Thursday, January 31, 2013

Favorite Things Friday - Beauty is Embarrassing

I watched a recent episode of Independent Lens on PBS, featuring artist Wayne White in a documentary called "Beauty is Embarrassing."

That is, I watched it three times.  Loved, loved, loved it.

I was familiar with Wayne White's early work before I even knew who Wayne White was, since I was a big fan of Pee-Wee's Playhouse back in the day.   A grown-up fan, but having a young child at the time was good cover.  It was unlike anything else, funny and silly and creative and weird, all that.  Now that I've seen this documentary, I have a better idea why.  Wayne was a puppet designer and animator and jack of all trades on the Pee-Wee set, as well as on other shows like Beakman's World.

He found his own niche as an artist after giving up his Hollywood animation career.  Part of that involves painting words over thrift store landscapes in his own unique way.  Funny, silly, quirky, meaningful, and, yes, beautiful.

"So beautiful it hurts my feelings," as Wayne has said about his native Appalachian home state.

Wayne White is inspiring, even as "Beauty is Embarrassing."  I totally get it.  Watch it, if you can, online or Netflix or however (link to Amazon Instant Video).

It's my Favorite Thing this week!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Heartbreaker with Happy Ending

Lessons learned quilting this wall hanging:
  • Things happen that are a mystery.
  • Sometimes I am not in the mood for a mystery.
  • Keep those big girl panties close, you might need them.
I stared at my quilt sandwich and drew imaginary lines with my fingertips, this way and that, trying to decide how I might go about quilting this piece. 

Every time I quilt something, I feel like a beginner.  Maybe once I get 10,000 hours under my belt, that feeling will have dissipated.  Guess I better get crackin' then.

I decided on loops and hearts within the hearts.  I made up a practice pad with a fused heart on it because I suspected those fused areas might cause my machine to cough up a hairball or something (I could not remember the specific experience I'd had that made me suspect this, but I suspect there was one). 

The test swatch went fine.  Cleared for takeoff, all systems go.

On the real piece, all seemed to be going well.  As I finished quilting the last (wouldn't you know) of all the hearts, I flipped it over again to check the back.  That's when my real heart sank.  Eyelashes everywhere!  Everywhere I had gone after that first heart, that is; except, oddly enough, a few of the other quilted heart shapes remained intact.  In my dismay, I neglected to take a photo.  It wasn't pretty.

Thus began a disheartening hour or two of ripping out stitches, Googling for answers, inspecting my machine (everything seemed okay, threaded okay, tension good), and trying another test (again, fine). 

I decided to forge ahead and quilt all the non-fused areas, which went well.  Then I went back and attempted to quilt the fused hearts once more.  Again with the eyelashes.  If I went super slow, a stitch at a time, and did nothing fancy, just get in and get out, it was doable (albeit not much fun).  

But at least it's done.  And points for perseverance, because I considered shelving this until February 2014; then I found my big girl panties.

All in all, I'm happy with the finished wall hanging. Happy I got through it, happy it's presentable.
Make A Candy Heart
It's a bummer the fusible parts were so dicey, and a buzz-kill for any fusible applique in my future.  Has this sort of thing ever happened to you?  I used Heat 'N Bond Lite, which is supposed to be sewable.  My machine is a Juki TL98Q, and the thread (which I am admittedly not in love with but I used it anyway) was Isacord both on top and in the bobbin.  I did not change my needle, but it had been recently changed.

So that's the breakdown.  Time to enjoy it on the wall!

January Finishes

Sunday, January 27, 2013

UFO No. 1 Down

I'm happy to have finished the first UFO of the year, and managed to get it photographed just as a few flakes were starting to fall.  Now it looks like a swirling snow globe out there, whew!

Fun colors and fabrics in this one, I think.

I did my usual meandering in a variegated Sulky thread.  I am curious to see how this thread holds up in the wash and wear-and-tear real world.  Methinks it may not be quite up to the task, but perhaps I'll be surprised.  Live and learn, at any rate. 

