Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mayday disaster

Hey, look who's on time with this month's project! That's the good news. Now for the bad news. I felt so ambitious at the beginning of the month. I was totally going to make several baby quilts, and polish off some old projects that have been waiting around and staring at me for months.

I finished one baby quilt. One.

Maybe I could have gotten more done if this little tiny quilt hadn't fought me every step of the way. I wasted hours redoing sections and picking out stitches. I suspect that the white fabric I was using wasn't 100% cotton, because it was behaving in ways I couldn't predict.

It would have been great if all that work had produced a fabulous-looking quilt, but here's the rub: I don't think I like it. It looks kind of uneven and lumpy to me. Luckily, my husband's work friend doesn't know I'm making a quilt, so if my crippling doubt and indecision get the better of me, I can just stuff this down the memory hole (closet) and never think about it again. I can't ask my husband if he thinks it's wonky - even though a normal human can declare something to be ugly or not, he claims that his ignorance of quilting keeps him from being able to make an informed decision.

I tried something new this month, which was a free-motion quilting technique that resembles flowers, inspired by Elizabeth Hartman's "Loopy Flowers". Well, hers are beautiful. Mine are not. There's too much space between mine, and my quilt top is dotted with blue where the bobbin thread was poking up. Thread tension was a big issue while making this quilt. An all-over free-motion stippling would have been better, but I don't know if even that would have saved it.

Another new thing for this month was putting ruffles around the edges instead of a binding. I used some fabric left over from binding my very first quilt. I'm really loving the ruffles, and I'm glad I figured out how to do them. But, making the ruffled edge required a pillowcase finishing technique, which I think led to my quilting problems - the quilt top and backing must have been subtly different in size and shape. I would have loved to give this baby blanket a straight-line quilting, but there would have been too many bulges and tucks.

So this month's quilt looks wonky and painfully homemade. They can't all be winners, can they?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Small project, big ego.

My first grader's teacher sends home a canvas tote whenever it's my daughter's turn to bring in snacks for the class. The bag looks like it was lovingly handmade by someone, but since getting dragged around by first graders, it started to look a little worse for wear. I thought I'd make the class a new snack bag, for the same reason I do anything: 50% out of actual kindness, and 50% out of the desire to get rid of fabric and foist my crafts onto others.

On the right is the old and busted, and on the left is the new hotness. I tried to make the bag similar to the first - heavy material on the outside, webbed handles. I tried to improve upon the things that I found lacking in the original bag: I made it a little bigger, plus made the word "snacks" more visible. Plus, I like my bags like I like my women - with a flat bottom.

The lining is made from a colorful food-themed fabric I bought at Wal-Mart two years ago, fully intending to make a quilt with it. I was thrilled to clear it out of my yardage for once and for all. In fact, the only thing I had to buy to make this project was the webbing for the handle. I even got to try a "something new" for this project - for the first time, I made a bag without any sort of pattern or tutorial. It's not perfect, but it turned out pretty well in the end.

And when my job as snack buddy comes the day after Easter, you bet there are going to be 20+ kids who get to eat some deviled eggs. 

And even though the teacher sent home a very nice thank you note, her appreciation couldn't even touch the ego boost I got a few days ago. I was looking at the numbers of views on my blog posts, and I noticed that my post about the Dan Savage Valentine's Day "Fuck First" pillow had received over 1000 views, way outnumbering any other post I had done. After a little bit of investigation, I found that about a month ago, Dan Savage had Tweeted a picture of the package I sent him to Ann Landers' daughter.

I found the same picture later at a Nebraska news blog, showing Margo Howard's response, and her claim that if Ann Landers ever saw my work, she'd faint. This readers will take that as a compliment.

And even though Mr. Savage didn't mention my name or the name of this blog, people found their way here. And Dan's picture found its way around the internet, even to this Pinterest page:

See it there in the middle? Adorable.

So my work got a few bright moments of internet fame, and it was quite a thrill.