Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cubes and Illusions I

I've been playing around more with my 3D cubes. I made the second set of triangles which you can see at the top of some of the cubes.
I have enough matching pieces to make five hexagon blocks but I'm relearning an important lesson: match the seams, not the edges of your blocks!

The jury seems to be out on "proper" pressing techniques. Use steam, don't use steam, use starch, use fabric sizing, finger press, blah blah blah. Here is what seems to be working well for me.

1. Set the iron to low steam. Set the seam by pressing lightly on the closed seam with the iron.
2. Open the seem and press lightly along the entire seam, moving the iron up from the bottom across the seam.
3. Spray lightly with starch and press again.

If the seam presses funny, fold back and reset by pressing the closed seam. Keep pressure light and don't drag the iron, as that can warp the fabric.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scrap Box Experimentation I

I dug into my scrap box in the hopes of experimenting with some new patterns. I've always been fascinated with 3D optical illusions and impossible shapes so thats what I started with. For these blocks I dug up some 1 1/2 inch strips of green fabric that I had originally intended to make postage stamp quilt from (I'm also fascinated with LITTLE patterns) and sewed them together in six combinations.

Lt Green - Med Green - Lt Green
Med Green - Lt Green - Med Green
Lt Green - Dk Green - Lt Green
Dk Green - Lt Green - Dk Green
Med Green - Dk Green - Med Green
Dk Green - Med Green - Dk Green

And sliced them into 60 degree triangles. By arranging the triangles in alternating colors, the following illusions were created.

Woooo! I'm excited. I have another set of triangles to make, there are so many different combinations.

One of the things that is really helping me is proper ironing technique especially with such small pieces. I've always struggled with getting things ironed without warping them. I will elaborate in my next post, with photos.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mug Rug Madness

Mug Rugs! I've been obsessed with this concept since I found out about it but have had very little time to indulge in my new interests until today. I have designed a spiral quilt to make for a wall hanging in my craft room. However, upon raiding my stash, I discovered that I didn't have the correct fabrics in exactly the right colors and so it will have to wait until I can approach the fabric store with coupons waving in an effort to negotiate a truce between said store and my wallet.

And in the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy with these nifty little inventions: Mug Rugs. Larger than a coaster and specifically designed to hold both your coffee mug or drink glass and a snack, these miniature quilts are great for using up scraps or testing new designs, quilt blocks, techniques, and motifs. Which is how I'm using them. In short order I imagine my home will be overrun and my friends will find themselves unwilling recipients of my creative floundering.

For a great, cute little tutorial on how to construct a mug rug, check out the one at

Crazy quilt mug rug
Vertigo Mug Rug - currently graces my sewing table
All said, I think the Vertigo one looks a bit like a pot holder but I think that is because it is square. I certainly had fun building the crazy quilt rug from scraps leftover from my Christmas tree-skirt. All the embroidery was machine stitched.

Oh and before I forget, here is an image of the spiral quilt I plan to make:

I plan on doing it in shade of purple, to match my craft room. Each block contains approximately 130 pieces, so it will take me a while to complete.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I decided to practice my free motion quilting and found this great website, The Free Motion Quilting Project with hundreds of patterns and videos on how to FMQ. I killed two birds with one stone by turning an orphan block (UFO) into a mug rug (yay!) and using a FMQ pattern to quilt!

As you can see, my lines aren't quite straight, my tension is slightly iffy, and my tracking is horrible. But, still the best FMQ project completed yet. It really helped that I had a pattern printed out to look at instead of just winging it. The quilt block pattern is called Vertigo and I think that is appropriate. The pattern with the quilting almost makes you dizzy and gives this neat 3D effect. Next... Binding! Actually, I usually kind of sort of don't like the quilting process, but the FMQ with the variegated thread was fun.

I also finally finished my last Project Linus blanket for the the year, which gives me three to donate.

This is a new feeling for me. I usually don't complete my projects, but I've already got two UFO's done this year.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Creative Insommnia

Ahem, well, its been a busy week. I haven't had time or energy to cook dinner (sorry KoA recipe challenge, I'll make it up to you this week!). Its also been my first week back to work for a full week since the holidays. Oh, and I'm training my new manager. 

But on Friday our house passed city inspection, which is a huge weight off my shoulders and leaves me with what seems like limitless free time. A delusion, I know, but one I'm perfectly willing to nurture. 

Which brings us to Saturday morning and insommnia. A rare thing for me but I take advantage of it when I can. I woke up at 4 am and tossed and turned for half an hour before giving up. 

That's how we got:
I have sliced up the remaining bargello fabric and arranged them in the correct order to make two matching placemats.


This blanket for my cousin is now about 50% put together. FYI, I'd much rather sew than crochet and I doubt I'll be taking on more projects like this once I finish the four that I've started. Yes, I started four of these "quilt crochets." Oops.

