Sunday, November 28, 2010


Maybe you've noticed changes to my blog format? That is because I just encountered a bit of my ancestry. While visiting family, I was admiring a display of old photographs. Some I recognized easily, of some I demanded copies, some I'd never seen before.

And one had me captivated.

It was Lillian Catherine, my great grandmother. Her quilt hangs on my wall, and I named my blog for her.

I was amazed to see so many of my own features in her face. It touched me deeply.

Now, this is the same side of the family that received the t-shirt quilt. (It was duly shown off and received all the praise and admiration it merited.) Noting my penchant for fabric, my aunt brought out a surprise.

More of Lillian's stitches! This beautiful quilt top was found years ago in my Papaw's basement. Some of the stitches resembled those of the quilt I already own. Others looked machine-done, reminiscent of the flyfoot blocks made by my grandmother Frances. Maybe they both worked on it? In which case the quilt, once complete, will be even more precious.

I am looking forward to an opportunity to better photograph this top. It really is lovely--lots of turquoise, striped shirting, prints that have inspired modern "vintage" lines... Such a treasure. What a gift!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not For Wimps... or "How I Spent My Thanksgiving"

Once upon a time I embarked upon a t-shirt quilting adventure. Through the process I have gained stamina, endurance, perseverance, patience... if I were to get a commemorative tattoo for the completion of this puppy, it would say "Quilting is not for wimps!"

Care to waltz with me through the journey? It began with thirteen Tennessee Titans t-shirts given to me by a cousin. Cute story here: my cousin went to try out for the Titans cheerleaders and ended up with this handsome stunt partner. They both made the team, fell in love and married! Hooray! These are memories from their cheering days.

Preliminary arrangement: twelve for the front, one for the back. I bought heather gray cotton flannel for the backing.

My plan was to take the whole project to my parents' and use the dining room table (made by my father! See--artistry is genetic!) to quilt it. I'd changed my plan on the top and used a couple of solid squares from the tee backs to fill it out to 16 blocks. But I still wanted to piece the back before heading to my parents'. No sweat, right? I'll do it Tuesday after work.

But... Tuesday morning did not go as planned. I ended up having several hours of "family bonding" with my dad courtesy of an ovarian cyst making its presence known. By noon I was at home scarfing basmati rice and soy sauce, and Dad was picking up meds to keep me loopy. Yrch. Not my fave. Needless to say it kept me from the sewing machine!

Not to be daunted, I awoke Wednesday late, refused meds, packed helter-skelter and headed down the highway (all of two exits--extensive road trip, I know!) At my parents, I took over the front of the house! First I pieced the back...

Then I lay out my batting--a donation of high-loft poly from a friend. It had to be pieced a bit, too...

And then the top! Curvy safety pins, ahoy!

Then for the step that I thought I remembered reading about somewhere: painter's tape grid.

Looking back, I think I would still take this step because (1) pencil lines on jersey knit, even when backed with fusible web, do not sound like fun and (2) moving a piece of tape along as I sewed on either side for 65 inches does not sound like fun either.

Next step: practice pad. Woo hoo. So thick and soft-looking! The 'rents were impressed.

Happy Thanksgiving! What a sight go greet the morning! THANKfully (ha ha, punny, right?) dinner was low-key veggie soup for four, and the dining table was not required.

Lines... More lines... 13 each direction. For a beginner, this was daunting. And sweet little Kenmore's foot pedal kept getting overly excited! We had to let her breathe a bit between lines of stitching.

But sometime on Black Friday morning, she was done!

Since I didn't get a photo of the backing before, here's a few.

My stitching wasn't perfect. I plan on hand-stitching bits like these.

And then there was the grid of tape. It was perforated where I'd run straight over. My fingernails got a work out. Mom and Dad helped, though. They were so excited to see it come together!

Ah... tape-free!

And then binding! I demonstrated the wonders of rotary cutters and self-healing mats to my mother as I cut navy blue flannel binding. And voila.

I'm not being too critical on myself for this attempt. It's by no means perfect. You can see how the binding ended up covering some of the screen prints. You can see how the stitches pulled some. Other imperfections I've already discussed.

Thoughts for the future: batting is not necessary. This was very thick and cumbersome, and I'm not sure it's worth it. (Tell that to the quilt's owners as they snuggle under it at a football game--I'm sure they'll disagree!) In general, despite the fusible web, the t-shirt material itself was harder to work with than a calico. I guess that's not surprising. Maybe my expectations were too high?

All in all a good experience! It may be awhile before I agree to do another of these, and I'm sure I'll make changes, but I'm thankful for the ability to grow my skills in something I enjoy AND spend time with my family in the process! Delivery is tomorrow. Mom is working on schemes to show it off without ruining the surprise for the intended recipient. That's family for ya. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to the holiday season, ya'll!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oversized Crocheted Accessories II

I am thankful for the ability to rock fabulous oversized crocheted accessories:

This hat was made from this pattern using Lion Brand fishermen's wool. I used 1 1/2 skeins and divided the yarn into sixths, crocheting with six strands at a time to make up the weight the pattern called for. Also, I used a size N, rather than Q, hook. Not bad for my first piece using a crochet pattern!

