I totally had all these grand plans to finally put together the Toothless shawl I’ve been working on for… well, I can’t remember how long now, and write up a post about it. But then I ended up having to present at a conference, and I’m still trying to kick this stupid cold I’ve been fighting for three weeks now, and every night this week I’ve come home with absolutely no energy.
So, instead of an actual post with substance, I bring you Steve, helping me make an English paper piecing quilt out of tiny hexagons.
Thanks for bearing with me as I’ve been dealing with a complete lack of energy – it’s much appreciated. I promise I’ll have something more substantial for next week.
I’m pretty sure you folks all know I love to sew. I’ve rambled about it a number of times on the blog. Unfortunately, I haven’t really done much of it lately — largely because I don’t really have space to permanently set up my sewing machine. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to set my sewing space up in the kitchen, sew for a few hours, and then take it all back down because we need to eat. And unless I want to try to sew standing up, with the sewing machine perched on my giant dresser, there’s not really space to set it up in my craft room.
Eventually I’ll have the space, since I’m planning on getting rid of the giant dresser (which takes up nearly an entire wall) and getting a much more reasonably sized one from Ikea at some point, and rearranging the furniture that’s left. However, that’s going to involve some help from friends and a trip up to Fishers to get a new dresser, and a number of other things that I can’t quite get done right away.
In the meantime, I figured out a space where I can semi-permanently set up my sewing machine! You’ll probably laugh, but hey, it’s working out pretty well for me.
Yes, I’ve set up my sewing machine in the garage, of all places. Sure, it smells a little bit like motorcycle fumes when it gets warm in there, but I don’t mind it. I have both my sewing machine and my ironing board set up at the same time, and can switch between them easily — which is wonderful. When I try to set everything up in the kitchen, inevitably I end up tripping over something or knocking something over. I used to flop the ironing board on top of the washer and dryer, but since Ross and I got new ones last year with rounded tops, I can’t quite iron in the laundry room anymore.
It’s actually not so bad, sewing in the garage. Sure, it doesn’t look glamorous at all, but since when do all craft rooms have to be shiny and pretty and Instagram-worthy? And I have the added benefit of being able to enjoy lots of fresh air, since I can just open up the garage door and practically be sewing outside.
Plus, that means I can sew with New Lapis! Who I’ll probably ramble about in more detail at a later date. After all, she is The Crafty Nerdmobile! (And once a month, she’s Lappy the LARPmobile too.)
Anyway, I’ve managed to put my sewing studio to good use so far — I’ve started work on a disappearing 9-patch quilt, and I’m to the part where I can start sewing the completed squares together.
I’m really impressed with how these squares are coming out, on most of them the seams are lining up perfectly. I learned some new quilting techniques (or, more accurately, ironing techniques) that really helped with this. I didn’t know until recently that when you’re working with quilt squares, you shouldn’t iron them like you’d typically iron a shirt or other sewing projects. Instead, you just flop the iron down on the seam you want to press flat and let gravity do the work. I’ve been setting the iron on the seam for a few seconds, then lifting it and setting it further down, and it’s working out really well for me.
I think once I’m finished with this quilt, I might actually get working on the Sailor Moon quilt again – which also might end up being a disappearing 9-patch as well. This pattern is fun, and ends up looking really nice when it’s done. Not sure what I’ll do with either of these quilts when they’re finished, as I’m starting to run out of places to put them, but I’ll figure it out eventually.
I was on a really good posting streak there for a while, wasn’t I?
And then my brain got in the way and decided “hey, let’s focus on everything that’s NOT the blog!” And silly me went and followed it down a bunch of rabbit trails. I started three craft projects, in addition to the two unfinished pairs of socks and poor neglected Sailor Moon quilt.
And then Kishar started back up again, which meant I got to don my elf ears and red dress again and run around as Ëlinyr the Sun Elf for a weekend!
Then there are the cosplay ideas Ross and I have been coming up with for the conventions we’re going to. (I’m not going to post about them, because it seems that any time I post about costumes I want to do for conventions here, I never end up actually making them, like Toothless and Rose Quartz…) And of course I get wrapped up in those and get excited for conventions, and all the fun that comes along with them.
And then I remember my poor neglected blog, and feel bad.
Then something else distracts me, and off I go! *sighs*
So that’s where my brain has been lately, folks. Lost in a bunch of ridiculous distractions. I need to actually develop a blog posting routine – set down a day and time every week to write some stuff. Even if it’s just “hey, I’ve got nothing this week, so here, have some pictures of dogs dressed up in costumes”.
