Friday, September 30, 2011

31 Days of Stitching

Day 23: It's All in the Details
Day 22: Bucket Bags
Day 21: Ella and the Art Caddy
Day 20: Quilting With a Friend
Day 19: Trying Something New
Day 18: One Done, One Begun
Day 17: Cross Hatch Quilting
Day 16: 5 Blocks
Day 15: Another Day
Day14: Dresden Plates
Day 13: Cross Stitch Quilt
Day 12: Kickin' Back
Day 11: Stealing Stitching Time
Day 10: Stitching Selvages
Day 9: Going A Little Crazy
Day 8: Not even one little stitch
Day 7: Luggage Tags for Minnesota
Day 6: Handquilting
Day 5: Stuck on Selvages
Day 4: More y-seams
Day 3: Why, oh why - Y Seams
Day 2: All Worn Out
Day 1: Crazy Jane

Here I am jumping in with both feet, and hopeful that I will actually be able to accomplish 31 consecutive days of writing about a topic I truly love - the art of sewing. I thought about just focusing on quilting, but while I do love quilting, I also do a lot of other sewing, which is also fun to talk about! So my goal is to show you every day what kind of stitching I am doing. It might be hand quilting, or sewing a zipper in a dress, or hemming a pair of pants. Should be fun, right? Stick around, you might learn a thing or two, and I may just learn something, too!

I think I'm always learning something new, every new project has it's own challenges, and the process of overcoming those obstacles is one of the things I really enjoy about quilting, and sewing. I am specifically working on completing a couple of quilts for other people, so I will also be updating on my progress on those projects. One is a Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt that I am hand quilting, and the other is a Dresden Plate that I am finishing up the piecing of. So as you see, there is no lack of material to write about, I just have to be consistent and do the work!

Thanks for joining me here, and I hope you enjoy keeping up with me, as I am sure I am going to enjoy following the rest of the bloggers who are doing this. Here's the little rabbit trail of how I ended up challenging myself to this commitment - I am on an Etsy team (Quiltsy) and we decided to advertise on a blog to see if we could increase sales for our team members. We decided to advertise on The Inspired Room, and I started reading her blog and love it! Next thing you know I'm reading about this fun 31 days series, thinking that maybe I should try it. Well, I just about talked myself out of it, but decided tonight that I might just go ahead and give it a try.

Wish me luck!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marie Antoinette in Prison and l'Arc de Triomphe

********Quilting later, here's a little bit more about my Paris trip*******

After the quilt shop, our next stop was to visit "La Conciergerie" This is the prison that held the victims of the Guillotine, so it's a pretty big part of French History. It was fascinating, but a little depressing at the same time, so I guess that's why I didn't take many pictures. Plus it was pretty dark, and it's not really nice to use your flash in places like this!

The history was really interesting, and reading the guide from our book really made it come alive to us. We could picture the troops in the large hall in this photograph, and the fireplace was like a room itself, it was so large! Downstairs we saw the cell where Marie Antoinette was kept before she was executed - and we read of her escape attempt, very interesting stuff - history is always fascinating, and it was really neat to see these places after hearing of them so often. Its amazing how actually being in these spots makes history come alive and reminds me that these were real people and not just fictional characters.

Our next conquest - l'Arc de Triomphe! I was eager to see this in person - in high school my friend and I constructed a version of this out of clay for the Foreign Language Fair. It still resides at our old high school, complete with the ribbon we won for our effort. I assure you, the real thing is much more impressive! There is an elevator here for those unable to take the stairs, but we made the climb - 284 steps here - easier than Notre Dame, the steps were larger and the sprirals not as narrow. I had learned my lesson from yesterdays climb and stopped as needed to catch my breath, along with many others. The view from the top is spectacular, as you can see there are several main avenues that lead here. You can see the Eiffel Tower on the right, and Montparnasse Tower toward the left.
And a view of the modern section of Paris, including skyscrapers and le Grande Arc de la Defense. This will definitely be on my list for the next trip! We watched a video clip of some of the history of the Arc de Triomphe while we were there, and paid a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there. The Arc de Triomphe was built under the order of Napolean I, but not completed until after his death. It is a tribute to all the soldiers who have served France, and the names of many are inscribed there. Famous Author Victor Hugo's funeral service was conducted here. Part of the video we saw was Adolph Hitler and his forces marching under the Arc. This must have been devastating to the French to see.

