Thursday, January 29, 2015

Oh Moda, intoxicating Moda

While I was waiting for my new sewing machine to arrive last month, I did a little fabric shopping. I bought several sizes of Moda's Fresh Cut series (5" charm paks, 2 1/2" mini charms, and a jelly roll).

Before we went to SoCal, I played with them a little bit.

These blocks have a 5" square with 2 1/2" squares sewn to the corners (the excess trimmed). I had 4 mini charm paks so I used matching fabrics for each of the corners.

This week, I got the sewing machine back out.

I finished the squares and then decided on the borders- Jelly Roll strips with mini charms in the corners.

I do love Jelly Roll strips. They look so pretty even before assembly.

I decided it wasn't big enough as it was

So I added a couple more borders. I used almost an entire Charm Pak for the inner border, and 8 Jelly Roll strips, plus corner blocks for the outermost border.  It's now about 60" x 60", nice lap quilt size.

I free-form quilted it, and all went well until the machine demanded a blood sacrifice.

I now know for sure that the instinct to pull back kicks in before the brain screams HOLY SHIT! I JUST SEWED THROUGH MY FINGER!

Luckily, the needle went through the tip of the nail, which deflected it so that rather than going through the tip of my finger, it just sliced it open. A quarter inch further back, and I would have had a very bad afternoon, indeed. Don't worry, I didn't bleed on the quilt.

Anyway, I taped myself up and soldiered on. And yes, it hurt like hell later on.

This machine really does a great job with quilting, even when I'm not sewing through my own skin.

I love how it came out.The binding used five Jelly Roll Strips (with about 12" left over).

My machine quilting is totally inexact, but that doesn't matter.

I used an old sheet for the backing. I love how quilts look after washing, all foofed up.


The fun thing about free form quilting is that you just meander. It's all good. Or it's at least all okay.

Oh, this wasn't a specific pattern. I just played with blocks and arrangements until I found one I liked and went from there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Visiting the Elephant Seals

We spent a couple of nights in and around San Luis Obispo on our SoCal trip. We visited several amazing wineries, spent an afternoon at the Hearst Castle (more about both of those excursions later), and we watched the elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery.

They're amazing animals- loud, and huge, and totally dangerous, which is why we weren't even mildly tempted to go over the fence or climb down the cliff to scratch any behind the ears.

I'd say there were a good 200 seals sunning themselves the day we were there. About half were mamas, and most of the rest were babies or half-grown pups. There were a couple of bulls in sight (all sleeping) and at least one bellowing out on some rocks- we couldn't see him, but we could sure hear him.

Elephant Seals are very territorial, so we saw some fights over sand wallows, and one pair of mamas fought over a baby. I have no idea which one it belonged to, or how the fight came out, since the battle lasted the entire time we were there. Nature can be very cruel, and elephant seals don't kid around about the babies, so I hope everything came out okay.

I didn't get many pictures because I spent the entire time just being amazed at the noise and commotion.

 The day was cool but the sun was warm. There was much napping going on.

 Check out the blissful napping pup.

 Mama Seal is so over being photographed.

You'll hear more ocean than seal in this clip.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sea Turtle, Finished At Last

The purchased, pre-printed Sea Turtle needlepoint that started my whole needlepoint *thing*, has finally found its purpose! I decided to turn it into a needlework bag, and to do that, I used a photo/scan to have Spoonflower make matching fabrics (cotton and canvas). The custom fabrics picked up on the greens and yellows more than the blues, but that's okay.

The fabrics arrived yesterday. Here's what I did:

 The larger motif is the cotton for the lining, the smaller repeat is the canvas for the outer shell

Closer shot

The shell, assembled with quilted batting

The needlepoint canvas, appliqued to the front. Oh- I used a rectangle of plastic needlepoint canvas whip stitched in the bottom to give it a little bit of support.

Closeup of the quilted back

Lining, with pockets

Pocket divisions

Detail of needlepoint

Finished bag

The back

The lining.

I have enough canvas left to make a zipper pouch and maybe a drawstring project bag.

I do love my new sewing machine!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Stories of my grandmother

I'll get back to California adventures in a day or so, but first, this:

I've mentioned that my maternal grandmother was 1/2 Inupiat Eskimo. She lived above the Arctic Circle until her oldest son became seriously ill, and her entire family moved to northwest Washington state so that he could get treatment. That move involved a harrowing sled dog trip of over 600 miles.

My grandma died in the mid '70's, and like most kids, it never occurred to me to ask her stories about her childhood. Luckily, she did tell some stories to my Uncle Stu, who told his daughter Julie, and she wrote a short book with two stories of our grandmother as a child.

I warn you, the stories are heartbreaking. They're also beautifully written.

The book is available on Kindle, if you're interested.

Julie has also shared some pictures of our grandmother and grandfather. They take my breath away.

These were taken somewhere between Point Hope, Point Lay, and Kotzebue, Alaska. My grandma is the one facing the camera, with the big smile.