Monday, July 31, 2006

Fans Turning the Corner

I've gotten a few questions about how things are here in Egypt, whether or not we've been affected by the ongoing turmoil in Lebanon and Israel. So far, knock on wood, it's been very quiet. We're fine. The embassy has sent out Warden Messages which say to avoid areas where protests may occur, but there haven't been any problems for Americans here.

Now to completely switch gears, figured I'd better throw some quilting content in here. I wanted to show you this cool area where I turned the corner on the freehand fans. I'm doing the spiral pattern (you can see how this looks drawn out in my freehand fan tutorial) and this is the lower right corner where I'm ending the third row (or ring really) and beginning the fourth.

Just to the right of the bottom of the t, you can see where I began my last fan arc. It's an incomplete arc, since it runs smack into the second row. That's how it works. I also thought this arc set was too short so I threw in an extra arc - making seven of them instead of the usual six.

Then, below the o, I started the first fan of the fourth row.

And I wanted to include this pic to show you how the widths etc can change in these arcs. Look in the lower left - that arc is narrower. And as seems to be usual I have a bit of a bulge at the top of the arc set and then the whole thing sort of flattens as it goes down. That's not a mistake or a problem - it's just the way it goes.

I made these pics larger than I usually do, so you should be able to click on them and see the details.

If you want smaller stitches, try working without the hoop. Seriously. (You can read the tutorial here.)

I got an email asking for some advice on hand quilting. Does anyone out there have a good alternative for using a regular thimble? I know one alternative is a leather "thimble" and I have friends who swear by them, but I found them awkward and they do wear out much faster.

I don't think I could quilt without using a thimble. I swear by mine - it's got a ridge around the top that helps control the needle and keeps it from sliding off. I think it's made by Dritz. It's fabulous. One key thing is that the thimble has to fit well - not so tight that it pinches and not so loose that it wobbles around and wants to fly off.

As far as the quilting stitches going all the way through to the back of the quilt, I wouldn't worry about that when you are first learning. If the stitches aren't going through at all to the back, then maybe every tenth stitch you could do a stab stitch (send the needle straight down through the layers, then move your quilting hand underneath the quilt and send the needle straight back up. As you keep quilting and get more experienced I suspect that your stitches will start naturally going all the way through.

At least mine did. They're not pretty and don't look at all like the stitches on the top, but they go through. They didn't use to, I assure you. The other thing to try is a different batting (wadding for my British/Aussie friends) - one that is ultra-thin. I've also heard that wool is delicious to quilt through, but my allergies rule out that option.

We rented a couple of movies over the weekend. "National Treasure" was completely silly and predictable but fun. I'd heard good things about Woody Allen's new film "Match Point", but bleck. It wasn't a mystery - it was another plodding character study like "Crimes and Misdemeaners." That's it Woody, we're through. No more new movies from you. I'll stick to rewatching "Love and Death," "Annie Hall," "Manhattan Murder Mystery," and "Hannah and Her Sisters."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Scaffolding on Tentmaker Street

A few more pictures of my trip to the Khan last weekend. I've mentioned before that this is one of the oldest areas in Cairo with incredibly old buildings. They are doing some work right now on Tentmaker Street.

I'm fascinated with the scaffolding here. Lumber that is just tied together with rope. You'll also see workmen running around wearing their flipflops. And hardhats? Forget about it. Not that anyone was doing work the day we were down there.

That's a pre-printed tent fabric there on the right. The other items are Beduoin carpets.

I took a day off the day before yesterday and watched DVDs and hand-quilted. I finally got to see the new version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly all the way through (I watched the first half on an airplane once but it was coming in really poorly and I gave up in frustration). Loved it, but Keira is waaaaay too gorgeous to be Lizzy, tho she was perfect in every other way. I still love the BBC miniseries, but it is definitely more sedate and the actresses playing the younger sisters are waaaaay too old. Nice to have both options.

Also watched another episode of my beloved Kolchak the Night Stalker and a Moonlighting. I'm not even sure I made it all the way through the latter, but it doesn't really matter - not one of the better ones.

