Thursday, December 26, 2013

Yes, Virginia

I'll be filling Virginia in on my map very soon. The quilts I made for this month aren't quite done, but they're close enough for me to put up a few pictures.

I had a box of small scraps of the very rare Heather Ross' "Mendocino" fabric line that I bought on eBay a few years ago and have been jealously hoarding. I couldn't figure out what pattern would allow me to use tiny cuts but still show off the beautiful prints. And then, this summer, Red Pepper Quilts posted a tutorial for a square-in-a-square or "economy" block.

This block was perfect - my beloved scraps could share the stage with some great coordinating prints and beautiful solids. So I made enough for not one, but two baby blankets.

So many, in fact, that I was able to divide them up by color - one quilt would have more of the brown/peach blocks (with some blue, but hopefully not too much!)...

And the second would have more purple and yellow blocks.

My friend in Virginia chose the yellow and purple quilt, which will be backed with yellow minky and bordered with brown ruffles. The brown/peach quilt will go to another mom friend whose sons take karate with my girls. Both friends are having girls in January.

The brown/peach quilt was finished with an off-white minky backing and pale pink silky pleated edges.

They're so close to being done that I can taste it - but I need a few days to clean out my machine - the mental kind, and the literal giant sewing machine that makes all these quilts possible. This is probably the last post of 2014, but I'll be back in about a week to recap, and hopefully show off two quilts for two lovely 2014 babies.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Coming up Rosie.

In October, I changed up the standard pattern for a Raggedy Ann to create "Maggoty Ann." This month, I tried something similar, changing up the standard sock monkey pattern. 

Maggoty Ann and Andy went to go live in Massachusetts with my friend, Frankie Frain of Red Cow Entertainment. When he found out that I would be visiting his hometown, I was invited to come on his podcast, "How Ah We?" (I'll post links to that once the episodes come out.) 

As is polite, I wanted to take a gift to my host so that I'd be invited back sometime. As if the man needs more dolls, I thought I'd give Frankie a Red Cow reminiscent of his company name, as well as an A-Bo the Humonkey.

My girls named the Red Cow "Rosie." Someone forgot to teach them that you're not supposed to name livestock or you'll get your heart broken. She was made from a pair of women's red knee socks.  

To make Rosie, I more or less followed the sock monkey instructions, but changed up the ears and added horns. I gave her some embroidered details around the eyes, nostrils, and mouth, as well as a shortened tail. I added a bell and a ribbon, and she was ready to go.

The next project was meant to be slightly less adorable. A-Bo the Sock Humonkey was inspired by Frankie's second feature film, in which he plays the title character of A-Bo, short for "Ape Boy," a creature who is half ape, half human.

For the sock version of A-Bo, I used a pair of the famous Rockford Red Heel socks and followed the standard sock monkey directions for his body, skipping the tail. I used the heel of a brown men's sock to give him a brown snout, with embroidered detailing for his mouth and nostrils.

In the movie, A-Bo has a constantly running nose, and this was a detail I wanted to make sure to include. Having kids who pretend to go in for a hug but actually just want to wipe their noses on me, I feel like I'm an expert on this topic. I had to find just the right shade of puffy paint to approximate snot, and I settled on glow in the dark. By day, it's shiny, off-white, mostly opaque, and a little chunky. By night, it glows.

Other details for A-Bo included oversized ears, wispy yarn hair, one button eye, and lumps in the area where the second eye would be.

When I dressed A-Bo, I realized that his clothing was much more like a Raggedy Andy's than Maggoty Andy got to wear. And since he doesn't have a tail to anchor his pants, nor do sock monkeys have butts the way people do, A-Bo's pants ride up, looking a little like lederhosen. He has on brown shorts with some blue plaid boxers hanging out from the bottom. He has brown ribbon suspenders and a red shirt with a white collar. To match his glowing snotty face, I made the white collar from glow in the dark fabric. I was glad to get another chance to use my hoarded yardage - the last time I used glow in the dark fabric was the tiny scraps that went into the Thor potholder.

A-Bo wouldn't be A-Bo without his propeller beanie. I probably wouldn't have kept going on the project if I hadn't been able to find one. I was lucky to find a tiny propeller at a model plane shop, and I was able to attach it to his head with a brad, through the middle of a circle of yellow fabric.

