29 Jun

My Next Career

Check out this gorgeous dress!

No, that’s not me with an awesome tan, that’s our friend Malia (stage name) who my daughter and I used to take hula lessons from. She is providing the entertainment at her brother’s graduation party and needed a new dress to dance in. Since I sew, she asked if I could make this for her.

It still needs a hem and some minor adjustments, but it turned out so beautiful I had to share. The funniest thing is that, whereas I would test a dress by approximating the hight of heels I might wear with it, or whether or not I could sit in it, Malia tests a dress by how well she can sway side to side, or crouch low and point her feet out in a “hela uehe” movement. This dress (McCalls 5100 — sadly out of print) does all that and more. Malia is convinced that her aunties and friends will love the dress so much that they will all come clamoring to me for their own dresses!

So, if the art quilting thing doesn’t work out for me, perhaps I could make custom hula dresses.

P.S. Here’s two photos from last year of Malia at her “day job” dancing at Germaine’s Luau:

Germaine's Luau

Germaine's Luau

P.P.S. I ordered yarn….

27 Jun

Amish Drag Racing in the Southwest

Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? But, that’s what I’m calling this quilt; Amish because of the solids with black, Drag Racing because it started as a Jelly Roll race, and Southwest because I think it’s got a big helping of Hopi blanket aesthetic. So, it’s a bit nonsensical too.

Wonky, but cool

The quilt really did call out for straight line quilting on the diagonal. Despite the fact that it wonked the quilt crazy out of square, I still think it was the right way to go. It does reinforce though, that my quilting skills can always use improvement — I gotta get better at keeping the bulk and weight of the quilt evenly distributed so I don’t get such uneven stitches, funky turns, and stretched out shapes.

Amish Drag Racing in the Southwest

It doesn’t look so bad on a bed though. The wobbles are minimized. It will look even better as a hangs-on-the-back-of-the-couch lap quilt.

Amish Drag Racing in the Southwest

The solution, thanks to Judy, was to add a border or frame and trim THAT square. Yes, I’ve embraced the wonkiness of this — Gee’s Bend, eat your hearts out.

23 Jun

Up Next

Thank you so much for the commiseration on my Amish Drag Racing jelly roll quilt. For a quickie quilt, this has turned into a rather laborious project. However, long-time reader Judy has come to the rescue with a solution that made me smack my forehead with the proverbial “Duh!” I was stuck on not wanting to cut anything off of my half-square-triangle border, and completely missed the fact that I could easily ADD. So, I have re-wet the quilt and smoothed it out so there are no more unsightly stretch marks. When it dries I’ll repair the broken stitching and add a big, plain, border to act as a kind of frame for the wonkiness. THAT will be neatly squared.

Next up on the design wall is a baby quilt for the daughter of a friend. I was all set to use the quilt as an excuse to buy some new, fun, fabric — and then I realized that I already had adorable mushroom print fabric and big, grey polka dots that didn’t work in my original plan for them.

Happy Stars

I’m liking this.

And, because I’m a schizophrenic quilter, while I am making a cute, modern, baby quilt, I am also contemplating a new apron for my Army Wife series. It was inspired this morning by a Navy Wife in my kickboxing class. She was giddy this morning with the news that her husband was coming home sooner than expected — which of course then became stress over how best to prepare for his arrival (lose weight, get her hair done, clean the house, etc.). She definitely doesn’t need to loose weight, and her hair always looks great, and I told her that just being there at the airport for her man was gift enough. She said she’d gotten a new dress for the occasion, but was that too much? No way — not too much. Which then leads me to think of a Welcome Home apron, all gussied up for the big day. Yup, I think that needs to be added to the queue.

22 Jun

It Kicked My Butt

My quilting self esteem took a big hit this week. I know that I’m no world class quilter, but I had no idea how bad this simple quilt was going to kick my butt.

I decided to try wool batting. This one is Quilter’s Dream wool. It is lovely! It is light and squishy and so so easy to cram through my sewing machine. I’ve even heard that it resists creasing, which is great for those of us who have to fold our quilts for mailing to shows. But… it’s poofy! I imagine that in a hoop for hand quilting, it would be just fine, but poof can be tough to deal with on a home machine. My first disappointment is the tucks on the back. Not a ton, but there are a few.

The quilt screamed out to be quilted on the diagonal. And I jumped right in, because heck, it’s just straight line quilting — not circles like the other one that kicked my butt. Ah, but fabric stretches on the bias (diagonal) and boy was it distorted by the time I was done quilting. I fought the law of warp and weft and the law won. I wet the quilt to block it and pulled and stretched and massaged and pulled some more for two hours. I broke quilting threads which I will now have to pull out and re-quilt.