The back is a Moda Marbles with a batik strip in the center.

I need a good name for this quilt, whose working title has been "Number Three," based on which choice I went with for bordering it.  I was thinking along the lines of "Bright Pathways," but that sounds a lot like a counseling center.  Other than that, I gots nuthin'.  Brainstorm away in the comments!

This is one of my first quarter 2013 Finish-A-Long projects, A Stitch in Time January 2013 finish, and I'm linking to Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop? too!

she can quilt

January Finishes

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hot Mess

My experiment with a self-selected challenge fabric has come to an end, and in the nick of time before my brain exploded.  

Which, one could argue, is what this looks like.  But the old thinker was smoking in a good way, a way that forced me to (gee, I hate this phrase but here I go using it) think outside the box.  Or employ the opposite, non-dominant hemisphere, or, like, whatever.

I do enjoy hacking things to pieces, though, ever since I cut up my mom's best girdle in an attempt to make a "cheerleader skirt" when I was yet a toddler.  Or so I'm told.  I have no specific recollection of that event, although I do remember giving myself a haircut just before a family vacation when I was three.

Ah, the good old days, before outlet covers and toilet locks, when sharp implements were accessible to all members of the household.  Remind me to tell you about the time I slipped a butcher knife into my mom's old purse and headed off to the neighbor's to terrorize their chickens.  Well, I may as well finish the story now that I've started it.  I got about halfway there when the noon whistle blew and the toy factory across the street let out for lunch.  With all those fine folks walking by and smiling at me, I had a pang of guilt about the steel I was packing, so I ran home and returned it to the drawer.  Suddenly, harvesting a chicken didn't seem like such a good idea anymore.

And in case you're wondering, I made it through childhood and adolescence relatively unscathed, with no guidance counseling involved and never having harmed a live chicken, unless eating KFC counts.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, cutting up.  I cut this piece down once or twice more since the last post.  It ended up 11 x 14 finished.

I pieced the back with one of the scraps.  I almost like the backside better than the front.

You can see the loopy quilting in variegated thread better on the back.

In these grayish, depth of winter days, a little splash of bright is a picker-upper.  And if anyone spills on this, it'll blend right in!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

No Clue

The Cliff's Notes version of this post:  
  • I don't exactly know what I'm doing.
  • Not that it matters.
  • Whatever I am doing is interestingly uncomfortable.
  • That is probably a good thing.
Ever get an idea (maybe even a bad one) that you just can't leave alone?  It starts out a seemingly simple thing, but when that doesn't pan out, before you know it, it has morphed into something unrecognizable.  And yet you still feel compelled to keep at it.

Kind of like a bad poem.  (Been there, done that.)

Let me explain.

Last summer, I bought a bagful of fabric at the thrift store.  There was a little bit of everything in that bag, some modern, some vintage.  There were a few true "dogs" as well, which went back to the pound during my decluttering phase.

This piece I kept, however.  A vintage, I'm going to say early '70s, navy and yellow-gold, paisley-tulip thingamabob.  Yards of it.  Some would call it ugly, and they may have a point, but to me it was...interesting...and I was determined to use it somehow, some way, some day.

The other day, I saw it in the stash and pulled it out and started thinking about what might work.  How about a Lemoyne Star, something simple, maybe use up some other odds and ends while I'm at it.  Here was my little stack.  

Here is how it looked cut and laid out on the table.  Yuck.

I tried this and that, but no matter what, I didn't like that fabric in the mix.

Same fabric, different day.  I played with the HSTs of the navy print and the yellow brick road type fabric.  Maybe I'll just make a simple block.


How about I cut it up and sew parts of it back together again?  

I made three strips.  That was fun.  Now what?

Let's put some other colors around the strips and then cut those strips in half.

Rearrange them on the cutting table a bunch of times, and finally sew them together again.

It looks like butterflies chasing each other.  Can you see them?  Kind of cool how that happened.