For this picture, I put bows on A-Bo just like he wears in the last scene of the movie. One of my girls was happy to snuggle and pose with him - my older girl was horrified by him and wouldn't touch him. She didn't even want to eat her breakfast if he was on the kitchen counter facing her.

Frankie was pleased to have some new friends for the Maggoties, and plans to let A-Bo live in his office with the real mask from the movie.

There are lots of babies due in January - guess I'd better get back to quilting!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Just filler.

Yeah, yeah. There's no completed quilt this month. I've been doing some sewing, but I plan to give that stuff away, so I don't want to reveal it here just yet. I'll probably have another post next week to show those projects off.

This month, I learned that a family I sent a quilt to a couple years ago now lives in Iowa, and their baby quilt moved with them. So I'm going to go ahead and fill in Iowa on the map. I'm not sure that I can fill in the whole thing in 2014, but it's coming along and looking great.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Listen up, maggots.

It's Halloween, and I thought I'd do a little bit of not-so-cutesy sewing. I tried something new and made something 3D, dolls from a Raggedy Ann and Andy pattern. But these aren't your grandma's ragdolls - I give you "Maggoty" Ann and Andy.

I also tried out batiks for the first time. I don't think I'd use a batik for a regular project, but look how amazing it works out for bruised and rotten skin tone.

Maggoty Ann wears a brown checked dress, gray striped tights, and a shredded apron. She has a worm in her empty eye socket and an arm hanging off her body by a string.


She also has a cracked open skull with an exposed brain made from pink yarn. (Pictured here before she got painted with blood.)


Both of these guys have white X-shaped buttons for eyes, and their blood is made from layers of fabric paint and brushed-on puffy paint.

 I don't have much to say about Maggoty Ann, because like Little Babe here, Maggoty Andy wins the day for me.

Andy much more closely matches my vision of this project. Maybe because I made Ann first and was still learning, or maybe because Ann's poky brain and missing eye are giving her a weird face altogether. This guy is super-cute.

A friend gave me the leftover yarn from the beautiful baby blanket she knitted for Little Babe. Otto was horrified that I used really nice, expensive, yarn-snob-approved yarn to make Andy's hair.

I get that traditional Raggedies are supposed to be children, but I don't like Raggedy Andy's little boy sailor suit. Living in a zombie infested hellscape will make a man out of the raggediest boy, so I decided that he needed cargo pants (with tiny faux pockets), a web belt, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap.

Andy has a ripped open cheek, exposed ribs, a shredded shirt, and a bitten-off leg.

These are going to Massachusetts, so I'm not able to check another state off the list.I'm mailing these off today - and since today is Halloween, and Christmas creep starts tomorrow, I hope the couple who receives them will love seeing them year-round.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Piping hot justice: a gift for John Hodgman

About a month ago, I promised that I'd be showing off a thank-you gift for John Hodgman, for hearing my case on his podcast and letting me pimp my blog during my appearance. He pretty much doubled my site traffic, since at least two more people have looked at it. It took longer than I'm proud of for me to sew two potholders, but here they are.

One for the Judge and one for his bailiff, Jesse Thorn. (Even though Jesse wasn't the bailiff at my trial, and I thought Monte Belmonte was great, I don't know enough about Monte to theme a potholder around him.)

Anyone who is a fan of the podcast will immediately recognize the Judge's logo, which I've spoofed here, giving him a chef's hat and tie and a fork and spoon instead of gavels, along with the words "piping hot justice." I embroidered some of the features, and the glasses ended up a little crooked. I hope it doesn't make him look too...derpy.

I wanted the back to reflect the Canadian House of Pizza and Garbage, but unable to find prints of Canada nor garbage, I went with a pizza print. The print is pretty busy, but if you look closely, you'll see that there's a hand-hole, making the potholder into a mitt for greater hand protection. 

Jesse's likeness was inspired by his digitized image in the "Jordan, Jesse, GO!" video game.

For the purposes of the potholder, he's holding up a slice of pie that's larger than his head, and the words say his bailiff catchphrase, "shut your piehole."

The back actually has a piehole, because it is made in the likeness of a pie, and has a hole to stick your hand in.

