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A Very Expensive Bridge

July 10, 2015

Just about this time last year, I wrote a blog post about why I don't make quilts to sell.

I currently have three projects that are "due" this fall. One each in September, October and November. The October one is a wedding gift. The November one is a miniature (with all the pieces and techniques of a big quilt, but in teeny tiny pieces) and the September one... That's the one I'm here to talk about.

The September quilt is an art piece to be entered into a local-ish quilt show. The size must be 20x28", the theme is "Build a Bridge". The prize is a pretty ribbon and bragging rights. That's all.

I had a lot of problems finding my inspiration in the theme; I spent hours/days looking at pictures of bridges - trestle, suspension, fairy, natural... then branching out into other media - stained glass, shadows, linework (it's okay if you don't know what they are). I asked for suggestions from people I trust and read poetry and short fiction and went down many, many rabbit holes.

Okay, I was being ingenuous when I said I spent hours/days. I spent WEEKS looking for inspiration, and then trying to mold that inspiration into something that could be rendered in fabric. Once I finally found the right fit for my creative brain and capabilities, the REAL work began.

(Hint) I'm not drawing a bridge.

I had to do a basic drawing, both with pencil on paper and mouse on screen. A whole lot of math was involved. What size should this section be? How can I get 17 motifs evenly and pleasantly distributed? (that answer is, I can't)

From first drawing to where I am now - hand-drawn finalised real-sized drawing and an accurate reverse image - it has taken me approximately 12 hours. 12 hours of drawing, measuring, moving, erasing, printing, taping, drawing some more.

And I haven't even touched fabric yet.

I'm not creating this as a pattern for sale or a class to teach. I'm creating is because it interests me and stretches my brain.

But if I were planning to sell the pattern or if I were designing this as a finished piece to be sold... At this stage already I have spent (conservatively) 30 hours. At $10/hour (not much above minimum wage in my state) that's $300. And, as I mentioned before, I am a skilled, experienced quilter. My hourly rate should be higher than 'just above minimum wage'.

Wait. I shouldn't be counting the hours of looking at bridge pictures and doodling on paper and reading poetry and... ? It's research, isn't it? It's something that I am doing specifically for this project, so it should count, I say. A journalist gets paid for research, not just a story. Scientific-types get paid for research, not just the cure for cancer. If this were a paying gig, yes. I get paid.

Yesterday, while cutting fabric for a customer at the fabric store, she mentioned that someone had asked her to make two king-sized Seahawks quilts. She told them, okay, but it'll cost at least $150 each.

I nearly jumped over the cutting counter. I explained to her what I've just laid out for you, dear readers. When I got to the part about minimum wage, I asked her if she could get a king-sized quilt done from design to binding in 15 hours. (of course, the answer was NO!)

Hopefully I got the little hamsters running on the wheel in her head and she begins to value her work more realistically.

I'm sure trying to be more mindful of my time and value.

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Dollies, Not Doilies

May 23, 2015

Well, wouldja look at that. Another UFO finished.

This one is probably 5 years old. Pieced by my friend Pam as a sample for the shop, once it had done its time as a display I had that audacity (Gasp! Me? No!) to ask if I could have it. Since it wasn't Pam's preferred style (and really, not mine either and that's why I didn't make one myself), she didn't even bat an eye when she handed it over to me.

Then, as I'm sure many of you predicted, it sat in a corndog box for a few years before I decided to quilt it.

The straight-line quilting was actually more difficult for me to do than the free-form feathers in the borders. But I'm on a feather kick right now, so maybe that makes the difference.

The binding, though. I had some lovely sharp corners on this wallhanging. Then I washed it and the binding fabric shrunk more than the body fabric. That doesn't happen often, and I am very happy for that. Bindings aren't hard, but they're fiddly if you are like me and want picture-perfect sharp mitres at the corners. I guess I should have taken a picture those corners before washing (yeah, there's a riveting blog post), but this is luckily the first time and hopefully the last that the shrinkage completely distorted the corners.

If I can find some space on the walls in the guest room, I'll probably hang it there.


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The Mysterious Corn Dog

March 18, 2015

"All the time."  "Soulless" by Gail Carriger ♦♦♦♦♦

Okay, the title is a bit of a stretch, but better than "A corn dog box project and a mystery quilt", right? This is kind of a throwback post... I found it in my drafts folder. Quilt retreat is coming up in about 6 weeks and these pictures (and thoughts) are from last year's retreat. Let's call it a bonus post, mmm'kay?

Last year at retreat I put the final borders on the Oh! Christmas Tree quilt, one of the first corn dog box projects I grabbed for my (2014!) New Year's Resolution.

I've realized that a lot of my projects get stalled at the border stage; I wonder if it's because all the "hard" work is done? Maybe borders bore me? I don't know, but there are a couple-few more projects that are ready to quilt except for borders.

