I said, Black is cool

At some point a witty saying will materialize here. Right here. Watch for it.

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June 20, 2016

Cat Bullet

Monday morning

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 11:54 am

Oof, it is going to be a hot summer this year, isn’t it?? One nice thing about spending weekend time in the basement doing sewing… it is a LOT cooler down there. The bad thing though is that you eventually have to emerge into the heat of the main floor and the upstairs. Ugh!

OK, so there was progress over the weekend.  Here is the photo of my “almost-final” fabric selection for the Day Dreams quilt.  I say “almost-final” because I made a substitution for one of the blues in the center star points – I didn’t think that there was enough contrast, so I picked a brighter blue batik that I had originally removed from contention.    I’ll see if I can work it in somewhere else in the piece so that it is balance (I’m thinking about using it as some of the cornerstones that are coming up in the borders…)

Fabric for Day Dreams quilt.

I’m glad that I went ahead and bought more orange fabric.  I’m still going to try to use as much of the older fabrics as possible because you know that I like a LOT of variety in my fabrics.    I really (really) like the new fabric with the big pointy flowers.  I might even get some more of that, assuming that it will still be available, when I return to the store at the end of July to take a class.   More on the class in another post, I guess.

After several times watching the video and a careful line by line reading of the instructions, I started on the center star medallion.  Boy, was that hard!!!  I keep getting confused and sewing fabrics in the wrong places.  Or in the right places, but sideways.  Or had to recut pieces because I trimmed them before realizing that they were incorrectly attached.  I don’t think there was a single seam that wasn’t sewn at least twice.  At one point, I had to race to the sink to wash out a huge blood smear because I either cut or stabbed myself with a pin.  No idea on that one.   But, I persevered and here is the final result:

Day Dreams Center Medallion

I’m pleased.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m happy with it and that is enough, right?     Next step is a circular border around this part.   Wish me luck…

 

 

 

 

 

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June 16, 2016

Cat Bullet

Where does the time go?

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 9:50 am

Kylemore Abbey flowers

So, welcome back to the world’s quietest blog.   Hope my loyal reader (*waves at mom*) has found something else to occupy herself in the mean time.

It has been hot and unproductive here.  I always have grand hopes for getting things done after work, but by the time I stagger back into the house at the end of the day, the couch looks pretty good.

Do I have any news?   Let’s see…  Sort of.    I’ve signed up for a quilting seminar/retreat in Maine next summer.  It is being taught by a woman named Jaqueline de Jonge who is a master of foundation paper piecing.  Her work is very attractive to me because it is very geometric and she uses very bright colors.   When I received my information packet, it mentioned “This is not a beginner event.”   *gulp*      So I have one year to increase my abilities, and how else are you going to do that but practice, right?

Luckily, the same instructor runs an online video class, so I waited for a sale and then signed up for that.    I didn’t want to go out and buy a whole bunch of new fabric, so I headed for the stash…  Here is a picture of my initial fabric selection…

Fabric selections for Day Dream quilt

(side note, the stash is starting to get pretty thin… I guess that my Ravelry “Austerity” challenge is starting to pay off).

I was fairly pleased with the selection until I started measuring the amounts of the oranges and found that I just didn’t have enough.  I thought about only making part of the project, but that really didn’t appeal to me, so I went out last weekend and bought a few more pieces.   I wanted to have darker oranges (as brown as I could get them), so that was what I selected.

I realize that a photograph of the new fabrics would be fabulous at this moment, but I don’t have one yet.   *sigh*  My blog needs to hire a more efficient staff.

Anyway, I’m happy with my selection.  I’ve been watching the video lessons and working on cutting out the paper template pieces (133 pages of templates means a LOT of cutting).  I’ve also been reading the 35 pages of directions that came with the templates.

Who knows?  I might even find the time this weekend to start on this project.     Wish me luck!

 

 

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April 27, 2016

Cat Bullet

update

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 9:10 am

I’ve finished the Cobblestones, Bricks and Pebbles Mystery quilt top.

Cobblestone Top done

OK, in the interest of full disclosure, it isn’t completely sewn in this photo, but I have since finished it.  I decided to leave the last top and bottom rows off (it was supposed to be a square), because I liked the size it was without them.    Also, I felt that it would be easier for me to quilt on my home machine if I didn’t have those extra 12 inches (ish).

I really love how it came out.  I can’t wait to finish it.    I’m planning to use large pieces of the same light colored fabrics to cover the back, and I’m planning to quilt it in randomly spaced straight lines.   The same dark blue that is the accent/soloist color will be used for the binding on the edge.   I think that the weekend weather is supposed to be yucky again, so I’m looking forward to some quality time with the machine.

 

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February 24, 2016

Cat Bullet

quick update

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 6:14 pm

Well, not much going on. Purrcy is disappointed.