And since it's creepy to just mail off two potholders and nothing else, I'll be including a thank you card. Luckily, the genius Bro Hostile designed this one for me:

On the front:

On the inside:

Not that that has anything to do with John Hodgman. But who doesn't love a little bit of Tom Hanks to brighten up their day?

So there you have it. It's Columbus Day, so my mail place is closed, but I hope to get these sent off tomorrow. Next, a little bit of spooky Halloween sewing. Stay tuned to find out why I had to creep out a JoAnn's employee by asking her which shade of pink yarn looked more like brains.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Halfcomplishment Scraptacular

You know where this is going. You've known me long enough. No, there's no finished September quilt to show you. But that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing. Ain't I been sewing....

We attended an early Halloween event, so I was able to get together costumes for everyone.

There aren't many days when I look at my wardrobe, contemplating which outfit will make me look most like Rick Moranis.

There were a couple of people who understood what Little Babe was supposed to be. There was a lady who said to her husband "You know, like that movie? 'Eat me!'" Yeah...close. But nobody got that we were supposed to be a set. People waited for me to move out of the way to take her picture.  Here's a closeup of the hat, so I can get credit from you smart, nerdy folks:

Designed by my brother, who shall be known here on the blog as "Bro Hostile." He does graphic design as a hobby, and he creates brilliant things and mostly keeps them to himself. I guess he's my opposite in accomplishment, since I create mostly middle-of-the-road stuff and trumpet it all over the internet. We've been doing some writing together, which I will hopefully be able to show off here someday. He can bring the brilliance, I can bring the trumpeting.

For the early trick-or-treating, my older girls decided that they wanted to be Fix It Felix and Vanellope from "Wreck It Ralph." (Mr. Hostile wasn't home, so we didn't have a Ralph to match.) I was able to compile most of their costumes from store-bought items, but check out that brown skirt. Handmade, from the big dog right here. Bitch, pleats.

I'm actually surprised I was able to get Felix there into jeans. We almost had to create a gender-bending cosplay character of "Fix It Felicia," because she's strictly a skirts-and-tights kind of girl, and hates every off-the-rack pair of pants. "Youth Hostile" was named for her, because she's the OG hostile child. She hates pants...because she does. But winter is coming fast here in Alaska, and skirts aren't going to cut it for much longer. So this month, I began my journey into trying to make some pants for my older child.

I say "journey", because these pants were a semi-failure. There's a reason quilts makes sense to me - they're two-dimensional. I can fit my brain around sewing something that's meant to be draped over a flat surface. I made these from quilting cotton, because that's what I have the most of - if I can ever perfect a pattern, then I can get going with some denim and corduroy. So what I ended up with was a pair of perfectly adorable pajama pants that embody every complaint OG has about pants - they don't fit her in the back, and they feel too tight in the crotch. But I was able to turn this into a success by giving them to my middle child - who, with her tiny frame and complete lack of butt, is essentially a flat surface.

But that's not all I sewed this month. I started to fill up a bucket of flying geese units:

And I dug out every white, blue, and green scrap I had and made them into HST units:

If I'm sticking to my New Year's resolution of trying something new every month, I can say that I've never tried making so many multiple projects at once. The kids' school has a craft bazaar coming up in November, and I'm trying to decide if I'm brave enough to get a table. And even if I have the courage, I have to figure out whether I'll have enough stuff to populate a table.

But who are we fooling? Most of you are only here to see what I come up with as a thank-you gift for Judge John Hodgman. Well, I really wanted to have a finished product to show you, but that project has had lots of false starts and stops. I think it's coming along, and might be finished over the next couple of days. But here's a sneak preview...

My brief spot of podcasting fame also brought me in contact with a couple who is having a baby in January, and we've been brainstorming together to create a beautiful quilt for him. Hopefully, I'll be able to get started on that soon! I've decided that my 2014 New Year's resolution will be to complete my U.S. map:

(I remembered that I've sent things over the years to my husband's friends in his home state of Louisiana, so I've been able to fill that in since last time.) I've got firm leads for New York and Virginia, and some vague leads for Michigan, Idaho, South Carolina, and Georgia. Washington is filled in with a pillow, so I'll be including any sewn project of mine, be it pillows, potholders, placemats, cross-stitching, what have you. And I might skip even Hawaii, because if you're already living in paradise, why do you need a quilt from a weirdo on the internet?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hey, Hodgmaniacs

If you're a new reader seeing this blog for the first time, chances are, you got here because you listened to the most recent episode of "Judge John Hodgman". My husband and I were this week's litigants.