But wait, there's more.  Cut a 12-inch square on a wonky angle.  

Lay it on a dark background to see how it might look framed.

Put some other triangles, trimmed and saved from a recent project, around the square just for kicks.

That's where it is so far.  

It continues to pester me like a sliver.  I have no idea where it will end up (possibly the trashcan), but I do know that feeling my way along like this without a map is well outside my comfort zone.  

And maybe that's the whole point?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thrifting for Fabric

I've been on a thrift store diet for a little while now.  Trying to cut down, you know.  While I was decluttering a couple months ago, it didn't make much sense to drive a trunk full to the donation drop-off, then pull around, park the car, and go in.

But today was sale day at Goodwill, and I needed some more fabric.  Pink tags were half off. 

I got what I needed in the form of four men's shirts.  As I may have said before, I've already got a boatload of thrifted men's shirts, but I needed some more light colors.

This dark one weaseled its way in because of the cool pattern.  I'll use it in my current project too.

You can glean quite a bit of fabric from an XXL or XL men's shirt.

Isn't this an interesting detail on the inner collar stand?

These will help make a bucket list quilt, inspired by a page I tore out of Country Living a few years ago while I waited in the doctor's exam room.  (Shhh, it's our secret, okay?  P.S. I became a subscriber after that.)

Back before blogging (B.B.B.), I was more organized.  I put it in a page protector and into a 3-ring binder of "someday" projects.

This weekend, I went through my shirt stash and pulled fabrics for it.  I was a little light on the "lights," as mentioned.

These boys will do nicely.

This is the kind of thing I won't sew all at once (that might get pret-ty boring), just a few blocks here and there in between other stuff.  The block is simple enough.  Also B.B.B., I had found the block pattern on Quilter's Cache, printed it out and tucked it in on the other side of the ripped out page.

I made a sample block from (very old) scraps on Saturday.  Decided to make it smaller, so I jotted down the dimensions I'll use for a 9.5 inch block, 9 inches finished.  If I set it 9 x 9, it'll be a good size, around 81 inches square.

Speaking of those who play well together (we were, weren't we?), I have been hitting the replay button on this and other Dawes videos lately.  There is something sublime about brotherly (or sisterly) harmony, like that of Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


One of these things is not like the other... (remember that Sesame Street song?)

Norm thought I should go more red the next time I colored my hair, so instead of the usual Light Brown, I bought Light Auburn Brown.  

It looked nice enough on the package, but I should have taken a clue from the words underneath Light Auburn Brown, as in CHERRY Praline.

As in FUCHSIA, actually.  It is hard to capture in a picture, but believe me, when the light hits it, it's fuchsia.

So I am getting used to my pink hair this morning.  Wondering how it will fade, as it always does.  To a brighter pink (nooooo!) or straight to brassy brown (one can only hope)?

Oh well, it's close to Valentine's Day.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sending a Hand

While I had the fusible handy (ha!) today, I made a block for Sarah's Helping Hands project.  

Her Piece*Love*Quilt ministry is nearing its 500th donation quilt, and to commemorate the occasion she is hoping to create a quilt including a block from all the helping hands who have been involved in that ministry in some way.  You can read more by clicking the link above.  I just have to sign this block and then it'll be on its way.

The Valentine's Day wall hanging is in the flimsy stage.  I decided to border it.  

The pink floral had been in the stash a while, patiently waiting its call to action (Michael Miller, Sakura Blossoms).  The gray outer border seemed to work as well.
I had already cut the backing (from the same pink blossoms fabric) before I decided to add borders on the front, so I had to make the backing a little bigger as well.  Pink and gray together has a vintage vibe to me.  Not that I would want my bathroom done in those colors, like the 1950s, but I do like the combination in smaller doses.

My lighting is less than ideal in these photos, but I'm hoping that the "welts" from the seams that look so apparent after the hearts were fused will seem less noticeable when it's all quilted.  If not, it's going to hang in a rather dark entryway, so no big deal.

Linking to Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict!