Sunday, May 22, 2011

Transportation Baby Quilt

Finished: Transportation Baby Quilt
Finished size - about 48" square

Here's a close up of the baby announcement, added to the quilt by scanning and printing on Transfer Artist Paper

I've been working all week to finish this baby quilt in time to take to a party, and I finished at least four hours before the party- I'm getting rusty, because usually I finish things and the situation is: Mr. Hunting Creek has the car running already, we're running late, and everyone in poised for takeoff. I even had time to wrap it nicely, watch the Preakness with a glass of cold iced tea, and write a nice note in the card.

The quilt is my own design, if a square in a square log cabin can even be said to be original. I was inspired by a quilt in Modern Log Cabin Quilting, but mine is made differently. Let's say it's my own interpretation. If you'd like to make something similar, here's a run down of what I did.
We went to the Variety Store nearby; they have a large selection of quilting fabric, and I had a specific theme in mind. I bought half yards of the green road fabric, the black and white airport, the yellow train print, one yard of the plain blue, and two yards for the back of a pretty yellow train themed stripe (I didn't need all two yards, but it is nice to have some extra in case the quilt grows.)
The blue road map and classic car print was from stash, as were the red and white dot fabrics and everything else. It's nice to have options. My rule was - no two blocks exactly alike, but everything will go together, and one block will have the baby announcement.
I chose 15 4 1/2 inches squares for the centers (and one saved for the baby picture. So there are 16 centers. I framed those squares with the blue, cut 1 1/2 inches wide. The second round was the same prints as the squares, cut 2 1/2 inches wide, with a few calming blender prints thrown in for a place for the eyes to rest. Then I used the red and white dots as sashing, cut one and one half inches wide - I wanted it the same width as the blue. I quilted it very simply to frame the blocks. There's a lot going on here. so no fancy stitching needed. I love how it turned out and when I was done, I imagined it all soft and faded and dragged around all over as little kids do, as a treasured wooby blankie.
If you've never worked with the Transfer Artist Paper, here's what I did to transfer the inage. First I scanned the baby announcement, and then in my HP Image Manager (the software that came with my All In One Printer) I reversed the image and crapped it as necessary. Then I printed a couple on paper to make sure I had made it the right size. Then I printed it on the Transfer Artist Paper, and transferred the image to plain white cotton using the instructions included in the package.I was glad that I had made two copies (one for practice) because I learned that the iron has to be HOT. My first one wasn't perfect, but my second one was. Save the trimmed parts of the TAP, you can also paint or draw on it and transfer those as well, so I save my scraps for a future project.
The new parents loved the quilt so everyone is happy. Now to clean up my sewing area and plan my next project.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party

It's always a happy day when the new books arrive from the publisher for the website. They are all fresh from the printer, crisp and new and it is always exciting to sit down and read every one and see what new ideas I can steal...I mean, borrow from them. My hands down favorite was this unexpected jewel: The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party. There are twelve projects with illustrated directions, and short biographies of the twelve women who participated in a virtual quilting bee and created the quilts. This never happens: I loved all twelve projects and wanted to make my own version of all of them. As a quilter I am very improvisational. (As a garment sewer and cook as well. Maybe in life too.) Some people might say that is because I am incapable of following directions (and those people might be right) but I prefer to think of myself as a Free Spirit. An Artist. (Rules? we don't need no stinkin' rules! Did Monet follow directions when he painted? I don't think so.) The directions in this book appealed to my rebellious free-spirited way of working. I start with an idea of where I want to go and let the fabric give me direction. And that's just what they did! With lots of pictures to show how they ended up with a beautiful quilt. I don't keep every book that I sell (and a good thing too, or there would be no room in the sewing room) but I am keeping one of these for my very own. If you like the improvisational style of quilting, you might like it too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Accidental Diet

No sooner had I come up with a brilliant idea for a cookbook that I immediately decided to write, Mr. Hunting Creek decides to go on a diet. He does this occasionally, and all of us shiver in awe at his dedication and annoying success. He is a fanatic! Dieting is like a religion to him, including the periods of self-denial, ritual fasting and feasting. He never cheats - never!(Once several years ago, when he went on Pritikin, we were so fat free I used to dream at night about butter and olive oil. I am not making this up.) Only when my sister and I threatened to excommunicate him from cooking did he let us bring olive oil back into the kitchen. My sister still remembers this period with a shudder. After that debacle, he was forbidden to even utter the words low-fat in our presence.
This time he decided to combine Atkins with power-walking. Our children and I told him that while we totally supported him, we were not going to go totally carb-free. When we went to Ray's Hell Burger for Mother's Day, he ate his without the bun. Even though I am not on a diet, I had to stop baking, which is my main form of entertainment. Our son and I can't eat a whole cake or batch of cookies and then I'd just have to throw it all out. So in a way we are all inadvertantly dieting because it is no fun for us to eat dark chocolate brownies alone. However, it has been a challenge to design entire menus that do not include excess simple carbohydrates. It's like having vegetarians come for Thanksgiving. You have to be creative. When we had an Easter Brunch I made all the dishes so that he and his fellow dieters at the table could easily avoid the carbs by just not eating the home-baked soft rolls (which were awesome, by the way), and not putting sugar on their strawberries. I discovered that ground almonds make a nice crust for a savory cheesecake and an admirable addition to crab cakes.
This made me think what if there were a cooking site that could convert recipes to conform to different diet regimens? For example, suppose you want a cheesecake - just plug your recipe into the recipe converter and it sends back a converted recipe with suggested changes. My rule would also stipulate that nothing fake could be used, since I don't approve of artificial sweeteners or fake anything. Usually when I imagine something this awesome, the Universe nicely invents it for me and I don't have to do the tedious work of making it happen. (I 'invented' non-electric ice cream makers this way). I'm working on inventing low-carb Ice Cream and cake that has nothing fake. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Time Travel: Simplicity 2409

Vintage Simplicity one piece dress and Redingote

The dress, seamed down the center front, is fitted with tucks at the front shoulder. The gored skirt joins the bodice at the natural waistline under a self or purchased belt. Extended shoulders and a V neckline finish the dress. The princess redingote, styled with long sleeves, features rounded lapels and is secured with a single button.