Statue of Charles De Gaulle
Looking up underneath - simply lovely detail. Looks like quilt squares, right?

After our visit here, it was getting toward dinner time, so we decided to stoll down the Champs-Elysees and perhaps find something interesting to eat, and check out all the neat shops and restaurants. We did not realize how long the street is (2 kilometers!) but we enjoyed our stroll and the chance to people watch while we walked! We eventually found a small take out sandwich shop, and purchased a couple of sandwiches on soft bread and some yummy desserts which we enjoyed on a park bench in the shade. It was a lovely summer evening and we just relaxed and enjoyed talking about all the fun things we'd seen that day, and looked forward to returning to the Louvre and exploring more.

Au Revoir - next week we will finish up the Louvre Museum!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm not too sure where the last week went. Seems like I was pretty busy, but when I think about it, I'm not really too sure how much I really accomplished. I know I spent time working on my new pattern/project because I only have four more blocks to finish and I can put the top together (hopefully today!) Then I need to start refining my instructions. Not quite so much fun, but a necessary part of the project.

I did spend a couple of hours Sunday afternoon working on my Dear Jane project. I'd really like to finish this by my next birthday (well, at least the top!) so I plan on making this my Sunday afternoon puttering around project.
I started off with this block, nice and easy to get myself back in the swing of figuring out the math and actually piecing these little beauties! This was a simple Sawtooth Star blocks, and it went together quite nicely, so I was pleased with the way my sewing time started out.I thumbed through the book a bit, looking for another simple one to tackle and found this. Easy as pie, I just started with a solid block of blue fabric, the slashed it diagonally to add one stripe. The second was done in the same way, just being careful to match the seams from the first one so the block would be nice and straight. Just a quick trim and this one was ready for its beauty shot!

So, how hard can this one be? The colors are reversed and the strips wider, but that can't make that much difference, right? Well, I should have guestimated higher for the original square because my first block was too small. This one had to be redone. Yes, it is blue, but the photographs don't show that too well.
I'm not one who knows the meaning of quitting while I'm ahead. I really wanted to make four blocks, even though my daughter and I needed to go to the grocery store to stock up on lunch supplies for the week. I had a small square of fabric that I really liked and after a quick bit of math determined that I had enough. Too bad I didn't realize that I was cutting my strips 1/4 inch too small. Sigh. I saved them, hoping to find a block I can use them in later. Found another piece of fabric, cut the strips the correct width and finished this one in just a short time.

So, that's four blocks done this week. Haven't done the math to know how many I need to make to finish, but at least I made a good start!

What long term project are you working on? Do you have a goal set so you can complete it anytime in the foreseeable future? I always say I don't like deadlines, but realistically it's the best way to get something finished!

Happy Quilting!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Three Day Weekends

Thanks to our new schedule for school every weekend is a three day weekend! This was our first one in the new school year and while it was very busy it was also kind of nice. Friday we got to sleep in (Yay!), I had to run around and pay bills, and I got some housework done before we went to watch the football game - we'll be going to them all to watch the girl cheer/dance.

Saturday was a local Festival, so the girl was in the parade, which I got to go videotape and photograph (paparazzi mom in action!). Then I picked her up and we got to hang out for the rest of the afternoon before she went back to watch the classic car cruise.

Sunday was my busy day - the second day of the quilt show and I was signed up to do a demo at noon, then spend a couple hours selling raffle tickets. My demo was a Disappearing 9-Patch, plus I did a Disappearing 4 patch and Pinwheel 4-patch. Now I've got two lovely blocks, and actually should have patches for two more, but seem to be missing some pieces. So, I suppose I will bundle them all up and stash them in the UFO drawer until the missing pieces reappear! Anyway, as you can see, it was a pretty busy weekend, not much sewing got done, but I have high hopes for future weekends. I think I might like this new four day school schedule after all.

Now it's off to finish cleaning the disaster area that I call my sewing studio and do some sewing!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Cluny Museum

*****No quilting here, just reminiscing about the Paris trip again :) ******

This cute little bird entertained us while we were eating lunch in the shadow of Notre Dame - so cute! We threw it some crumbs of our sandwiches, and watched it eat a big red something - we were kind of hoping it was just a tomato out of someone's lunch! After eating we consulted our handy dandy map and made our way toward the quilt shop - when we found it, the shop was closed for lunch, so we decided to go ahead and visit the Cluny Museum because that was on our list. It was definitely a summer day, and the weather was nice and warm!