Next step is felting. I've never felted before. We shall see what will be! I hope it turns out. Winding yarn into equal sixths, although fun from a problem-solving perspective, isn't my favorite. Here's to beginner's luck! :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So Cute I'm Speaking German

Holy Spätzle, I made some cute stuff! Two babies are on their way: one in the family, one on the faculty. I finished both projects today!

My cousin's bun-in-the-oven gets a Mooshy Belly Bunny (modified). Props to Sew, Mama, Sew! for the link.

Black and white... my two favorite colors... not so great in a horizontal striped tee, though. But adorable as a Bun-Bun!

Bun-Bun has a boom-boom made from leftover t-shirt scraps I sliced into yarn.

Seriously. Holy Spätzle, that's cute. Who couldn't love that face?

Modifications include:
  1. No stuffing in the ears
  2. No cinching around the neck (that stripe makes a natural neckline, plus I don't go for the lynched look...)
  3. Additional t-shirt yarn tail

And then there's the co-worker. She's had too many showers to count, but she loves handmade pieces. I was inspired by our work environment and, again, my favorite black and white. Thanks, Spool Sewing, for the pattern!

Don't have a cow... Have a rainbow instead! :-)

I put jingle bells in the first, fourth and seventh birds' mouths. The ribbon is a double layer--white grosgrain and red satin. Each bird is sewn onto the ribbon, although I considered Velcro-ing them so Baby can play. But the garland is cute, too! Looking forward to delivering these (haha, pregnancy pun intended!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Relaxing Saturday

I spent most of Saturday in bed. Oh delicious rest! Oh delight of being free and young and unattached! The few times I got out, I took advantage of the beautiful weather to snap pics of my t-shirt quilt top!

And in-between cat naps I crocheted a scarf! I found the yarn in my stash. It was hard to work with, and I experimented with going lengthways, but I like the way it turned out. Apologies for the pictures. Evening falls early now...

Hooray random synthetic Lion Brand whatever-it-is! This may end up as a gift eventually but for now I like the honey color and the loooooong (on me) length. :-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Christmas for a Switzerman

My brother is in Europe. I finished his Christmas present today. Brüder, don't say I didn't warn you.

People kept asking me if I were making a sweater. I said "NO!"

And it is not a scarf, either. It is a cowl.

Because mein Brüder is chic like that. And Switzerland is cold.

I had fun modeling it. Oh the many ways to wear a cowl in 75-degree Nashville Novembers!

Two and a half skeins of FAT Lion Brand yarn. Now to start Daddy's gift... :-)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Road Trip Quilt--Completed!

Going my way? It may take awhile...

...'cause it took me awhile... to get it into acceptable form. This was a first attempt at self-binding, but I wasn't daunted! I even took Allison's advice and zig-zagged the edges (exhibit [b]) to make it easier to attach the bi--DANG IT! [sigh] I pulled out the scissors and began carefully trimming away the excess batting and top edges, carefully avoiding the backing/binding.

I did say "carefully", right? So what's that blue thing in the trash bin?

Hmm... maybe the Urban Dictionary defines "carefully" in such a way as would include creating a gash in your backing/binding (see exhibit [a] below). In frustration, I chopped off that whole side and tossed it, only to rescue it in a fit of brilliance and reattach it, gash facing away, hiding the evidence with the turned-under edge.

Exhibit [a] -- the gash. Exhibit [b] -- zig-zagged edges.

Exhibit [c] -- quilted and re-quilted. I got frustrated in my attempts to re-quilt the parts I'd picked, so I just attempted some free-motion straight lines. With tenuous success.

But OH WELL. It is a play mat for a 1-year-old to roll his cars on and protect Mommy's refinished hardwood, after all. Mona Lisa it is not, but nonetheless, it is FINISHED!

Laundered, it measures 11.5 x 42.5 inches.

You can tell which side had to have its binding reattached. I hope not to become well-versed in such surgeries.

Add a few strategically-placed snippets of grosgrain, and voila! A road trip in cotton! Hooray!

Now to figure out a way to deliver it. Party is tomorrow, but I am working at an event that just happens to be hosting my first ever craft showing. For more information, go here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gift-Making Season!

The good thing about this blog is that my family and friends check it and see what I'm working on. The not-so-good thing is that I can't share the gifts I'm making for them. But suffice to say I have begun presents for the best friend and the brother, and I have my supplies set aside for my mother and father and the "others".

Last year those others got birds from Spool. I thought I was done with birds until my coworker decided to be eight months' pregnant! So... she shall get a colorful mobile! (She doesn't read my blog--no worries about spoilers.)

Speaking of spoilers, I think this year's "others" get something from Lady Havartine. I love her tech geekiness coupled with artistry. Yes. So good!