Monday, September 15, 2008

Swap 'til You Drop | September

I'm a member of another Flickr group called Swap 'Til You Drop. It's another swap for miniature (6-12") quilts with monthly themes. For the group's first month (September), the theme for the month is hearts. The piece I am making is in progress and in good shape, but I'm not ready to share pictures yet. I did, however, already receive my quilt from my partner, and it is wonderful!

Here it is, from Sewz4fun (Denise from MN):

Isn't it great?! I have been struggling with the hearts theme, but Denise interpreted it perfectly ... considering that it can't be easy to make a hearts quilt for a guy and still make it not seem to feminine! The colors are beautiful and the quilting is so cool ... but my favorite part is the pieced binding. Oh, and the sleeve:

It's difficult to convey the quality of the craftsmanship through pictures, but I can honestly say that my first impression of this quilt was not so much the colors or the design (though I love both), but how well this little quilt was made. It feels solid and sturdy, with absolutely no flaws to speak of ... truly professional-level quality, in my humble little opinion.

Thanks so much, Denise! I am so lucky to receive this quilt and this little piece will be cherished in our home.

Now can somebody please help me learn how to say "no" to any more swaps??!! : )

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Craftster Swap ... almost done!

I can hardly believe that my Craftster swap is almost complete! I only have two people left to make blocks for (2 blocks each, for a total of 4 blocks to complete before I'm done).

Here are the first two. They're both for athenamat:

Now I'm just down to 2 more. With a deadline of 10/1, I think I'm in good shape! This has been such a great swap ... and when I think about how many blocks I've made in the past 2 months, I'm amazed. What great practice! I sure hope there's a Lap Quilt Swap 4 in my future ...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Miniature Booty Swap Quilt Received

I received my Miniature Booty Swap quilt this week, and it turns out my partner was Toni, the Quilting Pirate herself! Yes, the swap hostess was my partner! And let me tell you, she did a fantastic job.

Here is my new quilt, named "Blue & Green Cubed":

Isn't it wonderful? I've been a long-time admirer of anything with the Bento Box look. I've even bought the pattern but haven't been able to make one yet. So I was thrilled when I received something (to keep!) in one of my favorite patterns.

The colors are great, too. I wonder sometimes if people regret pulling my name in one of these swaps because I'm a guy, and it's not always the easiest thing to pick quilting fabrics suitable for a guy. But, so far, it doesn't seem to be an issue for anyone because all of my swap quilts are GREAT!!

Here's my favorite little detail ... the pirate's signature, perhaps? : )

And here's the back ...

... and label.

Toni also included some great pieces of fabric in her package. Thanks so much, Toni!!

Literally, within 10 minutes of opening this package my daughters absconded with both the quilt and the fabric pieces.

The quilt became a magic carpet (they're on an Aladdin kick) for Megan's Barbies:

And the fabric became a blanket for Bevin's dollies (and kitty):

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hooray for the Craft Room!

Whenever I see these threads pop up about "let's show off pictures of our crafting spaces", I cringe just a little bit. Our teeny tiny office / sewing room is in no kind of shape to be photographed. It's small and cramped with repurposed furniture that's barely meeting our needs and a completely inefficient use of space. I yearn for a "proper" space to do my work (both crafty and otherwise), especially the more I get into this hobby.

Well, I took one step closer this past weekend. Last year, Pier 1 sold a Project Table that was, in essence, a knock-off of the pricey Pottery Barn version. Unbeknownst to me, the item was quickly discontinued, marked down, and is now near impossible to find. Well, after exhausting all of my local stores, I started calling stores in the NY / NJ area, where at least my mom could pick one up if I could find it. Well, lo and behold, I found not one but FOUR of these bad boys.

And here's the best part ... they're down to $199 each. (And one of them was the floor model with an additional 25% off). Here's what I learned: some stores still have one hanging around in their stock room ... and some didn't even realize it was back there. Call around and find someone good on the phone who's willing to go move a few boxes to see if they still have any.

My mom is going to keep two of them (my younger brother is moving out this month and she's setting up a crafting room of her own) and I'm getting the other two. Now I have some motivation to get organized.

Here's my next mission (and maybe you can help): these Pottery Barn Wood Buttons wall art. Again, I coveted these in the catalog but didn't act quickly enough -- they were discontinued, marked down, and now impossible to find. I keep searching eBay to no avail. Does anyone have a lead on a set of these??