And a new innovation (for me at least) is my scrap bucket, which has usurped my trash can next to my cutting table. I've found that as money gets tighter, I'm looking to reuse anything I can, so now instead of just keeping the usable pieces, I'm even saving the shreds of trimmings. I think I can use them for stuffing in draft dodgers and whatnot.

A new toy came in the mail this week. I haven't gotten a chance to play with it beyond seeing how it works, but the OmniAngle Wedge Ruler, which does six different angles (9 degrees to 45 degrees), is now in my rotary cutting ruler collection. This ruler will allow me to make nifty quilts such as this one:
By Completely Blocked

And last but not least, I spent a couple hours goofing around with Electric Quilt 7. I really really really want to be able to make it do non-traditional block shapes but I'm running into a couple problems. I picked up a book of tutorials that should help. I'm hoping the fact that I can't make the program function as I want it to is a lack of knowledge and not a fault of the program. After all, this is supposed to be Adobe Photoshop for Quilts.  The patterns I'm trying to use with EQ7 are from a great book called "Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts" by RaNae Merrill.

I plan to make several of these in the future. It comes with a CD for printing paper piecing patterns and EQ5/EQ6 templates in addition to full instructions on drawing customer spirals by hand and techniques for properly joining spirals. Check out how intricate these designs are:

I don't know whose designed this quilt. Please contact me if it is yours.
Now part of WiP Wednesday by Freshly pieced! Check out the current works in progress.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bargello Table Runner

It was a busy weekend. This week is going to get a little chaotic so I'm not sure what will happen on the crafty front. This Friday is kind of make or break for Jack and I on the home front (pray for us please, if we don't pass inspection I'm going to go crazy. Bonkers. Hinky. Cuckoo). But if all goes well, my time will be my own again, without all kinds of crazy worry.

I spent the day sewing. I didn't even turn on my computer to play GuildWars. And I got a decent amount of stuff done. (Unfortunately tomorrow I have to go back to Mundania and work.) But I made excellent progress on my Project Linus quilt. The binding is machine stitched on and the only thing left is to finish hand-stitching it all up.
Bargello color sequence
I settled on a pattern for my bargello table runner. I was planning on making matching place mats but it seems I don't have enough fabric. I really haven't found any tutorials on bargello quilts that give you an idea of how much fabric they take. 16 strips of fabric will cover one long table runner or four place mats, but not both. Well the good news is I now have some idea how much fabric it takes! So I'm improvising. I'm making a short table runner and four place-mats, but the place mats will just be striped in the matching colors.
Table runner top
Place Mat
Honestly, I'm not sure I'm going to keep them. I was thinking about turning it into a table runner plus two matching place mat set. I chose the colors because I thought they would look good in our living room/dining room but somehow they just don't seem to mesh.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas Tree Skirt Completed

I finally finished it! It seemed like it took way too long but here it is. I used eight 45 degree triangles, so I'm not entirely certain why it didn't exactly work out to a complete circle, but it looks great under the tree anyway.
Complete pattern
Skirt was strip-pieced from my stash. I added the spokes to make it larger since it seemed like it would be much too small. Total diameter is about thirty inches. Good thing our tree is so tiny! It works out great for our tree but would be much too small for a larger one.
I plan on finishing the surcoat I've been working on next.

Linking up to We Did It Wednesdays!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dinner for Busy Peoples

By Kaelyn Angelfoot

Sorry all my loyal fans, but I had to take some time out of the average crafty post to talk about our new favorite recipe, Steak-Sort-of-Panini. That is to say, its a toasted sandwich inspired by a steak panini you can't get at Panera anymore.

Slice two small onions and several mushrooms thinly. Finely mince two garlic cloves. Melt 4 Tbsp butter in fry pan. Saute garlic and onions, and mushrooms in butter over medium-low heat until caramelized. This caramelization takes a very long time (15 - 20 minutes). Be careful not to burn the onions and garlic.
When veggies are caramelized, remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain. Raise heat to medium. Cook two four-ounce top sirloin steaks to desired doneness, turning once.

I undercook the steak a little, since you're going to be toasting the sandwich later and this will cook the steak more. While steak is cooking, cut a french demi-baguette in half. Slice longways. On each half, spread 2 Tbsp of spreadable garlic and herb cheese. (Boursin or Rondele work great.) Split the onion mixture between the baguette halves.

When steak is done, slice thinly and layer on the baguette. Pop in toaster oven, set to toast, for 2-4 minutes, until heated through. Remove from toaster oven, make sandwiches, and enjoy!

Simple, fast, easy, and deliciously tasty! I call is Steak-Sort-of-Panini because its not technically a panini. I wanted to purchase a panini press, but it turns out they are horrifically expensive. So, I came up with a toaster oven alternative that I don't plan on changing, even if I ever get a panini press.
Mmmm... tasty
This recipe makes two large sandwiches, so you could easily stretch it just a little and make enough food for four by using two six-ounce steaks and a a little extra on the veggies.