Some Sewing, Finally

15 09 2013

I’ve managed a little sewing today: some hand-quilting and a couple of swap blocks.

Hand Quilting

Every time I pick up this quilt to work on it, I keep telling myself to remember that it only takes about an hour per block. I could feasibly have this thing done in a month, if I just remember to work on it, a little at a time. I might take it back and forth to work, to quilt on the commute, but I don’t want it to get filthy.

Granny Block Bee 27

Granny Block Bee 28
requested blocks in orange, grey and blue. The orange and grey were easy for me – the blue, not so much. While I do have some 2.5″ squares pre-cut in blue, it’s really just a few of each fabric. Coming up with enough for these blocks was actually something of a challenge. As I’ve said on this blog before, I just don’t buy blue.

Which means that I’m actually delayed in making the other two blocks for this month in the Granny Block Bee. The other September queen requested blues. *headdesk*

I placed an order with today. At least I won’t be without blue anymore?


Small Pleasures

2 09 2013

I’d forgotten how pleasurable hand-quilting could be…

There’s a point where I go very zen, and just enjoy the process, and before I know it, visible progress has been made, without the usual frustrations I experience with machine quilting. Machine quilting on my domestic machine inevitably leads to much in the way of teeth gnashing and the ripping of hair out.

And there’s nothing like the texture of hand-quilting. I love running my hands over where the quilting is densest.

Hand Quilting

I’m using a perle cotton by Oren Bayan in grey, and there’s going to be a lot of outline stitching going on, and some echo stitching. I’m now very glad I went with my instincts on this one and started ripping out the machine quilting.

Now I just need to remember to buy a couple of leather thimbles again.

Well, Shoot…

31 08 2013

As mentioned previously, I got together a quilt sandwich for Sunsets and White Beaches last Sunday. I figured I could churn through straight line quilting this baby in a couple of days, and have it bound by the end of the month. Easy peasy.

Yeah, right.

I started machine quilting this evening, playing with a couple of arrangements.

First, I thought that I could do a wide cross hatch, with the lines about 2″ apart. So I did two lines like that. Then I stepped back and HATED it. Out came the seam ripper. Next, I thought that I could do some outline stitching. That was just as bad, especially with all the twisting and turning of the quilt in the machine.

Hello, seam ripper, you are my friend.

RippingSo, now what am I doing?

Hand-quilting it.


Six and Done!

31 07 2013

I sat down tonight while I was prepping dinner, and waiting for hubby to get home with kiddo, and finished up the last six blocks I need for my Granny Block top!


Tomorrow, then, I can settle into trim them all down, and start putting the top itself together.

Granny Blocks for Me 49

Granny Blocks for Me 44

Granny Blocks for Me 45

Granny Blocks for Me 46

Granny Blocks for Me 47

Granny Blocks for Me 48

I’m still hoping to have a top done by the end of this week. I think it would be awesome if I could start quilting it up on Sunday.

Another Five

31 07 2013

Progress on this top proceeds!

I sat down and powered through another five blocks, finishing up the blocks that need orange in the outer ring. If I keep going like this, I’ll have another top to quilt by the end of the week!

Granny Blocks for Me 39

Granny Blocks for Me 40

Granny Blocks for Me 41

Granny Blocks for Me 42

Granny Blocks for Me 43

This leaves me with just another five blocks in the outer ring to complete! I’m hoping to tackle those tonight, and then a few more scrappy stars. I’d like to make some real progress on that project.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced’s WIP Wednesday.

Busy Fracking Sewing Day

28 07 2013

I worked at the second job yesterday, and then came home and had a date night with my husband (we had some quality time together, watched Les Miserables, visited a friend at her work, and then got very late night McDonald’s breakfast at 3:00 AM). So, sewing wasn’t happening so much on Saturday.

Before I get into the gritty of the sewing I did today, however, I just need to ponder the recent movie adaptation of Les Miserables, featuring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and other Hollywood notables.

