With no deadline quilts and no cat hammocks to sew, I've been pretty absent in my sewing room.
So I decided to start an insane project.
About a year ago, some quilty friends and I ventured to the town a bit south of us for lunch and a trip to a quilt shop that was going out of business. I found this book (Dear Jen by Jen Kingwell) and decided, though it was a bit pricey, it was on sale and a good deal.
What I didn't realize is that ALL of these blocks are hand-pieced. I suppose I could draw them to be paper pieced (many of them), but that would be a lot of work and maybe I could try my hand at hand piecing?
I'd tried it many years before, but not only was my mom (my teacher) unwilling to let me try something I actually wanted (she wanted something simple), it seemed there were a lot of rules. I was also not a quilter at the time. I just helped her. I helped pick fabrics and, when she chain sewed, I was the designated ironer to snip pieces off the back of the machine and keep her going.
After I purchased this book, I did a little research on hand-piecing. I remembered nothing of what my mom told me and vaguely remember the fabrics being pink and light blue. Then I gave up. This seemed like too much. I was crazy.
Last week I decided that I don't need any more quilts, really. I should be finishing what I have, though I don't have a place to store them once they're quilted. So this seems like a good project - it will take forever and by then I might actually have need of a new quilt, right?!
So I set about choosing fabrics - initially I thought I'd do it in all blues because that is what is overflowing in my stash, but now I'm not so sure. And then making templates and tracing and cutting pieces and then sewing them together.
After one afternoon, this is what I had done:
Not much and you can see where I had to un-sew things. It was very easy to get those side triangles sewn on backwards. I did it on two of the four block parts you see here. (Thankfully ripping those seams out is super fast!)
The following day I cranked up some podcasts and worked my way through the remaining parts for the first block.
This is honestly where it started to get scary for me. I don't know why because it was just more of the same, just with some broken sewing lines where block parts came together, but I soldiered on. For once the longer seams didn't seem so awful to get through. (Please don't remind me that there will the dreaded truly long seams to hand-sew eventually, okay? I'm blocking that out.)
And the back:
Just for full disclosure. You can probably zoom in and nitpick it, but I'm pretty happy with my first attempt.
The pattern calls for three of each block, but I have decided to do just two and not do all of them. I went through the book and picked out the ones I'd rather not do (itty bitty applique or skinny curves got the boot!), but this is going to take a long while. If I make just two blocks each week, it will take me more than a year (I plan to make 60 of the blocks), but some weeks will be crazy and I may fall off the wagon, too. Time will tell.
I have cut and started sewing the second block. As in the second one of this pattern.
I also figured out a good pattern for crinkly kicker cat toys. The first one got fully tested:
First Freddie tested it while Finn debated if he would lower himself to be a test subject.
Finn soon decided it was okay to test it out. He made it hard to get a good photo because he wouldn't sit still.
Once the boys had wandered off (Toby was not interested in the nonsense this time), I took it to Gabby. She likes things that make noise, so this was more for her than the boys. She loved it!
And then Finn heard a ruckus and wanted in the room with her, but quickly the catnip high led them to this nonsense. Gabby learned from her big sister, Lexie, to lay on her back and kick to fight. Finn does not like this, but he has learned from her and now it's an interesting battle to see who can flip the other so they can kick each other. (I'm pretty sure they're not using their claws here or I'd have bloody kitties and I do not.)
I believe this means the toy was a success.
On to my mom's stash of cat fabrics to make more...themed toys have been reported to do better than non-themed. (Though, depending on my timeline, I may make a few more from fun prints in my stash.)
Finn also needed to help with this, despite there being zero catnip in these so far.
This photo makes him look fairly skinny. He is not that skinny. He's not that fat either. He is perfect.
And that was my quilty/sewing week. Today has been busy already and I have more planned. Lunch with the quilty friends and a trip to a quilt shop should be fun. Here's to hoping I don't spend too much!