I have now finished the third go round of freehand fans on Terms of Endearment. I'm really happy with it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quilt Bookshelf

My little Lily cat is going nuts at the moment, squeaking at a bright light reflected up on the ceiling and scratching at the wall. Luckily she isn't leaping up or I think she'd bring a big picture down on her head.

Cats were strange last night. Woke up at five this morning with Bibi crashing around on the top of the bureau and Howler howling. And howling. Had both the little cats sleeping with me (Pokey rarely does that). Hadn't done anything threatening to explain it, no moving of cat carriers. Sigh.

Joyce asked me about my bookshelves a few days back and in particular my quilt books. These are some of them. I've kind of run out of room and books that I'm (re)reading aren't here, nor are the ones that I left in storage (I'm getting those out for the next post, darn it. I miss having them).

Those are handmade (not by me) wire camels on the top shelf.

I have made great progess stacking up piles of paper for shredding, sending broken stuff down the trash chute, and putting unused/unneeded items into the charity donation pile (currently out of control, but nothing I can do about that until my friend who takes care of that is back in town). I finally bit the bullet and gave up my Trivial Pursuit games. Since my hubby hates it and we haven't played in something like 5 years, it was time. Kept my Simpson's version of UNO even tho he won't play that either and Upwords, a fabulous word game that he will play when my Mom is in town - it's more fun with three people.

And why do I have all these cards and stationary? Do I really think I am going to start writing real letters again? So I gave up some of those to the giveaway pile, probably not as much as I realistically should have.

I just finished reading Julie Powell's book Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen. Have to say I enjoyed the hell out of it. She decided several years ago to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And to do it in one year and blog about it. The book is a little self-absorbed sometimes and not for the easily offended, but I loved reading about her trying to cook all sorts of vile French dishes that I would never eat in a million years.

It helps that I have a great fondness for Julia Child. My Mom (number one Mom) watched it all the time on PBS so I grew up with it. Turns out my hubby is a fan and so we've watched Julia's more recent series and visited her kitchen at the Smithsonian as well.

Anyway, both Julie and Julia's stories are about women trying to find their way and figure out what they really want to be in life. Julia didn't discover cooking until she was in her mid-thirties living in France, and Julie found joy in writing as a thirtysomething, helped out enormously by her blog. I understand about that because I've discovered, through blogging, how much I enjoy writing tutorials and encouraging others in loosening up with their quilting. I've found what I want to do.

[I already knew I liked writing, but didn't have the proper format for it. I'm terrible at fiction. Describe the tree. It's uh, a tree. And it has green leaves. Not good with the adjectives.]

Not all that off-topic, I don't speak French (just English with a really bad, snotty, Monty Pythonesque French accent). I did some work with learning the language on the computer after Christmas, but gave up in frustration with the accent. I'll get back to it. I think I'll end up being able to read it but speak or comprehend someone speaking to me? Aiyee. The discs will be going back with us to the states. Something to work on while we're temporarily housed.

Mrs Moody offered to send me some canopic jars. Very sweet, but trust me, I got plenty around here. Sell them at the garage sale and hopefully someone there who doesn't have ready access will be thrilled to get them.

Yes, I know I should be thrilled that an American won the Tour de France, and I give Floyd Landis much credit for courage and ability, but I was hoping maybe team CSC could do it, since they're my second favorite after Discovery Channel. Though I may have to revise that in light of DC's pitiful performance.

I'm off to sew - making great progress. Later.

Monday, July 24, 2006

My Khan Finds

Thought I'd show you what I brought home from the Khan the other day. This is the goddess Bastet (go here to see a previous Bastet post) this time portrayed with a human body and a cat's head. I suspect that tiny figure is Hathor (goddess of joy and motherhood) . Of course every time I think of Hathor I go into the whole Stargate SG-1 geek mode...

And these are my new canopic jars made out of "marmar" aka alabaster. This must be what alabaster looks like before it's smoothed out. I was really excited about these and of course the first thing I did was drop the Isis jar on it's head right after my husband said "be careful with these ones." The jar didn't shatter, but definitely looks older now. Canopic jars are what the ancient Egyptians stored the mummy's internal organs in for reuse in the afterlife. (If you've seen the Brendan Fraser "The Mummy", canopic jars played a big part in it.)