My first introduction to the musical was a PBS airing of the tenth anniversary production of that musical, performed and filmed Royal Albert Hall. Considering that I was living at home, and watched the production with my father, I couldn’t have been over seventeen.

To this day, Les Miserables remains the musical guaranteed to bring me to tears, so long as the performances are by accomplished vocalists.

Unfortunately, of the cast in this recent movie adaptation, the only big name performer to raise goose bumps, and to draw me into their character’s circumstances, was Hugh Jackman. This should be unsurprising, considering his varied experience on stage. Anna Hathaway is talented, and a capable singer, but I was not drawn in by her Fantine. Amanda Seyfried as Cosette made me want to rip her face off. I’ve never appreciated the character – she is a MacGuffin, a plot device to move the stories of Jean Valjean and Marius forward, with no real personality to recommend her, or to explain the bone-deep devotion given to her by both Valjean and Marius. But hearing Seyfried’s (self-admitted) weak soprano voice trilling every word – I wanted to cut her larynx out. I cannot emphasize enough that I wanted to be violent every time Seyfried opened her mouth.

Russell Crowe’s Javert was a disappointment, through and through. Not only is Crowe’s vocal range limited, he was far too flat for the character of Javert. For all of his dramatic talent, he failed at conveying the obsession Javert had with Valjean, fueling his pursuit of Valjean through the years. Part of this was due to the limitations of the adaptation, but much of it was due to how unvaried his performance was. I feel that viewers were wholly unable to comprehend the why of his obsession: to Javert, Valjean was the dark mirror to his strict law-abiding ways and morality. He hated that only a series of decisions separated him from what he saw as Valjean’s inherent criminal nature, and, in order to justify his existence, needed to see Valjean brought back to justice. His inability to reconcile the rigid intolerance of his legal code with the moral rightness of Valjean’s actions are what drive him to throw himself into the Seine. I think that this is not at all conveyed to the viewer, leaving them questioning his suicide.

Also, I’m sick of Helena Bonham Carter being in everything (I blame her marriage to Tim Burton for perpetuating the myth of her employability). Her presence, with that of Sasha Baron Cohen, made the scenes with the Thénardiers thoroughly unwatchable. I do not want to watch Carter play exactly the same character she’s played in practically everything, complete with frizzy, huge hair, in yet another movie. It’s like she simply elected to transplant her extremely poor Mrs. Lovett (from Sweeney Todd) to Les Miserables. A production such as this deserved so much more. At least Cohen attempted a French accent every once in a while.

The character with whom I’d identified with most as a seventeen year old, Eponine (on the strength of On My Own), proved to be another disappointment. Again, I’d cut my teeth on the 10th anniversary production of Les Miserables. Lea Salonga delivered a strong performance that drew me in. Samantha Barks is a talented and beautiful vocalist whom I’ve enjoyed in the past. Unfortunately, I detested the arrangement of On My Own in the movie adaption. My interpretation of the song has always been that as Eponine sings On My Own, she is, perhaps for the first time in her short life, making a decision purely for herself – taking into her own hands her womanhood, by running the gamut of the emotions that Marius evokes in her. By acknowledging the futility of her unrequited love, Eponine makes the choice to be honest with herself, the first step of self-realization. Through the course of the song, Eponine comes to the determination to make as much of her destiny as she can, considering her limited means and hardscrabble upbringing. It makes her death on the barricade a short while later all the more bittersweet, as she sacrifices her life for Marius’ and gives him the note left by Cosette, giving him the hope of there being a tomorrow.

In listening to the arrangement presented in the movie adaptation, I was thoroughly disappointed as the entirety of the scene was designed to wring every drop of utter despair from Eponine, reducing her to a thoughtless chit unable to live without Marius in her life. The pacing was so off, and Eponine rendered so helpless, rather than empowering herself. If I had not been so near the end, I probably would have ceased watching at this point.

I was, however, delighted by the performances of those young men playing the students manning the barricade, drawn in by their charisma and skilled vocalizations. Eddie Redmayne was a treat, a pleasure to listen to, though I was far more drawn to Aaron Tveit’s compelling performance as Enjolras. I look forward to watching the careers of these young men as they develop as performers.

