Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Weddings

It's been fun to read about everyone having time to sew again now that their kids are back in school. Unfortunately, it's just the opposite for me! There are papers to grade, lessons to plan, dissertation chapters to write, and committee members to avoid. :) The semester has started off well, though I am amazed by a couple of things in the course that I'm teaching. The first is how much time it takes to plan it all--I've been responsible for sections before, but managing all of the minutiae is overwhelming me a bit right now! I don't know how high school teachers do it with so many classes per day, every day of the week. The second amazing thing is how very different freshmen are than juniors and seniors. I think the jury is still out on whether it is a difference I enjoy or not.

In the midst of that, however, I decided to start another quilt. Because that makes sense, right?

My hands are really tied, because yet another one of my friends is getting married. Very few are on the wedding quilt list, but this is another one who is on it. Fortunately, after her, pretty much everyone I know is married, so then it will just be baby quilts.

Pretty excited about the back. Got a bunch of this "Nesting" by Simon + Kabuki off of eBay for $5 a yard. It will be perfect!

I'm hoping to make a good chunk of progress on it this weekend while watching the first weekend of college football!!! (So excited!)

The color scheme was new for me, and not something I would ever pick. I had no browns at all in my collection! Initially I was going to leave out the green, but I like having that third color in there and think it brings it all together. I like it a lot more than I thought I would!

I've also continued to make slow progress on my other wedding quilt for the friend who got married in July (oops). I've got most of the rows together. In a perfect world, I'd finish that top this weekend, but we will see--honestly, for right now, the blue/brown/green quilt is of a bit higher priority. Because that wedding is September 8th.

A beautiful day, but weird shadows everywhere! Ah well.

I am awesome at time management. :) Linking up at Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday to take a look at others who are a little better at it than I am. ;)

Pin It

Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcoming a New Addition! :)

Well, new to me, anyway. If we're counting such things, he's actually got a few years on me!

Some of you may remember "Peggy" from my "Where I Sew" post. Good ol' Peg. She was my very first sewing machine, a 1969 Singer that belonged to my grandma. When I moved to New York for grad school, my father (over) oiled it and my mother optimistically sent it across the country with me. Peggy sat in the front closet of my apartment for four years before I decided to start sewing this past January.

Peggy, in all her glory.

I can't really complain about her performance. I could never get the stitching to be quite straight, but it's very possible that owes more to my complete lack of understanding of tension rather than anything Peggy did wrong. She started slow and it took a bit of a special touch on the foot pedal to get her going, but like learning to drive a stick shift, you eventually get the feel for it. And though the bobbin didn't hold much thread, I liked that you didn't have to unthread and re-thread the machine in order to refill it.

But the past March when I was home, my mother, so excited by my re-entrance into the sewing world, took it upon herself to see what better machines might be available on Craigslist. Through pure luck, she found a Bernina Record 930 for sale, identical to hers and the one on which I learned to sew, except in even better condition. After she took me to the airport (I was home on Spring Break when this took place), she went to check out the machine and bought it for me (I have probably the best mother ever)!!!

 It came with all of this neat stuff too! (Terribly lit picture, so I put a fancy filter on it. That's what all the cool kids are doing, right? If you use an Instagram filter, it's not crap, it's art! Magic!)

Unfortunately, from the fact that I'm announcing this now and she bought it in March, you can tell that I was separated from my new toy for quite some time. Sewing machines are not all that portable in the best of circumstances, and all of this sturdy Swiss mechanical goodness weighs, by my estimate, a solid half ton. Shipping wasn't an option, so I just had to wait until I drove back to Nebraska again, which wasn't until July. It traveled back to New York with me (via a stop in Michigan, where it sewed a very quick beach blanket) and it is now happily set up on my dining room table.

It sews so beautifully, you guys. It is AMAZING how much difference it makes to sew with this machine vs. Peggy. It just feels different--it so smooth and you can tell that all the things inside the machine are moving just as they are supposed to. It's also really easy to thread compared to Peggy, which I appreciate. Even though it is 30 years old, I can tell that it's a machine that is going to be with me for a very, very long time. It is magnificent!

Bingley inspected and approved.

So thanks to my dear mother, I am sewing on something that I could have only dreamed about for many more years. It was a truly generous gift, and I am already enjoying it so much! I guess I should probably sew her something for Christmas, eh? :)

And we shouldn't feel too badly for Peggy in all of this either. Peggy went back to Nebraska with me, and then she took a trip to Kansas, where she now resides with my sister-in-law (recipient of this table runner) who is hoping to learn how to sew as well. So Peggy continues her role as a great starter machine!

All that's left now is naming the machine (and a walking foot--I really need one!) I've already figured out that this one is a boy. I want something Swiss-sounding, but I don't know what sounds Swiss besides "Roger" and "Stanislas" (tennis players) :) and I don't like either of those names. I know there is some German influence in Switzerland, so I'm picking a German name (I hope this doesn't make me sound totally "ugly American"!) Whether it's very "Swiss" or not, German names are pretty badass, and so is this machine, so it works.