And here are the jars in place in my cabinet - nice and eclectic the way I like it. This time I'm storing my jars where the cats can't get at them (tho it appears I'm as big of a hazard as they are). The first year we were here, I had some jars displayed on the sideboard, but the cats managed to knock the jackal-headed one down twice, so it's missing its nose and an ear. I'm hoping that I can just buy a replacement lid, and not the whole jar. Forget about rebuying a whole set.

Now to answer some questions from the previous post. I've never seen men's undergarments for sale here (I'm sure they are for sale, I just haven't been in the right place for it). Nor plain old cotton undies of any variety. And I like to buy my underwear hermtically sealed, so I can pretend no one has ever touched it. I once watched a seller here rummaging his hands through the panties, holding up a handful and calling out to customers. Euw.

It is completely a woman's choice whether or not to veil here (or her father/husband's choice but let's not go there) and isn't mandatory like it is elsewhere.

The most common thing is a head scarf, called a hijjab. You'll often see women wearing the hijjab along with high-necked, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts with jeans underneath, flip-flops (very common here since shoes must be taken off in mosques) and gloves. Throughout the year - it looks darn hot. The older women usually wear some kind of black galabiya and hijjab etc that only leaves their face showing. Far more Egyptian women wear the hijjab than don't.

There are also women completely covered in the whole Saudi-style abaya who only have their eyes showing. That apparently used to be quite rare here. A friend and I once dined in a restaurant overlooking the Nile. There was a woman right in front of me wearing the low jeans with the thong riding high and a couple of tables away a woman completely covered. Interesting study in contrasts.

I also had an email asking about anti-Americanism and if it's been a problem esp now. I have personally not had any negative reaction to my being an American. Keep in mind, I'm smart about where I go and stay away from areas that are likely to have protests. And I'm usually either in a tourist area or buying in a market place that caters to expats. I haven't heard about any protests about the current situation, could be because the universities are having their summer breaks.

I've had several cabbies tell me how much they love America. "America good, Egypt bad."

Having said that, when we were down at the Khan someone yelled at us, "Hey Yankee." We just kept going and he called out after us "You are Yankee, I can tell by how you smell." Now that's not the politest thing anyone has ever called out to me. The friend I was with just thought he was trying to get our attention, not trying to be rude. The whole Khan experience is about getting yelled at by hawkers trying to get you into their shop. It's the thing I hate the most.

Here's a question for you. You dial a number and whoever answers speaks a foreign language. Uh oh, that's not who I wanted, must have mis-dialed. Try it again. D'oh, same foreigner. How many times do you then try that number? An Egyptian will call over and over and over and over again. I can't be wrong - surely whoever answered the phone must be wrong. He's called my cell phone over ten times in the last two days, but surely the next time will be the charm.

Now that I have all that off my chest... Did a bunch of sewing yesterday and taking photos for the challenge quilt instructions. I'm working on it, guys. I'm thinking of writing it as a mystery, although there will be a separate page to go to see the quilt. How does that sound? I personally cannot stand mysteries, but I know loads of folks who love them.

I've started playing around with my website as well. Wow, that google page creator is wonderful. It's actually easier to use than Blogger, because you can control where you want the photo to go and what size you want it. Wish they'd make that available for the blogs.

This post is long enough. See ya later.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lingerie and a Cool Refreshing Drink

My dear friend L is leaving in a week. My apartment has become the way station for items being donated to charity as well as the repository for food that she didn't get a chance to eat, so we spent time on Friday getting things from her apartment to mine and then doing a last chance shopping expedition. Now my apartment looks even more chaotic than usual.

It has finally really hit that we will be leaving soon too. We've found (fingers crossed) a temporary apartment in Maryland, altho the paperwork hasn't been finalized. We now have dates for our packout and we've learned we get a small, quick (well, 3 weeks) shipment to our temp apartment, which means I can have my sewing machine - woohoo. It needs such a thorough cleaning after living here in Cairo and it will be wonderful to be able to sew, even if it is only there for a couple of weeks before it has to get shipped off again.