Do you read the suggested fabrics and imagine how you'd make this up? Suggested fabrics: silk or rayon crepe, spun rayon, canton crepe, rayon jersey, foulard, surah, pique, linen, chambray, cotton broadcloth, balloon cloth (???)
Redingote: Silk, wool or rayon crepe, rayon or wool gabardine, or flannel, satin faille, bengaline, shantung, spun rayon.

Where to wear it: Kentucky Derby (with a splendid hat), New York luncheon, shopping in Rome, matinee in London, followed by afternoon tea.

Sadly, this pattern is incomplete. It's missing the skirt pieces, and the back of the redingote, and the center front piece. Sigh. However, it does have the redigote facing, so the front could be reconstructed, using the remaining pieces as a guide.
If only the previous owner had been more considerate, and thought of us 70 years later!
How would you go about replacing the missing pieces? I think I know how to do it, (the dress skirt is easy), but suggestions welcome.
Who said Time Travel was easy?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sewing Attention Deficit Disorder

I know I'm not the only one. Venus de Hilo has it too. It's the lure of the new, bright beginnings, pretty colors, I want it now. She listed all of her works-in-progress, and I realized that in spite of my vow to complete each project after I started it (I promise!) when we finished my new sewing studio, I have been BAD. Currently I have the following in various stages of not-finished: blue linen capris that only need hand hemming, a Sidelines Quilt, an Apron (a gift), batik drawstring pants, and two Hawaiian shirts that need buttonholes and buttons. And I'm planning a baby quilt right now. Bad me.
Do you keep starting new things before you finish the old ones? What is it about new stuff?

Imitation is the Sincerest Form...

Bridal manufacturers everywhere are frantically copying not just the Duchess of Cambridge's lovely dress, but her sister Pippa's as well. The Business Section of the NY Times had an interesting article about the entire process, from design to fabric to sample. Find it here.
I especially like the part where the reporter described how they laid out the pattern pieces on a the fabric like a large puzzle. Oh reporter - don't you sew? That's how all of us do it. Committed sewistas hate wasting fabric. Especially expensive fabric like silk chiffon and satin.
There are any number of current patterns that one could use as a starting point, considering that the cowl neck and the slim fitting skirt are popular silhouettes right now. McCalls 6282 might work as a starting point.
I'd enlarge the neckline drape and lengthen the skirt, add sleeves of choice (Maybe lace?). It would be fun to make my own version. What would your version look like?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wild Things

We live in the woods not far from Mount Vernon. Even though we're only about twelve miles from the Capitol in Washington, you'd never know it from the view out of our windows. This week has been Nature Week at Little Hunting Creek. We have had two deer on our back porch, just walking around and looking for hostas to munch on, a wild turkey this morning and yesterday - a SNAKE in the downstairs hallway. Yes, you read that right. A black Snake, just outside J. Hunting Creek's bathroom, in the downstairs hallway, just chillin'. Mr. Hunting Creek almost ran into Mr. Black Snake and called me from downstairs, yelling, "hey, there's a snake in the hallway!" That's the kind of announcement that gets my immediate attention.
Two years ago in summer, I had spotted Mr. Black Snake in the living room. J. Hunting Creek had left the back door open a smidgen and that was just enough for Mr. Snake to come in and make himself at home. I thought he was a belt on the floor and almost walked over to pick him up until he moved and I realized that he was not a belt at all. It is a heart stopping realization that what you think is an inanimate object is in fact alive. I was alone in the house and had a brief panic attack, and then got hold of myself. I called Mr. Hunting Creek at work. No luck, he was on one of his eternal conference calls. I called my daughter. She is always full of practical advice. She said to call Animal Control. They sent over a very nice man who told me all about what I need to know about snakes while he searched for my snake, who had decided to make himself scarce while I was letting the officer in. My son joined in the search and the officer told us everything we ever needed to know about capturing black snakes. Basically, they are harmless, and we were so lucky that the snake would eat our crickets and mice. No problem that we couldn't find him! He would let himself out!
Well, now we know that he did NOT let himslf out, because there he was in the hallway yesterday. Mr. Hunting Creek felt some hesitation about just grabbing him with his bare hands and I don't blame him. I thought fast - why not put a box over him, slide my large rotary cutting board underneath, and have my own personal Team Six- Snake Removal Division, remove him to the front yard? The capture went flawlessly. The cutting board/box on top of snake prevented escapes, and it was easy for Team Six to take him outside and set him free. I held the door.
It's been a busy week and it's only Wednesday. (This is an excellent reason, if you needed a reason, to buy a large rotary cutting board. Useful for rotary cutting patterns and snake captures!)