I think, in the end, I will not re-watch the movie adaption of the musical. The delights of this film are far outweighed by the negatives that I found in it. I am more than content to return to viewing recordings of stage performances of Les Miserables.

And, now that I’ve bored you by over-analyzing an adaptation of an adaptation, I bring you my efforts from sewing today. Actually, I bring you my layout first. I finally reinstalled EQ7 today, and decided on how to set out my blocks:

Sunsets and White Beaches

It’s a seven by seven block layout, which should come to 79″ square, with the very traditional sashing. Granny blocks seem very well served by sashing, and I want the space between the blocks. I want the punch of the white between the shocks of color.

Lots o' Blocks1. Granny Blocks for Me 24, 2. Granny Blocks for Me 25, 3. Granny Blocks for Me 26, 4. Granny Blocks for Me 27, 5. Granny Blocks for Me 28, 6. Granny Blocks for Me 29, 7. Granny Blocks for Me 30, 8. Granny Blocks for Me 31, 9. Granny Blocks for Me 32, 10. Granny Blocks for Me 33, 11. Granny Blocks for Me 34, 12. Granny Blocks for Me 35, 13. Granny Blocks for Me 36, 14. Granny Blocks for Me 37, 15. Granny Blocks for Me 3816. Not available

Fifteen blocks later, I’m very close to my goal of forty-nine total blocks. I need to make a few more blocks with orange in the outer ring, and then a batch of blocks with gray in the outer ring. Once those are done (hopefully tomorrow evening), I can begin the process of sashing the blocks together. We’ll see how far I get.

Back to Granny

26 07 2013

Seriously, at some point I will stop inundating you with photos of Granny Blocks, and get back to working on something else. Last night’s batch of six happened while my son was thoroughly entertained by a friend who’d come over for dinner. And, to illustrate what an interesting child my son is – dinner last night was liver and onions, at his request.

He even ate it, and the quinoa salad I made to go with it. The liver was a hit; the quinoa salad, not so much. The recipe I used called for lemon juice. I’m afraid it was too much lemon juice for our taste buds. Still, we ate some, to give it an honest try. I’m still very interested in adding quinoa to our regular meal rotation here, so I’ll keep playing with it.

Granny Blocks for Me 18

Granny Blocks for Me 19

Granny Blocks for Me 20

Granny Blocks for Me 21

Granny Blocks for Me 22

Granny Blocks for Me 23

I figure that I’m about halfway to being done with the blocks. I still haven’t reinstalled EQ7 – last week I switched out my 75GB solid state drive for a 250GB drive. Not solid state, so I sacrificed some in the way of processing speed, but now I’m not fretting about installing too much to the laptop. I suppose I’ll do that tonight, since it’s Friday, and what else am I going to do on a Friday evening.

Other than sew and watch Les Miserables finally?

Especially since kiddo should be tuckered out today. I had a UW System Helpdesk Managers meeting in Madison today. Hubby took that opportunity to take my mother-in-law and kiddo to Madison, and hit up the zoo while I was discussing the ins and outs of managing a tech support desk.

Yes, I am jealous.

On the upside, we got to stop at Half Price Books on the way home. My goal was to find some Spanish-language materials that kiddo would find interesting. He’s been very interested in learning Spanish since PJ4, and I want to encourage that. So I picked a copy of Little Einsteins Mi primer Diccionario Ilustrado (My First Illustrated Dictionary). (Apparently, it’s going for $48.00 on – I paid $8. HA!) It’s not a bilingual book – everything is presented in Spanish, but the illustrations eliminate my need for translation. And, if I truly get stuck, I picked up a Spanish/English dictionary. High school Spanish was long enough ago that I need help to remember words and conjugation.

While we were there, though, I decided to look through their quilting books. It was a pretty abysmal selection honestly, but I almost talked myself into a continuous line design book. Then I realized, why am I searching in the quilting section for designs?

I mean, there are just tons of books of designs out there, that typically come with CDs with the images, for ease of re-sizing and editing. Why wasn’t I looking in the graphic design section?!

