Thursday, August 27, 2009

Double Gauze

so this is what all the fuss is about! lots of blogs are talking about Heather Ross' line that is made of "double gauze" and i wondered what it was. the other day i was browsing around FQS (very dangerous!) and Lecien's Atelier and Akiko line was on sale--it was so sweet that i thought i'd buy a couple of remnants. well, when i got it, it felt different from quilting fabric--it was extra soft--almost like a knit but not stretchy. when i looked around, Superbuzzy listed their A&A line as "double gauze"--ah ha!

i can see it as an apparel fabric but would work quite nicely as a quilt too. i had originally thought i might make a purse or a zip-up bag with this fabric but i'm not sure now-it might be too soft and nice-to-touch to "waste" on a bag.

turns out the A&A fabrics perfectly matched the Bari J. Full Bloom tea pot fabric i also bought. i buy almost every tea cup & tea pot fabric i see and of course i haven't actually used any of them--i have a little problem like that :-)

here's the latest selections for the Dresden Plates. it's not very obvious in the pix but it's 4 stacks of 16 prints each for 4 more blocks. i can't believe it but i'm on my 4th block already (24 altogether so i'm still a long ways away). i do a tiny bit almost everyday 'cos i take it with me everywhere.
alex started 1st grade last week (woo-hoo!) and he gets out of school at 2:30 (woo-hoo!) we're trying to wean the twins off their naps but if they're in the car around that time, they will almost always fall asleep. so i try to get to school 20-30 min early and let the twins have a quick shut-eye in the car--which gives them just enuf energy for the rest of the day (before, they would sometimes fall asleep at the dinner table :-) but allow for a reasonable bedtime hour (if they took a nap, they wouldn't fall asleep until 11:00 p.m.!!!) which ultimately means, i've been getting a little bit of hand-sewing time while the twins nap. win-win situation :-)

here they are, cut into wedges. so pretty!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pinwheel faux Tutorial

work in progress.

i'm working on a pinwheel quilt for a friend's upcoming baby and so just finished piecing 256 half-square triangles (HST) using the triangle papers. coincidentally, right before starting my HSTs, i had just read this post from Minick & Simpson where she had also worked on HSTs, and it helped me be more thoughtful while working on mine. so this isn't a tutorial per se, just some thoughts while cutting and snipping and ironing and sewing my HSTs :-)

trimming dog ears are such a pain--literally and figuratively! my wrist is still sore from snipping fabric 512 times (years ago i had tendonitis because of cutting fabric and i'm still prone to it--eep!). but if you're using the triangle paper, it's a tad easier to fold the paper over and then trim according to the paper (hopefully the photos are a little clearer). this has the added benefit of weakening the paper before tearing it off. of course, i didn't figure this out until i was 2/3 of the way through!!! (btw, in my Miss Read books, i'm always reading about how they "top and tail" gooseberries--i've never seen anyone do it, but i see myself "topping and tailing" my HSTs :-)

the white is the paper, not the background fabric. when you fold up the paper, you have a nice sharp edge as your guide to cut off the dog-ear.

i've been reading alot on the blogs about pressing open the seams (vs. pressing to one side) Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie does it and i'm a huge fan of hers so i thought i'd give it a try. but i gotta say, i don't like it. it's just too time-consuming to have to press open the seam from the back, and then from the front to smooth it out--way faster to just press to the side. (this probably speaks more about my lack of perfectionism than anything else :-)

i thought i would at least try pressing open the seams with the pinwheel block 'cos that middle section, where it all comes together, gets awfully bulky. i did one, and while yes, it does lie nice and flat, it takes longer and i would need to pin the blocks together while sewing.

i found that being consistent is the key with these pinwheel blocks. if you always press to the dark (just for example's sake, i guess you could also always press to the light if preferred), then all the seams will nestle together (so you don't have to pin) and you would still get a flat block. it also makes it a no-brainer while sewing--just make sure your blocks line up exactly the same as the previous one, and you're on the right track.

1) press to the dark always.

