Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Five #26: Leftovers

No, I don't mean Tuesday's meatloaf sitting in the fridge.

But if you had some that you were willing to share, I would take it off your hands. But I digress.

One of the perennial questions facing lovely, ingenious quilters is what to do with the leftovers from projects.

Let me give you my definition of leftovers: Leftovers are scraps and pieces left over from a project that go together well (maybe coordinates from a single line) but are possibly too much to either put back on the shelf or stick in the scrap bin.

I'm sure a lot of you know exactly what I mean, and here are some of the ways I know to deal with leftovers.

1. Make another coordinating quilt. Or two.
This is what happened to me when I made my first quilt and cut twice as much sashing and border scraps as I needed. That is why theses three quilts exist:

But why exactly do I need three quilts of the same colors? Not sure yet. the X-quilt might get gifted.

2. Trade with your fellow quilters.
This is pretty much the same as #1, but you don't end up with 2 (or more!) quilts that are the same-like. This is my sister's quilt (it's finished now, but I don't have pictures of it):

... and here's what I did with the leftovers:

Granted, both #1 and #2 require some fabric to be bought, but for the one above I only bought the white and a half yard of the medium magenta. So I think that's a pretty good investment.

3. Try to work it in with other things.
This only really works if you have more than a fat quarter or so of the fabric (or fabrics) you might have left over, though. We all know we have that one fabric that is in a pile of quilts because we loved that fabric so much and bought three yards.

4. Scrap quilts
The go-to solution for all quilting problems. Technically, #1 and #2 are kind of scrap quilts, but I'm more or less thinking of the lovable scrappy quilts that end up having all of our favorite fabrics from all time.

5. Smaller projects.
Table runners, placemats, potholders. The best way I know to use up those 3 extra blocks you ended up with.

Are there any other ideas that you use to use up your leftovers?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Shoes

Over the last few days, I have started on and made MAJOR progress on the shoe quilt, mainly because its so easy to do a few blocks at a time.

This is the first time I've used this type of pattern; you trace the cutting lines on your freezer paper and then iron it onto a pair of layer cake pieces and then cut on the lines. You sew pieces together in the order in the pattern and there's only two places you need to worry about matching. They need to be trimmed down, but I'll do that all at the end.

Definitely manageable for a girl in grad school who is taking her comprehensive exam in 32 days. 

32 DAYS? I try to remind myself that its still March, and my exam is in April. I'll freak out April 1st.

Anyways, my layer cake had 42 pieces and so I will get 42 blocks that end up around 7.5 inches square. 

Good luck starting your new weeks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Five #25: My quilting philosophy

1. I have never met a scrap that I didn't like. 
My family can attest to this. Every little schnitzel gets used and wasting fabric is tantamount to a felony in my book. I am amused with the scrap bin at home for days, and I am always the first one to buy a decent looking scrap bag (or 5) from the quilt shop. 

2. Pinning is your best friend.
When I started quilting, I hated pinning with a passion. And then I quickly realized that this was completely absurd because I disliked seam-ripping and re-sewing even more. So thus, I pin, pin, pin. (This also applies to Pinterest, but I digress.)

3. Ironing is also your best friend.
Nothing helps seams go together better than to butt up perfectly ironed seams. I enjoy getting away with not pinning sometimes (but don't tell my pins!) My iron and ironing board are perpetually set up in my living room (except for when company is in town) and they see 1000 times more quilt use than they see clothing use. Oh well.

4. When in doubt, start another project.
I'm actually getting away from this one a little bit, because it helps me stay a little bit more organized and focused. But I always have works in progress, and starting a new project is filled with such joy and anticipation sometimes its like magic.

5. Keep your bobbins full
No one in the world likes the feeling of running out of bobbin in the middle of sewing a seam or not realizing that you've run out of bobbin 15 inches ago. Unpleasant. I've always been a bobbin filler, and have my whole slew of bobbins full most of the time. Once in a while, I just sit down and fill them all. But sometimes I still run out of bobbin and don't realize it. Guess we're all human.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sweet Endings

Despite the crazy going on the last two weeks, I managed to finish (yes, FINISH) my Seville top! Hooray!