Purrcy sad

I was able to work on the Mystery Quilt a little bit over the past weekend, but that consisted of getting the cutting done for the rest of the clues. I thought that I had cut everything requested in the initial directions, but maybe she ended up adding more. I need to make a bunch more (40) of those rectangular “brick” blocks and they take a while.

But at least everything is cut for now…

Further details as events warrant!

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February 8, 2016

Cat Bullet

Weekend Report

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 10:33 am

Well, nothing much happened this weekend.

Oh… Was there a game or something???

Our Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl!!!!! YAAAAYYYYY

My impressions of the game…

1. Dame Helen Mirren used the word “Pillock” in a Super Bowl Commercial. Well played, madam. Well played.

2. Peyton is really uncomfortable with paid sponsor plugs *cough BUDWEISER cough*. Next year, get someone else to be your shill.

3. Speaking of Budweiser, WHERE WERE MY CLYDESDALES??? I was bereft of heartwarming equine entertainment. I shall counter by giving you my favorite Budweiser commercial of all times:

4. I can’t think of any possible reason to have sound speakers in the bed of a pickup truck. Just something else to break and get encrusted with sheep poop. And to annoy all the people who live on roads along the route that you drive.

5. I don’t know what Liam Neeson was selling (some sort of TV, I think), but he needs to come visit me and talk in that wonderful gravely Aslan-esque voice for an extended period of time. *dreamy sigh*

6. I made some Super Soup. That I ate in a bowl. (see what I did there?)
It was loosely based on this:
Ravioli Soup
I cooked it in my dutch oven (not crock pot) and used cheese ravioli instead of tortellini. I also added a finely diced onion, zucchini and some shredded carrots (sauteed in olive oil before adding other ingredients). It was spectacular and made enough to feed a couple of armies.

7. I had a Super Breakfast of whole wheat scones. Here is the link. Use half the sugar it calls for and either make 1/2 a batch or cut twice as many. Good use of raisins and whole wheat flour. Would be spectacular with home made jam of any variety.

So, There you go. Absolutely NOTHING of note happened this past weekend…

Oh, and I read a couple of books and worked on my Mystery quilt. Clue five is mostly done but I haven’t photographed it yet. Clue six was released before the Super Bowl and I think there is only one more clue after that. Good thing, because I’m close to running out of design wall…

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February 3, 2016

Cat Bullet

Mystery update

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 1:54 pm

Progress update on the Cobblestones and Bricks Mystery quilt project:

Mystery Quilt, end of clue 3

This picture was taken at the completion of Clue 3. The long rectangles we pieced are the “Bricks,” while the larger sized squares are the “cobblestones” and the smaller squares are the “gravel.” You can really see the difference between Cobblestones and Gravel by looking at the dark blue squares.

Clue 4 involved making a bunch of 9 patches (with the dark blue in the center), and has been completed but not photographed (because it is just a pile of squares…). Clue 5 is more 9 patches and some 4 patches made out of the cobblestones.

Clue 5, released this past Monday, involved more 9 patches and some 4 patches of the larger sized blocks. I was feeling a bit behind and grumpy about it. During the big east coast snow storms, extra clues were released so that the bored people had something to do. Well, I guess the Quilting Fates have a sense of humor because we had an honest to goodness SNOW DAY yesterday. I got to stay home in my jammies and I sewed most of the day.

So, where does it stand now? I’m working on arranging the 4 and 9 patches so that there aren’t any of them sewn together that have the same fabrics touching. Yes, I know that I’m probably taking too much time to make these decisions, but still, it is what I have to do to be happy with my final product. So far, I have two of the four sides put up on the design wall, so just two more to select.

Then to sew them together and I will be ready for next Monday’s clue.

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January 18, 2016

Cat Bullet

New Mystery Project

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 2:00 pm

We interrupt the circle project to bring you a new Mystery Quilt…

This one is much more low key than the Bonnie Hunter quilt, thank goodness. The clues are issued through Facebook and the community is very active and supportive.

Our first clue was issued January 11, and I finished it up this weekend…

First Cobblestone/Brick clue done

It is called Bricks, Cobblestones and Pebbles (the “bricks” will be 2.5 x 5″, the cobblestones are 3.5″square and the pebbles are 2.5″square).

My “soloist,” or accent fabric didn’t photograph very well, but it is a mottled dark navy blue/teal with gold accents. I’m really happy with how it looks. All of the rest of the fabrics are going to be very light background – white or off white, though I am (obviously) allowing color prints on that.

I love how it came together. If you are up close, you get to find images like flowers, chicks, owls and baseballs. From across the room, though, you can really see the pattern that the dark squares form.

I can’t wait to see how this one comes out!! It is nice to have an activity with very easy goals each week. Clue #2 was released and it is 9 simple nine-patch blocks with the soloist in the center. Easy Peasey!!

No worries, I’m still working on the Circles quilt. I’ve got to do some more free motion quilting to get the background finished before I continue. It is kind of time consuming to switch my machine from straight quilting to free motion quilting, so I figured that I will do clue 2 before I switch it back.