It’s closer to squared now, but not exact. I am so in awe of you modern quilters out there who can manage straight line quilting and seemingly squared quilts. Between the poofs, the tucks, the broken quilting, and the general out-of-squareness, it’s a good thing that this quilt is likely going to my kids and not meant to grace any book or show. I will be crawling back to my wonky art quilts with my tail between my legs.

P.S. Does anyone know of a low-loft wool batting out there? I really do like the weight and non-creasiness of the wool.

20 Jun

Family Afghan

This afghan has graced my dad’s couch for what seems like eons. It might have originally come from my grandparents. Or maybe not. Family things get passed down and I forget what came from where as they all seem to blend together both emotionally and aesthetically.

Old Family afghan

Anyway, after visiting my dad recently and seeing this, I have a wild hair to recreate it. Or at least make something similar. After seeing how much yarn an afghan can eat up when I made ripple blankets for my mom and myself though, I want to keep a lid on this one.

I’ve narrowed down some yarn choices, and I wonder if my yarny blog friends have any tips. I could return to teh Plymouth Encore. I’m pretty happy with my current Encore afghan — though it would be interesting to try something without acrylic. Choice number two is probably Lion Brand Wool-Ease. The colors and price are right, especially if I wait for a 50% off the entire order coupon from Jo-Ann’s. It’s still an acrylic blend though. Speaking of Jo-Ann’s, Patton Angora Bamboo looks intriguing. Ravelry says it can be hairs-in-your-nose-itchy though. This Bambool is also interesting. I’ve knit with bamboo and like the softness, but I’m afraid the size of an afghan would pull it out of shape. Back in acrylic blendy-land, Swish from Knit Picks keeps coming up, and it has good colors and a good price. They also have Wool of the Andes Worsted. I’m afraid that it will be too itchy and splitty and felt up on me though.

Anybody got any words of yarn wisdom for me?

17 Jun

Be Strong

I gave a hint of this, the latest installation in my series, “The Army Wife,” a while back. I thought I was done, but something wasn’t quite right. I wasn’t sure what it was though.

Luckily, I have some very good online friends who I respect, who will give me their honest reactions to my work. They pointed out a few things that didn’t quite work for them either. Ah, now I could put a finger on it.

I bought more yarns, removed and completely re-did the original ties, and removed the red writing after all. I am much happier with the apron now. And so now I can share it with a wider audience.

“The Army Wife: Be Strong, Always” 2011, Kristin La Flamme

With service members deployed so often and for so long, with the dangers inherent in the job, with frequent moves undermining traditional support systems, it it imperative that military spouses be strong — ALWAYS. It’s not written, or said out loud, but it is assumed and expected.

15 Jun

A Day at the Races

First there were Jelly Rolls, those pretty rolls of 2.5″ wide strips from a fabric collection. Then came books and blogs of projects to make from the strips.

I made my own jelly roll with most of my solid fabrics (I was surprised I had so many).

Then I read on Diane’s blog about about Jelly Roll races. Well, my friend Kim LOVES jelly rolls AND she organizes a monthly sewing bee. I knew she’d get a kick out of quilters racing each other to make a simple quilt out of a jelly roll.

And so Kim challenged us to a Jelly Roll Stroll last Sunday. Here I am, ready to start, with my strips sewn end to end. Kim took an extra hour or so and joined her strips with contrasting triangles. Check out her blog for better pictures and her adorable finished quilt top.

It took me one hour and 18 minutes to get from 1600″ long strip to this quilt top (above). I probably spent an hour cutting the strips (which you wouldn’t have to do with a purchased jelly roll) and about an hour sewing the strips end to end and pressing them. I could have been done at that point, with a whopping 3-ish hours invested.

1600 Jelly Roll quilt +

But…. it called for a half square triangle border. So I went home and spent at least four hours cutting, sewing, trimming, and sewing some more. Totally worth it though, and in only two days, I’ve got a quilt top. I went out today and bought batting and backing, so this could be a finished project in the near future! I think it’s destined for my son’s bed.

12 Jun

Common Threads Exhibit

I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of attending the artist reception at the Common Threads exhibit at Prescott College Art Gallery at Sam Hill Warehouse.

The show runs from May 27 until June 15, 2011, so it’s pretty much over by now, but it really did look great.

The five artists included are Betty Busby, Jane Waggoner Deschner, Patricia Gould, Marjorie Durko Puryear, and me. That’s Marjorie’s framed collages to the right of mine.

The gallery itself is a beautiful space with good lighting, high ceilings and a rustic clean feel. (It looks much better in real life than in my iPhone photos.)

Curator Jen Chandler did a wonderful job of hanging the artwork not by artist, but mixed together in harmonious groups and pairs. Everything flowed so nicely. To the right above is Patricia Gould’s work. The very yellow one is my “Raps.”

Jane Descher’s stitched, altered photos are to the right of my “Am Rand des Omas Weizenfeld.” I am so pleased to have been a part of this show, and glad to have been able to see it in person.