This one was a tough one with all of the matching, but it is so beautiful!

I particularly love this one because nearly all of the fabric was "free to me" left over from my sister, except for the medium pink with the green polka dots and the white background. I had just enough fabric to do the borders.

Another to add to the finished top pile to take to the quilter while I am home!

(Get the pattern here!)

Check out other finishes this week at Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and amylouwhosews!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Five #24: March Madness

The annual NCAA March Madness tournament is upon us. Until last year, I could have cared less about brackets, sweet sixteens, and pools.

Last year, a group of first year grad students, including myself had a bracket challenge group online where the winner would be the recipient of cupcakes made by yours truly.

Turns out all of the excitement and drama is kind of addicting. 

Oh, and I ended up winning. So one of the other girls made me chocolate swirl cheesecake brownies.

So here's the March Madness of my life:

1. Sweet 16
Today (March 16) is a sweet day, because it is Friday. I don't have literature meeting today, I have plans with friends for the first time in ages and ages, and it is visitation weekend here at the chemistry department, so that means everyone is basically useless all weekend.

2. Elite 8
8 weeks until I get to go to Michigan to celebrate my sister's college graduation. I have a pile of things to take care of between now and then (writing two proposals, presenting said proposals, teaching, grading, etc.) but this is the thing that is keeping me going at this point. I will get to see lots and lots of my sorority sisters, as well as basically all of my family. EXCITING.

3. Final 4
Four days until our first practice orals "grill session" where the older members of the group will quiz the three second years taking our oral exams in April on anything and everything chemistry under the sun. Joy of joys. I'm actually in the best position for this because my exam is last, but I'm still kind of nervous.

4. Dynamic Duo
Two proposals for my oral exam. The inside proposal (on my own research) is well on its way to being able to be given to my boss so she can bleed all over it with a red pen (or Word comments). The outside proposal (on a topic not related to my research) is in a little rougher shape, but it'll get there. 

5. Numero Uno
Number one priority for my non-work non-lab non-studying free time is to finish the Seville quilt top. I'm tired of it being moved about hither and thither and it just needs to be done.

Hope your brackets are in better shape than mine are!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Five #23: Spring Break-ing

This past week has been spring break on campus. This means:

1. No undergrads, no classes, no teaching!
This is something I am really appreciating while working on (or attempting to work on) my proposals for my oral exams. I have formal reports to finish grading this weekend, but nothing else teaching-wise to worry about until next Thursday! Wooooo hoooo!

2. Parking woes on campus
There is zero student parking anywhere on campus and students have to park by the football stadium. A mile from where I need to be on campus. So the options are to a) walk or b) wait for a bus. During the times classes are in session, you rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes for a bus which makes it time-effective to take the bus. When classes aren't in session, unless you see the bus coming to the bus stop, you're better off walking into campus because of how few buses run. Now, don't take this as me being lazy, because I walk to my car every (or nearly every) night, but in the morning, I want to get on the bus, and get to work. 

3. Parking joy at home
My apartment complex is very quiet and there are not as many undergrads that live there. But there are enough people that take their cars with them to where ever they go for spring break that you can park every other slot. Which makes me happy because the number of dings on my car increased exponentially since I moved to an apartment. And actually being able to park close to my apartment brings me much joy.

4. Warmer weather
I am not a cold weather person. I like being inside and enjoying the snow with a mug of hot chocolate. I'm also usually on the cold side so when normal people trade in their sweatshirts for tee shirts, I'm just barely taking off my winter coat. So this little bit of warmer weather is really to my liking. Granted, there were of course flurries today, and its only supposed to be 38 degrees today, but the 5 day forecast gives me hope. I can deal with the rain if its going to be warmer.

5. Bunnies.
There are bunnies every where on campus. I almost tripped over bunnies last night when I was walking from the chemistry building out to the parking lot. I probably see 10+ bunnies on my way out to the parking lot every night. And hopefully soon there will be BABY BUNNIES! (Obviously, I really like bunnies.) If you're ever feeling sad, Google Image search "baby bunnies".

