Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When I Iove something...

...I really love it. Take as an example Simplicity pattern 4589. See, I just typed that without even consulting the pattern envelope. Why? Because I've made the pattern 8 times. Also, when I fall in love with something I want to share that love. Just recently my good friend, Sandy, asked me for a recommendation for a simple, beginner's pattern and, needless to say, I sung the praises of Simplicity 4589. When she accidentally bought the wrong size pattern and was concerned that she wouldn't be able to exchange it, I gave her my copy of the pattern. I did it not because I'm particularly generous, but because I so wanted her to love the pattern as much as I do. And she did. Last I heard, she'd made two versions of this top. What more could I want?
The same is true for the Automated Postal Center at the post office or APC for short. Ridiculous as this may sound, when I first discovered I could send all my domestic packages via this machine and that I could do so any time of day, 365 days a year, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I have since happened upon purchasing and printing my postage via my computer, but I'll always have a special place in my heart for the APC. And, like the sewing pattern, I enjoy letting other people in on this little treasure. When I do have to go to the post office, I can't help but glancing at the addressed packages of those waiting with me in the interminably long and slow line and upon realizing that the person next to me has a package that could be sent via the APC, I think nothing of casually saying, "I don't mean to butt into your business, but did you know that you could avoid this Disneyland-like que and ship your package directly through the APC?" Most people are pretty excited by this bit of news.
Now, I have something new to love. This:

It's my newest cookbook, American Masala by Suvir Saran. See all those post-it page markers laying on top of the book? Well, now the book is inundated with those bookmarks because that's how many of the recipes I plan on trying. Frankly, before I decided to organize my favorite recipes by marking the pages, I'd already made 2 or 3 of the book's dishes. As of this writing I've probably tried and loved at least half a dozen recipes with several made more than once.
Yesterday, I made this recipe not once, but twice.

It's called Indian Chopped Mixed Salad and I made the first version in the morning right after my farm basket was delivered. The dish calls for tomatoes and cucumbers and they were abundant in the basket.

I then made it again last night as a topping for homemade enchiladas. It was delicious. Are you hearing the piercing shrill of my enthusiasm?
The premise behind this book is to craft American recipes like Macaroni and Cheese casserole with an Indian flair and to slightly Americanize traditional Indian foods. The book is well organized and beautifully photographed. And it doesn't call for ingredients that you'd have to literally trek the silk road to find. Here's my suggestion for a perfect day: start off by whipping up a version of Simplicity 4589 followed by a quick trip to the post office to mail packages via the APC, then enjoy making and eating at least one of the recipes from American Masala. I bet you'll doze off that night with a big smile on your face.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The dog ate it

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Actually, in all fairness to my sweet puppy, she didn't eat my mini quilt this Monday. She couldn't of. I didn't make a mini for today. I've been too busy working on several projects including two big quilts. Well, one is definitely large and the other is more large-ish. I didn't want to disappoint too much, so I've taken some in progress shots of those quilts.

Sorry for the crappy lighting, but this is against a wall in what seems like a permanently dim part of my studio. Anyway, the customer who requested this quilt liked the hexagon mini I'd made in the past, but wanted hers to be a wee bit bigger. This one will measure about 36"x45" when it's all pieced. It's not really even large-ish, but something about it being constructed out of hexagons makes me think it is.

The other quilt that's been keeping me busy is this bigger version of my Nate quilt.
It too is a for a lovely customer and it was her idea to include a smattering a twinkle circles amongst the squares. I really like this idea and it's given me a chance to incorporate both large and small circles. Now that I think about it, this quilt, when finished, won't be huge either, just 60"x 90", but I think of both of these quilts as big pieces. Maybe it's all the mini quilts I've made lately or the fact that these are not the only projects I'm working on or maybe I'm shrinking and will soon join the Lilliputians?
Regardless, this is my excuse for not completing the week's mini quilt assignment.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fabric as Inspiration

...for other fabric. I was browsing at a local fabric store the other day and happened upon these:

They literally caught my eye from across the store. It's no small wonder. They're simple and graphic, two things I love in almost anything, but especially in fabrics/textiles. I instantly started to think about all the things I could do with them, both as they are and after some dye and discharge manipulation. First, though, I had definite plans to over dye the red circle fabric.

And I did. And then I over dyed it with a shaped resist.

And already used some of the over dyed in a project.

Best of all the purchased fabric inspired some new patterning ideas for my own fabrics.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Twinkle Quilt

In my own defense I want to say that I can quit whenever I want.

I just don't want to stop making these circles. And they're starting to creep into other designs.

But, like I said, I'm not powerless.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Answers and Inspirations

I'm combining answers to some commonly asked questions with a few recent photos of inspiring stuff because otherwise my blog won't be as pretty and I really like pretty.

The number one, most commonly asked question I get both here in the comments and via email is where do I get the plexiglass shapes for the shibori technique I used in my twinkle quilt?
The answer to that is three fold:
1. I use a local plastics fabricator,Regal Plastics, here in Austin, Texas. You all are more than welcome to ask if they are willing to take out of town orders. You can easily get their contact info via a google search. Be forewarned though, Regal Plastics will only cut shapes from existing plastic or metal shapes as templates. They will return your original with your order, so you could use plastic quilting templates or quilter's squares as your templates.
2. If you have a friend, neighbor, relative, long lost uncle, etc. who has access to a jigsaw, he/she can cut the shapes for you. A few years ago I asked my neighbor's mom's then fiance to cut some plexiglass shapes for me and they're still in use today.
3. Use the Alchemy feature at Etsy to request bids for plexiglass shapes. I know of one very clever gal who did this and got the shapes she wanted/needed.

