Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ready, Set, Argyle!

Well, it's begun! I spent quite a while a few days ago cutting little fabric triangles so that I can begin assembly of the argyle baby quilt I'm making.

I'm following this tutorial, more or less.

Except my triangles are 4.5" x 3.5" cut size. And then I'm making vertical columns instead of horizontal rows of triangles, because I want my diamonds for the argyle to be horizontal instead of vertical.  Yes, that makes sense; trust me.

But I did use the tutorial to understand how exactly to line up the triangles when I get ready to sew them into pairs. You can't line up point to point, or they won't be right when you unfold them. You have to scoot the top triangle down just a bit so that your seam allowance falls in the right place. I only had to read that three times and look at the photo for five minutes and then scoot, measure, scoot, measure something like four or five times before I got my first pair lined up correctly. The mechanics of sewing do not always come easily to me, what can I say. Luckily, once I got the first one I figured out what to do so that the rest of my triangle pairs are nice and properly pointy when unfolded.

What I didn't see in the tutorial is a much needed admonition to make sure that if your left hand triangle points up & your right hand triangle points down, that you keep it that way throughout. Because if you just go all willy nilly, grabbing a triangle, plopping one down the opposite way, without paying attention to if you have a Down-Up or an Up-Down arrangement, you wind up with pairs that don't go together.

on the left, an Up-Down arrangement;
on the right, a Down-Up
See how the Up-Downs cannot be paired with the Down-Ups? Oops.

Fortunately I only had 5 pins in my little needle book at the time, so I only sewed 5 pairs of triangles together. Three of them wound up as Down-Ups and the other two were Up-Downs, so I quick decided the rest of that row would go with majority rule and be Down-Ups and set the errant two couples aside. I think I can use them in the next row if I do all Up-Downs for that row, though I'm not 100% sure that will work and I'm a little afraid to risk it.

However! I got enough triangles paired up to make the first row. Woot! This is double exciting because I needed that so I can figure the math that I messed up earlier.

all 20 pair; 40 triangles
takes most of the length of my dining room table
pardon the mess....

See, as I was deciding on size for this baby quilt, I remembered to subtract seam allowance and shrink each triangle from the cut size of 4.5" x 3.5" down to what will likely wind up being 4" x 3". Which means my rows, or rather columns, will each be roughly four inches wide, and depending on the size I make my argyle diamonds, I need either 12 or 18 columns.

I was originally thinking 12 and used that to determine -- aha! Twelve columns times four inches per column equals a width of roughly 48 inches. Perfect!  I say roughly because I learned on my first quilt that my seam allowances tend to be a smidge wide and thus my quilts tend to shrink a bit and be a little smaller than intended. Since this is not a pattern anyway, it's whatever I decide, so no problem.

Then I figured the length. I think I want somewhere around 45" x 60" more or less, so I divided that length of 60" by the width of each triangle, three inches. Lovely! I need 20 triangles per strip to have a strip that's 60" long!

Except, no. Because the two triangles go together topsy-turvy, so the base of one overlaps the base of the other. So the two triangles together are more like 4" (and really this will shrink more, I think, as each pair goes together....) when all is said and done. So I need forty triangles, twenty pairs. To make my sixty-ish inches. So I have a LOT more triangles to cut and then sew.

But! Still and all, today I paired up the first twenty pair of triangles (does one say pair or pairs for plural???), including the one that will be the point of the very first diamond for the argyle. Does it give you enough to see how the quilt will go together?

close-up of the bit that has the 1st diamond point
and so you can see the coraly-orangey-salmony color that I might match
I'm not planning to assemble the rows/strips/columns yet, as I'm still undecided on exact size of each argyle diamond, and also the color of that pesky center diamond. I had ruled out the green, thanks to a friend's suggestion, but then the more I look at it, the less sure I am that using the 2 purples I have will be enough contrast. So instead I might go with a perfectly splendid coral sort of color that matches the orangey-coraly-salmony color dots in the background, and is the print of the green floral I posted before. I'll post pics of that later; I forgot to take pictures of the fabric while I had the camera out.

Whew! My brief little update got really long! Sorry 'bout that! Wish me luck as I keep cutting and sewing, cutting & sewing. My machine goes to the machine doctor this weekend and hopefully I'll have it back soon, which will speed things up considerably. Meanwhile, it's fun handwork and easy to do a bit here & there.

Stay tuned for further updates as things progress! And soon a picture of The Writer's quilt progress, too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Remembering Socks

I posted last week (was it just last week??) that our little kitten, Socks, was not well and needed to be put to sleep. The Chemist took care of that, holding and petting Socks all the while as the medicine did its job; the boys and I stayed home and kept busy.

The Artist, who was Socks' official owner, designed a little memorial mini-quilt as a bit of therapy and comfort for himself. He drew it out, chose the fabrics, and I cut and assembled for him.

The job was one done quickly, with more focus on speed than perfection, so it is not my best work. But it is a gift full of love and prayers for my boy as I sewed, that it might ease his grief, so in that regard, it's a smashing success.

The kitten was "fussy cut" (ie, I cut around a picture of a cat) from fabric that I bought The Artist sometime last year. The red, yellow & green were chosen as they are the colors of the catnip balls that Socks loved so dearly. The gray because that is the color of Socks himself.

The picture is meant to represent Socks resting on The Artist's bed.

