Friday, May 23, 2008

The Hat

Karen and I went out to Tammy Tadd’s quilt shop a couple of weekends ago. It’s always such a joy to go there. It’s happy. I, and several others, refer to it as the happiest place on earth. It truly is too!

I was on a mission. I bought some black and white fabric to go with the samurai fish / sushi fabric that I already had to make into placemats. Isn't is great fabric? It makes me smile.

Since we were already out that way, we decided to check out a store in downtown DeKalb that Tammy has talked about on her blog. It’s called Moxie. It’s actually two sister stores. One that’s more gifty, and one that has gift items on the first floor and the coolest vintage stuff on the second floor. The vintage stuff is fantastic! It’s all very clean, and doesn’t have that musty smell that most vintage things have. I couldn’t resist these fabrics:

I think I’ll fussy cut out the bunnies and appliqué them onto bags. The fabric is actually a French pleated curtain that’s in great shape, so I feel a little guilty about cutting them apart. I think the knight fabric is totally 60’s, don’t you? Something about it reminds me of the Monkees, and I love the Monkees!

Then there’s The Hat. I love The Hat. I describe it as Audrey Hepburn in A Day at the Races. I was trying it on at the store as the woman who was working came out of the back room. She exclaimed “Are you getting The Hat? I love The Hat! I just put it out an hour ago.” Then she told another lady working there that I was going to buy The Hat. She said she had planned on buying it too. Oh well, it’s mine now!

My friend Amy asked me what I was going to do with it. I told her that I think I may just wear it around the house every day because wearing it makes you feel so pretty and sophisticated. I think I might wear it to my cousin’s wedding or rehearsal dinner. It’s in the Rose Garden at the St.Louis Botanic Gardens, so I think it’s appropriate. I’m not sure that it goes with my dress though, so I’ll have to see.

I took The Hat over to Pitty Pat’s the other night for dinner. We took turns wearing it around her house. When her daughter came home, we made her wear it too. Pitty Pat also thought the knight fabric was cool, though her daughter looked at it suspiciously. She’s in her early 20’s, so I don’t think it resounded with her the way it did with Pitty Pat and I.

I also got this adorable seal planter.

I was looking for a planter for my baby tears plant, and this is perfect! Isn’t he cute? He reminds me of that children’s book, Sammy the Seal.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


It’s done! The last block of the In Full Bloom kit is done!

Full cottage block

It took me a little over 14 hours just to iron the fusible web to the batiks, cut them out, arrange and fuse them to the background. That’s not counting the original tracing or the piecing together of the background. How do I know it took me over 14 hours? Because I listened to the both the twelfth and thirteenth Stephanie Plum books in their entirety and they run a little over 7 hours each! Now I’m caught up and ready for the fourteenth book which comes out June 17th. I’ll have to start another McKenna Ryan project to listen to it, I think. Maybe one with less parts.

I have decided, due mostly to the hard sell from Kathleen at work, to quilt them. She made very good arguments for quilting as opposed to framing. Of course, she is a lawyer, so I guess that’s what she’s good at. I’m not exactly sure when I will get to it. I need a break from them for a bit. There is also some embellishment with ribbons and beading to do on them once they are quilted. I may need to sweet talk mom into that part. She’s into that kind of thing. In my book, that falls into the “hand work” bucket.
Even though I dread hand work of any kind, the embroidery thing is really growing on me. I may need to learn to do some of that and see if I like it. Wee Wonderfuls has the cutest embroidery and stuffies patterns. And she’s from the Chicago suburbs!

On another note, it was absolutely wonderful to hear from my cousin Patty and her daughter Holly! Holly, your boys are adorable. Patty, can you please send me Kelli's email? I somehow lost it. And to answer your question: I haven't entered any contests yet. I'm chicken. I really should though, as the feedback from experts would be helpful in furthering my learning and skills.


Friday, May 9, 2008

What was I thinking………..

..when I asked for the “In Full Bloom” kit for my birthday last year? I must have been out of my mind! I couldn’t help myself though; it was so beautiful that I was smitten at first site.

You see, I’m really a frustrated painter. I’m lucky I can draw a stick person and have it recognizable. When I was student teaching biology at the high school level for a class of special ed students, I had to draw a fish to show the workings of the respiratory system. Unfortunately, the only fish I can draw is an oval with a triangle for a tail. It’s rather pathetic. My students thought so as well. The first one to walk in for class pointed at the blackboard and exclaimed “what is that Miss Genz!?!?” I explained that it was a fish. There was a lot of snickering from those filing in behind her. I told them they were in biology, not art. They are lucky I have a good sense of humor. Of course that was also the year they gave me the option of teaching either frog dissection, or sex ed. Like that was a choice. It was all frog guts for me that semester! Yuck and Yuck. The lesser of two evils I guess.

Back to the point of this blog entry,
McKenna Ryan's “In Full Bloom” kit was offered at one of my favorite local shops Prints Charming II. So my most wonderful and almost life-long friend Donna got me the patterns, and my most wonderful sister, brother-in-law and parents got me gift certificates for the kit for my birthday. The owner of the store, Nancy, and I were talking about it one day, and she said she was going to offer a free class to those who bought the kit, otherwise she, like the rest of us, would never tackle it. The cottage block alone must have a thousand pieces! We decided we liked the name “Blooming Idiots” for the class, since you would have to be a blooming idiot to tackle this thing!!

I was waayyy behind on it. I missed 4 classes in a row, so I was a total of 4.5 blocks behind. Once the Christmas rush was over though, I buckled down. I was left to my own devices one Saturday in April, while it snowed and rained all day and the poor hubby was at the SOX game. I spent the entire day watching chic movies featuring Colin Firth and Hugh Grant and tracing parts on to fusible web. I was able to trace out all but 1.5 of the blocks. I think I did this for almost 12 hours.

From there, it’s all ironing the traced pieces to the proper color of hand dyed batiks, then cutting out every stinking little piece. Let me tell you, duck bills are a pain in the patooty! Then you have to assemble each little element, such as the duck, then put it into the scene and iron it all down.
The patterns show each block as individuals, then all combined as a whole. I was originally going to put them all together into the 51” x 59” wall hanging. There are two issues with this.
One, some of the pieces go over into the other blocks, so you have to either put the whole background together, then fuse all the parts on, which would be unruly, or you fuse all but the hanging parts down, leaving a ¼” seam allowance, then sew the backgrounds together and fuse the hanging parts down.
Two, when all assembled, you kind of lose the beauty of each block because they all mush together. We decided in our Blooming Idiots class to do them as individual little wall hangings.

Now my big decision is whether I should actually quilt them, or frame them as is. I’m leaning toward framing, because I’m a little over this quilt. If I quilt each of them, then I would use the invisible thread, and have to sewn around the edge of every little stinking piece. No small feat and no small amount of time involved. Thoughts anyone?

The only thing that got me through this tedious and very time consuming process was Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger. My sister and friends had been telling me for years how fantastic the Janet Evanovich “Stephanie Plum” novels were, but it took the all election, all the time news coverage on NPR to drive me to eschew all radio and listen to the books on tape. Lucky for me, the library has all 13 of the books on either tape or cd. I listen to them in the car going to and from work, then in my basement sewing room as I traced, cut, ironed, cut and ironed some more. These books were so funny that I can’t believe the hubby didn’t hear me laughing upstairs. There were times I was laughing so hard that I literally cried. I’m now on the last block, the one with the most pieces, and am grateful that I have half of “Twelve Sharp” and all of “Lean Mean Thirteen” to listen to yet, because this block is a doozy. Because of these books, I actually look forward to tracing, cutting, ironing, cutting and ironing some more! Thank you Janet Evanovich!

The other side effect of enjoying these books so much is that I don’t care how long it takes me to get to and from work. I just follow the car in front of me, and toodle along listening to Stephanie’s zany adventures. I was ¾ of the way home one day when I noticed my lawyer from work turned out behind me. He lives a few blocks away from me and we take the same back route home. He drives a red Audi convertible, so he’s rather noticeable. I asked him the next day if he was behind me the whole way from work. He said “Vic, I pulled up along side of you on Algonquin, honked, waved and yelled ‘Hi Vicki’” and you didn’t look over at me. And you had your window down!” Ooops! Good thing I’m at least paying attention to the car in front of me!

Well, I have to go downstairs and see what horrible fate is in store for Stephanie’s Mini Cooper, oh, and work on my cottage block. Let me know your opinions on whether to quilt or frame.
ps - If you click on the some of the photos, you will see a larger, more detailed picture of the blocks. Only some of them do it, and I have no idea why.