Speaking of which – yes, it’s old, but I do love seeing Pudge dressed up as the Eleventh Dogtor.
What this rambly post boils down to, I think: I’m still here, I’m still distracted by everything, but I’m gonna try my darndest to put new blog posts out on a regular-ish basis. There’s definitely no shortage of things I want to post about, like my idea for turning a Wingspan Shawl into a Toothless shawl. Or how ideas for keeping track of my yarn tourism fun. And don’t forget about how I managed to read through almost all the Dresden Files books this year – that merits a post of its own, I think.
There I go, getting distracted again! Anyhow. Expect some more regular posts from me – and feel free to pester me if you don’t see anything for a while. Friendly reminders from readers are always welcome, hah.
Goodness, quilt pattern making is hard. I never realized just how hard until I started work on the Sailor Moon quilt.
First off, trying to figure out how much fabric I needed for this quilt has been… an adventure, to say the least. I started off with very uneven amounts of old Sailor Moon fabric, and thought to myself, “okay, I’ll try out making a pattern where the main squares have a moon pattern in them, and then alternate them with 9-block squares!” I roughed out a pattern based on 12-inch quilt squares, made up of 9 pieces, and figured I’d at least have enough Sailor Moon fabric to make that pattern work.
It was a great idea, and I was super excited – however, I’d actually ordered the fabric I was going to use for the quilt before I actually built the pattern. Which was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had. However, I cut my existing fabric into squares while I waited for the fat quarters I’d ordered from Spoonflower to come, and did some research to figure out how many 4.5 inch squares I could get out of a fat quarter. Turns out, you can theoretically get sixteen 4.5 inch squares from a fat quarter!
If the fat quarter is appropriately sized, anyway.
For those of you who’ve never ordered from Spoonflower before, they custom print your chosen design on whatever fabric you choose at the time you order it. Which is pretty darn cool, I think – but with the fat quarters, they’re not exactly a standard size – and on top of that, the printing was a little off, size-wise, resulting in some quilt squares that have a white border on one edge. (I’m sure it’ll be hidden when I start piecing things together, but still, it’s annoying.)
I did, however, make a quilt pattern. And I think it’ll look pretty cool, once made – but I’m not even sure I want to make it with this fabric, given all the ridiculousness with different amounts of different fabric patterns and all. I might end up doing the disappearing 9-patch pattern I’ve seen around the internet, though – I’ve been wanting to try it for a while, and with a couple solid fat quarters, I should easily be able to make it. What I will do with that pattern, instead, is polish it up into a nice PDF and possibly post it here for people to test out, if I’ve got any followers who are nerdy quilters who’d want to beta test a pattern for me…
And you know what’s really sad? I finally got the solid colored fat quarters I needed to help break up the crazy patterns, and I still haven’t cut them up yet. I’ve had them for a few weeks now and haven’t touched them. Maybe when I’m on vacation, I’ll finally tackle this quilt in earnest…
Or at least I will be, once Spoonflower ships out my latest fabric order.
So, there’s a bit of a story behind this latest crafting endeavor. Maybe two stories, actually, that converge into one – but they both focus on my favorite anime ever, Sailor Moon. The first story is from about… gosh, ten years ago. (It really doesn’t feel like that long ago!) A close friend of mine, Katie, bought me some Sailor Moon fabric for my birthday – at least I think it was for my birthday, it’s been so long ago that I’m not entirely sure. I ended up using some of it for craft projects, a little of it for some Gamma Sigma Sigma shirts (yes, I was in a sorority, but not your typical one!), and then stashed the rest away because I couldn’t think of a good project to use it in, and I didn’t want to use it all up.
Fast forward about ten years, and look what’s still lingering in my fabric stash…
Now, recently I’ve had a resurgence of Sailor Moon fangirling – mostly because I got hit with the best idea for a Halloween costume ever. I remembered seeing a Sailor Moon costume at my local costume shop about a year and a half ago, and while I didn’t have the chance to look at it too much when I’d seen it, I figured if it was a decent costume I’d snag it and maybe make some modifications to it after Halloween to make it fit for cosplaying. Shortly before Halloween, I went over to Campus Costumes to go seek out that Sailor Moon costume – it was a long shot, as it’d been a while since I’d seen it, but maybe I’d be lucky, right?