Another question I'm asked is whether the shapes need to be 3/4" in thickness as stated in my Quilting Arts article.
Actually,no. The 3/4" measurement was an error. It should have read 1/4" and the folks at Quilting Arts ran a note about the error in the following issue, but I don't think most folks caught that update.

Monday's post prompted someone to ask where I got the form for the floor pillow and if there was something unique about it.
I bought the form at Joann's. It measures 17"x15"x3". I think it's basically polyester, but, according to the package, it's been densified. Now, up until I read that word on the wrapping, I had only heard the word densify used by Lydia Batianich on one of her cooking shows. I was pretty convinced that she had made up the word and chalked up her using it to the fact that English was not her first language. I was wrong. Apparently, densifying is a possiblility for polyester forms as well as Italian sauces.
Anyway, the form is constructed so that it holds its rectangular shape. I also bought it in the 22"x22"x4" size.

By the way, this building is called the Norwood Tower . Feel free to learn all about it.
My final answer comes in response to a question about the shibori DVD I gave away as part of the SEWN launch party. Someone asked if I was planning on selling the DVDs. I'm not selling them, but you can purchase it directly from Interweave Press by going here.
That's all the answers I have for right now. Thanks so much for visiting my little web space, commenting, asking, opining and just generally being there.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Floor Pillow Masquerading as Mini Quilt and Winner

This Monday is somewhat reminiscent of last Monday. I sort of have something mini quilt-like, but not really. I'm OK with that because the point of Mini Quilt Monday was to spur me on to try new things and I think I have. Just, sometimes the trials don't necessarily lead to a final product that can be specifically defined as a mini quilt.
But, before I get into describing my non-mini quilt, I first want to thank you all for participating in the giveaway and announce our winner:

Two Dogs and a Quilt
said...The quilt is gorgeous! I love the subtle earthy colors. Nice that your daughter...

Congratulations! Please email me at with your address and I'll get your DVD to you super quick-like.

OK, back to the regular programming.

I made a floor pillow! I've been thinking about this for a long time and I decided that this was the week to craft a floor pillow. When I was a kid, we had a bunch of floor pillows in our living room. We never sat on the couch to watch TV or read a book. We always got cozy with one or two large scale pillows. Whenever I mention that we need a few floor pillows, my kids give me quizzical looks and mutter,huh? I don't understand how they've made it this far in life without the pleasure of sprawling out on the floor with a squishy pillow. Even as I write this the pillow has already migrated to the sofa. I might have to make a stack of these before my family gets the point, but I'm determined to bring back the floor pillow as a viable seating option.

Friday, June 5, 2009

SEWN and shared

The quilt that's featured on the front of my book made its way back home yesterday. I had made the quilt with the book in mind, but I couldn't possibly make something so large without a real life purpose as well.

From the very first I had planned the palette of this quilt with my daughter, Rachel, in mind. A few summers ago, we painted Rachel's room a fun, adobe/orange color and I used that as my inspiration for the colors in this quilt. I told Rachel from the beginning that it might be a while before she got to use this quilt as it was meant for the book and would be off being photographed and what not. She was OK with that (read totally apathetic).

I was a bit surprised by how happy she was to arrive home and find out that the quilt was ready for use on her bed. She even cleaned up her room in honor of the new quilt. Jaws need to be dropping because she's 15 and holds fast to all those stereotypes about teenagers and housekeeping. I was elated on so many levels. I'm always happy to see smiles on my children's faces. I'm always happy to have my efforts appreciated. And I'm always happy to see that there is still carpeting underneath the clothes that usually cover the floor of her bedroom.
Having shared with Rachel and encountered so much happiness, I want to share with you and, who knows, maybe more happiness. I'm participating in the big launch extravaganza for a new and wonderful website, SEWN. It's an online community for quilters and sewers with tips, interviews, online forums, chats, and all sort of other cool stuff for those of us who like to put thread to needle. It officially launches on Monday, June 8. That's this coming Monday! You can check it out through the cute little button I've added to the right hand side bar of my blog. But...before you do that...take a minute to put your name in the virtual hat for the giveaway I'm sponsoring in celebration of SEWN. Leave a comment and you'll be entered in to win this:

It's a copy of the DVD I taped for Quilting Arts Workshop. It focuses on the shibori technique I use to mimic piecing in many of my hand dyed quilts and pillows. There's a complete list of materials and lots of info on dyeing and patterning fabric.
I'll keep the giveaway open until 5:00pm CST on Monday, June 8 and then announce the winner as part of Mini Quilt Monday.
Good luck and have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mini Quilt Monday...kinda, almost, sort of...

It is and it isn't. It is because actually I have a fully formed mini quilt to show, but it isn't because the aforementioned quilt is mostly a repeat of a design I've already featured. It is because I did design something new and it is mini, but I opted to turn the top into a pillow rather than leave it a mini quilt.
So here are my sorta, kinda, almost,maybe mini quilts for this first Monday in June.

The "real" mini quilt is just another version of the patches mini quilt I've shown here before. This one is made out of some undyed cottons and linens and bits from a Moda jelly roll. I've never sewn with a jelly roll before, though I've eaten my fair share of them, but I made this quilt as a class sample for a mini quilt class I'll be teaching this summer at a local store, Sew Much More. The class isn't until August, but I needed to make the sample for publicity purposes.

The folks at Sew Much More just started stocking fabric along with an amazing array of sewing machines and accessories, so they wanted me to make the sample with material they carry.

This is the other half of my nearly mini Monday offerings. As a disclaimer, let me say, that I had every intention of crafting this design into a proper mini quilt Monday piece. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Mick Jagger," Time was not on my side."

So, I made a pillow instead. It's still mini, just not quite as two dimensional. And, like the patches design, you'll probably be seeing more of it.