Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Car quilting

We took a short drive yesterday to survey the damage to the neighborhood after Superstorm Sandy. By some miraculous feat, we escaped with minimal property damage and we still have electricity. Most others were not so lucky. Just driving around was a challenge because so many local roads were blocked or closed due to downed power lines or trees, that by the time we made it home again, G had fallen asleep in the car. I had nothing else to do (school has been canceled for 3 days), so I ran inside and grabbed by sewing kit, and sat and sewed in the car for a while. The sun came out, it was really nice.
Sandy forced everything to slow down for a while, and while I know the headaches and recovery will take a while for some people, I'm grateful for the time I got to spend at home with my family.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Anniversary quilt?

I have a finish and I'm sooo happy it's done, but I can't show you the front!

I made this quilt for my friend's wedding, and it took me quite a while (her 1 year anniversary was last week), but I haven't delivered it yet so I can't show the front of it..  Sorry!

But hey, the back is pretty cool, no?
I used a UFO as backing. (sorry, bad photo, it was raining out)
It was 72" square, and was never going to become what I had originally intended, so I thought it was better to make the wedding quilt fun on both sides than to just let this piece sit in the UFO pile for another year. (This is a large version of my Ribbon block)
I like how it came out-- the quilt is 55" x 70" so the original top got shifted and lopped off, but I think the lines are striking, and they actually go well with the design on the front..
I hate having so many orphan blocks and UFOs filling my closet and cluttering my space, so I think I'll try harder this winter to use some up, combine projects, and clear stuff out.  After all, in the spring I'll be packing up the sewing room and moving it downstairs so George can have the bigger bedroom..

Anyway, it's been so long since I had a finish, I thought I'd share, no matter how little of it I can show off right now. 
Linking up:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Traveling Pic-Stitch Bloghop

It's my turn~~
Time to show off what I've come up with for the Traveling Pic-Stitch Blog hop!

Since Laura contacted me about the blog hop, I've been taking photos that could work as palette inspiration.  Sure, I travel a whole bunch and could use any of the ones from our spring in Greece, but who needs to see another beautiful coastline?  Maybe it's precisely because I DO travel so often that I really really enjoy being at home, in my own  neighborhood, and in my own routine.  So a lot of the photos I took were of flowers I passed by every day.
See, I work at two private universities.  Both have beautifully landscaped campuses which are full of seasonal colors at every turn.  I feel blessed that I get to work in such pretty environments.  (Though they've got nothing on this campus.. that's heaven on earth) So my first palette photo was this one:

It's nice, but I don't have that cool ipad app that let's you tweak colors, and I wasn't really happy with the generated ones.  Maybe I don't want to do a flower block afterall..
Then I was lucky enough to get to go into Manhattan last weekend for the NYC Mod guild meeting, and I got this shot:
Again, love the photo, but completely disappointed with the palette it generated.  So I decided to take some creative license, and this is what I came up with..

It's got yellow for the taxi, blue for the neon sign, and plenty of grey for the heart of New York City.
Sorry it's not all stitched together yet-- this is exam week at work and I've been a little busy (today I've got to grade 35 poorly creatively written essays).  I promise to post a pic of the final block once it's done though.

Have you stitched up your photo inspiration block yet?

If you need more ideas, be sure to check out who's bloghopping this week:
October 7    Sarah Fielke @ The Last Piece
October 8    Jo @ My Bearpaw
October 9    Kirsty @ YouHadMeAtBonjour
October 10   Ramona @RamonaRose
October 12   Fiona @ Celtic Thistle Stitches
October 13   Catherine @KnottedCotton
October 14   Amanda @ AmandaMillar

Wait, you have no idea what the blog hop is about?  Here are the details:

This post is part of the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop.  From 1st October - 30th November we are hopping all over the world EPP-ing in some fantastic locations.  Check out the full list here and be sure to check out the other participants. On 30th November it's over to you to link up for a chance to win these fabulous prizes! Sponsored by Paperpieces.comFabricwormPink Castle Fabrics  Marmalade Fabrics, the Fat Quarter ShopWantItNeedItQuilt, and Aurifil.
Full details for competition entry can be found here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

EPP for everybody!

(Thank you again for the wonderful donations that keep coming in~ I just got an email with our first donated QUILTS!  So I hope you can forgive me as I change the tone a bit and go back to talking about quilting tonight..)

I'm so excited that Laura & Katy have put together this highly motivational Travelin' Pic-Stitch Blog Hop.  I'm also slightly flushed that they asked me to do a post on "pointers" to help get the bloghop started. 

Who would have known that my super-embarrassing how-to-epp video that I made for my friend Becky while she was in vet school would some day lead me to B-list internet stardom?  (ok, B-list quilt-blogland-stardom).  You have no idea how many times I've wanted to redo this video, but didn't have the time or thought it would sound too scripted... so I left it up there, and people found it.  The cool thing is that they also found my blog, my QAL, and many have found a love for EPP.  If you haven't seen it yet, it's there in my sidebar, but I'm also re-posting it here (scroll to the bottom).

So why do I love English paper piecing?  The reasons are too numerous for one little blog post, but I'll make a list of some of the big ones--

It's portable, and I travel- A LOT.  You can also do it anywhere-- on the beach, on the train, in the car (while someone else is driving).  I've even basted while waiting for my pizza to be ready at the local pizza place.