I already have the backing fabric purchased so 'all' I have to do is baste and quilt it now. (Like that's going to happen any time soon...!)

Aaaaaand the mystery part. I designed "A Day At The Zoo' as a mystery quilt for the New Year's Day 2013 class. Probably only the second quilt I've ever designed without triangles; it was a big hit at the class. All of the quilts finished in the mystery class were stunning, and the quilters really worked some magic with their fabric choices. Also, it was actually FINISHED in one day (everyone arrived with pre-cut strips).

What a great kit to cut and take to retreat, right?

I was able to pull all of the necessary fabrics from my closet (yay!). The kit fit perfectly into a corn dog box.

After less than a day of sewing I had the body done, but though I had time I waited until the next day to put the borders on.

Yes, I think there's something to my border aversion.

Anyhoo, here it is in all its blurry glory. It was a lovely and easy pattern (even if I do say so myself) with nice big pieces and almost no seam matching. (If I were ambitious, I'd go find the quilt top - because of course it's still 'just' a top - and take a better picture. I'm not.)

Hmmm. I think this might be the next pattern I publish.


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My Kind of Doily

March 15, 2015

And he would probably go on losing it, drop by drop, until the day he died.  "Cold Is The Grave" by Peter Robinson ♦♦♦♦◊

I participated in a group activity with one of the quilt guilds I belong to: An applique project. Ostensibly, the purpose was to teach different applique methods to those who wanted to learn. I joined... just because. It's not that I know ALL the ways to applique, but I've tried bunches of methods; hand-, machine-, fusible. I prefer fusible. It suits my desire to do complicated projects and my lack of attention (hand-applique, I'm looking at you).

The original project was to put the center motif on a background of Log Cabin blocks, then turn the whole thing into a sewing machine cover.

Obviously I didn't do that.

Anyone who knows me can hear my voice when I say for the umpteenth time, "I adore log cabin blocks, but they bore me to tears. I start sewing on one and immediately get whiney - 'Is it over yet??'" So I did a different background. The background is a variation of a disappearing 9-patch, using a random set of fat quarters that have been tied up pretty in a ribbon for a long, long time.

The colours in the applique motif are pulled from the main print (with the daisies), so even though the piece is mostly black and white and green, the other colours fit (maybe moreso if you're seeing it in person?).

I wanted the piece to be big enough to cover my semi-new printer, a lovely thing that is in a black shiny plastic shell. Lovely, yes, but that shiny black plastic shows every speck of dust. And my house is VERY speckled. So, 24-ish inches was the goal.

To tie in the pop of colour in the center, I traced the outer edges of the shape to put something in the corners. Then it still looked a little weird, so I borrowed a leaf shape (or two).

The appliqued part has got some trapunto going on, then I got into the groove and did some (very) free-form funky feathers in the body. I seem to have been channelling Patsy Thompson a bit, though without colour and, if I am honest, without much of a plan. Fortunately it worked out well enough. For me.

I managed to catch the light just right so the quilting showed up nicely from the back.

It's been a long time since I've done any free-motion quilting, and I've missed it. Now that my machine is healthy again AND now that I can see the top of my sewing table again, I'm looking forward to swirling, feathering, pebbling and meandering ALL the things!!


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March 12, 2015

I'm going to pretend that it hasn't been months since I've written a blog post. All is well, I have been working on projects by the ?illion, and I've actually taken pictures of a lot of things. In my mind, I've shared them all with you.

This is my WIP Wednesday project
(because I remembered to take a picture on Wednesday. It was 5 minutes before midnight, but it was still Wednesday!).

CanCan-ishDone in Sheep-ish yarn (the one with Vickie Howell's face on the label) in the colourway Teal-ish. I love the feel of the yarn, a smooshy acrylic/wool blend. It doesn't split, but if you have to un-knit at all, it doesn't want to play well. The yarn is barely spun (minimal twist), so after it's in a stitch, it holds on for dear life.

The pattern is French Cancan by Mademoiselle C. The pattern is very well-written and the voice of the author is friendly.

The body is all garter stitch (which is boring, but something to do with one's hands when one is sitting in one's comfy chair under a cat), but of course the border is what inspired me to start knitting it.

CanCan-ish border I seriously love this border. I've made two mistakes that I can find (in the border) but they're nowhere near fatal and I'm not going to point them out to you.

The border pattern is kind of memorize-able, though occasionally I find myself zigging when I should be zagging on the cables. Easy fix, though.

I knit on the body of the shawl until I had used two of the four skeins of yarn I bought. The border will use almost two skeins, too. I've just passed the halfway point on the border!

Now all I need to do is actually block the thing when it's finished. I don't want it joining the other FOUR unblocked shawls hanging on my wall. Above the blocking mats. Looking like a collection of some sort of curly seaweed.


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