Here are the leading contenders:

--Tobias (Fünke) ;)

It is important that it be just right, you know. :) Thoughts?

Update 3/18/13: This machine has officially been christened "Tobias" and I've since purchased a walking foot. We're all very happy together. ;)

Pin It

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pricing Purses?

So, last night I went to my department's picnic. I don't usually relish the idea of forced conviviality, but occasionally these things are required, and I usually end up having a better time than I expect, and last night was the same. It doesn't hurt that it was another in a long line of obscenely gorgeous days we've been having around here.

But I digress. I was talking to the administrative assistant for the grad students in our department, who is completely awesome. I really don't know how she keeps track of all of us and our innumerable forms, deadlines, and requirements (most of which we routinely miss, being irresponsible grad students), but she does and it's terrific. Anyway, I had this bag with me, and she loved it! She wondered if I could make her some for Christmas and what I would charge. I told her I hadn't really thought about it and it would depend on the fabric and such. She said that was fine, but to think about it and tell her a price for making them.

I have no experience with this, so I thought I'd throw it out there because I know that others have: how do you determine what is a fair price for your work?

Thanks! Pin It

Friday, August 17, 2012

Go Green! Go White! Go to the Beach!

Hey! I finished something!

I'll get it out of the way: these photos are horrible. It was storming Thursday morning and super dark, and to make matters worse, my boyfriend lives in a cave. Not really, but a man apartment has pretty much the same amount of light as a cave.

My boyfriend is going on vacation to South Carolina this next week with his family. I was invited to go too, but Cornell is ruining my life* by starting classes on the 22nd. Life is full of these little disappointments, I suppose. Anyway, last week I was struck by the brilliant(?) idea to make him a beach blanket. I knew it needed to include Michigan State fabric, because that is his alma mater, and I saw this blanket's future life as a tailgate companion. The problem, of course, is that they do not sell Michigan State fabric in Nebraska, which is where I was until last Friday night. So I bought the other fabrics and cut the squares and binding strips before I left Nebraska.

*I know, cool it, Drama Llama. Cornell is only ruining my chance to lay on a lovely beach with my boyfriend reading non-challenging literature. Not my entire life. I guess.

On Monday afternoon, I bought the MSU fabric and cut those squares (with a really crappy pair of scissors, I might add). I wanted to surprise him with the quilt, so that meant my sewing time was limited to while he was at work. I took down my work station every day so he wouldn't suspect anything. Luckily, he's not that observant, and I just shoved my sewing machine behind a chair and he never noticed. :)

Fortunately, I had a lot of help during this sewing marathon.

On Tuesday afternoon, I sewed together the top. (There is something satisfying about sewing together those big squares! It took practically no time at all.) On Wednesday afternoon, I basted and tied the quilt. Thursday morning, before I left to drive from Michigan to New York (hahaha, I'm crazy) I sewed on the binding. I think the whole thing (less cutting) took me 8-9 hours--less time than it took me to drive from Michigan to New York.

There were some challenges with this quilt, in spite of its simplicity. One, of course, was keeping it a secret. But the other, biggest challenge was basting. Has anyone else tried to baste on carpet? It's a huge quilt and I had literally nowhere else to go. So I tried to safety pin the bottom layer to the carpet and work from there. It was not ideal, but since I tied it instead of quilting it, it worked well enough. I don't think it would make a tight enough baste for quilting though. I'm curious if anyone else has had experience with this.

This is also the first quilt I tied. I used perle cotton thread (size 3, I think.) I had no idea what kind of needles to use. I couldn't get the thread through the first tapestry needles I got, so those were out. I had also bought a package of "doll needles," which are about five inches long and look pretty dang creepy. The package said "ideal for tying quilts." I think "ideal" is overstating things, but they did get the job done. It took almost exactly two hours to tie the whole quilt, so it was relatively quick. (Thanks to Lyn for suggesting Connecting Threads' tutorial on tying!) I've decided I don't love the look of tying, but I think it probably has its time and place (such as a last minute beach blanket, for example.)

Unexpected downside of a tied quilt--boyfriend's cat thinks I crafted her a special toy of fun, dangling threads. Oops.

This was my first scrappy binding too. I love how it looks! I forgot to get a picture of it finished (and boy, was it a crappy binding--but I was in a hurry! Rebecca will be happy to know that my time constraints emboldened me to try binding without pins, and I actually think I'd do that again) but here it is laid out pre-binding.

It's a big quilt (80" x 80")! Maybe too big. :)

Anyone recognize the backing? It's an Ikea duvet cover. I didn't even undo the middle seam, I'm so lazy. I just cut three sides open, pressed the remaining seam, and pinned the whole thing to the carpet for basting. Voila! Instant backing.