It's repetative-- you can pick it up and put it down whenever, without having to worry where you were in the pattern or what you should be sewing next.

It's scrap friendly-- even though there's tons of new and beautiful fabric coming out every season, part of me still identifies quilting with being a frugal hobby.  I don't like to waste any bit of my fabric, pretty or ugly. 

So what do you need to build a good relationship with EPP?

First off-- a sewing kit.  Have a sewing kit ready with your templates, thread, and cut fabric. Add in anything else you need to sew comfortably (Chapstick? Beeswax? Paper clips?) When you’re prepared you won’t find yourself wasting precious sewing time searching for your thimble.
  I use a plastic box that I can toss in my purse or leave in the car, just in case.

Next-- keep your pattern handy.   I like to save a picture of my plan/pattern on my phone so I can reference it on the go!

Then-- bring it everywhere.  You never know when plans will change and you'll be stuck somewhere with downtime.  If you forgot your EPP, you'll probably get stuck playing mindless games on your phone.  Really, will that hobby keep you warm in a couple months?  Better to have your sewing kit with you at all times just in case.  Personally, I won't buy a new purse if my kit doesn't fit inside.

So that's about it.  If you've got questions, I'd love to answer them.  Making all the little units is easy, finding a good way to keep it portable as it grows takes a bit more thought.  In the video I mention this a little bit, but I'm happy to answer more questions anytime.  Happy Pic-stitching everybody~

Feeling So Thankful

I woke up this morning to find the most thoughtful email in my inbox from Bonnie Hunter.
Graciela was kind enough to tell her about the benefit we are having for my mom, and Bonnie decided to help out, not only with a donation, but by blogging about it.
I was in shock, so touched.  I truly appreciate the generosity Bonnie has shared by getting the word out to her readers, and I would like to thank each and every one of you who has donated or spread the word in order to help the fundraiser in some way.  Please feel free to share the link on your own blogs, twitter, or facebook accounts.  Every little bit helps.
 Bonnie also mentioned donations of quilts for the silent auction, to be held in Chicago on October 28th.  If you have a quilt to donate, we would be very grateful to accept it.  Please email me directly to discuss shipping details.  (jessunderquilts at yahoo dot com)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Can you help my mom?

This post has been marinating for a while.. a bit too long actually and now that I've finally decided to talk about it on the blog, I'm almost embarrassed for waiting too long.

This is my mom:
Her name is Patti and she lives outside of Chicago.  Five years ago she was diagnosed with Alexander's Disease, which is a rare degenerative neurological disorder that has robbed her of ability to move.  It is a terrible, slow moving disorder where the body slowly eats away at the lining of the spinal cord, stopping signals from the brain from being able to get to the rest of the body. 
I don't understand much more about the details, but I do know that for the last 3 years my mom has been confined to her bed or her motorized wheel chair, and has been completely dependant on others to provide all of her basic needs.   For the last 3 years, my dad, sister Lauren, and mom's sisters have taken turns spending the night with mom every night because the family can not afford an overnight caregiver.  Someone gets her into bed and then sleeps on the couch in my grandmother's family room, waking every 2 or 3 hours to reposition mom so she doesn't get bedsores.  In the morning (5 days a week), she has a caregiver come and assist her with bathing, dressing, and getting out of bed and back into the chair.  The caregiver usually makes breakfast and leaves after 4 hours or so. 
Mom can not be left alone, so the family takes shifts to spend part of the day with her, and at night, it's the same routine.
I won't try to describe the guilt I feel at not being closer, not being able to pitch in or offer any help myself.  This post is about mom, not me.  But now it is my turn to do something.. to get the word out.

The family has organized a fundraising benefit to be held in Chicago on October 28th. 

There will be a raffle and a silent auction, where I am donating this quilt:

Because of my work schedule this semester, I will not be able to go to the actual benefit, but if you are anywhere near the south side of Chicago and are interested in dropping by, I encourage you to go.  There will be many nice raffle prizes and the silent auction will be full of valuable items to bid on.  If you would still like to help but can not make it to Chicago that afternoon, I ask that you please visit the fundraiser's website where there is information on how to make direct donations, both electronically (Paypal or credit card) and by check. 

My family and I thank you for any support you can give at this time.  Sometimes life isn't easy, and nobody's perfect, but if we stay positive, work together, and do what we can, we can make it through.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What to do with all those awkward sized quilts?

You know, the 55" x 70", the really random 65" x 70"...
They're great on the couch, but when else can you actually use them?

How about now?  Early fall when it's too soon to turn on the heat but too late to sleep under just the summer coverlet..
This works great for our bed because only half of us are pregnant (and either too hot or freezing, depending on the night).  It avoids the dreaded "you slept on top of the quilt and I couldn't pull it up so I froze" situation (because no one wants to wake up angry), and it's a nice unexpected burst of color in a room that has been "neutral" for too long..

I love the quilt that goes on our bed in the fall, but it's 4 years old, and I'd love to have something new for this year.. I have a nice spiderweb in the works, but I doubt I will finish it before January.  I think using the random sized ones will satisfy my need for color and warmth at the moment.  Now if only I could figure out how to get this system to work when George climbs into our bed at 4am and kicks off my little quilt...

Travel Quilt #6 and some public crafting

I have been working steadily on Travel Quilt #6 since last fall and it is growing.  I got a chance to piece a few units while I was in Manha...