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My twins turn 4!

My beautiful twin girls turn 4 today. I just cannot believe that four years have passed and that my babies are now really little girls.

Now ...

... and then!

Happy Birthday, little princesses!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Block Love

I've been a little obsessed lately with an amazing little book that I found during a lunch hour trip to Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks back. I wound up ordering it through Amazon a few days later. The book is called Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix & Match, and it's full of 9" block patterns ranging from very basic to very intricate. I wouldn't say I'm "into" Asian decor or anything, but something about these blocks -- maybe the simplicity, the stark use of solid colors, the intricacy, the effect of repeated patterns -- really speak to me. I pored over this book while I was recovering from surgery and couldn't wait to make a few of the blocks. Well, this past weekend I was able to make four of them, and here they are:

All of the fabrics are from Amy Butler's solids line (which I also LOVE). With some cream sashing around each block, I think they will become my ALQS2 swap quilt ... well, that was my original intent, but I'm quite tempted to keep going and make myself a larger quilt from these blocks.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Miniature Booty Swap Quilt

I'm so happy to report that, even with an incomplete address, my Miniature Booty Swap quilt was delivered safely to Becky in Idaho! And here it is:

I was very happy with the way this quilt turned out. By far, I think it's the most well-constructed quilt I've made yet. The binding felt nice and tight with no blunders this time!

I think I've mentioned this before, but I've been trying to make sure I try something new or learn something with each of these little swap quilts that I make. This time, I wanted to try a few new things:

1) to make something rectangular rather than square.

2) to pick out fabrics and design the quilt based solely on my partner's preferences. Becky said she really liked greens and purples. I probably never would have bought this fabric and put it all together for myself, but once I started picking it out I got very excited. And I think the final product is pretty charming!

3) to make and use a pieced backing and a pieced binding! I really enjoyed using both of these techniques, and I think the binding turned out especially well.

After the label on the quilt I received from Marilyn, I'm afraid my labels look pretty cruddy. Well, the edges anyway. Something to work on ...

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More blocks for my Craftster gang ...

Labor Day weekend meant full speed ahead on making some more blocks for my Craftster group. Here are the 8 blocks I've made over the past few days. I think I'm down to the final few packs of fabric before I'm done with my blocks for this swap. It's been a ton of fun and I've met some great quilters, so I hope there's another round! There are really going to be some great quilts coming out of this swap -- I can't wait to see them.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lucky, lucky me!

I came home from work on Friday -- my first full day back at work, by the way, and one in which I had to deliver a 2-hour presentation, which I was none too happy about -- and my Doll Quilt Swap package was waiting for me. It sure did turn my day around! Want to see what I got? Prepare to be jealous ...

Look at this beautiful quilt from Marilyn! I LOVE it. It features some of my favorite Flutterby and Blossom fabrics, and (unbeknownst to Marilyn) the browns and teals coordinate perfectly with our living room. My wife is already scoping out places on our living room walls to hang it.

(Marilyn, by the way, is awesome. I just went to her blog to make sure I linked to it correctly, and my favorite Jason Mraz song, "I'm Yours", came on.)

Here's a close-up ... check out that hand-stitching. And wait, it gets even better.

Look at the back! It's gorgeous! And wait 'til you see a close-up of the label ...

Marilyn, teach me how to make labels like this!!

Now, are you ready for the cherry on top? There was another wrapped box in the package. I opened it and it was a box for a photo cube. I thought, "great, I can put some recent beach pics of the kids in here and bring it to work" and, to be honest, I put it aside as I continued ogling the quilt.

Later on, after thanking Marilyn, she gave me a gentle nudge to go back and open that box up. And take a look at this ...

Marilyn took pictures of my children off of my blog and made this spectacular gift for me. Is this not the most thoughtful, special, creative thing ever?? I can't even begin to describe how beautifully this frame is decorated ... like a 3-D scrapbook page!

Thanks so much, Marilyn. You rock.

In other swap news, I sent out my Miniature Booty Swap package on Saturday morning, only to find out later in the day that the address was incomplete. Please say a prayer that the package finds its way to its intended recipient ... or at least back to me, so that I can re-send it! I am so pleased with how that little quilt came out and I would be heartbroken if it went missing.