Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In which I get cool stuff and you get two blog posts

Hey all! You guys get TWO new posts today because I was dumb and wrote a post a few days ago and hit "save" instead of "publish." Isn't this the opposite problem most bloggers have? Sunday's post should be below this one, so go ahead and read that one first if you want.

Anyway, both my swap goodies came in this week and THANK YOU SO MUCH, SWAP PARTNERS! I am actually pleasantly surprised and touched that you both took my incoming baby into account and made stuff for her, too--I genuinely wasn't expecting that since my blog is more about self-centered me than about the kid. Jennifer at Knotted Thread made an ADORABLE mug rug that features both my kitties on it--how cute is that?! And Benta at SLIKStitches' autumn-themed rug came just in time for me to start my fall decorating since I love autumn so much. The scissor tags are perfect too, since lately my scissors keep disappearing from my sewing pile (yeah I don't have a dedicated sewing table). Now I can point to the tag and say, "SEE, MY NAME REALLY IS ON THEM!"

Jennifer's goodies on the left, Benta's on the right. Why yes, that's the back of my Fall blocks quilt, which has not yet made it onto a wall due to being stolen and slept on by a certain orange kitty.  Oh, and Jennifer also sent a small container of green buttons that I forgot to take a picture of...

I really enjoyed this goodie swap. I wish I'd had little more time to complete what I wanted to for my swappees, but it is what it is. Right when I was getting back into "sewing mode," real life took over and got in the way and unfortunately "Sewing Goodies For Internet Strangers, Which Is Far More Fun Than It May Sound" gets pushed further down the list, behind things like "I Need To Reapply Thermal Compound To My Computer's Heat Sink Because It Keeps Overheating, Oh No Now The Computer Is Crashing Every Time It Comes Out Of Hibernation Mode, WHY" and "I Just Filled My Car Tires With Air Two Weeks Ago, Why Is One Going Flat Again Already?!" and so on. I really admire those of you who seem to have it all together and manage to balance kids, work, hobbies, and everything else.

Now for more action shots of my goodies:

Yeah, this is my "sewing pile," otherwise known as the dining table, which is really just a card table shoved next to a wall by the kitchen (I miss living in a house). Um, I usually don't use my tomato pincushion upside down, so ignore that. I am very happy that my scissors are labeled, without that label being some squished lettering in Sharpie on an ugly piece of masking tape. This is a great idea!

So my cats are enticed way more by treats than they are by water, and I would have been mauled to death had I tried to intertwine their tails together, but here is the closest I could get to making them imitate Jennifer's mug rug. I also think this is Gray Kitty's pictorial debut on this blog--construction is being done on our apartment building and Gray Kitty spends most of his time cowering under my husband's desk, terrified that all the Scary Noises coming from outside are going to invade and steal his cat tuna or something. Orange Kitty couldn't care less.

Proof that taking pictures of cats is a several minute, multiple-try endeavor.

Thanks again to my swap partners! See you around the blogosphere (or whatever they call it these days).

In which I totally meant to post this Sunday, but didn't, so you get it on Wednesday instead

It's Sunday and I finally have time to myself to get things done, like surfing the internet and not cleaning and forgetting that the laundry has been waiting to go in the dryer for the last hour. It is a very productive day, you see.

The most exciting thing that's happened in the last week or so is that we got a new ironing board. I know, it's THRILLING. Our old ironing board we bought cheap, as we had just graduated from college and had no money, and it ended up sagging in the middle. The "board" part was plastic and so over time I guess the plastic melted and warped and there ended up being a fairly nice deep trench all through the center length of the ironing board. Why yes, that means EVERYTHING you've seen me make on this blog was pressed or ironed on a board that wasn't even close to being flat, which is as much a pain in the butt as it sounds like. Honestly, I hate to be all "IT WAS THE IRONING BOARD'S FAULT" but I swear half my mismatched seams and stuff were because I was pressing fabric at an angle, or in a trench. Anyway, the new ironing board wasn't exactly expensive either, but it's metal and much sturdier than our old one, so yay!

New ironing board action at an...uh, let's call it "artistic" angle. Yeah. 

And with the new ironing board I finished my mug rugs for the goodie swap. It took me way too long to do these because of how intimidated I got looking at everyone else's work on the flickr page. "Ahh, why do they have to be so awesome and complicated?!" I asked myself, and then finally it hit me: "Yeah, why DO they have to be so complicated?" It didn't help that my swappers both listed a bunch of colors and fabric that they did/didn't like and I was going crazy digging through my stash to find tons of fabrics. I totally respect those people who were able to make really neat designs and hand-quilt and stuff, but realizing that wouldn't work for ME and would just stress me out more was what allowed me to relax and get back into "sewing mode."