Here is a cool sundial outside the museum. Neither one of us had ever seen one mounted on a wall before so we thought it was pretty neat. There was no line at this museum, it's not really big, but we really wanted to see the Unicorn Tapestries! It was included on our museum pass, but we had to pay a small fee to rent a pair of audio guides. They were nice, but unfortunately I had issues with pushing the wrong button on mine and ending back up at the start! The Cluny museum is officially known as the Musée National du Moyen Âge (National Museum of the Middle Ages). It dates back to the 1300's and has a nice collection of midieval articacts, and was once the site of Roman baths.

Lots of neat statues and architectural details! Very warm and stuffy (no air conditioning here!) but we enjoyed rambling through the exhibits.

These are the original heads of the statues from Notre Dame! A man saved them, buried them in his yard, and years later they were dug up! This was one of the neatest exhibits. There was a lot of information about the stone carving industry - there were a lot of people who were employed carving many of the statues and architectural details on the churches and palaces and buildings.

More carving, and I wish I could remember the significance of this one. It must have been mentioned for a reason on the audio guide! What I wish I had picture of were the tapestries. They are kept dimly lit to reduce aging the fabrics, but they were wonderful. It was very interesting that they were made in factories of sorts - not all of course, but they were not all one of a kind items! The Lady and the Unicorn series was fabulous, and it was very interesting to hear about what each thing on each tapestry represented. Each of the first 5 represents on of our five senses, and the last - well we were given several interpretations and were left to decide for ourselves what the final one represented!

We had a delightful couple of hours here, but I was eager to head to the quilt shop! Le Rouvray was a delightful shop and I enjoyed my time there - next we head out to the Arch de Triomphe - more stairs to climb!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quick Mystery Block of the Month by SpringWater Designs

Dawn of Spring Water Designs is posting a Quick Mystery BOM - a table runner that we can finish before Christmas! Doesn't that sound like fun? I decided to participate, and I hope some of you will, too. I'm almost always up for a quick and fun project (as the piles in my studio will attest to!).

I had a good productive day today, not much quilting, but several mending and altering projects got finished. Oops - just remembered there was one more pair of pants that needs a little extra added to the lining. Oh well, I guess I can tackle that one tomorrow. I did get some of the pesky ones that involved using the serger done, so I am really pleased about that.

Other than that, not much going on. When I fed the neighbors cats today I noticed some leaves on the lawn. I guess it really is getting to be fall, isn't it? Here's a mini quilt I made that I like to hang on my coat closet door in the fall. I think it's time to get it out. Enjoy the last of the summer days, for fall is on the way! I think I'm going to go pick out fabrics for the Mystery - maybe that will get me in the mood for the new season...


Movin' Right Along

We have movie night once a week in our house, and we watched "The Muppet Movie" a couple of weeks ago! For some reason this song is repeating in my head this week, I guess because I feel like I'm finally getting into the rhythm of school and work and keeping up with life!

I found a new place to sell my patterns, so I am really excited to get busy with that, I really think that is where my interest is at the moment, and I really want to work on getting more designing done in the coming year. It seems like life kept getting in the way this year, I started out with great plans, but was never really able to get on a roll. So I've got a few uploaded and am working on finishing up some that I've never really quite got all the way completed. Here is my Journal Cover Pattern. Check out more of the great patterns on PatternSpot - love the fact that they are instantly downloadable! Plus there are lots of free ones, too. I've got a couple in mind that I'd like to add, so I'll let you know when I do.

Last night I spent most of the evening using EQ7 to put an idea I've been kicking around in my head for quite a while into an actual quilt and I am so loving it! Can't wait to choose some fabrics tomorrow and actually do some sewing (and writing instructions!) It's been a while since I was actually this enthusiastic about a quilting project, so it feels really great. Today I am finishing up a few odds and ends so I can be ready for some concentrated sewing.

Here is a little teaser - it's not the whole project, just a taste!