2) you can sorta see how the two seams will nestle together.

3) when chain-sewing the HSTs together, note that the white fab is always on the top left. it becomes a no-brainer to sew--otherwise you may sew the wrong sides together (been there, done that :-)

4) it also helps to lay out the fabrics exactly the same while pressing--again press to the dark. i learned from Simply Quilts, to press blocks on top of each other, that way the bottom blocks get the extra benefit of additional heat as the newer blocks are being pressed.

5) when sewing together the sides of the pinwheel, the opposing seams nestle together quite nicely so you don't have to pin....

6) though it really helps to have a stiletto to push the seams through the sewing machine. i only recently got this stiletto (from Daiso) and it's helped tremendously in matching seams.

finally, when pressing open the 4-patch, which makes the Pinwheel block, you do that little twist on the back which pops open a couple of threads (i love it when i can hear the little "snap") --sorry, i can't explain it in words more than that--and then the other seams will also magically lie towards the dark, and you get the little pinwheel in the back. this will make it way easier when piecing all the blocks together because you'll get the opposing seams that nestle nicely together.

i like the pinwheel block for a baby quilt 'cos it's so colorful, it looks like a lot of work (though it's mostly just tedious), and you don't have to sew thousands of HSTs (for a bed-size quilt), just a couple of hundred :-)
this is probably really basic info for most of you guys, but hopefully it'll be helpful!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kaffe Fassett

i've heard of KF for years now, and have a couple of his books even--but mostly, i've admired him from afar. just recently i started buying his fabrics, and wow--are they beautiful! this is my latest acquisition--a bunch of 5" squares from this etsy store--which i heard about from the Selvage Blog. (that's a really fun blog btw--it's amazing what people will think of to do with their selvages. i, of course, have been collecting mine now but still haven't actually started a project yet.)

for those of you who know me, i'm cheap cheap cheap--and usually only buy things on sale. but i think this set of blocks is totally worth it 'cos i got a smidgen of 45 different fabrics and it'll totally pump up the volume on the Dresden Plate quilt i'm working on (see previous post for pictures).

not much sewing these days so not much to show. i'm working on tearing out all the paper backing of the half-square triangles that i did last week, and also cutting off the rabbit ears (man--that's tedious work) but i did catch up on The Daily Show while doing these chores!

(obviously you can google the great man yourself, but here's a link to his website)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


sigh...back from vacation life to normal life (of household chores and yelling at the kids :-) ...and next week alex will be starting 1st grade. yikes! summer is almost over.

so here's what i did on vacation. finished up one dresden plate.

i always like looking at other people's close-ups of fabric so here goes--though this does expose my so-so applique skills :-) i am really loving this project!

i have one unfinished dresden plate in my purse (the perfect take-along hand-sewing project--the block and needle & thread fits into a small zippered bag and i keep it in my purse at all times) and these two (below) prepped up. i think i'm going to make 24 blocks so that's 1/6th of the blocks! oh did i mention this earlier? while driving down to Monterey (it takes 75 min or so)--i finished the first plate block and then i had nothing else to to do--i didn't bring anything else. aargh!!! it was soooo frustrating to just sit there in the car with nothing to do--especially on the way home. so i took a nap :-)

so this is as far as i got on the Pop Garden (you can see in the lower left corner where i left off) --4-1/2 rows so far. very wrinkly and i still have a little problem with the corners popping out but it's going good so far. i admit, i had a moment of hesitation with all the colors and patterns, but i got over it and am loving it again!

i don't really like the jaggedy edges that a lot of grandma's garden quilts have so i'm putting in a border (a Heather Bailey's Bijoux print) on mine. i just cut the template in half and cut the fabric accordingly.

this is a new project that i'm starting--a baby quilt for CKB. i bought the border fabric (not showing it yet) when she announced her engagement--i'm such an optimist :-)

i'm using this triangle paper (by Mimi Shimp--bought it years ago at PIQF) which means easy sewing--but i can see hours of tedious cutting, tearing paper and ironing ahead. i wonder if it really saves time? but it's easy and accurate and i'm not very accurate usually!

