Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Learning From Mistakes

I know this will come to a shock to everyone who knows me, but I'm not perfect. I make mistakes.

It was an accident, I swear. I honestly don't know how I managed to do this, but I did.

Thank heavens it was at the edge and not somewhere in the middle of the quilt. If it had been I probably would have broken down and cried.

I find trying to cover a larger area usually works better than trying to somehow stitch in a tiny patch that will inevitably fall off. Of course, if I'd had more of the backing fabric I would have tried to match the pattern a bit better, but it just wasn't going to happen.

In my angst and fear I cut out the offending piece of fabric altogether, but thinking back, I probably should have left it there for more stability once it was all fixed.

I did at least have the presence of mind to top stitch it all down once it was in place. In all honesty, barring disaster, it should last as long as the quilt does.

I have, however, learned my lesson and will be much, much more careful when trimming things when the backing is on! How embarrassing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Playing with New Toys

Finishing up that baby quilt gave me a chance to finally use some of the new toys I'd bought for myself back in December.

I bought these Clover Wonder Clips having seen the entire Interwebs rave about them for eons. I felt behind the times, they were a good price, and shucks, it was December and I'd bought tons of crap for other people and was going to treat myself. Needless to say, doing primarily cross stitch since then hasn't really justified the purchase, but that's neither here nor there.

ANYWAY, I used them making one of my recent baby quilts. And you know what? They're adorable. I love the size, the shape, the color. They're just so gosh-darn cute you wanna hold em in your hand all day. Which isn't terribly useful for getting a project done.

They did, though, actually do the job they were there for. They held stuff in place, didn't seem to slip, but I wasn't 100% sold. I was worried that since they didn't extend to the far side of my binding that I would end up with puckers and extra fabric at the far end. So I used up most of my clips on one section and then pinned the rest of it down because it made me feel better.

Would you believe me if I said I hadn't even realised the best part about these clips yet? It wasn't really until I sat down and started stitching that I realised just how nice they were because not only did I not get puckering or extra fabric down the line (although I was still reeeaaallllyyy nervous that I would) but I could just glide right on by without having to take them off! This is totally my favourite part about these clips.

Would I pin a whole quilt with them? Probably not. I'm too anal and worriwort for that, but I definitely plan on using them instead of pins if and when I ever get around to working with stretch or PVC material. I do still think they're super cute. 

My other toys, that I now wonder how I lived without, has to be my quilt roll clips. I can't remember where I picked them up or what brand they are, but why have I never gotten these before??? Two clips was perfect for my baby quilt. Larger quilts will definitely need more, but this purchase was worth it, whatever I paid for it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Quick Quilting

I'm not sure that I can explain how much I really love making baby quilts. This is good, as there are so many births coming up I feel like I'll be making them forever.

Part of the reason I love baby quilts is that I grew up with own blankie, made with love by an aunt, that got dragged around and loved until it finally fell to pieces. I like to imagine that the baby quilts I make will continue in that tradition. So there's that.

On a more practical side, one of the things I like best about baby quilts is they are exactly the right size to make. The piecing never takes forever. The quilting is easy, and doesn't require extra limbs, new sewing machines, or weeks to complete.

And that's my favorite bit. Baby quilts get done in no time. You're done before you remember why quilting is hard or why you hated it the last time. This one took me one day and two evenings, I think. I love it, and hope the new owners will too.

Welcome to the world, little man!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Somebody likes me!

One of the great things about being part of online communities, is sometimes you get unexpected kudos. One of the projects I've recently finished has made it from their forums to the front page!

My latest project is currently on the blog over at Craft Hackers. I'll be blogging about it later this week, but you can catch a glimpse of it down at the bottom.

And while you're there, join their forums and come craft with us!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Upside Down Logic

Last week I talked about order of work, and this is really a follow-on piece to show you how even planning can have unintended consequences.

I am happy to report that I am no longer stitching upside down.

As I said before, I wanted to work from left to right on my project and I wanted to use my Millennium Frame. This is all well and good in theory.