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Louvre Museum - Part One

Bright and early we got up on Wednesday so we could tackle one of the most famous Museums in the world. Armed with our audio tour (and the headphones!) we set off. Having done our research, we knew the quickest way to enter the museum without having to stand in line (you can access an entrance in the Metro station), but once we were in came the task of figuring out where we were and where we wanted to be, as the exhibits had been moved around since our audio guide was made! Since the guide couldn't be skipped forward or backward we decided to listen as we looked and hope to catch up. We looked at lots of old statues, eventually finding our way to one of our "must see" sights - the Venus de Milo. Apparently it's on everyone's list so there was a sea of people around her. We very much enjoyed the added insights from the recording - we now know exactly what contrapposto is (counterpose) and why it is important! We learned that she is made from two pieces of marble and how she is a study in contrasts. It was so fun to look at this beautiful work while listening to why it is important and so interesting!

Further along we were introduced to another one of the important ladies of the Louvre - the Winged Victory of Samothrace. I really loved this one, and it wasn't as crowded here. We were able to walk around at our leaisure and study the beauty of this one! I wonder what kind of a face this lady had? Fierce and proud, I think! The third grand lady of the Louvre is the Mona Lisa. Now that was a crowd! Mona Lisa has an entire large wall in the midst of a huge room. The crowd starts at the back, then you work your way forward to the front for your look, then to the sides and out. We just stood to the side, I figured I could see it better in a book and we didn't want to spend an hour on one painting when there were so many more to see!

Founded over 200 years ago. Our country is so young in comparison!

The crown jewels of France! Beautiful, but not easy to get in a photograph.

We saw many wonderful paintings including The Wedding at Cana. There was a wonderful discussion of this on the audio guide, telling the story of who is who in the painting and discussing the various perspectives of the people in this. There were several paintings that were discussed in detail and it really added to our enjoyment of the art. The Raft of the Medusa was another one we really enjoyed. I'm not sure what this one is, but I liked it enough to get a picture!

With over 35,00 works of art you can never see it all in one day, so once we finished our audio tour, we looked around for a bit, then decided to leave until later in the evening (we chose Wednesday for our visit because we knew we would be able to return in the evening). We sat for a bit in the Tuilleries Garden and just enjoyed the nice day - the sun was out and it was a perfect day!
Look at all the neat statues on the outside of the building!
And the big Ferris Wheel. Didn't ever get time to do that, though.But of course there is time for lunch - Jambon et Fromage (ham and cheese) with a cafe creme. Sitting on a park bench behind Notre Dame enjoying a summer day in Paris - most awesome!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Taming "The Beast"

Have you ever bitten off more than you could chew? I definitely did on this project. I was so excited about making a quilt out of neckties, that I never gave a thought to all the logistics of completing it. Early this summer, I finally got the ties sewn together into a circle for the middle of the quilt, and was completely in shock at how heavy it ended up. At that point I was at a loss as to how to attach it to the thin, silky sheet the customer chose for the background. I decided to lay it out with the backing and batting and pin baste it to the top, then quilt the ties to the background.

This started out fairly well, until I realized that I had a bit of rippling going on. So I folded it uop for later. After a couple months of languishing under the dining room bar, I decided it was time to pull up my big girl panties and finish up this monstrosity. I adjusted pins and kept quilting the ties down, figuring the bulk of the ties wasn't going to allow for a perfectly flat quilt, and it would be fine in the end. After the ties were all quilted I had to quilt the remaining background.
I marked lines from the seams of the ties out to the edges and stitched those. I'm not entirely sure it's enough quilting, but I'm afraid that more quilting would just magnify the problems that the center already has. So I am leaving it as is, and getting another opinion tomorrow.

I decided to applique a padded center circle to cover the gap in the center, figuring that the extra bulk was needed to balance the thickness of the tier. It looks pretty good, and did work to stabilize the poof that was forming in the center. The back is a little rough, but not horribly so.
Last, but not least, bias edging on a scalloped edge per the customers request. Haven't done this in a while, and it took an afternoon of hand-stitching, but it's done now!
This is a super heavy quilt. Would probably be very warm if any one ever wanted to actually sleep under it! I think it's just meant to be a show piece, so I hope my customer is happy with the results - I'm not 100% satisfied myself, but it was an experiment and I learned a lot. I am just happy to call it done!