Saturday, March 30, 2013

In like a lion, out like a lamb

Wishing you a Happy Easter, or as my family always said, Buona Pasqua! 

My father's side of the family is Italian, and our Easter celebrations always included some of the Italian traditions, particularly the food.  My grandmother would be busy for days beforehand making her Italian Easter specialties, and we always greeted her by saying "Buona Pasqua" when she came to visit on Easter.  

Nana is no longer with us, but we have tried to keep up her traditions with our own versions of her Easter bread,  pastieri, and pizzagaina.  I wish she had written down her recipes, but she had them all in her head.  Whenever we asked Nana how to make something, her usual reply was "Well first, you fry an onion".   It seemed that all of her savory recipes began by frying an onion.  Whatever she added next was just love and magic.

Hope your day is a happy one, whether you are celebrating Easter or just having a relaxing Sunday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New purse in town

The two Potato Chip bags I made last Fall inspired me to create another one for everyday use as a purse.

This one is bigger than the pattern calls for, and I really enjoyed playing with the details to make it just the purse for me.  I knew I wanted patchwork on the flap, so I started by cutting strips of fabric.

After sewing them together, I cross cut them into strips, and then sewed them back together seminole style.

The piece I used for the purse flap was cut from the center as you can see above.  It seemed a shame to waste the leftovers, so I sewed them together and made another patchwork piece for the back pocket.

The patchwork was going to be the only colorful part of the bag, but I didn't have enough of the dark blue batik to make the entire body of the purse, so I added the light blue fabric and a strip of pink piping to the bottom.
As Tim Gunn would say, I had to "Make it Work!"

When the bag is open, there is a pocket under the flap for my cell phone. I wanted to make the pocket out of the same fabric as the body of the bag, but again, I ran into the problem of not enough blue batik.  I ended up deconstructing some of the leftover patchwork to get enough blue fabric for the pocket.  I think you can see that it is made up of strips.


I put a buttonhole on the cell phone pocket for a bit of security.  Inside the handbag, are two zippered pockets, a flap pocket, a pen slot and a little D-ring to hold a spare key.




For the handles, I found one more use for the last scraps of the seminole patchwork.  I cut it into narrow strips and pieced the strips together.

I wanted the strap to be adjustable but I couldn't find the right hardware anywhere.  I ended up sacrificing an old handbag and stealing the hardware from that to use for the new purse.





Creating a pocketbook with details "just for me" was a lot of fun, and I've been using it for a couple of months now.  A great way to brighten up the gray winter.

Toby's version of "photobombing"

Here's a question for you.  Do you call it a "purse", a "handbag" or a "pocketbook"?  I used all three in this blog post.  I grew up saying "pocketbook"  (or "pockabook"), but now I say "purse".  Is it a regional thing?


post signature

Friday, March 22, 2013

Flashback Friday

Despite the transition to Spring, for a lot of us it still looks like Winter.  I've seen several photos lately of bright yellow or purple crocuses bravely springing up through the snow, and I was reminded of this quilt that I made back in the early 1990's.


I've never written down anything about this quilt, so I thought I would blog about it to have a record of this stepping stone on my quilting journey.

I wish I still had the pattern so I could remember what it was called.    It was perhaps the 4th quilt I had ever done.  Looking at it now, I can see how far I have come since then.

My fabric choices were okay, although not very exciting.

My piecing was pretty good.  I had a few years of garment sewing under my belt, which came in handy.

I quilted it by hand, something I never do anymore.

The binding, however, is pretty awful.  I really had no clue about how to bind a quilt. This is just one of four very rounded and puffy corners:

I didn't know about joining binding strips, so I folded the end over the beginning and it's got rather a lumpy spot where they meet.  (Remember, this was before we had the Internet with it's vast array of helpful tutorials, how-to's, and instructional  videos.)   The smartest thing I probably did, which was more lucky than clever,  was to use a multicolored fabric for the binding so that the errors could hide a little bit.

Okay, so everybody has to begin somewhere.   I really liked how it turned out and actually entered it in the Challenge category of our guild's annual show that year.  The theme was "flowers", so I thought "Why not?".  Thankfully, the judge was kind and left me some encouraging remarks while noting that I needed to improve on my binding skills.

So that's the story of  my little "Spring flowers in the Snow" quilt.  I displayed it proudly in my front hall for a number of years.

One thing that strikes me about this quilt is that with it's white background, and a fairly large amount of "negative space" it sort of looks like a Modern quilt.


post signature

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Irish eyes are smiling


Happy St. Patrick's Day!  

I had an enjoyable afternoon yesterday attending a local show celebrating Ireland.  There was the expected singing of Irish tunes like "Danny Boy", but there were some unexpected delights in a wonderful array of Irish stepdancing as well as a trio of tunes by an ensemble of just harps.

Not exactly how I planned to celebrate National Quilting Day, but I think my great grandmother Murphy would have been smiling.


post signature

Friday, March 15, 2013

String Fling

It's been a while since I made my first string quilt.  It was totally scrappy and the only sorting I did was to separate the lights and darks.


It was a great lesson to me that truly, anything goes in a string quilt.  It had everything from batiks to 30's repros, solids, stripes, florals, you name it.

Since then, whenever I have strips leftover from cutting or piecing, I  add them to a bin for future string quilts.