So, I headed over there, and hit pay dirt in the clip art subsection of the graphic design shelves: Flower Designs Handbook and 1001 Symmetrical Patterns: A complete Resource of Pattern Designs Created by Evolving Symmetrical Shapes. The second book comes with a CD, so editing the images for my purposes will be pretty easy. In order to make the second book more usable, I’ll have to scan and/or re-draw before resizing, but still! I paid $3 for Flower Designs Handbook and $8 for 1001 Symmetrical Patterns.

We’re home from Madison now, obviously, but kiddo is ‘playing’ Train Simulator (as well as a five year old can play a game designed with the intention of replicating the world’s trains and the tracks they run on). Really he’s just watching his train move along the tracks, but it makes him happy, and he’s slowly learning the program, which is funny and terrifying at the same time. So, while he is otherwise occupied, I’m going to participate in this week’s Friday Night Sew In.

More Granny Blocks

24 07 2013

I managed to get a few more blocks done last night after getting home. I stole some sewing time before dinner.

Since everything is already cut, it makes it super easy to steal an hour or two and work through a bunch of these. I’m trying to keep the colors distributed throughout the blocks – I don’t want two rings having the same predominant color.

Granny Blocks For Me 13

Granny Blocks For Me 14

Granny Blocks For Me 15

Granny Blocks For Me 16

Granny Blocks For Me 17

I’m still debating final size – I don’t know if this will be a gift for my mother-in-law or for a friend’s new baby. I have to decide soon. Baby is due in just a few months! Of course, there is always the temptation to just keep this for myself…

Linking to today’s Freshly Pieced WiP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Project in Progress: Sunsets and White Beaches

23 07 2013

I’ve been wanting to do a simpler piecing project for a while – the Farmer’s Wife Sampler/Technicolor Fields and The Garden Party Quadrille made me yearn for something quick and easy to finish. Because I’m in the Granny Block Bee, I know how simple and easy these blocks are, so I decided to make a entire top, ahead of my month for that swap (December).

Sure, it’ll leave me with a challenge of what colors to use for that month, but that’s okay. I’ll come up with something.


I mean, it only took me three months to decide on something for my month in the Fat Stash Bee.


Anyway, I got started pulling fabrics a while ago. I’ve been drawn to the ‘girlier’ colors in my stash lately: pink, orange and yellow. So I pulled those, and threw them into a pile, and loved it. Except that it was just a little too cheerful. So I threw in some greys, and then I was happy.

I started cutting a lot of 2.5″ squares. And discovered that, apparently, my obsession with those aforementioned ‘girly’ colors has been going on for a while. I had a lot of pink, weirdly enough. It’s totally not my color. On the other hand, I had the expected amounts of gray, yellow, and orange. In fact, the very small amount of orange I had on hand nearly made me go running to spend absurd amounts of money on replenishing that color. Orange is one of my absolute essential colors. How little is left in my stash is making me a little twitchy.

So, anyway, lots of 2.5″ squares were cut and ready for this weekend. I decided to spend a lot of my weekend sewing, since I haven’t really done a lot of that for myself recently.

The nice thing about these Granny Blocks is that they go together very quickly and easily, almost mindlessly. So mindlessly, they’re rather like chips. You can just keep going. And that’s pretty much exactly what I did. I spent maybe half a day working on these.

Granny Blocks For Me 01

Granny Blocks For Me 03

Granny Blocks For Me 04

Granny Blocks For Me 05

Granny Blocks For Me 06

Granny Blocks For Me 07

Granny Blocks For Me 08

Granny Blocks For Me 09

Granny Blocks For Me 10

Granny Blocks For Me 11

Granny Blocks For Me 12

Granny Blocks For Me 02

Twelve blocks in about four hours? I call that awesome! I’m eager to move forward with this one. I haven’t quite figured out how large I want this to be, though I do know there will be sashing. I need to draw it up in EQ7 and decide on final sizes.

Linking up to Show and Tell Tuesday.