Both mug rugs ended up only having two fabrics (plus the binding, so three, really, I guess). I think it really ends up working, I mean, the colorful fabrics I think are colorful enough that the first thought that goes through your mind isn't "Gee, she only used TWO FABRICS, how lazy." I'm an hourglass block fan, so I used that for the "pinwheel." Neither mug rug is totally perfect but overall I'm really happy with how they turned out and I hope my swap partners like them.

I spy a bee button...!

The goodies are really easy pincushions. I had to put to use the bee buttons I got distracted by a while ago, and this seemed like a good use! A dragonfly snuck in there for one partner, too. I liked these enough that I made myself one as well. If I join another goodie swap I'll probably make more of these; they are quite fun.

Of course I had to keep a bee pincushion for myself! This was the first one made so it's not as fluffily stuffed as the ones that my swap partners are getting. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

In which I have not totally vanished

Oh wow, it's been a while since I last blogged. Sorry, folks, I'm not dead. Partial laziness, partial pregnancy exhaustion, I suppose. I'll have a proper update in the next couple of days, but for now, I shall allow Orange Kitty to explain how I feel: 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In which "pregnancy brain" wins again

I spend way too much time at the fabric store. Part of the reason for this is sheer stupidity on my part. Like, yesterday I went in to buy supplies for the mug rug goodie swap and walked around the store for thirty minutes with an index card with the words "embroidery thread, interfacing, fiberfill" scrawled on it. What did I walk out with?

I would say "Ignore my messy sewing space" but the mess just proves that I AM working on stuff, so meh. 
Embroidery thread, interfacing, buttons. Buttons? Well, the button racks are near the cutting table where I got my interfacing cut, and I got totally distracted by the bee buttons, which I thought were adorable because I love bees, too, and then there was a rack of 30% off buttons so I went through those for a while, then paid for everything and left.  In my mind I knew I had three types of items on my list and I left the store with three types of items, so, satisfied, I drove home.

Cue a few hours later after I'd made dinner and sewed for a while, I got to the part of my project that instructed me to start stuffing it, and I looked around and wondered what I was going to stuff it with. My eyes fell on my buttons and OH YEAH, I was WALKING towards the batting section of the store earlier, but never actually reached it because of CUTE BEE BUTTONS. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that I forgot my fiberfill, because I set aside my sewing earlier than usual and went to bed before midnight, so I actually got some decent sleep. Still, I felt dumb pulling up to the fabric store for the second day in a row after work today, and forced myself to bypass all the buttons and fabric and go STRAIGHT to the batting section at the back of the store.

Then my pregnancy bladder called, so I ran to the bathroom and got distracted by felt on the way back to the batting section, thus I nearly walked out the door without my fiberfill AGAIN, but by some miracle remembered at the last second, and actually managed to pay for it and bring it home. See? I even took a picture to prove it.

I don't know how some people manage to do like 3 quilt-alongs and 2 fabric/goodie swaps and their own personal projects and raise kids and cook dinner and stuff all at the same time. I mean, I apparently can't even manage to buy what's on the three-item list I'm carrying around the store with me, though I'm sure the fabric store employees get some amusement out of me. They probably refer to me as the absent-minded pregnant girl since a few weeks ago I left my car keys sitting on top of a shelf of autumn fabrics and ran back through the store in a panic after paying for my purchase, retracing my steps to find them. One person's forgetfulness is another person's amusement, I guess!

As a bonus, have an Orange Kitty Story of the Day:  When the cat heard me get out my camera to take a picture, he ran in the room and shoved his face in the lens because he's vain like that. I pushed him out of the way and he apparently went, "Screw this, if you ain't taking a picture of me, you ain't getting a picture of what you want" and shoved his tail directly in my line of sight as I snapped the photo. He is such a brat.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In which I intentionally make a baby quilt for someone else

Well, that was a busy weekend. Let me sum it up:

Wednesday Night

Me: Hey, since we can't make it to southern Oregon for Nephew's birthday next week, why don't we just bring him his present this weekend when we drive to your parent's house in Portland?
Husband: Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. But I don't know what to get a 1 year old at all.
Me (busy sewing away on a kitty quilt): Hmmmmm.
Husband: Hmmmmm.
Me (sews for another 10 minutes): OH WAIT I CAN MAKE HIM A QUILT!
Husband (glances uselessly at calendar, which is still set to July): Can you make one by Saturday?

Was that a challenge? Because oh yes, I can! 

And thus, Thursday after work I dashed off to the fabric store and scoured their remnant table for fabric suitable for a 1 year old. I was totally inspired by Amy's On the Road Again quilt, because I love the primary colors she used, which really could be for either gender. I didn't want to use transportation fabric, though, because I have the same issue with CARS ARE FOR BOYS that I do with HORSES ARE FOR GIRLS or whatnot, and also I absolutely love dinosaurs and I wanted to sneak some dinosaur fabric in there because I'm self-serving like that.