another close-up :-)

whew! that's a lot of photos for me! it'll take me awhile to actually get things done but hopefully i'll have more pix to show soon.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Monterey Bay Aquarium

so technically, this is Day 6 of our vacation but since we're back at home--it doesn't feel quite like it :-) i woke up late--the kids got up at 7:00 a.m. (!) and i was still able to fall back asleep through the noise. so we didn't leave the house 'til almost 11. got to monterey around noon but it worked out well 'cos the kids took a nap in the car and then we ate lunch right away.

the Aquarium is always crowded (or so it seeems). but we hit all the exhibits. there's a new (& temporary) otter exhibit & seahorse exhibit. the seahorses are especially amazing. max loves the penguins the most and alex prefers the sharks. sophie says her favorite thing was the guy who was cleaning the penguin tank (? :-) it was busy and tiring, but the kids held up well, only whining a little near the end.

we got a street, metered parking space so saved a bunch of money (most of the lots were $20/day) so we bought some plastic sharks ($13!!!) for the kids. max was the most thrilled with his hammerhead shark :-)

dinner at the local pho place (the "lollipop" shop). and that's it--our vacation is over--sigh... now onto sorting out the photos.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 4 & 5

Day 4.
low-key day but lots of sewing. it was overcast and cool when we woke up. i went for another walk. visited a coffee shop--so-so mocha. the kids & paul played a game of Sorry and then we went to a local park--one that we had gone to last year. funny--it seemed much smaller this year now that the kids are a year older! still, they had fun, and we had a picnic lunch there. sewed while waiting for the kids (it's nice to have paul there to play with them!)

we wanted the kids to take a nap so decided to drive around UC Santa Cruz, but there was a lot of traffic and we kept getting lost, and so by the time we figured out where we were, the kids were asleep in the car, so just went home instead. sewed while in the car waiting in the traffic jam!

then, an afternoon at the beach. we're certainly getting our money's worth of this beach! around 3 hours or so there. the usual, splashing in the water, me collecting shells, lots of digging in the sand. another starfish :-) actually sewed at the beach--poor dresden plate is getting a little grubby and wrinkly :-)

simple dinner of costco lasagna (kids didn't like it) and leftover hot dogs and pulled pork. then movie night--Wall-E (which is why i didn't post last night). got to sew during the movie :-)

after the kids went down to bed, i thought i would finish the chapter of my library book, Maisie Dobbs (found it through another blog) and ended up finishing the book at 1:00 a.m. good read!

Day 5.
another walk in the morning though woke up a little later due to my late bedtime. much better mocha today at another coffee shop :-)

ann & kids came at around 10:00. we were milling around outside getting ready to go to the beach, when the owner came out and started chatting (very nice lady). she mentioned she wasn't looking forward to cleaning our house today--and i said, you mean tomorrow. she looked me at funny and said, no today. called paul over and he said, yeah, we're leaving tomorrow. so she calls her husband and finds the paperwork and of course THEY were right--they actually had another family coming to stay that very day which is why she had to start cleaning right away. yikes!!! don't know how paul made a mistake (i.e. screwed up)--just a brain freeze.

luckily ann helped with the packing and L & K played with the kids and kept them out of the way. so we were able to be done by 11:00 (check-out time) (though the owners were very nice and i don't think they would've been that mad if we were late). sigh.... had to call Carol who was coming with J and the parents and say it was better if they didn't come since we didn't have a house (i.e. bathrooms anymore). that was the major bummer. otherwise, really not a big deal to leave a day early (which is the nice part of santa cruz being local).

we ended up going to the beach (the owners let us use the key :-) and stayed 'til 3. today was actually the nicest day weather-wise (yesterday was sunny by the afternoon but windy so it was kinda cold). the sea was actually a little calm at times. no major shells to pick but found another starfish (3rd one of the trip--unless it was all the same one :-) L&K are really comfortable in the water but probably most of the time the kids worked on big digging projects. Sophie is so much more at home in the water--in fact she'll go in when no one else is around (a little dangerous!) but the boys are careful to only go in when paul or i are in the water.

