle and then to the other. This is what I call inserting a strip.

Slice again, so that you'll be making something of an X. Insert a strip.

Third strip Fourth strip
Here's a tip that I completely forgot about. After making each slice, check out the back of the block and cut off any dog ears. That will help lessen the bulk in the middle of the asterisk.

And if you do have problems getting over the bulk, just run back over that spot again.

Other helpful hints: I piece with the strip at the bottom and the background on the top. Don't iron until after you have sewn both sides of an inserted strip - this will help the block keep its shape. I often don't iron until I've done the whole block, but that's me, non-ironing girl.

And here are some completed firework bursts for my current quilt:

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Beginning

Hey, I told ya'all I'd started a new quilt. Well this is it. Right now I'm making a little bit of this and a little bit of that, some of which may make it into the final quilt and some which undoubtedly won't. I'm playing.

The one certainty is the words. This is gonna be my "Terms of Endearment" quilt. I'm going to use all the various pet names my hubby and I have for each other and for our four-legged babies. Not going to use the ones that are plays on names like "Hocus Pocus" and "Lilypad" and I'm not going to fill it with generic terms that anybody and everybody uses. I want this quilt to be personal. Or should that be personalized? Whichever.

I did some more sewing today, but didn't get any more words or asterisks finished. Spent way too much time internetting. This is my third entry of the day, by golly. Still, I have to tell ya'all, I love answering questions and seeing people try the letters, try the fans. I've updated the links in my sidebar to take you to the tutorials I've done. All of it is adapted from what I've posted on the blog. Please check it out and ask questions, make suggestions...

Life overseas: hurrah, we finally have Diet Doctor Pepper back in stock at the commissary after a 6-month absence. AND it tastes better than it did before (was too metallic - think it had been sitting around for years in a storage depot somewhere). I'm limiting myself to one can a day cuz I know it's not good for me. And they're gonna run out again almost immediately so I'd better pace myself. I was drinking something like 4 liters a day of it in the states. I know, stooopid.

And where the heck is my "Charmed?" Showtime put it on every weekday for a week, then it's gone, then it's back, and now it's gone again. Argh. Plus they're showing the half hour Aussie soap "Home and Away" so it completely throws the schedule off for part of the day and makes the shows start on the half hour instead of the hour. And tell me why we need all these garbage anyway? "Young and the Restless" and, even worse, Maury Povitch... What impression does this give to the rest of the world about Americans?

How wide to cut the strips?

Someone asked me, how wide she should cut her strips for a certain project where she needs to fit her word into a defined space. Have to say, that I've never tried to think my way through it - I just start working and make adjustments as needed, but I decided to graph it out and see if I could figure it out that way.

I cut the graph paper 8" x 27" and I didn't know if the letters were supposed to hit the edges or not, so I decided to leave an inch around the entire thing. For one thing, it's a lot easier to make a block bigger by adding on wider borders than it is to make it smaller if you overshot it (if you've already pieced it all together anyway).

I had fun drawing this out - similar to piecing it, but a whole lot quicker (and probably more boring since I can't have accidents doing it this way). To fit this space, I would cut the largest letter strips 2.5" and the narrowest 1" and for the background the narrowest would be 7/8" (that's what I use to get a quarter inch, which is what I used between the letters). I used the widest "strip" for the main chunk of all the letters, altho the i and r are a quarter inch narrower.

It would be easy to make adjustments to this, such as leaving a half inch between letters instead of a quarter inch, and making the letters go even higher and lower. If you use different fabrics for the letters, you could leave out the background fabric in between the letters and just join them up.

This is just a mock-up to get an idea of what the finished product would look like - please please please use something like this as a guide, not specific instructions.

Truly Free Fans

Yes, my friend (who shall remain nameless but you know who you are) these really and truly are unmarked free-hand fans in Little Pink Houses.

Quilting arcs a half-inch apart helps to make them smoother. Still, by the time I got to the top of this little (23" x 21") quilt, there was a good 1 1/2" difference between the top of the highest fan unit in this row and the lowest fan unit. Here's a pic where I have those two points marked. See, one way high, one way low. And it doesn't matter.

I know I'm a broken record on this point, but you just have to relax and enjoy the process of doing these free-hand fans. They WILL look great when you are done. And the more you do these, the better they will look. Practise, practise, practise.
On a completely different note: Tazzie, I enjoyed your comment. I'd love to see your blog but right now it's blocked. If that's on purpose and you're not ready to share, no worries. On the other hand if you're wondering why no one visits your blog, there's an answer.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Little Pink Houses

"Little Pink Houses" was made directly after "Reach for the Stars" using leftover asterisks, a heart, and the piano key border. That and some new blocks... The colors here are much truer than the pic yesterday.

I've started piecing a new quilt, using the same fabrics and a few leftover Xs from "Fruit Punch" - I'll show you a few pics in the coming days. Speaking of Punch, I haven't decided on a border treatment yet. Figure it's better to let it rest (and wait for my fabric purchases to arrive).

I put aside my Cranky Witch quilt (it's nowhere near Halloween yet) and picked an old UFO back up. I was inspired to work on "Space 4 Rent" after seeing Laura's "Beam Me Up, Scotty" quilt. "Space" has aliens and houses and unfortunately requires thinking while quilting. I don't have a good photo of the top and I'm not taking one now with the safety pins in it.

I rented some DVDs. I only thought "Garden State" was so-so, tho an impressive debut for "Scrubs" cutie Zach Braff. Didn't like "Sideways" nearly as much as I wanted to. I thought the friend was such a lieing scumbag and I couldn't stand him.