 I left it on his bed for him as a surprise when he got home from work. He was very surprised and very happy with it! It turns out that guys don't really care if the binding is on exactly straight or not. Now I just hope it holds up on the beach! Also, a big thanks to everyone who weighed in on my last post with opinions/advice about tying!

Pin It

Monday, August 13, 2012

Questions About Life, Where Life = Tying a Quilt

In my first mass appeal for help, I'm wondering about tying a quilt. I've never done it before, because as we all know, quilting adds a lot to a quilt top, and I think that there is also a perception that tying is a bit "elementary." I think on some quilts it could look ok though.

However, due to a number of circumstances, I am considering tying the quilt I'm trying to throw together this week. Here are the quick facts:

--It's a giant beach blanket. After its trip to the beach, it will probably go to tailgates during football season. Point being, this is not an heirloom quilt by any stretch of the imagination.

--It's just giant squares pieced together. Nothing special piecing-wise.

--I don't have access to a walking foot right now. I also don't have access to a very good place to baste. Still not sure what I'm going to do about that.

So, here are my questions:

1) Have you ever tied a quilt?

2) How did it go?

3) Is it more or less time-consuming than quilting?

4) Given some of the restrictions I'm up against (listed above), do you think this sounds like a good solution for this quilt?

Thanks everyone! I hope you had wonderful weekends! I sure did. I came to Michigan and my boyfriend and I went up north, and let me tell you, it is gorgeous up there! If you're within driving distance, it would be a lovely little short trip.

We went to Sleeping Bear Dunes and walked to the top. A long walk, but so worth it!

A gorgeous sunset on Lake Michigan.

We went kayaking on the Crystal River which was little, but so gorgeous and clear!

Pin It

Thursday, August 9, 2012


That's what I am this week. A WIP Drip. :(

I've started sewing together some of my rows for the gray and yellow wedding quilt. I also started cutting out some squares of solids for a very simple beach blanket I decided (unwisely) to try to throw together for my boyfriend before he goes with his family to North Carolina in a week. We'll see if I actually succeed at that. I'm headed back to NY on Friday morning, so I'll probably be a little sparse again this week.

There's nothing worth linking here, but Bethany was hosting at Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday today and she's awesome, so you should go check her out, as well as what everyone else has been doing!

Olympics note: NBC is the worst. Ryan Seacrest and "social media update"? Here's a crazy idea, how about you show sports competitions during the prime time Olympic broadcast? I think people would watch that. That is all.

And since if you bothered to read this, you deserve some payoff, here are a few pictures from the week.

I could enjoy Nebraska sunsets forever. There is just so much sky to see. They are my favorite.

Mom and I gave my cat a bath (one of her cats too). Haha.

Poor baby.

Pin It

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WIP: Gray and yellow, gray and yellow, gray and yellow

I read my post title in a Wiz Khalifa voice.Your mileage may vary.

Anyway, I thought I'd show my progress on my friend's wedding quilt. As you may recall, she got married last Friday. For my part, I just finished piecing the blocks. But she's known me since 2003, so she knows this is very much par for my course. And she's too busy enjoying sunny San Diego with her new hubby to care very much right now. :)

I think it's going to look great, if I ever get around to finishing it! Right now I'm busy hyperventilating because I have to teach my first college course three weeks from today! Holy crap! Also, it is harder to write a syllabus than it seems like it should be. And I'm teaching a college course. At Cornell. The gravity of the situation is catching up with me. :)

This will eventually be almost twin size, so this is only the first few rows.

Like everyone else, I'm completely digging watching the Olympics. I'm enjoying seeing Nebraska's only Olympian playing well in women's volleyball (Jordan Larson)--Huskers represent! And I really loved watching the women's gymnastics team win gold last night, even though thanks to NBC's much-maligned tape delay, the suspense was gone. It was cool to see them grow visibly more confident as the evening progressed and then to just see on their faces that they knew that they had nailed it. In the interview they did, Bob Costas pointed out that none of them remembered the last time the U.S. won gold in gymnastics (1996). Of course, that's true, but so hard to believe! Kerri Strug sticking the landing on a sprained ankle was so iconic, and doesn't seem that long ago!

Does anyone else find it strange to see NBA players at the Olympics? They just seem so out of place, especially when you see moments like the Tunisian player getting Kobe's autograph. I might be a terrible American, but I kind of want Team USA to lose in basketball. They just seem like such arrogant prima donnas who don't even care that they're there. I've felt that way ever since Kobe floated the idea that they deserved to be paid in spite of already earning $50 bajillion for being an NBA superstar. It just seems a gross contrast to a lot of these other athletes who are happy to be there and who work other jobs to support themselves while they train. So if they magically get upset, I won't really shed too many tears for them. :)

/sports rant

Anyway, Kobe aside, I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday and Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet!

Pin It