I guarantee you feel better already. Happy Friday!

Ps. Go vote for my mom's entry (Half-Square Triangles by Lori) over at the weekly Quilting Gallery Contest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stuck in a rut.

I'm undeniably in a sewing rut as of late.

I am making a serious effort to completely finish projects (or at least get the top completely done to get sent to the quilter) before starting a new one.

I did finish up my snowflakes, and that is a big accomplishment, but I was briefly toying with the idea of doing a pieced back. This quilt is mainly going to be a wall-hanging, so a fancy back might not be worth the work.

But at the same time, using up the rest of that fabric might be a good plan. However, most of the pieces are rather small, and it may not even be enough to make a pieced back. So that's a project in and of itself.

But what's really slowing me down is this Seville quilt. And grad school, but let's just focus on the quilt.

I've been sewing together two rows at a time and every row has ended up trapezoidal.

And so I get discouraged and don't want to work on it.

But like I said, I'm really making an effort to not take on new projects until I complete works in progress. Most of this is the harassment that I get from my sister who has the self control to only have one project in progress at at time.

But maybe what will get me out of this rut is a new project? Or finally ordering the fabric to finish my Civil War quilt for Park Ranger Boyfriend?

If I do start a new project it is going to be this "If the shoe fits" pattern from Sandy Gervais with a Hushabye layer cake that I got on sale when I was home over Christmas.

Do you ever get in a sewing rut? If so, how do you get out of it?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Five #22: February Five

In February, I didn't post any Friday Fives.

I got a lot of angry texts and passive-aggressive emails from my family as a result. Ok, they weren't angry, just disappointed.

And I did such minimal sewing I only posted 5 times. Lame.

So I think I'll bring it back and if you have suggestions about things for me to talk about in future Friday Fives, email me or comment on this post. Maybe you have some burning questions for me that I can answer a la Inside the Actor's Studio? That might be fun.

So here's what you missed (and I didn't share) in February.

1. Lots of visitors and non-lab work.
Park Ranger Boyfriend was here twice (!) and my parents were also in town to visit. When my parents were here I (finally) got a new bed! No more sink hole, hello new queen sized bed!

2. Lab, lab, and more lab.
Not much explanation needed there. Although my research is going pretty well as of late and I have been spending a lot more time working on my proposals for my oral exam (aka reading stacks of literature articles).

3. Being a sicky
So when Park Ranger Boyfriend came to visit at the beginning of February over Superbowl weekend, he had a cold. He was sort of miserable on Sunday and according to him I "nursed him back to health." Well, I may have nursed him back to health, but two days after he left I came down with whatever he had and blew my nose for almost a week straight. Between the two of us, we used up more than two boxes of tissues. He felt pretty bad about it, but I forgave him.

4. Reading Hunger Games
Over Christmas break, my sister was reading these books and recommended them to me because she loves them. So last week, I used up the end of my Christmas Amazon money and bought the trilogy for my Kindle. I read the first quarter or so over a couple days and then the good parts happened, and then, in combination with caffeine induced insomnia, and reading until 2 AM happened. I really enjoy reading things that aren't chemistry articles.

5. Haircut.
Actually, I got all of them cut. (insert laughter here)

I ended up spur of the moment deciding to get it cut, went to Holiday Hair and then walked out with approximately 5 inches gone. Its so swing-y and bouncy and easier to detangle now.

So here's to a more productive March.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

So much love and so little sewing.

Remember how I had one two fugly fabric giveaways?

I also won a revamp of my blog from Jennie at Clover and Violet/click. snap. swoosh. laugh.

I had completely forgotten that I entered and when I got the email from Jennie that I won, I just about fell over at my desk at work I was so excited.

But I kept my composure so my lab mates wouldn't get weirded out.

Basically, I want to thank everybody for being so awesome since the year started and patient with the general lack of posting on my part due to an overwhelming shortage of sewing.

Hopefully, once I get my proposal topic nailed down (this weekend, I'm trying!) I will turn on my sewing machine again.
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