The difficulty with this plan is that the fabric for the Guardian project is big enough that I have to use my large, 30 inch bars which meant that reaching the blank canvas on the left hand side of the project was awkward rather awkward at first.

So I improvised and flipped it.

My "normal" view

Up until mid-June, I've been primarily working on this project with my frame upside down. It hasn't made a difference in the stitches, but it has made a huge difference in the ease of stitching. 30 inches is a big frame, and controlling it while I reach back and forth with the threads was a real challenge. I don't have a floor stand, and the lap stand I do own just didn't feel stable enough with the huge frame on it to be worth using.

Instantly, turning things upside down made stitching so much easier. The stitching area was on the right hand side of the frame, closer to my active right hand, and my left arm can easily handle the extra length of the frame.

It has actually made taking pictures of the project kind of interesting for me too. I spent so much time looking at it upside down that some of the early images made me feel like I was looking at someone else's work.

I'll be interested to see if you can tell the difference in the stitches once the whole project is washed, ironed, and framed. I doubt it as I can't tell the difference now between stitches that I know are different, but time will tell.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On Blogging: Or how I realised June is a "Problem Month"

Blogging has been useful in a number of ways for me. To start with, it motivates me to be organised, ensure I take pictures of projects, and just simply keep working. After all, if I don't craft, I have nothing to post.

Sometimes having nothing to post is okay, like when deadlines are looming in the "real world" that take priority or when I'm traveling. I don't mind missing blog posts when there are good reasons like that. But then there are those weeks when no post is forthcoming, and no progress has been made, and I haven't even been lucky enough to stumble upon something crafty worth pointing out.
Non-crafty, but contemplative

This June was one of those times. It bothered me that you, my loyal 8 followers, would be deprived of my drivel, but it did provide me with new insight. One of the great things about having a blog is that you are automatically given a whole slew of information about your blog and blogging habits. Its how I know that outside of the English-speaking world my greatest fans are apparently from Germany and Russia (who knew?), and how I can unequivocally state that doing blog tours for popular people like The Bitchy Stitcher can seriously raise the number of people who visit your site (like, whoa).

This June was light on content. I missed a week, and two of the posts were what I'd call "fillers"- not really about crafting, and certainly not really displaying any progress. I know why they happened, and now I have an inkling why we will likely see a repeat next year. This June was actually one of my better Junes in getting content out. Looking back at the annals I usually only manage to post twice with at least one year in early June seeing my "retirement" from blogging for a time due to wrist pain.

I've talked about wrist pain here before, although I don't think I've been specific as to what caused it. I have had repetitive strain injuries to my wrists previously which is one factor. However, I also suffer from a condition called Fibromyalgia which, as far as I can tell from all my study of it, is a fancy word to say that I have pain for no medical reason. It is usually centered around my joints and, oddly, my face. My fibromyalgia always gets worse when I sleep badly, and often the first place I feel it coming on is my wrists. Its one of the big reasons I'm cautious with them as prevention is key as it take months to come back down from a flareup.

In not-so-new news, I sleep badly every summer. I have never acclimated to the long days here in Ireland (17+ hours!), and the long hours of sunlight drive me a little nuts. Its the nasty combination of not feeling ready to sleep when its light out and being unable to stay asleep all night when the sun comes up so early. (Yes, I have investigated and tried many things to alleviate this. None of them have worked and I'm loathe to go on sleeping pills for one month out of the year.)

My latest insight is that June is bad for blogging because every June I sleep poorly, and therefore my fibromyalgia flares up. I'm not sure I would have made the connection with this if I hadn't been keeping this blog, but its there.

With this in mind, I will try to be more prepared for next year. I won't guarantee that I'll manage to be more prepared for the inevitable downward spiral, but at least we'll all know what's going on.

In other news, crafting has resumed a more normal pace now that the solstice is past and I've doped myself up on my miracle cure so hopefully you won't be getting filler for a while.