I quilted a very simple and loose heart around Socks and then just straight lines radiating out from the heart; loose and fast quilting, just to get it done. The Artist is pleased, and says that he feels closer to Socks and less sad when he looks at the mini-quilt. Mission accomplished; job well done.

What things have you found to help you or a loved one over a patch of grief or sadness? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Winter is Coming....

Today feels like winter. It's not here to stay, yet, but the signs all point to "soon."

Partly CloudyTodayTonightTomorrow
Mostly SunnyPartly CloudyPartly Cloudy
Partly CloudyMostly SunnyPartly CloudyPartly Cloudy
Feels Like: 68°HighLowHigh

You will note, in the forecast above, that right this minute it is 68* outside. That is COLD. At least to my tropical living self it is.

Aside from the weather report, which you may or may not believe means winter (yes, I see we'll reach 82* today....), here is how I know it's coming:

*we had to turn on the electric hot water heater last night in order to get warm, not even hot, showers
*the blankets we keep on the couch are cold to the touch when we get up in the morning
*I've switched our bed sheets from the summer sheets to the winter sheets
*I'm going to pull out the extra fuzzy blanket for my side of the bed today
*I'm wearing socks all day long now
*and jeans and a sweatshirt, just to stay comfortable in the house
*the boys are asking about hot chocolate
*and The Chemist wants to make soup for dinner
*all of which means, winter is on the way

Sadly, the quilt for The Writer is nowhere near ready. My sewing machine is being a little glitchy, so I'm working by hand at the moment. I've found a place to get the machine repaired, though, and will take it this weekend for a little tune-up and hopefully be back to machine sewing in the near future. Fortunately, The Writer doesn't mind, is quite patient, and we do have plenty of blankets. I just had hoped to have his quilt done in time for winter. Looks like that is not going to happen, unless winter stalls out.

Of course, adding in the baby project I'm working on means even slower going for The Writer's quilt, but I'm alternating and working on both, so that's fine. My quilting friends all voted and one brave soul suggested "Why not leave out the green all together???" which I deemed to be a brilliant plan, so the baby quilt will have the adorable background as pictured and then a center diamond in the purple floral and the two side diamonds in the purple marbled fabric. I am very excited about this combination, and so thankful for the sweet girl who suggested it.

What's the weather like in your neck of the woods? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fabric Choices: HELP!!

I mentioned earlier in my quilt updates that a person in our life (who shall remain nameless)(but is most definitely NOT me) is expecting, and I had the design all ready to go. You might remember it...
isn't it lovely in the pinks & blacks?!

Then the person found out she's expecting a GIRL!!! Hooray!!! I was all set to go and buy the perfect pink, hot pink & black fabrics I'd chosen for this delightful quilt.

But then the person selected the bedding she wants for her little girl's nursery, and it's much softer and feminine and lavender. With purple and moss green accents. Which is very much not pink and black.

Since the store offered several pink/black baby bedding combos, I have to assume that this person -gasp- actually prefers lavender/purple to the pink/black which I really really really wanted to make. And since I want this person to LOVE, not just "like" and definitely not hate, the baby quilt, I decided I'd better use the colors she likes, not the colors I like. Hmph.

still nice, but not as pazazz-y if you ask me
I am counting on the actual fabrics to fix that.

Making gifts is way less fun when you do not love the color choices, let me just say that, right now. Then also, keep in mind that my fabric shops here are about the size of a very small bedroom. As opposed to fabric shops in the US which are about the size of a house. In other words, my selection is limited. And I already had picked out the absolute *perfect* fabrics in pink and black, so finding something just as good in purple and green was  hard. I had huge mental blocks to hurdle, limited selection making it more difficult, and, well, purple and green just do not make my heart sing the way the other colors do, so it was hard.

I did it, though. I picked out a really great background fabric, and then a dark purple and a moss green. You might note that in my conceptualized drawing, above, I have a light spring green as the center and moss green as the criss-cross. Fabric reality here is that there was not one single acceptable light green fabric, so I swapped that around. See how complicated this is??

I did find, but didn't buy yet, the perfect little thing to be the criss-cross of the argyle. I can't wait to go back and get that! It will really make the quilt. Cute little fabric daisies that make a ribbon of sorts. Different sizes of daisy, not just totally symmetric equal sized daisies in a boring little row. And the fabric has a bit of sheen to it. Not shiny or metallic but just a hint of sheen. Oh my heck it's going to be so cute!

First, though, I have got to decide on this purple and green. The Writer says I'm over thinking it. His logic is, the recipient can't hate the quilt. I assured him she can. He replied, in his witty way, "Well, she can't tell YOU she hates it, so you'll never really know. She'll only say to you that she likes it...." He does have a point, but still. I want her to love it.

Here's a sort of mock-up of what it will look like when done, just so you get the full view as well as the close-up view:
I absolutely LOVE the background fabric, though it's less tone-on-tone than I originally wanted. 
Which is where, finally, you all come in. Which two fabrics work best with each other and with the background???

Green Swirls & Purple Floral
Green Swirls and Purple Marbled
Green Floral and Purple Floral
Green Floral and Purple Marbled

PLEASE leave me a comment telling me which purple and which green, or be honest if I need to keep shopping. I do have another fabric shop I can try which might have something different. The Chemist will love you for that one....LOL!

I can't start cutting fabric until you guys vote, so don't let me down!!