the boys pee'd against the cliff, but paul took sophie down to the water to pee. she refused to do it in her swimsuit, so paul took it off, and then she wanted to be naked after that :-) max then joined in (he actually gets too cold wearing the wet clothes)--very cute to have two little naked bodies scampering around. alex also wanted to join in but we wouldn't let him :-)

paul also took out a kite and got it up in the air for a few seconds at a time. unfortunately he also got stung by a wasp but at least the pain subsided after a bit!

so we left around 3 or so--took a little while to clean up and then headed to McDonalds to have a snack. ann & the girls went back home. we headed back, cleaned up, and then had dinner with the parents & carol & tim & J (Hometown Buffet of course)--so it was nice to at least hang out with them a little bit.

it'll be nice to sleep in own bed again (though i really liked the bed at Madeline's Cottage!) but it's a bummer that we had to come home early--did laundry tonight :-(

we're headed down to Monterey tomorrow as originally planned so technically we're still on vacation!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Santa Cruz Quilting

Day 3 of our vacation.

i was actually able to wake up at 7:00 to go walking--yay me! finally got a chance to walk around downtown Capitola (though of course none of the stores were open) but still fun to look at shop windows. not possible to do this with young kids in tow. tomorrow, i gotta remember to bring some cash and get some coffee :-)

we spent the morning & early afternoon at the beach (10:00-3:00). our cottage comes with access to a local, gated beach. the stairs are a pain but it's nice to have your own private beach! lots of seaweed, but also lots of shells to collect. i'm not really into shells but it's fun to have a "job" to do. max was much warier of the water today! he didn't really warm up until after lunch. sophie doesn't go out in the water much but she was actually braver and didn't want help when the waves bumped into her (she used to cling to anyone around her). alex & max spent most of the time digging in the sand.

the weather was perfect! sun was shining; water was cold but you get used to it. no more nature today but found a couple of really large shells. paul chatted with this old dude surfer--he was 86 years old!!!! been surfing since 1939!!!! he was kinda shaky walking, but fine out in the water--wow!

after the beach, lots of clean-up of course--sand is so pervasive. we let the kids watch a little TV and then an early dinner of hotdogs. then went down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk--it was 75 cent night with all the rides at 75 cents. of course the place was a zoo! but still it was manageable. the kids were a little cranky 'cos they didn't have naps but were ok considering. it helped that cotton candy was also 75 cents! so spent $10 on parking, $15 on tickets, $1.50 on cotton candy and $7 on a caramel apple & fudge (that's mostly for me :-)

we went on the baby roller coaster (paul's choice--or rather, he got to ride it, and not me); the really boring Cave Train (max's choice of course); paul & alex went on the car ride; and sophie went on the Red Baron ride all by herself! the boys didn't want to go on it (or rather alex didn't want to go on it so max didn't). then we took the sky tram to the other side and the 3 kids went on the Speedway ride by themselves :-) fun but exhausting!

got back at around 9:00; alex said he was still hungry so paul made a dish of nachos & pulled pork and the kids just devoured it--made 3 helpings for them! it's 10:20 now and i think the kids are actually asleep! last night it took almost 1-1/2 hours for them to fall asleep but they should be pretty exhausted.

oh, and the quilting refers to how i actually did a little sewing on my dresden plate block while waiting in line for the aforementioned boring yet popular Cave Train ride. got a whole blade done! i've also been able to do a little hand-sewing back in the cottage. last night paul crashed at around 10:30 but i wasn't sleepy so stayed up 'til midnight listening to podcasts (Annie Smith) and working on the Pop Garden. hopefully will get a couple more rows on by the end of the week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Vacation Blog

Boring Post Alert!!!!

we're in Santa Cruz (CA) right now for a week's vacation. so no photos (yet), no quilty stuff--just personal anecdotes that i'm sure will bore even close friends. so please come back next week--hopefully i'll have more progress to show on my Grandmother's Pop Garden.