Everybody have a happy Monday!

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January 6, 2016

Cat Bullet

Update on Circle Project

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 10:42 am

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that the holidays were fun and relaxing for you.

I spent quite a bit of time working on my Circles project. I got all of the first batch/layer of circles hand quilted/embroidered with the running stitches along the edges and along each strip.
Progress is being made

The white circles are the paper templates for the next layer of circles. More about them in a bit…

I enjoyed the chance to use some of my fancy hand dyed cotton floss that I’ve been hoarding for years.
Fancy embroidery floss!
I really enjoyed picking out which colors would go with which circle and made an attempt to not always be “matchy-matchy.” I’m actually stitching through all the layers of the quilt with the cotton floss, so this project is going to have both hand and machine quilting. Side note – you will NEVER see a photograph of the back side of this quilt. It is not a very pretty sight, let me tell you.

After I finished with the big circles, I decided that I wanted to do the machine quilting on the background before I added the next layer. No, this isn’t a procrastination thing. I decided that the next group of circles is going to be more free standing and “floating” and I wanted the quilting to be done before I started attaching them. I kind of wish that I had done the stippling before I applique’d the big circles down, to be honest.

Scribble quilting

I’m still not very good at machine quilting. I had hoped for a really smooth “micro-stipple” but it is more angular and jerk-ish. No worries, this is NO RULES QUILTING and it barely shows up anyway, right? I really love how the machine quilting is making the first layer of circles stand out and look a little puffy.

So, what is the next step? Once I finish the stippling (I’m about 1/3 done right now), I’m going to take the little white circles and use them as patterns to make the next group. Currently, I’m planning on using lighter colored (not brighter colored) fabrics and more fancy embroidery on each one. I’m planning to have them be free standing (finished on the front and back, kind of like coasters) before I attach them, and I’m going to add at least one layer of batting to them so that they have some depth. They will be attached via the under side, but not along the edges – I want the edges to be floating out a little bit.

We will see how it all comes together! Good think I really like circles. This has been fun to work on.

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December 18, 2015

Cat Bullet

Circles in/on circles

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 5:13 am

So, the new project.

My previous quilt was straight lines and bright colors, so I decided to try circles and more muted/brownish colors for this one.

I had originally intended to do inset/seamed circles, with pattern pieces made with freezer paper, similar to how I put the previous one together. But, before I committed to a whole project this way, I decided to test it out first.

Good idea.

Here is my circle pattern piece with seam allowance (blue) and the background into which I was planning to insert it.

trial circle, pre-insertion

I carefully cut the circle out of the inset, clipped the seam allowances and then stitched it up. The result?
Ummmmm… Not so circular…

not a circular circle

From a technique standpoint, this was very difficult with a disappointing result. I did like the way that the circle kind of floated above the background fabric, but it just didn’t look very nice.

So, the next one I tried ironing the seam allowance to the wrong side of the blue circle. Once that was creased, I used some fusible to stick it down on the background and hand stitched the edges down.

The result? No picture (sorry), but it was better than the first attempt. It still had uneven points and flat spots around the supposedly circular edge.

My last trial was to cut a freezer paper circle and iron it to the wrong side of the fabric. Then I cut a generous (more than a quarter inch, but less than a half inch) seam allowance and ran a double line of basting stitches around the edge. These served as gathering threads and I was able to carefully pull the seam allowance to the back side in an even fashion and then steam/press it into submission. This proved to be the most successful technique and was the one that I chose to carry forward with.

Here is a photo of some of the pieces with their drawstrings…
drawstrings, at the ready

Here is how it looks after the strings have been drawn and the seam allowance severely pressed to the back (before the freezer paper was removed).
edges drawn up and pressed

Here is the final piece, ready to be appliqued onto the background:
Ready to applique

Pay no attention to the notches/irregular parts of the circle – this quilt is designed to have circles floating on top of other circles, and those sections are where “higher up” circles will be installed.

Now I am using my beloved Perle cotton to hand embroider along the seam lines and around the edges of the circles. This is taking a long time, but is a very relaxing and enjoyable process.

So, that is where we stand for now. Further updates as events happen. Hopefully, the big “reveal” will happen sometime soon.

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December 16, 2015

Cat Bullet

What’s going on?

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 5:11 pm

We had a snow day yesterday. Taffy spent the whole day doing this:

Taffy on the furnace vent

Yep, that is the furnace vent that she is lying on, keeping her belly fur warm. Thanks, kitten, for freezing the rest of us out…

I took advantage of the time to work on my current art quilt project. Here is a sneak peak of how it is going…

progress on circle quilt

I don’t want to show the whole “reveal” yet because frankly, it doesn’t look too nice right now. Definitely a work in progress.

I do have several photos to talk about the development of this one, so stay tuned to the blog for further updates…

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