Anyway, Thursday night was full of cut cut cut sew sew sew baste baste baste, and then Friday night was full of quilt quilt quilt bind bind bind. Before quilting, I hesitated for several minutes, trying to decide if I wanted to stipple the quilt or do a straight line grid. I like stippling, but in the end I figured a grid pattern would be faster and less hard on my pregnancy-shot wrists, and I finished sometime around midnight.

Woo, look at how nicely most of those corners match up! And it bears repeating that I really LOVE my walking foot. 

I must say, I LOVE THIS QUILT. I wish I could've kept it for myself, because even though the fabric trends towards "boy," I'd totally be thrilled if someone gifted this to me for my baby girl (side note: If anyone recognizes a fabric line in my quilt, feel free to let me know what it is since most of this came off an unmarked fabric table or my stash, and I've GOT to get better with keeping track of what fabrics I use). My piecing has gotten way better--there were still a couple of seams that were off, but far more corners met up than didn't, and that makes me really happy. Also, the binding! The binding!


It probably took me twice as long to bind as it should have, but after my last binding failure, I was determined to make this one WORK (especially since it was a gift). I only bound one edge at a time and I wish I had stopped to take a picture because it looked absolutely ridiculous with the amount of pins and clips attached to it. The front was crisp and straight, and the back looked as well as you can expect a machine binding to look. I am stupidly happy with how well it came out and it was totally worth stabbing myself a million times with the millions of pins poking out all over the place. 

My couch is ugly and green. This is not my couch. 

The last part of this quilt I'm proud of is the backing. It's my first pieced backing ever--completely unintentional, because I had figured I had enough red fabric for the back, but after I cut up the red for the binding, there was hardly any left, so I settled on the yellow I used for the border, but surprise! I was barely short of yellow, as well! I had a few squares left over from piecing the front, so I sewed those together and slapped yellow on either side and was pleased with the result. I'm not sure why I was terrified of pieced backings before this--probably because I'm lazy and it seemed like a lot of work--but I like the look and I'll definitely have to do more.

And I think this quilt will look even better once it's been washed a couple more times and gets all crinkly. I didn't have time to wash it between the time I finished it and when we drove to Portland on Saturday, and then my sister-in-law and nephew showed up shortly after we did so I couldn't sneak it into the wash without anyone seeing. Luckily, everyone except my husband and I had left the house on Sunday morning when I woke up, so I ran downstairs, spritzed the quilt with water, and threw it into the dryer for 25 minutes, and had time enough to pull it out and quickly take pictures of it in their living room before everyone came back. It got crinkly enough to look "quilty," but I'm kind of hoping our nephew pukes on it a couple of times so it gets washed a lot. Happy Birthday, nephew, please vomit on my present to you.

Now I kind of want to make a slightly more "girly" dinosaur quilt for our kid, even though I still have the unintentional baby quilt to finish. I like primary and fall colors a lot though, so "girly" for me would be throwing in a couple of purple squares or something. I have a ton of other things to work on right now though (hello, mug rug goodie swap, hey look it's already September 6th and I haven't sewn anything for it yet even though I have a million ideas in my head), so we'll see. There's always time AFTER the baby is born, right? (Already-Parents: Go ahead and laugh at my naivety. Or tell me "Oh yeah, the baby will sleep 20 hours a day like a cat and you will have tons of free time on your hands." That'd be cool., too.)

Uh, the top isn't actually as uneven as it looks in this picture. It's straight, I swear. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

In which this preview is approved for all ages

Wow, thanks to everyone who found my blog thanks to the Small Blog Meet Up--I haven't had a chance to respond to everyone's comments, so don't think I flippantly dismissed you and your blog as unworthy of my regal attention, like my cats regularly dismiss me, if I didn't get back to you yet. I'm pregnant, ok? (A co-worker told me today that I don't use that excuse enough, so I'm using it now, even though I'm really just lazy.)

Actually, one of the reasons I haven't had time to reply is because I've been working on another last-minute project that I promise will get its own entry within the next couple of days, but for now, here's a preview:

And with that, I'm out for the weekend. Hooray for three day weekends and barbecues!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In which I am a small blog

It's Fresh Sewing and Small Blog Meet-Up day over at Lily's Quilts again, and this time I can jump on the link train! I may post something for Fresh Sewing Day when I get back from work, but for now here's my Small Blog intro:

Hi, I'm Natalie. I've always loved crafty stuff--I was a graphic design major, but my strengths have always been in working with my hands, not creating things on a computer, so I wish I'd done more crafty things like painting and pottery in college. No matter, I'm making it up now by learning to quilt and sew! I currently live in Seattle with my husband, two cats, and an active little girl kicking around wildly in my uterus. This blogging/quilting/mom thing is completely new to me--I can build a computer from scratch in two hours, but it took me thirty minutes to figure out how to assemble a 6-piece baby bouncer, and then I managed to assemble part of it upside down--so I hope you find some amusement as I blog about figuring all this stuff out.