Sunday started a little iffy. we woke up at around 9:00 a.m. & left home at around 2:30p.m. and basically packed the entire time in-between. i was so tired, and was thinking that i'm just lame--but then realized that i was a actually sick--started getting a little achy and my throat glands were swollen. took a nap on the way down, but still tired and out of sorts (i'm sure the kids didn't notice--they're so used to me yelling at them)

we got here, unpacked, and went down to Capitola--got a great parking space and played a little on the beach. the kids weren't in their swimsuits, but didn't care, they still got soaked. came home for dinner of soup & salad. the rental has a Sorry game--which paul taught them. alex LOVES the game--the twins were so-so--but max is a sore loser (luckily he won) and alex would try not to have to Sorry max. that game goes on forever! early bedtime for me (9:30) but poor paul had to stay up to start on his driving school lessons online. i'm still snoring (from being sick last week) so he slept with the kids. and good thing, 'cos max fell off the bed onto him (he was on the trundle, sophie on the floor in a sleeping bag)

felt much better today! we went up to Roaring Camp and took the narrow gauge steam train for an hour ride up to Bear Mountain. a little pricey ($80 for all of us) but the kids loved it and it was a beautiful ride in the redwoods. after lunch (we didn't pack so settled for 2 overpriced hamburgers for all of us --poor alex was soooo hungry) we walked over to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (right next door--if we ever go again to Roaring Camp, we should try to park there 'cos it's actually closer to the trains then their own parking lot) --they have a .8 mile trail (loop) that goes to their big redwoods, including one that you can actually crawl into. very cool. kids only got a little whiny/tired near the end. lots of morning fog, but the weather cleared up really nicely--so it was good to be in the shady redwoods.

of course they all fell asleep in the car on the way home. then on to the neighborhood beach (gated access). the tide was fairly high --by the time we left, the water was reaching where we originally put our stuff. there are quite a bit of stairs but having a private beach is pretty cool. the kids love playing in the water now (quite different from the 1st 2 years where they wouldn't even touch the ocean) which of course means we have to be extra diligent--no more reading on the beach.

1st thing, we saw a seal swim right by! didn't take a good pix--he had left by the time i got the camera. but how neat, to see one right there! the waves were pretty big, but when they receded, the beach has a good amount of shells. i had just picked a really big one, put it in the bucket that max was holding, when a huge wave knocked him down--he tumbled over a couple of times :-) alex saved him and grabbed his shirt! but we lost the shell. oh well. max didn't cry but was a little more wary of the water after that. then i found a starfish! i've never done that before!! not sure if it was dead or alive so took a bunch of pix and then threw it back in the ocean. paul found a half-dead crab--good-sized one--so also took pix and threw it back in. nature!

dinner was pulled pork on hawaiian rolls and spinach on the side. pretty good--especially when you're hungry :-) even the kids ate well. then a dessert/snack run to Trader Joe's; back home, started a game of Sorry--and now the kids are playing in bed.

we're staying in Madeline's Cottage which is a little cottage right behind someone's house. it's a mile out of downtown Capitola--hopefully i can wake up early enough to take a walk down. it's a tiny cottage but nicely furnished (the sheets are so luxurious) and the garden is beautiful. last year's rental had better access to a beach but this place is nicer. the 1st year's (this is our 3rd) rental was the nicest but it didn't have good beach access and was really not appropriate for young families (narrow, windy stairs)--plus my parents came and the in-law unit they stayed in was pretty crummy (we didn't know!) so this year is working out pretty well....

we really like santa cruz 'cos it's close to home (45 min away) so travelling isn't an issue--but still far enough way to feel like we're truly on vacation. plus i like cool weather, and the kids love playing in sand, and now the ocean. the 1st year we came, alex was 3 and the twins 1 (turning 4 and turning 2) and they wouldn't get close to the water at all--i remember one time, alex was just crying, "I hate the beach" :-) (that was the year Grace & her family went to Hawaii; we were jealous until we went to SC and realized a HI vacation would've been completely wasted on us!