Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I have quite possibly a few too many projects going on.

I cut out some squares for my Blimunda quilt to get an idea of what the blocks will look like, and I really do like the vintage look the fabrics have together, although when it's done it will look like nothing like a real Blimunda quilt by Barbara. The colors I have chosen are too drab in comparison, but I think it will be a nice starter quilt anyway.

I am also working on some felt bags for our babysitter to give her younger cousins at Christmas. They are two shades of pink which the babysitter picked out and the felt is so easy to cut and stitch and assemble, but I am hand stitching little appliques on them and that takes time. I am almost done with the first, but am still deciding what to do for the second.

While I mull over that ... I have started in on the Christmas stockings for my boys! My grandmother knitted them personalized wool stockings, which we left at my parents' house last year, so I am making them a couple of felt stockings to get us through this Christmas. It's just not Christmas without stockings. I have all the material, and have pretty much finished one, only it needs to be stitched together and I still need to attach five little bells. And then I'll get to work on the other.

And the French rag doll book I ordered on Etsy came last weekend and I love it. I have my patterns cut out and ready and I am set to begin. If only I had more time!

But today I have some work to do, some special pasta sauce and a birthday cake to make for my son who's turning two today, and the house to get in order...

The quilt - and everything else - will just have to wait.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

just another kitchen mouse

How about we call her Persimmon?

I need to stop making these! But it's just so addicting: a nice, neat project you can finish in one evening, a little therapeutic simple hand stitching, a bow or two, and a cute, cuddly animal at the end.

Friday, November 26, 2010

the blimunda quilt

I've been stalking the Blimunda blog in preparation for my first quilt. If Barbara checks her stats at all she'll be glad for the two countries that divide us.

Following her tutorial, I am planning an easy peasy square block quilt. She has chosen eight seven dot and circle fabrics. And now that I've found my fabric as well, it is getting easier to imagine I'll actually be able to do this.

I had about an hour to spare yesterday evening and so I went to a fabric shop that opened in October. The selection wasn't as big as I had hoped (even the owner mentioned her glee when she entered a fabric store in the US for the first time a few years ago) but I found the four fabrics on top of the pile pictured fairly easily. I also really like the bursts of color in the bottom fabric, but I have mixed feelings about the polka dots on the yellow and green. I bought enough fabric that if I don't end up using those two, I should still have enough.

The shop owner gave me a 20% discount, and still it felt like the fabric was so expensive compared to American prices. If I find it is relatively simple to get the fabric I ordered on Etsy, I think I will just have to learn some patience and go that route from now on.

Barbara does her measurements in inches, but all of my supplies are based on the metric system and let's face it, it is much easier to calculate centimeters than it is inches, so I am sticking to what I know. I will cut nine 14-cm squares for each of my blocks. That should give me 10-cm squares once they are assembled for 30-cm blocks at the end, considering a 1-cm seam, which sounds fairly close to what Barbara has calculated.

I laid everything out on the couch in my office, which is probably where I will end up displaying the quilt unless I give it away, and when I got up this morning, I came in to have a peak and see if I still like the fabrics I chose. And I do! All except that green, which I'm still not so sure about.

So I hid it under the yellow.

My husband has taken the boys to school and it's snowing now, which is a nice excuse to skip my run and stay inside with all my plans for the Blimunda quilt.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

decisions, decisions: fabric

And now, onto more serious pursuits: I found a quilt I'd like to make in this book.

But I'm finding it difficult to get my hands on fabric I like here that is priced reasonably. There are lots of very beautiful cottons and linens but they are pretty expensive. Most craft stores stock what they call "American cotton" for quilting, but the pickings are slim if you like bright, cheerful colors and less traditional patterns. If you like dark green, brown and maroon, pastel florals and teddy bears, you're in luck.

Unless I want to spend a fortune on designer fabrics in boutiques, which I don't, at least not for my first foray into quilting, I will either have to make do with what they've got at the local craft shop or drive out to the big (by Italian standards) fabric shop in Rosà, which about an hour away by car, so I have to plan accordingly.

In the meantime, as an experiment, I ordered a set of 16 fat quarters from an Etsy shop based in the US. The fabric is very pretty and reasonably priced compared to what it would cost here, even after shipping costs.

The quilt instructions said I'd need 12 FQs, and I figured I could maybe use the leftover 4 for the back? Or in case I mess up?

Anyway, the fabric should arrive next week and it will be interesting to see how all the pieces look laid out together and what the tax charge is when they deliver it (or summon me to pick it up at the least convenient customs office). I love the fabrics I chose, or at least the way they looked in pictures on my computer screen: lots of light green, some bright tangerine, and a little brown. I won't be using it right away, though.

This is because although the quilt I had in mind is rated easy, I am taking the advice of an expert and starting off with something smaller.

I will be following Barbara's tutorial for making a small quilt on Blimunda quilts. And although I would have loved my first quilt to be in one of her windmill patterns, which I adore, especially the orange and blue in her Etsy shop here, she is doing a simple square quilt that I think I should be able to handle. The top has "only" 135 small squares

Which brings us back to finding fabrics: I need eight! So it looks like I am going to need to organize a trip to that fabric store sometime soon. And decide on colors! And patterns!

This gives me something to think about while I put off working at my real job...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the room to which i steal away

This is our spare room. It used to be the quiet little bedroom where our au pair slept, but it has been empty since my youngest started preschool, and so I've reclaimed it.

It has a sloping roof and one small window, which make it one of the darkest rooms in our house, but it is a cozy little room, perfect for sorting through fabric and thinking.

During the week, the only time I have for stitching is after the boys are in bed, and this room is just across the hall from them. We live in a converted barn, and our part of the building is where the hay used to be stored. Downstairs was where the animals lived, and another family lives there now. Their three-year-old daughter sleeps just below this room, and I don't like to use my sewing machine after my boys and their daughter are in bed because it's so noisy in the quiet of the night.

Which means more hand stitching!

The pattern is from Kata Golda's "Hand-Stitched Felt", and I think I've made about a dozen of these little creatures - maybe more - since September. Most are for the Christmas market at my sons' school to raise money for school supplies and furniture (small, simple, wooden beds for the small children) but I've already given some away to the daughters of friends. These little mice and bunnies are so easy to make and so hard to hold on to.

Sadly, I'm out of polyfill, so these gals won't be finished until after Thursday, when I'll be picking some up at the fabric & yarn store. Not sure yet if I will take them to market or give them away.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

the beginning

I started this goose (or duck?) a few years ago. I cut and hemmed her little webbed feet. I cut out her head and gave her eyes and a beak. And then I wasn't quite sure how to proceed, so I put her away in the closet. She didn't even have a body. I thought she didn't stand a chance.

Except, years later, I bought a few books on hand (and machine) stitching so I could craft something decent to sell at the Christmas market to raise money for my sons' school. Reading through the books, I remembered my poor little goose. Lucky for her, I managed to find all her pieces, and all she needed were a body and some assembly. It didn't take long. I gave her a shawl and she was done.

But I wasn't!

I started crafting like a woman obsessed, in as much spare time as a self-employed mother of two can expect to enjoy, stealing stitches whenever I can.

This blog is to keep track of projects, progress, ideas, and, most importantly, inspiration.