I mentioned a few of my projects on the podcast, so here's a quick list of links, in the order that they were mentioned in the show, if you were wanting to see them:

-Valentine's day fan art for Dan Savage (mildly NSFW)
- Fan art pillow gets minor internet fame (also mildly NSFW)
- Otto's birthday quilt

I'm so grateful to John Hodgman and the whole Maximum Fun crew. First of all, the Judge let me plug my blog, which is sure to drive over some traffic. But more than that, everyone I worked with was so kind and helpful in walking us through the process, and editing us to not sound like total idiots. And even though my speaking voice is just godawful and my humor is an acquired taste, I think I came across sounding like a reasonable human being. If there were a Yelp for recommending podcasts to guest on, I'd be giving glowing reviews.

So happy was I to get my fake internet justice that I've decided on my next project, and it's a thank-you gift for the Honorable Judge Hodgman. If you love the show as much as I do (and really, why wouldn't you?), stay tuned to see what the gift is. And you can also like Youth Hostile Quilts on its new Facebook page. I'll be using that page to post work-in-progress photos, so if you like the stuff I make, here's your chance to get sneak peeks and see it behind the scenes.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Working feverishly, bordering on madness.

"Yes, Mickey?"
"How do make your quilt bigger?"
"Add a border."
"And if it's not big enough?"
"Add another border."
"And if it's still not big enough?"

My husband never likes to tell me if a coworker is having a baby, because he knows that he'll have to face the awkward moment of handing over this thing that his wife made. And he's right, it's pretty much guaranteed that I will make a quilt every time. This time, the quilt is going to a coworker who is so young and beautiful, we were amazed to learn that she is going to be a grandmother. Her daughter is expecting a boy very soon.

My inspiration fabric was a Michael Miller fabric showing kids observing zoo animals. I started with alternating squares and quarter-square triangles, which created a colorful diamond pattern.  It was cute, but it didn't end up big enough. It needed a border.

I like to look at quilt blogs that subscribe to a "modern" quilting aesthetic, and I've learned that borders are considered less modern and more old-fashioned. Since a lot of my work tends toward the modern, it feels like I haven't done a bordered quilt in quite a while.

Five borders later, it finally felt done. The kids are back in school, and immediately brought home colds and sniffles. I'm mostly over mine, but with my monthly deadline drawing near, I was working under a Nyquil fog. There were times I looked at the quilt and almost not recognize the work that I'd done over the past several hours.

I was thrilled to find a use for a loud, large-patterned fabric that's been lurking around my sewing room for a few years. For the corners, I put in some colorful fussy-cut animals.

I finished it up with a solid red dimpled minky backing and a striped binding.


 This quilt is cute and all, but it seem like it's missing something....

Much better.

Of course it's big enough to be a play mat, but the more important question is, do babies love to cuddle with it?


They do!

This quilt is headed to California, so I was able to check off a big state on the map. I'm proud to say that my quilts have made it to 20% of this great nation!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Traveling gnomes

Last August, I blogged about a brightly-colored quilt top...

...featuring Michael Miller gnome fabric and pinwheel blocks made from small-scale prints of woodland creatures, mushrooms, and even a couple of tiny Heather Ross gnomes.

 Originally, I thought it would be for my own baby, but once I met her, I realized it didn't suit her personality. The top got put away and stayed there for almost a year.

A few weeks ago, I went on a vacation to Texas. While there, I visited a little quilt shop, E-Jay's Fabrics. (If you're ever in Taylor, TX, stop by and support some local business.) I saw some green fabric with large-scale polka dots, and it inspired me to pull my old friend out and get it finished.

While assembling my quilt back, I got out the rest of the gnome panel, and was delighted to remember that the gnome is is not only ready for adventure, but he's ready to go with his baby on his back. I was already planning to make a quilt for some parents-to-be who are also very rambling and adventurous. and a traveling gnome quilt seems just right for them as they go out on exciting outings with their new little son.

Of course, it's great for babes of all sizes.

For those of you keeping track, this one is headed out to a new state that hasn't been yet been graced by a Youth Hostile quilt: Colorado.