A fellow blogger, recently volunteered to collect  half  log cabin blocks made with "happy, bright, summer flower colors" for some charity quilts she is making.  I figured  I could come up with a "few" strips, so I pulled out the string  bin to have a look.
      Did I mention that "adding" strips to the bin means opening it up, stuffing them in and then closing it up quick?

I guess these strips have been building up a bit longer than I thought.  Anyhow, the requested blocks were supposed to have a yellow fabric in the block corner, so I started with that and picked the first strip for inspiration.

Then I pulled out a bunch of other strips that I thought would fit the bill.

Before I knew it, I had two happy, bright, flowery blocks to send off to Jeanne for her wonderful donation work.

A very enjoyable way to spend some quilting time, and the result was a couple of "free" blocks to go to a good cause.   In the interest of full disclosure, I'll add that after working with the soft neutrals of my last project, it was refreshing to get back to my beloved  jewel tones.

post signature

Friday, March 8, 2013

Everything's coming up roses

My "La Vie en Rose" quilt top is finished.


As I said in a previous post, this quilt started with a bunch of fabrics pulled from a sale bin.  I thought it would be a fun challenge to use all of them in one project, but I wasn't sure what that project would be.   I usually tend toward jewel tone colors, but something about these soft neutrals was very appealing.

More than one of the fabrics had roses as part of the fabric design, so that became my inspiration.

I chose the block pattern of a square in a square because it always reminded me of a rose.


While still designing in my head, I had a conversation with my mother-in-law and she happened to mention that she loved the song "La Vie en Rose".   As a young woman in Montreal, my MIL was a fan of Edith Piaf who was the French singer who made the song famous.

My MIL was  fresh out of secretarial school and working at a law office when she learned that Edith Piaf was going to perform at a cabaret in Montreal.  She was not old enough to go to the cabaret because they served alcohol, but her boss pulled some strings and she was allowed to attend.   I could tell it was a lovely memory for her. I believe she used the word "mesmerizing".

Upon hearing this story, I just knew that I had to name this quilt "La Vie en Rose" in honor of my MIL.   What's more, my MIL is a big fan of neutrals in her decorating style so I knew these fabrics would suit her.

It seemed like the perfect fit.  Then a weird thing happened to make me feel that it was truly meant to be.   I was listening to an online radio station as I was sewing up the last few seams and what song did they play?  You guessed it...La Vie en Rose!    The station I was listening to usually plays show tunes and Broadway stuff, with the occasional Frank Sinatra thrown in, but never a French "chanteuse".  Until now.  I was just amazed at the timing.

You may recall from a previous post  that this fabric group included a Tasha Tudor print with woodland animals on it that I just loved.  I'm happy to say  those cute little critters made their way into the finished quilt.


And just in case you were wondering, the block I mentioned in my last post, made with the darker pinks, did not make the cut.

I plan on using it on the back as part of a label.


post signature

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How does your garden grow?

I'm still working on paper piecing "roses" for my latest project.

 I'm not sure if the one on the far right will make it into the final quilt (at least not on the front of the quilt).  It has a lot more contrast than the others which is not the look I am aiming for.

I set myself a challenge to make a quilt using a least a little bit of each of the fabrics from this group of scraps that I selected from a sale bin.

There was only one 2 1/2" strip of the dark pink on the left, so  I had to combine it with the dark pink solid to make this block:


It seemed like a 2 1/2" strip of fabric that was 30 or so inches long should have been enough to create a 6 inch block, but paper piecing requires making oversized pieces to be sure you have enough to cover your seam allowances.

Here's an example of a before and after:
On the left is a finished block, and on the right are the pieces I cut to make it.  Crazy, right?  And just to show that I wasn't cutting pieces with a lot of extra, here is the pile of trimmings that came from making just one block:
You can see that there was not a lot of excess on any individual piece, but it all adds up.

Back to growing my garden....

post signature

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Finish It February" becomes "Make It March"

I created another block on my newest project, which I have dubbed "La Vie en Rose".

Each block measures 6 inches, and the center pieces are quite small.  I could never get them sewn with any accuracy if I didn't paper piece them.


I'm not usually a fan of paper piecing because it is a bit tedious to be honest.  You can't really do any chain piecing, and you have to stop to trim and press each seam as you go.  That being said,  I have a new ironing setup at my machine that has made things much easier.

This is the Dritz Petite Press mini iron.  I saw it mentioned on Bonnie Hunter's blog and was curious to try it. I have been disappointed in the past with small travel irons that just did not get hot enough, but this one really does.  HOWEVER...it does seem a bit tipsy and I did burn myself at first when trying to use the little metal stand to rest it on.   So, I came up with a solution that works just great....

I took a tall coffee mug from my cupboard and used that to rest the iron on.  The built in stand makes a perfect clip to secure the iron to the rim of the mug.

AND, to keep the mug from tipping over, I filled it with spare change to weight it down.

It's a system that works perfectly for me now, and I haven't burned myself since.

On a completely separate subject, now that February is over, it's time to 'fess up on how I did with the "Drop and Give me Twenty"  pledge from  last month.  I did manage to complete one quilt, but it was not the quilt I had hoped to finish. And I did manage to finish the knitting on the sweater for my son.  Now I just have to sew it together and then hopefully never, ever make another man's sweater again!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...