Well, after a half hour of searching, one of the store clerks asked what I was looking for, and I told him. And he said “Well, we’ve got one in rentals – I don’t think they ever sold very well, so we only hung onto one. I bet if you ask the owner, she’ll sell it to you, though.” And he walked me over to the rental costumes, and there it was – a store-bought Sailor Moon costume that actually looked halfway decent. I brought it to the counter, trying to suppress the squeeing of my inner 17-year-old (who tried and was marginally successful at making her own Sailor Moon costume), and politely asked if I could maybe buy the costume. I’d been looking for it forever, I told her, and I’ve been a huge Sailor Moon fan since forever, and I’ll totally pay the $60 price tag on the front, if you’ll please sell it to me. I’ll admit, I probably got rambly.
She took one look at the costume, said “eh, I can probably order another one… For $60, it’s yours.”
And I walked out the door with a Sailor Moon costume that actually looked GOOD.
Then I had another dilemma: the wig. There was no way in hell I’d be able to get a cheap store-bought wig to look remotely close to Sailor Moon’s trademark odango. I flailed around with the cheap yellow wig I’d bought for about a half hour, unsuccessfully trying to get it into pigtails or even just some buns, when it hit me: I knew someone who might have a Sailor Moon wig I could borrow. And they lived right across the street.
Yes, I asked my neighbor if they still had a Sailor Moon wig, and if so, could I borrow it. And the answer to both questions was yes. (I have some of the best neighbors ever, I swear. I’m not even going to get into the fangirl flailiness that happened when I went across the street and saw all the Sailor Moon posters hung up at my neighbor’s house, haha.)
So I totally dressed up as Sailor Moon this Halloween, and loved every second of it.
So that finally brings me to this nerdy craft project I’m going to start, which will probably be the first of many Sailor Moon themed craft projects I’ll be working on until convention season starts next year. You all know I’ve been obsessed with making quilts since the beginning of the year, and when I came across that little stash of old Sailor Moon fabric I’d been hanging onto, it hit me: I should make it into a quilt. And with the help of some awesome artists on Spoonflower who made some delightful Sailor Moon themed fabric, and a handy sale on fat quarters, my Sailor Moon quilt will be a reality. (Once I get the fabric, anyway.)
My first challenge will be to make a pattern that’ll work well with the fabric I’ve got – I’ve never actually designed a quilt before, but it shouldn’t be hard. (The hard part’ll probably be putting it all together correctly!) I might just design a couple of squares that I can then put together to make the quilt, or find some existing patterns that I could take parts from and reuse as I need to. I’m actually really excited about having a nerdy project to work on – it’s been entirely too long since I made a nerdy craft project. The closest I’ve come recently is making a pair of socks with some yarn that’s Twilight Sparkle colored, but that almost feels like it doesn’t count, because it’s socks…
I’ll be posting pictures and rambling about my progress on the quilt from time to time – hopefully it’ll encourage me to start posting regularly again, too.
I recently finished my second quilt. It’s nothing super fancy – I ordered a sampler pack of 10-inch squares of the Luna Sol sampler from Connecting Threads, cut them all in half, and stitched triangles together until I had a quilt. Hand-quilting sounded like an amazing idea when I first finished it, and while I was absolutely tired of this quilt by the time I got to adding the binding, I am pretty happy with the hand quilting.
This quilt is not without its faults. As you can see in the picture, I stitched one row in the wrong direction – and didn’t realize it until I’d finally pieced the sucker out and laid it out for this picture. I almost gave up on the darn thing then, to be honest, but then I took a closer look at that picture, and plotted out how I’d hand stitch things. I ended up going with a sort-of lightning bolt arrangement of geometric shapes for the quilting. It still looks a little awkward, but hey, I made it a beautiful sort of awkward.
Shortly after starting the hand quilting, I found another issue in the quilt – two squares weren’t exactly stitched together, and were coming apart in one corner.
It was at this point where I said “screw it, this quilt is already imperfect, I’m just going to stitch the hole closed and carry on, maybe patch over it when I’m done.” And I did the patch you see above, and then went on about my quilting.
But the more I worked on this quilt, the more I saw it as something of a self-portrait. It was imperfect, just like me. It’s got some rough patches and parts that were hastily fixed. It’s got some awkward bits. But in the end? It turned out beautiful.
It’s a perfectly-sized little lap quilt, and I absolutely love how soft the fabric is. Plus, the little bunnies are adorable. (One of my nicknames is Beth-bun, so that may have highly influenced the choice of fabric, heh.) Despite all the hiccups in making it, I love how it turned out. And it really is a self portrait, in quilt form. Awkward, not quite perfect, but wonderful all the same.