Saturday, went to the Khan al Khalili (the big souq) with friends for a chance to do some "exit shopping" of my own (which I'll probably end up doing several more times before I actually leave). We walked through the clothes market before ending up at Tentmakers' Street. These clothes stalls sell to the locals, rather than tourists.

I'm always fascinated by the underwear. Displays of racy lingerie being sold to women who are completely swathed in fabric so that maybe only their face or eyes show. We were walking through here quickly, so I didn't have time to really take photos, but I did my best.

This next picture shows a couple of dressy gallabiyas - the robe like garment traditional here in Egypt - as well as a drinks cart. I'm not quite sure what is in each of these containers, tho I think that's water on the left.

This is a different cart. That looks like ice tea on the right, except that's not something that's popular here except among expats. Maybe soda? I don't know what's in that container on the left other than maybe water and herbs.

I've never seen these carts in the touristy areas, altho they're certainly picturesque. Any foreigner drinking from here would probably suffer all sorts of dire/uncomfortable side effects.

The temperature was 94 degrees but it didn't feel bad at all until we were waiting and waiting inside of a stuffy shop and then it was miserable. The air quality has been atrocious - I always come home after being out absolutely sure I have caught a cold because my throat is so sore and my head is stuffy. But it's never a cold and it goes away within a day.

Unfortunately I have all sorts of work (and fun) that needs to be done that doesn't include quilting or blogs. I will attempt to keep posting and commenting, but there will definitely be gaps.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Red Carpet

Be*mused Jan recently showed a pic of her new(ish) rug and it reminded me that I've never posted a picture of mine.

I wanted a fun persian carpet with colors that I like. Since many are made with natural dyes, the colors I want just aren't widely available. Well, after searching and searching I finally picked one out that I kinda liked. There were things about it that I loved (the pattern) and things I hated (red, pink, and lime green? what where they thinking?)

I took this one home and it kinda grew on me. Very slowly. [please note: not MY furniture with the exception of the oak cabinet - too traditional for me]

It's as obnoxious as all get out, but now I love it. It really brightens up the apartment and has so much more life than the boring beige and light blue one that came with the apartment. Needless to say, my husband hates it.

After my post yesterday I started on the new challenge quilt. Holy cow, what a difference, working this time with fabrics I love (rather than the ones destined for charity - I used to love these fabrics, why do I dislike them so much now?) and a cast-iron finished quilt in mind (no going haring scaring off improvisationally). Now I'm having loads of fun and I think it looks great.

Two months left until we move. Woohoo. Progress is being made bit by bit. A friend sent a cabbie she knows to the Lufthansa cargo terminal to get us cat carriers. It took him 3 1/2 hours of running around to obtain them. Aiyee. And he speaks the language. I think we would have been doomed doing it ourselves. So we now have pet carriers for all four out in the open and that's where they have to go to eat.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cute Kitties, Quilt Frustration

There I am just trying to get some sewing done. I'm rotary cutting some strips, when Lily jumps up onto the table and burrows under the fabric. Very cute, have to get a camera NOW. I wasn't fast enough and here comes Pokey to investigate. (Terrible picture with bad light but I wasn't in position yet.)

And wheee, Pokey jumps on top of Lily, who shoots out the front.

Meanwhile, I have discovered that I have a problem with nice and simple. There I am working on the challenge quilt and I'm throwing in angles and complications.... I had my blocks up on the design wall and I was getting frustrated trying to put them together. Well, if I'm frustrated - and I have experience sewing this way - what is that going to mean for someone new to improv sewing?

I could toss out some of the blocks and recut others so that they aren't angular, but I don't think that's the way to go about it. I'm going to start over again, this time being much more careful to do things smoothly and document as I go.

So it's going to be awhile longer before the challenge is ready. I am going to be saner about it this time. These are baby steps for me too, in a way.

As far as the website goes, I haven't done anything more than set it up. There's nothing on it yet. Google promises this is a friendly way to do pages, and no HTML is involved. I figure I can do Blogger, I can do this other too.

In Tour de France news, oh brother. Discovery Channel, what the heck happened? It wasn't just Lance that made you so strong - the whole team was always so excellent. This year, you're all over the place, falling down, and leaderless. Ugly mess and very disappointing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Request for Help: gmail

This post has been edited.

Holy cow. Within a half hour of posting this, I had an account. Wheeeee - I love blogging. Thank you, Kathie for helping me out!

While I was trying to figure out how I can go about creating a webpage (it's time to start my own for tutorials etc) I discovered that Google has a great way to do it. Big huge snag tho - I have to have a gmail account and can't get one. (Living overseas just causes me fits sometimes.)

For what it's worth I am making progress on writing up the Challenge. Have to admit something. I hate challenges. I hate being told to do what someone else says to do. Stupid, I know. So I found myself trying to write the challenge with a variety of ways to construct the quilt - which just makes it more work AND more confusing. Since this is going to be baby steps for some of you, I will write it with just one way of making the quilt. Fewer options make it easier, right?

Okay, I gotta go get sewing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Just as I was writing this post, I noticed my little cats sleeping in separate boxes. We leave boxes around for just this very purpose, but this is a first. That's Lily on the left and Pokey on the right.

Wow, what an incredible bunch of wonderful people you are. I've been amazed and thrilled at the response to the challenge I proposed the other day. If we all finish our quilts, that will be at least 20 quilts made for babies and children in need. Wow.

Rather than just diving right in, which is my usual way of going about things, I want to plan this out so that I can post the directions all in one go, rather than do them in dribs and drabs. I hope to have it done within the next couple of days, so we can play while everyone is excited about the idea. Not that there is a time limit on this - if you're busy now, you can make this project whenever you have the time.

And here is a good picture of Howler the unphotogenic. He likes to sleep on our bed, but this was the first time I'd seen him with his head on the pillow like this.

I've been really happy about Howler. There I was so sure he was going to have a meltdown about the cat carriers being out and the trip to the vet, but he has been a trooper. He's actually been a touch friendlier. Twice this week he has jumped up on the couch while I've been sitting on it. Very good for the timid boy. He hasn't hung around for long, just sniffed at things and then departed, but it's progress.

Okay, I have to go sew now and take photos. I'm excited about this challenge - in fact I couldn't get to sleep last night my mind was so busy mentally writing it up.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Take the Leap Challenge

I've been thinking a lot about a comment that Tazzie made the other day. One line in particular stood out: "I'm longing to make some freeform letters and teacups, but I'm scared to take the leap."

I have a challenge for Tazzie and anyone else out there who has thought the same. I've come up with a project that should be fun, easy, and fairly quick. I will make it with you, I will do my best to come up with the clearest instructions possible, and if you get in any kind of jam I will talk you through it.

We're going to make a baby quilt for the charity of your choice (there are some great ones out there but I don't have time at the moment to go cruising for links). This way you're not trying to make something that will fit in with your decor, or that has to please the taste of anyone you know. If your letters don't look like letters, it won't matters. Babies aren't fussy - they just need warmth.

Anyone in? You don't have to have a blog to play. You can leave a comment or email me.

Eye Adore Finn

Happy Bloggiversary, Finn. I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that you came to blogland to play with us.

I made Finn a crusty (short for "encrusted" - a little quilt with lots on it) a while back when she was having eye troubles. Since she finally got it in the mail, I can now post a pic.

This probably has too much on it. I decided Finn has a great sense of fun, so I might as well go on over the top. I think if I were keeping this for myself I might take all those buttons off (except for that groovy pupil - the background has swirlies in it that match, but it's hard to see that now with all the stitches on). If this hurts her eyes to look at she can close them and feel it - a braille quilt.

The eyeball is actually made from Egyptian fabric that friends got me back in the mid 90's when they came for a Nile cruise.

Sorry, don't know how large this is - I forgot to measure. 6" x 6" at a complete guess. Oh, and Laura asked how big American Houses is. That's another guess, but it's about 55" across and longer than that going down.

Tour de France update: My hubby is convinced the Discovery Channel really do have a new strategy - it's called losing. Hard to believe the boys in blue can do it, since they are sucking so badly right now. At least Floyd Landis, currently ahead, is a former teammate of Lance's so that gives him bonus points. At least I got a bunch more quilting done while watching, as well as kitty loving. Lily has been jumping up into the crook of my arm for belly rubbings and sleeping.

I'm going to spend the afternoon hanging out with friend L. since she's leaving far too soon so we gotta have fun while we can. A trip to the Khan al Khalili souq is out. There's a big mosque and public square right beside it that is used for protests. Expect there may be a turnout with what's going on in Israel and Lebanon right now. Sigh.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Up Close and Clashy

I've been "naughty" and working on my Terms of Endearment quilt (which doesn't have a timeline to finish up) instead of playing with my beady (which does since I think the framers are closed for just about all of August).

This is a close up of my clashy Screwball block - aiyee. Busy, busy.

By the way, "mumkin" is an all purpose Arabic word for "maybe, possibly" and works great if you're asking permission to do something and don't know how to say it. You just say mumkin and point or mime.

It's a relief to see that from farther away this block doesn't looks too bad.

I was going to write a longer post, but the Tour de France is already on for the day - earlier than I was expecting. Now is when it finally gets interesting - we're in the real mountains at last. I think the Discovery Channel boys have been playing possum. They're not doing any of the work and haven't done any outstanding rides, so no pressure has been on them. Other teams have been wearing themselves out. I think it's all strategic and pretty soon the DC boys will shine.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

American Houses

Here's another oldie for you. American Houses. This is the one that I made and ended up with so many scraps that I just had to make the Patriotic Crazy. I know it's busy but I love it anyway. It's currently ON LOAN to my parents. LOAN I tell you. I want it back some day.

I told you that I was going through old magazines. The quilting magazines made me depressed. I feel so out-of-step with the quilt industry/shows/publications etc. So many pictures of perfect, intensely difficult quilts. While I can admire their ability, I still feel cold. I LOVE imperfections and wobbles and for all the blocks to look different and fun.

What did I choose to save? Pics of antique quilts (back when everyone made quilts to the best of their ability but without the need of perfection) and an article on the Ralli Quilts of India/Pakistan. I can see why I let one of my magazine subscriptions lapse a year ago.

Even Quilting Arts isn't doing it for me anymore. Way too many dolls, postcards, ATCs and techniques I'd never want to try. Sigh.

On a different topic, I received my belated Christmas present copy of Nancy Crow's new book. I'm a big fan of hers. Don't love all her work by any stretch of the imagination, but some of it just stuns me. Some inspired by utility quilts only modern looking. I love that she loves to machine piece and the quilts are all hand-quilted. They look like quilts. That's one of my main dislikes of so many art quilts - they're way more art than quilt.

Nancy Crow's workspace is so awesome. Three huge design walls and an incredible amount of space. I love looking at the folk art and textiles she has up, esp the brightly colored wool bags from Mexico. For the dyers out there, you will just choke when you see the amount of space, equipment and supplies she has. Something like 500 yards of PFD white fabric just sitting there ready for her to get started. I soooo want to go play in her studio.

I have been a good girl, getting something crossed off the to-do list almost every day. I've delivered a couple of heavy loads of books and magazines to our little library here. The temp has been in the upper 90s but it doesn't feel too horrible most days because there is something of a breeze and the air quality has been fairly decent.

My friend C. had horrendous problems getting her cat Bella to the vet on Saturday. Bella bit through C's leather glove and really got her knuckle, which is now infected. She's on all sorts of antibiotics and if it isn't better soon she has to go in to the hospital to get a shunt put in. Aiyee. It took three tranquilizer shots to get Bella calmed down enough to get her microchip in and that was after they got Bella out from behind the fridge at the vet's. Made my whole experience look a lot better. Howler may get really scared and freak out, but he's not mean or wild.

Here are some fun links to try, if you haven't already. Kim at Force Majuere Farm is a quilt restorer and she recently explained the problems with using polyester and fusibles in quilts (it's frightening.).

I absolutely love Pine Ridge Quilter Laura's work. She too loves words on quilts and putting in info like names and dates. And none of that darn perfection stuff either. Check out the (dog)house quilt she made in honor of her sweet puppy Bullvye and the wonderful plaid Christmas stars.

Carol at Giraffe Dreams is a fairly new blogger. She made a fun Welcome quilt using the free-pieced letters. Go over and give her some encouragement.

The fabulously lucky Kristin at Knit One Quilt Too recently attended a lecture by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran. I'm anxiously awaiting for more pictures of their quilts. And if that weren't enough, Kristin was going to the Sister's Quilt Show too. Envy envy envy.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Patriotic Crazy

I spent yesterday being productive in a lazy kind of way. Got grocery shopping out of the way and then spent the afternoon going through magazines, ripping out articles I want to keep and then tossing them (the magazines, not the articles).

Here I was worrying about how dull my blog is going to be over the next few months, yet ya'all seem to be happy seeing the old stuff over again, so that gives me something to write about after all.

This is my Patriotic Crazy quilt. It's a cotton crazy - made similiarly to traditional crazy quilts, only in cotton and without any of the embroidery. It's like Bonnie playing with crumbs , only I don't make my units into consistently sized blocks.

It's about 18" by 20" and was inspired by Gwen Marston's "Liberated Quiltmaking." I like the quilt, I'm pleased with how it turned out, but I did learn that when I'm working with fabrics that are this busy I don't want to use so many scraps this tiny. I've gotten better about throwing away little tiny bits, but I always figured that if a scrap was 3/4" by 3/4" (or even an eensy bit smaller) it was big enough to save...

This quilt top wasn't constructed in the usual fashion. Instead of making the central bit and then surrounding it with borders, I made two parts. I had an upper section with border on three sides and a lower section, also with three sides bordered. Then I joined them unevenly.

This unit is 2.75" square. Roughly. It looks way bigger on my monitor than it does in real life. If you're trying to figure out the construction, remember that the shorter the seam, the earlier it was sewn.

I did a bit of fussy cutting to get the wonderful flag in this unit. That tiny white rectangle is a bit less than a quarter inch across. I told you I love tiny pieces and they're so easy to work with on a project like this.

This tells you how big of a geek I am. I actually wrote the Tour de France schedule down so I would know when the rest days are and when we get the exciting mountain stages. When I watched the race in the states, it was always on in the morning and rarely caused a scheduling problem. Now it's on right at the time I should be making dinner and it's causing chaos.

Can't believe how little the American press is playing the race up this year. Several Americans have a great chance at it with Lance retired and so many condenders dropped due to a big doping scandal.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Red White and Blue this n that

What a space case I've been lately. This is really idiotic, but I just realized today, the 6th of July, that I could put up my 4th of July decorations. D'oh. I am a pinhead, truly. Admittedly my brain has been elsewhere lately.

So put the decorations up today. I posted pics of all this stuff last year, so I'm not going to do that again. This year the blue and white houses quilt has been superceded by my need for a design wall.

I have done zero sewing. Since a couple of ya'all mentioned liking the flag block in here, I put it back up. I love this border fabric, so it's providing me inspiration.

I decided to let myself do a bit of playing today as well. Instead of quilting Terms (going up the left side on the third row of fans - woohoo) I got out the beady I've been working on for two years now.

Unfortunately the sparklies don't show, but I'm happy with the size 5 red bugles I just added. I had to put a bead in where a blue sequin used to be - I had skimped and used a single thread of Silamide instead of doubling it as is recommended. Hopefully that'll be the only bead I lose. Since I want to get this one framed here in the land of inexpensive framing, I'd better work quick.

Finn, you asked if I'd beaded or french knotted Liberty Blooms. No, that is just the cool fabric I found. I had to carefully cut out the circle so that I would get the little dots going around like this.

Liberty Blooms is 22" x 26". I explained how I did the running stitch applique here.

This poor quilt definitely needs more quilting in it. Maybe someday when I have extra time (ba ha ha ha) I'll add some crosshatching.

I haven't mentioned it, but it's officially Tour de France time. Now, the cycling so far has been dull what with all the flat routes, but one of these days it's going to get intense in the mountains and I will be glued to the tv with no distractions other than my quilting. Yet another factor in my diminishing blog time allowance. This of course assumes that my tv channel will cooperate. I was home in time yesterday to watch but the channel was dead air for hours and hours and hours. It was working again this morning (exercise equipment infomercials dubbed into German - always good for a laugh) so fingers crossed I will not be desolate two days in a row.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Liberty Blooms Encore

This is an encore presentation of Liberty Blooms, since Finn requested another chance to see it. I've previously written about it here.

I am totally whooped. I've spent the last couple of days helping my friend L with her packout. Made me realize I really need to start sorting stuff. She had things being sent off to three different destinations and we just have one, so that should make our lives easier at least. Can't imagine how tired I'd be right now if I'd actually had to lift or carry anything heavy.

Thanks for the great comments and email lately, but I just haven't had time to properly respond. I will try to in the next couple of days tho.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Teapot: From Drawing to Fabric

Wow, blogger is being an absolute darling today - uploading photos lickety split.

Yesterday I showed you the drawing I came up with to figure out how to make a teapot. This is how I put it together. There's the body of the pot, given a rounded shape by sewing triangles on to the corners of a square-ish shape. I also have the lid and handle ready.

When playing with angles, it can still surprise me how much is lost when it's sewn together. That lid looked gargantuan when it was hovering over the pot, but is barely bigger once it's attached.

The spout has been sewn on, as well as the knob on top of the lid. Now the handle is ready to be attached.

Here's the final teapot (again):

I realized after I downloaded the photos that I'd skipped a whole lot of the steps. For the less experienced piecers, here is a more complete tutorial. This time the spout is going to be on the right side and the handle on the left.

I started with a big square. I decided to use the oversized triangle method.

This is what it looked like after the triangles were sewn on. I sliced off the little red background triangles (which came in handy for making the handle).

This is the rectangular background fabric for the handle. One important tip when you are working this way is to always remove the extra bit of background and fold back the triangle you've just sewn on. That way you can attach the next triangle properly:

With all the corner triangles sewn on, extra background removed, the unit ironed and the edges all tidied up.
The next step is to add the U-shaped bits of the handle.

And some background triangles added to make it curve nicely.

The handle and the body of the pot are complete.

I've sewn my lid.
It seemed oversized to me, so I wanted to check what it would actually look like when sewn on. I put the pieces right sides together and pinned in place along the quarter inch mark. This is not accurate, but it will give you an idea.

And folded back, I decided yeah, I didn't want the lid this big.

So I cut the lid down at a jaunty angle and attached it to the pot. Think I'd have liked it better if I'd gotten it centered better, but oh well. Also sewed the knob on top. You'll notice for this second teapot that I'm not following the exact same construction order as I did on the blue pot. So long as it goes together, that's all that counts.

And here's the handle sewn into a background strip the same width to make it easier to attach.

To make the spout, I cut out a rectangle of the teapot fabric and layered it on top of a same-width strip of background fabric (both facing right sides up). I cut the slant for the bottom bit of the spout.

And then had the perfectly matching angle to sew these bits together.

After I had that on, I made a couple of slices to get the red fabric spout-shaped.

Sewed on the bit of background fabric at the end of the spout.

After I got that on, I straightened up the edge and added background fabric along the top. For whatever reason, I thought that spout was going to be too big and I wanted it at more of an angle, so I sliced into it some on the left size. As it turns out, I misjudged how much I was going to lose in the seam and so now the spout looks undersized.

This one looks a bit whackier than the first one. Have to admit I may do a classic Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do manuever and change the spout. I know I am always saying to people that I love all their blocks and they should just let them be and not remake them even when they see the imperfections. Why is it so much easier to accept others' wobblier efforts than it is to accept your own?